Assignment #1 – Blog Post #4 – OUT OF THE BOX – UNEXPECTED OUTCOMES – by Bernadette Alcock

During this past year, while enrolled in this online social media certification course, it has pushed me to expand my knowledge of the digital world.  I have been amazed at the variety of applications that are popular.   The one I area that I found new and unexpected (and I need to explore more) is with Instagram’s use of “REEL”.

It is a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram.    With Reels you can record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools.   Reels allow one to express themselves and entertain others in dance, art, or a particular message one wishes to spread.

Reels can be shared in your Instagram Feed.  Reels can be recorded in a series of clips (one at a time), all at once, or upload a video from your gallery.   One can add audio and AR effects (try using Green Screen to superimpose your product in unexpected places to inspire your audience.   If your account is public, you can even share your “reel” in Explore, where the wider Instagram community can see your creativity.   And do not forget to include those ever important “#hashtags” to expand further reach.  If you opt out of the use of “Explore” and use “Story” instead, note that it will disappear after 24 hours.

According to Instagram, “If your reel is featured in Explore, you’ll receive a notification. Featured reels are a selection of public reels chosen by Instagram to help you discover original content we hope will entertain and inspire you.”  Even if you’re just trying Instagram Reels out, it’s important to have a strategy and goal in mind— whether that’s reaching a wider audience, giving back to your engaged social community, or showcasing your content and products to your followers.

Here is an Instagram Reel idea and example below.     Whether IRL or on Instagram, people love to feel like they are part of a community. And when you build a community on social media, it is important to make your followers feel like friends.

Enjoy the video and happy learning more about Instagram Reels, or share your thoughts and experiences with me.

Assignment #1 – Blog Post #3 – Professional Networking – Online & In Person – How to Maintain – by Bernadette Alcock

LinkedIn is all about making connections, from individuals you know personally to individuals you wish you knew.   This platform is ever increasing, and it is the clear leader among social media for connecting with (Business to Business) B2B prospects, potential hires, and business partners.  Even as the outright leader among social media channels when it comes to professional networking, LinkedIn is still intimidating for many users. The most frequent question for a new LinkedIn user is: “Who should be in my network? Who shouldn’t I connect with?”.

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In this blog, I will focus my discussion on how I intend to maintain and grow my professional network using LinkedIn and in person.

1. Personalize My Connection Requests – If I’m interested in connecting with someone I don’t know, such as a person who works in a similar role at another company, I will add relevancy by letting them know why I’m messaging them. For example, “I’ve seen your posts and noticed some of your work. I really appreciate your perspectives and would love to connect.” 2. Follow Up – Believe it or not, networking can still happen the good-old-fashioned way by meeting people face-to-face. Shocking, I know.   Although during these COVID times, it is becoming increasingly difficult so the online process using LinkedIn will be my go-to.   But in the event I want to meet prospects in person, I would choose a trade show or conference, volunteering on a committee for a charity event,  hanging out at a favorite coffee shop, yoga or fitness classes or attend a golf tournament…….you get the idea. I will reach out – when it is safe to do so once again.

3. Set Monthly Growth Goals – Getting from 100 connections to 500+ seems like an impossible feat. However, I will divide that number over many weeks or months, so it does not seem so insurmountable. For example, instead of setting a goal of going from 100 connections to 500+, I will try to set my goal to 175 connections within two weeks; then repeat. Remember, the key to setting goals is to make them realistic and remember to maintain proper LinkedIn etiquette.

4. Post Often – This one is self-explanatory. When a connection likes, shares or comments on my status update, all their connections are more likely to see my original post in their feed.  Posting more often creates additional opportunities for engagement, thus syndicating my content across home page feeds everywhere.

5. Use Images – Using images on social posts can significantly increase engagement with people in my existing network and exposure to potential connections. How much?   Research has shown that using visual content will increase views by 11 times. So, mix it up. I will not always just share links but rather, I will include actual photos.    Humans LOVE their visuals – that is why Instagram is such a success!

6. I will not forget to Engage with my Existing Connections – Engaging with existing connections puts my profile directly in front of their networks; and all it takes is a “like” or comment on their posts. A simple, “Great thoughts” or “Thanks for sharing” can help expand my reach and, quite honestly, it is simply the considerate thing to do when someone’s thoughts or content resonate with me. Commenting with my personal insights or questions will increase engagement and exposure even more.

