Tag Archives: College

Salem State PRSSA 1st Mass Chapter Meetup


It’s been almost a year since I graduated from Salem State University and I still make the time to reunite with my PRSSA friends.  While being a part of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America), I gained some great friends that would help me on my path towards the Public Relations industry.  I joined PRSSA in Spring 2014 while in college and it has been quite an adventure since.  From networking events to National PRSSA Conference, Salem State’s PRSSA chapter has been a blast to be a part of.

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All of my PRSSA pals are currently graduating in less than a month.  It amazes me how far each one has come since their first meetup at Salem State University.  They may be leaving college soon, but they pulled together one last PRSSA event before taking off on their own ways.  This past weekend I attended the PRSSA Mass Chapter Meetup at Salem State University.

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The Mass Chapter Meetup was a school event rounding up PRSSA members around Massachusetts to meet on Ellison Campus Building at Salem State University.  Each member got together to network with other aspiring professionals, hear from professional speakers about the PR industry, tried their hands at a crisis communication activity, and even heard from SSU alumni about life after graduation (one of those people just happened to be ME!).  This was the first ever Mass Chapter Meetup that was put together by the e-board members.  Their first theme was ‘Battle of The Brands’, emphasizing on brands of the business world.  It was a wonderful event to get PRSSA pros together in one school to gain more knowledge about our careers.

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This event kicked off with our guest speaker Nicole Keiser.  Nicole had a combined background of journalism and Public Relations after graduating from Emerson College in 1997.  She worked in PR agencies such as CGPR and Regan Communications Group; right now she is a consultant for City of Boston (for Boston Water & Sewer Committee) and City of Gloucester’s Mayor Office for Crisis Communications.

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During the presentation, Nicole discussed the key differences between working in a newsroom and in a PR agency.  She mentioned that competition within the newsroom is very fierce and that it takes a lot of work for news to get out through the airwaves (FUN FACT: The BEST day/time for a ‘ribbon-cutting’ event is Tuesday at either 11:00 AM or 1:00 PM!).  Having good relationships with the media is so critical in the communications world because you need to know who to call for the right information.  One note that Nicole made was that a PR pro is someone who does their research in advanced, reads the day news every day, and knows what is happening in the area of their expertise.  Two key points you need to know is who is your audience and what is your headline.  These two questions are crucial to understanding how you will get your work done each week.

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For the last slide, Nicole gave some good advice on how to succeed.  One advice she had was to ‘Write, write and write some more’ (which is what I have been doing with MakeSandcastlesNotWar!).  Another tip was to learn how to answer phones, have a face-to-face conversation, and how to listen.  Knowing how to use social media is wonderful and all, but it’s VERY important to know how to talk to people the right way in order to conduct good business.  The last tip was to ask for critiques from mentors and don’t take it personally.  I know that MakeSandcastlesNotWar isn’t the #1 blog in the US and I could always use some critiques from professionals about how to make this blog bettetr.  You will be critiqued on your work even after graduating college, so be prepared for some tough love when you enter the real world.

After Nicole wrapped up her performance, we grabbed some sandwiches for our lunch break.  We watched some improv while stuffing ourselves with sandwiches, chips, fruits, and even some ice-cold sodas.  Our next agenda was hearing from SSU alumni about life after graduation.

We all headed into the MLK room for the SSU Alumni event.  I sat with Gerald, Andrew, Carrie, and Alex to talk about what life is really like after graduation.  As someone who still doesn’t have their life together (STILL no set income or full-time job), I was a bit anxious about how I would address the aspiring PR pros on this topic.  Dominque headlined the event by asking questions about what motivated us to get into PR, when was the best moment at Salem State University, what steps to take after graduating college, and other final pieces of advice.

Here were my answers to the questions I was asked:

#1:  The event that motivated me to enter PR was the communications dinner I attended during my 1st semester at Salem State University.  I was sitting at a table where I met PRSSA members Nick and Tathiana.  While eating my dinner, Nick talked with me about what PR was, how versatile the major was, and how you can get into entertainment PR.  That was the pinnacle moment where I wanted to shift my gears right into Public Relations.

#2:  To me, the best moment was being a part of PRSSA after joining.  From the chapter meetings to attending National PRSSA Conference, I learned so much more about the world of PR than I did in one semester of schooling.  Meeting all of these other PR pros meant that there was a big world I could be a part of after college.

