Back to the Classroom: A Success Story

Career, Job loss, Job search, lay-off, Uncategorized

By Rose Morrone-Reeves, Employment Services Coordinator

We are not officially two months into the summer season and the “Back to School” commercials have already captured the attention of millions of children, young adults and adults alike. Is it that time already? As a parent of grown adult children I no longer need to worry about the long list of school supplies or the expense of new clothes or the latest new running shoes for gym class. But, as a Career Advisor this time of year does bring many questions regarding the return to the classroom from my customers which are sometimes filled with confusion and uncertainty. For some adults, by personal choice or through circumstances beyond their control, are forced into a career change and contemplate seriously about returning to school.

Many of these folks are returning to school for the first time after having been employed in the workforce for 25+ years. Some of them know exactly what they want to do and may come to me already having been ewe-can-do-itnrolled in part-time classes for the last several years in a program of their choosing.  And then, there are those who by choice or design went to work just coming out of high school. They worked steadily for an employer for 25+ years, secure in thinking they would retire with this employer, only to discover the employer is downsizing or moving operations to another country. I had the privilege of working with one such lady.

When we sat down to discuss her options she went blank. She had never thought of doing anything else; she had worked as an assembly line worker for 27 years, raised her family and enjoyed doing crossword puzzles and reading mystery novels. It had never crossed her mind to return to school, but here she was at a crossroads. The process took her through testing and a multitude of questionnaires. After a few weeks we sat down to discuss her results. It was clear from the test results she had very high mechanical and math aptitude skills. This information shocked her; she confessed she never had a problem with math in high school and recalled having enjoyed it. We discussed non-traditional jobs which she could be very well suited for and the schools which would offer the best programs. She took a chance and decided to investigate and research a few schools of her choice.

She applied and was accepted to a very prominent Aviation Technology Institute. She confided in me at how quickly the two years went by. The course work was undoubtedly difficult and many times during our meetings she would tell me how much time she spent studying and having to pass up on many family and social gatherings so she could study. She was fortunate to have a supportive family who also encouraged and cheered her on during the two years. She had quickly discovered what worked for her when it came to her study habits and being successful. She completed her two year program with honors and received her Certificate in Airframe and Power Plant Technician Program. She told me if “If I can do it, anyone can do it”. I have always been a believer that where there is a will, there is way.

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated” Oscar Wild


Back to School?

Career, GenY, Job search, Uncategorized


By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

Job seekers often consider going back to school, either to update their skills or train in a new field,  especially if they’ve been working in an industry that had a significant downturn or has changed a lot in recent years. It can be tempting to look at one of those lists of jobs that are expected to be in demand and decide to make a radical shift for the sake of job security.

I’ve completely changed careers myself, and I’m the last person who will tell anyone they need to stay in a field that doesn’t work for them. But having met a lot of people who trained for new careers – only to continue to struggle in the (new) job search, discover they didn’t like the new job, be unable to live on an entry-level wage in the field – I think it’s well worth taking a step back and considering what you’re about to get yourself into. Even if your education or training is being paid for by someone else, it represents a huge commitment of time and energy on your part and you should go into the process with your eyes wide open. Here are some things to consider:

Are you making a change for the sake of making a change?

If you’re frustrated by your current job search, it can be tempting to think that starting over will be a solution. Take some time to consider the skills and abilities that you most enjoy using, either at your last job or in another setting. Will you be able to use them at your new job? Are you genuinely interested in learning something new, and how hard will be it to be the person at the bottom of the totem pole? No matter how well-paying or fast-growing a field may be, you don’t want to make a change only to find that you don’t really care for your new line of work.

What do you really know about the job?

It may be tempting to use that list of “Hot Jobs” or a review of job postings to make the decision about a field, especially if there are a lot of jobs available and the pay looks really good. Keep in mind that no matter how well-paid you are, you still have to actually do that work – and if you dislike it, that paycheck may not feel like compensation enough after all. If the idea that you should enjoy your work sounds frivolous, there’s plenty of research – and plenty of employers – who will confirm that fit is a huge component in getting and keeping a job.

If you’re considering a change, talk to people who currently work in the field, preferably in a variety of settings. Read newsletters or websites of professional organizations and attend a meeting or two if possible. Use your network to meet with new contacts in the field – LinkedIn is great for this. Learn as much as you can about the skills, experience, and qualifications that hiring managers really look for, instead of relying solely on job postings. See if internships are available, or if you can do some volunteer work to learn more first-hand.

