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Communicating in a changing digital world.

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A Tribute to Job Seekers

Search for Jobs

Indeed, SimplyHired, LinkedIn. Job seekers are very familiar with these sites and use them endlessly in hopes of catching an interview, and, if things work out correctly, the ultimate prize … a job! But is applying to every open position that remotely fits your skill-set without even thinking about it the right way? Is applying to infinite jobs online worthwhile?

From my experiences, I say (brace yourself for this wonderfully cliched phrase): It depends.

It depends on what area you are looking for, and what level of experience you are at (entry-level vs. mid-level).  The majority of the time, probability will be against you when you blindly apply to every available position on earth, throwing out 10 to 20 applications a day hoping to catch just one. What are your chances? More than likely hundreds, heck, maybe even thousands of others are applying to that same position with your same mindset. So what is a job seeker to do in this day and age?:

1. Research what you really want to do. Applying to companies that you’ve never heard of, or don’t care for their missions or areas of interest probably isn’t the best way. Let’s say that you did land a job at a company you could care less about, would you be happy after some time has passed? If you apply to be, let’s say, a blogger for a high-end fashion company whereas you never step foot in any designer stores or despise anything and everything clothing-related, what are your chances of being satisfied? (I’m sure there are many out there who would be more than satisfied, as I am merely speaking out of contrasting interests). But if you narrow down areas that you would love to work in, or are already experienced in, then that will help out your job search IMMENSELY.

I am experienced in the science communications realm.  I absolutely love science and all that it stands for and think that it benefits the world and humanity, though I don’t know the first thing about calculus or physics, I still think the process and results are exciting and relevant. Working at the U.S. EPA for two and a half years, I learned much about research and the science world, and I discovered that my passion lies in the environment, nature, technology, and anything science-related. After pinpointing those areas of interest, I started to narrow my search down to science-related positions in North Carolina. Lo’ and behold, I started getting more interview requests and found that I was way more comfortable in those interviews, and you know why? Because I love communicating science and am experienced in it!

2. NETWORK. I cannot stress this word enough. You have a ten-times better chance of getting into a company if you know someone who works there, has worked there, or have a connection who knows someone there. Networking, especially to entry-level seekers, sounds terrifying. ‘How can I compare to those who have been in the field for years or even decades? Why should they care about knowing or talking to me?’

Here in lies the rub.  Every person has or knows something to teach another. You have some form of expertise in some area or experience that a person out there would love to know about, maybe without even knowing it themselves! Once you start to share your knowledge and opinions with others, then you can start talking about career goals, how you could work or volunteer with them, or help them out in networking with people you know. When I first started networking, I was 23-years-old, and I was nervous, but confident. I figured, I will promote what I do at my current job, explain why I believe communicating what I do in progressive forms of media (e.g. videography, web content) is important, and hear what they have to say in return and how I can service them.

Pass out your business card like candy! People will research you especially if they were interested in what you said or represented. You not only make great connections (some strong, some weak), but you also can learn from and meet great, professional and motivated individuals in return!

Resource: How to Network Like a Pro. (Business Insider)

3. Become Digital! Since I am a digital / multimedia journalist, I have an online portfolio that I try to update and keep organized as often as possible. I also have a blog (what you are reading), a LinkedIn profile and a Google+ page.

If you have an online site — be it an online portfolio (if needed, which doesn’t hurt!), an online blog or a social networking site (I recommend LinkedIn) — then it shows that you are motivated,  keeping up with the times, and confident in your work. There are great sites out there that are free, or cost a minuscule amount to get started. I use WordPress hosting through GoDaddy and bought a template for my site, and I helped a few other people get started with their personal websites, as well. From there, you can use analytic tools (Google Analytics, or WordPress’ analytical tool) to see which pages are most popular, which have the highest bounce rate, etc., where you can improve your site based off of such data.

I could give so much more advice and tips on how to improve your job searching skills / how to represent yourself to a potential employer or network connection, but I think these three are very important to master. Needless to say, I am writing these tips from my own experiences and from many articles, other blogs and studies I’ve read online.

