8 Things to Do in College to Land a Great Job When You Graduate

things to do in college to get a job

It’s that time of year. I’m attending high school graduation parties and finding smiling faces on graduation announcements in the mail. It’s high school graduation weekend! 

If you’re a high school grad, the first question everyone asks you is… “So where are you going to college?” Right? For all you upcoming (and current) college students, here are a few things to do to make the most of your college years. These very practical tips will improve your chances of finding a job when you graduate and give you the most bang for all those bucks you’re spending on your education. I wish I had done more of these! 

  1. Lernen Sie eine zweite Sprache. Learn a second language. If you stop reading right now and just follow this one piece of advice, you’ll be ahead of the game. Study abroad if possible and do language immersion. Don’t just take the intro class and quit. Join the Spanish Immersion Club or the Mandarin Group. Become fluent in another language. That ability alone can put you miles ahead of other job applicants. You’re already paying for the classes. Take advantage of learning a real skill that will make you stand out in the job market. 
  2. Get to know your professors. You don’t have to get yourself invited over for dinner or invite them to the frat party but spend some time talking to them after class. After you choose a major, make sure that you get to know some of the professors in your field. Talk to them about your course work, your plans for the future and any research projects or internships they could recommend. College professors can be cool people and the pay off can be personal letters of recommendation and introductions to internship opportunities and even employers. 
  3. Take advantage of your college career office. It’s FREE. Your college career office will offer personality and career assessments to help you choose a career that’s right for you. They can teach you how to write a resume and cover letter. Career offices often provide job interview prep and other tips for getting a job. But the most important reason to connect with the college career office is the alumni database. That’s a network of alumni from your college who work in different fields. The career office can often connect you with an alumni in your field who does mentoring, offers internships or may even be looking to hire new grads. That is a NETWORK! And that’s how you get a job. And remember, all this is FREE. Take advantage of it. Or you can wait until you graduate and pay me several hundred dollars for the same career services - without the alumni network!
  4. Do research. Volunteer to work with your professors on research studies and papers. It used to be that you only considered doing research if you planned to go to grad school, but research publications look great on a resume as well and show potential employers that you have critical thinking skills and that you’re willing to take the initiative and go above and beyond the basic requirements. 
  5. Take a personal finance class. Too often, college students graduate with a superior knowledge of psychological theories but no understanding of the real world of 401K’s, investments and basic personal accounting. Again, you’re already paying for the classes. Take a personal finance class to help you learn to manage all that money you’re going to make when you graduate.
  6. Upgrade your computer skills. Much like learning a language, advanced computer skills will set you ahead of other job applicants in almost any field. Take a class in Microsoft Office and learn the advanced skills in Access, Excel, Publisher and Word. Take it a step further and begin learning basic macros like Excel VBA. Learn to type proficiently. Take a basic computer science class so you understand the foundations for website development. Almost every office uses these programs. If you have advanced skills, they will think you are a wizard.
  7. Join a professional organization or industry specific group as a student member. Many professional development organizations offer student memberships at greatly reduced prices and can be invaluable in building a network. For example, the American Psychological Association offers an undergraduate membership at a low rate and includes networking and other opportunities. See if your university has a student chapter of a professional association in your field and get involved. 
  8. Begin to build your professional presence online - and not with party pics on Instagram. Start a niche blog in your field. Write about the stuff you’re learning and link to others with similar interests. Create a LinkedIn profile. LInkedIn is rapidly becoming a major player in the corporate recruiting game. Build a profile and post articles in your field. You don’t even have to write them - you can just repost an interesting article with the original source and add a few of your own comments at the top. Connect with other professionals in your area of interest. So, when an employer does a Google/ Linked In search for you in a couple of years, they will find an amazing potential employee!

And don’t forget to have fun! Study hard and learn a lot!  Take time to make friends and even more make memories! You’re gonna be great! Happy Graduation!

And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
— Neil Gaiman

Already dreading going back to work after a long weekend?

Are you feeling like you just can't face another day in your current job? Feeling stuck in your career or just burned out? Are you ready for a change  - but you’re not sure what steps to take next? Are you still trying to choose a career path but not sure what direction to take? Are you excited each morning to get out of bed and head off to work or do you drag yourself out the door just hoping for Friday to arrive? 