7. Promote My LinkedIn URL on Other Social Channels – Chances are, whatever social media platform I use most often gives my space for a bio. Using that bio to its fullest potential could be a connection-driving machine when I encourage viewers to connect on LinkedIn, especially if I have a significant following on that platform. 

8. Leverage Keywords in My Profile – Like optimizing a website or copy for SEO, LinkedIn gives me the opportunity to attract profile visitors based on the words I choose. Therefore, every single word counts.  I will use common variations of my job title and duties to ensure I am not invisible because of semantics. For example, if my job title is “Content Manager?”  I would likely have many roles including copywriter, website editor, creative writer, communications specialist, blogger and more. Someone may be more likely to search connections who perform specific functions rather than search by their formal titles.

And lastly,  9. Publish Articles – It’s common practice to share blog articles written by others that I feel will resonate with my audience by posting an update on LinkedIn and sharing the URL. Even better is when those insights and ideas are “my” own. Publishing my own articles on my LinkedIn profile is one of the best ways to establish my personal brand.

Enjoy the remainder of your course everyone.

Assignment #1 – Blog Post #2 – Strong & Weak Organizations – by Bernadette Alcock

Today, I will be discussing with you the successes and weaknesses I’ve observed with social media usage with two local fashion retailers in Ottawa, Shepherd’s Fashions and The Outskirts (note – these are my opinions only).  I am interested in both women’s fashion, art and social media so decided these two organizations were a great fit.     I have been following both of their Facebook Pages for several years now.  In comparing these two organizations, I immediately noted that I was unable to find a lot of information/background on the weaker organization.   Although there is a Facebook and Instagram page, I noted there was no webpage or online services available.  Building a social media strategy can be tough, particularly if one have to deal with non-tech savvy clientele.


Why was I drawn to this organization?   I admire their adventure and creativity. I appreciate that their mission is to enable ANYONE to look, feel and achieve their best through stylish clothing and accessories that are flattering, comfortable, practical, and supportive of their lifestyles.    I also appreciate that this is an Ottawa based, local owned and operated company.   SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS This company uses the following social media tools/channels, very successfully: (1)  Facebook Fashion Video  (every Friday named Fashion Friday) –  (2) Coffee Talk Video (every Sunday with host and guest speakers) – (3) Facebook Posts – to regularly engage and spotlight new arrivals and sales –  (4) Facebook Event – to advertise and promote events (sometimes charity) –  (5) Facebook Live – to demonstrate new arrivals in real time –  (6) Instagram – to demonstrate new arrivals and behind the scenes of the company –  (7) YouTube- a copy of the Facebook Weekly Fashion Friday videos for those who are not Facebook users –
(8) Web Page – Online Store –
I have been a regular Facebook follower of this company for several years.  I have seen them progress from Facebook posts to weekly videos, event advertising, and weekly Sunday pre-recorded videos called “Coffee Talk”.  These talks/Facebook videos not only speak to women about fashion, but on women’s physical and mental health, but on travel, healthy eating and inspire women from all walks of life.    Their engagements and “likes” have steadily increased which indicates to me that all the social media strategies that they are using, are very successful.  They have a strong online store presence and by what I gather, a dedicated clientele that purchase online. They have an excellent social media strategy in place.


