July 24, 2014

College Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me

For me, the end of July means that summer term is almost over (just one more class!), but I know that for most people, the end of July means that the school year is about to start. Time to think about what went right and what went wrong, to make this year better than ever! Freshmen may already have a lot of stuff to be well equipped for the fall, but what they're really missing is experience. Good advice can make your first semester a dream--and bad advice can wreck it.

Rebecka from Lovelyish wrote a great post full of amazing advice on how to succeed in college called 8 College Tips That I Wish Someone Had Told Me. She talks about going to class (do it!), networking (it's never too early!), making friends (be intentional about making a friend in every class), and taking your planner everywhere.

It's rare to find an article that's so short and so useful. Since she also opened her post up for comments, the comments underneath are full of advice too.  Rebecka's readers have diverse experiences with excellent advice (that sometimes contradicts her) on how to get cheap textbooks or whether transferring from a small school to a large school is helpful.

To any freshman out there, I would add a couple of other bits of advice:

You have to be a good student to be a good student leader. When I started college, all my older friends were telling me that no one gets a 4.0 in college and that I should focus more on getting leadership and networking than my GPA. It took me three semesters of good grades to make up for that awful first semester!

Take advantage of your Google Calendar. Your Armstrong email address has all the same perks as a gmail account, so as soon as you've signed up for classes, plug your class schedule directly into your calendar. Go ahead and schedule in some study hours while your calendar's still relatively clear. Once school starts, you can add your job schedule, club meetings, and friends to your calendar as well. I love seeing that multicolored calendar, and I love being able to access my schedule from anywhere!

Do my older readers have anything to add as school starts? What do you wish you knew when you were starting college?

July 17, 2014

The Most Important Hour of Your Life

Every once in a while, you come across a book that changes your life’s trajectory in a major way. Two years ago, I was working at a job that I didn’t exactly hate, figuring that everyone worked at a not-so-great job in their twenties. When I read The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How To Make the Most of them Now by Meg Jay, I was first introduced to the concept of adult development. Because 80% of our major life’s decisions are made by 35, being intentional about your twenties and making them count is the most important part of being an adult.  “If there’s anything that you want to change about yourself, now is the time to change it,” was a powerful rallying cry that gave me a sense of urgency about my career path and brought me back here for graduate school.

I’m not talking about that book in this post, though. I just read an article by Greg McKeow, the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. His book's message is powerful: recognizing that we only have a limited amount of time, we must use our finite time to do the things that are most important to us. Even if you are not a big reader, the short activity McKeow describes in the article is a great way to bridge the gap between believing that every moment counts and actually acting like every moment counts.

Greg McKeow encourages everyone to take about an hour for this process.

Step 1: If possible get out into nature where you can feel the natural pace of the earth and not the hyperactive and inhumane pace of modern life.

Step 2: Write down the question “What would I do if I only had a week left to live?” and take 10 minutes to write down your answer.

Step 3: Write down the question, “What would I do if I only had a month left to live?” and take 10 minutes to write down your answer.

Step 4: Write down the question, “What would I do if I only had a year left to live?” and take 10 minutes to write down your answer.

Step 5: Write down the question, “What would I do if I only had five years left to live?” and take 10 minutes to write down your answer.

Step 6: Write down the question, “What would I do if I only had a life left to live?” and take 10 minutes to write down your answer.

Step 7: Finally, take 10 minutes to reread all of your answers while asking yourself, “How can I design my routine this week to more closely align with these answers?”

July 10, 2014

New Solutions to an Old Problem

We all know that when it comes to your job search, the best way to start looking is to reach out to your network. We probably also all know about the awesome websites that post open positions, like Monster, Idealist, the CreativeCoast job board, and Armstrong's CareerWeb. If you've ever tried to use your social media platforms for your job search, you know that it widens your network exponentially and can introduce you to open positions, sometimes before they've even been posted on job sites! If you haven't tried the social media solution to your job search problem, here are some tips.

Twitter is a great place to break in to an industry if you don't know people very well. Follow someone on Twitter who works where you want to work, and like, retweet, and @ their user name to engage them in conversation. Utilize your Twitter lists and add them to your TweetDeck so that you know what industry insiders are talking about.

Don't forget about your own followers, though! They can help you find a job if you send out a tweet that you are looking!

Everyone has a friend of a friend with that awesome job that you met at some barbecue a while back, right? This is where you can use your Facebook sleuthing skills to get a great job. Check out your friends' Friend List and see if there's anyone who can help you in your job search. Ask your friend to introduce you. If you're feeling brave, you can send a message and introduce yourself, but be aware that your message may end up dumped in the "Other" folder.

Make sure that your privacy settings are on Friends Only during your job search! The last thing you want is to be telling potential employers that you're diligent and hard-working when your Facebook status shows that you've been living in a pile of dirty laundry, binge-watching Game of Thrones for days. 

