Monthly Archives: April 2011

Communication Is More Than the Sum of Its Parts

Filed under: College Life - BookRenter Team
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How the heck did they come up with such a system, and why does it work so well?

by PinkMoose

My major in college was communication. The first question people used to ask me after hearing that that was my major is “What is communication?” And typically my response was “I have no idea.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the word. The issue was more that the subject of communication is so all-encompassing that crafting a one-sentence response seemed a little daunting. It’s very different from being asked, “What is biology?” to which I could respond, “It’s the study of life” even though I haven’t taken biology since 2006. Every professor I had in the communication department had a different definition for what the major was – no two could agree on a definition.

Before I graduated from college last May, I thought I would take a stab at defining what communication meant to me. After having completed the major, I felt I was in a position to clarify the term.

So here is my definition: Communication is the conveying of thoughts and ideas through the manipulation of symbols. Symbols are arbitrary concepts that are created by their users but which nonetheless help create a unified social reality.

Why did I want to study a field that seems so arbitrary and potentially unfocused? Precisely because it is those things! And it interests me deeply that while the term “communication” might mean something different to every single person on this planet, to survive, we humans have learned to use its symbols – both verbal and nonverbal – to connect with one another.

Maybe the real question we should be asking about communication is how the heck did we come up with such a complex system and why does it work so well?

What does communication mean to you? I look forward to reading your comments.

By Guest Blogger Rachel Freeman I SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY: Creative, outgoing, detail-oriented. Undergrad degree – cum laude – in communications. Currently pursuing a master’s in broadcast and electronic communication arts. Currently Social Media Consultant at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Not-so-secret passion: Baseball (go, San Francisco Giants!).

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Why Unpaid Internships Are Worth It

Filed under: Post Grad and Career - BookRenter Team
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by danielmoyle

If you’re like me, as a college student, you’re always scrambling to make a few extra dollars. Although we quickly adapt to the dollar-menu lifestyle that is college living, we’re always looking for a way to live just a little more comfortably.

That’s why many students totally rule out the idea of working for free, under any circumstances.

Fact is, though, that many of the internships out there today are unpaid. So before you rule out an unpaid internship, here are three reasons why accepting one could be well worth laboring for free.

1. It’s great experience. This is the usual selling point for any internship, and with good reason. Interning in the industry you’re interested in working in will provide you with skills that are invaluable – and that can help give you an edge when you’re going for your first job after graduation. You’ll also get a first-hand idea of what a job in the industry of your choice is like, and whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

2. You’ll get to network. One of the great things about interning is that you get to meet a ton of new people, from other interns to the heads of major companies. The connections you make as an intern are super-important: Down the line, one of them may be able to clue you in to a job opening or serve as a professional reference.

3. You might even get a foot in the door. There are a huge number of people who are willing to compete for that extremely rare paid internship. By taking an unpaid internship, you’re showing an employer that money isn’t your main concern, but instead, the work you’ll be doing and the experience you’ll be getting. By showing dedication to the work itself rather than the benefits attached to it, you may have a greater chance at getting your foot in the door with that company.

The important thing to remember about any internship is that it’s your first step into the professional world. Making your mark is important, and there’s no better way to do that than taking your job seriously and giving it 100%. With an unpaid internship, there may not be a paycheck on the line, but your professional reputation is.

By Guest Blogger Angela Andaloro I PACE UNIVERSITY: Smart, ambitious, and committed to the creative life, with a list of personal and professional goals that would stretch from here to the moon and back. Currently a Social Media Marketing Intern in New York City.

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College Classics Turned College Cuisines

Filed under: Health & Fitness - BookRenter Team
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How to make your basic college diet taste like 4-star food

The typical college student’s diet consists of PB&J sandwiches, ramen, Easy Mac, ramen, cereal, and more ramen. On breaks you go home and gorge on Mom’s cooking because you know you won’t taste anything nearly as good until the next time you’re home.

What if I told you there were some easy ways to make your basic college foods taste like they came from a four-star restaurant?

College classic: PB&J Sandwich. College cuisine: Grilled PB&J.

by kalleboo

Give the all-American sandwich you’ve loved since elementary a new spin by grilling it. Simply butter the outside of a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and throw it in a pan on the stove-top or toss it into the oven. The warm, oozing peanut butter mixed with the tartness of jelly or jam and the comforting buttery taste will make you never want to go back to your lunchbox days.
Secret Ingredient: Bananas. Add them for a flavor that would make Elvis proud.

College classic: Easy Mac. College cuisine: Taco Mac ‘n Cheese.

Easy Mac – fast, simple, cheesy. But it can get a bit old, especially if your parents bought you a Costco-size pack last time they were in town. Spice it up with a can of corn, black beans, and salsa. Bonus points if you have any Taco Bell taco sauce. Mix these in to your taste for a whole new spin on macaroni. Secret Ingredient: Tortilla chips. Use this as a dip for delectable nachos.

College classic: Cereal. College cuisine: Cereal Ice Cream Sundae.

It’s no secret to my roommates that I love cereal. My favorites are Cocoa Pebbles, Reese’s Puffs, and Cookie Crisp. For dessert (or breakfast on a really bad day – no judgment here), combine some of your favorite cereals and pair the mix with vanilla ice cream. The crunch adds a great texture and the vanilla flavor mimics the milk flavor we all expect with cereal. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other ice cream flavors. For example, Golden Grahams and Marshmallows from Lucky Charms taste delicious with chocolate ice cream. Secret Ingredient: Caramel. Drizzle it on top to take this cereal to a level that will satisfy even the most stubborn sweet tooth.

