I officially have a Master’s Degree!

After submitting my dissertation on Pinterest on August 27, I finally got my results back today! My mark (British for grade) was a 71! While 71 in the American system is pretty weak, it’s an “A” or a Distinction in the UK system, so I am thrilled! While I wasn’t worried about passing the dissertation part it’s still an amazing feeling to be officially done. Graduation is in late November (I think the same week of American Thanksgiving) and tickets to Scotland aren’t cheap so I’ll go ahead and say this to the rest of my classmates:

Congrats on your shiny new degree! We worked hard, spent far too much time in Bschool (especially room 14!), and learned a lot about marketing and patience in waiting for our grades.

We made some fantastic memories and hopefully lifelong friendships. I miss you all and hope your new jobs are everything you wanted and for those still looking (like me) it’ll happen! I hope to see all of you (kilts on the gentlemen of course) at T&C’s wedding in April, it can’t come soon enough!

Last night in Edinburgh

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Posted in post graduate student, recent graduate

Job Hunt Progress Report – Almost 2 Months In

With my 2 month full on job search process anniversary fast approaching on October 27, I’m pleased to give you my most recent progress report.

I had my interview last week for the Social Media Manager position at the marketing agency I’m interested in. I met the CEO for coffee and we chatted for about two hours. I think it went well, I enjoyed talking to her, it felt very natural. She said they’re interviewing candidates for the next two weeks so I should hear from her by then. After that there will be either another external interview (takes place outside the office) or a chemistry meeting at their office to determine if the candidate is a good personality fit with the rest of the team.

This is how I feel about waiting

Am I qualified?

I have the professional Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and mobile marketing experience they want. A good number of their clients are in the restaurant industry and while I haven’t used them for business, I have personally used Yelp and Urbanspoon. She asked if I’ve used Facebook ads, which I haven’t. In order to remedy this, I’ve been running a Facebook ads campaign for my blog to learn the process. I have Pinterest (hello 16,000+ word dissertation), blogging (WordPress and Blogger), and Instagram experience. While their clients currently don’t have them on contract for these services, it’s imperative to have used and understand these platforms should the opportunity arise to add more paid social media work to their portfolio.

Why I want the job

The agency- This agency is exactly the sort I want to work for: small but growing, interested in results for clients more than awards, approaches marketing strategically with a long term point of view rather than throwing campaigns out for the sake of a campaign, and has a variety of clients from different industries. I enjoyed my time with both the CEO and the account executive and think we’d work well together and I could learn a lot from them.

The position- I’ve had social media responsibilities at past jobs and internships but they’ve always been one of many daily activities required of me so I’ve never been able to truly dive in to the extent I want. I thoroughly enjoy social media but can only use it personally so much or else I’d overwhelm and turn off friends and followers. I want to put all that personal, professional, and research (Pinterest) experience to work for brands. Because social media is only part of what this agency’s services I’ll be able to focus on that aspect but also be part of their larger strategic planning process.

In the meantime

I want this job more than any others I’ve encountered in my job search and I believe I’m doing everything I can to land it. I have to be realistic that they are looking at other candidates, perhaps some who have been employed in a similar position for the last year instead of in school. I may not get the job so I need to keep looking. It’s hard because I feel this might be the perfect fit for me, this is what I would choose but sadly it’s not all up to me. The thought of not getting this job is what led to my most recent job search freak out so I’m going to take my own advice and suck it up and get back to the search.

Feeling a bit Lost (just finished up rewatching it too)… like I’m in Limbo

Any advice on how to stay positive/motivated looking for jobs while you’re still waiting to hear whether you’re still in the running for your ideal position?

I should know where I stand by next Tuesday, the 23rd so keep your fingers crossed for good news!

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Posted in job search

Lessons from Regina George- Surviving the Job Search Freak Out

So this week I’ve had my second job search freak out of this current job search. I say of this current search because I remember at least one freak out when I was looking for work in 2010. I learned I’m not alone in this phenomenon, my good friend living in Austin, Texas also experienced her second job search freak out this week.

What am I gonna do? Am I ever going to find a job? At what point am I going to have to move back in with my parents because I run out of money? How long can I be picky and realistically think I can actually land a job I want? Can I still take an unpaid internship or do finances take that option off the table? What’s wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? Should I have accepted that last temp job/internship even though I don’t want it?

These thoughts course through your head occasionally during regular, non-job freak out days. But then it happens… your heart races, body tenses up, and ALL of these thoughts hit you at once, much like the bus that hit Regina George in Mean Girls.

This is the job search freak out. 

