Friday’s Fun tidbit

For last week’s learning tidbit, I decided to do a post on existentialism. I thought I would do a follow-up to that, but since it is Friday, on a much more lighter note. You probably haven’t heard of the name Dan Walsh, but he’s creatively re-done the much loved Garfield comic strips by Jim Davis. His site Garfield Minus Garfield has been given kudos by Jim Davis himself. As you can guess from the title, Garfield is taken out of every comic strip and what we have left is a lonely, confused Jon Arbuckle suffering through extreme moments of existentialism and at times what appears to be schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A very new twist on the comic, indeed.

Take a look here Garfield Minus Garfield.

Want something else to amuse you? The Discovery Channel is great. Somehow it makes learning fun and educational. Every Wednesday, they have a series known as Time Warp. The basic premise is turning everyday normal activities into  something interesting and beautiful using advanced photography and digital imaging. For example, a water balloon to the face — in slow motion. Go ahead and watch the video below, there’s something hypnotic about it.

Click here:  Time Warp – Water Balloon Face

It was good, right? I didn’t know I would be so entranced by it either.  I hope you all enjoyed!

The Best Kept Secret for Career Planning – The Informational Interview, Part 3

6. What characteristics have you noticed that enable a person in your field to succeed?
7. What kind of education and training is needed for this job?
8. Where do you see this industry going in the future?
9. How do you stay current in your field and “on top of your game”?
10. Is there anyone else you recommend I can talk to in relation to this career/field?

These are by all means just suggestions, so feel free to choose the ones you like and add your own. It is a good idea to ask one or 2 questions to demonstrate you’ve done your research and therefore prove your sincere interest. Asking something related specifically to the field or a related article about the person are a couple ways to do this.

After the Interview

So you asked some great questions, got some invaluable insights, and thanked them for their time. Now what? Send another thank you! They’ve done you a great service, show your appreciation. An e-mail is one way to do this, but according to Darren at www.darrenbarefoot.com, a thank-you card is “extra classy”. That sounds like a lot of brownie points to me. (If you want more great tips on informational interviews, click here.)

Another good idea is to jot down any notes immediately after the interview – especially things that struck out at you. You can take notes during the interview if you like, but as it is quite brief, it’d be better to devote your time building that relationship and getting to know your interviewee and their position.

Self-reflect. It’s not cheesy! Think about what you’ve learned from the interview. After all the aim is educational. Are you still interested in the position? Why or why not? Did the interview dispel any preconceived notions you had of the position? What skills and training do you need to gain in order to make yourself competitive? The list goes on.

Just a few more tips and reminders…

I know I said it at the very beginning, this is NOT a job interview, but please do keep this in mind. Be sincere and honest. At the same time, this still has a potential to become a job interview later. If you are truly skilled at being subtle, you may even be able to do it during the informational interview. Be careful – You can really turn people off if you make them feel deceived.

Send a follow-up of some kind: handwritten note, e-mail, a card. In a job interview, those who get remembered and eventually hired do this. It’s also so helpful when trying to be remembered after an informational interview.

Dress professional. This is not as formal as a job interview, but it is still important to look nice. Business casual should be fine.

An informational interview is a great educational tool in learning more about your career and field of choice. If you are considering a job change or are unemployed, seriously consider an informational interview. Now that you know, try it!

The Best Kept Secret for Career Planning – The Informational Interview, Part 2

Dear Mrs. McGregor,

I recently graduated from the University of Miami, and after my good friend, David Johnson, learned that I was interested in a career in marketing, he suggested I contact you to request a brief informational interview.

While at the University of Miami, I majored in marketing. In addition, I had an internship last summer at Razor Corp, where I assisted media buyers on several high-profile interactive marketing campaigns. I now plan to apply both my education and my work experience to a career in marketing. At your convenience, I was hoping to learn what types of positions you suggest for a recent college graduate, and also to hear your thoughts the future of the industry as a whole.

Thank you very much for your time. If you are available to speak with me, we can talk over the phone, or I can meet you at a location of your choosing. I can be reached at 646 402 5557or by e-mail at mike@gradspot.com.

