CollegeEducationHigh School

Boarding school is a foreign concept for a lot of people. Some people might mistakenly think that boarding schools are just for wealthy, privileged, white kids, who are troubled and whose parents want to get rid of them. In reality, a boarding school is almost like a college for younger students. The application process is similar to colleges’ too – you need to submit PSAT test scores, TOEFL for international students, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and often have an interview. Some students say that they’ve worked harder in boarding school than college.

Boarding school prepares you for college. While other freshmen in college might be experiencing home sickness and having difficulties adjusting to living in a dormitory, boarding school alums have already gone through these experiences, and moving to college is as stress-free as moving into a new dorm. Boarding school’s rigorous schedule prepares you for the future. Students are typically in class until 4PM, and then they usually have mandatory sports, dinner, “study hall” (usually an 8-10PM time period for students to do homework; social media websites, like Facebook, might be shut off during that time), and at 11PM, lights are turned off and the Internet shuts down. This schedule helps students develop their time management skills and leaves no room for procrastination. Students must also give back to their community and fulfill a certain amount of community service hours. Classes at some schools are based on the Harkness table principle (oval table with enough room to seat 12 students and a teacher) and revolve around discussion, rather than lectures. Once you graduate, you’re more than prepared for college and have a powerful alumni network and lifelong friends, who are like brothers and sisters.

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Myth #1: Boarding school is like Hogwarts!

Books, movies, and TV shows have created a “classic” image boarding school life. People compare it with shows and movies, like Zoey 101 and the Harry Potter series. While boarding school students do have fun on and off campus on the weekends, surviving boarding school takes a lot of work, dedication, motivation, and self-discipline. The shows are right, however, about eccentric personalities and the formation of long-lasting friendships.

Myth #2: Diversity is rare at boarding school.

Boarding schools draw students from a variety of backgrounds and different geographic areas domestically and internationally. They actively seek diversity in order to create meaningful opportunities for students to interact with each other – not only do they study, play sports, participate in various extracurricular organizations, and volunteer together, but also live together. The conversations in the classrooms and beyond force you to be open-minded because people from various backgrounds share their diverse opinions. Students challenge each other’s views, but also respect each other tremendously. Boarding schools do everything to be safe and inclusive spaces for students, at the same time requires them to step out of their comfort zones. Most importantly, a boarding school is a home for students, faculty members and their families, and pets.

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Myth 3: Kids don’t have fun at boarding school.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that there are a lot of rules and curfews at any boarding school. If you want to go off campus, you have to sign out and back in, and if you’re leaving overnight your parents or guardians have to approve your visit and your host has to confirm you’re coming.

Even though strong academics are a key focus of boarding schools, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Throughout this journey, you make incredible friends. You bond easily in various situations; if you’re an honor-roll student, some schools make “study hall” optional as a reward, so you and other honor-roll students can go to a café and play ping pong or watch TV. Maybe you bond while traveling to other schools and playing a sport competitively; maybe you connect through the conversations you have in the dining hall or activities on the weekends.

Some boarding schools don’t allow you to drive a car if you live on campus, but the school provides buses during the weekends to take you to various events or trips, you just have to sign up. Want to go to a mall, or a movie theatre? They’ll take you!

Myth 4: Boarding school is for kids who are having trouble at home or school.

There are two types of boarding schools – college-preparatory boarding schools and therapeutic boarding schools. Sometimes the two are confused, which causes misperceptions that boarding schools are only for “troubled” children.

College-preparatory boarding schools are for motivated students who are already doing well academically and are looking for new challenges. All the schools profiled in Boarding School Review are exclusively college-preparatory boarding schools. While preparing students for college is also a goal at therapeutic boarding schools, they are equipped to work with students who face various challenges, such as behavioral or emotional problems, learning differences, or substance abuse.  Boarding School Review does not list therapeutic boarding schools.

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Myth #5: Everyone wears uniforms.