Is education or training needed to get into the field?

Depending on how big a change this is for you, you might not need an entire certificate or degree program to make a change. Some schools offer short-term programs specifically intended to help job seekers transition from one field to another; don’t assume you have to take the long way around, especially if you have related experience or education.

Will education and UNrelated experience be enough to get you hired?

It’s frustrating to put in the time, effort, and expense of getting an education only to realize that you still don’t have the qualifications to get hired in your field. This is why doing your homework before you choose a program is so important. Admissions staff are professionals with a great deal of knowledge about the programs and offerings at a particular school – and part of their job is to help convince you that their program is the best one. It’s not the school’s responsibility to find or guarantee you a job upon graduation, and saying “when I signed up they told me there were plenty of jobs” is no excuse.

Have you chosen the right program?

Choosing a training or education program that fits your needs is important. Check that the program or institution has appropriate and current accreditation. Does the school have a good reputation in your new field or industry? Does the program teach what you want or need to learn in order to get the job you want? While the core classes may be the same in every program, schools may specialize in one or more areas; look at the places recent graduates have been hired and talk with employers in your field to get some insight on this.

Are you ready to go back to school?ready for back to school

Last – but NOT least – are you ready to go back to school? Education is a significant investment of time, money, and energy. Are you prepared to put in the effort to make it succeed? If you have a family, they will also be affected by your decision to go back to school; in addition to the time you spend in the classroom, you’ll need to spend time on homework and other projects. Are you willing to give up other activities and commitments to dedicate time to school? And finally, realistically consider whether you are academically ready for success. If you haven’t been in school for a while, it may be wise to take a refresher course or two so that you’re feeling more confident in your ability to tackle the coursework.

Education is often a key element to successfully changing careers, but it’s not a magic bullet. Take the time to consider your goals and choose a program that will help you along your path to career success.


Get Up and Take Action!

Career, GenY, Job loss, Job search, lay-off, Social Media, Time management, Uncategorized

By Heather Coleman Voss, Business Services Coordinator

The most startling thing about experiencing a lay-off is that time stretches. What you used to accomplish in four hours now seems to take days. One minute it’s 10:00 am, and the next it’s 3:00 pm – and suddenly you realize you haven’t gotten dressed, or done a load of laundry, or sent out a resume yet. You may not even have been aware of the passing time.

I understand. I was there once myself.

This phase of working through the reality of a lay-off is normal. You may find yourself feeling physically weak, unable to cope with formerly simple tasks like sending an email or making dinner. Outwardly, it may look like you are simply sitting in front of the computer or the TV, but inwardly your mind is whirling with emotions and thoughts. It may feel like you are frozen.

Take this to heart: You will not be in this space forever. You are working through one of the top 5 most stressful events people experience in a lifetime. You are in the midst of the grieving process. It is important to work through the stages of grief – taking a few weeks to process through this time is important.

Then, even if it feels forced, you need to get up and take action.

My suggestions on how to make this happen are as follows:

1. Change your verbal and internal language. You are not “unemployed” – you are in a “career transition.” See the difference? How you speak about yourself will make a huge difference in how you see yourself – and how people react to you.

2. Set your alarm for 8:00 am every single day, Monday – Friday. Get up, shower and get dressed in business casual clothing. Put on your shoes. I know it may sound silly, but your routine will establish your activity for the day. How you feel is how you will act.

3. Set up a schedule. In the schedule, include 8 hours per day of active job seeking, broken up in a manner that suits you. Checking email and social media sites for professional networking and job opportunities may be one way to begin your day.

4. Get out of the house. Head over to the nearest coffee shop with WiFi and start updating your resumes and cover letters. (Remember, each resume should be geared to the specific position to which you are applying). If you don’t have a laptop or tablet, head over to the local library or Michigan Works! office, where you can utilize their computers free of charge.

5. At least twice a week, attend a networking event. Be open to meeting people! If money is an issue, search the internet for local free networking events – they are everywhere. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce – most chambers allow you to visit once without having to obtain a membership.

6. Attend or create your own in-person networking group for job seekers. Schedule a meeting once a week. People who are currently in career transition still maintain most of their professional contacts. After all…you never know who knows someone you should know.

