[Jas' note: I'm thrilled to welcome Niki Ianni, a fellow Temple University alum, to the blog with a great and timely post.]
Six months ago to the day, I put on my new Macy’s clearance rack suit, smoothed my hair, double-checked my briefcase for all the basics and took a deep breath as I walked confidently into the next phase of my life – the start of my post-graduate career.
The all-nighter study sessions, thousands of draft edits and hundreds of internship hours… everything I worked for in the past four years had finally paid off. While getting here had not been an easy feat, full of dozens of applications, gallons of coffee and the occasional mental breakdown…with hard work and determination, I secured my dream job working as a public relations specialist at the largest animal protection organization in the country.
For those who are preparing to start their careers or have already just begun, here are my three biggest pieces of advice for you that these past six months have taught me:
It takes time. You know the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” Well, there’s actually a lot of truth to it. I’m not sure why I thought I could leave my first day of work knowing everything and being able to do everything – but I did. When it came time to submit my first press release to my director for review, my stomach was in knots.
I remember apologizing in the email… something along the lines of, “Here is the release for your review. I’m sorry it’s not perfect!” I’ll never forget her response: “Niki, I don’t expect it to be perfect… nothing ever is. You’re still learning.” Sometimes you just need to remember that all of your colleagues who have been there for years started off exactly where you are and eventually they grew, too… with time.
You’re going to make mistakes. Probably more than you’d like to admit. But that doesn’t make you a failure – it makes you human and it teaches you lessons you might had otherwise never learned. I’m a firm believer that it’s not the mistakes themselves, but how you handle them that really defines your character. You can cry and hope the mistake goes away, or you can take responsibility and fix it. I’ve sent out releases with a typo, or hit send too soon. I mean, in my first month I accidentally called a reporter in Seattle at 6 a.m. (I forgot about these things called time zones) and woke her up. Not my shining moment.
While I was horrified and for a few brief moments thought, “Okay…surely this is the one to ‘end’ my career,” I instead found ways to resolve each problem and instilled practices that would prevent them from ever happening again. Because that’s the thing about mistakes – it’s okay to make them occasionally, so long as you never make the same one twice.
You have a voice – don’t be afraid to use it. I’m fortunate to work with a team of highly accomplished and talented professionals who have been honing their craft for many years. So naturally it was a bit intimidating to call these people my colleagues because in comparison to their experience, I felt way out of my league. Remember you were hired for a reason. Yes, your co-workers may have been in the industry for a decade and have a great deal they can teach you, however don’t discount the skills and knowledge that you can bring to the table as well.
Sometimes it’s your lack of experience that can be your greatest asset as you’re able to bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas that may have never been considered before. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and opinions – it will only make your team that much stronger.
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can remember is to believe in yourself. Believe in your talents, your knowledge and your skills – because this opportunity didn’t just come to you; you created it. Never lose sight of that.
Niki Ianni is a recent Temple University graduate where she majored in strategic communication with a concentration in public relations. At Temple, Niki served as the former director of PRowl Public Relations, Temple’s first student-run PR firm and was an executive board member for Temple PRSSA. She now resides in the Washington, D.C. area where she works as the public relations specialist for The Humane Society of the United States.
Tuesday, Sept. 5 started off a little different for me. It was my daughter’s first day of kindergarten, so there was a ton of excitement. I hopped in the car after getting her on the bus and headed to work.
I got in the office at 9 a.m., by 9:25, my boss told me I was being let go. So, I grabbed a box, packed up my stuff and around 9:45 a.m., I walked out the door for the last time.
It’s no secret that I have wanted to start my own business for a while now, but I never expected to lose my job before that happened.
One of the three pieces of wisdom he wrote was:
I’m upset – I’m sitting here, writing this, two hours after being fired. The blogger and writer within said that this is something I need to write about, to vent, for closure, for support, and to look back on later and appreciate that every single thing happens for a reason – that it’s all a part of the journey. But it’s also OK, from time to time, to wear you emotions on your sleeve. You can’t see me right now, which is probably a good thing, but believe me, I’m a little broken down. The battle may have been lost, but not the war, right?