While this might be true at some schools, others have dress code requirements, not uniforms. For example, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday might be required professional business attire, Wednesday is a casual “Polo shirt” day, and Friday might be formal where you have to wear your school’s blazer and colors.

A lot of thought should go into your decision whether a boarding schools is right for you. You should be able to answer the following questions: Do you feel ready to move out from your house and step out from your comfort zone? What sort of goals do you hope to achieve with the help of the school? Do you have good grades? Can your family afford your education or would you rather save money for college? Boarding schools are costly, with board and tuition ranging from $40 to even $70 thousand dollars. Of course, you can apply for financial aid and scholarships. Finally, is it worth going to a boarding school if you have great public or private schools in your area? Another option is attending a boarding school as a day student, if you live near by. It is also a good decision to enroll as a post-graduate (PG) student to raise your GPA if you don’t have the grades that would get you in to your dream college.

Images courtesy of Demi Vitkute

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

The life of an entrepreneur can be stressful, overwhelming, and busy. It can wear you out, and it’s important to make time for your personal life. Abhay Jain, the co-founder of SoundScope, a mobile platform that allows people to choose their night out based on the music they love, knows how brutal the life of an entrepreneur can be. Earning a B.S. in Bio-Business and Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and later receiving his JD from Duke University School of Law and an MBA from Duke University (The Fuqua School of Business), Abhay is no stranger to academia, hard work, and constant learning.

With one more year left in grad school, Abhay came up with the idea for SoundScope and utilized his professors, classmates, and classes to further his business plan and hone his idea. Now he works on his startup full-time in New York City and works hard to make his idea a reality. We’re excited to introduce you to this smart and ambitious entrepreneur – read on to learn more about how he decided what to major in at Virginia Tech, how he managed to earn both a JD and MBA, and which books and resources he finds most useful.

Name: Abhay Jain
Education: B.S. in Bio-Business and Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech); JD from Duke University School of Law; MBA in Business Administration from Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business
Follow: SoundScope.com / @SoundScopeNYC / / @JainAbhayk

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

AJ:  “Seizing your youth” means taking the time to learn about yourself. For me it meant traveling, living in new cities, meeting interesting people, and taking every opportunity that came my way. If you don’t know what you want, try and figure out what you don’t want.

CJ: You majored in Bio-Business and minored in Psychology at Virginia Tech. How did you decide what to major and minor in?

AJ: I was an “undecided major” when I first got into Virginia Tech. When my dad and I went into the academic affairs office he said, “You are at a tech school.  Why don’t you go pre-med until you find something better?” In hindsight, it was a smart move from my dad to lure me into becoming a doctor because I was far too lazy to venture to the other side of campus to change my major. Instead, I just added things that interested me. I thought psychology and consumer behavior were interesting so I took the classes I liked.  Plus, this girl I was crushing on was a psych minor, so that was also a draw. Ha. Before I knew it, I had completed the prerequisites for a dual major and a minor.

In retrospect, I’d like to say I was super methodical in my course selection but I knew my learning style — I just couldn’t excel at coursework I didn’t enjoy.

CJ: You also received your JD / MBA from Duke University Law School and the Fuqua School of Business. What led you to your decision to go back to school to receive these two degrees?

AJ: A bit of serendipity, I suppose. I spent every summer of college traveling and experiencing potential careers. One summer, I worked at a few hospitals across Southeast Asia. No matter how much time I spent with the doctors, I was far more enthralled by the work of the hospital manager. Similarly, I spent a summer at the Department of Justice in D.C. and found the ability to impact organizational change exciting. As you can imagine, finding a legal or managerial job with a pre-med degree is not that easy. So, I leveraged my “pre-med knowledge” to get a job at a, then, fledgling pharmaceutical startup. A great learning experience — I got laid-off after 12 weeks. Fortunately, it was 2008, the markets were tanking and I had seen the warning signs. So, I spent my spare time studying for the LSAT and applying to schools. Within weeks of my forced vacation I had an acceptance letter in my hand, a bargaining chip for other job opportunities, and a modicum of respect from my parents.

