Locked Out Of the Labor Force

Where Bruno Mars, my dog, and I hypothesize about the job market.

LinkedIn 101 for the College Grad: Passive Networking

Disclaimer: All of these tips are base on the free, non-paid version of LinkedIn that anyone can sign up for. I’ve never used nor claim to have absolute knowledge on LinkedIn Premium. If I ever do so, I’ll be sure to update the post accordingly or create a new one.

Most college graduates and students have been faced with the idea of networking. Unfortunately, nowadays even more of us don’t come from situations where we have a large amount of contacts within the field that we’re interested in. Because of that, even with the help of your career counselors and academic advisors it’s still very easy to feel lost, or just generally out of touch on how to gain information and start networking towards one’s career.

While the eventual goal should be to establish contacts, I believe that for college students and graduates one of the goals should be to use your affinity for social media to establish “passive networking”. I define passive networking as a networking form that is done through the collection and distribution of information. Of all the ways to share content or information, social media is the quickest and easiest channel.

So which channel should you use for passive networking methods? I believe this can be done through various social media sites, but for college students, it’s better to use an already established network for professional connections. With all that being said, here are my tips and recommendations for successful passive social media networking using LinkedIn.

Share Content In Groups: While status content updates are incredibly helpful – I do it all the time myself – it can be incredibly useful to share your content inside industry-relevant groups. To do so, you should work on having an active presence with your group and share articles that you think would be relevant or helpful. At the same time, work your way up to moving your own content. Be open to criticism, and look for ways to ramp up your blogging skills. You obviously know you should be writing all the time in college, right?

Use LinkedIn for Volunteering: I’m sure by how you’ve seen the plenty of articles that reference volunteering as a way to expand your career during the job search. LinkedIn recognized this, and created a section to advertise volunteering opportunities. Volunteering should always be an important asset for the civically engaged person, but it’s also a good way to connect to people outside of your immediate network.

Besides making connections, you can use volunteer opportunities to hone your skills towards a cause you care about. Use it as a way to network while also giving back within your own community.

Embed Your Work into Your Profile: Whether you’re a writer or an engineer, one of the nice things about college life is that there’s a chance for you to write a paper or do research that is uniquely your own creation (with proper source citing I hope). Over time, LinkedIn has created a host of applications that allow you to embed your work. Here’s a guide to which providers are approved to link content.

The best feature of this is that it essentially gives you the ability to implement an online portfolio without making one’s own website. If you do plan on having a website later down the road your LinkedIn profile can be a “storage” of sorts for whatever info you want to host there. (Side Note: If you want to create a personal website right away, here’s an amazing guide on how to do so).

Overall, the goal should be to build up your profile as much as possible. Utilize your own great ideas to create content that you can share amongst your network. Good luck and be sure to leave a comment if you have any extra tips or questions!

Twitter 101 for the College Grad

If you had asked me 3 years ago if I would be active on Twitter, I – pretty embarrassingly – would’ve scoffed and stated that I wasn’t a fan of Twitter. As a current college graduate, I can definitely attest to the fact that for content alone, Twitter is my premier resource for finding out what’s going on in my two favorite fields, marketing/social media and higher education. Plus, getting to tweet at my college president definitely makes having a Twitter 500% worth it.

On a non-professional level, there are tons of casual activities you can do on Twitter. You can get news updates, follow companies and get sales/deals, and plenty of other things in an insanely quick format. When I first started using Twitter, it gave me the chance to check out comedians, funny facts, and some CEOs I was really fascinated by. And it’s incredibly easy to sift through information when it’s only 140 characters.

Though even if you’re using it as a social outlet, I always caution people to make their tweets private if you’re going to use your name and picture. Most people don’t want to be the student who gets caught skipping class because they tweeted that they were smoking downtown. Just remember, your bosses/administrators/etc. don’t live in caves. They’re probably online as well.

