Lately, I have been on a job searching rampage. I have been researching possible employers that I would like to work for once I graduate as well as people I can speak to to learn more about the industry. Like you may already know, viewing a company website is a great place to start before you enter an interview. Learn their clients, their employees, and their mission. But, what I have found to be a more in-depth means of understanding a company’s atmosphere is reading their blog. Here you get to see the individual voice of the people who post on the blog as well as the overall message the combined posts present. Since the blog is in real-time, you get to see the trends, ideas, and advice that the employees are facing in their agency. You can see what top priorities they are facing as well as how they react to recent trends. Yes, their description of themselves on their website will be a great indicator of their personality, but these images adjust and tweak over time. The mission will remain relevant, but they can’t describe every aspect of their environment on their homepage. In this sense, a blog can be an invaluable tool for an interview because you can talk about recent trends and ideas that they are discussing within the agency.
Here is an example of a great company blog I found for CMD agency in Portland. You can get a real feel as to what is important in their agency up-to-date and what trends they like and dislike. Before you interview, don’t forget to read up on your company blogs!
So its a little over half way through the term and I thought I would give an update on my internship. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has been very busy getting ready for the upcoming Winter weather here in Portland. As an intern, I have been developing media summaries and press releases. We have been in constant contact with media outlets during this time mostly to answer questions they have as well as updating them on the months ahead.
The other half of my internship is helping recreate their website. As many know, government websites are not the most aesthetic on the web. The website “refresh” project as it is called is not only focused on building a more visual appealing site, but more importantly creating a site that is easy to use. In order for the website to be useful for the general public, it needs to be easy to navigate and up to date. Most government websites compile data without removing it after it is no longer useful. Our updated site will not only remove a lot of data that is no longer relevant, but it will also create a new system that does not allow for an over abundance of data to be collected. I am excited to see how these next few weeks turn out and how far we can get into this project before the term is over.
Winter has officially started as far as I’m concerned. As a daily bike commuter to work, I was more than happy with how our Fall weather had been. I could ride to my internship in a t-shirt and jeans and be perfectly comfortable for the whole ride. But this past week has caught me quite unprepared and cold as ever. Tuesday’s freezing rain was quite possibly the worst bike ride of my life and it didn’t help that I was very unprepared for the conditions. I showed up to my internship soaking wet with only an extra pair of jeans. Although it was rough, I managed to get through the day rather successfully, but the ride home proved to be only colder and wetter, hoping that when I jump in a hot shower I wont shatter like a windshield . Two days later and my hands have finally thawed to post this rant tat although I love this city, I never seem to be ready for the Winter.
So this year I figured I would get ready. For anyone who grew up in warmer climates, I greatly envy your Winters, but these tips could help if you plan on living in the rainy city.
1. Don’t be fooled by a sunny morning – Portland is notorious for faking a beautiful day in the morning only to turn to harsh conditions by the afternoon. Pack as if it’s a cold, rainy day even if you are optimistic about the weather when you leave in the morning.
2. Pack an extra pair of socks and shoes. I can’t emphasize this enough if you bike to work. Cold wet feet at work = bad day.
3. Get some rain gear! We all have it but not always wear it. It is better to be dry at work than fashionable on the way there.
I plan on following these three guidelines for the rest of the Winter an hopefully I will not swear to move south for the winter as I always have in the past.
As I waited for my meeting to begin this past Tuesday, I picked up Wired Magazine to pass the time. As I skimmed the pages looking for an interesting article I came across a review of a cool new “gadget,” as they called it. Now I am no gadget nerd but sometimes someone will come out with a device that makes me say, “why didn’t I think of that?” A simple idea that becomes a product you can’t imagine you lived without. The “gadget” is a modified power strip called the Pivot Power. Essentially, this power strip relieves the user of the issue of having oddly shaped power adapters not fitting correctly by allowing each plug in to have a pivot point. This means that you can adjust it to however you find fitting. It may not seem groundbreaking at first, but for those who have had to use multiple power stripes to do the job of what one should do then you know how great this product is.
