5 Ways to Effectively Balance Student-Work Life

Being a student and working a full or part-time job on top of that requires discipline and dedication to both work and school. Balancing school and work, while managing to have a life outside of the two can be overwhelming at times. As a current college student and employee struggling to find the perfect balance, I have stumbled across several tips and tricks that have helped me balance school and work while remaining relatively stress free.

Manage your time

It sounds obvious, but this is one of the most challenging aspects of being a student and an employee simultaneously. The first step to time management is resisting the temptation to plant yourself in front of the TV and completely relax after a long day. Set aside some time each night to do homework or stay on track with a work deadline. Google calendar, the calendar on your cell phone, or a good old fashion planner can keep deadlines in one place and help with prioritizing projects. Electronic calendars are especially useful because alerts can be set to let someone know when a deadline is approaching. When you figure out how to use your time, make it known to your boss, colleagues and professors so there is a mutual understanding of how you will be allocating your time.

Stay Organized

There is a reason that organizational skills look good on a resumé. Staying organized while being busy is harder than it seems, but it makes a difference. The more organized you are, the more likely you are to meet deadlines and ace classes. I like to use apps, websites and a day planner to keep my affairs in order. Apps like Evernote, If This Then That, and Dropbox can help you stay organized with everyday tasks and work related tasks. Evernote helps with keeping to-do lists, notes and ideas all in one place. Ifttt (If This Then That) allows you to keep all of your favorite apps, like Spotify and Google Docs, in one place. Dropbox gives users a space to keep files, photos and docs, while also making it easy to share large files with other dropbox users. There are also many apps available that can be extremely helpful for college students struggling to stay organized.

Check your emails

Even if you only work part time with your school schedule, set aside at least 15 minutes a day to check and respond to emails. This is especially important for anyone that works directly with clients. Making yourself readily available to a client can be the difference between a successful business relationship and one that fades out quickly. Boomerang, a gmail extension, is an extremely helpful way to organize your emails. It allows users to schedule an email to be sent at any time and “boomerang” an email back to their inbox after a certain period of time as a reminder to follow up with a client or colleague that has not responded to an initial email.

Strategically plan your schedule

When planning your school schedule, make sure to leave time gaps that allow you to go into work. Going into work in the morning and school in the afternoon can be a good option. I try to plan classes for a few days during the week and go into work the other days as a way to keep the two separate. Keeping work and school days separate helps me stay better organized, but it’s all about finding out what works for you personally. Try to avoid overloading particular days. While freeing up certain days may seem tempting, having extremely busy, stressful days can lead to burnout. Make sure you are not biting off more than you can chew. Check with your employer to see if and when they can accommodate your school schedule.

Leave some time for yourself

In the midst of a stressful schedule, the easiest way to stay sane and relaxed is to remember to leave time for yourself. Get your homework done early and work on those project deadlines a little bit every night. Procrastination will only leave you stressed out and burned out. Get a little bit of work done every night and follow that up with an hour of doing something you love before bed, such as going to the gym, seeing friends, or just laying in bed and binge watching tv. Finding a way to manage your time, stay organized and stay stress free can be difficult, but once you figure out what strategies work for you, balancing work and school won’t be a problem.

Shannon black and white 2 Shannon is a senior at the University of San Diego studying communications and visual arts. Working as an intern with Circa Interactive, she has gained experience in higher education content marketing, digital public relations and creating content for various clients’ social media. Shannon’s creativity and passion for public relations and content marketing has contributed to Circa Interactive’s digital marketing value. 

A Guide to How Native Advertising is Transforming Higher Education Marketing

What is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is defined as a form of paid media, where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.  The form of native ads match the visual design of the experience the ads live within so that they emulate the look and feel of natural content. The function of the native ad must coincide with the native user experience and perform just as like natural content.

Why is Native Advertising Important and How Does It Play a Role in Online Higher Education?

A recently discussed topic in higher education is the disruption of traditional higher education with the continual dominance of the Internet and the increasing popularity of online courses and degrees.  With the increasing costs of obtaining a degree and the necessity of having one, students are looking for alternatives to paying six-figures for their education.

So why does this matter to universities and their marketing approach?  Because $21 billion is estimated to be spent on native advertising by 2018, it is increasingly becoming a popular answer to many organizations’ marketing needs.  According to Sharethrough research, 53% of users say they are more likely to look at a native ad than a banner ad, while 32% said they would share a native ad.  Furthermore, with mobile taking over the way people go about on the Internet, it is crucial that colleges and universities take advantage of native advertising in the mobile format.  Studies have shown that 85% of mobile users are “visually engaged” with native ads presented in the stream of content and are six times more likely to produce higher conversions for brands versus traditional banner ads.  

