Pitch Perfect

So, I’m majoring in Marketing but before I can really get started on the advertising and selling, there is something called “Toolbox” all students have to go through for the first four weeks- Managerial skills, Individual skills, Teamwork skills, Quantitative- and accounting skills, tech skills. Basically, it’s four weeks of “How to become more employable in the  business world“. While exploring SF is gonna be a big part of my year, I am mainly here to study. Hence, I thought it was just fair to not only share fun Ari-the-Explari (lame pun, I know) stories but also some interesting insights into the academic side of being a grad student. Today’s topic- Selling yourself!

Selling myself has become the golden threat of pretty much all my info-and introductory sessions in the past two weeks. Both Profs and Alumni keep telling us how SF is so full of opportunities, you just have to network, attend all possible conferences, reach out to people on LinkedIn (after elaborating for half an hour how important a proper LinkedIn profile is), drop by Google, Facebook or Yahoo (“They are right around the corner guys, riiight around the corner!”) and really benefit from the entrepreneurial spirit in the city. To speak quite frankly, it scares the shenanigans out of me! I don’t know how to network!! Networking events, to me, sound like a theater play in which everybody pretends to be all smile and propriety in the hopes of getting the most attention from the audience. I feel needy asking someone to “have a chat about his/her great company that I am so interested in and happen to be an outstanding fit for” and knowing that all those opportunities are out there makes me feel like, no matter where I am, I am never at the right spot, I am always missing out on something. Potential employers could await me at any corner so could someone please get me Hermione’s time turner?! I know that people are right, I AM right next to Google and Co and you do feel this entrepreneurial business spirit everywhere you go, it’s contagious and exciting! It makes San Francisco such a neat place to start your business career….but where do you start looking for the first spark?

Well, today I sat in “Individual Skills”, led by a guy who seems to know God and the world, who has friends working at Facebook, who is bringing in guest speakers who worked closely with Steve Jobs, who just bought himself a new Maserati ladadada and, overall, he managed to hold my attention for three hours straight. His main topic of today: Elevator pitches and how important it is for me, for you, for everybody to have a 30-second speech ready for that one time you run into someone whom you really want to win over. That speech is not gonna be written within an hour and not practiced within half a day, it’s something one should really think about. Whether on a networking event, in a train, on a plane, in the supermarket between kale chips and soda or in an actual elevator, be aware that time is running. After the first “Hello” and a firm handshake you have half a minute to make the best out of your partner’s attention because for them, time is money and at this early stage you might be of interest to them but not enough so that they’d dedicate an hour listening to you rattling down your entire college memoirs.
Here are some bullet points that I gathered from today’s lecture:

  • State your name, your city/country of origin and one thing that makes you stand out from the rest
  • Refrain from vague phrases like “I’m interested in Social Media” (everybody has like 8 different social networks nowadays), “I am creative” (right, did you come up with 50 ways of building faces out of Jelly Beans or what?) or “I like Marketing” (well, that’s good for you then seeing that this is what you got a degree in). Be concrete, applied, concise.
  • Tell a story. Whether in Marketing or in Promoting, telling a story of a product, a company, an idea will stick much better. Try and make the others relate to what you are saying.
  • Speak slow and structured. Although your head might be full of excited voices screaming: “AAAH, this is the opportunity of a life time!!”, don’t let that rattle confuse your presentation. Tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.
  • Be confident (and I hate this part because mine needs work) but not too rehearsed. If you’re too stuck in the way you present yourself, then sudden questions are going to tear you apart and get you out of concept.
  • Be enthusiastic about your topic. Whether you are talking about yourself, a product of yours, an idea or just about the Napoleonic Wars in High School, don’t let your audience fall asleep. Try and reflect good mood and optimism, everybody loves happy people.
  • Don’t be afraid to exaggerate a little but also don’t forget to give examples of your statements, the more the merrier. It’s the applicable things that stick in mind.
  • Stay in touch- after a nice chat, it’s perfectly fine to add someone on LinkedIn, maybe alongside with a short message á la “Hi, this is …., we talked earlier at the ….conference. It was great meeting you, I would love to continue our conversation on hdjfdv in the near future!”
  • Keep in mind: A product is only as good as its kick-off. Even if the first iPhone could have teleported us to the moon and back, few people would have bought it if Jobs had had sold it sitting in a corner of a small stage, slouched into a chair and mumbling into his beard. Sit straight! Stand up! This is YOU we are talking about!