7. Search the Internet for workshops and seminars geared toward current employment trends, resume writing, interviewing, creating a career action plan, social media for career seekers and more. Many low cost to no-cost workshops are available. Again, your local Michigan Works! office is a great resource for excellent workshops. Even if you consider yourself a pro, you will pick up great tips and meet people who are well-connected.

8. Spend time every week fine tuning your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and G+ accounts to reflect your career interests. Post articles and start conversations about your areas of expertise. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s new blogging platform – or start your own WordPress or Blogger account where you can showcase your career passions. Employers will search for you – make your profiles attractive to future hiring managers. Spend time in groups on Facebook and LinkedIn growing your network and learning about current career opportunities.

9. Use a free online calendar and apps like Evernote and to keep you organized and motivated. Remind yourself to follow up with employers, send out specific resumes, attend events and workshops. You may not have a job – yet – but you are working!

10. Every day, update a spreadsheet (I use Google drive) with the positions to which you’ve applied, the contact information of the employer, the title of the position and any other pertinent information. You will feel very accomplished when you can actually see the work you are doing. Additionally, this is a great way to be prepared for the employer to call you – simply check the spreadsheet for details during your conversation.

11. For chores around the house, I recommend creating a short and reasonable checklist. No more than 5 items that can be accomplished throughout the day. The point here is to be busy and proactive, not to overwhelm yourself. Create situations daily for your success.

12. Schedule in some “me time.” If you’ve set up a serious career seeking schedule, you are working. You still need time to relax and re-energize.

Bonus tip: Create business cards with your name, areas of expertise, social media links, email and mobile phone number.  Be prepared to hand out your business cards wherever you are – always carry them with you. Remember, how you present yourself is how you will be received. You are a professional.

Many local printers will print business cards for a very reasonable price. Otherwise, check out this article for free and low cost suggestions: Digital Trends – Business Cards.

**If you live near Ferndale, Michigan I recommend places like Chazzano Coffee Roasters, Java Hutt, Ferndale Michigan Works! workshops and resource center and the Ferndale Public Library as destination spots during your job search. If you are interested in networking with a local Chamber, definitely visit the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce, the Madison Heights/Hazel Park Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce.


10 Good Reasons to Get Back to Your Job Search NOW

Career, Job search, Time management, Uncategorized

by David Straka, Case Manager at Ferndale Michigan Works

So it is summer and you are out of work.  You applied for and are receiving unetop-10-listmployment.  I guess it is time to take a little vacation and enjoy the sights and sounds that summer brings.  You really don’t need to look for work right now because you have earned some time off to chill out, right?  From where I sit, WRONG!

It can be very enticing to fall into that trap thinking that a few months off is not going to hurt anything.  Here are a few points why it is not such a good idea:

  1.  The longer you are out of the workforce the harder it is to stay sharp and explain to a potential employer what you have been doing all that time.
  2. Unemployment money is not going to last forever.
  3. You will continue down the dark path of losing touch with possible networking leads and decreased motivation.
  4. I will see you at my desk with a week left of unemployment, in a panic expecting me to hand you a job.

Regardless the time of year, once you lose a job for whatever reason, you hit the ground running!  Summer is a perfect time to establish your re-employment marketing plan.  Here are a few hints to find your motivation:

  1. As soon as your job ends go ahead and get to your local Michigan Works!  File for your unemployment.  Find out all services available to you by asking staff or better yet, attending an orientation.
  2. Attend all the workshops that can benefit you and bring you up to date on skills needed in your re-employment efforts.
  3. Get referred to a Case Manager/Career Advisor to review your career goals, review and/or create your resume.
  4. Establish a regular “work week” schedule of what happens each day and stick to it.  This includes regular breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If your day includes an exercise program, keep that as part of your routine.  In the evening, take a break and get a good night’s sleep.
  5. Have some business cards made up through services such a Vista Print and carry those with you to summer events.  You never know who you are going to run into.
  6. Look at possible internships or volunteer some time in your schedule to expand your network.

Summer time is seductive.  Even when a person in employed we want to go out and play.  However, income is extremely important.  “Without it, ya ain’t going to get no snow cones or a cold beer.”  Get it in gear and stay successful!

Is There Any Point in Looking for a Job During the Summer?

Career, Job search, Time management, Uncategorized

Ah,  the lazy hazy days of summer…. Time to kick back and relax, enjoy the beautiful weather, and hit the Snooze button on the job search. Right?hammock


There is a persistent myth that there’s not much point to looking for a job during the summer, since everyone is on vacation and all the students on break have taken the available jobs anyway. This is a lot like the idea that there’s no point in looking for a job in December, since everyone has mentally checked out prior to the Christmas season and won’t be hiring until after the start of the new year (another job search myth!)

