Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Frosh Perspective: The Beginning

 Angelina Truchan is a freshman at Wayne State University who plans to major in public relations. She hopes to share a bit of her year and her perspective with our Under PRessure readers. This month, she sums up her successful first semester and shares what's to come!

Our School's Undergrad Library. Source
  If I could sum this entire year up in one word? Short. Everyone always said college will be over
before you know it and I’m starting to believe them [Editor's Note: It's true]! My first year has definitely had its ups and downs, but overall college, is not so bad.
   Honestly, the most challenging part for me this entire school year was self-motivation. I’ve come
to realize that college is about 99.9% self-motivation and if you do not obtain this characteristic, then
well, you’re screwed to put it bluntly. I have to admit I had some summer fever and my second semester was definitely the toughest. If I had to give any bit of advice to next year’s freshmen it would be to stay determined and focused on your long-term goals and do not get distracted by unnecessary things that will not benefit you in the long run.

   I’d like to thank both Elise and Jasmine for allowing me to write for “A Frosh Perspective.” It has
been an absolute delight and I hope you all enjoyed following some of the highlights of my freshman
year! Feel free to follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @angtruchan

Angelina Marie

Monday, April 28, 2014

Down The Hobbit Hole: I’ve Got A Niche (Part 2 of 2)

Down the Hobbit Hole is a monthly segment penned by Maura, a senior at Michigan State University, finishing her undergraduate degree in English. She's also a lover of cats, great literature and Bruce Springsteen. Life's an adventure and remember: "Not all those who wander are lost."

We are taught from an early age that language and the arts are separate from the sciences, and certainly this idea is reinforced throughout the rest of our schooling days.

Science deals with formulas, with calculating, with experiments. In a lot of ways, it seems that science is more important. It has the potential to heal people, to discover new ideas.

So what does English literature have to do with neuroscience?

At one time I would’ve said that the two are completely different, that they do not intertwine in any way. Now, I believe that the two have everything to do with each other.

The field of literary neuroscience is relatively new and little research has been done. But the research that has been done is mind-blowing and makes for some very significant changes in how literature is being viewed.

At the head of some of this research is Professor Phillips.

Looking beyond the limits of others, she tested what would happen when Ph.D. students read Mansfield Park (by Jane Austen) in two ways: close reading and pleasure reading. The students did so in an fMRI machine while hooked up to eye-tracking devices—not the ideal place to cozy up with a book.

What she found, though, paved the way. The results went beyond “work” and “play,” and instead suggest that when we pay attention to literary texts (such as in close reading), the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions is required.

Long story short, reading isn’t as simple as people once thought it was; it requires a lot from your brain. In a similar study, they found that presenting participants with a text about motor skills (such as “Raymond kicked the ball”) actually activates specific areas of the brain that correlate to kicking.

What I’m really trying to say, though, is to explore because you never know where it might lead.

I know it’s cliché, but if someone told me my interested would include literary neuroscience, I wouldn’t believe them. However, I’m beginning to realize that this is where I fit in.

In an experiment titled “This is your brain on Jane Austen” I found my home.

- MS

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Honesty Hour: Do You Even Drive, Bro?

We're just here to keep things real.

Source for all images
Here in The Mitten, the weather is getting warmer and it's the perfect time to get in the car and take a weekend road trip or just cruise around singing to your fav tunes with your besties.

With all these positives, comes one of my biggest peeves: shitty drivers.

I'm certain my driving skills have deteriorated since moving to Detroit due to the driving skills of those around me. I'm also certain no one south of Saginaw (Google Michigan map) knows how to drive in snow, which is just sad.

So here are a few Asshole Driver memes that highlight some of my biggest driving peeves:

Also includes Michigan and snow.

And remember: don't be that asshole.

Happy driving!

Until next month, kiddos.

- J

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Industry Insiders: Jen Bullano

A series profiling insiders in the fashion, beauty, sports, public relations and media industries (editors, PR girls, etc.) whose successes in the industry are inspirational.

Today, I'm bringing back one of the original features on the blog: Industry Insiders. Really, I just needed an excuse to profile one of my role models, Jen Bullano.

Bullano is the director of communications for the Pittsburgh Penguins and, basically, has my dream job. She arguably has one of the toughest job in NHL communications: managing Sidney Crosby's media requests. If you're not sure who I'm talking about, please open another tab and copy + paste his name into Google. Sid's kind of a big deal in the hockey world—he's the poster child of the NHL.

Getting back to Bullano, she managed to climb the ladder in a field, and sport, dominated by men. She's the only women in her position in a 30-team league. I would have not known this about Bullano if I hadn't read this ESPN article over a year ago.

