Natalie Kyong Swope is a senior at the University of California, Davis where she majors in computer engineering and minors in technology management.
When I first created my about.me page, it was not because I thought I would win a contest. For the past two years, I’ve held a passion for technology and networking online. I am confident to say that I have explored nearly every service, social, and resourceful web page out there. I spent Saturday nights on my computer – whether I was blogging on my “Learn Techno Logic” blog, creating page templates on my Bamboo, or browsing any free software uploads I could find– I was growing. For what cause? At the time I had no idea.
After entering the about.me contest in April, I decided to check for updates. To my surprise, I had a message in the right corner of my screen from the contest update notification. I was in the top 5%! I couldn’t believe it. I was ecstatic! To me, that message in the corner of my screen was like my own personal coach warning me to pick up speed and go for it. So, I didn’t stop at Facebook. Or Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Foursquare, Flickr or Posterous.
I started thinking of new ways to promote my about.me page and new audiences I could discover. Social networking was no longer the only option because I had promoted myself on every site. I’ve always loved the idea of QR codes and found it curious that they haven’t been used more frequently. I made a QR template (which took hours) and planned different ways of using it. My first strategy was to spray paint my code template on shirts and hand them out to my friends and sorority sisters.
While online searching for QR items, I was redirected to a site that created stamps and sold ink pads as well. The prices weren’t very high, so I ordered 1 QR stamp and 1 pad of purple to be expressed mailed to my home in Davis. I decided to print stickers too. Hundreds of stickers that I cut out and stuck in random places.
One morning, I went to Michaels and purchased cake batter, cupcake decorations and icing. I went home and made 88 cupcakes that night. The next day I found the site, http://sweetntreats.com, and immediately ordered as many custom cupcake toppers as I could afford. My custom order was a picture of my QR code centered within each topper. When I received them, I stuck them on my pre-iced treats and distributed them.
The house I lived in at UC Davis frequently hosted mixers or BBQs for our friends or chapter. I displayed my Moo.com business cards (with my about.me address included) by the speakers. Each card had a different painting or picture I made. People noticed them, and asked me if they could take some. I was more than happy to give them away and encouraged everyone to vote. I also left my stamp and stamp pad out.
Throughout my campaign, I made sure I was still sticking to my normal, college-life routine. I continued to blog, attend my classes and write articles for HackCollege.com. I tried to keep myself distracted, but the contest eventually ended and I would get nervous as the days passed and my phone remained silent.
The call finally came, and I was a nervous wreck. I talked to Jesse Chambers, the Director of Sales Operations & Monetization for AOL Tech (including TechCrunch, Engadget, TUAW and Joystiq). We ended up having a long but interesting discussion about a bunch of things. Some topics were about my passion for technology and reason for wanting the position, my experience and degree challenges, and my future plans (even though my plans are more like a rough, almost non-existent outline). When I hung up the phone, I felt great. I talked to a really nice, easygoing person and had a noteworthy discussion.
When I was informed that I, Natalie Kyong Swope, won the contest and a summer internship with TechCrunch… I still can’t find the words to express the excitement pouring over me. I was, to say the least, extremely thankful. I was proud of myself and grateful for both Jesse and Caitlin Geraghty (HR for AOL) for presenting me with the news. I actually want to let them know now that this opportunity means the world for me and I want to thank you both for treating me so nicely! I won’t let you down over the next 3 months – I promise!