5 Things I Learned During My First Year of Working

One year ago today, I stepped into my agency as an employee for the first time. June 20, 2016 was my first day of work in the “real world”, and honestly it feels like an eternity ago now. 365 days later, I’ve learned a lot, and my life has changed drastically both inside the office and out.

My job brought me to New Jersey. I lived in Pennsylvania my entire my life, but on a sunny Saturday last June, I packed up everything I owned and moved a state over to start my new life. It boggles my mind to think of how different things would be if I never made that leap and accepted my first job offer.

During my first year of working, I learned a lot about the inner workings of my agency, our clients, and more importantly, myself. I feel as if in the past 365 days I’ve grown a lot both personally and professionally, and I have my job to thank for that.

Transitioning from college to the real world certainly wasn’t easy. Even though I felt prepared, I realized very quickly that I wasn’t. While my learnings may not seem monumental, they are to me on a much deeper level. I have come a long way in a short amount of time, and I’m proud of my journey.

Being alone doesn’t have to be scary. After my move, I was alone in all senses of the word. Physically, I lived alone, and mentally, I felt very alone because I didn’t know anyone in the area, so my interactions with people outside of the office were limited. In the beginning, I hated living alone. I couldn’t sleep at night because I was so terrified. But as time went on, coming home to an empty apartment became relaxing. It was nice to have my own space that was entirely mine. Friends came along slowly but surely, and in time I became more comfortable with my decision to move.

Challenging yourself is vital for growth. Halfway through my first year at work, I was switched to a different team. My daily routine completely changed, along with my workload, relationships with my coworkers and clients, etc. This transition was extremely exciting, but also very challenging. I knew stepping up to the plate on a different team wouldn’t be easy, but I was ready to take on the challenge. Today, I’m extremely grateful to have been presented with the opportunity to work on such a large brand with such a dedicated team. I’ve grown so much in such a short amount of time, and I owe it to my teammates for pushing me to do the best I can every single day.

Making a life for yourself should be a priority. During the first few months I lived in New Jersey, I drove home almost every single weekend to avoid being by myself and having nothing to do. Looking back, this was the worst possible thing I could have done for myself. I didn’t prioritize building a life for myself in New Jersey; instead, I tried to run from it. I attempted to hold on to my life in Pennsylvania, even though I didn’t live there anymore. By forcing myself to step outside of my comfort zone and meet new people in the area, I made a few close friends. While my friend group is still small, it’s a solid start. Now, I rarely go back to Pennsylvania and try to spend as much time as possible creating a new life here. After all, New Jersey is now my home.

Asking questions doesn’t make you stupid. This applies to both work and your personal life. Asking questions at work was intimidating for me in the beginning. I was very clearly “the new girl” but I wanted to look like I knew what I was doing. Eventually, I realized asking questions actually made me more productive, because I wasn’t wasting time guessing; I knew exactly what I had to do and how to do it. As for my personal life, living alone for the first time comes with its own separate challenges… I’d be lying if I said I didn’t call my mom frequently and bombard her with questions.

Maintaining relationships is a choice, not a requirement. Moving to a new state completely changed the relationships I had with a lot of people. Friends and family who I saw and talked to every day were suddenly miles away. Being far away from your loved ones undoubtedly puts a strain on those relationships, but I quickly learned that it was my choice to maintain them, not a requirement. Relationships are two sided, and without both parties putting in the effort, they don’t work. The reality of it is not all relationships will last. While it can be disappointing, it comes with the territory, and is part of growing up. When you choose to maintain meaningful relationships rather than all relationships, you’re bettering yourself and your future.

One year down… a lot to go. The good news? If this year is any indication of what is to come, I have no doubt that great things are in my future 🙂

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To Everyone Who Thinks My Career In Social Media Is Stupid

Small talk. While it’s the bane of most people’s existence, I weirdly enjoy it.

I like talking to complete strangers sometimes. Even though every conversation starts of seemingly the same (give or take), I find it fascinating how a conversation twists and turns depending on who you’re talking to.

Being that I moved to a new state 9 months ago, I find myself caught up in small talk a lot. After telling people I’m from Pennsylvania, I’m always asked why I moved here.

“For work,” I reply.

“Oh, what do you do?” they ask.

“I work at a digital marketing agency,” I say. Depending on the look on their face, I’ll follow up with something along the lines of how I work primarily in social media marketing.  

