Guest Post: Choosing Your Major

Hello friends of Jenn! My name is Rachael and I am from The Overwhelmed Undergrad. As my blog implies, I am an undergraduate student who is way too busy doing anything and everything I can get myself into. I am a junior biology major with a minor in equine studies. I have four jobs on my college campus, I am involved in various clubs, and I ride for my college’s IHSA Equestrian Team. I started my blog to write about the random musings of an overwhelmed undergraduate student. Today I want to share with you my experience with choosing a major, something that seems to be more difficult than it should be.

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Ever since I can remember, I wanted to become a veterinarian when I grew up. Animals are my passion, my whole world, so why wouldn’t I want to help them for the rest of my life? Entering college, I knew that there was no other option for me other than majoring in pre-veterinary science to prepare myself for veterinary school. I made my way to my new college home, 250 miles away from my hometown, ready to make my dreams come true. A year and a half later, at 19 years old, I realized that I had absolutely NO IDEA what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. *Cue in immense amounts of panic*

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After way too much deliberation, crying to my friends and family, and having many conversations with my professors, I changed my major to biology. I saw the little light bulb shining above my head: I was not obligated to do what I always thought I was going to do. Do I still love animals more than anything? Yes. Do I still want to help them? Yes. Do I still want to enjoy my career? Yes. Do I NEED to go to veterinary school to do this? No.

College is about finding yourself. Yes, this is probably the most common cliché you are going to hear before, during, and after your college years, but it is probably also the most important. It is okay to explore the opportunities that the world has to offer. If the opportunities presented to you seem more appealing than what you thought about in the past, then go for something different! The only person that you have to please is yourself. If you do not major in something you enjoy to enter a career that you will enjoy, the only thing you are going to be is miserable.

What are a few “simple” pieces of advice that I can give to an incoming or new college student about choosing their major?

  1. Choose a major, take classes and electives you enjoy, but always keep an open mind.
  2. Get involved on campus and throughout the community. You may love doing something that you never would have expected.
  3. Learn everything you possibly can. I don’t care how boring that stupid short story is for your Intro to Literature class… Read it, dissect it, find a different viewpoint, and learn.
  4. Attend lectures hosted by your school, even if extra credit isn’t being offered.
  5. After all of that, change your major if you want to. Change it 5 times. It is okay to be indecisive. (But remember to make sure it won’t affect your graduation date…)
  6. Most importantly, make new friends and have fun. College will fly by without you noticing, but it is such an amazing experience.

Thank you for letting me visit! I hope you all enjoyed.

 

About the Contributor:

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Rachael is in her junior year at a small private college in Massachusetts, majoring in biology with a minor in equine studies. She believes that animals are better than people and leading a boring life is completely unacceptable. Her blog, The Overwhelmed Undergrad, is a place in the universe where she shares stories from her anything but calm life.

 

Guest Post: Shaping Your Career Path With A Blog

Everything starts with an idea. For me, though, it started with a fear. The idea of people reading my writing has always been horrifying to me. I would cover my paper when teachers walked by, shoo my sister away if she saw me scribbling, and then later on, I just decided not to write anymore.  The fear of someone else reading and then possibly critiquing my writing was enough to stifle my passion for a long time.

I am, now a public relations major at Penn State, and after being undecided my first two years (more like, undecided most of my life), I could not be happier with my decision. I love PR because I have a passion for people. I want to be the bridge between person and company, and public relations is the perfect way to do that.

Public relations isn’t all glam and gold though. I have to write, and people have to read it. My writing professor this semester gave me great advice, and that was to write everyday. Simple enough, right? I wanted to take this a step further. It’s one thing to write everyday, but I saw this as an opportunity to rekindle an old flame. After not writing for so long, I wanted to do something worthwhile with it.  So naturally, I started a blog.

I have only been blogging for a couple of months. After I published my first post, I was excited, horrified and proud. Nothing is more permanent then the Internet, and now I had about 300 of my own words, published for the whole world to see. I wanted to keep going. The fear I had of people reading my writing and critiquing and judging was slowly starting to disappear.

After only a couple months of blogging, I was accepted to be a member of the Her Campus Blogger Network. But, what’s even more exciting to me, is that I’ve told my friends and my family about my blog. I was afraid of judgment, but all I am getting is love and support.

