The Top 4 Ways To Work On Your Career While Still In School (Guest Post)

By Alex Pejak.
Alex is an economist currently working on a few projects in Australia. She is passionate about market research and career development. She is also interested in topics related to project management and business IT.

As you study it’s always an excellent idea to keep the next step in mind. What will you do once you graduate? If you’re like most students, you’re planning to find a job and start a career. Yet we live in a very competitive economy and many students are finding that careers do not simply appear out of thin air upon graduation. The best jobs go to those who began preparing long before it came time to find one. To make sure you land the kind of position you’re hoping to get, it’s a good idea to start working on your career now, while you’re still in school.

In general, the most important and most effective ways of setting yourself up for post-graduation success involve building up your skills and experience in the field you’d like to work in. This gives you confidence in your choice of career, and shows employers that you’re ready. Also, the experience you gain during your studies will ensure you know the industry’s leaders, language, and trends, which will help you choose the best employer for you rather than finding yourself looking for the one with the largest career-fair booth.

1. Do The Best Job You Can  

The simplest method of setting yourself up for a smooth transition to the working world is simply putting in the effort during school. By being diligent, getting good grades, and participating both on and off campus, you start attracting fans and building up a network… people who will be eager to help you succeed later.

Sometimes, you may even find the organizations you volunteered at will want to hire you right out of school. Compared with sending out hundreds of CVs and sitting through dozens of interviews, this can be a highly appealing proposition.

In other cases, you’ll find your experiences mean that club leaders, peers, and professors will give you glowing references, and will help to mentor you as part of their own legacy. The resulting experiences will make for wonderful stories in job interviews, and your accomplishments will look excellent on your CV and in cover letters.

2. Intern or Volunteer In Your Time Off         

Often, the classic “student jobs” like bartending or retail have no connection to the career you want to pursue later. There are few better ways to explore an interesting-sounding career, on the other hand, than interning or volunteering in a related position. Make a point of spending your summers and breaks in positions, even if they’re unpaid, which have a connection to the career you want to pursue.

Since applying to internships is nearly identical to applying for a regular job — you’ll require a good quality CV and cover letter, and you may need to show language or computer certificates — the process will also provide valuable practice for the working world later.

3. Go Abroad    

Interning or volunteering abroad is a little more complicated, to be sure. However, expanding your horizons and learning to work in a different culture is always a valuable personal development experience and highly attractive to employers. Showing experience abroad on your CV will convey to potential employers that you can work well in nearly any situation, that you’re more well-rounded and balanced than most other candidates. This marks you as a candidate for leadership and management from day one.

Better still, going abroad is not as difficult as it sounds. While you will likely require translated copies of your CV, cover letter, references, certificates, and such, online translation makes this fast and easy. Additionally, once you’ve found a position in a foreign country, the firm will likely have resources to help you arrange a visa, accommodation, and the like.

4. Pick Your Classes Wisely   

Last but not least, though it may seem obvious to some, your choice of classes is an excellent way to work on your career as you study. You can use your classes as a way of learning about the current trends, major players, and language of the fields that interest you. Look at which classes have a practical application to your field of choice, and focus on those. Particularly in business classes, the materials you read may be the same things that shaped the management ideals of the companies you will go work for.

Conclusion

In many respects, the best ways of preparing yourself for a future career as you study are the simplest: put in as much work as you can, take every chance you get to gain hands-on experience in the field. The exception, studying or working abroad, is a little more involved but also one of the most rewarding. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that going abroad is so beneficial because there are hurdles involved — most candidates you’ll be competing against won’t bother. Keep this principle in mind as you study, too. By looking for opportunities that most people can’t be bothered to take, it’s easy to give yourself a big advantage.

The first step to getting a good career is getting good grades in school.  The Secrets of Top Students can show you how!

Landing a Dream Job in Wildlife Tourism (Guest Post)

By Dianna Terry. Dianna is a marine biology PhD candidate working for an ocean conservancy organization.

Kneeling in roadside sand to identify a lion’s pugmark, interpreting a humpback’s tail-slap for a ship full of camera-wielding whale-watchers, collecting a blood sample from an ailing goose in a marshland refuge—a career in the wildlife-tourism industry is often rife with adventure. For anyone who loves animals and wild ecosystems, it can be a deeply fulfilling dream job.

wildlife careers

Do you love animals? Consider a career in wildlife tourism.