Are you ready to make the leap into a life you love? 

Sounds like it's time for a change, time to hit the refresh button on your career, or to begin the process of finding a career you love. Maybe you’re bored out of your mind in your current job and you’re looking for a new challenge that better fits your life and dreams. Maybe you’ve been out of the job market for a while - in school, at home caring for others or just can’t seem to figure out what’s next for you. Maybe you just need a change. 

If you’re ready to take some real steps to figure out what’s next for you, take a look at The LifeWork Project™ - a 40 day e-course designed to help you find the work of your life - work that leads to a lifetime of challenge, satisfaction and success.  The e-course will include weekday emails delivered straight to your inbox with a LifeWork discovery reading and a question of the day to ponder. Each week you will be guided through a series of exercises, journal writing prompts, and other activities to assist you in discovering your personality, identifying your strengths and transferable skills, clarifying your values and creating a career design plan with action steps for moving forward. You will complete the full length Myers Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI®) and receive a personality profile plus career information tailored to your personality type. With individual email support from Anita, you will be guided through the Best Fit process for your personality type and career. You will spend time looking back and learning lessons from your past plus taking time to complete a frank and honest assessment of your current situation. Finally you will design a plan for moving forward toward the career you’ve always wanted.

The next e-course begins July 10, 2017. 

The ridiculously low price ($89.95) includes:

  • Daily emails (Mon-Fri) with a LifeWork Discovery reading and a question of the day
  • Weekly exercises, writing prompts and other LifeWork Discovery activities plus a weekend LifeWork Challenge.
  • MBTI Personality Profile, Best Fit analysis, and Career Information based on your type ($59 value)
  • The LifeWork Values Matrix 
  • The LifeWork Career Design Plan
  • Options for individual coaching throughout the process with Blue Sage Career Coach, Anita Flowers, MA  - available at a discounted rate for LifeWork Project™ participants

The next LifeWork Project begins on July 10 and registration is now live. Space in each class is limited. Take advantage of this low pricing on The LifeWork Project™ and sign up here today. Get started on your new career and life! 

12 Things to Never Put on a Resume

12 Things to Never Put on a Resume

6 seconds. That’s the average amount of time a hiring manager takes to scan your resume and sort it into either the possibility pile or the trash bin. 

6 seconds. 

Hiring managers receive a average of 75 resumes for each position. For some jobs, the number is 100-200 or more resumes for each position. You’ve got 6 seconds to make sure your resume makes the first cut and doesn’t end up in the trash.

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When are you too old to start something new?

Are you feeling too old to try something new?  Are you thinking about a new career?  Considering going back to school but feeling like that ship has sailed? You’ve always dreamed of learning to deep sea dive but wondering if your body is still up for it?

When are you too old? If your first answer is never, then we are on the same page. If not, keep reading. You’re never too old to begin again, to try something new, to learn new things.   Consider this:

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The kids have moved back home and can't find a job. What's a parent to do?

I’ve received several phone calls from parents asking this question and it seems to pop up a lot this time of year. What do you do when your 20 or 30 something kids move back home and don’t know what they want to do with their life? They can’t find a job, can’t afford an apartment, and seem to be floundering. What can you, as a parent, do? Charge rent? Kick them out? Do you help them find a job? Do you even dare offer advice? 

good advice for parents who want to help but don’t know how

good advice for parents who want to help but don’t know how

I have had a little experience with this myself. My daughter and son-in-law moved back in with us for a few months a couple of years ago. They had just returned from living and working overseas and needed time to find jobs and save some money. In their case, they both had settled on a career path and just needed space to get things started. That is true of some adult children who move back in. 

Other adult children move in and really have no idea what they want to do with their life.  Do they want to go to grad school? Find a job close by? Move away? What kind of job do they want? What career skills do they have?  They have a degree in anthropology but may have no idea how to craft a resume, apply for jobs, or kickstart the career finding process

It’s a trend that can be seen across the country.  According to the Pew Research Center, over 31% of young adults, ages 18-34, live at home with their parents. More young adults live with their parents than in any other living situation. Only 29% are married or living with a partner. Over 60% of university graduates move back home for at least a few months, according to U.S. census stats. Seven in 10 seniors graduate with debt, averaging about $29,000 per borrower, according to the most recent data from the Institute for College Access & Success. The combination of crushing student loan debt, skyrocketing rents and low entry level salaries can dishearten even the most optimistic. 

