Tag Archives: social media

Eclipse Viewing

I am looking forward to the total solar eclipse that will travel across the USA next month. My house lies just south of the path of totality so if it is a sunny day I should be in for a treat. While a total solar eclipse is visible from somewhere on earth every 16 months, the August eclipse is rare in that it will pass over a highly populated area as it travels coast-to-coast from Oregon to South Carolina.

So how does current technology change how we observe and experience this particular solar eclipse? I expect that it will be the most photographed eclipse ever but I set out to find out what else will be different in our modern connected world.

Eclipse Megamovie

The good folks at Berkeley, Google, The Astronomical Society of the Pacific and others are using crowdsourcing to recruit 1000 photographers to take pictures of the eclipse along the path of totality. They will then combine those pictures into what they call an Eclipse Megamovie. These combined photographs will be valuable not only to casual observers but also to scientists. This is a great application of current digital photography, data storage and photo editing capabilities.

Viewing Choices

Modern transportation will also change how some people observe the eclipse. Alaska Airlines has chartered a plane to follow the totality. It will be open to astronomy enthusiasts except for two seats that will be given away through a social media contest. This will give some lucky observers a chance to see the event from 30,000 feet and should eliminate any chance of clouds obstructing the view.

This is not the first time that an eclipse has been seen from the air. A group of astronomers chartered a supersonic transport in 1974 and flew in totality for 74 minutes in order to observe a similar solar event. They were able to fly across the African continent at twice the speed of sound so that they could stay in the path of near darkness as long as possible. We have available to us great tools for expanding our understanding of the universe.

Thoughts

This upcoming solar eclipse may well be the best observed, recorded and analyzed event. There will no doubt be many terabytes of photos taken and shared on social media. Scientists will likely use modern computing power to reconstruct the event and study it for years to come. This is all part of our modern observed life using technology.

Are there technologies that you think will enhance the upcoming solar eclipse? Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Value of Real and Virtual Communities

A couple of weeks ago I learned some lessons on community while in a small rural ranching valley. I learned how a community can come together in an emergency and how they support each other and watch out for one another.

 Perfect Storm

I arrived in this valley at just the right time, or just the wrong time depending on your perspective. Earlier this winter there had been one to two feet of snow and sub-zero temperatures, but when I arrived the daytime temperatures were in the high forties with occasional rain and it barely got below freezing at night. Mountains surround this narrow valley with a river running sometimes close to homes and through ranches. The warmth was melting the snow in the hills and valley but because of the prolonged sub-zero temperatures the ground was still frozen, so it couldn’t absorb the melt. This turned the normally placid river into a quarter-mile-wide path of running water that could not sink into the ground. The creeks coming out of the hills were seeking drainage anywhere they could, which meant flooding over roads and fields.

Life Lessons

During this flooding, I helped position straw bales in front of one home to keep water from entering it. Shortly afterwards, some community volunteers came with sandbags and helped us stack them around the house. After they left a group of at least twenty high school youth arrived and stacked a few more sandbags. I was so impressed by the community response that I asked one of the youth why they were not in school today. His response was classic, “Today is a life lesson day.” It turns out this was their third life lesson day since they spent the previous days filling sandbags and preparing for distribution. This caravan moved up and down the valley helping community members prepare for rising water. What a great lesson indeed for the students.

Physical and Virtual

In the case of potential physical danger it is nice to know we can rely on community to help us, but what value do we get from our virtual networks? There are no virtual sandbags, but it would be shortsighted to say our virtual friends cannot come together to support us. A number of years ago I was surprised to see a friend’s Facebook post asking for prayers for her husband who had just had a stroke and was on his way to the hospital. I would have been focused solely on the physical problems at hand, but her virtual community meant enough to her that she reached out in that moment. The requested prayers were her sandbags against the coming storm.

A recent article highlighted people with disabilities who have built a community in Second Life. They cannot always participate in their local physical communities so they have built a virtual space where they can make friends and get and give support. This is their community and support network.

Thoughts

Since my recent experiences with community support, I have been thinking about the differences and similarities between virtual and physical networks. I value each community differently. My social media friends around the world cannot come to my aid in the event of a physical problem, but they provide me with different support that I value just as much. At the end of the day, I think it is important to maintain both groups. Let me know what you value about your communities, virtual or physical.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Raising Digital Citizens

When was the last time you read the use agreement completely for an app, a website, or new software? I am guilty myself of rushing straight to the “I Accept” button without thoroughly reading the agreement. I justify it, perhaps erroneously, by the fact that I have read standard boilerplate agreements in the past and like to think that I am tech-savvy and understand the implications. As we move into an increasingly digital world, not everyone understands the tech behind the tech and the consequences of agreeing to use documents, particularly young kids who are now growing up digital.

