Blog Post 4

When we received this project I was nervous about what to do. I didn’t know who to interview, and I was also scared that whomever I decided to pick to interview wouldn’t want to do it and then I would have to go and find someone else, but I was extremely fortunate to have gotten the chance to interview Dr. Thomas. The interview was a fantastic experience that ended up being a breeze. It was easy for us to talk because we sat in her home and we had already known each other because I had played college sports with her two daughters. Everything just flowed and felt almost like a normal casual conversation.

Dr. Thomas was a great person to interview. She has so much personality and is one of kindest people I have ever met. The way she spoke with such passion and joy about her job bought a smile to my face. I could ask her one question and she would go on and on, and I just sat there in amazement at all of the stories she was telling me. I had no idea that being a Vet was as difficult a job as it is. I loved her stories about being in vet school and all of the interesting exotic animals she got to take care of and learn from.

I realized during our interview that listening plays a larger part in being a Vet than I thought. It didn’t really click with me until she talked about her patients cannot physically communicate with her so she has to really rely on listening to the pet’s owners to fully understand what is going on. I was also surprised to find out that therapeutic listening played such a large role in her job as well. It had never occurred to me that comforting pet owners is part of the job of being a vet. I also learned that geography can create barriers to listening when she spoke about how people with different accents and make it hard to understand and become fully aware of what is wrong with the animal.

While I may never become a vet myself, my interview with Dr. Thomas so me there is so much more to being a Vet than just taking care of sick animals. You really have to be a good listener and be an understanding person because you are working with patients who have others advocating for them

Blog Post 4

When I first learned about the True Stories project, I was apprehensive because I thought that it may be difficult to find someone who was willing to take time out of their busy schedule to be interviewed by a college student. This worry proved to be somewhat true when the first person that I was supposed to interview suddenly stopped responding to my emails. At first, I was very upset about this because I was looking forward to interviewing someone in my future career field. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I was able to connect with Anne Marie Varga, who has inspired my interest in the public relations field. Anne Marie’s experiences as the Communications Manager at the Orange County Government, as well as her experiences prior to obtaining this position, provided me with a unique perspective on the crucial role that public relations professionals play in our society. After speaking with her, I gained a new interest and appreciation for the careful thought and critical listening that is involved in public relations.

My interview with Ann Marie also demonstrated the applicability of the concepts that we have been learning in class to the professional world. First, Ann Marie spoke frequently on the importance of critical listening in her profession. The first thought that I had when she brought up this topic was the SIER model. In crisis communication, she must focus on the content and context of the message, interpret the meaning behind the message, critically assess the meaning of the message, and finally respond to the message in a way that adds value to the situation. Hearing her speak about process behind formulating responses to crises demonstrated how the different concepts that we have learned in class can truly be applied to many real-world situations. The fact that I was able to make these connections was a huge success for me because I believe that my knowledge of listening concepts will allow me to thrive in the professional setting.

As a whole, the interview with Ann Marie was quite successful. However, we did come across some barriers to listening throughout the experience. First, I realized how important the environment is for effective listening. Our interview took place in KeKe’s Breakfast Café, so the interruption of the waitress, the loud conversations of other customers, and the abundance of background noise were quite distracting in the moment. Another barrier to listening was the fact that I had come straight from swimming practice to the interview, so I was fatigued and not in the best state of mind to concentrate. In other words, sometimes I was focused more on my own feelings than the conversation, which was a significant barrier to my effective listening. Nonetheless, despite these barriers, the interview as a whole was a fulfilling and successful experience because I was able to build a connection between what I’ve learned in the classroom and how it applies to the professional realm.

Blog Post 4

On September 23rd, 2016, I interviewed Abbidel Cooke, programmer and entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur requires an individual to devote the majority of their time to the expansion of their business and innovative ways of advancing their business. This takes a lot of Abbidel Cooke’s time, but he’s able to make it work while also being employed as a sales consultant at Best Buy.

A barrier is defined as anything that gets in the way of clear communication. One barrier we had experienced was the timing of the interview. Due to his hectic schedule, it was hard to set a time and date. Hence, when being interviewed Mr. Cooke was very tired from his extensive schedule. His thoughts occasionally distanced from the questions being asked. The barrier mentioned can be considered a physiological barrier because it was caused by fatigue, and ill health. Ill health is included, because during the interview, Mr. Cooke describes an experience of when he was tired and unable to communicate with his clients. He then mentioned the following statement.

