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June 29, 2011

Online Identity | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

Now that you’re in college, it’s time to start thinking about your online identity. I think about this topic a lot, and I have done a lot of research on the subject.

As kids, we really don’t think about the consequences of our online adventures. How many of you signed up for accounts on gaming sites or other sites that you subsequently forgot about? I did an experiment, where I looked up usernames I had created when I was younger, and found over 60 various online accounts. At least 30 had not been used in several years.

I was a candidate for research at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and was asked to create a presentation about youth and the world wide web. View the Prezi presentation here. I discussed a possibility for an online solution, as well as what the common problems were as seen by Berkman and Internet researchers. Although the solution is geared towards children, pre-teens, and teenagers, we are still susceptible to the same problems. We have the opportunity to make better decisions about our presence online.

When you apply for jobs, human resources will look at your online history. Those pictures from your 21st birthday party on Facebook could be found. That post with un-friendly social commentary on Twitter can be tracked. Even if you have privacy settings, it’s possible for other people to share your information publicly. Basically, nothing is ever truly private on the internet. Once it’s out there, who knows what can happen.

We’re adults now. It’s time to start taking responsibility for our presence online. Mashable (my favorite source for news about social media) wrote a great article in 2009 about centralizing your identity. Read it here.

Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at @DesignLightning with any follow up questions or conversation!

June 29, 2011

Shuttle Launch

In eight days, I’ll be heading to Orlando, FL for the last shuttle launch… ever.

Ok, I probably am speaking too soon. Who knows what will happen in ten, fifteen, or a hundred years. Maybe another president will reinvigorate the shuttle program with NASA. For now, however, this shuttle is set to be the last. I get to watch from the Kennedy Space Center as it launches. Incredible. (Read about the launch plans here)

When I was a little girl, there was something called Space Camp. Perhaps you remember those commercials from the 90’s. A trip to Space Camp was always the prize on those Nickelodeon challenge shows, and I dreamed of winning. What kid didn’t want the chance to experience zero gravity?!

Space Camp

A shuttle launch definitely doesn’t afford me those opportunities. However, I do get to be a part of history. I get to watch Space Shuttle Atlantis, who already has over 25 years of history, go to space for the last time. I will be there alongside professors from my department, and we can “geek out” together. It may be the last launch, but hopefully it will allow a friendship to form.

Most importantly, I suppose, I will be tweeting from the event. Follow me on Twitter to get the feed on July 8th. You can look forward to pictures of the space center and of the launch.

June 27, 2011

Sleep & Study | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

If you reside on campus, there is one primary rule that resides overall in your housing contract: The right to sleep and study.

What does this mean? You are afforded a lot of rights by living in University Housing. You share a space with up to four people; an unlimited meal plan (excluding Van Hoosen & University Village); access to your dorm 24 hours a day; the right to bring guests over; etc. You can play music in your room; watch TV; attend events planned by your mentors; and so much more. But above all, you have the right to sleep and study in peace.

As a mentor, it is my job to make sure that this is being upheld. That doesn’t mean I am constantly policing the floor for noise. That also doesn’t mean that you have to worry about watching a movie at any time of the day. What it does mean is, if someone asks you to quiet down in order to protect those rights: you have to agree. Or face the consequences.

We want there to be a positive atmosphere, where residents can talk with each other and have fun. However, it shouldn’t be at the cost of someone else’s rights. If you have a roommate, respect their rights. Perhaps that means going accross the hall to a friend’s to watch TV while they study, or turning off the lights at 11pm so they can go to sleep.

Mutual respect is the only way to go.

In addition, some halls have “quiet floors.” This means there is a “quiet” rule enforced 24 hours a day. Some people request to live in those situations, and others are placed there because of housing needs. That doesn’t mean you can’t play music on the floor; it just means that you have to be aware of the volume level (particularly of the bass). There are people around you. Even if it’s 5PM on a Saturday, everyone has the right to take a nap or study.

June 21, 2011

7 Jobs? | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

You may be thinking, “Seven jobs? No way that’s possible.” Well, ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at the one and only ridiculous person to have and maintain seven different jobs at once. Granted, two of the jobs are on hold for the summer, but will pick up once the fall begins.

What are these jobs, you ask?

  1. Resident Mentor in McDonel Hall (to be continued in the fall)
  2. Peer Writing Consultant & Social Media Coordinator at the Writing Center (to be continued in the fall)
  3. Social Media Intern at TechSmith Corporation
  4. Graphic Designer for Middle of the Mitten
  5. Professional Writing Events Coordinator
  6. Beer Rhetorics Intern
  7. Spartan Connect First Tier Engager

This has taught me a lot about myself. I am someone who hates being bored. Sitting all day and doing nothing does not appeal to me. At the same time, all of my jobs are things that I have found a deep passion and interest in. Everything will help me towards whatever my future career is. Furthermore, I’m not being paid for every job; the unpaid jobs will just further help me develop my skills.

Another really important skill this is teaching me: Time Management. That is something I have always struggled with, and I have a pretty horrible memory. Although I tried to use the planner we are all given Freshman year, or the mentor planner I am given at the beginning of the year, I realize that just writing it down in one place is not useful. I am now an avid user of Google Calender. Having my calender in a digital form means that I can take it everywhere: it’s on my laptop, my smartphone, and my tablet. I can check it on any device with access to the internet.