My job search freak outs have resulted in tearful conversations with my boyfriend or mom (I was the one crying, not them). They’ve always concluded with, “You’re doing everything you can and you really haven’t been looking that long. Be patient, keep doing what you’re doing, and something will work out.” I then sigh, wipe my tears, and attempt to resume normal breathing. While they aren’t pretty and can be awkward for innocent bystanders, I thoroughly believe the job search freak out is cathartic. I feel like the stress that has been slowly building dissipates and I feel the sweet relief of venting the fears I generally keep safely locked up.

So here’s my advice to those on the verge of a job search freak out:

Don’t fight it, just let it happen.

Will it solve anything? No.

Will you feel better after? Most definitely.

Should job search freak outs happen daily? No, if they do you should probably go for a run or bake some cookies or whatever you do to relieve stress.

Embrace the job search freak out, breathe a sigh of relief, and get back to it. If you’re truly doing everything in your power to find a job, you WILL eventually find a job. For now just be thankful your thoughts are just thoughts and not a Mean Girls-esque bus. If Regina George broke her spine, but she still looks like a rockstar you can survive a job search freak out.

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Posted in job search, Uncategorized

Learning Social Media- Teaching My Mom Facebook

“There’re a lot of social media sites out there” Understatement of the year?

Starting up on a new social media platform can be daunting, even for the experienced social media-ite. But what if you still hadn’t caved in and started using Facebook, where do you start? I finally got my mom to sign up for Facebook in April and I’m still helping her get the hang of it. She had lots of questions and hesitations.

General Usage Questions: “Can you add me as a friend again Kati? I somehow managed to accidentally delete you when I was trying to click on your page”

Etiquette Questions: “I wanted to tell your sister how good her hair looks cut like that, is that ok to post on her wall or leave as a comment on her pictures?”

Audience Questions: “How did that end up being on her wall, and what’s the wall again? I meant to send that as a private message!”

Time Suck Hesitation: “I don’t want to sign up and become everyone’s friend because then I’ll have to spend just as much time replying to people on Facebook as I do with email.”

Privacy Hesitation: “I’m just worried about my privacy; I’ve read articles about how much data Facebook gets from your account.”

I don’t blame my mom for her hesitations or for having questions. Learning a social media site can be a lot of work. Each social media site is a different environment with a different etiquette, audience, interaction process, and purpose. Even finding the resources to learn a platform is overwhelming, if someone like my mom Googled, “How can I learn to use Facebook” and she’d get close to 3 Billion results.

Tuesday, at my interview I was asked if I had experience with Facebook ads, which I don’t. In order to make myself a better fit for the position I set out to learn them. A Google search for “Facebook ads” churns out almost a billion and a half results. So where do I start? I’ve outlined my process below.

Conquering a new form of social media:

-          Jump in. Start an account and just click around, I think in the case of social media there’s only so much that you can be taught, experience is key here. Watching how others use the site can give you a feel for how you might use it.

-          Talk to someone you know who uses the platform. Ask them a couple questions that come up when you’re exploring the site. Maybe ask them to login and watch how they navigate around the site.

-          Read 3-5 articles or blog posts about the site. Google “how to use Pinterest” (or whatever platform you’re learning). There are going to be a lot out there so I’d suggest starting with no more than 5 or else you’ll get overwhelmed and probably encounter a lot of repetition.

Disclaimer: For businesses, I’d suggest you explore the site with a personal account before you use it for your company. This allows you to play around and learn the platform without risking tarnishing your brand. Check out this article more specific to learning social media for business.

Whether you’re experienced in social media and just want to learn another platform or haven’t even joined Facebook yet, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by a new site but following the steps listed above should make it more manageable.

I’ll keep you updated on my Facebook ads learning experience. My “campaign” started today, so we’ll see how it goes! How do you go about learning a new social media site? Have any “oops, I’m new here” horror stories?

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Posted in social media

Twitter, the Modern Day “Comment Card” for Brands

Study conducted by Edison Research

According to an article by Jay Baer research shows that “42% of consumers complaining in social media expect 60 minute response time”. That’s a pretty lofty expectation from my point of view but definitely warrants some attention from brand managers. Considering the desired response time on Twitter got me thinking about my experiences with brands on Twitter…

CareerBuilder – The Good

Prior to this situation I’ve had very little experience with or loyalty to CareerBuilder. As you can see above, I tweeted a random rant about the irrelevance of the emails I’d received from CareerBuilder. I didn’t “@” CareerBuilder because I wasn’t expecting or even hoping for a response. I was pleasantly surprised when just over 13 hours later I received three tweets offering assistance. The CareerBuilder rep. cancelled my existing emails and set up a new account so I start receiving emails relevant to my job search. I likely could’ve figured out how to do this on my own but CareerBuilder took care of it for me.They were on top of monitoring brand mentions on Twitter and earned significant social media and brand cred with me. (Thanks Anja for the help!)