Wildlife tourism, though, covers a broad spectrum of specific careers. You could become a safari guide for a travel company, which might be the job that most automatically comes to mind. But you might also be a field researcher, studying populations of wild animals in national parks and other protected lands that attract wildlife-watchers in droves. Maybe you’ll don a doctor’s coat to ensure a population of endangered animals is secure against devastating disease—including those potentially transmitted by humans in ecotourism situations. Perhaps you’ll tackle another aspect of the field by regulating industry practices with an eye toward sustainability through a group such as the International Ecotourism Society.

Zoological parks also often fall under the umbrella, and not only because the animals on display serve as educational ambassadors for their wild brethren: Many leading zoos are also heavily involved in conservation work. The Milwaukee County Zoo, for example, has long tended one of North America’s biggest colonies of captive bonobos, and works to secure wild populations of these rare great apes in equatorial Africa, according to BonoboConservation.com.

Education

Pursuing an academic track in biological sciences gives you a comprehensive, technical understanding of how animals are put together and how they function in relation to their environment. Mastering these fundamentals of physiology and ecology is crucial to many aspects of conservation work.

To some, wildlife biology or zoology might appear “softer” academic routes than physics or chemistry: A trotting wolf, after all, seems easier to understand than the invisible latticework of an organic compound or the complicated equations accounting for the behavior of the universe. But biologists familiarize themselves with many levels of ecological organization and process, from an animal’s physiological requirements to its larger-scale interactions with other species, the seasonal and long-term patterns of its movements in the context of different habitats, and its response and susceptibility to climatic fluctuations.

Beyond a wildlife-biology or ecology program, a degree or certificate in veterinary studies can also usher you into ecotourism work by giving you the tools to diagnose and treat diseases affecting wild or captive animals. For example, the Veterinary Technician Program through PennFoster.edu exposes you to everything from basic tenets of biology and medical mathematics to intensive courses on animal anatomy and nutrition. When assessing potential veterinary curriculums, keep an eye out for accreditation by institutions such as the American Veterinary Medical Association.

An undergraduate degree or certification in wildlife ecology, conservation biology, or some related field may be sufficient to land professional work in wildlife tourism—particularly when combined with plenty of practical experience. However, further education is often mandatory for high-level research and managerial positions, as NationalZoo.si.edu explains.

Interning and Volunteering

As with any line of study, volunteering or interning can be enormously beneficial. Beyond making you more attractive to a hiring committee, it provides a better sense of exactly what kind of position and what area of focus most interests you. Jobs working with charismatic megafauna like elephants and tigers can be highly competitive; volunteering as a data-cruncher or field assistant gives you a taste of the drama while also improving your resume.

Inquire with zoos, wildlife refuges, veterinary clinics, national parks, ecotourism companies, and other organizations to find out about volunteer and internship opportunities. If you’re lucky and committed, you might even land yourself a direct job opportunity out of the deal.


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Deciding to Become a Teacher (Guest Post)

By Fiona Mayberry.  Fiona loves teaching others, and loves that the internet allows her to reach different people every week. She currently writes about education policies and degree certification processes.

If you’re in high school or college right now, you’re probably putting a lot of thought into what you want to do with your life. It’s possible that the most influential people in your life have been teachers, which might inspire you to become a teacher yourself. Before you commit to that career path though, there are a few things to consider:

Source of Motivation

If you want to become a teacher to change people’s lives, that’s wonderful. Just know that you won’t feel like you’re making an impact every day. If you’re inspired by seeing small improvements in a student’s work, or knowing you made someone’s day better, then you’ll be fine. If, however, you expect to see large results quickly, you might go through long periods of time where you feel frustrated. It’s important to know yourself and have realistic expectations.

Hours

Some people are attracted to the teaching profession because they like the idea of working the same schedule every day. 7-3 Monday through Friday seems pretty cushy, and the idea of summer breaks is appealing as well. But teachers often have to take their work home to grade papers and create lesson plans. They also have after-school events such as staff meetings, parent conferences, and continual learning opportunities. You’ll work a lot more than just classroom hours. Also, depending on your financial situation, you might have to teach summer courses or find an additional source of income for vacation times. Keep all this in mind and know that class times are not going to be your only work times.