Examples of Applying Native Ads Principles into Paid Search Advertising

1. Paid Search in SERPs (search engine results page)

Search engine ads are one of the most common types of paid advertising in use today. This is where search engines will place three or four paid ads at the top of the page which match the form and feel of the organic results directly below them. Essentially, the listing is exactly the same with the only exception being the text labeled “ad.”

online mba serp page

This is important for higher education institutions’ marketing practice because it is where their end user will begin their search journey. In a report by Wordstream, the keyword “degree” rounds up to #8 in the top 20 most expensive keywords. That statistic shows the competitiveness of this industry and why paid search must use the principles of native advertising to assure that all ads are relevant to the user’s experience, surrounded by content that blends in, looks natural and can be easily measured. With the increase in the amount of students attending post-secondary schools and the rise of searches around online higher education, it is essential that higher education marketers apply native advertising tactics to their ads and messaging.

2. Paid Search in Social Media

 

Social media advertising has many names including sponsored content, boosted post, and right-side ads. In recent years, social media has become part of higher education universities top priorities for ad placement. They’re taking advantage of these social media platforms to market to students because studies have shown the students use universities’ social media sites to gather brand insights and student experiences. Once higher education marketers understand this, we can promote universities’ post to target relevant audiences in social media news feeds to increase their overall social media following and in return produce higher levels of engagement with prospective students.

njit mba online ad


Paid social ads that include rich media boost
conversion rates by up to 60%, while 70% of internet users prefer to learn about products through content versus traditional advertisements. That is why social media ads are starting to match the form and content of the platform they are placed in with a small text that displays either sponsored or promoted. Since these advertisements no longer looks like ads, the natural organic factors help increase click-through and conversion rates. This is a key point in transformation that marketers must take. Now a piece of advertising content has to “take the natural form” of what a student is use to seeing and display it as a traditional social media piece thus enhancing the user experience.

For example, let’s take a look at Netflix’s collaboration with The Times’ T Brand Studio to create a paid piece of content that matches the form of an traditional editorial submission. The entire piece reflects women in prison and subliminally includes Netflix’s  hit show Orange is the New Black as the “partner” of the post. The post was shared on Facebook to look like a normal piece of content about women in prison when really it was a native ad.

netflix orange is new black ad

3. Content Widgets in Blogs

Unlike the two previous examples, native ads in blogs do not always take the form and function of the blog itself. Rather, they will appear in the blog page as a content recommended widget, when clicked the user is typically sent to a page off-site. Another distinction that these native ad widgets have is their placement on the blog page. SERPs and social media native ads are placed in the direct area of organic posts, whereas, recommended content widgets are placed in various high traffic areas such as below the blog post, at the top of the page and on the sidebars. These widgets are created to suggest “articles or blogs” that user might also enjoy reading, in addition to the current blog post.  

taboola conten widget example

Having these widgets as a part of your online marketing plan is a great way to get your school added to popular sites and can increase page views. When considering recommended widget ads, it is crucial to understand the scope of your audience so that your native ad(s) coincide with the placement and content of the page.  The audience is engaged by the content and is more likely to click on the ad as it relates to the content on the page.

4. Native Ads in Blogs

In this new era of marketing listicles and game-like content, bloggers and news organizations have found a way to engage users of all ages. One company who has dominated in this realm and changed the face of advertising would have to be BuzzFeed. They have taken advertising a step further by seamlessly integrating promoted posts into their daily release of blog articles. This truly take on what it means to do native advertising. Since their business model relies on the revenues of promoted posts, they have removed the use of any banner or display ads to their website and incorporated the use of listicles as their main way to promote posts. As you can see in the example below, Discover Student Loans is promoting a game-like piece of content towards students titled The “Would You Rather” You Wish Existed When You Chose A CollegeMany students don’t notice that this is a type of native ad, and they engage by taking the test.

 

buzzfeed college list

buzzfeed gamification

Once the user goes through the whole test, they get to the bottom of the content and are presented with a call-to-action, which directs them off the BuzzFeed page and into their personal sales funnel without the user being conscious of the ad.

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 12.42.47 PM

If higher education marketers and institutions are able to change their approach when developing paid search strategies by using the principles of native advertising, then not only will they provide more value to their prospective students, but they can expect the students to engage more with the universities ad, fill out an application and ultimately convert into a student.

