What Makes Your Degree Different?

As the campaigning period draws to a close, I wanted to take one last opportunity to elaborate on my platform and what I hope to do for the CSMMSS, if I’m elected president. Coming into this experience, I had a very clear vision of the goals I wanted to achieve, and through many conversations with my classmates, I was able to create a general picture of what others would like to see as well.

I’m extremely focused on professional development and assisting other students in creating their dream career. At first I was concerned that this may not be the vision that my classmates have for the Society, but it’s what I’m passionate about and hoping to impact if elected. I find it slightly disappointing that so many other McMaster faculties benefit from career-related services, while Humanities, and more specifically, the CS & MM departments, are left to fend for themselves. Yes, the HTLC continues to create extremely informative programming and the Student Success Center offers a variety of career-related services, but I’ve seen what’s available through these organizations, and I still feel as though something is missing. Some of my most successful interviews have turned out this way because of the portfolio I brought along with me (which G00gle taught me how to make), and some of my least successful interviews have been because I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer those tough questions. These are the skills that we will all use at some point, regardless if you’re looking for a full-time job after graduation, a summer internship, or a volunteer position. That’s why I think it’s necessary to have some workshop-style events where we can learn these skills, but in a friendlier and more welcoming atmosphere (because practicing interview questions with a total stranger is obviously a little intimidating).

So, why ‘what makes your degree different’?

Last summer I worked as the Marketing & Public Relations Assistant at African Lion Safari, and after my work term was over, I was confident that finding my next job in the field would be easy. And then I found out how wrong I was. This was when I realized that my degree and one entry-level job in the industry wasn’t going to launch my career as fast as I wanted. So I committed myself to getting involved in as many opportunities as possible, all of which were unpaid. As I looked for my summer 2014 position, I found that most of my interviews revolved around these unpaid experiences and what I learned in those positions. I mean, our professors consistently tell us that this is what matters, but you don’t really believe them until you experience it for yourself, right? This is why I want to better communicate opportunities like these to students in the CSMM programs – because there really are a lot of opportunities out there, but sometimes they just go unnoticed. So if you want more opportunities to make yourself stand out from the rest, let me help you make your degree different.

Don’t forget that voting opens tomorrow (March 12th) and will close on Friday March 14th. You will receive a link to your McMaster email account to access the online voting system. Thank you so much for reading, and supporting me in my campaign!

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Why I Love the Team

It feels so appropriate to be writing this post today – after our energetic Monday morning meetings and a weekend outing (where we all took time out of our busy lives to play dodge ball… even though we all probably couldn’t afford to take away that much time from our studying… #YOLO).

I don’t think I can put into words just how much being a part of the CSMMSS has affected my life this year, but I’m going to try.

Coming into my third year, I really wanted to be an involved member of the Department – but I’m not the most extroverted person, and I don’t think I have to explain why trying to find your place within the University is more than a little intimidating. But acting as the Third Year Representative for the Society this year not only helped me find my ‘place’ within the larger McMaster community… it taught me invaluable leadership skills that I will carry with me no matter where the next year leads. And I know leadership can sometimes be an overarching term, so more specifically, some of the skills I learned include: when to speak up, and when to sit back and watch others create their vision. How to trust my teammates, and myself. How to stay positive even when the cards are stacked against you. How to fearlessly voice my opinion and stay true to my personal values…. and so much more, but I want to keep this as short and sweet as possible.

Not only was I given an incredible opportunity to learn and develop my skills, but I also built a professional network. Over the past few months I’ve been incredibly career-focused, and I’ve found myself faced with professional-based questions that I didn’t really know how to answer. But thankfully the other team members were always open and willing to help me work through my questions, just as I have, and always will, be here for them. And that’s why I love the team.

And that’s why I have such a passion for (hopefully) remaining a member of the team in the year to come. Because this experience has affected my life in ways that I never would have predicted, and I want to create a similar experience for all of my classmates. There’s no reason why we can’t build a strong sense of community within the CS&MM departments through both personal and professional relationships, especially with so many talented and experienced students among us – there are so many things we could learn from one another, so let’s start.

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Why President?

“So, why do you want to be president?”

I’ve been asked this question a lot over the past week, as I finally decided to tell people that I will be running for President of the 2014/2015 Communication Studies and Multimedia Student Society (CSMMSS). And let me be real with you here – this is something I thought I would never do. Not because I didn’t think I could do the job or because it didn’t interest me, but because I’m terrified of putting myself out there.

You might think I’m kidding, I mean I started a blog, I’ve applied to jobs that I never thought I would get, and I’ve done more than my fair share of large-scale presentations without a hint of nerves. But there’s something different about putting yourself, and everything you stand for, out on the line for all of your classmates to see (and judge). And honestly, I have found myself asking “do I really want to do this?” more than once or twice throughout the process. So do I really want to do this? After giving it a lot of thought – yes, I really do.

The Communication Studies and Multimedia programs at McMaster are taught by wonderful and caring professors, and the amount of talented students that fill the classrooms can sometimes be overwhelming. But throughout my studies I always felt like something was missing – yes, I was learning super cool things about theories and research, but I felt like I wouldn’t have a clue what to do once I stepped out into the real world. And that’s when I realized that I needed to do more than just sit in class and get good grades if I wanted to be successful in my field (especially if I wanted to be the VP of Communications for the NBA – my dream job in case you were wondering!). So I made it my goal to take advantage of as many opportunities as I could find: volunteering in the press office at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, volunteering in the Special Events department at the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA, and yes, becoming the 3rd Year Student Representative for the CSMMSS. I’ve learned so much more from these experiences than I could ever learn in a classroom, and that’s why I want to bring more of these opportunities to my classmates.

And that’s why I’ve coined “what makes your degree different?” as my catch phrase. It’s something I think about for myself on a regular basis, and it’s something I encourage all of my classmates to consider as well. We may be graduating with a kick ass degree in something we love, BUT what’s going to make an employer choose you over your competition (who may have the exact same degree as you)? That’s what I want to help my classmates figure out. Whether it’s through better communicating external opportunities, providing more internal opportunities, or helping more professional relationships grow – I want to give my classmates the tools to think of their degree as more than just a piece of paper.

So, my friends, that’s why I want to be the President of the CSMMSS. It might be a little nerdy, or maybe people will think I spend too much time thinking about my dream job; but Lululemon always says to “do one thing a day that scares you.” So here it goes.

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