Rachel: Why Industry Conferences Are Important For College Students

PR AdvancedIf you have spent any time with me in the past two months, you have probably heard me talk about “The Conference.” “The Conference” is PR Advanced: It Starts Now, a regional conference for communication students that I was not originally involved in planning, but took on at the end of last semester. It has been looming over me the past few months especially, and I have been working my butt off to make it successful because I whole heartedly believe that conferences are so important for students, both undergrad and grad.
Here is why I think it is important to attend industry focused conferences while you are still in school:
1. Adding to Your Education
Most industry conferences include speaker sessions where an “expert” or “influencer” will talk about what they have done to be successful in their career. This is super beneficial for students because you can use speakers’ tips to help you.
2. Networking Networking Networking
Not only are you meeting new people at conferences, both peers and professionals, and broadening your personal and professional network, but you are also improving your networking skills. “Networking” sometimes feels undefinable, but all it is is forming relationships with people and leaving a good impression. That does not always come naturally or happen with every interaction, so conferences are the perfect environment for you to try out different approaches to networking.
3. Jobs and Internships
Conferences usually include some kind of exhibition or career fair. If you attend a conference specifically aimed at students, like the one I am planning for this Saturday (EEP!), there will usually be a career fair with company actively recruiting interns and entry level employees. If you go to a conference that is more aimed at professionals already in the industry, there is usually still an exhibition where you can make connections and tell people you are student looking for opportunities to learn more about working in the field.
4. Free Swag
This is not super important, but a fun part of conferences is getting free stuff! Most conferences will give little keepsakes to attendees that are both useful and a way for you to remember your experience. For example, we are giving out pens, folders, candy, granola bars and more fun stuff at our conference.
5. Making Yourself a More Desirable Job Candidate
Most of us are at school to eventually get a job, and we are constantly looking for ways to set ourselves apart from other candidates. Attending a conference gives you a whole set of skills you wouldn’t have otherwise, and it is something you can talk about during interviews to show that you have those skills and are invested in your career enough to take those extra steps to become a better professional.

Rachel: Surviving Cold Season

It's that time of year again: cold season! This is the time of year where everyone is busy with assignments, not sleeping much and spending time with their friends in warm spaces, which let's be honest, provides the perfect conditions for festering disease. I did not make it out unscathed this season, but I do have some tips for making illness more bearable.

1. Nap

Sleep is so important, so make it happen. I know things can get overwhelming this time of year with pending assignments, but resting is essential when you are sick. Maybe do readings in bed followed by a nap, or try to budget your time, so you can go to bed at 10pm instead of midnight. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep!

2. Hydrate

Water, tea, green juice, what ever fluid you prefer - make sure you drink lots of hydrating liquids. Your body needs water especially if you have a sweaty illness where you're losing fluids (ick but true). Water is great, so hydrate!

3. Oranges (Vitamin C)

Vitamin C is more for before you get sick, but I still like to partake in some OJ drinking during ill time. Vitamin C improves your immune system and a strong immune system can improve your ability to fight illness. ( I may be a COM student, but I can science when it comes to sick time).

4. Hot Drinks (Stay Warm)

It's already chilly outside, so you are going to want to bundle up. Being sick, though, makes it even more important and comfy to layer yourself in sweaters and scarves and wrap yourself up in a blanket. Plus, bundling makes it easier to rest when you are napping.

5. Friends

Misery loves company. Isn't that a saying? Having company when you're sick makes it easier to tough through the sneezes and coughs. Plus, if you have really great friends, they will bring or make you food when you're not up to making some yourself.

Rachel: Joining One Extra Curricular Can Change Your College Life

My first year at BU, I didn't join many clubs. Then, my sophomore year I joined BUTV10, the Daily Free Press, the COM Ambassador Program and BU's Chapter of PRSSA and went full COM. Not only were these clubs great experience, but I made a lot of really great connections and friendships. One of the best decisions I made in my college career was joining PRSSA.

PRSSA is the Public Relations Student Society of America, which is a preprofessional organization that focuses on enhancing the educations, expanding the networks and launching the careers of communication students. I originally joined PRSSA to learn more about public relations and maybe get an internship. Two years later, I've been to Seattle and Pheonix for PRSSA National events, I've had six internships, I have friends all over the country and I am on the planning committee for the largest gathering of public relations students in the country, the PRSSA 2017 National Conference (PRSSANC).

My active involvement in BU's Chapter of PRSSA gave me the opportunity of a life time. I went to every weekly meeting, joined the digital media team writing blog posts and got involved with the Chapter's nationally affiliated, student run public relations agency. I made connections and became someone that people recognized. I wasn't on the e-board and had only been involved for one semester, but when word came out that Boston was the next city to host PRSSANC and our Chapter started to form a committee to write the bid to host the Conference, they asked me to join the committee and help write the bid that ultimately earned us the opportunity to host the Conference this year.

