A Look Back on 2011

As the end of the year approaches, it seems that most of the articles are reflecting on the last year. Journalists write about the best campaigns of the year, and the worst campaigns of the year.  They write about the most memorable parts of the year, and the most painful moments of the year.  Last year I wrote a post called the Final Post of the Year that went month by month through the best parts of 2010.  I really enjoyed writing that post and looking back on my past year so I figured I would do the same thing for 2011.

January

In January, I went to the Dolphins/Patriots game in Foxboro which is something I have wanted to do since I moved to Boston.  The Dolphins obviously got killed, but it was still a great time.

I also started my last semester of college at Boston University.  They had a few celebrations for seniors.

With Dean Elmore and John Battaglino

February

I had some exciting trips in February.  First, I went to Chicago for the first time.  I went to DePaul University’s PRSSA conference.  I wrote about it on an older blog post.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend exploring the city with my awesome tour guide, Nick Lucido!

Sky Deck!

The Bean

Deep dish pizza!

A week later I went skiing for the first time at Mont Tremblant.  It was definitely scary learning how to ski at first, but by the end of the weekend I was getting the hang of it.  But I have heard that your first time skiing should not be on this mountain.

March

In March I did something I had been looking forward to since I heard it opened.  HARRY POTTER WORLD!

April

This month started off bittersweet.  I went to Seattle for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I always looked forward to my PRSSA trips, and this one was my last.  The next committee was elected, and I was so excited and proud of them.  But it was also (potentially) the last time I was with everyone in my committee at the same time.  PRSSA continues to mean the world to me and truly made a huge difference in my life and my career.  I was also awarded with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award.  Oh, and I caught a fish in the Seattle fish market!

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PRSSA National Committees

The 2010-2011 PRSSA National Committee Saying Goodbye

Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award

May

In May, I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations from the College of Communication and a degree in Business Administration from the School of Management.  I also received the Gerald Powers PR Scholarship, Blue Chip Award and Scarlet Key.

Scarlet Key

Blue Chip Ceremony

June

Even though I officially starting working on May 31, my new hire training at HubSpot started on June 6.  After six months of working, I can still say I love my job!

July

In July I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time enjoying Boston and getting together with friends.

BSMA Brunch

August

In mid-August, I co-founded a Young Professionals Network for the Public Relations Society of America in Boston.  Then at the end of August, Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference that included 45,000 people this year, began.  My responsibilities at HubSpot all summer consisted of working on our presence at Dreamforce and planning for our HubSpot User Group Summit.  David Kirkpatrick of MarketingSherpa wrote a case study about our presence there.  It was memorable, exciting and turned out very well despite Hurricane Irene’s attempt to keep the HubSpot team in Massachusetts.

September

September was the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) in Boston with 1,000 customers.  It was inspiring hearing many of the HubSpot customer stories and seeing how excited the customers and HubSpotters were to meet each other and learn from one another.  And I cannot leave out the balloon sprocket at the opening reception.  I had honestly wanted to do this since my first day at HubSpot!

October

October started off by going to Maine for the first time!  I have wanted to see more of New England since I decided to stay in Boston after graduation, and this was the first step.  I also had lobster for the first time.

Then all my dreams came true, and I FINALLY got the Verizon iPhone!

And I, of course, had to highlight it on my Facebook Timeline:

November

This month was busy, but at the end of the month, I went with HubSpot to Cloudforce.  It was great to see everyone who I had worked closely with all summer for Dreamforce.  And it is always fun to meet HubSpot customers and talk to other people about the company!


December

At HubSpot, not only are we around some of the greatest marketing professionals in the industry, but they constantly take the opportunity to teach us as well.  HubSpot, therefore, set up a program called HubSpot Fellows.  The CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, teaches a bunch of classes on leadership and helps us become better leaders at HubSpot.  It is an awesome chance to learn from Brian but also interact with other HubSpotters who are part of the program.

Happy New Year to everyone!

From College Years to the Real World

The last 12 days have been a whirlwind.  I graduated and a little over a week later started my first full-time job.  So before my posts change from being “Rachel Sprung on PR: The College Years” to “Rachel Sprung on PR: The Real World,” I wanted to write a post about my time at Boston University.  My last two posts highlighted my love for Boston and my love for PRSSA.  But without understanding my background story, these posts may not make any sense at all.  Because my love for the two really came from my incredible experience as a Boston University student.

I decided to come to Boston University for it’s public relations program.  Unlike most high school students, I knew I wanted to be in communications, and I knew I wanted to be in public relations.  The program at Boston University is known around the country for producing some of the finest public relations professionals, and I wanted to have a similar opportunity.  I also wanted to be in the city, and BU really fit all of my criteria.

But when I got my acceptance letter (early decision, of course), I had no idea what was in store for the next four years.  I did not know that I would be traveling around the country meeting other incredible public relations students.  I did not know that I would become an active part of a public relations circle in Boston.  I did not know that I would not only plan various events on campus but around the city of Boston.  I did not know that I would be so immersed and excited over technology.  I did not know that I would love Boston as much as I did and ultimately make it my home.  And I truly owe that to Boston University.

The thing about Boston University that makes it unique from other schools is not only its location and curriculum but the way faculty and administration put themselves out for their students.  What other Dean of Students do you know would come to an off-campus event you put on to support you?  Dean Elmore does.  How many faculty would answer your frantic emails about life’s problems at odd hours of the night?  Professor Quigley does.  I cannot even name the number of times I have asked for help from various professors, and they have dropped everything to give me advice or given me a contact in the area who could help me out.  Boston University faculty try to get to know their students at a personal level in order to help them make the best decisions during and after college.  And they truly succeed and graduate some of the best students in the country.