Of course, I knew about Bullano. I have been following her on Twitter forever and, even more so now that her handle has become the official team PR handle. But it was great to read about her successes since she's doing exactly what I want to do.

Reading the article was eye-opening in more than one way: I also realized I never thought about my gender stopping me from achieving my goals, which obviously, one of the article's main take aways.

And I'm glad to see it's not something I need to worry about.

As Bullano states in the article: the minute you think your gender puts you at a disadvantage, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage.

So ladies, and lads, don't ever et you gender dictate what you can and can't do.

Unless next month, kiddos!

- J

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sharing is Caring, After All

Hi everyone! I was running my usual news and blog sweep this morning and I came across a few fun and interesting articles. Since Jasmine and I are really working toward building our careers at this point, I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of what inspires us as well as a few websites and posts that have valuable information.

First, if you're readers of That Working Girl, this post will be familiar to you. I wrote this post on work/life balance in the winter, but it absolutely still holds true! {That Working Girl}

No matter what industry, there are some annoying and frustrating things about PR. Do you agree with these? {NYC PR GIRLS}

On the job hunt like me? A few tips on perfecting that cover letter. {Slate}

For anyone who loves the news but doesn't have time for it all, please, let me direct you to the greatest resource ever. {The Skimm}

In the ever changing worlds of media and fashion, what does it mean to have a consulting gig? {Fashionista}

Millennials continue to receive more and more labels. The newest one? {Refinery29}

Planning a spring get together? A few ideas... {Marketing Made Special}

Happy reading!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Warrior Stories: This is the End

We're in our final days of college. The past four years have been the best of times and the worst times. This segment will highlight, one last time, our best of times at Wayne State University.

Elise: We've made it to our final warrior stories. In My Life is in Shambles Part 1, I warned you there would be more. And here it is, My Life is in Shambles Part 2, AKA my thank you letter to a few people at Wayne State.

First, I want to thank my favorite professor Julie Klein, for not only being an amazing professor, but for sometimes driving up my blog traffic by allowing me to shamelessly self-promote myself and this blog in class several times. You've helped me organize my ideas and put the academic skills I've learned in your classes to use in the digital realm, both for myself personally and for work. Professors like you are the kind who inspire minds to open, and who promote learning for the sake of learning, which is a truly beautiful thing.

To the friends I made but didn't keep: All of you were so important to me at one point or another. Some of you still are, but for some reason, we just didn't take the time to stay in touch. I really hope that you're reading this. You taught me to grow up, you showed me who I wasn't so that I could find who I am and there isn't a limit to how grateful I am for you.

To my friends from church who also go to school here: Thank you for reading this. Thank you for being the people I can rant to about going to school here and about how they won't let me wear heels to my graduation. You're all fantastic, and I'll see you Sunday.

To the friends I made here who are still my friends: You all certainly know who you are. I love you guys so much, and you're the best for dealing with all of my stresses and craziness and for still being my friends even though I don't get to see you very often. Oh yeah, and #TexasCrew4Eva.

To Cat: You're my very best friend in the whole entire world and I'm so glad we were able to become as close as we did. Our poor professors may have never totally had a grasp on who was who, but it made this untraditional college experience a lot more fun.

To the rest of my family: You've made endless sacrifices to get me to this point. There isn't a proper thank you for all of that. I'm beyond grateful for every ounce of love and support and help.

To Jasmine: I'm so glad we started this blog and that we were able to maintain our friendship despite lots of hours of classes and work and stress and tiredness. And I'm glad we're going to stay friends. I'm so happy for all of your successes and can already see that your future will be ultra bright.

And finally, to Wayne State: You're the complete opposite of what a traditional university is, and that's what I needed. And as strange as that was at first, I'm grateful for the lessons, the learning experiences, and the people you've graciously given me. Please let me wear heels to graduation. Wedges are not enough.

Jasmine: As always, Elise is such a tough act to follow!

Keeping in the same vein, we're finally at the end of a very long and very challenge chapter in our lives. And that chapter included so many major and minor characters, but all made important contributions to our development.

Those characters, just like the setting, were very nontraditional. And, for that, I am thankful. Attending Wayne State and having the college experience that I did definitely shaped who I am today. It allowed me to focus in a way I'm not sure traditional college setting could.

So thank you to Wayne State for your unorthodox experience, thank you to all my friends and family whom have been the best support system a person can ask for the last four years, thank you to all the people I'm no longer friends with—you came, you taught, I learned—and special shoutouts to my besties, The Pod, The Tripod and Elise—I cannot wait to see what all of you do postgrad!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Campaigns We Love: Levo League's Ask4More

It's April. That means spring and rain and warmer weather. But that also means that it's time to evaluate your work life or your intern life. April 8 was National Equal Pay Day.

