Tag Archives: Job Market

Four Tips for Developing Successful Blog Content

by Paul Miller

As someone who has had a successful blog for the better part of three years, I often have students show great interest in blogging.  There is one question that continuously arises:  What should I write about?  Students have an easy time understanding why blogging is so important:  It gives them a place to showcase their writing ability, their knowledge of their chosen field, and their dedication to do something not (usually) required in a college curriculum.  The issue remains:  How do you develop content?

Answering this question is something that took me quite some time to develop an understanding for.  At first, I had the same quandary.  I started my blog after an influential moment in my life, the first time I attended Harrisburg University’s Social Media Summit.  I took great notes on each panel and decided that I would write my commentary about what I learned to share with my network.  The problem arose after I wrote about each session, accomplishing my initial goal:  Now what do I write about?  The tips that I discuss are ways that I’ve managed to keep my blog going strong over the past few years and I believe these tips can help any blogger for both the short and long terms.blogging

Tip #1 – Develop a frequency of posts and stick to it

When I first began blogging, I felt that a weekly blog piece was the direction that I wanted to pursue.  After about two months, I felt that this was a goal that was very difficult to achieve.  I wasn’t because I didn’t like to write or that I had trouble finding inspiration; it was that I was working multiple jobs.  Making sure I was doing my job to the utmost of my ability superseded the need for a weekly blog.  Since then, I have vowed to have at least one blog per month.  While I’ll admit that some months I didn’t have the opportunity to write, I’ve averaged about 10 blogs per year.

For those starting a new blog, my advice would be to start with what you are comfortable with.  Don’t be unrealistic and think that you’ll be able to blog daily, or even weekly.  If you love to write and have plenty of ideas at your disposal, make an idea bank with potential topics.  That way, if something doesn’t strike you between entries, you always have ideas to fall back on.  Secondly, don’t write just to write.  Be inspired about your topic.  Show that it is relevant to your career path or at least of interest to you.  The worst blogs are those that show no passion, as if the writer is just going through the motions.

Tip #2 – Follow Influencers on Social Media/Reach out for comments/interviews

Social Media has been a communications revolution unlike any the world has witnessed in the modern era.  The world has totally changed the way we as humans communicate with one another.  This also allows us amazing access to those that influence our field of choice.  One strategy that I’ve employed is to look at the field that I’m involved in and find those that are on the cutting edge.

I continuously read and interact with these individuals so I can be in the know of current and important topics.  This has been one of my largest inspirations when it comes to writing my blog.  Also, reach out to your network and ask them questions.  I’ve never had one person turn me down for a three question email interview when I told them I was writing a blog piece.  People want to help you and you shouldn’t feel intimidated to contact them.

Tip #3 – Read articles related to your field

Beyond following people that are influential in your field, it’s important to constantly read anything you can find about these topics.  To be successful in the modern age, one must love what they do.  You have to be able be immersed in the topic on a daily basis.  Read at least two articles a day about your field of study and understand the current problems or issues that go along with it.  This will help you become educated and more importantly, well-rounded in discussion.  You can then use this knowledge in interviews with potential employers.

Tip #4 – Develop an informed opinion

This tip is the most important of all with regards to developing content; you must form your own opinion.  No one wants to read a blog that conforms to the status quo; people want to read viewpoints that differ from the norm.  This is where your knowledge of your field can truly come in handy.  Show your audience that you know what you are talking about and (more importantly) have something of value to say!In the modern day, audiences have more content at their fingertips than they could read in a 24-hour period.  If you don’t provide some sort of value to them, you risk losing them forever.

I encourage you to give blogging a try.  I cannot explain enough the value of a blog to your potential long-term career goals.  I give this example every time I speak on this subject:  Most college students are acquaintances or even friends with others in their major.  What these people really represent is competition for every job that we seek.  Stellar grade point averages are expected now from college students in the open market, so every available job is like a chess match.  With things equal, who gets the job:  Someone that has demonstrated great knowledge of their field via a blog or someone who doesn’t have one?

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About the author.