But if you’re a college grad, you’re probably not all too interested in hearing that you can retweet Conan O’Brien unless you’re going for a career in comedy. Though I use Twitter as a part of representing my identity as a Lafayette student (now alumni) and promoting my blog posts, remember that Twitter should ultimately be a social experience even if you are using it on a professional level. The most important part of Twitter for me is connecting with thought leaders and expand my interests in the field of social media marketing. Depending on what you’re interested in, Twitter is an simple way to keep yourself updated and engaged in what’s going on in relation to your work. There are also many other general benefits to using it professionally such as:

  •  Establishing a quick online presence: most college students and grads don’t really want their Facebook profiles on their resumes, and more often than not you shouldn’t. But for those especially applying in fields where an online presence is beneficial and should be listed on one’s resume, having a Twitter profile is a pretty easy way to show that you’re active online without (hopefully) having to give out any info that could be seen as unprofessional.
  • Engaging with brands informally: Are you looking to work at X company? See what they say and do on their Twitter page. This will also give you an idea of how important social media could be to them. Do they only share their own content or are they actively engaging with customers? How frequent do they post? What is the tone and voice of their posts online? This can be especially helpful if you’re looking for a job and crafting a cover letter as you can use their voice to show that you get the company culture.
  •  Connect to those in your field: For recent grads, it’s always important to figure out who counts as at least one or two steps above you, and how they got to the position that they are at. Especially if you’re hoping to be a trailblazer in your specialty one day, figure out who are some of the people that you might be able to reach out to, and learn more from them. If nothing else, you may also learn a lot by seeing how their handle their social media presence, and what kind of content they find relevant.
  • Improve your writing skills: Can you say something intelligent in 140 characters? Can you do that while sharing articles, including pictures, and commenting on other’s work? I’ll admit, I definitely had trouble doing so when I first started out with Twitter. I always had so much to say, but so little space to say it in. And I really enjoy Twitter for helping me to push to be more concise online. While I’ll never lose my penchant for long-winded thoughts or conversations, there is definitely a useful space for being able to keep things short and sweet. If you have similar trouble, I recommend using Twitter as a practice tool for writing. If you can tell a story in 1000 words or 140 characters, you’re in good shape for a lot of careers.

So after all this, you’re probably thinking what exactly do I have to do to get active? The best medicine for social media often happens through trial and error, but here are a few 200-level tips for those hoping to create a great professional Twitter profile.

Join TweetChat sessions: TweetChats are really amazing opportunities to connect with other thought leaders – or other interested grads – via online. Essentially it’s a live Chat session that can be followed with a specific hashtag. For example, if I wanted to do a live chat of my graduation, I could use a hashtag such as #laf14gradday or something along those lines. For a more comprehensive description check out this great Forbes article on TweetChats. You can easily do one yourself if you’re interested in gaining prominence as an expert in your field. Alternatively, joining other TweetChats is not only a great way to meet thought leaders, but also a potential way to gain more followers depending on the content you publish.

Participate in Follow Friday or look for groups: On most Fridays, you can use the Follow Friday #ff hashtag to find interesting people to follow. If you’re not 100% sure whether that will be too much information to sift through, see if there are groups that you can be added to. For example, I’m part of a social media rising stars group and the HerCampus Blogger Network group on Twitter – and those resources definitely help when trying to find more people within a similar field.

Recognize that you lose a level of brand agency: While it’s up to you to make an amazing profile and start connecting to others, there is a certain level of agency you lose when going online. You can control what you say, but you don’t have agency over what others say about you. While this usually causes more issues for those running company over personal profiles, it’s still a good thing to keep in mind.

Got any more tips on how to run a professional Twitter profile? Leave them in the comments!
And a special congratulations to the Class of 2014!

Why College Students Should Write Every Day

Toby My Dear

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.

– Ernest Hemingway

Maybe it’s the inner humanities and social science major inside me talking, but one of the things I regret most in college is not taking enough time for my writing. I think there are so many hidden benefits to writing, and it’s often overlooked for many people. As someone who has taken on a lot of writing positions through jobs and internships, I know for one thing that writing is an evolving process. I don’t think you ever become ‘perfect’ at writing, you just improve and adapt over time.

