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Preparation, Pitching, and the Perfect Interview

August 12, 2009

This is the second installment in my series for Chandlee Bryan’s, The Emerging Professional. In this post I discuss the similarities between baseball and interviewing.

Baseball is one of the most superstitious games in the world. Players may say you make your own luck, but watch that same player as he makes an effort not to step on the foul line. Between eating fried chicken before every game, taking batting practice in multiples of 3 or wearing the same warm-up jacket before each start, baseball players have numerous ways they get ready for a game. Of course, not all of them have to do with superstitions. I met Ryan Dempster, starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, in Texas during a 3-game series against the Texas Rangers. Since my uncle works for the team I got to be in the park before everyone else. Regardless of the scorching heat, Dempster ran bleachers around the entire stadium before each game. Just one of the ways he prepares. Whether it’s taking batting practice or watching film, baseball players do whatever they can to fully prepare for each and every game.

This same attitude can be applied to the job search. Sure you won’t find me eating fried chicken before every interview, but I do have my set ways of preparing. Here are some steps I take in preparing for an interview:

1. Research: As soon as I have an interview set up, I make it my goal to find out as much as possible about the company. Look on the web, ask friends, ask family or anyone you may know in the industry. It is important to know the company’s reputation, objectives, values and goals. Know their brands, products and important clients. The more you know about the company, the better equipped you’ll be to customize your answers. Interviewers will be impressed with your knowledge of the organization and it will show your dedication to the position.

2. Review Your Qualifications: You know how great you are, but it’s important to be able to articulate that. Before going into an interview think about the skills necessary to succeed in this position. Do you need to be organized, have good time management, have good writing skills or be good with people? Now, customize your own skill set to the position you are applying for. In addition, be able to articulate how you have put those skills in action recently. Use examples to prove your point and demonstrate your skill set.

3. Prepare Questions: The job seeker isn’t necessarily the only one being interviewed. It is important for the interviewee to ask questions as well to see if the company is a good match. Before heading to an interview prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Examples of these are, “What are the responsibilities of the position?”, “What qualifications or skills are you looking for this person to hold?” and “What are the goals for this position?”. Interviewers will evaluate you not only on your answers to their questions, but also the questions you ask them. I try to prepare at least 5 questions prior to each interview.

4. Be Prepared!: I know this seems obvious, but this is key. Besides what I discussed above, also make sure to have extra copies of your resume, have your portfolio prepared (or multiple copies if you’d like to leave a few behind) and have your outfit ironed and ready the day before. Know exactly where you are going and allow enough time to purchase train tickets, get gas or take the bus to wherever the interview is. Don’t wait until the last minute to get everything organized. You want to have a clear head going into the interview and being prepared ahead of time will help you with that.

I recently spoke with CJ Wilson, a relief pitcher for the Texas Rangers, about preparing for games. “The key is to focus on the process of what makes you successful. We make a routine where we do stuff in the same order so that our minds and bodies have all the tools needed to go out and do the job.” If you’re a real sports fan you know what you need to do to succeed. We see and hear about it everyday. Players taking batting practice, pitchers having a catch on their off-days, teams watching film before an upcoming game. Whether in sports or in your job search, if you prepare properly you’ll have all the tools necessary to succeed. I’ve always been complimented on my interviews and that’s because I follow the steps I laid out above. I research, I prepare and I set myself up for success.

Whether you’re a baseball player or recent college graduate, preparation is key.

Have you used preparation tactics similar to these? What do you do to prepare for interviews? What do you find successful? And what has baseball, or any sport, taught you about the job search? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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Megan, meet Megan.

August 5, 2009

Tonight I once again made the commute into the city from Naperville like I’ve done many times before. Depending on the time of day the BNSF is either a quick 40 minute ride or the dreaded hour and 15 minutes. Most people, including myself, despise a 75 minute train ride, however, from time to time there are nights where maybe that extra time provides you with a much needed break. That extra time gives you the opportunity to disconnect from the world, enjoy the silence, and for once, hear your own voice. For me, tonight, that extra time was exactly what I needed.

A couple of weeks ago a good friend of mine, @SarahKettler, suggested I read Just Who Will You Be? by Maria Shriver. I love a new book and I needed something to take my mind off of the adventure that is my current job hunt. So I said, “Why not?” and swiped my library card one more time. I didn’t know what exactly to expect from the book. It was small, both in size and length. Sarah had raved about it, but I wondered how life-changing a book could be in 91 pages. I sit here eating my words. Just Who Will You Be? is a beautiful, heartfelt story of Maria’s personal journey in finding out just who she is. An invitation to speak at a high school graduation ignited Maria’s own quest to find out who she was, who she had been, and who she wanted to be. The book details her difficulties in deciding on a topic to speak about. After all, even a Kennedy needs to be persuaded that their story is worth telling. In the end, Maria gives a moving and genuine speech concluding with her own poem entitled, “Just Who Will You Be?”

