Networking is for Everyone – Including Students!

Social media is changing the way we network for career opportunities.  But we can’t forget to develop our in-person networks as well.  This is especially true for high school and college students.  As you think about career directions, this is the time to do some explorations and especially if you are not working during the summer.

Tap into those networks that are closest to you.  Parents and their employers, extended family members and their employers are all great places to begin.  Find out if positions exist within their organizations that you may interest you.  If so, a quick phone call or introduction followed by a couple of questions could well set the stage for an opportunity to spend a few hours or even a week exploring the career options related to the career you shadowed.  By shadowing, you have also extended your own network for future opportunities.  Career shadowing experiences help you to determine if there is more you want to know about a career or if it was just a whim.

In years past we only heard about networking as a business tool.  No longer!  It is a tool for everyone and students are no exception.  Whether you are building a network of coaches, admissions contacts or career professionals, networking is powerful.  While Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp are all proven social media networking tools, don’t overlook the obvious.  Check out your own family network and the network of businesses and professionals used by your family.  It’s all part of promoting yourself, building experiences, eliminating the potential of stumbling into a profession you later wish you had gone another direction, and creating a path of satisfaction and success for yourself.

Contact me if you need more information or have questions.  Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours!

Your Social Image…Everything Counts

I spoke just last night to a group of high school students and their parents regarding choosing college majors and careers.  As part of that presentation, I talked about the importance of preparing now and part of the preparation needed to be addressing their “social image.”  I defined their social image as anything from email address to social networks and chat rooms.  We talked about the impact on college admissions as well as employment.  This is a message I have carried and delivered for the last several years.  In fact, one of my blog posts May 2012 was titled Your Image to Others.

Today I opened my iPad, went to CNN to start a little light reading while I ate my lunch and was horrified to read one of the headlines, Sexting Scandals: How They Will Affect Students’ FuturesMy heart sank, but it just affirmed that my message was spot on and I hoped that those students and parents last night took the message to heart and answered my Call to Action.  You can click the link to read the entire article.

Everything Counts!  You can’t go through the technologically driven lives we are faced with afraid to act, respond, and click, but you must “click responsibly.”  Clicking includes taking photos, sending messages via email, text or any other social media mode.  That little voice of right and wrong or maybe even an “Oooops” needs to be awakened and put on full alert.  There is too much at stake.

 

Student “To Do” List

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day to day demands that we lose sight of the where we are in the big picture. For high school and college students that location can be critical.  So in an effort to re-focus and clearly identify where you are, let’s look at the resources.

As a high school student with college on the horizon, you need to assess your grades. On-line access through district portals makes that possible.  Do you use it?  Are there patterns in your grades like low tests, or quizzes, missing assignments?  This is a good time to evaluate where you are so that there is a good outcome for the semester.  After all, many of you are nearing midterm and you have time to correct problem areas.

College students, you are in a similar position. You have on-line access to grades, you can see patterns of performance and you have time to address problem areas.  Time management has a direct impact on your grades and a vast majority of college students face dropping out because of poor time management that manifests itself in low grades or even probation and loss of scholarships.

However, for you, there are some resources and practices that are different from high school. If you need assistance, check your professor’s office hours and make an appointment.  It will help your status in class as they will see you as an individual who is interested and one who cares about their class performance.  You can also check out math or writing labs that provide student-to-student tutorial services free.  There are lots of services available, but you have to take action and take advantage of them.  Contact me if you need help navigating the system.

Know where you are so that there are no surprises.  Assess your situation and make a “To Do” list to ensure action and accomplishment.

Are You the Best You Can Be?

Whether you follow football or not it is hard to escape the hype of the Super Bowl.  I happen to love it.  Who’s the best quarterback, the best rookie, the best commercial, the best Super Bowl party food, the best over the top fan attire….I love it all.  It expresses a passion.  And whether it is a hobby, an ethnic food, team logo wear or the work you do, passion adds to the enjoyment of life and helps us to be the best we can be.  It helps us connect with others that have similar interests.

High school students, if you don’t know what your passion is, explore more and find it!  Colleges and universities want to know what moves you and why their institution will be a good fit for you.

College students, whether you are applying for an internship or getting ready to graduate and applying for that first “just out of college” job, that potential employer wants to know that you have passion too.  Happy employees make for more productive employees.  Demonstrate your passion for the company you are looking to embrace.

