Goodbye Fall Semester!

Though finals officially finished on Friday, and I’ve been home for 3 days, our grades came out today and I was very pleased with the results. I’ve always been one to say that GPA isn’t everything (which I do still believe), but it’s always nice to surpass any standards you set for yourself. This was my best semester at Cornell thus far. I thought about a Tweet—too arrogant. Thought about telling my friends, but for the ones who struggled this semester, that’d just be rude to rub in. So why not blog about it? For once, I earned straight A’s and had a GPA of 3.87! Definitely must’ve been a miracle. Or a mistake. Haha, no, in all seriousness, I attribute this semester’s success to a few things:

1) Enjoying all my classes. I took 3 comm classes and marketing, all of which interest me. In addition to strategically taking my required science elective pass/fail. (It’s not that I worked less at the class, it just made it that much less stressful for me to do well. But it was still a struggle nonetheless)

2) Learning time management. This semester I think I had it down to a science. Between research in the lab, studying for classes and extracurriculars, I learned how to allot my time pretty effectively. Instead of coming back to my sorority house around 2:30 when classes finished, I would go straight to the library until dinner time. No distractions = effective use of my time.

3) Still making time to have fun. Sometimes, I think that people forget extracurriculars aren’t simply “extra.” They should be things that you love doing. Things that teach you more about the world in a way that classes won’t. Things like writing for the magazine, or networking with other girls who want to enter the business world (btw that’s SWIB I’m talking about and they held a really useful resume critique one day). Things like going to Chipotle with the other girls in your sorority or going out on a Thursday night because you finished that term paper.

& 4)…last but not least… Being able to pat yourself on the back. I’ve always treaded on the side of modesty. No one likes a bragger. But lately I’ve realized that good things should be rewarded. Or at least recognized. I think creating this blog helped me see that I’ve been accomplishing so much at Cornell. I’ve done so many things here and taken advantage of this institution in ways that may not have been possible at a small university, or if I didn’t have that drive. So while I kid around about my GPA being a “mistake” it really is something I worked hard for. And you can too!

If I don’t write again soon, happy holidays to all. Here’s one of my favorite quotes to sum up this post:

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Research Lab Website is Up & Running!

A little late, but they always say “better late than never,” so here’s a post that’ll link you guys to the Cornell Group and Organizational Communication Lab‘s website. That’s the team that I’m a Research Assistant for and I absolutely love it!

My latest work at the lab? I’m working alongside Professor Poppy McLeod and a graduate student to co-author a paper on our latest topic within the realm of virtual world immersion. We are submitting the final draft on November 1st–so we’re in the final stages of production. This week is a mix of crazy—crazy weather at home (hope everyone on Long Island and in the TriState is safe..luckily Hurricane Sandy hasn’t hit Ithaca yet) and crazy writing workshop days where we’ve been working hard to finalize our draft for the The International Communication Association (ICA). The ICA selects from a pool of submissions to attend a conference every summer, and this year it’ll be held in London. As always, I’ll keep you updated on the status of our progress.

I’ll leave you with a screenshot of my bio on our Research Lab’s website. (Side note: I wrote the blurb in early August before I had an in-depth knowledge of what I’d be doing in the lab). Stay safe and inside, away from the storm, everyone!

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On Screen with Slope!

I’m already active in Cornell’s Slope Media as a copy-editor for the magazine department (and I’ll have a print article coming out in our Fall 2012 publication!) but this is my latest endeavor with Slope. A friend of mine directs and produces a weekly news show and she asked if I would like to be one of the anchors! Here’s the first Slope Media News show of the semester. The news is outdated at this point but I can’t wait to film future shows!

Ride. Rage. Repeat. (Copy Platform Submission)

Hi Guys! Happy October 🎃

For my Media Comm Class we just finished learning about advertising in media, and to finish the lesson we worked on copy platforms. I created one about SnowJam, a ski & snowboard trip that colleges attend every February. I’ve attached a modified version of my Advertising Copy Platform here, but please note that it’s in PDF form. **Also, please have patience when viewing..it seems to take a while to load the file. Thanks!

