How to continue building your career at school

It can be frustrating spending the summer in the ~adult world~ at an internship, only to have to go back to school in the fall. I’ve spent the past three summers doing internships, and every time I went back to school, it felt like I was putting my life on hold instead of getting ahead. But this isn’t the right way to think (you are in school to get your degree and therefore get ahead, after all), and you can still take advantage of your time in school by developing new skills and gaining different experience.

Which sounds like bullshit, but I am not here to bullshit you. Some people spend college doing the minimum, which involves skipping lectures and selling your textbooks halfway through the semester to buy a burger (guilty as charged on the latter). You are going to spend it possibly doing those things, but also still growing on a personal and professional level. You can have it all. You can enjoy a burger bought using blood textbook money and simultaneously become extremely hireable.

Sound too hard? Here are a few different plans of action for continuing your career while still making it to class and slaying that degree:

Plan A: Continue your work for the company you interned at

If you have a strong desire to keep working your internship and think you can handle it (school is, like, hard sometimes), ask if there’s a way you can continue after class. If you’e in the area, you can offer to stay on part-time at the office, or you can help out remotely. I had one internship that let me extend my internship through fall and work virtually from school, since I didn’t have to physically be in the office to do my job effectively. It will depend on your industry, relationship with the company, and geographical/time constraints.

Pro tip: Give them a reason to let you stay on– pitch your contributions and show them that they still need you!

Plan B: Freelance for local businesses and nonprofits

If continuing the internship isn’t an option, you can also take on freelance work. Into music and event promotion? Offer to help out your local concert venue. Enjoy shopping and social media? Ask around at the fashion boutiques in your town to see what you can do for their Instagram. Do you already feel passionate about a nonprofit in your area, and think you can contribute your professional talents to their cause? Volunteer on a whole new level. My sorority works with the Alzheimer’s Association, for example, and I would love to do PR for them while I’m in grad school.

Plan C: Work on your resume and personal brand

This actually should’t be a Plan C; it should just always be an ongoing focus as you start out in your career. It takes serious time and energy to update your LinkedIn profile, re-design your resume, maintain a personal website and construct a portfolio. Or at least, if you’re doing all of these things right. In school, you’ll have more time on your hands than when you’re working a full time job, so take this as an opportunity to spend time on yourself.

Also, remember that you just finished your internship, so it’s important to update everything with that new position under your belt! Know it’s a pain. Just do it.

Plan D: Learn and develop new skills

At your internship, did you realize you could work on certain areas to make you stronger in that industry? Now is the time to work on those areas. I learned over one summer that Excel spreadsheets are a major part of entry-level work in PR (Surprise! Sometimes your dream job involves things you thought you were avoiding). So now I know to focus more on learning the ins and outs of Excel, and it’ll make me an even stronger candidate since many PR/journalism/communication majors don’t think to learn it. There are plenty of online resources for teaching yourself skills, and taking the time to develop those skills while everyone else was snoozing through class will set you apart.

2017-2018 is going to be an amazing school year, and you can make it an amazing professional year, too!

XO,

CC

 

 

Post-Lolla Playlist

Lollapalooza is my favorite weekend of the year. It’s like my birthday, spring break and Christmas all rolled into one. It’s the place I get to see all of my favorite (and next favorite) bands all at once, and for someone who loves alternative music as much as I do, this is heaven on earth.

For the past 3 years now, I’ve somehow managed to make it to Lolla, even when my summers are unpredictable and I have no idea where I’m going to be. This year, I didn’t even buy tickets until the week of (and on Thursday, I bought a Thursday pass the day of for $30), and got to go on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s 100% worth it to me. I strategize my entire schedule around which bands are playing at what times, and this often causes dilemmas (Arcade Fire vs. Justice), but if you do it right, you can see a solid 6 or 7 shows in one day. Now multiply that by 4….I’ll let you do the math, since I can’t do math.

And now it’s Monday, which means no more Lolla-land and back to reality. But that doesn’t mean the Lolla fun has to stop at work. Every year, I create a Post-Lolla Playlist compiling the best songs from the bands I saw, so I can re-live the memories of Cage the Elephant crowdsurfing from my desk at work.

In order of appearance as I saw them at Lollapalooza:

Day 1 (Thursday)

I hadn’t planned on Thursday since I knew I had to work, and it wasn’t worth going at 5 for a pass at full value. BUT my coworker wasn’t able to sell her pass, and I took it off her hands for $30. Super worth it. I sprinted from work to my apartment, underwent a transformation, and then showed up in time to see Cage the Elephant start their set.

