Jumpstart Mediocrity

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. With less than a year left at Seattle University, turning the gears beyond my eventual internship and remaining classes seemed like a good idea, and the PRSA Jumpstart was my first opportunity. Featuring a number of assorted speakers including a former professor and personal friend, there was just enough familiarity in the line-up to assure some level of quality and qualm any sort of unfamiliar anxiety.

Offering mock-interviews and resume scans, the local PR gurus kicked off the event with some practical, applicable, real-word input that I’m sure myself and everyone in that room could’ve used. Not having a resume nor in the mood for a 9am role-play, I politely declined and quickly found the coffee. With SU’s Strat. Comm. major being as small as it is I soon fell in with a handful of classmates, each of whom I had shared at least one class with.

Though heavily promoted throughout the communications department, we were by no means the only school there, with PLU, Central, UW and others across the city in attendance. Certainly a smaller gathering than I expected, however, with few more than 60 or so people ranging in age from 19 to almost 50. As a male I was one of less than a dozen there.

Once everyone’d got their chance to grab a nametag and glad-hand, wheels began to turn and Mark Firmani of Firmani & Associates was introduced. Five minutes into him explaining the importance of a good GPA and what annoyed him most about new kids in PR, I realized after scanning the lineup that all those with little to say were set to go while the auditorium was still waking up. I am by no means an expert when it comes to professional behavior, but at 26 years the value of a 3.5 and decent pants is not rocket science. He was nice enough to share his email address in the event any of us had questions, but that was his best contribution.

By the time he left it was 11, and even with a pen, notebook and ready mind I found little worth noting in the next three hours. I was disappointed to see that included my old professor and friend Whitney Keyes, who spent the majority of her time giving an extensive life story while promoting her book.

Highlight of the gathering was easily a gent from Microsoft, a Kyle Warnick. Personal branding was what he had to tell us about, and did a mighty fine job with his own six-step process and its strong emphasis on storytelling. However aside from his encouragement to be yourself, invent yourself, make plans and meet people, he was wanting for solid material.

When the event at last dispersed I was glad I’d come, what with the notes I’d taken and the few classmates rubbing shoulders. I’d rather it didn’t cost me $40, but I guess that’s tuition? I’ll go looking for people before I start collecting how-to books… Call me a cynic, but it’s always the relationships that’ve taught me most. Not to mention cheaper.

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BSing into Work

I swore I’d never return to Starbucks: after being fired by the same manager twice you’d think there was no way I’d even get back if I tried.

But, as Fate would have it, the Emerald City had other ideas, and I got another apron. Believe it or not though, I quickly came to prefer Seattleites wanting coffee over the Canadians (in Bellingham), the majority of who had been the rudest and most demanding of any customer I’d had, anywhere. Normally delightful people, long as you’re in Vancouver.

Anyway, next time someone behind the register sells you on a “Clover” brewed coffee, and not the pay-for-it-walk-out drip you came in for that’ll “…take just a few minutes”, you can spend that precious extra time chatting up the barista on his teeny machine, sometimes as much of a break for him as it is for you: grinding beans, stirring the coffee, idly bantering away with either you or a coworker. “Take five.”

A casual bullshitter such as myself can, from time to time, actually find myself enjoying this place of work, and I’d like to think it shows (from time to time). Regular customers can warm up to this, weather or not my being cheery has anything to actually do with them. Either way, the everyday bs can earn customer satisfaction, which is what you’re getting paid for. “Connecting” is what the management likes to call it. Sometimes though, sometimes if you can just take it up a notch and try discussing more than just the rain or say, the age of their dog, you might find yourself some opportunity where you never before expected any…

Real-life example: customer and myself are chattin away, comparing daily lifestyles, school, angst, what have you, and he gets wind of my being a Strategic Communications major across the street at Seattle U. Turns out, a roommate of his has been in that industry for thirteen years, with her last five spent across the lake at Microsoft.

Long story short, one friendly reference, a dozen or so emails and one very long bus ride into Redmond, and I’ve got myself a friend in the business who’s already looking for more of her friends in the business to toss my way. Could a college junior desperately needing guidance and an internship ask for more?

Maybe another job.

Professional Biography

As a junior in Strategic Communications at Seattle University, Cody is anticipating a
Spring 2014 graduation that will bring him into the professional world of marketing and public relations. Cody’s passion for challenges, risk taking, problem solving and people led him to pursue a career in an industry in need of those exact abilities.

Homeschooled in the San Juan islands of the Pacific Northwest, Cody quickly developed a love of the outdoors and especially the water, learning to sail long before learning to drive. Growing up outside of the public school lifestyle brought Cody into contact with a great variety of people, many of who were much older with backgrounds far removed from his own.

Shortly following his move to Bellingham, Washington, Cody enrolled in Whatcom Community College’s Running Start program, allowing him to simultaneously finish high school while earning his first two years of college credit. These two years were also accompanied by his involvement with the Boy Scouts of America, which allowed him to build leadership skills and kept him outside.

Upon his graduation from community college and advancement to the rank of Eagle Scout, Cody was feeling restless. Having chosen college over a trip abroad with friends, he soon found his way to Central and South America, volunteering with local non-profits and churches during his travels through Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Belize. It was in Belize he began crewing aboard a catamaran chartered for tourists, spending six months at sea before finally returning home to Bellingham.

His return to Bellingham showed Cody the reality of time as friends began to leave for other states and cities, his home growing smaller in the process. Seeing himself grow older developed a sudden need for a life beyond the college parties and local bar scene (both of which sapped his energy and emptied his pockets). Restlessness again fueling a trip south, 2012 saw Cody’s acceptance into Seattle U’s Strategic Communications program, his move into the big city both thrilling and terrifying.

What he plans to do with his chosen major is usually a topic he’d rather avoid, but crisis communication has piqued his interest. As long as the job doesn’t involve cubicles and has an ocean in its zip code, Cody’s open to ideas.