Remy: 3 Lessons I Learned from Planning and Attending *Virtual* PRoBono

probono

Many of us have experienced the dreaded “all-nighter,” where you stay up working through the night on whatever assignment is due in the morning. I had never heard of anyone who had even remotely enjoyed pulling an all-nighter…until I attended PRoBono my freshman year. PRoBono is PRLab’s annual overnight, hack-a-thon style event where COM students volunteer to spend their entire Friday night into Saturday morning providing meaningful PR work for deserving nonprofit organizations.  

This year, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as PRLab’s President of Client Service, which meant I also had the opportunity to help plan PRoBono. PRLab’s President of Operations, Rachel Rubinstein, spearheaded the event with help from Vice President Rebecca Owen and our Director of Events, Hedy Zhou. 

PRoBono’s primary goal is to give back, but it’s also a fun event with lots of prizes, games, and food. There’s a level of energy and excitement of being in-person at COM overnight with your peers that I was worried we wouldn’t be able to replicate over Zoom. Lots of questions and concerns ran through my mind when Rachel and I first met to plan PRoBono. 

“Would we be able to deliver the same quality of work to clients if we were online?” “Would volunteers be able to get to know each other as well over Zoom?” “Would students have as much fun?” “Would anyone really want to stare at their computer screen for 12+ hours?!” 

Luckily, PRoBono’s results proved all of my doubts and concerns wrong. Here are the top three lessons I learned from planning and attending virtual PRoBono. 

1) A virtual event requires just as much effort as an in-person event

PRoBono may not have required us to rent out the COM building, bring in everyone’s favorite Ben & Jerry’s treats or play a competitive round of musical chairs at three in the morning, but we had just as many logistical items to account for. We had to make sure we could host upwards of 80 people on Zoom. We had to reformat the schedule, which included giving everyone a six-hour break to combat Zoom fatigue. We had to make sure clients and students received clear communication about the event, how to contact us, and what links to go to at what times.

In the same vein, virtual events aren’t easier to show up to on the participant side either. Students could have easily chosen not to attend the event, but they showed up, even with the comfort of their own bed just feet away. Having 68 volunteers dedicate that much of their time was really special and PRoBono wouldn’t have been possible without them. 

2) It’s just as fun! 

Truthfully, I did not think PRoBono could be nearly as fun as it was when we were in-person. However, I was wrong. I had a blast. We played two competitive rounds of Kahoot trivia throughout the event, which made for some hilarious commentary and conversations. (Did you know cats can be allergic to humans? I didn’t.) 

We also had an online scavenger hunt and team room scavenger hunts to help spark everyone’s creativity. Instead of physical prizes, first and second place winners will receive e-gift cards to Starbucks and Grubhub. Overall, I may have needed a nap afterward, but it was all worth it! 

3) 2020 can’t stop us

The biggest lesson I learned from PRoBono is that despite the challenges this year has thrown our way, 2020 can’t stop us from coming together for a good cause. No matter where you are, giving back is giving back.

In total, 68 volunteers worked together for 12 hours and created 72 deliverables for our clients. The virtual nature of the event allowed us to have clients from across the globe and students were able to participate from different continents. We had a record-breaking 85% volunteer retention rate and the event concluded with incredible client feedback. Lastly, we walked away with new friends and an unforgettable experience and for that, I am incredibly grateful. 

Congratulations and thank you to all who participated in PRoBono 2020!

Remy: 5 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health

I recently read Katie Morton’s book, “Are u ok?” where she guides readers through common mental health questions. On the first page, Morton poses the question, “what’s the difference between mental health and mental illness?” 

According to Morton, “mental health is how we are doing psychologically and emotionally.” 

Alternatively, “mental illness is when our mental health is so compromised or neglected for so long that it affects our ability to function in our everyday life.” 

This introduction stood out to me for three reasons. First, although I know these two terms are different, I have never stopped to define them. Second, we all have mental health. Therefore, you do not need to be experiencing any sort of emotional difficulties in order to care for your mental health. Lastly, I think it is important to understand how you can best take care of your own mental health needs, especially as a busy BU student. 

As a result, I have decided to share five techniques/activities/reminders that I am putting into practice this fall. *Disclaimer, some of these tips work better than others and I turn to each one for different needs, so feel free to try them out. 