CJ: A JD / MBA combination is an interesting way to learn about law and business. What was your experience doing a JD /MBA program like? What does the workload entail, what would a day in your life look like, and how did you manage the stress of earning those degrees?

AJ: The learning Duke provided me was truly life-changing! I went from multiple-choice tests to writing and arguing 50-page papers. The JD helped me sharpen my mind in terms of spotting issues, resolving conflicts, and persuading others of my point of view. The MBA restored my quant skills and brought a piece of practical applicability to my academic pursuits as well as strong Rolodex of Duke Alums.

That being said, the JD was a steel-toed boot to the face. Imagine: being surrounded by some of the smartest and most stressed people you know competing academically in an area you know nothing about, going from the world of black-and-white certainty to shades gray and uncertainty, and reading dense legal jargon for five hours a night and being harassed by former politicians and litigators in a room full of 100 peers yearning to outwit you. It was punishment for six months until I finally got the hang of it. Once I understood the system, however, I really enjoyed the thought and learning involved.

Business school on the other hand was dramatically different education. It was a mix of overzealous networking, excel, calculus, calendar invites, and theme parties. To be perfectly honest, I was a bit burnt out from academia at the time and couldn’t stand lots of my overeager peers for a couple months. However, my last year as it all came together I truly enjoyed both realms of the education and savored the life-long friendships I made at both schools.

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CJ: After graduation, you founded SoundScope, a mobile platform that allows people to choose their night out based on the music they love. How did this idea come about and what were your steps for making it a reality?

AJ: During my grad school experience, I had the opportunity to work in various roles in cities around the country. My favorite of which was New York. My summer in finance in New York meant I had very limited time to go out. I always had a passion for music and going out and wanted to make the right decision since my time was limited. I wondered why there were so many amazing things happening in NYC but no way for people to find them?!?

Luckily, I had one year left in grad school so I used my concept for every major class assignment. Thus, I got to use the skills and expertise of my peers and professors to better hone the idea, build a business plan, and connect to people that could help execute.

CJ: What have been the greatest lessons you’ve learned in starting your own business?

AJ:  People are the most important element of any business — I can’t emphasis this enough. Find people that are smarter than you that are reliable and hire them.

CJ: Every day in your life must look different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

AJ: Get up and try to make it into to the gym early. Make a list of all my objectives for the week and what we missed last week.  Get into the office at 9:30. Catch up on emails. Go through what the rest of the team is working on during lunch and then back-to-back meetings ranging from financials to sponsorships.

CJ: What should a young adult who wants to be an entrepreneur do now to set him or herself up for success?

AJ: Dive in and seek out mentors.  Experience is the best education for an entrepreneur — intern any and everywhere, test out ideas through an MVP, and talk to potential customers. In your spare time, seek out other entrepreneurs to learn from.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

AJ:  Finding mentors IRL is not always easy. Initially, the web was the best way for me to learn from “mentors.” I really love the Stanford e-corner. They have a weekly SoundCloud segment from successful entrepreneurs that helped me think through tough problems and figure out where I wanted to take SoundScope. Also, Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of the Start” is a good crash course on the current state of startups.

CJ: When you’re not working on SoundScope, how do you like to spend your time?

AJ: Thanks to my iPhone I am technically always working. But whenever I unplug I love traveling, cooking, and listening to good music.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

AJ: I am trying very hard to build a stronger wall between my personal and professional life. Running a startup can be brutal.  It is an emotional roller-coaster that can really wear you out. I am working on keeping more of an even keel and not letting SoundScope pervade things I appreciate personally — whether it’s spending time with friends, going to the gym, or just sleeping.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

AJ:  Life and people around you have a way of convincing you that you need to follow a certain trajectory — as in you need to figure out your career by 25, get married by 27, buy a house by 30, and pop out 2.5 kids by 35. Life is short. Do what makes you happy. Everything else will fall in place.

Abhay Jain Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

CollegeEducationSkills

A resident assistant (RA) is a trained peer leader who supervises residents living in a dormitory. RAs have many roles and responsibilities. They build a community through programming, serve as resources, mediate conflicts, and enforce college’s policies. RAs must be role models on campus and hold themselves accountable to all policies.

As the application season quickly approaches, are you considering becoming an RA? RAs get free room and board! That settles it. But wait a second— there’s a lot more to being an RA than just a free single room. Being an RA can be extremely difficult, especially if you’re not in it for the right reasons. Before you sign up, make sure you know what the position involves.

Perks

Making an Impact

The most rewarding aspect of being an RA is knowing that helping someone, even in the slightest way, can have a major impact on his or her life. When I came back to college after summer break, several of my residents from the previous year approached me and gave me big hugs. As an RA, you help residents go through various issues ranging from homesickness, roommate conflicts, and alcohol poisoning to suicidal ideation and power-based interpersonal violence. You give advice about getting involved on campus, talking to professors, and socializing.

Time Management

Being an RA is a 24-hour job. Sometimes residents are surprised that we are also full time students who have other responsibilities, such as on or off campus jobs, internships, or involvement in campus organizations. Being an RA means having mandatory weekly staff meetings and weekday and weekend duties when you have to go on “rounds” through all of the floors and stay in the building from a certain time in the evening until morning. This position helps you plan your time well and prioritize. You become good at multitasking and scheduling.

Crisis Management

As an RA you learn to think on your feet. You don’t have time to plan every move because the situations that arise are time sensitive. You might find someone passed out in the bathroom and have to transport them to the hospital. You might have to evacuate the building at 3AM in your PJs. You might have a resident cry on your shoulder about a recent breakup. You never know what to expect, so you always have to be ready. Being an RA teaches you how to handle any crisis. For a crisis to be handled well, effective communication skills are crucial. You develop them by interacting with your fellow RAs, residential directors (RDs), and residents. Sometimes the communication is urgent and can’t wait until the next day. During crises, RDS, fellow RAs, and police have to be notified immediately.

Relationships

One of the best things about being an RA are the relationships you can form. You spend so much time with you fellow RAs during training, mandatory staff meetings, and also by working and living together in the same building, that they can quickly become some of your best friends. You share this bond with each other because you have similar experiences as RAs. RAs understand that you are sleep deprived because you’ve been dealing with an incident while on duty or had a few lockouts at 4AM the previous night. They’re your biggest support system and you can always rely on them. They can help you by covering duty or being there for you when you break down— RAs call that “RA-ing” each other. Besides the issues of the residents, RAs frequently have their own personal problems, so being there for one another is very important.

You also have unique relationships with your residents. They continue to ask you for advice if they feel comfortable around you. It’s wonderful to see them grow throughout the year. Often times you can become friends with most of your former residents.

Not only are relationships formed with your peers and residents, but also with your RDs.  They are your supervisors and you spend a lot of time working with them. They help you with both your professional development and your personal growth.   

Compensation

Each college offers different compensation packages, but most provide free room and board. You get your own room and don’t have to worry about living with someone else. For most, this compensation helps finance their college education. It depends on the location of the college, but I’m able to live in downtown Boston for free. A lot of people apply to be RAs just because of free housing. This reason is valid, but not good enough. The job is a big commitment and requires a lot of dedication, so you need to be passionate about it; you can’t just do it for the money. Maybe you care about fostering diversity and inclusion in the community or maybe you want to help the freshmen adjust — these are all important factors in making the decision to be an RA.

Pitfalls

Time Requirement

You’re going to be busy. Sometimes your time isn’t always your own as an RA. Academics always come first, but then it’s the RA position (not any other leadership position or job you hold on campus). You have to be able to work around other commitments and get coverage when needed. It’s important to manage your time well and even schedule in time for rest.

Sleeping in Your Office

Unlike any other job, when you’re an RA, you basically sleep in your office. Maybe it’s 3AM or 8AM in the morning and someone knocks on your door — it’s a lockout. You have to do it. Maybe you have a significant other, but your resident needs you urgently, so your privacy is limited.

Stress

Juggling a lot of things at the same time is stressful. You have classes, other commitments like jobs or clubs, and your personal life. Sometimes your residents forget that you’re also human and that you might feel the same things that they are feeling. They come to you to complain about their roommates, professors, homesickness, personal problems, etc. That’s why you can always rely on your RA friends to listen to you.

Returning to Campus Early

Returning early to campus for training requires you to do some major planning with your summer. You can’t work, intern, travel or research for the entire summer and you have to find places that would hire you for a shorter period of time.

Fish Bowl Effect

As an RA you’re held to higher standards even if you’re not officially on the job. Technically, you’re never “off duty.” If you see something wrong, you have to report it. Students know that you’re an RA and they look up to you as a role model. They might follow every step you take. If you make a mistake, they might hold it against you and it can cost you your job, unfortunately.

The RA position has prepared me for future employment because it has not only taught me how to communicate effectively, manage time, educate, and mediate and solve conflicts, but has also helped me develop a leadership style. Like Ralph Nader said, “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

Image Courtesy of Demi Vitkute

CollegeEducationLearnSkillsWellness

Living with someone you don’t know can be very challenging, even if you come from a household with lots of siblings and are used to sharing a space. When it comes to living with other people in college, every student fears having a bad roommate. No one wants to live with someone they dislike or have problems with. I met with a Resident Director and a fellow Resident Assistant from Emerson College to get advice for this article. Roommate dispute is one of the most common issues residence hall professionals have to mediate, so they have great expertise on this topic. Resident Director Brandon Bennett, Resident Assistant Jake Hines, and college students Zoe Cronin and Kit Norton, gave advice that will help you and your roommate get along throughout the school year:

1. Address both big and small issues.

Brandon Bennett, Resident Director at Emerson College, said that most roommate conflicts stem from a lack of communication skills. He thinks that when people are able to confront one another in a healthy way, roommate relationships can actually grow and become stronger. “Most people are not intentionally vindictive toward their roommate,” he says. “Being told how they are making someone feel can be a starting point for a compromise.” It is important to talk to your roommate if something they do annoys you, or if you think you might be doing something that bothers them that they are not telling you about. Resident Assistant Jake Hines, who has lived in a dorm setting for ten years because he attended boarding schools during high school, said that if you don’t address even the smallest issues, they pile up, and roommates become passive aggressive with one another. “It gets to the point that they hate each other and can’t live together anymore, so they need to switch rooms,” he said. For example, one of his residents started gaging at the sight of his roommate rubbing in lotion into his skin. “This kind of passive aggressive behavior makes roommates feel very insecure.” Talk to your roommate from the very beginning of the relationship and establish an open and honest dialogue.

2. Exchange one thing with your roommate that annoys you.

Once roommates are being transparent with each other, the problems that they had before should stop reoccurring. “Sharing one thing that your roommate does that annoys you, instead of a list to the moon, is a great way to let your roommate know what you don’t like, without offending him or her,” said Hines. For example, maybe you go to sleep earlier than your roommate and it annoys you that he/she leaves the lights on. Share this annoyance and ask your roommate what annoys him/her. Perhaps, he/she doesn’t like when you leave your dirty laundry on the floor. As a compromise, you can stop leaving your dirty laundry on the floor, and your roommate can turn off the lights earlier, turn on a smaller lamp, or do homework in the common area.

3. Ask questions.

Bennett said the greatest advice he could give to people who live with roommates was to ask questions. “Never stop trying to get to know the person whom you share a space with. Everything else from that point will become so much easier.” You should be friendly to your roommate, without expecting to be best friends.

