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Archive for 2011|Yearly archive page

Understand and Embrace Your Emotions

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Everyone is born with the wiring to feel basic emotions such as fear, joy, sadness and anger. As our brains grow, we develop self-consciousness and learn to feel ever more complex emotions. The trick is learning to understand these feelings, in yourself and in others. Then, you can use your knowledge to improve your emotional readiness skills for success in college, careers and relationships.

People are intuitively drawn to people who are happy—and who make us happy. We respond more quickly and easily to happiness than to sadness; in fact, the human brain actually has a preference for happy faces. This has been interpreted by many researchers to mean that humans are designed for positive relationships. You should look for and expect to find relationships with people who make you happy and allow you to feel good about yourself. You can also use this knowledge to make yourself more desirable as both a friend and coworker.

While it is important to be happy most of the time, remember that there is also a good reason for the negative emotions you experience. Emotions such as remorse, shame, embarrassment and guilt all lead you toward making ethical decisions. They are essential to developing your social and moral sense. Guilt is your own private awareness that you have done wrong, and shame comes when others are aware of your wrongdoing. When you feel shame, you may anticipate social rejection, and when you feel guilt, you may be motivated to make amends. These negative emotions impact your conscience. Along with pride, they guide you toward socially appropriate actions.

Fear and anger also have their place as motivating emotions. Listening to your fear and anger can serve in many circumstances to protect you from harm and give you the strength you need to act decisively. Both of these emotions actually cause chemical reactions which prime your brain for action. They can cause you problems, however, when you simply react instinctively and fail to use your reason to temper your reaction. Taking the time for the classic count to ten before you respond allows the part of your brain which focuses on reason to weigh in on your emotional reaction. This can often help you to use these negative emotions constructively, rather than destructively.

To learn more about emotional readiness, explore the free resources in the STEP™ Resource Guide or try the texts in our Transition Readiness Preparation Program.

Why Manners Matter for College and Careers

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2011 at 8:18 pm

In today’s society, many of us overlook the impact of the seemingly small things that we choose to do – or not do – in our daily interactions. The importance of having good manners is one of the things that we often fail to consider; however, when it comes to interviewing for college or a new job, being polite can make the difference between being accepted or hired – and being passed by.

Manners are the unwritten rules of conduct which demonstrate that an individual is considerate, respectful and well-behaved. They set the standard for behavior in a particular culture or society. While there is generally no formal punishment for behaving badly, the result of having bad manners is to be disapproved of by others. And this can be catastrophic when you are interviewing or giving an initial impression of yourself at college or in a new job.

Little gestures that show your respect for others will go a long way towards making you appear to be a socially acceptable – and therefore socially desirable – person. Simple actions such as holding a door open or letting the person with only one item go ahead of you in line, demonstrate to others that you are both socially aware and have the desire and ability to behave in a positive way. This in turn, will lead to social success.

From exchanging greetings and making introductions to saying please and thank you, the simple niceties are the basis of positive interactions. Displaying appropriate manners regardless of how you feel at a particular moment is important if you want to be successful in your career, college and social situations. While no one expects you to maintain perfect conduct at all times with all people, appearances do matter, and good manners will make a difference in how others perceive and evaluate you.

Choosing to demonstrate politeness and good manners is important in every interaction you have, particularly those at college or in the workplace. And exercising politeness can smooth over many awkward or uncomfortable situations in order to enable you to get along positively with those you live, learn and work with. Good manners can be an essential element of success in college and in any chosen career.

Social Networking Sense for Job-Seekers and College Applicants

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Social networking is a powerful tool. Used wisely, it can be a tremendous help to us in today’s busy world. It can help us to keep in touch with our friends and extend our network of contacts. Unfortunately, too often we forget that it can also work against us.

We forget that what we post online is in essence public; even with the best of privacy settings, the information is now out there, and there are those who will repost, hack and otherwise share things that we may not want to become public knowledge. We also forget that those we are working to hard to impress, from college admissions officers and potential employers to the new guy or girl we are hoping to date, are likely to look us up on Facebook or conduct an internet search in order to get to know more about us.

It is essential to know how to navigate the maze of social media applications and options wisely to protect your personal information. The following simple tips can help:

Maximize your privacy settings in order to protect yourself and others who choose to network with you.

