The Top Three Future Jobs in High Demand

March 2nd, 2017 by

Deciding what you want to major in can be tough. The job market is constantly changing and you want to know the career you decide to pursue will be in high demand when it’s time for you to enter the field. Next Step Academy is here to help with the three jobs that will be in high demand over the next five years.

imagesJava Developers. The internet continues to grow and dominates both our personal and professional lives, with no signs of slowing down. This means web designers and java developers are going to remain in high demand and that demand is only going to get higher. Web developers are responsible for developing programs for mobile devices and creating mainframes and websites.

Information Security Analyst. The increased reliance on technology and the internet also means security is going to be the defining characteristic of the decades to come. Information security analysts are going to play a crucial role in keep data safe from private hackers, competing companies and even other governments.

Financial Services. Perhaps the most surprising job on this list is financial services. As many companies begin to nix pension plans and social security is no longer a guarantee, people are choosing to manage their own finances. This means the demand for Certified Public Accountants (CPA) is on the rise. This field is expected to grow over 41 percent over the next decade.


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? has a compilation of public service opportunities to look through from the Peace Corps to volunteering with Veteran Affairs.



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.


7 Creepy, Crawly and Just Plain Spooky Careers

October 31st, 2016 by

Crime Scene Decontamination. Shows like “CSI” or “Bones” give us a glimpse into the horrors of crime scenes. What they don’t show you are the people who clean up when the investigation is done. A crime scene decontamination technician specializes in removing splatter and hazardous material after accidents and crimes. If you have the stomach for it, this can be a stable career choice.

downloadForensic Entomologist. Nothing creeps or crawls more than insects. A forensic entomologist studies all things slimy and crawly, looking at life cycles, morphology, population size and genetics to gather evidence in murder cases. Get ready to carve up cadavers and spend a lot of time around maggots.

Mortuary Science and Embalming. A mortician is in charge of preparing bodies for burial, which starts with embalming and can also involve facial reconstruction so the deceased appears the way they did in life. This spooky career also involves the most compassion. A mortician is also responsible for comforting the grieving family and making the funeral process as easy as possible.

Forensic Psychiatry. This is one of the spookier careers on this list. The concept of “Silence of the Lambs” comes to mind, where there is no ghoul or monster, just a man. A forensic psychiatrist is tasked with exploring the criminal mind and understanding why some people do horrific things. They evaluate criminals and provide treatment to those who need it.

Mining. If you’re claustrophobic or afraid of the dark, stay away from this career. There are few worse places to be for someone scared of tight, dark spaces than a narrow mine shaft. That combined with reminders that you could potentially be trapped (remember the 33 miners in Chile?) definitely qualifies this career to be on the spooky list.  

us_navyBomb Squad Technician. While police departments are using robots for bomb disposal at an increasing rate, there are still plenty of instances where a bomb squad technician is needed. This career requires courage, a steady hand and the ability to overcome thanatophobia (the fear of death itself) — a fear shared by just about everyone. This can be a very noble profession, but definitely a scary one.

Field Epidemiologist. In my opinion, this is the creepiest job on the list. Epidemiologist study microorganisms, bacteria and viruses. Field epidemiologists are often employed by the CDC to go to “hot zones” to study outbreaks and prevent them from becoming a full-blown pandemic. Wearing little more than a hazmat suit, an epidemiologist gets close to bodily fluids, germs and dead bodies on a regular basis. Nothing is scarier than being attacked by something you can’t see and the threat of a biological apocalypse.  

Happy Halloween!

Interested in one of these creepy careers? Here are some courses that can help you get started:

Careers in Criminal Justice

Careers in Social Work

Careers in Psychology

U.S. Military


Five Careers That Require Two Years of Training or Less

October 12th, 2016 by

Post-secondary education is a requirement for most career paths, but not every career requires a four year degree. There are plenty of stable and well-paying jobs that only require a certification or an associate’s degree. These careers can be a great option if a four year degree isn’t something you are interested in or able to pursue.

Dental Assisting

Perform a range of tasks including record keeping, scheduling appointments, patient care and taking x-rays.

Average salary: $35,980

Education: Certificate

Registered Nurse

Provide patient care as well as medical advice and emotional support for patients. Nurses work in hospitals, physician’s offices, clinics and other healthcare facilities.

Average salary: $67,490

Education: Associate’s degree


Install, maintain and repair electrical systems for homes, businesses and factories.

Average salary: $51,880

Education: Certification and apprenticeship


Install and maintain heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems.

Average salary: $45,110

Education: Certificate or associate’s degree


Provide hair cutting, styling, manicure and other beauty services.

Average salary: $23,710

Education: Certificate

Salary estimations were based on as of 2015.

How to: Cultivate Creativity

March 23rd, 2016 by

Creativity and creative expressions are as unique as each of us. And like many of our personality traits it can be developed over time. Being creative is a highly adaptable skill in all aspects of life—from writing and design to problem solving and engineering. Our world becomes increasingly creative day-by-day. With thanks to the Internet, we can share these wonderful creations and learn from each other.