Meditate 

Over the summer, I spontaneously signed up for a six week group meditation class once per week. I have learned different meditation techniques, but my biggest takeaway is that meditation looks different for everyone. It may be outside in a scenic location, your dorm room, or even an office. Some people like to meditate alone, some people prefer groups, some people meditate for hours. For me, meditation simply consists of taking deep breaths for about 5-10 minutes when I wake up. It allows me to set intentions for the day and refocus my energy. There’s lots of resources out there to discover what meditation looks like for you. For example, I love the Headspace app. It offers a free meditation trial, and also an online blog! https://www.headspace.com/blog/

Keep A Gratitude Journal 

This is one of my all-time favorite practices. Carving out just three minutes a day where I jot down or take mental notes of everyone and everything I am grateful for helps me put my responsibilities and worries into perspective. What I love about this, is that no matter where you are, if you find yourself worried, anxious, or feeling down in any way- you can simply think of what you are grateful for and move forward with a clear mind and in a better mood. 

Answer a Prompt 

In my meditation class I mentioned earlier, one question the group leader posed was, “what does it mean to be present?” I noticed while answering this question that my thoughts flowed freely and it helped me relax. I reflected on this and realized that I tend to associate writing with deadlines and grades. After all, the majority of my writing is for school purposes. I had forgotten that writing can serve as a tool to relax your mind and generate creativity. Therefore, my new goal is to answer one prompt per week. This could be a question I hear in passing, google and find randomly, or make up on my own. 

The point of this exercise is simply to let my brain have a break. This may sound counterintuitive, because writing requires brainpower. However, I have found answering questions reenergizes me. 

Exercise 

Working out has always been one passions. I am not a competitive person, so simply working out at the gym, running, or taking a fitness class allows me to focus on myself and no one else. Obviously, there are countless health benefits from working out. While I keep those benefits in the back of my mind, I try to focus on why I am exercising in that moment. Personally, I love cardio and find that it almost serves as a type of meditation. 

Physically taking care of yourself goes hand in hand with mental health. 

Set Aside time for friends 

Lastly, I think there is nothing better than spending time with friends. I know it may sound crazy, because many of us as college students live with our friends or are a five minute walk from everyone we could ever want to hangout with. However, I noticed that I constantly found myself running into people and muttering the same line over and over again, “Oh my gosh, we need to catch up soon. Sorry, I have been so busy!” I also realized that almost every single response I received was identical to my own. Moral of the story- we all are busy! But, its OK to prioritize spending time with friends, even if it’s a 30 minute coffee or quick lunch break. My friends always boost my mood. They remind me that even though we are all here for our education, a huge part of college is about building relationships. So let yourself have fun and take advantage of having all your friends right around the corner. 

Whether you try these specific tips or not, I hope that this blog serves as a reminder to take time for yourself and your mental health. Thanks for reading friends, have a happy and healthy fall 🙂

Remy: Why I Don’t Believe In Peaking

“Oh yeah, they definitely peaked in high school.” I’ve heard variations of this sentence all too many times. Whether people are using this term in regards to themselves or others, it is almost always used disparagingly.

People throw around the term “peaking” in reference to an individual or group of people who have reached their prime in some sort of activity or phase of life.

I do not believe this is an actual phenomenon. Whether we are saying it seriously or sarcastically, we need to stop saying “I/he/she/we/they have peaked.”

For starters, using the term about someone else is unnecessary. This goes back to the classic line you hear in elementary school, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Sure, sometimes we don’t intentionally use this term in a malicious way. However, there is nothing to gain from forming an unfair opinion on someone else’s personal timeline and success.

Ultimately, forming judgments about the people around us can only negatively affect us. For example, when I arrived back to BU this fall, I constantly was asking and answering the “how was your summer” question.

Especially among my COM colleagues, the most popular response to this was an overview of their summer internship. Almost everyone I talked to seemed to have fallen in love with their internship and were eager to share stories from their experiences.

Here’s the thing, I never once thought to myself that any of them were peaking (obviously by the title of this blog, you know I don’t believe in this). However, I did begin to doubt my own capabilities. As someone who learned a lot from their internship but did not necessarily fall in love with it, I was intimidated, even a bit jealous. I so badly wished I could have come back feeling confident in what I wanted to pursue after college, or even next summer.

My point in sharing this is to highlight that even when we are not directly stating that someone else has “peaked,” the peaking mindset can creep in. By this, I mean that I compared myself to others and let their experiences and success make me wish that I had done better or enjoyed myself more.

