Monday, January 23, 2012

Establishing Your Personal Brand

Written By Monica Page

Branding, the buzzword that once described how to make the general public link “Coke” and “soda” has evolved to include a way to market and promote the person. Personal branding involves how to market yourself instead of a product or service. Since the most knowledgeable person about you is you, it is important to convey what you consider to be the best definition of “you.” Branding involves the way you present something to the world, so when it comes to yourself, you want to insure your best and most relevant qualities are put forward.

Find your niche

As with most things, it is easier to focus all your energies in one place versus spread across multiple areas. No matter how many interests you may have when it comes to creating a foothold in a certain area, it is best to initiate self-imposed “tunnel vision” on one specific area. The benefit of zoning in allows you to focus all your energy into entering a certain field and establishing your presence. Your niche needs to be more than just an area you like, but also one where you would like to work and establish your presence . Find the intersection between your personal likes and your career goals and hone in on that.

Construct your voice

Personal branding involves a lot more than just resumes and business cards; you also need to create a unique and personalized voice. Your “voice” is how you interact with others and present yourself to the outside world. It is important that when crafting your voice you make it unique and a reflection of who you are. If you put on airs in an attempt to fit in more with the status quo, people will ignore you. Convey who you are in your interactions while also fitting into the established order and culture. Stand out, but don’t make yourself an outcast.

Be consistent

It is important not to go around changing your opinion every three seconds depending on what choice is most prevalent in the news. Once your personal brand has been established to the point that people are listening to you and viewing you as knowledgeable in a certain area, you don’t want to become erratic. It isn’t rocket science; convey the opinions you have and only change when you see the personal, not professional need to. Along the same lines, you don’t want to publicize opinions that may cause you to become a beacon of unwanted controversy. Perhaps the best suggestion would be to establish your opinions, weigh those opinions on how appropriate they may be, and if they are appropriate, to convey them to the public in a way that is consistent and not wavering with the times.

Market yourself

Establishing all the facets of a personal brand is useless if you don’t work to present yourself to other people. To make your personal brand beneficial and not just a weekend graphic design experiment, you need to go out and present yourself to people. Whether its handing out resumes, going to networking events or even starting a blog and sending it to people in the specific career, you want to make sure all your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Create your personal brand and make sure you proactively use it to either increase your presence or establish it for the first time.

When looking at personal branding as a whole, you become the product. Every time a person tweets or makes a Facebook post about an actor, they are reacting to the person’s personal brand. No matter what career field you enter it is possible to establish your own personal brand, even if you will be marketing another. As the outward representation you are presenting to the world it is imperative that you consider your personal brand as an extension of yourself. Use it, but be aware of the image you are projecting. Just like a resume, it is okay to tweak and improve your personal brand to present the best representation.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don’t get LOST among the Bones (Scholarship Search Tips)

By: Priyanka Surio
Knowing when something is an old find. The first thing you need to discover is whether you are eligible for whatever scholarship or fellowship you are applying for. Some scholarships have expiration dates, are school year specific, or have certain stipulations, like being left handed. Make sure to read and re-read the fine print before delving into the dirt. Don’t assume every fellowship or scholarship award is yearly. Funding differs from year to year. Just because your older brother applied for it, doesn’t mean it will still be there waiting for you to find. You also have to start on your dig early and follow up with whatever contact is provided prior to starting or else you will find you’ve dug a hole with nothing but dust on the other end.

What’s fake and what’s real? To determine whether the artifact you are holding is real or a copy can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. They will all look enticing and legitimate but here are a few things to keep in mind: Most scholarships don’t make you pay a fee. The year, make, and model says it all. If this is a newer scholarship or fellowship opportunity, those are more likely to be a convincing copy. If you see a flyer or advertisement and visit the web-page and it doesn’t exist, then you may not want to pursue that option any further. If the phone number does not exist, then the scholarship probably doesn’t either. If they ask for too much information and are not a governmental organization don’t fall for their scams!

Be patient, it takes a while to uncover gold. Applying for any form of stipend takes time because essentially you are getting free money and have to prove that you are a treasure to keep. Here’s a list of common tools you will need to unearth that prize winning relic.
1. An updated and thoroughly reviewed resume.
2. If there is an application or essay required make sure you have several peers and advisers look at your final product. It is important to have peers look at your application to make sure it sounds like your “voice”. It is important to have advisers look at your application for professionalism and to refine any rough edges.
3. If recommendation letters are needed, ask potential recommenders if they are able to write you a strong letter of recommendation by the deadline. Usually allow 1-2 months for preparation of a letter. Do not ask a year in advance as your recommender is most likely to forget. Furthermore, you want to make sure that they know you in the most positive light so you can receive that five star rating.
4. Order transcripts or other forms of verification 1-2 months in advance.
5. Plan at least several months in advance for any large scholarship or fellowship that requires documents as part of the application.
6. Plan at least a month in advance for smaller scale scholarships and contests.

