For College Students: You and Your Future - Lawrence J. Danks
Maximize and use your strengths
Don't spend much time on your weaknesses
Seek and prepare for opportunities
Be vilgilant for threats thay could sink your boat
Stay in school. Getting your education is the chance to make a real difference in your life. Make the most of it. It might be the best chance you ever get. It might also be your last.
I’ve been a full time college professor for over 35 years - at Camden County College, and what are now Stockton University and Atlantic Cape Community College, as well as several other institutions as an adjunct instructor. I’ve seen many students come and go. Some go on to success, while others drop out without getting the education or training they needed. The thoughts contained here are useful to any major and to any student seeking employment.
While some of what appears below relates to jobs and careers, this is not a job hunting guide, per se. There are many of them readily available. It’s more one of telling you important things you should be doing, and things that you shouldn’t be doing, all targeted toward helping you develop a productive mindset for success. "Everyone had a chance before they lost." Camden County College can be your chance to get the education and/or training that will make a real difference in your life or in the life of a family member or a friend.
My cousin Dan worked about thirteen years on a loading dock. He realized that he wasn't going to go anyplace without a degree. So he started taking college courses. Soon after, he went full time and got his certification as a teacher. He taught in a challenging high school district, later moving to a dream school district where he's now a middle school teacher. He said he tells all his students that the way ahead, and up, is through education. That applies to you too. So don’t fall short of what you’re going to need to succeed.
Dan’s mother, and my Godmother, my Aunt Teresa, always told him:
“They can take your house away, they can take your car away, and they can take your job away, but no one can take your education away."
That's why you need to get as much education as you can - a Bachelor's Degree at a minimum. If not that, then training in an area in demand.
It's often been said that those who don’t plan for their future won't have one – at least not the type they hoped for. The best way to have a good future is to do what needs to be done to be successful. You have to take action, not just sit there and become a victim of circumstances. This is not the time to put things off or to do less than you're capable of. Your future starts now. What you do today in getting your education, or don't do, will create your tomorrows.
It's all about choice. Do you want to have any or not? The Huffington Post cited eight elements to finding happiness. One of them was having a "sense of control" over your life, where you feel that your choices are "self-chosen and self-endorsed". In other words, you're not spending your life being stuck doing what you don't want to do.
If you want to have these kinds of choices in your life, the more education and/or relevant training you have, the more choices you’re going to get. And the sooner you get it, the faster you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits, instead of having to struggle through life financially. If you want something better for your life, now is the time to do something about it.
Leaving school before you should can set you on the path for low paying dead end jobs without benefits and few prospects. If there was ever a time to make the smart choice, it's now. If not now, when?
Success is not what others say it is, it's what you say it is. Ask yourself what's important to you and design a plan to achieve your goals. Plan your work, then work your plan. This type of planning is no different than what organizations do. In either case, it involves application to accomplish worthwhile goals.
Managing yourself is what I call "Personal Management". You need to be able to develop your own goals and to do what’s necessary to achieve them. It’s difficult to be a good manager of others in any field if you can't properly manage yourself. Even if you are not a business major, you may well spend much of your time managing the efforts of others as a hospital administrator, college dean, clergyman, attorney, physician, drug store manager, restaurant manager, contractor, or in many other occupations.
It’s beneficial for any major to take at least one course in “Principles of Management” which can help give you a leg up in your organizational and personal life. What fields require management? Virtually every field requires management of organizational resources, especially people. So no matter what your major is, a Principles of Management course is an important one to take, either as a lecture course or online.
Showing some background in Management, especially for Liberal Arts and Science students, provides good preparation for almost any field. Add a basic background in Principles of Accounting, Economics, Legal Environment/Business LawI, and Human Resources Management. All of these are offered at the College both as lecture and online courses. Academic programs are frequently crowded with required courses, but keep these courses in mind and choose your electives wisely to improve your marketability to employers. Management is obviously also beneficial for anyone operating her/his own business or who is involved in a family business.
The famous author Henry David Thoreau said that his goal in life was "to make his avocation, his vocation" - to use what interested him most to guide the usage of his time. The late sports artist LeRoy Neiman offered similar advice when he said, "I love what I do. It's a wonderful feeling." Use these thoughts as a guide to finding success and happiness in your own life.
Elemental Steps To Success
The Need For Good Sense
Gracian, a sage of the Middle Ages, said "Where good sense is lacking, there is no room for advice and direction." Some students cause their own problems by not having good sense:
•leaving school instead of pursuing their education or meaningful training
•mistaking “making money” as a substitute for proper education or training. Is there any college student working a part-time job now who wants to be doing the same thing for the rest of their lives, making part-time money? The way up and out is through education or meaningful training. Don’t push the time for your success out into the distance. Do something about it now.
•wasting hours of time texting and goofing off
•having unplanned pregnancies without consideration of their future impact
•drug or alcohol abuse
•taking on inordinate amounts of college debt by attending expensive schools, when it doesn't make practical sense to do so
•selecting majors that offer little promise of being able to get out from under the debt
How can these types of derailing problems be avoided? By having the good sense to speak with others about such matters and to seriously consider what you've been told. Life is not easy. It can be made infinitely more difficult by not developing the good sense to just stop and ask yourself:
•"Is this a wise course of action for me to pursue?"
•"Will this make me stronger or weaker?"
•"Will this help me achieve my goals or will it set me back - perhaps permanently?"
Education is one of the most important keys to success. At a minimum, work to obtain your four year bachelor's degree, and obtain higher education beyond that if it's beneficial to you, in whatever career you choose. Now that you have begun your college education, don't stop until you obtain your four year degree or obtain training in a field that is in demand.
Semester after semester, we see an alarming number of students leave college and stop their education, sometimes for good, thinking that it's no big deal. Leaving college can be one of the greatest career and financial mistakes someone will ever make in life. It can be the beginning of a life sentence to poverty and underutilization of the fine skills you could have developed to give yourself, and your family a more fulfilling life.
This can also be done in private schools too, but the cost of private schools is usually much higher than attending a community college for the same things, so be certain to make financial comparisons. It can take decades to pay back an onerous student loan. Take as many courses as you can at community colleges. It is one of the best ways to reduce your college expenses and student loan debt.
Your Grade Point Average
Telling a job interviewer that "I liked college and learned a lot", doesn't mean much if you don't have a decent GPA to back it up. Two of the most important factors to prospective employers are your GPA and having related work experience. Students often think that "getting a “C” is ok. But if you had to make a hiring decision, would you hire "C" or "D" students, instead of ones with "A's" and" B's"? At a minimum, you should be aiming for a 3.0 average, "B" or higher - and the higher the better. Distinguish yourself from the crowd. They’re the people who get hired first.
Application To Purpose
It's not a matter of just doing what you feel like doing, it's a matter of doing what needs to be done. If you are already a good student, keep up your good work. Your focus, self-discipline and achievement will pay off in the end. If you haven't been a good student, how long are you going to wait until you start turning things around and become the person you're capable of becoming?
