Career Development Tips To Help You Get Career Ready

According to the 2018 McGraw-Hill Education Survey only 4 in 10 U.S. college students feel well prepared for their careers.  Largely, students don’t feel they’ve gained critical career skills they need to transition into the workforce.  There is a big gap between student and employer perceptions.

With only 40% of college students feeling career ready one thing seems for sure preparing for post-graduation life early is essential.  So, here are a few tips from our Management Team to help you reach career success.

  • Develop your work ethic, your communication skills, your determination, your problem solving skills, and your ability to lead yourself and others.  Those will be the difference makers at the end of the day. Do NOT stress so much about college choice, major choice, GPA.  Those are the things drilled into you as you grow up.  Although each of those will be a part of your career path when you look back, those will not be deciding factors in your level of success.  You and only you will be the deciding factor.  Those will be the difference makers at the end of the day. – Taylor Duncan
  • Utilize this unique period of your life when you shadow and interview prominent people in your field of interest. You don’t need to intern for three months at that investment banking firm, pouring coffee and filing papers to get “exposed” to the industry. Write a letter to senior management asking to interview them. You’ll be surprised at the response and the access you get. The most jealous person? That hard-working intern who rarely gets any fact-time with management. -Jeff Gunhus
  • Get involved. Utilize your summers to volunteer at your dream company or take that internship even if it’s unpaid as opposed to working at taco bell. The money lost by not working that hourly job will be returned 10 fold in your career. It’s never great to go in debt, but it may even be worth having to take that extra student loan. – Tyler Morelan
  • Do challenging things. So much of our lives people try to shelter us from failing, feeling vulnerable or putting ourselves out there. When in reality having those experiences is what makes us stronger, teaches us to deal with adversity and gives us the confidence to go after what we want in life.  To quote Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  -Nick Shroer
  • Understand the role of your feelings when it comes to long-term development. Feelings like fear, anxiety, and doubt often accompany any task you have not completed yet and thus are reasons TO DO things, NOT reasons to shy away. Your short term anxieties are like lactic acid for the brain; temporary pain in the short term, development outside of your comfort zone and newly learned skills for the long term. Your brain is currently hard wired to acquire pleasure TODAY and avoid pain TODAY the best thing you can do while young is to rewire your brain – find comfort in discomfort. This will keep you in a state of constant growth and will acclimate you to stress. Much like climbers on Everest must camp up high to grow their tolerance to breathing in high altitude, so you must train yourself to handle stress while the body and brain is young and the pain tolerance is high. Do this, and success in any field will be the natural by product. -Chris Heerdegen
  • Do more than the job description.  Once you are in a job or career the best way to move up or redefine your position is to take on more than the minimum expectations of the job.  Early in your career volunteer for new projects, committees, training others, etc.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  By taking on additional responsibilities think of it as a free pass to try a promotion.  If you succeed you’ll likely get promoted or earn additional compensation, if you fail you usually will keep your job because the extra work wasn’t in your job description. – Sean Phelps

Have you had success attaining a great job after graduating college or have any advice for others? Leave your comments below.

Tiffany Phelps

Marketing Manager

College Works Painting

5 Things Every Entrepreneur Must Do

By: Ryan Coon, CEO of Avail

When I was a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying accounting and finance, I was hired as a summer intern at College Works. My internship taught me the foundation of how to be a good entrepreneur.

Since graduating, I’ve worked for a large investment bank and, more recently, co-founded a company with a fellow U of I graduate, Laurence Jankelow.

Our company, Avail, helps DIY landlords manage their rental properties with the tools, support, and education they need. We launched in 2012 and now have more than 250,000 landlords and tenants using our platform. In this article, I’m going to share my top 5 tips for running a successful business:  

Stay focused

Many companies fail because they lose sight of their goal.

Your company’s objective should be clear and each decision you make for the business should come from a place of furthering your mission. You’ll accomplish more if you stay focused on your goal, rather than distracted by other opportunities along the way.

Staying focused also applies to your personal mindset. Each day is an opportunity to bring your best self to your office: rested and eager to get work done. One key way that I stay focused is using Evernote to organize my to-do list. I cut out “fluff” tasks that are not high priority and make sure I’m completing tasks that will have the largest impact first.