As a parent, this can be an interesting place to find yourself. You want to help your kids out, but you don’t want them to be living at home forever. Minor conflicts may escalate into angry silences until you’re not even sure if you can ask how the job search is going. What’s a parent to do? Here are a few tips.

  1. Give the kids a break. The world is a different place than it was when we as parents graduated. In that day, entry level salaries were enough to cover rent on a small apartment. Today, there is a huge gap between entry level salaries and the cost of living. Plus, the job market is TOUGH. It often takes six months or more to find a career path job (i.e. not working fast food or retail). And even though the economy has improved, it’s still hard to break into many professions. And then there are student loans… So, give them a break. Skip the “when I graduated” stories and recognize that life is different now.

  2. Embrace the time together. There may be a time when your kids find a job, but it’s half way across the country. They move away and then you only see them 2-3 times a year. Remember my daughter and son-in-law? They found jobs, locally for a short time, and then my son-in-law was offered an excellent career track job in a city almost 10 hours away. So enjoy being with them. Consider it bonus time - extra time with these people you love. Use the time to develop an adult relationship with them. Rediscover their personalities and interests. Find an activity you like to do together. You may have a new hiking buddy!

  3. Discuss expectations and boundaries. You are still the parent- but your child is not 16 anymore. The old roles and rules don’t fit. Having an in-depth conversation about expectations can go a long way toward creating harmony in the house. Do you expect everyone to sit down for dinner if they’re home? Are you sharing a car? What about chores? Do you expect them to do the dishes? Mow the grass? Get clear about expectations up front.

  4. And what about the money? Should you charge rent? There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. It depends. Does your adult child have any income? Are they working part-time while looking for a professional job? Can you afford the extra expense of additional household members? Can they take over lawn care and cleaning in lieu of rent - or will that create more drama? Some parents choose to charge rent and deposit it into a savings account to be used for deposits on future housing when the kids are ready to move on. Others may charge a minimal rent to offset the increased grocery and utility bills. Think creatively and think win-win. How can you use this time to improve their financial situation and your own?

  5. Discuss the job search process. Do you expect to be kept in the loop about the job hunt? Resist the temptation to micromanage but do offer to use your network if possible. You want them to be self reliant but the reality is that most jobs, especially good jobs, are gained by using a network. A cold resume is much less likely to make it to the interview than a resume passed along by a respected colleague or even a friend of a friend. Comic strip Dustin is enjoying living a do-nothing life back at home, but most young adults are anxious to find good jobs and move on to live independently.

  6. Hire a career coach. Yes. I am a career coach and you can certainly hire me but this is not a self-serving post (not totally anyway.) The reality is that many 20 somethings don’t know how to find a job. They may not know what they really want to do. They probably don’t know how to write a resume that will illustrate the employability of a bachelor’s degree in history and work experience as a summer life guard and a barista at Starbucks. A good career coach can ask the tough questions, answer questions about resumes and cover letters, and help them get started on a career they can be excited about. Spending some money on a good career coach may save you more money down the road - and get your empty nest back!


Anita Flowers is a career specialist and resume writer at Blue Sage Career Strategies. She is available for coaching with young adults or with parents who need to talk through these issues. Contact her here for a free initial consultation.


 

 

Feeling burned out? When was the last time you went out to play?

Are you feeling a little burned out on 2017 already? It’s only February and I’m already hearing from clients and friends who are feeling overwhelmed and depressed by faded New Year’s resolutions, work overload, our nation’s political morass and worries about the environment and our world in general. It's clear. We are all going to need some serious self care in this year of anxiety. 

Self care is a trendy phrase these days. Most people think of self care as settling in for the night with a massage, a long hot bath and a big mug of herbal tea (always nice and relaxing) but I like to think of self care as those activities that restore our souls. Restorative care helps us to not just relax but to restore that creative piece of ourself. To literally bring our SELF back to life.

