Thursday, May 10, 2012

What a difference a year makes

Monday marked the one year anniversary of my college graduation, and Tuesday was my last day of my first semester of graduate school. A year ago I would have imagined my life to be much different. I'd have a job and a place of my own. Despite my frustrations I am very proud of what I have accomplished in grad school and  I expect to get good grades. Job searching has been a bit slow these days although I did apply for one today that seems ideal. Hopefully an entry in the coming weeks will come with good news.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Hey everyone,
Sorry I forgot to blog last week. There wasn't much going on. I've had lots of days off from my internship lately due to them being out of the office. While I enjoy having the time to relax I actually get upset when I'm not working because I really enjoy what I'm doing. School has been going well but I have been frustrated with one aspect of my education. I'm doing well in terms butmy grades didn't really progress from the beginning of the semester despite professors telling me that I improved. I'm trying to be optimistic in the situation since I'm doing better in school than I thought I would but I wish my improvement was better recognized.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Changes and Similarities

This week has been more exciting than recently. In speech class we had a group presentation and needless to say I was dreading it. We used a program called Prezi, which is similar to Powerpoint , except it's more complicated and web based. I went to put my part into the presentation and our whole presentation got deleted. I'm unsure of what I did and I felt really guilty for screwing up my team's work. Thankfully they were nice about it and someone in our group is a Prezi expert and the problem got rectified. We ended up getting 100% so it went great even with the setback. Yesterday we had a guest speaker in government relations and lobbying. Class goes until 8 p.m. and we usually spend the last hour or so working on our group projects for the final exam. Well on this particular day the presenter spoke until about 7:30 and we met in our groups after that. We are allowed to leave whenever our group feels we accomplished enough for the night and our group seemed to be working longer than normal that night. At about 7:50 I realized I had to leave because I get the train at 7:59. Even though it's a short walk and I had nine minutes to get there I felt rushed because I typically leave about 5 minutes earlier. Being in a rush did not work in my favor and I ended up forgetting my notebook in the classroom. I realized this as soon as I got to the train station and had no time to go back to get it. I ended up keeping my composure and emailed my professor and some classmates to see if they picked it up but I got no response. I also called the school and they ended up not being able to locate it either.
The way I reacted to the mishaps I had this week makes me feel very proud. The old me would have lashed out at people that didn't deserve it. Instead I owned up to my irresponsibility and attempted to solve the problem as soon as it occured. Even though I didn't fix the problem with Prezi on my own or find my notebook I handled the stress in the correct manner.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Even though I haven't accomplished all my dreams I'm proud of what I've done so far

This week in school I didn't have any big assignments. I seem to be doing well in both of my classes and I hope the good momentum continues. At my internship with The Genealogical Society I've been doing many tasks related to public relations, and most recently I created a database that consists of contacts from many different areas of the media and organizations related to geneaology. The document is very lengthy, especially the section where I had to document all of the genealogical and historical socities in the state of Pennsylvania where there ended up being over 300 entries. I don't have a very long attention span so I was extremely proud that I was able to complete significant parts of the database without getting distracted. Hopefully this work ethic will shift itself into my school work as well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grad school is opening my eyes to new careers

This week I worked one day at my internship and had my regular school week. I got back my paper on The Spina Bifida Association's grassroots lobbying program SPEAK, and I got an 85. While this is a good grade I am disappointed because I thought I would do much better. My professor said that the paper could have been written better and after reading it again I agree with her. Perhaps I got caught up in my passion for what I was writing about and concentrated less on style and I definitely won't do this again. My professor also wished that I used outside sources instead of just the SBA website to get my information. I agree with her on this point too and I think this was another consequence of taking the easy way out and writing what I know.In regards to the title of this post, from taking two classes that are totally unrelated to eachother, I have the opportunity to explore many aspects of the communications field. I know that I want to do something with non-profits but I am not sure what specific job would fit me best. Yesterday in Government Relations and Lobbying we had a speaker come present to us about the use and importance of social media in advocacy and public relations. I am an avid user of a few social networks and I could definitely see myself doing something with it in a career. I also see this type of work becoming more popular as technology takes over the world.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Putting lessons into action