Do you have what it takes to be a teacher?

Do you have what it takes to be a teacher?

State Requirements

Every state has its own requirements for teaching certifications.  If you’re planning on moving, make sure you know the requirements for the state you’re considering. Certain areas require different tests and even prerequisite degrees and courses in order to take the certification tests. Classroom experience is also a qualification that varies state-to-state.

Likewise, states all have different laws when it comes to what is taught in the classroom. Look into how much input teachers in your target area have over what they teach. Look at the current proposed bills affecting education so that you know not only the current classroom atmosphere, but what it’s likely to be like in the future.

Once you take all these things into consideration, you will be more prepared to make an informed decision. Will a classroom environment allow you to thrive? Is teaching the way for you to fulfill your life goals? If so, start looking at online teacher communities, and talk with those in the field. The more you see of what teaching is actually like, the more prepared you will be to have a positive impact on student lives.


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Landing an Internship: 5 Tips for Distance Education Students

By Brady Tamblin
Brady is an HR consultant specializing in helping startups create hiring plans and bonus structures. In his free time he likes to fly fish.

As an intern, you have a one in two chance of landing a full-time job post-internship, per the National Association of Colleges and Employers annual survey. While a local college might have career experts who can help you identify and apply to local internships, as a distance education student you’ll have to do much of the legwork to find one. Use these five tips to streamline the internship process and find the right opportunity for you.

1. Virtual: OK or no way? As a starting point, decide whether you want to complete an in-person or online internship. Internships.com reports that 33 percent of companies hire virtual interns. If you’re hoping to treat your internship like your education, you’ll have a 1 in 3 shot at finding something virtual. On the other hand, if you want hands-on experience to supplement your distance education, decide that before you start looking at opportunities.

2. Use listservs to send jobs to you. Hunting for internships in your field can be a full-time job if you let it. Instead, automate much of the work by signing up for listservs and creating discipline-specific RSS feeds. Wake Forest University recommends resources such as Indeed, Internships.com, the University Career Action Network, CareerShift and The Internship Center. Automate internship alerts at these (or similar) sites, then set aside time each week to review opportunities sent via emails and RSS feeds.

3. Polish your resume and cover letter. These materials are crucial for any internship interview—virtual or place-based. CareerBuilder offers eight useful tips for writing strong cover letters and personalizing each one; these can help you draft your application materials. Your online school should have a career counselor who can review your materials and suggest helpful edits. Consider also having friends or family members review your materials for grammar, spelling and readability. You may think you’re being very clear about your desire to work for Consultant A, only to find that your logic doesn’t make sense to others.

4. Brush up on your skill set. While you’re polishing your application materials, review any internship requirements or preferred qualifications. Use this time to add (or brush up on) any skills you lack. For those who have pursued Web Design degrees online, you might not have used Flash in two semesters. If so, review tutorials and play around with the program if you find that internship opportunities require knowledge of the software.

5. Prepare for any interview with care. If you’re lucky enough to be granted an interview for an internship, take it seriously. Prepare well for the interview by learning as much as you can about the company and by mock interviewing. Again, your career center, family and friends can drill you with interview questions and offer constructive criticism. Practicing classic interview questions like “Tell me your greatest strength and weakness” not only gives you time to prepare a thoughtful answer ahead of time, it can relieve jitters. As part of the preparation, pick out (and iron) an appropriate interview outfit, review the office directions and make sure that you know where you need to be and have left enough time to get there. There’s nothing worse than getting to an interview late (and making a bad first impression) because you got stuck in a traffic jam or got lost.


Give yourself the gift of great grades.  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

Paid or Unpaid Internships: Getting the Experience You Want (Guest Post)

By Diana Neal. Diana is currently an intern for the Marketing Zen Group. You can connect with her at http://about.me/indiananeal

There have been some good points made recently about the disadvantages of unpaid internships. The most obvious disadvantage is money — or the lack thereof. Although I cannot argue against the importance of money, I can make a compelling argument for why unpaid internships should not be overlooked.