For me, it’s doing the things I loved to do as a child.  Digging in the dirt -even pulling weeds in the garden can be therapeutic. I lose track of time when I’m planting flowers. Maybe I just like getting my hands earth dirty. I love walking through the woods. Riding my bike. Swinging high on a swing set. Playing with fabric scraps or watercolors. A friend says that for her it’s baking cookies, coloring in a mandala book, and restoring old furniture. Another turns up the music, sings at the top of her voice and dances away in the kitchen. Think of it as playtime. I come away from play refreshed, restored, and often ready for a very restful nap!

What is play for you? What are those things that make you lose track of time? What makes you forget about the world of work and politics? What refreshes and restores your soul? These are questions I ask almost every one I do coaching with - because the answers offer clues about your true self, your passions and, sometimes, helps you discover the creative work of your life. 

It’s clear. We have a lot of work to do this year. Make sure you take time to play, that you take time for self care, for restorative care -  so you’re rested and refreshed for the journey of life ahead. 


Happy Valentine's Day! Give your career some love!

Happy Valentine's Day from Blue Sage Career Strategies! Give your career some love and sign up for The LifeWork Project™ - a new 40 day e-course to help you design a life and career you love. You'll take the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory®, explore your personality and passions and create your own LifeWork Career Design Plan. Find out more about The LifeWork Project here! Introductory pricing available for a short time - sign up today! 

Feeling stuck? Ready for a change? Introducing The LifeWork Project™

Are you feeling stuck in your career, burned out, and ready for a change  - but you’re not sure what steps to take next? Are you still trying to choose a career path but not sure what direction to take? Are you excited each morning to get out of bed and head off to work or do you drag yourself out the door just hoping for Friday to arrive? 

Are you ready to make the leap into a life you love? 

Spring is just around the corner. It’s time for a change, time to hit the refresh button on your career, or to begin the process of finding a career you love. Maybe you’re bored out of your mind in your current job and you’re looking for a new challenge that better fits your life and dreams. Maybe you’ve been out of the job market for a while - in school, at home caring for others or just can’t seem to figure out what’s next for you. Maybe you just need a change. 

If you’re ready to take some real steps to figure out what’s next for you, take a look at the newest offering from Blue Sage Career Strategies. It’s The LifeWork Project™ - a 40 day e-course designed to help you find the work of your life - work that leads to a lifetime of challenge, satisfaction and success. The e-course will include weekday emails delivered straight to your inbox with a LifeWork discovery reading and a question of the day to ponder. Each week you will be guided through a series of exercises, journal writing prompts, and other activities to assist you in discovering your personality, identifying your strengths and transferable skills, clarifying your values and creating a career design plan with action steps for moving forward. You will complete the full length Myers Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI®) and receive a personality profile plus career information tailored to your personality type. With individual email support from Anita, you will be guided through the Best Fit process for your personality type and career. You will spend time looking back and learning lessons from your past plus taking time to complete a frank and honest assessment of your current situation. Finally you will design a plan for moving forward toward the career you’ve always wanted.

Limited introductory pricing is only $64.95 and includes:

  • Daily emails (Mon-Fri) with a LifeWork Discovery reading and a question of the day
  • Weekly exercises, writing prompts and other LifeWork Discovery activities plus a weekend LifeWork Challenge.
  • MBTI Personality Profile, Best Fit analysis, and Career Information based on your type
  • The LifeWork Values Matrix 
  • The LifeWork Career Design Plan
  • Options for individual coaching throughout the process with Blue Sage Career Coach, Anita Flowers, MA  - available at a discounted rate for LifeWork Project participants

The LifeWork Project™ begins on March 6 and registration is now live. Space in the first class is limited. Take advantage of the introductory pricing on The LifeWork Project™ and sign up here today. Get started on your new career and life! 