And even more unfortunately, people often sell themselves short on their writing abilities. After being a writing associate for Lafayette’s college writing program for a year, I’ve learned that there are many different writing styles based on linguistic styles and cultural perceptions of writing.

But why does this really matter to college students?

Most of our work is comprised of writing research papers, personal statements, and lab reports – so we often feel that writing well is something that we already know. It’s tiring – sometimes I feel that I spend more time writing papers than actually learning about my projects/classes – but improving your writing skills has a lot of benefits.

Personal Development:

For those of you still in the Valentine’s day spirit, writing is a sweet (and less costly and cliche) way of express your feelings for someone. I’m a big fan of letter writing myself, as I believe it is an amazing way to describe yourself and your experiences in a way that doesn’t come across in person.

In college, writing can be a combination of relaxing and creativity. Even if you write on a completely casual level, it can be a much better way of reflecting than just ignoring your own personal thoughts and experiences.

Professional Development:

Cover Letters, Resumes, Business Reports – all of those need a solid handle on business writing. While it can be very time consuming, practicing and attending workshop – or even just reading a few online articles can help improve your stake in the professional world. And since getting a job is the end goal for most college students, it’s a valuable skill to learn while in college.

The job market keeps changing especially in the world of digital media – so its important to learn how to sell yourself via writing in a number of ways – 140 characters, Images, Infographics, and many other styles. That online portfolio won’t write itself unfortunately.

Element of Surprise:

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.

– Robert Benchley

It’s really amazing what kind of things writing will do for you – especially once you put it out there in the world. Writing has connected me with really amazing people online, helped me to educate my fellow students, and even discover my love for marketing.

One of my friends is an English major, but her talents in writing has brought her to the fields of communication, education, and even put her at the forefront of some of our college’s publications.

While the actual ins and outs of writing are something that we discover in time, there are so many fantastic and unconventional things that can happen when you put your writing out there for the world to see. Often enough, many of those things are rejections, but its pretty hard to put anything out into the open and not have it criticized. (Maybe if you cured cancer?)

Regardless, I wish everyone the best with their writing and urge everyone to keep at it, even if you don’t think you’re particularly good at it. You’d be surprised what you’re actually good at when you put your mind to it.

 

4 Trends for U.S. College Students in 2014

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

I hope you’re all as excited for 2014 as I am. I have a strong feeling that this will turn out to be an amazing year. And now that I’m in my last semester of college,  I’m excited to leave my college days behind.

At the same time, I’ve noticed a lot of interesting trends that may have a bigger impact in 2014 especially among the collegiate world. I won’t claim to be an expert in any of these, but here’s my opinion on some new developments for this year.

Finance/Business

Unsurprisingly, I think the days of the unemployed and confused millennial generation are far from over. And I think that above everything, this is going to cause an long-term sense of frugality and savings. Sine the U.S. is an economy that runs significantly on consumption its likely that this will cause long-term problems and heighten the level of concern that most are feeling. But this isn’t anything new – we’ve all been concerned about unemployment rates, spending, and the economy for a while.

What I think will be more surprising is that many college students will take the little money they have a learn how to invest. I think for now most students will invest in stocks with low interest rates, but many of my friends and acquaintances are slowly breaking into the investment world. I’m thrilled about this mainly because I think students are creating their own finances now instead of focusing on what’s been handed to them up until this point. Mashable has already gotten on this trend, and put out a finance guide for millennials.

Social Media

Jobs, jobs, jobs. As many of the people who started out with Facebook/Twitter/etc. move into adulthood, they’re using all of the skills they’ve gained over the years to serve them as well as possible. And what better job can you have then becoming a social media manager? BusinessWeek reports that social media will be one of the largest expanding fields next year, with a ton of positions opening in this field. Some notable titles are, PPC associate, SEO Specialist, Social Media Copywriter/Blogger, etc.