Be the first to know! Stay abreast of all the new sites and treasures out there by signing up for their respective email notifications and newsletters. For example, sends you emails based on new scholarships, internships, or fellowships that you qualify for, or that might be of interest to you once they become publicized and posted. They also send you reminders on any scholarships that have deadlines within two weeks. Talk about convenience, all from the comfort of your personal laptop. This way you can strategically plan which scholarships you wish to apply for from your seemingly endless choices.

Sometimes it’s right beneath your nose! Wouldn’t life be easier if there was someone there to tell us when and where we might find a great artifact? Look no more! Many universities have an Prestigious Awards Office on campus. Within these offices are advisers destined to help you on your search, application process, and more. Get plugged into your office or department on campus today to learn about all the scholarships you didn’t know you qualified for. These departments are also handy in making sure you have all the necessary tools before you begin your excavation. They will help you put together an application package, ensure you have any letters of recommendation, transcripts, etc. assembled before sending you on your way. And the best part is, you can use them over and over again and they won’t mind! UM's Prestigious Awards Office wants young anthropologists like you to succeed.

Snoop like a detective at a crime scene. The greatest treasures are found in the most obvious places, but as busy students we so often pass up all these opportunities. Where do you look? Anywhere on campus. Those flyers you see hanging up in breezeways, near classrooms, on your desk, they all contain a window of opportunity waiting for you to decipher from their messages. When was the last time you read the news? This morning, last week , last month? There are opportunities for scholarships and fellowships posted all the time in the news, it is part of that respective organization’s ad campaign and as subtle as it might seem you would be surprised how many people notice. For example, there was an essay contest on campus last week with flyers hanging by all the Dooley Memorial classrooms. I noticed the janitor taking them down and discarding them several yards away, as they do with all flyers that are posted around these areas, so I quickly took one to look at later. If I didn’t seize the moment I might have never gotten the shot at winning money for doing something I do often; write!

Here are some clues to aid you in your search:
The Woodson Williams Marshall Application
Woodrow Wilson and Pickering Graduate/Undergraduate Fellowships
Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship
E-learners is a great website for info on College Scholarships and Grants Education Connection - great web-page for scholarship searches based on education and interest
Fastweb - the ultimate scholarship portal
Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program
Fulbright Fellowship
Scholarship Points – drawings for scholarship money

Good luck and happy digging!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Making a New Year’s Resolution and Sticking to It

Written by Oleg Ignatenko

Every year we are presented with a chance to make a Resolution. For some, it may be to stop smoking, lose weight or start a family. Let’s take an educational approach here and set resolutions such as to get an internship for the summer, to raise the GPA to above 3.5 or depending on the Graduation date, to get hired by an employer in your field of study. But the question remains, “When to start the process of realizing and accomplishing this resolution?” The best answer is “Now!” The majority of people tend to wait before starting something new such as a project or some sort of commitment just because we are natural procrastinators. But that doesn’t have to be the way. Telling yourself that you will begin next week is just an excuse to push that responsibility off of yourself and delay it further. Instead, surprise yourself and begin today, now, at this very moment. If it is something that you have your mind set on and you know that eventually it is something that has to be done, then, there is no reason to wait any longer.

Depending on what type of a resolution you have set out to accomplish, most of all you will need to develop a plan, a sense of patience and the will to persevere. As quoted by Winston Churchill “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” By not having a plan, you are setting yourself up for disaster. Just as a football team trains and prepares themselves for a specific opponent or a business employee who readies to present a PowerPoint presentation to their company, both need to develop a plan, a strategy that will allow them to succeed in their trials. “Patience is the greatest of all virtues” – Cato the Elder (234 BC – 149 BC). Patience is something that a lot of people lack and need practice to control. Lack of patience might be the single greatest reason that many get frustrated and give up their ambitions and dreams. We all know that spending an entire day at the gym is not going to instantly make you lose 20 pounds. Realistically speaking, to accomplish something great and worthy of being proud of takes time and hard work. “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another” – Walter Elliot. Hard work and perseverance go hand in hand. The will to finish something, to not leave it incomplete, to refrain from giving up is what hard work and perseverance are all about. It is this type of mindset from which ordinary people achieve extraordinary results.

