February 3, 2008
Hello On the PRowl readers!
Maria and I have been traveling, celebrating holidays, starting new jobs and beginning new semesters–we have been busy bees here in Boston.
I started my first job at SHIFT Communications on January 22, and I have been thoroughly enjoying learning the ropes and figuring out new things. I’ve been meeting great people and I’m looking forward to building a career at SHIFT.
Just wanted to throw a quick update on here–it’s Superbowl Sunday, so I need to get ready to cheer on my Patriots!
December 17, 2007
So, today I took my final final of college. As I sat there, test finished, totally not caring if any of the answers were right, I couldn’t believe I was done. I knew I wasn’t going to add anything else to my answers, but I spent a few extra minutes sitting and waiting for the “wow” moment when I felt totally different. Strange, but it just felt the same as any other final exam.
I expected when I passed in my test, that I would maybe punch my fist in the air and make some little squeal sound as I left the room. Instead, I just put the exam on Don Wright‘s desk, wished him a happy holiday, and walked out. I was happy and proud, but I didn’t feel as if I had just had a life-changing experience. I mean, there was no beautiful music playing and there weren’t any people applauding as I walked out of the building and headed home. Weird, right?
I guess it just takes a while for big things to hit you sometimes.
December 3, 2007
Last year I attended a PRSSA meeting at BU. One of the many things the speaker talked about that night really stuck with me — you never know when you are going to meet your next boss. Amanda‘s recent post College Kids Party; I Network reminded me of this. I don’t mean this in the swarmy way like Chris Brogan mentioned in his comments on Amanda’s post. What I took this piece of advice to mean is that jobs don’t just happen by submitting a resume and going on an interview. ‘It isn’t what you know, but who you know’ wouldn’t be a cliche if there wasn’t some truth to it.
In this new age of building relationships, knowing people is what it is all about. And not just collecting business cards, actually getting to know people. Pose in pictures as Amanda suggests. One link leads to another to another and so on. Which brings in the whole concept of six degrees of separation. More like four. I can get to almost anyone in four steps or less. The more people I meet, the fewer the degrees separate me from the rest of the world.
Take this semester for example: Last spring I needed a fourth class to add to my schedule. I had had Professor Quigley for my intro to PR class and had loved him so I looked to see if he was teaching any other classes. He was – Special Topics: Interactive PR. Translation = new media. One of the first classes, Amanda mentioned PodCamp. She then told the class about Twitter. It took her a while to convince me that it wasn’t stalkerish, but I finally decided to give it a whirl. And what a reception! By the time PodCamp rolled around, meeting people like Bryan Person and Laura Fitton aka Pistachio in person for the first time, was like reuniting with an old friend. Through them I have met others; I’ve gotten advice from new grads like Yianni Garcia, guidance from Len Edgerly, had my eyes opened to a whole new world of possibilities by Jeff Pulver, and have had a whole lot of laughs with Steve Garfield.
I recent wrote a post on my personal blog Thru My Green Eyes about my New Media Friends and how they are the strongest community in my life. I didn’t “network” in order to get a job, but to make friends. And I have. I’ve also made some great job related connections through those friends.
So, “networking” may have a bad rap, but getting out there, and getting to know people is the best thing you can do. Even though I am always one of the youngest people in the room, I have been greeted with arms wide open.
So. Party, give book suggestions, ask questions, have dinner, tweet, link, and everything else in between.
December 2, 2007
It’s no secret that college students party.
That said, I don’t think enough students, especially students who want to go into the communications business, understand that partying can be useful for boosting their personal brand. In my previous post, you’ll notice that the professionals who left comments stressed the importance of building a network early in your career path. My advice to my fellow college students: if you know you like to party, USE it.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’d much prefer to go out to a bar with a group of like-minded, passionate, exciting people from whom I can learn than to a frat party where underaged drunk people are wandering around aimlessly, spilling beer on the floor. I’m not saying that college students shouldn’t go to big crazy parties and trendy clubs with their peers. (IMHO, you absolutely should have those experiences.) However, it is extremely beneficial and FUN to step outside of the college-kid stereotype and “party” with people who can teach you new things and advise you in your career/life path. When I’m at parties with professional people I admire, I may be having a few drinks, and I not be acting the way I would in an interview, but I am building one hell of a strong network.