Graduation weekend was full of exciting events to celebrate the last four years.  So I obviously have to share some pictures!

Scarlet Key Ceremony

First, you sign the book.

Then you get knighted!

Then you get a pin!

Blue Chip Award

Blue Chip Recipients

School of Management Commencement

My Cap!

Getting My Diploma!

Commencement

Katie Couric!

With the Family!

College of Communication Commencement

Getting My Diploma!

Tyler Hicks, NYT Journalist

So to everyone who has touched my life at Boston University, thank you for an incredible four years.  I really believe this is the best institution, and I could not have gotten a better education anywhere else.  So thank you, Boston University!  I plan to be a very active alum ;)

A New Yorker Who Decided to Stay in Boston: Reflections of an ALMOST College Graduate

When I first visited BU, I loved everything about it.  My parents and I got out of the car on Bay State Road to get a tour, and I immediately told them that this was the college I HAD to go to.  (To which they responded, “You have to look at the school first.”)  It was a rainy day, but I was in love.  And everyone kept saying to me that if I loved it that much on a day like that, then I would love it even more when it was nicer out (which I obviously found out was a small percentage of the time thanks to New England weather).  My tour guide was a PR student, and I asked her a million questions.  Long story short, I knew I wanted to go to BU, and I knew I wanted to be a PR major.

I also had other goals in mind even from the time I was a freshman.  As I entered my freshman year, my sister and future brother-in-law were moving to New York City.  As a Jersey Shore girl, I decided that I too would graduate and move to New York City.  I also realized I had extra space in my schedule and decided to do a dual degree between PR and Business Administration.  That summer I had my first internship at Nike Communications (a boutique PR agency focusing on luxury brands) and absolutely fell in love with the city.  At that point I decided that when I graduated I was going to move to New York City and work at a PR agency.  Keep in mind, I still had three years left of college.

The following summer I was at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  Even when I was there, I told my supervisors that the plan was to go back to NYC and work in a PR agency.  But when that next semester started, something weird happened.  I was on my routine run around the Charles River, and as I crossed the Mass Ave. bridge and looked at the city, I felt at home.  I felt more at home than I had even when I was at home or in New York City.  But I ignored that, because I had said for so many years that New York City would be my home.

So I continued to intern in New York City during the summers.  I spent the next summer at Burson-Marsteller, and the plan remained the same.  I had the Jersey Shore a train ride away, the city at my disposal and many friends and family in the city.  Plus, there was no doubt that I was a New Yorker at heart.  I loved the hecticness of Wall Street, walked just as quickly as the locals and enjoyed the crowds.  The fact that NYC isn’t really clean didn’t bother me.  Spending a lot of money on small amounts of food didn’t really get to me either.  So why would I live anywhere else?

As I entered my senior year, everything changed.  The thought of moving away from Boston made me miserable.  I loved the feeling I got when I arrived back in South Station or Logan, and going to Penn Station did not give me that same feeling.  How could I move away from a place that I loved so much?  How could I move away from a place that I had made my home for the past four years?  I always called Boston my “college city,” when in fact, it should have been called my “home city.”

Changing your future when you have had a plan for so many years is difficult.  I had always planned to start my career in New York at a big agency.  Deciding to stay in Boston at potentially a much smaller agency was scary.  It was really hard to realize that I wanted something different.  And it was really hard to realize that sometimes the work/life balance and happiness outside of work should be a huge factor in deciding where to live after graduation.  Yes, work takes up a lot of time, but it is also important to love the city you are in.  Choosing a city that is not New York City does not diminish your accomplishments and is not any less prestigious.  The larger cities are not necessarily the right fit.  I know I could move to New York City, thrive in an agency and survive off a low salary in an expensive city.  I could do it, but it would not be the choice that would make me the happiest.  And that’s how I made my decision to stay in Boston after years of saying I would move to New York no matter what.

So after making this decision, I want to give some advice to those who may be in my position as they enter their senior years (or even as they think about these choices before senior year).

1) Don’t miss out on networking opportunities because you never know what city you will end up in.  I went to many events in and around Boston even though I thought I was going to end up in New York.  There are many professionals in Boston who can connect you with people in other cities.  BUT, you also do not know where you will end up until you are graduating.  There may have been a few events I decided not to go to because I “knew” I wanted to be in Boston.  But look where I ended up.  Always take advantage of the opportunities you have in your city/college town.  They really do pay off.

2) You do not have to be in New York City to be successful.  Many people have the idea in their head that because it is the largest city and the hub of many industries, it is the only place you can make a name for yourself.  Yes, there are thousands of incredible people there, but there are also thousands of incredible people in other cities.  New York will always be there.  You can always go to the city later in life.  And when you are at a smaller agency in a smaller city, you may have the opportunity to have more responsibilities and learn more than you would have at a larger agency in the larger city.

3) When looking at agencies, look at the culture.  Look at the people who work there.  Look at the work they do.  Look at the work/life balance.  The name of the agency is not always everything.  A name will not make you happy.  Other things do.

4) Try new things before you graduate.  This past year I have stopped going to so many traditional PR events and gone to many digital/social media events.  I used to only go to PRSA events, but now I have gone to events put on by The Publicity Club of New England and The Ad Club.  Don’t limit yourself.  Try out new things, and see what you like.  You could be completely surprised by what interests you.

5) Make the most of your college years.  Go to professional events, but also be a student.  I didn’t learn this as much until my senior year when I really felt like I had a good balance.  The balance is key when you are a professional, but it is also key when you are a student.

So to all those who are skeptical of moving to another city, take it from a New Yorker who decided to stay in Boston: I’m proud of it, and I’m excited to start my career in Boston.