Monday, May 26, 2008

The "Wonder Veggie" (and related confusing price points)

Edamame, also referred to as the "wonder veggie" by major producer Seapoint Farms, is one delicious and nutritious vegetable. It's high in protein and fiber and low in carbs. Mmmmm soy beans!

These beans (usually incased in pods) are weird for sure, but something beyond their tasty yet "sin free" composition baffles me. 

I don't know about where you live, but at the grocery stores and farmers markets near my house, the ones in pods and the ones removed from their pods (pictured here) are priced exactly the same (usually about $2.99). 

The real weird thing is that these same-priced bags of edamame have precisely the same weights. That means that you pay for the pods (discarded after you remove the beans with your mouth) when you can get the pod-free ones for the same price.

Is this the price you put on the "fun" of removing the peas from the pods versus already having it done for you?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Finally Happening!

I have been dreaming of eating at Kevin Rathbun's famous Rathbun's restaurant (on Krog Street in Atlanta) for what seems like years. I've read about the restaurant and it's delectable food in Atlanta Magazine and heard many a person rave about the hot spot's culinary offerings.

Kevin Rathbun and his brother beat Chef Bobby Flay in a recent Iron Chef battle -- and both gentleman have excellent reputations in the national restaurant community.

Now I am finally going! Dan and I will be meeting with a professional contact and his wife for dinner there the second week of June. Reservations have been made. The countdown has begun!

Next stop, Kevin Rathbun Steak and Krog Bar.

Link to Kevin Rathbun's restaurants here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Pivotal Time

Yesterday marked a pivotal time in my career.

After months of soul searching (and later job searching), I put in my two week notice with my current employer. Working here has given me so much more experience and opportunity than I ever expected when I applied for the job.

If I can recall correctly, the job listing titled “Corporate Communications Coordinator” for this packaging, paperboard and merchandising display company seemed very support oriented, not that I was going to complain about that. After all, I was applying just before graduation and I had been looking for a job for the entire semester. The job description mentioned helping with the employee magazine, assisting with vendor research and generally supporting a Corporate Communications Manager.

This all sounded great to me for several reasons. First and foremost, it was a “real” job versus an internship. So many of my friends who were graduating from The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism either had to take internships post-graduation or decided to work outside of their areas of academic studies. I personally, at times, wished I had gotten the memo that jobs in journalism and communications were few and far between, not to mention relatively low-paying compared to other fields out there.

Secondly, there was irony in the company’s core businesses. My dad works for a major packaging and paperboard company and has for 30-plus years. Who would have guessed that I would follow in his footsteps, as well as my mother’s (she did corporate communications for a major supplemental insurance provider), and work for one of his company’s competitors? I’d joked and made fun of him for years for being a “pulp and paper engineer.” But there I was, going to work for a company that made boxes, cartons, protective packaging and the like. I would imagine that my knowing a little more about the business than the average bear helped me get the job.

Thirdly, deep down inside, I didn’t want to do public relations, the degree my diploma reads. I would have studied corporate communications if UGA had offered it. This was an opportunity to get my foot in the door doing corporate communications and some marketing.

So I started on June 6, 2005, with my supervisor leaving for a great opportunity only four months into my employment. Her, what I thought was an untimely departure, ended up opening quite a few doors and windows. I was trusted to do projects that I never would have expected and her position was never rehired.

And it’s been a neat nearly three years. My time here has dabbled in internal announcements, the employee magazine, marketing literature, videos, meeting planning, presentations, annual reports, corporate citizenship, human resources communications and more.

As I reflect on the last few years, I have some tinges of guilt. Our employee magazine seems to mean so much to the company’s hard working, blue collar employees. Many of these people don’t have access to e-mail, the intranet or so many of the modern technologies we office dwelling employees have. The magazine has been their chance to be recognized individually or collectively as factories for volunteerism, safety achievements, production records, excellence in customer service, health and wellness, inventions and more. I know everyone is replaceable; regardless, I somewhat feel like I am letting down some of these employees.

I have a letter from one of our retirees that I plan to carry with me from job to job. This particular retiree asked to be on the mailing list despite his being retired for many years from a paper mill in Minnesota. He sent me a Christmas letter last year that read,

“Thanks for remembering us retirees. Some of the last to retire, I can still remember their first date of hire. Nice to hear what is going on in our other plants. […] my clock keeps ticking—hope to be around for many more years to come. The snow here is 22 inches plus five more tonight. I don’t shovel, just watch it snow. Nice to be retired this time of year. Sincerely, MG”

This note reminds me that there is meaningful work out there, even doing work for a corporation. To this gentleman, seeing updates on his former colleagues and seeing the company grow has brought joy.