The one I submitted in class was a Powerpoint and part of our grade included what was written in the notes section of our slides. So a lot of slides may look like they just have a bunch of pictures, but they’re well explained beneath the images. This is just a taste of what I’ve been doing this semester. Speaking of Media Comm, I actually have to get back to studying now- we have our midterm on Wednesday.

Best,

Olivia

Finally a Free Momemt

Well, that’s technically not true because I have around 6 hours’ reading to get through by Friday, but for Cornell standards–that’s enough time for me to update my blog!

So a lot has been happening lately. It’s probably best to backtrack. Today was the 11th anniversary of 9/11/01. Wow has time flown. It’s crazy to think how one day–just a few hours of that day–can change the course of a lifetime forever. Of so many lifetimes forever. Of an entire country forever. 9/11 was a rough day for my family, as I’m sure it was for many others out there. May everyone who passed away on that horrible day rest in peace and may their family members be blessed with better days. Hopefully the past 10 years have been much kinder on them. It’s true when they say “Gone but never forgotten.” That line is so applicable to that day in so many ways for me.

But I don’t want to be somber, so I think I’ll counter the sadness of the day’s past with some good news! I went to my first Career Fair today. It was a lot like a College Fair, only everyone was dressed to the nines in suits and blazers ( real business attire). Most attendees were seniors looking for full time jobs, so I guess I was ahead of the game going for internships. A lot of companies even told me that they’re only hiring Juniors or Seniors, but to come back next year which I most certainly will. I also had the opportunity to reconnect with an old TriDelt sister who now stands on the other side of the booth at the career fair. I feel like naming companies will jinx me in some way, so I’ll remain vague. Overall, it was a great experience. Over 200 companies were represented and I can’t wait to return next year. I even went to an information session for one of the companies later on this evening. It’s an interactive marketing and consulting agency, which is something new I hadn’t thought of. My uncle is in consulting, so I’ll have to ask him a bit more about what it entails but to the best of my knowledge, it seems great. A major reason why I love marketing, advertising and PR is because the industries are so versatile. These jobs aren’t the type that are redundantly day in, day out, same conundrum stuff–so I’m excited to enter the “Real World” for this reason. That being said, A LOT of time still stands between me and graduation! To emphasize..

-I’ve been looking into study abroad programs. I went to an information session for that as well and there’s a very cool exchange program that my college within Cornell offers (CALS). Essentially, whether I study in Milan or Geniva or Santiago or Beijing, an international student will come to Cornell, hence the exchange. At present, I’m looking into Italy the most. I’d love to get in touch with my roots and pick up the language again. There’s great business programs in Rome and Milan that CALS teams up with, so I’ll have to spend more time learning about those options.

-Speaking of study abroad, that reminds me–I signed my first lease last week! It was a stressful experience, but next year I’ll be living with my 8 best friends in a quaint home just off campus in the heart of Collegetown. It was crazy going through the lease line by line with our landlord. The other girls were getting anxious to sign before all the “good houses were taken,” which is valid, to some extent. But I was the one who read all the lines we had an issue with and even got her to budge on a few clauses which she said she never does. Perhaps I should go to law school…haha, I could never.

-I got accepted into a research lab! It’s with Professor Poppy McLeod and deals with group and organizational communication. We are currently running two main studies (with several sub studies in either entity). I can’t delve into the specifics, but one involves Greek Life on campus and group bias, while the other is a focus on virtual worlds, specifically Second Life. I was unfamiliar with Second Life before starting research, but after having a tutorial and reading a lot of prior research, I’ve come to equate it to a Sims type computer program. We are looking into how people interact differently in a virtual world as opposed to an online discussion board/blog, or in face-to-face interactions. Specifically, we want to know how personality has affected these differences, and which types of personalities gravitate towards SL and for what reasons? Questions like these are preliminary; the research for this segment of the project is in it’s early stages and I’m just getting acclimated to the lab now. So far I’ve done a lot of lit reviews and categorizing articles, but I can’t wait to continue on and learn a lot from my experience. I’m the youngest in the lab, so I’m thankful I got the position. As for the Greek study, my sorority is one of the ones we’ll be researching, so it’ll be fun to help the team conduct surveys at my dinner table.

