Posts Tagged ‘time management’

On the Road Again

September 10, 2015


Traveling for work or pleasure is a great way to get out of the office and explore different areas, but it can also cause some issues when looking to further your education. When I was considering applying to the IMC program, I had several concerns about how the program would mesh with my work schedule. Finding a program that allows you to work, travel, raise a family if you choose to, and have a social life (also optional, haha) can really make a huge difference in your decision. One of the great things about the IMC program is the flexibility offered!

In my current position as an Admissions Counselor, I travel often to recruit students. During the fall, I travel for two weeks straight and attend college recruitment fairs.

As you can see, my travel season starts very soon and is jam packed!


I started the IMC program when I held another position and there were no issues, but once I started my new job I worried about how travel would effect my classes. My experience with traveling while in the IMC program has actually been fairly stress free. I have taken a few trips with friends and a few trips for work and haven’t had any issues with my classes. In my opinion, the best thing is that students are given the syllabus which lays out the entire course, assignments, discussion posts, etc. from day one and allows you to work ahead if need be.

Some tips I have for those of you who travel are:

  • Add your assignment due dates to your work calendar so you have reminders
  • Read and work on posts during your down time (lunch break, waiting at the airport, etc.)
  • Start your work early (procrastination definitely makes things difficult)
  • Be sure to email your professors and let them know you will be traveling
  • Start your day earlier! (I have found that getting up earlier and doing homework or reading before I start my work day has really helped me)

These tips not only help with managing homework, but they can be very beneficial when working on a major project at work too!

What are some tips you all have for getting things done when you have to travel?

(Featured Photo courtesy of Instagram)

6 Trade Secrets for Navigating the IMC Program

January 6, 2015

For some reason my red Lululemon leggings make me feel invincible – like a sort of super girl. I’m not really sure why… but they exude some air of confidence, an unexplainable energy.

Me and my red lulu super-woman pants!

Me and my red lulu super-woman pants!

Since starting graduate school, I’ve moved. I’ve bought a house. I’ve worked a full time job with long hours… for which, I’ve also traveled often. I’ve tried to maintain some semblance of my weekend warrior routine, squeezing in Crossfit or yoga wherever possible and playing hockey one night a week and on the weekends.

Lesson Learned: Time is a hot commodity.

How do you balance everything and still remember to breath? Here are a few of my “trade secrets” for successfully surviving IMC:

Perspective Dictates Performance: It’s simple, we each have the opportunity to choose our own outlook and outcome and what we work through now will ultimately lead to something bigger and better and brighter. Self-construction is positive, be it in the classroom, or the office or in a gym. Believe in yourself. Trust. Act. Work through one day at a time with a smile and a can-do attitude and you’ll shine.

Plan for the Unexpected: Some might call me crazy, but at the top of each semester, I print hard copies of the readings and put them into a three ring binder. I also copy and paste all of the discussion questions and paper topics into an organized folder of nicely labeled word documents on a thumb drive. Having everything saved allows me to work on assignments even when I’m traveling, disconnected, or have even just five minutes to jot down ideas. Blackboard goes down? No problem. Spotty WiFi on the train? I’m still good to go!

“Success” is about what you learn, and how far you’ve come: The journey shouldn’t always be easy, I believe that Jimmy Dugan or Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own says it best:

It’s easy to get frustrated or upset at criticism or a “tough” class, but that quote is one to remember. Sometimes working through the most difficult problems is what offers us the greatest reward. I have personally experienced that in IMC! I like to view my classmates and professors as a sort of brain trust. It’s amazing how much we can learn from one another. Never underestimate the power of discussion posts, readings and feedback. Take it in stride and then reference them down the road for school or work or life. Each of us will get out of this program what we put into it as well as what we take away from it. Which brings me to my next point…

Save Everything! This may seem like a no-brainer, but when I say everything, I mean everything! Do this from day one! And… if you use a thumb drive like I do, back it up somewhere. It’s a sad day when that baby goes missing or gets grumpy and refuses to open. Over the course of the program, I’ve found huge value in saving my own discussion posts, but also those of some of my classmates. The discussion board is rich with topic ideas, relevant industry links, cool new companies, fresh perspectives and campaign fodder.

Opt for Brands you Love: Back to those red pants… yes, I love my lulu! While the option isn’t always available, when you can… pick a brand that you love or admire or want to learn about. For me it has made semesters fly. And as an added bonus, you never know what you might be able to use a paper, plan or even insight for later in life.

Tightly Budget Time: Many of us IMC students are cut from the same cloth. Working within the media industry makes us effective jugglers! We balance numerous tasks or clients or agendas or to-do lists. We wear different hats ranging from marketer to writer to researcher to community leader. We each have our own recipe for organization be that old school post-it notes or a brightly color coded Google calendar.

Budgeting time as effectively as possible has been the number one way for me to work, live and go to Grad school… all at the same time.

It must be the pants!

It must be the pants!