Tonight I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the launch of Sevans Strategy founded by the incredible @PRSarahEvans. As I stepped out from behind the laptop and phone for awhile I made sure to look and listen as people of all types came together. I mingled, caught up with folks I’d previously met and introduced myself to some new faces. However, regardless of when I’d met them, one common question kept being asked; “what do you do?” What do I do? Well, right now I sit at home applying for jobs, writing blog posts and networking like I should get paid for it. But that’s not really what they wanted to know. So maybe, “What do you want to do?” But even that question leaves for so many possible answers. As the night wore on, I felt so limited by the questions being asked. Okay, well, I’m Megan, I graduated in 2008 from EIU, I interned with the Chicago Blackhawks and Weber Shandwick. Those are basically the answers to every question I was asked. But what does that say? What does that tell you about me? At times I longed to delve deeper into conversations, to really learn about the person, but it always went back to their career or social media or something of the sorts. Don’t get me wrong, the night was a great success and I met some incredible people, but the experience had me questioning a lot. A lot about myself. A lot about “what I do.” And a lot about what I want to do.

Before leaving the house this evening, as I threw my business cards and lip gloss into my purse, Maria Shrivers little book of answers caught my eye. “It’s going to be a long train ride,” I thought, “Might as well have something to read.” And while many people despise that 75 minute train ride, sometimes life means for you to miss an earlier train so you’re forced to take time to just…breathe. As I sat alone on the train, tired and hungry, I began to read and began to see things much clearer. My whole life I’ve been asked, “What do you want to be?” Well, a ballerina, obviously 😉 What do I want to be? Throughout high school and college that answer changed constantly. And since then I’ve been many things, I’ve worn many hats, and I’ve had many dreams. But the truth is, what I am now or what I was then is only a small part of what I will be in the future. Of who I will be in the future. Because tonight after reading Maria’s book in its entirety, I realized that the important thing isn’t what I do, or what I want to be..It’s who will I be. What kind of human being will I be? Will I help others or serve only myself? Will I cherish money and belongings or family, friends, and relationships? As I met new friends tonight I wish they had asked these questions. Because what I do in no way defines who I am.

I am grateful that I had that extra time on the train to read all of Just Who Will You Be?, because I’ve realized a few things. I’ve realized that the expectations others have of me, aren’t nearly as important as the expectations I have of myself. I’ve realized that in order to truly be happy, I need to follow my heart and my passions. And I’ve realized that above all things, the most important question to ask myself is “Who will I be?” So as I continue this journey in finding my rightful place in this world, I look forward to meeting the who I will become.

Megan, meet Megan.

There will definitely be more to come regarding this post! However, since it’s 1:20am I should probably be getting to sleep 🙂

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For the Love of the Game..

July 30, 2009

I love baseball. I love the sights. I love the smells. I love the power it has to impact people’s lives and bring people together. I love that I can be having a horrible day, but as soon as I enter the ballpark my mood is suddenly changed. Baseball is America’s pastime and has been there through the ups and downs of our country. I’ve always enjoyed baseball, because it was genuine. The players loved the game. They went out there day in and day out, because baseball was their life.

Lately, however, I find myself questioning that.

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are the latest names released that are among the list of roughly 100 players that tested positive in 2003. They find themselves among Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez and more. The truth is, I’m not surprised. The MLB is dropping names of players that many have assumed were using enhancing drugs. My problem with all of this is the effect that it’s having on Major League Baseball. Steroid use is tainting baseball. It’s taking away the charm and grandeur of the game. It’s taking away my admiration for some of the players I’ve respected since I was young. I know there was and still is steroid use, but I need to stop hearing about it in order for my respect for the sport to resume.

We all know that the infamous list is out there, but by leaking the names one by one we are constantly being reminded of the dark side of baseball. I’m constantly being reminded that maybe not all of baseball is genuine. Leaking the names one by one is damaging to baseball’s reputation. And I personally don’t want to see my sport hurt like that.

So what now? Should players pay for what they did in 2003? Is their name being released damage enough? Should all the names be released at once? My heart is hurting for the game right now and something needs to be done about it..For the love of the game..

