How can you use social media to get a job?

August 25th, 2016 by

Social media has expanded beyond a fun way to communicate with friends — it is also an important tool for making connections and branding yourself. Social media can help you develop relationships and show off your skills to peers and potential employers. Today we are answering three standard questions regarding social media and what you share with professionals in your field.

What social media platforms should I be using?download (1)

If you don’t have a LinkedIn account yet, get one. LinkedIn is like your resume, but allows you to expand on your experience, showcase your talents and create a portfolio of your work. The point of LinkedIn is to make connections with people within your field, making it the perfect platform to find new opportunities, open yourself up to recruiters and develop your career.

Unlike LinkedIn, which is strictly business oriented, Facebook and Twitter can be used in both a personal and professional context. It all depends on who you choose to connect with. Depending on your field, you may want to separate your personal life and professional life into two accounts. Use a personal account to stay in touch with friends and a professional account to share professional development and advancement as well as interesting news in your industry.

Which pages should I include on a resume or business card?

The social media platforms you include depend on what you use the pages for. Just to reiterate, LinkedIn is a must! However, other social media should typically be left off your resume, unless it is a professional account relevant to the position you are applying for.

Examples of social media you can include are a professional blog you write or a company profile you shared content on. These examples highlight your ability to use social media in a professional setting and show off your knowledge about your field.

How should I present myself on social media?

Be consistent. Use the same username and the same picture and post similar content across all of your social media profiles.

Be active. Do not share social media you aren’t regularly posting to. Trying to connect using a profile you haven’t posted to in months will not give a good impression.

Be appropriate. This tip should go without saying, but don’t swear or discuss inappropriate subjects. If you wouldn’t talk that way in front of your boss, don’t say it on a professional account.

 

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Careers in Graphic Design

August 23rd, 2016 by

Graphic designers are prevalent in almost every industry. They create logos, advertising, packaging, book covers, product design, website layout… the list goes on and on. If you constantly find yourself doodling in the margins or posting stellar photos on Instagram, a career in graphic design may be the perfect for you.

Education

Graphic designers must have a passion for art and most companies require that you hold a bachelor’s degree in design or a related field. This typically takes four years to complete and give you the foundation for a successful career in graphic design.

As a graphic design student, your courses will cover art history, the elements and principles of design and how aspects of design are used to influence or appeal to a target audience. You will learn the significance of color, composition, symbols and typeface.

graphic-designer-1288477_960_720During the course of your education you will also take classes in photography, illustration and web design to help you develop your design skills. This is a great time to start putting together a portfolio. Keep all of your work and include your best pieces in a portfolio you can show off to potential employers.

You may want to consider certification programs for different types of design software (such as photo-editing software). A certification demonstrates your knowledge and gives you an advantage when looking for jobs.

Career

Graphic designers often work for an agency that provides design services to clients or they work directly for a company in the creative department. Graphic designers can also choose to work freelance, with 20 percent of graphic designers being self-employed and working for a number of clients and organizations.

There are typically four steps involved in a graphic design project. First, the designer meets with clients and discusses ideas. Once they establish an idea or goal for the project, the designer develops the visual elements needed for the project. Next, they meet with the client again to go over the visuals and discuss where adjustments should be made. Finally, the designer edits the project and sends it to be printed, uploaded or sent to a web developer, depending on the project.

Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for graphic designers in 2015 was $46,900, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry is expected to have little no change with a projected growth of 1 percent over the next decade.
Take our Careers in Graphic Design course to learn more!

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The Four Ingredients of Entrepreneurship

August 18th, 2016 by

Have you ever wanted to open your business, but didn’t know where to begin? According to Arunas Chesonis, CEO of Sweetwater Energy in Rochester NY and expert entrepreneur, there are four ingredients for starting a successful business: experience, planning, funding and teamwork.

Experience. Before you start a new business, you need to understand how a business is run. Apply for internships or volunteer at an organization and put in quality effort. Take time to learn from those around you and understand the ins and outs of the industry. By working in the field of business ahead of time, you will make meaningful connections and gain valuable experience, setting yourself up for future success.