If you’re worried that these positions won’t be taken seriously or paid well, show them exactly how you can benefit the overall brand. I like to think of social media as the full-on marketing plans of the future. If a company wants to stay afloat, they have to bring clear, interesting content within a timely and easy to reach manner. And you can be a forefront of that team. Mind you, its a fast-paced business, so get ready to bring in some interesting hours.

Tech/Computers

As a result of the earlier mentioned frugality and cutting costs among college students, 2014 may be the year where the Apple corporation sees its largest dropoff. While the iPad still dominates everyone else in the tablet market, 2013 had a notable decrease in Apple computers – with an increase in Chromebooks over both Windows and Apple. I predict this will continue into 2014, and not just because students are suddenly tired of Apple.

I think it’ll be because of the education field. Chromebooks in particular are cheap, and many academic institutions are buying them up. My high school recently purchased Chromebooks for our entire campus (mind you, we’re very, very small) but many other institutions are doing the same. And I have a feeling that many college and high school students may stick with these computers for price and logistic reasons. Alternatively, Apple may eventually cut down its price to be more reasonable for lower-income students, but I suspect that will happen 5+ years from now.

Education

Why do something in person if you can digitize it?

This question has been asked of almost every industry, and now it has looped back around to academia. For a number of reasons, I hope that this doesn’t spread to elementary/secondary education, but I think this is a solid question to ask of higher education. As a college student, I respect and understand the value of higher education, but the model is ultimately flawed.  Many people will tell you that college isn’t the purpose of getting a job – but then what is the purpose? Why should anyone spend thousands of dollars for an experience? I think colleges will now have to reinvent their purposes and show exactly what kind of purpose they can bring.

And this will lead to MOOCs for many. Online education has been significant across all ages, but colleges don’t need to reinvent the wheel for these programs. While there has been resistance due to beliefs of the college experience and what that should entail, it’s important for many colleges to acknowledge that having a sense of inclusion can be a significant benefit and help them to get more students on average. I don’t think the traditional college will ever go away, but higher education needs to expand its viewpoint of teaching or else face lower enrollment and tuition crunches.

What trends are you looking forward to in 2014 and beyond?

Did I wear purple lipstick to a job interview?

Alternatively known as my reflections on 2013.

As your typical college student going through an existential crisis, I decided to reflect on how 2013 has gone for me. After listing out things, I’ve come to realize that 2013 was pretty rough. Lots of family and personal crises, and the first semester I was consumed by my fear of almost failing a class ( I didn’t, but that’s not the point. It’s the thought that matters). Also I still don’t have a job yet. Lame.

But, I absolutely loved 2013 and everything it brought to me. Because 2013 has been such as quintessential year of growth for me, that I feel so inspired from it. And that kind of made me re-think all of the career related lessons I’ve learned. And naturally, I want to share them all with you.

1. Never be afraid to take an unconventional path

This summer, I discovered that my grandfather had dementia. At the same time, my grandmother was going through cancer treatments. It hurt me unimaginably, and I ended up resigning from a paid internship in NY to care for him and help her. To compensate I took a virtual internship with a company that I didn’t necessarily feel connected to, and left that early due to the stress of dealing with family issues. It was incredibly stressful and chaotic, and I didn’t have any control over my life at the time. So I did what 95% of college students would do: I started a blog. I volunteered at my local library. I networked with some pretty interested and powerful contacts. I started learning Chinese vocab. I practiced coding HTML and Python on Codecademy.

And I had one of the most fulfilling summers of my life. I gained tons of skills, experience, and learned more about my personality and self. I learned that I actually kind of liked this whole programming thing. And that I love working with people more than I thought. These experiences helped me to become a more well-rounded person, and may even become influential as I fill out even more job applications.

2. Desperation is not the new black.

As mentioned in my earlier example, I’ve become a bit more comfortable with chaos. A lot more comfortable. Even though I’m not a big fan of it. Yet that level of chaos has helped me to become a lot more flexible with my attitude and opinions. And when conducting my job search, it’s helped me to be more open-ended and targeted. To elaborate, it’s allowed me to realize that my skills can transfer over to many fields, instead of pigeonholing myself while also realizing that I can’t apply to everything and hope that it sticks. I did that earlier in the semester, and surprisingly only heard back from one or two places (who would hire a financial analyst who looks miserable at the thought of working for their company? I wouldn’t).