This is when things get interesting. The conversation usually goes one of three ways:

  1.       The person knows what that is, and thinks I have a “cool” job.
  2.       The person has no idea what social media marketing means, but pretends to.
  3.       The person thinks social media is stupid.

I know what you’re thinking – no one would dare to tell someone his or her career is stupid. To that I say you’d be surprised. While I haven’t had anyone outright tell me that what I do is “stupid”, I’ve had people tell me that the basis of my career is. I had no idea how much hostility some people have towards social media until I started telling people about the role it plays in my life.

I’m on social media all day, every day. it’s a huge part of my life. I’m constantly checking my personal accounts, brand pages, competitors’ whereabouts, etc. Unfortunately for me, I’ve found people can be judgmental of my digital lifestyle.

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You see, social media carries a stigma. A stigma that only self-absorbed, attention-seeking individuals indulge in it daily. People are constantly buried in their phones, and social media is always part of the reason behind it. Social media is seen by many as a waste of time, something that is tearing apart society. For some, social media is ruining relationships, destroying friendships, and even brainwashing us with relentless advertising. With social media, everything is out in the open, and privacy as we once knew it is a thing of the past.

Therefore, when I tell people I work in social media marketing, I find that some have a “yikes” moment. Again, not everyone has this reaction, but some people do.

Usually those people will hit me with something along the lines of, “Oh that’s cool… Wait, so you’re just like, on Facebook all day?”

Face palm. Then I know I have explaining to do. I explain the gist of it, and then the conversation turns…

“I don’t use social media. I think it’s stupid and a waste of time.”

Yes. I’ve actually been told that.

Every time someone directly or indirectly tells me how much they dislike social media, I die a little bit inside – not because I want everyone to love it or use it, but because I know that they genuinely don’t understand my career. They’re indirectly telling me that my decision is a bad one, and I don’t appreciate it in the slightest.

Sometimes I’ll fight back, and when I say fight, I mean explain what I do in a different way, or explain how social media can be beneficial. But more often than not, I find myself disappointed.

The stigma that surrounds social media undeniably has impacted people to change their habits. Hell, many people have stopped using personal social media applications / websites altogether. And that’s fine – that’s their decision.

But choosing to work in social media marketing is my decision, and I’m extremely content with it. Using social media from a personal standpoint doesn’t mean I’m self-absorbed, or seeking attention online. The stigmas associated with social media are what we make of them. For every “bad” thing social media has done, it has done something great, and I think we tend to discredit that.

Interconnectedness. Maintaining relationships. Making friends. Communicating instantly.

Entertainment. Creating new content. Engaging and interacting with content. Sharing content with each other.

Knowledge. Information at our fingertips. Giving and receiving advice and recommendations.

So to everyone who thinks my career is stupid, I don’t need to prove anything to you. At least you can count on me not blow up your newsfeed, because I know it’s not best practice to do so 🙂

 

The People Challenging International Women’s Day Are the Exact Reason It Exists

International women’s day: a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Today, people all over the world have taken to social media to voice their opinions on International Women’s Day. Unfortunately, for every enlightening post on the matter, there is one that challenges it.

I certainly can’t speak for every woman, but when I think of International Women’s Day, I think of all the women who came before me that changed the world for the better. I think of the women who selflessly fought for the future generations of women to come, and how their actions directly impact how I’m able to live my life every day.

I was surprised when I saw how people thought about today in a completely different way from myself. While I’m usually open minded and accepting of other people’s opinions, I was taken back by some of the things I read.

You see, there are people in this world who don’t see the “need” for International Women’s Day. They think that in most respects, women and men are treated equally. They believe women are given the same opportunities as men. They think that feminism is unnecessary and/or bothersome. They wonder why we celebrate International Women’s Day, but don’t pay any mind to International Men’s Day (yes, it exists).

I could spend time critiquing each one of these points, but instead I think it’s safe to say that the people who are challenging International Women’s Day are the sole reason it exists.

Some women argue that they don’t deal with daily obstacles attributed to their gender, and that may be true (to an extent, at least). But have these same women taken a moment to reflect on the women who came before them that fought for the changes in society that we take for granted today? Those women certainly didn’t have it easy, and if it weren’t for their achievements towards equality, your day-to-day life might not be so easy either.