I won’t argue that there are certain times of year that are slower than others, hiring-wise.  And we all know that it can be hard to get a reply from people at any time of year. But saying that you’re going to put a job search on hold because of the time of year assumes that control over the search is in the hands of other people. YOU are the person running the show (whether it feels that way or not). Your actions, effort, and focus determine the success of your job search more than any other factor, including the vacation schedule of the Human Resources department.

It can be comforting to think that other people are in charge of our careers – after all, life would certainly be a lot simpler if we didn’t have so many choices. What would it be like to have someone else choose your clothes, pick your meals, and tell you what you were going to do every day? It might feel like a welcome break from decision-making at first, but it would probably wear on you pretty quickly. When you have the freedom to make choices about those things, you can explore different options, change your mind, re-prioritize, and put in as much or as little time as you want. Your job search is no different . There are a lot of things we can’t control – the economy, the competition for a particular job, an employer’s timeline for hiring – but the outcome of your job search doesn’t have to be one of them.

If you’re looking for advice on how to get started, stay tuned: all this month we’ll be talking about how to make the most of these long summer days, including a workshop later this month on Career Action Planning.

Advice from a recent graduate

Career, GenY, Job search, Time management, Uncategorized

Written by Adriana (Ana) Hofstadter, PATH Case Manager

Ana is the newest addition to the Ferndale Michigan Works! team. As a recent college graduate herself, she can really relate to the challenges that grads and job seekers face when they first leave school, and was kind enough to share her advice for getting through the job search. 
Ana and her brother at graduation

Ana and her brother at graduation

Congratulations on finishing your degree! You have made a giant step to bettering yourself and our world. As a recent college graduate myself, I wanted to share my experiences and give some advice to help you along your journey. I hope the following words help you through this roller coaster called life.

I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in May of 2013 with a BA in Family Services.  During school, I discovered a passion for helping those dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault. I began volunteering at a local agency my sophomore year. I continued to volunteer for three years, as well as completing my senior internship there. After I graduated, I received a short term job offer. The job was to last three months and I would be helping them transition into closure since we lost funding and would not be open as of September 2013. During that time, my boyfriend moved to Michigan after getting a job at GM. In October I moved to Michigan and spent seven long, cold, depressing months unemployed before receiving an offer to work at Ferndale Michigan Works! in April 2014.

One of your biggest challenges will be putting your degree and yourself to work. Finding a job in today’s market is very daunting. One thing I did when looking for a job was to take time for myself. It is very important to keep your emotions high and yourself motivated. Take breaks, allow yourself to enjoy the weekends. Look for jobs from 8-4 or 9-5. You won’t hear back from most of the jobs you apply for or you will hear resounding “no’s”. This happens to everyone! Just keep moving forward. I also researched my field. Since I was new to the area, I needed to know what kinds of jobs were out there and whether I was able to do them or not.

I hope most of you can find work close to home, this way you can maintain or grow the relationship you have with family and friends. It is so important to have a support system when you are first starting out. I call my mom all the time for advice on cooking, cleaning, what I should do at work, etc. She is more than willing to help even though I am an “adult.” Finding new friends in the adult world is always hard. In school, you are surrounded by people your own age who share your interests. Making friends could be as easy as breathing. Now you will need to start putting more effort into building your network and support system. I try my best to get to know my neighbors. If nothing else, they are close by and can help with the small things. I also started volunteering right once I moved. I found a local animal shelter and have made several friends and have had many rewarding experiences. I have also found a few clubs around town for people who share my interests, like a board game club once every Friday.

For me, the biggest thing which kept me going was people. As soon as I put myself out there, things became easier and easier. Your situation may be different. I encourage you to find that one thing that keeps you going. Once you find it, make sure to maintain it! Have one thing under control in your life will make this transition so much easier.

Sam Bankey e-Prize

Social Media, Students and Careers

Career, GenY, Job search, Social Media
Written by Heather Coleman Voss, Business Services/Social Media Coordinator

Young people with the goal of applying for their first jobs, college, or beginning their career need to start utilizing social media with a “brand” in mind. Even high school students have the opportunity to begin this positive branding process while still enjoying social media platforms for social interaction.

