Alt for Everyone Recap -and- Giveaway!

MSWgiveawayForgive the hiatus… I’ve been a very busy bee. For the last several days, on top of tons of interviews and work, I’ve been participating in Alt Summit’s all-online Alt for Everyone conference. It’s a little nerdy and a whole lot of fun—the perfect solution to help beat my limp celery blueeeess *cue jazz music.*

As a participant in the conference, I get to attend seven classes, one keynote, and one meet-n-greet type session. I won’t get too into the nitty gritty details, but to summarize, I listened in on:

Branding with the amazing Rachel Shingleton of Pencil Shavings Studio. Rachel was so wonderful and this was such a great class to start with—she built out several prompts to better identify what my blog / brand is and what my brand is not. Not quite as easy as it sounds, but hopefully my new brand can help drive the success of Musings she Wrote!

Break into Video with the bubbly Alison Faulkner of The Alison Show. Alison literally named her show after herself. But she’s the main attraction; she’s super engaging and upbeat and was great about expressing the importance of just getting out there. Down the road, I hope to build more video content into the blog, but I’m still working out the kinks so bear with me.

The ABCs of SEO hosted by the king of “geek chic,” Duane Forrester of Bing. Duane was an incredible resource, chock full of various techniques and widgets and all kinds of nerdy analytics. Not only will his course help me grow my blog, but it’ll also help me build my family’s business and help me professionally.

Working with Brands, sponsored by Collectively, Inc. Working with brands—big and small—is how bloggers make money nowadays. And as a PR professional, I was interested in both sides of the equation. As a blogger, I think collaborations are a great way to share the things I love with my readers, so I’m working on it!

Making Money in a Changing Media Landscape with Meg Keene of A Practical Wedding. This class was really interesting, in that it taught me that more and more, bloggers have to get creative about leveraging their brand for the moneysss. It was also an exercise in humility. I, unsurprisingly, am small potatoes in the blogosphere.

Overcome Overwhelm with Hilary Rushford of Dean Street Society and Whitney English. This class was amazing (and I tweeted up a storm while watching it). Hilary and Whitney were just *so good* together, building off one another’s ideas and promoting general debauchery. This class was by far my favorite—blogging meets goal-setting meets talking nerdy about organization. How could a type-A creative like me say no?

How to Win Your Dream Sponsor with Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind. Erin covered her own pitching techniques and how others can adapt and personalize their approaches. Great insight!

I came away from the conference with a newfound passion for creativity, and so many ideas and tips and I a little bit feel that my head might explode—so bear with me if I start getting my blog on. I can’t help it!

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As part of the conference, Alt sent “goodie bags” full of treats—things like cards, gift tags, reusable gift wrap, more gift tags… there seemed to be a theme. Giving.

And because I thought Alt was amazing, I thought I’d share a little bit of that experience with my wonderful readers by sharing some of the loot, specifically a three pack of lip gloss in scrumptious springy colors. I know it’s not anything extravagant, but it’s still a fun surprise! And I’m now reaching out to some of my favorite brands to be able to do things like this more often.

InsideandOutThe Inside and Out lip colors come in three colors and are 100% certified organic. Further, the company donates 10 percent of all revenues to charities that support women. Amazing, right 🙂

There are several ways to enter:

—> Tweet about me with a link to mariandaniells.com.
—> Leave an engaging comment on any of my posts.
—> Start following me on Twitter, Bloglovin, or subscribe via the “follow” tab at the bottom right of the screen.

You can enter as many times as you want between now and May 20th. At that point, I’ll work to calculate all the submissions and pick one at random! Best of luck and thanks for sharing in my Alt for Everyone experience.

TED Talk Tuesday: Rethinking Charity

With my recent work at my PR firm, I’ve focused a lot on corporate social responsibility. It’s got me thinking again about sustainability and how businesses can generate a triple bottom line—soliciting financial, environmental, and social returns (Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!). And yes, huge companies really can do that. In fact, I’m reading a book right now called Everybody’s Business, which argues that huge companies are those best prepared to make an impact because they influence market trends and they have the tools that drive innovation.