#3:  One step I did constantly was a TON of networking.  College may have prepared me for the work I would be doing, but not on how to going about searching for those jobs.  Attending these networking events made me realize that I really needed to step outside of my comfort zone to snag my dream PR job.

#4:  My one last piece of advice for the students was to network…CONSTANTLY.  You may have been a big shot while at SSU, but no one knows who you are when you search for jobs in Boston.  It’s crucial to get your name/face out there so that people know who you are.  Another advice would be to put the phones away and really learn how to communicate with people.  Social media is great and all, but you need to learn how to talk with people professionally so that they trust you more.

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And that ended the panel session.  We gathered back into the Ellison room for more networking.  It’s been a real fun event and everyone was so enthusiastic about the PR life after graduation.

Overall, this was a wonderful event to attend!  I had an amazing time meeting with some energetic PR students who are looking to make it big with their careers.  PRSSA is truly an incredible activity to be a part of and I look forward to seeing what big plans they have in the future.  They may be in for a rude awakening once they enter the real world, but I’m confident that they have the skills/tools necessary to survive.

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A special thanks to Nikki, Dom, Rajira, Elizabeth, Amanda, and Kristen for hosting this event!  I was truly blessed to be a part of this amazing PR event here at SSU.  With that, I wish you all the best of luck with your journeys after college.  Go get ‘em, PR pros!

Painting Under the Influence at Breakaway


As an artist, my craft revolves around writing about news within the entertainment industry.  My technique involves putting the PR spin during the last few paragraphs of my work.  This PR spin involves utilizing a concept in marketing, advertising, or other fields of communications to best describe why the idea works or why it was a flop.  Gathering all of the information to craft my masterpieces is the easy part, but the real work happens in the end when I am taking my audiences back to the big picture.

Searching for ideas isn’t all that hard, but it can be tedious when I am looking for something different to write about.  There are times when I am forced to back away from the digital world only to discover an incredible topic come flying into me.  It’s always good to step back from writing a bit to try a new hobby that you are interested.  That is why last night I went into Breakaway in Danvers to try my hands on painting for Painting Under the Influence.

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Painting Under the Influence is an event where a group of people come together with their choice of beer or wine to paint a picture.  Each painter is provided with their own brushes, cup of water, painting palette, easel board, and apron.  The painters follow with the artist instructor to paint the same pictures using various colors on their palette.  There are a few 8-10 minute breaks once in a while to grab another drink, use the restroom, or chat with your friends, or update your painting before the next part of the session.  At the end, participants gather together for group photos to show off their finished masterpieces.

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Last night’s Painting Under the Influence event occurred at Breakaway on 225 Newbury Street in Danvers.  The donations for the event would go towards funding Salem State University’s Public Relations Student Society of America for their trip to the PRSSA National Conference.  Public Relations Student Society of America is a nationwide club for students who are passionate about public relations.  The Painting Under the Influence event was created by Chapter President Nikki Vergakes and Chapter Vice President Dominque Resendes. Every year members of PRSSA gather together to attend the national conference, a yearly event where PR students learn more about their career field.  This year’s national conference will take place in Indianapolis on October 21st-25th and the theme is about the ‘Crossroads of Public Relations’.

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Attending the Painting Under the Influence was a lot of fun.  As a former member of PRSSA, I felt obligated to help my fellow members attend this year’s conference that is taking place a few weeks.  PRSSA was a great club I enjoyed being a part of during my years at Salem State University.  I attended the meetings to make new friends, gain more insights into the world of public relations, networked with guest speakers, and went to national conferences as well.  During my years at PRSSA, I have gained so much more knowledge about public relations and I became more enthusiastic about the kind of work I could do for a career.

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As for the paint night event itself, I had a blast painting with my old friends!  Two things I learned after the event: I’m no Picasso and that pumpkin-spiced beer goes well with painting a picture.  I attended my first Painting Under the Influence event last summer at British Beer Company when I was still in PRSSA.  It felt good to take a small break from writing to do another artistic craft that I don’t do that often.

