See you later, JMC.

Well, this is it.

 My final blog post of my undergraduate career.  Scratch that.  Final “anything that has to do with school” of my undergraduate career.

It’s hard to believe that 1,355 days ago I moved into my first residence hall as a terrified freshmen.  And in 10 short days I will be graduating from the place that has been my home for the past 4 years.

Throughout this semester, I have felt everything your typical second-semester-senior does:  happy, scared, excited, nervous, nostalgic, hopeful, and stressed.  But, I’ve also taken the time to reflect to see how far I’ve come as a student, and grown as person.   Thanks to you, Creighton Journalism Department, I now am proud and feel ready to take on the next chapter of my life.

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Thanks JMC for introducing me to some of my best friends.

Specifically this semester, I feel that I have grown and gained the knowledge necessary to become an entrepreneur.  Our class has heard the stories from many local entrepreneurs– from freelance independent contractors, to Hear Nebraska, and the Blue and White Review.  Having a variety of speakers that have real experience in this field is what I appreciated the most and loved the most about this class.  It was great being able to come to JRM599 and listen to a different entrepreneur and his or her story, experience, advice, etc. each week.  There wasn’t anything in particular that I didn’t care for in this class, however, I had a love/hate relationship with the elevator pitch.  Looking back though, I believe that the elevator pitches were one of the most useful things that JRM599 brought to our class as that made us step outside of our comfort zone and realize that we have to be ready to sell a product (or ourselves) at any place and at any time.

My top three take aways from JRM599: Entrepreneurial Media I feel can go for any field, but will most certainly come to use should I ever find myself in the midst of creating a startup some day.

1.) Follow your passion.  Whatever it is.  Know it, stick with it, and love it.  Passion was the one word that came up over and over and over again from each of our speakers.  Passion works because if you know it is something you’ll never get tired of, you won’t give up on pursuing something.

2.) Understanding that things are constantly changing.  Whether that is with technology, style, or yourself.  Change is good, but you have to be ready to roll with it.  Anticipating that anything will and can happen will serve well in the future.

3.) Have a mentor.  Or 5.  People that you can look to when you’re stuck on developing an idea, need advice, need to vent, whatever stage you’re at.  People that you trust, and are trusting of you in return.  Professors, professionals in the field work great.  Many of our speakers also suggested building your network through local organizations such as AIGA, AAF Omaha, PRSA, etc.  Building those strong relationships early on is important because those people will be there to help you when you ask for it.

Although my days as a Creighton University Journalism student are coming to a close, I know that the network–the family– I have built here will be by my side for the rest of my life.  I am eternally grateful for the past 4 years and these classes constantly pushing me to be more, and be successful.   I have found over the past few days that while it will be difficult to say “see you later”, I am beyond lucky to have something that is going be difficult to leave behind.  I’m looking forward to my future endeavors, and watching the future of this department grow and change the lives of future journalism students.

To the future students of the Creighton JMC department:  you have no idea how lucky you are.  To the current students and faculty of the Creighton JMC department:  you have no idea how lucky I am to have you.  Thank you for everything.

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Creighton University Journalism, Media & Computing senior class of 2015

Freedom of Freelance

When I hear the word, “freelance”, I can feel myself tense.  I’m not sure why, but I believe that this may be due to the somewhat scary thought of not being paid for your work, or the somewhat stereotypical association of freelancers working out of their parents basement.

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However, my opinion of freelancing changed when Daphne Eck visited my entrepreneurial media class last week.  Daphne is a writer and content strategist– and this is how she referred to herself.  Suddenly, the idea of being an independent worker wasn’t quite so intimidating. Daphne explained her 17 years of experience in the design, marketing and creative fields, and told our class that after working under someone for a while, she decided to branch off and do her own thing.  Daphne’s husband did this a few years prior to her decision to go independent, and she said he was the source behind her inspiration.

Daphne was honest when she talked about how this can be a tough field– especially as a freelancer– but it offers the freedom of being able to work on what you want to work on, work closely with what your passionate about, make your own schedule,etc.  Another cool aspect of working for yourself is that you are able to pick and choose who you want to work with and what types of projects spark your interest.

I think that freelance work is definitely not for everyone, and before I was not sure that I would really like it.  I am the type of person that would have to have a structured schedule every day so that I could ensure getting everything done.  I learned that freelancing isn’t as bad as it can sometimes sound to be, and I think I could try it someday. It would be nice to be your own boss, and have the flexibility in setting your own schedule and tailoring clients to your personal wants and needs.  One thing that really intrigued my interest was the fact that you are able to travel to anywhere as long as you have WiFi access; who wouldn’t love their job if it has a view of mountains or the Pacific?

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Cathy Solarana, owner of Wheelhouse Collective spoke with us today.  Her quirky and realistic personality was incredibly relatable and I really enjoyed her story.  I thought it was interesting when she talked about how you continue to develop skills throughout your time as a professional, and build a network.  I also appreciated her encouragement of not wasting your time working with people that are negative and anything less than pleasant.   From the young professionals that I know, I feel that this is an area that is really sticky and tricky for many individuals because they are fresh to the field, and don’t quite know how to dance around these individuals.