Appreciatively,

Michael Humphrey

For an example from www.gradspot.com of how to do a phone call, click here. I would also attach your resume because HR will generally keep this on file, and who knows, there’s a chance they can end up contacting you if a position opens. Also, the interview doesn’t have to be face-to-face, but it’ll be a better learning experience versus over the phone.

Questions to Ask

The most important thing here is to prepare. It may not be a job interview, but you are the one asking the questions. Think about what you actually want to know. This is not a time for you to ask about vacation time, 401k, salary, and so forth. You are still representing yourself, and your questions will reflect back on you. It may not be an employment interview now, but it has a strong potential to be one down the line. Prepare, prepare, prepare. It’s so very important. Do your research, know what you are looking for when asking a question, and be yourself and professional. As optimistic and supportive as we all like to be, we also know that there is such a thing as a stupid question.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Why did you choose this field?
  2. How did you get started in it?
  3. What is a typical work day like?
  4. What aspect do you enjoy the most in your job? the least?
  5. How would you describe the company culture?

click here for part 3 on informational interviews

The Best Kept Secret for Career Planning – The Informational Interview, Part 1

A look at informational interviews, how to arrange one, questions to ask, follow-up and other helpful tips.

Never heard of this? You wouldn’t be the only one. Informational interviews provide a wealth of information when it comes to career planning, yet so many people are unaware that it even exists. It’s nothing new, in fact far from it. Richard Bolles, author of “What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job Hunters and Career Changers”, first coined the term over 35 years ago. With the downturn in the economy, job hunting is having a revival and the informational interview is a trick in the trade you may not want to overlook.

First things first, what is it? An informational interview is an interview aimed at gathering information about a job or position at a company of your interest. Most people set out to do these before graduation or when they are considering a job or career change. It is NOT an interview for employment. Think of it as a non-committal conversation starter. The idea is to “feel” out a job – What do you like? What don’t you like? – so that you can integrate your thoughts from this into your career or grad school planning. Typically, 15 – 30 minutes is sufficient time. Remember, this is not a sneaky way to try to get a job; the person interviewing you is genuinely doing it to help you out, so be considerate of their time. With an informational interview, it is all about you, and you are the one asking the questions.

Arranging an Informational Interview

Before you begin calling all the people you admire and sending out your e-mails, it’s important to do your research.  Find the people who are path finders and inspirational to you in your career of choice, research them, see what their network is like through social networking sites like LinkedIn Also, look at your own network. Ask friends, colleagues, family members, relatives, neighbors, anyone who may be able to assist you in finding the right candidate for your informational interview.  HR is usually the one to set up an informational interview, but each company is different. Sometimes it may make sense to contact the person directly. It can even be flattering for them, after all, you have singled them out as a person full of valuable information and in a position you may want to aspire to one day.

There are two options: e-mail or phone call. And thankfully to www.gradspot.com, here’s an example of how to do one:


click here for part 2 on informational interviews

Behind the scenes with entrepreneurs – April Braswell

It’ finally here! – A one-on-one interview with April Braswell, relationship expert and online dating coach.  In this first part, we’ll hear how she was able to develop herself into the entrepreneurial woman she is today. This will be a 7-parter, so if you enjoy please keep checking back for more.

Also a little side note, this is my first video. So please be kind 😉 . Any suggestions to improve the video are welcomed. To begin the video, click on the link below.

Behind the Scenes with Entrepreneurs

Living in another country: Is it for me? What do I need to do? (pg. 4)

4. Electronics.

    Can you take them with you? Or will you need to buy new ones once abroad? Often times, the electricity voltage will be different in another country and little things like your hair dryer won’t match the prong holes. You can by converters here or in your new country. You may also opt to just buy new electronics once abroad. Keep in mind though that electronics can cost more abroad than in your home country.

    5. Prescription Medication.

      Are you taking any? Will you be able to find them in your new country? Chances are yes, but double check by asking around on forums and with your doctor. The other option is to ask your doctor to fill you up on a year supply before you leave. If you ask, your doctor will be willing and there should be no problem with this.

