Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Summer Internships

Students at universities across the nation cautiously peer out from their fun and safe academic environment into a world that, at the moment, is downright frightening. Unemployment has shot up, the economy has shot down, and we are all wondering if we have a shot at all in the 'real world.' Well folks, I have some good news and some bad news.

The Good News...

According to Kelly Spors, blogging for the Wall Street Journal, "Summer internships are a way a small company can get specialized and unique help they otherwise couldn't get, or couldn't justify hiring permanently." What does this mean? Interns are desirable as they are often seen as a less expensive alternative with three great benefits:

  1. Interns generally have more motivation to not only succeed, but to go above and beyond
  2. Younger employees bring new ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the table.
  3. Interns require either a smaller paycheck or college credit, which helps businesses use their tight budgets to the fullest

Finding a summer internship now won't be impossible as you might have feared, but you can expect the competition to be fierce. It's simple economics.
As quantity decreases, demand increases.

The Bad News...

You might get the experience of an internship, but you may be lacking the financial compensation. David Lapinski, assistant director of employer relations for the career center at Duke University commented that "internships have historically been about the experience over the pay, and that hasn't changed much today." The competitive college student may need to make some sacrifices due to the economy. However, the valuable e
xperience that may result in a tighter budget now will benefit you later:

  1. You will have the upper hand when interviewing among other students who chose to sacrifice the great experience for a great paycheck
  2. You will be better prepared personally and professionally
  3. Quality intern or work experience enables you to bring actual value to a company when you do land that job in the 'real world' after graduation.


Still in search of a summer internship? Here are a few resources that have helped me:

  • Your University's Career Center: A valuable resource that often goes unused. It's there to help you.
  • Your Network: Professionals you meet at networking events, your family, professors, and older friends who have graduated can all help you, but you have to ASK!
  • YouIntern.com: A Growing Site to Help Students Find Quality Internships
  • Min|ternships: A site dedicated to creating “mini-internships” and bridging the gap between students and businesses

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Simply Stressed

Final exams. As college students, we dread the inevitable end to each semester. It is interesting to see the difference in campus during the last couple weeks before winter break. The library is suddenly the hot spot on campus, the tables, chairs and benches around campus are occupied by students and their books, notes and laptops and stress levels skyrocket. Even off-campus the difference is noticeable. Nearby coffee shops suddenly see a surge in sales and even the public library has more visitors than usual. Needless to say, final exams induce massive amounts of stress, though college students are already well-accustomed to the concept and reality of stress. The downside to this fact is that high levels of stress can be harmful both psychologically and physically. If you are overwhelmed by stress, I would suggest finding more information about stress and how to effectively manage it.

Here are some simple and healthy ways to keep your stress in check as finals approach. They also can provide a nice study break when needed:

* Go for a walk
* Talk to a supportive friend
* Sweat out tension with a good workout
* Do something for someone else
* Write in a journal
* Listen to music
* Watch a comedy

Good luck to everyone preparing for final exams. Study hard, but remember to get a good night's sleep and eat breakfast before your exams!

Friday, December 5, 2008

PepsiCo Controversy

How do we know what choice is right? How can we be sure if we are making the best decision? I don't think we can ever be completely sure, which is why we have to have a plan B and learn how to fix our mistakes.

The generally family-friendly PepsiCo learned this lesson recently with their most recent advertisements depicting a very, very lonely calorie committing suicide. The German advertising agency, BBDO Dusseldorf created the risky advertisements which were aimed to emphasize the single calorie in Pepsi Max. Unfortunately, in exploring a new creative path, PepsiCo stepped over the line, offending consumers and stirring up painfully memories for many. Surprisingly, this isn't the first time a company has tried to use the concept of suicide in their advertisements. Looking back a couple years ago, General Motors had a similar experience when they created a commercial in which a robot nearly committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. GM however edited the commercial in order to be more sensitive to their consumers.

Pepsi has played it safe in recent years, which makes this advertisement especially risky. Apparently, it was too much of a risk. In response to Chris Abraham, a blogger for Ad Age who was unhappy with the advertisements, Pepsi apologized saying, "We agree this creative is totally inappropriate; we apologize and please know it won't run again." Fortunately, the company knows how far is too far.

Although Pepsi stopped running the advertisements, I can't help but wonder if the controversial advertisements were meant to be just that - controversial. perhaps they are thinking along the lines of the entertainment industry in which it is often said, "There is no such thing as bad publicity. I suppose depending on the eventual outcome and consumer opinion, these advertisements could increase brand and product recall which, if viewed in a good light, would be wonderful for Pepsi.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Changes for CEOs

I came across an interesting article today in Fortune Magazine discussing the effect of the financial crisis on corporate leadership. In a time where many are worried and anxious about the future and afraid to make the wrong decision, Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great" takes an alternative view saying that "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste."

Leadership styles have gone through a number of changes over the years, and we are at the beginning of yet another change. Jennifer Reingold, a senior writer for Fortune Magazine believes this new type of leadership is a good thing. "It's a leadership approach better suited to this interconnected, ever more turbulent world."

This new type of leader will have to be comfortable asking questions, asking for help, and even admitting when they do not understand. I agree with Reingold in that this new leadership style is a good thing for corporate America. So many businesses have been separated from the human aspect of leadership. Considering how "we took the complex nature of leadership," says management thinker C.K. Prahalad, "and converted it into a single metric by basing compensation on the stock price," it's no wonder our approach to leadership needs a change.

So, for all of today's CEOs, leaders, and recent and soon-to-be college graduates, be aware of the changing style of leadership. This could be an excellent opportunity for you to take the reins and show corporate America the way - if you are up for the challenge.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Take a Step Back

The world is buzzing with news right now, and the buzz is much louder than usual. The excitement is expected when considering the election of the first black president, our weak economy and the war and everyone seems to have an opinion. I think that's great. I believe our nation can expect to see the beginning of change and we should have an opinion about that. Nevertheless, I still strongly believe that it is equally important to take a step back, remove oneself from the situation and take a look at a different part of our nation. I change in perspective can do us some good.

On Thursday, the Toy Hall of Fame embraced childhood imagination when a stick was chosen as on of the newest additions to the collection. Christopher Bensch, the museum's curator of collections explains the addition in saying that "It's very open-ended, all-natural, the perfect price — there aren't any rules or instructions for its use. It can be a Wild West horse, a medieval knight's sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band. ... No snowman is complete without a couple of stick arms, and every campfire needs a stick for toasting marshmallows."

I don't aim to discredit topics deemed more relevant to our nation, I simply suggest that we all take a moment now and then to take a step back and reflect on the simpler things in life. Creativity, imagination and opportunity - all of which can be found in toys and all of which were vital in the creation of our nation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Beginning

Hello all. I suppose I would first like to begin by introducing myself. I am a sophomore Marketing/Management double major at Drake University. I stay actively involved at Drake, mostly within business through the professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, Investment Club, and SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise). I also participate in Colleges Against Cancer and earn extra cash working in the Alumni Center at Phonathon. Usually the job is regarded as slow, boring and depressing, however, I think that with the right perspective it can be one of the best jobs on campus and provide hundreds of connections to alumni across the United States.

I have limited experience as a college student, though I gained valuable experience during my summer marketing internship at Spire2 Communications, Inc. working on an interactive community mural project. As I continue to further my knowledge on the economy, business, leadership and various topics of interest, I intend to include my opinion as well as offer information that may prove to be helpful or interesting at the very least.

Until next time, I leave you with what I hope will be interpreted as an inspirational quote,

"What we call results are beginnings -Ralph Waldo Emerson-