Category Archives: Outside the Classroom

Mad Men in the Digital Space: How additional courses on running ad campaigns can benefit PWR students

Angela Myers ’21 (PWR)

I decided to complete a Google Ads course because one of my clients asked me to run a Google Ads campaign, and it could be a useful skill to know as a future digital marketer. Whenever I have conversations with those in the digital marketing space, they always warn me away from running Google Ads; it’s a tricky thing to do well and takes a lot of practice (practice which includes investing in advertising). With this warning in mind, I went into the LinkedIn Learning Google Ads Essential Training course believing it would be about as fun as going to the dentist. The outcome of the course was to gain my Google Ads certification, a free exam from Google, and to outline a campaign for my client by the end of the semester.

The Google Ads Essential Training course is 2 hours and 28 minutes long and did a great job demystifying what Google Ads is. While there are some more complicated parts of running Google Ads campaigns, if one understands SEO, marketing funnels, Google Analytics, and basic copywriting principles, the course is easy to understand. At its heart, Google Ads campaigns rely on a persuasive, easy user experience from when someone initially clicks on the ad until they make a purchase, similar to many of the principles learned by Professional Writing and Rhetoric students.

When designing a campaign, one needs to come up with a couple SEO friendly keywords to plug into the description (usually three phrases) which will not only adhere to popular search results, but also appeal to a human when they see the ad. Depending on the type of ad, you might also be able to show a visual on the initial page or add a short description to entice them to click. Whenever they click on an ad, Google charges the advertiser so you want to ensure the landing page associated with the ad offers what the initial phrases advertised, is easy to navigate, and persuades users to convert (whether that be to join a newsletter, purchase a product, agree to hop on a sales call, or complete another revenue-earning task).

The part which differed from the basic principles of rhetoric, such as creating persuasive content with the user in mind, was understanding the analytical decisions needed for a successful ad campaign. Along with searching for keywords, advertisers have to understand how much money to invest in campaigns and how to increase the conversion rate to make the cost per click worth the investment.

This course did have two downfalls. The first is that while it is a great introductory course to Google Ads, it did not teach me enough to get my Google Ads certification. I had to also take the one hour and 12 minute LinkedIn Learning course, Advanced Google Ads, and complete an analysis on past campaigns run by my client to understand enough to pass the certification. If you are interested in running ad campaigns for yourself, clients, or as part of a future role or internship, taking these courses in tandem with some real world Google Ad examples will offer a comprehensive dive into the world of paid marketing.

The second downfall is that I would not recommend this course unless you have extensive knowledge of marketing funnels, Google Analytics, SEO, and basic copywriting principles. There are other fantastic LinkedIn Learning courses on these topics, and SEO and copywriting principles are touched upon in PWR classes, but you really have to have a good grasp on these three fields before diving into Google Ads. While a serious time investment, these Google Ads courses can be a great asset to those looking to go into paid advertising or reflecting on how the main goal of digital marketing, and most writing roles, should be to drive conversions.

A young woman with brown hair sitting in a chair, holding a MacBook

 

Angela Myers is a content creator, social media strategist, and writer. You can connect with her freelance work at angelamyerscreative.com or her personal brand which provides book recommendations and literary lifestyle tips to an audience of over 20,000 booklovers on Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and Youtube.

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How to Price Design Work

Charles Arrington ’21 (PWR)

Freelance writing and design is a great source of income for those in the field of PWR. It allows for working on your own schedule, setting your own rates, and most importantly, doing what you love. However, getting started as a freelance writer is no small task. You must consider where to advertise your services and what exactly it is that you want to sell. I chose to look into Fiverr when it came time to start marketing my services and skills in a freelance setting.

Fiverr is a great site devoted to helping professionals find work through an easy to use platform. Getting started with an account was straightforward and presented no problems, but when I was prompted to list my first ‘gig,’ I ran into the issue of pricing my services. That’s where digital design and marketing professional Will Paterson comes in.

Through YouTube, Will offers a series of videos devoted to helping you build your digital design empire. The one I was most interested in was a video on how to price your work. It evoked the same spirit that one of my peers captured in a line, “What is this work really worth to you and your business?” Below I will break down key pieces of advice given by Will Paterson; here’s a link to the video for future reference. It is an excellent video for students and young professionals looking to get into freelance work – especially if you are not sure where to start.

