Balancing Work and School Like a Pro

February 16th, 2017 by

Whether you’re living on campus, at home or have a place of your own, you probably are working at least part-time to make ends meet. Juggling the responsibilities of a job while in school can take its toll. Here are three ways to lessen the stress and keep your life balanced.

pexels-photo-170750Schedule wisely. The biggest challenge while working and going to school is making sure you have enough time to do it. Get a planner so you can accurately plan your time. Schedule classes around your work schedule and make sure you don’t overload your day. A planner can also help you make sure you have spaces in your schedule to relax. School and work are important, but so is rest and socializing with friends. Remember, it’s about balance.

Learn to say no. We tend to feel guilty when we turn down extra projects or decline to help someone with an assignment. But taking on too much extra will leave you with no time for yourself. The most important thing you can learn is it’s okay, even healthy, to say “no.” No one will hold it against you.

Consider online classes. Depending on your situation, you may work more than part-time and cut down the number of classes you’re taking. If this sounds like you, consider taking online classes instead. Online classes are more flexible and allow you to learn on your time, at your own pace.

Comments

Finding Volunteer Opportunities

February 14th, 2017 by

Was “Volunteer” on your resolutions for 2017? Donating your time and resources can be a great way to find yourself, give back to your community and expose you to new experiences. Volunteer opportunities can also be a great way to fill out your resume. Here are three of the best websites to help you find volunteer opportunities.

Image result for volunteerIdealist. Idealist works with over 100,00 organizations to help you find the best opportunities for you. From volunteer work and internships to not-for-profit job opportunities.

Volunteer Match. As stated on their website, Volunteer Match “bring(s) good people and good causes together.” Choose the cause that you are most interested and they’ll help you find opportunities in your area. If you already run a non-profit, you can register with Volunteer Match to find new recruits.

Points of Light. This organization is one of the largest volunteer organizations in the world. Find volunteer opportunities in your community, as well as across the globe. Their goal is to create a culture of volunteerism.

Still not quite finding the right service opportunity for you? USA.gov/volunteer has a compilation of public service opportunities to look through from the Peace Corps to volunteering with Veteran Affairs.

 

Comments

Avoiding Bad Career Advice

February 9th, 2017 by

There is a lot of advice out there for recent college grads and career veterans, from the Internet, mentors, professors, friends and family members. With so much career advice floating around out there, how can you tell which advice you can trust and which you should avoid? Here are three tips to avoid the bad advice and only take in what can help you become successful.

Group of business colleagues discussing at desk in office

Be skeptical. If you’ve taken Next Step Academy’s “Introduction to Critical Thinking” course, then you know you should always question what you’re being told and check your sources. Whether you’re reading a book or a blog, take a look at the author and their credentials. What experience do they have? What makes them qualified to give career advice? Forbes, a reputable business news source, likely has better advice and credentials than someone’s personal blog.

Use multiple sources. You shouldn’t get all of your advice from a single source. A mentor may have a different perspective than a family member who has known you longer or an author who has more knowledge about your field of interest. Seek out a variety of trusted sources so you aren’t just blindly following in the footsteps of a single person.

Avoid the Yes-Man. We all want to surround ourselves with people that will support us throughout our careers, but this may not always be the best for your future. Having people in your life that approve of all of your ideas, even when they aren’t great ideas, can actually hinder your professional development. You need people in your life who can objectively tell you when something is a bad idea to help you learn and grow. Sometimes tough love can lead to the best advice.

Comments

Careers in Information Technology Security

February 7th, 2017 by

In a world with rapid globalization and interconnectivity through the internet, security is a growing concern for both personal computer users and large organizations. This means the need for information security experts to help protect user information is also growing exponentially.

Education

imagesA career in information security starts with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related major, which will take about four years to complete and will provide you with a well-rounded education in the computer and security field. As this field develops, many schools are beginning to offer information security-specific programs.

Employers sometimes prefer applicants that hold a master’s degree, which will take an additional two years after completing your undergraduate degree and allows for future career advancement.

