College To Career Transition: How to Successfully Navigate The Job Market (Job Application)

Job Application

Firstly, let me thank all those who emailed me about the internship post. Like I previously said, it is necessary for every student to at least engage in one or more internships before graduating college.

Today, I will explore the relevance of your Job Application and how it can make or mar your chances of securing your dream job. Now, because of the volatility of the job market, it is necessary to start applying to several jobs during the summer prior to the start of one’s senior year. That gives you at least 12months in advance, before deciding either to further your education, take on an internship, or volunteer for causes or organizations. These you can do while you wait on an interview or job offer.

However, many students wait till right before graduation or even after graduation, to start to look for jobs. That puts you at a disadvantage and at the mercy of other applicants who applied months before you thought about it. Thus, it is necessary to plan ahead, work ahead and apply early enough.

As such, in order to successfully optimize your job search, it is mandatory that you have an extraordinary job application. Let’s put things into perspective to help you understand the challenges and hurdles you are facing as an applicant right out of College:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor, for Household Survey Data, ‘the number of unemployed persons is currently at about 13.7 million and the unemployment rate (8.9 percent) only changed little in February 2011.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men  is at 8.7 percent, adult women at 8.0 percent, teenagers 23.9 percent, whites at 8.0 percent, blacks 15.3 percent, Hispanics 11.6 percent, and Asians at 6.8 percent.

In essence, in order to successfully transition from College to Career, you must have the ‘killer’ job application, and here are the necessary pointers to be aware of:

Resume: There has been rising controversy about the use of video resumes versus the paper resume. For sure, the importance of having an effective resume cannot be overemphasized. In the recent past, it’s been known that most ‘experts’ advice that your resume be as concise as possible.

On the contrary, I say GO FOR THE KILL.

As a recruiter, I use video resumes to complement paper resumes. At other times, I value video resumes over paper ones because they show gut, initiative, and boldness from an applicant. These are all qualities that I might need for certain positions, and having a video resume saves me the hassle of not interviewing people who I otherwise might have called based on what’s just hiding behind text. (Read more here…)

Experience: Your experiences are the puzzle pieces which help determine how qualified you are for a certain position. They are the knowledge, practicality, know-how and skills you gain from previous jobs over a period of time.  Your experience helps a recruiter decide on how qualified you are for a certain position and the extent of your expertise on a certain field.

Hence, it is imperative that the Employment or Work Experience section of your application or resume be meticulously done. Each previous employment listing should include:

  • The name and location of former employer(s)
  • Your position/title
  • Duration of work period
  • Duties and achievements while at the job

Besides these, it is necessary that your Work Experience is … (Read more here)

Be Proactive:For you to achieve great success in the job market, you have to put in great work. Thus, here are things you should know and do in order to increase your chances of succeeding in the job market:

  • Scout out new and exciting positions. Do not restrict yourself to positions that you feel you are only qualified for. Look out for other openings that require skills and qualities you might have acquired from your past and apply to them as well (i.e. skills learned from a random class you took while in college, an internship, or self-taught skill). Many a time, people possess talents and skills that they do not know are invaluable assets to some organizations, and therefore do not include them on their resumes. Others only search for jobs they think are related to a college major or potential career without realizing that one could create another career from one’s talents and skills. So before you send out your next application or resume, think again about those pottery, mandarin, khmer, fishing, theater, blogging, social media etc skills you know you have, and use them when next you apply for a job.
  • Become an entrepreneur and offer services to businesses as a consultant: This is my favorite one because it could also serve as the beginning of the end for your job search. While searching for your ideal job, you can actually brand yourself as an entrepreneur. Find that one thing(s) that interest you and that you are very good at, and brand yourself as a specialist in that area. Print business cards and distribute them at events while networking as vigorously for a job. Ideally, this is the path I advise people to take because it might end up becoming a self-sufficient job, or growing into a small business if you market yourself right. I unfortunately don’t believe so much in fulltime jobs anymore. I think that most employees should have room to create and recreate something of worth that they could benefit from financially even while working at other jobs.  (Read more here)

Your Appeal: One way to successfully increase your chances of securing a job is to ensure that you appeal to your employer. Your appeal consists of your

  • Brand
  • Professionalism
  • Persona
  • Swag

Brand: Of all that comprise of your appeal, in my opinion, your brand is the most important. This is because it encompasses your social media identity, online presence, how you project your personality and how other people define you. Because many employers ‘Google’ or ‘Facebook’ most potential employees, it is necessary that you have a spotless or ‘elusive’ brand. I use elusive because what an employer does not know cannot harm you. So rename yourself, restrict access to all online personal pages, and ensure that you do not send or approve any friend requests from potential employers or referrers. and while the latter might be suspicious, suspicion is way better than proof of obscenity. Thus:

  1. Do not expose public pictures or inappropriate content on your social media sites. If you cannot control yourself identity efficiently, then please censor your profile. Restrict what people can and cannot see. However, ensure that your profile picture and information are appropriate for everyone.
  2. Google yourself once in a while to see what is out there about you. If possible contact authors of inappropriate content and request to be removed, untagged or censored. This will help you manage what other people see about you.
  3. Define yourself online by having relevant, engaging and if possible educational content. Writers and Bloggers who use their real names should ensure that their content is not inappropriate for potential employers to see. Otherwise, pre-warn your general audience that your content is for mature audiences only, prior to their indulgence

Professionalism: Do not have an inappropriate email address. That is a heavy No-No. As an employer, I do not want to email you at ‘seximama2nite@aol.com or flyguy4lyfe@rocketmail.com’. NO! I will let the shredder do that for me.  Ideally, use your first and last names to create your email address, or first initial and last name@gmail, hotmail, msn, aol or yahoo.com. (Read More Here)

If all the points above are correctly put together, you are one call away from your ideal job. So prepare well, work hard and never give up. The best is yet to come.