Paterson’s tips include:

  • Position yourself – If you want to succeed in getting work at all, you have to position yourself (On Fiverr in my case) as an expert in the field you choose to work in. For example, my graphic design skills I’d say are intermediate, but my technical writing skills I would rank as expert level. That being said, clearly this is the area that I’d want to market services for primarily. In order to effectively position yourself as an expert, you must show examples of your work and your best products to convince your future clients that you are the real deal.
  • Increase your skill set – While you may be an expert in one category of design and writing, there are plenty of other people that you will have to compete with to get the paycheck and opportunities you want. By increasing your skill set and continuing to learn more skills and techniques in your field, you end up with quite a bit more to offer the client. If you can specialize in one area and bolster it with other relevant skills and technical knowledge, a client is much more likely to want to prioritize working with you over others.
  • Gain trust – Clients are much more likely to work with you and pay higher amounts for your work if you are transparent about your past projects and provide plenty of examples to show your prowess. Additionally, offering to meet with the client to establish more of a relationship goes a long way in gaining trust. Offer to meet them and discuss the project while also letting them learn more about you as a writer or designer.
  • Rehearse negotiations – Being in the freelance world will put you in situations requiring negotiation a considerable amount of the time. This is where you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for more money, especially when you are confident in the value of your work. It is okay to say no to clients who refuse to pay your target amount; in fact Will Paterson and his group say no to 80% of clients that are stuck on the idea of getting the work done for less than asking price.
  • Add value – The most important foundation to setting your prices is an accurate assessment of value. Asking yourself questions about the potential your work has in the long run for any client is essential. You are not just a producer of things; you are a writer. For this reason, it isn’t just an article or blog post that you’re selling; it is your intellectual property plus time and effort.

These tips are all extremely helpful when figuring out how to price your work, and even more so in reaffirming that you should probably be charging more for your work. When you know how to assess the value of your work, you will be paid well for it.

 

Charles (Ross) Arrington is a 2021 graduate of Elon University with a degree in Professional Writing & Rhetoric.

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How the Time-Value Prioritization Funnel can help you during your college career

Myrta Santana ’21 (PWR & ARH)

I have always struggled with prioritizing my tasks, be it in school, work, or just personal pleasures. I manage to get everything done in the end, but sometimes the work that I do is not the best I could offer. When looking for skill advancement trainings, I considered looking at more design-oriented tutorials, but quickly realized that if I could not manage my time appropriately, then having the skills would not matter because I would not have the time. “Prioritizing your Tasks” by Dave Crenshaw helped me understand what I do wrong with my time and pointed out some good habits that I have and should focus more on.

Time-Value Prioritization Funnel with six decision stages

Screenshot of Dave Crenshaw’s Time-Value Prioritization Funnel

The biggest takeaway from this training was the concept of the Time-Value Prioritization Funnel (TVP). This is a metaphorical funnel with 6 levels or steps that categorize your tasks.

  • Step one: Not me, never again – tasks that are a waste of time
  • Step Two: Perhaps, but not now – tasks that you might be interested in working on later
  • Step Three: Yes, but not now – tasks that have value but have aren’t due soon
  • Step Four: Yes, but not anyone – tasks that can be permanently handled with technology
  • Step Five: Yes, but not me – tasks that you can delegate
  • Step Six: Yes, me – tasks that you need to do and have deadlines that are coming up

These levels are meant to represent a sort of inverted pyramid, starting with a wide scope that will catch the clunky projects that should not be on the list at all, and then proceeds to keep catching the tasks that are being processed until you are left with the tasks that are meant for you and need to be done now.

The training went as far as to offer examples of how to apply this system to actual situations. You would start by determining what project you want to evaluate. Take this blog post for example. This post is something that has value, and so it goes past that first step. I know all the information I need for the project so we can go past step two. The deadline is very close, and this is something that a device cannot do for me, so that covers steps three and four. The blog is based on my experience and what I have learned, meaning I cannot delegate, moving past step five. Having determined that this project must be done by me soon, I must go ahead and schedule to do it within the coming days. This is the funnel in action!

Early in the training, Crenshaw discusses a way in which we can try ranking the value of tasks in accordance with our time by saying:

“List all the different kinds of work-related activities that you perform. Then, after you’ve listed out all the activities, write the estimated value per hour for each of those activities… Then, after you’ve made this list, with all the values per hour, rank each activity according to how much it’s worth.”

In doing this, you are preparing to see what you will run through the funnel, and it will also help if you have more than one task that fall within step six.

I went into this training thinking that there wasn’t much I could learn when it came to prioritizing, but I was proved wrong. Crenshaw reassures us that procrastinating is useful when done correctly, something that helped me be more confident in my study habits and not feel like my process was entirely bad. I think this training would be an amazing resource for any major, but especially PWR majors. We have so many focuses and projects that we often get lost in them, and having a training like this early on in your college career could make a big difference in your experience as a student. I think what I liked the most is that Crenshaw doesn’t shame you or make you feel bad if you don’t prioritize properly.

From a procrastinator who gets caught up in small meaningless tasks, give this training a try; you won’t regret it.