College classic: Ramen, College cuisine: Dessert Ramen,

by Ben Mason

Last but not least: ramen. It’s the cliché college lunch and dinner. But have you ever tried it for dessert? Pair that package of ramen with some honey, cinnamon sugar, and strawberry sauce for a one-of-a-kind dessert. Toss out the flavor packet and make the ramen as usual, then chill the noodles in your mini-fridge for 15-20 minutes. Add as much honey as you’d like and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. Put a pool of strawberry sauce on the side for dipping and you’ve got ramen dessert! Secret Ingredient: Cool Whip. Put a dollop next to the strawberry sauce for a classy look that tastes great, too.

Now that you’re a master chef, cook these treats for your roommates! You can even impress your crush with your cooking skills. Share your own recipes and let us know what you thought of these twists on classic foods in the comments.

By Guest Blogger Sarah Coffey I DRAKE UNIVERSITY: Friends describe her as a loyal, driven, creative goofball. But this high-octane double major (graphic design and PR) has a laser-like focus when it comes to achieving her goals. Weakness: “I’m absolutely addicted to the Food Network.”

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7 Secrets for Beating End-of-Semester Stress

Filed under: College Life, Health & Fitness - BookRenter Team
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As a college junior, I have experienced end-of-semester stress countless times. You know the feeling: Everything piles up until there seems to be more work in the last week of school than in all the preceding weeks combined…

I used to get so overwhelmed that I would chug energy drinks all day and study all night. Come exam time? I’d be too tired to focus.

But no more. I’ve learned. And you can, too.

by alancleaver_2000

Here are seven secrets to taking on finals week and finishing the semester strong.

  1. 1. Create a to-do list. Include all of the assignments you have to complete. Write assignments down in order of their importance and due dates. Set a goal for how many assignments you want to complete each day. You’ll be surprised at how much more effectively you’re managing your time.
  2. 2. Avoid unnecessary distractions. Stay off Facebook, turn off your cell phone, and stay away from the TV. Yes, these are all ways to relax. But they’ll derail your schedule, set you back on your school work, and cause you to be more stressed in the long run, not less.
  3. 3. Stay away from energy drinks. Sure, they may give you a bit of a jolt, but in the end, you’ll crash. And then? You’ve got another stressor on your hands – fatigue.
  4. 4. Go for a run instead. Running will help get your adrenaline flowing and clear your mind , replacing anxiety and stress with a sense of calm and purpose.
  5. 5. Eat fresh, nutritious food. Have you ever tried to study while your stomach was growling? Eating well also helps give you the physical stamina and enhanced brain power you need to put in a good day’s work.
  6. 6. Get a good night’s sleep. An all-nighter here and there during finals week is not out of line. But while it may seem like a good idea at the time – a reasonable way to get in more study time or complete an extra assignment – pulling an all-nighter is actually counter-productive. Without a good night’s sleep, you’ll be too tired to perform well on your exams.
  7. 7. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Relax – you’re almost through. If you’ve paid attention and done well throughout the semester, then finals should be no problem for you. And remember, once all of your exams and projects are done, you’ll be free to enjoy your summer.


By Guest Blogger Kimberly Erskine I ROWAN UNIVERSITY:Currently her university’s Social Media Coordinator. Near-perfect GPA. Made it to Round Three of Charlie Sheen’s #TigerBloodIntern contest. This media-savvy girl – who dreams of becoming a successful writer and has just published her first major article – is seriously cool.

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Still No Idea What You’re Doing This Summer?

Filed under: College Life, Post Grad and Career - BookRenter Team
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If you don’t land an internship, there are some great alternatives.

Drenched by a sudden downpour, I left campus wondering how summer could suddenly be only two months away. But the date on the calendar isn’t lying, and an unanswered question remains stuck in my head: “What am I doing this summer??”

Back in December, when I embarked on my search for the perfect internship, it seemed like I had so much time. Sure, there’d be plenty of competition. But worry? Not me. I’d find something. That was then, and now here I am, still looking. What, you too?

So what happens if summer comes along and you’re still empty-handed? Nothing can completely replace the benefits of the experience and connections that you gain from a good internship. But alternatives do exist!

Do good for others.

by Christy Sheffield

Volunteer for a group, organization, or non-profit. Not only does this charitable act allow you to contribute to your community, it’s also a chance to pursue an interest or indulge a personal passion. For example, I grew up with my nose buried in library books, so I’ve always wanted to volunteer at a branch, shelving and organizing titles. Or try something completely new. Think outside the box. Consider venues that always need more help, like museums, theaters (not the cinematic kind), and political campaigns. Check out VolunteerMatch and Idealist for listings and more ideas.

Be willing to learn something new. Aside from adding a little weight to your wallet, working can have unexpected benefits. When I started at the University of Oregon Cinema Studies Program, I thought revamping its website would take priority. Instead, I’m now becoming best friends with data entry and office duties. They might not be my favorite tasks, but they’re still useful skills to master.

Start a mini-business.

by Amy Gizienski

This fun tip comes from the University of Chicago’s Career Advising & Planning Services. While you’re still young, let your entrepreneurial spirit run free. (Just don’t scam people!) One of my friends picked up people’s Christmas trees for a small fee to save them a trip to the recycling center – a win for my friend, the client, and the environment!

So don’t worry if you don’t land an internship – you have plenty of other options. And if all else fails, gather your friends, embark on a cross-country adventure, and tell us about it!

By Guest Blogger Charmaine Ng I UNIVERSITY OF OREGON:Ambitious and talented, honest and human, this tri-lingual social media strategist and curator is also a published author. Harbors a secret desire to one day have a multi-hyphenated title

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