3 Academic Things to do Before Graduating

Today at 12:30pm I registered for classes for what should be the last time in my life! I say, “should be,” because I don’t intend to go to grad school, but you never know what things might change a persons mind, and I’ve enjoyed being a student. Knowing I’ll probably never have to pick out classes again is both relieving and a little bit sad, and generally got me thinking about my college years and the types of things I would recommend to an incoming student.

There are so, so many things to recommend- where the least expensive cafe is, specific teachers and courses, all kinds of stuff. So I decided to make this list academic-specific. The things that people don’t necessarily want to do but afterwards are glad for. I suppose I’ll get to it.

1. Get to know a professor (or 2, or 3…)
Professors are here because they have a crazy amount of knowledge on a subject and want to share it. If you a) have a class you really love; b) have a class you want to love but is really hard for you; or c) think your professor seems interesting; go talk to them in their office hours! I have 3 professors who I really liked in class and gradually got to know by visiting in their office hours, and who I now stop in to chat with or get perspectives from; one of them is also now my boss in an internship (but the way that happened is another story entirely related to one of the other professors).
Not only can professors be helpful to you in class, but most really, really want to see their students succeed and will let you know about things related to your major that will look good on a resume- whether it’s a class that will give you certain skills or an internship they heard about. Also they sometimes have snacks.


One of my 3 taught me to take good photos. Another of the 3 eventually hired me, in part because I can take good photos.

2. Attend a Public Lecture
I did this for the first time just a few days ago and can’t stop sharing the information with people. Some day when you realize you have an hour or two of downtime and nobody is answering their phone go to a lecture on any subject, whether it sounds incredibly interesting to you or not. For my job I went to one on intentional communities and it was way more interesting than I expected going in to it, and now I want to attend more public lectures. It’s not boring because although students attend lectures most weekdays, they are always on the same subject- public lectures are usually about 45 minutes to an hour on something you probably don’t know a lot about.
For a list of public events on campus take a look at the public events page from the library. There are also other community calendars with lectures listed around Eugene and Springfield.

3. Use the Tutors/GTF’s
This was/is the hardest for me to do because I hate sitting around waiting for a tutor to be available. But if you have any doubts about a paper, math problem, or whatever, there is probably a tutor on campus who can help you in 30 minutes or less. I’ve been stalling in taking my required math classes because I plain old don’t like math, but this term I’m pretty confident I’ll get a good grade and it’s with many thanks due to the GTF who runs the lab I take. He’s patient with everyone no matter how many times he has to go through a problem, and, like so many professors, wants to see students succeed.

These three suggestions are easy to do but can seem weird or intimidating until you’ve actually done them. Really, though, the worst that can happen is maybe the public speaker has an annoying voice or someone else waiting to see a tutor smells bad. Those are unavoidable situations in life, so give these things a shot before you graduate!

The Pioneer Woman Knows Her Social Media

One thing I really like about my part-time-to-get-me-through-college job is that I get along really well with all of my coworkers. One of my favorites, Sonja, was the first person to introduce me to the blog The Pioneer Woman. Sonja encouraged me to take a look at it because the writer of the blog, Ree Drummond, was not only funny but she had great recipes and lots of photos to go along with each recipe.

Sonja moved away (thank goodness for Facebook!), but I continued to check into the Pioneer Woman every now and then to find new recipes or just stare at pretty food pictures, but she also has tips on gardening, photography, and homeschooling, as well as a couple other less specific “for fun” sections.

I mean really, look at that. Who wouldn't want to visit this blog all the time?

The Pioneer Woman is a good (extreme) example of how social media can be used for public relations, and to gain and expand an audience. Ree started with her blog, and when it acquired followers she created Facebook and Twitter accounts. Through these outlets people are able to share their finds with others and by word of mouth The Pioneer Woman became a well known blog. So well known, in fact, that Ree now even has her own show on the Food Network (also called The Pioneer Woman), and a cookbook coming out on March 13!

Nearly 400,000 people follow The Pioneer Woman on Facebook, and nearly 300,000 on Twitter. As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, interaction is essential to maintaining an audience and Ree constantly replies to fans in addition to starting conversations and posting new content to her blog, Facebook, and Twitter almost daily. If you have never been to this blog I encourage you to at least take a look… there’s so much to find :-)

Using Social Media Personally and Professionally

Last year I sat down with my adviser and set up a graduation plan. I could have arranged to graduate this spring, but I didn’t feel like I’d be ready for the “real world” that soon. I will instead be graduating Spring 2013, and I am happy to say that although my skills have improved immensely over the past year, I still feel that graduating next year is a good idea. Both in school and in my internship, one of my biggest difficulties has been learning to effectively use social media in a way that balances personal interests with career-type interests.

