What Did You Do This Last Summer?

The Catch-22 all college students face:

Employers are looking to hire college graduates with experience in their field, but few employers are willing to give students opportunities to get that experience while in college.

This is a dilemma that many students face, so many decide to do…well, nothing. They work normal summer jobs at coffee shops, random side jobs or take the summer off. You have to do what you need to do to make money (I worked at a mill doing manual labor work for 60 hours a week the summer before my first year of college), but you do have a choice.

Rachel Zupek, from Career Builder, recently submitted an article to CNN stating that one of the top 10 things an employer looks for in a college graduate is relevant work experience. Experience was much more important to them than what school they went to or what kind of degree they had.

A Bachelor’s degree by itself doesn’t mean much to an employer these days. The Associated Press released a report in April stating that “53.6% of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or unemployed.”

That’s a pretty scary number.

So here are a few tips on how you can begin to get relevant work experience, while still attending school, that will help you attain a good job when you graduate.

  1. Internships. There are tons of internships out there that will help you get relevant work experience. Many of them will not be paid internships, so make sure they are the best fit for you from an experience standpoint. The best internship you can get is with the company you want to work for. Many employers use their internship as a “tryout” to see if they’d like to hire you in the future. Internships.com is a great place to find internships in your area.
  2. Clubs. It’s tough finding good clubs on campus. The best thing you can do is look for any and all clubs relevant to your major and attend the meetings to see if they’re interesting to you. When you find one that is interesting, try to get a leadership position where you can teach and coach others on that particular field – that’s the part that looks good on a resume.
  3. Organizations. Find organizations offered outside of your college that are relevant to your field. For example, Toastmasters is a great organization that helps people with their speaking and presentation skills, which are a must for most jobs these days.

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

 
Jason D. Bay
Marketing Director
College Works Painting
jbay27@collegeworks.com

Where Do You Find Motivation?

Ever notice a common brand amongst the sea of treadmills and bikes at your gym?

 

One of the more common brands out there, Life Fitness, can be found in many gyms across America.

Last week, we handed the co-Founder of Life Fitness, Augie Nieto, a check (video coming soon!) to help aid in his search for finding a cure for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Augie’s story is quite a remarkable one, especially for any aspiring entrepreneurs. He helped grow Life Fitness to several hundred million dollars and sold it – more than once. In September of 2005, he was diagnosed with ALS, a disease which inhibits the brain and spinal cord from having control over voluntary movements.

I was really excited to actually get to meet the guy in person.

Considering his condition, what Augie is able to do is quite astounding. He has hardly any movement in his body right now except for his legs. He can hear, but cannot verbally communicate. He uses a pretty elaborate set up called the DynaVox EyeMax System that allows him to communicate via eye movements.

The entire time we were there I was asking myself, “Where the heck does this guy get his motivation?” Since 2005, he’s spent nearly all of his time raising over $30 million for a cure he might not even get to see the benefit of.

It really made me think about all the times I’ve ever been too tired to get something done or was too burnt out from school or work.

So the next time you just don’t feel “motivated enough” to work hard towards your career or educational goals, think about Augie and where his motivation comes from. He’s not letting anything get in his way.

For more information on Augie and his mission to find a cure for ALS, visit www.augiesquest.org. Leave questions and comments below!

 
Jason D. Bay
Marketing Director
College Works Painting
jbay27@collegeworks.com

Note-taking and Efficiency Tools For Little To No Cost

As a student, you’re always looking for the most efficient way to keep your school work organized. But the part that is often overlooked is having a way to search through them and find important things quickly.

Taking notes by hand is great, but it’s extremely time consuming to have to scour through pages and pages of notepads to find the one sentence you were looking for.

There are a ton of solutions out there now that are little to no cost. I’ve taken the time to review three of them here for you so you know where to start.

  1. Evernote – The best thing about Evernote is it’s searching and tagging features. You can organize everything into notebooks and have sub categories. For example, you might have a folder called “school” and then sub folders for every class. You can tag each note with the class name, what you studied that day, etc. so you can quickly use the search box to find anything. You can also take web clippings from articles you find on the web that you like and tag those as well for later. This eliminates the need to bookmark sites just because you liked a single blog article. There is a free and premium version that can be used on your computer, tablet and cell phone at www.evernote.com or the app store your phone supports. 5/5 stars – there isn’t anything out there as robust as Evernote
  2. Dropbox, Google Drive – With both services, you have up to 2GB of storage for free. I personally like Google Drive because I use GMail as well so everything is in one place. The cool thing about these programs is that they sync files wirelessly to your computer, tablet and cell phone…and the files will always be on the Internet to download. It syncs real time and is a great way to eliminate the use of thumb drives and having to email yourself files all the time. The sites can be found at drive.google.com and www.dropbox.com. 4/5 stars – these services are great, but files can be hard to pull up on tablets and cell phones
  3. Notepad+ – This is a great tool created by current College Works Vice Presidents in California. The cool thing about this app is that you can take notes on your iPhone and then sync them with a Google Doc or Evernote. The notes application on the iPhone that comes stock isn’t very robust when it comes to syncing or adding titles. It’s very unorganized. This app is the best of all worlds when it comes to note taking and list making. You can find it on the iTunes app store here. 4/5 stars – this app does exactly what it’s supposed to do: sync your notes…and for only $.99 what do you have to lose?

