Working a Work Conference (Part 2)

The morning I went to the work conference, I was pretty sure I was going to get sick.

This wasn’t because I had come down with the case of the flu or had food poisoning, but because it felt like my insides were turning inside out. I was so anxious about going and having to survive several days in a sea of people I didn’t know. I was certain this was going to be terrible.

And like most things you’re dreading, it was all over before I knew it. I had successfully made it through all five of my social media presentations. I found a group of people I could talk to. I even did pretty well at casino night.

Minute by minute, the conference went by. The worst part was breakfast, where I’d go down to the big room full of tables alone and quickly scan for someone, anyone that was a friendly face. And after that, it was sitting in rooms and listening to speakers or milling about at cocktail hour.

When it was finally over and I was back home, I sighed relief that I had survived, and not altogether terribly. My presentations went great, if I may say so myself. I had walked around for several hours in heels. I even tried moonshine (which was strangely endorsed by everyone there, and was considered some sort of “initiation” into my first work conference with them. Verdict: the lemonade kind is dangerously delicious. The cherry kind tastes like nail polish remover smells).

I won’t say I wasn’t shy and anxious and overwhelmed the whole time. That would be a lie. I was in a constant state of stress, trying to appear like the cool and collected new girl who gets to sit on social media all day at work. But, I will say that it got easier as it went on. My presentations were a great icebreaker. My roommate was the sweetest thing, who introduced me to several of her friends. People were curious about what I thought about the company, being such a newbie in a room full of veterans.

If Present-Day Lauren were to speak to Pre-Conference Lauren, she would say this:

  • Practice yoga. Or learn to meditate. Or take some deep breaths. Or something. It is okay to be nervous, but don’t let nerves ruin you.
  • Don’t wear a necklace where the pendant has a tendency to fall off, no matter how cute it is. Having a charm fall down your shirt in the middle of a presentation is a little awkward.
  • Every single person who is going to the conference has been a new kid at one point, too. Know that you’re not the only one, and not the last one, and rely on those who have been there to be your guide.
  • Even though it may feel like it, it isn’t the end of the world.

Next time, I’ll be ready. Maybe. Probably. The odds are in my favor. A few weeks after the conference, people still remember my presentation—someone came up to me today to ask me about my dog, which I talked about frequently—and that feels good. So, what do I need to say to Pre-Next-Conference Lauren? Just breathe; you’ll do just fine.

Lauren is a social media professional/web content manager/overall awesome editor. She spends too much time talking about Game of Thrones and the Oxford comma. To be insta-best friends, follow her on twitter.

What I wish PW had taught me

Professional Writing taught me a lot. I am forever in gratitude to an incredible program, wonderful professors and fellow students, and internships that (mostly) prepared me for the workforce.

Regardless of how awesome PW is, there are a few things that I wish they had taught me. Some of them are related to the program, some would make good Writers’ Bloc workshops, and others simply I wish I had known beforehand.

Better technical writing
This might just relate to me—but the technical writing class I took was crap. I brushed it off and didn’t think it would affect me. But then I was given a writing project at work (back in January, you can read all about how I failed here). If I had had a better, more competent technical writing professor, I truly think that I would have done better with this project (though I still would have struggled). Technical writing is more important than I ever realized and students need to recognize the impact it might have on their future careers.

Analytics workshop/class
I am not the only one who has come across analytics in the workplace and been faced with a pretty big learning curve. We never spent time learning about analytics (the various tools, best practices, etc) in school, and now it’s something that just comes with the territory of my position. I’ve had to learn a lot about Google Analytics in a very short time (Facebook Insights and others included), and a workshop or at least practice compiling a social media analytics report would have been great as a student.

How age, privilege, and class affects us in the workplace
I truly did not realize how much my age would affect me in the workplace. I am young (24). When I started I was really young (22). I couldn’t understand why no one liked my ideas unless they came from someone else or why people seemed to brush me off as a silly little girl until my boyfriend said, with a shrug, “Well, you’re young.”

