Get Your Career in Gear

29 01 2014

full-speed-ahead

FULL SPEED AHEAD!! 

That’s how a lot of us live our lives.  Don’t worry – it’s not a bad thing.  But as I continue to be challenged at work and in life, I’ve realized that it’s not all about what’s ahead.  The experiences of the past and the present do matter.  In order to get where you want to go, you must also consider where you’ve been and where you are today.  It’s time to get your career plan in gear!

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Where you’ve been.  “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  Sound familiar?  The past provides many lessons in leadership if you’re willing to open your eyes.  Learn to let go of the past.  Don’t let it hold you back!  There is nothing you can do to change the past, but if you learn from it, you’ll be better today, and in the future.

Where you are.  Often times, we get so hung up on the past or we look so much to the future that we forget about what is happening right now.  You have great things going for you.  Instead of going full speed ahead, stop and smell the roses.  Relish life’s moments, learn from your experiences and live life to the fullest.  I’m not going to say “YOLO” but you really do only get one chance to live your life.  Make it count.

Where you’re going.  Do you have a plan?  It’s really hard to achieve success if you don’t really know what success looks like.  Set goals that include a plan of action with various checkpoints along the way to measure your progress.  Strategic plans aren’t just reserved for business executives – everyone should have one.  Know what you want to achieve, set the plan and execute the plan.  Remember that your plan is adjustable!  Life happens and priorities change.  Keep your plan updated and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.

A wise person once said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?”  I think they had an excellent point!  It’s all about the plan and execution of that plan.

What are your tips for achieving success in life and in your career?  Let’s hear them!  Please leave a comment below and as always, thanks for reading.

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7 Unique Ways to Get Better at Your Job

21 01 2014

There are millions of reasons to feel motivated to get better at your job. Job competition, job advancement, and job security are three phrases that might get you motivated to figure out how to get better at your job. The regular list won’t do anymore. You have to get creative. Here are 7 creative ways to get better at your job.

Stop Multi-Tasking

caffeinating, calculating, computerating

This piece of advice may come as a shock to you, but a recent Stanford study shows that people who heavily multitask do not pay the kind of attention it takes to do well at what’s in front of them. Clifford Nass, psychology professor at Stanford, explains the study shows that multitasking wastes more time than it saves and shows that multitasking also diminishes creativity. Don’t try to do several emails at once, don’t email while texting, don’t surf the internet while you’re talking on the phone.

Empathize

Thinking about how you feel about things is not going to help you move forward. You have to perceive yourself through the lens of your boss. Anticipate what she wants and needs from an employee and you’ll have your plan of attack. This is especially important if your boss has a different style from yours. Think of your boss as your client.

Be Resourceful

Overcoming obstacles by thinking outside of the box is a trait that will position you ahead of your peers. Managers and bosses do not appreciate employees who need hand holding and constant direction. Figuring out how to anticipate employer’s needs is an art. Study your industry and figure out how to become indispensable.

Multitasking

Be Enthusiastic

An indispensable quality in an employee is a very basic quality of enthusiasm. According to JetBlue Airways, they rank first in the J.D. Power and Associates North America Airline Satisfaction Study for the low-cost carrier category because of their employees’ dedication to enthusiasm. Engaging employees in enthusiastic practice is difficult, but JetBlue makes it a priority. Bain consumer surveys show that a customer’s experience with employees matters more to them than price or branding. Enthusiastic employees go the extra mile; they make it a point to make customers’ experiences better through creativity and consideration.

Communicate Effectively

Impressions often hinge on the small things. Make eye contact when you speak with your boss or your employees. Ask questions. If your boss expresses an opinion, ask follow-up questions in order to make sure that you understand fully. Pay attention to your boss’s non-verbal skills. If your boss is holding back, it’s up to you to sleuth out their thoughts.

Take Accountability

Many employees looking to get ahead make the mistake of avoiding the admission of guilt. Passing off blame will not only form animosity among those who are working with you, but it will also make you look insecure. Admitting a mistake shows you’re willing to take accountability and correct your own mistakes.

Keep Learning

While it may seem obvious that one should flaunt their skills in front of his or her boss, showing the desire to continue learning shows you’re interested in keeping your company current. Attend conferences, read books, and consult with mentors to keep your game up to par.

Today’s market is competitive and it takes more than hard work to stand out. If you want to get ahead in the work place, use creativity and innovation to move on up.

About the author: Brett Harris loves saving money and recommends the top online colleges with no application fee as an economical way to start college.





Are Internships a Replacement for a College Education?

14 01 2014
The power of internships is undeniable. From providing real-work experience to allowing access to executives and mentors, internships are traditionally seen as the gateway to your first job.

