Tag Archives: Learning

Taking the first step

“The secret of getting things done is to act.” – Dante Alighieri

Over the past few years, I’ve been slowly accumulating a list of things that I want to do and learn. Some may call it a bucket list of sorts.

The list is starting to become a bit lengthy, but I am well aware that many of the things are easy to do and complete. I just need to make the effort and do it.

So I’ve decided to dive right in and use this blog to document my experiences.

The first one: take sewing lessons.

Deciding to actually go through with it and then deciding where to take lessons were hard decisions to make. My mother is a sewer and so is a friend of mine, but when it came down to asking them to teach me, I knew the main issue would be timing.

It’s a lot easier and convenient to take classes close to where I live – worth the price I’m about to pay.

I’m actually quite excited about it and my first class is in a few weeks. Learning to sew may not be the hippest or most exciting thing, but I think it’s kinda cool. It’s a skill that I’ve always wanted to learn (beyond the basics of fixing a button) and who knows, I may discover a passion I never thought I had.

Plus I’ll finally be able to hem all my clothes now – a vital skill for someone as short as I am.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and I’ll share what I tackle next on my list.

Photos: Bucket List – Katie Harris & Sewing – Rodrigo Campos

What I learned at 360 Degrees

handshakeLast week, I attended the 7th annual 360 Degrees: All Things Connected, an event hosted by the Toronto chapter of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS).   The event was organized by the student steering committee for students and junior PR practitioners and was well worth the ticket price.

They split us into groups based on the preferences we indicated on our registration form and we rotated through three sessions on three different sectors of public relations and corporate communications.

I ended up in Group C: Crisis Communications, Agency and Corporate/Internal Communications.

A lot was said in the three hours but here are the points that stuck out for me:

Agency:

  • In an agency, you’re surrounded by people who do communications too.  This can be a valuable experience and may bring a sense of community that you may not feel in a small communications department for a corporation.
  • Tasks as an entry level practitioner may include: creating media lists, doing media calls and pitches, organizing meetings and staff events, doing research and doing media and online monitoring.
  • 25% of your tasks will involve researching about the client and anything related to that organization or project.
  • One of your other main tasks will be media monitoring,  so know the media and love the news.

Internal Communications:

  • Most people believe that internal communications is just about writing the newsletter, but it can more than that.  You can be the coach who mobilizes and engages employees.
  • You can work with upper management to develop plans that will engage employees and ensure that they are aware of, understand and believe in the organization’s brand.
  • People spend most of their lives at work and you get to make them love it.  You help employees feel pride in where they work and feel a greater sense of accomplishment.

Crisis Communications:

  • Every plan is just a plan. It needs to be flexible and adaptable in any situation.
  • There are early warnings for crises – they don’t just drop from the sky, so plan ahead and pay attention.
  • Take time to look at how your organization or other similar ones dealt with crises in the past.  Learn from these examples.

I left the event with a lot of notes and was impressed with how things rolled out.  The only negative thing was that I would have loved to participate in all the other groups too, such as Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Media, Media Relations, Non-profit and Financial.

Either way, it was a well-organized event. Thank you to all the speakers and the student steering committee for doing a great job.

Photo credit: oooh.oooh – Creative Commons Licence (BY-NC-SA)

One month as a Knowledge Engineering Assistant

It’s been just about a month in this new position and I think I’m doing well. I am still in the process of being trained – a sort of ‘train as you go’ system.

For the most part, my duties are:

  • reviewing, editing and publishing technical e-support documents (as per the company’s style guidelines)
  • undertaking administrative duties for the content management system
  • dealing with customer feedback on documents
  • fixing style violations that come in through an automated style checker

As well, I participate in team meetings in which information management issues come up. I find those challenges interesting to think about and I would like to get more involved in finding solutions for those problems.

The work is interesting. I get a sense of challenge from trying to understand what authors are trying to say, finding missing documents and authors, and evaluating feedback. I am also constantly considering issues of clarity, findability, and those information management problems.

Plus, I enjoy editing work. Editing technical documents is slightly different than other documents because I have to figure out what the author is actually talking about. If I don’t know the product, fix, or tool, then it takes extra long. It’s all a learning experience.

Obviously the work I am doing is quite different from what I did the last time around. Last time I was working on corporate and employee communications – writing, editing and formatting various documents and media, organizing events, etc.  This time, I am able to combine both my communication skills and my interest in computer science.  It is a chance to determine, yet again, what possibilities I have with my previous experience and education.

I’m already thinking about what I will write in my term reports when they come along (and I’m already dreading them).

Another big difference from my last placement is that most of my current team is situated across the United States. The team is considered to be a remote team and we communicate through phone calls, conference calls, instant messenger, e-mails and sometimes we combine phone calls and desktop sharing to work together on projects. I’m not sure if I will ever meet the people I work with every day.

This is definitely a learning experience because I have to learn how to communicate through technology to my team. I will write a separate blog post about the challenges and the benefits of having a remote team and working with technology to collaborate.

Of course, I cannot believe that a month has already passed. I only have three more months to get up to speed, make some good contributions to the team, and show my worth.

I plan to blog about my progress, so stay tuned.