Working in the US as an international in the time of Trump

Guest Post by Attorney James Hollis.png

What should you be worried about if you are an international working in the US during these rapidly changing times? How will the changes in immigration policy affect you at work or as you travel? As a career coach, I have worked with several international professionals and have been hearing some questions and rumors about what is happening today.  I asked immigration attorney James Hollis for some clarity and wisdom. James helps us separate fact from fiction and provides tips for internationals working in the US.  He tells me the situation is very fluid and changing quickly. I received an update to add to the post before I even hit publish. Make sure you read to the end for important information if you're thinking about changing jobs or getting a DUI!  Here's his guest post for Blue Sage Career Strategies. Thanks James!


Working in the US during the Trump Presidency

If you’re living and working in the United States as a permanent resident (i.e. you have a “green card”) or as a nonimmigrant (i.e. H-1B, L-1, E, etc.), you were likely shocked by the news as it unfolded at the end of last week. Without notice or warning, nationals of seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and Somalia) were banned from the United States and all immigrant and nonimmigrant visas from those countries were revoked, meaning that people who had already gone through the long process of getting visas from those areas will now have to go back through that process once the ban is lifted.

The effect of this executive order should not be understated. When changes like this are made swiftly, we see bad implementation which has a human cost. That cost is paid first by the people caught in airports or stuck abroad after they were denied preclearance to board their flights to the US. It means missed births, marriages, funerals – it means families being kept apart despite following all the rules. However, it also has a second cost, one that the rest of the immigrant community in the United States pays. Because of the stories that people hear and the fact that immigration law is particularly arcane, worry and rumor blossom into fear and people not impacted by the ban live in fear that their nationality might be next or, out of pure confusion, they think the ban is going to keep out their family member who is traveling abroad.

The first thing I want to do is separate the fact from the fiction and then I’ll discuss some tips for immigrants living in the United States during this time.

Let’s talk about the executive order from 1/27 banning immigrants from seven countries from the US. Below are the specifics of what the order did:

  • Suspends issuance of visas and other immigration benefits for people from the 7 countries (Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and Somalia)
  • Suspends entry to the US as immigrants or nonimmigrants persons from the 7 countries for 90 days
  • Demands certain intelligence information from all foreign governments within 60 days
  • Bans citizens of the countries that don’t comply from entering the US
  • Leaves loophole for a case-by-case analysis of people from banned countries
  • Suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days
  • Bans Muslim Syrian refugee admissions indefinitely but leaves loophole for Christians
  • Limits total refugee admissions to 50,000 (a reduction to 50% of the normal total)
  • Expedites completion of the biometric entry/exit tracking system (been in the works for years but no funding)
  • Resumes mandatory interviews at consulates (so people just renewing visas have to attend a new interview)
  •  Begins publication of semi-annual reports to the American public re: how many foreign nationals are charged with terrorism-related activities; number of FN’s radicalized after entry; # of acts of violence against women and honor killings in US by FN’s, etc.

If you were glued to the television last week like me, you’ve seen the lawsuits and you may notice that what’s happening on the ground is different than the language of the executive order, so I’ll explain where we are as of Thursday, February 2, 2017. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is the immigration benefits organization that approves most visas and renewals, has stopped processing almost all cases (excluding the N-400 naturalization application) for nationals of the seven countries. Green card holders from those countries are no longer being denied entry to the US – good job lawyers on the front lines – though many are still facing significant questioning during inspection from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. Airlines, who are fined if they allow people without the right travel documents onto planes heading to the United States, are stopping anyone with nonimmigrant or immigrant visas from the seven countries. Note that an immigrant visa is different from a green card. The immigrant visa is what someone gets to travel to the United States for the first time – they receive the green card in the mail once they get here. (**UPDATE** A court yesterday placed a temporary restraining order against the revocation of immigration visas, so immigrant visa holders from the seven countries should be able to enter) 

This is the current state of affairs. Any other rumors – such as countries being added to the list - that you’re hearing are speculation and we’ll have to wait and see. If you’re a national from a country on the list of seven, I suggest talking to an immigration attorney to discuss what’s going on, making sure that you’re maintaining your status and getting tips for your specific situation. If you’re in the U.S. from one of these countries, I suggest not traveling outside of the US until the ban is lifted. If you’re not from one of the seven countries, you should continue as normal.

I suggest the following tips for everyone who is working in this country as an immigrant or nonimmigrant.

  • When you travel internationally, take your valid, unexpired passport and don’t rely on just your green card to get you back into the US.
  • If you’re a nonimmigrant, travel with your I-797 approval notice showing the validity of the petition sponsoring you.
  • Make a plan for what will happen if your family member is stopped and taken into secondary inspection. Most of the time secondary inspection is just a hassle that immigrants are used to but having an immigration attorney on call can at least provide some comfort while it’s happening.
  • If you’re a nonimmigrant and thinking about changing jobs, make sure you get the advice of an attorney before making the leap so that you can make sure that you’re maintaining status. If you’re from one of the seven countries, this is especially important because USCIS has stopped processing these petitions and strategy is critical to maintain your authorization to work when changing employers during the ban.
  • If you are a dual national of one of the banned countries, travel into the US on your other passport. I also suggest speaking to an immigration attorney about your situation so you can be kept up to date on what’s going on at the port of entry or preclearance station where you’ll be entering.
  • Don’t get a DUI. Consulates have been automatically revoking nonimmigrant visas for the past year when nonimmigrants are charged with DUIs. This doesn’t affect your status in the US but it will require getting a new visa when you travel internationally next.
  • Be mindful about your social media posts and the pictures and text messages that are on your phone when you are returning to the United States after international travel. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have been looking at social media accounts, text messages, and pictures of immigrations recently.
  • In your answers with CBP officers, be polite, brief, and responsive to the question asked.

The situation is very fluid and changing quickly so it's important to keep tabs on the latest information. Contact an immigration attorney for more specific advice and information.

James Hollis is an attorney in the Nashville office of Siskind Susser PC, where his practice focuses exclusively on immigration and nationality law. Mr. Hollis represents businesses and individuals in several areas of immigration law, with a concentration on immigration for entrepreneurs and startup businesses.

Mr. Hollis can be reached by email at jhollis@visalaw.com, on Skype at jameshollislaw or via Linkedin.

 

Full Disclosure: James Hollis is also the son-in-law of Anita Flowers, owner, consultant and coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies.

 

 

 

 

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon. Do it!

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon.

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon.

Happy New Year from Blue Sage!  Ok, so I’m not actually jumping the canyon in that pic. My husband and I were mountain biking in the canyons of Sedona, Arizona a few years ago - which in itself was a challenge for two cyclists from the South Carolina Lowcountry. We bike on flat land at sea level. The altitude in Sedona is 4500 feet. Enough said. My husband swears he will never mountain bike again. I'm still hopeful. 

It’s that time of year when everyone is making resolutions for the New Year.  I have to admit I’m a sucker for resolutions and goal setting and the beginning of a new year seems the perfect place to begin again. It’s a new year, a new beginning. Anything can happen. Bring it on!

There are two ways to make resolutions. The best advice is to take baby steps. Break your goal down into specific, positive steps that are achievable on a daily or weekly basis. Instead of planning to lose 25 pounds in a month, make a resolution to eat 5-6 servings of vegetables each day or walk 10 miles a week. If you’re on the job hunt, create a goal to make 2 contacts each week (phone calls or emails). Baby steps are a great way to achieve a bigger goal.  Sometimes looking at a big goal be overwhelming and can lead to procrastination and resistance. I encourage all my clients to use baby steps to achieve their goals in life and in their careers. Baby steps are a great plan and a great way to move forward toward your goals. 

But sometimes… you need to jump the canyon. Last year, I jumped the canyon when I created and developed Blue Sage Career Strategies. I’ve done life and career coaching (and before that individual and family counseling) with other groups for years-  but this time I’m completely on my own. My business. My ideas. My success or failure. Jumping the canyon works when you have a plan in place and a parachute at the ready.

 I’ve worked with clients who have taken the leap to start their novel (and are now published authors!), with clients who have taken the risk to talk to their boss and change their job for the better, and with others who have left a profession that was sucking them dry to begin a new creative endeavor that makes them happy to go to work in the morning. It’s a leap of faith that can literally change your life. Is it time to take the leap?

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon that is between you and the life you want to live. Talk to your boss about a promotion. Enroll in grad school. Buy the ticket to Australia. Ask him to marry you. Do the big thing that scares you but will turn your life in a new and better direction. 

