A Little Bit on Networking

Networking is a VERY important part of life. In fact, it’s such a vital, important, life defining part of your life that no one ever bothers teaching you about it.  Yep, networking is such a vital part of job hunting, starting a career, career advancement…….. and no one bothers teaching it!

Mind you, this is a HUGE topic! Every time I think I have it all worked out, I learn there are another 47, 623 things I need to learn. How do you meet people? Keep in touch? Is there some sort of protocol for communication? Seriously, how do we do this?

Well, I don’t have all the answers. BUT, I’m learning them. I’m working things through, learning as I go, trying to figure out what the hell is going on. I got myself a LinkedIn account, go through my University’s Alumni Newsletters, and look for workshops to take. Still, I have no freakin clue what I’m doing.

So, I’ll update as I go, let you all know what I learn. And, while I’m doing this……. anyone out there have any advice they want to throw my way?

Communication is Key In Roommate Relations

So this isn’t an ideal situation, but at the moment I am a young woman living with 4 men. Two are undergrad students who answered an ad we placed online; one is doing his Masters in Engineering and has lived here for years; and one is our landlord, my boyfriend, and the only one of them not in school at the moment. I thought, being the only girl in the house, there would be quite a lot of awkwardness on my part.

Well, turns out I’m not the awkward one (for once).

Sure, I keep about 30 products too many in the bathroom (neatly put away, though). And I have a few plants around the house (most of which are in my room, and are actually a Chia Herb Garden). And I decorate the house for the Christmas holidays (since I’m the only one home here for weeks at a time around then). But I make everything clear to anyone my actions may impact. I try to clean up after myself, keep my messes contained to my bedroom, and try to limit the number of shoes I keep by the front door (something others seem to clearly have problems with). All I ask is that, if I do something that bothers someone, that they let me know.

Not everyone here lives like that, though.

When the boys in the basement make a mess of the kitchen, blast music while they cook, and throw non-recyclables in the recycling pile, I speak up when I see them. To me, it’s common sense. I let them know if they leave a mess, or they don’t sort things right. If I don’t tell them, how else will they know it’s a problem?

My roommate doesn’t seem to subscribe to the same logic. Guys leave a mess in the kitchen? Come and complain to me. Guys put Styrofoam containers in the recycling bin again? He throws a fit in the kitchen, takes them out, and complains to me about it. What doesn’t he do? Mention any of this to the guys downstairs!

If a roommate is doing something that pisses you off, you need to talk to them about it. Chances are, they have no clue that you have a problem with their actions or behaviour. If you come to them with the little things, before they balloon into something bigger, it also makes it easier to talk about. I mean, what would you rather do: remind your roommate that they have to clear their hair our of the shower drain after their shower so it doesn’t clog? Or get into a screaming match when the shower drain is clogged beyond belief and you’re both running late and can’t shower?

When it comes to roommate living, communication is key. You need to communicate what is working in your living arrangement, and what isn’t working. If you don’t, then you’ll both just wind up miserable and constantly pissing each other off.

Follow Through With Your Plans

So you have a plan. That’s fantastic! You know pretty much what you want to do after graduation, what your chosen career path is, and/or what you want to do with the rest of your life.

So how to you follow through with all this?

For a lot of careers,getting a degree just isn’t good enough. You need a totally kick-ass CV and/or resume, with loads of entries on it showing why you would be the most obvious choice for a job in this field. Sounds easy, doesn’t it. Yeah, it’s kinda not.

You see, need to create epic aura of awesomeness that not only makes you perfect for this specific job, but also doesn’t make you perfect for ONLY this specific job. You need to make yourself seem like some secret super soldier created specifically for this job, but also for other jobs in that field that you may want to apply for. Basically, you need to show that you are perfect across the board.

No pressure, right?