I've taught over fifteen thousand college students since 1973, plus over five thousand real estate students in my former state approved real estate school in New Jersey. I have seen only a small handful of students "who couldn't". Unfortunately, I've seen many who "just wouldn't" due to laziness, lack of goals, lack of focus, immaturity and just general screwing off. It takes courage and application to purpose to become successful. The late actor John Wayne said that "courage is being afraid, but doing it anyway". Successful people are ones who do what needs to be done, not those who waste time and just drag themselves through purposeless lives.
Don't let it be said of you, what Benjamin Franklin said of the lazy and the unmotivated in his famous work The Way To Wealth:
"Inglorious, there he lies."
Read this excellent small book by the highly accomplished Franklin. It contains many words of wisdom.
If you want results, you need to set goals and to get moving toward them. Taking the first step is critical. Like a kickoff or punt returner, what you see in front of you at any moment will let you know when you need to change direction, or pivot, to get where you want to go. As Peter Sims says in his book, Little Bets, try different things. Each result you get will tell you where to go next. Berthold Brecht said it perfectly:
"The shortest distance between two points can be a crooked line."
But nothing happens as long as you sit still and don't take that important first step. As former NBC Today Show host Jane Pauley says in her book, Your Life Calling, "Find your passion and do it because you're going to be good at it. Develop a little marketing plan for yourself. You just go out and create the opportunity you want...Everybody has a gift; everybody comes to this planet with something to give.” Believe that. You do too! But you have to get started trying to find out what that is. Don't just sit and wait for lightning to strike.
At colleges and universities throughout the country, many students just come and go without building for their future. A semester or two and they're gone. But after they go out and work for a few years and see that they aren't going to really get anywhere without proper education, training, and skills, some come back to school when they're in their late twenties.
Do you need to set yourself behind by five or ten years? And in that time make near to minimum wage, struggling at lower end and dead end jobs, or working in a job that may have a present, but has no long term future? Anyone who does that costs themselves tens of thousands of dollars. Making $20,000 a year for ten years instead of $45,000, would cost you a quarter of a million dollars, to say nothing about starting at the bottom of the career ladder ten years later.
Of course, some students drop out and never learn and don't come back at all, or can't come back because of job, financial or family obligations. What I'm telling you is that for you, the time is now. There might not be a later.
College Selection and Return On Investment
Determine the college that has the best program in the field of study you are interested in. School reputation counts when you are job hunting, so try to get into schools that are well regarded. If you're a good student, do not automatically pass on expensive institutions, because many of them have better financial aid packages. What you want to focus on is not how much a school costs, but how much you will owe after graduation, and if the income you will be earning will be enough to enable you to pay back the loans in a reasonable period of time, without great financial difficulty.
Note that the average debt is often not always the highest at the highest priced schools. Philadelphia Magazine featured a chart showing that the average student debt was under $20,000 at a number of highly rated schools in the area, but $35,000 at four mid-level institutions. Naturally, you should select a school that is best for your academic and career interests, but it takes a long time to pay off student debt, so don't take on any more than necessary.
There should also be a logical payoff for attending a college with higher costs. Generally, it is not a wise financial move to attend an expensive school if the starting salary is just going to be average, or below average, after you graduate.
School loan debt can really be crushing, and you can have it hang around your neck like a millstone for a long time into the future, so give it some real thought before you commit yourself to any institution whose return on investment isn't high. "College ROI: What We Found" from “Bloomberg Business Week” indicated that engineering schools and Ivy League schools did well in return on investment, despite their higher overall costs. To gain better insight into these issues and to get help obtaining financial aid, visit your community college's financial aid office.
A good rule of thumb regarding college debt was given by CNN financial expert Christine Romans: “Don't have any more in total college debt than what your starting salary is for your first year.”A great deal of money can be saved by attending Camden County College in the first two years and commuting to a four year school afterward.
Remember that your four year degree will have the same name on, whether you attended there for two years or for four years. It’s most important to put yourself into a situation where you believe you will learn the most and be best prepared for your career. It's your future. It's important to prepare for it as well as you can – and to have the smallest debt possible when you finish. J
What Is The Best School For You?
Even though students might qualify to attend a top ranked school, it's far more important to select one where they can learn the most and excel. Malcolm Gladwell, in his best seller, The Outliers, provides an excellent example of an outstanding student from Maryland who was accepted at prestigious Brown University and also at the University of Maryland. She chose Brown as a math major, but found that as bright as she was in her high school, she had a colossal struggle keeping up with a number of world class students at Brown. Not all "A" students are equal. She had to drop out. The bottom line was that, by her own admission, she would have done far better had she selected an institution more attuned to her level of accomplishment.
Finding Your Place in Life
You are capable of being great at something - in your own eyes. Your goal should be to find out what that is. Some of you already have fine goals. If you do, just keep moving toward achieving them. Realize that life is not always a straight run down the field. You might have to zig and zag a bit, following the "crooked line" to success, but every step you take will get you closer to where you are going faster. That's far better than just sitting still, not moving forward, and getting nowhere.
Develop a goal and work toward it. That will lead you to the next step. For example, a student might start off in a nursing program and later realize that that isn't for her/him, but it may lead to another career in health care.
One of the most important truisms I've learned in my years of teaching is that a good student is a focused student, so set a goal and work toward it.
But how do you find a goal if you don't have one yet? There is no shame in not knowing what you want to do with yourself. The shame is in not knowing and doing nothing about it. So what should you do?
1. Take An Interest Test
After the Advisement Center gets over some of the early semester traffic they experience, make an appointment to see a counselor and ask if you can take an interest test. The counselor will review your results with you to see what career areas it suggests. Some results will confirm what you already may have been thinking. Other times, new areas might be suggested.
I've heard students say sometimes that "I talked to a counselor and they weren't any help." What should you do? Just roll over and play dead? No, try another counselor, until you find one who is right for you. The problem isn't potentially just with the counselor either. It can be with students, hearing things they don't want to hear or not taking proper action on the good advice they've received, so go in with an open mind, ready to get started to make a difference in your life.
2. Take A Variety of Courses
Taking different courses will help you discover where your interests lie. You should develop a strong liberal arts background, as well as taking career specific courses. It is very important to develop writing, speaking and computer skills. Camden County College offers courses in all of these areas. You should take them as early as possible, so you’ll have the tools you need at your disposal as soon as possible. You will need them to excel in any worthwhile field.
We live in a global society today. Read The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman. It will open your eyes to how much more the whole world is connected. It’s the world you’re going to be living and working in for probably the next forty to fifty years, so you need to know as much about it as you can.
Take courses that will increase your global awareness such as: world literature, world history, geography, languages, comparative religions, art appreciation, music, economics and similar courses. You want to work toward becoming a well-rounded and cultured person, so you will be able to hold up your end in interactions with educated people in other countries. It will help distinguish you from the other job candidates you'll be competing with.
