Are you ready to interview?

As school is nearing the end for me (light at the end of the tunnel) I am facing the daunting task of interviewing for a “real” job. I’m scared. I have seen the unemployment statistics, heard the interview horror stories, heard my friends who have hired people laughing about mistakes the interviewees made, and know that when it comes time for me to interview I need to be prepared. I need to be more than prepared, I need to rock it outta the house and back– Marie Raperto, a corporate headhunter, has great tips on what you should think about for interviewing and then I added a few comments at the end of each of her suggestions:

  • Respond to questions briskly and concisely. (Nothing is more annoying than someone who sits there saying “uhm…”)
  • Be certain you understand the question. Don’t be afraid to ask for  clarification. (Better to ask and understand than miss the question entirely.)
  • Respond to the question asked. Don’t volunteer information. (Do not ramble on! Remember the 7 second rule-a lot of employers will sit quietly after you finish answering the question just to see if you will cave under the pressure of silence and start rambling on. Don’t do it.)
  • Watch for opportunities to ask questions, especially those that show you have done some homework on the company. (Employers like to see that you have taken the initiative and time to learn about their company-it shows dedication.)
  • Be sensitive to the interviewer. Take stock of their style and try to respond to questions naturally. (Some interviews will be formal, some not so much-you can miss out on a great opportunity by being inflexible with your style of communication.)
  • Strive to develop a natural dialogue and rapport with our interviewer. But, remember, they are in control. (Be calm. Be polite. Compliment something about them or the company-this helps ease tension and hopefully gets them talking!)
  • Avoid the use of negative terms in your answers. Instead of problems, talk about challenges or opportunities. (Never use negative comments, not only is it a complete turn-off to most employers, it also shows that you may not be a team player or difficult to work with.)
  • Get as many relevant details about the position. This way, you can determine if it is a position you truly want. ( Don’t waste your time or theirs if it is not something you are truly interested in.)
  • Prepare, but don’t over-do it. Your answers should come naturally, not sound like a script. (Practice interviewing techniques with a friend.)
  • Thank the interviewer the end of an interview. (Don’t forget to send a handwritten/email thank you note. It shows that you are classy and polite and that you have social skills-like manners! I always write thank you’s and I’ve only ever heard how much they were appreciated-so take a minute and write one.)
Remember to be calm, try your best, and know that you win some and lose some, and that every interview can have a kernel of education you can analyze afterwards. But, don’t beat your self up for mistakes, just try not to make them again. One last thing…..Good Luck:)

Do you have any suggestions for interviewing techniques? Tried and true practices that have always landed you a position? Have a website or article to share? I welcome your comments, questions, or suggestions.
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Not Ya Mama’s Baby Shower: A modern girls guide to choosing fun baby shower games.

Ok, we have all been to more baby showers than we probably care to think about. The common theme to most of the ones I have been to is that they are all pretty boring and I can’t wait to exit. Now, I have used my powers of perusing hours and tons of websites devoted to choosing fun games to enhance your a-maz-ing baby shower. Every friend is unique, and when throwing a party to celebrate their happy moments you want it to be memorable (in a good way) and fun for guests, plus you want to show your bff how special she is to you.

My least favorite baby shower game I ever EVER ever played included someone handing around diapers with baby food smeared inside to look like poop, and we were supposed to use a spoon to scoop a small bite out and eat it. Yes. Gross. Not only did I not want to play, I can be a bit germ-a-phobic about sharing food with 25 other strangers all dipping their spoons in too. So-lets find some games that can not make your guests feel queasy 🙂

1. How Many Baby Items Can You Name: (Materials- pad of paper and pen for each woman). Have each woman write down as many baby products as they can name (bottle, blanket, pacifier, etc) within 3 minutes. Sure it is easy at the beginning, but towards the last few minutes, the women will start racking their brains for more 🙂 Give a prize to the woman who gets the most baby products named!

