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School’s Back – 9 Tips to Ensure Success

School.8.17.

For a good majority of the country, school is back in. Many kids have already started. But there are many adults who will also be in school – some returning and some just entering to get either a bachelor’s master’s or a doctorate. What an exiting time and kudos to those who are!

As a professor in higher ed, I have seen good students and those who need reminders of why they are getting their degree to begin with. As one who has made – and crossed – the journey in all three degrees, I can attest as to how arduous a trek it can, especially if you are working and raising family, among other obligations. Again, I’ve done all.

So, to ensure your success, here are nine tips that can help you on your journey:

  • Plan – planning out assignments, their due dates, along with your other obligations, will keep you focused and in control for how your time will go. This includes: study times for readings or research, writing assignments, or times to attend class. In class will be scheduled but online classes are left to you, so plan your time wisely. A suggestion is to have a calendar and then enter all the dates so you won’t have to wonder of due dates, etc.
  • Be Engaged – be sure to participate in discussions, questions asked and the like; participation is usually counted in your grade (this can dependent by instructor) but this also is where experiential learning occurs. Hearing the opinions and insights from your peers, as well as them sharing their work environments, can open your mind to other knowledge and experiences to make better decisions or to see hope in your current situation. You can also show your expertise and be a subject matter expert which is great validation that you’re on the right track
  • Be Informed – don’t just read assignments; go outside your scope and read other publications or research on the subject. Survey within your organization as to the opinions or experiences of others; I’m always impressed when I have students who have taken the initiative to do their research on subjects and concepts.
  • Challenge the Status Quo – don’t always take concepts and theories as fact; challenge their validity and reliability, as well as applicability, to your work environment or how they relate. Show that in your writing and discussions. Ask questions of your peers as this stimulates more critical thinking and analysis, as well as points-of-view.
  • Review Feedback Given and Use It – be sure to read feedback given by your instructors; they have taken time to help you with your writing or other assignments so give the same courtesy and read it; but, also, listen to it. Feedback is to validate your thoughts and opinions; to give you an outside perspective or give needed resources; and it also is there to challenge your thoughts and to enhance your writing and how you communicate. Make corrections on grammar, word phrasing, and citations. This applies not just to school but also to the workplace, where you are expected to write and think critically. You may not be aware, but employers do look at how you write, no matter if it’s as simple as an email; it can hold you back in some way.
  • Communicate – with your professors of an adverse situations that may occur. We recognize that work issues will occur, kids will get sick, and the like, but be sure to notify your professor when an issue first arises, not later or after-the-fact. We are more willing to work with students when we know but not after. It doesn’t help with participation or how we may view a student. Treat school as you do your job.
  • Focus on the end-result – always keep in mind the reason you are getting your degree, which is a commitment. Hopefully, it is to enhance your learning and not just because you have to; education is meant to enhance your knowledge and skill-base and shows proficiency. Yes, employers are requiring higher and higher levels of education but just having a degree does not guarantee expertise or success; keeping the end-result of how you will use this education helps to get through.
  • ‘This, too, shall pass‘ – as the saying goes, school will not last forever. Yes, there will be times when you can’t pick up the book or write another word; yes, it will interfere with hobbies or family time; heck, you may even hate it (we all do at one time or another). But there is an ending. Keeping this in mind helps to get through those detestable days and keeps you going; this is why placing your focus on the end result will keep you motivated and get you through.
  • Enjoy the journey – take deep breaths and appreciate that you have this opportunity and, I can’t stress enough, the end-result of what you want by obtaining this degree. Focus on the positives and it will elevate your excitement and commitment to your journey.

I hope these tips are useful; they are meant to help you be more successful with your school experience so you can get the most out of it. Remember, you get out what you put in, so put your all in and be a success. Best of luck if this is your journey!