Be segmented in your job search. Yes you can do many things, but do you want to? Allow for some chaos, but don’t rush to find just anything in the hopes that it’ll lead to a job.

3. At the same time, come up with a money making backup plan.

I wish following your dreams made money, but not always. One of my friends graduated the top of her class, but tried to find a decent writing position in NY. It took her a year, as she tirelessly interned until she found a paid position. At the same time, she could afford to stay with her family and work for no pay for over a year until she located a job. Many of us can’t. So if you’re in the latter category, figure out a backup plan for making a living until you get a substantial job. Mine is to work as a temp accountant. No joke.  Until I decide whether I want to go to grad school for econ or accounting, I have to make money at some point.

Don’t wait until the last minute for these decisions. Even if your plans are ‘become an entry-level barista at Starbucks’, good for you. Do what will further your long-term plans. I wish interning for free was an option for the masses, but until that happens, I recommend finding a decent wage and using the off hours for the job search.

4. You’ll make mistakes during your job search. Cry it out and move on.

This semester I went into an interview with a major company, walked out later on, and realized 5 hours later that one of my job descriptions had a typo. I knew that I hadn’t gotten the job anyway, but I spent three days mourning over my mistake. And it sucked. Because even though I wish I had done better, I didn’t. And sometimes you have to suck it up, prep for the next time and move on.

5. Networking is (can be) fun. Play to your strengths.

I’m a pretty introverted and shy person, so I’d rather write to a person over talk to them. But that’s not really how life works. It involves talking to a lot of people, and I’m sure we all have heard that networking is the only true way to get a job, 95% of jobs aren’t posted online, etc. I honestly have little clue whether these facts are 100% correct, but I do know that I have learned a lot from networking, and it really depends on how you approach it. I like to think of networking as writing a biography or industry profile: I’m writing a story about a person or industry, so I need to learn everything that they have to share. Approach people with a wide sense of interest and respect, and you’d be surprised on what you’ll find.

6. Take a break. Remind yourself why you are amazing.

I would’ve never gotten through the job search process if it wasn’t for my friends and family. Having people that I can sit back and talk to when things get crazy is an undeniable resource. I have to pull through for many reasons, but the strength of those I’ve surrounded myself with has helped immensely.

7. Gather all of the career-related materials you have. Learn. Study. Practice.

I’m currently reading Can I wear my nose ring to the interview? by Ellen Gordon Reeves,  Resume 101 by Quentin J. Schultze, many other career books, and perusing TIME Magazine, the Economist, and the Wall Street Journal. Why? Because there’s always room for improvement (though that may be a typical INFP thing. Not sure). It’s not that I think reading these materials will give me any incredible insight, but you never know what might come up in a job interview, networking session, or a chance meeting. When I eventually do get hired, I want to give my company my all.

Well that, and I just like reading.

What are your tips for job searching?

Interviewing & Public Speaking for Introverts: A Guide

In my opinion, one of my best and worst qualities is that I’m an introvert. I love being an introvert, but even throughout college it’s been difficult. It’s hard to get people to understand that you may want to spend a Saturday night reading a good book or watching videos online without anyone else surrounding you. And since college more than anywhere else will force you to be an extroverted introvert (i.e. participate in a lot of clubs/activities/committees/etc.) sometimes I need my weekends/weeknights as a cooling off procedure.

Gator34

Don’t worry guys, the gator is shy as well. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to networking, job interviews, and public speaking, it’s a completely different ballpark. While there’s been plenty of articles written to show how “socially inept” the Millennial generation is because of social media and our propensity to take selfies, post our entire lives online, and feed into our narcissistic personalities, I’d argue that most societies still celebrate extroverted personalities. And that makes sense. Very little would get done w/o great speakers or those who are willing to be active talkers, but sometimes it’s frustrating that the nature of quiet isn’t appreciated. This is very apparent with public speaking and job interviews, which come off as kryptonite to many introverts. So for all of those ambitious introverts like myself, here are a few tips for your next big speaking event:

1) Utilize your body language

Power poses are one of the best things you can do to gain confidence before and during an interview. Relax your shoulders, position your feet towards the person (or people) you’re speaking to, and converse in a lower tone. Especially for women, many of us tend to raise the pitch of our voice when we’re nervous or to appear more feminine. I’ve done this many times myself. Don’t second guess your abilities or feel insecure. They wouldn’t have bothered to call you back for an interview or asked you to give a speech if there wasn’t something of interest in your profile that stood out to them, so be confident and speak in a clear, deep tone. Additionally, practice power-boosting poses. Stand up, put your hands on your hips, and focus on building confidence before beginning an interview or speech.

2) Always keep eye contact

This one probably doesn’t need explanation, but it’s a hard one. Your friends and family won’t notice if you lost eye contact, and most of the time you’re so comfortable talking to them that direct eye contact comes naturally. If you feel yourself slipping during an interview, pause, take a deep breath and/or close your eyes, and then resume. It’s better to make a semi-dramatic pause as a way to collect your thoughts instead of loosing eye contact and seeming unsure of yourself.

3) If you make a mistake, breathe and start again

At some point, you’ll have an awkward bout of silence. People will laugh when you didn’t mean to be funny. You’ll trip. Life goes on. Most interviewers are empathetic and understand this may be your first time dealing with this situation. Either way, it’s OK. Breathe. Relax. Say, “Let me clarify that a bit more/Let me start over/etc.” No one wants to deal with embarrassment, but you’ll be fine. Learn from it, and move on.

4) Fake it till you make it

A lot of people have problems with interviewing because they don’t know how to sell themselves. So think about it: how badly do you want this position? I’m not asking you to fake a personality or be disingenuous, but if faking how excited you are is the best way for you to overcome these issues, then do it. Pretend you’re meeting your favorite celebrity, or you’re auditioning for a role. If you’re giving a speech, imagine that you have the best product in the world, and the only way it will reach people is by hearing your words. Or pretend you’re discussing a new idea to your friends, and focus on your personal brand. At the end of the day, there’s a thousand people who have the qualifications and experience, but only you can bring yourself to the table. Show them your personality and skills, and don’t shy away from showing how great you are.

If you have any other tips on interviews/public speaking, be sure to share them in the comments!

The Minority Millennial: Intern Extraordinaire, Part I

internship

The Life and Times of Many Interns (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Note: This is a post for everyone that has done an internship, or for those who are hoping to do one soon. 

Here’s the facts about internships:

  • Interns come in the paid and unpaid varieties. You can naturally assume which one is coveted, but even the paid ones are struggling to cover the cost of living (as not all of them pay a decent wage).
  • There’s been some debate on the legality of unpaid interns, and whether their exploitative or helpful. Due some of the legal claims, this may change the nature of unpaid internships within the next 5-10 years.
  • For most majors, internships are the new reality. The recommendation is to do 2-3 before graduating, but it depends on a lot of factors.
English: CBO interns

English: CBO interns (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So for students, finding an internship is a must. But for many, working for free is financially impossible. I completely understand, as I’m only able to do it because I’m working roughly 4 jobs every semester. For those worried about the intern squeeze, here are my top tips for you:

Set goals, set money, and make a choice

If you don’t have the money for an unpaid internship, don’t kid yourself. Look for available resources such as if your school offers stipends. There’s also INROADS for minority students looking for potential work. Many schools require internships – and you have to pay for it. Make sure you know the basics as early as possible, and then create a budget

Paid Intern? Maximize your time

You’ll hear a lot of discussion about it, but there’s little benefit to being a paid X intern at prestigious company if you’re just shuffling papers all day. Don’t be afraid to speak out to your coordinator, and ask if you can attend a marketing team meeting, take a day to observe the trading floor, or shadow the programming staff for a day. It’s great that you’re being compensated for your time, but remember that most paid internships are similar to entry level positions: they’re testing you to see if you’re a good fit for the company. Take the initiative.

Unpaid? Budget, negotiate, maximize, and power through

Under any conditions, please do NOT take an unpaid internship and stay with it if you think your time isn’t being maximize. There’s a lot of talk about not burning bridges, and many will tell you to stick with the internship for recommendations, but for those who can’t afford to provide free labor for little benefit, it’s not worth it. A mediocre recommendation from a supervisor that barely involved you within the company is of little benefit.

That said, don’t scoff at the internship immediately because it’s unpaid. I’ve had to work during all of my unpaid internships, but I can definitely attest that most of them gave me valuable skills that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else (like interviewing the head of the American Firefighters Association at a rally in Philadelphia).  But I do think that many of them can be questionable. Ultimately it’s a judgement call, and one that we have to make with little preparation.

Word of Caution: While the debate concerning unpaid interns is ongoing, I severely caution potential interns to throughly research companies, their reviews, and the corporate culture before taking on an internship. It is not worthwhile to be exploited, and protect yourself from taking on an exhausting and fruitless task by defining your goals and keeping in close contact with the media and your career center. And even then, the judgment calls will have to be on you.

Next week, I’ll post part II of the Intern Extraordinaire, giving you some more tips on finding, choosing, and surviving your internship!

5 Habits of Highly Effective 20 Year Olds

Churchill College, October 2009

Churchill College, October 2009 (Photo credit: Caramdir)

I’ve already mentioned my love of Stephen Covey on this blog, and his most famous book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I think it’s a great book, and while I didn’t agree with some of his personal philosophies, it’s definitely a book that everyone should read at least once. And because I’m at the ripe age of 20, I decided that maybe there are different measures that we all should be taking. This list is geared towards college students, but I’m sure plenty of people would be happy to give it a whirl.

1. Finances are more important than grades

I know, blasphemy. But once college is over, your GPA may be a foot in the door, but all of the important things (buying/renting a house, taking out loans, purchasing investments) depend on your credit score and your managing of personal finances. Many banks offer programs to help college students manage the brand new world (for some) of finances, and if not, see if your school offers any courses on it. Your bank won’t care about your 3.9 GPA, so start building a good credit score now.

2. It’s time to be something else than the drunkest girl (or guy) at the party

You, I, nearly every college student have had those moments. And if you haven’t, congrats! You have much more common sense then me. But regardless of your class year, you’ve probably figured out the drinking scene. Some will claim mastery level, I’m sure. Take those hours and try to find out someone more productive. I have confidence you can do it.

3. Decide on your (temporary) career path

If your major doesn’t lead to a direct career path or is in a field with slow growth, plan now on how you are going to get there. Interested in being a fashion journalist but can’t find job offers? Take a job at Starbucks/Target/IHOP and volunteer or intern at a newspaper company or fashion house. I know plenty of people who took multiple unpaid internships and didn’t have at least a part time job, and complained about finances. Well, duh. Customer service isn’t a glamorous lifestyle, but neither is making $0 per year.

4. Cut the drama

You’ve probably gone through the friendship fights, downward spirals, and disappointing events. Crying on people’s shoulders and causing chaos is fun for a while, but your potential employers probably won’t be so mirthful. There’s no need for constant drama. Take that energy and network instead.

5. Know that it’s OK not to have all of the answers

Kind of funny that I’m saying this given the title of the post, but you just turned twenty (or twenty-something). While I hate when people use the excuse of being young to ignore Kristen Stewart levels of scandal, you are young. It’s OK to panic sometimes. And you don’t have to have all or any of the answers right now. You just have to keep searching. Don’t let the unknown weigh you down. Embrace it.

Factors contributing to someone's credit score...

