Networking Tips to Launch You on Your Path in Work & Life

Networking can be a very big word and may even feel overwhelming when you hear it. It certainly brings up some questions. What does it mean to network? Do I need to have work experience first?

Throughout my 20+ years in the work world, I’ve identified a few key things that I have found to be really helpful and that also take some of the pressure off and I’d like to share these tips with you!

What is Networking?

When it comes down to it, networking is simply just having a conversation with someone. It’s connecting. It’s developing a relationship. When you are connecting with others, it helps to think of the connection as symbiotic; meaning that the connection goes both ways. This person may have information that can help you and you may have information that can help them (even at a later point).

One definition of networking that I like is: “interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.”

Pretty simple, right?

How to Talk About Yourself

When you are just getting started in your career you won’t always be clear about a purpose or mission in life, so just start with where you are today. It can feel a little awkward talking about yourself at first but the more you do it, the more comfortable and confident you will get.

A great place to start is by creating a mission statement; no matter where you are in life. This can be related to your interests in volunteer work, customer service, or work that you know you want to do in the future.

Here are a couple of examples of mission statements, “I help customers to optimize their XYZ product so that they can have a stellar customer experience!” or “I give back to my community so that I can help to enhance the quality of life for those struggling to make ends meet” or “My mission is to deliver innovative ideas that contribute to the evolution of XYZ technology.”

You can also just focus on your interests or top skills. What excites you or makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning? What do you love to do? What tasks are you doing when you feel most productive and useful? These are all great clues about work that you are naturally good at or love to do and can more easily talk about with others. When you share more about your passions and interests, people will often want to know more about you and to help you along your path.

Still anxious about the idea of networking? Just start by asking questions. Ask people about themselves: what do they do for work? How was their weekend? What do they love to do in their free time? When you start the conversation, people will often start asking about you too!

How to Market Yourself

Marketing yourself can include a few things and it may be simpler than you think.

It can mean having an online presence. LinkedIn® is a wonderful resource for professionals. I always recommend that my clients keep an eye out for connection opportunities on LinkedIn®. An online presence can also mean having a website or a blog. Keep it professional yet informative—it’s also a great way to show more of your personality or style.

If you have a resume—get feedback, either from a professional resume writer or a mentor who can help you. When you are applying for jobs this is your ticket to landing an interview so you’ll want to make a great first impression.

Marketing yourself also means just simply showing up where you’ll have opportunities to connect. Join clubs, attend events, volunteer, or join outings. Just showing up can be the biggest part of getting connected with others. The key is to get in the habit of sharing more about yourself and what you are up to in the world so people know how to connect you (but also be curious about others). If you don’t enjoy joining groups, find an influencer—someone who can help to connect you with others. This could be someone you’ve worked for, a teacher, a mentor, or just someone that you admire and who is open to helping you.

Once you’ve made a connection, follow-up. This part is really important. People won’t know how to help you if you don’t ask. Thank them for their time and mention something you liked about the conversation or about their interests. If you are reaching out via email, there’s a great article with email templates from one of my favorite Career resources, The Muse, here: The Muse – Networking Email Templates.

Happy connecting!

 

Shannon empowers professionals to discover what they truly want in their careers so they can do fulfilling work on their own terms. www.shannon-rey.com


The Art of Facing Failure and Trying Again Anyway

Shannon Rey Gibbs For some reason failure has become a very big deal for us. We try to avoid it at all costs and become fearful of trying something new or putting ourselves out there where others may judge us. I still experience this myself but I’ve learned to keep doing the things that scare me anyway. If you ask anyone who’s successful in creating a business, product, or following; they’ll tell you that they’ve failed many times along the way and continue to fail even now. It took James Dyson over 5,000 tries before perfecting his now famous vacuum. Wow! So I am hear to tell you a little something about failure that will help you better deal with it!

Every failure is an opportunity to learn

You can learn a lot from failure. You learn how to do it better next time. You understand what was missing from that first try at something. You learn the reason for your failure, which may pleasantly surprise you—perhaps it was because it wasn’t something you wanted to do anyway and your heart just wasn’t in it. I’m personally grateful for these kinds of failures!