-I’m taking my first class in the Hotel School. As much as I love marketing, the Hotel School at Cornell is like it’s own little bubble that I’m quite envious of. They dress up. They know how to cook. They hold the infamous “Wines” class. They’re all friendly, all the time. It’s no wonder why at a school where 30% of the University participates in Greek Life, 70% of that 30 are “Hotelies.” The Hotel School even has it’s own prom for seniors. In a way it’s a lot like a dressed up/business high school, and people often refer to it as “Statler High.” (Statler is the name of the Hotel) Well, anyway, the class I’m enrolled in is called Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series and basically, as long as I dress up every Friday (business attire, basically interview attire and classier) and attend class, I get the credit. I didn’t just sign up for the class to get 1 easy Pass/Fail credit, though. I decided it’d be interesting to hear from leaders in the hospitality industry, and so far, I am right. Last week’s speakers were involved in sustainable development in Costa Rican hotels. They spoke about the pros of going green and the cons of facing financial trouble with their decision. Regardless, the course seems like it’ll be great- we have an array of speakers coming from leaders in the casino/gaming industry to the Director of Marketing for the NBA and a whole lot in-between. I’ll stay tuned on that note, of course.

Well at this point it seems as if my “quick update” has turned into a novel. I’ll end it short and sweet..

Until next time,

Olivia

Back to School!

Just arrived in Ithaca..so ready to start another semester at Cornell! I can’t believe it’s the second year already..time is flying.

Here’s some great new updates to look out for this semester:

-I’m now blogging for Lori Zaslow and her company, Project Soulmate. We’re still figuring out the logistics of how to post on the site. I’ve written a few blogs so far so I’ll be sure to post them on here when they’re published! Be on the look out for “5 Things Guys Wish Women Knew,” as my first post!

-I’m taking Marketing (finally). It’s one of Cornell’s Applied Economics & Management courses (in other words, our business program through Dyson). AEM/Dyson was ranked the 3rd best business school in America, so I’m excited about that. And about a Media Comm class I’ll be taking. And Public Speaking, and Research Methods and ok, pretty much all of my classes. Lots to blog about!

-I’m living in Tri Delta’s sorority house. My family & my roommate’s family just spent the entire evening painting our room. I’d equate the color to a Tiffany Box blue. Cute right? Seems like the other girls agree–4 rooms are in the process of being painted that color (or eerily similar shades) and 2 other rooms are already blue. Either a funny coincidence, or a subliminal support of Tri Delta blue..perhaps a bit of both.

Well, that’s it for now..I’ll be blogging again soon of course!

xox

Learn More About LinkedIn

Inspired by another Mashable article I read this morning, this post exposes some features about LinkedIn that you may not have known about. In addition, I’ll offer some tips on how to improve your existing profile and optimize your use of the networking site effectively.

1- LinkedIn is great for conducting a job search. Of course Craigslist is still an option, or in the case of an internship, websites like InternSushi and InternQueen are also great resources for beginning a search. As for me specifically, Cornell offers a job connection website as well–filled with exclusive opportunities for it’s students. All this being said, LinkedIn is another great job search engine to add to your list. Whether you get scouted by a Headhunter,  reconnect with an old classmate or utilize the Jobs section of the site specifically, opportunities are endless.

2-LinkedIn statistics are your friend.  Network Statistics are relevant to your specific professional connections and help you find out which industries most of your friends, colleagues and classmates are in, as well as which geographic areas they represent the most.