Share your comments and don’t forget to click on the links. They direct you to other relevant articles. Please indulge.

 

Sincerely,
Chike Ukaegbu
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College to Career Transition: How To Proactively Secure Your Dream Job

Be Proactive:For you to achieve great success in the job market, you have to put in great work. Thus, here are things you should know and do in order to increase your chances of succeeding in the job market:

a)      Scout out new and exciting positions. Do not restrict yourself to positions that you feel you are only qualified for. Look out for other openings that require skills and qualities you might have acquired from your past and apply to them as well (i.e. skills learned from a random class you took while in college, an internship, or self-taught skill). Many a time, people possess talents and skills that they do not know are invaluable assets to some organizations, and therefore do not include them on their resumes. Others only search for jobs they think are related to a college major or potential career without realizing that one could create another career from one’s talents and skills. So before you send out your next application or resume, think again about those pottery, mandarin, khmer, fishing, theater, blogging, social media etc skills you know you have, and use them when next you apply for a job.

b)      Research on different companies that you are interested in and create your own ideal position that will appeal to them, and then propose to do it without pay: The title says it all. This to me is a no-brainer. Find a company you are interested in, research and write-up a proposal for a position you believe they need and do not have, and suggest it to the right people. Indicate that you are willing to work without pay to prove the relevance of your created position. This often turns into a full-time position if one distinguishes one’s self.

c)      Volunteer and intern judiciously while you expect interview appointments: Volunteering and Internships (check out previous article), are very important to job searches, and could end up becoming the foot that gets you in a company’s door. At other times, if you do not secure a job at that particular organization, you may get a worthy referral or recommendation to another organization from your internship for a position you otherwise might not even be qualified for.

d)      Become an entrepreneur and offer services to businesses as a consultant: This is my favorite one because it could also serve as the beginning of the end for your job search. While searching for your ideal job, you can actually brand yourself as an entrepreneur. Find that one thing(s) that interest you and that you are very good at, and brand yourself as a specialist in that area. Print business cards and distribute them at events while networking as vigorously for a job. Ideally, this is the path I advise people to take because it might end up becoming a self-sufficient job, or growing into a small business if you market yourself right. I unfortunately don’t believe so much in fulltime jobs anymore. I think that most employees should have room to create and recreate something of worth that they could benefit from financially even while working at other jobs.

e)      Join Professional organizations and attend Career Fairs: Professional organizations like National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE), Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the likes usually host career fairs and networking events for their members. Join those that are related to your field of interest, as well as attend as many career fair events as possible. Fraternities and Sororities also help out their members a great deal; so look them up, or try to get referrals from other members who know highly connected people.

f)       Apply, Network and Apply: There should not be an end to your application process till you start that job that you seek. So never stop applying. You never know where the ideal employer will come across your resume. Use social media like LinkedIn, Facebook etc; friends; friends of friends; events; and past connections to network. When you do, always make sure you ask people if they know about any job openings in your desired field(s). Remember, closed mouths don’t get fed. You have to constantly ask people if their jobs are hiring, or if they knew people who knew any hiring recruiters, and follow up on made requests and promises.

I’m sure these will help you succeed in your search. So once again, share your questions, comments, additions etc with me on here. I’d love to read and respond to your comments.

Don’t forget to check out the other College to Career Series on here.

Sincerely,
Chike Ukaegbu
Posted in Chike Ukaegbu, College Transition, Entrepreneurship, Minority Affairs, Opinion, Personal, ReLIFE Inc, Uncategorized, Youth Developement, Youth Empowerment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

College to Career Transition: Using The Right Swag And Appeal Can Enhance Your Job Search

One way to successfully increase your chances of securing a job is to ensure that you appeal to your employer. Your appeal consists of your

  • Brand
  • Professionalism
  • Persona
  • Swag

Brand: Of all that comprise of your appeal, in my opinion, your brand is the most important. This is because it encompasses your social media identity, online presence, how you project your personality and how other people define you. Because many employers ‘Google’ or ‘Facebook’ most potential employees, it is necessary that you have a spotless or ‘elusive’ brand. I use elusive because what an employer does not know cannot harm you. So rename yourself, restrict access to all online personal pages, and ensure that you do not send or approve any friend requests from potential employers or referrers. and while the latter might be suspicious, suspicion is way better than proof of obscenity. Thus:

  1. Do not expose public pictures or inappropriate content on your social media sites. If you cannot control yourself identity efficiently, then please censor your profile. Restrict what people can and cannot see. However, ensure that your profile picture and information are appropriate for everyone.
  2. Google yourself once in a while to see what is out there about you. If possible contact authors of inappropriate content and request to be removed, untagged or censored. This will help you manage what other people see about you.
  3. Define yourself online by having relevant, engaging and if possible educational content. Writers and bloggers who use their real names should ensure that their content is not inappropriate for potential employers to see. Otherwise, pre-warn your general audience that your content is for mature audiences only, prior to their indulgence

Professionalism: Do not have an inappropriate email address. That is a heavy No-No. As an employer, I do not want to email you at ‘seximama2nite@aol.com or flyguy4lyfe@rocketmail.com’. NO! I will let the shredder do that for me.  Ideally, use your first and last names to create your email address, or first initial and last name@gmail, hotmail, msn, aol or yahoo.com.

Refrain from using curse words online or whenever you are in the company of potential employers or referrers. That will surely reduce or eliminate your chances of being recommended, considered or hired for a position.

Dress code has to be intact. Make sure photos of you are not compromising or defaming in any way. In the same way, ensure that you put out your best leg forward with your attire whenever you have to meet a potential employer or referrer.

