5 Key Steps to Help You Capitalize on Your Opportunity

Do you click on those internet articles that begin with “10 Things You…” or “The Top 10 Places….”?  I find myself intrigued at times and just have to go for it.  But the truth be told, sometimes all we want is something short and to the point.  So my message this time is for Students…both high school and college.  If you anticipate needing a job or internship for next summer, now is the time to begin making a plan to make connections and get on the radar while you are on Winter Break.  So, here are the 5 Key Steps to Help You Capitalize on Your Opportunity:

  1. Identify where you will or want to be during the summer.  As a high school student that is probably at home, but for college students you may identify a different location.
  2. Identify your area of interest for work experience or an internship in your intended field.
  3. Identify who you know personally in that industry or find out who the industry players are that you don’t know yet.  Key word, yet!
  4. Create your Contact List including name, name of business, email address, phone, physical location and be sure to leave space to make notes of your contact with them and future opportunities.
  5. Identify your available dates and times and take action to set up appointments with those individuals or businesses as soon as your Break begins.

Capitalize on your opportunity to secure a summer job or internship by creating a plan using these 5 Key Steps.  Even if a business isn’t hiring yet it is never too early to develop a relationship with the hiring agent.  That way, you get ahead of the competition, create a relationship with someone who may provide that great opportunity, and you still have plenty of time to enjoy that Winter Break!  Organization using 5 Key Steps = SUCCESS!

It’s All About Perspective

As high school students and parents as well as some college students consider their next year of school or the path of a career, it’s important to think strategically about the investment in a college degree or technical school. After all, they are businesses.  While they intend to educate and provide opportunities for future employment and lifestyle, the reality is they must stay competitive to keep the doors open.  That means they must run it like a business, big business.

Recently The Wall Street Journal  interviewed Brian Casey, President of DePauw University in Indiana, a well ranked liberal arts institution. While he is talking about the importance of liberal arts education in today’s job market, he is also addressing the university’s need to remain competitive using a variety of recruitment strategies.  They are two different perspectives for promoting an institution or business and both are important to their survival.  But what perspective is most important to you?

When you think about your own strategy for being competitive in a job market, a college market and career path, it’s your perspective that is most important.  After all, they are your dollars going into their business.  Whether a liberal arts background, specific university program or technical school are best for you depends on many factors.  But rest assured they will all do their best to sell you on their institution.  So make sure you do your homework.

Need help navigating the college admissions process? Contact me

Need help figuring out your career path? Contact me.

Either way, click here to read the article and be more informed.

Change – The Art of Improving Performance

For the first time since 2005, College Board is making changes with the SAT.  Well, actually, Educational Testing Services made the changes as offered through College Board.  But, all students and colleges really care about is the new format, expectations, and outcomes.

The test goes into action spring 2016, so sophomores and freshmen get ready!  The changes are intended to capitalize on student learning in class and less on how well they are coached to perform on a standardized test.  That doesn’t mean that preparation isn’t still important in the way of test prep programs, but it does mean that more is at stake in the classroom and that coaching will be even more dependent on process thinking and less on strategies for guessing.   For now, check out the update at www.collegeboard.org/delivering-opportunity/sat/redesign.

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.

4 Considerations to Evaluate Summer Needs

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”  – Mark Twain

Whether you are a high school student or a college student, you are on a path that can provide enormous opportunity and create background experiences that set you up for success.  So, as part of the plan, begin by evaluating your needs.

As a student, there are 4 Needs to consider when planning your summer.  Keep in mind, your plan may include parallel paths to meet these Needs.

1 – Financial Need – Do you need to make money for spending cash or are you in need of making money to be able to make expenses when you return to school?  Do you need to make money to pay for college?  If “financial need” is a primary concern for your summer, then getting started on your pursuit of summer employment is an immediate need given the competition that will be out there.

2 – Experience Need – Experience presents itself in many forms.  It can be an internship, externship, or participation with an organization.  Internships may be with or without pay, but the big payoff is experience with a company that can build toward future employment with them or at least the benefit of learning what you do or don’t want to do in your future.  Participation with an organization may be in the form of an athletic team and building skills and stats toward college or professional opportunities.  Either way, the experience is your primary need.

3 – Volunteer Need – This one is of particular importance to high school students but should not be dismissed by the college student.  Volunteering speaks to your character.  Many high schools require community service as part of their graduation requirements.  Universities look at volunteerism as one element of consideration when admitting students.  Companies look at your community involvement as commitment, community outreach and opportunities to be seen as a positive extension of their own business.  Assess your schedule and your need to increase volunteer capacity.