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I’m Just Getting Started (Aspiring to a Career in Sports)..

July 27, 2009

I’ve been on Twitter for about 6 months now, but goodness does it seem like longer. At first I was cynical about it as many are when they first begin. But I gave it a chance. I researched it, explored, got to know people and before I knew it I was a Twitterholic. I’ve learned a lot over my 6 months on Twitter and gained even more. Probably the most valuable thing I’ve gained from Twitter are the connections. The people I’ve met. The relationships I’ve made. One of the connections I’ve made that I consider incredibly valuable was Chandlee Bryan, @Chandlee.

Chandlee, who is a former Ivy League Career Counselor and Recruiter, has her own website, The Emerging Professional. At The Emerging Professional Chandlee urges visitors to put their best foot forward and land the job they love. One of the features I admire most about Chandlee’s website is her genuine effort to help promote young professionals land the job they want and jump start their career.

Recently Chandlee got in touch with me and asked me if I’d be interest in writing a guest post for her website. She had noticed my love for sports and asked if I’d be interested in writing about how my love for sports has impacted my job search. Of course, I said yes 🙂 So below is the first guest post I wrote for Chandlee. My original post was so long that we decided to split it into 3 parts. Therefore, the next 2 posts will follow this week and next. I want to thank @Chandlee for all of her help as I begin this exciting journey and for allowing me to contribute to her site.

Please visit http://www.emergingprofessional.typepad.com/ and http://www.bestfitforward.com/ to see all the amazing things Chandlee is doing to help get careers started. She sure has helped mine. Sure this is only 1 guest post, but I’m just getting started 🙂

My guest post can be found here on Chandlee’s website.

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MegO1I’ve been a sports fan my entire life. The earliest support of that is a picture of me at 6 weeks old in a Chicago Bears sweater and Harry Carey glasses on. My dad, being born and raised in Chicago, was a die-hard Chicago sports fan. It was all about the Cubs, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks. That being said, it was no surprise I had Chicago Bears Onesies, Cubs school supplies and was able to recite the entire Bulls starting line-up including Bill Carmrine, Horace Grace and Scottie Pipsen (I know now those aren’t their names) by the age of 4. My uncle, who now does Pre- and Post-game radio for the Texas Rangers baseball team, was a constant presence growing up, which meant so was sports. I grew up following his career in sports media and admiring him for following his dream. And now, not surprisingly, his dream has become my own. Like family, sports has always been a presence in my life. A presence that has taught me about as much as any class ever as. One of the biggest lessons that sports taught me was one that my uncle learned at a young age; follow your dreams.

Confucius once said, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” In my opinion, truer words have never been spoken. Growing up this was a lesson I was told often; do something you’re passionate about. This was one of the first lessons I was taught from sports. One of my favorite things to do as a child was to go to Minor League baseball games. Many of the players were barely out of high school and on their own for the first time. These boys loved the game and you could tell. With scouts watching and local fans cheering them on they put everything they had into the game. Getting paid close to nothing, traveling constantly and staying in motels every night, you knew these boys were there for a reason; they loved the game. It was their passion, their life and they would do whatever it took to make their dream come true.

Some people, like myself, are born knowing what they want to do. Others have to experiment a bit to truly realize what they’re meant for. In difficult economic times such as these many people are settling for any job they can find, but my hope is that eventually they will follow their hearts and do what makes them happy. Everyone’s dream is different. Mine is to work in sports.

But regardless of the shape or size of your dream, all of them are attainable. The first step is simple; ask yourself what it is you really want to do. Has it always been a thought in the back of your mind? Do you have a particular passion? Have you been afraid to try? If you are not sure, do some research! Learn about different career options or paths you could take. Some people need to try a few things before they know for sure. In that case, take a few internships to see what it is you really enjoy. Experience is key to truly learn about a particular industry or career path. Lastly, do what you have to do to make your dream happen. Hone your skills or go back to school if you must. No dream is unreachable and if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.

My dream is to work in sports. I want to meet new people, travel the country, help others and put my passion to work. I know the power sports can have in impacting people’s lives and I want to be a part of that. New York Mets General Manager, Omar Minaya once said, “We were born with baseball in our blood. It’s more than just a sport. It’s a passion. It’s an opera. It’s just a way of being. It’s almost like breathing.” I was born with sports in my blood. It’s part of what makes me the woman I am today. I know there will be obstacles and I know my dreams won’t come true with the snap of a finger, but I do know that I can make it happen. So for now I’m okay traveling from city to city and staying in local motels, because it will all be worth it when I finally get the call, “You’re goin to the Show.”

