Sunday, February 24, 2013

Your Career and You...We've Moved to Wordpress!

Thanks so much for stopping by! This weekend (February 24), I packed my virtual bags and moved my "Thoughts" over to Wordpress.

Please visit my new site and let me know what you

"See" you soon!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Your Career and You: “The Positiveness of Optimism”

I have good weeks in my multiple roles of public relations
professional, public relations professor, and public relations

mentor. And I have not-so-good weeks.

This one…so far…has been nothing short of amazing.

Here in balmy New England, we’re finally emerging from the aftermath of a blizzard that gave me two unplanned days off… “found time” in which I managed to write and submit a book review, schedule two speaking engagements, and get a boatload of badly-needed sleep.

So, after not having my “normal” set of four classes on Monday, I meandered down on Tuesday to Curry College, where I ride herd over the Communication Department’s Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, for my one evening class…“Crisis Communication Management.”

Didn’t really have a lot scheduled…planned to catch up on paperwork and grab some time with a couple of colleagues who I don’t often have a chance to see.

I opened my office door, unloaded my stuff, sat down, and it started…a steady procession of students, all eager to talk about their forays into the world of public relations.

  • One has scored an informational interview with a very cool entertainment/music promotion company. She loves music. Her Dad is a musician. It’s in her DNA.
  • Another is weighing the benefits of a couple of internships that will allow him to make use of his passion for social media communication.
  • The third wanted to update me on her current internship and all she has learned. I was blown away by her obvious excitement…and by what she has done.

I found myself feeling like a kid in a candy store as I talked with each. I was having serious flashbacks to my own experiences as a Public Affairs Intern for the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command down in Virginia…the excitement of the unknown.

What I realized as I talked with these future PR professionals was that a willingness to dive into the deep end of the pool…not really knowing what’s going to happen but open to the idea that it might be fun…is so very important.

  • How many different materials did Thomas Edison try before hitting on the one that produced the electric light bulb?
  • Where did Christopher Columbus wind up when he set out looking for a “shortcut” to India?

The thing I’ve come to recognize after a “few” years in the working world is that nothing new happens unless you’re open to the idea of trying unknown or different things for the sake of just trying them.

As I say time and again, sometimes things blow up or don’t work. So be it. Worst case scenario…you don’t do that again.

As a kid, I stuck a metal nail file in a wall socket to see what would happen. Found out fast. Blew out the house’s electrical system and apparently turned a marvelous shade of blue myself. Lesson learned!

But, as I have come to recognize, you learn from these experiences. And, if you’re truly adventurous…or curious…you’ll try things again, just in a different way.

And you learn more…you gain more experience and knowledge.

But it all comes from your belief that it can be done…you just have to figure out how.

Internships are a way to experiment with your professional future. At this point as a student, you don’t really know what it is that’s going to make you jump out of bed in the morning eager to get to work and make a difference in some way.

So you try new things…internships, for example…to see how they “feel.” You gain new experience. And you learn a LOT about yourself in the process that you can now apply to your slowly-developing “life plan.”

And it’s all thanks to the “positiveness of optimism.”

"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true." - James Branch Cabell, "The Silver Stallion" [1926], ch. 26

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Your Career and You: “Life's Journey-Finding Your Way”

I had a somewhat frustrating conversation recently with a friend…professional colleague…about one of my would-be PR students.

  • The good news is, the student had contacted him about an internship and had gotten an interview.
  • The bad news is, that same student gave absolutely no indication whatsoever that he really was interested in the internship…or anything for that matter.

According to my friend, the fellow basically sat there grunting one- and two-word responses to questions. And, when asked about his plans for that terrifying “life after graduation,” he appeared to be clueless.

Didn’t seem to have given any consideration to his plans, ambitions, hopes, or dreams.

Now this young fellow is a graduating senior. He has indicated a budding interest in public relations. He has already completed one PR-focused internship.

So what happened? Where did we miss a connection?

Part of the answer is the good ol’ “well, you’re young and don’t know what you want to do.”

Part of the answer is “somehow we (professors/advisors/counselors) haven’t ‘cracked the code’ yet.” We haven’t figured out how to really communicate with you when it comes to “life.”

I am known to “preach” about the future to my Communication students at Curry College, where I head the undergraduate Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, as well as to my graduate Organizational and Professional Communication students at Regis College. They all get the sermon.

But somehow the connection isn't being made, and it’s starting to bug me big time.

Yeah, I figured out my own life trajectory on my own…didn’t have anyone to sit me down and have the “what do you want to do?” discussion.

Not saying my parents weren’t supportive and encouraging. They were. But there was no “what do you want to be when you grow up?” conversation.

So what to do about these situations where, in spite of my best efforts to guide and advise you, we’re not making the connection?

Maybe I’m banging my head against the wrong wall. Maybe I’m not supposed to be able to point each and every aspiring future professional toward his or her destiny.

But I want to help you get started. I want to share my own experience and knowledge with you in the hopes that you will find inspiration.

It’s a two-way street, though. You have to do some serious introspection and some soul-searching about “the future.”

It’s not going to just come tumbling merrily over the fence and land at your feet.

You’re going to have to hunt for it…do some “inner-self” digging to get an idea what you’re really interested in…or think you’re interested in.

Then we can have the serious conversations, and I can point you in the direction of some places that might be a good starting point.

It’s trial-and-error. It’s life. And, in the end, with hard work on your side and some thoughtful advice and counsel on mine, you’ll find your place.

It may not be the last stop on your journey, but it will be a start.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” - (Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu, 64)