Young woman in a maroon graduation gown with a yellow stole and red cord

 

Myrta Santana graduated in 2021 with majors in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Art History.

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InDesign 2020 Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning

Abby Fuller ’21 (PWR & ENG:CRW)  

This year I had the opportunity to serve as Editor-in-Chief for Colonnades Literary and Art Journal, Elon University’s student run organization that publishes student work in visual art, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Although I served as a Co-Nonfiction Editor the previous school year, the new job of Editor-in-Chief required a lot of new skills that were less familiar to me, and one of the most important skills was InDesign.

I had some previous experience in InDesign when I took PWR 2100 (formerly PWR 217): Professional Writing and Technology Studio in Fall of 2018, but a lot of my skills were basic, and I created a final InDesign deliverable for the course that I wasn’t that proud of. Before I put together the annual issue of Colonnades, I knew I needed to advance my skills in that area and decided to take a LinkedIn Learning course in order to gain confidence in the technology. I chose LinkedIn Learning because it is free as an Elon student, and because my time as a student at Elon is quickly coming to an end, I decided to take advantage of this educational opportunity when I still could. Additionally, I’ve learned that I do better with short videos and quizzes rather than passive reading or videos that are long and drawn out. I also like the idea of completing individual skills rather than wide-sweeping topics. The course that I specifically took is titled InDesign 2020 Essential Training, and I found it very interesting and informative.

Screen shot from InDesign 2020 Essential Training course on LinkedIn Learning

Screen shot from InDesign 2020 Essential Training course on LinkedIn Learning

The essential training covered a lot of basics that were helpful for me in gaining a wide range of skills and not just a specific set of knowledge. Although the course started out with things that felt a little too basic, such as creating a new document, it laid a nice foundation of knowledge that I was able to build on later. It also allowed you to work with exercise files, helping you practice the skills you learn. The most important thing that I learned was in the final major section of the course, which focused on packaging, printing, and exporting. This is something that I didn’t know much about. Before the course I thought a simple click on the “save” button would do the trick; however when working with a document with lots of fonts, images, and links, packaging a file proved to be one of the most important things to do correctly. In the beginning, saving the 125-page journal made me anxious because I was worried that I would mess something up and lose all the work, but through this training, I gained confidence in my ability to create important and clean work while also being able to save it correctly.

The skills that I learned in InDesign 2020 Essential Training helped me work more confidently and efficiently when putting together the Colonnades journal. I was able to work on the basics without the help of my design editor, which allowed her to work more creatively on the overall design and not just input the content into the software. I also found myself being a more collaborative thinker, who took into consideration the format and limitations of the software when considering design and aesthetics. Additionally, over the 2020-2021 school year I worked as the Publishing Intern for the Center for Engaged Learning, and because of my new knowledge about InDesign, I was put on more technologically advanced projects, such as making interactive PDFs.

In my future, I hope to work in writing and publishing, fields that work with InDesign as the leading standard in publication software. I will be working with the software in my professional future, and I am so grateful that I was able to expand my skill set and work with even more confidence. Through the training program and applying my knowledge in tangible ways, I feel confident about my abilities and what I can bring to a workplace.

I would definitely recommend completing this InDesign 2020 Essential Training course if you want to grow in your InDesign skills. Additionally, LinkedIn Learning has so many helpful courses that are free for Elon students, so this is the perfect opportunity to build your skillset in a structured way.

young woman with brown hair and glasses standing in front of a body of water

Abby Fuller is a 2021 graduate of Elon University with majors in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and English: Creative Writing.

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PWR Perspective on Study Abroad: Myrta Santana-Santini

Besides fulfilling the internship and research requirements of their major, some PWR students decide to take advantage of one or more of the other experiential learning opportunities that Elon offers. Studying abroad (either for the summer, winter term, or a whole semester) is one of the most popular options. One PWR major who chose to include this experience in her college journey is senior Myrta Santana-Santini; she studied in Alicante, Spain for the 2020 spring semester. While Myrta unfortunately had to return to the United States early because of the COVID-19 pandemic, her experience abroad informed her understanding of languages, world cultures, her professional goals, and herself, as she shared in her responses to the following questions:

Why did you decide to study abroad in Spain and more specifically in Alicante?

Having been born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with an education that was primarily in Spanish, the best answer I can give is that I missed the language. I love the English language, but something about learning in your native language is different. I also have to confess that I chose Spain because I knew it would not be a major challenge, meaning that I could learn while also taking a break of sorts. Now as to why Alicante? The beach. I wanted to be close to the beach again, because after living my whole life close to the beach, these last three to four years in NC where the beach is three hours away has been weird.

What classes did you take while abroad?

