Navigating the Workplace – Advice for College Graduates

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Graduating from college is an exciting moment for anyone, but the thrill can be quickly overshadowed by the fear of the future. What’s next? How will you get a job? Where do you start? There is far more to job-seeking than simply handing out resumes and hoping for the best. There are sometimes hundreds of people that apply for a single job opening, so it is important to make yourself stand out to potential employers. And even when you do land a job, there are certain traits that are important to maintaining a solid reputation in your field. Luckily, we have collectively come up with three important areas of focus to help you navigate the workplace.

 Benefits of an ePortfolio

2016-12-09

(Original Media: Melissa Pigg)

Having an ePortfolio is very important for college students or anyone looking to connect with future employers (Barnstable, 2010). An ePortfolio is where you can document your educational and citizenly accomplishments. It is a helpful space for personal reflect, and for future employers to see these accomplishments as well. Creating an ePortfolio gives can give many benefits for students looking for a career.

Personal benefits for students include:

  • being able to take time and consideration into assessing your goals and past accomplishments
  • take time to acknowledge sections of improvement
  • you will have a personal record of your education and participation of personal developmental activities
  • may have feelings of self confidences as you reflect on past experiences
  • will help to narrow your career planning

Remember, as you change and grow as a person with new accomplishments and goals, your ePortfolio should change as well.

Career-orientated goal planning

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When setting goals for your future career it can be beneficial to break down your goals into long and short-term goals, as to not get overwhelmed. A long-term goal is a goal that you hope to accomplish after years of being in your profession. Creating a long-term goal is creating a “place to identify your big goal” (Topan, 2014). When setting long-term goals some things to keep in mind are:

  • Take your time- you should not be rushed, deciding your future takes time. (Berkley, 2016)
  • Consider your core values- Try to become in touch with your core values to really understand what kind of end career and setting you want to be in (Berkley, 2016).
  • Tune out your negativity- these are goals you are setting, keep them positive; you are capable of anything you put your mind to! There is no room for self-doubt when setting your goals (Berkley, 2016)
  • Don’t get distracted- review and reassess your long-term goal as needed, but keep it close to your thoughts as you make professional and educational decisions to stay on track with your timeline (Topan, 2014).

When it comes to your short-term goals they should not be as broad as your long-term ones (Topan, 2014). Your short-term goals are when you can narrow down on specific things that you want to accomplish to get you closer to that end goal; your dream career. When you set your short-term goals you should set realistic end dates as to when you want to accomplish that specific task (Topan, 2014).

How to set short-term career goals:

  • Firstly, consider how this goal is going to help you become closer to your long-term goal(s) (Topan, 2014).
  • Keep these short-term goals just that “short-term”, aim to accomplish them within the next two years (Topan, 2014).
  • Keep these goals particular, narrowing in on specific activities that may seem small now but in the end will be important for keeping you on track to accomplish your long-term goal (Topan, 2014).

Professionalism

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Dressing nice and having the right qualifications on your resume is not the only thing you need to land your dream job. In order to have a long-term and a successful job, you have to be professional. Professionalism is extremely important in the workplace. Professionalism can benefit the company’s reputation, mural and success (4 reasons why you need to be professional, 2016). All employees should be professional; body language and attitude also play a large role in the workplace. Avoid a unkept appearance, inappropriate language or volume of voice, missed deadlines, lack of motivation or care, blaming others, not respecting privacy and not holding up your end of the work. (4 reasons why you need to be professional, 2016). Having a bad day is completely normal and can be expected from time to time, but it can show up in your work performance; this doesn’t mean that your professionalism gets pushed to the side. Being professional should always be practiced when at work. Leave all unnecessary baggage at the door when stepping into work; if you are really having a bad day, it is better to call in sick or your bad day could cost you your job. Here are a few points that can help with being professional at work

  • Dress according to the dress code
  • Respect every employee and treat them with dignity
  • Refrain from using obscene or derogatory language
  • Communicate clearly with everyone
  • Put personal problems aside before you enter your work
  • Don’t gossip

 

Conclusion

In the end, it is about you as an individual presenting yourself in the best light. You have survived countless exams, assignments, and group presentations so that you could go on to be a professional in your field. It’s important to show that perseverance, determination and passion to your future employers before and after you are hired. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are, and this is your opportunity to prove to your peers that you will succeed. Reward yourself by using the right tools and mannerisms that reflect the kind of employee and person you truly are.

