December 5, 2012

Find and Follow Your Passion: A Review of the NY Creative Interns Conference

Saturday, November 10th, Pratt Institute welcomed the NY Creative Interns and a variety of creative professionals onto it’s campus for Find & Follow Your Passion, a conference by NY Creative Interns in partnership with the Center for Career & Professional Development (CCPD) at Pratt Institute  (#findpassion).  NY Creative Interns provided Pratt Students with a full day of discussion and hands on workshops with some of the coolest creatives and companies in New York City.  Here, students were able to learn about different industries and network with professionals and peers, all in order to build a foundation for creative success.   

Now that the networking is done, however, what does one do with the information gathered?  Making connections is just the first step towards pursuing one’s goals, now comes the time for real world application.  Thankfully, this is exactly what the workshops NY Creative Interns helped us figure out.  We at Peer to Peer have compiled a quick rundown of the panels we found helpful, in hopes that the information will be of service to those who were unable to attend the day long conference.    

Mission Accomplished: Turning Ideas into Reality
Reviewed by Britt Gettys

In one of the second panels of the day, Tim Smith, Digital Manager at Marvel Comics, Rebecca Taylor, Communications Director at MoMA PS1, and Sarah Cooper, UX Designer at Google, moderated by NYU student Lexi Lewtan, discussed the ways in which one’s brain child can become a real world object.  While the process of taking a thought and transforming it into a tangible reality is one of extreme vulnerability, these three professionals managed to expose the bare bones of the process.  

The first step in turning an idea to into reality is a no brainer: have an idea.  As Tim Smith implored, instead of working on ideas that aren’t yours, build your own concepts, gather them together, and pick the best one.  Not only does this allow you to exhibit your creative muscles but you’ll be more invested in the concept than if it were something belonging to another person.  When it comes to entering the creative job market, passion is key, and it shows best through your personal creativity.  

Once the idea is formed, Sarah Cooper quotes Michael Jackson to get her point across: “Don’t stop till you get enough!”  Be thorough and get your idea out there.  Make a name for yourself in order to build brand exposure and awareness.  This doesn’t mean selling out, so much as showing companies and other creatives that investing in your idea is worthwhile because it has a following, engages others, and that you’re capable of managing it.  The easiest way to do this: Social Media.  

Rebecca Taylor states that Social Media is the key resource these days when it comes to building a network of followers and exposing your ideas to the world.  Nowadays, Taylor explains, people expect you to be on platforms like facebook, tumblr, twitter, and instagram.  These social networks have become a point of daily, human intersection.  Thus, not only does information travel by word-of-text faster, but social media lends a human quality to one’s work.  Through social media, your work becomes accessible and open for other’s to comment on.  Having already established an audience through social media you know who’s interested in your work and why, and you can use that as a point to persuade others that your work is engaging.

Once you’ve built a reputation for yourself, and by extension, your ideas, comes the moment where you put everything together and pitch the idea.  The foremost step to this is creating a finished product.  Build something that professionals and publishers can look at, interact with, and use to get a sense of your ideas.  The most standard example of this: a portfolio.  Next, take that great leap over the edge and start showing your work to the pros.  Go to conventions, conferences, even the companies and agents themselves, and talk to them about your work.  While this may seem intimidating at first, the goal is to have confidence in your idea and do whatever it takes to convince others to have that same confidence.  It’s important to be realistic here, and to clearly define your own goals in a quantifiable way.  Explain the analytic: who your work will appeal to (target audience), how you know it will reach them (who’s currently following your work), why this is beneficial to the company you’re pitching to, and the cost of the company picking up your work.  When pitching an idea you’re setting out to prove to whomever you meet that your idea is a worthwhile investment.  
The final step, don’t stop pushing your ideas.  Increase the chances of them being seen, and make yourself as available to other professionals and companies as possible.  The creative network is an inspiring place, and if you remain active within it, your chances of success increase exponentially.    

Naturally, this is no step by step process.  The creative workplace is fluid and constantly changing.  Ideas can go straight from the sketchbook to the publisher without having had any exposure to the world at all.  Other times, ideas can float across the web and throughout the creative underground for years before being picked up.  It helps to have a plan of how to go about turning your own idea into a reality.  Recognize the reality and be prepared to put yourself out there.  Aside from believing in your concept, it’s imperative you know it inside and out, that you understand how people will react to it, and are aware of the resources open to you in order for you to make it a success.      

URL to IRL: Use Online Tools to Make Connections In Real Life
Reviewed by Carolyn Greene

When Twitter first became popular I was about 16 and vehemently refused to open an account.  I thought Twitter and it’s constant status-update-like-tweets were just an outlet for desperate attention seekers to spill out the details of their lives that no one particularly cared for.
 I figured it wasn’t for the average Joe or Jane who lead a decent, proper life.  That is, until Saturday, November 10th, 2012 happened.  My life was transformed - at almost 21 years of age, I finally caved and created a Twitter account.