It's also important to recognize that education isn't just about getting a job and making money. It's about learning things that will help you better appreciate your everyday life and enable you to bring more to the lives of others. That includes being able to be a good role model for your children or younger relatives. Models are set when you get your degree or certification, not when you drop out. If no one in your family has ever graduated from college, you do it! Be the beacon, and a mentor, for other family members who will follow. Make a difference not only in your own life, but in the lives of others in your family for generations to come.
Learning to speak another language, not just "taking a language", is one of the best things you can do to increase your competitiveness in the job market. I would highly recommend languages such as Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic or Russian. These languages are important to anyone planning to have a strong future in business, government, the military, or any organization with a global orientation.
Spanish is becoming increasingly important to employers in this country. The Hispanic population in the US continues to grow. Spanish speakers will continue to be in demand.
It is true that English has become the second language in many countries. That should not deter you from learning another language. Job candidates will markedly improve their prospects if they speak the native language of their employing company.
There is also a unique bond created when you speak to someone in his/her own language. Whenever you can do it, I would. I was advising a student many years ago and asked him if he worked. He said he sold restaurant equipment. I thought that that was an unusual part- time job for a traditional college student, so I asked him how he got into it. He said, “I speak Greek.” Many diner and restaurant owners are Greek. It gave him a perfect entrée and a strong ethnic connection that helped build trust that few sales representatives could match.
3. Learn Through Work Experience
In addition to having a strong grade point average, employers always value relevant work experience. Try to work only in jobs that will help you learn more about a field you have an interest in, particularly those that can lead to a full time position in a particular company or organization. One part time job, summer job, or internship is not as good as another. You only have so many opportunities like this, so you need to make the most of them.
Working at a custard stand, a gas station or bartending might provide income, but it often does little to help your future. On the other hand, working in organizations such as: Fed Ex, UPS, Nordstrom's, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Johnson and Johnson, Wegman's, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Target, in health systems, desirable school districts, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, accounting firms, law firms, computer companies, growing small businesses, and many others can provide experience and help you build a coterie of people who will speak on your behalf when you apply for a full time position. These are also the types of employers you should be seeking internships and cooperative work experience with. The idea is to put yourself in the way of a job, not just hope that your resume will be plucked from the pile. Chances are extremely high that it won't be.
4. Select Your Field Carefully
Examine the future prospects of any industry you're thinking about joining. I would step very carefully before aiming for sports management, low tech manufacturing, communications, and the like. While these are fine industries in themselves, you should avoid any organizations where:
- the field has had a lot of downsizing
- the industry has had many mergers
- applicants far exceed the number of available openings
If you are aiming toward such fields, you better be among the best and should also be certain to have a “Plan B", that is, a fallback plan if your initial one doesn’t work out.
Particularly avoid industries where the work can be digitized and outsourced because it can be done more cheaply in other countries. This can apply even in lucrative fields such as in certain areas of health care, engineering, programming and accounting. Speak to your professors or working professionals in relevant subject areas to determine which way you should move in a field and what you should avoid.
5. Develop Mentors
A mentor is an advisor. Some people can serve you well as general mentors in many areas, such as your parents, relatives and experienced friends. Others can advise you in specific areas. Physicians, nurses and other health care professionals can provide guidance in health care areas. Attorneys and public officials can advise you in matters of law and government. Teachers, educational administrators and counselors can advise you about teaching opportunities. Remember though that you have to ask the questions to get helpful information. The same applies for getting financial aid. Don't expect those who can help you, to seek you out. College is not high school. You have to take responsibility for yourself and do the asking.
6. Get Your Bachelor's Degree
In 1940, 4.6% of people over the age of 25 held bachelor's degrees. In 2010, 28.2% did. In New Jersey, the figure is 35.4% - more than one in three. How competitive do you think you will be in the job market, now and in the future, without a minimum of a bachelor's degree? In many fields, a master's degree is necessary to obtain better jobs and to advance. If you aren't going to do this, at least make certain that you have training in a field that is in demand.
Ten Steps To Success
You can find success in your personal and professional life. Let these steps help you:
1. Follow Your Curiosity and Your Intuition
When Steve Jobs attended Reed College he says it wasn't all romantic, "I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms. I returned Coke bottles for the five cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on." It certainly worked out well for him. Actors sometimes relate how they just dropped in on an acting or theater class, or took one as an elective, got hooked and found their life's calling in the process.
Jobs said that you have to trust that the dots you're following will somehow connect in the future: "You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." So follow your instincts. You'll know when to keep going on the same path, to make a pivot to adjust your course, or just decide that it's time to move in another direction.
Sometimes what keeps someone from success is that they have chosen the wrong thing to focus their attention on. When they make a change to something more suitable for them, success comes. So there is no shame in knowing when to pack it in and to try something else. It could make all the difference. If you are on the fence about something, get advice.
2. You May Have To Take Some Risk
Finding success often means moving outside your comfort zone. It doesn't mean that you have to be imprudent to do it. If someone has a reliable job with decent pay and benefits, they should think twice about dumping it. It's far more sensible to test the waters first on a part time basis.
Another caution to keep in mind is that if there is a couple involved, it's often better for one party to take the risk and for the other to keep a floor under them. If both take a risk, and get fully involved in starting a new business, for example, and it fails, there's no safe harbor to pull into.
Similarly, problems can arise when both parties work for the same employer, or in the same industry. If things head south, then both parties stand to lose, so it's wise to consider hedging your bets. That being said, moving ahead is always going to involve a certain degree of risk that has to be accepted. That's how people often move ahead. Virgil put it succinctly, "Fortune assists the bold." Just determine what degree of boldness you can handle.
3. Great Successes Can Come from Small Starts
Buffet by Roger Lowenstein demonstrates this in spades: "Warren took pleasure in building up his paper routes. While he was still a teenager, he was bringing home $175 a week (a regular adult wage then.) The $6000 he saved was the foundation of his fortune", and today he is among the wealthiest people in the world. So don't think that starting small can never turn into anything. Obviously, it can.
There's nothing wrong with staying small and being successful either. There is no mandated requirement to expand and grow. Sometimes it's wiser not to. Balance is important in any life. I'm suggesting that you find the proper balance for yourself.
4. Disappointment Can Lead To Success, Although It Might Take A While
Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, one of the greatest in British history, being Jewish, faced tremendous discrimination in his rise to political power and to become a trusted confidant of Queen Victoria. He faced many defeats on his difficult rise which he described as, "climbing the greasy pole". He recognized later that his setbacks were great contributors to his success. As he said, "Disappointment is often the stepping stone to eminence."
Keep this in mind when you run into setbacks yourself. Just learn from them and keep moving forward. Lincoln did. He lost an Illinois race for the United States Senate to the great orator and US Senator, Stephen Douglas, As a result, Lincoln thought he was through. But he kept at it and not long afterward defeated Douglas and other candidates and became the 16th President of the United States. I can guarantee you that after he lost to Douglas, he never could, in his wildest dreams, have believed that he would be the American icon he is today.
Roger Lowenstein in Buffet noted that Buffet attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He applied to Harvard for further study and was turned down, even though he was 16th out of a class of 374 at Penn. "This proved to be a blessing in disguise, because his second choice was Columbia, the academic home of Benjamin Graham, the genius pioneer of stock market analysis."