Growing Up Digital

The Children’s Commissioner For England recently published a report calling for increased internet protection for children. They called for greater oversight and user rights of websites targeting children and teenagers. When 13-year-olds were asked to read through the use agreement for Instagram, where many of them had an account, they found the legal language boring and incomprehensible. When the use agreement was rewritten to be understandable, the children were surprised at the rights that they had given up and their lack of recourse in case of problems. The report calls for more oversight of websites and apps targeting children and a crackdown on cyber bullying by children and adults.

In the beginning, the internet was designed for exchanging information between the military and advanced research academic institutions. I am not sure that anyone could have foretold a time when it was being used commercially for exchanging pictures and texts by people of all ages. It has morphed and grown over time and I think we have a responsibility to protect the youngest users.

Digital Responsibility

As educators and parents, it is important that we teach digital responsibility to young people to give them a basis on how to conduct themselves on the internet and in social media. I work with a youth group and we regularly talk about rights and responsibilities while on the internet. We focus on recognizing cyber bullying, sharing private information, and behaving appropriately on social media. We can all think of adults who should have had these lessons growing up.

I recently came across an article that shares ideas on how to teach digital responsibility. They give some great pointers on topics such as using social media wisely, developing a professional persona, and protecting your privacy. We may think that some of these are topics for adults, but children are building their digital footprint already. When my son was still a teenager, he somehow developed a profile that listed him as a 50-year-old veteran and father; the resulting advertisements showed up in my mailbox for several years afterwards. He got an invitation from AARP even before I did.

Tools

Dijiwise is a tool created to allow parents to connect to their child’s social media accounts (assuming they will give you the password). You can monitor multiple accounts, such as Instagram and Facebook, through an app. This tool gives real time notifications so you can steer a teenager toward responsible posting and sharing. Circle by Disney is a device that connects to your home wi-fi and controls all devices in the home. You can set various limits, such as times a device is used, sites visited, or time spent on a particular device. This is useful for monitoring younger children.

Thoughts

Young people are growing up digital so it is important they start off on the right foot. Even with all of the monitoring and tools available, I think that the most important tool is open conversation. “What are you working on tonight?” “How are things going in your social circle?” The earlier we start that dialogue, the better chance we have of setting them up for success as digital citizens. Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Information Bias in Social Media

Photograph of a skeptical young man.I am enrolled in a refresher course on critical thinking and philosophy. I have been studying knowledge and particularly skepticism as it relates to knowledge. In applying these concepts, I realize that I need a healthy dose of skepticism when consuming social network news. Recent reports suggest that fake new sites on social networks and search sites could even have swayed the U.S. election. This news has spread over the last couple of weeks so I want to explore our personal responsibility for critiquing news and social network feeds and determining whether we are getting the full picture or whether we have customized the information we receive to fit our worldview.

Strength of Networks

There has been a visceral reaction to the U.S. presidential election with many people publicly expressing shock and joining in protests in cities in America. According to their network, their candidate should have had a clear path to the nomination. The problem is that we have intentionally and unintentionally built our social networks to look like us. Intentionally, we connect through our networks with friends and colleagues who share our political and religious views. Our network, and particularly social media newsfeeds, are fed by algorithms built to reinforce that bias, which is unintentional on our part. For example, your news feed on Facebook is influenced by who you are friends with, pages you like, what you post, and how you interact with others in your network. A recent article from Spredfast, a social media marketing firm, said it best: “On social media platforms, the world looks different depending on the candidate that you support.”

Is it True

We create networks of associates that look and think like we do. The news we get matches our biases. The question now is how do we know that the news we are receiving is true. We may read several articles a day but not take the time to consider whether they are factual or even plausible. As I mentioned in my post last week, our move away from deep reading may have left us unable or unwilling to take the time and effort to apply that skeptical filter. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are reportedly stepping up their efforts to filter fake news feeds but even if they succeed there will still to be a built in bias, fueled by our online behavior.