Although right out of undergrad I will not be going directly into this field, I feel that if I would ever return someday I would love to try out this type of work as an independent.  I feel confident that I will allow my passions to lead my career– no matter where it takes me in the future.

Hear Nebraska

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Following your dreams can be hard.  While it’s a good thing to allow your passions to lead you in your career, it is sometimes easier said than done.

Andrew Norman of Hear Nebraska recently visited my Entrepreneurial Media class and told us his story.  Hear Nebraska is a non-profit start up that is a cultural organization that “cultivates Nebraska’s vibrant, fertile music and arts community by providing resources and a voice for bands, artists, and members of Nebraska’s creative class and the people and businesses that support them.”   I really enjoyed hearing Andrew’s story and learned a lot from him.  Here’s a few of my biggest take-aways from Andrew:

  • Work hard every single day.  Andrew shared with us his struggles, successes and hard work put in through out his education and upon the beginning of his career.  It was clear to see how hard of a worker he continues to be today, and as young professionals quickly approaching the real world, I think this was something my entire class could agree is important.
  • Make it work.  Sometimes you have to “fake it until you make it” in your career.  In Andrews case, this helped him learn, and grow from the challenges he was faced with through out his career path.
  • You will be happy if you allow your passions to lead you.  It won’t always be easy, but when you are doing something that is worthwhile, and meaningful to you, it will encourage you to strive towards your goals all the more.

Nearing the beginning of the journey of my own career, I believe that many of these lessons I will take and grow with.  I think that in a sense I have already allowed my passions to guide my career path.  The decision of pursuing graduate school for Student Affairs did not come with ease.  However, I knew where my passions lied, where I wanted to be, and what makes me happiest.  I hope that this is something I never lose sight of throughout my career– I know that it has already proven to be worthwhile.

Pitch Perfect

  

Have you ever thought about how long it takes you to go up an elevator?  Have you ever thought about talking to a random stranger in an elevator?

Last week my Entrepreneurial Media class had to give an “elevator pitch”.  The pitch consisted of selling a product to someone you could meet in an elevator, and doing so in 60-90 seconds.  My partners and I designed a food app called CookLook.  The overall idea of the app is to enter in ingredients that you have at home, and CookLook’s database will provide you with recipes that include those ingredients.  Our big sell point was that the app allows you to use what you already have, and keeps you from going to the grocery store, or Jimmy John’s, resulting in saving users money.

The writing process came easily for me.  However, the delivery, was not as graceful.  What was most surprising to me was how nervous I was to give a 60 second speech to classmates I have known for 4 years.  During the writing process, I did not think that I would get nervous during the delivery of my pitch– I am used to getting up and talking to 157 of my sorority sisters each week when I run our chapter meetings, and that has never been a nerve-wracking issue.  When I saw a few of my other classmates freeze and mess up, I believe I psyched myself out, and that is where I ran into trouble.  In writing my pitch, I came up with bullet points of ideas to sell CookLook, and memorized those points.  It seemed that the majority of my classmates also memorized their pitches.  While it worked for the majority of the class to wiz through with no errors, for some- including myself- the memorization was easily thrown off with the slightest mistakes of wording.

Despite the nerves, I thought my class did well with the dreaded elevator pitch assignment.  Everyone’s ideas were intriguing, and the deliveries were nearly flawless.  I learned that memorization for speeches is not always best, but it  is best to have your strong important points memorized.  I also learned that even if you are not a “nervous person”, nerves can still get the best of you, so it is best to prepare for them in all situations, especially when presenting.  Most importantly, I learned that you can sell a product with all of the important details in a minute or less, and that will be an important tool and skill to have for the future.

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Colors two it is you we defend

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“Once a bluejay, always a bluejay.”

That is what seems to be the motto of the person behind the White and Blue Review– a blog turned website dedicated to Creighton University athletics.  @CreightonOtter recently explained to my entrepreneurial media class that his love for Creighton sports was established at a young age.  He began attending bluejay basketball games as a little tike, and he claimed that it was a time for him and his father to bond.  Since then, the Creighton graduate has only missed a handful of home basketball games, and still shares an adoration for the game.

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 @CreightonOtter’s long time love for bluejay sports and devotion to Creighton athletics lead him to begin the White and Blue Review.  The site features every Creighton athletic team with stories on recent stats, games, and recruitment.  Additionally, the site has its own photographer that shares original photos and video clips from every game and major tournament the athletic teams participate in.

@CreightonOtter discussed with the class the challenges he has faced in running the White and Blue Review, the benefits, and his hopes for the future of site.  His honesty is something that I believe our entire class appreciated, as the majority are graduating seniors preparing to enter the real world. He said that being an entrepreneur is not always easy, but what I learned is that when you have passion for what you’re doing, anything is possible.  When listening to him speak, it was obvious that his passion is what lead him to where he is today.  @CreightonOtter also told us things that have kept him going are having a good support system– his consists of his family, friends and coworkers.  I also learned that it’s all about who you know, and being at the right place at the right time.  Luckily for @CreightonOtter, that is where many of the White and Blue Review’s successes launched.  What struck me is that there are so many other competitors out there in addition to the White and Blue Review who are also Creighton fanatics.