My first hours after losing my job were filled with anger, hope, frustration, and enthusiasm. What am I going to do? How am I going to make ends meet?
Well, first things first. I got home, sat down, and started planning my next steps. I looked at what I had been working on to start my own business eventually. Now, I put those things into serious motion.
If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re destined to fail.
Sure, I had my moments of doubt. Can I do this? Am I good enough? I keep coming back to the belief that I know I can make it on my own. Why shouldn’t hold true to that. Just because I was let go, doesn’t mean I stink. I believe in my skills, my knowledge, and that businesses need a solid communications plan, involving the marriage of social media and public relations.
If you have lost your job, be ticked. It’s fine. But don’t let the anger and frustration consume you. This isn’t the end of your career. It’s the start of a new journey with better results!
How are you moving forward after losing your job. Let me know in the comments!
Not only is he an accomplished photographer, Michael also writes for one of the top sports blogs around, Metsblog.com. He does all this while working a day job.
I recently talked to Michael about how he got his start, the work balance, and his challenges. I think you will find his answers helpful whether you are just out of college or a seasoned pro.
Jason Mollica: How did you get your start in taking photos?
Michael Baron: I started taking pictures at Met games in 2002. I didn’t own a camera at the time, but I had borrowed my friend’s Olympus point and shoot camera to take on a trip to Las Vegas, and still had possession of the camera for an extra day so I decided to take it to Shea Stadium and shoot a game between the Mets and Phillies. From then on, I was hooked, went out to get my own point and shoot, and I’ve been taking pictures at games ever since.
JM: Did you intend to create MetsPhotos.com or was it by “accident?”
MB: It was really by accident. I originally launched it as MichaelGBaron.com as a place to keep a diary of my thoughts about the Mets, which was separate from MetsBlog. I wanted to incorporate my pictures from the start, but it turned into a Photoblog of sorts. I think it’s still a work in progress, but Matt has been great in helping me develop the site and create the brand.
JM: How did you start working with Matt Cerrone at Metsblog.com?
MB: Matt and I first traded emails about two years ago, and when I first contacted him, I just introduced myself and sent a link to my pictures. We began to speak regularly about the Mets, blogging, and picture-taking, and he offered me the opportunity to begin writing for the blog at that time. Originally, I didn’t want to write for the blog because I didn’t consider myself a writer, and outside of college, I have no experience writing. All I wanted to do was provide photographs for his posts, as well as his co-writers.
In Spring Training of 2009, I sent Matt numerous pictures from Port St. Lucie, with no intention other than that I was there and figured he might be interested in the photos, and he posted them to MetsBlog and they were an instant hit on the site. We then discussed the possibility of me writing for MetsBlog again, and once again I said I would rather provide pictures for him and his co-writers.
Around Opening Day in 2009, Matt and I met at Citi Field and we once again talked about me writing for MetsBlog. I
once again simply wanted to provide the pictures for the site, but he wanted me to write and act as a backup to him when he would be unavailable. I decided to give it a shot, although I was uncertain how it would go, because like I said, I don’t consider myself a writer.
He has helped me a great deal along the way with my writing, he has taught me a great deal about the business side of the Mets and we have such great communication on a daily basis.
JM: Was there a moment when you doubted yourself and how did you overcome it?
MB: Every post I write, I doubt myself. Like I said, I know I’m not a writer, and so I am always concerned about how I express my ideas, and making sure I am clearly expressing my ideas. I know, as a fan how I feel and what I want to say about a particular topic, but I know that at times, I have trouble transferring those ideas from my brain to the blog.
The way I overcome it is, if there is not a time sensitive post, I read the post as though I am a reader in preview mode, and make sure as a reader, my ideas are clearly laid out. I try to remind myself that the reader doesn’t know what I am thinking about the topic, and I have to make sure I understand fully what’s on the screen as a result.