Although I’ll never underestimate the power of the pants!

Cheers to the beginning of another semester! Look forward to gleaning advice from fellow classmates on their methods for success!


Seven things I wish I had known when I started the IMC program

May 1, 2014

It’s hard to believe that I started this journey to get my Master’s Degree three and a half years ago and it’s about to end in less than two weeks! I have learned A LOT in the last 3.5 years — about marketing yes, but also about endurance, time management, writing, research, and myself. Some of these lessons I picked up early on, and others only more recently. But all of them are things I wish I had learned a bit sooner. So here it is. For all of you who are just getting started in the program (and even those of you who have been with it a little while), here are seven (because five was too few and ten was too many) things I wish I had known when I started the IMC program.

1. Time management takes on a whole new level in the IMC program. No matter how good you think you are at time management, you will find yourself hitting that submit button with only seconds to spare at least once per semester. At first I thought maybe it was just me. But then I started connecting with some of my classmates offline and found out I wasn’t alone! Even the most dedicated and disciplined of classmates has had a week or two (or 9) when they have found themselves working feverishly on Monday night only to click that upload button at 11:54 p.m. I don’t recommend doing this a lot (I personally have had way too many close calls), but cut yourself some slack if it happens every once in a while. And know that Murphy’s Law will prevail and those assignments that you think won’t be such a big deal will end up taking you twice as long to get done! So try and start early as often as you can to save yourself the stress.

Calvin and Hobbs on procrastination

We all find ourselves hitting the submit button at 11:54 at one time or another.

2. Quality sources make all the difference! As I progressed through the program I learned from each professor which trade publications and sources they favored for quality information when doing research. Some of these I subscribed to early-on and used throughout the course, others I only discovered late in the game and I wish I had thought of them sooner. So, here are a few that I recommend you sign-up for now: AdAge, AdWeek, PR Week, DM News, Pew Research, and MarketingProfs. I also highly recommend you take advantage of the online library databases for accessing journals and competitor/industry information. They’re free and they will give you information you will not find in a Google search. I’m sure there are more that classmates can recommend, but those are the gold standards that have helped me through many a discussion board post and weekly paper!

3. INTEGRATE is awesome. Seriously. You should go! At least once. I almost didn’t go last year and changed my mind at the last minute and I’m so glad I did. Not only were there some great sessions, but it was the first chance I had to meet classmates and professors in person and see the WVU campus. It made me feel so much more connected to the program. I only wish I had gone sooner.

Evernote on an iPad

Evernote helps me work on school work from any place or device.

4. Empower yourself to be mobile. I think I was about 3 semesters into the program when I read a blog post by Kevin that talked about some of his favorite tools that helped him find success in the IMC program. It was the first time I had ever heard of Evernote. It has since become one of my favorite go-to programs for school, work and personal life. Using a tool like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote allows you to save your research, and even write your discussion board posts or papers in one place, but access it from any device. So whether you’re in your office at your desk, sitting on the couch at home with your iPad, or even on your phone while waiting for your kids to finish their piano lessons, you can sneak in a little work and pick right back where you left off at the next opportune moment.

5. Every professor is different. It’s true. No matter how consistent the program is (and trust me, it’s pretty darn consistent compared to others I know about), or how standardized the syllabus, each professor is going to communicate differently and grade differently. They are human, after all! Yet for some reason I’ve seen a lot of classmates get very upset by this fact. Were your undergrad professors all the same? I highly doubt it. I know mine weren’t. You will have favorites and some that kick-your-butt! And there may not be consensus on this by your classmates…so just because your friend said they loved Professor so-and-so doesn’t mean you will. All I can say is accept this fact now and it will save you a lot of disappointment and frustration down the road. For my part (and I have nothing to gain by saying this since I’m pretty much done with the program), I found all of my professors to be reasonable and fair.

6. Connect with classmates outside of Blackboard. It wasn’t until very recently that I got invited to a Facebook Group for IMC students, that was created by a classmate (and is not officially affiliated with the IMC program). This has been one of the best discoveries of the last 3 years because it has allowed me to “meet” people I’ve never had class with, ask for suggestions, tips and recommendations relating to certain classes, share ideas, commiserate about our lack of a life on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, and just in general talk…you know that thing you did in the hallways when you were in undergrad? The stories that got shared around the lunch table or in the lobby of your dorm room? That stuff is missing when you’re in an online program. But thanks to social media there are ways to connect with colleagues outside of class. Whether it’s through Facebook, LinkedIn or even email, I highly recommend you get connected to other students outside of the Blackboard classroom! In fact if you’re interested in joining the Facebook group let me know!

7. At some point you will want to quit. OK, maybe this won’t happen to everyone, but I know that a good majority of the people I’ve met through the program have contemplated it at least once before they finish. And some even do quit…for a semester or two. Whether your personal life changes, your work life gets too hectic, or you just plain need a break, at some point you may find yourself wondering – “Can I really keep doing this?” The answer is YES! Yes, you can, even if you have to take a break — don’t give up! You will be so glad when you cross that finish line.

