UpOut Summer in SF

My summer in San Francisco has truly been a unique experience. How many people can say that within three weeks of moving to a new city, they can list all the upcoming events happening for the next three months? I can’t imagine a better way of getting acquainted with San Francisco than working at UpOut. Our site is an insider’s guide to the city, but the range of events we include is unlimited- weekly festivals, block parties, flashmobssing-a-longs, improv shows, secret bakeries, bike parties, yoga classes…the list literally goes on for days. Check out my Summer in SF video and see all the fun that’s in store for you once you become an UpOut user.

Join the fun by…

Viewing Upout’s website
Liking them on Facebook
And following them on Twitter

Entering the Startup World

Coming from Chicago, I wasn’t quite sure what a start up company really even was. The concept seemed simple enough – a new, small business that has a lot of potential. I’d say that for the majority of the Midwest, that’s the extent of knowledge when it comes to startups. I didn’t know a whole lot more than that before I moved to San Francisco to intern at UpOut. And boy, was I in for a surprise!

Silicon Valley is like entering another universe. Everyone I meet is brilliant, motivated, hard working and innovative. It seems that most are fluent in programming and coding lingo, which never ceases to amaze me.  The conversations between our programmers were completely foreign to me, so one of my goals for the summer was to “crack the code” and keep up with the latest tech terms. Here I am, 3 months later, still trying to figure out how to use “API” and “Mechanical Turk” correctly in a sentence. Needless to say, computer engineering is not my forte (at least not yet).

The great thing about working at a startup is that you gain tons of personal experience in a variety of areas. In my two months here at UpOut, I’ve been able to train in content curation, marketing analytics, social media, copywriting, public relations, event planning and even some html coding. The pace of work is much faster and more intense than the average internship but that’s what is expected at a startup. It was easy to get flustered and sometimes overwhelmed.

Fortunately for me, my coworkers at UpOut have an endless supply of patience. Their ability to create and develop is matched by their desire for teaching and sharing technology with others. I found that to be the best part of working on the UpOut team. It’s rare to find such a great group of helpful people, that are each such a pleasure to work with.

The Summer 2012 UpOut Team:

Sam, my boss (the Chief Product Officer at UpOut) continues to astound me every day at work. He is a positive force for the company, a forward thinker, insanely skilled in multi-tasking and always loves a challenge; all of which make him the perfect candidate for working at a startup.

The founder and solo programer of the team, WIll, is a total phenomena!  He barely sleeps for weeks at a time, attends tons of meetings and works through all hours of the night. Never in my life have I met someone so dedicated and hard working as Will.

Martin manages the design and layout of the site.  Every day he meets with various investors and partners to promote the company. He is very talented and accomplished, especially for such a young age.

Then there’s Sydney, the other summer intern who joined the team soon after I did. Her contagious laugh and pure amusement for every event make working at UpOut that much more exciting.

All in all, I’d say that my time at UpOut has impacted and inspired me in more ways than I can even express. Being surrounded by this outstanding group of people has assured me that I can make anything happen as long as I set my mind to it. It may take lots of time, effort, rejection, trials and hardships, but with the right amount of discipline and determination each of us are capable of accomplishing and contributing great things to the world. That’s a pretty powerful lesson that I don’t think I’d be able to learn anywhere else.

Join the fun by…

Viewing Upout’s website
Liking them on Facebook
And following them on Twitter

Making The Most Of The Mission

The Mission District is a must see while in San Francisco! I lived there all summer and never ran out of things to do. The neighborhood is vibrant, lively and extremely diverse. It’s a great place for people watching and for anybody interested in other cultures. There’s lots of hip restaurants, with tons of latin american and mexican food options. If you like shopping, Valencia is the main street with tons of vintage shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. There’s tons to see in the area and I wish I had more time  to explore all of it. The following is a list of my recommendations of interesting things to do while in the Mission District.

Restaurants

•South Indian Cuisine at Dosa

•Limon Rotiserrie for mouth watering Peruvian cuisine

•Little Star for deep dish pizza

Spanish Tapas at Esperpento for amazing paella

•Bi-rite Creamery for their famous salted caramel ice cream

Bars 

•Zeitgeist (burger and beer, outdoor beer garden, biker bar)

•Dear Mom (nightly drink specials: Pabst Blue Ribbon beer & a shot of whiskey =$7)

•Rosamunde (sausages, happy hour, patio porch, trivia nights)

•El Rio (outdoor backyard, Sunday parties on the patio)

•Monk’s Kettle (specialized in local and Belgian brews)

Brunch

•Tartine Bakery & Cafe for breakfast pastries

•Universal Cafe

•Mission Beach Cafe

Outdoor

•Mission Dolores Park

•Bernal Heights Park

Music

•Amnesia has free Blue Grass Mondays & free Jazz Wednesdays

Shopping

Paxton Gate for some unique treasures and oddities

Sway Chic if you like indie fashion

826 Valencia to check out a fun-filled pirate store

Festival

•Summer Sunday Streets

•La Cocina Street Food Festival

Join the fun by…

Viewing Upout’s website
Liking them on Facebook
And following them on Twitter

Discovering SF Through UpOut

Moving to a new city can be stressful in more ways than one. Aside from the usual worries of finding a roommate, adjusting to a new job and paying the shockingly high city rent, there’s also a strong urge in each of us to make lasting friendships, start building a community, maybe find some romance and see the sights of the new neighborhood.