Even you guys in the workforce, are you demonstrating a passion for your work?  If not, why not?  Sometimes we still enjoy our work but the balance of life brings us to a place that seems to have diminished that passion.  What do you need to do to rekindle it?

Life is a balance.  Being the best we can be includes enjoying the work we do, balancing it with spending time with family, friends or activities we enjoy and paying attention to the passions that make us better people.  Are you the best you can be?

So Incredibly Awesome

Have you ever been to a party, restaurant or buffet where you felt so overwhelmed by all of the incredible choices you simply had no idea where to begin? Do you have a favorite store like Bass Pro, Apple, Nordstrom or Barnes and Noble filled with those things you love to browse?  Do you usually begin your meandering through that place with a plan that includes some random wandering coupled with a distinct methodology so you don’t miss anything?

That’s how I feel about the new Highlands Ability Battery Career Exploration tool. It is so incredibly awesome!  When you take the assessment, your data gets linked to careers that are a good match for your natural abilities and provides an amazing array of opportunities to be explored. That array includes everything from careers right out of high school to careers requiring a PhD.  Perhaps you want a career with hands-on experiences but you don’t want 4 years of college, what’s available and a good match?

In my career as an educator I have watched the educational pendulum swing from promoting vocational education to dismantling vocational programs and promoting college for everyone. Now we hear STEM, STEAM and all the hype of the pendulum swinging yet again.  The reality is that neither vocational training nor college education is for everyone, but everyone has a place and everyone needs to be prepared to take the next step.  But it requires purposeful thinking and purposeful actions.

Having a career or multiple careers that you truly enjoy is so incredibly awesome. Are you ready to take the next step?  Contact me.

Owning Your Future

It’s back to school for high school and college students.  But they are not the only group that need to think about “back to school”.  All career professionals should be thinking about increasing their own value in the work place.  Generally speaking, there are sectors of the work world that refer to continuing your education or training for licensing as Professional Development or Continuing Education Units (CEU).

  • Physicians and nurses
  • Attorneys
  • Massage Therapists
  • Teachers and Administrators
  • Realtors and CPA’s

This list is certainly not complete, but you get the idea.  Some professions require that within a determined number of years, you are required to participate in classes or conferences in an effort to keep current in your field.  Some industries pay for their employees to attend these conferences or courses while others leave it up to the individual.  The important point here is WHY would you leave it up to someone else?

In a changing economic market it makes it more challenging for individuals to quantify their value to a company, but it pays dividends if you invest in yourself.  Firms, companies and organizations have scaled back their resources to cover the costs associated with on-going training for employees, but the value of you investing in you is enormous!  It not only increases your own intellectual value, but it elevates the employer’s perception of you as an individual and your willingness to increase your own potential.

Making decisions about college and career is never easy.  But there are things you can do to make it an easier process and a fun journey.

High school students….find a way to career shadow or volunteer!

College students….you too can volunteer, shadow or intern in an unpaid experience!

Returning to the workforce….take a class, shadow a friend, volunteer, FIND YOUR PASSION!

Most important, Own Your Future!

Need help figuring it out, click here to contact me!

Finding the Balance

 

As a child or even teen, our parents help us define the balance in our lives.  But once we head off to school or out into the world of work, that balance becomes our responsibility. 

 

Once upon a time our balance was structured around our need to eat, sleep and get our daily dose of exercise, but……notice that word came up again, life got a little more demanding and the balance included homework.  On we went into the world of high school, college and eventually work.  At every step along the way, life brought new opportunities, more challenges and greater need for balance.  But, those increased responsibilities, opportunities and challenges undermined our attempts at balance and in some cases, they may even remove balance from our radar.

 

What are the “buts” impeding your balance?  After all, having balance in our lives helps influence our sense of satisfaction and success.  For some, balance includes a calm and blissful state brought on by organization and rhythm in life.  For others it is a constant stream of thoughts, actions and involvements that keep one in motion.  What is balance for you?  What is getting in the way?  What “but” can you address in your daily routine and use to assist in finding your balance?