References

Barnstable, K. (2010, January 8) 41 Benefits of an ePortfolio[Blog post]. Retrieved form https://kbarnstable.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/41-benefits-of-an-eportfolio/

Brooks, A. (n.d.). Rasmussen College. Retrieved from

http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/technology/blog/basic-programming-languages-for-beginners/ 

Topan, R.  (2014, October 28). Creating A Career Plan: Short-, Medium- And Long-Term[Blog post]. Retrieved from http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2014/10/28/ready-create-career-plan-started/

UC Berkely. (2016). Goal-setting: Developing a vision & goals for your career plan. Retreived from http://hr.berkeley.edu/node/4591

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Successful Learning: The Four Types of Learners

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Not every person is made the same, whether it be one’s appearance, personality, talent, or learning ability. An individual studying for an exam may not benefit from the textbook readings and endless note taking that their peers do; some students learn best through watching videos or demonstrations on a given topic. So, if you’re feeling stressed out about your upcoming final, fear not! Here are some descriptions and tactics of the four major learning styles that will assist you in grasping the material in a way that is most effective for you.

Visual

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Have you ever been in the middle of a test, and recalled information from a diagram or video? This is a very good sign that you are a visual learner. Visual learners relate and understand information when it is associated with images; you need to be able to see what is being taught (“Visual Learning”, 2016). “People with a visual learning style are often referred to as visual-spatial learners,” (Visual Learning, 2016). This may mean that you enjoy reading books rather than having them read aloud, you are a good at spelling, prefer to personally view a lessons, and prefer written as opposed to verbal instruction (Visual Learning, 2016). For a visual certain techniques can make your learning experience easier, including:

  • Using different colours to highlight or underline key information
  • Using flashcards as a study tool
  • Drawing out concepts
  • Taking notes during class

Another helpful tip is to keep distractions to a minimum while studying and have your eyes tested regularly (“What’s your Learning style”, 2011); eyesight is a visual learners most important tool, after all!

Auditory

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If you are someone who easily remembers and understands things that are spoken to them and who enjoys group discussions, you are probably an auditory learner (What is my Learning Style, 2014). An auditory learner enjoys expressing themselves verbally, can better understand instructions when spoken out loud, and prefers group discussions about the topic (Learning Style, 2016). To maximize your study time, the following is most helpful for an auditory learner:

  • Reading notes out loud when studying
  • Taking part in group and class discussions
  • Teaching information to another classmate
  • Listening to audiobooks

An auditory learner may find it hard to study in silence for a longer period of time (What is my Learning Style, 2014). Be sure to set aside time for study breaks to avoid loss of focus and frustration; the key to a successful study session tis understanding what works for you!

Reading and writing

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‘Read and write’ learners understand written material; they re-write and re-read material repeatedly until they understand. ‘Read and write’ learners make good traditional studiers, this means that reading a textbook and study notes is the most beneficial way to learn a topic (“Study advice for read & write learners”, 2016). They also tend to be very good note takers (“Study advice for read & write learners”, 2016); they enjoy taking notes and rewriting them in their own words to better comprehend the subject matter.  Dictionaries or any online resources are extremely helpful for people who are ‘read and write’ learners and these individuals tend to work alone as opposed to working in group settings. They are also very independent, and learn much better by themselves (Advantages &Disadvantages of Different Learning Styles, 2016). Some strategies that may help someone who is a read and write learner are:

  • Lots of note taking
  • Re-writing your notes until the idea is stuck in your head
  • Hand outs and PowerPoints
  • Dictionaries, thesaurus and books
  • Putting picture diagrams into words
  • Studying independently

 

However, a ‘read and write’ learner needs to take time to study and absorb the material. (Advantages & Disadvantages of Different Learning Styles, 2016). They are unable to grasp concepts very quickly, as this type of learner uses a lot of repetition to help them understand their material that they are learning. So if you think you are a ‘read and write’ style learner, reconsider any procrastination habits you may have acquired over the years!

 

Kinesthetic

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The final style of learning is Kinesthetic. These individuals best learn information when they can apply what they are learning and putting it into action. This may mean teaching it to other people or acting on the knowledge and skills they’ve learned. These learners find doing what they are learning more helpful as opposed to listening to a lecture. Kinesthetic learners tend to be constantly moving in their seats and have an excellent physical memory, meaning they learn fast after doing acting on something with the knowledge they are learning. . Strategies that can benefit kinesthetic learners include:

  • Using computers
  • Taking part in hands-on activities
  • Taking short breaks between working and studying
  • Making and creating projects
  • Listening to music while studying
  • Completing work in groups

These learners benefit from physically working out problems related to the topic with other students, as well as taking breaks after a lot of information has been taught to them.

To conclude, there are various methods of learning, so don’t be discouraged if one strategy didn’t work for you. It is really about understanding how your brain works and finding a way to learn that you enjoy. Success in education is typically achieved when you are engaged and interested in the subjects you study, so find a way to make things interesting by watching videos, listening to audio-books, or colour-coding your cue cards. Whatever works for you, just go out and enjoy learning!