This week I worked at my internship as well as went to school. I did a speech for class this week on why it is important for companies to hire individuals with disabilities and I received another grade of 90% percent. I am very happy with  this because this is a topic I am very passionate about since I am currently looking for full- time employment. At my internship I have been doing lots of work on the computer including building a database on Excel. I am also starting to learn my way around a program called Constant Contact, which is a website that companies can subscribe to that creates great looking email blasts and newsletters using different templates. I am very excited to learn this skill because I think it will look great on my resume, especially wanting to enter the non-profit sector. I also plan to introduce this program to my local Spina Bifida chapter to help with their public relations.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm full of good news!

Since I last wrote something very significant has occured in my life. I had an interview a little over a week ago for an unpaid public relations internship at a local non-profit organization, and I ended up getting the position! I am so happy to finally have something that resembles a job even if it is temporary, unpaid, and part-time.  I am so thrilled to finally get some experience in my field and hopefully this position will give me the opportunity to learn new things, make tons of contacts, and maybe it will turn into something long term down the road. Another piece of good news, I got a paper back that I wrote for Government Relations and Lobbying and I receieved an 86. I am very happy with this grade for my first grad school paper, although the over achiever in me wishes I got an 'A'. My professor told me the main issue with my paper was organization. I was not surprised to hear this because it has always been an issue for me when I write. Hopefully the more papers I write at the graduate level my grades will improve. Last piece of good news, I was supposed to do a presentation on Mondy for Speech Writing, but my professor gave me the option to go next week and I gladly accepted. I was really tired and was wearing a skirt that was hard to move around in which is very important in public speaking. I was prepared to deliver a good speech on Monday but now that I have extra time I can perfect it even more.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Playing to your strengths is the best way to achieve your goals

There is nothing much to report this week. I didn't have to do a speech this week but we got assignment sheets for 6-8 minute persuasive presentations due in 2 weeks. I'm thinking of doing mine on why it is important for companies to hire people with disabilities because finding a job is main focus in my life right now. I'm almost certain that the reason I'm still unemployed has nothing to do with having Spina Bifida, so despite being told differently ,I bring it up whenever I think having a disability can give me a leg up in the position. In my opinion living with a disability helped me approach and overcome unique challenges better than the average person and that is a characteristic that is essential in any employment role. Speaking of employment, I got some good news today! I was contacted to have a phone interview tomorrow for an internship at a local non-profit. I'm typically not a fan of phone interviews because I like to be able to read facial expressions, but I'm really glad to have the opportunity because it could lead to something great. Unless I find out something related to my job search within the next week there won't be a blog entry because it's Spring Break. Talk to everyone soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You gotta take the good with the bad

This week in Speech writing I gave a presuasive presentation about why people should neuter their pets. I was graded on the spot, and got 180 out of a possible 200 points, which is equivalent to 90%. According to my professor the content in my presentations has been very good but I need to work on eye contact, movement when I speak and reducing my use of non-words ( ex. umm). I tried my hardest to be concious of these issues during this speech but since I was little I've had difficulty improving many issues in a task at one time. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with having Spina Bifida but I'm not going to fall into a crutch and use it as an excuse.
Now for the bad news, I didn't get the paid internship I recently applied for because another candidate had more experience than I did. The woman let me know via email, and while inside I was not taking the rejection well at all, I immediately replied back and asked what she recommended I do to gain more experience so I can earn a similar position somewhere in the near future. She kindly wrote back and told me to consider doing some unpaid internships to build my resume. While I know she's completely right I really want a paid position because I need to build an income if I want to start living a completely independent life within the next few years. I'm very frustrated at this point with my job search and I'm constantly kicking myself in the ass for not starting my search prior to graduation this past May. For now I'm just going to chalk the rejection up to experience, find an unpaid internship or if I'm lucky a paid position. Through this last interview I also found out about a young professionals group run by the organization and i'm looking forward to getting involved in that to expand my networking contacts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Real world experience is the most valuable