Another fond memory of working on the magazine was a cover art contest we held about two years ago. Many people entered, though one person called regularly to see if we had judged the contest yet. When we finally pulled together a cross-divisional team of people from many functional areas, the committee actually chose this guy's art. He was a production worker with a passion for design. When I called him and told him that he'd won, he told me that it was the best day of his life. When I went on to say that he would also be receiving a monogrammed company jacket and a framed copy of his magazine cover, he said that was all just a bonus.

Now I am on to the next chapter in my working life, a chapter I am excited and eager to begin. I will be an account manager at a highly renown design and strategy agency located here in Atlanta. I am beyond flattered to have been extended an invitation to work among the firm’s creative minds. The scope of work includes mostly annual reports and corporate communications, two types of work I’ve truly enjoyed. I will also be helping, through discovery and a fantastic collaborative approach, companies find out how they want to be perceived by employees, brought to market and seen by Wall Street. I already know I'll be able to learn a lot from this smart, witty and interesting team of communicators and designers. I also hope I don't disappoint.

Thanks to all for supporting my growth, forgiving my mistakes, allowing me to work on high level projects and understanding my need to move on.

– Katy

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When posed the question that titles this blog, my answer has changed along with my age. This question was a topic in my father's engagement toast to Dan and me (he recounted a story about how I told him I wanted to be a septic tank technician when I was four because one came to our house... and I suppose I thought it was cool).

Age 4. Septic tank technician. Actually, I think I said, "I wanna be a sepick tank lady." The technician who came to our upper Michigan home to suck out the contents of our Lake Bluff home's icky tank had a big truck, a long hose and what seemed to be a good job. The story goes on to say that after the technician left, I went and put on my little brother's kid-sized flight suit, walked out to the backyard and put a hose into a hole in the sandbox and proudly declared, "look! I'm a sepick tank lady!"

Age 8. While I didn't come out and say it per say, I think I wanted to be some kind of actress or director. Plays, aerobatic performances and other theatrics were regular occurrences in our backyard and living room. I usually enlisted friends and family, coordinated roles and the schedule of events and recruited friends from the neighborhood to come watch our "shows." On second thought, maybe my calling was event planning or project management during this time in my life.

Age 12. Making a career as a lawyer seemed like a good idea. My mom told me that I was good at listening to both sides of any story, asking tough questions, brainstorming possible scenarios and communicating my ideas. Wait, maybe my mom thought I would be a good lawyer. Thinking back, I'm not sure I did. Good thing I can use all these capabilities as a journalist/communicator (what I have chosen to do in the end).

Age 14. Extreme exposure to Law & Order, criminal investigation shows on TLC and movies about serial killers and other assorted criminals got me thinking that I should consider a future in criminal psychology or forensics. I mean, how cool would it be figure out what goes on in the mind of a psychotic killer... or to be the one who breaks a case by considering the pizza man or the concierge as suspects when no one else would. Maybe it was the idea of not being able to sleep at night or being the next victim that turned me off of this bright idea.

Age 17. At this point, I really had it figured out. What could be more interesting and have more variety than working as a broadcast journalist, specifically as a reporter for one of the television news magazines (think Dateline, 20/20, Primetime and 60 Minutes). With a position like that, you have the honor of interviewing and investigating politicians, entertainers, scientists, economists, psychologists, criminals and other famous (and notorious) personalities. When I completed all my core classes during my first two years at the University of Georgia, it wasn't the scope of work that eventually deterred me from being a broadcast journalist; it was finding out that you get paid peanuts for decades (not to mention have to move every year or two) until a select few make it to the coveted seats on television news magazines. Screw you Ann Curry, Barbara Walters and Keith Morrison.

Age 20. After figuring out that broadcast wasn't for me, I settled on studying public relations and journalism. My degree reads "ABJ," which sounds like an associate's degree; but it actually means "Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism." In this program, I learned more about writing, handling public relations campaigns, graphic design, persuasive presentations and researching opinions and markets. If UGA, which happens to be one of the better journalism schools in the nation, had a corporate communications program, I probably would have done that. Nonetheless, I am glad I took the route I did.