While I was abroad, I took five classes total, one of them being a two-week intensive course on the Spanish language and grammar. This was actually funny and frustrating because while I am fluent in Spanish and it’s my first language, Puerto Rican Spanish is very different from Spain Spanish. After that course was done, I began my full semester classes which included History of Spain, Art History of Spain, Colloquial Spanish, and Pop Culture in Spain. These classes were all very interesting, and they helped me adapt to the day to day life in Spain while also learning Spanish history. My favorite was the Colloquial Spanish class because so many words that I use have multiple meanings, and being able to pick those out and see why they mean what they do to each place was an amazing experience.

Did you visit any interesting places while in Spain, and if so, where did you go?

I was only able to visit some places in Spain–not as many as I would have wanted, but enough for the time I had. I went to Barcelona, Valencia, and Granada for a weekend each, and the experiences I had in each city were unforgettable. Granada was my favorite because of the mix of cultures present there and the historical landmark La Alhambra. As an art history double major, being able to visit this fortress is something I am still not over.

I was only able to visit one place outside Spain, but it was Paris, so that made up for it. Paris is an amazing city that captivated me; one of my favorite moments from my time there was in a bookstore (because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t visit a bookstore abroad). The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore is a hole-in-the-wall store that everyone seems to know about and want to visit, and I understand why. The space inside is cramped, covered in books of all genres, and has a calm and serene feeling even when there are many people inside. As I was walking around, I saw that they would stamp whatever book you bought with a store stamp as proof that you visited, so of course I had to buy a book. The employees also wrote surprise poems on a typewriter for customers to read. It was the perfect experience for my English-major-nerd heart.

What did you find most interesting about Spanish culture?

The most interesting things about Spanish culture, in my opinion, are how laid back they are and how little they care about the small things. We learned the saying “no pasa nada,” which translates to “everything is okay” or “there is no problem.”

How did the semester go for you after COVID-19 became a global pandemic?

Unfortunately, I only had two and half months in Spain, instead of the four and a half I was supposed to have. While I am grateful for the time I did have, it was frustrating because many of the trips I had planned were scheduled for the second half of the semester. The program also did not want to give us a refund for a portion of the semester we didn’t have there because we still finished the classes online, but it wasn’t the same. The whole purpose of those classes was the immersion–to practice what we learned in a real environment. So in a way the experience was not complete, but in the end, “no pasa nada.”

How did this experience apply to your majors and/or future career goals?

I want to hopefully work within the editing and publishing field, and I want to be able to use my bilingual abilities within my career. I have considered working with translation, and this experience taught me that even when you know something there is always more to learn, because I learned much more about the Spanish language during my time abroad within the context of Spain.

Would you recommend the Alicante program to other students? Why or why not?

I don’t know if it was because of the pandemic, but I will admit that the Alicante CIEE office was a bit disorganized. However, the professors themselves were amazing. Again, I can’t give an accurate recommendation because of the situation, but I will say that location-wise, the experience is worth it.

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PWR Internship Perspective: Abby Fuller

Besides undergraduate research, every PWR major at Elon is required to complete at least one internship before graduation. Many students find writing-related internship positions over the summer with a variety of companies and organizations across the country, but some choose to intern during the school year with local organizations or departments and programs on Elon’s campus. Senior Abby Fuller is one of the PWR students who has an on-campus internship this semester—she serves as a Publishing Intern at the Center for Engaged Learning (CEL). CEL Publishing Interns receive class credit but no pay during their first semester, and many are given the opportunity to continue the internship for a second semester with pay. Besides these benefits, Abby has shared other insights into her daily internship work as well as its correlations to her PWR courses and future career plans:

How did you hear about and apply for your internship?

I heard about the Publishing Internship through emails that were sent out to all Elon English majors and on the Elon Job Network. After doing my own research from the Job Network, I saw that the position was in my skill set and decided to apply.

What are your typical internship tasks each week?

My job changes every single day depending on the tasks that I need to complete. But I go into my workspace at the Center for Engaged Learning from 2pm–5pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. After talking with my boss, Jennie Goforth (CEL’s Managing Editor), who gives me a list of tasks for the day or week, I typically am given the full three hours to complete those tasks on my own. Some tasks I’ve done in the past include book trailers for new releases (see an example below!), social media reports for comparable publishing companies, and copy editing work.

What is your favorite thing so far about the internship?

I have loved how I am given a lot of freedom to complete the tasks in the way I think is best, and I love how much feedback I receive from my two bosses, Jennie and Jessie (CEL’s Director, Jessie L. Moore). They are both committed to making this experience something I will grow from and helping to build my professional skills. I have been so thankful for their commitment to helping me grow and learn.

