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Focus on possibilities

April 29th, 2015 by

opportunities

Many of us are faced with problems that can derail our dreams. It’s easy to let problems overtake our plans. Don’t let it! Try to see beyond the problems to see the possibilities that you are being directed towards instead. Is there an opportunity you are missing because you are focused on your current trials?

All it takes is that first step — a step towards  something amazing! Take a moment and evaluate where you are headed. Do you see a career path? A major or college decision? How about interviewing for a new job?

Hold your head up high during your problems, look beyond the current issue and plan for something amazing on the other side. We’ve got your back!

> Motivate yourself to do something amazing today — take one of Next Step Academy’s Life Skills courses.

 

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Tips to ensure a successful hiring process

April 22nd, 2015 by

iStock_000004692694MediumFinding a job is never easy. There are numerous steps in the hiring process — the application, a resumé and cover letter, an interview, the follow up, plus the preparation. To help cope with the sometimes overwhelming process, Joe Rosenbaum, vice president of human resources for Argyle Executive Forum, offers some tips to make it easier.

Commit to the process
According to Rosenbaum, there seems to be a hesitation to commit to developing a career in a specific profession coming out of college. Instead, people focus more on finding the perfect job or perfect fit. This could be a problem if you start applying to jobs without really wanting them. “Remember that an employer hires you for what you can do for them and if you don’t position yourself as someone who actually wants to do that job, why would you assume it would be offered to you?” he explains.

Resumés help you get to the job you want
In Rosenbaum’s opinion, resumés are given too much attention in the job application process, but at the same time you still need one that states your interests. He suggests that a resumé should be specific and clear because employers are looking for candidates who have some sort of idea about what kind of career they wish to pursue. “Trust me when I tell you that if you apply for a marketing job and your resumé doesn’t say that you’re interested in marketing, you’re toast,” he says.

LinkedIn is important
“Assume that the first thing a recruiter will do is look you up on LinkedIn,” Rosenbaum says. He advises to make it easy for them to find you — upload a professional photo (no group pictures or beach shots). Make the Summary on your profile similar to the objective on your resumé, as LinkedIn is the digital version of your resumé. He also says it’s very important to build your connections. Start with friends, siblings, parents, friends of parents, neighbors and classmates. LinkedIn tells you how you’re connected to a posted job based on the people in your network. “The larger your network, the better you can leverage it to get a job,” he explains.

Real-life connections matter, too
As Rosenbaum describes, resumés and LinkedIn work the best when you have formed connections with a lot of people. “Once you break into the professional world, you’re going to connect to jobs through friends, colleagues, former bosses. It isn’t as much about who you know as it is about knowing a lot of people,” he said. If you’re just posting your resumé on job posting boards, your chances of getting noticed are slim — you need to know people in order to get the process moving.

> For more help landing the job, take Next Step Academy’s short Interviewing course.

 

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Public Service College Book Scholarship

March 30th, 2015 by

Stars and stripesScholarship:  Goedeker’s Appliances Annual Public Service College Book Scholarship

Amount: The grand prize is a $500 scholarship. Two $100 scholarships will also be awarded to honorable mention entries.

Description: Those who balance serving our country with a desire to further their education deserve our utmost respect and any help we can give them. That is why we would like to extend a special scholarship to people who are employed in public service positions in particular. This includes:
• Federal, state, and local government employees
• Police officers and firefighters
• Active military, reserves, and veterans
• Public school teachers
• Employees of non-profit organizations

These awards extend to their immediate family as well.

Write an essay about why you personally deserve to be a scholarship recipient. Provide some insight into your background and area of need; convince us that you would be the best choice. These will be judged based on originality, creativity, organization of thought, and proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Requirements:
• Essay length should be 300 words minimum.
• Clear contact information (name, mailing address, preferred means of contact).
• A few sentences about yourself and a recent photo of yourself which will be used for publicity purposes on the Goedeker’s Home Life blog.
• Proof that you are enrolled in an accredited college for the spring 2015 semester OR proof that you have been accepted at an accredited college for the fall 2015 semester.
• Proof that you or a member of your immediate family is employed in a position of public service, such as a letter from your/their employer or a copy of your/their most recent pay stub
For family members of public service employees: provide proof of relation
• For veterans: provide proof of previous service

Deadline: Submission deadline is July 31, 2015, at 12 a.m. (CDT). The honorable mentions will be awarded on August 17 and August 18, 2015. The grand prize will be awarded on August 19, 2015.