So, how can you improve your own creative skills? pen-idea-bulb-paper

Stop Hesitating: “Creativity takes courage”, said French painter, Henri Matisse. Let your guard down and put aside negative thoughts and fears. Often, we let our minds get clouded by the “what-if’s”: “what if no one likes it” or “what if it doesn’t turn out the way I want?” These types of anxieties can be paralyzing. Be brave. Let go of these thoughts and you’ll feel free to begin creating.

Explore: Step outside your comfort zone. We’re all different and are inspired by different environments, so it may take time to find what awakens your creativity. Exploring new places and seeking out new experiences can be a great way to find new ways to be creative. Whether it be hiking a trail, trying a new sport, or learning a language; there are a thousand different paths to take, so take as many as you can.

Ask Questions: There’s a saying that goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. So, when you find yourself out in the world and encounter something unfamiliar, ask about it. Access your inner child and indulge that curiosity. Creativity can be sparked by the most unlikely of sources. Plus, the more you learn, the more experiences you have to draw from and the more references to build from. You’ll begin to appreciate all forms of creativity and develop your own unique style.                                                                             

female-865110_1920Write: Even if you don’t fancy yourself a ‘writer’, writing is an awesome tool for developing creativity. For non-writers, there are many ways to make writing work for you: idea books, mind maps, “100” lists, morning pages, and writing prompts are just some of the popular exercises. Many of these do not require proper grammar, spelling, or even full sentences. Think of these as streams of consciousness, as the words come to you, write them down, don’t second guess yourself—just write.

Challenge Yourself: Set goals for yourself. Find unusual ways to accomplish your everyday activities. Branching out to try other creative outlets can also be a challenge, especially if it’s an activity you haven’t tried before. Setting themes can help to focus your creative challenges, for instance, if you’re working with writing prompts, pick a theme for the day or week and write about related topics. If you’re focusing on visual creations, apply the same method by drawing, building or photographing objects within your theme.

At the end of the day, your own curiosity will help cultivate your creative side. Make a conscious effort each day to do, write, think or create something out-of-the-box, then share your creativity with us! We’d love to see what you’re capable of, so share your creations with us in the comments below or on any of our social media pages using #NSACreates! 

Creative resources to get you started:

Writing Exercises:                                  Creative Resources:

Writers Digest                                         Creative Thinking

Poets & Writers                                       Creative Commons

Practical Creative Writing                        Creative Bloq







What is credit? And how do you get some?

March 15th, 2016 by

“Bad credit? No credit?” Wait. What is credit? And how do you get some?credit-card-1080074_1920

Before you can start building credit, it’s important to understand what credit actually is. Credit is a record of your ability to receive goods or services based on your promise to pay it off in the future. This ability is reflected in your credit score—a number associated with how well you can follow through on that promise to pay off your purchases.

Trying to establish credit as a young adult can feel like a catch-22: you can’t establish credit without a credit card, but you can’t get some credit cards without having credit.

The banking world is not insensitive to this struggle. Most banks and credit card companies understand the difficulty of starting to build credit as a young adult, so they have cards that cater specifically to young adults just starting out in the world of credit. These cards require low minimum monthly payments and generally have a low credit limit to protect you and the bank from excessive spending.

Once you get your credit card, though, you need to be contentious about how you use it, otherwise you could end up with a poor credit score. The credit you start building now will help you—or hurt you—in the future when you take out car loans, student loans, or a mortgage for your home. Keep the following pieces of advice in mind when using your card, and you’ll be on your way to good credit.

Smart Spending: A credit card looks like a small piece of plastic filled with endless possibilities. While a credit card does allow you to make purchases you otherwise couldn’t afford all at once, you need to stick to purchases you can actually afford to pay off. The easiest way to ensure you don’t go crazy with your credit card is to make a budget. Decide how much you can afford to spend on your card payment every month based off your income and stick to that budget. If you max out your credit card (hit the spending limit) and you can’t pay it back, that will seriously hurt your credit score.

Pay it Forward: When you use your credit card, the card company and establishment you’re buying from are trusting you to pay them back in the future. If you don’t, your credit score will suffer. This may seem like the simplest step in building credit, but it is also the most important: pay off the minimum payment (or more) on your card on time every month. Don’t let your credit score suffer because you forgot to make a payment; set a reminder every month to pay the minimum.

Paper or Plastic?: Some people make arbitrary decisions when choosing whether to pay with a credit card or debit card/cash. Be methodical about when you use your credit card. Playing a silent game of eenie, meenie, miney, mo between your cash and credit card at the store won’t help you build credit. Credit cards are best for big ticket items (electronics, hotels, etc.) because they allow you to pay off your purchases over time. In other cases, a debit card or cash is the better choice; smaller purchases like groceries or a latte on your way to class are best paid for with cash. This will keep your credit card balance at a manageable level.

Building credit is one of the many rites of passage into the adult world, and will follow you through your entire adult life. Start off on the right foot by spending responsibility, making your minimum payments on time and being methodical about when you use your credit card. “Bad credit? No credit?” Not you!