Focus on the customer

At Avail, one of our core values is customer-centricity. We believe improving our customers’ lives is not only the right thing to do, but also helps our business thrive.

Here’s how to stay focused on your customer:

  • Build a product that solves a core problem for your target audience
  • Provide support channels (phone, email, live chat) so they can reach out with questions and concerns
  • Personally reach out to customers when they join your platform to welcome them and answer questions
  • Provide education that helps them learn and grow
  • Send them emails about company updates and new content  
  • Hire an account manager so you’re proactively reaching out to existing customers in a helpful way
  • Continue to iterate on your product to improve what you offer
  • Find ways to innovate so you’re offering even more value to your customers

When you focus on the customer, they’ll stay with you long-term, refer their family and friends, and show other potential customers that they shouldn’t miss out on the amazing benefit you offer.  

Surround yourself with great people

Building a business is a team sport — you need the right players in the game in order to win. As you’re building your team, be sure to hire people who are excited about your mission, bring unique and diverse skills to the table, and are ready to get work done.

More than that, surround yourself with people who do the right thing, bring a great attitude to work, and are people you enjoy being around. You’ll be celebrating the wins together and working hard together when you need to get more done and faster.

At Avail, we recruit top talent and make sure our job postings are posted on top sites, like AngelList. Our hiring process usually goes like this:

  1. We’ll schedule an initial phone call to learn more about a potential hire and discuss the opportunity.
  2. We’ll then schedule an in-person interview where the potential hire will meet with different groups of people in our company.
  3. And last, we’ll provide a task or test so we can gauge performance and skills.

This process is efficient and effective at helping us hire people who are talented and excited to join us.

Do more with less

We’re a midwestern startup with scrappy roots. ‘Doing more with less’ is the mindset that’s gotten us where we are today. We push for more work to get done (and better results) with less capital.

Outwork everyone

To run a successful business, you have to outperform other companies, set the right goals, tackle your to-do list, and hustle.

Beyond the hard work, it also pays off to take feedback from people around you and improve your skills. Even top achievers should be in a constant state of growth, so that work quality, quantity, and speed is always improving.

If you have any questions about running a business, or what we do at Avail, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at  

About Avail

Today, 80,000 landlords and 170,000 tenants use Avail because it’s the only end-to-end platform that helps them manage the rental process all in one place. We provide rental listings, rental applications, leases, rent payments, and maintenance tracking — all online. Even better, tenants who use Avail can boost their credit score by paying rent on time with our online rent payments.

College Works Painting Ranked #1 Internship for Career Development

The results are in and has ranked College Works as the #1 Internship for Career Development and #6 Internship Overall!

Vaults main mission is to provide the intelligence that students and professionals need to build the careers they want, and to partner with companies seeking to engage with people pursuing high-potential careers.

We are ranked among internships at Infosys Instep, Schwab, Capitol One, Nickelodeon, Northwestern Mutual. Read the full list HERE.

Check out our full Vault Profile Page HERE.

The Career Development Category is based on: training and mentoring, quality of assignments, real-life experience and networking opportunities.

Our interns don’t just make copies and poor coffee, that’s why our interns consistently get great jobs when they graduate, and our alumni network opens doors for them at hundreds of companies.

What interns are saying:

  • “With hard work comes progress and personal fulfillment.”
  • “Built confidence in myself and realized how much I am truly capable of. I learned how to create relationships with clients, gained the skills to basically do anything in the business field.”
  • “The culture, friendships, competitive atmosphere, encouraging mentors, incredible excursions, challenging obstacles, and the personal control over one’s success were the best aspects of this program.”
  • “Best opportunity to learn how to run a business with no financial investment.”
  • “Be ready to work your tail off, but learn the most you ever have in your life.”
  • “Entrepreneur development unlike any other.”
  • “The most challenging, yet rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
  • “The best part is being able to run your own business while in college and apply the things you learn in school to real world situations. There are only a handful of college students who have the experience I have. I will stand out in the application process no matter where I apply.”
  • “Best learning experience a college student can have.”
  • “Gain experience in running your own business in a risk-free and supportive culture.”
  • “I learned how to be successful in the real world, not just the classroom.”
  • “The most difficult internship with the most exciting opportunities and culture.”