I’m not saying that is the right choice for everyone. Some people are better physically writing down their schedule. I also don’t advise taking on seven jobs without being fully aware of what you’re committing to and what you’re sacrificing. It means that I don’t necessarily get to have that extra hour of sleep. In addition, I didn’t work my first year at school. However, I did participate in three theater productions each semester. I’ve always kept myself busy.

I love every minute.

The most important thing to get out of this: do what you love to do. Don’t be afraid to take on a few extra responsibilities, because it’s possible to learn how to juggle it. On the same note, don’t overwhelm yourself with jobs that won’t make you happy. I have the habit of wanting to help people whenever I can, and therefore I take on too many responsibilities. It’s good to know when to say, “No.”

Happy scheduling!

June 06, 2011

My MSU Journey | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

It’s summer time in East Lansing, and all I can think about is how excited I am for the fall semester to start. Since arriving at Michigan State University, my life has changed (for the better) and I’ve really come into my own identity. This didn’t happen without some bumps along the way. As this is my first blog entry, I suppose I should introduce myself.

Hi. My name is Alexandra White, but my friends and colleagues call me Ali (like McBeal, not Muhammad). I will be a senior in the 2011-2012 year, getting a BA in Professional Writing, a minor in Theater, and a specialization in Digital Humanities. In addition, I am currently the Social Media intern forTechSmith; a Resident Mentor in McDonel Hall (for the 3rd year); the Social Media Manager & a Peer Writing Consultant and MSU The Writing Center; Graphic Designer for Middle of the Mitten; PR Coordinator for Spartan Web Authorers; and the Social Media Coordinator for Writers’ Bloc.

If you’re going to be new to Michigan State this year, I have five tips:

  1. Keep your door open. I can’t stress enough how many opportunities you find on your floor and in your hall, just by having your door open. Even if you’re coming to MSU with friends, the people who you live with are great to go get dinner with and helpful for close by study buddies.
  2. Don’t be embarrassed on your map. You need it. I know people in their second, third, and even fourth year who still couldn’t tell you where buildings are on campus.
  3. Speaking of which, MAC stands for Michigan Agricultural College. It is not pronounced “Mac” like Apple products, but each letter is pronounced: “M” “A” “C”. I made that mistake in my first week and was corrected by an upperclassman. You will never have that embarrassment.
  4. Take advantage of the roommate contract. If your roommate is your best friend or a new friend, it’s easy to let things slide at first that may bother you. If you set the ground rules early (bed times, trash duty, suite responsibilities), it is much easier to stick to than rules introduced after there is a problem.
  5. The cafeteria is your best friend and worst enemy. It’s really exciting at first to have unlimited ice cream, french fries, and pizza. But over indulgence leads to bigger problems. Don’t completely restrict yourself, but remember the healthier options. Eat at State also provides nutritional facts for most of the meals that we’re offered.

As I said earlier, I didn’t get this knowledge without some bumps. When I was a freshman living in Emmons Hall, I never kept my door open. The girls were very welcoming; I just never gave them a chance to get to know me. By the time I realized my mistake, the year was almost over.

I’ll be living in McDonel Hall for the third year in a row as a mentor, and can say it is truly a unique experience. We are residence hall that is home to a large population of international and transfer students. We also have the living-learning community La Casa, a Spanish speaking floor with special opportunities. The age of residents ranges from freshman to seniors, and the programs we provide match those needs. It’s relatively quiet and low traffic, meaning residents put higher priority in our rights as residents: sleep & study. I love McDonel, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

My success at MSU came from finding out what I loved to do (with amazing people and opportunities). I realized I wasn’t happy as a Theater major, and Professional Writing (PW) sort of fell into my lap. I took Intro to Digital Humanities (AL285) with Dr. Danielle DeVoss, and realized that I wanted to do everything in that class for the rest of my life. Once I found the right major, I had the motivation to participate in our student groups. I got an internship in New York City with Swagger New York my first summer out of PW. I have made amazing friends, who have not only supported my work but also will be great contacts for later job hunting.

I’ve been here for three years, with just 11 months before graduation. It’s hard to pinpoint one moment as “the best,” as each have impacted me in different ways. Recently, the biggest smile was put on my face in the last week of school. My advisor, professor, and friend, Danielle DeVoss, asked me to join a brainstorm group for creating a video about the 50th anniversary of the College of Arts and Letters. Upon leaving the meeting, she said, “We need you. We need your ideas and your creativity.” Nothing means more than feeling you have made a powerful impact on your program. The connections and friendships you make will change your life.

I look forward to future blogs. Feel free to send me a message, comment on this blog, and/or follow me on Twitter. Go Green!

June 03, 2011

Spartan Connect

I have been selected as a First Tier Spartan Connect Engager. What does this mean? I’ll work a couple hours a week as a blogger for Spartan Connect, Michigan State’s answer to social media, as well as being available for chat with students. For my first blog, I was asked to answer the following questions:

1. What general advice would you give an incoming student

2. What you wished you had known prior to arriving on campus

3. What you would do differently if you could do it all again

4. What one or two things contributed to your success at MSU

5. What has been your fondest memory thus far

Now you may be thinking… Another job, Ali? Really?

Oh yes. That puts the grand total at 5 jobs currently being held. In my defense, only three are active right now. Four will be active in the fall, but we’ll worry about it when it’s time to worry. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t constantly busy.

When my first blog post goes up on Monday, June 6th, I’ll be sure to post a link to it.

EDIT: My first blog post has launched. Check it out!