Month: June 2020

Our Day with Coach Dye: A Spirit That Was Not Afraid

This past November, a lucky few of us at Telegraph had the unique opportunity to sit down with Coach Pat Dye and discuss the 30th Anniversary of the Iron Bowl coming to Auburn. But this was not just another day on the job; it was truly a dream come true for me, Kenslie McGuire and Seth Baird, all Auburn alumni and lifelong Auburn fans.

We were like kids in a candy shop—or maybe more like kids rolling Toomer’s Corner—as we walked into the Auburn locker room just days before the Iron Bowl for an exclusive interview with the Auburn legend. Coach Dye, joined by Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene and former Auburn linebacker Craig Ogletree, shared his incredible stories and insight into that first home Iron Bowl in 1989 and everything it has meant to Auburn.

I grew up in the Pat Dye era of Auburn football and attended that 1989 Iron Bowl when I was 11 years old. I even held onto that iconic ticket from the game for all these years and asked Coach Dye to sign it for me after our interview. Hearing him recount not only every detail of that day and game in 1989, but also everything that went into moving the game from Birmingham to Auburn, was an experience I’ll never forget. He talked about so many memories from that day that echoed my own memories.

He talked about the Tiger Walk being so big that players, for the first time ever, had to walk single file down Donahue on their way into the stadium. He talked about the cloud of blue from the fans’ paper shakers rising up into the orange sky and how he would never forget that sight. He talked about the pass to Alexander Wright on the fifth play of the game and about how many rushing yards Stacy Danley had, as if the game had just been played the day before. As he told these stories, it was so apparent how intense his love for Auburn was and that Auburn had meant as much to him as he had meant to Auburn. Even more touching for me was how apparent his love was for all of his former players as he talked about them, and seeing through his interactions with Craig Ogletree how that love and respect was mutual from his players.

He made a point to mention the first time he read the Auburn Creed and how it resonated with him so deeply, saying “…it was right down the line with what I believed in. How you treat your fellow man. How hard you have to work.” He then said the line that most resonated with him from the creed was having “a spirit that is not afraid,” and that if you are afraid, you won’t ever get anything done. I think that sums up Coach Dye extremely well. He never backed down from any challenge or adversity and tackled everything head on. It was more important to him to teach his players the values that resonated with him in the Auburn Creed, and how to be great human beings, than it was to just teach them how to be great football players.

Kenslie McGuire recalls that after graduating from Auburn University, she made it one of her bucket list items to return to Auburn for a work project.

“As you can imagine, I was thrilled to hear we’d be interviewing Coach Pat Dye for the 30th anniversary of the first Iron Bowl played in Jordan Hare. My mom attended that ’89 Iron Bowl and bought a sweatshirt that I ended up wearing all through my college days. Such an iconic game!

Coach Dye is a true Auburn man. He treated coaching as a serious responsibility and developed a father/son-like relationship with so many of his players. Seeing him and Craig Ogletree interact was the sweetest thing. You can tell they had so many fond memories together that led to their lasting respect so many years later.

It was such a delight to meet Pat Dye and spend that afternoon with him, Craig, and A.D. Allen Greene. I knew it’d be an experience I’d never forget, but didn’t realize how special it would become seeing that we’d lose Coach so soon.”

Seth Baird said that day was his first time getting to really meet Coach Dye.

“He was super nice and friendly. For him to take the time out of his day to sit down with us was awesome. I’d heard he was not only a great coach but a great man, and I got to experience that myself. It is something I will never forget. The way he told the story of the ‘89 Iron Bowl was like it happened yesterday. He seemed to remember every detail about that day. He made you feel like you were there in the stands. I could have sat there for hours listening to him tell stories about Auburn. We are going to miss Coach Dye.”