Over the course of your education, it will be useful to pursue internships in the field. Having real-world experience will give you a leg up in the industry when you enter the workforce.  

You’ll also want to consider receiving an information security certification, in addition to a degree. There are general certifications such as the Certified Information Systems Security Profession (CISSP), as well as more specific certifications in areas such as systems auditing and penetration testing.

Career

Information security analysts are responsible for protecting computer networks from hacking and cyber attacks. Through testing, they determine a computer systems weaknesses and carry out a plan to improve an organization’s security. They’ll conduct penetration testing to see how difficult (or easy) it is to break through a networks defenses and then create a plan to improve any insecurities.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for an Information security analyst is $90,120, with some variation in salary depending on the specific department you work in. The field is also expected to grow by 18 percent over the next decade, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Interested in Information Technology Security? Learn more by taking Next Step Academy’s NEW course!

Comments

Add Personality to Your Office Space…Without Overdoing It

February 2nd, 2017 by

There’s a delicate balance that needs to be maintained in your office or work space between personality and functionality. On one hand, your workspace should be comfortable and inspiring, however it shouldn’t distract you from your work. Here are four ways you can brighten up your cubicle to boost your mood and productivity.12

Color. There’s a lot of psychological research about the effect color has on our mood. Grey, blank walls can be uninspiring and even reduce motivation to get your work done. For cubicles, add splashes of color with swatches of wallpaper. For a home office, you have more freedom to paint and accessorize. Choose your colors with care. Blues and greens are calming, while yellows and oranges are energetic and promote activity. Dark colors make spaces feel smaller while lighter shades help open up a space.

Comfort. Personality in the workplace isn’t just aesthetic, but comfort as well. If you aren’t comfortable, you won’t be productive. Change out your work chair and, if appropriate, add a small pillow or lap blanket. Maybe add a comfortable reading chair or sofa for breaks and casual meetings.

Nature. Can’t get out in nature on your lunch? Bring nature to your office. Spider plants and aloe are hard to kill and do well even with little available sunlight. Plants not only make your office space feel more lively, but they also help circulate air and can improve your mood throughout the day.

Layout. Cubicles are hard to change around, but if your office has an open floor plan or if you have your own space, change up your layout to focus on organization and preference. Place what’s most important to you near the entrance of your space. Need a caffeine jolt first thing? Keep the coffee maker up front. Like to set your things down and take a moment to relax? Move your chair near the door. Also take into account which way you face in an office. Don’t like people sneaking up on you? Turn your desk so you’re facing the entrance instead of away from it.

Comments

Six Ways to Save Some Serious Cash This Semester

January 31st, 2017 by

Whether you’re a struggling freshman or a cash-strapped senior, you know how much of a struggle getting a handle on your finances can be. Maybe you can only work part time with your course load or maybe you’re working with a limited meal plan. Whatever your situation, here are six lifesaving tips to help you save money this semester without sacrificing your basic wants and needs.

6355840185_8e1c4d8f11_bShare Netflix and Spotify accounts. If you’re lucky, linger on your family’s Netflix account for as long as possible. If your family doesn’t have Netflix or doesn’t have room for you on their account anymore,, split an account between your friends or roommates. This also applies Spotify. A single Spotify is $10 while a family Spotify is only $15 for up to six people.

Only use free beauty samples. Did you know that places like Sephora and Lush will give you free samples? Sephora allows you to get three samples from each ‘world’ (makeup, skincare and fragrance) per visit. And that’s not just three total — you can score three samples from each department, meaning you can leave with up to nine samples per visit. Lush is also happy to give out samples. The only limit are items like bath bombs and bubble bars, which you cannot sample.

Look for rebates and coupons. Apps like Ibotta find you rebates for products at stores like Target, Walmart and even Whole Foods. Just scan your item and they credit your account for the rebate. Many stores also have coupon apps, such as Target’s Cartwheel. Add coupons to your cart and when you’re ready to purchase your items click “checkout.” All of your saved coupons will be combined into one scannable barcode.

