Study Abroad Awesomeness

Autumn Wright 4I’ve heard plenty of excuses why students don’t want to study abroad. They don’t want to miss out on a semester. They’re afraid they’ll get behind. Perhaps there’s an internship they want to do, or a concert they want to go see. Maybe they think that it’s too difficult to put all their friends and family behind them and run away for a year.

Let’s get this straight: study abroad is not always the glamorous life depicted on the glossy brochures in front of Dr. Collins‘ office, where a politically-correct diverse range of students stand in front of An Important, Easily-Recognizable Monument and flash their Photoshopped-white teeth at the camera on a perfect spring day.

But sometimes it is.

Autumn Wright 3The Road to Cultivation 128There are moments that feel perfect, those once-in-a-lifetime sparks that imprint themselves on your mind. Standing on a bridge over the Seine on New Year’s Eve at midnight while the Eiffel Tower lights up and fireworks flash over the Parisian skyline. Climbing to the top of some ridiculously tall, ridiculously old cathedral so you can catch a glimpse of the city from above. Lying on the grass with new found friends from all corners of the globe, the taste of the pastry you bought at the nearest boulangerie still on your tongue. And, feeling like the world’s biggest bad ass for navigating London’s winding roads and underground on two hours of sleep.

Autumn Wright 2Study abroad will lead you to places that you never pictured yourself going. For example, even though I’m studying in France at the moment, I’ll be going to England in a fortnight with my job. I have an internship this summer through my school here in France that spans across three different countries, taking me all the way from Amsterdam to Paris. (Which seriously rocks. If I’d stayed in Atlanta, I would probably have some cookie cutter internship that would have involved making copies and using my honed barista skills to brew pots of coffee.)

Autumn WrightSeriously. Study abroad is one of the best experiences of my life. College is one of the only times where you can take a semester or two “off” and just go somewhere and it’s perfectly acceptable. If you try doing the same with your boss in a couple years’ time, I doubt they’d be too thrilled to let you go adventuring across Europe. Study abroad now, or else regret it later.

Autumn Wright, an Oglethorpe University junior majoring in French, is studying abroad and interning in Lille, France.

Making My Difference: Being A Part of Oglethorpe’s Online Strategy

Chandler Anderson '13 shown in one of his favorite spots on campus, the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art.

One of the best things about a small school like Oglethorpe is the potential for students to contribute in a big way to the campus, either through student organizations or by working for the school itself. When I returned for my senior year after a year of studying in Japan, I wanted to make sure that I left my mark on the school before graduating and going into the real world; I took every opportunity I could find to be more involved, which initially included taking a more active role in my fraternity, Chi Phi, and joining SGA as a Senior Senator.

In August 2012, I met fellow student Mon Baroi in the university’s café. We immediately connected based on our interest in technology and web start-ups, and through Mon, I learned about Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe’s student communications agency. Mon, who at the time was working for Pegasus on a Test Drive ad campaign for adult students, sold me on what sounded like a great opportunity: the chance to work with a talented group of people whose job was to make this university look good.

As a Pegasus web content developer, I was responsible for helping to maintain Oglethorpe’s websites. This included co-planning the design of the new summer and special events sites on WordPress, making timely edits to out-of-date web pages, and editing images and videos to be put on Oglethorpe’s websites. Also, I got the opportunity to look at Oglethorpe’s Google analytics statistics, which gave me tremendous insight into the kinds of traffic Oglethorpe attracts online on a regular basis.

Chandler (far left) shown with other Pegasus members during their behind-the-scenes tour of CNN, courtesy of alumnus Joe Sutton '09.

The most interesting thing about working at Pegasus was integrating what I have learned in my business courses with the work I was doing with online media, which would usually be stereotyped as communications field work. As a senior business administration major, I have pretty much gotten a taste of everything the business division at Oglethorpe has to offer, from management courses that evaluate business strategies, competitive advantages, and internal and external forces, to economics courses that analyze the relationship between supply and demand and satisfying needs in the free market, and marketing courses that look into how producers attempt to read consumers and shape products for a target market that will encourage transactions and customer satisfaction. When I decided to take this internship in my last spring semester, I saw it as a great opportunity to apply what I had learned in these courses to online media.

At Pegasus, I got to work with an awesome and fun group of people that made me look forward to coming into the office for work. My experience with Pegasus was a great way to give back to Oglethorpe, and being involved behind-the-scenes at Pegasus has given me technical and analytical skills that will no doubt prove invaluable in the business world after I graduate.

 

 

My Internship: Curating an Exhibit at the OU Museum of Art

Chris (center) pictured with other Oglethorpe arts students during a short-term trip to New York City, led by Professor Alan Loehle (in background).

I’m a senior at Oglethorpe, with a double major in history and art history. During the spring 2013 semester, I interned at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA) and had the opportunity to curate an exhibit that had a very special purpose.

You might not know that Oglethorpe’s art museum has a large permanent collection of precious and rare works of art that has been acquired over the years (and continues to grow). Not many universities can claim to have original works by artists such as Henri Matisse, Joan Miro or Salvador Dali. OUMA has also exhibited original artwork in exclusive exhibitions that are not shown anywhere else. Elizabeth Peterson, who became the museum’s director last summer, believes that the museum is a valuable and essential institution from which students of Oglethorpe should be able to benefit and learn. I’m one example of that.

