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Archive for December, 2007

The New Year means different things to different people. While most people are deciding to lose weight or quit smoking, you should consider your job situation. Are you doing something now that you enjoy? Does your job help you achieve your goals? Are you developing skills that help with your major? Ask yourself these questions.

I know I’ve been guilty of looking at jobs as a means to a paycheck and nothing more. You don’t want to make that mistake. If you are making that mistake, the New Year’s a good time to reevaluate your situation.

Are you doing something you enjoy?

Work is work, so it won’t be fun and carefree all the time. But you shouldn’t dread every moment of it, either. The good should definitely outweigh the bad. For one thing, if you’re miserable, your health will suffer –so that’s never good. Plus, you probably won’t do a very good job if you’re counting the minutes until you leave.

Does your job help you achieve your goals?

You’re in college, so you’re probably not next in line to be CEO. However, you can still choose a job that benefits you beyond a way to earn some cash. For example, if you’re studying to be a software engineer and you also live in Silicon Valley, getting a job with a company in the industry is a good step. Maybe you can work your way up the ladder. Or if you know you’ll move after graduation, you can still make some important network contacts while you work there.

Even if you’re at a crossroads where you have some time before deciding to study social work or education, try one out. Find a job as a teaching assistant or an ESL instructor at a local college to get a feel for your abilities as an educator. Volunteer or intern at a clinic or health care facility where you can interact with social workers.

Are you developing skills that help with your major?

You’re working retail but you don’t think you’re learning anything. However, since you started you’ve noticed that you’re more outgoing and have improved your public speaking. If you’re going into public relations or sales, this experience is something you can’t get in a classroom. Think about what you’re learning on the job that feeds into your education—it doesn’t always have to be the other way around. If you can’t find a correlation, look for something new that will help you. Every job offers something different if you know what you’re looking for.

While everybody else is deciding which gym to join on January 1, you can decide which job is best for you.

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We’ve grown up with the Internet. We were the first generation to learn just how anonymous online profiles and message boards aren’t. So you already know not to give out your personal information (like your address) online. Everyone’s talked ad nauseam about not posting drunk pictures of yourself on your social-networking profile or making sure your privacy settings prevent co-workers from viewing your profile. But you might not be thinking about whether or not your boss, a future employer, or co-workers are reading your blog.

Your blog is your own place to post your rants and raves for others to read. You can discuss how much you hate your roommate or why that Poli Sci class is ruining your life. That’s all well and good, but be sure you’re not putting yourself in a position to tick anybody off. It sounds strange to say you should censor yourself in your blog, but as long as you’re allowing anybody (be it a restricted list of friends or all anybody who wants) to read it, there’s a chance your words could haunt you.

Some tips for blogging:

  • Don’t make your blog public to just anyone. You’re bound to forget that anybody could be reading it, or you might start to think only those who leave comments are reading it.
  • Don’t name names. That smelly guy who sits behind you in Art History might end up your co-worker or the friend of a friend (of a friend). It’s a smaller world than you think.
  • Don’t forget that you’ve linked to it on your Facebook profile. You don’t have to take down the link, just remember that other people might see that link you forget was there.
  • If you don’t want people knowing you have a blog (because you rant about them in it), don’t talk about it. Once they find out, they’re bound to ask for a link.
  • Do mention your job hunt. You might have readers whom you don’t talk to on a daily basis and otherwise wouldn’t know you’re looking for a job. It’s one more way to network.
  • If you’re not yet on the job market but know you will be, do put the word out. As you get closer to graduation and maybe complete an internship or other jobs, feel free to talk about it. (We’re assuming you’re not giving away private information about any companies on here.) Somebody might keep in you in mind when they hear about an opportunity in your field of study/experience.

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Most people agree that your college years are some of the best of your life. You get your first taste of independence, make new friends, discover new interests, and so much more. But there’s plenty of things that get under your skin.