Harris Teeter – The Bad

My 3 Harris Teeter “shout-outs”

Harris Teeter, fairly upmarket grocery chain headquartered here in Charlotte, is my first choice for all my grocery needs. Since being back from Edinburgh (where I greatly missed HT) I’ve mentioned Harris Teeter on Twitter three times and never gotten a response. Two of the three are passive mentions, I didn’t expect a response to those (altho if they had offered me a job helping launch 201central that’d have been nice). However, the middle tweet is a direct request for customer service help that went unanswered. Why didn’t they reach out to me? It was a simple question and they could’ve redirected me to call their customer service helpline if they couldn’t answer my question themselves. Harris Teeter is active on Twitter, tweeting almost daily, and as a loyal HT customer, I’m disappointed they ignored my customer service request.

Steve Hofstetter – The Ugly

Please don’t judge my bratty-ness

Please don’t think I’m calling Steve Hofstetter or his social media behavior ugly. The ugly I’m referring to is my reaction. Steve’s a comedian I’ve interacted with on Twitter before. I tweeted him a question and when I didn’t get a response in four days I reacted childishly by calling him out on not responding. After I publicly drew attention to his non-response he apologized and answered my question. Although I got a response, I’m not proud of the method I used to get it. Maybe calling Steve out on his non-response left a sour taste in my mouth which prevented me from drawing attention to Harris Teeter ignoring me.

So what?

The size of a company, nature of their business, and their social media activities all play a large role in how many consumers are going to use Twitter as a platform for complaints.

What we learn from Harris Teeter: If companies want to maximize the positive potential for winning over unhappy customers via Twitter they MUST monitor incoming interactions with their Twitter accounts. A team of employees should be equipped to respond to complaints in a timely manner, even if it’s just saying “I don’t know the answer to that, but let me find out for you”.

What we learn from CareerBuilder: You can ‘wow’ a customer who may not have directly reached out to you by monitoring keywords relevant to the brand on Twitter and responding with solutions to their problems. This leaves a more personal and memorable impression than any ad I’ve encountered.

What we learn from my interaction with Steve Hofstetter: Brands- not responding to a tweet can frustrate followers to the point where they attempt to publicly call attention to your neglect.  For frustrated followers- you might get the attention you were hoping for but at what cost? Instead of lashing out with a sassy tweet, it might be more appropriate to take a more positive approach, one you won’t feel bad about later.

What interactions have you had with brands on Twitter? What is the maximum amount of time you think a brand should take to respond to a Twitter complaint? What companies are doing customer service “right” using Twitter or other social media platforms?

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Posted in Marketing Thoughts, social media

Two Interviews Wiser – Job Search Update

Weekly Job Search Update

Monday- Temporary Job Interview

I told the recruitment agency I’d be interested in accepting temp jobs while looking for something fulltime, if it would provide relevant work experience. So I got a call on Friday about interviewing for a potential 8-week gig but didn’t know much about it. I did my company research and went for the interview on Monday afternoon. I was really nervous because I hadn’t had any interviews since June of 2010 but I felt like I rocked it. Although the interview went well, I learned more about the opening and it just didn’t feel right, I asked the interviewer what transferrable skills she thought I’d take away from it and she said “Dealing with the public, you’ll get a lot of experience working with all sorts of different people from different cultures across the country”. In no way do I think I’ve learned all I can about people but I need to grow my skills more specific to marketing and the work I want to do long-term.

I could make $16 an hour for 8 weeks ($5,120 minus tax) but I’d be in a cliché dry office environment working 8:30-5:30 Monday-Friday on a project that doesn’t excite me or provide much relevant experience towards my goals. I think working those hours on a less than inspiring project would be draining and I’d likely get home and just be too worn out to make any progress on my search for a permanent job.  I took some time to think about the money I could make compared to the potential opportunities I might miss out on in those 8 weeks. It was a tough decision but after talking it through and getting some support from some loved ones (Mom and my boyfriend) I turned it down. It was hard! $5,120 is a lot of money (especially when my current income is $0) but I convinced myself to think long-term and I think I made the right decision.

Wednesday- Marketing Internship Interview

I had another interview come out of the blue for a marketing internship position I applied for at the beginning of September. Set up the interview for Wednesday, so Tuesday I did a lot of research on the company (I even bought one of their products to try so I could speak from experience on my opinion) and went through a good long interview prep session writing out answers to potential questions I might be asked. Went into the interview super excited because it sounded like a company and position I’d love. Once again, I felt like I nailed my part of the interview but the more I learned about the company and their expectations of the intern, the less interested I was in the position. My pre-interview impression was that they were an innovative company and developed and marketed innovative products and aimed to build long-term brands. I came to find out they’re more interested in copying existing products and using marketing to differentiate them enough to make some quick cash before their parent company makes a competing product and they lose their distribution power. While I understand the purpose of business is to make money, I want to be a part of innovation and long-term at least somewhat meaningful brand building. So after more deep thinking and discussions with loved ones, I said thanks but no thanks to this position too.