Now, in less than a week, I will be working along side three other BU seniors to facilitate a huge, four day event where I'll be interacting with CEOs, CMOs and other high level executives. PRSSA gave me the chance to work on the event of a lifetime and gave me the skills to manage the event and interact with professionals with confidence.

Rachel: The BU Bucket List of a Second Semester Junior

It has recently come to my attention that I only have one year left at BU. I was making my schedule for next semester with Jenn G. (the COMUGrad Office Manager and one of the best people to know in COM) and realized I could plan out all of the classes I had left to take. After planning my classes, I realized I should start planning out my BU Bucket List before it gets too late.

1. Eat a Sandwich at the BU Pub

When you turn 21, BU Dining Services sends you a postcard to get a free sandwich at the pub. The BU pub is reserved for students and alumni who are 21 plus, so now that I am 21 I want to take advantage of my access to the pub and, of course, that free sandwich.

2. Stargaze on Top of CAS

Did you know that there is an observatory on top of CAS? I want to go up and look at the stars on a cool fall night.

3. Stay in a Dining Hall Open to Close

I used to give tours of campus, and when I did, I would tell families that if you got into the dining hall on a swipe you could stay there all day if you wanted to, though I never did it myself. I don't currently have a dining plan, so I will have to rely on some of my underclassmen friends for this.

4. Attend a BU Basketball Game

I've worked with BUTV10 my entire college career, and we record all the home basketball games. However, because I was on the marketing end of things, I never attended a basketball game with the organization. I think it is about time I attend one of these games that I tweeted and posted about as a fan.

5. Use the Lazy River and/or Climb the Rock Wall at Fitrec

I've been a bit of a gym rat my entire college career, but I have never been in the lazy river or climbed the rock wall. These are two absolutely rad additions to our gym that people are astonished by, but I never even considered that I had them at my actual disposal. Catch me climbing that wall or floating in that river sometime soon.

Rachel: Internships, Internships and More Internships

Alright, so I'm going to start with a disclaimer saying I am somewhat of an outlier in terms of how many internships I've had so far. I am in the second semester of the junior year, and I am currently on my fifth internship. I plan to do at least one or two more before graduating, but that is because I haven't found exactly what it is I want to do yet. I know for sure what I don't want to do and  have ideas of things I could do, but I have a feeling that my ideal job is out there waiting for me. I just have to find it. How have I found my internships thus far? A few different ways.

1. Utilizing Connections

Ask around and make it known that a.) you're looking for an internship and b.) you're qualified. Even if you don't think you're qualified, you are. You go to BU, so you have work ethic, communication skills and problem solving abilities just by taking classes here. What you don't know, you will learn on the job. Trust me. My first three internships I got through connections. My first was through a family friend (I know, I got lucky), and my second was through a professor  I had for my writing class (Thanks Professor Greif!). Not everyone has family or friend connections to companies for internships, but everyone in COM has access to COM professors. Whether they are adjunct or full time, they have their job for a reason. They know people. Get to know them!

2. Doing A COM Internship Program

BU offers a variety of study abroad programs in 25 countries on 6 continents. Lucky for us, COM has multiple COM specific Study Abroad Internship Programs. If you choose to study abroad, I would recommend an internship program because BU works with an agency (EUSA) to guarantee you an internship, and you work with the agency to make sure the internship fits your expectations (make sure you know what you want from your internship before you meet with the EUSA agent because if you don't know what you want, there is a higher chance of you ending up in an internship you don't enjoy). Domestic companies love to see that you have international experience, so the Study Abroad Internship Program is a win-win because you get internship experience and build a stronger resume for future positions.

3. Read the Emails From Patrick, Joyce and COM Career Development

I know we get a lot of emails from BU and COM, but at least glance through the emails from the folks at COM Career Development. They have tons of opportunities available for us, and they're willing to help you out and be a point of contact for both you and your prospective company. I got my current internship (a position that was quite possibly design for me) by reading one of the emails from Patrick. I reached out to him and the company respectively, and I whole heartedly believe that one of the main reasons I have this position is COM Career Development.

4. Join Professional Clubs and Attend Professional Events

One of the best decision I made in my college career was joining PRSSA. It is a professional organization for public relations students, and it is so helpful for networking. Every week, a new speaker attends the meeting and speaks about their company and positions. They also let PRSSA members know of opportunities at their company. Not only that, but by just being a member of PRSSA you get access to a whole online database of resources including an online career center.