Thoughts

I am challenging us all to slow down and take in news thoughtfully and skeptically. Challenge the source and ponder the premises and conclusions the author is making. Are they plausible and factual? Are their sources reliable? Are they slanted toward a particular bias or ideology? Does that bias color the actual news that I am getting?

I will strive to be more careful and thoughtful about news I am reading and will try to find articles from trusted foreign news sources as well so I can get a perspective outside of my own normal network. Do you think the U.S. election has been a wake up call to how we view social media in terms of shaping our worldview? Will it change our habits and usage? What would a less biased and more responsible social network look like? I think the responsibility lies with us to find out. Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Leadership in a Connected World

Key figures in a connected crowd.In the AIM Program’s Information Systems and Management course, we talk about leadership and management. Are they the same thing? Can someone be a good leader but a terrible manager, or vice versa? These are good questions. I have been studying how leadership has changed in the last 100 years as we shifted from leaders who oversee one or more factories in a region to leaders who command large global enterprises. In the past, a manager could walk down to the factory floor and talk with each employee, but modern telecommunications have allowed us to create large businesses and to manage those businesses from a distance. What original principles of leadership remain the same and which have changed?

The Personal Touch

I have read autobiographies of Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, Harland Sanders, also known as Colonel Sanders, and Dave Packard of Hewlett-Packard. As they recount the early days of their businesses they all talk about knowing and interacting with the employees. Part of their leadership style was personal contact, which allowed adjustments to the business model based on employee feedback. According to the Wal-Mart website, the company now employs 2.2 million associates worldwide. How does a leader manage so many people in a geographically dispersed firm?

Networking

One of the answers is focused networking through the use of technology. Even though large organizations still use traditional organizational charts, it takes a long time for a complaint to make it through 10–12 layers of management to be heard and acted upon. This is the explicit organization as depicted on the chart. In reality, there is often a parallel, implicit organization that everyone knows about but which is seldom put into writing or a visual. There are touchstones in the organization who “know the right people” and can bypass the traditional structure to get things done. Author Malcolm Gladwell refers to these people as “connectors.” Employees quickly identify touchstones and rally their support in championing new ideas or settling a grievance. Think about how long it takes to disseminate information in your organization and how long it takes to make a low-level decision that for some reason requires multiple signatures. Could you employ this implicit structure for sharing information or collecting feedback quicker?

Leadership in The 21st Century

I believe it is important to recognize this alternate organization and utilize it for disseminating information. We can always do a one-to-many announcement but it is not always effective, nor is it well-received. Touchstones are likely to relay messages quicker. Marrying this network approach with social media channels allows us to still be effective leaders even though we are now steering an ocean liner instead of a bicycle. Such methods are not meant to subvert the traditional organizational structure but to provide a quicker and more effective means of communication through modern technology and networking. Those leaders recognize that it is not enough to have a large number of connections but they also need to be linked to the right people to institute change and move the organization forward.

Thoughts

Do you know the connectors in your organization? Are they in your network? Are you someone others turn to? It is important for leaders to make use of the implicit network just as we work the traditional structure. It is getting harder to effectively lead thousands, if not millions of employees and we need all the advantages we can get. Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Technology Trends in Law Enforcement

Photo of a police officer typing on a laptop computer.There have been a lot of technology updates in law enforcement just in the last five years. Some things such as body cameras are controversial due to privacy issues; others such as Tasers are controversial due to the potential for misuse, but can save lives when used instead of a gun to subdue a suspect. This week I will highlight a few of the newest technologies that are used on the beat and in the back room.

Body Cameras

First there were car mounted cameras, and now more officers are being outfitted with body cameras. The theory is that officers will use greater discretion in their interaction with the public if they know that their actions are recorded, and ideally the public will behave better as well. Granted, they only work if they are turned on and that is still up to the wearer, but there are also back end technology issues to deal with. The Los Angeles Police Department has approximately 9,000 officers, so if each officer recorded on average one hour a day, that would be 9,000 hours of video each day that need to be stored and catalogued. Where is that kept? On a local server or in the cloud? Who is going to extract the exact footage when questions arise? Are the videos tagged such that a query can be run to compare best practices or patterns of abuse? The initial cost of the camera is only the beginning; there are many other considerations.