Persona: Your persona is your perceived personality, your public face. Be optimistic and energetic even when you are in doubt. Since you never know what may seal your deal, ensure that your persona is a charming and appealing one.

Swagger: An intimidated demeanor will most likely keep you unemployed. Maintain a confident swagger at all times; the way you walk, talk, tone of voice, handshake etc. Your ‘swag’ always has to be on-point. This is how you put yourself together, your appearance and presentation. So understand yourself worth and let it emanate from you. Swag, like persona might also seal your deal.

In other words, you have to be almost perfect or act like you are almost perfect to secure that ideal job. Get on branding or re-branding yourself now. It might just have been the reason why those interview calls never came.

Also endeavor to check out other parts of the College to Career Series for more tips on successfully transitioning from college to your dream career.

Share your comments and thoughts.

 

Sincerely,
Chike Ukaegbu
Posted in Chike Ukaegbu, College Transition, Entrepreneurship, Minority Affairs, Opinion, Reflection, ReLIFE Inc, Uncategorized, Youth Developement, Youth Empowerment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

College to Career Transition: Paper Resume Vs Video Resume?

USE BOTH!

There has been rising controversy about the use of video resumes versus the paper resume. For sure, the importance of having an effective resume cannot be overemphasized. In the recent past, it’s been known that most ‘experts’ advice that your resume be as concise as possible.

On the contrary, I say GO FOR THE KILL.

You have to do ‘extraordinary’ things to get ‘out of the norm’ results. So please include all relevant experience you have when applying for a job. Just make sure it is appealing, readable, and transitions well.

While some people argue that encouraging too much detail in a resume might make a candidate seem over qualified, or result in the listing of irrelevant ‘stuff’ for certain jobs, I think that’s nonsense. With the recession still hovering around, (and companies being as capitalists as ever) I believe that employers will rather hire someone with a multifaceted experience than hire different people to do the same job. Don’t believe the 90’s hype!

Very recently, a newer form of introducing one’s self to employers is via the use of video resumes. Video resumes had previously been used frequently by artists and the likes to audition for roles etc, and while its use is  still not currently very popular, it is gradually gaining traction. In fact traditional recruiters and experts still advice against it because they believe paper resumes are more effective. However, I think they do distinguish an applicant very quickly.

In using a video resume, there are pitfalls one should be aware of. These are:

  • The tendency to veer off topic
  • Be over the top
  • Be too long
  • Be boring
  • Encourage employer discrimination

These are all qualities that your paper resume may not show (except for being too long and in some cases employer discrimination) until your interview.

So in attempting to use a video resume, I’d advise to send both paper and video resumes separately to increase your chances of being reviewed.  Also make sure that your resume is relevant, contains the key points on your resume, and is just long enough to entice but sell yourself to your potential employer.

If one decided to try the video resume, here are some tips to keep in mind;

  1. Be concise: Keep it as simple as possible. Ideally, your video resume should not exceed 35-45secs. Introduce yourself, highlight your tangible experiences relevant to what you are applying for, and differentiate yourself from other applicants. Very few pop ups or lists can help highlight what is not said like skills, contact information (should be at beginning and/or end), etc.
  2. Clarity: Do not beat around the bush. Use employer’s keywords to enhance your pitch and briefly explain why you should be the preferred candidate.
  3. Presentation: Your appearance and environment matters. Record over neutral backgrounds, and make sure there is nothing in the background that might pose a distraction. You want to be the focus at all times.
  4. Attitude, Mood and Body Language: Be pleasant but not a clown. Be professional but not rigid (too serious). Be mindful of not just your speech, but that of your body’s as well. People are attracted to positive energy, pleasing personalities and confident posture. Smile, be energetic and try to minimize the transitional ‘uhms’ and ‘wells’, as well as any exhibition of nervousness. Hence, practice, rehearse, and practice again before recording. Also try different takes and ask for different opinions.
  5. Be Company-Specific: Just like your cover letter, you do not want your employer to think that you are using a general video resume for several applications. Specifically address your audience, which means mention the company you are sending your resume to, so that your recruiters think the video was specially done for them. It makes a difference.

Thus, while some experts will campaign for the exclusive use of paper resume, I say use Both! There’s no harm in increasing your chances of being seen. You can also find out what a Company’s resume policies are ahead of time, otherwise, use both.

As a recruiter, I use video resumes to complement paper resumes. At other times, I value video resumes over paper ones because they show gut, initiative, and boldness from an applicant. These are all qualities that I might need for certain positions, and having a video resume saves me the hassle of not interviewing people who I otherwise might have called based on what’s just hiding behind text.

Leave me your comments about your take on the paper versus video resumes. I’d like to know what you think. Also check out the other parts of this College to Career Transition Series.

Sincerely,
Chike Ukaegbu
Posted in Chike Ukaegbu, College Transition, Entrepreneurship, Opinion, Personal, ReLIFE Inc, Uncategorized, Youth Developement, Youth Empowerment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

College to Career Transition: How to Successfully Navigate The Job Market (Internships)

This is the second part of my College-to-Career Transition Series, which sprang up from a presentation I gave at The City College of New York on February 24th, 2011. During the first part of the series, I explored the importance of having a College Experience that is relevant to one’s career goals besides an impressive academic background.

In this part of the Series, I would be delving into the value and significance having at least one internship experience before college graduation. Enjoy the Series and don’t forget to leave me your comments, additions or inquiries. I would be very glad to respond.

If you do decide to email me, please use:
chikeukaegbu@yahoo.com

Internships:

Internships are the most important part of your college experience relevant to your career.  I am a firm believer that every college student should participate in at least one or more internship experience before college graduation. In fact, if it were up to me, I would mandate that every student engage in an internship as part of their College graduation requirement. This is because it:

  • Exposes a student to the real world of professional interaction beyond College. Students get to network and build business relationships and references that they can take elsewhere with them
  • Helps a student decide if chosen career path is the right one.
  • Equips a student with tangible real work experience
  • Challenges a student to learn new skills and push known limits while undertaking daunting tasks.
  • It gets you in the door of an organization that you are interested in. Most Companies hire from their pool of interns because to them, they are vetted, already in the system, and have proven work ethic.