5. Research!

When you're feeling desperate, there is always Google to help you out. I found so many internship applications just by Googling companies I know are in the area or looking up headquarters for products that I buy. Look at what's around you. Those shoes? Someone is probably running a company that put those on your feet, and they probably have internships. Put yourself out there, and apply to what ever you find. Even if you don't get an internship, you gain experience on filling out applications, corresponding with professionals and interviewing. All very important.

Rachel: 10 Things I Wish I Knew before Studying Abroad in London

When I first left for London, all the changes I considered were big picture: flight, suitcases, shoes. I failed to realize that there are a lot of small things you figure out when you get here that you aren't expecting. I figured I would let you in on what I've learned so far.

1. The shows on Netflix are different here!

When you go abroad, you hook up to the internet abroad, and if you're in London, that means no Hulu, no CBS (I missed the last three weeks of Big Brother and was devastated) and no binge watching the Netflix shows you started at home. It also means when you google, you're automatically brought to UK sites, which can be pretty helpful when you search "sandwiches near me."

2. Fall, or rather Autumn, is different

I didn't realize how much I would miss fall back in Boston. People don't understand what apple picking is here. I literally had to explain the concept of  it to one of my professors. Also, the leaves don't change colors as vibrantly in London and people don't really seem that into pumpkins, either. They still have PSLs, for all the fanatics out there, so you won't miss out on fall flavors.

3. You can't redeem your Starbucks Rewards, but you can still use your app to pay

I was pumped when I found out I could use my Starbucks app hooked up to my home card without being charged international fees. I figured that meant more stars for me because one pound is $1.30, which would mean more rewards for me. Turns out, it just meant more stars for me. You can still redeem stars when you use your US Starbucks account to buy drinks, but you can't redeem your free drinks because the rewards are technically US rewards. Bummer, but I still need my GTL, and the wifi is still free. Also, big plus, there is no extra charge for soy milk here, woot!

4. BU's Abroad Program is open to more than just BU students

For some reason, I thought I would recognize everyone when I got to London. Yeah, BU is a big school, but you tend to see a lot of familiar faces around campus. When I got here, though, I realized that the majority of people I was meeting and befriending went to other Universities. I've met people from Villanova, American University, Yale, the University of San Fransisco, and so many more all here with the BU program and living in my building!

5. Food expires super fast in London (They also don't refrigerate their eggs???)

There are four grocery stores near the BU buildings that people will usually shop at: Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose and Whole Foods. Sainsbury's is the most reasonably priced for the most options, but Waitrose sometimes has good deals and is on the way home from class. All of them except Whole Foods charge for plastic bags, so I would recommend reusable. Most importantly though, all of them are fairly confusing to navigate. They organize the stores strangely here, and even more odd, they don't refrigerate their eggs! I was so confused when I found the eggs next to the spices the first time I went grocery shopping. The food also expires within a week, so you have to make time to shop every single week. The vegetables get these weird bubbles on them, so be wary.

6. It gets real cold real fast

I'm dumb and only brought a raincoat to London. I figured a winter coat would be too bulky, and I could just layer. I also brought as many pairs of shorts as I did sweaters. I am telling you now, don't do what I did. Bring long sleeved shirts, cardigans, scarves and other clothes you can layer because you'll have days where it is nice and sunny and all you need is a long sleeve and other days where it is pouring and freezing. Also, please, bring a winter coat. I have been trying to survive in my rain coat, but I know I'm going to cave sooner or later because it is frigid.

7. Use 3 for your phone plan (Yes, that is the name of the company)

So many people have been having issues with their phone while in London, myself included. We all compared phone plans and discovered that the company "3" is the best deal. It's £20 a month and you can use your data internationally. That means if you travel at all you will be able to use google maps without having to pay extra. Trust me, it is a life saver. The last thing you want is to be lost in Paris with no way of using your phone. The shop is located on High Street Kensington, so you can walk to it if you have any issues.

8. The Tube isn't your only option for transportation

The tube is magical and easy to navigate and so clean you won't want to travel any other way, BUT it doesn't offer much for late night services. It's also not the cheapest or always the most direct option. The buses run 24 hours, are cheaper than the tube and can bring you closer to some locations. If you opt for Uber, remember that you get charged international fees if you have your homeward hooked up to the app. Also, if you want to venture outside of London, the regular public transport can't take you there, so you have to use the national rail services. When you can, buy those train tickets online at trainline.com. It will actually save you £15+ in comparison to buying the tickets at the station.

9. The water out of the faucet gets real hot real fast

Okay, so there is this tiny little caution sign by some of the sinks about hot water, and I am telling you TAKE THAT SIGN SERIOUSLY. The water is actually scalding if you turn on just the hot water. The first time I showered, I couldn't figure out how the water worked and practically burned my skin off (You turn the circle piece in the middle to change the temp). On the bright side, you don't necessarily have to boil water for tea. You can just get it right out of the faucet! Also, while we are on the subject of water, the toilets don't flush super well, so you either half to hold down the button (yes, button) or press the bigger button of the two (yes, two buttons) to get it to flush.