Overall, @CreightonOtter’s discussion was incredibly intriguing.  He has been there through all of the major eras of Creighton sports, and that is something incredibly unique and special to him.  He has seen Creighton as the reigning champions of the Valley, many tournament titles, trips to major NCAA tournaments, the transformation from basketball coach Dana Altman, to current head coach, Greg McDermott.   He was there during the times of now professional players such as Anthony Tolliver, and Kyle Korver, and watched as the bluejays broke records during the Doug McDermott era with the university’s switch to the Big East.  It was an inspiration to hear his journey, and know that Creighton fans are loyal. I am certainly looking forward to my journey post-graduation, and am excited to become a loyal Creighton alumni and fan too.

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Shaping Strategies

After reading the Harvard Business Review’s article, “How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy”, I think young business students and entrepreneurs will be more prepared for their futures. Michael Porter’s five forces teaches you to prepare for situations prior to them happening, and recognizes that there are ways to potentially predict the direction of an industry.

These competitive forces reveal the drivers in business industry competition.  For instance, a company strategist who understands that competition extends well beyond existing rivals will detect a wider range of competitive threats and be better prepared when it comes to addressing those threats.  Porter also says that an industry’s structure can be reshaped in two ways:  redividing profitability in favor of incumbents or by expanding the overall profit pool.  I believe that recognizing that companies and industries are constantly changing, and we also have the power to change those industries will lead towards new ways of competing and altering the five forces for the better.

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  In the HBR, Porter wrote, “Creative strategists may be able to spot an industry with a good future before this good future is reflected in the prices of acquisition candidates.”  When thinking creatively, I believe that is where companies or industries really allow themselves to see a change they do or do not want in their industry.  Greater creative also leads into greater competition.  The force that I believe will be most prominent in my industry is threat of new entrants.  I think that this force has the potential to bring in a lot of creative, and a lot of new ideas from outside sources that may not have been present otherwise.  In addition, bringing new entrants to an industry brings new capacity and a desire to gain market share that puts pressure on prices, costs, rates of investment, and ultimately, shakes up the competition.

My group’s project deals with designing a food app that gives you recipes for whatever you already have in your kitchen.  While we believe that our strategy, the advice from this article, and our own ambitions would make this app successful, going in, we have threats from outside competitors such as online recipe sites, and other similar apps. By having this knowledge of the five forces now, it will be easier for my group to be able to adapt to those current outside threats, as well as the ones that will come after it.

Overall, I learned that Porter’s five forces creates an interesting, yet very realistic outlook on how industries and businesses are shaped today, and the strategies young entrepreneurs need in order to make it in the real world.

Just Keep Swimming

Diving beneath the surface of a local Maryland blog unveils a plethora of entertainment, news and creativity.

Recently I was introduced to a list of blogs that feature local content.  The Baltimore Fishbowl is swimming with interesting daily posts that are fun, factual and sometimes even filled with a little controversy.  Michelle McClellan of the Reynolds Journalism Institute has a list featuring numerous local sites and blogs about them.

The Baltimore Fishbowl was launched in 2011.  Over the years Baltimore Fishbowl has been recognized for its exceptional site design created by freelancers, and its publisher, Susan Dunn. The site also features posts from different users such as CBS Baltimore, the Baltimore Sun, and local TV stations. The Baltimore Fishbowl is extremely user friendly, and generates content, news, images, and stories from all areas of the region.

The sites daily articles are flooded with posts on local schools, real estate, community, money, culture and lifestyle.  The audience for the site is fitting for teenagers to the elderly living in Baltimore.  Categories on the blog include things such as health and fitness, movie reviews, and shopping in addition to any important headline local news.  Users can have posts, series, essays or social media platforms sponsored too.  How is all of this great content paid for?  It’s sponsored by a variety of advertisements, and the site provides an interesting breakdown of its demographics, advertising, traffic and reach  Here is a bit of what is provided in the breakdown:

  • Ads are sold on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, ranging from $100-500.
  • Demographics: 56% female; 44% male; Median age is 38; Education level: 72% have bachelor degree or higher; Household income: 54% higher than $150,000.
  • Monthly traffic: approximately 100,000 views, and over 50,000 visitors
  • Reach:  all over Maryland, but primarily from Baltimore City.

I was beyond impressed with this local blog, and even more impressed by its success.  The writing is professional, yet not too flatulent.  The photos are local, and the stories are relatable.  I believe these elements make this site so successful, and I would love to see more regions partake in movements such as this one.  Sometimes individuals focus too much on the larger picture, national news.  While that news is still relevant and important, it’s nice to see locals taking an initiative to have their word heard on all aspects of their community.