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Posts Tagged ‘young’

Doing Everything Right But Still Not Getting Hired?

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on September 1, 2009

What advice do you have for new grads in PR/journ/marketing/comm?

What advice do you have for new grads in PR/journ/marketing/comm?

I find so much information about what GenY is not doing right in regards to the interview process, but I know plenty of people who don’t show up to interviews in a bath robe; they have their resumes reviewed by experts; and, they ask what they are told are really great questions; but, they still don’t get hired. I wondered if there is still something that we’re doing wrong.

On August 17, 2009 I was participating in a hashchat called #journchat on Twitter. Towards the end of the discussion the professionals on the chat responded to this question from the host, @journchat: “Q8 What advice do you have for new grads in PR/journ/marketing/comm? Doesn’t have to be social media specific. #journchat” I re-tweeted what @katcalbes said, and, after speaking a few more times, I asked if she would mind offering more advice.

Kat Calbes is a PR strategist and branding counselor based in Los Angeles. What follows is her advice for interviewees on other statements or behaviors that can result in a poor interview.

In general, telling an interviewer that you are a “people person” because you’re an outgoing social butterfly doesn’t mean you should be in PR.  Here are other “no-no” behaviors and statements that can jeopardize one’s potential for landing a job:

Dropping the L-word too many times. This is a personal favorite of mine because I learned this lesson through one of my mentors early in my career. Plenty of young (and not-so-young) professionals wander through life using the “L-word” a bit too much.  It’s distracting. It’s unprofessional. And frankly, I want my company to be represented by someone who can clearly articulate their thoughts.  For example, We represented this “like” one company that “like” offered this “like” product that “like” does X, Y and “like” Z.  It was “like” the best campaign that I “like” ever got to work on and “like” I would work there in “like” a heartbeat.

Showing up to an interview without a portfolio or writing samples. We want to know if you can actually write (not just talk talk talk!). In PR and marketing, writing is one of the most basic, yet most important, tools for success. Writing means both internal and external documents – from press releases and byline articles to internal newsletters and basic memos to your bosses or clients.

Telling the interviewer you don’t really read the news. As PR pros, we need to be alert and on top of current events and trends in order to leverage our company/clients for timely media coverage or promotional opportunities. Make sure to follow the news, read industry-related blogs and pay attention to what is being covered in the media landscape. Hearing an entry-level candidate say, “Oh, I get my news from reading People, InStyle, etc.” is not what you want to hear (unless the position is for entertainment PR, which would then of course be relevant).

Don’t say “Oh, I don’t have any questions, you answered them all already.” It’s important to ask intelligent questions that show your genuine interest in the company. Even if the interviewer has covered every nook and cranny, always have questions handy. Write them down on a notebook (I’ve seen this and totally support it!). If the conversation truly covered every topic under the sun about the job or company, ask questions about the interviewer.  It’s just as important to know more about your future supervisor as it is for them to get to know you. “How did you get started in this company? What have you learned so far in your position?  What do you enjoy the most about your job?  What is your management style? Can you tell me a little about the department or team that I’d be working with?”

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F.O.F. – Fear of Failure is Blocking Your Progress

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on August 1, 2009

The following are two scenes from “Family Matters”. Carl, a husband, father to two teenage children and a police officer is feeling badgered by caring family members who want him to take a test that, if he passes, will promote him to lieutenant. Afraid to take the test, he displaces his own frustration and anger with himself onto the people who try to help him, namely, his teenage neighbor, Steve.

Steve: “You don’t wanna take that test because you have F.O.F.”

Carl: “What is F.O.F?”

Steve: “F.O.F is fear of failure. Even the most confident people have moments of fofnoscity.”

Carl: “Are you calling me…a fofnoficator?”

Steve: “When you’re feeling nervous, when you’re trapped in that emotional pit of doubt and despair, that’s when you dig deep into your character; and, peel away the layers of cowardice, self-doubt and nay saying until you get down to the raw steel of yes-can-do; and, then, you hot dip that steel, and fortify yourself.”

Carl: “Go home, go home, go home!”

Carl’s mother, Estelle, is called to help by his wife, Harriette, who he also became angry with for trying to encourage him to take the test. In speaking to his mother, the audience becomes privy to the real reason why Carl is so hesitant. Other officers have taken the test and failed, implying a feeling of intellectual inferiority. He is afraid of the disappointment that, he presumes, comes with failure. His mother informs him, though, that the real disappointment comes with not even starting.

Carl: “It’s a real tough test. A lot of very smart guys have failed it. Dad was a lieutenant. If I take the test and fail, I’ll feel like I’m letting him down.”