10. People are super into dogs in London

People seem to value their pups more than their kids here. Dogs are allowed in pretty much every establishment and are always out and about. They're also super well trained and proper, and you'll see them walking without leashes. Vets even make more money than human doctors! The one downside is, because most people are super into their dogs, they're also super protective of them, which means fewer pets for the dogless (aka me). Now, I have to really analyze owners to see whether they seem like the type to let a strange American pet their dog.

Rachel: From Start to Finish: The Race to April 18th

Usually, when I say I'm from Hopkinton, MA, people stare at me with a blank look on their face until I say, "It's the start of the Boston Marathon." Hopkinton is a pretty small town, so it's a big deal when hundreds of runners, spectators, and camera crews suddenly appear on our common.

Naturally, living my entire life in this small town where nothing happens on every other day of the year, I grew up attending almost every single marathon start. Year after year I'd stand on the sidelines, watching endless waves of costumed runners, high-fiving anyone I could reach and yelling out names written on shirts. How could I not aspire to be a part of it all?

I've never been the most athletic girl. I dabbled in sports in high school, but I was no varsity star. About my junior year of high school, though, I started telling everyone I was going to run the Boston Marathon. I got a lot of "yeah, right" responses.

When I got to BU, I enrolled in the Marathon Training PDP through Fitrec (would recommend, even if you don't plan on running a marathon) in hopes that it would help me achieve my dream. That was last year, and I learned very quickly that it takes a lot more than enrolling in one class to run the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston.

I set a goal to run the Boston Marathon in 2016: the 120th Boston Marathon and my 20th year on this earth. There are two basic parts of running the marathon: get a number and train. The training, I was sure I could do. The number was the tougher part. I've never run a marathon before; therefore, I couldn't get a number by qualifying. My only other option was getting a number through charity.

I ended up getting a number from the 26.2 Foundation, a charity from Hopkinton that supports health, wellness, and the sport of marathoning. I was so ecstatic when I got my number! It took a while to hit me that I was actually going to do it. I was registered to run the Boston Marathon!

There was a catch, though. When you run for a charity, you have to sign a commitment to raise a certain amount of money for them. In addition to motivating myself to train and be able to run 26.2 miles over the course of three months, I've had to motivate myself to fundraise and come up with $5,000 by April 18th.

It's now March 27th, and there are 23 days left until the marathon. Yesterday, I ran my longest run so far (21 miles!) from Hopkinton to B.C. As of today, I have $2,984 raised. Those 23 days are going to fly! I'm so excited for April 18th, but I'm also nervous. I have a lot of ground to cover and a lot of money to raise.

I've been blogging about my experience training, so if you're interested in more of the nitty gritty stuff here is the link: https://seeherun.wordpress.com

If you're interested in tracking my fundraising and reading a little more about my running experience, here is the link to my fundraising page: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/rachel-mclean-1/BostonMarathon2016

Maybe you'll spot me running through Kenmore in a couple of weeks, as I run from hometown to current home. Thanks for reading!

Rachel: Deciding to Apply to Go Abroad

When I first looked at schools, abroad programs were not on my list of priorities. I looked for schools with active student bodies, internship opportunities, and engaging professors. You know, all the usual, positive things and things that BU has.

It wasn’t until I got to BU that I realized going abroad is something people actually did. In fact, it started to seem like the norm for COM students.  After talking to some people and bringing it up with an advisor, I started to consider my options. Was abroad really for me?

The more I thought about it, the more sense it made and the more excited I got. Not only would I be able to explore the world but I would get to do it while taking classes. I looked at the programs and talked to some of my friends that went abroad to help me solidify my decision.

That’s when I decided I would go for it and apply to the London internship program. I talked to an advisor about the best track to take and which major to go abroad for (I’m PR and Journalism, so it made sense to pick one to focus on). How could I go wrong? I would be taking classes, doing an internship, and they speak English in London! I told my family my plan and how excited I was, and they were mostly supportive.

I live really close to BU (about 45 minutes away), so being in another country would really be stepping out of my comfort zone. I also was planning to go abroad in the fall semester, so I would be missing Thanksgiving and a lot of family members’ birthdays. Most of the time while I was considering to apply, I was excited and ready to go, but occasionally I got a little flip in my stomach about missing so much back home.

Now, the time is almost here to submit my application, and I know for sure this is something I have to do. When else in my life will I get the same opportunity? I have the application on my computer and am actively filling it out. All I have to do is get an advisor to sign off for it, send it in, and hope to be accepted.  It was a tough decision to decide to apply. Sometimes if I think about it too much I get a little nervous, but the nervousness never out weighs the excitement.