When you’re at a bar or a party, you tend to let loose a little and show your true colors, right? Well, I think that’s what’s going to get you places. Show off who you actually are to people who can help you in your career. Be social, be authentic, be fun. People will notice that you’re not just the average college student, and that really pays off when you’re searching for a first job or your next competitive internship. In this business, it’s so much better to be a real person who’s out there having fun than a random interviewee smiling and holding a resume.
And here’s some extra proof. My e-friend Justin Kownacki told me that when he’s interviewing potential hires, he WANTS to find some party pics of them on Facebook and Flickr. When people invite you to events and pose for pictures with you, it means they probably know your name and they may even like you. You’re a smart, savvy student. You have interesting things to say, a ton to contribute, and, oh yeah, you like to go out on the weekends.
If you’re going to party anyway (and let’s face it–you are), why not do it with smart, connected industry pros? In my book, networking is the new night on the town.
November 28, 2007
I am the CEO of me. Chris Brogan told me that. Many others have asked me “what’s your brand?” What are the three or four word that synthesize “you”? When Googled, do you know what comes up about you? When I asked the group attending the new media job search session at PodCamp Boston 2 what advice they had for me as I begin my hunt for life-after-school, I was told to create a marketing campaign — with ME as the product.
I knew that a cover letter is supposed to “sell” you, but is a marketing campaign a little over-kill? In the world of new media — the answer is unequivocally no. But making a campaign about yourself is much easier said than done (to be cliche). During a traditional job hunt, you figure out what you might be interested in doing, find a position that offers that, then try to figure out what the employer wants from you and you try to package yourself in a way to make yourself look like you fit the part regardless of whether you actually do or not. That seems so easy compared to what it seems I’m up against now. I actually have to know who I am. Three or four little words that synthesize the essence that is me.
I attended Jeff Pulver’s Real time social media breakfast this morning. I knew in advance that upon arriving at S&S Restaurant and Deli in Cambridge I would have to fill out a name tag. Normally this would not be cause for panic. I have long known what my name is and even how to spell it. But this name tag required an extra piece of info: a tag-line. I needed a tag-line for myself. The horror. I fretted over this for hours last night and it finally came to me while my Herbal Essences Defunkify Shampoo tingled my scalp (it is really quite an amazing feeling. you should try it): Maria Thurrell. SuperGeek – Here to save the world. A little cheeky (like me), geeky (also like me) and six words long (verbose – just like me). While I think that this fits me rather to the T, is this an image I want to present to possible future bosses? What does SuperGeek say to people who don’t know me?
Jeff Pulver told me this morning that I need to figure out what it is that I am passionate about. But I already know, I exclaimed! New Media. Public Relations. Social Activism. Way too vague was his response. Uh oh. I thought I was doing pretty good. I have to narrow it down even further?! Maybe I don’t want to grow up after all…
So, with all of this swimming around in my brain I am going to write the case study for my Organizational Structure class that is due at 6pm tonight and hope that somewhere between asleep and awake the answer will come. Or perhaps someone will clue me in.
If you know me, how would you describe me in 4 words or less (ok, I’ll give you 6)?
November 12, 2007
I stumbled upon PR while doing volunteer work in southern India the winter between sophomore and junior year (I took two years off from college to travel). At that time, I only had a vague, Hollywood induced idea of what PR entailed. I’m sure I had heard the term before, but probably couldn’t have define it. While staying in Auroville, I became involved in the planning and running of a UNESCO sponsored conference — Youth for Human Unity. It was love at first sight. I began asking people, “what is this called and how can I do it for the rest of my life?” The resounding response was Public Relations. That is when I began looking for a program to transfer to (I attended Vassar College for my first two years). I found BU, applied, was accepted, and am now finishing my third semester in the public relations program (I graduate in May).
For as long as I can remember I have known that my purpose in life is to make a difference in the global community. Until recently I wasn’t sure how I was going to accomplish this as it seemed to me that a lot of PR had to do with consumer goods. I thought I would have to work for a non-profit, or find an agency that takes on non-profit clients. For reasons that I can’t explain, this didn’t seem like it would be enough for me. Then I discovered new media. Again, it was love at first sight.
My intentions for after graduation is to find a position in which I will be furthering social causes via my PR and new media skills. Hopefully, I will find this position before graduation *hint hint* At this time, agency work looks very appealing as I love fast-paced environments and multi-tasking.
So, that is me. Tales of my journey in pursuit of saving the world (and finding a job) to follow.