Diagram made in Webspiration, one of Inspiration's current web products

I’m done with college! Woo hoo! :)

If you have been following my blog at least somewhat regularly, you know that I spent the past six months working at Intel as a PR coordinator. I was so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such a talented and intelligent group of individuals whom I learned so much from. I’d like to give a special thanks to my amazing managers Suzy and Kari, and the rest of the Oregon team. Not only are they a wonderful group of mentors, but they are my friends, and I feel so fortunate to have met each and every one of them.

However, I’m extremely excited to finally announce my new position as Consumer Web Marketing Specialist for Inspiration Software, Inc. Although moving on from Intel to another company is bitter sweet, this is the best thing for me right now and I’m really enthuastic about this new position.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Inspiration Software and its products, here is a quick rundown for you (pulled from the website).

Recognized as the leader in visual thinking and learning, Inspiration® Software, Inc.’s award-winning technology tools are based on proven visual learning methodologies that help students, educators and 21st century business leaders think, learn, brainstorm, analyze and write. The company’s visual learning tools are used by more than 25 million people worldwide and are revolutionizing visual thinking and learning in education. Inspiration®, Kidspiration®, InspireData® and Webspiration Classroom™ inspire students and creative thinkers to develop strong thinking and organizational skills, improve their academic performance and tap the power of visual thinking.

-Inspiration.com

My role, as the Consumer Web Marketing Specialist, taps into my consumer PR, marketing, and product background. My job involves helping to create a (new) consumer product and bridging the gap between the consumer and the company. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s also going to be really fun and I’m up for the challenge!


My very first press kit is now up on the online Intel Newsroom! It’s called the “Laptop Buying Guide” and it walks you through the laptop buying process.

This is a project that I’ve been able to own from start to finish, and having it go live was a great way to end my internship. First and foremost, the kit is designed for media outlets, but it’s also very consumer-friendly for those of us who aren’t media, but are considering purchasing a new laptop. Go check it out!

To prepare this kit, I did a lot of research on the different features you should consider when buying a new laptop. The timing of this kit couldn’t have been better, because once I leave Intel I need to go buy a laptop for myself. So it was kind of a win-win situation.

Also in the kit are some videos, and links to other resources on Intel.com that help you understand the different laptop processors, etc.


Recently, I got to attend an Intel event in NYC. Alison Wesley, from the Intel PR consumer team, asked me to write a blog post for Intel’s consumer blog, recapping the event. If you’re interested, check out the post here! http://scoop.intel.com/2010/11/more-than-just-a-chip-company.php


The Process

23Nov10

I’m putting the materials together for a press kit right now. I had no idea how much of a process this is. Really, I thought I could just write the materials, send them to my manager, get her approval, then send them off to the Intel newsroom. Nope, not so much. I guess I should be used to the large corporation way of doing things by now. Seriously, I’m not complaining, it’s just been a learning experience for me. I’m beginning to appreciate all the work that goes into everything that gets published. I know you’re all wondering what I’m talking about…

This is how it goes down (or what I’m experiencing, anyway):

  1. I write the materials, then send them to my manager.
  2. She sends them back with suggestions/edits/critiques. I take another crack at it. Send it to her again.
  3. She sends it back to me with a list of people who need to look at specific parts of the document (for example, if I mention Intel Wireless Display (WiDi), I need to send that paragraph to the person who does PR for WiDi, so that she can approve the messaging and make sure it’s all correct).
  4. I send the parts to those people. They send it back to me with edits. I send it back to them for approval of how I interpreted their edits. Chances are, they send it back to me with more edits. Sometimes this process only takes one or two back-and-forths, but often it takes many.
  5. After I get approval of those specific parts, I send the whole document to my manager’s manager for approval. He sends it back with edits (luckily, very few in the case of what I’m working on now).
  6. I then contact Pat from the Intel Newsroom to alert him of the upcoming press kit. He makes suggestions and sends me a template to fill out.
  7. Then, I send the document to legal. Legal sends it back with all the necessary disclaimers and telling me to find citations for the reports that are listed.
  8. I contact my manager to find out who to contact to find the reports. She gets back to me. I then contact those people. They get back to me (soon, hopefully).
  9. Then, and only then, I can fill out the template Pat sent me. I then gather all the other materials that have been created for the kit and add them to the template.
  10. Then, I send them off to Pat.

Phew! Hopefully, the kit will be up soon so I can finally tell you guys what I’ve been working on :)


Staying Sane

12Nov10

I was supposed to leave at 8 this morning on a flight out to Santa Clara for a face-to-face with the Intel PR team. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for me. Thanks to the excessive fog surrounding the Hillsboro airport, it’s almost 10 and our plane hasn’t even arrived in Hillsboro yet. Consequently, myself and my manager ended up having to bag the flight and call-in for the meeting instead of seeing everyone in person. At the moment I’m finishing up a document for Intel and simultaneously writing this blog post, as I wait for the meeting to start at 11. It’s a pretty big bummer, as I was looking forward to seeing everyone and undoubtedly having a better/ more interactive meeting experience if I was there in person, rather than on the phone. But it’ll be okay, I’m used to phone meetings by now.