Factors contributing to someone’s credit score, for Credit score (United States). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Intern Anomaly

The Intern Anomaly

For all of you struggling college students out there, this link gives an interesting insight into internship opportunities related to the federal government. Personally, I believe that the logic could be similarly tied to non-profit and for-profit institutions as well. I’m currently participating in a non-federal virtual summer internship at the moment, and I’ve had to critically reflect on my time as an intern, and assess the level of experience I’ve gained working as a virtual and non-virtual intern (I’m also interning at my local public library this summer). In my opinion, the quality of an internship is absolutely tied to three factors:

1) the effort an intern is willing to make in a company/institution

2) the desire of the company to educate its interns

3) the ability between both parties to evaluate and revise their current procedures if any conflicts come up

Without all three of these options, I don’t believe that an internship can successfully take place. I was lucky that with one of my internships this summer, I felt that I could carefully discuss matters with my supervisor if any issues or conflicts arose. Plus, the general experience of helping people led me to realize what I wanted to pursue in a career, and influenced my decision to apply to graduate school for library and information science.

At the same time, I believe that completing a variety of internships is the best way of figuring out exactly what you want to do. It’s a way of understanding the trials, joys, and ultimately disappointments that come with working in a professional atmosphere. While I may have done things a bit differently if my life situations had been less complicated, I believe that all students should have a mix of physical and virtual internships, especially for those of us who can’t afford to travel long distances or pursue unpaid opportunities during the summer.

What do you all think?

Pokemon and Persistence

Or how a strange combination of Pokemon, stress, and contemplation is ridiculously relevant to my 20 year old life. 

Image Copyright mynintendonews.comImage just so you know 🙂

Recently, I heard the Pokemon song again. I’ve also had an increasingly rough semester, an even rougher summer, and I decided to make a few lifestyle and career changes that may completely alter who I will be in the near future. In the interests of not sounding melodramatic, I’ve been busy.

So I’ve been reading into a variety of study materials, as the decision to attend graduate school means that I want to refocus and double my study efforts. If I’m going to be a Librarian or better yet, Information Professional, I need to be someone who absorbs information fully and completely. A lot of this is due to a book I’ve recently gotten into, called Study Smarter, Not Harder, which I would recommend to anyone interested in improving their study skills. I plan to do a review of it on this blog later on.

This book taught me about the importance and interesting skill of Zen Meditation, and creating ‘preparation strategies’ in order to conquer big hurdles such as studying, essay-writing, and test-taking. Naturally, I thought of level grinding. But what does this have to do with Pokemon?

Studying, oddly is exactly like level grinding

So you have a team of 6 Pokemon, and you’ve been training to get to the next gym. You rotate through a different array of Pokemon to build up each of their strengths, and you rest at the health center in between battles. In terms of studying, think of it like this: There are reportedly 8 different types of intelligences humans have. These are linguistic, mathematical/logical, musical, visual/spatial, naturalistic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and physical. And attribute theses to different Pokemon types. I’ve decided to correspond intrapersonal with the Fairy-type because well, it’s funny. Clearly no one has a team of just one type, and you need a wide variety of types to tackle different gyms or tests. So in a way, everyone is a ‘math-type’ or ‘language-type’, also it’s incredibly important to grind/study with those skills at the right times. Just one or the other will give you 0 benefits. It’s a combination that ends up putting you in the right place. Being a math-type will help me to do well in Economics classes, but its my linguistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills that may land me a job or internship.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself. As cheesy as it sounds, go and catch them all.

I want to be the very best, like no one ever was

When I was younger, I loved the Pokemon Anime. I wanted to be just like Ash, and be the best. But be the very best at what? It’s somewhat impossible to be the best at everything, so what was my plan or goal? As much as I loathe to admit, I’m pretty sure he had better goals than I did. “I want to collect all of the Pokemon” is still a better aspiration than “I want to be awesome”. I need to refocus my goals like he did. And as a future information professional, my goal is to be better at learning. I want to absorb information with a passion and with a sense of intuition. I want to be a metadata specialist, and brush up on my business and economic skills along the way. So for all of you college students out there, go back to your inner Pokemon roots and be the very best.

And if nothing else, I hope that you decide to use this message and tell people that you’re a [insert skill here] type. Because you are, and you can hone and collect them all if you put your mind to it. Best of luck!