Only connect with those you know, either directly or through a common contact. If you are not certain that someone you are trying to connect with will immediately recognize you, then you should include a brief introduction or reminder of how you know them.

Choose to post and share positive, upbeat thoughts and comments. It will make others more likely to want to read your posts and hear what you have to say.

Decide not to vent anger or frustrations publicly using social media. This is not the purpose of social networking and will not lead to positive results for anyone.

Try not to react emotionally to upsetting posts or comments, and allow yourself at least 24 hours to consider the context before you respond. Keep in mind that often the best response to anything negative is simply silence.

Ask yourself before you upload a picture or video if you are willing to risk having this information shared by individuals that you may not know or may not intend to show it to – because in today’s information age, that result is always possible. This is what often happens when a post or video goes viral!

If you have information that you want to share with one specific person – then do exactly that. Social networking is only one way to communicate with your family and friends.

College Planning and Preparation Tips for Summer Months

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2011 at 2:50 pm

During the summer months you have a unique opportunity to focus your time on preparing and planning for college. Keep in mind that for most students, the senior year is their busiest year. In addition to working hard in classes to keep your grades up, you will be planning for homecoming, prom, graduation and other events. You may also be involved in school sports or activities, and you may even have a part-time job. When you add college preparation into that mix, it can be really overwhelming. That’s why it’s a good idea to spend as much time as possible over the summer taking care of college planning and preparation: so that you can relax and enjoy your senior year!

During the summer:

• Spend time researching potential careers and college majors.

• Consider a summer internship or volunteer opportunity in a potential career field to find out whether it is really right for you.

• Visit colleges and complete the forms in your College Entry Organizer & Journal for each visit.

• Request teacher recommendations and approach teachers about writing recommendations next year.

• Continue revising your college essays until you are confident that they showcase your best writing.

• Spend time reviewing your junior year scores on your college tests and working on any weak areas.

• Complete as many applications as you can over the summer, beginning with those that have the earliest due dates.

• Read and encourage your parent(s)/guardian(s) to read Chapters 3 and 4 of the Winning STEP® Comprehensive College Entry Preparation Guide if they have not already done so in order to fully understand the financial aid process.

• Search for scholarships now as some national college scholarships have deadlines as early as October.

• Meet with your guidance counselor to find out how else he/she can help you with your college planning.

• Take time to relax and enjoy yourself!

Important Tips for Job Seekers: Submitting Your Resume Via Email

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm

In today’s technological age, more and more jobs are posted on the internet. It is becoming commonplace for applicants to submit their resumes using email instead of printing and sending out hard copies. This new approach to the job application process presents individuals who are conducting a job search with a whole new set of dos and don’ts to be aware of.

The following tips are intended to guide job-seekers through the most important elements of submitting a resume over the internet.

1. Name your resume file with your full name. The last thing you want is for your resume to be saved along with hundreds of others named RESUME. And you also don’t want your resume to be confused with someone else who has the same initials, first name or last name. The safest thing to do is to save your resume with your full name and the word resume in order to ensure that a potential employer can easily identify and print the correct resume to share or view in more detail.

2. Include a professional email address on your resume. You want to make certain that you have a professional email address from which you submit resumes and under which you receive responses. This means that if your current email account has been personalized with a unique name such as cutedancer66@aol.com, you need to set up a new account with yahoo or gmail under your full name. If your name is taken, then try adding your middle name or initial to personalize it in a professional manner.

3. Send your resume as an attachment unless specifically told to do otherwise. Most of the time employers will want to save resumes for future reference. You do not simply want to cut and paste your resume as a response. For one, thing, you are likely to lose the formatting that enabled you to fit your resume onto one or two pages.

4. Always send your resume with an email cover letter. Most employers find themselves overwhelmed by the response to a job opening. The first stage for them is a basic weed-out process. Sending a blank response with an attached resume or simply cutting and pasting in your resume with no accompanying note is an easy way to turn them off and cause them to simply move on to the next submission.

5. Follow up a week or so later if you have not heard back. Checking in after a reasonable amount of time indicates your ability to follow up as well as your sincere interest. It also gives you a second chance to get noticed in case your resume somehow slipped through the cracks. Your follow-up letter should be similar to your brief cover letter, focusing on the job you are applying for, why you are a great candidate and indicating your interest and enthusiasm.

Remember that in today’s competitive job market, you can never do too much to try and stand out from the other job applicants. It is often the smallest details that will make the difference in landing you that all-important job interview!

How to Keep Your Job in Today’s Challenging Economy

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm

“A lot of people quit looking for work as soon as they find a job.”

-Zig Ziglar

In today’s challenging economy, you might assume that those who are hired are doing everything possible to make sure that they become – and stay – a desirable employee. Unfortunately, once you enter the day-to-day routine of a new job, too often you may find yourself falling into a familiar pattern – and losing the edge which helped you to land the job in the first place. The problem is that there are piles of resumes still sitting on your employer’s desk, just in case you don’t work out. Today, more than ever, it is essential for you to not only hit the ground running when you start a new job, but to keep up the motivation after you are hired.

Below are some helpful tips for showing your employer every day that you are the right person for the job.

Ask for work. If you run out of things on your To Do List, don’t simply sit back and enjoy the break. Instead, go to your supervisor or coworkers and ask what else you can do to help out. This is also the best way to learn new skills and get noticed for potential promotions.

Act like you are glad to be there – even when you aren’t. When you smile, the whole world smiles with you. On the other hand, if you let a bad mood show, others are likely to pick up on the same feeling. You want your employer and coworkers to feel good about having you around.

Leave personal problems at home. Of course we all have issues in our personal and home lives occasionally. We’re only human. The workplace, however, is not the place to discuss these issues. Many employers and coworkers feel that personal drama in the workplace is not only a distraction from work, but an indicator that the employee may not be as dependable as they’d hoped.

Never go on to Facebook, game sites, or other personal accounts while at work. While your employer may not actually see you on these sites, it is easy for them to find a record of your activities on your computer or on the server. And in today’s internet world, employers do check on how employees are spending their time on the computer. When they discover their employees “playing” at work, they are never impressed.

Find out how you are doing. Many employers don’t think to let you know how you are doing unless there is a problem – and some won’t let you know even if there is a problem until it is too late. If you aren’t scheduled for a review after your first few weeks, ask your employer if they can meet with you briefly to let you know how you are doing and make suggestions on how you can become a better employee. Then continue to ask for this feedback every few months.

If you follow these simple tips, you will find yourself far more likely to be considered a valuable employee – which means that your employer is more likely to want to find ways to keep you around, even when inevitable bumps do come up. In today’s competitive job market, job security is something you should be concerned about every day.

Honesty in Resumes and Job Applications

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm

There is no doubt that it is important to be honest with a potential employer when you are applying for a job. However, this does not mean that you need to offer information that is not relevant to the job or your ability to do it well. For this reason, I suggest the following tips for creating resumes and completing job applications.

1. Do not provide personal information such as physical attributes (or disabilities), age, and personal details such as religion and ethnicity. Employers are not allowed to make hiring decisions based on these elements, and so they are irrelevant.

2. Focus on information about yourself that qualifies you for the specific job or company to which you are applying. Remember that a resume should only be one page or a maximum of two in length. While it is essential to be honest, there is such a thing as providing too much information. If in doubt, leave it out.

3. You do not always need to include your entire job history, particularly if you are an older applicant and are concerned about advertising that fact. List only those positions which contributed to your overall experience and qualifications for the particular job you are applying for. It is not mandatory to include every job you have ever had.

4. It is not generally necessary to include exact dates for each job you held. While some job applications require specific dates of employment and still ask for an explanation of employment gaps, in today’s economy this is becoming much rarer. It is often acceptable to give only the number of years of employment or a range of dates that only includes the year you began working in a specific position and the year you ended.

5. Create one general list at the top of your resume which highlights your overall qualifications instead of repeating job descriptions for each position. This way you can leave out irrelevant details that may make a particular position look less impressive. Employers are more concerned with your overall skills and accomplishments than in a chronological listing or a detailed explanation of each position you ever held.

6. Do not include a picture of yourself. Unless you are applying for a job in an entertainment industry where a picture is relevant and required as part of the application process, your appearance should not be a factor in whether or not you receive an interview. That being said, appearance does contribute to an employer’s overall impression of you, so remember to dress for success when you do meet a potential employer.

7. Only include hobbies and interests if they specifically relate to the position you are applying for or demonstrate that you have certain skills they are looking for. For example, having a role of responsibility or leadership within a club or organization can demonstrate your management skills, but simply belonging to a cooking club is not relevant unless you are applying for a job related to food preparation.

You can learn more about writing resumes and completing job applications in the Comprehensive Career Entry & Preparation Guide at Winning-STEP.com.

Important Tips for Job Applicants with Disabilities

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm

In today’s economy, more than ever, it is important to take advantage of any assistance available when it comes to your job search. Whether you are seeking a job or exploring a new career, if you have special needs or disabilities then there are many helpful programs designed with you in mind. Numerous resources have been created to assist you in finding job success.

The following tips can help you in preparing for a successful job search.

1. Be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is designed to protect you and has specific provisions to assist you in finding and keeping a job.

2. Explore the many federal government resources available to assist those with special needs or disabilities in searching for and preparing for a career. Many of these sites are listed in the STEP™ Resource Guide.

3. Take advantage of state programs designed to help those with special needs and disabilities. In Maryland, for instance, there is a special department of the government called Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) that operates to assist the special needs community.

4. Be aware of job accommodation requirements and options that you are entitled to. These can make the difference between job success and job frustration. It is never a sign of weaknesses to take advantage of an opportunity to be successful!

5. Be open with a prospective employer about any disabilities you may have once you meet with them for an interview. Let them know that you are aware of your limitations – and aware of your rights. Also, share with them the strategies or accommodations you intend to use to ensure that you are able to do the job successfully. Remember that employers are not allowed to discriminate against you when hiring.

The internet is full of free information that can help you. Explore the many free sites listed in the free online version of the STEP™ Resource Guide today!

Five Things You Need to Know About College Readiness

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm

There are so many things to consider when you prepare and plan for college. The Gates Foundation cites a number of facts about college readiness among high school students. Below are some of the most relevant things you should be aware of.

• The more education you have, the more likely you are to be employed and the more money you are likely to earn in your chosen occupation.
• Virtually all states set their standards for Proficiency below those of the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
• Scores on standardized tests have dropped for both the ACT and SAT.
• Only 24 percent of high school seniors who take took the ACT test in 2010 meet its college-ready benchmarks in all four core subject areas.
• Only 20 states and the District of Columbia set their graduation requirements to the college-ready level by requiring four years of mathematics and four years of college-preparatory English.

We developed our research-based Comprehensive College Entry Preparation and Straightforward Strategies for College Testing Programs to help students to become as prepared as possible for college testing and the college application process. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have!

Turning a Career Change into a Positive Life Transition

In Uncategorized on April 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm

My most recently article, posted on the New England Job Show offers advice for those who find themselves unexpectedly facing one of life’s many curve balls. In order to take advantage of a career change, your goal should be to embrace it. With the right attitude and approach, you can turn the most negative job change situation into a positive life transition. Here are a few tips:

1. Look at the positive. Focus on what you didn’t like about the job or career you are leaving and consider how a new job or career could better meet your current needs, interests and lifestyle.
2. Assess yourself. Remember that you are constantly changing. It’s important to take time to look at who you are NOW. Evaluate your current skills and abilities. Use the free self-assessment links in the Winning STEP™ STEP Resource Guide to help you rediscover yourself.
3. Explore careers. This is the perfect time to consider alternate careers or revisit careers you once dreamed of. If you are making a change anyway, you might as well investigate all of your options!

You can make the most of your career change if you take a deep breath and choose to step up to your future!

Personal Best Tips for Career Changers

In Uncategorized on March 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Here are some of the tips I shared this week in my radio interview:

1. When you email a resume, be sure to send a cover letter with your resume attached. Nothing is a bigger turnoff than opening a blank email with an attachment.

2. Name your resume file with your full name. You don’t want your file to be one of hundreds named RESUME.

3. Be sure to take time to re-assess yourself, your skills, your interests and your personality before you begin your job search. Instead of simply looking for the same job you used to have, try expanding your job search. You may even find a new career that is a better fit!

4. Keep in mind that while going back to college may be the right choice for you, there are a number of paths you can take to start a new career. It’s worth learning about all your options instead of simply going back to college as a default.

5. Take advantage of the many FREE RESOURCES we offer at Winning-STEP.com to explore career paths, assess yourself and search for job openings!

You can hear the whole interview on Personal Best with Kristin Tews on 1220 AM WKRS (visit WKRS, click on podcast, go to Personal Best w/Kristin Tews and click on March 7, 2011 noon to 1 pm).

My Personal Career Transition

In Uncategorized on March 7, 2011 at 11:18 pm

After being an expert teacher of English in middle school and high school for 18 years, I found myself undergoing a transition that I had not expected.  For 18 years, “I am a teacher” had been my identity; not just what I did, but who I was.  Suddenly, I had to reinvent myself.

I took the time to explore possibilities.  I completed self-assessments and thought of careers that I had previously considered.  At one time I had planned on becoming a vet, so I took a position as a vet tech, learning on the job. While I loved the animals, the position was simply not the right fit, so I moved on.  My organizational and management skills led my to try my hand as an office manager.  Again, it was not the right fit.  Both of those positions were, frankly, not challenging enough for me.  And I was able to leave them at work.  I wanted another career that could lead to a new identity.

Again, I assessed myself. I looked at my abilities and what I most enjoyed; suddenly it seemed obvious that I should become a writer. Being older and wiser than when I’d dreamed of such a career in high school, I realized that being a writer did not mean writing the great American novel and hoping it would get published.  Instead, it meant finding a way to earn a living by doing what I loved.  I became a freelance writer focusing on whatever I could get paid to write: SEO website content, website articles and blogs, resumes and more. Within a few years was earning a true income writing for others.  I loved it, but at times felt that same disconnect. I did not live the work.

Then, I was recruited to write curriculum and educational guides for a start-up company that planned to focus on preparing students and adults for the transition to college, careers and independence. It was there I once again found my passion and a new identity. I became part of a team that wanted to provide comprehensive guidance, resources, and tools to empower individuals to move successfully through life transitions. I was able to draw on my own personal and professional experiences as well as recent research to develop much-needed programs unlike anything else out there. I am now the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Winning STEP, providing guides and programs to assist students and adults through the life-changing transition to college, careers and independence.  This is now not only what I do, but who I am.

 

 

Radio Interviews

In Uncategorized on March 7, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I have been fortunate enough to be interviewed on a number of radio shows as the Director of Curriculum & Instruction for Winning STEP™.  I always enjoy sharing tips for transitioning to college, careers and independence!

First, I was pleased to be interviewed on the  Jon Leonetti Show.  I was very excited to be able to share our mission with the folks in Iowa! Best of all, Jon invited me back and I’ll be featured again on March 15th.

Next, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for Tough Talk with Tony Gambone. If you play the interview, you will find me introduced 34 minutes in to the show.  Tony also invited me back, with the date still TBD.

Most recently, I was interviewed on Personal Best with Kristin Tews. It was another fun opportunity to share what I have learned about transitioning to a new career and preparing for college.

 

Tough Talk with Tony Gambone

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Today I am looking forward to my second opportunity to discuss Winning STEP™ programs and products on the radio! You can call in to Tough Talk with Tony Gambone and ask questions at 347-989-1363. Learn more on his website. I can’t wait to share the importance of planning and preparing for the transition to college, careers and independence.  So often we forget that transitions such as going to college, choosing a career, finding a job, starting a new position, moving out on your own and so many more are not simply events. They are each a process we go through, which is so much smoother and more successful if we take time to plan for each step and prepare ourselves academically, emotionally and logistically!

First Radio Interview

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Today I am being interviewed on my first radio show.  I discovered that it’s not as simple as waiting by the phone for the call – I forgot that time zones were involved.  Oh, well, there are far worse things than being ready an hour early for an interview.

At 4:35 Eastern Time, I’ll be heard on the  Jon Leonetti Show.  I’m very excited about sharing our mission with the folks in Iowa!

Guest Blog on Ms. Career Girl!

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I just started this whole blogging thing and ALREADY I have my first Guest Blog! Read all about Academic, Emotional and Logistical Readiness – the three elements of career and life success – at Ms. Career Girl. I’m so excited to be able to share all that I have learned in these past three years of research!

Hello blogging!

In Uncategorized on January 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I have now officially entered the world of blogging!  I am so proud to have gone from a teacher who had to ask her students how to make the computers work 20 years ago to being able to teach others about new programs and technology. Luckily, I have made the transition to the computer age, and I’m proud to share the wealth of internet resources I have discovered.