Archive for Career

An update on grown-up life

I’ve had very little time to write lately because I’ve been busy transitioning to the real world. Yes, I am finally moved out of my parents’ basement and busy establishing myself as a professional.

In this economy, I am blessed to now have a job in the development office at Georgia Gwinnett College, where I started my new position as Assistant Director of Annual Giving on Feb. 2. As the first public, 4-year liberal arts college opened in the 21st century, GGC has enormous growth potential and I’m anxious to see what happens in the coming months. One of the most exciting recent developments is the news that Gen. David Petraeus will be speaking at the May 2009 commencement ceremony.

On a separate note, I’ve just moved to a new apartment in Suwanee, GA, about 15 minutes away from my job in Lawrenceville. Although moving in (and decorating) has been a very slow process, I’ve really enjoyed living by myself and am sure Ken is relieved that I won’t be moving quite as frequently now that I’m done with college.

I’m still adjusting to both living in a new city and working, so if any of you reading have any tips to share on fun things to do in Gwinnett or fundraising, I would greatly appreciate it. I hope everyone is having a wonderful New Year so far!

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times: UGA graduation 2008

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It was the day I’ve eagerly anticipated for the past four years: my graduation from UGA. As I sat with my fellow students at the Grady commencement ceremony in Hodgson Hall on Dec. 18, there was a mixed sentiment in the air of excitement and uncertainty.  The speakers’ words of praise and encouragement were dotted with reminders that we were entering one of the toughest job markets in recent history. I wanted nothing more than to forget that fact, at least for a while, but they were right to discuss it: it was the truth.

Keynote speaker Carolyn Tieger, borrowing a phrase from Dickens, captured the moment perfectly: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” She added, “When you tell people that you graduated in 2008, you will certainly get their attention!” She went on to discuss the importance of perserverance in the job search, offering several useful tidbits of advice. She even reassured us that it’s okay to live with parents for a little while, which came as a relief to me since that is where I am right now.

If anything, my time at college has taught me perserverance and humility. I’ve received bad grades on projects and papers I’ve poured my heart into. I’ve been turned down for internships, jobs and other opportunities. I’ve made mistakes. But I’ve also learned to turn these failures into learning opportunities and, in fact, not to think of them as failures, but necessary experiences on the road to success. It’s that old cliche: “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

Thanks to my wonderful family and friends, I had a great graduation week. My parents came up and took us to a wonderful dinner at Last Resort. My 12-year-old brother (and equally antsy boyfriend) sat patiently through the graduation ceremony. My friend Becky and I had a joint graduation party in our hometown, and were showered with gifts and kind words from our amazing family friends. Each time I was asked if I had a job lined up, I was able to smile and simply say, “Nope!” They believe in me, and that’s all that matters right now. (Click here for some more pictures from graduation).

Congratulations to all other recent graduates, and thank you to all of my wonderful supervisors, professors and colleagues who have encouraged me along the way.

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September Highlights

The past few weeks I’ve been very busy, but it has definitely paid off! First, I’m happy to annouce I will be one of the students attending UGA Connect on Sept. 19-20. Apparently blogging my entrance essay (in the post below) earned me a few brownie points 🙂 I am excited to learn all I can about social media from some very important names in PR that will be speaking at the conference. Along with three other students, I will also be helping to cover the event via Twitter, podcasts, the blog and more. Follow me on Twitter for updates!

The goal is that all of the new social media knowledge will come in handy during the job search early next year, but also as I continue to promote Jeannette Rankin Foundation and their new book, Daring to Dream. More about the book and ordering information can be found here.

On a different note, I have now officially mastered the surprise b-day party! Ken turned 26 on Sept. 7, and on Friday more than 20 of his friends and family showed up at the Cheesecake Factory at Perimeter Mall for a surprise b-day dinner. Judging by his face as he walked in (seen above), he had no clue what he was walking into! He said later it was one of the best nights he had every had 🙂 I have to give the staff at the Cheesecake Factory kudos for attempting to piece together the cake, which fell apart during the ride down to Atlanta. To see more pictures, check out my Google album.

In other news, I am volunteering at Tri For Tourettes (at the Concourse in Atl) on Sunday, and am excited about seeing all the kiddies do their thing! It’s amazing how young they are starting now. It is also the last season I’ll be able to watch the Dawgs from the student section, so the next few home games are sure to be fun, and possibly slightly emotional.

Stay tuned for UGA Connect recap and more!

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Democracy’s Next Generation…

To hack or to flack? That is the question I struggled with when I first enrolled in Grady College my junior year. While I knew the PR industry had a bad rap, the “rapidly-changing” (or, perhaps diminishing) world of print media made me hesitant to join the army of notebook-wielding hacks. I chose PR, secretly fearing that the “real” journalism students would turn up their noses at me.