Here’s the thing: Employers are Googling applicants every day. They are checking out Facebook Timelines, Twitter profiles and posted photos via Instagram. Why? They want to get a feel for the personality, communication skills and interests of applicants. Times are different. Employers and college admissions representatives are not using social media to turn a candidate down as much as to find reasons to recruit you.

This is very good news. Becoming an attractive candidate is as simple as sharing blog posts, interesting posts and tweets from organizations, your community and companies. Publicly sharing content which showcases your upcoming professional interests, and joining in discussions where your voice is heard on these topics, can be a key factor in your future success.

I reached out and asked some local experts their opinions on this topic. Here is what Samantha Bankey, Marketing Coordinator at HelloWorld (@HW_inc), shares:

Samantha Bankey

Samantha, a 2013 Ferris State Grad, was hired via Instagram the summer after graduation (see photo above).

“It’s important to brand yourself as soon as you enter your undergraduate. Who do you want to be noticed by, and what do you want them to think about you? That’s your personal brand. Your personal brand defines who you are as a professional and a potential employee, so it’s important to realize that your social accounts really do reflect you. Do you have a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, etc.? Be sure it’s cleaned up. You have a few scrolls down your page to make an impression, and you control whether it’s a good or bad one. 

I always encourage others to not be afraid of social media, but to use it to their advantage. I think it’s totally silly to have a personal Twitter page and a professional Twitter page. Your character shouldn’t be two separate identities. Show your personality and your interests, but don’t go over the top by sharing too much information or by being offensive. You should be able to be 100% yourself with your future employer, not a completely different person. An employer is going to look at your character as a whole, not just your skill sets.

You have to find a way to make yourself different from the other applicants and other students in your field. What makes you unique? For example, when I had my interview at HelloWorld (ePrize at the time), I gave every single person I met that day my personalized business card and resume, all decked out with my logo, contact information, and website. That made me memorable (and landed me an internship, turned job!).”

Social media is hugely beneficial to those who understand how to use it for both personal and professional networking. Emilie Mecklenborg, Recruitment Media Strategist at Alexander Mann Solutions (@WeAreAMS), advises:

Emilie Meck

Emilie’s effective use of Twitter was key to opening a new door into a satisfying career.

“How you manage your online presence is critical for new grads and job seekers whether they are in college or as early as high school. It helps establish your personal brand which will differentiate you from the competition. Social media can be used as a 3D resume showing your strengths, talent and accomplishments. Your social media presence is like your credit history, it will open or close doors for you depending on how you manager your online presence.”

Additionally, many professionals have embraced social media as a way to interact, network, build authentic relationships, crowd source and collaborate across all platforms.

To underscore the importance of the connection between social media and your career, consider carefully what Joseph Gacioch, Chief Innovation Officer of the City of Ferndale (@FerndaleMich), advises:

Joe was promoted from Assistant to the City Manager to Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) within one year of employment at The City of Ferndale.

Joe was promoted from Program and Grants Coordinator to Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) within one year of employment at The City of Ferndale.

“Establishing and managing a social media presence should be an important focus of young graduates and professionals. Sites such as Linked In and Twitter have granted young professionals the opportunity to engage in networking with peers and organizations in locations of their choice. Your soft skills, interests, and opinions are a unique and valuable brand that should be contributed to the ongoing digital conversations.

Linked In and Twitter have often replaced my business cards in context of professional networking at conferences and industry events. Linked In empowers me to continue a conversation and establish a connection where a business card cannot.”

Interested in learning more on this topic? Join the #VZHRchat I have been invited to host on Wednesday, June 25 at 1:00 pm!

Additionally, we have several outstanding career and social media workshops to choose from. Find our calendar on our Facebook page, and call us to register!  We’d love to see you on Twitter: @FerndaleMIWorks

Do you have a map for your career road trip?

Career, Job search
By Jennifer Bowden, Training and Workshop Coordinator

In my resume workshop, I talk a lot about the importance of self-understanding as the foundation to a successful job search. The analogy I use is getting in the car and saying you’re going to drive somewhere: will you ever get there?  How will you know? On the other hand, if you said you were going to get in the car and drive to St. Louis, at the end of the day you would have a pretty solid idea of whetrv-road-tripher you’d arrived there, made progress, or decided to pick a different destination altogether. Anytime you’re headed somewhere new it helps to have some kind of map involved; the career search is no different.

