Lessons From a (almost) College Grad

Senior year of high school, I was so excited to dive headfirst into college, move seven hours away from home, and live at the beach. I thought I was invincible and ready for anything. Unfortunately, everything did not go as planned and my homesickness caused me to transfer to a university back home after only one semester at UNCW. Long story short, after a year and a half of finding myself and realizing what I wanted out of my college experience, I made my way back to Wilmington. It wasn’t until the beginning of my third year of college that I feel my experience truly began. I was able to press the “re-start button” and begin my journey as a Communication Studies major at UNCW.

Through this rocky experience, I have learned a few lessons that I think every freshman should know:

#1. Adjusting can be hard…give it time. I am almost positive that if I had given UNCW a full year to begin with, I would have never left. (Duh, it is WILMINGTON)

#2. You are going to college for a reason. Don’t take it for granted. It is really easy, as a new college student, to get caught up in the hype (especially when you live at the beach). Wilmington is such a fun place and there are so many distractions. One of my biggest regrets, however, is that I did not take school seriously enough in the beginning, and now I wish I had. It is simply a waste of time and money to not put your all into your schoolwork, and surprisingly there will still be time for fun.

#3. Don’t lose yourself (I know this sounds cheesy). I think that it is really easy to get caught up in fitting in, and making sure that you don’t miss out on any of the fun that everyone seems to be getting into. But the more you distance yourself from doing what YOU want to do, the more difficult and confusing college can be.

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This has been a long, but amazing journey that I have had. I can honestly say I could not be in a better place at this moment. I truly believe that I have evolved into the exact person that I want to be.  I am so grateful that I made it back to UNCW. No matter where I go from here, I will always see Wilmington as my home.

-Julia Tompkins 

This is The End

It is absolutely unreal to be sitting here writing my senior blog post. As of today, I graduate from UNCW in less than 2 weeks. I visited UNCW before my senior year of high school, and instantly fell in love with the place. Growing up ten minutes from UNCC, I was quickly drawn to how different UNCW was, and it was in that moment that I realized where I wanted to be for college. I received early acceptance into UNCW, and I could literally not wait to be here. During my senior year of college, I remember more than anything the feeling of just wanting to get out of Charlotte and see and experience something new. Upon arriving to UNCW/Wilmington, my wish was commanded.

My time here at UNCW has been everything I could have ever wanted and much, much more. I have met so many different kinds of people and gained friends that will surely last for a lifetime. The memories and experiences I have gained here are surely ones that I will never forget and will cherish forever. It is certainly a bittersweet time in my life right now.

When I first arrived to UNCW as a freshman, I was unsure of what to declare as my major. My older brother recommended Communication Studies. I looked further into the major, and I remember thinking that it was the fit I had been looking for in a major. I could not have made a better decision. I have taken a wide range of different courses at UNCW, and without trying to sound biased, I have to say the courses within the Communication Studies major have provided me with experiences and skill sets I just did not receive in other courses. The difference being the experiences and skill sets I encountered within my Communication Studies major will benefit me in many different aspects of my life, not just for my career, and for the remainder of my lifetime.

With all that said, I am forever thankful for the knowledge, experiences, friends, and professors I have encountered during the time I have spent at UNCW. This time period in my life certainly holds a place dear to my heart, and I have become a better person because of it. Here’s to the next chapter!

Callie Fenlon

Here I Go Again on My Own

As I pulled away from my house for my first semester of college four years ago, a crowd of my closest family and friends covered my front lawn to cheer me goodbye as I pulled off to begin a four-year journey. Originally hailing from the city of brotherly love, I am a Philly boy born and bred, shipped off alone to the land of barbecue, ranch, and sweet tea. I was heading for Wilmington, North Carolina. Many people would fear this situation; but I truly could not wait to embrace it. Here, I am a new person. No one would know the things that I have done, what mistakes I have made, the stories I have told, or the love and friendship that I had spread. This was my opportunity to make whatever I wanted out of myself. That is just what I did.