Calm down. There are a few universal things that you can do, no matter what your career goal is:

  1. Leadership! Show that you’re not only great at taking directions, but that you can give directions to others. Join a club that interests you, and get yourself into a position of leadership. Anything from President of the Psychology Association to the Event Planning Chair of the Local Hippie Coalition works for this. Anything that gives you the power to give orders to others is good.
  2. Financial Responsibility! Chances are, at some point in your career, you will have to work with a budget. You may have to create a budget, keep track of petty cash, delegate funds for other projects, or oversee a large project on a budget. Do something specific that shows that you know how to do this already. Join a club (or just use your position in the last point), and plan an event. Make sure you work with a budget, and can track everything. And hey, now you also have experience in event planning! That’s TWO skills in one point! Bonus!
  3. Computer Skills! Obviously, someone in a Computer Science program will already have plenty of experience with computers. I mean, it’s right there in the program name. Criminology? Math? Political Science? Nothing there screams “I’m not a technological failure”. You need to up your skills, and make sure they are marketable. First off, know your Microsoft Office programs. It never hurts to get certification in programs like Word or Excel. Next, work on programs that are needed in your specific field. Things like statistical analysis have a few programs used by pretty much everyone in the field. If your field has programs like this, then you damn well better them!

Now that you have these few things taken care of, lets take a look at your actual course work. Do you know exactly what you need to get into your chosen career?  Some jobs require grad school, a doctorate, special certification, or co-op/internship experience. Does yours?

It’s best to do research into your field early. Ideally, as soon as you know what it is you want, you would start your research. If you require a graduate or doctorate degree, then you need to also start researching how to apply for these programs. You also need to know what the admission requirements are. Some schools require tests like GRE or LSATs, a large number of letters of recommendation, or admission essays. Know what is required.

Certification requires knowing where and when to test, what knowledge is needed, and where to get study material. Sometimes, it’s only a matter of sitting through a workshop. Other times, you need to take a series of tests. For my Advanced Certificate in Microsoft Excel, I took three workshops (basic, intermediate, and advanced levels), with a series of small assignments during them. To get actual Microsoft Certification from Microsoft, there are special certification tests that have to be administered at very specific locations, by specially trained administrators. Make sure you are actually getting what you need when you sign up for these.

And finally, take a look at the courses you’re taking. Even within your program, you can show specialization or expand your knowledge. In my Criminology program, I chose to take a very broad range of topics that could all apply to my chosen area of research. I took courses in Youth in Criminal Justice, Victimology, Penology, Social Deviation, and Policing and Security. I also took a series of Psychological Development courses, Social Justice, Morality, and both Quantitative and Qualitative Research. All of this is to aide in my research into school shootings and trends in violence and blame. At the same time, I also did courses in Business, Philosophy, Computer Concepts, and Political Science. These gave me a broader range of knowledge, more marketable skills, and gave me a chance to broaden my network. It’s best to also try to do a combination of both of these (specific, and broad).

So, to sum up quickly, you need to make yourself as marketable as possible in your chosen field. Make sure you have all the education and skills you need for your career, and make sure you know what you actually need for that career.

Do You Have A Plan?

I mean beside, “Graduate, find a job, make money”.

So many students go into their post-secondary schooling without any sort of plan in place. It’s almost like they’re on autopilot. Going to college or university just seemed like the logical next step after graduating high school, or not finding their dream job after a few years.

There’s also the outside pressure from friends, family, and “experts” to get some sort of degree. It’s like people seem to think that getting some sort of piece of paper will make the job offers come flying in. I’ve even heard the “advice” that it doesn’t matter what your degree is in, as long as you have a degree.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

Now, you don’t need to have a concrete plan, set in stone, laying out every educational and career move you plan to make in the next five years. You should have some sort of idea of what you’re getting yourself into. You can’t go into this whole “planning the rest of your life” thing blind.

Do you have an idea of what career you want after graduation? If so, that’s great! Make sure you’re on the right track to get there. (I’ll have a whole post next week about how to do this) Not so much? That’s ok too.  Not everyone knows exactly what they want out of life. The main things to focus on are to not panic, and to not pigeon hole yourself into such a small niche that you have no options to look to.