Each time you fail, you’ll realize that you survived it and you have a chance to start again. You can become stronger by looking back, making note of what you learned, and moving forward with the benefit of more experience. Developing this kind of resiliency with help you to bounce back stronger each time.

This is a great reminder:  “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford

Give yourself permission to have small failures along the way

When you are feeling really stuck or just can’t seem to move forward at all after a failure, break the process down into smaller steps. What’s the next one thing that you need to do? Start there. And then figure out the next step. And keep going.

It takes some of the pressure off when you realize that yes, there’s a chance you may fail, however it may only be with one small step out of ten steps. When something doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would, it just becomes information about what the next step needs to be. After all, maybe you were off track and needed to be headed in a different direction to get you on the right path!

Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back

You can have so many great experiences when you decide to be afraid and do it anyway. Instead of asking “what if I fail?” how about asking “what if I don’t fail?” Imagine the possibilities that are ahead just because you took a leap of faith.

I like this quote from Virgin Group’s founder, Richard Branson, “do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”

There’s always something to learn from failures and it’s the courage to continue moving forward that counts.

Want to read another interesting take on dealing with failure? Read this blog post. For more interesting blog posts on life, school and career, visit the official GT20 blog!

Shannon empowers professionals to discover what they truly want in their careers so they can do fulfilling work on their own terms. www.shannon-rey.com


A Go-To Guide to Stress-free Resume Writing

Kate Beck As I’ve been gearing up to apply for colleges, summer jobs, and scholarships I can’t help but notice that all them require a resume component. Until recently I thought that resumes were mainly to get a job, but they’re much more important; they provide a picture of you and your accomplishments to those wanting to learn more about you. A strong resume writing game will help you build an effective document that would give prospective colleges and employers a comprehensive idea about your involvement at school and in your community.

“A strong resume writing game will give prospective colleges and employers a comprehensive idea about your involvement at school and in your community.”

Personally, I felt like the whole resume writing process was confusing, so I asked a few of my classmates what their experiences has been. I got responses like “my mom helped me”, “I used an online template”, and “I really didn’t know where to start”. This has really been eye opening for me because its helped me realize that no one quite understands how to confront the elusive resume. So I did the research and here is what I’ve discovered about resume writing:

Resumes have 5 main components

1. Header: This is basic; what’s your name and contact information?

2. Objective/Experience Summary: What are you looking to gain by sending your resume?

3. Experience: Most of the time this would be where you add work experience, but since you may not have any yet it’s okay to leave this part out or add experience here like volunteering, babysitting, tutoring, etc. What I’ve found is you probably have more experience than you think! The main key here is to be as detailed as possible when outlining your involvement. Why should people give you a second glance?

4. Education: Where are you going to high school? Are you taking any higher level courses? Have you been accepted to a college already that you can mention?
5. Other, i.e. awards, club involvement: What makes you stand out? Do you have a position as a leader of a club? What have you done that shows initiative?

Further Resource

Though my tips can help get you started, these sites have really helped me get a more complete understanding of resumes:
Raw Resume: Raw Resume gives a good summary on all aspects from A-Z on writing a resume.
Resume Baking: Resume Baking is a free site that lets you build resumes. I liked it because it guided me through the whole process. Plus it has the ability to be edited in the future!

Hope these tips and suggestions on resume writing help you slay the elusive beast!

Want to know more about how we deal with writing essential stuff? Read this post about college apps essay, it will change how you approach any kind of writing!

Kate is a senior in high school, loves cats, and takes every moment outside of school work to create something new- whether it be a blog post or a baked good!