“The ingredients are there to help you succeed in your business, but you have to take into consideration that you have to keep your health. If you don’t keep your health good then you won’t actively listen, you won’t talk to your customer, you won’t show [good] body language.”

Another barrier was his cultural background. Mr. Cooke is Bangladesh. At various moments, his accent protruded, which made it difficult for me to understand. This barrier was not only present during the interview, but also when I had to transcribe. When listening to the audio file, there were times when his statements were grammatically incorrect or incomplete thoughts. I often used brackets to make sense of his statement for the audience’s sake. This barrier can be considered a physiological barrier, because it arose due to his accent (or his failure to meet a speaking standard in the English language).

However, these barriers did not dramatically hinder nor cease the interview. The overall experience was great. Not only was I able to meet and learn about the life of someone in my field, I was also able to gain experience in conducting interviews. This is a skill I would need to improve on, as an aspiring entrepreneur. I foresee me being involved in multiple interviews in my career, as both the interviewer and occasionally the interviewee.

Blog Post 3 – Interview with Ann Marie Varga

My interview with Ann Marie Varga, the Communications Manager for the Orange County Government, focused mainly on the importance of listening in the public relations profession. Prior to conducting the interview, I thought that the public relations would have a much heavier emphasis on the speaking end of an interaction, because the profession is focused on constructing a favorable public image of an organization. However, Ann Marie explained that constructing this favorable image is impossible without listening to both the views of the general public and the people working within the organization. Public relations is also about building relationships and storytelling, which would both be impossible without effective listening habits. As Ann Marie said multiple times throughout our interview, “listening is critical.” Public relations professionals cannot create the ideal image for their organization without listening to the desires of the people that the organization interacts with on a day to day basis.

The most important recurring theme of my interview with Ann Marie was that building relationships is a key component of public relations. In order to build these relationships, you have to listen to the interests of the public so that you can communicate messages and stories that will be viewed favorably. Ann Marie also talked a great deal about the impact that technology has had on listening and creating relationships within her profession. She truly believes that “listening” via social media is critical for both creating stories that the public will be in favor of and correcting misinformation that negatively impacts the image of the company. However, she believes that there is no substitute for building impactful, real-life relationships with both her team and the public. Her view on the importance of listening in collaboration can be heard in the interview from minute 17:45 to 18:15.

The final central theme of my interview with Ann Marie was the significance of listening in crisis communication. In public relations, you often have to communicate information regarding crises. Ann Marie talked about how it’s important to listen both in person and via social media to make sure that you can mobilize your team when a negative story is brewing. Without effective listening in these situations, you cannot create a story that will properly depict the image that your organization is attempting to convey. This form of effective listening in crisis communication ties back to the themes of storytelling and building relationships. The only way you can connect with the community that you serve is through collaboration. This collaboration means building relationships with the people surrounding you, so that you can listen to their attitudes and ideas in order to create the most impactful stories for the community.

Interview link:

Below are links to 3 websites that highlight the importance of active listening and relationship building in PR:


Blog Post 2

Abbidel Cooke, who has chosen to use another name for this interview, is an aspiring programmer. He currently holds two jobs, one in which he is self-employed and another in which he is a sales consultant at Best Buy. As an entrepreneur, Abbidel Cooke repairs computers and software. He is required to possess many qualifications such as the ability to carefully and strategically dismantle computers when needed; restore a computer’s system after a virus has attacked a computer. This is a very complex skill which requires him to be heedful in every task. If he is not, there’s a great possibility of the entire system being erased.

His ultimate goal is to continue his business, expand his knowledge in computer engineering and become a Professional Programmer. Mr. Cooke is currently finishing his Master’s degree at Valencia College, majoring in Computer Software Engineering.

I would like to interview Abbidel, due to his experience in entrepreneurship and technology. As an aspiring entrepreneur myself, his experience may be able to impact my journey. Also, listening and communicating effectively is extremely helpful in his career choice. Abbidel is tri-lingual, allowing him to effectively communicate and create relationships with his clients of different backgrounds. However, not only does he have to listen and understand what the needs are of the customers, but he also has to listen and understand the computer. A lot of coding and comprehension of software is required when fixing computers. It’s a special skill to have and execute. I feel as though through his service skills, my listening and communication skills will be enhanced after the interview.

Blog Post #2

I am planning on interviewing Jimmy Jones, a physical therapist, personal trainer, and licensed massage therapist. Jimmy works at Sport Specific Training & Rehabilitation in Orlando where he helps athletes, injured workers, and the elderly to get back in shape and lead normal lives. The profession of physical therapy requires constant communication between both patients and providers, and my goal for this interview is to gain deeper insight into the importance of healthcare communication.