For more information:  Visit the Goedeker’s Appliances Annual College Book Scholarship website for more info and submission information.

Best of luck to those who apply!

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How to take a practice test

March 24th, 2015 by

Did you know that you can take a practice standardized test without even leaving your living room? Our intern Emily recounts her experience taking a practice test and shares her tips on how you can make it something beneficial to your learning.

NSA-testing-blog

During my spring break, I decided to take a practice online Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test through Kaplan because I am considering graduate school after I finish my undergraduate degree. I didn’t have anything to lose — the online test was free and all I had to do was sign up and register to take the test. There are many time slots available but the only time that worked for me was 9 p.m. on a Thursday night. The test took four hours, so I was online until 1 a.m.

I logged in 15 minutes early, as Kaplan suggests. As soon as it was time, my “teacher” Gene began talking to us. Gene communicated with us via webcam and all 70-80 people taking the test were able to see and hear him. There was a slide-sharing feature that allowed us to see what he was pointing at or writing and we had access to a public chat where we could respond to his questions or share our thoughts. Off-camera teachers were also there to answer any personal questions we had privately.

Gene walked us through the basics: what the GRE was, what we were about to see and what would happen after we took the test. We were then off to take the test; we would reconvene at 12:08 a.m.

In the practice test, you don’t do the two essays required when you take the real GRE. There are five sections — three quantitative reasoning (math) and two verbal. Each section had its own time limit. There are features that allow you to mark a question you want to come back to, a calculator to use for the math sections and the ability to turn off the timer. I left it on because it kept me on track.

Immediately upon finishing the test, you’re given your score. You can see which questions you got wrong, the time you spent on each question, the explanation of the answer and even if you had the right answer but switched it to a wrong one or vice versa.

When we were all done, Gene came back on and discussed the meaning of our scores and how easy it is to change percentiles. He used four questions to show us different strategies to use when we take the test and gave us tips. For example, it came as a surprise to me, but on some of the math questions, the test makers are looking for you to recognize similar values, not necessarily solve the problem.

The teachers stuck around after everything was completed to answer any personal questions in a private Q&A. I got off because I didn’t have anything pressing to ask and I was exhausted.

Taking this practice test really helped me. I hadn’t prepared much — just flipped through a few pages on my prep book, so the test allowed me to see what I should expect and what I needed to work on. Also the GRE will be the first standardized test I’ll take on a computer, so it helped to see the look and get an example of what taking a digital test will be like.

In addition to the GRE, Kaplan also offers free PSAT, SAT and ACT options for pre-college tests. Free medical-related test prep options include MCAT, NCLEX, PCAT, OAT, DAT and USMLE. Other free test prep options are LSAT and GMAT.

My suggestions for taking an online practice test:
• If it’s late at night, set yourself up at a table — if you’re in your bed, you’ll be tempted to close your eyes.
• Try to be in a quiet setting. I listened to music while I took the test because my family was still up at the beginning, but I won’t be able to do that in the test.
• Try not to talk yourself through questions out loud. It may seem helpful and normal because you’re on your own, but that’s also not allowed on the test.
• Have lots of scrap paper ready. You get this when you take the actual test, but don’t forget about it for the practice one.
• Take your time and remember it’s just a practice test. Just remind yourself that it’s practice – now is the time to take too long and miss questions, you’ll learn from this.

> For more, take the College Placement Tests course at Next Step Academy. 

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5 tips to improve your attitude

March 5th, 2015 by

No matter what it is, a negative time in your life can leave you down. Darlene Hunter, a renowned speaker and author of “Win-Ability, Navigating through Life’s Challenges with a Winning Attitude,” says that overcoming emotions that come with hard times comes down to a person’s mindset and perspective.

Attitude is an important life skill. It can affect your efficiency and ethic in your work life as well as your personal life. Plenty of people have failed at something in the beginning of their journeys but, as Hunter says, they have made it to the top of their profession because they did not give up after being told they weren’t good enough. Having the right attitude can help you persevere and reach your goal.

Hunter offers five tips that can ensure you’re equipped with this crucial life skill by changing the way you think, which will ultimately change your results.

