Thursday, December 17, 2009

A New (Social) Dimension to the Dining Experience

I'm going to be honest, I have been eating like a champ recently. Between vendor outings and foodie friends, my opportunities to dine out are seemingly endless, and I never pass up an opportunity to try a new place to eat. In the last month alone, my spectrum of restaurants include: Avec, Webster Wine Bar, McCormick and Schmick's, L2o, Twin Anchors, Chilam Balam, Zed451, Coobah and Sushi Samba to name a few. This list includes very respectable establishments in which well prepared cuisine and proper service are to be expected.

I was more or less satisfied with each of these dining experiences, although some stood out more than others -- especially when it came to service. 

I used to be a waitress, and I'll be the first to admit that I was decent at best. I was barely over the legal drinking age and I worked at a wine bar. I didn't know a thing about wine at the time and my mobility skills were certainly questionable. As a server, you get really good at faking things. I went on and on about different wine selections I had never even tasted. Oh, and that plate you just saw me drop? I meant to do that.

...Well, that's more or less how it worked. 

You learn these tricks as a server, but you also notice immediately when another server pulls it on you. In the past month, I have certainly had servers that didn't know their menus, wanted to get out of work early or knew how to convince you to buy one more bottle of wine. The others did a fine job. One was exceptional.

Sushi Samba had the best customer service of all the places listed above. Oh, and did I mention I had carry out??

I had zero interactions with any Sushi Samba employee prior to eating my meal. I walked into a conference room at work, the food was laid out on the table and I stuffed my face. End of story.

Well, not quite. 

The lunch event from Sushi Samba is something that I have been looking forward to for the past week. I love sushi and I hadn't eaten any in quite some time. Sushi Samba is one of those places in Chicago that I have always wanted to try. I have heard that the food is great, but it is quite pricey for a recent college graduate. Luckily, I found the perfect resolution to this dilemma -- our reps from work covered the expense for me. Perfect!

It was 11:30 a.m., the day of our Sushi Samba lunch. The food was to be delivered at 12:00 p.m. sharp. I was was anxious, to say the least, so I did what any person in my situation would do. I tweeted about it.

12:00 p.m. came, along with the containers upon containers of Sushi Samba delights. It was love at first taste. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and I ate way more than my fair share.

The Sushi Samba story doesn't end there, however.

I came home this evening and checked my Twitter account. I was first confused and then suddenly excited to find the post below directed at me:

If you are confused about who @ChefCDT is, let me explain; @ChefCDT is Chef Dan Tucker, the Chef de Cuisine at Sushi Samba Rio in Chicago.

Am I getting this right? The Chef at Sushi Samba saw my tweet and took the time out of his (presumably) hectic schedule to respond to my tweet and even proceeded to make a very generous offer to prepare a special dish for me?


The conclusion of our conversation is posted below:

I thoroughly enjoyed this kind exchange, and to be honest, it kind of made me feel like a rockstar.

As I mentioned before, I am newly graduated and I thankfully found an entry-level job in this terrible job market. Still, eating out at a place like Sushi Samba is certainly something I can't make a habit out of. Honestly, I am not quite sure that I would make it to Sushi Samba anytime soon if I was going to be footing the bill -- even though I loved my meal.

The fact that Chef Tucker took the time to reach out and connect with his patrons made me reconsider this decision. I will certainly plan a trip to Sushi Samba in the near future.

Let this be a lesson: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT, REGARDLESS OF YOUR INDUSTRY. I have absolutely no qualms anymore about throwing down a few $20's to enjoy a nice meal at Sushi Samba, simply because I feel appreciated as an avid sushi lover and potential long-term customer by someone that is actively engaged with the product he represents. 

I just hope Chef Tucker's offer still stands!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guest Blogger... (well, sort of)

I recently noticed that the Twitter feed on Your Brand Broke My Clutter is not coming from my Twitter posts. I dug around, trying to find a way to address this problem to Google, but it looks like they are all over it (kind of).

The Twitter gadget featured in the gadget directory is currently displaying incorrect data. We're working to correct the problem, but in the meantime we recommend instead using the Feed gadget with your Twitter feed URL.

The Feed gadget can be added from the Layout | Page Elementstab, and your Twitter feed URL is available on your Twitter profile by clicking the RSS feed of [username's] tweets link. 

Thanks for your patience. 