I currently run a Non-Profit Organization, Re:LIFE Inc. with my business partner and Co-founder, Kevaughn Isaacs because I interned and volunteered at several Non-Profit Organizations prior and post graduation.

Why Non-Profit, even though you have an engineering background?“, One may ask.

Well because as a Colin Powell Fellow on Leadership and Public Policy, I got the opportunity of a lifetime that influenced my career path. I loved engineering, but I wanted to serve people in some capacity, without knowing where and how.

As part of my Fellowship requirement, I had interned at NY AIDS Coalition (NYAC) during my sophomore year. NYAC’s mission is to secure, strengthen, and enhance New York’s community-based fight against AIDS and to promote the fair and compassionate treatment of New Yorkers living with HIV disease.

Through my Internship and Fellowship, I learned about health policies, lobbied at NYC City Hall for HIV/AIDS funding, attended World Leadership Forums, researched on different ways to influence the Democratization process in Developing Countries, and wrote policy related papers based on surveys and findings.

These were skills I did not have prior to my internship. The lobbying experience, as well as the World Leadership Forums changed me completely. I had been so disappointed in the politicians and their techniques of serving their constituents that I felt the need to do something. I realized that in order to live a more fulfilled life (one without resentment for the system), I needed to be active in the service of Human Development. I had to SERVE. I chose youth; ‘disconnected’ youth to be precise. (Disconnection in youth refers to youth who are out of school and out of work.)

After that, I took some political science classes to hone my policy building experience, and volunteered for several Non-Profits that catered to youth, including the NY Chapter of the Big Brother Big Sister program.

Those experiences culminated in Re:LIFE Inc. I co-founded Re:LIFE Inc. to cater to disconnected youth in Harlem and its surroundings. I still use several of those skills which I learned over the years through my internships, especially in studying disconnected youth.

Expectations: Your internship experience should:

  • Be Challenging but rewarding
  • Engage academic and practical experience within the organization
  • Involve critical and analytical thinking, research and reflection
  • Enhance professional communication skills within an Organization
  • Activate creative thinking skills in order to find and apply solutions to challenges
  • Explore both human and organizational behavior
  • Provide relevant expertise in diverse fields
  • Expose intern to projects that will enhance career experience for future job opportunities.

Interns are usually required to handle themselves in a professional and dignified manner at all times, consistently interacting with other employees respectfully and correctly. They will be expected to perform all tasks and assignments assigned to them efficiently and in a timely manner.  Creativity and one’s personal ideas/knowledge are highly encouraged and should be suggested when necessary.

Results: An internship program should ensure that your experience equips you with valuable and successful skills/expertise relevant to your career of interest.  Thus, success should be measured by:

  • Learning opportunities,
  • Constructive instruction,
  • Professional performance,
  • Responsibility
  • Creativity and flexibility of Intern and Supervisor
  • Contribution to the Organization’s growth.

Responsibilities and results should be evaluated on a weekly or biweekly basis to help both parties optimize the internship experience.

Collaborations: If an Organization or Departmental internship program involves other interns, it is necessary that group meetings are held. If they are not, request them. The meetings should be a place to:

  • Discuss any issues or accomplishments pertaining to the internship and the organization,
  • Share in each other’s successes and experiences,
  • And most importantly brainstorm and creatively express new methods in furthering the goals of the internship.

Moral of Story: Internships, internships, internships… An internship is paramount to the learning experience of a student because it provides a hands-on approach before graduation, and an opportunity to help shape future professions.  It is therefore important that your internship experience be one that provides you the opportunity to apply relevant knowledge to your work, but also learn something new.

Internships are usually the shortest route into an Organization. Your exceptional performance usually results in a job offer, which saves a student the hassles of job search if the organization is one that suits their needs.

Personal Story: Three months after I graduated college, I accepted a contract job offer in Quality engineering for 6 months. At the end of my contract, I turned down a permanent offer from the Company for the following reasons:

  • I did not have any time/room to pursue my passions and social causes.
  • I did not find any fulfillment in it, even though the job paid well
  • But most importantly, I disliked working extremely long hours for a cause or ideal that did not directly correlate with my passions

Thus, without my college internships and volunteering,

  • I probably would have taken the job offer that I did not like, and surely would have ended up frustrated at the job.
  • I found it difficult to enjoy my job because it was not fulfilling to me.
  • I most likely would not have had the guts or time to start Re:LIFE Inc without all the experience I gathered being in Organizations that catered to my interests.
  • Even though I liked the job, I did not like working too hard for someone else for a biweekly pay

Finally, with the hopes of integrating engineering into my passion for youth, I have cut out a most rewarding and gratifying career path for myself. Thanks to my internships.

You Can Do The Same Too.

Internship Resource: Most colleges have an Internship Search databases, provided by your College’s Career Center. (Talk to an Internship Coordinator on your campus or at a Career agency. Most schools have at least one). Also, I put together an Internship Resource Page for those interested in Internships. These resources are mainly from two websites which I think are beneficial to students looking for internships. Click HERE for the list.

Like said earlier, please do leave your comments and let me know if this blog post was beneficial and if you were able to secure an internship from the list.
Also check me out on other blog outlets:
Re:WORD Blog
Re:LIFE Inc’s Blog
Sincerely,
Chike Ukaegbu
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College to Career Transition: How to Successfully Navigate The Job Market Part 1

I recently was at the City College of New York to talk to students about how to successfully transition from College to Career. I thought that I had just given a simple presentation on what I thought they should already know about successfully securing a job offer beyond College. To my utmost surprise, the overwhelming response I received after my presentation indicated that I might have simplified a mystery code that many college students are either unaware of, have a fear of, or just have misguided perceptions about.