Just know that if you’re challenging a day devoted to celebrating the achievements of women, you’re only adding fuel to our fire. You’re exemplifying the reasons why women have to prove themselves every day. You’re a driving force behind every peaceful protest. You’re pushing us to aim higher and fight harder for what we believe in.

Your complete disconnect from the issue at hand is why we have to fight for a better tomorrow.

Sure, women have come a long way throughout history. In comparison to where we were several years ago, we’ve made leaps and bounds in the right direction. But if we stop now, what will that prove? We still have a lot of work to do, and we won’t stop until we get to where we want to be. Where we need to be. Equal.

Celebrate the women who came before us. Fight for the women of the future.

Happy International Women’s Day.

The Power Of Fate

It has been almost six months since I packed up my life in Pennsylvania and moved to New Jersey. I remember thinking to myself “How hard can it be?” and downplaying the move as if I was going to be down the street rather than almost two hours away. It didn’t seem like it would really be a big deal, and I doubted that anything in my life would change for the most part. After all, post-grad plans have a way of scattering everyone all over.

I often find myself thinking about how different my life would be if I hadn’t made the decision to start over in a new area, knowing absolutely no one. Most of my friends are still in the Philadelphia area, so I sometimes wonder how different my relationships with them would be if I had I chosen to live nearby. I find myself thinking about what kind of job I would be working, if I would like it, and so on.

Overall, I realized that I spend a lot of time wondering “What if?” as if it really makes a difference. Why do I waste so much of my time thinking about what my life could have been like? My life isn’t in Pennsylvania, and it’s certainly not going to be anytime soon. I’m perfectly content with my life in New Jersey, so why am I still so caught up on might-have-beens of living back at home?

If you would have asked me one year ago if I think I would find myself in the situation I am now, I would have told you that you’re crazy. I had no intentions of moving to a different state and living on my own, yet here I am. But why? How? I believe fate brought me here.

Fate is more powerful than you think. It strikes against odds and changes our lives in ways that we never imaged it could. It cancels old plans and makes new ones. It forces you to say goodbye to people who have been in your life for years, and hello to complete strangers. It silently influences our decisions and drives our passions. Fate keeps us on our toes and forces us to expect the unexpected.

I may not know where I’ll be in six months from today, but I know fate has it under control. Life has its twists and turns, but I’m a firm believer that those unforeseen moments are somewhat planned in the eyes of fate. As cliche as it sounds, everything happens for a reason. Every struggle you endure serves a larger purpose. Every decision you make will impact your future. Every person who comes in and out of your life will undoubtedly change the way you see the world around you.

Fate ensures that all of the things that happen in your life teach you something. I believe that in the end, these lessons are what shape who we are, and who we’re destined to become.

Going forward, I vow to not be consumed by “What if?” thoughts and speculations. Fate, my journey is in your hands.

PSU vs. WIS: Behind Beaver Canyon’s Destruction

During my undergraduate experience at Penn State, I never participated in any “rallies”, which are now being called “riots” because of the destruction that has come with them. Sure, students took to Beaver Canyon to celebrate during my time there as a student, but I never felt the need to participate. Because of my lack of personal experience regarding the matter, I think it’s even more difficult for me to fathom why this keeps happening every time something remotely positive happens to our university.

In my opinion, a celebration doesn’t involve destroying our community’s property, or getting into fights with the police. It doesn’t involve pepper spray or huge horses to control a crowd. A celebration consists of people who are happy, proud, and excited, not people who are overly rowdy, destructive, and potentially threatening to the community.

I understand not every student at the riot was causing damage and that some people were simply celebrating; however, there’s no denying that it wasn’t just the actions of one or two people, either. I’ve seen several articles today scolding the actions of the students and demanding that they stop this behavior, so I’m going to stray away from lecturing, even though I agree with much of what was said. Instead, I’m going to give my own insight behind Beaver Canyon’s destruction.

15285055_10155186217515663_7523299305084165943_n-702x336What is the reason for this behavior? While we’ll never know for sure, I have a few thoughts of my own.

For starters, peer pressure in a sea of thousands of chanting students is more powerful than you may think. It’s safe to say emotions were running high, and if you combine that emotional high with an equally high BAC, rowdiness is bound to ensue. While I don’t want to suggest that all of the students were intoxicated, I don’t think it’s ridiculous to assume that many were. As a recent graduate, I’ve seen firsthand how away games quickly become the perfect opportunity for daylongs, many of which start as early as 12pm and continue throughout the game. Alcohol impacts decision making – simple as that. A student might not normally tear down a street sign, but a student who had been drinking all day and just won the Big Ten Championship might without thinking twice about it.