Estelle: “The only way you could let him down is if you didn’t try at all.”

This begs the question: Is it better to fail and make the people proud of your attempt; or, is it better to never start, and make the people wonder what you could have been? Worse, make you wonder what you could have been.

I have struggled all my life with the idea of becoming somebody. I never knew if I would ever discover what it was that I wanted to do, or who I wanted to be. Many ideas passed through my mind as a child growing up, but one was continually glossed over as immaterial.  A hairdresser, I thought I’d like to become because I enjoyed (and still enjoy) styling hair. I discovered a passion for music and dance but couldn’t sing; and, picking up choreography, was not my thing. I thought I could be a web page designer, coding pages, and making blank canvases come to life. That didn’t work out so well, either, though I still love to code. Something kept gnawing at me. A purpose for my life was there but was invisible to me.

I fought myself a lot; and, I wondered why am I here? Has everything that I’ve been through led me to the point I am at now? Too often the victim wants to respond. Too seldom the victor. I contemplate my life even though I know the answers. I wonder what my purpose is when in my heart it’s clear. The philosopher speaks up and goes on some diatribe about the mind/body connection and the disconnect that is evident. No. There’s no disconnect. The mind knows it. The heart knows it. I have all my answers and, yet, I stagnate. I stare off into the distance and envision myself enshrouded in darkness, sitting on the edge of a cliff above some grand body of water. Fade out. No Mary Tyler Moore-esque beret tossing moment – just the wonder of what will be.

Have all of the great thoughts been thought? There is nothing great or of value left to say, so what significance will my point truly have? I wondered. I was afraid to write for fear of being mediocre and not being remembered for having made a difference but, rather, for having made a fool of myself. Acknowledging what it is that I am to do in this world has been my point of hardship for so long. If other people have done it and better than me, what’s the point? The best statement has already been made. The best answer has been given. It’s not that I, vainly, want the admiration for having given the best answer. If someone has offered the answer that solves the problem, why continue offering solutions inefficiently? In The Mis-education of the Negro Dr. Carter G. Woodson affirms,

Their conception is that you go to school to find out what other people have done, and then you go out in life to imitate them. What they have done can be done by others, they contend; and, they are right. They are wrong; however, in failing to realize that what others have done, we may not need to do. If we are to do identically the same thing from generation to generation, we would not make any progress…What this age needs is an enlightened youth not to undertake the tasks like theirs but to imbibe the spirit of these great men and answer the present call of duty with equal nobleness of soul.

Imitation may be the finest form of flattery, but the great writers of the past would want new writers to use their words as inspiration for work that concentrates on the needs of their own generation. The problem may be the same, but the people have changed. The mindsets have changed. Each new generation needs someone of theirs to illustrate the issues of the time. As the greatest who have done it continue to leave this life, who are the people who will take their words as inspiration to shine a light on needed solutions?

Michael Jackson served as the inspiration for many entertainers of this generation. However, Jackson was inspired by the work of entertainers before him. Had he said to himself, “Jackie Wilson is the best. Why should I try to contribute anything to the music industry,” this generation would not have his unique contributions to serve as inspiration for their passionate pursuits.

Why wonder what you could have been? Listen to your music within.

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Dear BET, Why Do You Hate Us?

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on July 28, 2009

This is a letter written to Black Entertainment Television (BET) by a fifteen year old who wants to know why BET does not promote positive images of Black people, choosing only to exploit the negative, profit-making images. I did not edit the content, spelling or grammar of this letter.

Dear Debra Lee,

I’m Janita Patrick, a 15-year-old African-American female from Cincinnati. Recently, I watched the 2009 BET Awards and felt the strongest urge to reach out to the program. My family is of the typical middle-class variety; both parents and four brothers. See, I’m a junior in high school (got skipped), so naturally EVERYBODY in my age group watches BET. I’m used to seeing the sagging pants, tattoos, lack of emphasis on reading and respecting women that makes up your videos. People in my class live this out everyday, while teachers tell us that we’re acting just like the people in your shows.

In your shows. That struck me as odd, because I would think that with your show being the primary outlet for black entertainers and musicians, and considering the context of blacks in this country, there’s a social responsibility factor to consider. I would never blame BET alone for the way a great deal of my classmates act and talk and dress. Everybody makes their own choices. However, if anybody is aware the power of television on impressionable minds, it’s the people running the television operations. If you are not aware, then perhaps you shouldn’t be running the operations.

Guess who watches your network the most? Not those who are intelligent enough to discern foolishness from substance, but those who are barely teenagers, impressionable and believing. It’s awfully cruel to plant seeds of ignorance in fertile minds. You know it’s really bad when the co-founder of BET, Sheila Johnson, said that she “really doesn’t watch it” anymore.