The class lectures on the blogosphere and social media were intimidating at first. The fact that social media was changing everything in the PR industry was scary, but even worse was the constant warning from my professors: employers will expect you to know all of this! I dreaded the chore of learning how to tag, tweet, widget, Wiki and everything in between, but once I started blogging myself and following other people’s blogs, I changed my mind about this whole social media thing.

The future of journalism, PR and Democracy itself (as the words on Grady College’s front door proclaim) isn’t something to be feared; in fact, the newer mass communication strategies are even more fun! Social media adds new voices to the conversation and, in this new realm, even flacks like me are free to be published to their heart’s content. And, hey, if bloggers are now receiving credentials at the Democratic National Convention, they must be on to something.

But social media is still uncharted territory, which means that to truly understand it (and its uses in PR) one must hear from today’s social media pioneers. After all, one false move in today’s world can land a well-intentioned PR pro on The Bad Pitch Blog! I want to meet the professionals whose blogs I have followed, fellow social media beginners and everyone in between. I want to share what I’ve learned with others, using my newly-found tools. And, of course, I really want to be chosen to attend UGA Connect.

UPDATE: I will be one of the 10 students attending UGA Connect on Sept. 19-20! Besides attending the conference, I will be helping out with coverage of the event, through social media outlets of course! Follow me, ChristiePat, on Twitter, or visit the UGA Connect Blog for updates.

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Back to school. Not that I ever really left.

This semester I am actually excited to start back at UGA, because it’s my last one! I never thought the day would come, but I am finally taking my capstone PR class, PR Campaigns with Dr. Karen Russell. It’s a semester-long group project, and the other members of my group seem great. Our group’s client is Power Partners, Inc., an Athens-based manufacturer of energy transformers. Our work is mainly concerned with their new line of solar water heating systems, which have the potential for some great press coverage (and even legislative opportunities) as homebuilders look for ways to “go green.” I am very excited about getting to know everyone, and putting everything I’ve learned so far to use!

My other classes this semester include companion animal care, drama, softball and a psychology class. I am especially excited about breaking out the old softball glove, though it’s been years since I’ve played so I hope I don’t embarrass myself too badly.

In between my extremely difficult classes (he he!) I decided to take another internship at the Jeanette Rankin Foundation, which provides scholarships to low-income women age 35 and over. It’s been very interesting reading some of the scholars’ stories and learning about some of the obstacles they have overcome. Many of the women tell their stories in the upcoming book Daring to Dream, which will be released very soon. One of my main responsibilities this semester will be to promote this book, and I am very excited about honing my skills writing/ designing press materials and pitch letters.

Between PR Campaigns class and the internship, I am starting to feel like my own little PR agency! I will try to update more often, especially once the great job search begins.

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My Last Day at The Georgia Club

Tiffani Brooks, Alan Rockett, Sarah Freeman and Mike O'Malley

Some of my wonderful co-workers treated me to lunch at the Clubhouse for my last day. Counter-clockwise: Tiffani Brooks, Alan Rockett, Sarah Freeman and Mike O'Malley

Today was my last official day as an intern at The Georgia Club, and I simply can’t say enough great things about my experience in just one post! It was tough to say goodbye to everyone, especially with the “star treatment” I received today. I was treated to lunch in the Clubhouse, where I had to have the amazing shrimp & grits just one more time, and the kitchen surprised us with a delicious dessert platter for the occasion. Everyone in our office and other departments showered me with compliments and warm wishes. My direct supervisor, Sarah Freeman, gave me a very sweet card, two extremely thoughtful gifts and just a general boost of confidence. If you’re reading this, THANK YOU SARAH!

Apart from the amazing people I got to work with, the best part about this internship was the sheer amount of experience it has given me. This was no coffee and copies internship – I truly got to have a big part (and a say) in several projects, including electronic and print newsletters, several graphic design and writing projects, social media and more. I helped TGC start their very own blog, and am very excited to see it progress in the coming months along with the new Web site.

Most recently, I was involved with promoting The Georgia Club Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament (a few photos are posted on my Google album). I had the opportunity to sit in on many meetings, write several promotional e-mails and sponsorship letters, and design the program for the event. It was awesome to see the whole thing come together this past Saturday, August 2. I even got to rub shoulders with several local celebrities, including Neal Boortz, Chuck Dowdle, Suzanne Yoculan and many others. By some miracle of God, I was able to carry on a conversation with one of my long-time favorites, David Greene, for a few minutes without losing my cool. True to reputation, he was a very nice guy. It was the big-name journalists at the event that made me nervous 🙂

Like all good things, this experience had to come to an end. But I will never forget everything I have learned this past few months, or the kindness everyone at The Georgia Club has shown me.

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