3- Take the Skills and Expertise section of your profile seriously. While on a paper resume it’s sensical to leave out the obvious “skills” such as Microsoft Office (Who doesn’t know how to use that these days?), on LinkedIn it’s helpful to include skills as simple as “creative writing” and “public speaking.” These skills are labeled as clickable links (think hashtags on Twitter) so employers looking for particular criteria can search for people who list the skills they desire in their staff. Another reason I personally enjoy the Skills & Expertise feature is because the “More” tab of LinkedIn offers a global skills database. Not only can I see what other skills are comparable to the ones I have listed on my page (This is great for getting more ideas. I may not have thought of something I did as a “skill” but an employer does!) but it also displays a percentage next to every skill. Green stats = good stats. This means that your area(s) of expertise are becoming more & more important, as well as raising the bar in terms of competition. For example, “Hootsuite” is growing by 81% at present. It’s the 84th highest growing skill on the site, and clicking on the skill specifically offers several options. #1) I can see related skills and their comparable growth (maybe the competitors- i.e. TweetDeck- fare better) #2) I can find and join groups of other professionals with this skill #3) I can find Related Areas (In this case, Hootsuite is a web-exclusive, working wonders across the globe. But for something more specific like Computer Graphics, Silicone Valley pops up as the top location for this expertise.)

4-You can, and should, customize your newsfeed.  While it’s great to see what current connections are up to, the “LinkedIn Today” feature lets you tailor your newsfeed to what interests you specifically. Interested in PR and Online Media? Then, follow those industries! The top stories will be featured on your news stream. You can also opt in to the email service, so instead of logging on, these updates can come straight to your email.

5- Try out LinkedIn LabsI personally had no idea what this was until reading Mashable’s article this morning. It appears to be a separate website from LinkedIn, and these labs require your permission before accessing your LinkedIn information. However, as long as you choose to approve specific apps, they can be quite informative and entertaining. Apps include everything from a Resume Builder to WordCloud and a search bar for Google Chrome. Here’s two graphics from my experience with LinkedIn Labs. The first, a timeline of my friends & experiences (that doesn’t quite look the same as a still image) and the latter, a web of my network connections.

The different colors represent different parts of my life (High School, working as a camp counselor, interning, college, etc) and the scattered people who pop up show when we connected on LinkedIn. Pretty cool, huh?

This web shows my network in terms of whose connected to whom. The blue dots represent Cornell, and of course, that’s where most of my current connections are from.

The Essay That Started It All

Why Cornell?  This essay answered the Cornell University college application prompt of the same question. It was originally written in October 2011 and answers why I always wanted to study Communications and attend Cornell University.

I was never the child who squeezed her mother’s leg on the first day of Kindergarten. Later in life, I never teetered on the edge of an unknown crowd hiding behind the hood of my jacket. Conversely, I have always formed relationships naturally, and started researching social careers since the budding years of adolescence. I painted a picture of my future in reverse; after ceaseless self-assessment tests proved that Communications would be the perfect fit for me, I then began the quest for a college that would best suit my designated career path.

My pre-pubescent fascination with communal interactions inevitably developed into several leadership roles during high school, enhancing my understanding of the field. Close contact with my guidance counselor, principal, yearbook and class advisors extended my school involvement beyond a peer-to-peer level. In junior year, my course selection allowed room for Public Relations, which undoubtedly became my favorite class. This crevice of communications broadened my understanding of how to write press releases, create focus groups and research Public Service Announcements.

“…a large university with an even larger spirit.”

One press release was particularly challenging; I was instructed to defend Tiger Woods amidst weeks of public slander in the tabloids. Rather than focusing on the mistakes he’d made, I highlighted his golfing career, philanthropic work and humble acceptance of sole responsibility for his actions.  Through assignments like this, I discovered that PR was not only enjoyable, but also something I had a knack for. To me, the field of Communications doesn’t just seek a “people person,” it requires one. Only the most effective communicators flourish in this industry, and what better place than Cornell to cultivate an undergraduate’s talents?

The little white envelope that graced my doorstep last October catalyzed my Cornelian addiction; “Randy Rosenberg (’74) and The Cornell Club of Long Island cordially invite you to spend two days on campus as a prospective undergraduate.” Me? Invited to Cornell? I was awestruck, but didn’t let the prestige intimidate me. I was ready.