Advice to new graduates tends to center around a few common themes; my last blog post was a run-down of advice from the best commencement speeches of 2014. We’ve all heard these themes before: Follow your passion. Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Be true to yourself. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. You’ll regret missed opportunities later on.

This is great if you know what you want to do. But what if you’re completely lost? What if this advice is scary and paralyzing? Shouldn’t you have this figured out by now?

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I help people figure out what they want to be when they grow up. It’s meant to be humorous and encourage a little more conversation, but I’m taken aback by how often that person clutches my arm and says anxiously, “Really? Can you help ME?”

It’s hardly ever the new graduates asking.

Remember the movie “Up”? Carl and Ellie Frederickson dreamed their whole lives about going to Paradise Falls, and they had a lot of really good reasons why they never got around to it. Of all the perfectly good reasons why you paradise-falls-jarhaven’t gotten around to figuring out what you really want to do, the scariest one to face is the realization that you really don’t know where to start. People often feel like they’re supposed to have figured this out already, or that everyone else knows what they want to do (remember that annoying classmate who’s known what he wanted to be since the age of 5?). You won’t get the life you want if you don’t know what it is, and the best way to get there is do some daydreaming.

It’s time to get some metaphorical travel brochures and start daydreaming about the career trip without the pressure of having to do anything about it (yet). Maybe you’ll decide that St. Louis isn’t the right destination and re-route to Chicago instead. Maybe you’ll decide that you really need to be headed to Paradise Falls. Maybe you’ll decide that travelling isn’t for you, after all. But you’re never going to get closer to figuring this out if you don’t give yourself permission to NOT know the answer for a little while.

Psychology Today: Tuning Into Daydreams for Career Direction

Working Self: Job, Career, Or Something Else?

Graduation advice is for job seekers, too

Career, Job search, Uncategorized
by Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

As the school year draws to a close, there are plenty of people out there giving speeches and advice to new graduates. Business Insider recently posted an excellent article with a roundup of the best advice ever given to graduates from such prominent figures as Oprah Winfrey, Winston Churchill, J.K. Rowling, and others. There are some great parallels to advice for job seekers – you’re at a crossroads as well, and advice directed toward someone starting on a new stage of their life might very well apply as you figure out the next step in your career.

Know that you aregraduation in charge of your own fate. Don’t be afraid to mess up. Act with honor and integrity. Find work you love.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

JEFF BEZOS: Everything you are comes from your choices.

From Bezos’ 2010 commencement speech at Princeton:

“Tomorrow, in a very real sense, your life — the life you author from scratch on your own — begins.

“How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?

“Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?

“Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?

“Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?

“Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?

“Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong, or will you apologize?

“Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?

“Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?

“When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?

“Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?

“Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?

“I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story. “

CONAN O’BRIEN: Success is a lot like a bright white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you’re desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it.

From his 2000 commencement speech to Harvard:

“But my mistakes have been necessary. I’ve dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed, your need to always find yourself on the sweet side of the bell curve. Success is a lot like a bright white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you’re desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it.

“I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of the Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good.

“So that’s what I wish for all of you—the bad as well as the good. Fall down. Make a mess. Break something occasionally. Know that your mistakes are your own unique way of getting to where you need to be. And remember that the story is never over.”

CAROL BARTZ: The gloom and doom of today’s job market is not going to shape your future. The economy’s cyclical. Get used to it.

From her 2012 commencement address to UW Madison:

“Look past the gloom and doom headlines, and actually don’t believe that the events of today are the ones that are going to shape your future. Because your work life is very, very long. You’re the first generation that is preparing for a 50-year work life, and you know why. You have to support all of us.

“You know, that probably sounds like an eternity now, and you’re probably saying let me first get a job and then I’ll worry about working 50 years, but truly, for all kinds of reasons, health reasons, economic reasons, most of you will be working into your ’70s and ’80s, which actually isn’t all that bad. Retirement now at 62 and 65 as we think of it will be a thing of the past. You know, think of instead of this as a burden as a series of opportunities. In fact, people used to go to a job and stay in that job forever.

“That doesn’t happen anymore. How boring is that? So think of it as a chance to find and discover new things. If you start a job or business this summer or fall or a year from now, you’re going to realize how much runway you actually have. In the past, people talked about career ladders, and that’s what work felt like. If you were lucky, and you were diligent, and you sucked up and all that stuff, you went up the ladder. Do you want to do that, no. First of all, ladders are very unstable. Do a career pyramid so you have a great base, you can change your mind, you can do a lot of different things.”