Summary


There are various things higher education marketers can do to increase their schools brand awareness, pageviews and student lead flow. If done right, native advertising can be used as a tool to breakup the use of banner ads and provide related quality content that will result in more clickthrough rates and prospective leads from the ad itself. By transitioning away from traditional paid search tactics and into a more native strategy, the universities’ program “sponsored” content is guaranteed to target specific end users and create more conversions.

Evelyn Valle, digital marketerEvelyn Valle is a digital marketing intern at Circa Interactive. 

4 Essentials for Innovation in Higher Education Digital Marketing

After graduating college, I left my home state of Iowa and traveled halfway across the country in search of something out West. What exactly – I wasn’t sure. The idea of “just finding a job” didn’t interest me, nor did the idea of saving money (rent is much cheaper in Iowa than California). Therefore, without having a specific job or industry in mind, I decided to base my job search around fulfilling what is most important to me: creativity and innovation. Luckily, I found Circa Interactive, a digital marketing company whose passion is to provide creative and analytical solutions for higher education. Upon joining the team, I have had the unbelievable privilege of collaborating with some of the most innovative, brilliant minds, and through these collaborations, I have made note of four essentials for maintaining innovation within higher education digital marketing.

1. What’s Your Angle?

Our Creative Director, Joe Lapin, is always providing tips on how to write clear and concise pitches for media outreach, particularly by constantly asking, “What’s your angle?” Through his questioning, Joe is illustrating that content–in and of itself–has no inherent meaning; therefore, the job of a writer is to make meaning by positioning content at a unique, engaging angle, especially when you’re asking high quality publications to publish your infographics or other creative content.

In higher education digital marketing, especially on the digital PR and content marketing side, Joe’s question “What’s your angle” is crucial to success. Some of us often forget that our brains are constantly taking angles when they process data or content. And because of this forgetfulness, we sometimes lose sight of our inherent creativity: the ability to choose our angle and shape messaging to highlight certain areas. For example, during my first month with Circa, I was assigned an infographic on bioinformatics. Naturally, I thought the graphic would be great for computer science or bioinformatics blogs. Yet after two rounds of distribution, the graphic had landed only two links. Obviously, I realized that my angle wasn’t working, so our team worked together to come up with a pitch based around STEM education. Through this new angle, the infographic found immediate success.

2. Shape Your Project to Fit Your Goals

Every project, no matter how big or small, has its own requirements. Personally, I like to think of each project as its own unique cookie cutter: each have their various shapes and styles, some of which can be extremely detailed and ornate. For example, as a digital marketer, some projects may require a massive amount of writing (e.g. pitches, press releases, communication with clients, etc.), while others consist more of innovative brainstorming or data analysis.

Sometimes even different stages of the same project can demand distinctly different skill sets. For instance, I’ve observed that the body of outreaches requires a vastly different style of writing than subject line pitches, and in order to maintain innovation, a digital marketer will need to stay as pliable as dough so they can quickly configure their skill set to not only fit but exceed any project’s requirements.

3. Drop the Bricks

Digital marketers can easily find themselves in a funk, especially during extensive outreach for a piece of content that had only a handful of responses. Our team has a phenomenal insight on how to handle these tough situations, as we often tell each other, “Don’t be afraid to throw spaghetti at the wall. If it sticks, great! If not, regroup and throw a new handful.” What we mean here is that you can’t be afraid to try something new (i.e. send new pitches, take a different angle), even if your ideas might not have worked out in the past. You have to drop the heavy bricks of doubt, stress or worry and refresh with something new.

This drop-the-brick concept was an old saying of my former basketball coach. He always told us players that if we made a mistake, just drop the brick and keep playing. If we carried around all our mistakes, then we wouldn’t be free to play at our best because we would be too worried about making another mistake. I’ve notice this same concept transfers quite well into the digital marketing world. Therefore, if an idea doesn’t stick, don’t take it personally. Let it go. Drop the bricks of the past and focus on creating something great, right here and now.

4. Share Your Vision

As digital marketers, a shared team vision is essential to productivity. If team members are unsure why they are doing something, they are far more likely to be uninspired or apathetic. Considering this: Team leaders should establish and share short and long term goals so team members can be confident as to why they are doing even the most menial tasks. Having a shared team vision is also extremely beneficial when it comes to staying focused and finding new ways to solve problems. There may, at times, be opportunities that appear enticing, but if they are outside of the overall vision, they are nothing but distractions that take up time and resources.

The digital marketing field will continue to be governed by the companies that strive to push the boundaries of creativity, innovation and productivity. Therefore, in order to elevate to this level, be confident and flexible. Stay aware of what angle your brain is taking when it is processing information, always try to configure your skills to fit each project and ensure you are communicating with your team to maintain a shared vision. Most importantly, don’t lose your confidence or start doubting. If there are times that you lose focus and doubt your abilities, just drop the bricks, lighten up, and progress forward.

TylerTyler Putz is a retired division two college basketball player and a recent graduate from the University of Iowa. His creativity, as well as passion for entrepreneurship and the expansion of technology and communication, helps Circa to continue to stay on the cusp of new technologies and trends influencing future generations of students. 

 

Four Lessons from my Internship in Digital Marketing

Entering a digital marketing internship can be intimidating, especially when the field is in higher education, where you’re being counted on by universities to professionally represent them and help spread their messages. While the responsibilities at Circa Interactive can be greater than many other internship settings, they ultimately drive you to become dedicated to your work and learn new skills at a high level. Here are four empowering lessons I learned during my time at Circa.

1. Ask for Criticism: It’s How You Grow

Throughout my internship, new concepts and ideas were constantly flying my way. Building out a social calendar, creating media lists on Cision for pitches, and writing pitches that will reach editors of major publications are likely new tasks for someone just entering the digital marketing field. In order to become familiar with one of these new tasks, digital marketers should take their time, but mistakes are bound to happen (which isn’t a bad thing). But sometimes you don’t know if you’re approaching a list from the wrong angle or if your pitch isn’t quite tailored to your list in the most relevant manner possible, which is why asking for criticism is so important. I’ve always thought of positive feedback as criticism only half-baked, so I made it a goal to seek out what it is I do correctly AS WELL AS incorrectly, using the talent pool in the office as a resource for any questions or problems I encountered.

2. Be Flexible and Experiment (with Pitches)

The work environment at Circa is about exploring better ways to accomplish your goals. This can be seen in everything from daily collaboration to how the team shares ideas in the online chat tool called Slack, as well as the weekly editorial meetings that serve as a mini incubator session. You’re given the green light to be flexible and experiment with how you market content and connect professors with the media, so do it! For example, when writing dozens of pitches per week, a little tweak in the subject line or the way you introduce your infographic can really make a difference in the number of responses and publications. You won’t know what works unless you try.

3. Use Social Media as a Daily Learning Experience

Writing copy for social media at Circa Interactive is a truly unique experience, because Circa works with a diverse range of higher education programs. That means every time you build a Facebook/Twitter social calendar for one of the dozens of programs, you’re keeping up to date with the industry news, trends and innovations taking place in such diverse fields as computer science, marketing, and engineering. The goal is to educate the program’s current and prospective audience, which means the person writing the copy for the social calendars has to put in a lot of research. This is why I embraced social media, because it allowed me to keep learning while coming across content that could end up being the lead in the next perfect pitch for our media outreach.

4. Peg ‘em

The ultimate goal when pitching to a journalist is to satisfy the question, “Why should they care?” It’s usually not enough just to have crisp, educational, enticing content. Like most things in marketing, a pitch should be relevant and time sensitive. Attaching (or “pegging”) a recent event in the news relevant to your prospect and pitch can help answer the above question. Think about it, you’re competing against dozens if not hundreds of emails at a time to get an editor’s attention. Just like everything in life, that extra step can be the difference between hearing crickets and landing an opportunity.

Working in higher education has given me a great appreciation for how important digital marketing is to the success of our programs, their students, and the educational system as a whole. These past 4 months at Circa have been instrumental in packing my digital marketing arsenal, which I plan to use for my family’s business as well as for my future business endeavors.

Dennis Donchev is a marketing intern at Circa Interactive and a student at San Diego State University.

The Top 4 Qualities of a Digital Marketer in Higher Education

In the Summer of 2011, I left my home state of Missouri and moved to San Diego, California, to pursue my Bachelor in Business Administration from San Diego State University. During my time at SDSU, I recognized my passion for marketing and entrepreneurship, which led me to seek a digital marketing internship in my final year of school. Luckily, I found Circa Interactive, a local digital marketing company started by millennial entrepreneurs and fueled by creative passion. The lessons learned from these leaders in higher education have been invaluable to my professional and personal development. From this experience, I learned about the characteristics and qualities needed to succeed in the digital marketing industry. I have narrowed down a large list of characteristics to the top four qualities that build the successful infrastructure of a digital marketer.