Any other tools you guys have found to be effective for note-taking or that help in overall efficiency as a student?

 

Jason D. Bay
Marketing Director
College Works Painting
jbay27@collegeworks.com

What Employers Look For In Potential Employees

52% of college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed! If you are like most soon-to-be graduates that statistic will most likely cause you to panic a little. Wait! There is good news! According to an article in U.S. News, 9 out of 10 employers say they will hire more graduates this year than last. That means you better be ready to get out there and start interviewing.

In a competitive job market, lack of professionalism can be detrimental and cause you to lose out on many great opportunities, especially if you are a recent grad. Here are some basic keys to success that will help you out when looking for a job.

 

No. 1: Watch out for your social media accounts

You’ve probably heard it a million times but being aware of your online presence is one of the most important things to remember. According to a survey on careerbuilder.com, employers claim to search for the following red flags when in the process of potentially hiring someone.

  • Inappropriate or provocative photos (49%)
  • Information about a candidate drinking or using drugs (45%)
  • Poor communication skills (35%)
  • Discriminatory comments about other people (28%)
  • Lying about qualifications (22%)

Try running some searches on yourself and see what comes up. Ask yourself, “Would I hire me?”

 

No. 2: Always have a good A.T.T.I.T.U.D.E.

It is so simple and obvious but somehow it seems to be easily forgotten. When applying for a job, strive to come across as friendly and enthusiastic no matter what. Always be positive during interviews and be careful never to speak negatively about past employers or companies. Employers know if you speak negatively about past employers you will be willing to do the same about them. Last but not least, ALWAYS follow up an interview with a thank you note. Job Interviewing Thank You Letter Tips on about.com has examples of how to write many different post-interview thank you notes.

 

No. 3: Communication skills

If you pay attention to job postings, you will notice most postings specify “strong communication skills” in the job requirements. Strong communication skills are important in securing a job in today’s market, especially for the current generation that relies heavily on technology for communication. Hard skills such as how to use a particular program or software are generally easy to teach, however soft skills such as communication take development. Strong communications skills include:

  • Verbal and non-verbal
  • Technological and non-technological
  • Mediated and non-mediated
  • Participatory and non-participatory

 

Have any questions or comments?
Let us know what you think!

 

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant
mlovejoy@nsgmail.com

Do You Have What It Takes? Easy Ways To Stand Out To Potential Employers

Employers want the best. Companies are working to hire with more precision, which in turn makes it a more competitive field for both employers and those recent graduates competing for jobs.

Our last student tips post gave you an overall idea of a few key things to think about as you begin your quest for employment. Now that you know three broad items employers look for it’s time to start looking at specifics.

Here are some key places to highlight when presenting yourself to a potential employer

 

No. 1: Basic knowledge of the company

With the digital age we live in, there is no reason why you should go to an interview without at least a basic knowledge of what the company does, what the job your applying for entails, and what working for the company might be like. Being unprepared at an interview is a major turn-off for employers and will most likely guarantee you don’t get asked back. Do your research.

Always have a list of questions prepared to ask the interviewer. This shows you are engaged and will also help you to decide if you feel the position is right for you.

Career Builder offers a list of questions, for you as the interviewee, to ask those that are interviewing you

 

No. 2: Leadership experience

Many employers look for students that standout as leaders and have previously held leadership positions. Whether you have been captain of a sports team or president of a student organization, employers want to see that you take initiative and have potential to step up and lead within their company.

An article in Fox Business talks about the importance of leadership experience by highlighting that the job market we operate in today has a higher turnover rate than ever before. Because of the high turn over rate employers are looking for people that will move up in there company instead of leave.

 

No. 3: Internship experience

Internships are known to get a bad rap because, lets face it, no one wants to work for free. However landing an internship can be just as competitive as landing an entry-level job. The thing most people don’t know is that an internship holds even more value on your resume than an entry-level job.

Studies show that, on average, 90% of employers look for students that have held at least one to two internships before graduating. This means that, if you want to stand out to employers, you should expect to put in a minimum of three to six months gaining experience through internships before graduating.