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Painting the picture made me realize how we are all artists in this world, one way or another.  Whether it is writing blog posts or painting pictures or making music, we land on some art form that we passionate about.  Once we discover our art form, we work hard to create our unique designs we want to show off to the world.  Not all of us are writers, which is ok because it is a skill that comes with years of practice and hard work.  Anyone can put a pencil onto paper to write letters, but it takes a long while to re-arrange those letters to create a real masterpiece.  With that in mind, I think I’ll stick to writing more blog posts for MakeSandcastlesNotWar.

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Eureka! The Origins of California’s State Motto


Earlier in my post titled “California Dreamin”, I briefly discussed the psychology behind the dream that people chase after.  This ‘California Dream’ mentality started during the Gold Rush phenomenon in 1849 when pioneers traveled thousands of miles to California.  Some travelers went simply to search for the gold while other people wanted to start a new life or fame.  Whatever the motivation is, thousands of people still flock over to California to this day.

Now here’s something interesting: while on a hike with my friend, I was scrolling through state motto and nicknames on my phone.  We were discussing different state motto and whether or not they even made sense to us.  Some states had some interesting motto that reflected the overall culture, but California’s motto was the most interesting of all.  California’s state motto is “Eureka”, which is a Greek term for ‘I have found it’.

Found it?  What exactly was the ‘it’ that the state motto was referring to?  Given that California got its popularity from the Gold Rush, the motto is referring to finding the gold that people went crazy for.

Legend has it that the motto was shouted by Greek mathematician Archimedes after discovering the method of determining the purity of gold.  Archimedes was regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity.  Vitruvius, a Roman architect, provides a brief description to how Archimedes found the solution to the problem.

This story stems from the infamous story of Archimedes and the Golden Crown.  From what Vitruvius said, Archimedes went to the public baths one day while thinking about the golden crown.  He went into a tub of cool water to finish his session.  As he lowered himself into the water, the water inside the tub spilled out over the sides.  After continuing to lower himself into the bathtub a few times, he noticed that more water ran out over the sides of the tub.  It was then that Archimedes found the solution to Hiero’s problem with the golden crown.  Archimedes was so excited that he jumped out of the tub, running all the way home shouting, ‘Eureka, Eureka!’

And that right there is the origin of California’s motto.  Eureka derived from the Greek phrase Archimedes shouted when he found the solution for the golden crown.  What makes this origin so fascinating was how it ties to the ‘California Dreamin’ psychology that runs on everyone’s mind.  This philosophy of finding the gold, whether literal or metaphorical, has been on people’s minds for thousands of years.  California branded itself with that philosophy for their state motto, which could explain why so many young adults flock to the Golden State after they complete their college education.  People want to find the ‘gold’, the answer they have been searching for their whole lives.  To this day, California continues to serve as the quintessential area for discovering the ‘gold’ you are constantly searching for.

An Ode to Life After Graduation


As of Saturday May 21st, I have officially graduated from Salem State University.  After being in college for the past 5 & ½ years, I will now venture out into the real world.  All of these feelings of happiness, excitement, frustration, sadness, anger, and anxiety have lead me to learning about the journey into life.  Homework and grades have now been replaced by work and pay raises/decreases.

Like millions of other graduates, I am completely unaware of where life will take me.  All of those long commencement speeches encourage students to be bold and take those roads less traveled to explore exciting ideas along the way.  Some of what I have to say comes from those cliche speeches, but it also comes from my personal experiences.  Here’s my personal takeaway from these overwhelming past few weeks:
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Congratulations to everyone who graduated this year!  You have now entered this thing called ‘The Real World’, where you must work to strive for the life you want.  It’s exciting, it’s overwhelming, and you have no goddamn clue what is about to happen.  You’ve probably stalked your friends’ Facebook to see their “exciting” news they share with everyone (my bf & I are engaged! We’re pregnant!).  Friends, family, and other accquaintances may have provided you with countless advice about how to achieve the goals you want in life.  College may have prepared you with the knowledge, but nothing can ever prepare you for what surprises life has in store for you.

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There will always be a beginning, middle, and end whenever you first start reading a new book.  A book introduces you to the new characters you follow, what their dilemmas are, and how the overcome their obstacles in the end.  Right now you are in the middle stages of life where you don’t know how things will get sorted out and THAT is the scariest shit that is on everyone’s mind right now.  Everyone is scared of the UNKNOWN, what lurks beyond your comfort zone outside of your hometown.  Some of your most burning questions will finally be answered once college is over.  Will I figure out my dream job?  Where do I want to live in the world?  Will I ever find the right guy/girl for me?  Am I even making the right choices?