2. Who Can Make The Mother-To-Be’s Baby: (Materials – Baby magazines, Scissors, Glue, Paper). Have the women group up into teams of 3 and give each 3 baby magazines. Have them cut out pieces of different baby qualities and put together a picture of what they think the Mother-To-Be’s baby will look like. Have the Mother-To-Be pick which baby would possibly look like hers the best! Give prizes to the winning team! A quick tip to be frugal is to purchase the magazines at a thrift shop. Typically they sell the magazines for under a quarter each!

3.Baby Bingo: (Materials- Pens, Pre-Printed Bingo cards that use the numbers of how many people attend the baby shower) Prior to opening the baby shower gifts, number each gift on the box starting with one. If you know that 15 people will be attending your shower, pre-print bingo cards with numbers 1 through 15 and randomly place them on 15 cards. When the mommy-to-be’s decides to open the presents, she grabs the present she wants to open and reads the number out loud. As soon as someone receives bingo, they win the baby shower game and the baby shower prize.

4.Baby Shower Lotto (Materials- Calendar with large calendar month dates, highlighter pen, and normal pen). Have the calendar of the month that the mother-to-be’s baby is due at the front door for guests when they arrive. Each day is divided into two parts: am and pm for the guests to choose from in picking the date and general time the baby will be born. Make sure to have the due date highlighted. Guests can “buy in” to a lotto ticket for a certain day (am or pm) that they think the baby will be born. The guest who guesses closest wins a baby shower gift, of course given after the baby is born. The fun part of the game is that the lotto tickets can be purchased by using something other than money that is useful to the parents. Instruct guests beforehand that a lotto tickets may be purchased with a diaper pack, baby bottles or baby wipes, etc. (Thank you to our visitors who gave us this great baby shower game!)

5. Fingertip Feel: (Materials: rice, a bowl, small baby pins) Fill a small bowl with uncooked rice and mix 20 small closed diaper pins in. Then the guest is blindfolded and has 1 minute to pull as many of the diaper pins out (without the rice) as possible. It sounds easy, but without being able to see it is very difficult to feel the difference between the pins and the rice!

6.Baby Shower Thank You Card Draw – (Materials: Thank you cards and envelopes, pens, bag) – . Once the baby shower attendees arrive, give them each an envelope (that goes with the baby shower thank you cards you purchased) and have them write their name and address on it. Put them is whatever you would like and draw an envelope for a baby shower prize. Now momma to be has all the name and addresses and can send out Thank you cards more easily!

7. Baby Shower “Guess What’s In The Bag” Game (Materials: Paper Bags of different sizes to fit different size items, items listed below, pen) –

You will need 10 paper bags. For fun, use colored ones. On the front of the first bag put a letter “B”, the second “A”, third “B”, fourth “Y”, and so on spelling out “B A B Y S H O W E R”. Inside each bag is an item for the baby beginning with the letter on the outside of the bag. Guests cannot pick up the bags. Display them on a table so they can see how big the bags are. Whoever guesses the most correctly wins. Here is an example of what you might put in the bags:

B – Bottle, brush, booties, burp cloth

A – Aspirator, apple sauce

B – Bib

Y – Yellow Rubber Ducky (you may have to give a clue for this one)

S – Spoon, soap, shampoo

H – Hat, hanger (baby size), headband

O – Onesie, oil, Ora-gel

W – Wipes, wash cloth

E – Ear syringe, ear ache medicine

R – Rattle, receiving blanket, rash medicine

8.Baby Shower Memory Game (Materials: Poster Board, paper, candy bars, pen, tape) – Take a large piece of poster board with 20 small (3×5) pieces of paper lined up in number order (1, 2, 3…) with five across and four down. Under each paper was a word has a match under another paper. Example: 1 was “Baby Girl” and 20 was “Baby Girl”. The players choose two numbers, trying to match the words. Each match was given a prize. “Baby Girl” received a Baby Ruth candy bar. “Laundry” received a Mounds candy bar, “Daddy” received Sugar Daddy candy, “Breastfeeding” received Milky Way, “Contractions” received Good and Plenty, “Epidural” received Lifesavers, “Bottle” received Baby Bottle Pop candy, “Crying Baby” received Screaming Sours candy, “10 pound baby” received Whoppers. (Find candy at the candy store, and make up your own words!) Everyone loved this game! We didn’t know what candy was going to be given out, so it was fun to guess while people were playing the game.

