Non-IA Reflection: Building a Brand – Using Social Media to Your Advantage

It is no secret that in the digital age, communication and brand building heavily relies on social media. Every word written, picture posted, and every mention are drawn right back to your own name. In this era of snap judgements and quick-scrolling, how can we make sure that we properly brand ourselves and how can we stand out? On Monday, February 25th, from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM, John Bates, a junior at OSU, and a Smith-Steeb Residence Advisor, hosted an event covering this topic.

John hosted this event in order to offer his peers some tips for developing a personal brand on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, hoping to prepare us for ASC Internship Week. After properly defining the power of a personal brand, John had us contemplate what we wanted our own, unique personal brand to be. One of the key points I took away from this discussion was that if you do not define your own personal brand, others will for you, and I think this is extremely relevant in today’s era.

John included statements from Forbes Magazine that tend to enhance one’s professionalism. One key point was that feedback is often disregarded as unimportant, but in reality, asking questions is one of the most impactful way that you can improving your brand. In addition, supplemental activities, such as saying yes to opportunities that coincide with your brand statement and joining peer groups, are shown to enhance your brand.

Some additional overlooked tips include your own brand statement, or bio, which John compared to the classic “elevator pitch.” When writing this bio, it is of the utmost importance to be unexpected; embrace your quirks! These are the details that will set you apart from others.

When creating a LinkedIn profile,  include the same information as your resume, a summary, detailed information, headline, and a professional photo. As a part of the program, John offered free professional headshots to those who showed interested. In addition, he gave helpful hints and tricks on “netiquette,” such as being brief and breaking up texts to make paragraphs less daunting.

Further development of social media branding should make you stand out to future employers. LinkedIn listed 10 terms that are overused by professionals in their profiles: motivated, creative, passionate, driven, extensive experience, organizational, strategic, track record, responsible, and problem-solving. These are words that automatically lump you together with your peers, it is essential to embrace what makes you different.

In particular, I think events such as these are very beneficial not only to IA Scholars, but all students. The topics covered allowed me to see how marketing myself towards others is a life-line quality in the era of globalization. People can view your brand from anywhere in the world, and media allows us to engage ourselves in this global community.

This event was very beneficial to me overall, especially professionally and personally. It allowed me to connect my education to something meaningful. I was able to transfer this knowledge and apply it to my own LinkedIn and Handshake profile.

LinkedIn is a great tool to showcase your personal brand to employers. However, it is important to keep in mind that your brand on other media platforms matters as well. It is imperative that your activity matches what you want you brand to be and what you find important. You are marketing yourself towards not only potential employers, but potential experiences.

How my professional network was impacted:

Reflection: MLK Day of Service (January 21, 2019, 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM)

The Office of Student Life at Ohio State University annually hosts an MLK Day of Service, in which students have the day off and are given an opportunity to participate in service events throughout the community. Although temperatures were sub-zero, this did not stop the hundreds, even thousands, of students that showed to give back.

OSU Students prior to departure from COSI after a day full of fun and hard work.

A large group of International Affairs participated in the event, and myself along with 9 others ended up being placed at COSI for the day. At COSI, we were cutting 4-inch plastic tubes and sorting rubber bands into plastic bags. The bags would be used to integrate science in elementary communities and teach complex topics in a simple, and fun way. Although these seem like tedious tasks, it did not feel that way. This didn’t feel like service to me; it was too fun. Being surrounded by my peers made the experience very enjoyable for all us. It was very cool to learn about how our service would be used to impact the community. Prior to this event, I had only experienced very few service events that I had truly enjoyed. I have a newfound sense of the term ‘service.’ For example, prior to this day, I had viewed service as another thing on the to-do list. I think lending a helping hand did more for me than it could have possibly done for others, but learning about the impact first-hand was much more enjoyable. I hope to gain more experience in this area of my life.

As a pillar of GOALS of Honors & Scholars, committing to the community on such an important day in history meant a lot to me and my peers. Various ideas from the pillars of International Affairs were also represented: we got to extend a helping hand into the community on a day that celebrates diversity and the fight for rights. Where would IA be without these ideas and respect?