Five Nifty Tools to Help You Break Into Your Dream Career (Part 1)

Vaish Kandhadai As the school year comes to an end, you are probably busy with your academics, graduating, starting internships or looking for permanent employment after graduation. Although the professional world looks like a scary place, we are here to tell you that it isn’t as bad as it looks. Once you know the industry you want to be a part of and have done your homework on the scope of your preferred occupation, you can officially prepare yourself to get hired fast! In this two-part blog post, we will talk about proven, effective ways to get your job hunting process going and get hired ASAP. To do this, we have identified five nifty tools to help you,so here are two to start with:

Network Effectively:

Talking to your parents, friends and professors about your career preference is where you must start but it is not quite enough. So leverage your social life to your advantage and network with peers and mentors. Here is how to identify a few: Try to find local mixer events and job fairs on event websites like Eventbrite. Although the probability of finding a job at a job fair is low, it gets you in touch with recruiters (and if you are very lucky, a hiring manager or two). When that happens, make sure you add them to your professional network on LinkedIn® so that you can get in touch with them when you see a suitable opportunity at their organization in the future.

Takeaway: Finding a job through an official recruiter might be a contrived process since you will run into many helpful but also shifty recruiters. Always seek out professionals who work for the organization or a reliable HR consulting firm dealing with reputable organizations. When in doubt, use tools like GlassDoor or LinkedIn® to find out about their authenticity.

Get People to Refer You:

Most companies rely on their employees to bring in quality resumes for positions they are hoping to fill. Why? A referral program is a cost and quality-effective way to reach out to qualified candidates. So, the more you network, the more people you will find willing to refer you for a position. Moreover, there are so many virtual communities who help you get in touch with relevant people who can help you with your pursuit. HireClub (invitation-based only) and Albert’s Job Listings and Referrals are two such Facebook communities acting as a professional support system of sorts.

Takeaway: Being more specific with your first circle of friends and family will be helpful because they can be your first point of contact to get in touch with someone relevant to your industry. Most organizations look at resumes faster if an employee refers it so remember to make the most out of it!

Not looking for full-time employment but would like to try finding a temporary vacation-time employment? This post might help you!

Vaish is the Content Manager for GiveTeens20®® and a Content Marketing Consultant in the Bay Area. In her pass time, she likes to pretend she is reading just to get out of doing household chores!

 


Four Proven Academic Hacks to Help You Through College (Part 2)

This is the second and final part of the Academic Hacks blog series. Click here to read the first part!

Maluck Nawabi, Enya Daang, Mangesh Darke and Catherine Tran As the final flurry of university acceptance letters begin to pour in, you are probably channeling your energy into going through an intense decision-making process. There is more to dealing with college than admissions and the interns at GiveTeens20®® (who have been there, done that and managed to stay sane!) have signed up to be your spirit guides! In this final part of the two-part blog post, they give you a few more effective suggestions (or academic hacks, as we call them) on dealing with the most important part of your life right now: preparing for college!

Community College is a Cost-Effective Option

College does not have to be expensive. Even in these sluggish economic times, financial difficulties should not prevent one from pursuing higher education, because cost-effective options such as community college are available. Attending community college is not just an affordable alternative. The non-monetary benefits of attending a junior college include being close to home and learning in smaller, flexible class sizes with accelerated and practical curriculum.

Moreover, junior colleges have a long history of catering to non-traditional students. Adults returning to school, part-time students with outside jobs and family obligations, and teenagers starting fresh from a blemished high school transcript to name a few. Not to mention, enrolling in a community college doesn’t always have to be the final destination in a student’s academic career.

Many public two-year colleges offer transfer guarantee programs that allow students to transfer credits from their junior college courses towards a Bachelor’s degree from their desired four-year university. Students who pursue this option pay a fraction of the cost for general education prerequisites that they would have likewise taken at a four-year school. Therefore, students should not be intimidated by the financial barrier that prevents them from gaining knowledge and learning practical skills.

Don’t Ignore Your Health

Getting good grades and being involved in extra-curricular are important, but so is your mental and physical health! In the long run, the assignment you’ve been skipping meals and nights of sleep for is not worth your health and well being. That brings us to the fourth and final subject of our academic hacks: do not neglect your responsibilities! As tempting as it may be, giving yourself breaks after getting the smallest of tasks done will lead to more stress as you approach the deadline with an unfinished assignment.

However, if you find yourself seriously struggling to stay awake, make sure you get a full night’s rest. Also, it is easy to put off eating and eat poorly while you are busy working, so be conscious of the time and eat foods that nourish your body! Pizza is awesome, but so is having the energy to get all that work done!