In outlining my easy steps to navigating the job market, I had told them that there are simply FOUR key points that they needed to be aware of to succeed out there. They include:

  • College Experience
  • Internships (During College or after graduation)
  • Job Application
  • Advanced/Specialized Degrees

Because I realized how long this article would be if I went into detail on each of the points, I decided to turn it into a series. I’d therefore explain each of my points as a part of this College-to-Career Series.

Highlight of my Presentation: Everyone in the room seemed so shocked when I told them that being unemployed or having a part-time job at this time is the greatest asset they may have, and that I did not really believe in full-time jobs anyway. Their confused faces asked and wondered ‘HOW’? I will explain this more extensively in my next series on Entrepreneurship, so that I do not derail from my topic.

These were the steps I gave them in order to successfully navigate the job market.

College Experience:

Your College experience must be an all rounded one. It is your best opportunity to explore different interests, establish gainful partnerships and sample different career paths. Thus, Maximize it.

Participate in more than academics, without forgetting that it remains priority. Dabble into new horizons. Take that fun class, join that weird club, volunteer for an absurd cause. ‘Just do it’, like Nike would say. This is because:

  • Most business partnerships are formed in College, and you do not know where you’d meet that one person who might change your life socially, academically, professionally, etc.
  • Your experiences also enrich your resume, showing you as a daring person who is willing to learn and try new things. To an employer, those translate into an employee who is not scared of taking on and completing new tasks, and one who is flexible to go beyond one’s comfort zone to acquire new skills.

As a College student, I did it ALL. I majored in biomedical engineering, served as a Colin Powell Fellow on Leadership and Public Policies; was a musical theater minor, liberal arts honors student, president of the 3 most active student clubs, involved in the Undergraduate Student Government, masterminded the origination of CCNY Idol and the likes, directed several African school plays and hosted the largest edu-tainment events on campus, among other things.

I loved it all and more.

All these, while I worked full time and was also a fulltime student involved in about 5 different research projects at different times during my College experience. Yes it could be done. I did it and there are several others who do even more. At the time, I did not realize how important these things would have been after I graduated. They opened several job opportunities and avenues for me; from policy building to Biotech/Pharmaceutical sales, to entry level biomedical/quality engineer, etc.

I chose to teach College Math instead, because apart from being conveniently close by and paid well, it was a part-time job which gave me room to pursue my other passions outside of work. That choice gave birth to Re:LIFE Inc, Black:Higher, Re:ACT Studios, and many more initiatives that I am currently involved with.

So in order for one to succeed in the job market, it is necessary that one take relevant classes and electives, actively participate in several other things, and engage in choices that will:

  • Increase communication and writing skills
  • Enhance understanding of human and organizational behavior, or other organizational interests (pick an organizational niche)
  • Acquire other unique skills like inter-major research methods, technology, theater etc; skills that will not only make you more marketable, but will also enhance your success directly or indirectly in the work place.

Your ability to articulate your experience or interest will make you more appealing to employers. This is because many employers constantly seek people who are not only confident about their experiences, but can effectively express themselves.

It is therefore very important to go through College with the intention to successfully transition to the workplace after graduation, with more than just an impressive academic background.

So enjoy your college experience, engaging in activities that in your opinion will enhance your marketability after graduation.

This is a part of a Series, which is continued under Internships, Advanced Degrees and Job Application. Please share your comments and feel free to add to the list.
Also check out other Blogs where I share my insights and opinions:
Re:WORD Blog
Re:LIFE Inc’s Blog
Sincerely,
Chike Ukaegbu
Posted in Black, Chike Ukaegbu, College Transition, Entrepreneurship, Minority Affairs, Opinion, Personal, ReLIFE Inc, Youth Developement, Youth Empowerment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Have Proof That Aliens and UFO’s EXIST.

I just read an article about a NASA Scientist, Dr. Richard B. Hoover finding evidence of Alien life. According to the article, “No other paper in the history of science has undergone such a thorough vetting, and never before in the history of science has the scientific community been given the opportunity to critically analyze an important research paper before it is published.” In other words, the paper went through a stringently scrutinized process like no other, just to prove to us that ‘Other Life’ (like I like to call them) exists.

Are there still people in 2011 who believe that we are the only ones on/in the Universe?

Nonsense! Aliens exist. They exist in what we call ‘Other Planets’. Planets don’t just have nothing in them. The fact that we have not found the right technology to find out who or what is in them, does not mean that they are uninhabited.

Our Ignorance of their existence is not proof of Absence!

Take this for instance, prior to 400 years ago, or before whenever the West discovered Africa, I’m sure people believed that no such place with such people existed, even though Life as we know it originated from my dearly beloved Africa.

Now I am not saying that I completely agree with the Alien Proof Article referenced above, which I think has a ‘Woooooooo, some Scientists craze well well‘ moment in there.

(*craze well well = Pidgin English meaning ‘must be extremely crazy’)

Requoting from the article, “[The Journal of Cosmology] isn’t a real science journal at all,” says PZ Meyers in Science Blogs, “but is the ginned-up website of a small group of crank academics obsessed with the idea of Hoyle and Wickramasinghe that life originated in outer space and simply rained down on Earth.”

‘Life originated in outer space and simply rained down on Earth’? Really? In my opinion, the thought of that is Complete MADNESS. UTTER RUBBISH!

For the record, I am a Biomedical Engineer and a STAUNCH believer in the Bible. I sometimes wonder where these crazies get these ideas from. Lord Have Mercy!