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As far as I know, you’ll have to answer those complicated questions yourself.  I started MakeSandcastlesNotWar solely for the purpose of expressing my passion of entertainment through blogging.  What started as one blog post introducing myself to the world has now become a daily habit of blogging about interesting news within the entertainment industry.  Truth be told, I honestly don’t know where this blog will take me in life.  I know that I will continue to write about subjects pertaining to entertainment, but maybe it could be shifted towards unique stories that I have never heard of.  Maybe I will throw in stories pertaining to fashion or pornography or environmental issues.  At the end of the day, even I don’t know what the future holds for MakeSandcastlesNotWar.

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I know that I am not alone when I say that I am scared shitless for what life has to offer me.  You can set up all the plans you want, but life will always throw you surprises every step of the way.  Some of you may know what you want to do and that’s good, while some of you have NO idea what you want to do and that’s good as well!  Life isn’t ever figured out after college, but that is what makes the journey so interesting.

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It’s OK to be overwhelmed with all of those advices and tips that everyone tells you about how life works.  At the end of the day, you should feel EXCITED about what’s to come next after graduation.  Maybe you’ll find the guy of your dreams or land this new job that you end up loving because of this new hobby you discovered.  You may be venturing into the unknown, but some of those surprises could be life-changing.

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All I have to say now is: GO FOR IT.  Take charge, explore new places, and make mistakes!  Search for the guy/girl of your dreams, find the job that YOU want, and don’t be afraid of any opportunity that comes in your way.  I believe it was the theme song for United States of Tara  that says, “I know we’ll be just fine when we learn to love the ride”.  Once you learn to love the ride, you will be ABSOLUTELY fine.  Just sit back, work your magic, and watch life unfold through your very eyes!

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Battle of the Bands


Colleges always have fun events happening within the last few weeks of the Spring semester.  With everyone freaking out about final exams and massive amounts of work to complete, it makes sense to provide some stress-free activities for the students.  My former college Salem State University is chock full of those fun events, including a ‘Battle of the Bands’ concert.

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Yesterday I attended the first ever Battle of the Bands philanthropy concert at Salem State University.  The Battle of the Bands concert was held from 2-7 PM and featured various band competing for 1st prize.  This was hosted by the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity chapter of the school and it took place at the James L. McKeown Memorial Plaza.  Most of the proceeds went toward benefitting veterans who were searching for mortgage-free available homes.

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The concert itself was free, but there was a $10 charge for people who wanted food and drinks.  Food included burgers, hot dogs, chips, and various toppings for your meal.  Beer and wine were sold at the beer garden where young adults can socialize about the show!  There was a 3 beer or wine limit on your wristband that you receive at the gate.  Raffle tickets were also sold to provide people a chance to win some cool prizes.  Prizes included a box filled with snacks, a popcorn bowl filled with DVDs, and a beach package with everything you need for a trip to the beach!

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There were seven bands that played their set during the event.  Bands that participated include GUDSFORLADT, Good Intentions, Man Behind the Curtain, The Frauds, Sway Casey, FREEVØ, and Everyday Astronauts.  Each band played a different type of music genre such as black metal, hip-hop, electronic powerhouse, and classic rock.  Good Intentions was a cover band for Fall-Out Boy and they sang the classic hit “Sugar We’re Going Down”.  Listening to that tune took me back to the emo/punk scene I was fascinated with during middle school!

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Many students took time from their busy schedule to check out the bands that were playing.  Some people threw the Frisbee around while others played the popular corn hole game.  It isn’t a real college environment without playing the classic corn hole game with your buddies!

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After hearing some amazing bands play some tunes, it was now time to reveal the final scores!  3rd place went to the energetic hip-hop group Sway Casey.  The 2nd place prize went to The Frauds.  Everyday Astronauts ended up taking the 1st place prize for being the best band at the concert.

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I had a great time attending this free concert at Salem State University!  It felt good to venture back to my old school to hear some unique bands rock out.  This was a fun event to reunite with my old friends and I even made some new friends of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity.  All of this was for an amazing cause to help veterans find a good home after returning from the perils of war.