What would have happened if Buffet's dreams had come true and he had been accepted at Harvard? He may never have run into Graham and his life could have been totally different. So be careful about projecting what might be in your long term best interest. Like the ball in a pinball machine, if you get bumped off one bumper, just keep at it racking up points for your side, until you wind up in the slot where you belong.
5. Success May Sometimes Be Forced On You
When something happens that isn't to our liking, we might wriggle and squeal, trying to get off the hook. Sometimes it pays to try to make the best of the situation - growing where you're planted - and see what happens down the road you're compelled to walk.
In Never Too Late To Be Great, Tom Butler-Bowdon tells the story of Rosalie Gascoigne who had a lonely life in the Australian desert as a housewife, while her husband was working in the city during the day. She would spend her time walking around the desert picking up things that interested her. She fashioned them into artistic objects. She later took a course in ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. A visiting master singled out her work for its artistry. "It was the first time, she recalls, I found out that I was good at anything." (Keep experimenting. You'll be likely to find something that you’re good at too. We all have "hidden talents".)
She later achieved world fame and was made a member of the Order of Australia. "She might have been 'trapped by circumstances', but they were the circumstances that made her." So no matter what situation you find yourself in, keep your options open and, even though there may be many things you can't try, try the ones that you can. When she was asked if confidence was an essential ingredient in “climbing the mountain” of artistic success, she replied, "No, it wasn't.” Because she said she never had any. What she did have was a need. "She reflects that 'one of the worst things' is unfulfilled potential.” You have some. All of us do. Just keep digging to find out what it is. Believe in yourself while you’re searching too.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. may be a name that is unfamiliar to many people today, but in the 1960's, his elegant good looks, mellifluous voice, and his high profile roles in the television hits, "77 Sunset Strip" and "The FBI" made him a household name. He died in 2014 at the age of ninety-five.
Zimbalist was a much admired actor best known for his television roles, although that was far from his original goal. (Even as a young man, I always thought that he was such a good actor, I wondered why he spent so much time doing television. Reading his death announcement online fifty years later, I found out why.) He said when he was signed by Warner Brothers, he had no interest in doing television. But "they showed me a place in my contract where it said I had to... I ended up with my life slanted toward television, and I just accept that. I think you play the hand the way it is dealt, that's all."
Sometimes a decision of how to live our life is made easy. For one reason or another, we might not get much choice. But it shows that even when we might not be able to guide our life as we'd like, it can still turn out to be a good one in the end. A lot of it is about attitude and how we live our lives not only at work, but outside of it.
On a related point, before you sign any contracts, have them reviewed by an attorney competent in the appropriate area of practice. It can have consequences if you don't. Zimbalist was fortunate. Many others aren't. Spending a few dollars upfront might save untold heartache and prevent financial losses later.
6. “Little Things” May Be Big Turning Points in Your Life
In looking back over my life, and when you do later, it’s very clear that a few key moments can make a major difference. It’s not always easy to recognize them at the time, but it’s beneficial to try to.
Near the time I was getting ready to finish my Bachelor’s degree at Seton Hall, I decided to go to graduate school to get my MBA. I thought about getting a job first and trying to get my Master’s at night over three or four years, but even then I recognized that if I did that, I might not finish. So I decided to go straight through and get it at The University of Missouri. If I hadn’t done that, I probably would never have gotten it and never would have been a college professor. That’s one time I got very lucky.
On a subsequent occasion, many years later, I had already had nine years full time college teaching experience, but left to try to focus my attention on my real estate school. Six years later, I applied to Camden County for a full time teaching position – the one I still have now. It came down to two finalists for the position. The other candidate was selected. Even though the Dean pointed out that there was going to be another opening in the following semester, I was discouraged to the point that I said to the Dean at the time, the late John TenBrooke, that I probably wouldn’t apply. He encouraged me to do so. I was hired a few months later. Naturally, I have been eternally grateful to John, who became my Dean then, and to my colleagues Maria Aria and Ray Zumoff for recommending me. Sometimes we need to be protected from ourselves. My life would have been totally different if these two events had gone in a different direction.
7. Think Ahead and Prepare For The Future
Some circumstances when you might want to do this are when
- you are beginning a new career
- you are unhappy in your current position
- losing your job might be a possibility
- your health may force you to make a change
- contemplating retirement
Things are likely to go far better if you do some investigation, test things out ahead of time, gain necessary experience and training, and make a plan for how you intend to reach the goal you set for yourself. This is far better than just jumping into something at the last minute or not making any sensible preparations.
A retired friend of mine spent many years as a union carpenter, but because of some health problems, he could see that his long term future carrying the toolbox wasn't going to be easy. He's a very bright guy. He oriented himself toward construction management and built his experience in that area, working on some very large projects. He also wanted to do more creative things and he knew that Disney did many things like that in their unique construction projects. He communicated with them over several years evidencing his interest. Eventually, an opportunity presented itself. He was among one hundred candidates for the job, but although he had college background, he was the only candidate who didn't have a college degree. Many had engineering degrees. What he did have was a strong interest, a highly hands-on resume of managing huge construction projects, a demonstrated desire over time to work creatively for the company, and direct, no-nonsense honesty.
He got the job and spent many successful years there. He believed in himself and literally built the proper foundation to be a recognizable first choice for the job. So be a believer in yourself. Take a shot at your dreams. Sometimes we have to know when to hold and when to fold, but at least if you give it a try, you won't be sitting around later wondering what would have happened. You'll know one way or the other. If it works out, that's good. If it doesn't, just put it behind you, use the experience you’ve gained and move on to another area that you'll succeed in.
8. Stay Steady and Be Humble
The Dalai Lama's interviewer in writing the book The Art of Happiness at Work observed him at a Washington,DC reception:
"The older and more established guests seemed to be so secure in their positions, and so overwhelmed by their own self-importance, that they seem to take little interest in anyone else. When they were introduced to someone, they looked right through them, barely acknowledging that there was another human being standing in front of them. They seemed to have a talent for sizing you up -- within 16 nanoseconds, they could determine if there was any way that you could be useful to them. If not, they were soon off, jostling their way through the room to meet someone more important." (People who act this way are often insecure, competitive or frustrated, which causes them to act in this manner, or even arrogantly. Never feel inferior to them. Those who are truly successful are typically more gracious. Use them as your models.)
"Observing the way The Dalai Lama engaged them-- with a sincere handshake, warm, guileless smile and direct eye contact-- it was apparent that as always, he was relating to them just as one human being to another, with a complete lack of pretense."
A State Department security agent in charge of The Dalai Lama's security who had observed him frequently, and who was inspired by him, said:
"I guess the main thing is that I've noticed that he likes to talk with the drivers, the janitors and waiters, and the service staff wherever he goes. And he treats everybody just the same." (I read long ago that the best test of a person is to watch how they treat someone who can do nothing for them.)