    As an inspiration, watch this 2-minute video. It’s an innovative product by a SF-based start-up, which invented a handy-dandy devise that should prevent you from every looking for your keys, wallets or other precious itema ever again. I had never heard of them before but after only a little while, I had to share it on Facebook, with you guys and make a mental note to look into that. All because of a convincing 2-minutes of presenting really well. THAT’S the power of pitching ideas!

Up until recently, my elevator pitch used to be something like: “Hi, I am Ariane from Germany and I study Management together with students from over 110 different countries, which taught me so much about teamwork on an international level!” Now, this might not be perfect and by all means, keep in mind that I am not trying to sell the ultimate truth here. I am just some grad student who had all this sensation overload today and so many things that keep my brain busy. I am still not sure how good I will be in selling myself once it really matters and networking still scares me like heck. But, it’s good to keep these things in mind when working on it. It’s a progress, life’s a ride and you all hopped on board a while ago, so that was one of many many stops. Next will be a lighter topic, promise 😉

Cheers,

Ari

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guess who’s going to San Francisco today?

People, can you take a moment and cross your fingers for my dear long-distance-roommate, who is currently either on a plane to London, somewhere in the airport in London, or even already on a plane to Los Angeles?

She’s a bit worried that things are going to go wrong. Or, what am I saying, she’s freaking out about everything.

I’m sure everything will be just fine and you’ll hear soon from her about how wonderful and absolutely epic San Francisco is, but in the meantime, it can’t hurt to send her some good thoughts and wishes, right?

Good luck, Ari, and keep us posted!!

Dear Follower,

sometimes, life sucks. Sometimes, life causes earthquakes that break the road apart on which you traveled and you have to find a new way to get to your final destination. Yesterday, the governmental loan agency I complained about in one of my posts, told me that they will not be able to fund my studies in San Francisco. Apparently, throughout the past 7 months I had been sending them documents, they could not go through them thoroughly  enough to realize that certain important pre- requirements were not being fulfilled. Apparently, in their opinion, telling me that one month before I was supposed to leave for the States, is enough in advance for me to look for other options

So, yesterday the ground fell out from underneath my feet. Since November last year I had been struggling to find monetary options to finance life on a F1 visa, had been encouraged from all sides and even when things went horribly wrong, there was always something that kept me going. And I thought by myself- hey, all those pinterest pins with beautiful pictures and encouraging quotes like “Don’t worry, if it’s supposed to happen, it will happen!” or “Always believe in yourself for that is the greatest skill” are really true…until yesterday.

After drowning in self-pitty and frustration, my amazing friends helped me figure out my options. As of now that would be:
– Find a cheap-ass apartment in SF, say F*** It and share it with as many people as possible and start applying for jobs from Day I to increase my chances of paying back my loans asap and being a step closer to my dream of working in NYC.
– Think about going to the university’s campus in London and accept the fact that this might be more affordable for a European. Forget about the picture I painted of my year in the States and get accustomed to the idea of living in UK’s capital.

Dear follower, this is where I need brainstorming! Any thoughts on any of those two cities? Anybody living there, having visited, any impressions you wanna share? I appreciate any comment, I’m terrible in making choices like that and this back and forth is driving me insaaaaane!

Cheers and love,

Ari

 

Long Distance

So here we are, and the blog title applies once again… Ari and I are no longer “real” roommates.

I mean, we’re no longer any kind of roommates , at least not officially. But I’m telling you, living with your best friend for two years (and NOT killing each other) creates a bond for life. At least that what it feels like to me. I can’t imagine my life without my roommate, and that’s still true even when we’re on different continents.

Also, it’s not like we’re strangers to long distance. We’ve been long distance roommates before (hence the blog), and we’ve also been in other kinds of long distance relationships before. In fact my boyfriend of now almost a year (wow) lives on a different continent as well. Conveniently, it’s the same one Ari will be moving to… and there are plans that I might move there as well in the not so distant future. So while we’d still be in different countries, at least we might end up on the same continent again.

This, then, is really the essence of what I take away from college: The bonds we forged, the ones that I hope will last a lifetime.

The people I love will be all over the world, in fact, they already are. Some of my best friends are currently in the U.S., in Venezuela, Germany, Australia, the U.K., Chile, Finland, Norway, Kenya… honestly, you name the country, chances are I’ll know someone either from there or currently living there. Some of them I don’t see every year or even every other year. Some I haven’t seen in years, some I might not see until our 10-year-reunion. And yet, I don’t think it’ll matter too much. We have Skype, Facebook, Whatsapp, heck, even Pinterest to share those things that made us think of each other. The fact that we have Internet means we’re never really very far away from each other (except those moments when you really want to give the other person a hug).