The problem is that there’s too many hours spent at work, tons of errands on our to-do list, so many yoga/spinning/zumba classes to go to and dentist and doctor appointments galore. Somewhere in between all the madness, we’re suppose to find time to enjoy all the opportunities the city has to offer. It seems nearly impossible, but luckily, San Francisco has an incredible amount of fun events and activities for all types of people, with all types of interests and all kinds of schedules.

My list of favorite things to do in San Francisco has been entirely shaped by UpOut. Of course, my choices of the best summer activities in San Francisco will not perfectly match anybody else’s, but I am most certain that after a few weeks of being an UpOut user, you too will have a long. adventurous list that is 100% unique to your tastes. And I’m sure that the experiences that UpOut will guide you towards will foster as many great memories and friendships as it did for me.

My Favorite SF Summer Activities:

Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center

Stern Grove Festival Performances

Land and Sea Farmer’s Market at Harbor Village

Swing Dancing at Jack London Square

Bonfires at Ocean Beach

Film Night in the Park: Union Square

Happy Hours with UpOut

Conservatory of Flowers at GG Park

Giants Games and Tailgates at AT&T Park

Sunday Streets in the Mission District

Culinary and Walking Tour at North Beach

Nightlife at the California Academy

Performances @ The Traveling Jewish Theatre

Crazy ping pong events at Z Space

Bastille Day Parade & Block Party

Free Symphony Concert at Mission Dolores Park

So You Think You Can Paint? @ Club Six

Waterfront Flicks in Oakland

Hot Fudge Sundaes at Ghiradelli Square

Free Blue Grass Music at Amnesia

Not only did I discover great things to do in the city from our site, I also had an amazing time at events hosted by UpOut. Our team participated in a Founder Showcase, where we met with hundreds of investors and other startup companies. We also organized a few Meet Up happy hours and Grubwithus dinners over the summer. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these sites, I would suggest that you check them out! Both bring together a group of strangers in a casual, fun (and safe) atmosphere to network and bond over common interests and hobbies. It’s a great idea, especially in San Francisco where most people are new to the city and looking for some good company.

Join the fun by…

Viewing Upout’s website
Liking them on Facebook
And following them on Twitter

Internet for Inspiration

Working at a Lithuanian orphanage last summer was the most eye-opening experience for me. Not only did it expose me to the harshest realities of an impoverished society, but also made me incredibly grateful for all the blessings in my life. Education and access to information is something that many Americans take for granted, and I am no exception. What else can you expect when everyone around us has the same privileges? Very rarely do we immerse ourselves in new cultures or even feel compassionate towards less fortunate people because we aren’t surrounded by great misfortune. The idea, “out of sight, out of mind” truly applies to many Americans.

When I flew to Lithuania for the first time, I was surprised at how modern it was. The metropolitan capital, Vilnius, was so lively and edgy. It was not the small village I was expecting. Just outside the city, however, was a completely different story. Some neighborhoods were nothing short of slums and ghettos. I was nervous that the orphanage we were about to volunteer at would be just as filthy and decrepit. To my surprise, the orphanage was beautiful! With limited resources, the founders were able to make it a safe and sound haven for 30 children. What surprised me the most was the room of 12 computers. This was not just a form of amusement for the kids, it was a portal into the real world. Half of the orphans had never left the little town of Pamuse. They didn’t know what mountains were or what cities looked like. The internet was the only way they can, and possibly ever will, experience reality. This is such a sad thought for me but at least they are able to learn and dream about these magnificent places. Many times it inspires them enough to work hard and motivates them to make something out of themselves. That is incredible. If used properly, the internet can be a magnificent tool and I believe everyone should have access to it.

Here is the blog we posted each day during our time at Pamuse Orphanage.

A Bright Future For TV

The article, The Future of Television, just blew my mind! I cannot believe some of the predictions made about the future advancements we might have in technology. There are some break through ideas that are being negotiated by engineers and media developers. Some of the features possible are remote-less televisions, frame-like screens, commercial-free channels and specialization of preferences. That would be phenomenal. My favorite would be to have specialized channels that would allow me to set my preferences and interests. I think they are all positive changes, because in my opinion, television is turning into garbage. Half of the time I watch, I am surfing through channels that are useless, inappropriate or boring.

I think I would be a lot more likely to watch TV if these advancements actually follow through. It is exciting to think that technology could allow viewers to completely alter their “televised experience.” Some of the features, however, seem like it would take a while before they are actually implemented. Some seem like they will take extreme levels of development, such as the remote-free feature. I cannot imagine how hand gestures would be able to successfully change channels or the volume of the television. Even if we have the technology to create the new televisions, it would be a while before everyone could replace their old television systems, especially in this economic downturn. Americans have less money to spend on luxurious items. I truly hope, however, that the future of television is as bright as predicted!

