Life After College

We’re All Human, Aren’t We?

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As usual, when life gets too stressful to handle (or too hectic or too mundane or a lot of other things), I turn to my favorite books to cope: Harry Potter. For me, it’s like hanging out with an old friend, but my stories about books can wait for another time.

Since I read Harry Potter while I was in London, I’ve read all seven books at least once a semester, sometimes twice, and always over the summer. As graduation was a stressful time, happy, of course, but stressful too, I naturally turned to my old friends to get me through the sleepless nights. Last week, I finished reading them.

Every time I read them, I find something newly applicable to the world. Something that was there before but didn’t really click until now. I’ve read all these words many times, but every time, something different sticks.

This time, it was a quote from Kingsley in the Deathly Hollows.

[Here come some spoilers.]

So in this scene, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on the run and they finally manage to tune into Potterwatch, the illegal, underground radio station dedicated to telling the news like it is and encouraging people to do what is good and right. All the people involved have code names, because who wants to go to Azkaban, right. Kingsley is called Royal and he’s encouraging the wizarding community to protect Muggles (non-wizards) in addition to each other. So here comes the scene, straight out of the book:

“What would you say, Royal, to those listeners who reply that in these dangerous times, it should be ‘Wizards first’?” asked Lee.

“I’d say that it’s one short step from ‘Wizards first’ to ‘Purebloods first’ and then to ‘Death Eaters,'” replied Kingsley. “We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”

-Rowling, 440

In light of what happened in Orlando, and what seems to keep happening around the world, I pose the same question. We’re all human, aren’t we? I don’t understand why bad things happen. It doesn’t make sense to me. But I do see the outpouring of love and support and I have faith that love and goodness will have to win.

We are all human, plain and simple. In times of great joy we should celebrate with each other and in times of tragedy we should mourn and support each other.

My prayers and those of so many others are with the families of those involved in the tragedy in Orlando. Additionally, I’m thinking of and praying for the first responders and people of Orlando as they struggle to understand the senselessness of this act.

College Lessons and Things

Nostalgia

As I sit here tonight, knowing in less than 48 hours I will walk the stage, I look around my room and can’t help but laugh. It’s a disaster and my dad will be here tomorrow to help me move and I couldn’t even bring myself to start packing today. I couldn’t even start the tidying-up process. I have shoes and clothes everywhere. I didn’t do laundry yet. My kitchen isn’t clean. There’s paperwork all over my table that needs to be sorted through (and probably thrown away). And it occurs to me that as silly as it is, maybe I didn’t do any of those things today because I don’t feel like I’m ready to leave.

I’ve spent the last four years living on this campus. I spent the last four semesters in this apartment. This has been the place I’ve called home for the better part of four years. And tomorrow (or today, because it’s the crazy late middle of the night) I’m moving most of my stuff into a new home.

This week didn’t go like I planned. Today didn’t go like I planned. Like the rest of life, the last four years have come with their own set of trials and tribulations, but it definitely wasn’t bad.

This week I was talking to a friend, a guy I met in College Algebra freshman year many, many moons ago, and we were laughing about the crazy professor we had. The stories he told us, in the middle of his sentence explaining the math problems. The random ramblings of a crazy man who stuck a wrench in a freezer at Walmart. And we laughed. Hard. I remember how much I hated that class because I was so bored and it was at 8 a.m. and no one wants to do math, even if they are good at it, at 8 a.m. But he was right when he told me I’d miss those days.

In four years, I’ve grown. I’ve grown to make mistakes and learn from them (or in some cases, just learned how to better deal with making the same mistake over and over again; it’s part of my charm). I’ve grown from a goofy high school kid to a goofy almost grown up. I’ve grown to learn that sometimes you just need to call it good for the night and try again after sleep. And I’ve grown to learn that my decisions are my own.

UMHB, the campus, my apartment, has been a home for four years. And now I’m ready to make a new place a home. But before that, tonight and tomorrow, I get to feel nostalgia for the memories I made and the friends I shared them with.

College Lessons and Things

And there it goes…

It occurred to me last night that I am not only into single digit class days, but I only had to attend three more classes before graduation. I can count those on my fingers. That’s how close to graduation I am. And then this morning I went to one of those classes. So now, I’m down to two.

Graduation is terrifyingly close, but it’s so exciting at the same time. And then I wonder what happened to my college years. Where did they go?