Therefore, the biggest flaw with the peaking conspiracy is that it causes us to compare ourselves to others’ success, timelines, goals, experiences, etc.

When I have overheard peers or friends use the term “peaking” about themselves, it has usually been in a comedic, sarcastic way. Their tone should make it easy to laugh with them, and for a moment maybe we do. However, even if the conversation only lasts a mere moment, I have noticed an underlying self-critical inclination in their voice and viewpoint.

We tend to look back at our accomplishments and sense that we have peaked when we currently feel like we are at a low point. If we did truly believe peaking exists, wouldn’t that be incredibly disappointing? What else would we have to look forward to? Again, the peaking mindset takes over and whether we are kidding or not, it can alter our motivation, mood and self-confidence.

Rather than comparing ourselves to others or mocking our own prior personal success, we should celebrate others’ success and let it inspire us. We should recognize our own strengths and accomplishments, regardless of their magnitude.

One of the most authentic things we can do is to simply be ourselves. There is no right or wrong timeline to follow. There is so much to learn from those around us, so instead of comparing yourself to others, congratulate them on their victories and continue pushing forward until you have your own.

At times, we may feel like we are peaking, but this implies that we are about to start heading on a downward slope. Work on changing your vantage point. Accept yourself, set goals, take your time, ask for help, don’t give up. Continuous effort and perseverance does not mean you are failing, it means you’re making progress.

There’s lots of mountains to climb so let’s stop declaring when we are peaking and assuming that this can only happen once. The descent down requires just as much energy as the ascent upwards. So let’s appreciate the journey.

Remy: 6 Lessons on How to be Successful in COM as Told by ‘Friends’ Characters

COM is about developing communication skills, learning by doing and discovering career paths. Like the pitch of the hit sitcom Friends, “It’s about a time in your life when everything is possible, which is really exciting and really scary.” It’s about searching for your passions. And it’s about building relationships, because when you’re trying to succeed, everyone can benefit from mentors, and of course, friends.

  • Rachel- Build your confidence. Rachel works hard to become a successful businesswoman. Her character proves that confidence does not always start from within; sometimes, you need a boost from your friends.

In COM, it’s overwhelming to be thrown into an environment where everyone seems confident about what they are doing. Rather than letting this intimidate you, remember that your confidence can be shaped by those around you. Find role models, ask questions, introduce yourself to professors – confidence comes with time!

  • Ross- Find what you’re passionate about (and be proud of it)! Few characters cared at all about paleontology, but Ross did not let this prevent him from pursuing his passion. His intelligence and genuinity made him a respectable, lovable guy.

“What are you passionate about?” can be a scary question. It is okay to not have an answer right now! Whether it’s Mass Communication, Film and TV, Advertising and Marketing, or Public Relations- try it out and find what you love. Passionate energy is contagious in COM.

  • Monica- Proactivity pays off. Monica’s obsessive cleaning and organization provided laughs throughout all 236 episodes of the series. More importantly, her independence and competitive edge allowed her to persevere as a chef, and eventually open her own restaurant.

COM is not just about the courses. Take advantage of the resources available to you…AdLab, PRLab, WTBU, BUTV10, BU News Service, or Hothouse Productions. Meet with faculty advisors and COM career services. Attend workshops and events. All of these people and opportunities are here to help you succeed.

  • Chandler- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Chandler’s wit and sarcasm were unparalleled. Ultimately, Chandler’s ability to laugh at himself allowed him to find success in his personal life and career.

The late nights editing your film project, creating a PR plan, or writing a slogan for an ad project can be stressful. However, remember not to take yourself too seriously! Every project and course is a learning experience, no one expects you to be perfect.

  • Joey- Have fun. Joey was constantly searching for work as a struggling actor. Despite this, he always had a smile on his face. His warm hearted personality and positivity made him an amazing worker and friend.

Yes, COM requires hard work, but it also has its own specific school spirit that makes getting involved exciting. Check the calendar and weekly COM emails because there is always events going on, such as movie screenings, open houses, employer events, friends and family weekends, the list goes on.

  • Phoebe- Be yourself! Phoebe is remembered for her quirkiness and eccentric personality. Her original song “Smelly Cat” and below-average guitar playing was a staple of show. Phoebe was an irreplaceable character because she was unapologetically herself.

COM welcomes and encourages individuality. The reason COM has such a vibrant, stand-out community, is because each student and faculty member brings something unique to the group. All you have to do is be yourself!