Communicating Professionally

Competitive UO Senior Planner

Business Casual: What’s the Deal? May 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 4:02 pm

What exactly is business casual? We have all heard the statement and could probably point out a workplace that follows this style. But what exactly is it? When typed into Google, (because lets face it, its 2011, we Google everything) Wikepedia pops up saying in the first sentence that “there is no generally accepted definition of business casual.” Well that is helpful.

I recently have received the opportunity to intern with a company this summer. Being the responsible young adult that I am I emailed the Human Resources Department to ask what the dress code was like. I was quickly answered with “we are business casual here.” Yeah… and? I work on a student-run PR firm on my school’s campus. We meet every Tuesday night for meetings. The attire you ask? Business casual. Many of times people show up in jeans and a nice blouse. So, in the back of my head I thought ‘alright, I can wear jeans every now and then, sweet.’ Then I read on. “It is different in every department, you will see some people wearing suits to work and others dresses. Sandals are not allowed, but open-toed shoes are.” Maybe it is my sweat-loving college-going side speaking, but that sounds fairly formal to me. Which got me thinking, why do we have the same definition for two widely different things?

Has anyone ever stopped and thought, ‘Huh, business casual, that’s an oxymoron’. Because it is. My casual does not look anything like my business. If I was to stay true to these words I would have a pony-tail, make-up on, sweater, yoga pants, and heals. Why do companies create such an ambiguous statement on how to dress appropriately? Personally, I believe it is for the luxury of saying the words – business casual. It says ‘we are professional, but can still relate to everyone.’ In college it is to make us sound more  mature, and ready for the step beyond. In the workplace I believe it is to try and create more of an inviting culture in the office. Whatever the reason behind it, it is confusing.


Communication: Summed up in 5 Words May 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 9:44 pm

The way we communicate today is anywhere from long feature stories in the New York Times to 140 character tweets. How do those compare? They all fall under 1 of the 5 areas of communication. The forms are educating, informing, explaining, inspiring, and entertaining.


This falls under clarification. Such as Obama’s tweets about how we are at war with Al Qaeda and not the Islamic religion or the people who follow it.


Quick. Simple. Concise. This follows under the guidelines of who, what, when, where, why and how. Yes, a tweet can not necessarily contain all of these answers, but it can at least provide a link to get the rest of the informative information. Todays communication is more so about informing than getting the details.


This is where in todays culture communication might get lost. This is a difficult compelling form for the modern day fast paced world. Explaining takes time. Twitter does not fall under this word precisely. However, Twitter provides a place to learn of many topics quickly and for someone to choose which topic to have explained to the,.


Inspiration can be one word. Go. That one always resonated with me. It could be a quick sentence or as long as Martin Luther King’s Birmingham Letter. I find many tweets inspiring. Modern day communication falls extremely well under this category.

Last but not least …


Of course, entertainment. The original source and reason for social media. The break we all need from our lives. Entertainment can be in the form of a quick tweeted joke or a shared YouTube video on Facebook. Entertainment is the most popular form of communication on social media and I can only hope we get funnier and more frequent with our laughter.


Electronics: Bringing Families Together or Apart?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 7:29 pm

On April 29, 2011 The New York Times posted an interesting article called “Quality Time, Redefined” Bascially the article describes a not-so-out-of-the-ordinary scenario of a family sitting in a living room together and all of them not communicating. All of them were staring at some sort of different screen. In my experience, getting all of my immediate family under one rough is difficult. After accomplishing that task how do you get everyone “unplugged”. Is electronics getting in the way of families?

Some say yes. If a family in a room are all concentrating on what is going on their particular screen, how can they interact? If a child is constantly waiting for a text message how can they actively participate in a conversation? If a little boy is enamored with is video game is he really listening? You can be in a room and not hear anything at all.

On the other hand, some argue that technology has brought families closer together. Speaking from my own personal experience, I would not talk to my family half as much as I do without social media and electronic devices. Most of my family lives on the east coast and without Facebook we would never speak! I now speak to them all monthly. Also if it was not for text messaging my mother and I would communicate about half as much as we do. Without Skype I would have had a difficult time with having a relationship with my boyfriend while he was in Germany. For me personally, electronics have brought me closer to my loved ones.

Should children be relying on technology this much? I personally do not believe so. Part of my love for school when I was younger was because I got to see all my friends. I went home, visited with my family and looked forward to the next day. Having the lack of electronics was important for socializing at school for me. I am torn on the issue that electronics are bad for all ages of family members but both size have reasonable arguments. I guess it is just up to each family to decide for themselves what is right and acceptable in the household.


Six Sentence Story May 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 8:30 pm

I came across a blog called Six Sentences: What can you say in six sentences? I decided to take the bait. Could I write a compelling story in six sentences or less? I found it more difficult that I thought it to be. How can you answer who, what, when, where, why and how in just six sentences? The reality of life in our fast pace, social media expert driven communication today is that we have less than six sentences to draw someone in. So why not make the entire story in six sentences. So here is what I came up with.

I received a phone call from my father on May 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm stating I needed to turn on the television. President Obama was about to give a speech that the country was unsure what was going to be said. I gathered up 20 of my sorority sisters and we crowded into our television room. We waited worried, scared, chilled and confused. Then, the story leaked. After 10 years of hiding, the figurehead of Al Qaeda Osama Bin Laden had been found and killed.

Does it tell you all the emotions that was being felt? The joy, the anxiety, the sadness, and the rush of emotions of the sad day of 9/11? No. Nothing could describe that feeling, not even an entire novel. If no amount of words are adequate, then six sentences at least hits the tip of the iceberg.

Communicating this way is more than difficult. But to be successful in social media this skill is a must have. It takes practice, and years to perfect it. I have far from perfected it, but I am practicing. You should too.

Read the blog. Try your story.


Do’s for Interns

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 4:07 am

While looking through my Twitter feed I saw a post called 5 Words for PR Interns to Live By The 5 words being listen, ask, show up, dress,and humility. All extremely important aspects to being a good intern.


As interns we do not know everything. Let me say that differently, we basically know nothing when it comes to our future career path. Interns are learning from professionals who have been in the business for years. We are lucky and to be around such rockstars of the field that the best way to show our respect is to shut up and listen.


Bosses we intern for can not tell you everything you will ever need to know about the field unless you ask. They can’t read minds. Also, asking questions shows how you are following word number one, listening.

Show Up

Being a recently of age intern myself, I understand that life can sometimes seem more like a party than anything else. However, getting the opportunity to intern in a field that you desire to be in is more than beneficial, it can be essential. The world is a small place, especially in one facet of business. If you do not think missing half your interning days will not have a negative effect on you because you won’t work for that company in the future, you are sadly mistaken.


When I was interviewing for my internship I asked what other interns have found the hardest part in the past. My interviewers answer? Being there from 9-5 and dressing appropriately. To me that was bewildering. With more thought put into it I came up with the conclusion that this has to be hard for girls adorned in yoga pants daily and guys just wearing their favorite team memorabilia. Just because all appropriate areas are covered does not make it professional.


We are young, we will mess up. Admit to it. Own it. Learn from it. Grow from it.