We are beyond excited for this ranking! A big THANK YOU to our interns and alumni. Our program wouldn’t be what it is without the path that our super successful alumni have carved for current students to follow in their footsteps.

Tiffany Phelps
College Works Painting

Don’t Break The Bank– Cheap And Easy Ways To Spruce Up Your Home For Spring

According to the Groundhog Day tradition, spring can show up early some years. Whenever that may be the case, you may consider getting an early start on those seasonal home improvement projects.

You’ve done your overall spring cleaning, the mopping, the dusting, the vacuuming, but something is still missing. It’s time to pull out a few old tricks to get your house really looking good. Whether you are looking to clean up your home to put it on the market, or just for your own enjoyment, there are many ways to add that “wow factor” without emptying your bank account.

Here are five quick and economical ways to improve the look of your home — starting with the interior.

Add Some Color

Swapping out your old throw pillows for some new shams or adding chic vases to your side tables can brighten up any room. Blues, greens, and oranges make for great accent pieces. You can check your local Target for reasonably priced accessories or bargain hunt online at or

Let There be Light

Change your burned out lightbulbs and clean the ones that are still working. With a few rags and all purpose cleaner, you can dust off any exposed lightbulbs, wipe down all of the fixtures and have your lighting scheme looking brighter in no time. You will be surprised at how much brighter your room looks after the winter dust accumulation is removed! To add extra nuances of light, consider floor lamps and some table lamps to add dimension to a room.

Clean Your Window Treatments

Many draperies and curtains are machine washable. Before you do this, be sure to check the product labels. You can also dry clean fabric shades and wipe wooden blinds with a damp cloth. Warm water mixed with a mild dishwashing liquid is safe for metal and vinyl blinds. If you have heavy draperies, try removing them for the spring and summer months to let more light into the home.

Polish the Hardware

Its easy to forget about, but polishing the metal hardware around your home will help to make your home shine. Liquid polishes and polish-impregnated cloths work well for medium-tarnished surfaces; pastes and creams are for heavier work. If the tarnish doesn’t come off, try a stronger product.

Liven Things Up with Flowers

Nothing says springtime like fresh flowers. Blooming buds add color and natural aromas while brightening your house, and welcoming spring into your home.


To keep you on track with your cleaning check out Martha Stewarts Spring Cleaning Checklist
and be sure to share any tips or ideas you have with us in the comments below


Its time to get your home looking good!


Melanie Lovejoy
College Work Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant

7 Ways To Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal & Market Value

Okay, so you’ve done your spring cleaning. Your house is in tip-top shape…on the inside that is. The outside, you realize, still looks rundown from the winter months. It’s time to get the outside matching the inside.

These tips can help you to get your entire home looking beautiful.

No. 1: Pressure wash. Usually, you do not realize how dingy your house looks until you start with a pressure washer. If you do not own a pressure washer, they are easy to rent from a place like Home Depot or other home improvement stores.

  • Hint: Make sure you wash, not only the sides of your home, but also the doors, garage doors, and deck as well.

No 2: Windows. Wash the windows! Spring is a great time to open the curtains wide and enjoy the beautiful flowers, but you can’t enjoy the beauty through dirty windows! If that’s not enough of a reason, click here to check out these 5 reasons for why washing your windows is essential to spring cleaning.

  • Hint: Don’t forget to remove your screens and wash them with soapy water.

No 3: Paint. Whether it’s repainting the outside of your entire home or simply freshening up chipping paint around the windows and doors, painting can be one of the most beneficial ways to improve the value and look of your home.

  • Hint: If you are painting yourself, make sure you scrape off existing paint that is chipping, sanding if necessary, and be sure you use a high quality primer before painting.

No. 4: Gutters. We all know April showers bring May flowers, so get your gutters cleaned out in preparation for the spring rain. Gutters do their job best when clean.

  • Hint: Check for build-up, especially if trees hover over the roof. Moisture trapped in the build-up can leave your house susceptible to mold and mildew and can cause major damage to your roof and walls.

No. 5: Freshen up the deck. The harsh winter months can be brutal to your deck, especially if it is wooden. Pull out the pressure washer, or grab your hose and some deck cleaner.

  • Hint: Here is a list of a few recommended deck cleaners to help prolong the life of your deck.