Internships can be found through your school, career websites, or even sites such as Craigslist. Remember the experience you can gain from an internship will benefit you more in the long run than the money you would make working at an entry-level job.

 

3 things to do after reading this post

  1. Do your research
  2. Be a leader
  3. Get an internship

Any additional questions or comments for us?
Leave a comment below and  we will be sure to get back to you!

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant
mlovejoy@nsgmail.com

 

Social Media And Why You Need To Use It

Put simply, social media puts your business in touch with the world.

According to a study done by University of Oxford, roughly one third of the world’s population has access to the Internet, with more than 80 percent of the global online population participating on one or more social networking sites.

The potential to raise brand awareness through various social media sites is huge. Being able to stay in-touch with customers and connecting to them in a personal way makes a difference.

Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube allow your customers to interact with your brand and instantly comment and share your products, news, special offers and recommendations amongst their friends. If your products and services are appealing, fans and followers of your brand pages will “Like” “Share” “retweet” and “re-pin” helping your business to travel further than just your immediate business or social circle.

Social Media allows for two-way communication between businesses and their customers and is a lot quicker and more exciting to use than traditional websites. It’s a platform where you can be creative and draw attention to your brand.

Some of the benefits of using social media include:

  • The ability to targeted specific users
  • The ability to create strong brand awareness
  • The ability to share pictures, videos and stories
  • The ability to broadcast news, special offers, and promotions

Whether you are running a small business or large corporation, the importance of using social media should not be overlooked.
There are over 300 different social media sites available and it can be easy to get overwhelmed or distracted.

We suggest sticking to the most common sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • LinkedIn
  • Blogs
  • Google+

Has your experience with social media been positive or negative?
Need more help or advice?
Comment below and let us know!

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant
mlovejoy@nsgmail.com

Are You Ready To Be In The Career Market?

Let’s face it, you’re a pretty good catch for a recruiter, right? I mean, you’re talented, hard working, motivated. Whenever you apply yourself to something, you excel at it.

Any employer would hire you if they only knew the real you…if they would just give you a chance. The problem is that the real world doesn’t care who the real you is. All the real world cares about is the “you” that can be proven on a resume and in person.

A little self-awareness can go a long way. Most students fail to understand how unprepared they are for the real world…until it’s too late.

Here are a few questions to assess yourself:

  1. Are you nervous that you do not have enough work experience?
  2. Does your resume stretch your work experience to sound more impressive than it really is?  (Pizza delivery = responsible for Just-In-Time delivery of high quality food merchandise directly to the end-user.)
  3. Can you illustrate your work ethic, tenacity and ingenuity with tangible examples that will be different from other recent college graduates?
  4. Do you think your resume truly stands out and does not blend in with other candidates?
  5. If you have a lot of self-confidence, will a recruiter be able to understand why once they read your resume?
  6. If you have exceptional plans for your career, have you shown a pattern of exceptional behavior?

Some of these questions can be difficult to answer honestly.  Everyone likes to believe that they are exceptional.  It can be hard to admit that you may not yet have tangibly demonstrated the character traits that you feel best describe you.

This does not mean that you do not possess these traits; it only means that you can’t prove them.

Some students argue that these questions are unfair.

They give me a variety of reasons why they are different and why the questions above are not necessarily an indication of their readiness for the job market.

Here are some of the common complaints and common employer answers:

  1. If the recruiter only knew the real me, I’d have the job. If the real you hasn’t done anything exceptional so far, why should I believe the new real you will be any different?
  2. I haven’t had the opportunity to prove myself. I stare at a stack of resumes all day from people who have done exceptional things. They have the same opportunities as you, but they chose to pursue challenge while you only did enough to get by.  Nothing stopped you from paying for your own education or getting solid work experience during your summers.
  3. Good grades are not the best indication of talent. The only problem is that the best candidates for the best jobs have great grades, were active in extracurricular activities, have strong leadership skills, and have significant work experience.

Suppose you sit down with me for an interview with my company. My position requires a strong entrepreneurial work ethic, problem solving abilities and great communication skills. Most importantly, it is a management position where you will direct a team of 8-10 of my employees.

You might be the absolute perfect hire for this position. Heck, you might be God’s gift to my company.

The problem is that unless you can dig up something you have done in your past that specifically proves you have the skills to do the job, you and I are not going to have much to discuss.

The only path to get you there is through significant prior experience.

 

Jeff Gunhus

co-CEO

College Works Painting

The #1 Thing Applicants Forget To Do During A Job Search

Leads for jobs? Check.
Resume polished? Check.
Social media site content reviewed? Check.

Looks like you’re ready to start your job application process!