Have you been able to apply the skills that you’ve learned in your PWR classes to this internship, and if so, how?

During my social media reports and book trailer proposals, I try to include rhetorical terms that look at the audience and how the ethos of CEL is being presented in this project. I have had a lot of opportunities to look at rhetorical skills in copy editing as well—to check that the voice of the writer matches the intended audience and purpose.

Does this internship relate to your post-graduation plans, and if so, how?

As a Creative Writing and PWR double major, I have definitely been interested in getting into the publishing field post-graduation. Although I would ideally like to work in a more mainstream market and not specifically academic/higher education writing, I have been able to apply a lot of these lessons to any type or genre of work, because the process remains very similar across many fields. I also recognize that not everyone gets their dream job at their dream company in their dream field right after graduation, and I think this is a great lesson in learning about the process even if the field itself is not fully using my skill set. Lastly, as a Creative Writing major, I would love to write and have someone publish a book of mine one day, so this experience has been helpful to learn more about the field and see if this is something I could do myself one day.

Would you recommend this internship to other PWR students? Why or why not?

Yes, I definitely would. I love working with Jessie Moore and Jennie Goforth, and it has been so convenient to work on campus and to learn from people who understand my life as an Elon student as well. I would love to talk with anyone interested in this position in the future.

 

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PWR Perspective on Undergraduate Research: Angela Myers

Angela Myers sitting in a chair, holding a laptopOne of the unique things about Elon’s PWR program is that every major is required to complete two credits of undergraduate research during their time in college. This research can involve joining an established group project with other students and faculty in the English Department, proposing an independent study, or doing a combination of the two. One student who chose the second option is senior Angela Myers. Angela is an Honors Fellow and received the Lumen prize in 2019 to further her thesis research. Her research examines the rhetoric of colleges’ online sexual assault prevention courses, and she conducted a comparative study between courses used in the U.S. and those in New Zealand (where she studied abroad during Spring 2020). Her research also led her to launch a social media campaign about sexual assault prevention in collaboration with the GLC.

How did you come up with the idea for your research project?

I’ve always been interested in the relationship between public health and rhetoric, so I knew I wanted to do a research project at that intersection. However, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. One night, I woke up at 3am with the idea of researching sexual violence prevention. The idea wasn’t fully formed, but I wrote it down in my journal, went back to sleep, and researched the issue further in the morning. I discovered not a lot of scholars were studying how to communicate about sexual violence prevention, so I emailed my research mentor, Dr. Jessie Moore, and the rest is history. You never know when an idea will come to you, especially as a writer, so I always recommend keeping a notebook nearby for any ideas you might have. 

What methods did you use to study your topic?

For my Lumen project, I did mixed-methods research. My mentor and I scaffolded the research into phases. In fall of my junior year we conducted interviews with students, staff, and faculty on campus to learn more about the rhetorical situation for prevention programming at Elon University. In the winter of my junior year, I completed a rhetorical analysis of Elon’s program. When I studied abroad in the spring, I conducted a comparative rhetorical analysis with a prevention program in New Zealand, a country known for some of the best sexual violence prevention in the world. This fall, I am conducting usability tests for the project to collect user-feedback on samples that enact different recommendations from the interviews and rhetorical analyses. 

From this larger research project, I connected with the GLC to design a social media campaign around sexual violence, Elon Empowers. Elon Empowers is a university-wide social media campaign to promote the idea that sexual violence prevention is possible. Especially in a climate like 2020, it’s important to provide positive messaging and action steps people can take to improve their community. For this campaign, we will be analyzing Instagram analytics to determine the effectiveness of materials and will send out a pre- and post-campaign survey to a group of Elon students to further research the effectiveness of Elon Empowers.

What was the most interesting thing (in your opinion) that you’ve found so far in your research?

The most interesting thing I’ve found so far is that prevention programs which empower the users to act, give them the resources to do so, and promote the idea that prevention is possible are the most effective prevention programs. In order to create effective prevention programming, courses need to appeal to shared values, use clear and easy-to-understand language, and provide an overall uplifting narrative with strategies to stop sexual violence instead of simply telling people, “Don’t do it.”

How did the collaboration with the GLC come about?

During the interview phase of my Lumen and Honors research, I interviewed Becca Bishopric Patterson from the GLC. During the interview, we began talking about how students are involved in the GLC and how various Fellows have done projects with the GLC in the past. Becca mentioned how she was interested in creating a social norms campaign, or a communications/professional writing campaign which tries to change the perceptions and beliefs of the viewers through communicating a different message than a common false narrative. From there, I saw the connections between the campaign she was hoping to run and my own research findings. I’d found that many college students don’t believe prevention is possible and/or that they can’t stop sexual violence as bystanders. After the interview, I emailed Becca about the potential of a social norms campaign on the GLC’s Instagram and that’s how Elon Empowers was born. Elon Empowers intends to present the idea that prevention is possible and give Elon students small, tangible ways they can mitigate sexual violence on and off campus. Overall, there’s constantly opportunities which are only an email inquiry away for PWR majors at Elon; the campus community is always so excited when students want to take on projects and research which allows them to use their skills to help our Elon community!