In my twenties and thirties, I was busy raising kids and going to college. Now in my forties, I have been unemployed for an extended period of time. Since there seemed to be no end to my job search, I started giving some thought to how I could apply my skill set and do something else.

At this time I began looking at internships. When you are in your forties, some traditional routes for internships are not an option. Most internships want college-aged students who have a degree or who will graduate soon. Many internships require relocation, which was not an option for me. My internship choices were slim pickings, but they were out there.

I applied and was accepted for an unpaid internship with an online marketing company. My internship is online, and I work with a team who work from home writing for search engine optimization, or SEO. I have been assigned three clients, a Leave Your Legacy campaign, an ophthalmologist in New Jersey, and a mobile apps development company. I am responsible for the research, outreach, and the writing of blog ‘guest posts’ that use keywords to connect back to the client’s site.

Here are six things you should consider when choosing an unpaid (or paid) internship. I chose topics based on my personal experience. I also offer some suggestions on how to carve out an internship that is right for you.

1. Contact companies directly. Sometimes you may find there isn’t anything offered in the area you live, or maybe what is offered is not something you are interested in doing. Sometimes the internship requires relocation. Not everyone can relocate to take an internship. What do you do when your choices are limited? Well, you can always ask if a company would be willing to provide you an internship. Just email them, or give them a call. I have usually started with the human resources department when doing this in the past.

2. If you approach someone about an internship, come up with a list of goals you would like to reach during your internship. This will help you find an internship that fits your needs while making you look super capable. You will appear self-motivated and committed to a successful internship — all positive things that will most likely lead you to getting an internship you will love.

3. Think outside the box. Many skills are universal. You may find you can get the skills you want from an internship that does not exactly match your degree plan. An example would be my internship. I wanted to write and learn more about marketing. I had no previous experience with SEO, but I found my internship could meet my personal needs while giving me the experience I wanted.

4. Negotiation and compromise are a part of life. Be willing to negotiate and compromise for the types of experiences you would like to have in an internship. In any internship, be willing to do things you may not find that great, because you learn from those experiences too. Knowing your goals and what you are willing to do — and what you will not do — will help you negotiate in a way that puts you in the driver’s seat.

5. Reach out to those around you who can help you. You are never too young to understand the importance of building networks and forming connections. There are many ways to do this online, and the internet is full of tutorials. When you are looking for an internship, tell everyone who will listen. They might connect you to someone who can give you the internship you are looking for.

6. Consider a volunteer position. There are many volunteer opportunities that are just as good as an unpaid internship. When you volunteer there is usually some form of training; you learn new skills, you can get someone to write you a letter of recommendation, and it looks just as good on an application.

The Pros and Cons of Doing a Work-From-Home Internship

My internship is based from home. If you’re interested in a work-from-home internship, consider the pros and cons before making a decision. To get you started, I have listed some of the pros and cons I have experienced.

Pros:

Flexibility.  I set my own hours. If something happens at home I’m there to take care of it.

Informal. I can wear whatever I want. If all I want to wear are my pajamas, then that’s what I wear!

Less Stress. I am sensitive to light and noise. I find it very stressful to work in a loud, noisy setting. I just don’t function well in that kind of environment. I need to be able to think, and I can’t think in an environment where I am subjected to intrusive stimuli that I can’t control.

Time.  I like being able to take a break, and maybe do my dishes. I also like avoiding interruptions from well-meaning coworkers, and bosses. Also, being able to manage my time cuts down on distractions and gives me more flexibility in my day.

Less Distraction. I find I am more productive at home because I am not distracted by idle gossip and chit chat. If I am distracted I retreat into my room.

Now for the cons:

The cons are easy. Pretty much anything considered a pro can also serve as a con. Some days, being self-directed is easier than others. A break with family around can easily become an hour — or two. Doing the dishes can turn into cleaning the whole house. Being at home can also become monotonous. It can be too quiet, or too loud. Wearing your pajamas everyday sounds cool, but after a while you just feel gross and in need of a shower. If you do choose an internship from home you will have to find ways to balance the demands of home and work. You will also need to develop tunnel vision so the distractions at home are not disruptive, and you can get your work done.