"So here was the answer -- since he had no need for pretense, for acting a certain way in public or while at work, and another way in private, and could just be himself wherever he went, this made his work seem effortless." (Most of us have a long way to go before reaching that level of integration, but the more we can reduce the gap between who we are and what we do, the more effortless our work will become.)
9. You Only Have One Life To Live
Dr. Gordon Livingston is the author of Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need To Know Now. In his book, Dr. Livingston says, "To ask people to be brave is to expect them to think of their lives in a new way. But any change requires that we try new things, risking the possibility that we might fail. We can all be somewhat reluctant to move forward at times like that. He says, "The greatest risk is not taking any." He says he often asks patients, "What are you saving yourself for?" It's a good question for all of us to ask ourselves.
John C. Maxwell in How Successful People Grow says, "Growing can be a messy business. It means admitting you don't have the answers. It requires making mistakes. It can make you look foolish. Most people don't enjoy that. But that is the price of admission, if you want to improve. If you want to grow, you need to get over any fear you may have over making mistakes."
Maxwell points out that another obstacle to growth is being a perfectionist, "the desire to find the 'best way' to get started in a growth plan. That's what I thought when I started working on my personal growth. But I had it backward. I had to get started if I wanted to find the best way...If you want to see more of the way, then get moving. Then the road ahead will become clearer.” Maxwell has an entire series of about forty books on leadership, attitude and relationships. They contain many good suggestions in small, pithy volumes.
10. Be Kinder
Positive psychology researchers consistently emphasize the importance of being happier and more successful by being kinder and by providing service. Kindnesses don't need to be monumental. Simple, but diverse ones, ones can do just fine.
Finding A Job
The best way to find a job today is to get your foot in the door though previous work experience, internships, or part-time and summer work with a good employer who offers a solid benefits program. This needs to start right now. Waiting until you are ready to graduate to start looking, or just sending out resumes, is highly unlikely to work.
It’s very difficult even for experienced people to find employment. 44% of those unemployed in a recent year have had to look seven months to find new employment. And they already had education, experience, job skills and maturity that many of you don't have. So unless you want to join the ranks of the unemployed, or the underemployed, you need to get deadly serious about excelling in college and only working in jobs that will lead somewhere.
You Can't Find A Good Job Without Requisite Basic Skills
Employers frequently say that applicants not only lack proper skill sets needed for many available positions, but also basic reading, writing, speaking, computational and computer skills too. Many times, openings are available, but employers can't fill a position because students lack proper basic and occupational skills.
You not only need a degree and proper training and experience that employers seek, but it's also part of your job to obtain the basic skills any employer should rightly expect. So if you are required to take Basic Skills courses, as many students are, do not look upon them as some great imposition on your life. You should work conscientiously to correct any deficiencies. It is far better to have them discovered while you are in college and can do something about them, rather than losing the opportunity for a good job or being embarrassed to death on a job by the inability to read, write or calculate.
There is another very important thing about being identified as a student who is required to take basic skills courses. Statistically, students who are required to take such courses are significantly less likely to graduate than students who are not required to take them. Part of the reason is that students who are required to take them may just give up and not persevere as they should. Being required to take a basic skills course is a very strong wake-up call that you need to really get serious and apply yourself to the task at hand, so that you'll be more likely to stay on the road to success. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be ultimately successful. It just means that you have business that needs serious attention. One thing that isn’t the answer is to drop out of school.
So whether you have to take one basic skills course, or a number of them, you have to fight through it, not just with the intention of "getting it over with", but with the intention of excelling in them, so you will build your marketable skills. The College’s Basic Skills professors are well trained and highly motivated to help any serious student, but you need to follow their direction and do the hard work that needs to be done. It will be one of the best things you can do to help your short term and long term prospects.
Distinguish Yourself From Other Job Seekers
It's not enough to imply to an employer, "Well here I am, Dan or Danielle – College Graduate. I've come to get my job." While having a degree lets you into the game, it's not enough to get you picked from the bench of hundreds of other applicants. You must create "significant differentials" – characteristics that will make you stand out positively from all the other candidates:
- High grade point average
- Significant work experience relevant to the position you are seeking
- Previous experience in the company you are interviewing with
- Having well-regarded people in an organization who will speak on your behalf
- Ability to speak a foreign language (Remember also to look for foreign employers doing business in the US where the language you have learned is their native language. Obviously, being conversant with that country's history and culture, and having traveled there, are pluses too.)
- Be a student who has traveled and studied abroad. Travel broadens your horizons as few other experiences can. (Either experience always produces questions. Interviewers get curious too. Anything that makes you something other than "vanilla" can help.)
- Go to career fairs as soon as you can. Find out what degrees, courses, skills and experiences employers are looking for. Camden County College holds Career Fairs several times a year in the Atrium of the Blackwood Campus, conducted by the Office of Student Services. You should be attending them, learning as much as you can about available positions and what employers are looking for.
- Take as many practice interviews as you can. It builds confidence that interviewers recognize.
- Learn as much as you can about any company you are interviewing with. That will immediately set you apart from 80% of the applicants who typically know little about potential employers. Reference librarians can provide sources of information for you to research.
- Show employers how you may be able to help them, not that you "need a job". Employers don't care about that. Everyone they interview does or they wouldn't be there. Don't ask about salary or benefits either. What you have to highlight is your value to the employer. Once you are able to convince an employer that you are "the right fit" for the job, the company, and your future co-workers, the rest of it will be more likely to take care of itself.
Simply having the requisite skills isn’t enough by itself. You have to be viewed as somebody who will fit in. “Fitting in” means fitting in socially, being able to get along with others and being confident, but displaying humility and realizing that you have a lot to learn. Being cocky, arrogant, or appearing to be “a flake”, as indicated by your appearance or demeanor, will just about guarantee that you’ll be passed over.
This also involves being able to express yourself properly. Even if you are relatively quiet and low-keyed by nature, never make an interviewer feel as if they have to pull things out of you. That makes an interviewer want to end things as soon as possible. Think of it as a conversation, not an interrogation. You need to learn as much as you can about them, as they are trying to learn about you.
- Review lists of typical interview questions available in the Camden County College Career Planning Office and take practice interviews, attend resume preparation workshops, and similar events.
Promising Career Fields
The best career for you to work in is the one in which you will be the happiest, because that's the one you will probably be most successful in. Online articles frequently suggest promising career fields for the future. You should verify this with those who work in those fields in your area, or elsewhere in the country, if you are open to relocating. You will obviously increase your prospects if you are willing to relocate. The greatest growth in the US (about 60% of it) is taking place in the Southern and Mountain states. Here are some fields suggested to have good prospects:
For these careers, speak with those in our Science, Nursing and Dental Hygiene Departments:
- Physicians, Surgeons, Dentists
- Nursing: Nurse Practitioner, Physician's Assistant, Registered Nurse
- Health Care Occupations
- Physical Therapy
- Post-Secondary Teachers (College Professors): Obtain your doctorate. Be sure you aspire to an area with demand. You can be out of work for a long time, perhaps indefinitely, even with a Ph.D, if you select a field that is overcrowded. Better to think about "STEM" subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics, accounting and computer science, for example, rather than trying to get a college teaching job in English, history or general business.