The wage gap still exists, and that's an unfortunate thing. Women are working for 59 days out of the year for free when you factor in the wage gap. That's alarming!

ASK4MORE VIDEO from Levo League on Vimeo.

Enter Levo League's Ask4More campaign. With videos, statistics, and plenty of other information not only on the wage gap but how to ask for more, you have no reason not to get what you deserve in the workplace. So, whether you want a pay raise, more responsibility, the opportunity to lead, time off, whatever...don't be afraid to ask for what you want or need.

Your Girls Under PRessure

Monday, April 14, 2014

PRactical: Cover Letters

Here at Under PRessure, we're always learning the ins and outs of the industry, and we want to share those tips with you! This feature is PRactical advice for interning and working in the PR world.

Last month we covered some of the finer points of résumé  writing, and this month we're covering some of the finer points of cover letter writing. Cover letters and résumés are quite similar:

  • The number rule of cover letter writing is tailoring the letter for the job you're applying for. There's nothing worse than sending a super generic cover letter. You need to highlight skills specific to the position and why you're the best candidate for the job. Remember, you're not the only person applying for the job. You need to set yourself apart from everyone else.
  • It's also important to add information in your cover letter that can't be included in your résumé or an application. Details about skills, some sort of personal story, or subjective information fits best in the cover letter format.
  • Like your résumé, have people proofread your cover letter. You can never have too many eyes looking at your cover letter. You want it to be perfect when the most important eyes look at it. Also, have people proofread not just for grammatical errors, style and typos but also content. Those that know you best might think of a skill you can highlight or help articulate why you're the best candidate.
  • Always include all your contact information. We typically like to make our contact info a header that shows up on all of our documents included in an application: résumé, cover letter, reference page and anything else they may ask you to include.
  • Your contact information may include your social media profiles. Of course, only include those that are appropriate. Obviously, LinkedIn is a given, and never include Facebook. Twitter depends on how personal or professional your handle is. If your handle is protected don't include it. But really, if you are a budding communications professional, you shouldn't have your account protected anyway.
  • And lastly, sign your cover letter. Get an electronic version of your signature for use on application documents. It's not as hard as you think. Write your signature a few times on a white piece of paper and then scan. Turn them into clipart and insert into your doc before converting to a .pdf.
So here are a few tips we follow when writing cover letters. What tips do you have for your fellow communications ladies and lads? Let us know! 

Until next month,

Your Girls Under PRessure

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Life is in Shambles, Part 1

It's sappy hour.

Graduation is quickly approaching. And despite the terror I'm beginning to feel, the sleepless nights I've had for about five weeks now, and the struggle to find the perfect job, there's this sense of clarity I feel that I have to attribute to an episode of How I Met Your Mother...the one about graduation goggles.

Yesterday I had brunch with my sister Catia, who all of you probably know well by now. We were talking about how weird it is that I'm nearly done with college. It made me feel sentimental and I flashed back to the kind of person I was before this whole journey started.

When I started college this is how I thought my journey would end: I would be graduating with a 4.0 GPA and every possible honor, on my way to an incredible medical school, probably Johns Hopkins or the University of Michigan. My amazing and so-handsome-it-hurts-to-look-at-him boyfriend would be sitting with my family, beaming and being so happy that we were together and that we both found success. My mom would be crying and my dad would be so proud that he'd fall silent and that's how I'd know. And I would FINALLY be happy with myself because the plan worked out exactly as I wanted it to, for the first time ever.

The reality is starkly different. I'm graduating with an English degree. The good GPA still worked out. No med school for me. No boyfriend either, because I spend a lot of time working and I'm average and that's fine (ok, it's kind of not). I hope my parents are proud of me even though I decided against working toward the stability they've worked tirelessly to create for me. Because I made a lot of sacrifices and tried to show them that I could grow up into an adult worthy of belonging to them. Nothing worked out the way I planned it would. But, you guys, it's not the end of the world. And I'm happy.

I'm a different person than I was in high school. I'm a different person than I was when I started college. I'm a different person than I was when Jasmine and I started this blog. I'm a different person than I was when I was living in New York. I was so willing to change. That's the only consistency I've had in college. I just want to grow, to get to that next level. Now, I'm reflecting on all of those other versions of me and I'm simultaneously sad and happy (Freshman year Elise really needed to go).

The difficult thing is not seeing what's going to be next. There are going to be major changes, but unlike the earlier part of my life, I don't have even a semblance of an idea of what they'll be. After elementary school, there was high school. After high school, there was college. Now, there's a job, but I don't know what it will be yet. I haven't found something concrete yet. And then there's grad school, but who knows when that's going to happen.

