Beyond the resume

By Colleen Callahan, iMedia Class of 2010

Alright, iMedia students (and college seniors). It’s the final stretch. You’re almost about to graduate, you’ve done your projects, papers, internships, and you’re almost ready to pursue whatever you’ve thought of for what’s next in your life. Your resume is in tip-top shape, listing skills you’ve acquired and programs you know.

I guarantee no matter how much you think you’re prepared for the workplace, you’re not as ready as you could be.

Don’t worry though, you’ll be fine! There are just still some things that you may not have learned in school that can be helpful in the workplace. You may have acquired these skills through internships or previous jobs, but after being at my job now for seven months, there are definitely things I wish I would have worked on between school and work. Here is a list, and feel free to brainstorm on your own. While they may seem menial, trust me, it will help.

1. How to work phones

If you get the chance to work on using a phone, you should definitely take advantage. Maybe this summer you can visit your parents’ workplace and bother your friends. Practice transferring, conferencing people in, using the hold feature, etc.

2. Do you really know how to use Microsoft Office?

This is something most graduates will put on their resume – “fluent in the Microsoft Office Suite.” But are you really? Do you know how to create graphs and program formulas in Excel? Schedule a meeting and look at others’ calendars in Outlook? Mail merge using Word? Utilize OneNote for organizational needs? If you do, congrats! But I definitely didn’t, and I have been tested on all of the above. Review the programs and their features. You’ll be happily surprised.

3. Work on explaining

With your job you’ll probably be on the phones often trying to explain something, or have to make a presentation. During school, you’re usually the student and have to retain the information. Sure there are formal presentations, but honestly, they probably don’t happen frequent enough to prepare you for the “real world.” It may sound silly, but practice explaining something in the news, how things work, or anything where you’ll be the teacher.

4. Learn how to make coffee

If you are coffee drinker, you’re probably set. I don’t, and thankfully I’ve never had to make coffee for anyone, but it definitely seems like something to practice just in case.


Dreamify Your Job


When you graduate from iMedia, or any college degree probably, all you can think about (or for my class, anyway) is the dream job; a job where you have fun, have a great team, do what you want to do on a daily basis, and get paid for it. You’ve learned new skill sets, so why not dream big?

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, and at this point it’s probably not news, but you are highly unlikely to get a dream job right after graduation. Someday, sure–we generally have a lot of time in our lives to work toward fulfillment. After recent conversations I’ve had with some of my colleagues, I’ve realized the steps necessary to get to that dream job and make your first or current job more dreamish.

1. Try to get into your dream company

Maybe you’re the mail person, but if you’re in a company you love, you’ve at least got your foot in the door. I remember when I interned for FOX one of the senior publicists had started in the mailroom, and currently they work on primetime shows. Sure, you may have to swallow your pride a little bit, but as one of my coworkers said “when you have a good employee, you don’t let them go–you see where they best fit within the company.” So, work hard and be rewarded.

2. Try to get your dream position at any company

If you do this, you’ll at least have experience at the skills needed for your dream job. Maybe you want to be the social media manager for American Express? Well, maybe start off being a social media manager at a smaller agency or non-profit. Make and learn from your mistakes there, and if you want to pursue another company afterward, you’ve honed your craft.

3. Look for opportunities to branch and do what you want to do

When you first start a job, you’re probably given a list of things you need to accomplish and take care of. Once you learn how to do this, now what? Seek projects that don’t fall into your job description. For example, we recently had a large meeting at my company where people were meeting each other for the first time. My current job doesn’t entail me editing video, which I miss from time to time and learned in iMedia/Elon, so I saw an opportunity to make an opening video introducing a bit about ourselves to each other through visual means. It went over well, and now my coworkers have seen I can do video. Who knows where that could take me in the future?

4. Learn the power of delegation

Reach up to your managers, bosses, and coworkers. See what you can do for them that they may not otherwise give you. You’ll feel more productive and learn more, they can be more productive–it’s a great cycle.

The Halfway Point


I can’t believe it’s been a year since my Winter Term trip in 2010.

I too, like Meghan, visited Costa Rica, developed a project for the common good at EARTH University and learned about living “Pura Vida.” At this point last year, as I’m sure current iMedia students are realizing, I said to myself: “Oh. My. Gosh. I’m over halfway finished with this program!” It was both exciting and terrifying.

While it’s easy to get caught up in in the whirlwind of graduation and assignments, looking back there are certain things I wish I would’ve started developing and fine-tuning at this point. Without further ado, here’s what I recommend to iMedia students at the halfway point in preparation of the real world (and anyone else who wants to get ahead).

1. Focus Your Social Media Sites

In the iMedia program, we created a Twitter account, multiple blogs, a Delicious account and more. In the first semester, much of this was trial and error. We found our styles, fortes and which platforms we liked. Now, it’s time to go back and make it professional. Tailor it to the career you’d like–delete anything that doesn’t fit. Then continue on whatever path you set for yourself. I’ve just now started doing this (you can follow my Daily Music History tweets via @collcallahan) and realize I should have done this much earlier.