For many job hunters that’s it– they submit applications, send some follow-up emails, and they think they have done all they can.

One very important piece is missing. Has your online portfolio been updated? Or even created for that matter?

Sadly, the answer for many is no.

If you’re one of these people that has answered no, it’s time look into updating or creating an online career portfolio.

 

Online portfolios can be one of your greatest assets when looking for a job and will set you apart from others who are on the hunt for jobs as well. Here is why:

  • Portfolios are beneficial in all career fields. Many people believe an online portfolio is strictly for people looking for careers in certain fields, such as writing, design, social media, etc. Nothing could be more wrong. While having an online portfolio may be required for certain career fields, people looking for jobs in all fields will benefit. Once your application is received at a company, it’s inevitable that in deciding who to bring in for interviews, your name will be put into Google and your file will be looked over to see what sets you apart from the rest. A solid online portfolio makes a great impression and gives you online visibility and presence.

You will standout because many other applicants won’t have even bothered to create an electronic portfolio

  • Give them a link to your online presence. Having a web portfolio prepared before you send in a job applications means that you can give potential employers a link to your online presence instead of waiting for the employers to Google your name and see what comes up. You can place the link directly on your resume to direct employers to you quickly and easily.

Plus, if you’re not a writer or designer, having an online career portfolio at all shows you can think outside of the box — a valuable skill in any job

  • Showcase your skills. In todays technology driven world having a strong online portfolio shows you have good media and design skills, which are important skills to possess in any field. Having multiple projects on your web portfolio will highlight your media skills.

Include a variety of examples in your portfolio to really highlight your versatility

  • Show your personality. Last but not least, a solid online portfolio allows you the freedom to create a full picture of yourself. While a paper resume is still needed and important, it will always only be a small sliver of your abilities and interests. Online portfolios give you room to expand on your resume and allow your personality, skills, and abilities as a professional to shine through.

Gone are the days when employers view you simply as a piece of paper, welcome to the digital age

 

If you are unsure of whether or not you have a good portfolio, ask yourself this, How well does my site answer the questions employers in my field of interest are likely to have?

Websites such as WordPress or Google Sites are great places to get started creating your portfolio.

 

Do you have experience with online portfolios or advice for other readers? Share your thoughts, tips, and questions in the comments!

 

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant
mlovejoy@nsgmail.com

Why Not Turn Your Passion Into A Career?

College Works Painting guide to discovering your PASSION and making it work for you

Many people talk about their jobs as if it is a chore; Sadly this is because most people work because they feel they have to, not because they want to. What if you could make money doing something you enjoyed? What if everyday you woke up and thought, “YES! Today I get to work!”

Is there a way to make money and do what you love? The answer is yes. The trick is finding your passion and establishing the skill set to turn your passion into a career.

College Works Painting is a company that gives life long skills to students so they can do what they enjoy for the rest of their lives. By teaching interns how to manage a business, CWP is giving students skills they can be take and apply to any career field. It is completely possible to not only find the career that is a perfect match for your skills and interests, but one that also inspires you and fuels your desire to perform better, work harder.

As young adults, it is the prime time to discover your passion. You have experienced enough things in your life to know what interests you and makes you excited about life versus what things really have no appeal to you. Here are 3 ways to help you figure out where your passion lies.

1) Take a break from business thinking

It can be hard to think about life in terms of enjoyment rather than necessity. Take a mental vacation, clear your mind, and think only about the things you enjoy in life. Do not let money come into the mix. You will be surprised at how much clearer you can think when you are not worried about how to pay the bills, or how to make enough money to have all the things you want.

2) Notice when you lose track of time, or what you hate to stop doing

Think of something you love to do, something that every time you start you lose track of time and are disappointed when you suddenly realize you have other stuff that has to get done. What do you find yourself doing in your spare time? For some this may be dancing while for others this way be working on cars. There are a million things we as individuals love to do. Make a list to refer to later.

3) Make a list of people who are where you want to be

Who inspires you and why? Look at the people in your life that inspire you because of where they are at in their careers. If it is a friend or family member ask to sit down and talk with them. Ask them how they got where they are. If it is a celebrity or successful business person, do some research. You will find plenty of articles where they talk about how they reached the place in life they are at today.  Make a list to refer to later.

Now that you have a list of things you enjoy doing and a list of people you admire it is time to combine the two into one and figure out how to make your passion work for you.

Have you figured out a way to make money doing something you love? or still need more guidance on how find your passion? Keep the conversation going and let us know your thoughts in the comments below or by email. I am making a career out of what I love doing and I promise you can too.

Don’t put it off until tomorrow, today is a great day to start making your passion work for you!

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant
mlovejoy@nsgmail.com