If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! http://www.cyscoaching.com or barbara@cyscoaching.com

Courses You Should Take to Position You Above the Rest

I recently did a career webinar for an international association; this course was focused on bachelors, masters and doctoral levels. One of the questions that came up was ‘what courses do you feel would position one for success?” If you are in school now, or thinking about it, there are three courses that hold value for employers:

  1. Organizational Behavior – as companies are made up of people, there are many dynamics which go on that involve people: coworkers, all levels of managers, direct reports, vendors and consumers. When people of differing backgrounds are thrown together to do work, there are bound to be some conflict that occurs; when these workers don’t agree or don’t like the policies or the way things are being run, problems arise. Understanding the how’s and why’s of human behavior increases understanding, empathy, tolerance and emotional intelligence to deal with any adverse situations that may arise. Taking this course increases your skills in these areas and allows you to come up with manageable solutions that puts you in charge of your workday and career. Mastering these will position you for leadership roles as well.
  2. Finance – as organizations are fiscally-focused, having a good grasp of financials will not only help you in your role but could make you stand out for other roles. Dealing with budgets, payables, projections and the like helps to understand how and why the work you do is important to the final outcome – this keeps you engaged in that work and gives you more ownership of it. Your employer will appreciate you having this knowledge which will go along way in your career.
  3. Technology – as organizations are adapting and adopting to doing work faster and more efficiently, they are relying more and more on technology to help with this work, which means they need people to develop and run these machines and systems. Having computer skills and knowledge of computing, database systems, coding, and security functions will not only help you to do your job easier but they also can help you stand out if you are looking to transition to a new position, whether that is inside or outside your organization. It will give you the competitive advantage often needed these days to secure desired positions.

If you are past the point of returning to school, there are ways that you can learn and hone this material, which can include: reading books on the topics, taking adult education courses at your local community college, looking for training courses online, such as Lynda.com, or through a professional association. You can always ask your children, nieces or nephews, or your local high school students (particularly technology-related). There are ways to hone your knowledge in these three areas – dive in and watch your skill-set soar.  (this is my 270th article!!)

I’m Back…Let the Countdown Begin!

I recognize that I have been away from here for some time; I have been so busy teaching several online classes which has taken a majority of my time.  I have had 42 students between two classes and, for those unfamiliar with the online format, it consists of discussion questions and paper assignments, meaning that all I’ve been doing is reading and grading papers.   I think I’ve developed carpal tunnel from all the typing I’ve done (LOL)!

Here we are at the beginning of  a new month and what better time to get back in full-force.  For me, I am committing to a blogging challenge so you will be getting a new post from me daily.  I am ‘reving’ up to teach two new courses, in addition to my current class.  And I’m refining and streamlining areas in my business so hopefully the new offerings will meet your needs.

The countdown is on for those of you who are going to school.  This can be an exciting time as you get in preparation mode – buying supplies, new clothes, maybe moving into a dorm, and planning out your schedules, particularly if you have a family and a job to add into the mix.  Not only is this the time to plan out your schedules but it is the time to get mentally prepared for what is to come.   College is a natural progression to advance one’s career but it comes with certain responsibilities and commitments so now is the time to recognize and remember them as you are working to plan your schedules.

In the classes I teach, I often see work and life challenges get  in the way of student’s doing their work or submitting assignments timely;  issues and challenges will come up but it is how you navigate these challenges will determine your success in your schooling.  It is essential that you review any and all challenges that can arise before you begin your classes; this way, you will feel you have options and can adequately handle them.

In order to become fully prepared and ready for the challenge, here are some tips to help you be more successful:

  • Have the syllabus printed and the book(s) ordered.  Be sure to read the syllabus in detail for any and all assignments, weekly schedules, grading, and expectations for the course.  Order the book early as it can often be delayed which will leave you behind in the readings.
  • Get a planner and calendar; write down all the assignments in detail along with their due-dates and list them on the calendar (recommend a wall calendar or white-board type).  This will give you an overview of all the work that will need to get done for your classes and how your will schedule your days.
  • Plan your study and writing times; working backwards is a great way to ensure that you are adequately prepared.  If you have a paper due in Week 5, plan time in the earlier weeks to do research, write, and edit your work so you are not submitting it at the last minute which could adversely affect your grade.
  • Get in ‘mental mode’ – get excited about the journey, knowing that there will be an end but what that end-result will look like, i.e you walking across the stage to get your diploma, the new job/career.  Keep your focus on why you chose to go to school in the first place.
  • Relax – this can be a time of both excitement and trepidation so you want to find ways to deal with any emotions or feelings of stress that can arise.  Deep breathing, exercise, meditation, or just sitting in a calm place will help you to release any negative feelings and give you more resolve to face the tasks ahead of you.

