Power Up: 6 Tips to Illuminate Your Work and Life

Power Up Blog

I’ve been thinking about what propels some people directly into exciting careers, and why others may take longer to find their place.  Of course, there are many factors beyond our control, yet, there are elements we can master to help light the way.  I’d like to share a few ideas with you.

First, let me to introduce myself.  I am an Assistant Professor in Advertising/Public Relations major, teaching college level courses for over 15 years. My professional career spans 20+ years in advertising/public relations.

I am the faculty advisor to the GVSU Advertising Club and the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team.  I also serve on the board of the American Advertising Federation of West Michigan, (Ad Fed) as Director of Student Initiatives.

So what is it about people who fast track their careers?  I have an educated guess based on my observations, experience and research.  I’ll share some thoughts with you:

  1. Motivation and Enthusiasm are Key. A fire in the belly, willingness to take a risk and tenacity are integral to success. I know. It’s hard.  No one likes to fail or be judged.  But if you try, fail, and pick yourself back up again, you will learn valuable lessons.  Don’t give up.  You are creative. Stop holding yourself back.  You will find creative initiative is not only exhilarating, but attractive to others.  They will notice your bold enthusiasm and want you on their team.
  1. Embrace the Unknown and Dive In. Humans don’t like uncertainty. We want to know we have the right answer. But in this field, there is no one right answer.  It’s about creative problem solving.  Be bold.  Dare to be different.  Set yourself apart. People want to see something they’ve never seen before.
  1. Make Connections and Get Inspired. Find people who inspire you.  Get out there and look them in the eye.  Strike up a conversation.  Ask questions and listen well.  Peers, professors, and professionals – everyone has something valuable to share. Join clubs, volunteer, find cool internships, attend speaking engagements, read about what and who inspires you, write about what you learn and discuss your findings with others.  Feed your soul.  Spark a fire.   
  1. Find Your Niche and Trust Your Gut. Take time to reflect.  Absorb what you are learning and think about how you can apply it. There are many aspects to the APR field. Find what excites you and focus on developing a special skill set.  It’s good to be well rounded, but even better to have something extra to offer.  Also, realize that no one has all the answers and no one is always right.  It is up to you to discern what is best for you. It’s your life. Learn to trust your intuition through deep introspection.
  1. Be Grateful.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  There will always be someone better, and many that are worse, at whatever niche you choose.  Accept that.  Then focus on your best self.  Don’t panic. Get perspective.  Look around you and count your blessings. Be thankful for all that you are and who you are becoming.  Take a deep breath, channel good energy and move forward with confidence.
  1. Be Kind.  Play well with others.  Foster a warm and safe space for others to interact with you.  Be approachable.  We are in a creative field.  Creative people need to feel safe to share ideas.  Sharing ideas with others leads to exhilarating possibilities.  This is where the magic happens. Work is no longer work; it becomes a passion.  The fire burns, motivation soars, enthusiasm takes flight. The next thing you know, you are unstoppable.  People take notice.  And you have just positioned yourself for a very exciting future in your chosen field.  Why?  Read tip #1. You’ve got this.

Post by: Robin Spring M.A., Assistant Professor

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Leadership Lifehacks: 3 Ways to be a Great Leader

Leadership Lifehacks


Before you read too much into this, I’m just going to throw this out there: writing about yourself is weird. My inner narcissist is ecstatic, but the everyday, typical college kid inside of me is screaming “DON’T DO THIS.” Maybe I just question if I’ve got the right stuff to make this writing interesting.

Regardless, I’ve been asked to write a blog. So doggone-it, I’m gonna.

Let’s start with introductions. For those of you I haven’t met yet, my name is Rachael Vruggink. I’m a junior in the Advertising and Public Relations major with an emphasis in Advertising. This year I’ve had the honor of being el presidente of the GVSU Advertising Club and I’m currently a social media and marketing intern for a startup company called OXX Beyond Rugged. Other fun facts: I sell bread on the weekends for a bakery in Allendale, I drink more coffee than I probably should, and I am a big flea market junkie.

I was a finalist for the Immediate Impact Award for leadership. That award nomination (which I did not win by-the-by) is not what I want to talk about. Instead, let’s talk about something more applicable to you. Like how to be a leader. After giving it some thought, I came up with 3 lifehacks for being a great leader that could apply to your student project groups, RSOs, or your job. Here’s what I got:

  1. Good leaders have great mentors. Before starting my role this year as president, I first looked to personal and professional connections for guidance. Having a leadership mentor or role model can keep you grounded. If anything, the greatest advantage of having a mentor is that they’re outside of your organization or group, and they can help you see the big picture.
  1. Good leaders seek feedback. In a leadership role, you should always be looking for ways to improve how you and your organization operate. Try to get feedback from everyone in the group, including all the shy-guys. It’s your job to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. Once you’ve heard from everyone, take that feedback and act on it.
  1. Good leaders admit when they’re wrong. Screw-ups are going to happen. When that time comes, don’t try to justify or defend, just apologize. Look for forgiveness and be humble, then take whatever it is you learned and move on. In return, when someone in your group makes a mistake, be forgiving and don’t hold it over their head. Team relationships are give-and-take, and keep in mind that nobody’s perfect.