On the one hand, they are aware of the problem, but has it really been an outstanding issue since September 23, 2009? That seems a little bizarre to me. Hopefully the problem will be resolved in the near future.

In the mean time, I apologize for the confusion and any strange tweets thats might pop up in the feed. Apparently the Twitter user that is squatting on my page is named @undefined, in case you find him particularly interesting and want to follow him. I am going to leave the gadget on my site for the time being, in hopes that it is just a temporary problem. If are interested in my Twitter ramblings, please follow me @coconnell1.

Thanks for your patience Tweeps!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

These are a Few of My Favorite Bings...

I am hands down a Google girl. I can't imagine life without Gmail, iGoogle, G-chat, Google Reader, Blogger, AdWords... You get the picture. I love Google.

I have, however, been impressed with some of the new features that Bing has rolled out in the past few months. Here is a run-down of my top 5 Bing tools.

5. Bird's Eye View

Like Google, Bing offers Aerial View in the mapping portion of the site. While this in and of itself is quite impressive and fun to play around with, Bing goes one step further to offer Bird's Eye View. Bird's Eye View is similar to Aerial View, but offers much greater detail to the images. See the difference with Chicago's Millennium Park below.

Aerial View:

Bird's Eye View:

The clarity with Bird's Eye view is astounding. It is also a fun tool to play around with. For example, I am currently on the hunt for sick rooftop patios. More to come on that!

4. Exploration

Bing also takes an interesting approach to inspire exploration through their homepage. Everyday, Bing features a new place of interest to highlight on their homepage. The images contain hidden fun facts which appear when the mouse runs over a point. The facts often cover the history, traditions, and imagery of the location. Bing offers users the option to learn more, which leads viewers to another page within the Bing website.

If you click on the "Want to see?" link, it will lead to to Bing image results for "aurora borealis".

I'm a huge fan of user engagement, and Bing certainly accomplishes that with it's homepage. It will be interesting to see how this develops as Bing rolls out new features. It could also be an unique tool for advertisers if Bing ever opens the platform up for advertising space.

3. Continuous Scroll

It's often the small things in life that can make a huge impact. One of my favorite features on Bing is their continuous scroll. There are no individual pages, and therefore no need to click the "next" button. The images literally keep going and going and going. Give your finger a break and test it out yourself.

2. Video Play

Everywhere I look, it seems that people are turning towards video. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not a huge fan of this video craze. Unless it is something that must been seen to be believed, I'd prefer to just read an article and then seek out a video if necessary.

Then, there is also the issue of selecting a video, waiting for it to load, and then realizing it wasn't quite what you were looking for. Bing Video saves user's time and frustration by allowing visitor's to view the video clip with sound and within the search results by scrolling over the video clip with your mouse. That way, if you don't select the right video the first time, you don't have to waste your time going back and re-selecting another potentially wrong clip.

1. Price Prediction

The Bing Price Prediction is hands down my favorite tool. It works like many other trip planner tools, but the Bing Price Prediction provides users with the probability of the price either rising or falling in the next few days. Bing Price Prediction allows users to book their fights with confidence. My one complaint? Southwest is not included in the airlines listed.

Similarly, Bing's Rate Indicator works to show user's if they are getting a deal on their hotel reservation or not.

I will certainly be keeping an eye out for the new features that Bing is sure to roll out in the near future. So far, I am quite impressed with Bing's progression and it just goes to show how competitive the search landscape is. Google, you better start stepping it up...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Liquid Courage

I have been a bad, bad blogger.

Where in the world does the time go? I can't believe that it's been over two months since I have last posted. I am genuinely disappointed in myself, but I will strive to do a better job keeping up with new posts... even if it means staying in on a Friday to get back in the blogging groove.

All is not lost though. Broken Clutter has certainly been on my mind for the past few months and I have accumulated a pretty impressive list of topics that I hope to dive into in the near future. You better be excited!

Tonight, however, I've got creativity on the mind.

It is different for everyone, but I have to admit -- nothing gets creativity flowing like a little cloudiness in the brain. Oh, relax. I'm just talking about a little bit of good, wholesome wine... or vino if you prefer.

Dionysus, the god of wine, was known for inspiring madness and ecstasy in his followers and his great cause was to bring an end to care and worry. I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty dead-on for the world of public communications.