Instead of just complaining about these annoyances—though you’re welcome to do that, too—think about how much easier life will be after graduation. You’ll be older, wiser, and ready to interact with all sorts of people at your job.

Annoyance No. 1: The cafeteria food that is somehow bland and gross at the same time.

Benefit: Those business lunches you’ll go on, especially if you pursue a job in sales, can be in the swankiest of places or smoke-filled dives with peanut shells on the floor. You’ll be able to make conversation and seal the deal without wrinkling your nose at the squid-and-almond tart your client insists you try.

Annoyance No. 2: The world’s most boring professor.

Benefit: Your ability to stay awake during a 90-minute lecture on the role of thimbles in ancient Egypt has a purpose, believe it or not. If you decide to pursue a career in education, you’re going to find yourself sitting through a lot of lectures. First, your students will be giving presentations at some point—and think about how boring your fellow classmates’ were. Plus, to stay current on issues in your field, you often have take refresher courses in your specialization.

Annoyance No. 3: The roommate who won’t shut up.

Benefit: You’re taking a free course in counseling right now. When co-workers or customers come to you with problems—and it will happen whether you’re a chef or a librarian—you’ll know how to listen and deal with their problems. It might not make them less annoying, but at least you’ll be able to keep the peace.

Annoyance No. 4: The 8 a.m. class.

Benefit: Unless you’re lucky enough to work from home or have a profession where hours are more flexible (painter or writer, for example), you’ll probably have to follow normal business hours. That means being up early and having some idea of what’s going on around you.

Annoyance No. 5: The all-nighter.

Benefit: When you stay up all night to finish that paper you put off for ten weeks or to study for that final exam on thimbles in ancient Egypt, you prep yourself for stressful situations. Police officers, paramedics, doctors, nurses, even lawyers have to pull all-nighters at some point. You’ll be used to working through the night and functioning the next day.

Moral of the story: Yeah, things can be annoying. And it’s easy to forget that when you’re in the midst of it all. But in the end, you’ll have gained some useful skills.

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In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, a lot of people forget that plenty of college seniors are graduating. They’ve worked hard to get here and they deserve recognition. Although the amount of December graduates is much lower than May graduates, there are still plenty of students eagerly handing in their last exams and papers.

Although a lot of people don’t recommend hunting for a job during these holiday weeks, a lot of experts disagree. Plenty of companies are trying to use up the budget before the end of the year. Also, with a lot of people too distracted with the holidays to job hunt, or maybe they think no one’s hiring and are waiting until January to start again, you’ve got less competition. So the odds are in your favor to find a job.

Here’s a quick way to jumpstart your search:

  • Update that résumé – Of course you know the importance of a résumé (at least I hope you do). But make sure you update it to reflect your graduation, final GPA, internships, and most recent work experience. You don’t want to walk into an interview with old information – you’ll look unprepared.
  • Network – Let people know you’re looking for a job. December is full of events that have you mingling with friends, family, and strangers. Whether it’s a party or a family-gathering, you’ve got the chance to mention that you’ve just graduated and are ready to enter the workforce. You never know who can help you, whether it’s your uncle, a former employer, or a friend’s relative.
  • Search – You won’t know what’s available if you’re not looking. Networking can help you, but nothing beats looking at job listings. With the Internet at your fingertips (I mean, you’re reading this online right now, are you not?), you’ve got a great resource for finding a job. Search by your major, by the title of the job you want, by location – whatever’s important to you. Just search. You could end up stumbling upon an opening you weren’t even looking for.
  • Apply, apply, apply – Naturally, applying for jobs is the best way to get one. A lot of new graduates are too scared to apply for jobs if they don’t meet every single requirement even if it sounds like a great opportunity. It doesn’t hurt to put forth the effort. If you’ve got a great GPA, a relevant major, and experience, you might be surprised that some companies will give you a chance.

Congratulations on finishing that degree, grads!

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