“The field of Communications doesn’t just seek a ‘people person,’ it requires one.”

Emerging from my host’s dormitory into a hallway of laughing students, I expected to stand idly unnoticed as merely another “Pre-Frosh.” However, reality was quite the contrary; I didn’t blend in, I fit in. Floor Three of Dixon surpassed a freshman residence hall; it was a family that included me with open arms, even inviting me to “Family Dinner” at R.P.C.C. The Red Carpet Society is not a misnomer; while I was graced with royal treatment, I mostly enjoyed the passion students evoked in a wholehearted presentation of the Cornelian experience.

An ember of excitement warmed my conscience; years of hearing Uncle Antonio rave about his alma mater (BS IRL ’83) finally made sense. Cornell opens the gates to a much brighter future. Here, I will transform from student ambassador to CALS ambassador and a hopeful incoming freshman to a full-fledged member of the Association for Women in Communications. CALS offers an intimately specialized education surrounded by a large university with an even larger spirit.

Appearance on CNN

Appearance on CNN

Finally I found a video from when I was on CNN in spring of my Senior year. My mother & I talked about financial aid & the college application process. We reappeared on CNN again in April, after I decided I would be attending Cornell. Skip to 6:30 to see the segment on my story.

Sneak Peak:

Aired March 29th, 2011

Shelby Lee Adams VisComm Essay

This paper, originally written on March 4th, 2012, was submitted as an assignment for my introductory Visual Communications course at Cornell.It was written in response to a documentary we watched about photographer Shelby Lee Adams and earned me an A. Sorry in advance for formatting issues. Enjoy!

-Olivia

One of the most important senses known to man is that of sight. It is through aid of the human eye that we are able to experience the visual elements of the world around us, indulging in the beauty of natural landscapes and the faces of the ones we love. With the invention of photography, humans can now create a sense of permanence in our visual simulations, freezing special moments in time forever. Because photographs depict actual persons and landscapes, we automatically trust their validity much more confidently we do a painting or a sculpture. Oftentimes, however, as photography advances alongside technology, viewers are being misled. A computer program called Photoshop provides one of many sources for photo manipulation, while several other methods have surfaced as well to blur the line of trust between “real photos” and manipulations. The work of famous photographer Shelby Lee Adams can provide an insightful case study into discovering what the true meaning behind photographs is and whether or not photography as a medium serves as a genuine interpretation of its subjects. A documentary about Adams’ Appalachian photography, “The True Meaning of Pictures,” addresses these complex issues. Although there are many critics of Adams’ work, there is more compelling evidence to believe that Shelby Lee Adams’ photography rightfully depicts culture in Eastern Kentucky, proving why visual media is such a crucial outlet for learning.

Images have more power than words. People really want to imagine that the subject actually exists,” (Rubenstein). These words, spoken by Rhonda Rubenstein, a multifaceted publications specialist, exemplify the power visual imagery holds over that of the written word. We could read a textbook in class about a particular culture leagues apart from ours, never truly grasping the novelty of their traditions, or, we could actually look at pictures of them and immediately get a firm sense what their lives were like. Shelby Lee Adams uses the latter approach when capturing still images of Eastern Kentucky’s Appalachian residents. His photographs show the hardships they have endured for years, providing a first-hand look at their quaint farm-like homes and quirky decorations (“Edleman Gallery”). Watching the documentary revealed hard, worn faces with a tough mentality, all trying to get by for just another day (Biachwal). Some of the poorest people live in this region, but they don’t let their fiscal instability compromise their hard-working demeanors. Each resident has a role in their society; the children play with the chickens and livestock, the women work just as hard as the men do, toiling day and night, and generations come together in such close quarters, turning the load of a hard day’s work into a communal effort (Biachwal). Much like the documentary, Adams’ pictures mimic the tenacity these residents exhibited in their daily lives (“Edleman Gallery”).