      6. Clothes and Shoes.

        Keep the weather in mind! Will you be shopping? If you are planning on living in another country for an extended period (6 months – 1 year), it is likely that your suitcases will fill up quickly when you are ready to return home. MissMentor’s suggestion -pack lightly on the way there. Lighter than you think necessary because chances are you will be bringing goodies back.

        7. Toiletries.

        It’s not a bad idea to stock up on this before you head to your new country. It will help the transition so that you can focus on finding work versus finding where to buy shampoo. Bring the basics – shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc… – so that they will last you when you first arrive.

        8. Vaccinations.

        Typical ones needed are Hep A, Hep B, yellow fever, and measles and mumps. Each country is different  so check around on  which vaccinations are recommended. Some countries will not require any but only make suggestions.

        9. Flight and accommodation.

        Pretty self-explanatory. Get a ticket, book it. Think about accommodation when you arrive. You will probably have a fair amount of luggage, so rather than winging it, it’s probably best to arrange a place to stay. From there you can find housing.

        10. Register with the U.S. Embassy once abroad.

          This is highly recommended. Let the US know where you are, so in the case that something does happen, you will have resources.  Click here for the U.S. State department page. They also offer some great tips in traveling abroad.

          By following this list and doing the research, you are well on your way to living in another country. The real adventure begins once you are there. Bon Voyage!

          Living in another country: Is it for me? What do I need to do? (pg. 3)

          is the public transportation system? Many of the conveniences you take for granted here may not be available when you move abroad. Things that you have been doing for years without thought can become testing trials once you are living in another country. Finding a bank, buying toiletries, and delivering packages are all mini-adventures.

          Ready for the Plunge! What’s next and Extra things to consider.

          Ok, so you’ve asked yourself, mulled over why you want to move abroad and have calculated the technical things like budget. You’re ready for excitement and change, to push yourself in new ways, to be a full-on expat. Congratulations! Living abroad is a wonderful experience at any age. Let’s take a look at the next steps needed for making your dream of living in another country a reality.

          1. Look up VISA requirements.

          What do you need to enter the country? To have an extended stay? If you plan to work abroad, it is important to look at work permit requirements as well. In Vietnam, they require a police record and a notarized copy of your degree in order to get a work permit. It is difficult to get this once you are abroad but relatively simple if you are in your home country, so taking care of this before the move abroad is ideal. Be sure to research this thoroughly. You don’t want to be the person who just arrived after a 12 hour flight, only to be sent back home (and yes, this is at your expense).

          2. Find a job.

          There are a few strategies in doing this. One way is to arrive in your country of choice and establish yourself through networking. Find a place, become acclimated to the culture, and then through word of mouth begin your job hunt. Even if you choose this step, it is important to do the research first and make sure that this can be done. For example, when teaching English in an Asian country such as Vietnam or Thailand, this approach works fine. For more information on this, check Dave’s ESL café.  Also, if you already have family or relatives living there, this is not a bad idea. Use them as a resource to help familiarize yourself with living in another country.

          The other approach to is to search international job forums and secure a job before you go.  Many countries will have their own career sites and versions of Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com.  When you find a company, ask what is included in your work package. Sometimes a company will offer you an expat package covering your flight and accommodation costs.

          3. Get  insurance.

          Don’t forget this!! Your domestic plan most likely won’t cover you abroad. If you have secured work, see what they offer you. Consider getting insurance that covers an emergency medical evacuation plan as well. (click below for next page)

          continue living in another country page 4


          Living in another country: Is it for me? What do I need to do? (pg. 2)

          A relationship may not work overseas – Are you willing to make the commitment?  You may be able to bring your pet, but will it have to be quarantined for a specific amount of time once you arrive to your country of choice? Will you be in a living space where your dog can roam free? Are you willing to sacrifice the momentum you’ve built in your career for a self-fulfilling experience? Think these things through, and tie it back into why you want to move abroad. 

          5. What are possible problems with the language barrier?

            When you are living in another country, there are language barriers you will face. Living in the UK, you may have a few mis-communications with the colloquialism. Living in Thailand, however, you will face much larger obstacles in overcoming a language barrier. It is a good idea to take language courses before you leave or do home study with books or Rosetta Stone. When you do not know the language, be prepared to have difficulty in everything (at least at first). Counting change, asking for directions, looking for the bathroom – any of these things can be challenging.  It is wise to learn some basics before you go, and be prepared to use some heavy hand signage! 

            6.  How much money do I need? /Do I have enough money?

              When answering this question think of flight costs, transportation costs once you are in the city, amount of time you will be without work, and currency exchange. If you plan to find work once you are there, make sure to give yourself a decent cushion of savings to live off of. Don’t forget to also include, food costs, living costs, and any luxuries you may need.  This is basically planning your budget.

              7. What is the lifestyle there like? What is it like to be living in another country?

                You may have an idea of what a place is like, but you may also want to do the research before you go. Search the internet for forums with people who have lived abroad or are living abroad. Talk to friends and family who have had this experience. Will there be conveniences like a grocery store or only local markets? Can you buy name brand products over there? How (click below for next page)

                continue living in another country page 3

                Living in another country: Is it for me? What do I need to do? (pg. 1)

                The travel bug hits most people at one point or another, and sometimes it just hits really hard. Traveling somewhere for 2 weeks isn’t enough, you want to live there! This is a step by step guide that will get you started on your way to making that move to living in another country.

                First off, ask yourself why you want to live in another country. Visiting Greece for 2 weeks one summer may have been magical, but actually living there will be a completely different experience. Be aware that a vacation mindset is very different from our everyday mindset. Your mindset abroad will have to be even stronger.  You will be faced with challenges. Living in a different country requires an open mind, and it won’t be all roses and daisies. If you can accept this, your experience of living in another country will be truly memorable  and a sure way to learn more about yourself.

                Questions to ask yourself before living in another country.

                1. Where do I want to live?

                2. Why do I want to live there?

                It is important to take this step further than a blanket answer, for example, “because it’s fun”. What exactly are you looking to experience abroad? A new culture? Learn a new language? Getting back to your roots? Escaping the recession? In knowing what you want out of the experience, it provides you a strategy in getting there and enjoying it. This will be greatly helpful in maintaining positivity once you’re abroad facing challenges.

                3. What are my goals in living abroad?

                This question is an extension to why you want to be living in another country. After examining your motives, it is a good idea to list 5-10 goals you would like to accomplish while abroad. It can be something small as learning to cook a local dish to something larger like learning a new language. This will help give you purpose in your experience. At some point abroad, you will have a moment where you wonder – Why am I here???!!  and What am I doing??. This goal list can be a reminder to help you stay on course and to enjoy your experiences.

                4. What will I be leaving behind when I move abroad?

                This is a very important question to ask yourself. Do you have a pet? A boyfriend/girlfriend? A job you love? When you move abroad, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. (click below for next page)

                continue living in another country page 2

                New grads and finding a career part 2

                So, yesterday I posed the question of how much is it the school’s responsibility versus the student’s own when it comes to finding a job after graduation. If you missed the blog, click here to get the back story.

                It seems the general consensus is to know what you want before you enter college, and then to take the appropriate steps after to make sure you are choosing courses that will benefit you in finding a job.  After graduation, many college students finally realize this all too late. Not to fear, according to Usnews.com , there are real reasons why some new grads find jobs successfully while others don’t – and it’s based on more than just luck or networking.

                It comes down to two very simple things: strategy and a positive mindset. Strategy being defined as setting a goal and monitoring its progress along the way. Makes sense.  You have to know what you are looking for before you find it.  And the positive mindset? Makes double sense.  With the rough job market, positive thinking provides a cushion and helps the job seeker bounce back after being faced with rejection or failure.

                This is becoming a very clear pattern that I’m seeing. Successful people think positively. My interview with April Braswell (only 2 more days until it’s reveal!) further proves this point. People who accomplish, people who succeed, people who find jobs – all these people are relentless in reaching their goal. To have that drive and ambition, it takes the ability to see a picture bigger than the one currently in front of you. On top of that, it takes the courage to believe in it.

                Finding a job after graduation is no doubt difficult. Having the ability to stick it out and stay motivated, though, is a skill which will not only benefit your job search, but also your path to success.

                Do you agree or disagree? Why/Why not?  When you face rejection or failure, what do you do to bounce back?