Month: April 2014

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Social Media

People like to argue that social media gets in the way of real, face-to-face human interaction. I don’t place much store in this argument. As a bonafide introvert, if it were possible to use social media to avoid human interaction, I would. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked so far. (I’m joking. Mostly.)

My greatest objection to social media is the never ending glut of information that spills out of it. Social media does not stick to business hours. There is no down time. I looked away from my computer screen the other day, and when I looked back a couple of minutes later, 65 new tweets had been tweeted. It is impossible to catch up, because users post content faster than anyone could ever hope to consume it all. Then, of course, there is the pressure to add to that content. And, furthermore, the pressure to add content that will stand out from the rest of the content.

I have found that the best thing to do is step back and limit my exposure. Were fewer things happening before social media? No. Celebrities still died. Protests still happened. Oil still spilled. Cats still looked grumpy. However, our exposure was limited to print, radio, and television. Fewer people could share their opinions and pets with a large-scale audience. The best thing to do is admit that it can’t all be consumed, and it doesn’t need to be. Before social media, we wouldn’t have had access to it all in the first place.

What I love about social media is also the never ending spout of information. I like reading tweets about people, organizations, and activities that I otherwise would have never known existed. I have found volunteer opportunities this way and discovered new favorite artists. I have often heard about news items through social media before articles have been published about them in The New York Times.

Furthermore, I love the collaboration and connection that social media fosters. Through social media, I chatted with an Acquisitions Editor for a publishing company based on the East Coast. I “attended” a bus tour of historical Portland by following the tweets of those who were actually on the tour. I’ve consumed more art, lectures, and music, than I ever could have accessed before social media.

As with all technological advancements, there are reasons to fight against and avoid social media. However, like many technological advancements, there are also ways that social media can improve communication and quality of life.

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The News

So, here’s the news:

I got a job!!! My informational interviewing and freelancing and soul searching have paid off! I will be Northwest Health Foundation‘s part-time Communications Coordinator, starting May 5th, 2014. My responsibilities will mainly include managing NWHF’s social media outreach: Twitter, Facebook, etc. The goal is to use NWHF’s communications to help the nonprofits it partners with reach a larger audience. NWHF gives grants to and partners with nonprofits that further their mission of making health accessible to everyone, regardless of background. So excited to start!!!

I’ve also been working to make my job at Pension Consulting Alliance into a job that I want. Several people have told me that I should do that, and I am finally seeing things their way. I have identified areas that PCA needs help with–their website, their presentations–and I have offered to work on those areas with them. I’m hoping to eventually turn my position into something along the lines of Marketing Manager. But we will see. I will keep you updated. Meanwhile, I continue to do the best work that I can on the assignments that I am given and maintain a positive attitude.

And, just to add another thing on top of it all, I am expanding my freelance work. I’m doing not only graphic design, but social media as well.

 

Next goal: Save up enough money to buy a new computer so Adobe Creative Cloud will stop overloading my sad, old computer.

 

Moral: What they say is true. Talk to people. Make connections. Volunteer to gain experience. And insist on doing what you love. For a while there, I was seriously scared that I would not find a job in a field that I am passionate about, but it is all starting to come together.

Guest Blog by Katherine Nash

Surprise! I’m not Laura! Who do you think I am? Here are a few hints:

1)   I am younger.

2)   My writing isn’t as wonderful as her writing.

3)   Some people say we look similar.

 

If you guessed Katherine, her sister, then you are correct! For those of you who don’t know me, I will introduce myself. I’ve known Laura for nearly 20 years. We met in North Carolina when our mom brought me home from the hospital. She has been stuck with this bundle of joy ever since. Recently, Laura has been handling this very well. Maybe that is because we no longer share a bathroom. Most of my time is spent in classes because I am double majoring in biochemistry and music. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, napping, reading, playing French horn, and spending time with friends.

About a week ago, Laura and I were Skyping. She asked what her blog should be about. I jokingly told her to write about her wonderful little sister. Surprisingly, she obliged! However, that was after she had the idea of having me become a guest writer. I will be responding to one of Laura’s previous blogs.

 

never-eat-alone-keith-ferrazzi-tahl-raz_mediumI had the opportunity to visit my sister, Laura, in Portland during spring break a couple weeks ago. We ate delicious food, relaxed in her apartment, and most importantly, we exchanged books. I traded The Fault in Our Stars by John Green for Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I have read through a large chunk. I blame my slow progress on the thought-provoking content.
After each chapter, I end up spending up to an hour contemplating what I read about. Never Eat Alone is about networking. I have been interested in networking for a long while. In high school, whenever I visited Laura at college, I would try my best to meet students and professors around her campus. I learned the power of networking when I applied to colleges and interviewed for scholarships. Building trust and mutual respect got me where I am now, and I believe it will help me get to where I want to be in the future, along with hard work and dedication, of course.

Keith Ferrazzi’s networking examples mainly come from business, but they apply to all areas of life. The idea of weaving a web of contacts in social situations gives people a fallback when they need help. Nobody can get through obstacles alone. Sometimes friends, business contacts, and even acquaintances are needed to give people a boost up the ladder. Ferrazzi points out that successful relationships take effort and time even when help isn’t needed. Help cannot be expected without giving something of value in return. I’m not saying material possessions must be given. Things like knowledge and time are commonly valued more. Networking is something that should be given a high priority constantly.