The best way to plan out your strategy for accomplishing your resolution is to make short term plans. When walking down a stairway, you don’t jump the entire thing; otherwise you’ll probably break a hip or a leg. Instead you take one step at a time. This is a similar scenario. Begin by making weekly goals and monthly goals. The weekly goals will allow you to make small but significant strides in your progress and the monthly goals will summarize what you had to accomplish in those past four weeks. The monthly goals will act as a check-up system, which will make sure that you remain on track and do not fall behind with completing your weekly goals.

Patience is also something that takes time to accomplish and needs to be practiced by steps. The biggest problem with Resolutions is that you don’t see the result for a while (depending on your resolution). What you do see is progress and it is very crucial that you remind yourself of your goal and how it will affect your life in a positive way after you will accomplish it. These self-encouragements will allow you to continue your hard work and eventually persevere.

The main thing to remember is that you have everything to gain and nothing to lose from this. By accomplishing your resolution, you will prove to people and most importantly yourself that you are capable of achieving any goals that you set out in front of yourself. You will know that you possess the qualities of planning, patience and the will to persevere. There is nothing more satisfying than accomplishing a goal that you have set out for yourself. You will feel a great sense of pride, achievement and dignity. At the end of the year you can look back at what you have achieved and rejoice. With this accomplishment you can now feel confident to set out other goals and know that you have the necessary qualities to accomplish anything.

“It is time for us to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever, the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it” – Vince Lombardi.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Figure Out What Type of Career Fits You Best

Written by Oleg Ignatenko

It all starts with a simple thought “I’m not sure what I want to do with my life”. When a person expresses this statement they should know that they are not alone. Just type those exact words into the Google search engine and it will generate about 526 million results. The earlier you think about this statement, the better, but that does not mean this thought only comes up in the mind of an individual that is 16-28 years old. This is truly one of the most complex questions because the solution lies within many aspects of every individual person. Their interests, passions, personality, goals and aspirations are just some of the factors that could help determine exactly what type of profession an individual could be interested in. The feeling of not knowing what to do for a living can be very confusing and stressful times, but there are many ways of overcoming this obstacle. First, begin by asking yourself a few general questions:
  1. What do I enjoy?
    (Many people get discouraged already by this stage as they begin to think “I like playing video games, ” “I like to travel” or “I like to pet animals. ” These are common activities that many people find enjoyable, but these are all important stepping stones that will factor into your decision about a possible future career.)
  2. What type of salary would I be satisfied with?
    (This is also a big factor because some people wouldn’t mind having a career that pays roughly 50K and would be completely satisfied, while others consider money as a greater importance and strive for a significantly larger income.)
  3. Where do I want to work?
    (Location is very important. While some people love to travel and work in a new environment, possibly in a different state or country, others prefer to be close to where they grew up or went to college so they can be closer to their families and loved ones.)

After looking over and reviewing these three questions, you should be able to narrow down your choices significantly. Now you are ready for the fun part. It is time to do a couple of career assessment tests. This is just another way of extensively narrowing your career choices down even further. These tests have been specifically designed to help identify a specific theme that you are related to based on your interest, skills, values and work activities. This theme will tell you more about yourself and give you a list of careers you may enjoy.
There are a variety of tests that are available online. Most notable are the assessment tests on the HireACane website. We are able to provide three different tests.

  • The first is the Self Directed Search (SDS) Assessment Booklet. It is very basic and is a do-it-yourself way of determining future possible occupations. This booklet is available at the Toppel Career Center to any student or alum who is interested.
  • The second is the TypeFocus Career Assessment Tool. It provides an extensive questionnaire that will provide you with a deeper insight through the assessment pertaining to your personality, values, and interests. This tool is available on your HireACane account. (After logging in, scroll down on the homepage to find it)
  • The third is the Strong Test. This is the most in-depth assessment test that is offered through Toppel. The Strong Test is organized through six sections that organize your results and gives you the best possible outlook on your future possible careers. This test costs ten dollars and is also offered at the Toppel Career Center.

After completing these tests, the next step is to set up an appointment with an advisor. This way you can talk about your results and options with someone who has experience with helping students choose the right path to success. This would also be a great opportunity for you to ask questions about certain areas and also a way to analyze those career choices to get a better understanding for what steps you will need to take to start the process of setting yourself up for success.

If you have taken all these steps utilizing this information, having analyzed your decisions, you should now be on your way towards a career with some sort of goal in perspective. Remember that if you get stuck, there is always help available at the Toppel Career Center and there is no need to panic if you’re having difficulty deciding what you want to do for a living. Give yourself time and follow your passions and you will surely find a career that will be satisfy you.

As you can see even the brightest people of our generation at one point had no idea what they wanted to do in their life and the only way to overcome this problem was continuing their pursuit to find happiness through trial and error and through failures and ultimately success.