Four years ago, I was preparing to graduate high school. I was thrilled to begin college. I was ready to be done with petty high school drama. I was nervous, of course, because college was a totally different beast, but this is what I spent 12 years of school preparing for. I was ready.

Three years ago, I wondered where my freshman year went. I was thrilled to begin my summer vacation a month earlier than my family. I was ready to live, if only for a semester, with my best friend. I was nervous about the prospect of studying in London six months later, but I was ready. I just did a whole year of college on my own. Could three months in London really be that different? I was ready.

Two years ago, I came home from London, changed for the better. I officially decided to declare my major. I was thrilled to come back to a job I loved in the fall. I was entering the second half of my college career with no idea what my plans were, but that didn’t phase me. Life was going to sort itself out and I would be ready.

One year ago, I realized I needed to start figuring things out (like getting a driver’s license) so I could get things together in terms of internships to graduate because all of a sudden, graduation looked much closer than it had. So I spent the summer working on that because that was step one and I wanted to be ready when fall came.

Half a year ago, still without a driver’s license, I was pretending everything was fine. Graduation is still a long time away. Plus, there were only nine hours left to complete my degree. I’d take those, I’d do my three internships, it would all work out fine and I would be ready.

And today. Today, it did work out fine. I am taking the nine remaining hours and I am almost done with my internships. But today, I also wonder where the last four years went, because I don’t feel ready.

Real grown-ups always talk about how life just passes you by if you let it. They talk about enjoying every day. When you’re a kid, you don’t really understand. Every day seems like a lifetime. And then you start college (and enter a time warp) and all of a sudden you get it. All of a sudden, the years just pass you by. One day it’s January and the next it’s April. And you’ve blinked, and there goes college.

Time for the real world. I’m [almost] ready.

Other Stuff

No New Me

Every year, everyone does the standard new year post about “new year, new me.” And then he or she makes a resolution that lasts about two weeks (until the resolve wears off and life gets in the way, and we fall back into our bad habits). This year, that isn’t for me.

This year isn’t about a new me. It’s about growing into myself. The young woman I already am and who I’m becoming.

2015 was a long year. It was a good year, but it was a hard year. There was a lot of devastation this year, and not just in my personal life. There were natural disasters and man-made disasters. There was a lot of unnecessary loss of life and a lot of fighting over silly stuff.

2016 holds many opportunities for me. I’m going to graduate. I’m going to have to get my life together and be a real grown up. And I’m going to begin the path to fulfilling my potential and leaving my mark on the world.

So, no new me this year. Just me. And the beginning of a new year. And a clean slate.

2015-2016

Social PR

The Community is Always Right, Too

Much like customer relations, community relations are an invaluable source of support for a company.

As PR professionals, we seek to build positive relationships within our communities so that when a crisis does occur, our organization or company’s reputation can remain intact.

Target, for example, does a lot of good things. They donate to schools and they support various movements that should help improve the lives of their employees and their communities. A few years ago, when hackers did whatever magic hackers do and stole credit card information, people didn’t just stop going to Target. Some people may have stayed away until it was deemed “safe,” but Target still made a profit and their reputation didn’t suffer.

According to my textbook, there are a few factors that corporate philanthropy should consider:

  • Do no harm
  • Communicate with the recipient
  • Target contributions toward specific areas
  • Make contributions according to statements of corporate policy
  • Plan within the budget
  • Inform all persons concerned
  • Do a follow-up
  • Remember that more than money may be needed

When I looked up corporate philanthropy, I found this article that talks about five companies who do a great job with corporate philanthropy. Google made the list. This shouldn’t really surprise me once I thought about it, as Google is supposed to be a great place to work and it makes sense that if it’s a great place to work, the people in charge really know what they’re doing. I’m a supporter of Google and I don’t think I’ve ever had a particularly bad experience with it. The article basically explained that Google has a lot of different organizations it partners with and gives to globally. The article also mentions that these programs wouldn’t be successful without employees willing to volunteer or donate.

I think the last three points are the ones that most people forget. Informing all persons means informing your employees too. Clearly Google does that, as the article says employees donated over $21 million and almost 80,000 hours. If a company wants to get involved in some community service project, they have to get the word out.

Following up is always a difficult thing to do. Once a project is completed, what’s the point in seeing how it went? Someone, somewhere, was helped somehow. Isn’t that enough? No. Doing a follow-up benefits the future of these programs. Knowing how much you spent (time or money) on an event and the outcome can help in the planning and efficiency of these programs.