A little back story: I was really hesitant to study social entrepreneurship, partly because I didn’t want to take a class with AB (for obvious reasons not at all limited to the small detail that we’re both incredibly competitive) and partly because I thought all that “do-gooder” stuff was idealistic. How, in a post-2008 world, can a company rely on donations from strangers? But my professor showed me that there are ways to get-‘er-done that make financial sense, too. So I drank the Kool Aid and jumped onto the CSR / triple return bandwagon and never looked back…

Until Dan Pallotta made me take an even deeper look. Philanthropies (which run on donations) aren’t a hopeless model, he argues. It’s just that we expect them to fix problems without the resources of huge companies. We expect them to draw talent without proper incentives. We expect them to have a zero balance at the end of the year, and spend a minimal amount on “overhead.” He argues: Why do we let for-profit companies “invest” in long-term R&D and initiatives, build their brand and team and resources…but not non-profits?

Oh, and he does it all with some endearingly self-deprecating humor. Enjoy!

New York in December

In a first date of sorts with my new city, I walked around some of New York’s most well-known holiday destinations, drinking in the festive atmosphere and filming. Though I’d originally intended for the video to be standalone, I’ve also included detailed information about my “tour” and each of the locations I visited, so it can be recreated by any festive-feeling tourists in the city.

Click the map for more information on where I went, as well as the the landmarks’ hours and addresses. Happy New York Christmas!

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Statistics about the post-grad job search

dream-job-nowI’m no expert, but in my—sometimes frantic, sometimes incredibly organized—job search, I’ve learned a lot. Rumor has it that the graduating classes of 2013 and 2014 (to be honest, I’m not sure which I am) are entering the most promising job market since the economy went haywire. Which is great, let’s be honest. And thanks to Northeastern’s incredible co-op program (why don’t more school’s follow this model?!), graduating huskies are desirable candidates with almost two years of experience, despite being fresh out of school.

Since most of my peers are graduating in May, and thus just now starting their job search, I thought I’d share some fun tidbits and advice. And since I’m not an expert, I’ll share the cold, hard facts, and save my own observations and hard-learned lessons for another post. So readers, here are some statistics about the current post-grad job market:

The stat: More than 70 percent of jobs are found through networking. While the actual numbers vary (some claim the real number is 80!), all of the research indicates that at least 70 percent of jobs are found through networking with real people.

What this means: Spend 70 percent of your time networking (or at least more time networking than blindly applying for random positions). Find a job on indeed.com that you love? Then shimmy on over to Linkedin and use the “advanced search;” type in your target company, and your school to find alums that work at the company. Reach out to the alumni organization for an email, and viola! Networking. Other places to network include sororities or fraternities, alumni networks, social media, parents and parents’ networks, previous co-ops, and interest/professional groups.

Studies show that internal recommendations account for the most job offers, and external recommendations for the second most. So get out there and meet for coffee, tea, dinner, Skype, whatever. Even a blind email… If someone’s fighting for you from the inside, your chances are exponentially higher. And you have someone to get lunch with on your first day 😉

The stat: Seventy-nine percent of employers now conduct an online search of applicants. Seventy percent say they have turned down applicants by what they found online. However, only 7 percent of job applicants were concerned about their online reputations.

What this means: Um, don’t be among those 7 percent. Spend an afternoon going through and “purging” your online presence, untagging unflattering photos, deleting tweets that could be easily misconstrued, and polishing up your online persona. Google yourself. That’s what others will find, and if it’s unprofessional, then do what is necessary to clean it up. If you’re like me (sorry, one little personal interjection), and can’t delete your embarrassing middle school blog, then make sure it doesn’t show up on the first page of search results.

The stat: More than 90 percent of employers seek their assistant’s opinion when interviewing and making hiring decisions.

What this means: Make every bit count. If you’re lucky enough to be invited for an interview, don’t ruin it by blowing off the receptionist or assistant or janitor or doorman. They’re on the inside; you’re not. This also means no playing on your phone/iPod/iPad/dohiggie in the reception area. Bring a book, or take the opportunity to take notes, or observations about the workplace. Is it someplace you feel comfortable? Is there anything that might prompt a good question for your interview? Do the employees look engaged and supportive?

Also, I (personally… again, not an expert) think it’s okay to ask people like the receptionist or assistant if they like working there, have any advice, etc. Don’t be pushy—I mean, their opinions count, so don’t go asking them about salary or something wildly inappropriate—but they know the company and interviewer better than anyone.

The stat: Only 7 percent of women negotiate their starting salary, while 57 percent of men do. By not negotiating, an individual stands to lose more than half a million dollars by age 60.

What this means: Know your worth. the fact that so few men negotiate is astounding, and the fact that practically no women do is… disgusting, really. And helps explain the wage gap. Do your homework, and consider the following—what do similar positions at competitors pay? How might the salary be adjusted to reflect the cost-of-living for your city (a position at a company in New York will pay higher than that same position at that same company’s Florida office. Adjust accordingly)? Remember that this company gave you an offer. They want you. And if they can’t negotiate salary, consider benefits, vacation time, and moving up your review date, so you can be considered for a promotion sooner. There’s lots of great advice out there for you.