1. Creativity

Today more content is being produced than ever before. The last problem any marketing team needs is to fall into “group think” — or the concept that everyone agrees to one unified idea. If your team is not creating a constant stream of innovative strategies to get in front of the media, then the relationships will dwindle and the links will be nonexistent. That is one reason why creativity is the most important quality of a digital marketer. It is the starting point for content creation. Whether you’re pitching an editor or trying to create a story through a vivid infographic, you need to differentiate yourself and find ways to keep your content fresh in order to catch the interest of incredibly busy editors and bloggers.

This is why I learned to look creatively for stronger time pegs that are essential for a pitch. In higher education marketing, we create content around the university, their programs and professors. As we sift through news, we use our creative instinct to find relevant time pegs that connect with the uniqueness of each professor and university’s brand. For instance, one of our clients has a professor that is an expert in athletic psychology and injury prevention. As many know, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) — a neurodegenerative brain disease — has been a growing topic over the past couple years, especially in the NFL. When we see trends develop around a subject, in this case brain injuries, that is the time to take immediate action and leverage the expertise of our professor. Mastery of time pegs isn’t easy but it can be the difference between a published article.

2. Confidence

After sending out thousands of pitches to publications and bloggers, the likelihood of getting shot down is absolute. Don’t let these rejections deflate your energy. My biggest lesson of confidence happened after I sent a pitch to Newsweek and received immediate interest in a potential publication of an infographic for a  criminal justice program. After long hard discussions between the client and Newsweek, the publication fell through. I was a bit down, but our Creative Director Joseph Lapin said: “Pitches and outreaches are like throwing spaghetti at a wall.” What he means is that you never know what will stick with the reporters, and you have to send out many pitches and ideas until you find one that sticks. This helped me understand this so called “failure” wasn’t a failure at all. It’s just a part of being a digital marketer.

3. Organization

Without structure life is chaotic. Though it may come to a surprise, this was one of the biggest eye-openers during my internship. I never understood the importance of organization until I entered digital marketing. Before, I was saving everything in my head, whether it was a business meetings or a grocery list. After joining Circa Interactive, this habit had to change. As the work, school and life tasks continued to grow, I now had more responsibility than ever before. My brain couldn’t organize all the tasks, so our Chief Operating Officer Clayton Dean and Joe Lapin recommended a few tools to keep me on track. Here is short list on my favorite organizational tools below.

  • Trello – This is an amazing project management and organizational tool. Trello is great for tracking progress on team projects, creating checklist by due dates and structuring to-dos by niche.
  • Cal – A free and easy Calendar application for your phone. Cal can connect with your Google Calendar and can instantly send emails from the app.
  • Google Applications – Most businesses and students use this organizational tool on a daily basis. While browsing the web you can save pictures and pdfs directly into your drive. Plus, you have the ability to structure everything into folders, spreadsheets or documents.

4. Adaptability

As many already know, the search engine optimization industry changes constantly. According to SEOMoz, while most of these updates are minor, Google changes its algorithm around 500-600 times a year. For instance, ten years ago digital marketers were more focused on building sites with a lot of targeted keywords. Don’t get me wrong, keywords are important but are much lower on the totem pole than content marketing and white-hat link building. This major change shifted the focus from keyword-rich pages to creating relationships with editors and webmasters. The biggest lessons about adaptability came from the observations of CEO Robert Lee and COO Clayton Dean. They taught me how to properly see the difference between each client and how we have to adapt our services to their motives. Using teamwork and adaptability to stay ahead of the pack is one of the biggest ways we can help our clients. As the digital marketing industry revolutionizes, I believe creativity and adaptability will need to be the strongest attributes of any teams’ philosophy.

I am thankful to have an internship opportunity that has helped me expand my creative critical thinking skills, believe in my ideas, think structurally and efficiently, and learn to adapt to client needs and industry trends. Everything I learned in this internship will help me in any future profession. Whether I seek a career in the marketing industry or pursue the life of an entrepreneur, these traits will be anchored within me forever. One more realization I had while working here is not to take a day for granted. If you’re hungry, then there will always be something to learn, and everyone here wants to help you get there and succeed.

Don’t forget: be creative, stay confident, get organized, and adapt quickly or be left behind.

If you want to find out more about Circa Interactive please reach out to us on our contact form or find us on Twitter @CircaSEO.


theandersonidea
Austin Anderson
is a senior at San Diego State University majoring in marketing. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, personal development and the future of big data. Connect with Austin on LinkedIn.