Cage the Elephant, “Cold Cold Cold”

Cage the Elephant was incredible. They gave an energetic performance (which is crucial for an outdoor festival like Lolla), with the frontman running back and forth and even jumping into the crowd. I think they might’ve dropped him. Oh, well. This song was my favorite of the night.

Spoon, “Do I Have To Talk You Into It?”

I was literally walking by the stage without any clue that Spoon was performing on it, but I heard them playing this song and was like, wow, who is this? They sound awesome. Turns out it was Spoon, and while I’m obviously not a knowledgeable fan, I still really enjoyed their show.

Muse, “Dig Down”

GOD I LOVE MUSE. They were actually my first concert ever my sophomore year of high school, and even though I stopped listening to them as they came out with their newer albums, I was impressed with this new single that they opened with at Lolla. We watched them in the pouring rain, and they killed it for a few songs before the thunderstorm finally came and we had to evacuate the festival. I was beyond bummed, but grateful I got to see them perform at least a little bit.

Day 2 (Saturday…skipped Friday due to work)

Was super salty that I had to miss the Killers on Friday, but Saturday made up for it.

The Shelters, “Gold”

Possibly my favorite song of the weekend. The Shelters were a 12:45 p.m. show, a slot usually for smaller-up-and-coming acts, and I am always blown away every year by at least one band that I hadn’t heard of before. They had three guitarists and performed with the energy that I sometimes only see in those smaller bands.

Alvvays, “Archie, Marry Me”

Not my favorite, I’ll be honest, but my friend was a fan and no one else in the group had a preference on any of the shows playing at that time, so we went over to Alvvays. They were chill, and I liked their sound, but the vibe was probably too chill for me. I tend to like the head-bangers at festivals, but that’s just me.

Colony House, “You & I”

We got to the front row for this one, since they were playing at a puny stage. They were great. “You & I” is probably my favorite new song from the weekend. It’s just so swingy and beachy and dance-y. They also were one of those bands that sound the same live as they do in-studio. Normally I have a slight distaste for bands that sound too mainstream alternative, but Colony House was pretty decent.

Alison Wonderland, “I Want U”

That said, I was tired of the swingy, beachy alternative bands at this point, so we took a break and stopped by Perry’s (the notorious EDM stage frequented by the high school crowd). Unfortunately I could not tell you what exactly we were listening to. I can tell you that I’m pretty sure this song was something I heard. I think. I was kind of distracted by the flames shooting out of the stage.

The Head and the Heart, “Library Magic”

In the middle of the show, I turned to the group and was like, “I like these guys.” Which was surprising, because this isn’t a band I listen to. I’m just not a folk fan. But I was impressed by the artistry of each band member, since they played actual instruments like the piano and the violin. I guess it’s hard to follow Alison Wonderland with a violin, but they made it work, and I had an awesome time. We also made it onto the jumbotron.

Chance the Rapper, “Chain Smoker”

Ah, Chance. I saw him 5 years ago, when he performed at my college (I saw him for free, since I worked on the concert committee) on his Acid Rap tour. Then he blew up overnight, and I was seeing him performing on SNL. WTF. Seeing him in Chicago was a surreal experience, since Chicago is his hometown and the crowd was absolutely packed.  I chose “Chain Smoker” for this list because I got to see Chance perform it twice– first early in his career at an auditorium on a college campus, and then at the pinnacle of his career, with a field filled with passionate fans.

I have honestly never felt such unity in a crowd. Chance should probably start his own church. We all were just happy and having fun listening to great music. And that’s all you can ask for in a music festival.

Day 3 (Sunday)

I was exhausted at this point, but ready for one last round. I was most excited for this day of the three– if I hadn’t found passes for cheap, I would’ve splurged on just Sunday. The main dilemma of the day, of course, was Arcade Fire vs. Justice, since both played at the same time. Read on to find out what we chose…

Car Seat Headrest

Whoops, we missed that one…

Milky Chance

Missed it.

The Shins, “Australia”

The Shins were alright. They made me happy. They were fun. I think I spent the show mostly dancing around and getting excited for Justice (or Arcade Fire?).

Grouplove, “Sabotage”

Grouplove was our most anticipated act of the day, and thankfully we made it to this one, because they did not disappoint. While I love their classics like “Colours” and “Tongue Tied,” what really won me over was their cover of The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” I am a sucker for covers.