 

I have already been putting some of Ferrazzi’s principles to the test. Spring quarter started at the beginning of this month, so I have been introducing myself to as many people as possible. Not only am I finding study buddies for multiple classes, but also I am making friends that could potentially last through college. I am meeting students in many departments. This has given me the chance to connect students who can benefit each other. For example, one of my friends is writing an article about the effect of campus construction on students with disabilities. I was able to connect her with another friend who makes the maps of construction route changes around campus.

I introduced myself to an USAF Colonel who was able to connect me with a flight surgeon. Now I am setting up a job shadow to learn about the job I hope to have in the future. So far, I have had nothing but good experiences from my networking efforts. Never Eat Alone gave me the motivation I need to go out of my way to build stronger, more meaningful relationships. I recommend this book to anybody who wants to learn methods for connecting with unfamiliar people.

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Everything I Admire About My Little Sister

My little sister keeps joking that I should write a blog about how wonderful she is. Well, in honor of National Siblings Day, here you go, Katherine. (Shout out to my older brother, Daniel, as well! I love you both!)

 

Everything I Admire About My Little Sister:

 

She is Persistent 

As a child, this was the trait that drove me insane. If I had friends over to play, Katherine would insist on being wherever we were. She didn’t necessarily want to play with us. She just wanted to be in the same location. No amount of screaming, pleading, or threats had any effect. Now, Katherine’s persistence works in bigger and better ways. She loves to prove people wrong. When her first-year advisor refused to sign off on her overloaded schedule at the beginning of freshman year, Katherine found someone else who would. She proceeded to earn a G.P.A. close to 4.0 during her first quarter. She continues to double-major in Biochemistry and Music, while participating in the Air Force ROTC program, despite the logistical difficulty of managing her schedule.

 

She Says What She Thinks

Katherine believes that people should speak their minds. In short, she is blunt. This is something that I particularly admire, as I generally am the exact opposite. I convey my opinions very diplomatically, in a more roundabout fashion. Katherine says what she thinks. It does not matter whom she is talking to, or whether the subject of the conversation is politics, health, education, or cheese. Or whether our mom would prefer that she closed her mouth.

 

She is Paying Her Own Way Through College

My brother and I were lucky enough to attend college while my family could still afford to help us pay for our education. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Katherine has not been so lucky. This means that Katherine has had to cover rent, tuition, groceries, utilities, etc. since she started at Central Washington. I am forever impressed by her ability to do this. She has even managed to purchase a car and travel.

 

She is Courageous

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.” – Meg Cabot

Every time I try to compliment Katherine for being brave enough to introduce herself to new people on a regular basis, she argues that she is not brave. She says that she almost always feels anxious in unfamiliar situations. However, that does not stop her from walking up to strangers and introducing herself. On multiple occasions, she visited me at college and wandered off on her own to introduce herself to professors and students in the Music department. She recognizes that the potential benefits of knowing people outweigh the fear of rejection.

 

She Dreams Big

Despite the fact that it is one of the most competitive jobs in the Air Force, Katherine has set the goal of becoming a flight surgeon. This job would require her to complete intensive medical training, as well as pilot training. She has already begun looking for flight surgeons to talk to, and perhaps job shadow, in order to set herself up for taking on this role.

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Making Money versus Doing What You Love (or hopefully both)

Yesterday my boss asked me if I care about making money. The answer to that question is complicated—more than I can explain in five minutes on my way out of the office. Financial stability should be a huge consideration in choosing what career path to take. However, different people define financial stability in different ways.

Because I am a nerd, I will start by considering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The base of Maslow’s pyramid, physiological needs, includes breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion. Once these basic needs have been met, the next category is safety, which deals with the security of physiological needs: health, employment, shelter, etc. Third is love/belonging. Fourth is “esteem,” which is defined by self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and respect by and for others. The tip-top of the pyramid is self-actualization: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts.

One’s definition of financial stability depends on how much money one feels is necessary for meeting each level of needs. Most people can agree that money is necessary for meeting the needs described by the first two levels of the pyramid. People need money to buy food, rent or buy shelter, and go to the doctor and purchase medicine. Then, if one is planning on supporting a family and/or paying for social activities, money becomes important to meeting the third level of needs. Some people also believe that money is necessary to command respect. That covers the fourth level. Finally, money might become imperative to meeting self-actualization needs if giving money to charity seems beneficial, or one’s creative outlets include expensive hobbies such as travel, working on cars, participating in triathlons, etc.

From my point of view, money is extremely relevant to meeting the first two levels of needs; helpful, but not necessary, for fostering relationships through social activities (I’m not planning on starting a family in the near future); and not at all necessary for the fourth level of the pyramid. When we get to self-actualization, things get a little bit tricky.

In order to feel self-actualized, I feel that I need a job that will support my morals and fuel my creativity. If you read my blog from last week, you know that I don’t believe that seeking the kind of job I want bars me from making money. However, it will be a greater struggle to make a disposable income than it would be if I pursued something like medicine or finance.

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, making six figures is not important to me. At this point, the prospect of a $30,000 salary seems exorbitant for supporting one twenty-something-year-old. As long as I can pay my rent and utilities, buy groceries, and go to a bar with friends every once in a while, then a job in the nonprofit sector seems more viable to me than a job in finance—even if I would be denying myself the ability to travel or buy expensive art supplies. In exchange, I would be supporting my mental and emotional health. Of course, if I could do what I love and make a lot of money, that wouldn’t be too bad either.