2. Incorporate Informational Interviews With Projects

One of the best assignments our professor, Janna Anderson, had us do last year included interviewing at least 4 professionals for a research paper. While most of us probably dreaded mustering up the courage to reach out to strangers, this is one of the best things students can do to prep for a career. Projects and papers give the perfect reason to reach out to a professional and ask for help and advice. Flatter them, and make a connection. Once you do this, develop a rapport and stay in touch with them till graduation. One of my peers from undergrad did this and landed a summer internship at NBC. You will need mentors and connections, and you might as well do it now.

3. Know What Matters to You

Last year, the best piece of advice I received from a professor was to prioritize. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of classes and assignments. However think about it–which one will help you most directly in your career path and future? Which will go in your portfolio? Which will you talk about in an interview? Put forth your best effort in those assignments. I’m not saying don’t do your other work, but always keep in mind what will get you ahead and make you an expert in your field. This can also apply to undergrads, high schoolers, or anyone without enough time in the day.

Good luck, class of 2011, with your second semester. It will go by way too fast.

Networking time


Hello all!

The holiday time also means it’s  job networking time, where graduating seniors and iMedia students are thinking heavily about life after graduation.

Now that I’m in the working world, I’ve been on the other side of networking–where people have reached out to me, asking about my job and for advice. While flattering, I’ve also been surprised at the networking skills I’ve seen–and not in a good way. Below are several examples of how people reached out to me, and what they could’ve done to receive more productive results.

1. LinkedIn Etiquette

As you may know, I am a big fan of LinkedIn and think it’s one of the best ways to reach and research people. However, I’ve had several people from high school that I haven’t talked to in six years reach out to me. That’s definitely fine, but if you reach out to people you haven’t talked to in forever, leave a courteous note rather than the standard “John Doe would like to connect with you.” If you don’t leave something personalized, it just seems like you are greedy for their connections. I take my connections seriously (as should you), since connections can most likely see each other and contact one another.

Another example includes someone who reached out to me on LinkedIn (without a personal message, yet again) that I had previously asked for networking advice on an internship they had. After several attempts on my part to reach this person, I never heard back. Then three months later they invite to link with me. It’s strange because they didn’t help me before in any shape or form (not even a “sorry, there’s nothing I can do”)…so why should I help them? Aside from leaving a personalized message, another point of advice is when people first reach out to network with you, you should always respond, even if you can’t exactly help them. You never know where they may end up.

2. Follow Up

This is another story about people I haven’t talked to in years. I had an old friend contact me out of the blue, saying they were interested in California, the industry I’m in, and the company I work for. It was a very courteous note. They didn’t ask me for a job, just simply some information. That’s a good step in itself. I was excited because I liked this person and wanted to reconnect, so I told them calling me would be the best way to get a hold of me and we could talk that way. They said they’d call the following day, but never did. Four weeks later and I still haven’t heard from them. Now, because I haven’t talked to this person in a long time I really have no idea what their work ethic is like or what they’ve done. All I know about them right now is they don’t follow up and they must really not be interested in the information they were seeking after all. If I were to hear of job openings, I would not be able to recommend them because of what little I know about them currently.

3. Asking for favors

This particular story I have is about contacting people for things other than networking advice. Long ago, I had a friend who since has changed a lot and hasn’t been my friend for a long time. That definitely happens–people change and grow apart, it’s a fact of life. However, out of the blue one of this old friend’s relatives (who I haven’t spoken to in over 10 years) called me asking for free tickets to a sold out show for a popular musician. I can’t get these tickets anyway, but I couldn’t believe someone that I haven’t talked to in 10 years, and with whom I don’t have a connection anymore would straight-up just ask for a favor. If you would like a favor such as this, at least be polite and ask the person how they are doing and what they’ve been up to. Also offer to help the person helping you with something in return. I also really would only recommend that you ask favors from people you know and are friends with.

Those are just a few examples of what I’ve encountered, but the main point I see from these examples is when you’re networking be courteous, gracious, and include personalization. Networking can last a long time, but you have to start it off on the right foot.

Entering the Industry

By Colleen Callahan, Elon iMedia class of  2010


Hi everyone!

I will continue writing throughout this school year to give perspective on what happens to iMedia students after graduation. When I left you last, I was still searching, but as of September I am currently working in Los Angeles as a Marketing Operations Coordinator for Ticketmaster.

When I first came to Los Angeles, the job search was definitely challenging. I knew I needed to network, so I had informational interviews and meetings with all sorts of people–editors,writers,producers, marketing professionals, family, friends–everyone had some good advice along the way. Here are my top five points of advice I’ve received since moving west that have really helped me in finding and starting a job. It may have a west coast slant to it, but I think it can apply everywhere.