Many people might think that physical therapy just involves doing exercises or using an icepack, but there is much more to it than that. In fact, effective listening and communication skills are essential to developing a quality rehabilitation program for any patient. Additionally, attentive listening can be useful for when a patient is concealing pain or having trouble identifying the source of discomfort.

Physical therapy is classified as one of the “helping” professions in our class, and I think that this interview will be a perfect opportunity to see how skillful listening is used in the professional world. Just like lawyers, doctors, hospitality employees, and human resources personnel, physical therapy is a collaborative effort to meet the same goal. In the case of rehabilitation, the goal is to make the patient stronger and pain-free. However, this goal is nearly unattainable unless both the therapist and the patient communicate effectively. I am looking forward to this interview and I hope that it will prove to be enlightening.

Blog Post #1

  1. What inspired your profession of choice?
    1. Provides understanding
      1. By asking this question, the interviewer gains an understanding of the interviewee. It provides background knowledge of why this person is passionate in a specific field. You’re able to connect more in-depth when you understand where a person comes from and knowing situations that have impacted their aspirations.
  2. Do you see yourself here in 10 years?
    1. Figure out if they are happy at this level
      1. This question allows the interviewer to figure out whether or not a person is satisfied with where they are presently. Individuals often encounter many shifts in passions, which then triggers a shift in professions.
  3. What motivates you to work?
    1. Discover if there is something that pushes them to work each day… self-motivation, family, etc.
      1. Some are self-motivated when they go to work. Some people work to make a living. Some are motivated to prove a point to others. And some are motivated by a loved one. They may have to pay for their child(ren)’s school tuition, medical bills, etc. These motivations push individuals to strive each day. By asking this question, you discover what values a person possess.
  4. What is your most memorable experience at your job?
    1. What excites them about their job…
      1. This question usually would have a very passionate response. People enjoy sharing experiences that have left imprints on their lives. Whether or not the experience was negative or positive, it was memorable. It shows what situations attracts their attention.
  5. Would you consider yourself positioned in your career or employed at a job?
    1. Move up the ladder or change completely…
      1. This question, although similar to the second question, can receive a different response. An individual may not be happy with the position they have. However, they may enjoy the field and plan to either be promoted or move up the ladder through other methods. Other methods may include entrepreneurship or obtaining a higher position by changing companies. This question allows you to understand where they feel they may be in their life.
  6. How would you define active listening?
      1. You’re able to understand their perspectives on listening and what they perceive to be active/effective listening.
  7. How has listening enhanced your conflict-handling skills?
      1. This question asks of their knowledge of listening and communication and shows how they apply it to their everyday life.
  8. What is your favorite animal?
    1. Insight of who they see themselves as
      1. When a person chooses their favorite animal, the features are usually relatable to their own mannerism. This will enlighten the interviewer what type of person they may be. Although it is an enlightening question, it is also a fun question that ceases the tension of a professional interview.

Blog Post 1 – Interview Questions

After general introductions, I think the best question to start off the interview with the chosen professional would be:

  1. Can you talk a little bit about your professional background and the experiences that have led you to the position that you are in today?

This is a very general question, but I believe that it is important to start off the interview with a question like this because it helps both the interviewer and the audience to better understand the interviewee. I also think this is a great question because people generally love to talk about themselves and their experiences, so this will allow the interviewee to feel more comfortable.

Another question that I would love to ask in this interview is:

2. Growing up, we all have someone that we look up to as a role model and that shapes who we are as a person. Has there been any specific person that you have looked to as a mentor throughout the development of your career?

I think this is an important and interesting question because as students who will soon be entering the professional world, we will be looking for mentors to guide us as we begin our careers. I will be interesting to learn how someone who is regarded as a mentor to many young professionals was also positively impacted by someone else at the beginning of their successful career.

Ideally, we will all be interviewing someone in a position or field that we would like to work in in the future. Therefore a great question to ask is:

3. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start a career in the field of ___?

Of course, I would tailor this question to the person that I was interviewing. I think this is a beneficial question because you can get candid advice from someone who has been successful in the field you are looking to work in. This advice can help both the interviewer and the audience in their future career endeavors. It also gives the interviewee a chance to share their experiences, successes, and failures in order to benefit others.