By following these tips and actions above,  I recently landed a new position at a company that I already love (their mission, and what they represent) and will be doing what I love to do (digital journalism including web development, design, writing, etc.). I also saw an increase in interview requests leading up to my current opportunity because of my change in how I searched for positions.

It pays off in the end, but there are two things you must NEVER lose on your journey in job searching: Patience and Confidence.

Never lose these  very important things. You are an awesome person to get where you are in life, and everyone will always face bumps, so if you are currently in a bump, just know, as my mother always said during my bumps, ‘it’s always darkest before the dawn.’

Don’t give up! Learn from experiences and go from there!

Better than a Paycheck — Volunteering and Giving!

My experience with volunteering is relatively new in my life. It has given me much pleasure not only working with different kinds of people and organizations, but also using my journalism skills to help out awesome causes and spread their mission around. Many people asked me if I get paid or get anything out of it, and I always smile a bit and say of course there’s no pay, but I DO get something out of it: the experience, and the joyful feeling of completing a project or heightening the organization’s vision.

If you haven’t notice, I am a stress-loving, fast-paced and energetic individual who has a reputation for taking on as many projects and tasks as is physically and mentally possible. I learned more about multi-tasking and the glory of email communication as well as how passionate each organization is with their goals! In turn, in makes you passionate for their goals and see it as a just cause to help out.

Here is a list of my volunteer experiences that are ongoing:

Citiwide Vocational Center

CitiwideLogo

Citiwide Vocational Center was the first volunteer experience I did using my journalism skills. So many people asked me how I got involved, and, to spread the word, I got involved with www.volunteermatch.org. Citiwide was looking for someone to assist them in cleaning-up, editing and maintaining their website as well as helping them out with their social media. I contacted them showing my interest as well as my skills, and they excitedly accepted me. What’s nifty about volunteering for Citiwide is that they are located in Washington, D.C., and I am located in the Raleigh area, so I had to rely on email and phone communication with the founder. Citiwide Vocational Center offers computer training (hardware and software), completion of your GED, as well as other training revolving around getting you ready for technical jobs / the workforce. It prepares residents in Washington, D.C., for the computer workforce by offering them classes, skills and other educational opportunities.

My actions thus far involved creating a new logo / name change (see left), cleaning up a TON of HTML / CSS code on the back-end of their WordPress website as well as organizing links and content, and starting up their social media scene for outreach purposes. I plan on continuing to volunteer for this amazing group whenever they ask for my services and hope to meet them face-to-face whenever I make it up to the D.C. area!

 

Health 2.0 NC Triangle 

Health 20 NC logoHealth 2.0 NC Triangle is my most recent and growing volunteer experience. I got involved with this chapter (branching out from the main Health 2.0) by attending a networking event that Sapient held in Morrisville. I met Brent Anthony at the event,and he explained to me his idea regarding starting a chapter of Health 2.0 here in the Triangle. Seriously, what better place in N.C. would be better than the Triangle? It was a brilliant plan, and it is exceedingly growing, attracting healthcare professionals, medical doctors, health data analysts, health communicators, students and anyone else who is interested in learning about the health, health IT news and ideas taking root in the Triangle area.

Being part of the CORE group of Health 2.0 NC Triangle, I witnessed the start-up of the group from four people to well over 200. My role involved outreaching to the community using social media mainly Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Google +. No website is yet available for our chapter (it’s in the works though!), and I will assist in guiding content and tweaking code / items on the website. As of now, I help outreach events, news and other newsworthy topics on social media when asked as well as take photos and live Tweet at events. We just had our introductory event “Blazing the Trail” as the ‘rocket launch’ of our organization, and it was a shocking turnout of well over 110 people! As the group grows along with the upcoming website, I expect to play a more central role in communications in helping them get started into the fast-paced RTP health community!