Four Proven Academic Hacks to Help You Through College (Part 1)

Maluck Nawabi, Enya Daang, Mangesh Darke and Catherine Tran As the final flurry of university acceptance letters begin to pour in, you are probably channeling your energy into going through an intense decision-making process. There is more to dealing with college than admissions and the interns at GiveTeens20® (who have been there, done that and managed to stay sane!) have signed up to be your spirit guides! In this two-part blog post, they give you a few effective suggestions (or academic hacks, as we call them) on dealing with the most important part of your life right now: preparing for college!

Manage Your Time Like a Pro

The most important thing to do at college is manage your time well. When first starting to sign up for classes, you may want to take a bunch of classes that seem super interesting or fill your entire schedule with classes that pertain to your major. However, I’ve learned that this isn’t the best strategy.

To start, there is nothing wrong with taking some classes for fun and learning something new; that is one of the reasons to go to college in the first place. Actually, I encourage you to take classes that interest you, even if they do not relate to your major. Personally, I took philosophy classes even though I am majoring in Computer Science. However, it is imperative to remember that you are paying nearly $500 per unit at a 4-year school. That is a lot of money when considering how many classes you will have to take.

There is no correct way to balance your time. The key is making sure to not overwhelm oneself. The first thing you should do when you start planning for classes is to thoroughly understand the effort and time the class requires. Usually, you can determine this by how many units the class is. If the class is high in units, then that means that you are expected to put in a lot of effort. Additionally, reading the course catalog gives you a good idea of what to expect in the course. As long as you plan accordingly and balance your time, college classes won’t be a problem.

Summer Classes are a Good Option. But…

Taking classes in the summer is ideal if you want to complete more units. However, you must take into consideration the fact that summer classes are four days a week for six weeks and they tend to be more time consuming. Therefore, you must carefully decide which classes to take. At first you will want to take upwards of three classes, but it is best to just take one class. Personally speaking last summer I wanted to take English, Biology, and Microeconomics. However, if I did take all those classes I would not be able to function like a sane person.

Schedule a meeting with your counselor to see which summer courses will count for two areas of general education requirements. For instance, sometimes an English class at a community college will count for both an English requirement and a critical thinking requirement. Thus, allowing you to save time and money. Once you enroll in classes at a local community college include that college in your FAFSA so that you can get the BOG Fee Waiver. With this Waiver your classes will be covered under financial aid.

Watch out for the second part of the Academic Hacks series that will be up on the blog next week. For more insightful suggestions on conquering college, read this post

Image Designed by Freepik

 


The 3 Ways I Deal with Failure and Learn From It

Aneesh Konda One of the most prolific inventors in history, Thomas A. Edison once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We’ve all failed at least once in our lives. From studying until 3 am for a math test and receiving an F grade, to trying your best to win an officer position and losing, failure is inevitable. However, it’s not particularly the way you fail I am talking about, but the way you respond to failure. How do you pick yourself up, and move on? Here are 3 ways I deal with failure head-on, and move towards a clearer path of success.

I Accept It:

Before you I even start to move on to bigger and brighter things, I know that I need to accept my shortcomings to deal with failure. NBA legend Michael Jordan himself once said “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Realizing that I have failed, accepting it, and being able to move on is, in my opinion, the first step in the path to success. This is not easy, and it can take a increasingly long amount of time to do so. There’s no rush; acceptance can take an hour, day or even a week to attain. Having an open-minded and optimistic attitude can help you in these situations.

I Learn:

After acceptance, I embrace failure as part of the learning process. I see it more as valuable feedback, something I use to improve rather than as a big blow and setback. Think to yourself, What have I learned from this? How can I improve on this mistake moving forward? The important thing before even beginning to deal with failure is to start thinking about the situation from this perspective and to be constructive about things. This is more vital to avoid getting stuck in denial or negativity.

I Stay Hungry:

Finally, and most important of all, I never give up. I stay hungry. Innovator and genius, Steve Jobs responded to failure with “Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.” Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to fail even more. A path to success is not a straight line of win after win, it can fluctuate. It can drop. It can rise. The most important thing to keep in mind is that every failure is just another step forward. Every failure is something you can learn from.

