Kate: COM Classes to take before you graduate

As Fall 2016 class registration rounds the corner (for those of you not graduating #blessed), many COM students turn to friends and older classmates to ask what classes to take and which professors to take it with. Here’s a round up of some favorite COM classes, from a graduating senior (me!).

Media Relations (CM441): I took this class in the spring of my junior year with Professor Joseph. It was one of the first classes I had taken in PR after CM301 (Intro to PR) so I was really going in blind to what media relations meant in the PR industry. I learned so much about the variety of PR tactics such as news conferences, feature placements, special events and media tours. We examined famous PR campaigns that portrayed effective and ineffective media relations. For one project, we had to actually pitch to a real-life reporter which was a first for many of my classmates (including me). For another project, we held a fake press conference for a client of our choosing who was announcing a new product/service for the company and were taught how to stay on message and navigate tough questions. This class really taught the basics of media relations and made the PR professional role more approachable.

Design/New Media (CM323): I took this class, with Professor Walsh in the fall of my senior year, because I had no graphic design knowledge and knew college may be my only time to sharpen my skill set before entering the PR industry. Prof Walsh also teaches in CFA so it was really cool to experience her artistic expertise in a COM setting. The entire class was based on 4 projects that introduced and refined our skills in Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. These projects included a creative lyrical piece, a candy advertisement, a brand logo creation, and a music launch campaign. We also learned how to talk about graphic design and notice it in the world around us. Although the class was challenging because I am the opposite of artistic, I left the semester feeling confident in my beginner skills in the 3 graphic design platforms. To learn more about Professor Walsh, check out her BU website.

Crisis Communication (CM522): I took Crisis Comms in the fall of my senior year with Professor Joseph. In this class we learned about the stages of prevention and response for corporate crisis. We examined real crises that companies were facing in real-time during our class (think Chipotle and Volks Wagon) and wrote a crisis communication plan on a company of our choice. We learned how to address media in a press conference post-corporate crisis. We also analyzed how social media impacts corporate crises. This is a very interesting and fun class for those who like to problem solve and strategically think through issues a brand is facing.

PRLab (CM473): I took PRLab with Professors Shanler and Joseph in the spring of my senior year. I loved it so much that I wish I had taken it sooner! PRLab is the nation’s oldest student run PR agency and allows students to gain valuable industry experience in an agency style setting. There is a diverse array of clients so some students may work in the corporate, non-profit or governmental sector. The class is set up as an agency would with account executives, supervisors, directors and agency presidents. Students enrolled in the class as account executives gain experience in media relations, event planning, branding, copy editing, content creation and social media management. They also make a professional portfolio that they can show off at interviews! Students can also enroll in CM475 which is the PRLab executive board. These roles vary but students serve as high-level resources and strategic managers for account teams. For more info, check out the website!

Kate: Tips and tricks for LinkedIn newbies or veterans

LinkedIn becomes more and more important for young professionals as they continue their college careers. Whether you are a freshman or a senior, its never too early (or late) to build up a professional network through LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great place to maintain connections with previous co-workers and supervisors, keep a list of your involvement and activities, and keep a living resume online. Let’s get started with some tips and tricks!

Photo: You definitely need to have a photo, but make sure its appropriate and professional, not a photo from you out a party where you think you “look good.” Have a friend with a good camera take some head shots of you against a plain background while wearing business clothes- that’ll do the trick until you have the chance to get professional pictures taken. Make student groups in COM offer free LinkedIn head shots at events or meeting so be sure to keep an eye out for those.

URL: Make sure you change your public profile URL to something specific. LinkedIn gives you a generic link that may include your name and a bunch of numbers. Keep it short and sweet (easy to put on resumes and remember). I recommend just using your first name initial and last name.

Connections: Don’t just accept anyone and everyone. Who you connect with reflects on you as a professional person. My rule of thumb is to only connect with people who I have already worked with and who would reflect positively on me by association.

Groups/Companies: Join groups and follow companies! Don’t join a million but pick companies in your industry that you would like to work for or are interested in learning more about. Groups are great for networking with other students, BU alumni and professionals.

Resume: Upload your resume to LinkedIn. You can keep the document on your page, but you can also mimic the resume with the experience and education sections. I like to keep everything on my LinkedIn (in great detail) and then take that information to tailor resumes to jobs I’m applying for. Some people chose to keep less on their LinkedIn, and thats ok too!