That being said, if you have a strong interest in a field where the demand is not great, if you are going to pursue it, you have to make sure that you are at the top of your field, to obtain one of the few openings that will be available. It is important to note however, that while majoring in English or history might not be a good idea for many students if they are planning to try to teach in college, it can be an outstanding background for those planning a career in law, public service, and other fields.
- Teaching: Elementary, Middle School, High School, especially mathematics, sciences and special education. Speak with our Education Coordinator to learn the particulars and to obtain experienced advice. You might also try to gain some teaching experience working as "a sub" (substitute teacher), which you may be able to apply for after obtaining sixty credits.
- School Psychologist
- Accountant, Financial Advisor
- Computer Technology and Information Systems, Software Developer
- Architect, Construction Superintendent, Plumber, Technical Careers
- Law: In spite of what you hear about there being "too many lawyers", if you are planning to go to graduate school, I would consider obtaining a law degree (JD - Juris Doctor). It's certainly true that many law school grads are having difficulty finding jobs, especially in private practice, but there is always room for more talented students. JD's can be used to work not only in private practice, but also in corporate law, human resources, college teaching, educational administration, government, the court system, and the military.
- Paralegal Studies: Paralegals perform some of the duties of attorneys under their supervision.
- Military: While a military career may entail risks, it also offers educational benefits, training, the opportunity to see the world, good benefits and retirement income. It can also be an economical route to obtaining a professional degree. One of my best friends, who is now a judge, served four years in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, after obtaining his law degree. One of my cousins went to medical school, became a physician and served his four year obligation. Both of them got their education and it cost them next to nothing, when many of their fellow classmates finished school with tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt. Not every military occupation requires battlefield service. The military needs all kinds of specialists. There are also many opportunities for women as well as for men.
Think in terms of running counter to trends. There are more male engineers and female nurses. Employers are frequently interested in having a better balance in their workforce, so women interested in engineering and men interested in nursing may enjoy an edge in hiring. Similarly, men might wish to examine possibilities for elementary and middle school teaching. “Think outside the box” – and remember, the box is bigger than you think. It can help.
The same applies for minority job candidates. Most employers seek an appropriate balance of racial and ethnic groups. Don't expect to get a job just because you are African-American, Hispanic, or Asian, but presuming you have the skills an employer is seeking, it can help give you an edge. There are job fairs for minority job candidates. If you are a member of a minority group, start going to them to find out what employers' needs are.
Fields To Consider
In a recent year, these were the percentages of jobs in various fields:
Educational Services, Health Care, Social Assistance 23.2%
Teaching and health care will be big industries in the future. This doesn't mean that opportunities will be uniformly available across the country or in all specialties.
Opportunities in retail stores, fast food, customer service and the like will always be available, but none of them is renowned for paying higher salaries. If you do go into retail, go with a company that has a strong track record such as Nordstrom's, Macy’s, Wegman's and Whole Foods. Also keep in mind that retail in particular is undergoing monumental changes. Many consumers are purchasing online today or at warehouse outlets where they can do one stop shopping. Both of these have had a big effect on mall retailers, so I would be very careful in planning a long term retail career without competent, experienced advice.
Professional, Scientific, Technical, Management, Administrative 10.6%
Professional includes physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, veterinarians, dental hygienists, dental assistants, attorneys, architects and others. Technical would include computer related fields and other technologies, such as automotive technology, laser technology, manufacturing technology, and EMT’s. Our Advisement Office can tell you about these and other careers and technical training available at Camden County College. We have many career options we can prepare you for.
While 10.4% of workers in manufacturing may sound high, in 1940, the figure was 23.4%.What does that tell you? These are many of the jobs that have gone to China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Mexico, Bangladesh, and a whole lot of other places. Many of them are low tech jobs.
Do not set yourself up for a fall. If you are going to work in manufacturing, make sure that it is in high-tech manufacturing, which has had somewhat of a resurgence recently. Get good solid advice before you enter any manufacturing area with career intentions.
It's no secret that both commercial and residential construction has had it’s ups and downs. Even when there were more construction jobs, many working in the trades are subject to variations in demand, the problems of weather, and seasonally affected work. Another problem is that what you may physically be able to do easily in your twenties and thirties can become far more difficult after forty. If you don't believe me, just ask anyone over forty working in the trades. Another characteristic of the trades is that if you don't work, you don't get paid. It's not like many other fields that provide sick days.
There are other careers that don't fit neatly into any of the categories above, including sales. Many employees work in sales, in one form or another. Sales skills are reasonably transferable from one field to another. Gaining sales experience, either in inside or outside sales, is a plus for your resume. If there is one truism in business, it is that "if you can sell", you can always find a home.
When you look at any fields, don't just look at it for the present, but for the future too. Those working in fields you're interested in, counselors and your mentors should be consulted before you make any substantive educational and career plans.
No matter what field you decide to enter, look for top companies that are well rated. Each year Fortune publishes a list of the "100 Top Companies To Work For in America." In this immediate area, Wegman’s,Whole Foods, The Container Store, Edward Jones, W.L.Gore, Kimpton Hotels, ARI, REI, Hyatt, IKEA, Four Seasons Hotels, Marriott, Nordstrom, and The Cheesecake Factory are among them. You should look at it and read company descriptions and what they have to offer. If you are going to work, it can be beneficial to be with a well-rated company. Naturally, there are many other fine companies to work for that won't be on this list, but look for fields and companies that show the likelihood of continued growth.
Obstacles To Success
Part of being successful involves staying away from hazards that can cause real harm to your formulating goals and achieving them:
Acting as if you're still in high school – Some students keep hanging out at the same places, with the same people (some of whom are going nowhere), wasting colossal amounts of time texting, and doing other things that aren't constructive, instead of studying and finding employment that is likely to lead somewhere.
College is not high school. You should be working on your future, not wasting time. It's your job to build a future, not your parents'. They are entitled to have a life of their own, without having permanent residents in their late twenties and thirties. Naturally, you should want to become independent as soon as you can too, in your own living space. Sometimes living at home can't be helped, and it can work out well for all concerned, even over the long term, but generally I wouldn't get too comfortable doing it. Being out on your own most often will typically help you become more responsible sooner.
Drinking to excess – There is a direct proportional relationship to grade point average in college and the number of drinks students consume in a week. The more drinks, the lower the GPA. So if you don't want to get anywhere, just drink up and put things off until tomorrow. Obviously, any sensible person knows that that's very foolish and dangerous. Students who are going places have many better things to do than getting drunk. It can also turn into a permanent problem that can ruin someone’s life and their family’s lives too.
On a related point, do not drink and drive, or ride with someone who has had too much to drink. You can wind up just as dead. If you ever find yourself in that situation, ask the driver to stop the car and let you out. If you don’t think they are going to comply, just say instead, “Pull over. I’m going to throw up.” No one wants vomit in their car. When they pull over, get out and don’t get back in. Just call someone to come pick you up or call the police.