References:

Advantages & Disadvantages of Different Learning Styles (2016). Retrieved from http://classroom.synonym.com/advantages-disadvantages-different-learning-styles-2873.html

Learning Style (Auditory, Visual & Kinesthetic) & Dyslexics. (2016). Dyslexia Victoria Online [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.dyslexiavictoriaonline.com/learning-style-auditory-visual-kinesthetic-dyslexics /

Major, S. (2016, February 4) 16 Characteristics of Kinesthetic And Tactile Learners.

Retrieved from https://child1st.com/blogs/resources/113559047-16-characteristics-of-kinesthetic-and-

Onchengco, N. (2013, November 17). Different types of Learners. Retrieved from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_bQUSFzLI4

Study advice for read & write learners (2016). The study gurus.com. Retrieved from https://www.thestudygurus.com/read-write-study-tips/

Visual Learning Style: Definition & Characteristcs. (2016). Study.com [Web log]. Retrieved from http://study.com/academy/lesson/visual-learning-style-definition-characteristics.html

What is my Learning Style?. (2014). Whatismylearingstyle.com [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.whatismylearningstyle.com/auditory-learner.html

What’s your Learning Style? The Learning Styles. (2011). Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-styles.shtml

 

A How-To Guide for Stress-Free Testing.

So you’ve been accepted to college: Congratulations! You are only a few years away from graduating into your dream profession; it’s a big deal. And with all that excitement comes immense pressure and responsibility. On your journey through college, you’ll realize what comes naturally to you may not come so easy to others, and vise versa.  However there is one very important and reoccurring thing that a majority of student’s will stress over: test-taking. The late nights, the breakdowns, the endless amounts of energy drinks and desperate prayers; we’ve all been there. But fear no more, upon extensive research and deep personal reflection, we have collectively come up with a few strategies for stress-free test-taking.

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Before the Test: Studying

Time management. We’ve all heard it before from parents and professors alike, but it isn’t something to be taking lightly. I find the best thing for study and test preparation is putting time aside to rest. Sleep is essential to studying; when you are well rested you can concentrate and retain more information. Also, giving yourself a good amount of time before your test to study is far more effective than trying to cram a semesters worth of information in one night. Front-loading is designating more time to finish assignments earlier, leaving you with less things to accomplish closer to the test, thus leaving more time open to study come test time. Our advice? Make a schedule where you can study for a couple of hours and take a break; do not over do it and burn out, make time to rest and breathe! Need proof? Take a look at this video by the creators over at ASAPScience:

The 9 BEST Scientific Study Tips

Additionally, know your learning style. Something many students struggle with is memorizing a lot of information in a short period of time. We took some time for research and looked into some articles about different learning styles, which look at different methods of studying and different forms of learning. After searching into the different styles, I personally have a better understanding of what study tips would be most beneficial to me. For example, visual learners, in order for something to stick they need to do something physical with that information. This could be making cue cards, colour coating notes or teach someone else about the topic. This is also referred to as kinesthetic learning. Auditory and hands on are other types of learning styles that may work for you, so do some research and make your life a thousand times easier!

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Test Day

First things first, take a deep breath and be prepared. Make sure you have everything you need ready the night before so you don’t forget anything. This could include anything from a calculator and a formula sheet, to a pencil and eraser! Now, majority of tests have time limits that you must accomplish all of the test in a designated time. You want to keep yourself on track and not spend too much time on each question. Firstly, you should skim the questions on your test so you have an idea of how much time you should spend on each section (multiple choice, short answers, essay question). Know your strengths, start with what you know well to be able to maximize your time for questions you may need more time on at the end of the test. If you find yourself stuck on a question, leave it and return to it later. It’s better to move on and take a break from a question than to spend too much time on one question that you don’t finish the rest of the test. Lastly, look over your answers and proof read your test. This extra 5 minutes could spare you a mark or two in the end.

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When all is said and done, if you find what works for you and do your best, there is no failing. Remember to rest and relax, a mind at ease is a brain prepared to learn. Additionally, know what works for you; not everything will come as easy to you as it does to others. Put in the hours, know how your brain works, and don’t let it get to you. Take your time during the test, focus on what you know, and don’t forget to proof read for that extra insurance. If you walk into the examination room as prepared as we are trying to assist you in being, the pre-test stress will be no more. And remind yourself you’re doing this for you, and your future is in your hands, now go get ‘em.

 

Research References:
Allen, Stephanie. “How to Manage Your Time in an Exam: 10 Expert Tips.” Oxford Royale Academy, 26 May, 2014,https://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/managing- time-exam.html. Accessed 21 September, 2016
AsapScience. (2015, September 3) The 9 BEST scientific study tips. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p60rN9JEapg
The Four Different Types of Learners, And What They Mean to Your Presentations [INFOGRAPHIC] | Prezi Blog.” Prezi Blog The Four Different Types of Learners And What They Mean to Your Presentations INFOGRAPHIC Comments. N.p., 05 May 2016. Web. 26 Sept. 2016.
 Types of learning styles. Retrieved from http://www.learningrx.com/types-of-learning-styles-faq.htm