Why was I drawn to this organization?   I admire the fact that they have an annual “in-house” event that raises awareness and funding for Women’s Cancer in the Ottawa region. I also appreciate that the products they sell from FDJ (French Dressing Jeans) gives back to the Look Good, Feel Better program for women undergoing cancer treatments. What I did find a company website that could explain, highlight their products, there was no online shopping capability or advertising of these two wonderful efforts that they have in place.   I also appreciate that this is an Ottawa based, local owned and operated company but it appears that more time, money and effort is required to have a consistent social media presence.   SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS This company uses the following social media tools/channels, very successfully: (1) Facebook Posts – sporadic spotlight on new arrivals and sales –
(2) Facebook Event – to advertise and promote events (sometimes charity).  Occasional, not a regular scheduled timeframe. (3) Facebook Live – No use of Facebook Live although pre-recorded videos were sometimes available. (4) Instagram – No use of Instagram that could potentially reach a wider audience.
(5) YouTube- Again, no use regular scheduled events.
(6) Web Page – There is one that exists, but not for online shopping – highly recommended.              
My recommendations to this organization would be first and foremost, have a dedicated social media/communications specialist who also loves fashion and that can help them build a social media strategy immediately to remain competitive in the Ottawa fashion retail industry.    This will help them get their strategy off the ground with regular posts, videos, live events and web/online sales and photography.   In order for this organization to remain competitive in the Ottawa fashion retail industry, it would be ideal to have them setup online sales sooner than later, and continue with a regular social media program.   I would emphasize to them to begin with a basic online store using Shopify. Thanks for reading. If you have any other suggestions or questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Assignment #1-Blog Post #1 – Tools and Sources (Bernadette Alcock)

Hootsuite and Google Alerts are two of my favorite social media listening/monitoring tools.   I appreciate the value in Hootsuite having a dashboard that lets me monitor conversations relevant to any business, industry, and products.   It aids in monitoring in what people are saying based on keywords, hashtags, locations, and even specific users.  Once you’ve set up your streams for social monitoring, you can share them with your team, so everyone can access the same information. If you discover a post that requires a response, you can assign it to the appropriate team member.

Google Alerts lets me monitor the entire web for mentions of any company, their competitors, or other relevant topics. Just sign into your Google account, go to the Google Alerts page, and type a keyword or phrase into the search box.  You’ll get an email notification every time Google finds results relevant to your alert criteria. You can set alerts for specific regions and languages.   Easy, peasy.


As Social media has become the main source of news online breaking news from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram are leading the way vs traditional media.   My two favourite sources to follow for news and updates are Facebook and Twitter.

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FACEBOOK – Let’s start with Facebook, I appreciate Facebook’s objective to select relevant and engaging stories to show in my News Feed. These stories get ranked and shown in order of importance, from big stuff like friends and family getting married or a news article that 10 of your friends have shared, to the average links shared by brands to their websites.

Facebook prioritizes stories that I Like, comment on, share, click, and spend time reading, which we’ll refer to as “engagement”. Facebook also runs both online surveys and offline focus groups to get more feedback about what stories people think should appear.   I specifically enjoy Facebook for its Branding – Facebook can be used as a medium for creating brand awareness in addition to a company’s corporate website. It provides brand exposure to a potentially new audience and gives organizations the opportunity to position themselves in new and unique ways.

TWITTER is my second choice for up to date news sources, but I always double check and triple check the story before believing what I read.  Make no mistake about it, Twitter has in many ways been a boon to the media. It’s one more way a story might go viral and it’s arguably the best way for a news outlet to get closer to their readership. Most organizations now have a presence on Twitter with a feed directing readers to their respective sites.  Twitter is an excellent platform for businesses to reach and connect with their audience. It is a go to social network for business to communicate with their fans and customers effectively. Businesses at all scales have been using Twitter to grow their business.  The information above is my opinion and I’m open to comments from any other student.   Thank you for reading😊

COM0014_Blog#7_Personal Reflection_(Digital Communication)

When starting this course, I envisioned learning about ways to use technology to perform digital communication.   I ended up learning far more about myself during the process of blogging than what I had expected.   By reading and completing assignments in each module, I realized that there is so much that I do not understand in the field of social media / digital communication.   This highlighted the fact that before a teacher can have meaningful lessons based on these subject areas, they must at least be comfortable with the idea of exposing themselves  and become familiar with different writing styles and be open to new ideas and techniques.    We are a society of digital immigrants teaching digital natives that are far savvier than we are.   We must stay up to date with the technology trends and be open to the many communication styles and most important, know our audience.

The outcomes of this course are extremely relevant to any position in marketing, but particularly in social media.   It would be ignorant to assume that the readers were not already a step ahead of the content writer in this respect. 