9.Baby Scrapbook (Materials: Scrap book, ribbons, stickers, colorful pens etc) – A real neat baby shower activity is to make a baby scrapbook for the parent’s to be. Give everyone a page to create borders, pictures, and little sayings so you can place them all in the book for the mother to be to use when taking pictures of the birth and on. It is a great way to have everyone participate in the memories. It is even fun to take a picture at the party of every baby shower participant and place it on the back of the page so you know who did the page for you and who attended the baby shower. Plus we all know how hard it is to make time to put together an album after the baby is born! This gives the parents-to-be a place to put photo’s without any work at all:)

A separate idea that can be a fun reminder of your event is to use twitter. You could even give a prize to the person who tweets the most updates during the party.  If you and the friends attending the party like to use twitter, then you could ask each of them to post updates about funny comments, pics, or nice thoughts as the party ensues. Now, Melissa Miller posted stats on Twitter users across the country and she found that the top three states to twitter (per capita) are: Massachusetts, Washington, and Oregon. So, if you live in these three states-tweet about the party you are at! It will be fun for the hostess and the baby-momma to read all her friends nice comments and funny stories after the event is over.

I hope you have enjoyed some of the ideas listed above and I hope that your next baby shower is filled with fun!

As always I welcome your comments, ideas, or suggestions. Thanks!

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Deciding to freelance in a tough market: Can you? Should you? and How you can succeed.

Freelancing can be a tough decision to make, but sometimes it can provide you with the opportunities and freedom you need in order to succeed at your craft. When choosing between freelance work and a company to work for, you really need to weigh the positives and negatives before making a committment. Lexi Rodrigo has come up with some great tips on how to start a successful freelancing career.

Here are the cliff notes of her advice:

1. Know Yourself: What are your strengths and weakness’, your skills, and experience?

2.Know Your Resources: What are your tangible and intangible resources? (This includes your equipment, supplies, and personal connections.)

3. Set your Goals: Know what you want and make a list of how to accomplish your set of goals.

4. Know your client: Demographics (gender/age/location/etc.) and Psychographics (attitudes/beliefs/motivations/principles/etc.)

5. Examine the landscape: Know your competition.

6. Craft your marketing message and brand: who you are, what you have done, and how you can help your clients.

7. Package your services and rates: How to set your rates to be competitive and accurate in every market.

8.Make a business plan:

I found Lexi’s article to be filled with a wealth of content and have bookmarked it for use after graduation.

As always, I welcome your comments or questions, and appreciate links to other articles or websites you would like to share.

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Clearly Defined: Guidelines to Set for Social Media Policies

I read an article last night about “Twidiots”, and of course I instantly assumed it was something Twilight (the book and movie franchise that has taken over Hollywood in the past few years) related, but I was wrong 🙂 The basic theme of the article was about controlling what your employees and other company related people do while using online media.

I hadn’t really thought much about the fact that employees or other company professionals could damage the image of the company through Twitter or the internet, but what Steven Silvers (the author) said made complete sense and made me realize what a detrimental thing it can be to your company if the Twitter is not being used by the right hands! A Burston-Marsteller survey shows that approximately 77% of Fortune 500 companies are now using Twitter to post messages about their companies. WOW! That is a pretty big number to ignore. In Steven’s article he points out how there are now websites and other Twitter feeds that look for Twitter mistakes so they can point them out and make fun of them. OUCH. He gives an example of a recent resignation of a journalist who blasted another fellow journalist for her having been sexually assaulted while on assignment. The backlash he received for his short post has now ended his career and tarnished the reputation of New York University.