As I said previously, it is important to give the interviewee a chance to talk about themselves and their experiences because this is what most people are comfortable doing. Therefore, I would ask:

4. Can you describe what a typical day looks like for you?

This allows the interviewee to talk about themselves and their work, which they are presumably extremely passionate about. This is also a great question because it gives us a behind the scenes look at what it is like to work in this field. We may learn things that we would never be able to find on the internet when looking up job descriptions or the specific career field.

Lastly, I think it is important to ask questions that keep the mood light and that keep the interviewee/audience interested. So, I would ask:

5. What is the craziest or funniest thing that has ever happened to you on the job?

My hope with a question like this is to connect personally with the interviewee and to keep the interview from being too dry.


Reflections on [True] Stories and COM 230: Listening

This semester my COM 230: Listening class had the opportunity to participate in [True] Stories, a project focused on the importance of teaching oral history in the College classroom. We started the semester with readings (e.g., Wolvin, 2010; Rubin & Rubin, 2012) and discussions about the value of qualitative interviewing for learning, understanding, and sharing experiences. Students were asked to interview a professional from the community to learn more about the importance of listening in the field they are interested in joining after graduation.

In their first assignment, students submitted a brief reflection describing the person they planned to interview, draft of interview questions, and your rationale for asking those questions. Students learned about the ethics of qualitative research. I explained the role of the Institutional Review Board when conducting research and described the process that resulted in approval of the project from the IRB at Rollins College. We had each interviewee complete an informed consent form describing the purpose of the project before the interview.

After the students completed individual interviews with professionals in our community, students audio record responses to a set of prescribed questions and prepared a typed transcript of the most important segments of the interview. Then, in small groups, the students coded/analyzed the interviews for themes.

One of the biggest “aha” moments came after Leslie Poole, Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies, gave a talk on her experiences with oral history as a journalist. Students were able to compare their experiences doing oral history with a professional’s experiences which added to their learning.

Students also reflected on the role of listening in oral history and wrote a paper that included information drawn from what they had learned in class (through readings, lectures, and discussions) and their individual research to discuss how the scholarly research relates to or contradicts what the students learned from professionals through the interviews.

This was a full semester project. However, in the future, I plan to have the students complete the assignment in a shorter period of time. I believe that starting the project at the mid-point of the semester and including guest lectures earlier in the semester will help students better integrate the material learned in class with their project.

Oral History Project-Blog

My interview experience with Meredith Hein went very well.  Luckily, Meredith’s role as the director of the Center of Leadership & Community Engagement makes listening a pivotal skill in her role and she could easily discuss how listening has shaped her into the person she is.  Meredith discussed how her strengths, such as empathy and developer, have helped her shift her listening behaviors from good to great.  We met in her office, which is closed off and quiet.  Meredith is known to have plenty of students in and out of her office throughout the day, so she’s used to having these specific conversations.  Something that was quite interesting to me that I learned through the interview was how knowledgeable Meredith is about listening behaviors and skills.  She would often refer to active listening, and empathy, both of these terms are pivotal to successful listening during a conversation.  Here’s an article written in The Wall Street Journal about the benefits of active listening: Active listening makes both participants feel better. Meredith is a great listener and she’s also very thoughtful.  She recognizes her strengths and weaknesses and the way she can address them.  She often makes students ask themselves the, “do you really believe that,” idea which Mark Goulston discussed in his book, Just Listen.  By doing so, it makes people much more aware of their actions and behaviors.  When giving her responses, she took time to truly process the questions before answering them.  I could tell that just by how she considered the question, she would also be a great listener.  She talked about how her role made her think more about the question and situation, rather than create an automatic response for everything.  She touched on one listening behavior that I think many of us need to work on.  Meredith said she used to have an automatic response for everyone and everything, which I see a lot of in myself.  She told me that this isn’t always the best method when dealing with sensitive topics and said it took many years before she could respond patiently and intuitively.

Each situation and person is different, and it’s important to take each conversation like it’s the first you’re hearing of it.  However, one barrier that inhibited some of Meredith’s responses were the random phone calls she would receive, and some of the external thoughts she was dealing with.  Something she addressed was how often she becomes the listener for so many people, and how seldom she is the speaker.  As a result, she takes on a lot of people’s baggage, often disregarding her own needs and feelings.  Another barrier was the repetition of conversations she often has.  She talked about the recurring conversations about relationships and how she has to pretend like she’s hearing it for the first time.  I think her addressing some of her listening successes and failures will make my interpretation of the interview much more detailed and relatable.  By originally talking about the importance of active listening, having genuine conversations, and why skills develop overtime, it makes the research process that much easier.