Okay With Being Ordinary

There is a lot of pressure in our culture to be different. Be unique. Don’t just follow the leader, forge your own path.

Hipsters are pretty much defined by their quest to determine the latest trend; to find the gem of a restaurant before everyone else; to become fans of that small indie band before they have their first hit played on the radio. Meanwhile, chain restaurants, sedans, planned subdivisions and big box stores are all seen as boring and ordinary. Continue reading

10 Ways to Make Your Internship Awesome

If you are a college student, you’ve probably considering completing an internship. If you aren’t, you should. There is an abundance of evidence that an internship is perhaps the most important activity college students can complete outside the classroom to support their future career.

Here are 10 things you can do to help your internship reach its full potential:

  1. ASK QUESTIONS! I put this in all caps because it’s the most important thing you can do. Your supervisor doesn’t expect you to have all the answers – that’s why you’re interning. Spend more time soaking up as much information as you can and less trying to impress everyone in the office.
  2. But ask all of your questions at once. Don’t interrupt your supervisor 5 times each 4-hour shift. Write down your questions as they come up during your time in the office each day. Once you have a few on your list, ask your supervisor if he has a minute and get all of your answers at once. He’ll appreciate that you’re being considerate of his time.

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SAÏAH: Redefining Theater

I was lucky enough to get a ticket to one of the last sold-out performances of Terminus, the most recent production by theatre company SAÏAH, based out of Atlanta’s Goat Farm. It’s hard to explain how Terminus is different than many of the other plays on any given night in Atlanta; calling it a play certainly is not appropriate. Let’ try this: An outdoor, choose-your-own-adventure, civil-war era, moving performance based on the plot of Watership Down. It was amazing.

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SAÏAH’s postcard for Terminus.

I don’t want to give away all of SAÏAH’s secrets, as I’ve heard this is not the first “theater experience” they’ve hosted, nor do I think it will be the last. But I do want to highlight the aspects of Terminus that really stood out to me,and have certainly made me want to keep on eye out for what this group does next.

I went to see Terminus on a double date with my coworker and friend, Renee, and our husbands. We heard about it from Weston Manders, a former intern of ours at Oglethorpe University, where Renee and I work. He was offered the part of Fiver, a leading role, and when he explained to us how Terminus was “not just a play”, we knew it was going to be good. After our first reservations were canceled because of rain (as several other performances were) we ended up going on the very last weekend the group was scheduled to perform. Continue reading

Don’t Judge a Biscuit by its Crust

20140316-151723.jpgThe first time I passed it, I thought it was abandoned. I thought it was just another old building that was left to slowly decay along one of the narrow country roads in Cumming. It certainly didn’t look like an operating business. The rusted roof, unpainted plywood walls, giant potholes in the parking lot – they all supported my assumption. The peeling, barely-readable white letters stenciled onto the side of the building seemed almost laughable: “FRESH BISCUITS 5:30 – 11AM.” I figured it had been a long time since any biscuits had been served.

The biscuit place is not on a road I travel frequently, and I usually pass it on weekend afternoons. Then one day, I took a different route to work and passed it early on a Tuesday morning. There was a line of cars wrapped around the building waiting in line at a drive-thru window, and a red neon “OPEN” sign lit up in the window. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I figured maybe the locals had been going there for biscuits for so long that they weren’t bothered by the building’s deteriorating exterior. Continue reading

Urban Sprawl, Paused

I live in Cumming, Georgia, a rural suburb about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Cumming is growing very rapidly, and was listed on America’s Promise list of 100 Best Communities for Young People in 2012. It’s an interesting area, where you’ll find long -time rural residents mixed with newly transplanted yuppies. Cattle graze the peaceful rolling foothills of the north Georgia mountains, while the roads that pass their pastures are becoming increasingly crowded.

Half of the cars you pass on Cumming’s back country roads are pickup trucks, now sprinkled with the occasional BMW or Range Rover. The area still maintains a small town friendliness, it’s residents holding on to their strong southern accents. It’s the kind of place where the owner of the local convenience store, with it’s aging neon sign, will ask you which is your favorite flavor of coffee creamer, so he can keep it in stock. The kind of place where people greet their new neighbors with a basket of biscuits – even if they are only renting.