Ana Kaffenes (left) and Anne Knellinger (right) are prime examples of how team work makes the dream work!

Prior to departure to COSI, we attended an opening session at the Ohio Union where various performances were put on to celebrate MLK’s legacy. Something about the idea of thousands of individuals gathered together to honor his ideas and dedicate their day to serving was just so powerful. You could feel the energy vibrating in the room. The speakers made a great point at well that shifted my perspective: MLK day is about a celebration of his lasting and on-going legacy more so than mourning.

I have truly shifted both my perspective on MLK day as well as learned about the impact of MLK himself. I had always felt as if the day were a time to be mourn over both the loss of a king and those who inhibit growth of a community. However, it is more about encouraging to continue the fight for rights in today’s era. This depth of understanding is important to every aspect of my life. A deeper respect has been rooted in my mind for those around me. Determination, leadership, and service can go further than you will ever know. These are all concepts we have learned before, but reading is a much different than experiencing the impact firsthand. As MLK said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” 

First year IA Scholar and ePortfolio mentor, Paige Hile, giving two thumbs up for MLK Day of Service! 

Service Reflection: CRIS Tree of Hope

Community Refugee and Immigration Services, or CRIS, is a non-profit organization that aids immigrants and refugees, and eases their transition into the community. Every year, CRIS has works with a school called Columbus Global Academy (CGA) to paint a mural. On Saturday, December 1st, a small group of International Affairs Scholars, including myself, were able to lend a hand in the painting of a mural at Columbus Global Academy (CGA). CGA is a school in the Columbus City School District designed to educate solely international students.

A few of my peers were able to design the mural, centralized around the theme, ‘Tree of Hope.’ After speaking to one of my close friends, Anne Knellinger, I realized how much thought had truly gone into this mural. Anne and two other artists had collaborated to research some of the school’s different nationalities. They decided to utilize popular folk tales from each of the countries, and to paint common characters around the tree.

When we arrived at CGA, we were handed pencils and paint brushes, and went right to work! It was really a fun program to participate in, as painting is a very therapeutic activity. Working alongside my peers was also a great experience, and quite humorous, as the majority of us are not artsy whatsoever. We had holiday songs playing in the background, coffee, and bagels to get us through the morning.

In high school, I had never really thought of service events as anything other than something else on the to-do list. This was my one of my first true experiences where the service didn’t feel like service, it felt like fun! I think it is really important to be a part of the community and to give, so I think organizations like CRIS really aid in building this leadership skill. Plus, IA’s mission really centralizes on the theme of diversity. Previously in our class, we had touched on immigration issues quite a bit, as well as social events that focus on the refugee crisis specifically. I had been very interested in this for quite some time, and this event let me explore the concept much more than I could have been exposed to before. We were able to integrate our learning from the classroom through community service, and we were able to impact the diverse cultures that are present in our own backyard. The experience was eye opening. I had never been inside of a school that solely houses international students. There were so many people from diverse backgrounds that had all been together in this school coexisting.

After talking to the leader of this project, Jeremy Hollon, I quickly realized how much these murals mean to the students in the building. Another mural in the building is a compilation of all of the different flags from where each student comes from, and he said that each time a student passes their flag, they will place a kiss on the wall. Although a bunch of cute animals on a wall doesn’t necessarily resonate with us, it may help encourage struggling students and maybe make them smile through all of their difficulties.

Non-IA Reflection: Drum and Dance Classes with Balla and Ndeyekhady Sy

When I was scheduling classes for this semester, I decided to knock out one general education requirement with Music Cultures of the World.  The structure of this class is unique in that a portion of our grade is dedicated to a written ethnography reflecting on a performance that ties into what one would not consider classical “Western” music. Although I had been interested in Africa long before, this class had me absolutely captivated with African culture and music.

On October 8th, I had been invited to attend a Goree Drum and Dance session by two people: a graduate student in the School of Music, and a teaching assistant who gave me a flyer.  I was at the library when I quickly glanced at the flyer to find the time and location of what I thought would be a performance, and decided to dart straight to the Union. I arrived just as the dancers and musicians arrived, and paid the entry fee. However, I quickly noticed that I was the only one not dressed to perform. It was then that I realized there was no audience; this was a class!