In conclusion, you may find your list of pros and cons looks differently than mine. That is okay. Your list should be based on your unique needs. Regardless of what type of internship you choose, I hope you find an internship that will help you meet your goals and rock your world!


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5 Green Careers That Make A Difference (Guest Post)

If you are looking for a viable career path that will provide both a reliable income and a tiny carbon footprint, you may want to consider entering the green-collar job sector. Not only are these jobs part of a growth industry, but they will help you sleep at night, knowing that you’re doing your part to protect planet earth and the many creatures that live here.

Here are five growing green careers that you may wish to investigate.

1. Forester

If you want to blend a love of physical outdoor work with an aptitude for biology, this may be the perfect career choice. The modern forestry industry involves restoring and conserving forests, transitioning to faster growing species, studying the effects of deforestation on the environment, and actual harvesting. Most foresters require a degree in forestry or environmental studies. And, no. You don’t have to look good in plaid.

2. Solar Power Installers

The whole world seems to be jumping onboard the solar power wagon, causing a great demand for people to work in this field. This job involves installing rooftop solar panels or water heaters. If you love working with your hands, have a construction background, and want to enter a growth industry, this could be ideal. And don’t worry about having to move to the Mojave. Anywhere there’s sunshine, there’s bound to be a solar power installation job waiting for you.

3. Conservation Biologist

If your quest is to save the planet, this career path strives to do exactly that. The Conservation Biologist’s job description is to protect the earth’s ecosystems and protect its biodiversity. With positions available in research, teaching, Government agencies, and nonprofits, this field offers a vast array of possibilities. So, if you love nature and have a degree in Biology, this could be the ideal career choice. You may be the one to save the dwindling bumble bee, or halt the attack of the Asian Carp.

4. Recycler

If you were in charge of your school’s recycling program, are the master of composting, or love to find ways to repurpose refuse, a career in recycling may be your perfect fit. With garbage disposal fees mounting and landfill sites exploding at the seams, recycling is a viable and green alternative to the traditional dump. And jobs in this industry are on the rise with openings for a plethora of educational backgrounds. Whether you want to manage a department in a recycle centre, work the sorting lines, or operate heavy equipment on the landfill site, this industry offers a wide array of green jobs that will help make your corner of the planet a better place.

5. Urban Planner

Urban planners typically work for municipal governments, which makes them attractive to someone looking for greater job security and an opportunity to affect positive change on your local community. Urban planners deal with a variety of areas including mass transit and other transportation concerns, emergency planning, dealing with urban sprawl, and building layouts–ensuring that someone who works in this area will never get bored. If you love constructing computer-generated cities and possess a degree in Urban or Regional Planning, this is your chance to put those skills to use–and help your town decrease the size of its carbon footprint.

If you are intrigued by the idea of entering a growth industry and doing work that you can be proud of, one of these green jobs may prove to be your dream career. So swap your collar of white or blue for one that’s green–and love what you do.

How “green” is your job? Does decreasing your carbon footprint matter to you? Why or why not?

Image courtesy of photos.com.

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer, avid blogger, and former Education Coordinator at her local recycling plant. She has written on a vast array of topics including WordPress plugins, financial software, social media marketing, and online reputation management. Follow her at kimberleylaws.com.


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GRE vs. the GMAT: Which Should You Take?

By Marcela De Vivo
Whether you’re still clutching your newly minted diploma, or have been in the workforce for a decade, getting a graduate degree can be a smart career move, especially in the world of business. If you’re looking to earn a Master’s or MBA, more standardized testing is in your near future. The GRE is required for most graduate school programs, but the GMAT is more likely to be the test needed for MBA programs. There are other major differences between the two tests, so pick one that suits your strengths. These tests are also much pricier and involve even more studying than the testing required for undergrad applications, so most students don’t take more than one. Make sure you pick the right test to help you get into the graduate program of your dreams.

This infographic by BenchPrep Inc. can help you decide between the GRE and GMAT. If you’re planning on getting an MBA, make sure that the schools of your choice will accept a GRE instead of a GMAT, as not all schools accept GREs in place of GMATs. If you have stronger math skills than writing ability, the GMAT may be better suited to your proficiencies. Take a look at the major differences below.

benchprepgre


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