Paul Miller, paulmiller@centralpenn.edu, teaches courses in communications, business, and writing at Central Penn College.  He has blogged for The Pen before about How To Blog Effectively in Today’s Landscape and teaching courses on writing for social media and business.  You can find Professor Miller at his LinkedIn page.

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Why We Need Creativity In Higher Education

When President Barack Obama launched Educate to Innovate in 2009 and shifted the conversation in education towards science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), higher education interpreted the administration’s new initiative as a clear, distinct, and in some circles, long overdue, headshot to the liberal arts. Such concerns were perhaps only intensified when President Obama made an off-the-cuff remark about the lack of value in art history degrees when compared to skilled manufacturing jobs. While the President did indeed apologize for an ill-considered comment, the sentiment it conveys represents an increasingly popular belief that in the modern global economy, the need for technical instruction trumps the need for creative expression. Perhaps this is my own liberal art bias talking, but the name of the initiative itself—Educate to Innovate—certainly begs the question: how do we become the ‘innovators’ of this new century without teaching, practicing, valuing, and rewarding creativity?

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Creative Writing and The Job Market: Part Three

In a career-focused college, some may ask: how do outlets like literary magazines contribute to college students’ professional goals? how do they provide students with intellectual and professional advancement opportunities? and why do we need venues like literary magazines?  This post series looks at each of these questions in-depth and offers advice to college students who are looking to navigate an increasingly challenging (and rewarding!) job market landscape.

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Why do we need venues like literary magazines?

Too often, we get caught up in the details of everyday life.  Is it going to rain?  Did I pay that bill on time?  Where did I leave my keys?  Of course, it’s important to be able to follow directions, place a budget, and stay organized, but it also important to nurture and develop our creativity.

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Literary magazines offer writers the opportunity to create, share, engage, and yes, even empathize.  

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Creating and sharing creativity work is the most exhilarating, terrifying, and rewarding thing we do.  Often, the creative process must be done alone or whatever alone looks like to you.  It could be in your bedroom at a desk.  It could be in a crowded coffeeshop in the back corner.  It could even be on a park bench down on a river walk.  Wherever or however it is, you are shaping and structuring alone.

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The writing process can be exciting and frustrating and wonderful and awful–often all of those emotions at the same time.  

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Creative Writing and The Job Market: Part Two

In a career-focused college, some may ask: how do outlets like literary magazines contribute to college students’ professional goals? how do they provide students with intellectual and professional advancement opportunities? and why do we need venues like literary magazines?  This post series looks at each of these questions in-depth and offers advice to college students who are looking to navigate an increasingly challenging (and rewarding!) job market landscape.

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How do literary magazines  provide our students with intellectual and professional advancement opportunities?

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The easy answer: become a student editor!  As a student editor,  your words and work will be read by future employers, which will give you some control over your internet presence.  In an increasingly digital world, our students must be prepared not just with the traditional tools of the trade (well-written cover letters, resumes, and letters of recommendation) but also an online presence that enhances those qualities outlined in those materials.  

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Like it or not, employers and recruiters use your Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to get a sense of the ‘real’ you.

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We have all read about the potential dangers and pitfalls social media pages are posing to potential job seekers (not to mention if you are already employed). Writing for a professionally reviewed and edited blog allows you to get your name out there in a way that is not only safe, but beneficial! 
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Creative Writing and the Job Market: Part One

In a career-focused college, some may ask: how do outlets like literary magazines contribute to college students’ professional goals? how do they provide students with intellectual and professional advancement opportunities? and why do we need venues like literary magazines?  This post series looks at each of these questions in-depth and offers advice to college students who are looking to navigate an increasingly challenging (and rewarding!) job market landscape.

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How do outlets like literary magazines contribute to our student’s professional goals?

A 2013 survey of 318 employers revealed that writing and related skills are at the top of my employers’ and recruiters‘ “must have!” lists:

93% of employers said that a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems is more important than a job candidate’s undergraduate degree.

95% say they prioritize hiring college graduates with skills that will help them contribute to innovation in the workplace.

80% of employers agree that regardless of their major, every college student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.

95% of those surveyed say that it is important that new hires demonstrate ethical judgement and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning.

So, how does a literary magazine help students to gain these skills?  Let’s look at them individually.

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