STEVE JOBS: Don’t settle.

From his 2005 commencement speech to Stanford:

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

“I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

BRADLEY WHITFORD: At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble.

From 2004 commencement speech to University of Wisconsin – Madison:

“Take action. Every story you’ve ever connected with, every leader you’ve ever admired, every puny little thing that you’ve ever accomplished is the result of taking action. You have a choice. You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life. Action is the antidote to apathy and cynicism and despair. You will inevitably make mistakes. Learn what you can and move on. At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble.

“But I do want you to be an actor in your own life. Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen — yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.”

HENRY KRAVIS: Relativism is not an option; it is all about honesty and loyalty.

From his 2011 commencement speech to Columbia Business School:

“Professional integrity begins with personal integrity. You cannot get away with the idea ‘our product has fewer defects than the competitor’s’ or ‘our service is not as bad as others’.’ Relativism is not an option; it is all about honesty and loyalty. These are absolutes. Trust me, they will make your lives simpler — and they carry their own rewards.”


What Are You Waiting For? Procrastination and the Job Search

Career, Job search, Time management, Uncategorized

You’ve probably heard it said that looking for a job IS a job, and a full-time one at that. This might explain why so many people are willing to put off important aspects of the job search; the thought of spending 40 hours a week on the job search is enough to frighten off the most dedicated job seeker. When you spend that amount of time at a paid job there are tangible rewards: getting paid, the satisfaction of doing good work, recognition from your boss, socializing with co-workers, and so on.

The rewards of the job search may seem few and far between by comparison, which leads many people to procrastinate. The internalconversation might go something like this:

Starting tomorrow, I’m really going to focus on my job search!


I’m going to really work on my job search as soon as I get home from driving the kids to school.

Now that I’m home, I’m going to look for a job. I just need to throw this load of laundry in, then I’m going to focus until it’s time to take Mom to her doctor’s appointment.

I’d better check my email first – there could be a message from an employer!

While I’m online, I should check my Facebook.

Oops, look at the time – I don’t really have time to do anything, so I’ll wait until I get home from that doctor’s appointment.

I need to get dinner started. I’ll look for a job after dinner/after the kids go to bed/after this TV show.

I’m too tired to work on the job search. I’ll start fresh tomorrow.

And so on.

There are actually several different kinds of procrastination:

Procrastination is voluntarily delaying an activity, even though you know there will be negative consequences. Strategic delay is putting off a decision or activity because the benefits of doing something else first outweigh the negative consequences of whatever we’re putting off. Self-handicapping is avoiding effort in order to avoid potential failure. And there are situations we put ourselves into that help us procrastinate, like social loafing (groups of people assigned a task do less work than each individual normally would) and waiting until last-minute deadline pressure forces us to work (arousal procrastination). (Source: “Getting Around to Procrastination” by Romeo Vitelli, PhD.)

ProcrastinationWe put off tasks that are unpleasant, difficult, or unrewarding, and occasional procrastination isn’t a problem. When it starts to become a regular habit or have serious consequences, it can be helpful to understand WHAT you’re avoiding and WHY you’re avoiding it.

A favorite activity of procrastinators is busy-work; that is, doing some kind of activity that makes you look and feel busy, even if it’s not moving you closer to your goal. If you feel like you’re spending a lot of time on job search activities but not making any progress, try keeping a log and see how you’re really spending your time. Are you procrastinating more than you thought? Here are a few tips to stay focused:

Have a written plan

Know what you want to accomplish in a given hour, day, or week. Breaking down a seemingly-huge task into smaller pieces can make it feel more achievable and help keep you focused.

Schedule your time

Write down job search time on your calendar and avoid competing commitments. You don’t have to schedule 40 hours a week, but you do need to set aside regular time to work on your job search.

Keep your commitment to yourself

Just as you’d keep an appointment scheduled with your doctor, you need to treat your job search time seriously. Don’t let day-to-day commitments sidetrack you.

Rethink your plan

If you can never, ever find the interest or energy to pursue your job search, it may be worthwhile to examine your goals. Would you feel more motivated if you were looking in a different direction?

Be nice to yourself

You don’t have to dedicate every waking moment of your life to the job search. Once you’ve completed your scheduled tasks for the day, be done. It’s okay to have fun, pursue hobbies, and have a social life – in fact, doing things you enjoy will help keep you energized and better able to focus the next day.