So, that brings us to the “How do I fix this?” stage. I found some really great examples of companies that have very clear guidelines for employees, vendors, and affiliates behaviors while using social media. I have listed below five that may help you write your own guidelines.

1. The Coca Cola Company

2. Cisco

3. Dell

4. Intel

5. University of Oregon

I hope the above list will help you as you navigate refining or implementing your guidelines for media policies and practices.

As always, I welcome your comments or suggestions. Please feel free to mention insightful links or articles that you would like. Thank you!

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Stop. Smile, no, really smile…it’s good for you!

Stress. We all deal with it on a daily basis, and sometimes it can really overwhelm us. It can make a mountain out of a molehill sized issue, it can cause us to feel run-down or tired, to be terse with others, and make us generally just feel bad. It can affect our job performance and interpersonal relationships.It can pull the joy out of us faster than watching any movie nominated for The Razzies. The good news is that there are things we can do to lessen the impact that stress has on us. Elizabeth Scott, M.S. from recommends following these seven habits to turn any bad day around.

  • Talk to someone you trust and who will encourage you. Someone who will listen and support you in a way that makes you feel comfortable.
  • Do a random act of kindness with no expectation of reciprocation.
  • Take a 10 minute break. Meditate, relax, just breathe.
  • Think about all the things you have to be thankful for in your life. Try to internalize those happy thoughts.
  • Blow off steam through an activity you enjoy. Take a walk, go hiking, play foosball, or any activity that gets you excited and moving.
  • Chocolate. Not the entire box, just 1 ounce of dark chocolate actually releases endorphins that elevate your mood naturally.
  • Decide to look at the day as though it is a challenge rather than a horrible day. Try to beat it.

I also find that when I’m having a bad day I like watching a comedic movie, listening to funny radio programs, or upbeat music makes me feel better. I try to smile even when it seems like it might be an impossibility. It’s clinically proven that when you smile it actually helps you feel better, it relaxes the muscles on your face and reduces your stress level. I try to think of (now funny, but not when it happened) situations that seemed horrible, but ended up teaching me a lesson or made me laugh(eventually). Once when my youngest son was three, I had taken him on a two-mile walk in his Cadillac sized stroller. It’s a monster, a beast. The sky was clear and sunny, so I wore a light jacket. Now we get to the fun parts-I forgot my cell phone and wallet. We got a mile into the walk and my back tire went flat. Then, it literally started to rain. LITERALLY!!! At this point I am almost in tears. I beg two quarters from a gas station attendant to make a phone call. My husband isn’t answering. I call my mom and she has to leave work to come pick us up. Absolutely horrid day. When I got in her car I started crying. Then I started laughing at the thought of the absolutely perfect chain of events that totally hosed me. I mean really?? All that and rain? Now, when I think about that story I laugh about it. It was a really bad day, but there is something to be learned from the bad days (besides remembering your wallet and cell phone) you have to minimalize the not-so-fun parts and remember that it is just one day. It’s not everyday, it’s not most days. I can make it through because I am a strong person, and today may suck, but as Scarlett O’Hara said in Gone With The Wind “Tomorrow is another Day”.

Make it count.

As always, I welcome feedback from my readers and hope to hear from you! Do you have a site that you find helpful? Do you have a blog or website that you follow and would like to recommend to others? Let’s build our online community!

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Top 25 skills needed after graduating with a Public Relations degree.

What will I need to know, I mean really have a solid grasp of, in order to be a solid team-mate upon graduating from college? Well, in an article I recently read the author opened up a discussion question and invited current professionals to comment on the skills that Public Relations representatives need to possess upon graduation.