Back to my subject of ‘Other Life’; I believe in Aliens and UFO’s. Yes I said it! UFO’s exist. Ask me how I know? Because The Universe is not just too large for us to be the only living creatures in it, but we are also, almost insignificant compared to its mysterious size and composition.

I have always believed that we weren’t the only beings on the Universe. In fact, if you ask me, I think I have a very valid proof for this.

Look at the human body. It is made up of cells, tissues, organs, systems that make up the organism (in this case, MAN). Everything has its function in its world (or its planet) inside of the human body (universe); the liver, kidneys, brain, lungs, bones, etc. They work together, but also independently for the proper functioning of our bodies. Cells interact just like we do, send messages, procreate, protect and respond to threats and dangers, just like we do. To the cell, the tissue becomes its universe for which it might not comprehend its entire functionality because it functions within itself to effectively work. Same applies to the tissue with respect to the organs, and the organs with respect to the entire body. Each of these organs might know of each other because messages are constantly being transmitted across the entire body, but there is no proof (at least I do not know of any), which says that the eyes understand the work-abilities of the ureters and vice versa. So to the eye, there might not even be a ureter as far as it is concerned. Does that mean that the ureter does not exist? NO!

Cells are created (born), carry out their duties, and die when they are old. In the same way, We are born, we live and we die. LIFE GOES ON! In my opinion, our contribution to the entire universe is a mystery we are yet to resolve, and might never will.

Now relating this to the universe: I believe we are, or part of a cell, tissue, organ or system that make up the Universe, or maybe a superior being (GOD).  All of his actions, reactions, movements etc, affect us in one way or the other, and are called several things. Everything (planets and all that make up the universe, known and unknown) has its place, function, and composition, just like our cells, tissues and organs do. We do what we do, either to maintain a balance that enables the earth function properly for the upkeep of the Universe, or an imbalance for which the entire Universe will react to correct our malfunction; just like our bodies do.

In perspective, it is assumed that there are between 50 to 100 trillion (50 – 100,000,000,000,000) cells in the body. There might be more, or less. In like manner, it is speculated that there are about 200 billion galaxies in the universe, averaging about 150 billion stars each.

Lets assume that there are about 3 planets orbiting each star, if my math is still correct, (and I hope it is) that would roughly amount to 3 x 150 billion x 200 billion = 90,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (90 sextillion) planets. We’d only just be 1 in all that.

That is equivalent to 1.1 x 10–²³. This is about 1/10 the diameter of an electron, which is smaller than the proton, way smaller than the nucleus, and definitely nothing close to the size of a cell. Go figure!

So according to my math, if there are actually between 50 and 100 trillion cells in the body, which is the basic unit of life, and there really are 90 sextillion planets; that’s between 900 million to 1.8 billion times more planets on the universe than there are cells in the human body.

And people doubt that there is the presence of ‘Other Life’ on the Universe?

I don’t think God stopped creating after He created MAN. The Bible just said HE rested on the 7th day. What did HE do after the 7th day, 8th day, 9th day, etc? Also didn’t HE also create the angels anyway? So if Christians believe in angels, and principalities and powers, why not ‘Other Life’? They in themselves are Aliens, don’t you think? #justsaying

Then the next question becomes, ‘So where does JESUS come into this?’ My answer: Great is mystery of Godliness (1Tim 3:16).  I do not have that answer because I don’t have all answers. I’d let HIM do that explaining when HE returns. And part of this ‘Mystery of Godliness’ is what we are talking about today – The occupants of the Universe.

Thus, the presence of proof from a meteorite is not a shocking revelation to me, at least. Haven’t we all heard of stories and rumors of aliens actually visiting Earth? I believe that they have visited, do and still do visit. Some in fact might be here, either in captivity or among us.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, there is nothing we can do about that because We do not own the Universe.

So crazy or not, delusional or not, I believe that there’s more to our Universe than meets the eye or hits the ear, and actually more than man knows or may ever know.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT!

It’s Me again,
Chike Ukaegbu

Check out my other less opinionated outlets:
Re:WORD Blog
Re:LIFE Inc.’s Blog
My Sunday Funny Conspiracy: I think it rains when the Universe drinks; Earthquakes happen when It sneezes; Tsumanis happen when It coughs; The wind blows when It breathes. Love and Wars happen when We try to maintain Its population balance… (LOL. This conspiracy  was just for your comic relief.)
Posted in Chike Ukaegbu, Conspiracy, Opinion, Personal, Reflection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Are We a dying NATION?

Last week, while teaching my youth entrepreneurship class for Re:LIFE Inc., I asked my students what they would like to be in the future and where they see themselves in 5 years.

Majority of the responses, which all seemed the same were the ‘baseball players, NBA players, rappers and musicians etc. As sad as this may be, I have almost become insensitive to the shock I encountered the first time I heard such answers. I mean, what happened to being a doctor, lawyer, accountant and engineer, or even just having the desire to go to college, even when you did not know what those meant? What happened to the pride we carried as young ones, when we rambled on on how, because my uncle or my dad, or my favorite dad’s friend was a doctor, a teacher, an accountant, engineer, designer, architect, etc, we wanted to be just like them. What has happened to students giving credit to their teachers for helping mold their ideas of a career? Are we a dying Nation I ask?

This insensitivity that I now carry is the consequence of these ‘mediocre’ responses becoming the norm. Yup, I said it! Aspiring to be an illiterate or GED sportsman or entertainer, is in my view, MEDIOCRE.

Every youth class that I have taught, tutored or mentored (and by youth, I mean elementary age to 24) have always responded unanimously with the same answers of ‘athlete and entertainer’ wannabes. In some cases, there are some who arrogantly pride themselves in having no future plans, while the dying breed are those who struggle to understand the value of education as being relevant to their futures.