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I had an amazing time freshman year! I dipped my toes into a handful of different courses to see which classes I liked and, ultimately, I had to choose which major I should dedicate myself to. It took me until my sophomore year to bloom academically. I can recall to this day the class that finally made me realize, “hey, maybe you can learn some cool things in school.” As I sat in the back of Dr. Weber’s Com 105 class and tried to blend in, the fire and passion behind his lectures truly drew me in. I was drawn not only to the academic world, but also to the phenomena of communication. As the semester progressed I found myself moving up in the class. I began participating, asking questions, and for the first time, I was genuinely interested in the subject I was being lectured on.

One of the biggest challenges I encountered when dealing with school was directly applying what I had been taught in class to real life situations. In communication studies, not only could I apply what I was learning to everyday life, but I was also enjoying it! TV commercials no longer bothered me; they fascinated me! Whether it was with my parents, friends, professors, or a complete stranger, every encounter was an opportunity to apply what I had been learning in all of my communication courses. Through my nonverbal learning experiences in London and Spain all the way to working as an account executive in Dr. Persuit’s advertising class, I felt connected with my major. Furthermore, working in two internships with two separate firms in different aspects of the marketing field, I was easily able to apply what I had learned and was truly able to feel the reward of all my hard work.
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With that being said, I also feel as though only about half of my knowledge could be attributed to school related experiences. To recieve a Bachelor’s Degree, students must acquire a set amount of credits and pass them accordingly. All of that is all well and good, but I could not even begin to explain the amount that I have learned from living life on my own for the past few years. The friends that I have made, the connections that I have found, the professors who taught me all have contributed in some way to the of shaping my knowledge. Of course, I will miss each and every one of them and UNCW will always have a piece of my heart.

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The feeling in my mind and heart over the past few weeks has been almost indescribable. The pure joy and excitement of knowing that for the past 17 years, I have been working to finally achieve this academic accomplishment of graduating from college with a Bachelor’s Degree. This feeling of completion accompanying my immense amount of nerves about the job world as well as the disappointment that the gravy train is finally over, have all combined to be the most bittersweet feelings of my life. As I look back on my life, I realized that every step of my life has been leading me to the next big thing and now, the steps are over. I am here.  I cannot believe all of the opportunities that I have been presented with here at UNCW. The people I have met, the love and friendship I have felt, and the feeling that I have finally made a home for myself is as great of an accomplishment to me as graduating. Whoever said that we were not in the real world must be crazy. I have made lifelong friends here that will stand by my side through the high highs and the low lows. That being said, I plan to start my new journey the same way I started my last one. As 80’s rock star Whitesnake would say; “Here I go again on my own”.

Dann Williams

Looking Back on an Amazing Ride

I can’t believe that it’s been four years. It’s been four crazy, unforgettable, and amazing years since I stepped onto this campus as a bushy-eyed freshman, ready to take on anything that the world threw at me. Like most other freshmen, I believed I had all of life’s questions answered and felt like I didn’t need any more guidance from people around me (especially professors.) What an idiot I was.
I have learned so much since I entered into UNC-Wilmington. I started out as a business major but switched over to Communication Studies in the middle of sophomore year. I chose this major because I had taken a few COM classes in my freshman year and I really liked what I was learning. However I knew that I was in the right major as soon as I went to my first COM 105 class with Dr. Weber. In the first day of class Weber spoke about this major with so much passion that it inspired me. Seeing a man like Weber speaking so intensely about this department, motivated me to go deeper into Communication Studies and see what was intriguing about the discipline. It was definitely the right choice for me as I have always been able to communicate easily with others, especially in a professional setting. Not only does this major offer a variety of important classes that teach students valuable lessons, but it also offers great opportunities. The friends that I have made in my classes as well as all the information I was able to retain, have truly made college a genuine experience. Whether it be late night journeys to Cookout or a research group pulling an all-nighter, I wouldn’t change a thing about my time spent here in UNCW. Upon graduation this May I hope to get a career in the Public Relations field, the same subject that I completed an internship in this spring.uncw
To conclude, I am glad to have had the opportunity to call Wilmington my home for the past four years. This place, and all the people I have met here, will forever hold a special place in my heart. My experience as a Communication major at the University of North Carolina Wilmington helped me to mature and grow. Not only did this university teach me how to be a professional, but it also taught me to be a man.

