A Semester with Sonnhalter

Interning in Public Relations

Archive for December, 2008


Posted by sonnhalter on December 23, 2008

After going through a week of work, finals, graduation and everything that goes with each of those, I can attest for the skill of balancing your time and not procrastinating. I think being able to do this and doing it well is probably the most important skill a student can learn.

Procrastination is an unfortunate skill that most college students thrive in. I, like most, have let the 12-page paper go until the night before it’s due and have tried to read a semester’s amount of chapters in a weekend but trust me, it doesn’t work.

In high school I was able to balance my school work and extra activities pretty easily. I didn’t work during the school year and most of my teachers didn’t give out extensively long assignments. When I went to college I took that attitude and those study habits with me and I suffered as a result.

It’s not high school…

From the first year of college you need to realize that your classes are going to be very different than high school. I was an extreme case because I went to a high school that had less than 500 students and went to a college that I would find 500 students in one class.

Don’t Procrastinate!

I worked through college and was a part of a few clubs on campus. Very quickly I learned that I had to adapt my study habits to be successful. I was able to do this and because I have been able to do a lot more than some of my fellow students.

Some basic tips to be successful:


I know it is a crazy idea but you will understand everything better if you are in the classroom. It also will get you all the little points for participation and you will know if there are changes to the syllabus.

  1. Keep up on the reading

You don’t want to have to read six chapters right before a test. Also, if you read beforehand you will know what is confusing for you and be able to seek help.

  1. Finish your paper at least a day before it is due

If you finish you paper beforehand, you can go back and look at it with fresh eyes. You will be surprised how many mistakes you find after just one day. If you finish it even earlier, you could even possibly have your professor look at it.

  1. Befriend people in your classes

When you know people in the class you have a great source for notes you missed or explain a lot of things that you might not get, but they do. You also can make study groups.

When you can start doing this, you won’t be overwhelmed (well hopefully not) when finals week comes around and you will realize how much information you already know.

I am also saying all this because I know it works. I was able complete internships, work, go abroad and travel, volunteer, and participate in clubs throughout my college career and keep my grades up because I adapted how I approached and studied for my classes.


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Social Networks Offer Great Opportunites Beyond Making Friends

Posted by sonnhalter on December 18, 2008

socialnetworks1Most people, especially people my age, think of social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, as places to just make friend connections. While this is definitely true, these networks can be utilized in so many other ways also.

Connections beyond your friends

One of the really valuable elements of social networks is the ability to connect with people in your profession without ever having to leave your house. There are professional groups, pages, causes, etc. for every topic imaginable and now a days you can find most people with an account, including professors and professionals.

When I was working on the “Do It Now” campaign for a class a few semesters ago, I went on Facebook and became ‘friends’ with other people working on the same campaign in different states. I became connected with people across the nation who had participated in the same project and could help me with it. I was also able to join many groups that supported our cause and get opinions on the topic from a broader audience. These ties were vital to our work; two of our main tactics were developed from the connections made through the social network.

Meet the professionalstotalpercentages

Most professionals have caught onto the social networking wave and have made accounts for themselves. I am ‘friends’ with both my professors and co-workers on Facebook and Twitter advisors, professors and some people.

First, by doing this you really get to know a person. My professors who update their page or status often are seen in a completely different light now. Making connections with my professors on Facebook has made me feel more connected with them. Because I can read their interests and opinions online I haven’t been as intimidated by them in the classroom.

When I started at my internships becoming friends with my co-workers online helped me connect better with them in person. You can find things in common even though you don’t have the time to get into extensive conversations during work hours. I felt like it really helped me feel more part of the team.

It can help you learn an organization

Social networks can help you learn about an organization too. A lot of organizations have taken advantage of Web 2.0 and have Facebook pages or MySpace accounts, where people can find information about the organization.

Before I applied for my internship with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, I went online and checked out its Facebook page. Komen is a great example of an organization taking advantage of social networking. They utilize about every tool available to them and as I discovered when I started working there, have someone monitor Web 2.0 and update their various elements.

On Facebook alone, they have a pink ribbon application, causes within the cause application, several pages, Facebook accounts and several groups. All the elements are updated and each has received an enormous response from users.

I was able to learn a lot about the organization before I even accepted the internship and was ‘friends’ with several employees before I ever met them in person.

So next time you browsing your social network of choice, keep in mind how you can use it to your advantage professionally.

I do want to make a note that I am specifically talking about just social networks that are typically used for friend connections not professional networks like LinkedIn.

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