Don’t Underestimate Junior High Girls

Earlier this month, I packed up my sleeping bag, pillow and winter boots, and headed up north to Muskoka Woods for Getaway – a junior high church retreat. I’m one of the leaders for my church‘s awesome junior high group, Endeavours. I was the only woman from my church going on the retreat and, to be honest, was a little anxious about what it would be like to live with a bunch of 12-13 year old girls for a weekend. All week, the girls were posting on my Facebook wall: “Rachel, we’re bringing candy!!!!” So, needless to say, I was anticipating not getting very much sleep. I love these girls, but I approached the weekend with a “Lord, please just help me survive this weekend” mentality.

I’m so pleased to say that God, through these girls, blessed me greatly and changed my perspective completely.

Over the course of the weekend, the kids sat in on four sessions filled with worship songs, fun games and a sermon from Aaron Ottaway. With my judgmental 27-year-old hat on, I began to wonder (aloud) if there were too many songs, if the sermons were too long, if the teaching was too deep or profound for our 11 to 13-year-old kids. If I was losing concentration, how could they possibly be grasping everything Aaron was saying? After the evening session was over on the Saturday night, we went back to our cabin. I had already decided that the small group questions I was to ask the girls would be poorly received. The girls would be tired. The girls wouldn’t want to talk about what they had learned – if they had learned anything. So, I lay their on my bunk and let the girls chat and eat junk food. After about 10 minutes of hanging out, one of them asked, “Weren’t we supposed to talk about the session and answer some small-group questions?” Promptly sitting up I replied, “Why yes….yes, we are. I guess we should do that now.”

“Girls, what did Aaron talk about this evening?” I asked. “This should be good,” I thought.

Then, to my surprise, they proceeded to succinctly outline everything Aaron had taught: our relationship with Jesus impacts what we worship and how we worship. We had a thoughtful discussion on what we might “worship” or give too much attention to: social media, our phones, popular teen fiction, make up, clothes and boys.

I guess my theory was wrong. They were paying attention, and they truly cared about what Aaron had to say.

Throughout the weekend, while – yes – my girls were loud and hopped up on sugar, they never complained about all the activities they had to participate in while rain and snow poured down. They ran through the mud at the giant swing, played rumble ball, learned how to do graffiti and made new friends. I never had to supervise them. They were always where they had to be, and on time, without me ever having to ask. To top it off, when I said “Lights out!” the lights went out. They were a youth leader’s dream.

Needless to say, they earned the chocolate bars we bribed them with. That’s Youth Leadership 101, isn’t it?

Then yesterday, I approached one of our youth who’s on her phone pretty often (about as often as me). Out of mild concern, I asked her, “Whatcha doing on your phone?”

I was preparing myself for: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or SnapChat.

“Writing a book,” was her calm response.

“Um….what?!”

I learned that this Grade 8 girl spends most of her time engrossed in writing chapters of her mystery novel on her phone through WattPad for her avid followers to read. “My readers always message me asking to add another chapter because I’ve left them on a cliff hanger!”

Now, that’s a social media platform I can get behind!

Once again, I had underestimated junior high girls. Once again, they proved me wrong.

To the girls that attend my youth group and will likely read this blog: you mean more to me than you know. I am so proud of all of you. I couldn’t be more honoured that God has entrusted you to my care every Thursday night. Please continue to prove me wrong. Continue to be the fantastic young women God has made you to be.

 

 

 

 

 

My First Social Media Seminar

Social Media Seminar at Capstone Community Bible ChurchOn Wednesday, March 19, I hosted my first social media seminar. Capstone Community Bible Church was kind enough to promote this event and lend me the space to host the evening. I had seven eager attendees who listened attentively and asked pointed questions for over two hours. I spoke on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – the social media platforms that I believe are most useful for a 25+ crowd. We covered everything from “What is social media?” to “How is social media effective for Capstone’s ministry?” to controlling what we see and how often we see it, to little tips ‘n’ tricks that make our life easier on Facebook. Leading this seminar was as much a learning experience for me as it was for my attendees.

Offering social media seminars and tutorials is something I’ve been dreaming up for over a year now. I only – just recently – got the courage to try it out. What a positive response I have received! It turns out I’ve tapped into a need that isn’t being met. My parents’ generation (late social media adopters) is keen to learn about social media, but doesn’t know where to start. My peers are launching businesses and know how social media works for their personal use, but don’t know how to develop effective strategies and tactics for their start-ups.

I’m now developing many more social media seminars and private tutorials for all types of individuals and organizations:

1) Developing a personal brand for MMA and BJJ athletes (for real!)
2)  Privacy, security, anti-bullying and how-tos for pre-teens and teens – this will be piloted at Capstone for their Endeavours Jr. High and Lifesavers Sr. High youth groups
3)  Social media strategies for entrepreneurs and non-profits
4) Facebook Page how-tos
5) Setting up a LinkedIn account

I’m very excited to see where this dream will take me. If you’re interested in attending one of my seminars, or would like me to lead you in a one-on-one tutorial, don’t hesitate to contact me at rachel_mckee@rogers.com

Owning the Outcome

I’ve learned a new catch phrase this week: Own the outcome. I’m really into it.

Whether you’re in college or university working on a group project, on a special project team at your office, or launching a new product/service/program that affects your entire organization, keep these three little words in mind. Own the outcome.

We’re always keen to take ownership of the piece of the puzzle that we are responsible for. Perhaps it’s the sales targets, the budget or the promotional efforts. We are focused on our personal or departmental goals and deadlines, but what about the objectives of the whole organization?

We need to bear in mind that the project isn’t complete until the product has hit the shelves, the service is offered or the program is implemented. The project isn’t complete just because our own work is done.

Moving forward, let’s aim to take ownership, see a project through, care about the details. Let’s behave as though our own success or failure is contingent on the success of the whole.

How can you own the outcome? 

  • Take on more work – go the extra mile
  • Learn the roles of your co-workers
  • Help alleviate the workload of colleagues
  • Seek out ways to create efficiencies within a department, between departments or within a project team
  • Build communication bridges between employees, departments and teams
  • Pay attention to detail

Let’s seek out collective success. Let’s settle for nothing less than excellence from ourselves and from the ultimate outcome of our team’s efforts.

You’ve landed an internship. Now what?

First off, congrats! This will be an awesome experience for you. One that, I hope, you’ll look back on with much fondness. I was the PR intern for the CFL in 2011. I learned a lot about the PR and communications industry, social media and community building, office cultures and myself. Over the past few years I’ve been an intern and worked alongside numerous interns and have come up with the following list of important characteristics to exhibit throughout your internship.

Be a sponge.

There’s no better time than your internship to absorb as much information, knowledge, experience and advice as you can. You’re surrounded by experts in the field who can feed into you and turn you into a pro. Ask questions, go out for coffee with managers, shadow your boss. Be ready to learn.

Introduce yourself to everyone.

Fellow interns, coordinators, managers, executives. If you’re hoping to earn a full-time position after your internship is complete, it’s important that everyone in the organization knows you, or at least recognizes you. These are the people that will vouch for you later.

Slow down, think logically, then ask questions. 

It is amazing what happens when people become interns. Every day they are given tasks and instructions. They’re guided through processes. They’re “bossed” around. They’re told what to do. It tends to be assumed they don’t know what’s going on and that they can’t think for themselves. After being treated like this for a while, do you know what happens? They start believing they don’t know what’s going on. They lose self confidence. They stop thinking logically, rationally and independently. They ask unnecessary questions or fail to make decisions for themselves. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else. Now, asking questions during your internship is not a bad thing. In fact, I encourage it. When you ask questions, you learn. Before you ask a question, however, take some time to think about whether you know the answer. Have you been in this situation before? What were you told to do when you encounter this problem? You are smart. You earned this internship. Now, start acting like it! Showing logic, initiative and good decision-making skills will set you apart.

Humble yourself. Be willing to do anything. 

It’s important to show your boss that there isn’t anything you aren’t willing to do. Run an errand. Work on a project for another department. Do a favour for a different manager. Volunteer to arrive early or stay late. Always lend a helping hand to any co-worker. This eagerness will catch attention and serve you well in the long run. These are the types of people they will want to hire.

Build friendships with other interns.

Your internship isn’t just about impressing your superiors. Take advantage of any opportunities to hang out with your fellow interns. They are your peers. They are the ones you are entering the industry with. They will serve as valuable referrals when job opportunities arise.   

Continue to network.

The journey isn’t over just because you’ve landed an internship. Take this time (during your non-work hours) to continue to network with professionals in your industry, go on informational interviews and seek out potential next-steps following your placement. This will help the transition into full-time employment go much smoother.

 You’re going to rock your internship!
I’d love to hear where you are working and how it’s going.