So, if you're like me and you could use a little extra "inspiration" in you life, let me suggest a list of affordable wines for this holiday season. (Sorry about the size! Click to enlarge.)

**A little bit of background on Alpana Singh**

I had the privilege of meeting Alpana Singh this past Wednesday at the Google holiday wine tasting party at L2o in Chicago. Alpana was the guest of honor. In her speech, she introduced her husband who is a writer, and explained that one does not have to spend a lot in order to enjoy good wine.

Alpana passed the Court of Master Sommeliers' advanced certification test at age 21 and in 2003, she passed the final exam to become the youngest person ever to achieve the rank of Master Sommelier. The master sommelier exam has about a 3% pass rate. Pretty impressive.

Alpana is also pretty well known around the Chicago area. She is the Director of Wine and Spirits for Lettuce Entertain You restaurants and is also the host of the Chicago-based restaurant review show, Check Please!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Noir (nwär) –adjective French. 1. Of or relating to the film noir genre.

If you remember from my Typography Pt. II: Text Shape Assignment post, I'm not too confident in my graphic design/photoshop skills. Today, I uncovered a long lost flash drive containing my prized design from my Principles of Design class at DePaul University. This is one design that I'm willing to brag about and I am happy I was able to recover it. First, let's find out about the expectations of the assignment.
The Assignment: Noir Poster

1. Choose a game title, film, graphic novel or book that you feel embodies the noir aesthetic. Find or make up a quote that helps sell your subject.
2. Create a poster/ad for your subject.
3. Create a 800x600 image in Photoshop. It can be horizontal or vertical.
4. Use these tools in Photoshop: magic wand (to create the silhouette(s), the gradient tool (including transparency), blur filters, blending modes, layer select (ctrl click the layer), layer effects, distort, and warp.

The Rules:

1. The only visual elements you can (and MUST) use are the title, the quote text, the “author”, and at least one silhouette. You can use multiple silhouettes, but no photos or detailed drawings.
2. The finished image must be black & white, no color.
3. No additional drawing or other created visual elements.
4. You can't create faces, creatures, objects or a landscape, no recognizable images (other than your silhouettes)--concentrate on the visual dynamics.
5. Your Photoshop document should end up with at least 20 layers.

Visual goals:

1. The design should convey mood—suspense, threat, paranoia—but through suggestion, not clichéd images.
2. Create the illusion of depth and light. Use gradients of value, scale, distortion, etc. Does it feel deep? Can you see strong light sources? Are there multiple levels of depth?
3. Keep the text legible, but it should feel integrated into the design. It shouldn’t appear pasted on top of the other elements.
4. Use transparency and shadows to create a sense of disorientation in the shapes and space within the image. Use solidity sparingly. Overlapping, transparency, shadows, perspective, distortion.
5. The poster should be interesting to look at, have visual movement, should be balanced and should seem structured (not random or a mess). Incorporate what we’ve discussed the rest of the quarter.

After receiving these instructions, one movie came to mind immediately -- The Graduate. Not only is The Graduate one of my all time favorite movies, but it certainly captures the noir aesthetic. Here's what I came up with:
Anyone with a good eye can catch my one mistake -- The shadow of the figure in the background should be dark near the feet and lighter near the head. I'm the first to admit that I'm no deign expert, but regardless of the shadow mistake, I think the poster looks quite nice.
Specifically, I love the way that the shadows are able to convey the illusion of depth. Also, the highlighting on Ben's face creates the illusion that a light source is shining from his left side. It pairs nice with the solid black of Mrs. Robinson's leg in the foreground.
...and who doesn't love that quote?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Looks Aren't Everything

The average person sees thousands of advertisements a day. As a result, visual aesthetics can be quite important when it comes to making your advertisement stand out amongst the competition. Sight is often considered the most dominant and well-developed sense in humans, so why not appeal to it?

I'm a firm believer that looks aren't everything -- even when it comes to advertising. While visual appeal should not be completely discounted, it can be paired with other complementary components to create a harmonious campaign. Some of my favorite advertisements appealed to an entirely different sense -- the sense of hearing. Let's take a look at my personal top 6...


I am prepared to get some criticism for this choice, but Geico has created some truly memorable commercials based primarily on their choice of music.

More recently, Geico has been airing their Money with Eyes commercials featuring "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell. Admittedly, I find these commercials to be pretty ridiculous, but there is something catchy about that song.

Equally as outrageous are the Geico Cavemen commercials. The commercial above premiered back in 2006 and the muzak-esque "Remind Me" by Norwegian band Royksopp became an unlikely hit among television viewers.


2000 was two years before my sweet sixteen and this Volkswagon commercial left me utterly convinced that I had to have a VW Cabriolet waiting in my driveway the moment I turned 16. If "Pink Moon" by Nick Drake doesn't evoke a sense of nostalgia, I don't know what does.


This Motorola RAZR2 commercial is an example of an advertisement that I don't particularly love, but I find it intriguing based on music alone. Shiny Toy Guns' "Le Disko" is a perfect choice to convey the playfulness and sexiness found in the advertisement.


Appropriately enough, Apple iPod commercials have turned some of the more under-the-radar songs, like CSS's "Music is My Hot, Hot Sex" into instant hits.

The Shadow Dancer campaign is a great example of how to pair exciting visuals with a hot soundtrack. "Technologic" by Daft Punk makes the perfect complement.


I get the impression that I was one of the last people to see this commercial, but I vividly remember the first time I did. I was with a group of 20 or so people watching the 2009 All-Star Game when almost everyone (except for me, of course) had a comment or two to make about this Bacardi ad -- "Oh! I love this song." "I don't quite get the ad, but this song is so fun!" "It makes me want a Mojito."

Translation? $$$ -- for both Bacardi and Mike and Kim, whose song "Daylight" is played during this one minute commercial spot.


Where the Wild Things Are has done an exceptional job at pairing visuals, music and message to create a strong and compelling campaign for this upcoming film. Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" does just what the title of the song suggests. This song woke me from my comatose state of television watching and made me both aware and interested in this movie trailer.

As mentioned above, Where the Wild Things Are succeeds in pulling message into the campaign equation. In this instance, Where the Wild Things Are has paired up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a PSA that poses the question: "Did you play today?" Not only is this cause highly relevant to the story line of the film, but those clever advertising folks pull in one more musical hit -- "All is Love" by artist Karen O and the Kids.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sex Sells...Coffee?

Today, as I was enjoying my almost-daily Starbucks chai tea latte it caught my attention that lady Starbucks was looking quite a bit sexier these days. It looks as though the Starbucks Siren has undergone a makeover. Gone are the days of black and white frumpiness from a logo that is easily recognizable around the world.

Starbucks' launch of their Anniversary Blend campaign included a re-branding of their cups, coffee bean packaging and other memorabilia items. These items include a more youthful, slimmer and sexier version of the Starbucks Siren as seen in the photos below.

I personally really like this new logo and the strategically placed strands of hair crack me up as well. This new design is fresh and modern -- much like the Starbucks' brand itself. I am curious to see if this new version of the logo will extend beyond the Anniversary blend to eventually replace the classic black, white and green logo. As you can see from the photo of the bags of coffee above, Starbucks is featuring this new design in conjunction with the classical version of the logo.

I hope this new design sticks. The new Starbucks lady is a babe and I think she will do well for the company. I'm also not afraid to admit that I'm slightly jealous of her beautiful hair...

Friday, September 4, 2009

"When In Doubt, Squirrel It Out"

I'll be perfectly honest, I don't quite know what that phrase means, but a colorful character in Las Vegas gave me that piece of advice about a year ago. Apparently, this guy has passed that information on to popular culture as well -- or maybe we should blame this little guy:

He has many names -- the Banff Squirrel, the photo crasher squirrel, the list goes on. Regardless of what you choose to call him, this guy has made it big. The Banff Squirrel is taking over the world of social media with pages on Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia. Lexi, my beloved childhood dog must be rolling in her grave right about now.

Sites like The Squirrelizer and Twibbon allow you to make any photo a squirrel-crashed photo. Twibbon goes one step farther to automatically update that image as your Twitter profile photo. Take a look:

I think I'll stick to my Cardinals Twibbon, thank you very much!

Squirrel fever has also rubbed off on American Airlines. A recent article from AdFreak discusses American Airlines decision to re-air their Spring campaign which features a Parisian squirrel riding a bike/scooter.

This television commercial spot is a little strange and quirky, but American Airlines really seems to be embracing squirrel-mania thanks to the Banff Squirrel. In the News Releases section of the American Airlines website you can find a press release entitled American Launches Investigation of Possible 'Scene Stealing Squirrel' Role in Recent Television Ad. In this news release, American Airline announces their investigation to determine if the Banff Squirrel is in fact the same squirrel using in the filming of their commercial. The press release goes on to make ridiculous claims like:

“We’re not sure of the actual nationality of said squirrel - not sure whether he’s French at all. We hired him through his agent in LA,” said Bill Oakley, Executive Creative Director with TM Advertising. “Since he popped up in Banff, maybe he’s Canadian.”

Hey, who says airlines can't have a little fun sometimes?

So folks, when it comes to Twitter photos, advertising or life in general, just remember one thing -- when in doubt, squirrel it out...

CNN Covers the Banff Squirrel on 9/9/09 -- Web Goes Nuts for 'Crasher Squirrel'

Friday, August 28, 2009

Life's Tough, Get a Second One

Perhaps it is a result of seeing James Cameron's Avatar trailer or maybe it was the friendly email exchange I had with my former Social Media Marketing professor, but my mind has wandered to Second Life. For those of you unfamiliar with Second Life, "Second Life is a free online virtual world imagined and created by its Residents. From the moment you enter Second Life, you'll discover a fast-growing digital world filled with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity." Don't be confused -- This is not a video game, and essentially, there is no over-ruling "purpose" to Second Life. Sounds a little bizarre, right? That was my impression when I first learned about this mysterious Second Life and I brushed it off as some strange fad that would surely die off. My thoughts were seemingly confirmed a few months after initially learning of Second Life when I read a news article about a couple that got divorced over a 'virtual affair'. If you have a few minutes, I really encourage you to indulge yourself with this truly ridiculous news story: Second Life' Affair Leads to Real-Life Divorce

So there I was, utterly convinced that Second Life was inhabited by a few really strange people. Then, I stumbled across another news article about a Second Life user, Anshe Chung. Chung might possibly fall into this category of 'really strange people', but she was smart -- and very, very wealthy. Chung's avatar graced the cover of Business Week magazine as a result of becoming Second Life's first millionaire in just two and a half years after joining Second Life. Essentially, Chung saw an opportunity in selling real estate in this virtual world. She received payment in the form of linden dollars, Second Life's own virtual currency, and then was able to convert it to actual, spendable money. Maybe Second Life users weren't so strange after all...

My next astonishment about Second Life came about when a Second Life expert come in as a guest speaker for my Social Media Marketing class. James Moore is the Director of Online Learning for DePaul University's College of Commerce and sure knows his stuff when it comes to Second Life. Professor Moore informed us of the massive volume of Second Life users around the world. In the first quarter of 2009 alone, Second Life residents logged in 124 Million hours of use and the economy tops $120 Million. Surely, it's no surprise that businesses have tried to tap into this phenomenon at increasingly high rates since it's conception in 2003. As you can imagine, some were greeted with success, while others failed miserably.

Let's start with the failures --those always seem to be more fun to hear about, right?

There have been a slew of marketing failures in Second Life. American Apparel and Armani are two examples of companies that jumped head-first into Second Life. These brands spent a lot of time and money to build replica stores in Second Life only to be met with failure. Perhaps they didn't invest enough time into this process. This "if you build it, they will come" mentality did not translate to Second Life users and their stores remained empty. Tough love. Learn from your mistakes.

My favorite Second Life failure has to be John Edwards' attempt at virtual campaigning. Any failure that warrants a Second Life: John Edwards assaulted by poo-slinging communists news headline must be good. John Edwards' campaign advisers set up a virtual headquarters in Second Life as part of his 2008 presidential campaign. This area was intended to be used as a tool to reach out to potential voters and help them learn more about Edwards' potential as president. As it turns out, the non-Democrats of Second Life took a greater interest in this attempt. Not only did the Avatar version of the presidential candidate get food and trash thrown at him during an attempted Second Life town hall meeting, but the headquarters itself fell victim to extensive vandalism. The John Edwards' blog commented on this event:

"Shortly before midnight (CST) on Monday, February 26, a group of republican Second Life users, some sporting “Bush ‘08″ tags, vandalized the John Edwards Second Life HQ. They plastered the area with Marxist/Lenninist posters and slogans, a feces spewing obsenity, and a photoshopped picture of John in blackface, all the while harrassing visitors with right-wing nonsense and obsenity-laden abuse of Democrats in general and John in particular."

Nicely done, Edwards Camp.

While Second Life is certainly not for everyone, there have been some wonderful success stories in some unlikely places -- namely, educational institutions.

The articles Case Western Reserve University and Second Life Building a Private Virtual World for University and Case Western Announces Use of Private Second Life illustrate how Case Western Reserve University has successfully integrated Second Life into their own course curriculum. In 2007, CWRU built a near-replica of the Universities’ campus and buildings in Second Life. Since 2007, professors have used Second Life as a tool to engage students and give them virtual practice, without fear for failure. For example, psychology students can use Second Life to interview faux patients and diagnose their condition based on speech, facial expressions, and body language. Furthermore, Spanish students are often encouraged to visit Second Life to converse with native Spanish speakers in this virtual realm.

Recently, CWRU, with the help of Linden Labs, announced the use of a private Second Life. The CWRU virtual campus is now protected by firewalls to ensure that the information available to Case Western is totally protected. Matters of confidentiality are extremely significant for institutions specializing in the medical field.

While the Case Western articles talk mostly about using Second Life for the use of medical students, I could see Second Life as a useful tool for any university, even one's with a very small presence of medical majors. Second Life could be a great tool for engaging business students in mock business conferences, sales, or other events. Second Life could also be used by fine arts students as a platform to display artwork that can be openly critiqued by other students. The colleges of digital media could certainly make use of this virtual world as well by contributing to the virtual campus. Furthermore, students might have greater access to resources like the Career Center or Academic Advising, which almost require students to meet in person with these experts. Finally, any student that has ever been in a group project would surely enjoy the opportunity to not have to coordinate locations and availability for group meetings.

I think a tool like Second Life could be a worthwhile means towards success. It offers easy access and a more personalized experience than typical campus and course connection sites. Furthermore, Second Life is interactive. It encourages students to collaborate and offer feedback to one another, as opposed to just doing individual assignments. My hesitation about Second Life involves matters of security and ease of use. I see no reason why Second Life wouldn’t be a success if those obstacles are properly tackled.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Post-Grad Jobs -- The New Endangered Species

I've recently been faced with a bittersweet reality -- the school year is starting up, but I'm not heading back to a classroom. I will not be a student for the first time in 16 years. Wow. I have very mixed emotions about this strange revelation. On one hand, I am certainly not going to miss cramming for tests, working with unruly group members, listening to truly boring lectures or sleeping until noon one day and waking up at 7 am the next. On the other hand, I really love school. This wasn't always the case, of course, but as I grew older, especially upon entering college, I was hit with the reality that this was the last chance I had to learn about topics that interested me in a structured setting without having major obligations outside of school. Why not make the most of it?

I can confidently say that I am very satisfied with my experience at DePaul University. For the most part, I had extraordinarily talented and educated professors that were not only helpful, but also made learning fun. I maybe had 3 or 4 professors over the span of four years and 48 courses that I felt were not suited for their role as educators. Not a bad ratio. You have to expect to get some bad eggs thrown in from time to time. Don't worry DePaul, I made this very clear on my teacher evaluations!

While I am confident about my college experience, I am not so confident about life after college. I think it's safe to say that I am a pretty optimistic person. The only thing that I feel really bitter about is having to graduate into a recession. You have undoubtedly seen all the articles out there: For the class of 2009, degree doesn't mean a job or Another casualty of the recession: Recent college grads. Not quite welcomed headlines for college graduates.

In my mind, I did everything that I could do to succeed: I worked hard in school and out; graduated Cum Laude; repeatedly made the Dean's list; held down two jobs for a while; worked as an marketing intern. So explain to me again why I don't have a job right out of college?

That's not entirely true -- I have a job. It's part-time with no benefits, but it's a job none the less. Unfortunately, it's not quite the position I hoped to have upon graduation. My current position focuses mainly on traditional forms of marketing and sales, whereas my career goal is to work in Internet marketing. My role for the last year has given me great experience, but I've been keeping my eye open for other opportunities since April.

Those who have graduated in 2009 know as well as I do that finding a job opportunity requires one to have a very watchful eye. There is even a new movie, Post Grad, that addresses this troubling dilemma of young twenty-somethings. I exhausted every resource I could to find any sort of entry-level position. Unfortunately, I came to the realization that most entry-level positions had now been transformed into intern opportunities -- did I mention these were unpaid? Not exactly an ideal choice when you are trying to afford a life in a big city.

I managed to trudge ahead and stay aggressive in my hunt for a job. I learned the hard way that sites like and are not the best sources for job opportunities. My email address was exploding with opportunities to "Make $500 a day by sitting on your couch" or "Become a millionaire in one year". Sure it sounds appealing, but I would like to think I am intelligent enough to spot a scam when it smacks me right in my Gmail.

Okay, time for Plan B. I finally felt like I uncovered the holy grail of job searches. Listen up college students, because I'll only reveal this once -- DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF NETWORKING. I heard time and time again that networking was a great tool and finally I decided to test that theory. Over the last few months I have tried to connect with anyone I could that worked in the field of marketing communications. I was not expecting to meet someone who was just going to hand over a position to me easy-peasy, but I figured, "Hey, these people have jobs. The must be doing something right. What do they know that I don't?" So I asked.

Speaking with others lead me to more credible sources for job hunting. Two sources include LinkedIn Jobs and professional organizations such as CIMA, WOMMA and PRSA.

LinkedIn is useful because you can create your own professional profile, search for individuals with positions similar to the one you hope to acquire and the LinkedIn job search results prove to be more credible than those offered on Monster and Career Builder. As part of a school assignment I had to interview a few people working in my intended industry. I found all three of my interviewees via LinkedIn. I searched for companies I hoped to one day work for and emailed employees that held positions that I hoped to one day have. The response was overwhelming. Each person I contacted was more than willing to offer insight and advice.

LinkedIn certainly offered me a few good leads, but the professional organizations proved most helpful. To begin, most all websites for professional organizations contain some type of job postings, volunteer opportunities or networking events. Secondly, these organizations are very targeted to a particular aspect of marketing communications. I could type in "marketing" on the LinkedIn search engine and my results could range from traditional marketing, to Internet marketing, to viral marketing. The options are endless. When I search the job listing on CIMA's website, I know I will find a job opportunity in the field of Internet marketing. Finally, the companies that post jobs on these industry websites are often, if not always, members of that particular organization. I don't know about you, but I personally feel better about working for a company that is actively participating for the greater good of the industry. Do a little research. I am certain that every single niche industry has some type of professional organization associated with it.

This last week I have landed two interview opportunities by searching the websites of professional organizations. I had one set of interviews last Thursday and I have another interview with a different company tomorrow morning. I can offer two more pieces of inspiration based on my interview from last week.

If you're reading this blog, you probably realize that anyone can have his or her own blog. Sure, it takes up little time if you're really passionate about keeping it current, but it is worth the effort. Several of the women I interviewed with last week were impressed that I had my own blog. Not only does it show that I am interested in the field of Internet marketing, but it also is a great tool to display my writing skills and general interests.

Finally, be proactive. My interview last week was for a position in search engine marketing.
I felt confident that I knew enough of the background of SEM to qualify me for the position, but what did that matter if I had never actually done a paid search campaign? SEM is something that I have tried to introduce at my current place of work. I put together a little presentation for my boss and we decided to put a halt toSEM until or website was updated and we actually had a reason to send people to our website. Since that was a dead-end I shelled out $10.00 and created my own paid search campaign for this very blog. Do a Google search for "Christine O'Connell" and my ad is at the top of the list! Call me a dork, but it is a thrilling feeling.

I created this campaign the night before my interview. My interviewers' admiration for my blog, was nothing compared to how impressed they were that I created my own SEM campaign. I am still waiting to hear back about the whether I got the got or not, but I am thankful that I was aggressive enough to create my own SEM and show my interviewers that SEM is something I am truly passionate about. While creating your own SEM campaign might not be the answer for your professional ambitions, I am certain that there is something you can do to make yourself stand out among the others that are trying to steal that position away from you.

I am trying to stay optimistic about my current situation, even though its not always easy. Plenty of sources out there are saying that things are on the upturn, but it is still hard to be a recent graduate in this economic climate. Of course, There are countless other recommendations and sources for obtaining a job in these difficult times than the one's I have shared, but these are certainly a few tips that have been useful to me. To learn about more job hunting tips, check out 10 Things Marketing Professionals Starting Out Should Do by Mark Singer over at The Future Buzz. Singer offers a great list of tips for young professionals looking to start their careers.

8/26/09 Follow-up: I got the job!