Buy in bulk. Instead of buying snack packs of chips or nuts, buy bulk bags and divvy out servings yourself. Use plastic snack bags and reuse them or invest in some small reusable containers.

Make your own toothpaste. For some, this may seem a little desperate and for people who really need the extra enamel protection maybe skip this tip. Others, all you need is a glass jar, ⅔ cup of baking soda, 1 tsp of salt and 1-2 tsp of peppermint extract. Then add water until you’ve reached the desired consistency. BONUS: Making your own toothpaste also cuts down on waste meaning it’s better for the environment too!

Hang your clothes. Whether you go to the laundromat or have a dryer at home, if you’re looking to pinch pennies, skip the dryer and the let air do it’s magic. You can easily save yourself a couple dollars each load by hanging up your clothes instead.

Comments

How Multitasking is Actually Destroying Your Productivity

January 26th, 2017 by

You probably think you’re a multitasking master; we all do to some extent. Right now, you’re probably reading this post, finishing up a text to your roommate and jamming to some tunes, all while contemplating what you’re making for dinner tonight. The truth is, multitasking actually makes you less productive… significantly less productive.

4453018910_613ea8d637_zThe term multitasking first appeared in the 1960’s as a term to describe computer functions, not people. The word was created to describe a computer’s ability to quickly perform many tasks at once. Multiple tasks sharing one resource — the CPU. However, the term has since been taken on to mean multiple tasks being completed at the same time by one resource — a person.

Unlike a computer, the human brain cannot process multiple tasks quickly. Every time you switch between tasks or thoughts, it takes your brain seconds to minutes to refocus and actually complete the task. Some research suggests that avid multitaskers actually lose up to 40 percent of their productivity each day attempting to multitask.

Multitasking during meetings or conversations is especially unproductive, even rude. If you’re checking your email or social media accounts during a call or meeting, then you aren’t giving the person speaking your full attention. You’ll likely miss important facts and find yourself lost.

Having trouble breaking your multitasking habit? It may not be entirely your fault. When we multitask, the hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released, which overstimulate the brain and cause fuzzy thinking. This overstimulation occurs every time you finish reading a post, sending a text, etc. Your brain then rewards this overstimulation by releasing endorphins. This creates a feedback loop where you become unfocused and then rewarded. Essentially, your brain becomes addicted to multitasking.

Want to kick the habit? Try using a productivity technique that forces you focus on one task at a time. Maybe try the Pomodoro Technique (featured here) or maybe a simple to-do list to keep you on track. Better yet, take the Next Step Academy course on time management to remind you that you can do it all — just not all at once.

Comments

Careers in Healthcare

January 24th, 2017 by

Pursuing a career in healthcare can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. The medical field offers the opportunity to help maintain the health and happiness of your community, while also offering a variety of positions and specialties. From direct care to administration and from pediatrics to emergency, there’s no limit to what you can do!
medical-563427_960_720

Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

What do they do? Medical billing and coding specialists use various computer systems and software to electronically record patient data, as well as process the billing for a medical office or hospital.

How do I become one? Receive a certification in medical billing and coding. Depending on the program this can take several months to a year. Associate’s degrees are also available in this field if you want to complete general education requirements in addition to the field-related classes.

 

Radiologist

What do they do? The radiology field can range from radiology technician or radiographer, to radiology physician or radiologist. A radiographer performs diagnostic imaging examinations, such as x-rays or MRIs, while a radiologist interprets the results to diagnose and treat patients.

How do I become one? Radiographers typically need to obtain an associate’s degree, which takes about two years to complete. Most states also require radiographers become licensed. Receiving a bachelor’s or master’s degree can allow someone is this field to take on more responsibility with the opportunity for career advancement in the future. To become a full-fledged radiologist — a physician in the field of radiology — you need to complete four years of medical school and three to seven years of internships and residencies on top of an undergraduate degree to become an MD.