I’m ready for my challenges so I hope you begin to get ready for yours.  No matter what stage you are in with your schooling, just entering or returning, preparation is the key to the next step, which is action.  If you follow these steps, you will feel more in control and confident, both of which lead to success!

Job Search Help for New Grads

This past weekend was summer graduation at our local colleges.   It is a time of excitement for these grads but it is also a time of nervousness at what their job future holds.  Several grads were interviewed on our local news; all of them expressed optimism that “something” would come up for them but they also recognized that it would take work for them to secure a job in today’s economy.   Depending on which storyline you read, the prospects of those under age 24 is less than those older, and those with a bachelor’s level is less than those with a master’s degree.  A June survey by the National Association of College and Employers found a 10.2 percent increase in hiring among these member, which is good news.  Of course, some areas have more jobs than others but, with a good plan, hard work, persistence, and a bit of creativity, new grads can find themselves in the ’employed’ category.

Here are some job search tips that new grads (or any job seeker) can begin to implement today:

1. Know what you want – you have your degree in hand but do you actually know the particular job you want? Knowing this will make your job search easier and more stream-lined; you will focus on looking for organizations and opportunities in that area.  If you are not clear, research jobs that interest you to see the exact qualifications needed and compare those with your skills.

2. Develop a Job Search Strategy – now is the time to make your plan for how you will go about looking for a job and for how you will spend your time.  There are a host of ways to look for a job, thanks to technology, but you should also include in-person searches, such as job fairs, alumni events, networking meetings, or joining professional associations.

3. Have a great resume – good is not enough so if you are unclear then get some help from a resume writer – the investment would be worth the money.  Be sure your formatting is clear and has the tag words that are in the job description.  Be sure to add any particular skills or experiences you developed in college, such as any projects you worked on, reports you wrote, volunteering or any leadership positions you’ve held.  Have someone review your resume for any typos – you don’t want to get your resume kicked out for a misspelled word.

4. Have good references – having people who can vouch for your skills and your character can make the case to hire you, which is particularly crucial if you don’t have any work experience.  Family members are typically not accepted; look at people who have known you and your ethical behavior, such as business friends of your parents or family members, your church, teachers, coaches, and the like.  Make sure to get approval from these references so they won’t be surprised.

5.  Practice your interviewing skills – getting in the door is only half of the equation; you need to be able to sell yourself and you do this in the interview, either in-person or on the phone.  You must be prepared to discuss why you should be hired and are the best candidate; remember, it’s about what you can do for them and not the other way around.  Have some examples for how you handled difficult situations or made a big decision, or how you work well as a team member.   If you can, have someone practice with you or videotape you to help you feel more polished and confident.

6. Dress professionally – what you wear increases your confidence level and your presentation to a potential employer.  If you are applying in person, you may be asked to interview then; you could also be asked to come in immediately when you get a call.   Employers judge candidates by their physical appearance as they are assessing their ‘fit’ with the rest of the organization.  It would be helpful to dress up while you are looking for a job (which can be a job in itself) as it can ge you in a good mind-frame to keep searching.

7.  Use social sites – LinkedIn is the number one place that recruiters look for candidates so having a good profile, and picture, can get you noticed.  Make sure your tag line is compelling and get involved in groups and networking with those who can get you hired.  Make sure your Facebook page is cleaned up – there are countless stories of job candidates who have been taken out of the pool due to bad language or being tagged in a compromising picture.  Look at chat rooms or ways that you can show your expertise; contribute to a professional blog or write an article on your topic area.

These are just a few ways that you can take to jump-start your job search; making the commitment to hone these steps will position you throughout your work life and honor that degree you just earned!

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