Tasers

Electronic control devices used by officers today hearken back to the cattle prod, which was invented in the late 1800s. Officers actually used cattle prods in the 1960s to break up unruly crowds, so the device of today is a true technological advance. The modern Taser was patented in 1974 by NASA researcher Jack Cover, for use by law enforcement. The original design used gunpowder to eject electrodes; now they use compressed air or nitrogen gas as a propulsion system. Studies show the voltage can cause cardiac arrest in some people, but the device has been used over the last forty years as an alternative to firearms. There have been concerns expressed about inappropriate use of Tasers; however, when used appropriately they can offer a non-lethal alternative to firearms.

License Plate Readers

Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPR) have been in place for close to 10 years and are installed on either police vehicles or on stationary objects such as bridges or signs. These readers take pictures of license plates at the rate of one per second on vehicles traveling up to 100 miles per hour. They commonly use infrared for night vision and the image can be compared with a database to track the movement of a vehicle. They are frequently used at toll-booths, particularly during off hours. I received a notice last year that I owed a toll for crossing the George Washington Bridge into New York and realized that it was for a vehicle registered in my name that my son was driving. When the plate image was captured, it was quickly linked to me through vehicle registration. While they are useful for such applications, there are concerns that the technology may be used to track innocent citizens. In a Wired magazine article earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) uncovered documents that show that the FBI temporarily halted purchase of these devices in 2012 due to privacy concerns. The worry is that agencies such as the FBI might use the devices, algorithms, and data analytics to track a person and even predict their future movements. This is big data analytics at work.

Social Media

Law enforcement agencies are using social media to promote a public image and to engage the public to help solve crimes and find missing persons. It is also used by agencies to track felons who are thought to be in possession of firearms or other items that put them in violation of their parole or probation. Facebook in January announced that it would include Amber Alerts in their news feed to widen the search for missing children.

Thoughts

New technologies enable law enforcement to do their job more efficiently and more effectively. They are still sorting out the privacy issues, but the same is true for GoPro cameras and drones. We need to be deliberate in drawing the line between protecting personal privacy and allowing the use of potentially invasive tools to protect the public and officers.

What are your thoughts? Are there other cool tools that I missed? Are we doing a good job of balancing the use of technology for the greater good and the right to personal privacy? Let me know.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Is The Network Really Neutral?

shutterstock_47033419There has been a lot of noise lately about net neutrality in the United States, but I have been wondering: how about neutrality on the rest of our planet? We become focused on our problems, or potential problems, and often forget that we are not the only players in this game. The Internet is not used or owned exclusively by the US but also by the rest of the world, including China and Third World countries. How do they view net neutrality or are we making much ado about nothing?

Definition

This is the best definition that I have found for net neutrality:

“Simply put, net neutrality is a network design paradigm that argues for broadband network providers to be completely detached from what information is sent over their networks. In essence, it argues that no bit of information should be prioritized over another. This principle implies that an information network such as the Internet is most efficient and useful to the public when it is less focused on a particular audience and instead attentive to multiple users.”

Just as the telegraph network of the 1800s and the telephone and electrical networks of the 1900s were and are neutral, the argument is raised that the Internet should follow suit.

What Is Different in 2014?

The term “net neutrality” was coined over ten years ago and is based on the early operating principle of the Internet that the network would be open equally to all. In December 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tried to codify that accepted policy by creating the “Open Internet Order”. The flaw was that they were using the same playbook developed to regulate telephone companies. Internet providers, however, are classified as “information carriers,” not “communication carriers”. Verizon challenged this order in 2011 and the courts finally threw out the Open Internet Order this month, based on the fact that the FCC did not have jurisdiction to create that order. Suddenly, the term net neutrality is back in vogue and back in tweets.

Is The Rest of the World Open?

I was curious as to whether the rest of the world enjoys open Internet, regulated Internet, or tiered Internet. Tiered Internet is the doomsday scenario when Internet service providers charge customers and content providers a premium for higher bandwidth applications. This is the fear of the absence of regulated open Internet. In researching this question I came across a lot of theories and conjectures at both ends of the spectrum, but not a lot of straight answers. Just as the United States is trying to get a handle on how free the Internet should be, other countries are asking similar questions. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which is an arm of the United Nations, held a conference in December 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At that conference, there was an attempt to float an international telecommunications treaty, but unlike many smaller countries, the US, Canada, and the UK refused to sign the treaty. This was a failed attempt to give more regulatory power over the Internet to the United Nations through the ITU. The next conference will take place in October this year in Busan, South Korea; it is assumed that a similar vote will come up again.