-Michael Nunes

Reflections on Graduation

When I first started my journey at UNCW, like many other freshmen I was disoriented, puzzled about my future and overwhelmed with what college had to offer.

I have lived in Italy for 16 years and living with two cultures has always been part of my life. The quest I went on when I decided to move to the United States for college and apply to UNCW was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I took more than one risk but I can honestly say that in the end I don’t have any regrets. If risks aren’t taken in life, then it’s truly not worth living. Overall the decision I had to make was not an easy, nor a quick one, but either way I knew that it would be a life changing one. For me, “personal success” is more than just maturing academically, and UNCW has allowed me to achieve this and beyond. I am proud of my dual citizenship and all the pros and cons that have come with it. My experiences and background have helped enhance my experience at UNCW, and it was well worth the journey.

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I believe that my education is the first and most important building step towards achieving my life goals, and UNCW has allowed me to do just that. Classes like Capstone and many other I have taken in the Communication Studies Department have not only prepared me for the future but, most importantly, they have excited me about my future. As someone who has lived in the United States for less than five years, I can honestly say it is not only relieving, but also rewarding to know that I am one of the youngest graduates in my class and that I have successfully achieved the same level of academic recognition that people who have lived their whole lives here have.

Throughout the years my family has allowed me to further shape myself into the person that I am now. My parents were in fact the ones that let me take on the most important experience that I’ve had so far in my life. I don’t see graduating from college as the successful termination of a chapter of my life, but rather the beginning of a new chapter in which I prove to my parents that all their support and everything they have done for me has allow me to successfully accomplish my dreams.

The pressures to start my career and succeed in life are two things that have been more and more often on my mind, I’m sure like many others of my fellow college graduates as well. I could not go to the point of saying that UNCW guaranteed me success in my future career, but I can truthfully say that it has given me the confidence and preparation I need to leave the UNCW “nest” and enter the real world; and this is more than I could have ever asked for. Ultimately, part of the post-grad adventure is really trying to figure out who you are and what you value. As I said earlier, for me, graduating from college is the final move (or leap) into adulthood.

It is now 13 days until the day of my graduation and as I am writing this final blog post, looking back on where I was four years ago and where I’ve came from, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

- Sasha De Vecchi

How to be the CEO of “ME” Incorporated: Personal Branding

Every company understands the significance of branding and the role it plays in their success as a whole. Today, in the oh so competitive world of job searching and some of our, now, ambiguous futures we have to make ourselves a brand worth buying into. The thing we have to realize is that we are all worth the price that we “sell” ourselves for; each of us having different valuable brand qualities.

The COM 400 Capstone course encourages students to write down and memorize an “elevator speech.” This is a 15-30 second rendition encompassing all of our greatest qualities that really sells ourselves to whomever we are talking with. That 30 seconds could move us from having zero job offers to having them lined up. However, in order to move forward in making this speech we must analyze ourselves and pinpoint our biggest strengths.

This process can be started by, first, identifying all of the qualities and characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors (a.k.a. people looking for the same job opportunities). What makes you stand out? In order to have success at self-branding you must find what makes you the zebra in a herd of horses, this is what is going to grab others attention. To start with, ask yourself: what work am I the most proud of? What do I value the most about my abilities? Etc. Asking yourself these types of questions will help you in evaluating your personal strengths and weaknesses or areas for improvement. Utilizing your strengths and highlighting them is a key component to making you stellar competition. Seth Godin states in a personal interview, “It’s all about how you can connect with people, how you can bring them up.” Your values are how you connect with others – it’s the difference of just being good to being great at what you do.