If you like what you read, please feel free to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thank you!


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Preview..

July 20, 2009

Here’s a preview of the current post I’m working on. It’s about how my love for sports has influenced my job search 🙂 Can’t wait for everyone to read it! Stay tuned!

“I believe everything happens for a reason. I was born a sports fan for a reason; to learn the lessons that sports provide. As a college graduate I am taking some of those important lessons and applying them to my job search. Afterall, over the years I’ve realized that major league batters aren’t the only ones who see fastballs, NFL quarterbacks aren’t the only ones who get blitzed and a strong forward isn’t only necessary in basketball. The lessons that sports teach can be applied to anything and they’ve personally played a large role in my life…”

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A Little Blue Bird Told Me

June 17, 2009

Twitter For Newbies

It has taken me days to finally sit down and start drafting this blog. Not because I didn’t know what to write about, but because there is so much to write about! So let me first apologize if this post ends up being pages long. I think Twitter is incredible and I’m writing this post in hopes that other people come to the same realization.

I’ve wanted to write about Twitter for some time now I just needed the motivation. Well a couple days ago that motivation came to me in the form of a Facebook comment. In a constant effort to find more Tweeters that I know I mentioned in my Facebook status how great Twitter was and encouraged friends to join. Within 30 minutes I had a comment from a friend that said, “So pointless. Just another website to sign up for. We all already have twitter with our Facebook status.” What?? Pointless?? Just another website to sign up for?? And so my post was born…

What Is Twitter?

Good guestion. And one I get all the time. According to the front page of the Twitter website “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” Seems simple, right? Well, to some, that assumed simplicity makes Twitter not worth looking at. Similar to my above mentioned friend many people view Twitter as just another way to stalk people and update your status. However, if one takes the time to research and really get to know Twitter, they’ll realize it’s more than that. Much more.

Recently I’ve gotten a lot of friends to join Twitter and since the blog post wasn’ finished yet I sent them mini Twitter emails from time to time. For this first Twitter post I’ll simply go through what I talked about in the emails to my friends and just touch on the basics of Twitter. Here we go 🙂

How to Get Started

Getting started is pretty simple, just like any other social networking website. First, go to http://www.twitter.com and click on the green square that says “Get Started-Join!” From there they’ll walk you through choosing your username, or in Twitter terms, your “handle.” For best results I suggest using your real name when signing up. If you are using the handle for networking or professional purposes using your real name will help other industry leaders and potential employers find you. For instance, my Twitter handle is MOgulnick, which makes it easy for people to find me. If you are using it for purely personal reasons, then it is up to you! Once you have your handle chosen you can have Twitter search through your Yahoo! account, Gmail account, AOL account, etc. to see how many of your friends are on Twitter! Besides friends you may have on Twitter, you’ll also be shown Twitter members that might be worth following. Again, it’s up to you if you’d like to accept! (Later I’ll go over following & followers)

Now that you have your handle all set up you’re ready to personalize your Twitter page! In the right hand corner you’ll see “Settings.” Click on that and go through each tab. The first tab, “Account”, is some of the main information that will appear on your Twitter page. Name, location, website, bio. Your website can be anything. It can be your company, your Twitter page, your Facebook, your blog, anything. Up to you! Your bio is a short introduction to you! All bios are different and there is no correct way to do it, so take a look at others and then personalize your own! Here are some examples of different bios:

Young PR professional in Chicago looking for an entry-level PR or Sports Communication job!” –@MOgulnick

A little too damn happy. Licks frosting off cupcakes. Editor of Polichicks: The It Girl’s Guide to Politics (just enough to get by at a cocktail party).” –@Polichicks

A positive thinking goal setter that actually likes public speaking and making people laugh” –@TracyBrinkman

Father of 2 girls. Husband. Chief Buzz Officer @theKbuzz, social media/word of mouth marketing firm. Mets fan. Want 2 make world better. Here 2 learn and grow. ” –@davekerpen

As you can see, you can make your bio whatever you want it to be! For those using Twitter as a networking tool I’d suggest putting keywords in your bio that have to do with your profession or industry. It helps potential employers find you easier! From there you’re welcome to explore the other tabs. You can set up your cell phone to get Tweets, you can add a photo and change the design of your page. Lots to do, just explore! Now that your page is looking good you’re ready to start Tweeting!