4 – Education Need – Do you need to take summer courses?  Does your graduation date indicate that you are on track with completing your diploma or degree on-time?  Do you want to get ahead on your timeline?  Assessing your summer needs for education is important for maintaining an “on-time” graduation date.

Evaluate your needs and take action now!  Break it down and break away from the pack!


Time Management – Putting You Ahead of the Game

Time management is one of the most critical issues facing college students, so you can’t wait to get there to get it under control.  It is also an imperative for being an effective employee.  If time management is a challenge for you, get a planner/day timer and start using it.  Begin with the end in mind!

College students who are seniors and facing graduation and the workforce in the next 2-3 months, you should be in “full pursuit” of that 1st full time job.  Attending college job fairs on campus or in your local area are good options and are all well underway.  Don’t forget those career-finder websites, but remember that if you use a headhunter service, ask about the fees!

College juniors, you may not be ready to secure that first post-graduation job, but attending job fairs is quite beneficial from the experience perspective.  Get out there and see who is hiring, who might have internships for senior year, and the projections for hiring next year.  Get business cards from those whom you are interested in maintaining contact.  It’s a great way to build a relationship!

High school juniors, do you need to register for the SAT or ACT?  The opportunities are diminishing for this year, so manage your time effectively.  Seniors, many of you are in wait mode and anxious for acceptance letters.  But that doesn’t mean you are on cruise control.  Grades need to stay strong, and if you are undecided about those colleges, be sure to do your homework evaluating the programs at each and making note of potential scholarships once accepted.  Need to connect your natural abilities to a major area of study?  Contact me.

Managing your time can put you ahead of the game, not just in the game.  The competition is steep out there, so begin with the end in mind!  Eye on the prize!

5 Tips for Locating Internships, Externships and Career Shadowing

Internships, externships and career shadowing are great experiences for learning, vetting out what career possibilities make sense to you, and establishing links for future employment.  But I get asked, “What is the difference between internship, externship, and job shadow?”  Typically, externships are much shorter and unpaid.  They can be a couple of days to a few weeks in length and are primarily job shadowing experiences.  The extern is an observer.   A job shadow is typically a one day event and again, the individual is an observer.  However, an internship is usually at least a semester in length and may or may not be a paid position.  The intern is assigned duties that mirror what an employee in the position would be expected to do on a regular basis.

So how do you go about finding these great opportunities?  Here are 5 Tips for locating or creating an internship, externship or career shadow experience:

#1 – Employers of your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or any extended family member.  Activate your network!  Remember, it may mean you create the experience on paper and present the proposal.

#2 – Family friends and their businesses

#3 – Businesses you frequent and like their product or service

#4 – City or County government offices

#5 – Quintcareers is a great website with links to tons of opportunities, job skill and interview recommendations as well as a zip code activated link for locating internship opportunities in your desired hometown or college town.  Internmatch is another as is Summerinternships.com

Got a great internship story?  Comment here and generate ideas for others.  Or, if your company hires Interns or promotes shadowing experiences, please share those as well.  It’s all about networking!

3 Actions for a Productive Outcome

Regardless of where you are in your life – high school, college or workforce – these 3 Actions can be put to the test for a Productive Outcome. It takes about 20 minutes, so ask yourself, “Do I have 20 minutes to put into creating the Outcome I want?” If so, get started:

1- Assess – Take five minutes to assess/write down where you are at this moment in time as well as what you want the outcome to be 4, 8 or 12 months from now.  It might be a grade point average, a performance level on the field, resume’ building or job search.

2 – Create – Take 10 minutes to create a timeline in which you realistically identify points of progress.  They may be grading periods, games or matches, or resume’ and interview intervals.  Points of progress help to steer you toward the Productive Outcome and maintain focus.

3 – Visualize – Take 5 minutes to visualize yourself achieving the Outcome you want.  Again, it doesn’t matter if the outcome is in the classroom, on the field, or in the board room, the important factor is to see you achieving that outcome.  It is important to play that visualization over and over in your mind and reduce the negative influences we all experience day-to-day.  Like the points of progress, visualizing keeps us focused with a positive energy.  Tim Kremer, MySpiritofGolf, works with professional golfers all over the country in helping them to maximize their talent through redefining how they see themselves and their efforts.  His work is extraordinary, grounded in brain research and transferable to most anything we do in our lives.  Take a look, http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=977dd3b2d977677c5205f00cb&id=204d6c6cbf

So, 20 minutes, 3 Actions, Productive Outcome.  Ready, set, get going!