No. 6: Landscaping. No need to add a fancy fountain or plant all new trees, simply trimming back anything that has overgrown or died during the winter months will help to brighten up your yard.

  • Hint: If you have trees, check the roots and make sure they are not proliferating into areas they should not be. Roots can wreak havoc on your home and septic system

No. 7: Make sure everything is running smoothly. Spring time is the perfect time to walk around your home and make sure everything is working properly. Check the batteries of your smoke detectors and alarm systems, double check your locks and door handles. Grab a can of WD-40 and hit all the hinges of the doors around your house as well as latches on gates outside.

Make a list of what needs to be done outside to spruce up your home and tackle each project one at a time.
Be sure to consider the order your doing things, it would be a shame to start cleaning windows and realize your going to have to rewash them after you pressure wash later.


Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant

Turn Your Home Into A Sanctuary In 3 Easy Steps

After a long day of work, back-to-back PTA meetings, coaching your daughters cheerleading team or your sons football team, and trying to manage your over-scheduled life, you need a place to unwind and relax. Your home should be your sanctuary, but we all know most of the time your home is the hardest place for you to relax.

College Works Painting has created a list of 3 tricks to turn your home into a place where you can truly relax and rejuvenate so you can keep on top of the crazy life you love.

Turn your home into a sanctuary: 3 easy steps

1) Declutter your space: We are all guilty of using the excuse “my house is too small” or something similar, but I can guarantee someone out there has a smaller home than you. A study from Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute proves that physical clutter negatively affects ones ability to focus and process information. Taking the time to declutter your home is the first and the most important step in creating a space where you can relax. Schedule time to go through each room and weed out the things that are unnecessary and cause chaos in your home.

2) Make bedtime media-free time: Using media before bed over-stimulates your senses and encroaches on your ability to relax and receive a proper nights rest. Many studies show that teens using technology, like cell phones and laptops, before bed leads to a lack of sleep or even sleep disorders. Don’t think this issue is limited to those still I’m high school; Adults are just as negatively impacted by late night media. An article in Time Magazine suggests that turning off cell phones, TV’s, and laptops an hour before bed will greatly increase the quality of your sleep.

3) Embrace everything natural: Nature is relaxing. Obviously it is not possible to bring your backyard into your living room, nor would anyone actually want to, but what is possible is enjoying natural lighting, fresh smells, and soothing sights.

  • Lighting: Sunshine creates positive energy and helps us to feel refreshed. Open the curtains or replace those dark, heavy drapes with gentle, light, cotton curtains that allow natural light to fill your home. Once the sun goes down replace the natural light with candle light to keep the relaxation throughout your home.
  • Smell & sight: Both flowers and candles are great ways to enhance relaxation in your home. Both give your home a relaxing scent and decoration. When picking out a scent or color be sure to think about what colors or scents relax you and which ones cause you to be more stimulated.


These three easy things will help turn your home into the sanctuary you look forward to coming back to after a long day. In no time your home will be a place you find peace, tranquility, and break from the stress-filled world of work, appointments, and traffic jams.

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant

College Works Color Choosing Tips: Paint Color And Resale Value

Here at College Works Painting, we know enough about the housing market to know when it comes to selling your home, the exterior paint color can make or break the deal. There are many different factors that play a part in deciding what color is best for the exterior of your home including, location, size, style, and even the color of your roof. The key to finding an attractive paint color is looking for one that will enhance your homes curb appeal without making it look as if it should be in a different neighborhood. Sticking to common colors gives your home a classic look and helps when it comes time to sell your home.

The Safe Colors

White: Backed by market research, white consistently remains on top for most popular home color. According to a survey by Sears, nearly 40% ofAmericans choose white as their primary exterior house color. White can make the home look larger and can brighten up a block. You also have options when painting the trim and can accent with a variety of colors.

Neutral: While white will always be a classic color, many people are looking for a way to modernize their homes. Variations of neutral colors like tans, grays, beiges, and creams are being used for the exterior in combination with white or even a bold color trim to create a modern look. Adding a statement color, such as a deep blue-gray door on a light gray home makes for a modern, classy, and beautiful look.

Dark: Generally, light colors are the safest bet for painting your home. If your home is in an older neighborhood or surrounded by darker colored homes, painting it a light color might make it stand out in a negative way. Medium to dark shades of gray, tan, and blue are common in older, established neighborhoods.