The next two steps can be done in whichever order you choose. You can find people to follow first or start Tweeting. Personally, I think you should start Tweeting before you get followers. If someone follows me I won’t follow them back until I see some Tweets I think are worthwhile. So that’s where this post will go first. Tweeting 🙂

Tweeting

Technically there are 3 different ways you can send out messages on Twitter. First, is the normal way..Or typing in the box! When I first joined Twitter I thought of what I typed in that box as my status..Just like Facebook..But really, you type a lot more into it than just your status. One of the comparisons I’ve found that I really like is a post-it note. Or an index card. It’s small. You only have 140 characters so brevity is key. You can write anything on there. Reminders, appts, quotes, links, notes, anything. If you stick a post-it note on your refrigerator everyone in the house can see it..Same with Twitter. Whatever you write in that box everyone can see. Unless you put it on private which can be found in settings. Personally, I don’t like private because no one can see your Tweets without you approving it and it will be harder to gain any followers. Another reason I don’t like viewing it as a status is because you also reply to people and re-tweet in that box. Which leads me to the second way of messaging.

Responding to someone is pretty simple. If you are on the regular Twitter page you just go to someones tweet and if you scroll over the bottom right corner of their tweet a little arrow will appear. Click on that arrow and their name will pop up in your box (post-it note! Haha) and you can write back to them. To respond to someone you have to make sure your message starts with the @ sign followed by their username. Now, this message is directed towards the person, but everyone can still see it! If you forget the @ sign your message will just be posted on your profile and it won’t be sent directly to that person.

Third, is direct messages. DMs are messages you obviously send to someone directly and can only be seen by that person. Just like messaging on Facebook. You and the person are the only ones who can see it, which is nice! To DM someone go to their profile and on the right side under “Actions” you’ll see Message. And there you go! Easy enough 🙂

Following & Being Followed

Now that you’re Tweeting like a pro it’s time to get some viewers! Earlier Twitter searched through your email accounts to see if any of your friends are on Twitter. If you did this part successfully then you should be following people on Twitter already. If you are following someone that means that you will see every Tweet they post. To find people to follow simply go to “Find People” in the upper right hand corner and type in names, keywords, restaurants, cities, industries, etc. For example, if you type in Chicago you’ll get Chicago newspapers, media, restaurants, companies and people. This part of Twitter can be used as a great way to network as well. If you are interested in Public Relations simply type in Public Relations and you’ll find plenty of industry leaders, companies and other people interested in PR!

Now just because you are following someone doesn’t mean they’re following you back. You can Tweet about them or to them, but unless they are following you they will not see your Tweets. In your profile you will see the number of people following you and the number of people you are following. Generally I try to keep the number pretty even, but it’s up to you!

I know this seems like a lot, but I also have confidence in all of you! I’m going to end this post here just because it’s getting long, but there will be more to come! More advanced Twitter information will be next! Thanks everyone!

Best,

Megan


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the third times a charm..

May 7, 2009

And I’m back 🙂 Now let’s hope this attempt is more successful than the previous ones! This is my 3rd attempt at creating a blog, but regardless I’m still feeling confident that I’ll be able to pull this one off. Mostly because things are different now. I’m older. I’m done with college. And I’m beginning the journal that is called “the real world.”

When I decided to try a blog again I kind of felt like a hypocrite. I’ve read other blogs, both good & bad, and laughed as people shared random stories of their lives. I appreciate a good blog about sports, social media, or entertainment, but when an entire blog post is dedicated to your dog Fluffy I get a little bored. With that in mind I’ve decided to focus my blog a little better. Sure, I’ll blog about the life of a recent college graduate, but I’ll do my best to keep the boring details out of it. I’ll leave it up to my FB status and Twitter to keep you updated on the minute to minute happenings of my life. Unless you want them of course 🙂

Sports. Public Relations/Social Media. & the stories of a 23-year-old college graduate. That’s what I plan on talking about. Ideas are always welcome & your comments will always be appreciated.

For now that’s it. As an intern at Weber Shandwick I have a busy day ahead of me, as always. I have 3 ideas I’ve thought of posting about for my first official blog post. Please share your opinions!

-The Tainting of America’s Pastime: Manny Ramirez (And other athletes using performing enhancing drugs)

-Bristol Palin, Meghan McCain: Abstinence, Sexual Desire & the GOP

-“Paying It Forward” (Obviously not as serious as the others, but I really want to write about people performing random acts of kindness..A lady giving a homeless guy orange juice inspired me)

-And anything you’d like to know about the life of a Chicago PR Agency Intern 🙂 Haha.

Best,

Megan XoXo