Today carve out a few minutes, find a quiet place and write down your goals for 2017. It’s a new chapter, a new year, a new beginning. Are baby steps best for you - they always work and are a great way to achieve your goals - or is it time to jump the canyon? Either way, resolve to believe in yourself this year and make those dreams a reality. I believe in you. 

 

Small steps work almost every time. (And this year my resolutions are baby steps!)  Jumping the canyon works when you are ready for a big change and have a plan in place. Don’t forget the parachute! I’ll be writing more about moving forward with baby steps and jumping the canyon for this first week of the New Year.  If you need a coach to help you jump the canyon or work those baby steps, for the month of January, Blue Sage Career Strategies is offering a 25% discount on all coaching packages. 

Follow your heart...but

Just a little Friday wisdom. Amidst all the advice to follow your bliss, it's important to remember to take your brain with you. By all means, explore what makes you come alive in life. Take a good deep look at your personality and passions and find work that makes your heart sing. But remember to put on your practical hat as well. Before you quit your job to follow your heart and open your own business or move to Nova Scotia or whatever your dream is, it's important to ask the "Is your dream realistic?" question. Is is possible? There may be a lot of answers to that question - and you may have a lot of nay-sayers in your life giving you the wrong answer. But often the underlying question  - or the question you need to ask is - "Am I really willing to do what it takes to achieve this goal? Am I willing to pay the price, to put in the work, to make this dream a reality? How far am I willing to stretch myself?"  

Take some time to do the research and find out what it will really take to make your dream a reality. Talk to people who are doing it. Make a list of pros and cons. Identify the first steps you would need to take. Get out your calculator and run the numbers - the real numbers. As you do this, take note of your excitement level. Are you still passionate about this dream? Feeling a little scared is good, but does the anxiety keep you awake at night? Do you get more excited as you work the details? Are you even more committed to this new path now that you have a better idea of what it will entail?

Follow your heart... but take your brain with you. You might just surprise yourself and make your dream come true! 

The In-Between Time

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.  Delicious Ambiguity.” - Gilda Radner

Are you feeling lost in the in-between? You know a change is coming and maybe you’re not exactly sure what it will be. Are you looking for a new job or position? Thinking about going back to school? Moving to a different place? Focusing your career in a new direction? Are you dealing with corporate changes you have little control over? 

I’ve had several conversations recently with people struggling with that in-between place. They’re spending lots of time and energy searching and longing for (or sometimes dreading) what’s ahead but they don’t know what to do with their present life. What do you do with the waiting time? It’s that time when you’re not sure what the winds of life will blow your way and you find yourself wondering and worrying about the future, rather than being fully present in your own right-now life.

This in-between can be a place of growth if we don’t hide from it - if we allow ourselves to sit with the grief of what was and the scary anticipation of what might be. It’s a place to process all the uncomfortable feelings about not knowing. If we can turn our attention away from the seductive mystery of the future and focus on the present moment, we can savor the in-between and enjoy the journey from what was to what will be. Listen to the space that is created - that rest note in the musical of your life. 

The key is learning the art of living in the moment. What is good about your life right now? It may be something as simple as porch sitting with a fresh cup of coffee or finding time for a walk with a friend. Practice setting your focus and your attention on what you are doing right now - even how you are feeling right now. What could be one thing you can be fully present with today? What can you learn during this in-between time? By sitting with the process and learning how you cope with not knowing, the “delicious ambiguity,” as Gilda Radner calls it, you can recognize and name your own strengths (and sometimes your growing edges that still need some work). Practice small moments of mindfulness each day. Each moment will help you find the calm in the center of the busy traffic of your mind. 

You can also use this time to learn new skills - take that photography class, learn to code, practice your Spanish. Make a bucket list for your life right now - before the change comes your way. What have you always wanted to do in the place where you are right now? 

Practicing mindfulness and learning to savor each moment, accepting even the impatient “let’s just get on with it” feelings, can deepen our understanding of who we are and even help us figure out the answer to the what’s next question.  Thich Nhat Hanh says it best:

‘Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh

What would you take?