So what’s next?

For me, it’s a six-month internship starting in August, and then… dare I say it… I might make my next move after that dependent on my boyfriend… because a year and a half of long distance is really quite enough. So one of us will be moving. Holy shit. That’s how serious we’ve become. I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s the most amazing thing that ever happened to me, but… sometimes I get really freaked out.

For Ari… well if you’ve been following, you know about San Francisco. If not, GO BACK AND READ, seriously. And she’ll keep you posted of course. We plan on continuing this blog not just as a means to stay in touch but I guess also to sort out our “post college confusions”  – credits for the quote to Tabi, thanks 😉

So stick around… we can only get more confused (and therefore entertaining) from here on out… real life is waiting. (Yay?)

California Dreaming…

..on such a winter’s day.

While the campus is covered in snow, I am getting started on my plans for life after graduation- grad school…in SAN FRANCISCO!
Jupp, that’s right, I am going back to the US for at least 12 months to study Marketing like a boss! As said before, I have had a lot of funding to figure out but finally had a fundamental monetary…breakthrough a week ago. What was more of a vague hope before has now turned into an actual plan and I can begin to actually get excited for September. In 7 months, I will get to know the West Coast by living in the city at the bay.

Never having been there, I picture San Francisco as a city with an established surfing culture, a VERY laid-back lifestyle, ENORMOUS living costs (yeah, great…) and an utterly health-obsessed population. I also heard of the fog that creeps into the city, sudden temperature changes, the neighborhoods that define who you are and the bad transportation in California in general. In Germany, there is a song that says (loosely translated): “I have never been to New York, I have never been to Hawaii, never been to San Francisco in my ripped jeans”. San Francisco- I keep repeating it over and over again in my head hoping that it helps me create a feel for the city…which is complete rubbish of course, how can you get a feel for something you have never seen in reality? I am open and excited for what it has to offer and I can’t wait to be back in the US. Being able to smile at people, greet waitresses with a “Hi, how u doin today?”, have all my favorite fast food chains and soulfood products within reach, 24/7 stores, stars and stripes… you get my point!

12 months. Will be the longest I have ever been gone from home. I wont have the money to go home over christmas and, as of now, I barely am able to picture how this year is gonna go. Jessi, who has become like a sister for me over last summer, will stay in Europe, Judith, who has put planning the future on hold for now, and I will need to redeem ourselves to long-distance-roommates once again and I will leave almost everything behind that is familiar and beloved. I know, thats what growing up means. I know, thats what following your dreams entails. You sacrifice things on the path to happiness. In the end, it will all work out. And if it doesnt work out, it’s not the end. Also, there is still a lot of time until then, time that will be spend working, researching (did someone say bachelor thesis?!), studying and planning. Making sure to make the most of the time I have left here and try to enjoy it enough so that, in a year from now, I wont look back and say “Oh, if only I had gone out more. If only I had put more effort into this. If only I had been smarter back then”.

I should also mention the change in my relationship status that has been made by me. After a lot of talking, thinking and being brutally honest to each other my (ex)boyfriend and I are back together. There are only so many people in the world, that you can give a list of all your flaws (literally) and that reply with a list of exactly why these flaws are special effects in their eyes that don’t change you being perfect for them. My fear of him not accepting me the way I am, my panic about not seeing this working out for too long but my failure in communicating these thoughts had led to a pretty abrupt end and then winter break came and for a month I tried talking myself into this breakup being for the better. I refused to listen to him trying to talk it out, I resisted his arguments for as long as I could, I was pushing him away for no apparent reason because I just did not believe in us being the perfect fit anymore. But eventually, his reasoning got me.I pondered a lot these past two months. 70 years ago, couples were assigned. You had little choice in whom to marry and divorces were social suicide. But few couples in their 80s regret having gotten married. Maybe our approach to relationships has changed? With movies and pictures, blogs and media promoting romantic stories of the perfect couple, the bar for finding love-meant-to-be is set pretty high. Yes, maybe him and I differ on certain attitudes, world views and behaviors. But we also have a whole bunch of things that we love doing together, things that connect us and make us comfortable around each other especially because we know the other person’s weaknesses, fears, struggles and flaws. Yes, relationships mean work, constant work and adjusting and balancing and meeting halfway but so does life and we arent giving up on that so easily either now, do we? So, I came to realize that I had to get rid of all these socially influenced ideas about a relationship and find my own ones. That’s what I’m doing right now and it makes me happy. Since he is gonna go to the same school, we are very much looking forward to an adventurous year in the States and I am excited for what exactly that will mean.