For some context, Auburn’s record versus Alabama prior to Coach Dye was 17-27-1. Since Coach Dye came to Auburn in 1981, that record is 20-19—including a 15-10 record against Alabama in games played in Auburn and Tuscaloosa since Coach Dye moved the game away from Birmingham and truly evened the playing field. Coach Dye’s contributions to Auburn are immeasurable. In many ways he is Auburn, both in the way he lived his life and in the path he paved for Auburn athletes, coaches, students and fans to come through his accomplishments on and off the field.

Coach Patrick Fain Dye the man may be gone, but legends never die, and he will live on forever through the Auburn family and in memories like the ones we recalled and made during our interview. Thank you, Coach, for the day we spent together and for the life you gave to Auburn, defining what it means to be an Auburn man.

War Eagle, Coach!

Zoom Gloom

5 Tips for Surviving Your Next Virtual Meeting

As we enter week another week of the seemingly endless COVID-19 news cycle, people around the world continue to work from home and practice social distancing to flatten the curve. Over the past few weeks, our kitchens have morphed into classrooms, our living rooms have transformed into offices, and our backyards (if we’re lucky enough to have them) have become oases of escape.

We now find ourselves viewing our coworkers, classmates and family members through the window of our computer screen. All day, we hop from meeting to classroom to another meeting, then finish up the school day and log back on for a virtual happy hour, and end the day with a FaceTime chat with our parents before bed. (You can’t dodge those calls. Your parents know you’re home because, well…where else are you going to be?)

Doing this almost every day for weeks on end has left us feeling exhausted. But why, exactly?
Quick answer: Zoom, Google Hangouts and FaceTime (Sorry Skype, you didn’t make the cut this pandemic). All of these virtual meeting spaces have mentally worn us out to the point where we don’t have the energy at the end of the day to even look at another screen.

We can’t run on fumes until the end of social distancing because we don’t even know when that is. So how do we combat this new fatigue? Let’s first understand what we are now experiencing in our virtual lives.

The Gloom Factor:

Virtual conversations are inherently going to be more face-to-face (literally), eliminating the cues from non-verbal body language we’re accustomed to. According to Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, the majority of human interaction is interpreted through non-verbal communication. A shrug, hand movement, fidgets—these are all non-verbal cues that help us interpret the tone and mood behind someone’s words. So when the computer eliminates this, we are forced to focus all our energy on the words someone is saying and interpret them from a cropped point of view. Because our minds have to spend more time and energy trying to understand this, the natural flow and rhythm of conversation is disrupted. It’s as if you’re snapping off beat to a song you’ve heard a million times and can’t seem to get back in sync.

Another cause of our fatigue is the “gallery view” feature in some programs that allows you to see everyone on the call at once. Sometimes it’s nice to see that you’re not the only one that doesn’t have yourself together by the 9 a.m. status call. But when you’re on gallery view for an hour or so for every meeting, it can be mentally taxing without you even knowing it. Imagine walking into Best Buy and being stuck in the TV aisle where every television is playing a different movie. That’s effectively what gallery view is. You’re constantly pursuing the “gallery” to see if Johnny’s really paying attention or if Sally still has the photo of you two on her wall, all while trying to actively listen to the person speaking. And while you’re doing this, you have 10 (or however many coworkers you have) other sets of eyes looking right into the camera, which is staring right back at you. It shatters your sense of privacy and forces you to be intimate with one another. Because of the discomfort this causes for some, your body can have a “fight or flight” reaction, which can be physically draining.

But the one gaze you have to be most concerned about is your own. Your own webcam is also a contributing factor to your digital fatigue. One aspect is the nagging feeling you’re constantly on display during the entire meeting. You have to act attentive, put on your best face and be present at every moment. Being hyper-aware of yourself, your actions and your surroundings can be extremely stressful. You’re not only highly tuned in to what the speaker is saying, but also to what you look like, what you’re doing, what’s happening behind you, whether your child is going to pop in the room at any given moment, and on and on. Even for the most vain of people, seeing yourself speak during every conversation when you’re not used to it can throw you for a loop.

While these video conferences can wear you out both mentally and physically, there are some steps you can take to manage the stress, anxiety and fatigue before hopping on your next virtual call.

1. Do I Really Need to See You?

We may be tempted to make every conversation a virtual call so we have an excuse to see a familiar face, but it’s not always always necessary to flip on the webcam and have a quick conversation. By turning off the camera or using your cellphone, you’re eliminating all visual cues and relying solely on sound to interpret your conversations. It’s less for your brain to focus on and easier for you to manage the conversation.

2. Mirrors Are for Bathrooms

If you’ve tried making the meeting a phone call and your coworker insists on showing you their new virtual background, try turning your own camera off or hiding yourself from the gallery view. Most of our anxiety and exhaustion comes from staring at our reflections for hours on end, so why not just hide yourself all together?

Some people might think your lack of camera access means you are disconnected or unengaged in the conversation. If you’re required to show yourself, show you’re present and attentive at the beginning of the meeting, then turn your camera off. And when you want to chime in, turn your camera on while you converse, and then off again when you’re done.

3. Brady Bunch is Canceled

Yes, it makes for a fun social media post (just look at ours!), but you really don’t need to be looking at a classroom of coworkers every meeting. If you’re that curious to know what all your coworkers are doing during the meeting, you might not be very engaged in the meeting itself. In your next meeting, utilize the “speaker view” and save your energy for the person that’s talking. What they’re saying is probably more important than your other coworker’s cat walking across the screen.

4. Set the To-Do List Aside

We’re all busy people with a thousand tabs open between our internet browsers and post-it notes, but one thing that makes us so exhausted after video calls is our constant need to multitask during all of our meetings. Your brain is in five different places trying to handle everything that needs to get done. It’s mentally taxing to tune in and out of conversations, and it’s impossible to do so seamlessly. Hit snooze on all the notifications, close some tabs and keep your mind where your virtual body is.

5. Okay, Let’s Break It Up Everyone

If you find yourself constantly glued to your chair with your eyes locked on the screen, it can help to get up and take 10-minute breaks between meetings. Let yourself recharge by walking away from the desk, running to the mailbox or getting another snack before joining the next conversation. Not having a break prevents your brain from gracefully shifting gears and strains your eyes for an extended period of time, leaving you more tired than you would be after an in-person meeting.

As for your social life via Zoom, having a virtual happy hour every other day with your friends or people you haven’t talked to since college graduation can be just as exhausting as having back-to-back meetings all day. You’re spending even more time locked into your computer than you really need to be. Set aside certain times to catch up with your friends, and be aware of when you might need to pass on a virtual hangout if you’re already feeling fatigued to help you better balance your on-screen and off-screen time. Your friends will still be there.

The future is up in the air for now, but working remotely is a new norm for many of us. This change in how we communicate with friends, family members and colleagues can leave us anxious and exhausted as we navigate our everyday life, but looking out for your own sanity and personal well-being shouldn’t take a back seat. Until we can click “Leave the Meeting” one last time and meet in person again, we have to learn what’s best for us as we embrace and adapt to the changes to come.

Design Students: Set Yourselves Up for Post-Quarantine Success

Just because life has seemed to hit the pause button, it doesn’t mean that you (or your future) has to. There are plenty of ways you can still equip yourself with the skills you will need to graduate and apply for jobs in the future.

You had plans for you summer, whether it was an amazing internship, a freelance job, applying for jobs upon graduation, or something else entirely. But with COVID-19 turning the world upside down, many of those dreams and goals have come to a screeching halt. You want to graduate ready and prepared to start your career, but now that your summer (and much of your school year) has been taken away from you, you are left wondering what to do.

Luckily, we have some great tips and tricks to help you to fully take advantage of this time at home. Just because life has seemed to hit the pause button, it doesn’t mean that you (or your future) has to. There are plenty of ways you can still equip yourself with the skills you will need to graduate and apply for jobs in the future. These suggestions can help you develop yourself, your network and your portfolio.