An article from Fast Company says, “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle…no matter how beefy your set of skills, no matter how tasty you have made your features – you still have to market the bejesus out of your brand – to customers, colleagues, and your virtual network of associates.” Every decision and every move you make counts. When you are branding your image people are watching your every move, just as they would in scrutiny of any other brand. Your values and character is being weighed the moment you start branding yourself. Word- of – Mouth marketing is one of the most important marketing assets you have; what people have to say about you makes all the difference.

With that being said, once you have delivered your “Me” message and have gained the attention of others you have more than likely also obtained more confidence in yourself. This is good. However, you now have more power and more influence over others making you a leader to some. It is just as important to maintain and strengthen your brand as it is initially making it. Just as much as you are leading others, you are leading yourself. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner report in their book, The Leadership Challenge, that followers expect four things from their leaders: honesty, competence, vision and inspiration. These are qualities that lay the foundation of your brand and make you the “CEO of Me Inc.” You have potential to make your brand known and maybe even famous. You have that power, how will you use it?

-Katelyn Alston

Networking, Personal Branding, and Tumblr

 

Personal Branding is an important tool in order to introduce and further promote one’s self to a target market in an effective and decisive manner. Industry guru, Colin Bates says, “A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer.” But the concept of “brand” does not apply – as we are often led to believe – just to companies, their products and their services, but also individuals, regardless of the profession they practice. 

It is important to keep in mind that strategies for personal branding often revolve around three main tactics: 

 

  • Competence – analyze and improve the characteristics and attitudes of your own persona by producing value on the market.

 

  • Visibility – stand out from the crowd through communication strategies, which may be coordinated both online and offline.

 

  • Networking – be consistent with your own personality, while being open to dialogue and exchange in order to further broadcast yourself and create your own network of contacts with whom to interact.

 

Ultimately, a personal brand that is strong and empathic is built by offering uniqueness and originality: it is necessary to orient your public and target audience towards values that are positive ​​and consistent at every level. In order to successfully accomplish this it is necessary to establish resources, along with a consistent and constructive dialogue with others. 

 

 

Different social media outlets are ways to create one’s personal brand. Specifically, Tumblr offers a very unique way for people and brands to express themselves. It’s a relatively new type of blog that features all types of small niches; something for everyone to find. It’s a little bit like a more informal Pinterest.  One chooses to follow certain blogs, and only posts from those blog show up on one’s “dashboard”. It’s also quite interesting because unless you know someone’s Tumblr URL, there is no way to search for anyone specifically. One finds pages they like through tags and going to the pages of people they follow to find other people and tags. 

This makes me think of the book, “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser. In this book he talks about how people have “click signals” when they use the Internet. For instance, everything that shows up on one’s Facebook news feed is due to their click signal, as well as all of the advertisements. Facebook saves information from what one clicks on, to what one likes, to how long one is on a certain page, and uses this info to create one’s Facebook home page. Meaning one only sees information that is filtered for them; only information click signals believe they will like.  This creates one to be more close-minded due to the fact that they only see things they prefer to see, and not things people with different opinions post. I believe Tumblr somewhat breaks the filter bubble though, because even though one chooses which blogs to see, there are very few blogs that only post one specific subject. Most blogs have a variety of different types of posts, from movies and music, to science and politics, even adult entertainment. Unlike Pinterest, there aren’t specific boards one can choose to follow on another’s page; instead it shows everything that user posts. So even though one follows a blog because they see a post they like, chances are they are going to see a variety of other things as well. 

Although Tumblr is still gaining awareness and users, it is still a fun, new way to express one’s personality on the Internet in a truly unique way from the rest.

 

- Jay Reilly