Every failure and every success is what makes you, you.
Aneesh Konda is currently a sophomore in highschool. He enjoys watching Youtube videos, hanging out with friends, and binge-watching Netflix.


4 Ways to Lead a Peaceful Double Life!

Ananya Veeraragavan Being a sophomore in high school, balancing social life with school work is a constant struggle. High Schoolers are made to think that spending time with friends or going out is unnecessary, time consuming, and instead you could just be studying. However, as I like to see it, work twice as hard as you party and you are gold. For the uninitiated, here are 4 ways to lead a peaceful double life without missing all the important parts!

Don’t Procrastinate:

It’s one thing to say you’re not going to procrastinate and another to actually not do it. Students like to wait till the last minute to finish assignments for a couple of reasons: the thrill of waiting till the last minute, or the laidback attitude many teenagers tend to have. However, this feeling is nothing compared to knowing that you have finished an assignment. You feel accomplished, and now you know you have managed your time wisely!

Stay Focused:

When doing schoolwork make sure you are focused on working and when you’re with your friends try not to think about school. Sound impossible? Many students tend to worry and end up missing out on the rare enjoyable moments when they go out. Staying focused with school work will help you finish the work efficiently and effectively. By finishing all your work before going out with your friends or going on social media, you can enjoy the free time more, with 0% guilt. The thought of going home and finishing your work can be daunting, and by staying focused and finishing it before the fun commences, you can be stress-free.

Finding The Right Friends:

Having a group of friends that are trustworthy and supportive is important to a healthy school and social life. After working hard at school, the last thing any student wants is to be put down or spend time with people they don’t enjoy socially. This is going to reflect on the quality of your work. By spending time with people you are happy with, you are motivated to work hard knowing you can have a great time with your friends.

Spend Time For Yourself:

This current generation is constantly trying to please others, change themselves to be like the “popular” kids, and try to make their life seem perfect on social media. Students are so caught up on getting likes and comments on posts that they start living their life for others rather than themselves. Yes, having a balance between social and school life is important. However, the most important thing is to live life for yourself and no one else!

Ananya Veeraragavan is currently a sophomore in highschool. During her free time she enjoys dancing and listening to music.

Want to read more about making high school memorable? Read this!


Five Tips for Breezing Through the College Apps Essay Writing Process

Melissa Zhuang As a high school senior this year, my fellow classmates and I struggled to write our dreaded college apps essay. I’m not gonna lie, it was a very busy first semester, but it’s a process that truly forced me to take a step back and realize how far I had come. You’re giving yourself and college representatives a chance to see how you think and why you think the way you do. So current and future high school seniors, here are a few tips I have for you:

Read, Read, and Read!

Read the requirements, the deadlines, the essay prompts, the college website, and even the fine print! Take note of supplemental applications and their deadlines. You may have to upload your materials through a separate link/website. Pay attention to the details!  Colleges will reject essays if they do not fit their prompt, so don’t risk it! As you are writing your college apps essay, be sure to pause and re-read the prompt to make sure you haven’t gone off track.

Mark Your Calendars

Make sure to keep track of your deadlines. Some of my classmates created spreadsheets, others kept track with Google Calendar or their phones, and others took note in their planners. Here is what I did: I wrote down each school and my application deadline on a post-it note and stuck it on my wall to be sure I had an in-your-face, bold lettered reminder of the approaching deadline. I find the process of physically writing down my reminders much more efficient and memorable versus an online calendar.

Research for Your College Apps Essay

I’m sure at some point in the college apps essay process, you’ll be asked something along the lines of: “Why do you want to go to our college?” It could be a short response or an essay answer and one of the best ways to show your passion for the school is to make specific references to the programs, student/faculty activities, and other strong points of the school. Remember that there are literally hundreds of other applicants that will write similar-sounding responses about:

  • Active, diverse student body
  • Study abroad programs:
  • (All schools have programs like this, so if you mention it, be sure to take note of any university-specific quirks. For example, schools may have study-abroad programs targeted towards the study of film-making in London or programs that focus on volunteering for the needy. Emphasize why you want to participate in those activities)
  • Amazing/ talented/ award-winning faculty

Don’t Be Afraid to Delete

Go back to the first tip. What does it say? READ. Read the prompt and read the requirements. College apps essay requirements include “word count.” College admissions reps have to filter through hundreds of essays everyday so they must limit the length of the essays they receive. Make your words count. Remove unnecessary sentences, phrases, and words that do not contribute to your story or your message.

When you write your essays, the first draft is going to be absolutely, positively, dreadfully terrible. Read your drafts out loud or, even better, have someone else read it out loud to you. (*shudder*) Sometimes I found myself deleting full paragraphs and realized that it helped improve the flow my essay! Please, PLEASE remember to press save and make copies of each draft you make. Feel free to change your essays, but just make sure to have a backup in case you liked your original better.

Reduce and Reuse

Reduce your workload by reusing your essays. Now pause again and look back to the first tip. Re-read your essay and re-read the new essay prompt you are writing for. Similar essay prompts do not mean same essay prompts. There could be slight differences and you want to make sure you are answering the specific questions they are asking. Please also remember if you mentioned the university’s name anywhere in the essay, be sure to go back and change it so that it matches the university you are applying to (it happens more than you think)!

Here is an example:

Florida State Uni – Personal Journey Statement 2016 Film Application:

“A 500-1000 word essay describing who you are as an individual and why you want to be a filmmaker. This statement should concentrate on how your background has influenced your storytelling and filmmaking development…”

Uni of Southern CA – Personal Statement 2016 Film Application:

“We are looking for a sense of you as a unique individual and how your distinctive experiences, characteristics, background, values and/or views of the world have shaped who you are and what you want to say as a creative filmmaker. We want to know about the kind of stories you want to tell…(1,000 words or less)”

Both essay prompts are looking to see you write about your:

  1. Individuality
  2. Background Influences
  3. Storytelling

BUT only the USC prompt is looking for “the kind of stories you want to tell”

Applying to colleges is like dating. And in the words of Rhianna, make sure you make them feel like they are “only girl in the world.” Convince them that you’re in love with them and that you two are “destined for each other.” The college application process isn’t as hard as it seems!

Suffering from a slump that is making your college apps essay writing impossible? This might help!

 


Four Ways to Make Junior Year a Memorable Part of Your Life

Muskan Sharma Everyone knows that junior year is labeled as the hardest year of high school. People often tend to look back at their junior year with a lack of fondness due to the stress it caused. Although there are many challenges that lie within this year, there are also lots of ways to make junior year meaningful. To ensure that you make junior year a memorable part of your life, here are some easy tips and tricks. Follow them to make this year as fun, productive, and least stressful as possible!

Stay Organized

It’s incredibly important for us to know our schedules well. Write down all the things you have going on- sport’s tournaments, dance recitals, finals, AP exams- on a calendar. Being able to know these dates ahead of time will help you plan because fewer conflicts with your schedule will make things less stressful.

Do the homework and pay attention in class

This one sounds pretty basic but it is one of the most important ways to marginalize pain in your junior year . You don’t have to be a genius to do well in school. All it takes is doing your homework, showing up to class, and reading what you’re supposed to. When you do these things you will see that everything else works itself out.

Pick a test and stick to it

The choice between SAT and ACT is always hard, but it’s important that you pick one and stick to it rather than try to study for both. Take diagnostic tests early on and analyze them based on which one you score better, which one you felt you had better time management with, and which one you found to be more difficult. Based on your results, make a well thought out decision and stick to it! Also remember not to stress out too much about it because at the end of the day, it is just a test!

Enjoy time with your friends

This is probably one of the most important things to ensure that you have a junior year filled with enjoyment, Although it is easy for us to often become absorbed in school, it is also extremely important for us to make time to have fun with our friends. Go out, do something crazy, you don’t want to look back on this time of your life and just remember stacks of textbooks piled high on your desk. You’re only going to be 16 once, so remember to make the most of it!

Muskan is currently a junior in high school student. In her free-time she enjoys listening to music, hanging out with friends, and trying new foods. Muskan also enjoys writing and aspires to be a journalist one day!