Buckle Down for Learning

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A new semester has begun. I’m already into a week’s worth of spring schoolwork. Based off initial impressions, this semester will be more difficult than last. For one, I’m taking an additional class. I’m also taking a graduate statistics course that counts as a cognate. But with everything on my plate, I think I should manage. Last August, my classwork was overwhelming at first but eventually I settled.

I’m still in the settling phase, but I’m starting my assignments for each class. I’ve already started a project and completed a paper and a lab. I’ve also read chapters for most of the classes. I’m not complaining though. If anything, I’m thankful that I have classes and work to keep me busy. I prefer being productive over idle. It’s a bonus that I’ll learn at the same time.

This semester I’ll be taking:

  • Graphic Communications. In this course we’ll be learning the basics of design software. We’ll also have a few design projects of our own, which I’ll most likely share on this blog.
  • Applied Statistics. This is an important class in terms of graduate education and research. I usually struggle with math, so I hope I’ll make a few breakthroughs this spring.
  • Public Opinion. This is a course taught through the journalism school at UGA each year. A number of journalism, advertising and public relations students take it since the topic has to do with their future careers.
  • PR Topics. This topics class specifically focuses on health communication. We’ll be looking at real world examples and creating health PR campaigns of our own.

Happy New Year!

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Image via messagesquotes.com

It’s a brand new year, folks. December 2014 did a number on me. I wrapped up my first semester of grad school, made gifts on a shoestring budget and caught a severe case of the flu. This only gave me more reason to put down blogging for a bit. I’ve come back with some gusto though. I’m ready to post on a (somewhat) regular basis with writing stories, thrifting ideas and PR tips.

I’m not a huge resolutions person. I make goals for each year, but I try to be realistic about them. Instead of losing weight, I try to lead a healthier lifestyle. Instead of simply saving money, I try to budget better and spend less on things like coffee trips or restaurant outings.

So for this year, my main goal is to try and slow down. I often work hard and burn out fast. I need to be better about pacing myself, especially since I’ve got plenty of years of work ahead. For 2015, I want to take things as they come. I want to naturally enjoy what happens in this new year. Details of this adventure to come.

 

December 2014 Social Media Roundup

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Image via projectsocialize.com

High schoolers wise up about social media when applying to colleges via CBS News

Tennessee town bans negative comments on social media via The Tennessean

15 Social Media Companies to Watch in 2015 via Forbes

NBC Universal Offers Social Media Guarantees to Advertisers via Ad Age

4 Free Must-Use Analytics Tools for Social Media Marketers via Entrepreneur

Why You Are Wasting Your Time on Social Media and How to Fix It via Huffington Post

Sydney siege: Social media could hamper police operations via ABC Online

Meet Branden Hampton: The Largest Independent Social Media Publisher in the World via PR Newswire

Sourcing Feedback from Social Media via Washington Post blog

 

One and Done

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In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve neglected my blog. And for good reason too. I hit the period of final exams for my first semester of graduate school. These last few weeks have been some of the most intense that I’ve experienced.

And to risk sounding cheesy, I believe I’ve learned a number of things. These are both about the specific program I’m in and about myself.

1. I’ve re-affirmed why I’m in graduate school. I want to get my master’s degree so I can one day be in a management position in the PR and communications industry. As fun as school is, I’m on a professional track and will end classes when I graduate.

2. I have to get things done early (when I can). My stress tends to accumulate over time. I’m much happier when I complete assignments earlier. It’s difficult and sometimes impossible, but I prefer to complete tasks early.

3. I need to relax a bit more. I’ve been so tense the first semester because I’m still getting settled in the program. Next semester I’d really like to get out more and go to cultural events in the school and community. I want to be more engaged with what’s going on around me.

4. I have to budget more effectively. At times, my checking account has dwindled to a dangerously low level. I need to prioritize my spending so I can have more financial cushion.

5. I’m still not a statistician. I like to pretend that I can do in-depth research, but I don’t have the skills (at least not yet) to run real analyses. I’ll be in a stats class next semester, so hopefully I can improve my skills a little more.

There are plenty more lessons, but these five stand out the most. Even though school has been crazy, I’ve still managed to work on a few creative projects, like a short book and a feature length script. It’s challenging without a doubt, but grad school hasn’t gotten the best of me yet.

November 2014 Social Media Roundup

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3 Reasons Why Relying on Social-Media Marketing is a Losing Strategy via Entrepreneur

Facebook finally put its privacy policy in plain English via Mashable

In Social-Media Era, When is Free Speech Illegal? via Washington Post

Top 25 Restaurants on Social Media via Forbes

Social Media Deepens Partisan Divides. But Not Always. via New York Times

How to achieve fundraising success on social media via The Guardian

Social media posts from the streets of Ferguson via Atlanta Journal Constitution

Russian radio station forced to impose social media rules via The Telegraph

Why and How to Shop Locally on Small Business Saturday via The Huffington Post

Space, the Final Frontier (for Social Media): Talk to Astronauts with This New App via Vogue

Writing a Book

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In the spirit of National Novel Writing Month, I’m writing a book.  National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an initiative for writers all over the world to pen a novel in a month. In order to win NaNoWriMo, you must successfully write 50,000 words in November. It’s an opportunity for writers to create without fear in a short amount of time. With NaNoWriMo, you’ll want to write first and edit later.

Even though I have a particularly busy month, I couldn’t resist at least giving NaNoWriMo a shot. Technically what I’m doing is a book and not a novel. It doesn’t classify as a novel because it isn’t fictitious. Instead it’s a book about the basics of public relations. I’m naming it after this blog “All Things Communications.” The book will be intended for young students or professionals looking to start in the industry.

So far I’ve written 10,000 words, or 20 percent of the book. I still have 40,000 words to go before I finish. I plan to do about 2,000 words a day to get it done. I also have a research proposal, presentation, work articles and family events this month. If I don’t reach my goal, I won’t be entirely surprised. I’m still going to do my best to get as close to 50,000 words. The important part of NaNoWriMo is giving it a try.

Work and School Balance

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I was having a conversation with a classmate today and we were talking about the struggle of balancing work, projects and school. Both us work as graduate assistants and we’re in our first semester of our graduate programs. While we both knew the first semester would be difficult, we didn’t realize how stressful it would be.

For the last four years, I’ve worked and gone to school. I maintained this balance through the majority of undergrad. I would hold (at least) a job, serve in an extracurricular organization and take a full load of classes. I made it through each semester, earning the grades I wanted and saving money at the same time. Eventually the work paid off and I was able to send myself to Europe (twice) for short vacations before I graduated from college.

That’s not to say I didn’t burn out at times. A couple of semesters I seriously struggled. I had a problem turning down opportunities and loaded my schedule with too many commitments. That’s why I knew that I had to change my habits when I started graduate school.

Since the start of my program, I’d like to say I’ve been more successful in my school and work balance. I’ve made sure not to take on more tasks than I can handle. I feel like I have just enough to keep me productive, but sane.

My schedule allows me to have a few free afternoons a week. With this time, I can either study more or do things for fun. With my schedule, I’m able to visit local bookshops, get coffee or go to yoga class if I feel like it. The important part of maintaining the work-school balance is to include some downtime.

And while I can’t deny that graduate school is more stressful, I think it’s worth it. Most of the time my stress has motivated me to work harder. More stress absolutely comes from handling both school and work, but luckily this stress is short term. How it changes my school work will be a long term benefit.