5 ways millennials need math post-college

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Caitlin Mooney

Andy Cohen said it best in his new book, Most Talkative: “my brain has a tendency to go blank when I see an Excel spreadsheet.”

I’ll never forget the horrified look on my math teacher’s face when I jumped up and down in his classroom after he told me I got a 66 on the Math B NYS Regents exam. To him, that was a terrible grade. But to me, I was done. I passed. I earned my advanced regents diploma. Check.

It’s not that I can’t do math. It’s just that I have no interest in it. Numbers don’t speak to me like words do. My senior year of high school I opted to forgo all free periods and lunch because my guidance counselor insisted I take pre calc, but I wasn’t willing to give up journalism, creative writing, contemporary lit, or advertising and design.

Needless to say, I am an excellent example of the stereotype that your brain is either wired for math and sciences, or language and arts. I only had to take one math class to fulfill my bachelor’s degree and upon graduation I thought I’d never have to solve math problems again.

If the foreshadowing in this post isn’t obvious enough, I’ll come out and say it now: as a communications professional, I have not escaped the grips of math.

In entry-level positions, especially at small agencies, you’re somewhat of a glorified intern in the sense that you’re expected to be a doer of all things, a jack of all trades. As a result, you end up learning the ins and outs of the agency and a sampling of everyone’s job (i.e. invaluable experience). While you may be done with the Pythagorean Theorem and graphing calculators, here are five ways math may creep into your life again:

1.  Grad school

If you decide to go to grad school, chances are you’ll have to take the GRE. It’s like taking the SAT all over again except you can’t use a calculator on the math section (at least you couldn’t in 2009). I actually had to reteach myself how to do long division.

2.  Accounting

It’s important to review client budgets and estimates to keep the agency on track for all projects and campaigns. I’ve also learned how to complete payables and general ledgers.

3.  Media buying

Remember that fun equation GRP = reach x frequency? Learn to love it. Also learn how to solve for the CPM, CPP, CPC, CTR, and analyze all of those numbers in an excel spreadsheet. (Are your eyes glazed over yet?)

4.  Living on a budget

If you’re in an entry level position in the communications field, chances are you’ll be living on a budget. To keep yourself organized, you may want to create a spreadsheet to help you solve for x in x = paycheck – (rent + groceries + student loans + car payment + health insurance + happy hour).

5.  Timesheets

OK, so this isn’t too tough, but it’s an adjustment to think about your day numerically and keep track of what you’re doing down to the .25 of an hour.

Do you fit into this stereotype too? What advice do you have for new grads?

Follow Caitlin Mooney on Twitter @caitlinmooney.

3 reasons how an OTB parlor helps a PR pro out of a rut

By Jessica Levco

I wanted to have a non-millennial birthday.

No downtown bar hopping this year. I’ll skip that fancy fusion dinner. Hold the cake.

Instead, I invited (read: dragged) a group of girlfriends to an Off Track Betting parlor on a Thursday night.

So, why would I spend my twenty-something (you’ll just never know) birthday watching simulcast racing?

It’s simple: It was time to develop a vice.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud to be a millennial and love to hear all the great things people say about our generation: We’re team players. We’re smart. We volunteer.

But where’s the fun in that? Where’s the madness? Where’s the debauchery?

Our generation needs to take risks—with ourselves, our money and our Thursday nights.

I’ve been playing it safe for more than two decades. It was time to shake things up.

I put down two dollars to win on Shamrock Susie in the eighth race at Yonkers.

And then I promptly lost it—along with a few more dollars throughout the night.

But man, oh, man—was it a rush. My adrenaline soared, while my wallet deflated, as my friends and I picked horses based on silly names and yelled words like, “trifecta!” and “exacta!” at the TV screens.

We were having fun.

And if you’re working in the PR and communication field, there’s a lot you can learn from a trip to the OTB parlor, too.

Don’t believe me? Let’s make a bet:

Creative names. We’re not talking about Black Beauty. We’re talking about “Ebony on Ivory,” “Buzzies Best,” and “Cereal Lover.” If you look through a racing form, you’ll be delighted with all the puns and alliterations for the names of the thoroughbreds. This might spark some ideas for your next big headline or project.

Math woes. Yeah, yeah, we know—you hate math. But gambling won’t remind you of the Pythagorean Theorem. Instead, you’ll be calculating odds and reviewing statistics. Becoming more comfortable with numbers might help you measure the ROI on your next social media campaign.

Get out of your comfort zone. When you and your girlfriends walk into the OTB parlor, immediately, you’ll think, “Wow. I’m out of place.” It’s going to be awkward for the first 20 minutes. But if you can make chit-chat with the regulars, surely—you’ll have the confidence to waltz into your next networking event.