Thursday, April 3, 2014

What does the Fox Say?

What Does the Fox Say?
My favorite teacher in high school was my French teacher, Madame Leach. In our senior year, we read the famous book, Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint Exupery. That year, Madame gave each graduating senior a small laminated card with a quote from The Little Prince. It tells of the secret of the fox:

“Les yeux sont aveugles. Il faut chercher avec le coeur.” Loosely translated, it means: But the eyes are closed. You must looks with the heart.

I knew that for my teacher to present this card to each of her students, it must have meant something very important. But it took me a while to figure out what that was.
Here’s what I came up with: 
Look with your heart and you will see more clearly than what you can possibly see with your eyes. This applies to much in life such as love, important decisions, friendship, etc. When we “look” with our hearts, we “see” the possibilities that our eyes or mind do not always allow us to see. It’s like choosing a career path because you are passionate about it versus choosing a career based on earnings or power. You focus on what feels right in your heart, not what your rationale is telling you.
Maybe the fox is right. Maybe we should look with our hearts and be open to what it tells us.
What does your heart let you see?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SCC=Spring Comes Calling

Spring has sprung! Spring forward! Spring is in the air!
On this spring break week, I thought it would be appropriate to share some ways to celebrate spring at SCC. The weather this winter has been pretty brutal, so it will be easy to embrace spring in spite of the inevitable allergy issues.
SCC seems to really enjoy spring. Our campus comes alive with green grass and trees, colorful flowers, and a variety of wildlife. Not to mention, we sure know how to put on events!
One big event in the spring is the aptly titled Spring Fling which will be held on April 23rd and 24th on the plaza. Past Spring Flings have been enjoyed by students and staff and allow for the opportunity to socialize, eat, and learn about organizations on campus. Did I mention there’s usually lots of giveaways and goodies? (hello, cotton candy!)
Formerly known as Run, Live, Learn, the newly-named “That 80s Run” is a 10K, 5K, and 1 mile fun run held on the SCC campus on Saturday, April 26. This is a wonderful fundraiser for our campus wellness events. The 80s theme promises to be a lot of fun with participants being encouraged to dress in their 80s best!
Another big spring event is the Job Fair, held annually the first Friday in May. The 21st annual Job Fair will take place on May 2 from 9am-1pm in the College Center gym. The job fair is a great opportunity for employers to meet all of the wonderful job seekers in our area in one big place. Job seekers will find the Job Fair helpful for networking and learning about open positions in the community, getting their resume critiqued, and having the opportunity to speak one-on-one with recruiters and employers. The event is free for job seekers.
If you love music and barbeque then don’t miss the “Rhythm and Ribs” event happening the evening of June 5! This social event is also a fundraiser which supports scholarships for SCC students.
I’m sure I’ve missed an event or two, but hopefully this post will convince you that SCC is the place to be in spring. From wellness to fun, job searching to fundraising, we’ve got it all! So what are you waiting for? Spring into action…!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cover Letters Can Cover a Lot!

When you apply for a job, you submit a resume right? How about a cover letter? In the technology-driven world in which we live, cover letters often get the shaft. Well, I’m here to tell you that they are very important and could lead to an interview when your resume doesn’t get the job done.

In the Harvard Business Review blog from February 4, 2014, Amy Gallo gives her tips on why it’s important to write a cover letter. Here, I summarize and give my own insights. If you would like to read her blog in its entirety, click here:

1.       Don’t let your lack of a cover letter do the talking for you. When you don’t send a cover letter, you miss out on an opportunity to set yourself apart and give more detail than what is in your resume. You can also address any “red flags” that might be in your resume (e.g., employment gaps or excessive job hopping). You can even point out accomplishments or skills that don’t seem to fit into the resume.
2.      Originality wins! You’ll want to write a different cover letter for every job you apply to because your personal connection, information about the company, and relevant skills change with each position. Besides, sending the same letter sounds like you’ve sent the same letter. Recruiters and hiring managers know when someone has sent the same letter over and over.

3.      LinkedIn can be your best friend. A cover letter allows you to showcase what you know about an organization and use your research (yes, you’ll need to do that) to communicate to the hiring manager why YOU would be the perfect candidate for the job at THEIR company.

4.      Get them from the get-go. A strong opening statement can catch the eye. Some people argue that if employers don’t read your whole resume (usually, they don’t), then they definitely wouldn’t read a cover letter. However, since most people don’t include cover letters, they already stand out. Add a dynamic statement, or better yet, mention a personal connection (e.g. “I heard about this position from my neighbor, Joe Smith, who is a supervisor in the Quality Assurance department.”) and you’ve got them at hello!

5.      Personality counts! Resumes are pretty straightforward. Cover letters allow you to let your personality shine a little. It’s a letter, so your writing style, word choice, and enthusiasm can speak volumes about you as a person.

6.      Keep it short and to the point. It should not be long-winded. Three short paragraphs should do the trick.

So to summarize, write a cover letter every time you apply to a job and you will find yourself with more job opportunities than if you just wrote a resume! Happy job hunting!

Friday, January 17, 2014

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year and welcome back to campus! This time of year is always interesting. Some of us are focusing on our resolutions. Some of us are looking forward to what is to come in the next year. And some of us are just hibernating and wishing this cold, snowy weather would go away! I can say that I’m actually doing all three.

At the beginning of the year, I always make a list of things I want to accomplish: projects around the house, projects at work, personal goals, and fun things I’d like to do. What can I say? I’m a list-maker!

It’s at this time of year that I also like to examine my list from last year and see what I checked off the list. This is important to me because I like to feel that sense of accomplishment, which motivates me to do more in the future. It’s also important because some of the goals from last year that were not completed will need to be added to this year’s list. And some will be discarded because they are no longer important.

Here’s my top 5:

1.       Start saving for Hawaii. My husband and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary in a few years and want to celebrate it by going to Maui.

2.       Get our basement in order. We bought a 45 year old home and the basement is definitely stuck in the 80’s. We plan to re-carpet, reorganize, and get it to where we envisioned it—a comfortable and open play space for our daughter and a nice place to watch movies.

3.       Learn to play piano. My husband bought me a digital piano and it came with free lessons so I have no excuses!

4.       Get on a regular exercise regimen. Something always gets in the way—work, household chores, being tired—but it’s time to rid myself of excuses and JUST DO IT!

5.       Spend as much time as I can with my husband and daughter. My daughter will start kindergarten in August and my husband plans to start graduate school this year and I know things will really change. I want to enjoy all of our little moments and make lots of memories before we get bogged down with homework, crazy schedules, etc.

So, what are your plans for 2014? Do you make lists or do you just go with the flow? Whatever you do, I hope you make 2014 great!

Monday, December 16, 2013

My First Job and What it Taught Me About Career Success

When I was 15 ½, I got a job as a “soda jerk” at an old-fashioned chili parlor/ice cream shop. We served sundaes, ice-cream sodas, and milkshakes, all made with homemade ice cream. My mom’s best friend was a manager of the restaurant and her dad was the owner so I didn’t really have to go through an interview. They had known me for many years and trusted that I would be a good worker.

My job consisted of taking drink and ice cream orders from the waitresses. Not a hard job by any means, but I did end up with more than one milkshake all over my shirt (it’s harder than it looks!). After several weeks of this task, I was asked to start waiting tables.  I was terrified. Talking to people? Carrying food? Tallying tickets? No way! But my manager said she knew I could do it. So I gave it a try.

Before long, I was getting just as many tips as some of the seasoned waitresses. My manager said it was because I was so friendly to the customers. I developed relationships with the “regulars” and started to memorize their orders (“there’s chili and a chocolate shake” or “Here comes double cheeseburger and Diet Coke”).  Again, not a hard job in terms of brain power, but I was physically tired every night when I got home from work. Being on your feet all day serving other people is exhausting!

So what’s the point of all this reminiscing about my first job? Well, it taught me a few things about career success that are still true today:

1. Nepotism and networking are not only okay, they’re necessary to find a job these days. Utilize your network of friends, family, co-workers, and classmates to find out about job opportunities.

2. Having a mentor (in my case, my manager) can make all the difference in the world. I think I may have been okay to remain as a “soda jerk” for a lot longer, but she encouraged me to give waitressing a try and I succeeded!

3. A smile and friendly, positive attitude go a long way in customer service. Even if you’re having a bad day, sometimes you have to slap on a smile and go through the motions because no one wants a grumpy waitress.

4. Hard work does pay off, sometimes financially (in my case, good tips) and in people recognizing your value.
I also learned just how challenging the job of a server can be. So, especially during the holidays (but all year round too), tip them well!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Netiquette? You bet!

What is netiquette?  It’s one of those new hybrid words that basically means using etiquette skills when communicating via the internet (e-mail, social media, etc.) Etiquette in life is important and in job searching, it’s vital. It’s the same with netiquette. Just because you’re applying for jobs online, e-mailing the recruiter, and networking on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be following certain rules of etiquette. Here are a few important ones:

1.       DON’T USE ALL CAPS! This is a major pet peeve of mine and it just “screams” unprofessionalism (pun intended).

2.      Use proper grammar, correct spelling, and complete sentences. Spell-check won’t save you every time. If you type “Their is my dog”, it may not get corrected to “There is my dog.” It’s best to have a second set of eyes look over your resume, cover letter, or any information you share online.

3.      Use a specific subject line for your e-mail messages. For example, if you’re applying for a job, use the job title as your subject line.

4.      Use an e-mail signature. You should always include your contact information, including phone and e-mail.

5.     Create a professional e-mail address. There’s nothing worse than seeing  or on a professional e-mail or at the top of a resume! Just use your first and last name (e.g.

6.      Be polite (please and thank you) and concise (no need to go on and on).

7.      Follow up. If you have a job interview, send a thank you letter (snail mail is best, but e-mail will do) the next day. If you are networking via e-mail and the person has responded to your request, follow up quickly. Also, don’t just rely on e-mail. Following up by phone can be very effective and more personal (but please leave a professional message, with your name and number and “Thank you”, not “Hey, wassup? Hit me up. Later.”).

Because we do so much communication via e-mail and the internet, it’s easy to get lazy with our netiquette. But having proper netiquette can mean the difference between getting a job or not, getting a promotion or not, and being perceived as professional… or not!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How I Spent My Fall Vacation

No, I did not take a summer vacation. Our family loves the fall, so that’s when we usually take our vacation. This year we went to Lake Tahoe. Our home away from home was in Stateline, NV, right on the border of CA and NV so we spent time in both states.
I was a little worried when we first arrived in Reno and saw this in the sky:
Then we drove the hour or so to Stateline and were greeted with rain, which turned to slush, which turned to snow. Well, I guess that was to be expected considering we were at 7500 ft. elevation! Since the weather was yucky, we bought provisions at the local grocery store and hunkered down for the night.
The next day, we took a gondola ride to the Heavenly Ski Resort. I can see why they named it Heavenly. The views were outstanding. The snow I was annoyed with the day before was now well, heavenly. We got to throw snowballs, make a mini snow man, and pretend we were there to ski (not enough snow for that). After a yummy lunch from the grill, we took the ski lift to see even better views.

Day 3 was hiking day! We took a drive to the north side of the lake and hiked to another smaller lake, Eagle Lake. The hike was harder than we would’ve liked, but well worth it. The lake was stunning and quiet.
On our fourth day of the trip, we went on a paddleboat ride around Lake Tahoe. Our destination was Emerald Bay, aptly named because of the beautiful blue-green waters. The bay also boasts the only island on the Lake, Fannette, where there is a tea house that still stands from 1929. There is also a lovely mansion that is now maintained by the California Parks Department. A little windy on the way out, but the ride back was beautiful.

Since we were a little wind-whipped from the boat ride, we stopped at a nearby restaurant for soup. My husband and I both decided to try the pozole, a Mexican soup with green chiles, hominy, and chicken and topped with cabbage and lime. It was delicious. If you have never tried it, you should!
The last full day of our Tahoe trip was spent in Incline Village, a small ski resort town. We did some shopping at an outdoor gear store, had a hearty brunch at the famed Log Cabin Restaurant (famed because Rachael Ray stopped in 5 years ago!) and then hit the bowling alley. That’s right, we went bowling. It was my daughter’s only request. None of us are very skilled bowlers so it was all about the fun (see scores).

Coming back to Missouri was bittersweet. No more Sierra Nevada mountains, volcano-made lakes, or casinos on every corner. Just… Home Sweet Home!