Despite the monumental amount of pressure I'm under (It's times like right now when I realize how aptly named this blog is), I'm trying to stay as optimistic as possible. And it's so difficult. Two weeks ago, I wrote something called "My Life is in Shambles Part 1" (it inspired this post) because I'm so unsure about my future that it's taking every ounce of energy to be positive. This probably isn't the depiction of myself I should be giving in an online format, but about a year ago I made a promise to all of you that I refuse to break: to be honest, and to be real. But I'm really putting in an effort and having faith in my ability and creating any opportunity I can for myself.

A really long time ago, one of my friends told me that the most important gift I can give to myself is to stop being a people pleaser and spending a little time working on me, to make sure I was OK before I went giving back to others. And even though that person and I stopped being friends only months after that, I think it's the most important lesson I could've been given, and really sparked the transformations I've made in college. I'm more me, more "Elise" now than I've ever been. This whole sappy end of college thing and all of the days filled with endless work and applications and internships are bringing out the most real, but also most vulnerable part of me.

I really hope that I can use that vulnerability and rawness to my advantage. To refine it and use those feelings to create brands and products that I'm passionate about when I make it into the workforce. Not just for me, but to honor all of my transitions and to honor the friendship that sparked all of those.

I'm going to save the even sappier stuff (yes! It exists) for my final Warrior Stories post.

That's it. Thank you for making it to the bottom of this post, and I can't wait for you to read my Warrior Stories post.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Network: Vision in Vogue

Meet Catia, our segment writer for The Network. As a second year PR major, she hopes to continue to grow professionally and would love to one day see Detroit become a powerhouse city again. Fun fact, she actually inspired big sis Elise to pursue PR!

We're switching gears a little bit with this month's segment of the network. Elise is taking over and she has a bit of an exciting prospect to share with you. I'm really interested in this idea and hope you are as well! -Catia

Hi Everyone!

I had a wonderful opportunity to speak with the most energetic and contagiously positive woman ever, Vivian Kwarm. Last week, her team reached out to me and Jasmine about Vivian's new project, Vision in Vogue. In our chat we discussed everything from majors to schooling to the inception of this idea, and I can't wait to share all of the information with you today. 

Just like me, Vivian was pre-med and much like me, she found her calling in a different field. She was feeling pressure from family to become a doctor, to take part in a "stable" career path, but it wasn't truly making her happy. She then decided to take on a variety of internships to explore her options in other fields. It was through those internships that everything unfolded and she found her passion, realizing that work could be something enjoyable. 

After graduating from Spellman College, Vivian attended the New York Film Academy to study in the broadcast journalism program. With hopes for a career in entertainment journalism, she soon found a void. Women of the "Oprah generation" had meaningful programming that was entertaining but in a way also enriched their lives. Millennials don't necessarily have this, and the idea for Vision in Vogue was born. She wanted to empower our generation and relay the message that we are not alone in our journey. Yes, the girl next to you might seem put together and totally composed, but its likely that she has the same fears as you and I do. Vivian hopes that Vision in Vogue will be that place for 20-somethings working toward navigating and building their careers to become empowered and make meaning of this transitional time in their lives. So, you're probably wondering, what exactly is Vision in Vogue?

Vision in Vogue is a TV program that wants to empower you and explain that those feelings are OK. The name was inspired by Vivian's idea that a vision is an integral piece to a happy career and the Vogue portion was a serendipitous addition. Funny enough, she got the idea perusing a newsstand at the grocery store. But those random places are always where the magic happens, right?

This is a startup, and the team has put together a campaign that further explains the concept. Check out the IndieGoGo page here.

Other than being the type of person who uses her experience to serve (which is a great benefit for us!), Vivian has a few pieces of advice for our readers. 

  • When working toward a career, ask yourself, "What do I want, really?" This is much more important than worrying about what others want for you. If you're doing what you love, you'll be motivated to work toward success.
  • Don't let go of your vision. It's what pulls you forward.
  • Your career is a journey and might not always be easy, but allow it to be fun at times!
  • Accept shifts in your journey.
  • "Be comfortable with who you are and express that to the world!"
  • "If something doesn't feel right, it's not right."
  • Failure is not the end of everything. It's just a way of telling you you need to change course.
My greatest takeaway from my chat with Vivian was how truly, genuinely happy she was to be doing what she's doing. Passion like that is something we can all hope for in our careers!

What did you think of the campaign? What's your vision?


Monday, April 7, 2014

From the Sideline: Stadium Stories

Working in football is fun and stressful and one of the best learning experiences someone hoping to work in sports can possibly have.

The easiest way to write this post is to tell you athletes are like any other coworker and you should treat them as such.

But that’s not always true.

It can vary per sport, league, team and even individual player.

During my junior hockey internship, the interns were not expected to interact with the players. And the players were told to not interact with us. Of course, we later learned this may have been spawned from the lack of unprofessionalism from the intern class before us, but as the next class we received the punishment.

While we did our best to avoid player interaction, for some of us it was a main part of our responsibilities. As one of those interns, I became a mainstay for the guys. If they saw me, they were comfortable enough to ask me questions or ham it up for social media (they knew I had attention of about 7,000 followers).

My class had to gain the trust of our higher-ups, but once they realized we were not the same as the previous class and had a much higher level of professionalism, they were more comfortable sending us on player appearances, locker room tours, three stars, etc.

During my football internship, I had limited interaction with the players. But, it was (and still is) part of my role to be an onsite contact for players during events. In my first week, I was asked to be the onsite contact for a player and it was basically a test to see how I would handle it. Once I passed, my supervisors had no problem sending me to a local middle school with one of our marquee players. I also interviewed our players for web content, attended their charity events as the team representative, among other tasks.

But the key to working with players is professionalism. As long as you maintain that, you’re golden.

My best piece of advice: the biggest no-no is asking for autographs. Doing so will instantly downgrade you from professional to amateur. No matter how tempting, refrain. It’s not worth the risk, which can be as costly as potential jobs.

Until next time,

- J

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lip Service: April

We've decided to turn Lip Service into a more comprehensive segment. A perfect pout is always a must have, but we have a few overall beauty favorites to share so you'll always look primed and professional at school or work!

Elise's Pick:
It's just so (b)right. Source.

I've been searching for my signature scent for what seems like forever, but was really probably only eighth grade. Something I would smell and would think, "Yes. This smells like me." First it was Miss Dior. Then Ralph Lauren Hot. Then all of the Juicy fragrances (I know). Then it was Miss Dior again. Then it was Marc Jacobs Dot. And now it's Kate Spade Live Colorfully, my spring counterpart to my wintertime favorite Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb.

From the first second I smelled Live Colorfully in the Kate Spade store, I knew it was me. It smelled pretty & bright, but there was (is) also something strange about it. There was also that daunting test period where I had to make sure that while on me, it didn't turn into some abhorrent scent. It didn't, thank God. I totally adore the fragrance, and I love the packaging almost as much. Is there anything better than a pretty perfume bottle? No. That's the definitive answer.

But, I also have a new fave scent discovery site which I wrote about quite enthusiastically here.

Jasmine's Pick:
Without fail, whenever I fall in love with a fragrance it becomes discontinued. The latest tragedy is Black Poppy by PacSun. I must've subconsciously had a inkling because I picked up a couple bottles on my last shopping trip.

I wish I could find the "official" fragrance description but, sadly, even that ceases. What I can tell you is why I love Black Poppy so much—it's floral, but it's not floral. Though my name is Jasmine, floral is not my signature, or favorite, scent. Black Poppy is earthy and natural. It's got a hint of patchouli (in the same family as mint—I heart mint), but it isn't overpowering.

Of course, the key is any fragrance is how is smells on you, because your individual body chemistry affects how fragrances smell on you. For me, it's not overwhelming and I often am asked what fragrance I'm wearing.

Do you have a fav fragrance or signature scent? Do you change fragrances by season? Tell us!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Constructive Distraction: Unf*ck Your Habitat

Procrastination doesn't have to be a total waste of time—check out some of the web's most constructive gems: educational blogs, career-focused news sites, the latest web tools, etc. These distractions make procrastinating time well spent.
Odds are you've been doing some spring cleaning. Or are planning to do some spring cleaning.

But you hate cleaning, right? Me too.

However, Unfuck Your Habitat makes it much more bearable. This site acknowledges that cleaning is not everyone's number one priority, nor is everyone a domestic god that magically has extra hours in the day to keep their abodes spic and span.

Instead, Unfuck Your Habitat brings you helpful checklists and guidelines to make cleaning more bearable and help you form daily and weekly habits to keep your habitat tidy and organized.

My absolute fav page on the blog is the UfYH Fundamentals. Read it. Thank me later.

I also enjoy the author's philosophy on dishes and laundry:
"Laundry and dishes have three steps: 1. Wash 2. Dry 3. PUT IT AWAY, GODDAMMIT."
If only I could get my roommate to understand this concept.

Until next time: happy cleaning!

Your Girls Under PRessure