I cannot wait for my blog to grow into something truly amazing and wonderful. I am excited for upcoming projects and my future as a blogger. I am grateful for my new followers and my exponentially growing views that I receive everyday. But I don’t think anything will ever compare to seeing someone I love and them telling me, “Hey, I read your blog today.”

 

About the Contributor:

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Briannah is currently a sophomore studying public relations at Penn State University. She recently discovered her passion for blogging and loves to write about the obstacles she faces in college and how she is over coming them. Her blog, Briannah., is a lifestyle, fashion, and beauty blog where she gives her readers the inside scoop on fashion trends and beauty product reviews, as well as allows them to see her mistakes and triumphs as a college student.

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

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Whether you’re a student in college applying for internships, a recent graduate searching for an entry-level position or already a professional in the working world, chances are, you’ve got a LinkedIn page with your name on it. No matter where you are in your career path, it’s important to optimize and maintain your LinkedIn profile. Doing so will allow you to become more visible to other students/colleagues in your industry and will also help you increase your connections to the industry. Here are some key areas of your LinkedIn page to pay extra attention to:

Profile Photo

If your profile photo on LinkedIn is currently a white shadow of a bald person, I recommend that you upload a photo of yourself as soon as possible! Without a profile photo, if your profile comes up in a search, it’s unlikely that someone will choose to view it, under the assumption that you probably haven’t logged on to your LinkedIn in awhile.

What makes a good profile photo? Your picture should be a professional headshot– it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just remember to smile, because everyone loves an approachable face. Stay away from selfies and modeling photos, as well as photos with a limb cut off because you had to crop out the person standing next to you.

Headline

Make sure that your headline is not only search-friendly, but also says who you are and what you specialize in and speaks to your audience. Maybe you’re a ‘Detail-oriented public relations student eager to learn from a corporate PR internship‘ or a ‘Seasoned public relations professional specializing in managing crises.‘ Whoever you are, make sure that stands out in your headline– leverage those 120 characters!

Summary

Write your summary in first person– LinkedIn, after all, is a social media platform– let some personality shine through! Who are you? What experience (and how much) do you have? What are you passionate about? What are you hoping to gain from a connection? Answer these questions here, but try not to get too lengthy; two to three short paragraphs is perfect.

Experience

Similar to your resume, current experiences should be bulleted in present tense, while past experiences should be bulleted in past tense. Don’t resort to ‘fluff’ in this portion of your profile– highlight responsibilities (clear, concise & straight to the point) that will make a recruiter or potential connection go, ‘Wow, he/she accomplished that?!

Advice For Contacting

How can someone contact you outside of LinkedIn? In what instances would you like he/she to contact you? Type it out in this section. Think of something along the lines of ‘Interested in working with me? You can contact me directly at _____.’

Which section do you think is most vital when it comes to leveraging your LinkedIn profile? Let me know by leaving a comment, or by tweeting me at @thisjenngirl!

Adventuring

I decided to do a career-focused post today, and although I love nail art dearly and enjoy sharing that passion with you, I do want to make the point of writing more PR-related posts to really bring out both the ‘polished’ and the ‘PR’ part of my blog.

For the past four years, I’ve been actively involved in internships related to the marketing and PR industries. These experiences have truly shaped my career path: I’ve learned how to and how not to communicate with co-workers, supervisors, associates and clients (and am still learning more about this aspect of communication each and every day); I know that I do not want to go into crisis communications; I’ve developed a love for social media and doing PR for small businesses (preferably lifestyle brands); I’m adept at completing research, and Google has become my best friend; I know how to craft pitches, press releases and media alerts, and have learned how to compile press kits for clients.

Throughout all these opportunities, I’ve learned how to balance a full-time education with a part-time job and multiple internships. And now that I am entering my final semester before I graduate in December, I realize that there is only one chance left for me to really make myself stand out from the rest in the PR world.

I had this talk with my mentor about how there are still skills that I need to develop, skills that weren’t necessarily provided to me by my past internships because all of them were basically virtual internships. I know that finding a hands-on, in-office internship is the missing piece to the puzzle that awaits me at graduation, and I’m positive that once I gain this experience and the skills that go with it, I can confidently say that I’ll have the tools in my belt to move forward into the professional world.

So, here’s to hoping that I’ll be able to find that perfect fit of an internship for me come this fall semester, because it’s the one last opportunity I’ll have before I become a full-fledged PR gal.

But, of course, it’s not all about wishing and hoping. If I want it, I have to take the steps to go get it. And I will. :)