After reading my classmate and friend Jessica Wolfraim’s latest blog post on her Top 3 lessons learned in Centennial’s corp comm program, I thought it would be a good idea to give my own recap, or as I like to call it, my year in review.

As I’ve mentioned a few times in past postings, I’m a graduate of Centennial College’s three-year Journalism program. This meant I had a solid set of writing skills coming into the Corporate Communications and Public Relations (CC & PR). I’m fortunate enough I didn’t have to unlearn four years of excruciatingly long and drawn out writing for essays; I went through that in first year j-school (let’s not rehash those memories).  I know if I was one of my classmates I would definitely count that as something valuable to take away from the course, as Jessica did in her post.

My top three things I can take away from the course, as I head into my eight week internship, don’t all necessarily involve in-class learning (the beauty of college). Here they are in all their glory:

Social Media

Before I joined the program I had been on Facebook, and used it primarily to chat with friends (and still do). When I first joined the program in September, I created my twitter page. I hardly used it, because I didn’t understand it.

Social MediaNow, not only do I understand how those two examples of social media can be usefully harnessed, I know there are a lot more examples of social media and they too can be used for communicating with people with a purpose. I’ve created this blog; found delicious; youtube is completely different to me — the examples are too many to list.

An offshoot to this category is networking. Through social media I’ve developed connections on a community like twitter, but also my blog and those whose blogs I read (and most importantly, comment on). Since I’m relatively new to the whole idea of networking in this form, I’m taking it slow. I’ll go into this for another post.

Volunteering

I’ll admit I didn’t do a lot of volunteering before coming into this program. The only significant experience I can remember is when I volunteered at summer daycare camp as an assistant for two months. I was 17 and it ended up volunteeringbeing one of the more fulfilling experiences of my teenage years.

This year I’ve volunteered at Talk is Cheap 2.0, Wordcamp 2008 and Canada Blooms ’09. With these three alone, I think I’ve developed a taste for helping out. I was also informed that not only can you gain experience through volunteering, but you can gain – wait for it – networking possibilities.

Yes, again networking rears its ever-present head. Volunteering at events, conferences, what have you, gives valuable (and free) access to keynote speakers, distinguished guests and organizers. What a great opportunity to develop those connections that could benefit you down the road!

Presentation skills

pubspeakingMaybe it’s because the class was my last one of the year, and I just did a presentation, but I feel drastically improved when it comes to speaking for an audience. I’ll admit I still get the jitters at times, but I don’t think that’s altogether a bad thing. Famous musicians still get butterflies before heading on stage, so why can’t I?

Most importantly, thanks to Keith McDonald‘s class, I know how I’m comfortable with public speaking. As evidenced by my final speech on clubfeet yesterday, I work a lot better if I’m not reading from a script, but have it handy just in case. I also like to use PowerPoint even though I know Dwight Schrute, from The Office, thinks it’s boring. It’s an ideal world scenario, but if I get to do most presentations this way I’ll be fine. If I don’t (and I won’t), then I’ve gained the tools of being more vocal, slowing my pace and making eye contact, that I can take with me.

In closing

Those were just a few of the many great things I learned this year from the program. When reflecting it’s interesting to note how much knowledge I’ve gained from first to second semester. I think that’s a good sign for the future, because looking ahead seems a little daunting. With so much improvement from semester one to two, there’s no telling how much I’ll bring to the table after some real world experience as I start my two month internship on Monday.

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