1. Job postings are the “dream candidate.”

I went to lunch with my cousin one day who’s a technical engineer. I mentioned how so many jobs are asking for around 3 years of experience, so I couldn’t apply. He then told me while making job postings for his company, he really expects candidates to have only 50% of what he asks for in the posting, and to have all requirements filled would be a dream.

2. Don’t let your boss know there is a problem–let him/her know there was a problem

I received this advice from a television producer. He said a great assistant takes care of the little stuff for you and problem-solves on his or her own (unless it’s something really big, of course). If you can solve a problem before it gets to your boss, do it. It shows you can handle responsibilities and you truly are assisting.

3. Be able to anticipate

This sort of goes with above, and came from the same source. Following up on tasks and ensuring all the details are covered in your tasks definitely helps. Your boss doesn’t want to be bothered with following through and making sure an email is deployed or something is live on the site–do it for them and let them know it’s taken care of.

4. Don’t be late and be humble

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth bringing up. After talking to an editor, and another one of my friends who works on set, they have both said so many production assistants are late and have attitudes. So it’s as simple as that: don’t be late and don’t have an attitude, and you’ll probably move up from the bottom.

5. Be selfless

I talked to a writer one day who brought this up. He said let your personal life be invisible in the work place, and let your boss think you solely exist on their behalf, to make their life as easy as possible. Sure, this does need to be reasonable–you can’t sleep at work! But until asked, keep it strictly work-related.

I’m ready for the real world. But is it ready for me?

By Colleen Callahan, Elon iMedia class of  2010

Hello everyone out there. A special extra high-five to my fellow unemployed.

Sorry if this post reads a little more like a rant. But sometimes you’ve got to just say it, right?

As I’ve talked to my iMedia cohorts, it sounds like a lot of us are still in this job hunt together. The unemployment rates still seem to be high and landing an interview is tough as ever. Don’t get me wrong–with my MA I feel very ready for the real world and a real job. However, for one interview per fifty applications, it seems like the real world is like “Yo, hold up sister. I don’t want you right this minute.”

There’s no doubt that the Internet has made the world smaller and therefore most job applications are online. Therefore, there are more applicants per job. I totally understand that. However, I think companies should also realize if you’re going to use the internet, there are some social media courtesies in recruiting that can make the experience better for your candidates. Therefore, even if you don’t hire them, they can still have a favorable perception of your company. And who doesn’t want more supporters? Here are a few thoughts of mine that I think employers should do.

1. Send an automatic “hey, got your application” email

I always think it’s reassuring when the company sends even an automatic response after you submit your application. Something brief is even nice–that way I’m not left wondering if they even got it.

2. If you’re interested in a candidate, do not send emails from a “do not respond” address

We’ve all seen the “do not respond” thing before. Usually they come from online newsletters and whatnot. However, if you have made personal contact with me, I do not want to question whether or not I can email you back. This happened to me once I was told I was not up for further consideration. I’m totally down with that–surely I am not the perfect applicant for every job. However if I’ve had some interviews with you already, I would like to at least email you back and say “thank you so much for the consideration.”

3. Allow moderation of your application

I’ve seen this both with Disney and Nike, who I think do great jobs with their process. Both allow you to check in online on your status to see if your application has been reviewed, or whether it’s in limbo. Disney also sends emails once they fill the position, letting you know you’re no longer up for consideration. That’s a great courtesy, which brings me to my next point…

4. Let me know about my rejection

Rejection sucks, fo sho. However I would much rather take rejection than deal with the waiting around that happens instead. Instead of doors shutting in my face, it’s like these virtual doors of opportunity just stay open with a glass seal. I’d rather stay away from a closed door than run into a glass one! Sorry if you don’t get that. It makes sense in my head. Yes, I know employers have millions of applicants and whatnot, but some sort of “no way jose” note would be appreciated. If the huge corporations can do it, probably many companies can handle it as well.

Now, I know I am not a trained HR person. However, if I’ve learned anything in iMedia, it’s to have constant, honest communication with your consumer. If you start the conversation online, you should be able to respond and finish it. As applicants, we are your consumer. Give us a chat sometime.

Happy Summer!

Hi everyone out there in the blogosphere!

I hope your summer has started off to a swell start.

As for the iMedia class of 2010, we all made it and graduated. Now we’re off into the real world, working, relaxing, searching for jobs, and more.

iMedia class of 2010.

As for me, I’ve moved to Los Angeles to start an internship. Meanwhile, there are currently five other iMedia 2010 students out here too! Pretty exciting…for me anyway since I’ve been set on LA since 2007.

As I’m searching for full-time job opportunities, I’m continuously surprised by the amazingness of LinkedIn. I search it first any time I’m looking for opportunities. Applying for a job? First type the company job into LinkedIn. Maybe you have a connection. Wondering what internet opportunities exist in Atlanta? Search within companies, and select what you want those companies to pertain to. Seriously explore it!

I’ll keep posting from time to time about the real world…here’s to fingers crossed!