I'm in my fourth week of graduate school and so far I'm loving it! This week in Speech Writing we had to give short presentations selling a product for a different reason than its primary use. I chose toothpaste as an acne treatment ( it really does work :)), and to my surprise two other students chose the same topic.I'm not sure how my speech compared to theirs but I think I did well. In Government Relations and Lobbying we had our usual lecture and met with our groups for our final project. So far I am liking how my group is working together and I think the project will be successful.
Both of my professors are adjunct this semester, meaning that teaching is not their primary job, and they often work in the field in which they are instructing. I really enjoy having adjunct instructors as opposed to full time professors because even though they may not know all of the latest educational techniques they know what is going on in the workforce at the current time. This makes it easier for them to give career advice and make connections for jobs and internships.
This is a busy week for me in terms of my workload. On Monday I have a 5 minute persuasive presentation on why people should neuter their pets and a 2-3 page paper on a lobbying organization of my choice and of course I have my weekly reading for both classes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Optimism is the key to success

 Hi all! Sorry this post is almost 2 days late.This week in Speech Writing we went over critiques of our first presentation. I had problems in many of the areas I suspected including posture, introduction and my use of non words (i.e. umm). While I wish I could have done better, I am looking at this speech from the prespective that I will definitely improve the aspects of my public speaking skills that need work, and in addition I will continue to strengthen what I'm good at. In Government Relations and lobbying we had a pretty normal class discussing articles we found throughout the week and having a lecture on a topic from the textbook. We also took time to have our first in class meeting with our group for the final project in which we have to lobby the issue of assets being checked in order for famillies to receive food stamps and create a powerpoint explaining our strategies. We had two sides to pick from when it comes to our issue, either side with the Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger or the Governer of Pennsylvania. Our group decided to challenge ourselves and side with the governer and while I definitely do not agree with his politics I think by taking this approach I will learn alot more than if I had stayed inside my comfort zone.
As I mentioned last week I had an interview for a paid internship on Tuesday. I think it went well considering I was pretty nervous. I arrived early and to my surprise the woman who was supposed to interview me was out sick and somebody else from the department ended up meeting with me. I immediately saw this as a disadvantage because the woman who was supposed to interview me is higher in the ranks than the woman I met with and she will likely be making the final decision. She won't have a face to face meeting to judge me on, just writing samples, and I hope that is enough. I was also the first person to interview for the position so I am worried that I will be forgotten by the time they are done interviewing the other candidates. That being said, I am confident that I made the best possible impression and that my writing samples are top notch so I think I have a decent chance of getting the position.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sometimes things just take time...

This week at school was pretty normal. After alot of thought, on Monday, I presented my speech on Spina Bifida and it was received really well by both my professor and peers! It wasn't graded just critiqued, and I'm glad about that because I know I would have been insulted if I got a bad grade on something so dear to my heart. Tonight in Government Relations and Lobbying we had our normal lecture and discussion, and at the end of class we were assigned groups for our final project where we have to pick a stance and lobby an issue. I personally don't like group work, but my team members are really nice so we will see how it goes.
I have been commuting to school by train and despite living in Philadelphia my entire life I very seldom used public transportation. At first I was a bit anxious thinking I may miss my stop or I was on the wrong train but now I have it almost down to a science. This is rewarding for me since I don't drive and the train is an excellent way for me to travel independently. I have also settled into a somewhat organized routine with my school work and time managment skills. I don't have an overwhelming load this semester and I am able to do a little bit each day and have everything done efficiently a good length of time prior to class. And last but not least, I got huge news this week that I will be going on a job interview one week from today ( Tuesday), for a paid internship position. I will update you all on how I think it went in next week's entry

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Preparations and Definitions