“URL to IRL: Use Online Tools to Make Connections in Real Life,” was a discussion, moderated by Pratt student and fellow Peer Kathyrn Moy, between social media marketing professionals: Mark S. Luckie, Manager of Journalism and Media at Twitter, Nisha Chittal, Social Media Manager for The Travel Channel, Ryan Chapman, the Marketing Director at Penguin, and Jim Hanas, Social Media Editor at The New York Observer, about how to effectively use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs to plant your roots in your industry of choice.  Their primary focus was Twitter, however, and I learned that in this day and age, having a Twitter account is a basic must for all professionals.

Through Twitter you can be in the know about the latest trending topics in your chosen field, take part in stimulating conversations, find opportunities, and build a reputation as someone with something interesting to say.  Luckie states that employers like to look at the lists followers put you on, as it shows that you are intelligent in a particular area.  Luckie also imparts wisdom for those new to Twitter - tweet about your interests, it shows others who you are.  Another tip, from Nisha Chittal, is to import your Google contact list immediately after creating your account - you won’t feel so lost as long as you have your friends there with you.

Planning Ahead: Finance 101
Reviewed by Christina Bull

There is nothing more daunting than the thought of managing one’s money. From understanding the confusing terms, to cutting expenses, to the process of doing math itself, financial responsibility can often seem like a total drag. However, despite popular opinion, managing one’s money really isn’t as complicated as it sounds. It literally pays to understand one’s financial benefits as early on as possible in life!

During session three of the Find & Follow your Passion Conference, attendees had the opportunity to listen to the helpful financial advice of Rebecca Rooney– financial advisor at JP Morgan. On a daily basis, Rooney works with high net worth individuals and their families, non-profits, foundations, and family offices. Last weekend, she applied her financial knowledge towards helping conference-goers understand their financial needs and how to achieve their wealth planning objectives.

The mere word “finance” has the ability to make art and design students quiver in fear.  Let’s face it, not all of us are the best with numbers. Despite this, Rooney was able to skillfully break down the intimidating world of personal finance, strip it of complicated lingo, and tell us all the simple facts.

It all starts with running a credit report to know your credit score.  A credit score is a 3 digit number generated from one’s credit history. Credit scores are a simple way to express one’s financial responsibility, (For example, a good score can help you qualify for an apartment rental and even help you get utilities connected without a deposit).  Every citizen is entitled to one free credit check a year. is a credible example of a website where one can obtain their credit score.  And here in CCPD we recommend students use Credit Karma.  

Good credit may not seem of much consequence to the average college student yet, but it’s imperative to build good credit before you need it. Unlike in school, where everyone begins with sterling grades they must try to uphold, a good credit score must be developed over time. Therefore, it’s important to start in on this task as early as possible. One simple thing students can do to help themselves begin to establish credit is getting a credit card. This card should be used sparingly for small purchases, as to not encourage excessive spending, and then paid off in full each month. NOTE: credit cards will offer you a minimum payment option. Despite the lure of this, make an effort to always pay the full bill! It will positively impact your credit score.

There are also a bunch of things to avoid when trying to establish good credit. Defaulting on a student loan takes a big toll on your credit credit, making it really difficult to take out any more loans.

After getting better acquainted with one’s credit score, make a budget. This is a clear account of your expenses. No budget is the same from person to person, so it’s important to take the time to really analyze where one’s money is going. This requires a degree of discipline, but the rewards are great.

The first step in setting up an effective budget is categorizing one’s expenses into “essentials” and “extras”. This seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s important to be very thoughtful when categorizing these expenses. Often the definition of “essentials” can get a little hazy. One’s essentials are fixed crucial payments that one can’t survive without making. Believe it or not, even if you believe that you’ll perish without that coffee you buy every morning, it still falls under the “extras” category. Extras are variable expenses, meaning they often change from month to month. This category is important to look at when making adjustments. Despite the inherently fluctuating nature of these expenses, try to estimate about how much money is spent on this category of purchases per month, and account for that amount in the budget.

In a budget, necessities are necessities. This is where the majority of one’s money goes. Be sure to set a monetary cushion and use that to build up savings. This allows for preparation to counteract the unexpected, and especially important for the expenses of the “extra” category.

Now that the budget is in place, a lot of time can be saved by setting up all one’s essential expense bills on autopay. This means that each of these bills will automatically draw from one’s savings each month. Not only does this save time, but it also keeps one from spending money they don’t really have, and helps avoid late payments that effect your credit score.

Now more on student loans:  let me repeat, they should always be a priority in expenses.  One important point to know is that federal loans are better than private loans, as they have lower interest rates and are therefore cheaper in the long run. It is similarly imperative to know whether one’s student loan is fixed or floating. Fixed loans have a constant rate of interest that remains for the duration of the loan, whereas floating loans have an interest rate that is constantly fluctuating according to conditions in the national economy. One can call their college to find this information regarding their own loans, as well as find out what can be done to change their status to one loan type or the other.