On another note… With my internship at Intel wrapping up, and college graduation only four short weeks away, I’m preparing myself for quite a few upcoming life changes. I’m finding myself in mild panic mode as I realize the real world and “adulthood” are creeping up on me faster than I ever expected them to. Although I’m looking into job prospects, nothing is set in stone just yet. An uncertain future is exciting, but it’s also very scary.

These are a few things keeping me sane right now

Apartment therapy.

When you’ve just recently moved into your first “grownup place,” like I have, there’s always something to do. Recently, I organized my desk. Next on my to-do list? Creating a makeup organizational system, cleaning out my closet, and decorating for Christmas/Hanukkah (much like I did for Halloween).

Blogging.

For me, writing is a MAJOR stress reliever. I used to keep a diary, but ever since I discovered blogging, I’ve been a convert. I’m a pretty open person and I enjoy letting people into my life, talking, giving advice, and swapping stories.

Happy hour/ girl time.

Consistently since last summer, I’ve been attending Tuesday happy hours all over Portland with some of my PR girlfriends and some of my guy friends from childhood. You can read about it here.

Carter.

My boyfriend is amazing. I can be a little crazy at times and he keeps me grounded. I love you, Carter!

Staying busy.

Although my internship at Intel is almost over, it’s not over yet. I still have a couple of projects to finish up and I plan to finish strong. This means staying dedicated and focused, which in turn helps to keep my mind off other things that can be stressful.

So there you have it. Everyone gets a little stressed out at some point in their lives. What keeps you sane?

 


“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” – Anonymous

Building on the interview theme I started last week, I thought I’d talk today about how to dress for an interview. A mistake many people make early in their careers is not putting enough thought into their initial appearance (I don’t mean you have to be a supermodel to get a job, I do mean you should make an effort to look put together).

Even in a casual office (like Intel), it’s important to make a good first impression when you walk into your interview. Dressing the part is more about professionalism than your fashion sense, so keep that in mind.

I’m not very skilled at putting outfits together for men, so I didn’t even try. But my co-worker Nick, being a male himself, had some insight on what men should wear to interviews. This is what he had to say:

“Men should wear a dark suit that is well fitting – the fit is everything, a suitable tie (not too flashy) and good quality shirt. It can be coloured, but again, shouldn’t be too flashy. No single part of the outfit should pop or stand out. Not wearing a suit is reserved for specialised jobs only. It is a question of respect.”

So there you have it, gentlemen.

Here are some interview outfit examples I put together for females:

And for males (and females), here are some suggestions I have for dressing for an interview:

  1. Dress up. Even if you think the environment you’re going to work in is fairly casual, dress up anyway. It’ll make it look like you’re taking the interview seriously. It’s always better to be over dressed than under dressed. For men, a suite and tie always looks nice. And for women, a blazer and pencil skirt hits the spot as well.
  2. Wear clothes that fit you and that you’re comfortable in. This seems simple enough, but unless you’ve worn the outfit for an extended period of time before, you may be treading dangerous waters. Last year, I had an interview for a PR agency and I borrowed a friend’s belt. The belt looked great with my outfit but I wasn’t used to wearing belts, and this one didn’t fit quite right. As a result, I spent half the interview fidgeting with my belt instead of focusing on the questions I was being asked.
  3. Don’t wear jeans. Seriously. Pretty much every generation older than Gen Y sees jeans as very casual, and sometimes even sloppy. Jeans may be fine for the office once you get the job (or they may not be), but don’t wear them to an interview. If you want to be taken seriously, wear some nice pants instead.
  4. Dress conservatively. This is kind of a no-brainer for men, but ladies, this means absolutely no cleavage, no short skirts, and wear tights.
  5.  Keep your hair neat and avoid trendy styles. This means your hair should be clean, brushed, and tidy. Skip trendy hair styles like poofs and messy buns (if your female) and shaggy or spiked hair (if you’re male).

Do you have a “go to” outfit that you always wear to interviews? What are your interview dress rules? Remember, you only have one chance to make a FIRST impression. So make it count.

Ps. Now that you know how to dress professionally, you’re on your way to ace your next interview. But more important than clothing, you need to be prepared to answer those tough interview questions. To do this, check out: “5 Difficult Interview Questions and How to Answer Them.”


 

Remember the first interview you had for a job that you really wanted? I remember mine. Hopefully you were more prepared than I was. I stuttered, rambled and was caught off guard by almost every question. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

Luckily, that was quite a few years ago. Since then, my interview skills have improved immensely, thank gosh! (I’m sure Intel wouldn’t have even considered taking me on if my interviewing skills hadn’t improved.)  I still get nervous, and I still ramble sometimes, but I’ve learned to control my bad habits by going into interviews prepared. Contrary to what some people believe, you ABSOLUTELY CAN prepare for interviews. And doing so isn’t cheating. In fact, I’ve learned that employers actually appreciate preparation because it shows that you care about the job and that you think before speak.