(**That being said, a word of advice from my career counselor: Don’t negotiate for the sake of negotiating. If it’s a fair salary, then go with it. And don’t negotiate with a company unless you really want to work there, pending some minor changes**)

Sneak Peek: Long Island (photos)

IMG_0144So, my day was interesting. If feeling like you’re in a living horror film is “interesting.” Which it is… it’s also creepy/ terrifying/ exhilarating/ awesome/ amazeballs. Today, I went on a field trip to Long Island, Massachusetts. Never heard of it? Yeah, neither had I until I randomly searched “homeless people” on reddit because I’m weird like that.

Turns out Long Island is something of a quarantine/safe haven for the city’s homeless population, as well as a headquarters of sorts for Boston’s Public Works. But it’s also the supposed inspiration for the thriller “Shutter Island,” and there’s a guard at the entrance to the island, and there are a ton (I mean A TON) of abandoned buildings. Oh, and it’s haunted by some “lady in crimson.”

Well I heard about it and thought… hmm THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME. So I tried and tried and tried to get permission to visit and today, I finally did. Then they opted to give me free range of the island and I basically went hiking with my friend (whom I guess I’ll call Batman), where we found the abandoned, creepy Fort Strong, originally built in 1815 and moved to the island later. Naturally, we decided to go in it.

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You can’t tell from this photo, but it was the scariest “room.” Pitch black without flash or cell phone flashlights.

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Harbor lookout.

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Terrifying? Told you.

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Once we were done with the fort, we stumbled back down the island and came across an abandoned house. Naturally, we decided to go in it.

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This photo’s actually better in color, but the lighting was perfect. There was still a milk carton there, like someone had just up and decided to abandon their house. Apocalyptic.

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So far as I can tell, the papers here are doctors’ papers. Still legible.

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And thennnnnn we came across the hospital, with a gate with a lock. That wasn’t locked. So… naturally we decided to go in it…

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…where we found hospital beds. Terrifying? This. Is. My. Life.

And here are some other cool, slightly less terrifying photos from my little field trip. Amazing, overall. Video to come!

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If the above photos aren’t creepy enough, THERE IS A KID’S SUMMER CAMP HELD HERE.

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No clue what building this was but there was a pillar in it?

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Lastly, because my friend and co-explorer asked… I have to add: “#nosecurity #YOLO #wereprobablygunnadie.” You’re welcome, Batman.

Slideshow: Reflections on Paris, one year later

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Inspiration from mom…

This one’s another mom-inspired post (What can I say—she knows me so well?). But it also seemed like a good prompt/opportunity to reflect. One year ago, I was living in Paris, traveling every opportunity I could. Ever since I read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and learned about Santorini, I was a travel junkie. Later fueled by Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love, I made a commitment to myself that traveling would forever be a priority. And it has: I went to college 3,000 miles from home, went on a (mostly) self-funded tryst throughout western Europe, moved alone to a new city for my first co-op, and studied abroad. I can pack a mean suitcase, navigate the French consulate, and eat anything. But I thought I’d reflect on some of the things I learned in Paris, specifically, that still ring true one year later.

I prefer to travel alone. This is the most valuable thing I think I learned. Just like I’m not the biggest fan of group projects, I don’t like traveling with others. Think about it—traveling is like one massive 24-hours-a-day, group project, complete with language issues. But mostly it’s about clashing travel styles. I can travel with my mom easily: we both want to wake up early, mozey through museums, picnic in pretty parks, and splurge on great food. But other people muggy up my travel zen. With all due love and respect, I don’t want to hear about how tired/hungry/poor/bored you are. Nor do I want to plan my day around your eating/bathroom schedule. And I especially, especially do not want to be your tour guide. Pick up a guide book and figure it out. ‘Tis not my job, homeboy.

Traveling costs. The above traveling alone stuff being said, I do know that travel costs. It costs time, money, energy, patience. I get it. I just try to ignore it when I’m traveling. Because museums and picnics and the druggie-like dreams when I pass out after a day of walking around are totally worth the exhaustion. And the food?—TOTALLY worth it. But when I’m literally living in a travel-ish, foreign environment, it’s overwhelming. There were days (dare I say weekends?!)  I never left my apartment, because I was sleeping 16+ hours a day. AND I WAS IN PARIS, arguably the most beloved and beautiful city in Europe. I never picnic-ed on the Pont Neuf, never left a lock on the Pont des Arts (I love Paris’ ponts, or bridges), never saw the catacombs. Again. Traveling is costly, and sometimes I just can’t afford it.