This course made me aware of my knowledge and current social media communication abilities.   I thought that I was up to date the latest trends, however, I found that many new methods of analyzing, monitoring, measuring, and communicating are constantly in play.   After completing several posts on my blog, I found it to be an amazingly simple and useful tool that could be implemented into my monthly communication plan activity.  The last several months have changed my attitudes toward blogging and I have discovered how it can be used to engage readers, but also encourages one to gain more self-awareness.   I’ve also learned that blogging can lead to huge money-making opportunities.   Someday, I would like to work towards becoming an art or fashion blogger – just for fun.

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There is great value in blogging for the 21st century.   It allows the learner to reflect on their work in an open forum, sometimes feeling very vulnerable to criticisms, but more often, open to creative suggestions, appreciation, and positive feedback.   In the past, we have used journal writing to improve our writing skills and connect to literature, blogging is yet another form to achieve this.    Blogging is a form of journal writing but gives the 21st century learner the element of technology that they crave and a way to reach thousands of more readers.    It was a unique way for me to share my thoughts and feelings.   If we gave the 21st century learner a paper with ten questions on it and a pencil, they will be very bored with the assignment.   Setting up a blog is amazingly simple, and it is a creative way to answer those same ten questions.   Not only was I able to publish my thoughts, I also got to read responses and begin discussions on many topics.    Blogging is an excellent tool for all to share their ideas and reflect on what they are learned to help others who may be struggling in the same areas.

COM0014_Blog#6 – Who I Am – My Story (Digital Communication)

I’m Bernadette Alcock, creator and gardener and fashionista.    I’ve been creative all my life, but had to put visual arts on hold while working full time and raising 3 beautiful children.   I’m now retired and along with the joy of gardening and fashion, I have been lucky enough to find and experience the joy of creating something truly unique while recharging my batteries and stepping back at the end of the day feeling happy, refreshed and proud of what I have accomplished.   After taking several sculpting workshops over the last 6 years, I fell in love with this medium and worked toward my instructor certification.    And now, in addition to creating, I also teach workshop to share my passion.

I also love fashion and gardening.  I assist a small fashion boutique with their social media/content creation on Facebook and Instagram and get to model their fashions from time to time.   I enjoy photographing for the boutique as well creating fashion videos.

For the last 15 years, I’ve been experimenting with garden creating, purchasing and nurturing new plants and shrubs, learning along the way, and have now to come to place where friends and family are asking me for advice and guidance.

Sometimes, I feel like being a gardener is much like being an artist. The more I think about it, the more similarities I see between the two.   Like an artist, a gardener must try to mentally visualize their work in completion long before the work has even begun and must draw from the knowledge and inspiration inside them. Some of which are learned, some of which are discovered through the practice of the art.   Like an artist, the gardener must be prepared with any necessary tools needed to perform the task. 

Finally, the gardener must be a constant student, so they are continually developing and not left behind. Every day new techniques and tools are emerging. Members of the gardening community, fashion community, as well as the artistic community, are always doing innovative new things. Have fun, be creative, be happy is my new motto in life.

COM0014_Blog#5_My Personal Brand_(Digital Communication)

Everyone has a personal brand, but having one is not enough.   Being proactive, developing a strong brand statement, being unique and establishing a personal branding strategy is important in promoting a personal brand to be well-known by people.  My Personal Brand is Garden Inspirations (Sculptures for Indoor or Outdoors).    My statement is to Reuse, Recycle, Rediscover and my passion is Art, of any form and my company name is Bernadette Alcock – Sculptures aka Garden Inspirations.   I prefer to use my personal name (‘personal brand” vs company name) as it allows me to extend my other forms of art, not just sculpture art.

Business Card designed by me, myself and I

This is a unique form of art sculpting, highly regarded in Europe and I was fortunate enough that this art form found me while visiting a Garden Art show in Perth many years ago.   This has led me to taking numerous courses as well as reading every bit of documentation that I could find (internet, social media, books and magazines) and tons of patient experimenting, practice and creating.   I have now received my instructor certification to teach others the techniques to create their own one-of-a-kind indoor or outdoor 3D sculpture art.

I enjoy experimenting and creating abstract human figures, birds and children.   I am a recycling fanatic, whether it be old tshirts, bedsheets, (any cotton fabrics), ribbons, lace, leather, cheesecloth, interesting textured paper, grandmother’s doilies, old jewellery and antique metal pieces, I love turning something old into some new!.  I try and experiment with many other art forms such as fused glass, felt art, button art and polymer clay.   To create something 3D excites me.