Mashable recently had an article, “9 Ways Students Can Use Social Media to Boost Their Careers“, which I found incredibly helpful. I have heard most of these suggestions before, but being able to read them and perhaps read a second time is helpful to me. Take a look at the article, but I’ll tell you the three that stood out most to me.

First, it is okay to still post personal stuff! If you’re a student and only posting career-related stuff it can make you seem unapproachable. Everyone knows that you’re going to have real-life friends as connections on Twitter or elsewhere, “but refining your language, highlighting content and information that’s more career-focused, and connecting and conversing with more people outside your immediate group of friends signifies that you’re interested in more than just the personal.”

This can remain true even when trying to be more professional! I also just wanted another post with a Dr. Seuss quote.

When I’m interacting with my family and friends, I tend to be heavy on sarcasm. Every now and then I come across someone who doesn’t understand it and I make a mental note to keep things straight-forward. I’ve been hesitant to be sarcastic online because of some past experiences with text messaging where people thought I was serious and that was 381% not the case; the problem with text is that there is no tone of voice. Anyway this article is clear that sarcasm is just fine if it’s something you would say to someone face-to-face; likewise if you would not say something face-to-face do not say it. Luckily for me, I’m generally a nice person and don’t say mean things :-)

Something I need to do more, and am encouraged to do so now that I’ve read this article, is interact with professionals online. It gives you a better understanding of the area, but also showcases that you already have a base knowledge and interpersonal skills. Interacting with professionals can even (will according to the article) get you a “once-over” from possible future employers.

I like social media, and I’ve learned SO much over the past year about how to use it effectively. The article on Mashable made me feel confident that I’m mostly doing it right, and good suggestions on how to improve my efforts. I hope you all learned something, too!

Parents: Quit Hovering

I have always appreciated my parents. They’re both wonderful in their own (very different) ways, and for the most part allowed me to make decisions independently while growing up with an occasional nudge to the left or the right if I seemed to stray. That said, it hasn’t been until the last year or two that I’ve learned my generation is known for having “helicopter parents.” I thought those were only in movies, or inflicted on the rare unfortunate soul, until numerous teachers at the UO started telling stories of parents calling to inquire about their child’s grade… and I was horrified on behalf of whoever that other student might be.

This article from NPR is all about helicopter parents, and how they have not only infiltrated my generations schooling, but are moving on to their careers with them as well! One story tells of an intern whose mother called to inform the employer of “how talented her son was, and how he deserved much more [compensation], and that he could make much more money outside of this position.”

In my imagination there is a woman hanging out the other side, frantically shouting questions through a microphone at her son who is attempting an escape via jet ski.

Apparently stories like this are common enough that many schools and companies have developed “Parent Relations” within their Public Relations departments. Again I must express my embarrassment for the guys and gals my age whose parents are the cause of this addition to our world. I can almost-sort-of grasp a parent calling about a grade if, you know, the student was incredibly ill and hadn’t been able to talk for two weeks or something. But really, by hovering around as close to 24/7 as possible, what do parents expect their kids to grow up to “be”, aside from incapable or as far away as possible?

I’m proud of the public relations people who realized something needed to be done for these helicopter parents, hopefully most of them did not have to deal with too crazy of a parent before that happened. Parent relations are a good idea at colleges anyway since many parents assist their kids in paying for school. However, to the parents showing up to job interviews on their kids behalf… It’s time to let them grow up- surely all of your hovering has formed them into a decent person.

The Beginning

My name is Caitlin and I love food.

I’m also a Public Relations student at the University of Oregon! I’m intrigued by the ways social media has brought fame, or something close to it, to many food bloggers (for example, Pioneer Woman, who now has a show on the Food Network), and the fact that individuals and large businesses can use the same outlets to reach out to prospective and current consumers of their food/service/blog.

This blog is the beginning of my plunge into the blog-o-sphere, exploring the ways social media is used by people for PR. Expect to read about people and businesses who I think are shining examples of using different outlets for food related PR… and at least a couple who failed. You can also expect occasional updates about fun things I’m whipping/baking/boiling up in the kitchen!

If you think this sounds wonderful, you can also follow me on Twitter :-)