So in response to this utter foolishness, I have almost memorized my now ever-ready ‘You need an education’ recital as a way to hopefully inspire them to dream better. I even adopted a tradition of meeting with all the boys 10minutes before the end of class to have a brother-to-brother heart talk with them. Lord help us!

Forgive me, for I digressed from my main point today. So back to this class and their responses. After rambling on about the importance of education, especially for them as minorities, one student who did not speak yet blurted out, ‘Mister you know what my new year’s resolution was?’ After I shook my head, expecting his response, I heard what I never ever imagined my ears would entertain in this life.

‘I want to get shot and not die. Just like 50 Cent. That way, I would get all the girls, make all my ‘boys’ respect me and make sure many people fear me’.

I froze to death. And died again even while dead when most of his classmates agreed with him, detailing how and where they wanted to get shot at.

My heart wept, and all I struggled to do was reiterate to myself that these young teenage 10th graders had HOPE. A HOPE for survival because that statement reeked of nothing but DEATH. Emotional, Psychological, Social and ultimately physical DEATH.

Are we a dying NATION I ask again?

Now, this incident affected me the way it did because 3 days earlier, while helping 7th graders with their homework, I realized that one of the boys busied himself with drawing art not relevant to his school work. When I insisted on seeing what he was doing, I was shocked to realize that he had drawn a picture of himself shooting another classmate of his. 7th graders, really?

The question that has lingered on in my mind remains: Are we killing our children with too much TV, hip hop culture, unsupervised liberty and our indifference to realize that violence and gang related culture has sipped into the fabric of our communities? When did all this happen and who is to blame? Do we blame the artists on TV who perpetuate these foolishness, or do we blame our families for not being accountable for the well-being of our children.

Unfortunately, I do not care nor respect selfish entertainers in our midst, who are more concerned about their pockets than the well-being of our people. I find it difficult to regard the Jay-Zs, Diddy’s, Rick Ross’, Kanye Wests, Lil Waynes, etc, who have the power to influence our youth, but have not responsibly encouraged these youth about the benefits of educational success. I’m not saying that some of them have done nothing, but when your degrading music or art speaks louder than your message of hope; when your lousy empty music which classifies our women as bitches and symbolizes them as sex object, is constantly played on air, and I have to intensely search for your good deeds, something is wrong about the message you claim to preach.

By all means USE YOUR ART TO SAY SOMETHING WORTHWHILE; TO POSITIVELY IMPACT just as LOUD!

Where are the Lauryn Hills and her likes, who minister and give life to the souls of their listeners? Why aren’t we supporting these ones whose messages are more reflective, uplifting and inspiring, rather than the degrading and empty ones?

I hate to say that while many of us blame white suppression as the reason for our woes, we have become worse that those who we claim suppressed us. We have inherited that mantle of mind slavery, and are greatly inflicting our people with it.

When will we arise?

When will we wake up to realize that we are dying as a Nation, and where one disappears, another will rise?

We have come along way from our journey of existence, and should not die from our own callousness.

And while I borrow this paragraph from the book ‘Black Rage’ written 43 years ago by William H. Grier and Price M. Cobbs, let us ponder again and recognize that we are now our own emeny:

I will take it no longer.

We weep for the true victim, the black American. His wounds are deep. But along with their scars, black people have a secret. Their genius is that they have survived. In their adaptations they have developed a vigorous style of life. It has touched religion, music, and the broad canvas of creativity. The psyche of the black men has been distorted, but out of that deformity has risen a majesty. It began in the chants of the first work song. It continues in the timelessness of the blues. For white America to understand the life of the black man, it must recognize that so much time has passed and so little has changed.” – Black Rage

Unfortunately, its not just white America that must recognize that there’s been little progress, but we as a community must realize how debilitating our self-inflicting ‘change’ has become; How backward we are regressing, and how responsible we are for the DEATH of our NATION.

We must remember that according to Shakespeare, ‘Men are masters of their own fate. The fault lies not in the skies, but in our own hands’; because when we lose sight of that, and let our youth DIE, then We as a people crumble like a house without a foundation.

Yet the question remains: Are we a dying NATION?

You can also find me on other outlets:
Re:WORD BLOG
Re:LIFE’s Blog
Sincerely,
CHIKE UKAEGBU
Posted in Chike Ukaegbu, Minority Affairs, Personal, Reflection, ReLIFE Inc, Uncategorized, Youth Developement, Youth Empowerment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

College To Career Transition: How to Successfully Navigate The Job Market (Advanced Degrees)

Advanced Degrees

I am almost 50-50 on this one. Not because I don’t think it’s important, but because sometimes the cost and time of acquiring it becomes an elephant debt in the room. For instance, I had recently called a close friend of mine who had just completed a 1 yr Masters in Engineering program at Cornell University, that I was interested in. After inquiring about the program, the deciding factor of whether or not to apply became the cost. $60,000 is not what I’m looking to spend for a one year program without scholarships. And even though people will argue that its worth every dime, I am one of those who hate being in debt, and thus don’t see myself starting off a career $60,000 in the RED. Nope. Not me.  Honestly I wonder how people could spend between $200,000 and $800,000 on education, then spend the rest of their lives paying back. Nope. Not me again.

Anyways back to advanced degrees as being important to a smoother transition from College to Career. I have explored several reasons below, why many people decide to further their education beyond the Bachelor’s level:

1. Marketability: There is always that underlying mindset that advanced degrees translate into higher income. This is because the number one reason why we pick careers or why our parents help us pick one is for financial stability and security. In fact, according to a survey carried out by George Washington University’s Center on Education and Workforce, “the gross lifetime earnings for someone with a professional degree is almost $4.7 million, compared to about $3.4 million for someone who has a bachelor’s”.  As such it is only appropriate for us to think that higher educational levels translate into higher income.