Networking & Meeting PR Professionals at Pro-Am Day

Last friday I attended Pro -Am PR Day at Saint Louis University. I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of knowledge I received and the impressive people that I met. At first, the professionals were split up at different tables and the guests could visit any table that they found interesting. I had no idea there were so many different tracks for a Public Relations degree. Some of the options included agency, independent, sports, corporate, political, young professionals and academia. During this portion of the program, we were able to ask questions. It was comforting to see how welcoming and personable the professionals were. It seems they have definitely mastered the “communications” aspect of their career.

Afterwards, there was a lecture while we ate lunch. The speaker gave great tips about the interview process. The main points of her speech dealt with the importance of networking, ideas of following up with a company, practicing potential interview questions, making yourself stand out and making your emails/resume/cover letter personal.

The best part of the day, in my opinion, was for those who wanted a review of their cover letter and resume. I met with Patricia Feeney, who was incredibly helpful and very insightful! She basically ripped my cover letter apart but she was impressed by my resume. She said it was very readable with a contemporary layout. She even offered to help me further if I emailed her. We chatted for a while until we saw we were one of the last people in the room. What a great day!

Although, I am not sure where my communication degree will take me in the future, Pro-Am day helped confirm that I am in the right place. I am very interested in any sort of PR, human resource careers, advertising, event planning or hospitality. It will be exciting to see where I end up.

Project Plan

For my final project I will focus on the importance of television on a societies ideology. I will demonstrate this by covering the events which occurred in Lithuania on January 1991. Hundreds of peaceful citizens were injured by Soviet troops when they stood to protect the TV tower from Soviet Union invasion.

This project is relevant to our Media and Society class because it exemplifies the true impact media can have on a society. Here is an event that proves that TV can change the way a country views itself and so the Lithuanian citizens were willing to die to keep their ideology in the hands of its own people.

My plan is to interview a couple of my family members over Easter weekend, April 3-6. In particular I will interview my father, Linas Sidrys, my aunt, Laima Aleksa and my uncle, Tadas Kulbis. They will describe the events that were happening in Lithuania while fighting for independence. I will ask them questions that will hopefully keep the discussion focused to the importance of media. Since most of my family already lived in the United States at that point of time, I will be sure to ask about the coverage that Lithuania had in the news in America.

After making my interviews I plan to edit the footage on Soundtrack Pro. While my relatives talk about the event, I will add pictures and slides to create a multi-track visual and audio clip.

Final Project/Poster Idea

My main idea is to make a series of posters that deal with the importance of television for the morale of Lithuania’s society. I will first cover the general information about television and its impact on the social and cultural ideology. Then, I will give a background of Lithuania’s history; highlighting the events that occurred in January of 1991 where there was a protest to secure Lithuania’s television tower from the Soviet Union. This topic is especially important and close to my heart because it made such an impact on my ancestors. I would like to learn more about these events because I was a baby when it was occurring so I don’t know too much about it.

I was also thinking I could possibly write a paper about the Lithuanian TV tower. The first section of the paper would be research, mostly about television influence. The second half of the aper would be in interview format where I would include quotes from family members and friends that have lived through the events happening in Lithuania at that time.

My third idea is a back-up if the Lithuania project does not work. I was thinking it would be interesting to analyze facebook usage in-depth. The challenge to this assignment is that there is too much to say about the topic. I would probably narrow down my essay to be very specific. I would conduct interviews and hand out surveys to learn more about the effects of social media. Does it make teens more self-conscious or does it make them more insecure? Does it strengthen or weaken their relationships?

Is Trashy the Trend?

There are days where I can be feeling completely content with life. I go about my day in a positive manner, listening to happy tunes, breathing in the fresh air and ready for what the world has to offer. Many times this confidence is brought down when I come across a certain ad. Advertisements are everywhere and they definitely change my perception of how I see myself and how my identity is seen by others. The expectations seen in commercial ads are too high, too demanding and too unrealistic. Just watch this Dove Commercial, a perfect portrayal of an average-looking girl turning into a supermodel after hours of makeup sessions, touch ups and photoshop. It’s ridiculous.

Our entire consumer culture took a shift away from values of community, spirituality and integrity and leapt into competition, materialism and individualism. Companies are willing to do and say whatever it takes to trap customers into consumerism. They’ll even take a step past ethical boundaries to get there. The Profit Motive Behind the Sexualization of Tween Girls is a captivating article which describes the risque, and quite frankly, inappropriate ads and products that Abercrombie & Fitch sells to their customers. Keep in mind that the average age of their market is 8 to 12 years old.

A&F does not seem to feel any guilt about this, in fact, they embrace this and target their market with these sexy advertisements.

It is obvious that girls everywhere in the US are encouraged to be as sexy as possible at a very young age. These outrageous demands, however, do not stop there. Some ads, like the Bed Head Shampoo ad below, promote ideas like the “Dumb Blonde.” The model is smiling bright and looking foolish because “dumb blonde” is splattered in front of her face. This is disrespectful and not even the worst that I’ve seen. In general, there are a lot of terrible advertisements in the world. It is up to us as consumers to guard our eyes or speak out against it to bring our society back to a more dignified consumer culture.