Be a planner
In order to be successful, you need to know what you want and have a plan for getting there. Make sure you know “how” and “why.” They will guide you in the right direction.

Be goal oriented
After setting your goals, you must complete them. To do this, make sure you set small goals you can accomplish to lead up to your overall goal. Check off your goals as you go in order to see yourself become one step closer to what you ultimately want to achieve.

Be driven for results
Always know what you are seeking. Being driven allows you to accomplish whatever it is that you’re seeking by giving you a desire. Results-driven people can focus on meeting objectives and can deliver on the goals they set.

Have a winning attitude
Success comes from being determined, dedicated and devoted. Don’t give up on your goals when something goes wrong or it’s taking longer than you expected.

Be focused
When you are focused, you have a clear perception and understanding of what you want to accomplish and where you need to go to get there. Find your pace and stay focused and concentrated on what will get you to your goals.

> Want to learn about and develop more life skills? Take a 10-minute course at NextStepAcademy.com

 

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Culinary Voice Scholarship Challenge

March 3rd, 2015 by

Chefs preparing breakfastThe Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) is hosting it’s first-ever Culinary Voice Scholarship Challenge. ICE is giving away eight scholarships — totaling more than $140,000 — in its search for the next generation of culinary talent. America will vote for the finalists and the winners will be chosen by a panel of ICE industry experts.

To enter the contest, upload a one-minute video to ice.edu/culinaryvoice demonstrating creativity, passion for food, service or entrepreneurial flair. In the video, contestants should explain who they are, what they hope to achieve in the culinary or hospitality industries and why they deserve the scholarship and the chance to study at the nation’s newest, state-of-the-art center for culinary education (opening Winter 2015 in Lower Manhattan). 

50 finalists will be determined by public vote, and for every vote, ICE will make a donation to No Kid Hungry to help end childhood hunger in America.

One full scholarship and one partial scholarship will be awarded for each of ICE’s four award-winning career training programs: Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Culinary Management and Hospitality Management.

Voting begins on March 1, but you have until March 28 to vote and upload an entry. Winners will be announced on April 3rd, 2015

> Not sure if a job in culinary is the right career path for you? Explore a little more with this quick course about Culinary Arts.

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How to get the most out of an online education

February 25th, 2015 by

SONY DSCOnline learning has increased in popularity in recent years. It’s a convenient choice for those returning to the classroom or just beginning their education. It allows people to continue to work full-time, while still being able to get an education. According to Dr. Steve Perry, a revered education expert, nearly half (45%) of the 21 million students in the United States took at least one online course.

Although it’s gaining popularity, online learners will have some challenges when pursuing their degree or certificate. Here are three tips to help make online learning effective:

1. When looking at programs, make sure to choose a school that has an up-to-date curriculum. Traditional classroom learning and technology-based learning are two very different environments. Perry suggests that an online curriculum must address these differences and prepare students for the challenges they will face in an Internet-based environment. Clearly communicated goals and learning objectives, successful use of technology and the opportunity for personal interaction with instructors and other students all point to the success of the online student. The best online program will be the one that has up-to-date curriculums that reflect the current trends happen in the desired sector.

2. Make sure to still polish life skills.  Learning online is a different environment. Since communication with instructors and peers is conducted online, learners miss out on face-to-face communication. In that way, having the ability to communicate effectively in a digital environment is an essential skill to possess before enrolling in an online learning curriculum. Also, according to Perry, 4 in 10 college graduates do not possess the complex reasoning skills to manage white-collar work. The ability to make decisions and solve problems and the ability to obtain and process relevant information are skills most desired by employers. Make sure the online program you pursue allows you to develop those skills and, if not, supplement those skills in an alternative learning platform. 

3. Stay motivated. It may be difficult to to do homework and study when going to school online. In traditional learning, distractions are set aside because students are in the classroom. While learning online, nothing is stopping students from being pulled away by other demands. In order to combat those distractions, make sure you pay attention to your syllabi which will help you plan out your study and homework schedule in advance. Try setting up a structured plan with deadlines in a planner or on a calendar. Before getting pulled away, look at what’s due and decide if time can be spent elsewhere.

> Next Step Academy offers a variety of online courses dealing with life courses. The quick and easy 10-minute courses will help improve these skills that employers expect a potential employee to have.

