Archive for March, 2008

BFF Robert J. Holland visited Towson last week. He sat in my two PR Writing classes, offering insight and wisdom from his years of experience. He also spoke to our Student PR Group on what students need to know to be successful in their careers. Robert’s involvement with my students constituted a wonderful professional development opportunity.

But there was another aspect to Robert’s visit that has me thinking. When we weren’t talking about communication/PR/IMC, Robert and I were talking about personal financial management. At 45 and a successful independent communication consultant, Robert is concerned with financial management. So am I. I always have been.

Robert and I talked personal financial management strategy from our respective viewpoints. He has two sons, ages 15 and 11. My son is 31 and has a family of his own. Therefore, our financial needs and considerations are different. He is raising and educating his two fine sons. He must manage his money to do this effectively. He must also plan for retirement. I have been there, done that. At 60, my most compelling need is to plan for retirement (but not any time soon, for I love what I am doing far too much to quit).

Our conversations crystallized my thinking into this: I believe that every college student ought to be required to take personal financial management courses. What better gift for students than to help them become competent money managers. I believe the purpose of college is to prepare students for careers that will enable them to be independent, productive members of society capable of managing all aspects of their lives. Money management is critical to success.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified financial manager. It is not my place to advise people on financial management. There are many qualified experts available for that. However, I have studied financial management all of my life out of necessity and interest, but I retain the services of a qualified, certified, credentialed financial expert to manage my personal portfolio. My advisor is with Edelman Financial Services, LLC. I am not the one to tell you what to invest in, but I will tell you to learn to manage money.  It is a life skill that will serve you well, and you can learn it.

In order to get to a point where I needed a financial adviser, I had to learn to manage money effectively on my own. This I did with great enthusiasm. From my first paycheck from my first real job, I followed a simple, yet powerful, strategy: I saved money and lived within my means. That simply means that I practiced a concept all-too-foreign to many today, that is, delayed gratification. I refused to let myself fall into the trap of “must have it now no matter whether or not I can afford it.” I did not run up debt to have things. I saved and invested 25 cents out of every dollar I ever made.  That was my simple financial management strategy for many years. And you know what? It worked. 

Now, students who are nearing graduation must begin to think about issues like personal financial management. It will soon fall to them to earn their own money and manage it in order to meet the daily obligations of living productively and independently. It is now time to adopt a longer-term perspective. I strongly urge graduates to practice delayed gratification. When you begin earning your first paychecks, do not rush into buying expensive cars, clothing, or things you don’t really need. Wait. Build up your resources. Save and invest money. Before you know it, you will have amassed a substantial reserve to help you in troubled times or to use for some enjoyment or the down payment on a great house.

Thinking long-term, if you wish to marry and raise a family, current estimates are that raising a child from birth to age 18 requires expenditures of approximately $200,000. Add a college education, and the total rises to $250,000. Plus, that is added to general day-to-day expenses of running a household.

So, where can you turn for advice? Edelman Financial Services’ founder, Ric Edelman, offers us all we need to know in his book The Truth About Money, Third Edition. This book is a solid investment for anyone who wishes to become a competent personal financial manager. If you want to learn to manage your money, then this book will teach you how.


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A Toronto university student was accused of cheating after he created an online study group on Facebook.

The first-year engineering student at Ryerson University escaped being expelled but received a zero on the assignments that he discussed on Facebook, or 10 percent of his final grade in the chemistry course. He was charged with 146 counts of academic misconduct for each classmate who used the Facebook forum. The student also received a “DN”, or disciplinary notice, on his student transcript and was required to be tutored on academic integrity.

At question was whether or not the student’s use of the online forum to compare notes and share homework tips and questions was cheating. The student thought it was legitimate. The student’s professor disagreed, saying that the online homework assignments were to be completed independently. The university agreed with the professor but ruled against expelling the student.

The student argued that if this was cheating, then so were all the university-sponsored tutoring and mentoring programs. One of the student’s supporters said the Facebook group was not any different than a group of students getting together in a library to work together in person, but rather than meeting face-to-face, it was all online.

This incident raises interesting questions. For example, it is pleasing to see Facebook used in an academic application, rather than just a repository for hedonistic photos and mindless applications.

The conflict lies in the professor’s instructions. It was reported that the professor stipulated the online homework questions were to be completed independently. If the professor made that clear to all students,  then the student was wrong to open a discussion online.

However, using Facebook to generate discussion and find solutions to academic problems is a good thing in my opinion. It seems to me that this incident is a catalyst to begin exploring Facebook for educational purposes.

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Towson is off for spring break next week. When we return, reality will begin to set in for May graduates. College days are over; it’s time to get a job.

So what’s the job market like? Great, according to Jobweb, which offers career development and job-search advice for new college graduates. Jobweb says this is the healthiest job market in three years. According to an annual survey of college recruiters called Job Outlook 2008, employers plan to hire 16 percent more new college graduates in 2007-2008 than they did in 2006-2007. The survey is conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) who also owns JobWeb.com.

As discussed here in More With Les, part of the reason for the bright hiring outlook is the fact that Baby Boomers are retiring. That leaves employers with many job openings to fill both now and in the future as the Boomer retirements accelerate.

Hiring projections are strong regardless of industry, economic sector, or geographic region, Jobweb says. Hiring is projected to be especially strong in the Midwest at up to 25 percent more this year.

That’s the good news. Here is the less-than-good news for communication/PR majors: Survey respondents say they plan to target bachelor’s and master’s level graduates with business, engineering, and computer-related degrees. The top priority hires for those with bachelor’s degrees will be accounting majors.

Rounding out the top ten degrees in demand at the bachelor’s degree level are mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, business administration/management, economics/finance (including banking), information sciences and systems, marketing/marketing management, computer engineering, and management information systems/business data processing.

The master’s level degrees most in demand are the master’s of business administration (MBA), electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, and accounting.

At the doctorate level, the degrees most in demand are computer engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, and business administration/management.

Does this mean it is hopeless for communication/PR majors to get jobs? No, it does not. Getting a first job after college depends on many things, but it mainly depends on the graduate. You own your career. It is up to you to make of it what you will. For specific advice, see my October 12, 2007 post titled, “Getting, keeping and changing communication/PR jobs.”

Jobweb offers good advice on what employers want in new hires. Communication/PR majors take note — the top skill employers want is communication. Following in descending order are strong work ethic, teamwork skills, initiative, interpersonal skills (which they define as relating well to others), problem-solving skills, analytical skills, flexibility/adaptability, computer skills, and technical skills. This is valuable information for communication/PR graduate job seekers. If this is what potential employers seek, look for opportunities to stress these skills in your interviews.

I am happy to see one of my strongest recommendations to my students validated by Jobweb: get work experience. Ninety-five percent of employers prefer to hire recent graduates who have some work experience.  Further, employers say they look first to their own interns for possible full-time hires. Towson’s Mass Communication & Communication Studies department heavily stresses internships for undergraduates. Here is proof of why internships are so valuable — employers say that almost two-thirds of their new hires have internship experience. Jobweb says internships tell a potential employer that you have tested your career choice up close and have learned some of the basics of the workplace.

I hired many employees in my practitioner days, including recent college graduates. I can add that, in addition to internships, employers look for any work experience as valuable. It does not matter what the job was. If a student works his/her way through college doing even typical college student jobs, you have proved you know how to earn a pay check. Working during college demonstrates a work ethic, flexibility/adaptability, and initiative, all key skills employers value.

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I just learned that women are the new men. Since the professions of PR, advertising, and marketing are dominated by women, I guess this puts women back into minority status. And after they had come so far…

Here is some more of this silliness:

Pink is the new red.

Quiet is the new loud.

Tequila is the new wine.

Geek is the new beautiful.

Fifty is the new forty.

Sixty is the new fifty.

Bad is the new good.

Blogs are the new trade press.

Leopard is the new Vista.

Customer service is the new marketing.

Internet is the new radio.

Google is the new Microsoft.

Facebook is the new Google.

The dollar is the new peso.

Funny is the new sexy.

Sometimes is just does not pay to get out of bed. Okay, I have to say it: Sleep is the new reality.

With thanks to This Is The New That

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Does anyone know of a graduate program in which a person can obtain a Master’s related to the music business or an entertainment business program? 

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