I am constantly fighting against the images and messages put forth on your program. What made you think that it’s okay to bring my classmates on stage to dance behind Lil Wayne and Drake to a song talking about boffing “every girl in the world”? Why does reality train wrecks have to thrown in our faces? Are you aware of the achievement gap going in inner-city African-American communities? A report from America’s Promise Alliance, a non-profit group started by Colin Powell, recently stated that 47 percent of high school students in the nation’s top 50 cities don’t graduate. (Fifty-four percent of males of color in Ingham County graduated from high school, compared to 74 percent of white males). This isn’t because of BET per se, but I don’t see any episodes on your show doing anything to counteract this disturbing trend. In fact, your show is a part of this cycle of media depicting us at our worst.

My older brother told me something about profit being the number one goal for every business. I’m not sure I understand what that means, but I do know that your shows have to be entertaining enough to generate viewers, which is how you make your money. But surely our culture is rich enough to entertain without anything extra to “boost” ratings; why the over-the-top foolery? I listen to classmates talk about Baldwin Hills like it’s the Manhattan Project. It doesn’t take much effort to produce a throng of degenerative reality shows, nor does it take much to eliminate socially conscious shows off the air. MTV isn’t much better, but since when does two wrongs ever make a right? It’s one thing for white television shows to depict us in a particular way, but for black television shows to do it is baffling.

Why do you hate us?

All of the values that my parents seek to instill in me and my brothers seems to be contradicted by a more powerful force from the media, and your show is at the forefront. Your network is the only network that features rap videos and shows exclusively to children of my color. I know that you have no control over the music that the artists put out, but you do have influence as to how you air these videos. I’m sure if a stand was taken to use the talent in your organization to actually crank out thought-provoking entertaining shows and videos, then artists will follow suit. Being that they need you as much as you need them.

There was one awkward segment in the BET Awards when Jamie Foxx singled out three black doctors-turned-authors, but the introduction was so powerless that many of the viewers had no idea who they were. Had they been introduced as Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins, three brothers who overcame major obstacles to become a success without the use of lyrics that berate women, the sell of substance that destroy communities or through raps about loose gunplay, then maybe my classmates would have come to school talking about more than Beyonce, T-Pain’s BIG ASS CHAIN and Soulja Boy Tell Em’s hopping out the bed.

But they weren’t introduced like that. It seemed like a throwaway obligatory tribute to appease some irritated fans. It missed the mark. Big time. Ask Michelle Obama if she watches BET or encourages Sasha and Malia to do so. Ask President Obama. It’s a reason he is the leader of the free world, and it isn’t because of Buffoonery Exists Today.

You’d be surprised how smart young black children can be with the absence of Blacks Embarrassing Themselves. If your goal is to deter engaged, forward-thinking articulate black minds, then consider your goal fulfilled. It’s hard-pressed to think that your shows are working to promote cultural betterment. However, it’s quite easy to conclude that the destruction of black children through the glorification of immoral behavior and rushed production is by design. Poison is being swallowed by every viewer who adores your network, and the worse thing is, these viewers – my classmates – are not even aware what they’re swallowing.

There is nothing edifying for black women on your show. I don’t judge people who do throng to your programs though; I mean, if a jet crashes in right in front of me, I’ll watch it too. That’s why I don’t flip by your channel…I don’t even want to be sucked in.

I have aspirations of acquiring a law degree and possibly entering the public sphere, so I can counteract conditions in my community perpetuated by the images on your channel. So I should thank you, because in a weird sense, your shoddy programming is the wind behind my back. And it is my hope that I can accomplish my dreams despite BET’s pictorial messages, because Lord knows it won’t be because of them.


Janita Patrick

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Why I Changed My Twitter Handle – Part Two

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on July 20, 2009

“This changes the dynamics of the situation.”

After working my way through Twitter for a couple of months, steadily following people, gaining followers, and making multiple connections with people, I realized I was having to explain one thing in particular often: my Twitter username is not my real name. The first person I spoke with outside of Twitter referred to me as Tamarah, thinking, for good reason, that this was my name. I informed her of the truth, and we went on with the discussion. The second time I spoke with someone outside of Twitter was for a job inquiry. During the interview I had to explain the significance of my chosen name once again. Connecting with people that I met through Twitter on LinkedIn resulted in the same situation; but, it was one experience with a new connection that profoundly impacted my decision.

I didn’t mean to offend her, but, apparently, I did. My reasoning for having a username different from my own name is two-fold. I chose the pseudonym because Tamarah is a name given to me by a family member. Tamar translated can mean palm tree or lotus flower. These both have special significance to me. The lotus flower, especially, reflects the process of my personal growth. I also use it as the image on the web version of my profile page for @TamarahLand, which I designed myself. Tamarah Land signifies lotus flower land or, taking poetic license, land of the lotus flower. Every time I see the name it reminds me of where I have been and helps me to continue forward. Having had such frequent experiences with explaining my name, I thought that we would continue on with the original conversation. Uhhh…no. I was wrong. I will never know what would have transpired differently, but this experience made me realize the potential to lose out on career building opportunities; and, that alone was reason enough to run…quick, fast, and in a hurry in a different direction. I love being creative and poetic, but let’s be real. It’s a username on Twitter. There are better things to be obstinate about. I don’t want anyone to feel as though they have not been interacting with the real me ever. My second reason for the pseudonym was control over my own identity in a world where people research first and ask questions, possibly, never. There will be more to come on that topic in a forthcoming post.

I made a new account for a few different reasons, and I’m already pleased with this decision. I have finally been able to get back into hashchats. The #blogchat on Sunday July 19, 2009 was excellent and resulted in heaps of new connections; and, one that may result in an exciting new endeavor to help the Gen-Y’ers out there. This would not have been possible with my previous account because no one using any searching tool to follow #blogchat would have seen my tweets, which is also the reason why I didn’t just change my display name. Also, I no longer have to explain the meaning of my name, who I really am, and why I chose the name. This was confusing to people upon first introduction. Lastly, now that I am making significant connections, I want people to be fully confident that they are interacting with me – the real me.

Thanks for reading!

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The Importance of Being Intelligent – Even on Twitter

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on June 19, 2009

Today I saw this tweet from @YBAC: It’s easy to know y libs hate fox news: they hate facts,abore truth,their so idealistic they run from reality,& r intimidated by intellect

Given the 140 character limit on Twitter I can understand the need to shorten words, but this tweet was simply misspelled. Wanting to help this person make his partisan message more impactful, I sent the following: umm…it’s abhor* truth…they’re* so idealistic…i’m just’s tough to make a call on intellect with misspellings.

In my opinion I was not implying that the tweeter lacked intellect. I was stating that it is difficult to suggest an entire segment of people are intimidated by intellect when this tweet was misspelled. Now, I am not perfect. I have sent a tweet or two containing a misspelled word, but I immediately tweet the correction. I would not have been so quick to suggest this correction had I not also received the following from this same person: I think your talented and want to know if you find interest in our organization. What do u think of our mission and our service?

This is clearly a repeat offender.

Let’s dive further into this story. This person contacted me after reading through my bio on LinkedIn. I let it go when they misspelled my name in the reply to me. I passed on correcting the afore-mentioned tweet. I could not let the typos continue, though, in a message that was clearly seeking support. Logging back in after work (key point), I see this: U want to question MY intellect over some typos on twitter? You couldn’t finish college & cant find a job. lets call a trus.

Now, if I were someone who hadn’t talked myself through the struggles of not being able to finish paying for school, I would have been offended and hurt by this suggestive statement. My inability to finish college had nothing to do with lack of intellect. Further, if this person had actually paid attention to my bio on LinkedIn, they would have seen that I am, indeed, presently employed.

Here’s the ground up meat of this tale. This is someone who wants to develop a support network for their political organization: Young, Black and Conservative. In the offending tweet this person stated that liberals are intimidated by intellect. I won’t go into how that generalization cannot possibly be the foundation for any useful argument. I will, however, state that one cannot underestimate the importance of being intelligent in a forum as public as Twitter. If you are tweeting your own personal thoughts that have no association with any professional organization, make as many typos as you choose. Doing so, however, makes you appear as though you do not care about your personal brand. When you make these statements in representation of your professional organization, though, you had better be as close to perfect as possible. Not only are you representing your organization, but you are representing the people who work within that organization. Further, as an organization entitled young and black, you are representing two additional segments of society; and, I, for one, am tired of the stigma of ignorance that is placed onto both young people and black people.

Someone’s character is not judged solely by their time in the spotlight, it is judged by their time in the shadows, as well. I would hope that you would want yourself and your organization to be judged as professional and worthy of support based on well-researched arguments and intellectual discourse. My correction was only to help. Your response validates a notion written about in the Miseducation of the Negro: black people refuse to be led by black people for fear of one upstaging the other. I apologize if you think that I was trying to upstage you when I was only trying to help. In the future I hope your political statements are better researched than your attempt at an attack on me.

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