Will you be presenting your research anywhere else, and if so, where and when?

Since the beginning, I have been cognizant about making sure the research is received by those who need it most. As of now, I will be publishing part of my research in the upcoming issue of Young Scholars in Writing and will be presenting it on a panel at the Conference on College Composition and Communication and SURF in Spring of 2021. I will also make sure the research is available to the GLC, the Title IX Office, and anyone else at Elon who might be interested in my findings. I’m also considering some public-facing speaking and writing engagements to share the project. 

What do you hope that your research will accomplish, or what do you hope people take away from your research?

I hope this research can help improve sexual violence prevention at Elon and across the country. I’d also love for people to be able to use this research when considering how they address sexual violence in their own lives. So many times the media, organizations, and individuals use language which places the blame on the victim or they don’t communicate in a clear and effective way about sexual violence and how it can be prevented. Obviously this research is just one small piece of a much larger puzzle, but I’m happy it can contribute to the scholarship and the work being done to help mitigate sexual violence and other barriers to equity and safety for all.

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PWR Social Media Internship Reflection: Spring 2020

The Journey

Emily HollandMy journey as the PWR Social Media Intern has been educational and helped me to grow both personally and professionally, but honestly, it’s been a bit strange. To start, I actually applied for the internship a whole year before I got the position. I heard about the internship in my PWR 215 class during my first semester in college (Fall 2018), and I thought that I might as well apply for the spring. The PWR faculty chose a more experienced student for the internship that semester, which I expected, and told me that I would probably be a good candidate in about a year. And almost exactly a year later, I was asked to take over the position for Spring 2020.

Going into the internship, I expected that my faculty advisors (Dr. Moore and Dr. Li) would give me tasks with lots of specifications so that I would only create content that reflected well on the PWR program. So, I was surprised by how much creative control I was allowed over my work. I read over an internship handbook that is still in progress, but for the most part, I was allowed to develop my own plan for posting content. I researched what had already been posted on the PWR accounts and contacted the previous intern for some tips, and then I put all my ideas into a big planning document.

The previous intern said that Instagram was the best platform for getting information out about the PWR program, so I focused mostly on updating that profile to reflect a positive image for the program. Most of my regular Instagram posts were posted to Facebook and Twitter as well, but I spent more time using Instagram’s interactive story features and sharing posts from related accounts to the @elonpwr story (mostly from the English Department and the Writing Center–those accounts also shared my posts on Facebook, which created more traction on that platform). I also updated the @elonpwr Instagram bio so that it would better encapsulate what the PWR program is about at a glance.

Besides working on updating the PWR program’s image on social media, I also wanted to ensure consistency in posting, which seemed to have been lacking for a while. So, I designed graphics that fit with two series scheduled across all three platforms every week: #MondayMotivation and #WeeklyWord (posted on Wednesday to maintain the alliteration). When major PWR events happened this semester, like Fall 2020 course registration and SURF Day, I created series of posts that showcased each course and each research presentation. I also made a list of other ideas for intermittent posts, like internship ads, interviews with PWR students and faculty, and photos from class visits and research conferences.

However, my ability to execute my ideas shifted dramatically when the COVID-19 pandemic moved classes online. Besides the general challenges of adjusting to working from home, several of my “great” ideas no longer worked. Getting interviews became extremely difficult, I couldn’t visit classes that weren’t meeting in person, and internships and conferences had been cancelled. Even the two major events required a new approach to promote. So, I posted about the internships that I could still find, started doing the aforementioned interactive Instagram stories more often, added video links to the SURF Day posts, and put the rest of the ideas in my back pocket for when campus reopens next semester and I return to the internship. That’s right, I’ll be back as the PWR Social Media Intern next semester, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Advice for Future Interns

Even though I’m continuing with the PWR Social Media Internship for another semester, I’ll eventually need to be replaced, and I’d give it a 10/10 recommendation for any PWR major or PWS minor. I think the biggest pieces of advice I would give are these:

  1. Ask for advice from your faculty mentors when you need it, but you’re more prepared to make and execute your own plan than you think you are.
  2. Be flexible! You may not have to deal with a pandemic changing everything the way I did, but some of your ideas still might not work. And that’s okay. Always have a plan, a backup plan, and an open mind.
  3. Work hard, but have fun. You’ll run into problems sometimes, but you can fix them or work around them and get back to letting your creativity flow.
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Is Finance for you?