Additionally, many of these students might have been under the impression that they were “just another face in the crowd”, making it nearly impossible for them to be accountable for their actions since so many people were involved. Unfortunately for them, several campus news outlets were on the scene taking pictures and videos, along with the thousands of citizen journalists (aka other students) documenting every second on social media. In the digital age that exists today, you can’t just expect to get away with these things. The students who caused the destruction might be safe for now, but just like the Ohio State riot, it’s only a matter of time before the police begin identifying the individuals and making arrests.

Going off of that, while Onward State reported the names and charges of the students arrested in connection with the damage after the Ohio State riot, I don’t think many students read it, or talked about it much for that matter. Therefore, I’m willing to bet many students don’t know that several students were convicted of felony charges in light of the destruction. For this reason, they simply do not understand the potential consequences of their actions, and are acting foolishly assuming that nothing will happen as a result, even though that simply isn’t the case.

To reiterate, I am by no means defending the actions of the students involved in Beaver Canyon’s destruction. However, I do think it’s important to talk about the potential reasoning as to why these things are happening rather than just complaining about it and hoping students will eventually “grow up” and stop this behavior on their own.

The university simply needs to do more. A PSUAlert text warning isn’t going to do much in terms of crowd control. Police are only intimidating to an extent. At the end of the day, if you’re walking away from the riot having destroyed property and not received any type of punishment, you might just try your luck and do it again.

Have President Barron release a statement detailing the potential severity of the charges in terms of academics. Have Franklin and the football team say something expressing concern and disappointment about the destruction. Sure, it may not end the Beaver Canyon “riots” completely, but we can hope that then maybe students will listen, think about their actions, and be more responsible moving forward.

The only way that the community of State College will be able to prevent this from happening in the future is to learn from the present, and take action ASAP… Preferably before January 2nd.

Both images courtesy of Onward State. 

5 Do’s & Don’ts for Marketing Agencies

Marketing agencies are constantly competing with each other. With thousands of other agencies who all offer similar capabilities ranging from social to digital to print, standing out is a must to attract big name clients and talent. Unfortunately, many marketing agencies are struggling to keep up with the competition.

While the do’s and don’ts of agency life vary across the board, I think there are a few basic ones that everyone can learn from.

#1 – DO emphasize your corporate culture. Nowadays, cultural fit is huge among marketing agencies, especially if you’re trying to attract talent beyond people who are already living locally. What are the people that work here like? Who are they and where are they from? What do they do for fun? Answering these questions while telling your agency story sets yourself up for success. Potential employees want to be a part of an agency where they can see themselves fitting in. The last thing you want is to bring on a team member who only stays a few months because they don’t feel that the overall corporate culture is a good fit for them.

DON’T try so hard to talk about your culture that it feels forced. Your corporate culture should speak for itself in a natural way. For example, Instagram is the perfect platform to showcase your culture without it feeling forced. Posting pictures and videos of events, happy hours, and daily office life can paint the picture of your agency for you without you having to explicitly say how great it is. Plus, if your employees are happy, chances are they’ll talk about how great the culture is on social too. Bonus points.

#2 – DO be transparent about your capabilities and clients. Agencies should be straightforward with their strengths and weaknesses, especially since different ones have different areas of focus. Solidify your capabilities, and have case studies on hand to reference as examples. This gives both potential employees and clients a better idea of the type of work your agency does, and will enable them to better decide if they think they’re a good fit.

DON’T over exaggerate. Stretching the truth will only come back to bite you in the end, and likely leave both your employees and clients unsatisfied. Overstating your agency’s talent and client base gives potential employees a skewed perception of who you really are as a company and the kind of work you do. If these individuals do end up working for you, they may end up disappointed when they discover the reality of your agency’s inner workings, and leave as a result.

#3 – DO allow for flexibility. Naturally, your agency should be confident in your employees’ work ethic. If that is the case, there’s nothing wrong with allowing for some wiggle room. In fact, a flexible working environment can actually lead to more productivity. A good work / life balance is difficult to achieve, but if you make it a priority, your employees will thank you.