I can always go back. This is the most incredible thing about traveling. Too often, I witness people glued to their cameras, stocking up on cheap China-made souvenirs, trying to commemorate their trip without actually enjoying it while they’re there. That isn’t to say I don’t like trinkets here and there, but they’re small; I like postcards, which I stick in my journal and which boast better pictures than I’d ever be able to capture. Knowing there are postcards for cheapcheapcheap in the store frees me up to see the beauty of some new place without peering though a camera lens. But in some cases, appreciating the beauty isn’t enough, so I confort myself with a tiny little promise: I will come back. I don’t make make this promise lightly, because I have neither the time nor means to travel much in the near future but some places are worth it.

Paris, itself, was the perfect example of one of those little promises. When I first visited Paris in May 2010, I promised myself I’d come back. And in my hotel in the 14th arr. one night, I switched my fall courses and changed my study abroad plans from South America to France. On that note, I decided to compile a mini slideshow (I’m working on the whole multi-media thing) of places I visited last fall that I promise I will return to.

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A Boston journalist’s take on the marathon bombings

58128_10151616813503760_94963851_nA week ago today, two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Two hours before they exploded, I’d been standing at the second bomb site.

For the past week, the bombings are all anyone’s been able to talk about. It’s a “where were you when…” situation that’s sickeningly similar to 9/11 recollections. I’ve waited several days to try and grapple with, to evaluate how I feel about everything. I know it’s something I want to write about, something I want to encapsulate in the foreverness of the Internet, but something deeply personal, too.

The United States of America was assaulted on Monday. Boston was assaulted on Monday. The 190 people that were killed or maimed in the past week were assaulted. And so was I.

AB kept asking me if I was okay because I wasn’t talking a whole lot (To be fair, I’ve been really sick and couldn’t talk if I wanted to). Mostly, I’ve just kept quiet because I don’t really know how to process very well. When 9/11 happened, I was 9 years old and 3,000 miles away, so everything seemed eerily distant. Most of my classmates had never seen New York, and most didn’t have family working to rescue victims and clean up the aftermath—For the most part, I felt very alone in my naive perspective of terrorism.

Though the scope of this attack is only a fraction of the World Trade Center, it’s admittedly more impactful for me. I’m older, for starters; and I’m a witness to the horror. I’ve walked that street, I’ve seen people crutching through the city with bandages covering their shrapnel wounds. I’ve come to adopt this incredible city as my own in the past 4 years, and I was deeply offended that someone could attack it.

On Friday morning, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. to get ready for my internship. When I’d gone to bed hours earlier, two bombing suspects had been identified in photos by the FBI, and an MIT security officer had been shot and killed. Overnight, the events had escalated far quicker than I ever would have thought.

I got into the newsroom early and spent the next 13 hours stalking the Twittersphere, calling sources, running memos between the newsroom and the studio, and doing—for lack of a more comprehensive term—journalism.

Halfway through the day, I drove back into the city to pick up a friend. I was chilled by the empty streets, how a thriving “Hub” of a city could turn into a war zone in minutes. My city looked downright apocalyptic. I let the radio gab in the background and drove my friend to the newsroom, where producers promptly put her on air. A native Russian, she translated the living suspect’s social media page, summarized Slavic news coverage, and kept me company. Everyone was so thankful, and anchors and producers told me I’d done great work…

Me? I’d brought in a girlfriend. But then I kind of realized that that’s what journalism is: It’s networking and pooling resources, sharing knowledge—and I’d helped that process. With her knowledge and my journalistic intuition, we were able to pull relevant information that helped our viewers contextualize the situation.

If I’ve ever had a doubt in my mind whether I loved journalism or not—and we all know I have because it’s been on this blog—it was dispersed on Friday. In a sad way, that fiery, crazed mess of a newsroom was everything that makes me love journalism. Every scoop is a race, and even when I lost, I just kept running.

Hours later, I stumbled into AB’s apartment, crumpled onto appropriately named “Fancy Couch,” and fell asleep to the familiar sounds of on-air ad-libbing. I woke up to the 6 p.m. newser wherein officials basically said “We have no leads and can’t keep people contained anymore.”