Bottom line- stay tuned. More stories of the crazy German exploring the Land of Liberty are yet to come! That will probably entail failed surf attempts, weird youtube videos, traveling diaries, rants about late-night study sessions, accent adaption and so on 😉

SF

The Hunger Games- College Edition

…that’s finding money for grad school for you (stole this quote from 2 Broke Girls, btw).

Here are the stages that I underwent over the course of my search:

June. Of course you know since the summer that you want to attend grad school after your bachelors. But do you care to use the free summer months to send off applications, start preparing GREs or look into finances? NO. Why would you?! It’s sunny outside, after all. 

September. School starts again, you see all your friends, stress kicks in. Assignments, presentations, papers, deadlines, job, social life, sleep. It’s just a LOT to handle. By the end of the month, if you’re lucky, you might have a preliminary list of schools you want to apply to.

October. You exclude US schools, because they are SO EXPENSIVE. Also, their deadline approaches soon and you would have to take the GRE/GMAT. And that’s just a scary path you don’t want to go down. Expensive too. Why not Europe anyway? So much cheaper for EU citizens. Rolling application deadlines. No tests.

November. Shoot. European schools want to have TOEFL test scores. You tell yourself you will register soon (with “soon” turning out to be four weeks because you spend three weeks ranting about how stupid that is, seeing that you are attending an American university in Germany and have spoken nothing but English the past three years and who do they think they are, running around taking my money? You take another four days to tell yourself you will not give in to these stupid mechanisms of tests that say nothing at all and are just a way of taking your money.) Then you register. Almost full points. BOOM. Euphoria.

December. You find an international business school with campuses in the US. Perfect program. Great location. Everything fits. No GMAT. You apply, get in. You think: SAN FRANCISCO BABY! BACK TO THE US!! BACK TO THE PLACE THAT MAKES ME HAPPY!!! Then you wake up. They send you the price catalogue- $40.000 just tuition fee…huh.
You get a partial scholarship. Wohoo, just…a couple of thousands more missing

December, still. You realize that deadlines for all major scholarships have already passed. You accept the fact and move on..to student loans. An appointment at your local bank is supposed to help. The employee’s comment: “Well, that is a lot of money indeed and we can’t really help. Good luck!”. You go home, empty a bottle of champaign with your friend, sit down and think. The more time passes, the more desperate your money -getting ways become: they reach from becoming a starbucks barista over selling your eggs, becoming a surrogate mother and opening a sex hotline to another shot of vodka and the realization that you are pretty screwed.

January. Yet to come. If anyone knows how to get $27000, comment here. If anyone knows how to find shared living options in San Francisco, comment here. I tried craigslist but have only gotten dubious sex offers. And Western Union trash. Not very helpful. Otherwise I’m just gonna start collecting cardboard boxes already, so that at least I will have a place to live in San Francisco. Maybe with a nice garden in the back box. Could grow my own plants and just live off that for a year. If I ever make it to the States in the first place, that is.

Bottomline. Here you are, talented and poor. But, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I shall keep looking.. any hints appreciated.
Cheers mates!

Challenges

are on my list of things to do in New York. One of the Challenges at some point will be writing a little card saying: “Hey, I just met you and this is crazy but here’s my number xxx-xxx-xxxx so call me maybe!” and give it to a cute male barista at Starbucks. Mostly because I love the song, a friend of mine and I brought it back from Dublin and made it viral in our university. But also because I think its a hilarious idea and if it actually resulted into something-if only a nice dinner- it was worth it. However, I started small with: giving fake names at Starbucks. This one was Disney themed:

next will be… running like Phoebe in Central Park. OR going up to a random stranger on the street and saying: “Omar says hi!” and keep walking. I love doing random stuff like that. And at the moment I am also a little bored and alone, so i might come up with even better things. Gotta always push yourself out of your comfort zone.

I was also looking into film academies and acting schools in New York. But what is it with these things? As a child you go to your parents and inform them that you wanna become a Ballerina or Actress or Star and they tell you: “But only after you have finished school!” Then you finish school and go up to them repeating the same thing and they say: “Well, you have to make that decisions but I would advise you to first learn something proper.” So you study Economics and Management. They you are looking into Grad Schools and suddenly, your parents voice is replaced by YOUR OWN CONSCIENCE saying “Naaaah, drop that. Dat stuff aint no future for ya!”. Dafug conscience?! Since when did you kick in with these things? So, I will probably pull a responsible one on me and not spend $20000 on a graduate degree in acting. Shame, oh shame.