 

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So you got rejected from a job — now what?

February 19th, 2015 by

Most people get rejected from a job at least once in their lives. Career setbacks happen to everyone — even Madonna, Andy Warhol and U2 faced rejection at some point in their careers.

But after you’re told no, you are often left to wonder how and why it happened. Rejection letters have a history of being vague about why you were passed over for the job and instead leave you only with a thanks for your interest. After all the time and effort put into applying to the job, you deserve some feedback.

So what can you do to learn from your setback? Here are three ways to handle your rejection and gain some insight in the process.

Keep negative emotions in check
Paul Freiberger, president of Shimmering Resumes, a career counseling and resume writing firm explains, “Even though being rejected leaves you bitter, angry and defeated, this is not the time to show those emotions.” Instead, send them a note of thanks for the consideration and well-wishes for the right person. “This is the mark of a grownup,” says Freiberger, “this could make you someone they’d keep in mind for the future.”

Don’t expect a lengthy explanation
Employers tend to be tight-lipped when it comes to responding to rejected candidates because giving you an explanation can cause problems surrounding litigation, Freiberger explains. While getting feedback may be something that is helpful for you, don’t come across like you are demanding an answer for why you were passed over. If you get feedback — great! But if not, don’t push the issue.

Be specific
When responding to a rejection letter, your note doesn’t need to go to everyone involved. “Write to the person who seemed the most involved, or if not them, the hiring manager,” explains Freiberger. Also, make sure you include something company-specific in your letter to avoid sounding like you are “sending these notes in bulk,” according to Freiberger.

Don’t burn any bridges
Even after receiving a rejection, anything can happen. You could have left such a great impression that they considered you for a different position or even passed your name to another company. Venting about your rejection or demanding an explanation will not help so make sure you always come across professional and willing to be reconsidered if the opportunity ever arises.

No matter what, rejection is hard to take. The further you get in the hiring process, the bigger the sting. But making it this far has a benefit — you now know small changes can make a big difference. You know what needs work.

The rejection is harsh, but it gives you an idea of what needs to be worked on. Because of this, Freiberger says there is reason to send thanks, even if you’re not feeling very thankful.

> Check out these Life Skills Courses that are sure to help you land that perfect job!

 

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Improve your communication at work

February 16th, 2015 by

Part of everyone’s job is to communicate with co-workers and supervisors. This is especially important because communication plays a part in making a company successful. Vivian Ciampi, founder of Professional Coaching, has seen millions of dollars lost due to ineffective communication.

“Too many in our nation’s workforce, both employees and executives, are ill-equipped [to communicate effectively,” Ciampi explains. “[This] is keeping them from realizing their full potential and attain a maximum measure of success,” she explains.

In order to combat the communication gap, Ciampi gives 4 ways to improve communication at work:

Become the “universal translator”
Translating things that will make sense and resonate with everyone involved is important in every workplace. Step out of your comfort zone or discipline, focus on the audience at hand, suggest ways to move forward and present the vision in a clear, crisp, confident and actionable way.

Meet before you meet
In order to avoid getting derailed in a meeting by questions, meet with key constituents prior to the big meeting. Answer any questions that may come up, so you will be able to cover more ground in the big meeting.

Stop, ask and listen!
Because everyone has a to-do list, important conversations and meetings are hurried to get crossed off. Slow down, take a deep breath, ask open-ended questions and actively listen to the other person without interrupting or being distracting.

Converse with clarity
Data, tight timeframes, acronyms, jargon and rushing through details all make it difficult with trying to communicate. If you’re confused, ask clarifying questions. Start with the basics: who, what, where, when, why and how. You uncover problems that need to be addressed that would have otherwise been overlooked.

For more life skills tips, visit NextStepAcademy.com for courses on interview skills, communication skills and much more!

 

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Never Forget ‘Why’

February 10th, 2015 by

When you start something new it can be easy to get caught up in the stress after it isn’t new anymore. You wonder why you began in the first place. Maybe it’s a new workout routine or going back to school, but no matter what your “new” adventure is… NEVER FORGET WHY YOU STARTED!

Your end goal should be your main focus. Dig your heels in. Get emotional about your decision. Leap with your whole heart.

Never-forget

Source: Pinterest

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