Serrita Sy, the dance instructor, welcomed me in, and introduced me to the class, as I was the only new dancer. She had me kick off my shoes and join in. As soon as all of the dancers were ready, Balla Sy began to play the Djembe (African drum), accompanied by a musician and his Djun-Djun (three drums). The graduate student that had invited me earlier was shadowing Balla and repeating patterns with her Djembe.

The dancing began with about 10-20 minutes of a warm-up, and I began to write-off African dance as easy, but within the next hour, I was tripping over my own feet. As time moved on, the music sped up, and got significantly more complex. We performed in sections, as it was a competition dance in West Africa. Serrita was kind enough to take her time with me to show me basic moves, while the others in the class were dancing like leaves in the wind. It was a beautiful dance to watch, and the women I was dancing with were incredibly talented. After we completed the class, we bowed down to the drummers and placed a delicate kiss on the floor.

By the end, I was shocked at the differences between both music and dance in African context versus my own cultural context. This experience was one of the coolest things I have ever done. An interpretation error on my part lead to me making one of my best memories in college. There is nothing that I can compare to actually immersing yourself into an alternative culture. This class allowed me to understand the key differences in context of music and dance between the Classical Western Music and African Music, which enriched my academic experience tremendously.

This event supplements my work an International Affairs Scholar really well because the lesson completely engulfed me into another cultures practice, and I loved it! I have a newfound appreciation, knowledge, and respect for the West African Culture, music, and dance. The event raised my own global awareness, original inquiry, and academic enrichment significantly, which are all some key pillars of being an Honors and Scholars student.

Earlier this year, I had been contemplating volunteering abroad in Tanzania over the Summer of 2019. However, I had been hesitant to make the leap and commit. Although Tanzania is not in West Africa, this event helped me realize that it is these unique experiences that satisfy the callings of my heart.



Reflection: Education Abroad Expo

Reflection: Education Abroad Expo

I knew that I wanted to study abroad in my time at Ohio State, and the Education Abroad Expo only heightened that desire. Essentially, the expo gave me access to hundreds of global education programs, provided me with resources to refer to when planning my trip, and allowed me to ask questions. The opportunities are endless. I was provided with a list of locations of internships, universities, and pre-requisites for eligibility. They provided me with contact information for people who can help me plan my trips, and overall made education abroad a more realistic goal for me.

This topic is applicable to International Affairs because it allows me to achieve global awareness by immersing myself in different cultures. Although the expo didn’t directly correspond with anything we have learned so far, it was a presentation of all of the ways I could engage myself in education and diversity abroad. In addition, I plan to minor in a language, and when I am advanced enough, I can enrich my learning outside of the classroom.

I feel very comfortable living in unique circumstances and travelling. I will surely miss my family and friends, but I know they will always love and support me. I believe living in new environments can be hard, but the outcome is well worth it.

When I go abroad, I want to work or participate in research, or both! Professionally, this would look great on my resume because it would show experience applicable to my field. Academically, experiencing other ways of life will allow me to enrich my learning in a new culture. My heart desires adventure, and these opportunities allow me to chase that.

If I could design my ideal education abroad experience, it would be a combination of language and cultural immersion, education, and work. In my time at Ohio State, I plan to study abroad two to three times of varying lengths. There are four locations that interest me for studying abroad: Tanzania, Antarctica, South America, and Australia. In Tanzania, I would plan to stay one month and achieve 4 credit hours in the process. The Tanzania program I am interested in will allow me to observe wildlife in a very different environment while satisfying credits for my major. If I went to Antarctica, I would do it my senior year for one to two weeks. Although I didn’t see a program like this at the expo, from previous research I do know they exist. I want to go there to observe wildlife, as well as conduct research. If I went to Australia or South America, I would stay for a whole semester. In Australia, I would prefer to have an internship and conduct research, whereas in South America I would rather research and learn while immersing myself in a new language.