Tips and Tools for Back to School

July 31, 2013

If you’re following the IMC group on LinkedIn, incoming student Kristi Hansen started a great discussion by asking – “any recommendations for a first time online student?” The responses include tips that I wholeheartedly support and at least one that I can’t believe I’m just now learning of (built-in citations in Word). Thanks, Kevin!

Whether you are completely new to the program, returning from an extended break, or still catching your breath after completing the summer term, now may be a good time to refine your productivity habits and get ready for a successful year. I tend to be a late-adopter, but a great lesson I’ve learned from my classmates and professors is to accept technology and take advantage of resources that enable us to work smarter.

Turtle on a skateboard

Work smarter, not harder

I’m currently working through Michael Sliwinski’s 10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity Video Course. This is a free course that offers advice on how to stay on top of it all by managing your inboxes, knowing when tasks are really projects, working through tasks by context, and more. While each step only takes about five minutes to watch or review, you may want to take time out to integrate some suggestions into your own processes. Sliwinski often pairs the advice with his own Nozbe system, but I found that I could apply most of his recommendations with Evernote.

Let’s talk about Evernote. Every so often I come across an app, movie, food, or some other product that I could shamelessly promote in the street without any paid compensation or company affiliation. After some initial resistance and a few trials with inferior applications, what finally convinced me to give Evernote a shot was the fact that I could download and manage it on my PC. This not only speeds up input and organization but gives me the option to keep notebooks local or on the cloud. Cloud items are synced with my phone app, and their Android widget allows me specify which lists I keep at a glance.

Evernote logo

For IMC coursework, you can use Evernote to create notebooks for each class and sub-notebooks for each week. Given that course readings, discussions, and assignments are often catalysts for new ideas, another great feature of the application is that you can organize your thoughts and classmates’ suggestions on other marketing or job-related projects. How many brilliant ideas never see the light of day because they get buried in a college-ruled spiral notebook? If you’re looking for a better system to get and stay organized, I encourage you to give Evernote a chance.

My last recommendation is a bit less technology-based but an invaluable resource nonetheless. For students who’ll be juggling family and home life with their coursework, a local library can be a haven for quiet time and longer sessions of uninterrupted work. This may seem like unnecessary added time away from the family, but a few hours of productive alone time can actually help you be more “available” to your loved ones later on. If your county or city library branches are not up to par with good Wi-Fi and quiet areas, don’t be afraid to “blend in” at a local college library. I personally alternate between several local libraries with varying early morning to late evening hours that fit my family schedule.

Library Photo

The best libraries are spacious with quiet zones, multiple power sources, and strong Wi-Fi.

What tools, tips and resources will you use to manage the upcoming school year? Let me know what you think of Sliwinski’s productivity course or how you use Evernote to juggle responsibilities.

Where Do You Complete Your Best Work?

March 4, 2013

best work

Since beginning the IMC Program nearly three years ago, I’ve completed about 90% of my coursework “old school” in front of my desktop computer at home. Once in a blue moon, I’ll head to the library for a change of scenery, but for the most part, I feel most productive in my pajamas in the comfort of my own house.

Some of us like a little background noise, while others enjoy a noisy environment to get creative. I notice that I get distracted if I work in other parts of my house so I try and stick to what I know works. I’ve even started leaving my phone in another room so I don’t have the urge to text, check emails or play a game when writing a paper.

I believe that in the past three years, my time management skills have improved as well as my ability focus on projects. One of the reasons for these new skills is that I know the environment in which I can complete tasks successfully.

Where you complete your best work? Do you enjoy a different environment than I’ve described above?

The perfect fit (and it’s adjustable)

August 15, 2011

A sunny weekend, August 2009 – I was sitting in my living room beginning to research Masters degree programs in marketing and/or business. Now, on this cloudy day in August 2011, I’m back in my living room blogging as a student ambassador for the IMC at WVU program. Two years have passed, a lot has changed, and now I’m just two classes away from earning my degree. If you’re where I was in 2009, then this post is for you.

One reason I jumped at the opportunity to be a student ambassador is that I know what it’s like to complete IMC coursework under a variety of circumstances:

  • Working full time (and traveling 40% of that time) and taking one IMC class per term
  • Taking IMC classes “full time” (two per term) while consulting part-time
  • Gaining “new dad” status while keeping up with two classes at a time

That last one is a recipe for sleep deprivation, but that’s not to say I’m the anywhere near the busiest IMC student (parents with a job and two classes per term, here’s looking at you). My point is, the IMC program looked like a good fit when I first learned about it two years ago and it’s continued to be a good fit even as my life has changed around it. If you’re considering the program, but not sure how it fits into your life, your career, your goals, etc, don’t hesitate to post a comment below. You can also contact Ainsley, Nicole, or me directly through the Student Ambassador page.