Justice, “Pleasure”

Justice was FIRE. I can’t even pick just one song because they blended everything so seamlessly and beautifully that it was like hearing everything for the first time. Which is hard for an electronic artist to do, since the songs are all produced electronically and basically sound the same live or not.

Arcade Fire, “Wake Up”

Surprise! We saw both Arcade Fire and Justice, since we couldn’t bring ourselves to choose. We tore ourselves away from Justice when Arcade Fire had 20 minutes left in their set, and made it back to see plenty of Arcade do their thing. Wake Up isn’t normally my favorite Arcade Fire song, but this was just absolutely perfect for a Lolla setting. The crowd went nuts. And it was such a bonus that we made it there after Justice.

 

How I Became a Morning Person

Most articles will tell you that one of the most common habits of CEOs and successful people is that they start their day early. What the article doesn’t tell you is that successful people pretty much have no choice.

Or rather, they did have a choice at some point– back when they were an intern, maybe, and they could either go the extra mile or not.

I have this theory that being good at your job is not as much about talent as it is about time management. And mornings are the ultimate time for time management. It sucks at first, but getting up just an hour earlier puts an extra hour of time back in your day. It’s like a freebie.

No one is bugging you.

The time from around 5-8a.m. is all yours. You can do whatever you need to do– work out, grab coffee, get a project done, or God forbid, eat a healthy breakfast for once. All without a single text or email.

Mornings don’t sound all that bad when I put it that way, do they?

But it’s not easy getting yourself in the habit, which is why not everyone does mornings. Everyone can do mornings, though. It just takes a few tricks.

Turn down the AC.

When you wake up and it’s freezing outside your bed, that does not make you want to get out of bed.

Turn up the coffee.

I mean, you probably knew this tip was coming. You can’t exactly wake up and smell the coffee unless there’s like, actually coffee. Coffee is a morning drink (for most people that aren’t me and only drink coffee once a day) for a reason- it motivates you to get your butt out of bed and at least a few steps into your kitchen. Or Starbucks. Whatever it takes.

Make it easier on yourself to get ready.

Figure out your outfit the night before. If you’re going to the gym, set out your clothes and shoes in advance. It sounds dumb, but

Eat a good breakfast (or at least a passable one).

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Were those stock photos enough for you?

No?

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Still not convinced?

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Aha. Thought so.

One of the perks of perking up in the early AM is having time to get yourself a decent breakfast. Food is an excellent motivator for just about anything.

Go to bed early.

I am a bit hypocritical in this advice. Sleep is not my strong suit. But it’s super important to get yourself in bed at least by 11 to be able to wake up early. Common sense, yeah, but suddenly it’s 2 a.m. and you have no idea why you’re still up writing a blog post. Whoops.

Lose the alarm.

Seriously, it sucks. Use a song instead. A song you like but are okay with not liking, since you’ll hear the sound of an alarm every time you hear it. I used to use “Amber” by 311, but it was so relaxing I sometimes slept through it. So. Don’t do that.

Make it a habit.

Once you’re consistent, your body will get adjusted to the rhythm and it’ll be second nature to be one step ahead of the world. Grab yourself a coffee for being so damn on top of it.

Does anyone else have pointers for becoming a morning person?

XO,

CC

 

 

How NOT to get it done

You’ll find a ton of articles telling people how to be more productive and get things done. Well, here I am to tell you how I don’t get things done.

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If I don’t write it down, I don’t get it done.

Think you’ll remember that mental note? Think again. Everything will fly right out of your head the minute after you tell your boss, “Yeah, I can definitely do that!” And then you don’t.

Use a Post-It. Keep a notebook on you. Set reminders on your phone. Whatever you need to do to get it out of your head and into the physical realm ASAP.

If I don’t tell someone I’m doing it, I don’t get it done.

It’s not always enough to hold yourself accountable. If someone knows what you need to do, even if it’s just your roommate, you’ll still feel more responsible for doing it.

If I don’t block off time, I don’t get it done.

Literally schedule time on your calendar to do a task. Treat it like an important meeting.

If I don’t list my tasks in order of importance, I don’t get a single thing done, I just sit there and panic at all the things I need to do and then don’t do anything.

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. I’ll say it one more time: Prioritize. Categorize emails based on level of importance– this is like dividing and conquering, because once you split up your tasks, you’re mentally putting things into more manageable chunks. It’s still the same amount of work, but because you’re separating your tasks into groups, you can tackle one group at a time without feeling overwhelmed.

Once the panic sets in, it’s hard to stay focused, and you’re so distracted worrying about the things you need to do that you don’t do any of it.