By Nicholas Teitler

What is Finance? Finance is the management of money and includes activities like investing, borrowing, lending, budgeting, saving, etc. There are various amounts of professions involved in the finance field, such as being a Chief Financial Officer, Financial Analysts, Loan Officers, Personal Financial Advisors, and many more. Jobs in the finance field are continuing to grow at a steady rate and are projected to continue, with the number of financial analyst jobs expected to increase 12% by 2024. Because of all of the possible careers with a finance major, the unemployment rate is lowest among graduates with a degree in finance.

Entry Level Position

A common entry-level position for people with a degree in Finance is a Personal financial advisor. Personal financial advisors advise clients when it comes to managing their finances and plan for their future financially. A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a similar major would be helpful to get this position. It is a full-time job, and the median salary for it is $88,890 a year, or $42.73 per hour. However, the highest 10 percent in this profession have earned more than $208,000 a year. It seems like some good money can be made from an entry-level position as such. Strong analytical skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and math skills are typically required for this profession.

Job Advertisements

Looking at a job advertisement is a great way to gain more information about the requirements of jobs within your career path. I found a job posting for a Finance Vice President for JP Morgan Chase & Co. The role of this position is to provide recommendations to senior sales managers, oversee a team, review generated reports, and report to the President or CEO of the company. The applicant must have good teamwork skills and leadership skills, as well as the skills mentioned in the personal financial advisor profession. Also, proficiency with Excel, PowerPoint, and Essbase is preferred for this position, but not required. Since this isn’t an entry-level position, 6+ years of experience in a profession in the finance field is required.

Interview

A more advanced career in the finance field is becoming a chief financial officer, or CFO. I interviewed David Teitler, the CFO of guideposts, to learn more about what being a CFO entails. Dave is responsible for the financials, operations, and technology of the company. He manages  an investment portfolio, a pension portfolio, annuity contracts, and trusts. He is involved in every major purchasing decision, including healthcare benefits, real estate (moving buildings, rent), and internal & external infrastructure. He also has direct responsibility for customer service, database management, business intelligence tools, and purchasing. Dave mentioned, “I didn’t become the CFO of guideposts until 15 years after finishing graduate school. Before being a CFO, I was the VP of Finance for Thomas Reuters, and the business manager of a smaller company before that.” Besides needing to have experience in finance before becoming a CFO, it has similar requirements to being a personal financial advisor and finance vice president, with addition to having Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint skills. CFOs possess a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting, and most of them have a master’s degree in finance. The salary range of a CFO can range from anywhere between $250,000 to $700,000 a year.

After researching these 3 careers, I learned that achieving a CFO is possible as long as you gain experience in entry-level positions and build your way up to the highest position. I want to be a CFO in the future, but I know I will have to start at an entry-level position to gain this position.

Is there Writing involved in Finance?

Working in the finance field involves some writing, which is why companies typically require applicants to have written communication and excel skills. The most popular genre of writing involved in a finance profession is sending emails. Sending emails back and forth to both clients and employees is done daily. 70% of people from the Elon University Poll also said that emails are used on a weekly basis for writing after college for any kind of career path. Slack is also becoming very popular to send messages through. It is a messaging app that is used among many businesses due to its ability to form group conversations and private messages. PowerPoint presentations and writing notes on financial statements are also genres of writing that are popular in the finance field.

Are there Writing Challenges in Finance?

There are not that many writing challenges that the CFO of a company faces, but Dave did mention a few to help me gain a better understanding. His greatest writing challenges are adapting to his reader’s expectations and needs, and writing concisely and directly. When writing financial statements, the notes need to be very descriptive to the reader, especially if they’re a non-financial person. Dave has to be very careful and thoughtful in how he describes the financial reports to someone who may not be as familiar with the field as he is, relating to the Elon poll where 16% of people experienced this after college. Also, being the CFO of the company, he has to be very clear and concise in his writing when sending internal emails to employees to avoid intimidating them. This relates to the Elon poll where 12.8% of people found this to be a challenge after college.

What did we Learn?

Finance is a very popular field for people to go into since it has room for advancement within the career field. If you want to make a good amount of money and help people manage their money at the same time, you should consider going into finance. I found this research to be very valuable because I learned that there will be writing in any career path I choose to follow and will experience similar writing challenges as other people.

 

This post is part of a series on writing in the professions. Posts were written by students in Dr. Jessie L. Moore’s fall 2019 Writing: Argument & Inquiry class and include research from the June 2019 Center for Engaged Learning/Elon Poll survey of college graduates, age 18-34, High Impact Undergraduate Experiences and How They Matter Now.