A heads up would have been nice. Some advice on how to deal with age discrimination and even class discrimination in the workplace would have been helpful. It’s something that I’ve struggled with navigating, especially as a—I hate this word—Millennial. I have grown up calling professors by their first name and chatting with bosses as if they were friends, but not all businesses work like that. I didn’t know that I need to tread lightly. I suppose that relates back to office etiquette, however—a potential workshop idea.


How to negotiate bonuses and raises
I learned how to negotiate salaries (sort of, and I have never actually done it IRL), but I definitely never learned about bonuses and raises. One of the most helpful things that PW did to prepare me for interviewing for jobs was to have a mock interview session. Something like that would be equally helpful for learning how to negotiate bonuses, raises, and all of that stuff. Something else to note here is that PW is largely made up of women. Negotiating can be especially hard for us ladies (which is bullshit, but it’s still true), so learning how to navigate that would have been really helpful. I still don’t have a grasp on negotiation and I probably won’t for a long time.

Being asked to do things that aren’t in your job description
How does one handle being asked to do things that aren’t in their job description? Do we just do it without complaint? Do we bring it up? Do we refuse? How do we tread lightly in this situation?

Social media workshop
Social media is ever changing, so a class might be difficult or even a little much. Regardless, some help in the social media area would have been appreciated. Workshops on best practices and strategy, and especially analytics, proving the value of a solid strategy (or ROI). Social media etiquette is also a good one.

Email etiquette
PLEASE—do not be that person who replies all to everyone in every email. I know this but not everyone does—something to consider when it comes to workshops? It would also be a good place to include discerning when to be formal/casual and more little nitpicky things about email. Do I say, “Hey Ali,” when I’m opening an email, or do I say, “Hi there,” or do I say, “Good afternoon”?

How to deal with colleagues who aren’t so nice
Group work fails in this capacity because at the end of the day the group is over and you can leave those suckers. Coworkers are forever (or until you quit/leave). And, let’s face it, there will always be crazies. You will always have to deal with people who do not like you, or who you do not like, or who try to make your life a little harder at your job. But—let’s say a coworker is harassing you and basically being an all out bitch—how do you handle it? Talk to her directly? Go to HR? Talk to your boss?

And I don’t mean the employee handbook way. I mean the stop-harassment, deal-with-the-problem way. I mean in the real-life way. Because life is not by the employee handbook.


Office politics
This is not really something that PW can teach us—but workshops can. Professors can. Internship advisers can. Bosses can. I never really got an introduction to office politics until I was out in the workplace and I was making mistakes left and right—of course, every office is different. But it’s something to consider.

No one was really harsh with me about my writing in school. Okay, so harsh might be a little much, but no one was really nitpicky with my writing. Now I am a big girl in the real world and people are not always nice about the failings in my writing. Expectations are high in the workplace and no one likes to be surprised with that shit—I definitely didn’t feel prepared for how much more difficult things can be in the workplace compared to how I was treated/graded in college.

To sum up this blog post, let me just say—a lot of what I felt blindsided by in the workplace is stuff that you just have to learn on your own. Professional Writing did a fantastic job training me for a full-time job and teaching me how to be a top notch employee.

MSUPW: What would you add the above list?

Vanessa is a digital media coordinator by day and a writer, novelist, and badass cook by night. She loves used bookstores, is way too serious about tea, and doesn’t give a damn if she wears the same outfit 2 days in a row. She totally wants to be your friend, so you should follow her on twitter & maybe check out her writing blog.

Professional vs. Personal Identity

personalprofessionalBefore I started working at EnVeritas Group, I never had to worry about my personal identity clashing with my professional one. At my previous job working as a project manager, I wasn’t really tweeting about my job and cool things in the industry—I was simply managing projects.

But taking the EVG job prompted a few changes. As a social media manager (even though my actual title is cooler, digital media coordinator), it’s my job to get people excited about our social media and our online presence. I made the decision to create an entirely different, work-related twitter (which you can find here).


In my personal life, even when I was a student at college tweeting about things like #BeerRhetorics and #msupw, I have always branded myself as a writer. And after college, I worked even harder to brand myself as a creative writer of novels, poems, and stories. My personal blog became a writing blog. My Facebook talked about my writing, pushing my blog posts, and also talking about some Professional Writing related things.