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If I don’t stay organized, I don’t get it done. 

Because if you lose the thing you were supposed to do, you can’t do it.

If I don’t get it started, I don’t get it done. 

The hardest part is when you actually start doing the thing. Until then you just procrastinate and do other things.

If I don’t have coffee in my system, I don’t get it done.

XO,

A

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun (Or Need Time Management Skills)

Most people at work and in school wish the day would go by faster. In PR, it’s a different story: There isn’t enough time in the world to get everything done that needs to get done, and that’s probably why Public Relations Executive is listed in the 10 Most Stressful Jobs among Taxi Driver and Airline Pilot. But like taxi drivers, I somehow survive the traffic jams of my job; it just takes time management and nerves of steel. Easy, right?

That’s not to say I haven’t had my crashes. Every once in a while, I’ll feel beyond overwhelmed at work and realize that I’m missing a meeting or a deadline on a task that had completely slipped my radar. It’s especially hard for interns, whose time is less valued. As an intern, you’re seen as dispensable, so your tasks pile on faster than you can handle them– you’re expected to be up for the challenge, no matter what else you have going on. It gets frustrating, because you feel like you’re juggling so much that you’re going to drop the ball at some point. But guess what? If you’re able to juggle everything without dropping the ball, you won’t be so dispensable anymore. You’ll be needed, respected, and appreciated.

Easier said than done, though. How exactly does time management work?

How to Not Drop The Ball

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Manage Up

Here’s a term for your buzzword list: Managing Up. I actually heard this one in a staff meeting at work, of all places, and it means working effectively and building a strong relationship with your boss. Here are a few ways to manage up:

  • Grab coffee with your manager and tell them your goals for the job. Alternatively, email a memo to your closest supervisors, so that your managers know what projects to give you and appreciate your ability to think about your career.
  • Understand their perspective. As stressed as you are, your boss is probably more stressed, and they’ll be appreciative when you’re responsive to
  • Anticipate your manager’s needs. Make sure to be thinking about how you can make their life easier, and it will make your life easier in turn.

Overcommunicate

Granted, I work in the communications industry. But in any job with tight deadlines an multiple projects, your boss will be just as nervous as you are about something getting done, so she/he will want updates on what’s getting done. This relates to my last point of managing up– you want to keep an open, positive line of communication with your managers about your workload.

  • Don’t wait until you’re done with a project to tell your manager how it’s going. It’s tempting for me to wait until I’m all finished, then present it to my manager with a grand AHA! HERE IT IS email (not literally, but you know what I mean). However, this means there could be a long period of time when your manager has no idea you’re taking care of it, and might even give you a new task because they forget you’re busy with another assignment. Tell them what you’re up to. Give frequent progress reports.
  • Send updates whenever you’re swamped and give a heads up when you’re going to be out of the office. If you have to run out for an hour to complete a task, for example, send a quick email letting your teams know how they can reach you.
  • Before signing off and leaving the office for the day, follow up on each of your projects with your teams to make sure everything has been taken care of.

Don’t Go Overboard

As important as it is to be proactive, you also don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Be honest about what you can and can’t handle– and if there’s something you truly have no time for, make sure your boss knows before it’s too late.

  • Plan for a crisis each day. When planning out your schedule and workload, leave yourself a cushion of time in case an urgent request comes up.
  • Be assertive with your time. Ask if a deadline is hard; often, your supervisor will say they need something by noon, but it can really wait until 3.
  • It’s okay to say no. Delegate tasks that can be delegated (even to another intern, if you’re an intern) and be honest about what you can and can’t take on.

Think One Step (Or Three) Ahead

If you work ahead and know what’s coming, you can make time that didn’t exist. When you’re feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day, you can create more.

  • Look at your calendar at the end of each day to see how tomorrow looks. Have a ton of meetings? See if you can take care of any tasks the night before so you don’t feel swamped.
  • Always assume something is going to take longer than it actually is. It’s better to overestimate a task and be left with extra time, than to underestimate and get left behind.
  • Use the Time Management Matrix: This is life-changing. I discovered it last week when Googling time management tips during an SOS moment at work. Just draw the grid and bullet-point your tasks according to Urgent/Important, Not Urgent/Important, Urgent/Not Important, and Not Important/Not Urgent. See below example:

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I know this was a doozy of a post, but it’ll save you from a doozy of a work day. These are just a few of many time management tips, so if you have one I missed, share it in the comments below!

XO,

A