 

 

 

All-N’ Together Services

 All-N’ Together Services was my first non-profit I became deeply involved with. Also, they are the only organization that I do not communicate for, but instead help lead donation drives for new and used school supplies for low-income, rural N.C. public school students. I have been working with them for over a year now and greatly love to collect and buy school supplies knowing that they are going to such an amazing cause. N.C. was recently ranked last place in the country for public education and because of this, the need to help students, their families and educators is needed more than ever! I learned, and am continuing to learn, how to motivate and lead people to donate and spread the word. It is great leadership practice and allows me to go out into the community for others to co-lead drives / collect supplies. Whenever I give donations to the main organizers of this non-profit, I feel an enormous feeling of happiness. I always think, however, that “I could’ve done more, I could’ve collected more supplies or reached out to more people!” But I tell myself afterwards — every little bit helps. I plan on helping them out once or twice a year for as long as I am able to. Which reminds me since you are so lucky to be reading this blog post … if you are living anywhere in N.C. and would love to donate your used or new school supplies / backpacks PLEASE contact me for more information or email me for more details, it will be much appreciated!

 

That about sums up my current and main volunteering! I donate food as well as clothes to various organizations and groups whenever I get a chance and am looking into volunteering for Habitat-for-Humanity for the first time (I’ve always be curious about it). It just shows that you don’t need a 9 – 5 job to use your journalistic or communication skills, you can also learn and gain experience on the side by looking into the non-profit scene, which is more than just donations and showing up at events. There was a study that said helping out others and volunteering emits greater happiness within you than other things in life like materialism or money, and I am not only a believer of that, but am now living it.

 

Thanks for your interest! :)

Becoming familiar with RTP’s health expertise

Last week, the organization Health 2.0 NC Triangle held their “Blazing the Trail” event, which brought members together to network, learn about upcoming health and health IT news and path the way for the organization to take off. Well over 100 people showed up to listen to a few well-known health experts discussing various health topics.

I reached out using social media including Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and G+ to gain attention of the event and organization. While at the event, I live tweeted and took some photos of the event. We are now in the process of creating our website and blog to further promote the vivid and expansive health and health IT opportunities in the Research Triangle Park area.

I’ve always been interested in science / health and technology and find that this group allows me to become more informed about not only local, but nationwide health topics. One of the cool things that I got to try on while at the event was the very popular Google Glass, a beta version:

Lubinsky Google Glass

These were AWESOME. You could scroll on the side of the frame (seen above) with your finger to look at all sorts of different types of apps and webpages. It wasn’t exactly what I expected with only a thick, rectangular glass on one side of the frame.

Keep a look out for future Health 2.0 NC Triangle events around the RTP, N.C., area!

Communicating the Village Green Project

Imagine a park bench that can measure certain types of air pollutants and weather data while sending all the data directly to a website minute-by-minute! This nifty research project is called the Village Green Project, and was created by EPA scientists in RTP, N.C. It was placed outside of Durham County South Regional Library in June and is completely solar-powered.

VGP Bench

I helped lead the communications campaign with it so as to bump up awareness and encourage people from local communities to check it out! This was a huge campaign and took many months to plan. The team and I worked with many people in different areas of EPA as well as outside partners including the library and Durham County. It was well worth it.

My biggest joy out of this communications campaign was designing the Village Green Project’s information sign that stands right next to the system itself. I started from scratch and developed a bright and fun infographic:

Village Green Project sign

This sign is right beside the VGP park bench and was designed to resemble a museum sign design. It describes how the project works with background information, the Air Quality Index chart, and QR codes that take you to different websites to interact with the bench on your smartphone. The coolest thing about this sign is that there is an LCD screen that tells you the current AQI, weather conditions and amount of energy the device is using. It is around 34″ x 22,” and I used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop CS6 to create it.

I also assisted in writing and developing the press release,  invitational letter to various officials, and the fact sheet.  These items helped get the word out about the ribbon-cutting ceremony that took place in June as well as general information for those who visit the project in the future.

Another area that I was very involved in was social media. I crafted many Tweets and even live tweeted at the event (@EPAresearch // #villagegreen). Ialso worked on posts for the EPA’s Facebook, Foursquare and Google+ accounts relating to the project.   We are also watching analytics regarding the outreach with Google Analytics, Maxamine and social media outreach.

When the day of the event came, I was filming various areas of the celebration while photographing, too. It was a huge hit with some media outlets appearing and officials making speeches and cutting the ribbon in front of the bench.

This campaign and research project allowed me to experience deadline pressures, the ability to work with internal and external partners in a timely manner, and the mastery of juggling many different tasks. This research project communications campaign gave me a real-life experience in the communications area, one that I know will help me in future situations.