Looking to become leaders in their industryPlanning. When it comes to starting a new business, you cannot just wing it. You need to construct a detailed plan and answer these fundamental questions:

-Who is my target market/audience?
-What exactly do I want to do?
-When will I launch my new business?
-Where do I want my business to be after 1 year? 2 years? 5 years?
-How much will it cost?

You should also come up with a justification for the new business. What niche does it fulfill? Why should people use your product or service over someone else’s?

Funding. Once you figure out how much starting your business will cost, you need to figure out how it will be funded. Can you afford to fund the project yourself or do you need investors? If you don’t have enough people to invest in your idea, you can also investigate small business loans. There are plenty of funding opportunities available it’s just a matter of finding the best option for you.

Teamwork. Creating a team of smart and dedicated individuals will be necessary to help your business grow. Working with others can be a challenge, so make sure you pick your team carefully. Choose trustworthy people that are smart, dedicated and passionate about the business you are building together. Make sure you and your team brush up on their interpersonal communication skills and go into every meeting with an open mind. You want to establish a strong, upbeat and conflict-free environment from the get go.

Learn more about starting a business with Next Step Academy’s Entrepreneurship course!

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Tips for Saving Money in College

August 16th, 2016 by

Money is tight when you’re in college, forcing you to become thrifty and develop your money management skills. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years for saving money in college.

Take advantage of campus activities. Instead of going out and spending money, look for events on campus. Your college most likely offers movie nights and other social gatherings that are either really cheap or completely free.

Buy used. This goes for textbooks, clothes, mini fridges, everything. Almost every bookstore has a used section and you can always look online to see if people are selling old textbooks cheap. Many colleges also host a sale at the beginning of the semester where they sell things past students gave away or left behind. This can be a great place to get dishes and cheap electronics.

Opt for a cheaper meal plan. Be realistic about how much food you eat and choose the correlating meal plan. It may also be worth it to choose a basic meal plan and supplement with groceries. Do you really need your meal plan to cover breakfast if all you eat is a granola bar?

Always make a shopping list. Whether you need new school supplies or it’s your weekly trip to the grocery store, always make a list. A list will ensure you get everything you need, but will also help limit wandering and impulse purchases as you shop.

Avoid name brands. Believe me, the generic chocolate sandwich cookies are just as yummy as Oreos. There’s no need to spend the extra buck for a name brand product and those bucks add up fast.
Need help managing your finances in college? Here are some courses that can help you out: Paying for College, Credit

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Careers in Paralegal

August 11th, 2016 by

Paralegals play an important role in the legal process, offering support to lawyers and affordable legal assistance to clients. Ranked one of the 20 best jobs in America by CNN Money, a career as a paralegal can be extremely rewarding. If you are highly organized, enjoy research and can easily relate to people, then a career in paralegal may be the perfect fit for you.

Education

Paralegals need to complete a certification program or associate degree in paralegal or legal studies. Certification programs are great for students who want to enter the profession quickly, while an associate’s degree is good for students who want to advance their legal career later in life.

Over the course of a paralegal or legal studies program, you have the opportunity to take specialized courses so you can work in specific legal fields. Specialization typically falls within criminal, corporate or family law. You can also achieve specialization from on-the-job experience gained during an internship or in an entry-level position. Look for firms that work within the specialized legal field you have an interest in.

Paralegals are often encouraged to continue their legal education throughout the course of their career. This helps them stay on top of new laws and regulations and continue to meet the requirements for their state, firm or association.

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Paralegals work directly with or under the direction of lawyers and attorneys. They draft legal documents such as contracts and mortgages, draft and sign legal documents and represent clients when permitted by law.

Paralegals are also important during court proceedings. Prior to court, paralegals help gather facts, affidavits and statements for evidence. They then prepare cases by gathering and arranging the evidence and writing summarized reports to prepare attorneys and lawyers for trial. During a trial, a paralegal handles the exhibits and takes notes on the court proceedings.

