Things I Wish My Professors Prepared Me For

Professors Prepared

It has been exactly a year and five months since I graduated Florida International University (F.I.U.). Still, it feels like I was packing lunches to study in the library last week…

F.I.U. was the best experience of my life. I am forever grateful for the professional knowledge my communications professors provided. The issue with college is that one semester really is not long enough to cram years of experience into. Needless to say, there’s a lot of information that falls through the cracks. Professors are coerced into being more focused on passing rates than actually guiding students’ transition into the professional arena.

College students often consider getting a job to be the biggest issue they are going to face after graduation. What is not being taught, is that the real difficulty comes with maintaining your position within that job. It’s one thing to accept a job offer and another thing to actually work and continuously meet all expectations covered within the position.

“Welcome to reality; here’s your desk, here’s your new email address, here’s some random documents on our server, here’s your first 5 assignments, figure it out, good luck!” – Part-time receptionist at the front desk.

This is NOT a joke.

The dirty truth is, the lion din is a place where you either make it or you don’t.

Thankfully, you don’t really die after your first job (although sometimes it feels like it). Instead, you get another job and prep yourself with the knowledge of past failures and prepare for the lions once more. And you do this again and again, until you – somehow – survive. Even then, survival is an everyday battle.

A little dramatic? You don’t know the half of it.

The first skill I wish my professors prepared me to develop before I graduate is ATTENTION TO DETAIL. For some this comes naturally, for others it’s a learned talent. This is especially important for those in communications. Every letter, every design, every email, every project needs consistency and correctness. Don’t trust spellcheck or even your own eyes. Print every document before it is sent and check it twice more after you think it’s good to go. FYI Adobe programs don’t have spellcheck– learned it the hard way once. To help me develop this skill later on, I started solving word searches and reading articles much more often.

Secondly, I wish more professors taught me how to work under time restraints and pressure. After I graduated college I was so used to due dates that extended past several days or even weeks. When I first was handed an assignment at work due immediately, I completely panicked. Panic is everyone’s kryptonite in an office setting. It usually brings huge mistakes and irresponsible overlooks with it. I have never made as many mistakes as I have in an agency where all I did all day was put out fires and work with minute-long deadlines. Therefore, I believe quick exercises that require students to develop a project or train of thought within a short time would be a great addition to the classroom.

Developing a creative, make-it-up-as-you-go attitude can really do wonders within the communications field. In college, we have little room to develop critical thinking skills since we are have been taught what/how to think starting as early as elementary school. In a workplace, your boss will never hand you a nicely outlined prompt for you to highlight and circle. Here there are no guidelines. Here there are no rubrics of how to successfully approach a project. There is only a client/supervisor with an idea you must breathe life into correctly, the first time you approach it.

I hope this post will help others out there, rather it be a student or a professor, to see where they can strengthen themselves to prepare for a smooth transition into the professional world of communications.

Good luck out there,

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First Blog Post

Hi there, my name is Chelsea! I’m a 25-year-old online graduate student living in Miami working two jobs and taking on fun side gigs. Most know me as the Marketing Manager of Planet Stone Inc. and Marketing Partnership Coordinator of USB Memory Direct. They are both multi-million dollar companies that I love representing and flaunting around events and the internet to build SEO and brand awareness. I also love all things Star Wars, Harry Potter, Disney and tennis.

So, for my first EVER post on here, I’m going to be laying an ugly truth on you. Marketing is not my dream job, actually, it’s nobody’s dream job really. It’s kind of like a wand in Harry Potter, it chooses you. More accurately, it’s like Ron Weasley’s first wand when it breaks. As in it never does what it’s supposed to do and most of the time backfires on you. Yet for the rare occasions when it does work, Ron looks at it with pride and stubbornly keeps using it for another chance at a 1% success rate.

Chances are if you came across this blog you’re a stubborn wizard too or you’re looking to get into the field. Either way, I’ve got some day-one ground rules for you:

  1. Get mind-numbingly used to rejection. This goes for any marketing position out there. Get used to the idea of putting yourself on the front lines at the mercy of a stranger on the other side of the table.
  2. Brush-up on those notes you took in that one psychology course required in college. It’s 95% mind games and 5% apologizing constantly. Um, HELLO?! Why aren’t psychology courses the main curriculum for a marketing degree? Wake up professors, every time you get annoyed at a marketer I hope you remember it’s all your fault you didn’t teach us how to make it enjoyable for others. If you could take a few CIA interrogation psychology courses that would also help you tremendously *wink*.
  3. Get organized. Labels, post-it notes, and agendas are your new (and now only) best friends. Sometimes you will be commuting with more people than you know what to do with and people slip through the cracks all the time. For example, on an average week I communicate with more than 150 people. Ever used the Gmail color-coded labels before? I use about five to six labels per conversation. So yah… you get the idea.
  4. Practice positivity. Just like you have to exercise more when you land an office job to promote physical health, you also have to practice more positive thoughts to promote mental health. No, marketing jobs won’t make you looney. I’m just bringing it up because it took me awhile to learn not to put my health on the back burner for work. When you clock out, take a second to clock out mentally too. Don’t bring the stress vibes home and if you do, find a way you can release them like a good cardio sesh.
  5. Make friends in the workplace. Marketing employees and managers are a dime a dozen. Making ties with those you work with only helps your chances of sticking around. Just don’t force it, no one likes the new guy who tries too hard. Share a thought out-loud or email them a question about payday dates or nearby restaurant suggestions. Sometimes around lunch, I’ll ask if anyone is in the mood for the place I’m going to eat at. I’ve made a great group of friends at work this way!

I can guess what you’re thinking already, “so then why do you it?”

Before I answer this here’s a little more insight about me: I’m aggressively competitive, annoyingly motivated, strictly results driven and I am constantly striving to be better than I was the day before. In other words, I enjoy self-torture.

So to answer your question, it’s what I’m made to do :). Like I said, I didn’t find it– it found me and I fought it for years before I learned to embrace it. I’m still learning so much and I just started graduate school in international marketing at Boston University.

Stay tuned for some fun posts about the new things I’m learning, events I’m planning and the fun projects I’m working on.

Try to keep up!