Always wear your seat belt and make anyone else in your car do the same. Keep your doors locked, not only to avoid carjacking and assaults, but because in an accident locked doors are less likely to open. Getting thrown from a vehicle greatly increases the chances of death or serious injury.
Drug Usage – If life is so bad or boring that someone has to use drugs instead of facing reality and creating a better life for themselves they can be proud of, it's time to wake up to where that kind of destructive course will take you. Time wasted and life wasted. It can also put you in a casket. No one ever thinks it will be them. Some of them were wrong. I grew up in a funeral home. I know. I've seen it - up close and personal. Someone can wind up just as dead with an “accidental overdose” too. I've seen it in my own family. Those who deal drugs are only interested in making money. Can someone engaged in this activity be relied on to provide high quality pharmaceuticals?
No "high" is worth dying for. Get high on life, and your successes instead. That will result in a far better life you can be proud of. That's really the whole idea. And, of course, addiction is also a continuing threat. Look at the photos of addicts online before and after their addiction. It’s a horrifying sight to see what damage illegal drugs can do
Ask yourself daily: "Am I living the kind of life I can be proud of?" If you aren't, do something about it. Drugs can't fill a hole in your soul. Only meaningful life experience can. If you need help, get it. Drugs are for dopes and shallow thinkers, not for people who are going places.
Don't squander years of potential accomplishment or have your life taken. Think of your parents looking at you in a casket. I have seen it a number of times. It is truly heart-rending. Don't ever be the cause of anything like that for your parents and for those who love you. We all need help sometime for something. There is no shame in asking for it. The only shame is wasting your life and doing nothing about it.
Drug use also causes the loss of many jobs. The percentage of job applicants testing positive for drugs is high. Most employers drug test today. The chances of an employer hiring a candidate who tests positive are zero. Tests are also far more sophisticated than applicants believe.
Need help or advice in any of these areas? Please speak with one of our counselors in Taft Hall. They can help you or refer you to someone who can.
For anyone suffering from domestic abuse or threats, please contact our College Security Department immediately.
Getting Arrested - In what I found to be shocking numbers, The Journal of Crime and Delinquency reported that 40-50% of all men have been arrested by the age of 23. 16-20% of females had been arrested by then. These included crimes from minor ones to serious violent crime, excluding traffic offenses. Having an arrest record can cause really serious problems in trying to find employment. Further, misdemeanor or felony convictions have an even greater negative effect.
Be very careful whom you associate with, where you go and what you do. You don't want to affect your future prospects through your own stupidity or by that of those you were with. If you already have an arrest record, contact an attorney or your County Prosecutor’s Office to determine if your criminal offense is eligible for "expungement", a legal process that can remove an offense from the record. This is something that should be done now. Don't wait until the last minute. It takes time.
It is also important to note that certain positions, such as applying for law enforcement positions or law school require that such offenses be disclosed – even when there has been an expungement. Failing to do so would likely lead to dismissal.
Lying on Job Applications - You must answer all questions on employment applications truthfully, including questions about whether you have been arrested or have had any convictions. Lying on an application, resume, or verbally making false or misleading statements is cause for immediate dismissal - irrespective of how good of an employee you may be or what your rank in the organization is.
Making Yourself Poor – Being poor can be an obstacle to success. Many times it happens through no fault of someone's own. Many have risen above it, including former President Obama, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and others. If you come from an economically disadvantaged background, know that you can rise above it too.
What I'm talking about is not coming from a poor background, but doing things where you will be likely to make yourself poor. I would recommend that every student read The Working Poor by David Shipler. He conducted many interviews, and identified many circumstances, as to why people fall into poverty, including: dropping out of high school or college, unwanted pregnancies, and drug and alcohol abuse:
Mr.Shipler mentioned a mother in Ohio who said that her daughter was in college and decided to drop out. The daughter thought it was "no big deal" at the time. It was. Her leaving was the beginning of her slide into poverty. So think twice, and three times, before you drop out. It could be the beginning of a slide into poverty for you too. You may never have the opportunity again and may wind up paying the consequences for the rest of your life. Remember: "Everyone had one before they lost - a chance". Don't blow yours.
Mr. Shipler also pointed out what a slippery slope poverty can be. Someone drops out of school and settles for low paying jobs that go nowhere. That usually means no benefits or very poor ones. That often results in health and dental problems developing, not only for that person, but for their children too. They drive old cars, often that used to be "hot", and can't afford money for tires and repairs. They have no emergency fund or savings. Every bump in the road turns into a potential catastrophe. It becomes hand to mouth, week to week, month to month, year to year. Is this the kind of a life you want for yourself? Think about it. Don't let these things happen to you because you dropped out of school, without your degree or sensible training.
How Much Money Do You Want To Make?
Should you select a career or job solely based on which one is going to pay you the most money? Probably not, because if you don't find the work satisfying, you won't be as likely to excel and may have a long time to repent in dissatisfaction. That being said, you certainly need to make enough to meet your financial needs in a reasonable way. But you also want to live the kind of life you want to live. The older you get, I believe you will come more to the thinking of Ralph Waldo Emerson on financial gain:
“The desire for gold is not for gold. It is for freedom and benefit.”
The best correlation to how much money most people make is to the level of education they have. Certainly there are exceptions that people enjoy pointing too, like Bill Gates, one of the world's wealthiest people, who never finished college. But for every Bill Gates, there are millions who caused themselves real economic harm their whole lives because they did not obtain the education or training that they should have had.
Statistics are always readily available showing that, on average, over a lifetime, college graduates earn more than high school graduates, holders of master's degrees earn more than holders of bachelor's degrees, doctoral degree holders earn more than master's holders, and those with professional degrees such as physicians, dentists, veterinarians, and attorneys make more than doctoral degree holders. Those with more education are also, on average, far less likely to become unemployed. The bottom line: get your four year degree and you'll not only be more likely to be employed, but if you become unemployed, you will be more likely to find another job sooner.
These are obviously serious considerations for anyone thinking about dropping out of college or curtailing further education. When you think about investing, invest in yourself first! Don’t know quite how to get started? Visit the College’s Advisement Center in Taft Hall. They can help you.
Make Certain You Graduate
Another critical factor is making sure you graduate. I've spoken with students who've told me that they are six or nine credits short of getting their bachelor's degree, and haven't finished, even after the passage of some time. 95% of a degree is not 95% as good as having one. It's like pregnancy- either someone is pregnant or they aren't. Did you ever hear anyone saying they're "part pregnant"? Likewise, either you have a degree or you don't.
I don't care how low your grade point average may have gotten, or how impractical of a major you have, just finish and get your degree and move on from there. In many organizations, your upward mobility toward promotion or career enhancement, will be completely blocked if you don't have a four year degree. So don't create obstacles for yourself. You'll run into enough of them without creating your own.