Remember these are general guidelines. I suggest doing some research about your area and assessing the colors of other homes in close proximity to yours before deciding on what color to paint your home.

For additional ways to improve your homes value check out our post 7 Ways To Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal & Market Value

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant

10 Tools Every Home Needs To Have

Maintaining your home is extremely important because you will want to deal with problems as they occur in order to prevent them from becoming serious over time. Although some home repairs will need to be dealt with by a professional many can be fixed by you with the right tools.

Investing in the right tools will mean you are prepared to fix little problems around the home as they come up. We all know there is nothing more frustrating than not having the right tools when you need them.


Here is a basic list of tools every home should have easily accessible:


√ Claw Hammer

√ Screwdriver Set

√ Pliers

√ Utility Knife

√Tape Measure


√ Adjustable Wrench

√ Hacksaw

√ Duct Tape

√ Cordless Drill


Have anymore tools you recommend people keeping around their homes? Or advice on keeping your tools organized? Let the readers know in the comments below!


Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant

Wait! There’s An App For That!- 5 Helpful Homeowner Apps

These days it seems as if there is an app for everything. Why not use them to help you around the house as well? Whether you need help organizing your grocery list, saving money on electricity, or growing a garden there is definitely an app for your iPad, iPhone, or Android that can help you out. Here are a few of my favorites!

Light Bulb Finder

Price: Free

Purpose: A mobile application that makes it easy to find the right energy-saving bulbs for your home.

Check out a demo here!



Price: $5.99

Purpose: An app for your iPhone that computes your vehicle’s power and fuel usage characteristics and evaluates your driving to increase efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and cost, and lower your environmental impact. Results are displayed in real time, while driving, to give instantaneous feedback.

Check out a demo here!


Out Of Milk

Price: Free

Purpose: Out of Milk is an easy-to-use shopping list app available for Android or iPhone. With Out of Milk, your shopping list stays with you everywhere you go and you’ll have it on-hand once you’re ready to go grocery shipping. The pantry list allows you to keep track of your pantry items so that you always know what you have at home and what you are in need of. Out of Milk allows you to sync lists with other people and devices and easily keep track of your families grocery needs.

Check out the app here!


Garden Compass

Price: Free

Purpose: This app is packed with information to help you learn all about plants. When preparing to start a garden, it is essential to know what you are planting. If you are not sure, simply take a photo of the plant and Garden Compass will tell you what it is. There are over 1,000 pictures, as well as the ability to share your photos over social networks, and even receive help while shopping.

Check out the demo here!


Mark On Call

Price: $2.99-$4.99

Purpose: MOC is an interior design app for the iPad or iPhone. With this easy-to-use app, designing and space planning your room is like having a personal product showroom with an on-call interior designer right at your fingertips. Available in regular and HD.

Check it out here!


Are there any other apps you want to recommend to fellow readers? Let us know your opinion or suggestions below in the comments!

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting

Minimizing The Cost Of Your Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance is what protects your house in case of theft, vandalism, or natural disaster. Homeowners insurance is not a luxury, it is a necessity. In many cases mortgage companies won’t make a loan or finance a residential real estate transaction unless the buyer shows proof of coverage for the full value of the property.

Homeowners insurance is expensive especially if the home is located in a high risk area, such as near known earthquake fault lines or major water ways. Homeowners insurance should not be avoided but there are ways to minimize the costs.


Here are 3 ways to minimize the cost of your homeowners insurance 


No. 1: Locate intelligently- Research the area before buying a house and make sure you are not located in a flood zone or near a fault line.

No. 2: Raise your deductible- Insurance isn’t meant to cover small stuff. The higher the deductible, the lower the annual premium. This will help you save money but will also mean the smaller claims like leaky pipes or broken windows will most likely fall under the responsibility of the homeowner.

No. 3: Maintain home security- Having an alarm system that is monitored by a central station or tied directly to a local police station can reduce your premiums by up to 5%. At the same time having smoke alarms is another important factor. They can save you up to 10%.


These are just a few of the many ways to save on your homeowners insurance. Remember it is important to have and while there are ways to reduce the cost be sure your not skipping out on things you need.

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting