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  • JMac 11:32 pm on October 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , commute, compartmentalize, , , , , stress,   

    Stress and Strategy 

    This week was a stressful one for me at school.  In addition to the research project on Indonesia I am doing for my internship I have three other research projects assigned this semester for my degree!  Unfortunately they are all in different areas of study, and when all four projects come to the forefront in one week it can be fairly overwhelming.  The important thing I have found that helps me to be both a good worker at work and an efficient student are to only tackle what is in front of me, and try my best to wipe the other projects from my mind.

    One extremely useful thing that I am learning at my internship is how to both follow instructions and take the initiative at the same time.  I don’t think it will ever be useful in a work environment to simply do what is instructed and nothing further, nor will this tactic ever be useful in academia where ingenuity is invaluable.

    (More …)

  • Alex Priest 9:00 am on April 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , budget, class, crunchmode, , , , school, stress   

    The Challenge I Was Waiting For 

    This morning I got a fresh challenge at my internship–probably the kind of challenge I’ve really been wanting all semester. In recent weeks particularly, I’ve been occasionally frustrated with some of the tedious work I’ve been stuck doing, given that I’m the only part-time intern in the office. Today I was assigned to take on the brunt of the work for a brand new project–a big one–and one that I’ll spend considerable time on for for the remainder of my time at MS&L.

    Obviously I can’t give too much detail, but the challenge is two-fold: First, simply completing the project. This is something unlike anything I’ve ever done, and despite my briefing this morning, I’m still not 100% sure what to expect. I’m certainly hoping for smooth sailing, but in this job, smooth sailing is never, ever guaranteed. Secondly, it’s about completing the project on time and (hopefully) under budget.

    In PR agencies, we bill work by the hour. Because of that, the first step in a project is setting the budget and estimating the amount of time each position will require to fulfill their duties–not an exact science. For this project, we determined this morning that the initial budget issued me far too much time for what, as far as I can tell, should take a relatively small amount of time. So we cut my hours for that phase of the project in half. For another, we cut them by one third. For another, by a half again. In all, we cut several thousand dollars worth of time from the project. I’m not concerned, but in fact, I kind of like it. This project gives me a challenge–not only do I need to complete quality work, but I’ve got a timer, now, too.

    I’m realizing more and more that I work best in “crunch mode.” It’s stressful, and I usually freak out a little and don’t sleep much (hence I’m writing this at 3:09 a.m.), but it’s when I’m on a tight deadline, with lots of stuff to do, that I produce my best work in the most efficient way. It works.

    The next two weeks will put my endurance to the test like never before. In addition to tackling this project at work I’ll be completing my honors communication capstone project (sneak preview here, for those of you interested), finishing a final paper for my last (!) general education required course, preparing for three final exams, completing two final course portfolios, giving my final speech for public speaking, and trying to figure out what’s the next internship I’m going to tackle (but more on that in another post–soon). And of course, squeezing in a few more posts here before the end of the semester. It’s going to be an insane adventure, but I’m pumped for it.

  • Alex Priest 9:32 am on April 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ideas, , , , stress, swot   

    What’s the “Big Idea?” 

    Last week involved juggling a myriad of different projects at the office–all fun, but all challenging me to keep myself more organized and productive than ever before. With juggling six classes, my honors communications capstone project, an apartment search, a job search, and more outside the office, I’m looking at more balls in the air than I’ve ever even imagined.

    But I’m surviving and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

    Also last week my fellow intern and I (the third intern has left to pursue a full-time job opportunity she was offered elsewhere) were hard at work brainstorming for our MS&L Intern Project. This semester, we are drafting a pitch for a future potential client, in a familiar industry with a topic that seems to be increasingly in the news. Now that we’ve identified a potential target audience, competitors, done a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, and more, we need to come up with our “big idea.” This is the hard part.

    See the “big idea” for our project isn’t just deciding to target one group or another. And it’s not just about picking some ambitious, pie-in-the-sky, let’s-conquer-this-industry kind of idea to go with. We have to take into account practical things–like a limited budget–and strategic factors; We have to ask ourselves, “how does this idea relate back to our ultimate goal?” Basically, this is all a lot harder than it seems.

    Which leads me to my lesson for the morning: inspiration doesn’t come natural. No one is born with a “big idea” or a the talent to simply conjure up brilliant innovations without any forces from the outside world. We’re all impacted and influenced by our upbringing, our immediate environment, the people we surround ourselves with, and the paths we have taken to reach our current situation.

    For this intern project, we’re working closely together, in addition to receiving counsel and advice from multiple other colleagues. And it’s helping.

    We don’t quite have our “big idea” yet, but I can tell it’s well on the way. We have lots of brilliant ideas, now we just need a little focus and a heavy dose of practicality to start the ball rolling and, in the end, present an outstanding intern project. I’m excited.

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