Chris pictured with library staff member Toni Zimmerman during an exhibit opening reception for the OU community.

The exhibit that I had the chance to curate was dedicated to pieces of art from OUMA’s permanent collection that tied in neatly with two art classes offered this semester, printmaking and figure drawing. I included OUMA’s early sketches of figures from the estate of Delacroix that showed an artist’s analysis of human facial expressions. A beautiful chalk drawing of a nude by Renoir showed the rich color and detail a drawing can demonstrate. Sketches and prints of Parisian streets by Pierre Bonnard displayed how artists can find inspiration around them.

At Oglethorpe, you can study and have firsthand access to genuine artwork that could potentially serve as sources of inspiration for your own art or as a topic for a research paper. The museum also is the setting for concerts and educational lectures—and potential internships. The advantages that Oglethorpe’s museum provides both students and faculty are endless. I know I received an opportunity that I can’t imagine having anywhere else.

Read more about the Oglethorpe Art Department’s short-term trip to New York City to study art in February 2013 (pictured at top).

Telling My Story: Lessons Learned by a Psych Major in the PR World

Through my internship with Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe’s student communications agency, I recently had the opportunity to attend Real World PR, an annual conference held by the Public Relations Society of America (Georgia chapter) for students interested in public relations.

As I waited for the conference to begin, I chatted with a group of students who had traveled more than 12 hours to attend. Fortunately, being in Atlanta afforded me this, and many similar opportunities, without an exhausting commute. When the other students attending began listing their majors, all fell under the communications umbrella. I was the lone psychology major.  I questioned, how does that fit into the PR world? But, as the conference progressed, I began to learn that my major was just one of many angles to my own story I could share to promote my skills and attributes.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Jodie Charlop, an executive coach. She described her seemingly disjointed career path, but went on to explain the common themes in her repertoire of experiences. She encouraged us to work on weaving together our many experiences to create a story—our own story.

Similar to Charlop, my own resume reflects my exploration into what I should do in life and for a living. I have been a circulation assistant in a library, worked as a resident assistant, interned at a consulting company, and currently work with international students at EF (Education First) and in Oglethorpe’s Career Services office in addition to interning at Pegasus. Needless to say, with the exception of my current internship as the Public Relations Specialist at Pegasus Creative, the rest of my resume does not exactly fit the PR mold.

I began to understand how relevant Charlop’s talk was to me and my challenge. Throughout the rest of the day, as I began to attend more sessions, I began to think how I could use my major and variety of experiences as ways to stand out and be memorable.

During a session about PR niches and myths, PR professionals from companies like Moe’s and Children’s Health Care of Atlanta spoke about their stories and experience in PR. When asked about their backgrounds, all stated that they were undergrads in communications, with the exception of one, another psychology major. It was then I realized I was not an odd man out after all. The point of the breakfast presentation began to sink in. PR is about how a company is presented, and as aspiring PR professionals, we can utilize the same strategies when presenting ourselves. We only need to tell our story in a compelling way.

Finding My Way at the Modern Media Conference

As a senior at Oglethorpe, my current goals involve deciding where I want to go with my life, which paths I wish to embark upon and which journeys I will undertake.  Ironically, on a physical plane, my navigational abilities are not exactly “present.”  Maps and signs befuddle me, as do landmarks, and I can find myself getting lost in ways that are so bizarre as to be impressive… from a certain angle, that is.  While my “impressive” skills at getting lost were no different at Georgia State’s Modern Media Conference (it took me half an hour to find the cafeteria), in a deeper sense, there was some direction to be found—the type of direction that every college senior ultimately desires.

Debra Bryant '12 and Marisa Manuel '13 at the conference

I chose to attend Georgia State’s conference because of my editor position with The Tower literary magazine, as well as my internship with Oglethorpe’s Pegasus Creative (the University Communication department’s newly-launched student communications agency that gives us the opportunity to gain real world experience in a collaborative team environment).  The conference, held September 28-29, was packed with more than 20 guest speakers from major media outlets such as CNN, ESPN, WSB-TV, HLN, and WXIA.   I was accompanied by Director of Communications Renee Vary, Assistant Director Debbie Aiken ’12, and Pegasus Creative’s Web Content Development Intern Debra Bryant ’12 (who also came on behalf of The Nightcap, the Evening Degree Program’s newsletter.)

The four of us had numerous lectures to choose from, some headed by photojournalists, others by newspaper editors, and a few by the professors at Georgia State themselves. The variety of seminars offered went far beyond what I had anticipated, and I used up an entire booklet taking notes on what was discussed.

Throughout the course of the day, I was able to attend five sessions, ranging from a passionate lecture called “Get to the Damn Point!” (something which I have admittedly not done yet—read on!) to an informative presentation on what makes student government an exciting body to report on. (As a member of our school’s SGA, this was especially topical for me!).  Journalist and Editor Michael Koretzky ended the conference with several stories concerning his own experiences in the professional world; he encouraged the audience to “be fired for the right reason,” before recounting several situations in which he was fired for just that.

So, what is the “darn” point of me writing this?  Well, there are several points I wish to share with you—I had fun, I learned a lot, and I hope to have more opportunities like this in the future.  Is this where I want to go with my life?  Do I want to work in PR, journalism, broadcasting, or some other form of media?  I don’t know, but I now see them as options, which puts me a step closer to finding my way than I was before.