Happy Tuesday everyone!
This was my first "full week" of classes, meaning I had both courses one day after another. Yesterday was my first speech writing class, and despite the fact that public speaking is out of my comfort zone , I think I will really like it. The professor is very laid back and realizes that most people have a natural fear of speaking in front of people. The first class was pretty standard, we did an introductory survey, went over the syllabus, and broke into teams where we had to interview another classmate and stand up in front of the class and introduce them. Today was my second government relations and lobbying class. We went over articles we found over the week that related to the class, had a lecture on ethics of lobbying and did a group activity based on an article we had to read. All in all it was a great week!
Getting to the title of this post, this week, I learned that I need to be more prepared in adjusting to my new schedule. As part of my government relations and lobbying class we had to subscribe to a daily newsletter from I did this a few days ago and received two newsletters, but this morning I had  brain fart and logged onto my email with the intention to access the newsletter and I totally forgot why I checked it. I realized this about an hour before class so luckily I had time to skim an article and make it to the train on time. From now on I will read the newsletters daily as I get them so I don't have to cram before class. Another lesson in preparation I learned today was that I should always assume technology may fail. My train gets me to the area where my school is 30 minutes prior to class, so I figured I had enough time to stop at Starbucks about 2 blocks away from my school building before heading in to print out handouts for class. I got to Starbucks in about 5 minutes after getting off the train and got my drink very quickly so I ended up getting to the building 15 minutes early and figured I would be able to print my handouts and still be punctual with time to spare However, the printing system was very slow and I ended up getting to my classroom 2 or 3 minutes late without my handouts which kind of embarassed me because I am typically extremely punctual and always have my work. Fortunately my professor had enough copies of everything because she realizes that not everyone has access to a printer. Just in case this isn't always the case and I don't have access to a printer at home I am going to have my dad print things for me at his job and give them to me prior to class since his office is close to my campus. In terms of definitions I am referring to how I define myself. My first assignment for speech writing is to create an 8-10 minute presentation about something personal to me. Of course the first thing that came to mind was to talk about my experience living with Spina Bifida and how it has effected me in a positive way. I mentioned this idea to a few family members and they opposed it because they think that by doing this as my first speech I am letting Spina Bifida define who I am. I disagree with this because the assignment is to speak about something personal and my experience with Spina Bifida is very personal and unique to me. I would appreciate feedback from you all on this dilemma and if you think I should choose a different topic let me know why. I will talk to you all next Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The start of a new beginning

Tonight was my first class of my graduate school career. This semesterI will be taking 2 classes, government relations and lobbying,and speech writing. Tonight I had government relations and lobbying and I really enjoyed it. There are only 11 people in the class which is much smaller than I'm used to but I actually prefer small classes over large lecture halls. Class started off with us going around and introducing ourselves and the professor went over the syllabus and answered any questions we had about class format and procedures. After that we had a short lecture introducing what lobbying is, what lobbyists specifically do, how lobbying uses public relations tactics and the history of lobbying. We also took a brief survey asking what we prevously knew about the field of lobbying before taking the course . I am very excited to see where this class goes in terms of content, and hopefully, I will get the opportunity to promote the importance of raising awareness and lobbying forSpina bifida and other disabilities.
I normally have class on Monday and Tuesday so I will most likely update this blog on tuesday evenings unless I get information regarding my job search or discover articles related to my research interests. So,unless anything interesting happens before then I will talk to you all in one week =)

Monday, January 16, 2012


Hey everyone!
Welcome to Sam's Post Grad Ramblings. In this blog I will chronicle my experience as a graduate student as well as the progress of my job search. I will also post my opinon on articles related to my coursework and research interests.
If you don'r know me let me first start out by introducing myself. My name is Samantha, or Sam,hence the title of my blog. I am 22 years old and I live in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. I graduated in May 2011 from West Chester University with a B.A. in English with a journalism minor and tomorrow I begin my Masters in Communication Managment at Temple University. My ultimate goal is to start a career in public relations or advocacy for people with disabilities. I want to work for a non-profit organization. This passion likely came from being born with the disability Spina Bifida, a condition where the spinal cord is exposed at birth, causing paralysis and other deficincies within the central nervous system. My greatest achievements in a career would be to enhance the confidence of just one person with a disability and assure them that they are just as important to society as anyone else. Also I want to change how people without disabilities view us in the public sphere. I know these seem like near impossible goals but I intend to try my hardest to achieve them.
When I'm not studying or writing I enjoy watching movies, shopping, listening to music, reading chick lit, travelling, volunteering, and trying new food and cocktails.
Check Back tomorrow for an update on how my first class went :)