Do you have a major topic of study? Many students spend a year or two as an “undeclared” major, or in a “general arts/science” program. And that’s perfectly fine. If you’re not sure of what you want, then don’t rush into something you could totally regret. It’s perfectly fine to take a variety of courses in order to find out what it is that really gets you going. You may find that you have an undiscovered love of statistics, or geology, or quantitative research. Taking a little time to explore could help you discover your true passions.

Do you have no idea whatsoever what you want to do, but you’re in school anyway because it’s what you’re supposed to do? Then maybe you need to take a little time out here. So many people get pushed into university by well-meaning people and advice, when what they would benefit most from is going into a skilled trade. Or they rush into getting a degree when what they really want is to be a chef. Or they get a job with a company, and would love to just work their way up the chain there, but are pressured to give that up to go to school.

Not everyone needs to run out and get a degree! If you really have no clue what you want to do, or you have a career goal that some seem to see as non-traditional, then maybe you need to take a little time off to figure things out. Some people travel, or take time to explore different career options. I’ve known people who took time off and worked for cruise lines, department stores, garages, fast food restaurants. Some of them found a career path they loved. Others found something they thought they would love, and instead hated with the fiery passion of a thousand supernova-ing suns. Either way, they found something about themselves, and were able to either create or narrow-down their career path.

So do you have a plan? If so, congrats! You’re ahead of myself, and about 3/4 of the people I know. You don’t? That’s ok too. Just make sure not to pigeon hole yourself out of options.

Tips for Your Dorm Life

Since I never had the pleasure of living the dorm life, I’ll try to re-blog articles and posts from those who actually have.

TasHa

Living in the dorms can be an amazing adventure—but it comes with its ups and downs. Here’s a list of 5 tips to help you decide whether or not dorming is for you.

1. Dorming can be costly

Living conveniently on campus comes at price: when you move into the dorms, you’ll need to purchase everything from scratch. Items that dorms typically don’t supply, such as a mini fridge, eating utensils and bed sheets are things that need to be purchased on your own before-hand. So in addition to the cost of pricy textbooks and other school supplies, living the dorm life can get expensive. But on a positive note, you won’t ever have to worry about commuting to school. Spending time in traffic or trying to find a parking stall won’t be an issue for you because when you dorm on campus, your classes are just a stroll away.

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ALWAYS know the rules!

Playing this crazy game called like is a little like…… playing the Game of Life. There are certain rules that need to be followed. If you don’t follow then, you risk failure.

This is especially true when you’re looking at your course load for school. Not every school has the same rules regarding grades, required courses, and how their Degree Audits work. Just because you think you know what you’re doing when planning out your degree, doesn’t mean you actually do. You ALWAYS need to check these things out!

Case in point: I know of someone who was working on a second degree. At one point, she was told that she needed three more courses before she could graduate. Since she was committed to a full year of part-time studies due to her job, she split the three classes between two semesters, and filled in some of the gaps with courses she had already taken.

THIS is where things get a little hairy.

You see, she decided that, since she had already passed these courses, she didn’t need to pass them again. At some schools, when taking the same course multiple times, the school will take the best mark you get and put it on your transcripts.

Not this school.

Here, if you retake a course, your make the second time around is the mark you’re left with. It doesn’t matter if that mark is better than the first time, or worse: that mark is the one you get.

When this person took her courses the second time, she didn’t bother actually taking them. She focused all of her time on her last three courses, and her job. She didn’t even write the exams for her other courses. So, she failed.

Fast forward a few months, and she checked to see why she didn’t get a letter about graduation yet. Low and behold, she was three courses short! It took months of negotiation with the University to straighten things out.

She was lucky. The University forgave those three failed courses. Don’t count on that happening for you.

If you want to retake a course, check with someone to see how this will effect you overall in the event of failure.

I’m having a little trouble with my WordPress account. It appears as though my Tags tool has just run away. There is nowhere for me to tag my posts! Does anyone know how to fix this?