When I woke up next, he’d been caught. Continue reading

Ventfest: The Big, Bad, Biased Media

Image converted using ifftoanySo I’m a journalist, right? I’m published (and not just on my own blog); I (almost) have a journalism degree; I know the difference between who and whom; and that just because a story involves the Kardashians, it doesn’t necessarily qualify as news.

Today in the news studio, a fill-in camera man was making conversation and asked me whether I was Republican or Democrat. Now, for starters, I hate that question because politics aren’t a matter of black and white, or red and blue. I don’t fit into any one category, nor do I think that politics are measured on a scale, like sexuality. More like, politics are measured on an axis. There are numerous factors and dimensions. But rather than babbling on and explaining the polarity of politics, I just said “Sorry, I don’t answer that question.”

I know, I’m so mysterious, right?

Really, I’m just careful. When I mention that I’m a journalist, people immediately label me Democrat, one of those evil “leftist media types.” Which isn’t true at all. I’m not Democrat. I’m not Republican, either. I’m Marian Daniells, bitches, and don’t ya’ll forget it.

But all silliness aside, people are very critical of the media. The media is biased, they say. The media only tells us what they want us to know. The media only pushes their own agenda and exploits innocent people in the name of journalism.

To which I say…

Yeah. And?

I try to be unbiased, and I think many journalists maintain their integrity. But I can’t speak for the industry. There is nothing that says that journalism has to be unbiased, and actually it used to be entirely biased—Federalists read Federalist pamphlets, and Whigs read Whig pamphlets. So, things are actually less biased.

But sometimes, there aren’t two sides to a story, and that’s that. Media is still biased, and if consumers are stupid enough to think that this is the only industry that is biased, they’re kidding themselves. Media is biased because media, dear friends, is first and foremost a business.

We’re not a government-funded public service—we’re individual, competing businesses, working terrible hours for terrible pay and trying to combat impossible challenges like the big, bad Internet, and a world of consumers accustomed to instant gratification. Consumers demand, and we do our best to deliver.

So the media is biased, you say? Then do something: Start a blog, a community pamphlet, a podcast, a news station, a letter to the editor. Tell us what you think and what you want. But the point of the big, bad media business plan is not to brainwash and psych the American public. The business plan—like any business plan—can be boiled down to a pretty simple bottom line: Make money. No matter the news medium, the (ultimate) point is to sell ads. And in order to ensure that advertisers pay us, we need to keep up reader- and viewership. That’s you.

We report what you want to see or read. Simple as that. And if you don’t like it, change the channel, cancel your subscription, and tell us why. When we see people speaking up, or changing the channel, we change our style accordingly, we adapt. But don’t just blame the media. We’re not all crazy Green Party activists determined to brainwash the general public. We’re not the bad guys—not really.

We’re just trying to pay off our student loans.

Ventfest: My Future (and the Lack Thereof)

Image from Blogging Belmont

There’s been a lot of turnover at The Globe. Mostly, it’s people leaving for other papers or publications, usually for the benefit of their families (more money, less time commitment). But people leave for months at a time on book leave as well. There’s something incredibly disorienting about it, and not necessarily because people are leaving, but because they’re not being replaced. The Globe has gone trough hard times in the past, cutting back on labor and laying off hundreds (thousands?) of people. They rely more on freelance work than ever (cheaper because they don’t have to pay medical benefits) and are replacing local voices with wire stories.

To say it’s a difficult time for the journalism industry is the understatement of the decade. Journalism as we know it is dying. And I used to take that to mean just that journalism is changing, morphing with the incorporation of social media and tablets and apps and blogs (Oh, heyyy). But the last couple days–heck weeks–have been disheartening. And honestly, I’m a little bit scared for my future and well being. I’ve already survived on peanut butter and honey before, and I would prefer not to do it again.

They other day, a colleague approached my coworker-slash-friend and asked her if she was still thinking about going into journalism (presumably after having seen the turmoil in the office). “Get out now while you can,” he said. Continue reading

Farewell to WOOF

I realized that I never posted the most recent issue of WOOF. But I will be leaving the staff, passing along my little creation to the next generation of talented journalists. In all honesty, I never anticipated how much work the magazine would be, and as such I have so much respect for entrepreneurs and editors and managers, oh my.

It’s a bittersweet farewell. I feel like I’m closing a chapter of my life–the chapter where I get no sleep, gain and lose weight like a yo-yo, and feel like a puddle of stress. But still a beautiful chapter. I just hope that the capable hands I’ve left the magazine in will be able to mold it into something bigger, better, stronger. But to be honest, I don’t have many doubts.