Lastly, remembering that money isn’t always the solution is vital. Google and its employees must understand that, as they donated their time as well as their money. Some non profit organizations have the money for projects and don’t have the manpower. That’s not to say that donating money isn’t helpful, but it isn’t always enough. It’s easy to sit behind a computer at a desk and click a few buttons and donate. It takes more to go physically put your hands in the dirt (or paint or food or whatever else) because it takes time*. Companies who get their employees excited about volunteering will probably have a more successful corporate philanthropy program.

Understanding how corporate philanthropy works is important because companies can’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in communities and that community controls the reputation of the company, which in turn keeps the company in business.

*The term for this is slacktivism and here’s a post written about it by one of my wonderful classmates, Katie.

NaBloPoMo

I am here, counting the stars.

I know I’m like a week late on the posting, but this month, I’m participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). I just want to get back into writing and it’s hard to find time that coincides with inspiration. But I’m gonna try. Today’s post is in response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other.” The prompt was to write a six word story about what the future holds and then expand it.

So, basically, for me, the future is a black hole, full of possibilities, which is a thing I’ve said before, and I stand by it. Not knowing what I want to do is definitely a scary thought if I think about it too hard. But, I know that when I graduate in May, I will have the opportunity to do anything I set my mind to. I don’t really know what that’s gonna be yet, but I do know I’m excited by that possibility.

Everyone keeps telling me to enjoy my senior year, and that’s definitely the plan. Apparently, when I graduate, I have to be a grown up or something. So this year I started doing cool things I didn’t even know I wanted to do. Plus, I’ve started working on getting all the appropriate things together so I don’t have to pull my hair out come May.

I got involved with the new UMHB chapter of Student United Way on campus this semester and getting the opportunity to meet the wonderful souls I have is amazing. I’ve made some really wonderful friends through the organization. Plus, since it’s a service based organization, we get to do some really awesome service projects (like Operation Christmas Child), and that’s super fun too.

I took the Myers-Briggs test (admittedly for a class) that told me a bunch of things I already know, like that I’m introverted and that I’m loyal and I have strong core values. So, it’s cool that I now have a term for my particular brand of crazy.

I’m here. I’m doing the living in the moment thing (mostly). I’m going to enjoy it while I’ve got it. And when the future does get here, I’ll be ready. It’s the start of a great story; I can tell.

Social PR

Entertainment is Changing…

…because our culture is.

In some of my psychology classes, and the one education class I’ve taken, we talked about how attention spans are changing. They’re getting shorter, among other things. To deal with these changes, entertainment and leisure companies have to make changes.

I remember when I was younger and my parents kicked me out of the house during summer vacation and told me to go swim or walk or run in the yard. I had to entertain myself without a ton of electronic devices at my finger tips. Since I didn’t want to do any of the “exercise things,” I learned to love reading in the sun. Or just laying in the sun listening to the newest CD that I put on my super hip iPod. I could literally read books by the day and not move (which I’m pretty sure concerned my mother because I didn’t want to stop in the middle of a book to do something as menial as eat).

Anyway. Today’s kids want to be bombarded with stimulation. They like movies and games with action and loud noises. They like to go to theme parks on vacation and ride all the rides and eat all the food and hear all the noise and smell all the smells. All that is well and good, but companies are making changes to please these kids.

Vacation used to be about getting away and reconnecting with whomever you were vacationing with. Now, we can book vacations that involve so much, I wouldn’t really consider them vacation.

I remember one of the times we went to Disney, and we were up early every day (I’m not a morning person and I hadn’t yet discovered the wonder that is coffee) and we got home late every night and we were out all day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had a blast. We got to hang out with our cousins and we got to see all the cool Disney things. But we were there for like a week, or 10 days, something like that, and by day three, I was ready to spend the day in bed, reading (that was the same time Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out and I just wanted to read it because I’d waited like a year for it). And we did actually take a day, which I did spend reading, but I remember my siblings and younger cousins played video games all day, I think. Or watched really loud action movies. Something like that. They didn’t want a break from the “action” so to speak.

As PR professionals, we have to be aware of the audience we serve and we have to make sure that our company (or service or ad) isn’t going to become white noise. And we have to recognize that the new generation of consumers has different expectations for leisure activities.