DON’T let flexibility lead to a loss of control. A flexible work environment is a blessing, but monitoring it is key to understanding if it works well for your specific agency structure. Flexible work environments should never lead to a lack of control over your agency. It’s a process of trial and error; you have to see what works best for you and your employees. Flexibility can’t work on its own – it needs structure as well.

#4 – DO invest in employees who are passionate about what you do. When hiring employees for your agency, talent is important, but passion is also a driving force behind work ethic. Sometimes a person with great experience isn’t passionate about what he or she does, which can lead to issues down the road. A potential employee with that extra spark or interest in your agency’s clients, mission, and / or capabilities can go a long way. Never underestimate it.

DON’T hire employees who aren’t present online. If you’re a digital agency, it doesn’t make sense to hire someone who isn’t at all present online. Having social media accounts and pages show a genuine interest in the online community, which is extremely important to understand if you work at a digital agency. In my mind, you can’t work in the digital world if you don’t live in it yourself.

#5 – DO focus on team building. You can’t expect your agency to work together flawlessly right off the bat. Assemble teams based on experience and compatibility rather than just what might be most convenient at the time. Host agency-wide opportunities for your employees to get to know each other outside of the office. This will allow them to be more comfortable with each other when they are at work, which will help alleviate awkwardness and lead to better communication.

DON’T let your agency get cliquey. Work friendships are inevitably going to happen, but don’t let them become cliquey and intimidating. Encourage your employees to be open and accepting of each other and new hires. There is nothing more daunting than being the “new person” in an office where everyone is already friends and doesn’t bother to get to know you.

 

But hey, you don’t have to listen to me… After all, I don’t have my own agency, I just work at one 🙂

Quitting Your 9am-5pm Job to “Find Yourself” Is A Bad Idea

Recently, it seems as if more and more millennials want to break down the barriers of an ever-so-common post-grad lifestyle: 9-5 jobs. Within the past week alone I’ve read countless articles about people my age (recent college grads) who were quitting their newly accepted office jobs to “find themselves” and “do something they’re passionate about” instead. Sounds familiar?

Here’s an unpopular opinion: I think this is a bad idea.

Sure, at the surface it sounds quite liberating. You spend four years in college, manage to get a job, and then say “You know what, no. I don’t want to abide by societal norms – I want to follow my dreams. I don’t care to sit in an office and do meaningless work all day.” Doing something that drastic is powerful and inspirational.

The problem is, a lot of the people making this decision don’t know what their “dreams” are. They’re quitting stable jobs and diving into the unknown. They’re leaving behind an opportunity without another one in in sight. They’re simply ready to “figure themselves out” and “discover what they really want to do.”

I understand that at 22 or 23 years old your 9-5 job might not be what you want to do for the rest of your life. Totally normal. Personally, I’ve always believed that life has a way of working itself out, which is kind of the opposite of this trend I’ve been seeing. Many of these millennials don’t want to give things a chance to change; they want to be in love with what they do right off the bat.

The problem is, quitting a job after a few months doesn’t give you the time to fully immerse yourself in all of the knowledge and resources it may have to offer. For example, you might dislike your specific role, but you could be introduced to a new field or topic along the way that interests you more. You don’t necessarily need to isolate yourself from the corporate world altogether in to fully understand who you are and what you want. Every experience in your life can provide you with something valuable, and who knows – you might just “find yourself” along the way.

Forcing yourself to find your passions is counterproductive. You don’t get to choose what you’re passionate about – your passions choose you. I strongly believe that the only way to discover what you really want to do is to try a lot of different things. Quitting your job to determine these passions on your own is extremely limiting. Often times, the best ideas and epiphanies occur in the moments you least expect them to, which in this case might happen while working a job that you’re not completely sold on.

I’m not telling you to work a job that you hate for the rest of your life. However, I am saying that working a job you aren’t thrilled about isn’t the end of the world. As recent graduates, we’re not expected to know exactly what we want to do in the future. We’re all still creating who we are and who we want to be every day.

If you’re confident in yourself and what you want, quit your 9-5 job and chase your dreams. If you’re still figuring out who you are and what your goals are, consider staying put where you are, even if you’re not absolutely in love with whatever it is you’re doing. The positive reinforcement you’ll receive on social media after announcing your rebellious decision to leave your job isn’t worth the months of stress and uncertainty that will follow until you find what you’re looking for.

Look for the good in all of your experiences, and learn as much as you can from each and every one of them. After all, you have the rest of your life to get to know yourself.