Develop yourself.

Many of you have spent time during the quarantine working on yourself by delving into hobbies, exercising and spending time with your family (or feeling the pressure to do all of these while juggling school and the effects of a global pandemic). We understand that there is a anxiety around coming out of quarantine better than before. We’re feeling it, too. But we want to encourage you to try do develop yourself in at least one area while at home, and we have two suggestions for how you can do just that.

1. Learn a new skill

There are thousands of tutorials on YouTube, as well as learning platforms like SkillShare and Lynda. You can learn a new skill (or improve on one) in a platform you are familiar with, or you might want to learn a totally new program. A few skills that we suggest nailing down before you graduate are:

  • Learning the basics of animation in After Effects
  • Getting skilled with the pen tool in Illustrator
  • Touching up a photo in Photoshop (blemishes, teeth, flyaways, etc.)
  • Removing a background (or extending it) in Photoshop
  • Mocking up a product/logo application in Photoshop

2. Watch design talks or pick up some books on design and get inspired! We have a few suggestions listed below:

Develop your network.

When you hear the word “networking,” you probably picture a room full of people in suits with nametags and painful small talk. Because of this outdated perception, your instinct may be to think that networking only applies to businesspeople and that it won’t help you in the design world, but that is far from the truth.

Networking is simply communicating with people in your desired field, job or company and developing relationships with those people. But developing your network is so much more than just adding people on LinkedIn. While networking is a continual process, we have two tips that can be utilized right now and will serve you well in your time as a student.

  1. Build a list of your favorite companies that you want to apply to, either for an internship or full-time job upon graduation. There are a lot of things going on when you graduate, so it is best to start keeping track of your desired companies before it is time to apply. Linked are a few resources you can use to build this list.Ask yourself these questions to narrow down your search: Where do you want to live? What type of work would you like to do? What size company would you like to work for? What type of work do you like? Following these companies on LinkedIn and Instagram help to give you an idea of their culture and the type of work that they produce.
  2. Reach out to a designer in the area (or in your desired field) to find a mentor during the summer. They can give great advice on applying for jobs, reviewing your portfolio and more.

Develop your portfolio.

Having a good, clean portfolio is the single most important part of applying for a job. While it is helpful to have that network in place, your portfolio can get your foot in the door and get you noticed, and many times, it will be the main reason that you are hired. We as designers are constantly developing our portfolios as we grow, and being a student is no exception. It is important that you improve and develop old projects as you gain knowledge and improve your designer’s eye. We have listed a few suggestions below (and these are often things that come up in portfolio reviews).

  • Try to replace all of your studio photography with mockups when possible. Unless you are a master photographer and craftsman, it is very difficult to get beautiful pictures of your work. Mocking things up will allow you to have more control, and the work will look more cohesive in a portfolio.
  • Clean up old work. Fix typos, extra anchor points, kerning, etc.
  • Update old projects and make them better. Go back to a project that you loved, and use your current knowledge and expertise to refine and elevate your work. Would it work better if it had a different typeface? Color palette? Illustration?
  • Expand on those projects by adding things like an ad campaign, packaging, additional products or animation. This will help to position you as a designer who understands brands and how they work as a system. It will also bring your work to life and give viewers an idea of how your designs could live and work in the real world. Brand New is a great resource to see how some of the best agencies present their work.

There are thousands of things that we can all do during quarantine. We know it because the pressure is coming at us from all sides telling us what we “should” be doing. We know it’s hard. If you can focus in on these tips, you will be able to use this time to grow and challenge yourself, but also set expectations for yourself and home in on what you want to achieve. It’s okay if you need to take a break or if you have difficulty starting or finishing a task. The most important thing is that you are trying and working towards something.

COVID-19 has been a struggle for all of us, and even more so for students, but remember that we are here with you, we’ve got your back, and we want you to succeed as much as you do.