If you haven’t already noticed, there are many standard interview questions that you’re likely to get asked no matter where you’re interviewing. Determining how you’re going to answer these questions ahead of time can make all the difference. (Google “common interview questions” and you’ll see what I mean.)

But sometimes, knowing the questions ahead of time isn’t enough. Sometimes, future employers are speaking to you in code. What’s really helpful is to know what employers are really looking for when they ask you the difficult questions.

Difficult Question #1: “Tell me about yourself.”

This is more of a demand than a question, but you get the point. As much as it may sound like it, this question isn’t asking you to tell your life story. Your future employer doesn’t care how many brothers and sisters you have or that you used to be a gymnast in high school (if you really want your employer to know you’re a gymnast, put it under “interests” on your resume). What your employer is really asking for is your “Elevator Pitch.” An “Elevator Pitch” is a concise, carefully planned and well-practiced description about yourself and your skills that you could give in the time it would take to ride an elevator. Use your elevator pitch to speak to your strengths and accomplishments that you think your employer will be interested in. After you’ve come up with your pitch, practice it. For help with developing your personal elevator pitch, check out WikiHow’s article.

Difficult Question #2: “What are your strengths?”

This is easy – what are you good at? But your employer wants you to be specific, not generic. And give examples. Instead of saying “I’m a hard worker,” say “one of my strengths is that I’m a go-getter. I’m always thinking of how I can contribute to the company. For example, when I worked at (insert past job here), I (insert example here).” Before your interview, think of at least two strengths and specific examples to back them up that you can tell your potential employer about.

Difficult Question #3: What are your biggest weaknesses?

This is a loaded question. There are a lot of ways to answer this question and I’ve heard many opinions on the best ways to do it. I’m going to give you my opinion: Be honest. Don’t make up some bullshit about how you’re just “such a perfectionist” and “have to make everything perfect” if it’s just not true. (Plus, I think employers are sick of hearing that answer).

Instead, recognize the fact that everyone has real weaknesses (even you). But the best employees don’t let their weaknesses get in the way of their work. So, if you’re asked a question like this, tell your future employer about a weakness that you have, and how you’re working to overcome it. (But choose a weakness that isn’t extremely personal or inappropriate, obviously.) Your honesty should impress your employer, and the fact that you’re taking initiative to overcome your flaws is also admirable.

For example, my answer to this question is that I’m not a very strong speller. (I’m actually TERRIBLE, but I don’t go to that extreme when I’m talking to my interviewer.) But I know this about myself so I always carry a dictionary with me so that I can look things up. I also used to tutor grammar, so I’m very conscious of the fact that some words may sound similar but have different spellings (e.g. “further” vs. “farther,” “affect” vs. “effect,” “principle” vs. “principal”) so it’s not difficult for me to catch mistakes. I’m also very careful to proofread all of my writing.

Difficult Question #4: Why do you want to work for this company?

I can almost guarantee you that you’re going to be asked this. Your answer to this question is another good time to be really specific. The best way to be specific here is to do your homework before the interview. Research the company. You should be able to find at least five specific reasons you want to work for the company. If not, then maybe you shouldn’t be interviewing with them.

In the case of an interview at a PR or ad agency, don’t just research the agency. Research the clients you’re going to be working with. If you’re interviewing for a position on the healthcare team, talk about why you’re passionate about healthcare. If you’re interviewing for the tech team, talk specifically about why you’re excited about the tech clients. If you don’t know what team you’re interviewing to be on, check out the list of clients on the agency’s website so you can get an idea of the types of clients you could be working with.

Difficult Question #5: Do you have any questions for me?

This question is usually at the end of the interview and it’s a very important one. I think that every employer will agree that the worst response you can give here is “no.”  Always, always ask questions when you’re asked if you have any. If you don’t, you’ll look like you’re not interested in the company or the person you’re talking to (and you’ll also look a little silly). Thinking of questions really shouldn’t be that hard though. You’re at a new company and interviewing for a new position, so you’ve got to have something you’re curious about! Think of at least 3-5 questions before the interview so you aren’t caught off guard when you’re asked if you have any. And don’t be afraid to write them down on a piece of paper that you bring into the interview (preferably a pad of paper, because it looks more professional). That way, you can take notes on the pad while the interview happens and add questions to your list as you go on. Often, interviews turn into conversations, not just Q&A sessions, and your asking questions is a good way for you to get a feel for the company.

But if you’re really having trouble with this one, check out this guide to coming up with good questions for an interviewer.

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These are only a few examples of difficult questions you’ll probably get asked in your next interview (and every interview after it). For more examples of how to answer difficult job interview questions, check out “The 24 most difficult questions you’ll be asked on an interview.”

Ps. Ready for some more interview tips? Check out “How to Dress for an Interview.”




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