Paralegals have a range of responsibilities that vary depending on the employer. However, by law they are unable to offer clients legal advice or opinion.

Salary and Job Outlook

Paralegals made and average annual salary of $48,810 in 2015 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or $23.47 per hour. The BLS expects the profession to grow by 8 percent over the next decade, which is about as fast as average.

Want to learn more? Take our Careers in Law: Paralegal course!

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Scheduling College Classes like a Pro

August 9th, 2016 by

The fall semester is fast approaching and if this is your first semester, you may not know the best way to schedule your classes. Some of it is trial and error, but there is a lot you can plan for ahead of time. Consider this your guide to scheduling classes like a pro.

work-1515801_960_720Register ASAP. Don’t wait to register for classes, do it as soon as you can. While you may be limited based on your rank and number, this will ensure that all of your classes are open and you have more flexibility to choose class time.

Check out your professors. In the digital age, there are countless ways to investigate a professor before you register for a class. Use services like Rate My Professor to learn about their teaching style and see what other students have to say about them.

Be aware of program requirements. Make sure you know what classes you need to fulfill general education and major requirements. Keep a list and check them off as you complete them to make sure you stay on track. Try to take classes that fulfill more than one requirement if possible.

Learn the campus. Consult a map while you are registering for classes and make sure your classes aren’t too far apart. Most colleges only give you 10 minutes to travel and if you have back to back classes on opposite sides of campus, you may not make it on time.

Know yourself. If you aren’t a morning a person, then don’t schedule an 8 a.m class. If you have a short attention span, opt for a one hour lecture three days a week, rather than a three hour lecture one day a week. Don’t try to force yourself into a routine you aren’t used to. You’ll lose motivation and the prospect of skipping class will begin to look better and better as the semester goes on.

When in doubt, reach out to your academic advisor. They are by far the best tool available to you and can help you stay on track as you complete your degree.

 

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Facebook Founder and Wife Fund Efforts to Improve Personalized Learning

August 4th, 2016 by

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, along with his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan continue to improve education and expand personalized learning with the newly created Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a limited-liability corporation that will channel funds into the couple’s philanthropic efforts. This is part of Zuckerberg and Chan’s promise to eventually donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares to various causes, nearly $45 billion.

2696198607_804f72d5fc_bZuckerberg and Chan’s main focus is on personalized learning, primarily through the development of software that can figure out how students learn best and what areas they need to focus on more. Personalized learning programs also allow students to tailor their education to meet their personal needs. They can work at their own pace, spending more time on subjects that interest them and practice subjects they find challenging.

Schools that have adapted a personalized learning strategy note a smaller gap in academic achievement between students and overall improved learning across the board. Zuckerberg and Chan aren’t the only tech billionaires interested in improving education. Many others, including eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, have donated money to invest in the future of education. With new ways of learning becoming more and more prominent, it’s exciting to be able to explore new opportunities. Next Step Academy is one opportunity that allows you to pick and choose topics that interest you most and find out if they’re a good fit for you and your future path.

 

Start today by taking careers-in and life skills courses for free at NextStepAcademy.com!

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Careers in Accounting

August 2nd, 2016 by

Accounting is a broad field that can lead you to a career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a tax or staff accountant, a financial analyst, a compliance professional, a financial planner or a loan officer. Each path has it’s own unique responsibilities, but they are built upon the same foundation: numbers. If you are a math geek with a passion for economics, a career in accounting may be the right fit for you.

Education

Bookkeepers or accounting clerks that hold an associate’s degree may be able to advance into junior accounting positions without additional education, but most entry-level positions in accounting require a bachelor’s degree and many employers prefer a master’s degree.algebra-1238600_960_720

A bachelor’s degree in accounting covers microeconomics, macroeconomics, personal finance concepts and fundamentals of marketing. Classes also cover ethics and the relevant laws that accountants need to be aware of.

Accountants with a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The exam is broken up into four sections: Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulations. You must pass each section of the exam in order to become a certified CPA, allowing you serve the public and provide assurance services.