My Thoughts

It is not only the United States that is struggling with how or whether to regulate the Internet, the same scene is being played out on the international stage. The European Union is talking about it, China is talking about it, and South American countries are talking about it as well. They all are struggling to understand how to protect themselves from corporate interests or even from their neighbors, while ensuring that the citizens continue to enjoy unfettered access. My take is that Internet 3.0 will require a sizable investment in infrastructure, and if we want to continue to enjoy increasing access and options, we have to be talking about where those funds will be coming from.

Do you have an opinion on the current net neutrality debate? Let me know.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Whose Information Is It Anyway?

In a January 7 Wired magazine article titled “How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet”, the author detailed the Edward Snowden leaks, the US National Security Agency (NSA) revelation of widespread information collection, and the indignant outcry from tech companies. The fact remains, however, that there is a trove of personal information that is scanned and analyzed by governments, private companies, and even those with less than honorable intentions. The NSA claims to do it in the name of national security, private companies claim to help make your life better by predicting what information or product you will need next, and the thieves are just in it for themselves. Nevertheless, it comes down to the fact that it is your information, and the question is—how is it that so many people have access to it?

National Security

In the summer of 2013, former NSA IT consultant Edward Snowden revealed documents that showed widespread data collection by the NSA. He did this, of course, after he was safely out of the country and away from potential prosecution. The documents revealed programs designed to collect information from cell phone metadata and also personal information from Internet records kept by companies such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Yahoo. Some of it was done through secret court orders and some without the knowledge of the companies just mentioned—all in the name of national security for the purpose of rooting out potential terrorism. The question still remains, however, how and why do these companies have your potential information and for what purpose?

Call For Reform

In a December 9, 2013 open letter to Washington, eight tech companies called for reforms on how information is collected and for more transparency in the collection methods. A couple of things strike me as odd about this proclamation. First of all, transparency has never been a hallmark of spy agencies and it seems ridiculous to even suggest that new reality. Second, the companies that collect personal information are now objecting to someone gathering that data from them?

It All Begins With Me

I have no doubt that the NSA and similar agencies have thwarted potential terrorist attacks by analyzing and acting on the data they collect. I believe that some of the methods are suspect but those agencies believe that they are making the world a safer place. Tech companies that provide social media, communications, and search capabilities also believe that they offer a service by drawing inferences from your personal information and steering you toward goods and services that you may like. Most of all, I believe that responsibility for my own information and my own comfort level in sharing that information lies with me. I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to clicking “I Agree” on that End User Agreement without reading the fourteen screens of fine print. I can’t guarantee that I understand the security policy and opt-out agreements of all of the applications that I use, but I am aware of the options I have and which information is being collected. In a sense, the Internet is still the Wild West and we are still trying to grasp the potential and complexity of it all. The first step in understanding is awareness and education. That is our responsibility.

Thoughts

Have you got it all figured out? Do you know the best methods for keeping you and your personal information safe? If so, I would love to hear from you. If not, we can always learn together.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

 

 

The Marriage of Art, Copy, and Code

In our current Information Design and Communication course we are talking about infographics and how they convey information differently than pure print or pure graphics. They take the best of both worlds and hopefully reach a mixed audience of people that are visually oriented or linear sequential (left to right, top to bottom). I have been thinking lately about how infographics can become animated or even interactive. This is already starting to happen in terms of self-directed information graphics. I have also been thinking about how this will creep into advertising and how we can create more personalized advertising. I recently viewed a video at redsharknews.com that gave me a glimpse into the future: the marriage of art, copy, and code.

Art

It used to be that art was very static and very tangible. Whether it be a fine painting or a sculpture, it is permanent and meant to be viewed by many people many times. Art is becoming more digital and more dynamic. With increasing screen resolution, images are more vibrant than those on a static canvas. Digital can also mean temporary, whether by design or by accident (forgot to back up). This new medium is increasingly being used in print and dynamic advertising and is very effective in communicating the message.

Copy

Someone still has to write copy for all of the advertising. In the age of social media, people are looking for concise information and advertising that breaks through the chatter and informs. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated and in many cases, more jaded. It does and will take a very talented copywriter to craft the script for future advertising. The same advertisement may be seen on a television, a computer, a handheld device, or other devices. How do you craft a story for all of those potential viewers, or do they each get their own custom version?

Code

Here is where it gets interesting. Because of the dynamic nature of art and copy and a new sophisticated audience, it takes a skilled software person to knit it all together and make it personable, relevant, and timely. As in the example I shared above, the ad needs to be about you, where you live, what interests you have, and what possible connection you might have to the advertised product. It’s about me, here, and now.