On another note, there’s always retirement to keep in mind. As a sophomore in college this is hard for me to believe, but one day we’re all going to be old. No matter how totally awesome our jobs after college are going to be, there will inevitably come a day where we all want to have a little bit more time to just sit around, reminisce about our glory days at Pratt Institute, and enjoy not working. For this to be possible one needs a retirement fund!

A 401K is an employer-sponsored retirement vehicle. Essentially, with a little bit of care and attention now, this can become free money for you later on. To get started, one needs to understand how much money they can realistically contribute to their plan. Any amount, no matter how seemingly small, can become a big help later. It’s important to aim reasonably with this number, as you can’t touch this money once it’s deposited into the plan.

On the surface, a 401K sounds like a saving account with a fancy name. In actuality, the benefit of a 401K is far greater. The money retains a tax deferred status unless withdrawn, and compounds. Compounding occurs when your investment earnings or savings account interest is added to your principal, forming a larger base on which future earnings may accumulate. As your investment base gets larger, it has the potential to grow faster. And the longer your money is invested, the more you stand to gain from compounding. 

But what about all the hard-working freelancers out there? Shouldn’t they be allowed to sit around and enjoy their elderly years, too? An I.R.A (individual retirement account) is a self-employed alternative to a 401K.

Though it certainly seems scary now, financial responsibility is especially important for those involved in creative fields. It’s a competitive world for artists and designers, and we are all going to have some point in our careers where things aren’t going well as we would like. We all feel the pains of funds being tight, but being responsible could be the difference between snagging that studio space you’ve been dreaming of, or having to make it wait until later (if ever). We all want to pursue our dreams, and financial responsibility opens up a lot of doors.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Planning for one’s future through investments and retirement funds might not be the most exciting aspect of being a creative professional. Nonetheless, it’s certainly one of the most important! After all, with all of the thought and effort that you put into developing your practice, wouldn’t it be nice to have some peace of mind that you’re not going to end up broke and unable to create your work? Answer: Yes, it would, and there are tons of things college students can do while they are still in school to begin setting up a secure financial future for themselves.

Apply with Grace: How to Land the Interview
Reviewed by Jenny Elfanbaum and Britt Gettys 

In one of the final sessions of the day, Alejandro Ortiz from’s Human Resources Department, Ron Thomas, who works in Talent & HR Solutions at Buck Consultants, and Melissa Enbar, Head Recruiter at Birchbox, moderated by 
Lauren Bloch a Recruiter for AOL, 
discussed the ins and outs of the interview. 
We all know that the interview can make or break your chances of employment, and thus it’s one of the most stressful aspects of applying for a job.  However, the important thing to remember is that even before the interview itself potential employers will pay close attention to the way you present yourself even through your cover letter.  Therefore, the way you dress, act, and handle yourself is key to not only appearing professional, but showcasing who you are as a person.  The same goes for the cover letter, which serves as an on page representation of yourself and commitment to the job you’re applying to.  
Thankfully, we had a whole panel of recruiters and HR reps to give us a list of things to think about when going into an interview.  
First off: Wear nice shoes.  Shoes, any woman can tell you, reflect what your life is like.  Sneakers mean sensible, reflect one’s like of comfort, and suggest a joy of jogging.  A pair of Christian Louboutins not only look edgy and stylish but tell people that you’ve got the income to afford physical pain in your toes and will suffer for a killer look.  Neither of these are appropriate for an interview, but they make the point.  The shoes you wear offer others a look at the type of life you live as well as your priorities.  Thus, it’s important for to select a pair that reflects your personal style, be it funky or comfort driven, but also shows sensibility and professionalism.  Women, when in doubt, the black, closed toe kitten heel is a staple for job interviews, men, think loafers.        
Aside from one’s physical appearance, the cover letter is especially important if it’s asked for.  The goal of the Cover Letter is to explain, to your potential employer, why you fit the position you’re applying to and why you want to work there.  Thus, it’s important to write the letter with conviction and a sense of confidence, but also be honest.  Employers look for individuals with integrity, not just people who can do the job, but individuals who are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and how those match up with the position one’s applying for.  
Never start your cover letter with the phrase “My name is...”  Not only is this given in your contact information and on your resume, but it makes your letter look as if it’s written via template.  A potential employer should never feel as if the cover letter you give them is the same as one you present to another company.  Include specifics regarding the position you’re applying to and avoid stock phrases.  The cover letter should always feel personal while maintaining a level of professionalism on par with your resume.  And never forget to spell check!     
For more information on writing a good Cover Letter, as well as help with resumes and portfolios, check out CCPD's Student Resources site!
Finally, after the interview, be sure to send a follow up note.  Thank your potential employer for taking the time to meet with you and discuss the job opportunity.  This not only shows that you’re aware of your employer’s busy life but also illustrates your conviction and dedication to the job you’re applying for.  Handwritten notes are nice, but should only be done if you’re confident your writing is legible.  The best route, however, is email.  Send the note when you get home for the interview.  The promptness of your Thank You can make the difference between getting and not getting the job.    

No comments:

Post a Comment