Get The Most Out of Your Credits
Always move toward getting a higher degree. Don't spend a lot of time getting extra credits on top of a bachelor's degree, or getting two bachelor's degrees. Use the time to get a master's degree. Find joint degree programs where you can make credits do double duty toward a bachelor's and master's degree or doctorate at the same time.
Some institutions, including some law schools and medical schools, will admit outstanding students at the end of their junior year, and allow the first year of graduate credit to count toward obtaining a bachelor's degree. It's a way to have your credits do double duty and to save a year on room and board.
Consider Graduating In Three Years
This is not as difficult as it seems and it can provide big financial benefits. High school students can really facilitate this by earning 12-15 college credits while they are in high school. But even if someone doesn’t, with careful planning it can still be done by taking extra credits during the Fall and Spring semesters, taking Summer and Wintersession courses, and by earning credits for online courses and internships. You do not have to be genius to do this. I did it and I was far from an exemplary scholar.
What’s the payoff? You can save a whole year’s room and board if you go away to a four year school (estimated saving: $20,000-$30,000 +) and you would also be able to start earning money from your first “real job” one year sooner (estimated benefit: $40,000+). You could put yourself ahead by $60,000 or more and also reduce the amount of student debt you’d have to carry.
Speak with our Advisement Office at the earliest possible date to plan how to do it.
Check The Market
As a student, you should take the time to check the job market for the type of position you are seeking by looking at Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, your state's job listings website, and other job sites. Look to see what positions are available and what qualifications are called for. Such websites also contain useful information about resume development, interviewing and other similar topics that can be helpful to you.
I’d also recommend getting on LinkedIn, which is an online site geared toward business and professional people and making contacts. You “connect” with others by making a request. (To help get you started, I would be open to connecting with any students and others - so long as a student is not a current or potential student in any of my classes.)
Spend time through our Career Planning Office in Taft Hall and at Career Days taking interviews, reviewing available materials and also checking our job postings to see what current and future part time and full time job opportunities are available. Our Career Center Coordinator/Job Developer in Taft Hall may also be able to help you.
Take as many interviews as you can. Practice helps. It is far easier to get interviews through College Career Planning Offices or Career Fairs, both here at Camden County College and through your four year college or university while you are still in school, than trying to get them once you've graduated.
Learn to become your own teacher, and also your own motivator - for life. Everyone's batteries run low sometimes. We can always use new perspectives and injections of self-confidence to help us. Become a lifelong learner and self-help reader. Once you get started with your self-help reading program, one book will lead to another. Several books I would recommend to get started:
Authentic Happiness – Martin Seligman
Dr. Seligman's book tells how to identify your "signature strengths". Your success comes from trying to incorporate them into your life as much as possible. Spend your time trying to maximize your strengths, not taking an inordinate amount of time dealing with weaknesses. Naturally, you need to keep yourself in the ballpark in those areas too.
Visit authentichappiness.org and take the "VIA Signature Strengths Test". It will tell you what signature strengths you should be focusing on. There is a great deal of additional, helpful information on this Penn website. The advice offered is based on sound positive psychological research.
Positive psychology is the study of happiness and what is most likely to produce it. It can provide you with excellent background when planning your career and throughout your life. I'm seventy-three years old and I'm still do a lot of self-help reading. If you don't want to fall off the bike, you've got to keep pedaling all through your life.
Some of the best, succinct advice I ever got was from the famed television evangelist, Dr. Robert Schuller: “Plan to live to be a hundred.” It doesn’t mean that you’re going to, but you should show that you believe it’s possible by always having goals and plans to achieve them. That’s what keeps you going. That’s why at seventy-one, one of my goals is to update this offering to encourage you to make the most of the opportunities you have - and the one’s you can create for yourself!
Flourish - Martin Seligman
A further development on Authentic Happiness in which Seligman says that happiness alone should not be the goal, but “flourishing” instead, in which he includes:
•Positive Emotion: happiness and life satisfaction
•Engagement + Flow
•Positive Relationships: the importance of other people in our lives
•Meaning: belonging to and serving something larger than self
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
Dr. Covey provides a guide to how to incorporate these critical habits into a plan for accomplishing your goals.
Flow – Mihail Cziksentmihalyi
Dr. Cziksentmihalyi, the world's leading expert on “flow studies”, explains the concept of “flow” and how bringing more of it into your life can provide for increased happiness. Flow is the state of "losing yourself", and track of time, in worthwhile and challenging pursuits. Flow states are frequently found in successful and constructive people, much less so in those who aren't.
The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach To Getting The Life You Want - Sonja Lyubomirsky
A leading positive psychology expert tells you that while a substantive part of happiness may be affected by outside factors, including our genetics, a still substantial part of our happiness can be influenced by how we think and what we do.
Happiness: Unlocking The Mysteries of Psychological Wealth - Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener
Fifty Classics Series –Tom Butler-Bowdon
Tom is the world’s leading master of book summaries. He has developed an entire series of “Fifty Classics” on Self-Help, Success, Psychology and others. They are terrific, and eminently readable books, that provide the reader with the pith of many famous works. It can be a great help to you. In the same vein, he has also written Never Too Late To Be Great, a book that can be a great help to realize that goals can also be set, and successes can be achieved, at any age.
Never feel as if you are too old, or have been out of school too long, to begin a new career or to get your degree. Camden County College can help you. See a counselor in our Advisement Center. Don’t wonder whether you can do it. Take it from me, you can. A motivated, conscientious student always can! Don’t talk yourself out of a promising and more rewarding future!
Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart - Gordon Livingston
A best-selling author, Dr. Livingston uses his experience as a practicing psychiatrist to help us deal positively with many of life's common problems.
Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
Great stories that emphasize the point that good decisions can often be made by "thin slicing", using a small amount of information that leads us to a decision that might be the same as if we had taken more time and done more research in making it. Our quality of life, and our happiness, is greatly impacted by our decisions and our thoughts. This book present an alternative view for making decisions, without deprecating more traditional methods.
George Foreman's Guide To Life - George Foreman
This is not just "a man's book", nor is it a boxing book, it's one that can benefit anyone. It contains excellent practical advice for getting the most out of life.
Meditations - Marcus Aurelius
This classic work by a former Roman Emperor provides superb guidance for daily living. Its principles are as applicable today as they were in Roman times.
Seek a variety of opinions and advice in order to develop a customized plan that is best for you. Any experienced and mature person will easily be able to amplify upon what I've said here. Some may also have differing opinions. That's not important. What is important is that you will be talking about your future with a variety of people and trying to chart the proper course for yourself.
Your future is in your hands. The longer it takes you to get on the road to success, the more it's going to cost you professionally and financially. Get serious about your education and about setting your goals. Then take action to achieve them. Don't quit your education until you have something worthwhile to show for it. You can't do anything better to help yourself over the long term.
Have faith in yourself. Act like the winner you know you can be in every course you take, and in every job you have, from now on. You'll see the difference in a better, and more fulfilling life. As Jane Pauley noted, "You never stop growing until you stop trying." Use every opportunity you can to do good in your life. The only thing we can take with us from this life is the good we have done for others.