At EVG, I needed a more professional identity. I didn’t want to brand myself as a digital media coordinator on my twitter when I had already branded myself as a writer. So, I decided that it was time to take the plunge—and I created my work related twitter. My LinkedIn, already work-central, became much more active with the dive into my role as digital media coordinator. I created a Google+ page for my professional role, entirely different than my personal, writing-focused Google+.

For me, it was the perfect move. I have the ability to keep things professional on my professional pages, as well as push all of the awesome content happening at EVG, and at the same time I can focus on my brand as a writer with my other pages.

If you’re coming straight out of college, if you have a brand new job, or if you have a job you’ve been at for a while, consider separating your personal and professional identities—it might be a great move for you, too.

I actually wrote a more in-depth post on this for work—check it out here.

Vanessa is a digital media coordinator by day and a writer, novelist, and badass cook by night. She loves used bookstores, is way too serious about tea, and is mildly obsessed with cats. She totally wants to be buddies, so you should follow her on twitter & check out her writing blog.

Doing scary things is good for you (+ my new job)

I started a new job last week. For those of you who are curious and nosy, I’m working at EnVeritas, a Content Marketing Firm doing social media and other cool web things. My official title is Digital Media Coordinator (sounds cool, right?! Right!).

Starting a new job is always terrifying. It’s CHANGE. It’s something new, in a place you haven’t proven yourself, with people you don’t know. It’s easy to stay somewhere comfortable and lose the opportunities that give you butterflies and nausea all at the same time.

My experience might be a little more nauseating because now I’m working part time.

I quit a full time, comfortable, not-particularly-difficult job for a part time, more challenging, and what-I-really-want-to-do job. Taking a leap like this is always scary. I have freelance on the side, I have the possibility of what could come at this job, but mostly I had my own guts to be able to take the step into a new company, position, and field.

Lauren talked about taking risks in her last post, and I guess I really wanted to expand on that, to show once again that doing scary things is the biggest character builder ever. I’ve done some other scary things in my life. I moved down to South Carolina without a job, traveled to China alone at age 17 (don’t worry, I was with people in China), and spent vast amounts of my free time writing novels (seriously, it can be a lil’ scary sometimes). Every single time the experience brought me perspective, more humility, less stupidity, and more to give.

Go do something wild (but don’t get yourself arrested). You’ll thank me.

Vanessa is a digital media coordinator by day and a writer, novelist, and badass cook by night. She loves used bookstores, is way too serious about tea, and doesn’t give a damn if she wears the same outfit 2 days in a row. She totally wants to be your friend, so you should follow her on twitter & maybe check out her writing blog.

Hat Tipping, and Other Social (Media) Courtesies

How often do you find content on social media that you want to re-share with your network? Each social media space has different rules and different ways of going about that process, be it “sharing” on Facebook or “retweeting” on Twitter. Or you can always copy and paste the content, contextualize it your own way, and reshare it with your network,

If you’re on Twitter, you may have seen a common abbreviation “HT” (or H/T) in a tweet, followed by a mention of another user. It took me a few times of seeing it to look for an explanation. Trusty Urban Dictionary gave me a bit of insight, and defined HT as “Hat Tip.” Essentially, it’s a way to give someone credit for a thought or origination of content.

Examples of Hat Tipping

It’s important to me to always give the originator of an idea credit. Whenever possible, if someone directed me to a piece of information, I try to give them a hat tip. I expect the same it return. That doesn’t mean that I expect a full retweet or share, but a little nod to say, “Hey. Thanks for sharing interesting content,” just seems to be polite.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I find and share content, and it is then usurped from under me and played off as another person’s discovery. Sure, it’s the internet. It’s a big place and if there’s a relatively common news story, I don’t expect to be the one to get credit for breaking it. However, if it’s a niche item, a little respect goes a long way.

What do you think? Do you like hat tipping, or do you feel like the internet is for sharing regardless of the content finder/originator? Vigorous conversation in the comments section: GO!

Alexandra WhiteAlexandra is a WordPress & front-end developer who builds awesome things. She loves craft beer, apple cider cookies, and traveling to new places (especially when the trip is free). You should follow her on twitter and maybe you can become internet friends. Or maybe even IRL friends.