Everyone says that LinkedIn is great, but nobody really tells you why. Here are three reasons:
  1. An active LinkedIn profile is usually the first thing that comes up when interested parties Google your name. If you are on LinkedIn enough, your professional persona and accomplishments shine through.
  2. Actively growing your LinkedIn networks means that there's a good chance that a hiring  manager is a 3rd degree connection--that means that you can message that person directly without seeming creepy!
  3.  LinkedIn now has their own job search app, where they post open positions. They're both a social network and a job posting board in one site!

Time to put all that social media savvy to work for you, so that you can get to work!

July 3, 2014

Got Balance?

A balanced life is a healthy life! To say nothing of all those other elements of keeping your life in balance (getting enough sleep, enough exercise, enough water and healthy food), this is an age when social and professional goals are equally important. As we grow up and become more independent, we are the ones who are in charge of balancing our academic lives and professional goals with our relationships and social lives. 

Elite Daily has two articles about finding balance. One is real talk for party monsters and the other is for workaholics that need to make time for themselves and their families.

Interestingly, there's overlap in both of these articles. Prioritizing and time management help the social butterflies and the Type As--and the people like me, who bounce back and forth between the two!--find their balance.

What do you do to get balanced?

June 26, 2014

Get Your Money Right

First, an update:

I made this! Technically, I bought the salad in a bag, but I prepared the salmon, and the yummy balsamic rice. Self-Improvement Summer is back on!

If your summer goals have a financial focus, you'll love this infographic. Even if you're not looking for long-term money organization projects, Mint.com's blog, MintLife is full of accessible infographics for what might otherwise be a difficult and intimidating task, spring cleaning your finances.

This might be something that I could do in one weekend. Not this weekend, however! I've got a vegetarian dinner party to plan!

June 19, 2014

How To Reach Your Goals

Time to check in, Pirates! How’s your Self-Improvement Summer going?  It’s been four weeks since I posted my goals for this summer on Professional Pirates and here’s my tally
Trips to the gym: 3
New Recipes Tried: 0
There’s still time to turn this dismal showing around, though! Molly Cain gives six tricks to use to reach those pesky goals that are starting to feel out-of-reach.

First, make it visual. Instead of writing a list, imagine what your goal looks like and use Pinterest and Instagram to motivate yourself with real pictures of that goal and great motivational quotes. I do have a food board on Pinterest, but it’s mostly of cookies. Today, I’ll pin the amazing looking Spicy Garlic Salmon recipe that I found.

Next, tell people. I’ve already got this one down: I’ve told all you Professional Pirates, several of my friends, and my roommate. Whether or not these people are asking me how Self-Improvement Summer is going, they are keeping me accountable. I can’t pretend that I didn’t say that I wanted to learn to cook. I’ve brought it up in conversation. I’ve posted it on the internet. If you haven’t told anyone about your goals for the summer or next semester, now’s the time to share!

Have a plan. Break your goal into bite-sized chunks. Instead of saying, “I’ll work through some healthy recipes,” I’ll say, “I’ll make dinner on Saturdays, at the very least.” My goal becomes less of a dream and more like just another thing on my schedule.

Speaking of “another thing on your schedule,” set a date. If you’re doing the couch to 5K program, register for an actual 5K. Just like telling people, having an inflexible date on your schedule helps to keep you accountable—you’ve paid, so you’re running that 5K! Even goals that don’t necessarily lend themselves to dates can get on your schedule with a little imagination. In May, I started sending out invites to friends for dinner on the 29th. I definitely haven’t done much since, but now that I have a little over a week to figure out what I’m going to feed people and put together an edible, healthy menu, I’m definitely going to kick it up a notch.

Be realistic. You aren’t going to go from couch potato to marathon runner over the summer. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a goal is difficult but attainable. It’s also a matter of timing: if you’re already overwhelmed, a goal that would have been easy is way too much. Know what you can handle. You’re doing this for you.

Commit to yourself.  If (or when!) you fail, re-commit to yourself. You’re the one who is going to be doing the heavy lifting on this. You’re the only person who matters when it comes to making sure that you set and reach your goals.
Pirates, we can do it! We are more than capable of setting and meeting goals! I’m ready to re-commit, how about you? 

June 12, 2014

From Internship to Interview!

If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve seen that SGA president Andy Cabistan landed an awesome paid internship in Hawaii! Check out his blog here

(This guy's dream internship is about to become his dream job!)
How do you turn that awesome internship into a great job? First, recognize that an internship is a summer-long interview.  Since you’re already in the office, people get to know who you are and your work habits. Make sure that they are getting the best possible impression of you from your time there. Make sure that your manager knows who you are and the progress of the projects you’ve been working on. Get to know people— as quickly as possible! Get lunch or grab coffee with people both inside and outside your department. Offer them your services during your downtime (make sure that you ask your manager first). Ask outright how to get a job at the company.  

At this point, you should have built a reputation for yourself as the friendly, industrious intern who’s looking to stay on. If interns don’t get a performance review at your company, ask your manager to meet with you and evaluate your work informally. This check in with your supervisor is a good time to drop the ask: does she know of any openings in the office? Would he be willing to write you a letter of recommendation?
Remember that you can always email career.services@armstrong.edu as you make your way through the application process and the Career Services page is chock-full of useful information no matter where your internship takes you!