I also need to remind myself, at times, that this is blogging, and I am entitled to my opinion whether people agree with me or not. As a former player, a student of the game, and a long time and hungry Met fan, I think my opinions are often unique and misunderstood because of the vantage point I’ve had, but it is still my opinion and I try to convey all three of those angles when I write. That said, I need to always work to be clear in my expressions, and it will always be a work in progress for me.
JM: How do you balance the day job with taking photos and posting for Metsblog.com?
MB: At times, it’s difficult, and I often forget things that need to be done as a result. I care very much about writing for MetsBlog and photographing games, and there is also the social media aspect of all of this and the interaction on Twitter and Facebook, which I think walks hand-in-hand with the whole adventure. But let’s not forget about my wife and family, and I need my day job and fulfill the responsibilities there, and so it can all be difficult to manage and often quite exhausting.
Matt knows I have a full-time job, and I cannot get fired from it, and so he never expects me to be available all of the time. I try to adjust my schedule for him as best as I can, because I know he has other responsibilities as well and MetsBlog is an important presence not just for the Mets, but also throughout Major League Baseball.
JM: There are those that say you need to have an “eye” for being a good photographer. Do you agree?
MB: I think the eye of the photographer is completely subjective, and it would be unfair to say one person doesn’t have a good eye, and another person does. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, whether he or she is photographing sports or the Grand Canyon. What I find appealing, you may not, and vice versa, but that doesn’t make one photographer better than the other.
JM: Greatest compliment you have received so far in your photography career?
MB: I get a lot of appreciation from the folks on Twitter, and I am very humbled by their support. I always say, without people’s interest, there is really no point in spending the time to photograph. Matt has also been very complimentary about the photos, which I appreciate very much. However, my wife’s opinion means a lot, because I need her support more than anyone’s because the greatest sacrifice I make in writing for MetsBlog and going to games and photographing is the one I make in spending time with her. She loves my work, and she also respects the level this is on now, and that means a lot.
JM: I’d be crazy, as a Mets fan, not to ask this: What does your gut tell you about what they will do this off-season?
MB: It’s so hard to tell right now, because they are essentially starting from square one by hiring a new GM and manager. For the first time in many years, I really don’t have any idea where they will begin, but I think by rebuilding the culture and philosophy with the team, there will be a significant improvement without any changes made. Of course, I think there will be some positive change, although if they aren’t willing to increase their payroll during the off-season, it will be difficult, at best, to bring in a premium free agent.
A huge thank you to Michael for taking the time to answer these questions and allowing the use of his great photos. You can follow him on Twitter @MichaelGBaron.
Let’s be honest. At some point, someone – maybe even you- skipped out of work to go for a job interview. Believe it or not, your employer probably knows it. But, if you get the new job, so what if anyone figures it out? Well, what if you DON’T get the job and you have to walk in the door at your old job. It’s bound to get awkward, especially if you are confronted by your boss.
1. Address it… IMMEDIATELY. We talk about being open and transparent to our clients, so do the same with your employer. Tell him/her that you are sorry they found out the way they did. Explain that you’ve had great experiences with the company, but you need to explore your options. You don’t want to burn the bridge.
2. Compliment your boss. I’m not talking about being a brown noser, though. Tell your boss (honestly) that you’ve learned a great deal while working for the company. Even though you would want to leave, he/she has probably taught you a thing or two. Tell them that they’ve set a great example for your career moving forward.
3. Don’t show up in your interview outfit. If your office is causal dress, don’t stroll in with a suit. At least change out of what you interviewed in. Tip 3a: Try to set up any interview after work hours or take a personal day. This will alleviate any possible conflicts.
4. Don’t flaunt that you’re interviewing. Word travels fast, especially in a small company. Be respectful of your colleagues and practice discretion. This does not mean you shouldn’t ask advice from trusted mentors. Just keep your chatter to a minimum.