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Insurance: See How One of the Most Lucrative Industries in the World Can Work For You

by James Silk

The Insurance Industry is in a crisis. Despite being one of the most lucrative industries in the country, the average age of an employee is 65. The industry is looking for young, qualified workers. The industry provides flexible working hours, the ability to move up in a company, and the opportunity to work with hundreds of different companies. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, entry level agents can make up to $50,000 per year. As thousands of college students graduate each year and look for a job, they have a lot on their mind: Where are they going to work? How are they going to find work? What work do they even want? With all of this going on, it is easy to overlook one of the most profitable industries right now. I talked to Mike Musilli, a Client Executive at Hylant Insurance Company, one of the biggest insurance brokerage companies in the country. He told me about some of the job requirements and writing genres needed to work in the field.

About Hylant

Hylant is a national insurance company with 16 offices throughout the country and over 700 employees. Hylant’s goal is to bring a family atmosphere into the insurance industry while strengthening and protecting businesses, employees, and communities by embracing them as their own. The company offers risk management, property and casualty, employee benefits, and personal insurance services. Despite being an insurance company, they do not actually sell their own insurance plans. Instead, Hylant brokers deals with big insurance companies such as Nationwide, State Farm, and American Insurance. The company will connect a client with these big insurance companies and help the client find the right plan of insurance for their business. Hylant will then receive a commission off of the final price.

Skills For Entry Level Employees

  • Personable
  • Team-Oriented
  • Social Acuity to Acquire Clients
  • Writing Proficiency
  • Solution Focused
  • Desire to Learn and Develop

Qualifications

  • Valid State License
  • High School Diploma or GED
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • CPCU Certification
  • Work/Internship Experience

About the Job

Mike Musilli (Photo courtesy of Hylant)

Mr. Musilli’s job involves a lot of customer interaction. He spends most of his time trying to acquire and keep clients. In order to get clients, Mr. Musilli will attend conferences or reach out to any businesses that fall under his speciality. Often times he will start the relationship by inviting them to an event that is based upon their business. For example, he will invite an executive of a tech company to go to a conference relating to cyber security. After developing this initial relationship, Mr. Musilli will continue to invest in their clients’ intellectual property, meaning he will continue to show interest in the field of his customer. After he develops a good relationship with the potential customer, he discusses the possibility of getting the company’s business.

In order to retain clients, Mr. Musilli continues to show interest in the client’s company, but also uses Hylant’s resources to deliver some of the best customer service in the country. That is how Mr. Musilli retains clients.

Teamwork, according to Mr. Musilli, is one of the most important aspects of his job. Internally, Mr. Musilli has to work with a team in order to coordinate clients. There are many moving parts at Hylant, whether it is the salesman, insurance analysts, or the accountants. Each employee plays an integral role in acquiring a client, so it is important that every employee understands how to work together.

Writing Genres

One of the most important genres that Mr. Musilli uses is email. Similar to the Elon Poll, email is one of the most important genres of writing. On a daily basis, Mr. Musilli receives over 350 emails. He uses emails to send documents, communicate with clients and fellow employees, and keep up to date on company happenings.

Another important genre that Mr. Musilli often uses is peer review and peer analysis. He is assigned to review a new employee each year. After each quarter, Mr. Musilli is required to write an analysis on how the employee is performing, and what they can work on.

Another form of writing that is commonly used is financial summaries. Noted on the Elon Poll as reports, this form of writing was found to be popular amongst professionals across all fields. Each quarter, Client Executives, which are the lead sales people within the company, would report on their earnings. In addition, they would summarize how well their team was doing in gaining clients and retaining them. This summary is sent to the top executives of the company. This skill is noted on the Elon Poll. Finally, Mr. Musilli does a lot of analytical writing for clients. Client Executives will write proofs that explain how the insurance plan works and how it can help the client.

Pro Tips From Insiders

  1. Don’t be flowery in your writing. It is easy to become too verbose in your writing, especially in formal emails. It is important to remember that within the professional setting it is important to be clear and concise.
  2. Know your audience. It is important to understand who the subject of your writing is. If it is someone who does not understand industry language, make sure you adjust your language so it can be understood. Conversely, make sure you adjust your writing styles when addressing a fellow colleague or superior.
  3. Be positive. Doing peer reviews is always difficult. Be sure to mix in a few positives with the negatives. The audience is much more likely to receive your suggestions if they do not feel attacked.

 

This post is part of a series on writing in the professions. Posts were written by students in Dr. Jessie L. Moore’s fall 2019 Writing: Argument & Inquiry class and include research from the June 2019 Center for Engaged Learning/Elon Poll survey of college graduates, age 18-34, High Impact Undergraduate Experiences and How They Matter Now.

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