A major reason why Adam’s photography is a powerful representation of the Appalachians is his keen understanding of indexicality and iconicity respectively. As These two elements of photography are crucial to one’s success in the field and even more important in determining what the true meaning of a photograph is. Indexicality refers to the belief that, since Adams’ work is composed of real photographs, we can conclude they are real representations of actual events. As Professor Scherer pointed out in class, even if a photograph is staged or altered, our immediate reaction is to believe a picture is real, serving as evidence that something happened (Scherer). Thus, we look at Adams’ images and believe they legitimately illustrate life in the Appalachians. We presume that he doesn’t fabricate their wardrobes or household environments and take his images at face value naturally. Adams’ supporters can attest to the effectiveness of his simplistic photography. “We are seeing the real people in their natural surroundings doing what they do and what their families have done for generations,”   (Orr).

Iconicity, the second technique Adams employs, means that an image elicits an emotional response from its audiences. We view Adams’ photographs and think; “Wow, how can people live like that?” as a pang of guilt for our good fortune may strike a chord in our stomachs. Photographic iconicity is meant to represent some element of reality (Scherer). When looking at Adams’ work, plenty of thoughts run through our minds because of similar life experiences of our own. One may know little to nothing about the Appalachian range dwellers, but we all see the dirt, the wrinkles and the stern expressions on their faces that contribute to an overall sentiment anyone can recognize.

Not everyone will agree, however, with the iconicity of Adams’ work. We can all agree that its there-photographs are comprised of symbols and icons that portray all aspects of reality. However, our interpretations of said icons are what lead to criticisms of Adams’ photography. We can use the example of one of his most photographed women in the series, Berthie Naiper. What may look like a grumpy, fragile, old farming Grandmother to you may appear as a well-respected woman of a long, strenuous life to me. A woman who’s absent smile could reveal a sense of humble acceptance, rather than misery or depravity.

Ultimately, I think the fact that we have different opinions when viewing an image is one of several reasons why the true meaning of a photograph cannot be concretely defined or unanimously decided upon much like a math equation can be memorized. Every photographer has particular intentions –in Adams’ case it was to show the tenacity of these mountain dwellers- and every audience interprets those intentions differently. Adams successfully captured this notion by quoting William James in his blog:

“Whilst part of what we perceive comes through our senses from the object before us, another part [and it may be the larger part] always comes out our own minds—William James,” (Adams).

In other words, half of the viewing experience is up to the mind of the individual. Thus, different viewers from various cultures and global coordinates can be looking at the same image in very unique- and sometimes contrasting- lights.

This discrepancy could largely attribute to why Adams has some critics. Those in opposition of his work feel that he is not one to take “masterful and poignant shots of the people of Appalachia,” as Michael Orr claims. Rather, the critics cite Adams’ exposure of an already stigmatized people, instigating labels such as “hick” and “hillbilly,”  (Carden).

While these labels are certainly degrading, one could counter their criticisms with the fact that there are negative stereotypes of every culture. For example, high-end fashion magazines portray the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous with a condescending air but this does not mean that everyone with money is automatically entitled. I think it is up to the viewer to decide whether or not an image is personally insulting, but a photographer’s intentions are more important in analyzing an image for it’s validity. How do we know that Adams’ was truly trying to stigmatize the Appalachian people? We don’t. Rather, we can go off the evidence that he respected the Appalachian culture for what it was. In response to a rather graphic image of his called The Hog Killing, Adams stated,  “Both families and I agreed to the making of the photograph in the authentic traditional mountain manner,” (Adams).

Although these opinions about Adams’ work contrast starkly, one must acknowledge that, in photography, like most artistic expressions, there will always be multiple ways to interpret an artist’s work. Whether one agrees with the notion that Adams’ photographs were tastefully done or feels as if they were evasive and a false depiction, neither opinion of his image is superior over the other. When assessing the true meaning of a photograph we can all agree that it lies not in the opinion of the viewer, but in the photographer’s mode of expression. Each photographer visualizes a particular scene or subject in a different light, using unique camera angles, lighting levels, lens sizes and more to evoke his or her own interpretation of the image. Thus, we can conclude that to truly find out an image’s meaning we should ask none other than the person behind the camera.