A representation of many other art forms that I have tried such as polymer clay (Christmas Elf), button art (Cat), winter scene (Fused Glass), sculpture art (Breast cancer awareness) and beach scene (Fused Glass).

I believe in giving back to the community, therefore, annually, I donate one of my sculptures to a “Fashion for Compassion”, fashion show event that has breast cancer survivors as their models and also to Algonquin College’s Event Management class for their “Children’s Wish Foundation Event, Colours of India”. 

Donation for “Colours of India”, Children’s Wish Foundation Event by Algonquin College’s Event Management Students

I have my own website and as well I post frequently on Facebook and Instagram.  I have a Twitter account, but I find I do not use it as regularly.   Keeping them all up to date is quite a challenge.   Find below links to my social media channels.

 Garden Inspirations Website  This website needs updating, see what happens when one has too many channels and has to create art as well.  RESULT – Competing priorities.
  Facebook – Bernadette Alcock – Sculptures
  Instagram – Bernadette_Alcock
 Twitter – Bernadette Alcock (I’m a FOLLOWER, I seldom if ever tweet.

The risks of using social media for my personal brand is that others will copy and mimic my creative ideas for their own gain, but I consider this a form of flattery and not too much of a risk.  The rewards of utilizing social media is the ability to create real human connection, introduce followers to my personal brand and showcase the benefits of my products and what is new in my studio. Thanks for reading.

COM0014_Blog#4_B2C Case Study_Shepherd’s Fashions(Digital Communication)

B2C Case Study – Shepherd’s Fashions, Ottawa

Today, I will be discussing with you the successes I have observed with social media usage with a local company in Ottawa, Shepherd’s Fashions.  I’ve been following their Facebook Page for several years now and appreciate that their mission is to enable ANYONE to look, feel and achieve their best through stylish clothing and accessories that are flattering, comfortable, practical and supportive of their lifestyles.    I also appreciate that this is an Ottawa based, local owned and operated company.


They have demonstrated that with their use of social media, their sales have been incredibly positive.   Their use of videos, daily regular posts on Facebook and Instagram and with the use of Facebook Live to demo their inventory during COVID19, has been engaging and uplifting for their clientele.  clients.

It was observed that their Facebook Live Campaign (see link – was a success with clients because of the vast amount of comments, likes and emojis during their presentation.  It was clearly a very captivating, successful example of social media use for attendees across the country (live comments were posted from watchers in the US as well as Canada).  Facebook Live is also risky as sometimes there can be technical glitches (i.e. video or audio inconsistencies) and there is no editing, what is said is what is heard in real time.   This is an example of a well thought out, sound and successful social media campaign.

I’ve seen this business progress from Facebook posts to weekly videos, event advertising, and weekly Sunday pre-recorded videos called “Coffee Talk”.  These talks/Facebook videos not only speak to women about fashion, but on women’s physical and mental health, but on travel, healthy eating and inspire women from all walks of life.


Although the products featured by this boutique could span all age groups, it appears to me that based on the age of the models, the styles that are shown and the ladies that are in the audience, the target audience is Women over 45+.   These are working women looking for professional wardrobing tips and tricks.    Due to the fact that events are often DURING the day, also indicates to me there is a large clientele who are retired and who also travel, therefore wanting items that are packable, easy care, easy wear but yet make one look and feel their best at all times.


This company uses the following social media tools/channels, very successfully:

(1)  Facebook Fashion Video  (every Friday named Fashion Friday) –

 (2) Coffee Talk Video (every Sunday with host and guest speakers) –

(3) Facebook Posts – to regularly engage and spotlight new arrivals and sales –

 (4) Facebook Event – to advertise and promote events (sometimes charity) –

 (5) Facebook Live – to demonstrate new arrivals in real time –

 (6) Instagram – to demonstrate new arrivals and behind the scenes of the company –

 (7) YouTube- a copy of the Facebook Weekly Fashion Friday videos for those who are not Facebook users –

(8) Web Page – Online Store –

I hope you enjoy reading this analysis of a successful Social Media campaign.   Thank you.