Post by: Rachael Vruggink

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Rachael Vruggink is a junior at Grand Valley State University studying Advertising and Public Relations. Rachael is currently serving as the president of the GVSU Advertising Club and is an active member of the American Advertising Federation of West Michigan. Her professional experiences in the for-profit and non-profit sectors have complemented her education as she pursues her Bachelor of Science. Rachael is currently working as a social media and marketing team member for OXX Beyond Rugged and a freelance copywriter. Rachael can be contacted by email at vruggira@mail.gvsu.edu.

Yardstick Celebrates 10 Years!

Yardsticks Recap Blog Header

“Being creative and measuring up,” that’s how Kelly Darcy, director of communication for Yardsticks, described the purpose of the Yardsticks competition. On October 28, 2015 at 5:15pm students entered the Ballroom at City Flats Hotel in Grand Rapids to prepare their presentation that would soon be displayed in front of judges, professionals and other students. There were a total of eight entries, from Grand Valley State University and Central Michigan University.

The Yardsticks competition can be entered as a team or as an individual. In the competition students present a strategy related to a creative brief given to them by a real world company. This year the company was Macatawa Bank. The creative brief for this contest was set up to help the bank target a millennial generation audience. The students had to create a strategy that would build a relationship between the millennial audience and the bank through mobile banking.

A good amount of students came out to the 2015 Yardsticks event. Creative, design and APR students were all present from GVSU. Also in attendance were GVSU professors Spring, and Stipe. Students from the Central Michigan Ad Club represented the Mt. Pleasant area.

This was the tenth anniversary of the Yardsticks event, put on by professor Frank Blossom. You might know Frank from a class or possibly have heard about the past work he has done with students, but for those who don’t know, he is an advertising professor and the creator of Yardsticks. At the event Frank Blossom said, “Great turn out, and the quality of thinking is good.”

At Yardsticks students get critiques and feedback on their presentations from professionals who work in the APR field. Students have the opportunity to use the feedback whether they win or loose. They then can make revisions and enter their strategy in the 2016 American Advertising Awards (ADDYs). The ADDYs is an American Advertising Federation (AAF) competition (see http://aafwmi.org/addy-awards/ for more information).

The winners of Yardsticks this year took home a cash prize along with the “Extra Yardstick” trophy. Aubrey Leko, a student who entered with a team said, “This being my first year at yardsticks, it is a lot of fun, great opportunities, good feedback, and the chance to network.” Advice she give to students for next year is, “Enter no matter what, it’s about the idea not the presentation, so have fun with it.”

The winner of the 2015 Yardsticks was a tie! The CMU team and the DIVVY team both took home the cash prize and an “Extra Yardstick” trophy. Ben Kaluski, one of the members of the winning GVSU team, said,”We are ecstatic about our win at yardsticks. We feel that our dedication to GVSU`s curriculum and our APR student organizations proves that indulging in every opportunity helps achieve greater things.”

Also on the GVSU team were Jessica Krysinska and Mari Behovitz. All of the team members are currently serving on the GVSU Ad Club e-board.

“We absolutely plan to participate in the ADDY’s and other competitions.,” said Krysinska. “The judge’s critiques will allow us to expand on our original campaign. In addition, we will take this experience to individually grow and submit our own work.”

The runner-up for the competition was the “Bank Zombies” campaign by Joseph Parks. All the entries did a great job and the judges were very impressed with the content and ideas. Be on the lookout to seeing who will “measure-up” in the 2016 ADDY awards!

If you are interested in entering the ADDYs sign up at http://aafwmi.org/addy-awards/. Get your submissions and paper work in before January 14!

Kat Willie with her Yardsticks campaign idea
Joseph Parks with his “Bank Zombies” campaign.
Will Damian, Cecilia Scotta, Bonnie Greene, Allison LaPointe, and Josie Tiffany; the CMU team with their Yardsticks winning presentation.


Christina Chong Tsen Yee with her Yardsticks campaign idea.




Dan Goubert, Aubrey Leko, Erik Wang, and Jackson Ozark; a GVSU Team with their Yardsticks campaign.
Chelsie Bender and Sarah Gearhart with their Yardsticks campaign.
GVSU Ad Club e-board members presenting their winning campaign strategy.


Joseph Parks presents his “Bank Zombies” strategy campaign.
Yardsticks GV AdClub winners
GVSU AdClub e-board members and Yardsticks winners (from left to right) Mari Behovitz, Ben Kaluski, and Jessica Krysinska

Post by: Sophie Klimkiewicz

Sophie Klimkiewicz is going on her second year as an Account Associate at GrandPR. She is currently a senior with an Advertising and Public Relation major and an emphasis on Advertising. Sophie has background knowledge in Public Relations from working on campus at the Career Center and Sports Marketing Department. She enjoys seeking opportunities within her major and conquers the challenges that life throws at her. Sophie values learning and challenging herself to be successful.
Sophie Klimkiewicz is going on her second year as an Account Associate at
GrandPR. She is currently a senior with an Advertising and Public Relation major
and an emphasis on Advertising. Sophie has background knowledge in Public
Relations from working on campus at the Career Center and Sports Marketing
Department. She enjoys seeking opportunities within her major and conquers
the challenges that life throws at her. Sophie values learning and challenging
herself to be successful.