So where does that leave the value of a college education? With students in debt over their heads and frightenly low employment rates for recent graduates, it begs the question: Is a college education worth it? And if it isn’t, are programs like internships an ample replacement?

The case for what internships should be

A recent Slate article noted that unpaid internships are, unfortunately, cheaper than the cost of college education. That is, you will lose less by taking on an unpaid internship than forking over the amount of money it typically costs for advanced learning opportunities.

internshipWhile this may be true, understand this very important point: Unpaid internships can’t provide you with the same learning experiences that paid ones can. Not only can paid opportunities help with rising student loan costs, they also provide you with better work experiences and more diverse work environments, increase your marketplace value, and amp up engagement and overall happiness.

Most importantly, paid internships provide you with protection against discrimination. While laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act exist, guidelines for internships are unclear. Technically, unpaid interns are not seen as employees, so they don’t have the same legal rights as paid interns or traditional employees. If you’re an unpaid intern faced with sexual harassment or arbitrary dismissal, guess what? You may not have a case.

College education delivers opportunities not be provided by internships

No matter what the research tells you, internships are not a replacement for a college education. Here are some reasons why:

  • Practical knowledge: While that education has been questioned over the past few years, the practical knowledge, the people you meet, and lessons you learn are invaluable experiences you can’t gain elsewhere.
  • Eligibility: Many internship programs require their interns be enrolled in an institution or have completed certain coursework in order to be eligible.
  • Educational connections: Many educational connections, which include professors and career counselors, allow you to see a different view of the professional world while you’re still learning key practices.

Instead, internships should be a supplement to that college education. When you find the correct program, internships provide you will real-work experience, access to leaders, perks, and ample skills training.

Improving the system will take work from both sides

While internships should be a supplement to a college education, the entire system needs to be improved. As a student, you need to seek out opportunities that will align with your goals, values, and career aspirations — and do your research in order to see what you can handle and what you absolutely won’t tolerate.

On the other side, your university should take a more active role in your internship experiences. If you’re among the many students who don’t know what to expect from a program, talk to your career center, visit career fairs, or even discuss your questions with your counselor. These resources can provide you with the information you need to start your search.

So, are internships a replacement for a college education? For now, they aren’t. While they can provide you with awesome on-the-job learning experiences and access to leaders, a college education is just as important. Instead, use internships as a way to hone the skills you’ve learned in college and supplement your coursework. Using both efficiently will equate to a more fulfilling professional career.

What do you think? Do you believe internships are a replacement for a college education? Why or why not?

 Ashley+MosleyAshley Mosley is the Community Engagement Manager of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. Connect with Ashley and InternMatch on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.





Barney Stinson’s 3 Keys to Awesomeness

7 01 2014

barney stinson awesome

Who watches the hit television show, How I Met Your Mother?  This week’s post is inspired by none other than HIMYM’s Barney Stinson.  Do I have your attention now?

Barney Stinson, played by actor Neil Patrick Harris, is a guy that could be characterized as many things…womanizer, man’s man…you get my drift.  But I’ve noticed there’s a quality Barney possesses that makes him different than his fellow actors.

There are few things you can learn from Barney as a young professional.  Here’s what I’m talking about:

Accept challenges.  Barney is always up for a challenge.  Tell him he can’t do something and he’ll prove you wrong!  The word “can’t” doesn’t exist in his vocabulary.  Always be up for a challenge.  Like Barney, you may not really know if you’ll succeed or not, but that shouldn’t keep you from at least trying.  In life and in your career, accept challenges that make you reach outside your comfort zone.  It doesn’t hurt to see the silver lining in the outcome vs. what could go wrong.  The glass is half full (of water, not scotch…)!

Suit up!  It’s one of his favorite phrases on the show and he has a fantastic point.  Dress the part.  If you want to be an executive, observe and dress appropriately.  That means many things across various industries.  Suiting up also does something for one’s self-esteem.  That tie or blazer gives a confidence boost like no other and you’d be surprised at how people view you in a different light.  Show them you’re serious about rising up through the leadership ranks and look the part.  I’ve been known to rock a suit, wearing Superman socks.  True story.

Make it legenDARY!   Wait for it…  Stop wishing, start doing.  Want this year to be awesome?  Create a plan of action to make it happen.  Ever notice how Barney always has a plan?  It’s the key to his success!  The plan may absolutely nuts, but at least he has a plan.  My mom used to tell me, “fail to plan and you plan to fail.”  I’ve said it many times before: smart lady.

Does Barney have many other character flaws?  You bet he does.  He’s human.  Just like you and me.  We can learn from each other.  Nobody said it had to be boring.  Make this year awesome!

Last week: 14 People to Follow in 2014.