Everyone who has used a power strip and had trouble plugging in various devices has run into frustration with a standard power strip, but no one came up with a way to fix it (besides the squid of course). It made me think aboiut the broader context of this idea. We are always encouraged to develop the next big thing, to create something brand new that revolutionizes the game. But, it might be just as important, if not more important, to look smaller and revolutionize what has worked in the past (but with some problems). This can go way beyond gadgets, think ideas and strategy. Perhaps the next big thing is right under your nose and for some reason you haven’t seen it in the right light or to its full potential.
After Linda Williams spoke with our class last week, I was motivated more than ever to continue speaking with professionals and learning as much as I can from them before I graduate. This morning, I spoke with Jordan, an Account Supervisor at Wieden + Kennedy. Since I had never been to the Portland Headquarters of Wieden + Kennedy, this experience was more than an informational interview, but an inside look at how their agency works. Upon entering the building, I walked into a large, open room filled with Halloween decorations for a staff party later that day. Everyone passing by me was dressed in full costume and with an attitude more as though they were at a weekend getaway rather than work. As you can see, the atmosphere of this agency is very welcoming, creative, and outgoing. As I met up with Jordan and we began to discuss his work and agency life in general, I learned that many agencies act this way. There is no ladder nor feel of silos. WIth this layout and attitude, creative ideas are not only encouraged, they flourish, making work and time fly by.
Although I have had many informational interviews in the past, this one was unique in the fact that I had never conducted an interview like this in the actual agency building. It is one thing to talk to someone in your field of choice but it is a whole different arena when you see them in their work environment and around the people who they work with day and night. One of my biggest takeaways from today was seeing how the agency works first hand. I got a great feel of how agency life would be and what I can expect if I land a job at an agency in the future. And it was cool to see the infamous “Fail Harder” sign in-person!
Willamette Week, our wonderful weekly words of wisdom here in Portland, wants to ask you a question. What will it take to get you to donate. As the holiday giving season begins, so does the annual Give! Guide campaign. Give! Guide is an annual fundraising event that was founded by Willamette Week seven years ago. Essentially, the Give! Guide is a group of 79 non-profits that come together and raise money for their various causes through a special format created by the WW. But there’s more! In order to encourage donations, those who donate certain amounts to their charity (or charities) of choice receive prizes. After all, what better way to get into the giving spirit than to get something in return?
Follow the Give! Guide on Twitter!
In order to kick the Give! Guide off right, WW will be hosting an event/show called Give! It Up PDX! This show is on November 11th and includes live music, beer and food, and many of the local non-profits participating in the Give! Guide. Bands include Boat and Heavy Nova, and there will be music by DJ Safi as well. This is the first year that the Give! Guide will be kicked off with a show, and it doesn’t look like it will disappoint.
Give! It Up PDX! Facebook page. Become a fan!
It is understandable if people feel reluctant to donate, especially us soon to be graduates who can barely afford coffee. But I think that at the least, Give! It Up PDX! will be a fun night on the town and its all for a good cause. If you think you can’t afford giving this year, think about ways you can cut back on spending in order to give a little. It never hurts to help others and a little good karma goes a long way.
On Tuesday of this week, the Portland Experiencers got a treat from Linda Williams, an Assistant Director at the University of Oregon. Like many of my fellow students, I have an idea of what to do once I graduate, but I still need help (and have a ton of questions) about what I need to do to put myself in the best spot possible to succeed. Linda spoke to us about one of the most important parts of job hunting post-college: Networking. Networking is so important in our field because most businesses look to their networks to hire new employees. Not only will they not have to read a hundred resumes but they will also have the confidence that this person who was recommended by someone they know will succeed.
So how do I network? Before I really got into learning how to network I always thought networking meant calling potential employers and getting them to know me. This is not the best way (or only way) to network. It is important to contact businesses you are interested in and setting up informational interviews, but I learned that your network can grow even when you don’t expect it. For example, I had to help out a neighbor by walking a ladder over to their house. They were very gracious and began to talk to me about my career and classes. After awhile I learned that she has some friends in an agency that would love to talk with me. Simple. Easy. Painless. Like Josh always tells my class, it doesn’t cost you anything to be nice. This is very true and just remember that even when you aren’t consciously networking, you just might be networking after all.