  1. Curiosity
  2. A strong desire to learn
  3. Great writing and editing skills
  4. Social media skills
  5. Presentation skills
  6. A solid record of work experience
  7. The ability to tell the truth.
  8. A love of storytelling
  9. The common sense of knowing the value of maintaining and cultivating relationships.
  10. A solid understanding of business and community.
  11. Inquisitive passion.
  12. Communication skills
  13. Asking the right questions, and then listening to the answers.
  14. Manage your reputation carefully. You only get one.
  15. Dress professionally.
  16. Think carefully before posting anything, private or public.
  17. Research your client’s business and evaluate the needs they have.
  18. Ask lots of questions from more experienced co-workers.
  19. Strategize.
  20. Think strategically. Understand the situation.
  21. Plan strategically. Build effective strategies to best serve your client and their publics.
  22. Find ways to become a valuable asset to your company.
  23. Focus on business basics: Keep appointments, be early, answer your phone, and respond as quickly as possible.
  24. Understand the basics of PR. 1. The story. 2. The audience 3. Storytelling 4. Measuring results
  25. Produce.

Something else I would add is the ability to work in an ever-changing and sometimes highly stressful environment. Be prepared to fill lots of roles, and don’t expect your new position to be like a school assignment. In real life, you have to produce to get paid. There are rarely do-overs, and respecting others is KEY. You can be the kind of team-mate others respect and enjoy working with, or you can be the person that they talk about at lunch. As we finish up school and our graduation dates quickly approach, let us strive for excellence, let us be the university, the class, the individuals who bring “something special” to the table, let us be catalysts for professionalism in the workplace and global community.

As always, I welcome questions or comments. If you have links or articles to share, please feel free to send them in.

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Professional technologists: Learning to love networking.

As a journalism student, I’m not going to lie-we have to read a lot of boring articles and stories. Occasionally, we are rewarded with a gem. It’s like being on the Discovery channel and Bear Grylls may or may not do something that violates society’s acceptable standards of what to eat or drink or how to survive. It’s an adventure and until you find yourself submerged in it-you never know what will happen next. Networking is similar to that concept-unknown. Possibility and opportunity go hand in hand if you are willing to step out of your “tent” and explore. Recently, an instructor at my university offered this article about LinkedIn, and I feel that it is a great one to share.

Starting to use LinkedIn as a professional tool can in the beginning be a bit overwhelming. I opened a LinkedIn account about a year ago at my husband’s request. I entered minimal personal information and then never checked it again until recently. I have found that LinkedIn is not the easiest site to navigate without a little insider information to help you navigate more efficiently. I actually learned that there are widgets to help you do a variety of things that enhance your profile. I definitely appreciate the opportunities to create a business page for my company (once I’m finished with school) and hope that when reading this blog, more of you will explore LinkedIn and expand your social network too!

The site offers the option to post events (FREE ADVERTISING!!!), join groups about topics you are interested in, look for a new job, and network. LinkedIn can provide opportunities and contacts that can enhance your professional standing and notoriety. Basically, in our www life, we have to start putting in the time and effort to reach a broader audience. The way that professionals handle themselves in marketing strategy is completely different from the Mad Men days. We have to be willing to participate in an adventure that will help us learn how to survive in a digital climate. LinkedIn provides a gathering place for you to post a link to your blog, or twitter, or company website. It gives you the opportunity to enhance your social networking experience, while utilizing free (or pretty inexpensive) tools to reach a broader spectrum of the market and resources.

Event Planning and Management can be extraordinary or it can lack the imagination and creativity that can only be showcased with not only raw talent, but also exposure to the world. The more you see, the more you personally experience, the better event designer you can be. Reach out-expand your network, experience and observe new options, take your professionalism to a new height, put in the time and effort required to expand your personal and professional brand, and then enjoy the opportunities that surround you like rays of warm sunshine.

As always, I welcome comments or questions. If you have articles or sites to share, please feel free to do so!

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