5. Be prepared for some backlash. There could be hard feelings, especially within smaller companies. Just because you tell your boss afterwards, it doesn’t mean he’ll be all peachy. There may be a trust issue moving forward.
Keep in mind how you would handle the situation if you were in your boss’ shoes. It provides good perspective now and in the future.
Been caught or know of someone who was? Let me know your thoughts on this below.
(Jas’ note: I’m thrilled to have Stephanie Florence offer a guest blog. She’s currently working at JSH&A Public Relations in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. and writes a terrific blog of her own. You can connect with her on Twitter @StephanieFlo. After a recent wedding, she was inspired to write this post.)
The rituals of a wedding vary based on tradition, religion and culture, but the general theme of coming together to celebrate a beginning remains constant. This weekend I worked a wedding for a family friend – it was an evening filled with gestures of friendship, love and true happiness. It also proved that inspiration can arise from any situation, as long as you take the time to look. Raise a glass of bubbly and enjoy the life lessons straight from the source of all things good: the wedding reception.
Tell people how you feel – I watched as my friend Emily gave her maid of honor speech for her sister. Emily had the guests laughing out loud as she talked about their childhood and brought the room to tears when she discussed the woman her sister has become. Here’s the takeaway: you don’t need to wait for a special occasion to tell someone how you feel. People thrive from hearing positive affirmations and cherish the good things you have to share. This week pick up the phone, send an email or meet for coffee with someone you appreciate, and make sure they know it.
Capture the experience – The bride and groom set up a photo booth. Someone recorded the best man and maid of honor speeches. Guests signed a book with thoughts for the new couple. There were photos being snapped all night. These photos and messages will be looked at for years to come and bring back the memories of this celebration.
Dance like no one’s watching – Guests definitely shook their groove things and for good reason. You have the most fun when you put everything aside and live in the moment. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, throw on some tunes and let your feet do the work.
You can’t plan everything – There are times when it all does not go exactly as planned. Rather than let this interfere with the situation look at the surprises as a way to add to the overall experience. Sometimes the best decisions are made on the fly.
I only listed four life lessons – what else can be gained from a wedding? For the married folks out there, what important lessons did you find during your big day?
“And then? And then when I walked down the street people would’ve looked and they would’ve said there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in this game.”- Roy Hobbs, The Natural
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the chance to blog and to say things are busy would be an understatement. We’ve been stacked with a ton of client work in the office, which is a great thing. Now, this isn’t going to be some long soliloquy on the long hours and work load. I do want to say just how much of a GREAT learning experience it has been though.
Last week, I did a guest post at Samantha Ogborn’s blog talking about patience. (Thanks again, Sam!) I said that it’s a continuing process and that, yes, I am still learning to be patient. Part of what I talked about, I needed to put into action because I was feeling like I was in a slump. I didn’t feel confident in my work.
I decided to go into baseball mode. On Monday, I went over everything that I’ve been doing, kind of like what players do when they are in a batting slump. I looked at my routine, my work ethic, my approach to the day, etc. Here’s what I figured out. Sometimes we try TOO hard. We all want success, but you can’t be swinging for the fences every time. Level things out. That “home run” will come.
You can think strategically, but don’t over think. Does that make sense? The late Bill Robinson, who was the hitting coach for the 1986 New York Mets, had a hitting camp I once took part in as a kid. Now, I may not have turned out to be the next Gary Carter, but he preached the “Slow feet, quick hands” approach to hitting. I’ve actually used this approach in PR. What I mean is: by slowing things down and allowing yourself to think about your plans, the thoughts will come more quickly.
Remember, you need to put yourself in a position to succeed. I don’t mean that you should quit your job. What I do suggest is to think about how you can help your firm and your clients do well. Ask questions and be two steps ahead. It will show that you are invested in the overall success… your’s and the client’s.
Lastly, don’t fear striking out. You can’t bat 1.000. Be realistic and have a sound approach. That will breed success.
What is your approach? What are your “slump busters? Let me know in the comments.