This is not always the case. While you might gain a more in-depth understanding of your area of interest or degree, obtaining a higher level of education sometimes does not translate into higher wages. However, in most cases, having an advanced degree will make you more appealing to an employer because it shows a higher level of initiative and indicates that you have a more in-depth knowledge in your field of interest. So go for it if you have the means.

2. Alternative to Unemployment: as the saying goes, ‘no knowledge is wasted’. So advancing your educational goals definitely contributes towards your successful college to career transition. This is because, advanced degrees equip you with more theoretical knowledge/expertise, and sometimes even practical skills when you take classes that require field work. Graduate classes might also open avenues for teaching assistant positions, which might present you with not only a part-time job, but teaching and class management skills that you might not have had. All these enhance the quality of your resume during job search.

3. Career Change: Advancing one’s degree could also provide an avenue for career change. For instance, psychology students might go on to law school or medical school, thereby switching careers while using their Bachelor’s degree as a foundational major to enhance their new careers. This would definitely be more beneficial financially than searching endlessly for entry-level jobs in psychology.

4. Management: Many other people advance their careers to secure management positions that a bachelor’s degree would not have provided. For instance, a recruiter with a job opening that involved supervising a group of people will love a candidate with a management background. Thus, an employer is more likely to employ a candidate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, some work experience and an advanced degree in management, than one with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and same amount of experience.

5. Credibility: Like it or not, employers take into account the name/quality of school one graduates from. As such, people with no name or lower caliber schools tend to further their education at highly selective schools in order to increase their chances of being more competitive in the job market. For instance, a master’s degree from Columbia University will strike more favorably than one from an unknown school. It is therefore important to ensure that your advanced degree is from a reputable school, if you intend to make your college to career transition less tedious.

6. Relevance: With the rate at which students are increasingly advancing their educational level beyond the Bachelor’s degree, it is very possible that sooner than later, the Bachelor’s degree would become the equivalent to the GED/High School Diploma of today. Thus, people are acquiring advanced degrees to remain relevant in the job place and market. That being said, you make yourself more competitive and relevant to an employer if the employer decides to factor in advanced degrees as a criteria for employment consideration. An employer could use advanced degrees as a threshold for elimination, if there are too many qualified applicants for a position.

7. Knowledge: An advanced degree equips you with more in-depth knowledge in a particular field than a Bachelor’s degree can. It could also broaden your areas of specialization by providing you with newer areas of focus that might come in handy during job search.

For instance, after my undergrad in biomedical engineering, I was torn between a Master’s degree in the same field, or going to Law school for a dual degree in Intellectual Property Law and MBA in Entrepreneurship and Management. I chose the latter. However, I put my plan on hold mainly because of the cost of financing, setting up Re:LIFE Inc., and other current interests.

My Point: Many people, (including my very educated parents) could not initially see the correlation between engineering and law. I saw far beyond that. I was going to be a lawyer who understood IP Law, an entrepreneur and manager who could own and manage my own biotech firm, and an engineer who could design hi-tech biomedical devices. These would have exponentially increased my marketability; opened management doors, legal research doors in law firms, or all of the above and more in biotech companies; as opposed to looking for an entry-level job right after my Bachelor’s, or settling for a one-track Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering, and looking for jobs after graduation.

That being said, advanced degrees do increase one’s chances of securing employment, and in some cases, higher pay. But when deciding to pursue one, make sure that you consider the school of choice, cost and time needed to obtain it.

 

Let me know what you think. This is the last part of the College To Career Series. Check them out on here. I’d love to receive your questions, comments, inquiries and all. So please do leave them.

 

Sincerely,
Chike Ukaegbu
Posted in Chike Ukaegbu, College Transition, Entrepreneurship, Opinion, Personal, Reflection, ReLIFE Inc, Uncategorized, Youth Developement, Youth Empowerment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

College To Career Transition: The Relevance of Past Work Experience to Your Job Search

Experience: Your experiences are the puzzle pieces which help determine how qualified you are for a certain position. They are the knowledge, practicality, know-how and skills you gain from previous jobs over a period of time.  Your experience helps a recruiter decide on how qualified you are for a certain position and the extent of your expertise on a certain field.

As such, the acquisition of hand-on experience, irrespective of the length or type (check out my internship post here) is being encouraged more seriously in colleges to help enhance students’ marketability. On the other hand, students have realized the importance of having some sort of experience, either via internships, part-time jobs, federal work-study, co-ops or even volunteering.  This is because the benefits of having some work experience coupled with excellent academic grades, gravely outweigh one’s chances of securing a job without any prior experience. Other benefits include earning income, college credit (internships), learning new skills, enhancing career opportunities through references and company reputation etc.

Hence, it is imperative that the Employment or Work Experience section of your application or resume be meticulously done. Each previous employment listing should include:

  • The name and location of former employer(s)
  • Your position/title
  • Duration of work period
  • Duties and achievements while at the job

Besides these, it is necessary that your Work Experience is:

  • Arranged chronologically, in descending order
  • Relevant to the position being sought
  • Credible and not from made-up or no-name companies
  • Detailed but concise
  • Genuine

Many employers are also interested in how you would translate your prior learning experiences into their open position, and how you intend on accomplishing results. Thus, stating that you were ‘very hardworking’ under Job Duties, does not say anything, and will not get you anywhere. Instead state what you did, how you did it, and the outcome of what you did. RESULTS are key.

Check these other College to Career Transition articles as well, and don’t forget to share comments.

Sincerely,
Chike Ukaegbu
Posted in Chike Ukaegbu, College Transition, Entrepreneurship, Minority Affairs, Opinion, Personal, ReLIFE Inc, Uncategorized, Youth Developement, Youth Empowerment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment