Monday, April 23, 2012

Carpe Diem

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at the end-of-the-year communications department banquet. Professor Melissa Friesen assured me that the students would be interested in knowing how I ended up working in PR at Bluffton University, and why have I stayed here for 20+ years.

Not sure what the students gained from my walk down memory lane, but it was interesting for me to acknowledge the closed doors, opened windows, seized and missed opportunities that brought me to this place.

When I graduated from Bluffton in 1986, I did not aspire to be a web communication manager who works with social media. That job description did not – obviously – even exist. I suspect that many Bluffton alumni can relate. Thank goodness for our liberal arts education that gave us a wide base of knowledge and preparation for life.

I’m so thankful for the opportunities offered through the Learn and Earn program. My campus job working as a writer for the communications office (a.k.a. public relations) provided a bridge between academic and professional. More than just padding the resume, my time as editor for The Witmarsum student newspaper and as a Bluffton News intern provided leadership and networking opportunities.

Bluffton students continue to embrace these opportunities. Seniors were invited to tell about their internship experiences. One communication student interned at WTLW Lima Christian television gaining experience in filming and editing. Another received a broad experience at Findlay Publishing Company, working for a time in radio, print and promotions, even providing voice for commercials “when they needed a 10-year-old girl.” Not an internship, but another student worked in the fall with the WTLW sports crew.

These are such wonderful experiences to mesh real-world knowledge with academic learning to support the relatively new broadcast and journalism major offered through the communication department.

It’s something for us all to remember, regardless of whether we’re starting our career or nearing the end, always embrace opportunities offered by the open windows.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Feeling frazzled?

You know the feeling… too much to do, too little time to do it in, and you’d rather be doing something (anything) else. With two weeks of classes remaining before finals, our students are feeling a bit frazzled. Not like you have to be a college student to identify.

Are they (we) stressed because we procrastinate, because we’re disorganized or both?

Last night at the university-related Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs business planning meeting I met a lady who is starting a home-based business helping people get organized. How many times have I grumbled to myself “I have got to get organized” as I step into the office, kitchen...? If the price is right, I just may be her first client!

Jerry Kennell, former Bluffton VP for advancement, used a system using slotted pages and small notecards in a three-ring binder. During meetings he would move cards from one slot to another as topics were discussed. My luck I’d drop the notebook, the cards would fall out and I’d be in a mess.

Odd for a web manager to say, but my current system is hard copy calendars and multiple to-do-lists. From the students I interact with, I’d say it’s pretty even whether they keep their life organized on a physical calendar or on their phone. Maybe I’m not so old-school after all.

We did add a small white board in the office to keep pressing projects top of mind and a shared excel worksheet to track web updates. It’s a start.

Big projects are coming for Bluffton and the PR house this summer. Just wait for it. It’s going to be epic. To prepare I Really Must Organize, combine to-do-lists, prioritize… so when a student unexpectedly stops by to ask if there’s anything she can do for me, I have an answer!
I typically re-organize after May Day/Graduation, the unofficial end to the academic year. But I'm feeling the need to clean and start fresh NOW.

Which means, for today anyway, the door is shut, the computer off, music cranked... Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Making memories

Wild West Riley Creek Festival
 Ah… the last month of classes. Remember the push to finish preparations for senior recitals, art shows, the musical, final papers and projects… and the pull of friends and a beautiful campus to procrastinate by squeezing in as many memories as possible?

Indeed Bluffton students are living in the midst of this tension. Eric Fulcomer, dean of students, commented a couple weeks ago, “I wish it was cold and rainy.” I.e. the pull of tennis ball golf and other distractions would not be as strong if the weather wasn’t so nice. I’m guessing many faculty members are thinking the same.

Last night I drove through campus. It was fun to see all the students out and about. Some were apparently walking to a study group, night class or the library, others – it looked like teammates – were hanging out behind Founders after practice, others were lining up shots with their one golf club and a tennis ball. Brought back memories.

There are several opportunities in the next month for alumni and prospective students to enjoy time on campus and rub shoulders with current students.
  • The informal annual Pops Concert is 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 13, in Founders. Was it last year or the year before that Jodi Diller “played” cell phone ring tones in a Concert Band piece?
  • Saturday, April 14, is the Riley Creek Festival, annually planned by SOUL (Student Organizations United in Leadership.) As in the past, there will be inflatables for children and college students, a picnic, concert and the Rubber Duck Race in the Riley.

    “Purchase” a rubber duckie for $1. Proceeds of the Duck Race will benefit the Ada United Methodist Church, which burnt earlier this spring.
  • The annual Strike-Out Cancer softball game has been expanded this year to include a home baseball game and picnic on Tuesday, April 17. Softball vs. Anderson game time is 3:30 p.m. Baseball takes on Defiance at 4:15 p.m. Proceeds from the concession stand and balloon sales support cancer research.
  • May Day is always a fun day to visit with friends and classmates, and formally welcome the graduating class as alumni. Special events planned for the day include the May Day Run, Alumni Choir Sing, ministry teams reunion, musical and, this year, a final celebration of The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center 25th year and more.
Connect with your buds and make arrangements to connect on campus. You’ll be glad you did.

Check out the online events calendar for more info.