Every year at Christmas, as we are packing up the decorations, I pack two boxes and label them HURRICANE. I fill the boxes with ornaments we have collected in our travels, hand carved Santas, and nativities given to us by friends. The naked angel ornament from Bali goes in - along with the giraffe from Africa and the moose from Canada. I include those ornaments made by my daughters when they were young, like the popsicle stick reindeer with the missing eye and the construction paper snowflake with a school photo pasted in the center. All those treasures just can’t be replaced. So I pack them up, hoping each year that the boxes will remain tucked in storage until the next Christmas. But not this year. 

With Hurricane Matthew bearing down, we made the decision to evacuate. In truth, we had already planned to leave town for a wedding in upstate SC. But with a Category 4 hurricane barreling up the coast toward Charleston, it seemed especially prudent to leave. So we packed the hurricane boxes into the car - along with old photo albums, artwork given to us by our children and friends, handmade quilts and my daughter’s wedding dress (special request). All irreplaceable. We loaded it all up, checked on our neighbors and elderly friends, and drove away to safety. I'm all too aware that this was a privilege. We had the means and resources to get ourselves to safety. The people of Haiti never had that chance (but that’s another blog post!)

It was a still a lesson in values - like an old church youth group game. A hurricane is coming, your home could be destroyed, and all you can save is what will fit in your car. (This is assuming that all your people and pets will be safe!)  What would you take? I recognize that these are just things - inanimate objects that we are sentimentally attached to. But the things we fill our homes with become part of our story. They reflect our values and the things we hold dear. I couldn’t take my grandmother’s piano - but I could save our wedding photos and the quilts my great grandmother made.

When I look at the items I chose to take - I can identify some of the values I choose to live out in my life everyday. Family. Friends, Relationships. Connectedness. Creativity. Spirituality. Travel. It’s an interesting exercise to try. What would you take? What would you leave behind? What do those choices tell you about yourself? 


Postnote: For those who are wondering, we’re now back home in recovery mode. Our house escaped damage - other than the loss of some screening on the back porch and a downed tree in the backyard. We were so very lucky. Others in our region are still underwater, with breaches in dams and rising rivers creating on-going flooding. Houses and businesses are ruined. Some in the US didn’t survive and Haiti was devastated. All of that leaves me with a feeling of commitment to help those who have lost so much… and deep gratitude for all that I have. 

7 Essential Steps to Take Before You Begin a Job Search

7 Essential Steps to Take Before You Begin a Job Search

You’ve decided it’s time to find a new job. Whether you’re a new college graduate or just ready for a change, it’s tempting to slap a resume together and start hitting apply on every job position you see on Indeed. But there are a few essential steps you need to take before hitting that SUBMIT button. Completing these basic steps will make your job search go more smoothly and will greatly improve your chances of landing the job you’ve always wanted

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Welcome to Blue Sage Career Strategies!

Letter A on work desk

Hello and welcome to Blue Sage Career Strategies.  In this blog, I'll be writing about everything career related. You can look for some upcoming posts on finding a job that makes your heart sing, job search and interview tips, what to do when you're ready to "take this job and shove it," conversations about work and life and family, and resume help. When is it time to quit your job and move on to a new adventure? What is ASCII text and when is it essential to use in formatting your resume? All this, and so much more!

I began career counseling while doing private practice counseling over 20 years ago when I created a career workshop called Dreamcatchers. I'll be putting all those years of experience and garnered information together in one place here at Blue Sage Career Strategies. I've realized I'm at my best when I'm helping others find their passion and live it out. Yet, I'm a practical realist, so in this blog, I'll be combining ideas for finding your passion and living your dream job with some positive and practical ideas about living in the real world of work and life.

And just for new blog launch fun, I'll be offering a free giveaway each month through December 2016. In September, I'm giving away a free Myers Briggs Type Indicator Career Report - chock full of helpful personality insights and careers tips based on your own MBTI type ($125 value).  You'll take the MBTI online, I'll email your individualized report and then we'll follow up with a phone call to confirm and discuss your results.  You can sign up here for the giveaway. 

I work with clients in person or by phone so don't let location get in the way of talking with me about your next, best career step. Give me a call or send an email. I'll be glad to talk with you about what's next for you!