 

Break It Down and Create a Focus

Adult workers often talk about professional development or continuing education units and the associated costs, benefits or requirements for some professions.  However, I don’t think I have ever heard anyone reference high school students who prepare for college as undergoing professional development.  But that is exactly what it is!  There are costs associated and benefits to be had through professional preparation for college whether you do it yourself or hire a professional.

On the academic side, PSAT/SAT/ACT prep courses are all a form of professional development.  Parents invest significant dollars in order for their son or daughter to increase their score potential.  The investment is not a guarantee, but it enhances the probability.  So it is important to plan wisely and get the biggest bang for your buck.  When I am asked by parents or students, “When do we start,”  I always say, “Middle school.”  When the shock wears off, we get down to business and begin to plan from where they are at that moment.  But here is a tip for getting the best outcome with the end in mind.

Create a calendar that targets test dates and work backward.  Identify the necessary enrollment date and get registered on time to avoid late fees or missed application dates for colleges.  Using these dates, work backward again and identify the necessary time frame to participate in a prep course or private tutoring so that you have time to take practice tests and target areas needing improvement. That’s how to get the biggest bang for the buck!  While this only targets test dates, ultimately, you have already marked your calendar with application dates and can pace yourself accordingly.  Break it down and create a focus.

The world of work has changed radically over the last 5 years and it is more important than ever that everyone look at ways in which they can enhance their own marketability.  In order to do that, adults, college students and high school students need to look at professional development with a new perspective.  How can you invest in yourself, your loved ones or your employees to enhance marketability or job performance?  Need help? Click here to contact me for more information regarding your own professional development.

Be Aware and Be Proactive with Your Social Media

With everyone either back to school or getting there immediately after Labor Day, this is a great time to remind all students, college and high school, YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE FOLLOWS YOU.  No. I am not shouting at you in text format, but I am making a point.  If you (or your friends) blog it, post it on Facetime, Twitter, Instagram, or any social network, you are vulnerable to future employers, mortgage officers and credit opportunities, college admissions, and the list goes on.  Be aware and be proactive.

How many hours a month do you spend on the Internet?  How much time are you using it for education, entertainment, work, purchasing services or products, or connecting with friends and family?  The average American spends 32 hours per month on the Internet.  A tidbit I learned on a webinar hosted by Juicy Results, a terrific web marketing company.   And as I thought about that number, I realized I spend that much time per week and more on the Internet!  If the nature of jobs and careers in the future is changing, then this is important information to know.

Do you have a social media presence?  What does it look like?  Universities and employers alike are using social media to “check out” their candidates.  Everything from your email address and voice message to your pictures and comments on the Internet are available for public scrutiny and feed into your public image or “social entity.”

Just as different people have different perspectives on issues, different generations view and address issues differently.  In regards to social media, there is a great article and some interesting data that specifically address the issues of school and job impact.  Click here to read the article and be sure to scroll down to table 2B and note the difference between Baby Boomers and Echo Boomers.  While an Echo Boomer may see nothing wrong with a particular message posted on a social media site, the individual responsible for your admission to college or hiring you may be a Baby Boomer and the posting is offensive.

Now ask yourself the question again and consider who may be on the other side of the computer monitor checking you out.  What does your “social entity” look like?  What do you need to do to create the kind of social image that characterizes you but doesn’t jeopardize future opportunities?  Contact me if you need assistance or want more information.

Unexpected Gems

Most everyone has walked through a grocery store or Bed, Bath and Beyond and seen the OXO display for kitchen gadgets.  They are great tools!  But recently, in an advertisement for their products, they posted words of wisdom from their interns for rising college seniors.  Pretty clever marketing!  They specialize in kitchen tools and shared some “out of the box” thinking on their part when it comes to tools.  Enjoy, and best of luck for a great year to all my college freshmen!

 Sage College Advice from our Interns 

 We polled these rising seniors in between meetings to share some of their best advice for easing into college:

  • Take advantage of every opportunity you are presented with.
  • Step out of your comfort zone to try new things and meet new people – you might be surprised with the results!
  • If you’re struggling with work, ask for help.
  • Always have disposable cups, plates, etc. for ordering in!
  • Bring an extra set of sheets for laundry day.
  • Set rules with your roommate on the first day – even though it will be awkward, establishing them early will avoid conflicts.
  • Try not to get too stressed. You’re entering four of the most exciting years of your life!