Six Considerations in Choosing a College Major

The following post has been one of my most frequently referenced and visited blog posts in the past 2 years.  I hope it provides good information for those new to my work, but for those returning, I hope you always get a new little something out of the information or perhaps even a gentle reminder.  Happy 2013!

1 – Family Influence – Throughout our lives, parents and family members influence our considerations for college, advanced degrees and career outcomes.  Their involvement and discussions may or may not support specific areas of study the student finds of interest.  The work done by parents or extended family members may set an expectation for the college student and therefore the selection of a college major is predetermined by family dynamics.   Knowing where family influence comes from can support an open range of major areas of study or it can create an expectation that may or may not fit.

2 – Media Impact – Television programs like CSI, Law and Order, or The Closer have created increased demand for degrees in Criminal Justice.  However, enjoying a television program doesn’t make it a good career fit.  Understanding the requirements of the courses and the potential career opportunities that are related to these courses can help in determining a good fit and major area of study.

3 – Values – Knowing yourself and what you value is an important factor in choosing a major area of study.  Whether it is time management, making a difference for others, religion, recognition, physical challenges or spending time with family or friends, these and many others are key factors in considering career directions and major areas of study.

4 – Interests – Interest surveys are great tools for beginning a process of determining career direction and major areas of study.  Because interests can change due to our experiences, it is good to take them periodically.  While interests may shift, you may also find a trend develops with one or two.

5 – Natural Abilities – Natural Abilities are the way in which we are hardwired.  Like our fingerprints, they are part of who we are and they do not change.  They appear as the things we do naturally and easily.  They impact the way we learn, interact with others, the environment we feel most comfortable at work.  Natural abilities are driving forces within each of us and can be capitalized on for maximum performance and satisfaction or we can work against them and question why we are not as happy in our chosen careers.

6 – Goals – Having clearly defined goals can help in choosing college majors.  Do your goals require 4 years or 8 years of school?  Do you have a financial plan to support those goals?  Will the outcome of your major area of study provide career opportunities based on labor trends, where you choose to live and your social or cultural expectations?  Clearly defined goals along with a financial plan will assist in meeting the challenges of completing an “on time” degree as well as reduce potential costs associated with changing majors and prolonged graduation dates.

Great Fit vs.Transfer – 6 Elements for Success

Tune in to any chat with col­lege stu­dents on collegeweeklive.com and you will hear the impor­tance of find­ing the right col­lege fit.  It just makes sense, saves time, saves money, and saves the pain and effort of trans­fer.  Get­ting the right col­lege fit can make all the dif­fer­ence in a great col­lege expe­ri­ence.  Seniors need to evaluate these 6 elements to ensure a great “fit” as they make final decisions for applications and acceptance opportunities.  Juniors need to be considering these same 6 points as they visit campuses.  I was recently asked why I consider a transfer as “painful.”  My response, “Students who are unhappy in their college choice, do not perform as well, spend time seeking the next college, doing the application and waiting process, and lose credits that end up extending a 4 year degree to 5 or 6 years.  The pain is social, academic and financial.”

These 6 characteristics help you identify the best “fit” for a great college experience and avoid the pain of a transfer.

  1. Aca­d­e­mics – be sure the insti­tu­tion has the major area of study in which you have inter­est, abil­ity and desire.
  2. Geo­graphic Loca­tion – con­sider your need to be close or far from home, the travel costs, and cli­mate, urban, sub­ur­ban, and rural.
  3. Cul­tural – how do stu­dents dress, are reli­gious pref­er­ences read­ily avail­able, what about food or dietary options.
  4. Social – are there sport­ing event venues, the­ater, what about fra­ter­ni­ties or soror­i­ties, avail­abil­ity of favorite hob­bies like ski­ing, golf, and cycling or paint ball.
  5. Ath­let­ics – an oppor­tu­nity for you to engage in your sport as a col­lege ath­lete (www.collegesportstrack.com for excel­lent recruit­ing advise­ment) or the venues for you to be a fan
  6. Finan­cial – is it afford­able, what could make it afford­able, what is the earn­ing poten­tial given the degree you are look­ing to attain, does it make the cost worth the investment

Plan ahead and eval­u­ate all of the char­ac­ter­is­tics to ensure a “Great Fit” col­lege experience.