Career

The responsibilities of someone in accounting depend largely on the specific career path they choose. However, someone in this field typically examines financial statements, computes taxes owed and makes sure they are paid properly, inspects accounting systems, maintains financial records and suggests ways to cut costs and improve profits.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of accountants is expected to grow by 11 percent from 2014 to 2024. The median pay for accountants in 2015 was $67,190 or $32.30 per hour.

 
Want to learn more about accounting? Take our “Careers in Accounting” course!

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In the News: Where do the Presidential candidates stand on education?

July 29th, 2016 by

The Republicans held their national convention last week and the Democratic National Convention concluded yesterday. The candidates, Donald Trump (R) and Hillary Clinton (D), both have discussed their policies concerning education throughout the course of their campaigns. So where exactly do the candidates stand on education issues?

Education Standards and Common Core

320x486Donald Trump: Fiercely opposes and wants to eliminate Common Core. However, as it currently stands, the only way the federal government can get rid of the Common Core is by creating a law banning it, which is unlikely, but not impossible.

Hillary Clinton: Supports the Common Core and advocated for education standards as First Lady of Arkansas to boost graduation rates and expand courses offered in K-12 schools.

Access to Higher Education

Donald Trump: Believes the federal government should not issue loans or offer financial aid, only banks should. He has not addressed college access for low-income families.

Hillary Clinton: Believes that students who come from families that make less than $125,000 per year should have the ability to go to college for free. She  has also discussed a desire to make it easier for those in public service, such as teachers, to have their loans forgiven.

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Donald Trump: Opposes the federal ban on firearms on campus and believes that teachers should have the right to open carry to keep schools safe.

Hillary Clinton: Supports the expansion of programs that aim to improve student behaviour help students who are victims of bullying. Clinton also wants to help schools find alternatives to on-site police officers and stop the transfer of military equipment to police departments that only work for K-12 schools.

The Department of Education

Donald Trump: Believes the Department of Education should have their funding cut or eliminated completely to move funding to other departments, such as the Department of Justice.

Hillary Clinton: States that despite the Department of Education having problems, she would not eliminate the department, but has not yet released a proposal to revamp the department.

College isn’t free yet! Find out how to pay for it with our Paying for College course

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Living With Roommates

July 27th, 2016 by

Throughout college, I’ve had my fair share of good and bad roommates. Sharing a space with other people isn’t always easy, but there are some ways to help make it work.

Communicate and establish ground rules. We all have different habits and preferences. Communicate those preferences to your roommates and ask them to do the same. Then, find some common ground and use that to create some rules for your shared place. For example, if one roommate likes to go to bed early, have a rule that guests need to leave by 10 p.m. Or, let your roommates know what possessions you don’t mind them using and what is off-limits.

Track your expenses.  Bills add up quickly so it’s helpful to track spending carefully and make sure everyone contributes equally.  Luckily, there’s an app for that. The best one I’ve come across is Splitwise. Anytime someone pays a bill or picks up dinner, they log it into the app. Then you pick a day to “Settle Up” and the app does all the math, letting you know who owes who what. You can connect your bank account and pay your roommates instantly.

Share the work. With a great apartment comes great responsibilities. Chores add up quickly and you need to decide who does the dishes and cleans the bathroom. A chart may not work for every set of roommates, but it’s good to have a physical reminder when it’s your turn to dump trash. A set chore rotation also ensures that the same person doesn’t get stuck with scrubbing toilet every week.how_to_live_in_harmony_with_roommates

Spend time together. Don’t let yourselves become ghosts to one another, where the only time you remember you have roommates is when you realize someone finished the cereal. You don’t have to be best friends, but you do need to get along. Take part in each other’s interests or have a weekly movie night. By spending time together, you’ll be more likely to discuss conflicts when they arise and who knows, you may actually become really good friends.

Effective communication is the foundation for a good relationship with your roommates. Need to brush up on your skills? Take Next Step Academy’s “Communication Skills” course.

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