Job hunting is like shoe shopping

I was pretty discouraged, two interviews in a week and neither worked out to be something I wanted to be a part of. Was I being too picky? Was it stupid to turn down two paying jobs, even if they were just short-term? There was a lot of self-doubting but I knew I was being true to my goals. Shortly after I sent the thank you note taking myself out of the running for the internship position I got a call from the CEO of the marketing agency I’d met with my contact, E, to discuss last Friday. She wants to meet with me on Tuesday to get to know me and talk to me about what they’re looking for at their company. I am ecstatic about the opportunity to learn more about her marketing agency and see if there’s a potential spot for me there.

It has been a full week, full of potential and then disappointment and then another exciting potential opportunity. But I think that’s how job searching goes, it’s kind of like shoe shopping, you see a pair you love and think they’re perfect but you try them on and they feel like they’d give you blisters so you move on to the next pair. This pair fits great but gives you cankles so those won’t work either. Then you see another pair and before you try them on you get all excited that these could be the perfect shoes, exactly what you’re looking for. So that’s where I am, I’m getting ready to try on the next pair of shoes and see how they fit and how they look on me. Hopefully this is THE pair for me.

I think the Guinness shoe is just perfect

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Posted in job search, recent graduate

Job Search Advice from a Current Job Seeker

I got an email today from Scott MacFarlane, a reporter, Charlotte’s WSOC-TV’s Washington correspondent. He’s doing a story tonight about employment in NC, happened upon my blog, and wanted to interview me about my job search experience here in Charlotte. We Skyped this afternoon and one of the things he asked was “What advice do you have for job seekers?” Which got me thinking, what have I been told about job hunting that’s been helpful and what have I experienced that could be helpful to others?

Keep in mind I’m not a job search expert, this is just what I’ve learned from my personal experience, some of what  I’ve done that’s helped me land two interviews this week.

Keep this in Mind while Job Hunting

1. Before you start applying – Know what you’re looking for

You know what basic industry you’re pursuing but would you be willing and financially able to take a part-time or internship position? How much have you thought about the specific type of position you want?  Knowing what to look for saves you time and energy otherwise wasted applying to jobs that you wouldn’t want anyways. Being strategic and focused in your search doesn’t mean being so set on a specific job title that you’re not willing to pursue specific positions with different names.

2. Be remarkable- Interesting but not outrageous

Every interaction you have with a potential employer should leave them with a positive lasting impression of you and what you can bring to their organization. Keep this in mind when tailoring your resume, writing cover letters, during an interview (of course), writing a thank you note after the interview, and even when you record your voicemail message. Just like retail brands, you want to be top-of-mind. When they think of their open position, your name and face should come to mind first. Be memorable- present an interesting but consistent image of yourself. Don’t let them forget you!

3. Use Social Media as a tool- Don’t let it be a strike against you

My mother loves to remind me of this one, lock down your privacy settings on Facebook. Twitter too if you don’t have any professionally relevant Tweets. Do more than just being on LinkedIn, be active and engaged on LinkedIn.  Use both Twitter and LinkedIn as platforms for you to present your industry knowledge by sharing relevant blogs or news articles. Google yourself to see if your privacy settings are tight enough and to be prepared to answer for whatever interviewers may find.

4. Talk to Everyone- Yes, I mean everyone

I did almost an entire post on this topic but I’ll summarize here. Friends and family can provide valuable contacts for networking opportunities and talking to them about your job search adds to the list of people on the lookout for job openings that you’d be a great fit for. They also provide encouragement as your personal cheerleaders.  Find people working at companies where you’d like to be employed either through friends of friends or reaching out to them on LinkedIn, ask them if you can take them out for coffee for half an hour and just learn about their job and companies.  This has been huge in opening doors in my current job search. The time I spend meeting and talking with people is incredibly worthwhile.

5. Be Knowledgeable- Show that you’re tuned into the world around you

Pay attention to world news and be aware of new developments in your industry. This comes in handy to make conversation with a potential contact at Starbucks or to break the ice during an interview. When filling out an application and writing a cover letter, research the company you’re applying for and incorporate something you learn about the company into your cover letter. This shows initiative, research skills, and genuine interest in the position. Showing you’ve done your research on the company is even more crucial during interview so do not walk into an interview without a thorough understanding of at least the company’s background.

So there’s the 5 bits of advice I would give to job-seekers, I have so much more to say on the subject but will save the rest for another post. What would you add to the list?

Also, if you’re in Charlotte and near a TV watch Channel 9 (WSOC-TV) at 5:00 today and tell me what you think of Scott’s story.

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Posted in job search, recent graduate

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