Summary: Update your summary every few months to reflect where you are at in your career or education. If you’re looking for a summer internship, be sure to include that. If you’re looking for a full time job post-grad, that should definitely be in your summary. Use that to show some personality and a deeper perspective into who you are as a young professional.

Kate: How to spend this summer in Boston

If you love BU as much as I do, I bet you’re wondering how you can stay on campus or in Boston all year round. I have spent my past 2 summers in Boston working for BU’s Community Service Center through the BU Orientation summer leadership opportunities. The 2016 summer leadership opportunities include BU orientation student and program advisors, FYSOP coordinators, and CSC program managers and interns. Applications can be found here and are due January 19, 2016.

There are so many pros to working for the CSC or orientation- besides being able to live in Boston for the summer. The paid position offers compensated housing! You develop close knit bonds with other students on campus and become familiar with high level administration at the university. There is also a lot of opportunity for personal growth and professional development- you’re bound to find and become a mentor through a summer leadership experience.

During the summer of 2014, I worked in the CSC as a FYSOP coordinator for the children focus area. It was such a great experience! I loved spending my summer learning more about social justice issues in the Boston area and enjoyed preparing for FYSOP 25. I gained a lot of professional skills from the job, such as public speaking, report writing, working with a team, and setting and reaching goals. I loved working for the CSC so much that I spend summer 2015 working there as an undergraduate intern for the office. As a member of the senior staff, I learned so much about higher education and non-profit management. I loved getting to create opportunities for education, service and reflection and assist the team creating FYSOP 26.

So, if you’re looking for a way to stay in Boston, look no further! You may apply only for the free housing or cause it’s a way to stay away from your small hometown. But I promise if you work for the CSC or orientation, you will have the best summer (or if you’re lucky enough, you’ll have 2!) of your life, working with amazing students and professionals, and growing as an individual.

Kate: Getting off campus this October

Congratulations, BU 2019! You’ve made it through your first month as a COM freshman at BU. In this first month, you’ve probably made some great friends on your floor and you’ve also probably gotten a little more comfortable navigating the Charles River campus aka you know where the closest Starbucks is at all times. Well now, it’s almost October and I’m daring you to get off campus!

Now that you’ve finally figured some BU stuff out, why leave campus? October is a beautiful time in New England, especially in Boston. The fall foliage is showing its true colors (literally) and the weather cools down from our 92-degree nights in Warren (seriously we need AC) to a comfortable fall evening, cool enough for your new fall boots and that favorite chunky sweater.

Check out one of these three off-campus spots this October, Boston and New England still has a lot of surprises for you in store!

1) Salem, MA

The town of Salem is historically known for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, which resulted in the hanging deaths of 19 men and women due to their “diagnosis of bewitchment.” Today the town offers visitors and residents alike, rich New England heritage, historic architecture and amazing stories told for almost four centuries. October is the best time to visit Salem because the town gets all decked out for Halloween! In addition to the town’s Halloween spirit, there is always restaurants and shopping, land & sea tours/cruises, parks and commons, Salem Witch Trial museums and memorials, and much more to do! Sold on Salem? Just hop onto the MBTA commuter rail at North Station, and take the Rockport line to Salem. You’re there!

2) Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, MA

The Topsfield Fair began in 1818, when the Essex Agricultural Society was granted a charter to preserve the land for agricultural activities. The fair has been held annually since 1818 – with a few exceptions. The fair was suspended for 3 years during the Civil war and for 3 years during World War II. I think that’s fair reasoning- haha, get it? Today, the fair includes carnival games and rides, many musical acts and attractions, 4-H agricultural and arts exhibits, parades, a petting zoo and much more. Head on over to Topsfield to experience this New England tradition anytime October 2-12 this fall. For this trip, you may need to find a friend with a car as it is about a 45 minute drive from Boston.

3) Apple Picking

My favorite place to go apple picking is Honey pot Hill Orchards in Stow, MA. This 200-acre family owned farm has operated since 1923 and brings you on a adult (aka fast) hayride through the orchards before dropping you off for some apple picking. Apples not your fruit of choice? Come along for the ride because this orchard has farm animals, hedge mazes and hayrides to entertain you. And make sure you end your day with a stop at the Apple Store – you can see their beehives making honey, buy fresh produce, jams and jellies, and you HAVE to try their apple cider donuts. I am not a patient person, but I will and I have waited about an hour in line for my ½ dozen bag of cider donuts. You don’t want to miss this delicious treat. Again, find a friend with a car or perhaps look into getting an enterprise or zip car account if you love off campus excursions. It’ll be worth it!