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NPR’s Women in Technology and Why We Shouldn’t “Dumb Down” Tech Jobs

NPR WIT posterOn March 7 I was invited to participate in a Twitter chat about Women in technology as part of a series by NPR’s Tell Me More radio news program. NPR asked Carletta Hurt, an Oglethorpe alumna who works in the field of education to share her day on Twitter in order to give young women a glimpse of what it’s like to be a woman working in the field of technology. She then chose several other women with similar backgrounds to have a one hour Twitter chat about their experiences, and that’s where I fit in. It was my first Twitter chat and I was super excited about the opportunity. The conversation went very well and I am happy I was able to share my opinions and experiences to help inspire young women to enter the STEM field in their future careers.

View the story “NPR’s Women in Technology Twitter Chat” on Storify

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The Employer’s Guide to Internships, Part Two

This is the second half of a two-part series about what you, as the employer, can do to ensure a positive experience when hosting an intern in your workplace. This article will focus on tips for managing  your intern and dealing with the inevitable bumps in the road. See part one to find out what you can do to prepare for your intern before they even start working, and to read more about my credentials in this subject area.  I will provide tips for employers and illustrate each one with a personal example of how I’ve applied my own advice to my work managing Pegasus Creative at Oglethorpe University.

Once your intern starts working:

#5: Give and receive feedbackPegasus midterm questionnaire

Providing opportunities throughout the semester to provide structured feedback and asking your intern to reciprocate can be a very beneficial exercise for both parties. It allows for you to assess what the student is doing right, and where they could improve. Many samples of intern evaluations can be found online, and usually offer a point system for rating students in areas such as teachability, reliability and initiative. Asking the student to answer several questions about their experience thus far gives them the opportunity to voice any concerns they might have. Be as honest as possible and encourage your intern to do the same. Halfway through the semester is the perfect time to re-evaluate and make adjustments to the position or assignments so no one becomes disgruntled. Completing an end-of-term evaluation also provides closure for you and the student. Continue reading

The Employer’s Guide to Internships, Part One

This is the first installment of a two-part series about how you as the employer can ensure a positive experience when hosting an intern in your workplace. This article will focus on what you need to do to prepare for your intern before they even start working (steps 1-4). Next week I’ll follow up with the second half, which will focus on tips for managing  your intern and dealing with the inevitable bumps in the road.

Why should the employer have to prepare?

There has been a lot of talk lately about benefits of hosting an internship in your office, and the ethics surrounding such an undertaking. More and more pressure is being put on the employers to offer beneficial experiences for the intern, and not simply use them as a personal assistant. Here are a few quick reasons to put in the little bit of extra effort to provide a positive experience for your intern: Continue reading

Commuting Comforts

I have a long commute to work – 41.3 miles, to be exact. Several years ago my husband and I decided that we wanted to live in the country, away from the long lines of traffic lights, where it might take 20 minutes to drive 2 miles. So we moved away from the cookie-cutter neighborhoods of suburbia to the rural countryside just north of Cumming, Georgia. That was while I was still in school. Just before I graduated I was offered a job at my Alma Mater, Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. My first two thoughts upon the job offer were: 1. Yeah! I’ve got a job! and 2. Damn, that commute is gonna suck. And it does. It really, really sucks. Atlanta has some of the worst traffic in the nation, and I get to enjoy it 5 days a week. On a good day with no traffic (like a weekend) the drive takes 50 minutes. Most days it takes me and hour and 15 minutes, one way. My record for longest commute is 3 1/2 hours round trip on one particularly bad day. So, yeah, I spend a lot of time in the car.

Like most things in my life, I try to look on the bright side and I’ve found that there are some hidden benefits to a long commute:

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My Existential Magazine Crisis

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A sample of magazines in my house. It took me 2 minutes to pull these together. Some brand new issues, some from years ago that I’m saving.

I’m a magazine junkie. I love the feel of a fresh issue, and determine the caliber of each by the number of pages I dog-ear. Once I pick one up, it’s hard for me to set it down. I love they way they flow (good magazines, anyway) with short articles mixed with features, lists and maybe a photo essay. I prefer reading print magazines to online articles simply for the presentation. In the same way that music artists craft their albums with one song purposely transitioning to the next, magazines need to have a rhythm. And my heart loves the rhythm of magazines. Continue reading