COM0014_Blog#3 – Target Audience – Art Enthusiasts

Interested in art or workshops?    This target audience buys because they desire it and it brings them pleasure and enhances their lives.    Art buyers come in different, shapes, sizes and from different backgrounds.   Their instincts, tastes, passions, and financial positions are some of the many variables that influence their art buying decisions.

What I have discovered when meeting potential clients is that they have already studied me and my art, they have done their research and they are serious.   They can afford my works but genuinely want to see me and my art in person to understand me, the story behind each piece and learn more about the products that I have used in its creation.   They are often women, over the age of 45, empty nesters, who now have the income to spend on unique items for themselves or for their home and gardens.  Often, I receive email or photos as a follow up from my buyers as they place their art in places of honor within their homes.    See below for a recent sculpture that was purchased at one of my art shows and a table of honor was made and photo sent to me to show its place of honor.

Source – My Photo

I have started to boost my new art posts on Facebook,  ensuring that I choose target audiences within the National Capital Region, art enthusiasts, females over 45, gardeners and interior designers and often I pose questions on their favorites rooms to display art, or their favorite colors to gain interest from other Facebook users and followers.

Selling online is entirely possible – good quality images of art pieces is what is important.   And it is certainly the way of the future due to COVID.   Online galleries and virtual demonstrations are becoming widely popular.    I’ve rounded up a site that help artists to sell their works online, with a variety of price points.   I have yet to follow through with this online gallery, but I’m glad this assignment steered me in this direction as I intend to followup in the near future.

Source –

UGallery is an online marketplace for art buyers that seek to accept only original works of art.  They have more than 7,000 artworks by approximately 500 artists with price points between $75.00 – $17,000. 00 and it appears that most purchases are made at the $500.00 price point.

It brings me great pleasure when clients express to me that it is a privilege to own my art – my cheeks get flushed and my heart beats quickly but even more importantly, it motivates me to do more and try difference art forms.   Sometimes I think it is “meh”, but after receiving positive feedback, it encourages me and confirms to me that I am on the right path.

COM0014_Blog#2_Reflection_on_Storytelling_(Digital Communication)

I enjoyed the articles relating to Storytelling, Communication Styles and particularly, the Inverted Triangle approach.    I will continue to reference these tools as a reminder and source for days that I am stuck and in a slump.  I appreciate the inverted triangle approach as it encourages bloggers to focus on “The Lead”, followed by “The Body” and closing with “The Tail”.   I have an example of the inverted triangle approach in my Blog for this week.


THE LEAD – Graduation Day 2020, oh, how long each young adult has waited for this grand event!.   A right of passage, FINALLY.   All those awkward moments and frustrating teachers and fellow students can now be put to rest.   Do you recall those days?   All of the excitement in the planning, organizing  and painstakingly shopping for the perfect outfit (particularly for teenage young women) leading up to this great event?    Twelve long years (plus in some cases) and now it is time to shine.   Unless of course, you are a graduate of 2020, then things are very different due to COVID19.

See the source image

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THE BODY – Graduation ceremonies have become a political battleground for schools, students and parents in the wake of school closures caused by COVID19.    Some believe they can have a ceremony safely, while others are accusing the students and their parents of being selfish during a global pandemic.    School authorities and health officials have had to make very difficult decisions.    Options that are being considered by school officials are “postponement until fall 2020”, virtual proms and/or videos with individuals displaying their purchased gowns, small groups to visit school at a scheduled time, or posters to be placed on grad students front lawns.   What is your opinion?    How do you feel grads from the Class of 2020 should be honored and celebrated?

See the source image

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THE “TAIL” –  While most students graduating in 2020 will do so “without” the commencement ceremonies, one must remember that while graduation is about celebrating the past, it’s also about the future. Whether it be in the form of more education or the start of a career, the positive way to look at this is for graduates to look forward to all of the new opportunities coming their way!! Friends and family could consider throwing a party themed around whatever their next big life step is – when it is safe to do so for all concerned.

Whatever the graduate decides to do, they must enjoy themselves, and above all, take pride in their accomplishments.   What advice would you give to young graduates for 2020? What does the future hold for them?