Facing Rejection

January 12th, 2016 by

success-846055_1920First of all, Happy New Year to all our followers! To kick off 2016, I wanted to start with an uplifting topic—handling rejection. Now, I agree, it might not sound uplifting off-the-bat, but trust me, after reading you’ll be seeing rejection in a completely new and refreshing light.

Rejection can be difficult and it can be part of any aspect of life. School, career, relationships, finances—rejection can happen everywhere. So, what should you do when you’ve been faced with rejection?

Don’t take it personally.

This, in my humble opinion, is the most difficult. When you’re facing rejection it feels like you’re being told that you’re simply not good enough, and that alone can stop you in your tracks.

Try thinking about it this way: it’s not all about you! The other person (hiring manager, college admissions officer, etc.) is, like you, trying to do their best. They are faced with their own daily personal and professional challenges. You’ll often never know the fully story behind your rejection, so don’t assume it’s all about you.

Talk to a trusted and honest person. 

Handling rejection, especially when it comes to a relationship, can be tricky.
If you find yourself in a scenario where you have direct information about the rejection, find someone you can trust. Calmly talk through your feelings with that person. Listen to what they have to say, even if it’s upsetting. Remember to breathe and not to take it personally. Every rejection is a learning opportunity.

Do something about it.
Just because you’ve been faced with rejection does not mean you should count yourself down or out!

In light of rejection, we sometimes have to acknowledge our shortcomings. Was it a school you didn’t get accepted to, a great job opportunity you didn’t get called back for, a loan you didn’t qualify for? Regardless, there is always room for improvement— and that should excite you!

Don’t give up without a fight. 

Figure out your options. Make a plan. Follow through, and try again!

Shake it off and repeat. Successful people are only successful because they didn’t give up when they faced rejection. There is no reason why you can’t be one of them.

Maintain your flexibility. 

This is your reality check. We don’t always get what we think we want, and many times, it’s for the best. Be open to changing your plan. Rejection has a way of nudging us toward new endeavors we may never consider otherwise.

So, next time you find yourself facing rejection, remember these helpful tips. Now, take some time and look through Next Step Academy’s Life Skills courses and continue on your path to success!


Decide what you want

December 22nd, 2014 by


Image source: Pinterest

With the new year quickly approaching, we know many of you are considering resolutions or even grand new plans for your life. Maybe it’s time to start a workout plan, a diet or even just a promise to yourself to be better at something.

For those of you considering going back to school, we know you aren’t taking that decision lightly. Want to make sure you are choosing the right major? Right career? Right school?

Here are some of the courses you can take to help eliminate any careers that aren’t right for you, or help reassure you that you are on the right track with a career field.

Culinary Arts
• Criminal Justice
Medical Assisting
HVAC careers

Of course, you can also check out the free life skills courses just to brush up on some of the skills you’ll need to have to succeed in a college setting. Perhaps you need a reminder on basic writing or grammar. Maybe a time management refresher.

Whatever your goals are for 2015, we’re pullin’ for ya! Best of luck as you conquer those next steps.




Know Your Options | Keuka ASAP Program

November 7th, 2014 by

iStock_000009717433_MediumAs an adult looking to go back to school, it can be difficult to imagine fitting in classes and homework into your already busy life.

A new program at Keuka College called ASAP intends to make that balance a little bit easier. ASAP stands for Accelerated Studies for Adults Program and it is designed to meet the needs of busy, active adults with classes being offered at more than 20 community colleges and hospitals throughout New York State. Students attend classes held one night each week with one course being taken at a time. It’s easy for students to work around because each class is four hours and assignments are completed when convenient for each individual student.

The ASAP program delivers its classes in a seminar format with a personalized, collaborative learning environment where classes bring together the work experience and skills of students and faculty. Students attend their classes in the same groups throughout their specific program.

Students come to the program from every level — some of the participants are starting out right from school, others are returning after time off. No matter what your background, the ASAP program offers many areas of support including a Writing Support Center and tutors who review your work and provide feedback and suggestions within 24 hours.

Additionally, ASAP offers academic resources and allows students to access the academic library experience from their own homes; it is complete with online journals and databases at the ready for your research. Dedicated librarians provide round the clock assistance with research, interlibrary loans from nearby libraries, and finding the proper sources.

Career planning and development is a large part of the ASAP program and students have access to the Career Services Center where they work to develop a career plan, sharpen their resume, practice interview skills and making career transitions. The center also allows students to connect with alumni for networking purposes and attend career fairs and events.

If you’re working many hours to put yourself through school, the Keuka ASAP program might be the right fit for you. Because of its wide offering, if you are a New York State resident there is most likely a location close to home. If you’re not in New York State, check with your local schools to see if there is a similar program that can meet your needs. Either way, make sure to find a program that offers you the proper resources and support you need and also lets you balance a busy life and a new academic future.

> Make sure you’re ready for college! Take Next Step Academy’s College Placement Tests quick online course. 


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