Thoughts

In the future, will the same person possess all of these skills or will it continue to be a team effort? Is it possible to have art skills, copy skills, and coding skills in one package? Are we training upcoming professionals in all of these areas or at least to be aware of the other professionals that they will be working with? It will take some skillful teamwork to pull this off but, with the right collaboration, it can be real magic.

 

About Kelly BrownAuthor Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.

What May Be Expected of an Undergraduate after Graduation

Today’s post is written by Anna Grigoryeva, an undergraduate student working part-time with the AIM Program. As the economy and job market continue to be affected by changes in information technology, the growth of social media, and access to big data, we wondered how today’s undergraduates are managing and interacting with today’s information. We asked Anna to share her thoughts on preparing to enter the job market.

Anna GrigoryevaAs a senior undergraduate at the University of Oregon, it is with excitement that I say I am ready to graduate this upcoming June. I started attending the University of Oregon in 2010, right after I finished high school. While I was attending high school, I started early college at Portland Community College, where I pursued my Associate of Arts Transfer (AAOT) degree. When I entered UO, I had more than sixty transferred credits and was determined to study what I pictured my career path to be… or so I thought. And the journey began.

I changed my major at least five times. Starting off with a focus on interior architecture, then some political science courses, to actually changing my major to political science! Unfortunately, the subject dulled for me, therefore I pursued the next appealing subject, which happened to be economics. I became dissatisfied with my dead-end career choices after declaring economics as a major and made another switch—this time to business. Later, I pursued journalism with a concentration in advertising and public relations. I went through so many majors, my parents decided to put a stop to it. They knew I wanted to graduate in three years, so they encouraged me to make up my mind, and fast! Finally settling on a major—general social sciences with a concentration on economics, business and society—was the most suitable decision I made. It was perfect, because I already had some background in economics, business, journalism and political science, which fit the major requirements. For this reason, I am graduating early.

My classes range from arts and languages to mathematics and sciences. I decided to take a wide variety of classes outside my major because I wanted to learn things I never would have discovered otherwise. In this economy, I believe that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t impact your future much. Unfortunately, I feel it is recognized as equivalent to a high school diploma nowadays. I know I want to pursue my master’s one day, but with all the loans I took out, my master’s degree will have to wait a little longer. Right now, what matters is all the connections you make—your social network, your job/volunteer/internship experiences. Employers are looking for recommendations outside your classroom. Some of them don’t even check your transcripts, and that can be frustrating because we know how much effort we put into getting good grades. That’s why I chose the path that I did. I’m happy with the degree I chose and the ability to graduate a year early. I feel that I have experienced college at the UO and acquired many skills and plenty of experience for my prospective employment and nonemployment opportunities.

If I happened to graduate with just my degree, without any previous job experience, it would be difficult for me to find a job. So far, all employers that have interviewed me focused mainly on what kind of experience I have, or generally, what I have to offer. Because my background ranges from social sciences to arts and sciences, I am a very creative person. Therefore, I decided to publicize myself via social networks. I started building my LinkedIn professional network, where future employers may see my job description and recommendations from people I worked with. My Facebook and Twitter pages are professionally-oriented in that I make sure everything on them is appropriate and professional. I created an online portfolio where people may look at my projects and possibly contact me for future employment.

I believe that, in the current work field, being open minded and having a broad range of experience is important. It’s also necessary to show interest in new developments within your occupation. Although it is ideal to have a degree in economics, business and society, it is also beneficial to have a well-rounded background because employers are seeking individuals who are able to cope with the potential hardships that they may encounter in a work environment. Some experiences that have made me a more well-rounded person are: becoming president of the German club; earning a bachelor’s degree in science; gaining work experience through helping with the Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program’s blog and social networks; acquiring skills as a technical support assistant; interactions and connections made through Relay for Life volunteer work as the online chair, and recently as a marketing and publicity coordinator for an on-campus magazine for women, Her Campus Oregon. These skills and experiences, along with others, compose my profile and display how social and busy I was throughout my educational career. I’m ready to graduate and am anticipating showing my prospective employers what I have to offer.

After graduating, my plan is to become a full-time adventurer and move to Germany whilst pursuing an occupation with an open position in the marketing/advertising field. Eventually, I would enjoy embarking on a new educational journey by pursuing a master’s degree there.