 

Nurse

What do they do? Nurses can work almost anywhere from schools, hospitals, physician offices or home health services. They provide and coordinate direct care to patients such as administering medication and vaccinations. They also play an important role in educating patients about their conditions and monitoring treatments.

How do I become one? Nurses have the option of completing an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. An associate’s provides an adequate understanding of biology and patient care. A bachelor’s degree covers the same topics, but will also allow you to hold administrative or managerial positions in the nursing field. You will also need to pass a certification exam to become a licensed RN in your state.

 

Do one of these careers sound perfect for you? Take the corresponding Next Step Academy course to learn more.

 

Comments

Four things you MUST do after the first week of spring semester

January 19th, 2017 by

Many of you finished up your first week of classes for the spring semester. Get organized early and there is no doubt you can be successful this semester.  Here are four ways to get started:

keep-calm-and-read-the-syllabusMake copies of your syllabus. If you weren’t given a hard copy in class, print out your syllabus. In fact, print two copies. Keep one in your class folder or notebook and keep one in a file at home. Professors often make changes to the syllabus throughout the semester, so it’s a good idea to keep a copy with you at all times so you can document changes as they occur. You should also file a copy away for future reference. If you plan on transferring schools in the future, a copy of your syllabus may be needed to verify a class you want to count towards your degree.

Learn the online structure. Most classes these days have some sort of online component. You may have online quizzes or you may need to submit assignments through an online portal. Make sure you understand how to navigate the online component and ask your professor questions if you don’t understand something. This way you can be proactive and prevent issues before there’s a deadline involved.

Create a weekly homework list. Your syllabus, in addition to outlining class policies, often includes a list of assignments. Get a planner and write these due dates ahead of time so there are no surprises later on in the semester. This can help you stay organized and manage your time efficiently this semester.

Get your materials. While you may be able to look up class materials ahead of time, as a general rule I suggest waiting until after the first day of class. More than once I’ve had a teacher switch textbooks on the first day after I’ve already purchased a different book. Wait until class to confirm what you’ll need before you hit up the bookstore. Also make sure you enough pens, notebooks, folders etc.

Comments

Summer 2017 Internships: Start Looking Now!

January 17th, 2017 by

The spring semester has just begun and summer break seems years away. However, in reality, there’s just short of 15 weeks until finals are finished and summer begins. If you’re hoping for an internship this summer, it’s time to start preparing now. Here are three questions you should be asking yourself to get the internship search started.

Do I even need an internship? Many science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields require entry level applicants to have prior experience in the form of internships. These include careers in architecture and the medical field, as well as all forms of engineering or research. Careers in the business, law, art and communication fields don’t necessarily require internships, however, internships are a great way to learn about your field and gain experience before entering the workforce.

Intern-1What do I want out of an internship? First, you may want an internship to help you decide what you want to do after you graduate. Over the course of your undergrad, you could potentially have two to four internships, each in a slightly different field so you can learn firsthand what your preferences are. For example, a communications student may want to get an internship at a newspaper, a radio station and at a public relations firm before deciding which career path they want to follow.

Second, you may want to use an internship to help guarantee yourself a job after graduation. If you’re already certain what field you want to work in, a summer internship can be used to build a relationship with a company. (Hint: Read Next Step Academy’s blog “How to Turn an Internship into a Career”)

How do I find an internship that fits my needs? Your first step should be speaking with an academic advisor in your department. Department advisors often have lists of open or upcoming internships. It’s also likely that your academic department already has a relationship with companies in your community that are always open to taking interns from your school. An academic advisor will be able to help you choose an internship that fits your current needs and career goals.

You can also use websites such as InternMatch.com or general job search sites such as Indeed.com which have filter options specifically for internships. These sites are great if you want to look for internships outside of your local area. Also, make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and up to date. LinkedIn will send you job and internship suggestions and some companies recruit interns based on the information you put on your profile.

Comments