4. Be aware of who you bring into your room and how often.

It’s important to always notify your roommate in advance if you’re going to have a guest. Zoe Cronin, a junior at Emerson, said that she got along really well with her roommate freshman year, but there was one time when she got mad. Her roommate’s boyfriend was visiting and he accidentally spilled orange juice all over the carpet. Cronin didn’t say anything and cleaned the carpet herself. “I wish I had told her I was irritated, instead of silently being mad,” she said. Kit Norton, also a junior, said that he and his suitemates were never going to forget the smell of a guest’s stinky feet. “It smelled like old, melted cheese,” he said. Norton had to put pants under the door so that the smell wouldn’t get to his room through the door. He still has never addressed the issue with the suitemate, who occasionally brings the guest. “You can’t smell it until he takes off his shoes; it’s like a super power,” he said.

5. Make up to your roommate, if you messed up.

Maybe you borrowed your roommates’ nice shirt to go out for dinner and you accidentally spilled grape juice all over it. Take it to a dry cleaner if you can, or offer to help pay for the damage, and apologize to your roommate. Norton’s suitemate Kristen once received donuts from her roommate as a form of apology.

6. Set rules.

Cronin advises to set rules with your roommate: a time for lights out, rotate taking out the trash, how many guests are allowed to come and how frequently they can visit, whether music can be played through speakers or head phones, what types of food can be eaten in the room incase of allergies or sensitivities, etc.

7. Be mutually respectful of each other’s personal space and belongings.

You might come from a household where sharing things with your siblings without asking for permission was totally acceptable. However, borrowing your roommate’s cute top might be crossing a line. Don’t borrow, use, or take anything without getting permission first.

8. Lock the door and windows.

Thefts aren’t uncommon at colleges. How would you feel if your roommate’s laptop got stolen if you forgot to lock the door? However, you don’t want your roommate to get locked out all the time, so kindly remind him/her to take the keys. Don’t be that roommate who locks the door and leaves while the roommate is in the shower.

You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, but you should be friendly. You can always find a compromise. Having difficult conversations is part of growing up and helps you in the future. If nothing else works out, consult with your RA, who will advice you, and if needed, mediate the difficult conversation between you and your roommate.

Image: Flickr

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When Carpe Juvenis set out to redesign, we knew exactly who to turn to. Spencer Shores, an incredibly talented recent graduate from Cornish College of the Arts, was the person we needed. We were referred to him by Kate Harmer (who you might recognize from her own Professional Spotlight!) who brought him onto her team as an intern and quickly realized he stood out as worth recommending. It’s hard to believe that Spencer is just in his early twenties – he has the professionalism of an ultra experienced pro, and the skill of someone who is able to combine both learned and natural talent to everything he touches. We knew from the get go that we had to share his story and advice with the Carpe community! So without further ado…

Name: Spencer Shores
Education: BFA in Visual Communications from Cornish College of the Arts
Follow: www.spencershor.es

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

Spencer Shores: Seizing your youth to me is about finding your path. It is taking on an active role of defining yourself. Fail often and what have you.

CJ: You are studying Design and Visual Communications at Cornish College of the Arts. What sparked your love for design and illustration?

SS:
I entered school as print-maker and a painter. My love for design and illustration was something that grew the more I was immersed in the community. I loved that designers ask questions, whether they have the answers at the time. However, they always planned on finding an answer. Design for me is the perfect cohesion of critical and creative thinking.

CJ: What does your creative process look like?

SS: It really depends on the project.  I like to have a variety of projects at any one time. Some are just visual experiments or technique explorations, while others are highly conceptual projects that tend to be very near and dear to my heart. The visual and technique driven projects usually start with a lot of visual references and lots of sketching, it’s a lot less formal of a process. Some of these projects are just weekend posters or things of that nature. The more conceptual projects starts with a lot of reading, writing, and reflecting. The conceptual projects can last from weeks to even years. There are still visuals and sketching phases, however this occurs much later. The visuals don’t become important until you’re about 80% done with the project.

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CJ: You interned at Hum Creative. What was that experience like and how has it influenced your work (in design and/or business)?

SS:
Working with the Hum crew was a great experience. It was really demystifying of the design world. You hear horror stories while in school of what design firms are like. I suppose I’m lucky, because that was not my experience. Interning and later working with Hum was the first job I’d ever had where I wasn’t counting the hours until I could go home. I vividly remember thinking that this was what people talked about when they said work is never work if you love what you do. Since then, I never approached design as a task, or something I need to do. Design is always an opportunity, an opportunity to make something that matters. That’s a really exciting realization.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from being a designer and illustrator?

SS: It is an important and valuable skill to be able to see things that don’t work. I consider myself an optimist, but there are a lot of things in the world that do not work, or at the very least could work better. The greatest lesson I’ve learned as a designer is that the first step of solving a problem is asking the question.

CJ: What is the most challenging part about being a designer and illustrator? The best part?

SS: I think the most challenging part is in fact the best part. Something that doesn’t generally come naturally to people is the idea of collaboration. The best part of being a designer is the opportunity to work with people, but more importantly people that think differently than yourself. Whether it be other designers or working with clients. My best work has come from collaboration and melding of ideas in order to solve a problem. This isn’t always easy, but it is always rewarding.

Spencer shores

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in being a designer and illustrator?

SS: Work hard and ask people questions. You’ll be amazed at how positively people react when you are genuinely interested in what they do. Design/Illustration is a fairly small community, so it goes a long way just to reach out to people. That results in an infinite supply of knowledge and mentorship.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

SS: I try to make a point to ease my way into the week, by ritualizing it in a sense. I make the active choice to get up and get out as soon as possible. I go straight to a coffee shop and get a coffee, being in a new surroundings kick starts my mind. Then I make lists. I love to make lists of things I want to achieve during that day and throughout that week. It’s an important part of my workflow.

CJ: What are your time management tips? How do you stay organized and efficient?

SS: The lists! I make multiple versions of my lists, I keep digital and handwritten copies. Actually physically writing things helps me remember them more accurately. It is also important to have an idea of how much time you can spend on something. It’s a good exercise to time yourself with parts of your day or workflow so you can accurately assess and distribute your time.

CJ: What is a cause or issue that you care about and why?

SS: A point of discussion recently has been the education system. I believe that we systematically approach educating people in the wrong way. This results in the population believing that they are not capable of many things. I believe that people can do anything they want to do. We live in a world where almost all knowledge is accessible and you can learn all about it with the half a second it takes to Google it.

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CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

SS: I’m really pushing myself to be better about being honest with myself and others. Not in the sense that I am a compulsive liar or any such thing. I am more accurately a relentless optimist. I believe that many things are possible and I’m often right, however, I tend to spread myself fairly thin at times by overcommitting to people. At a certain point it is more beneficial to others if I am not quite so drained.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

SS: I go outside. First thing I need to do is step away from what is frustrating me, which typically is work related and often involves a screen. I constantly need to remind myself to go outside, feel a breeze, and take a breath. It keeps my grounded and engaging my other senses takes the focus off of the one point of frustration. I also write my thoughts. It allows me to stop thinking about so many things at once if I can just get them on paper.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

SS: It is okay to question your teachers. They’ll encourage you to do so. It is totally possible to make money in a creative field. Forget about business school. It is also possible to make things that are important and impactful, not just for you, but for others as well.

Spencer Shores Qs

Images by Spencer Shores

Education

It took us a while to join the podcast bandwagon, but now we can’t stop listening! There are so many great podcasts to listen to, so there’s certainly no shortage of great information or inspiration. These are the eight podcasts we can’t get enough of.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Love learning about history? You won’t want to stop listening to this podcast. From Chinese History to American Civil War to History Mysteries to Pirates, there is an abundance of fascinating topics about the past.

Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series

If you’re a budding entrepreneur or have been running your own business for a while, this podcast is a must-listen.

Planet Money

Listening to this podcast is a fun (yes, fun) way to learn about money and economics. With interesting and relevant topics, this podcast will make you feel smarter in just 20 minutes.

Zero to Travel

Experiencing serious wanderlust? Zero to Travel shares useful travel tips, inspiring travel stories, and new ways to explore the world. Get your passport ready!

Joblogues

Joymarie Parker hosts candid conversations with budding entrepreneurs, creative-thinkers, and dynamic young professionals navigating work and life across the globe. For real talk, check this podcast out.

Longform

Bookworms, this podcast is for you. Longform shares weekly conversations with a non-fiction writer or editor on his or her craft and career.

TED Radio Hour

As always, TED shares fascinating ideas, different journeys, and unique insights. Each show is centered on a common theme, such as happiness, creativity, and new inventions.

Stuff You Should Know

Want to know how PEZ works? What about how police dogs work? How hot air balloons work? If you’re at all curious about how things work, this is the podcast for you.

Image: Sascha Kohlmann

EducationSkills

Have a big test coming up? Working on a project with others? Study groups can be a very effective – and fun! – way to further your education. Studying with others provide the opportunity to make sure you didn’t miss out on any pertinent information and to learn from one another if a certain topic is confusing to you. It also allows you to explain concepts to others, which helps you better remember the information.

Run a productive study group with these techniques:

Create a Study Guideline before the Meeting

Email everyone in the Study Group an outline for the meeting. If there’s a topic you’re focusing on, or if it’s a broad overview of everything that might be on a test, break the meeting down by half hour or hour so that you can all stay on track. This way, people know what to expect when they come to the study group. Also, if there are any missing topics or terms, they can be filled into the guideline before everyone meets.

Pinpoint Confusing Concepts

Utilize the Study Group time to focus on confusing concepts. Go over the class lessons as a whole, but spend more time on topics that are more challenging. Try explaining the concepts to each other – saying what you need to know out loud will help you remember it later on.

Arrive Prepared

Don’t show up to Study Groups not having looked over the material. You want to be a participating member and offer your knowledge. Avoid joining the study group just to sit back and check your notes. Help others on topics they might be fuzzy about. Arrive ready to have a conversation and to prepare for the upcoming test or project.

Divvy Up Responsibilities

Before everyone meets for the Study Group, dividing responsibilities is a great way to relieve some of the burden of studying. Each week someone can take on the responsibility of being the leader of the Study Group, or you can designate just one person, and he or she can break down the topics that need to be covered and who is in charge of each one. If one person in the Study Group is more knowledgeable in the History of the Atomic Model, another person is better at explaining the Periodic Table, and you understand the Ionic and Metallic Bonding, you can all work together to teach other these topics. Play up your strengths to help yourself and others.

Limit Study Group Size

To prevent too much socialization and to make sure everyone has a chance to participate, limit the Study Group size to four to six people. This way everyone’s voice can be heard and it doesn’t become too overwhelming. Study with classmates who share the same goal of earning good grades. This isn’t social hour or a gossip group, so choose to study with people who want to focus and learn.

Make the Timing of Meetings Manageable

In order not to get burned out, overwhelmed, or easily distracted, make the Study Group meetings no more than two hours, with a ten minute break. It’s better to meet for two hours twice a week than four hours once a week. You’ll all be more productive and more time to study and sort out what questions you have. Meet in your school’s library, a local coffee shop, in an empty classroom, or outside on the grass – somewhere that is conducive to paying attention and being able to hear one another.

Eliminate Distractions

This isn’t the time for everyone to be on their phones texting or listening to music. Put phones, laptops, and other devices away. Use the time you have to stay focused and on target. This is the time to pick each other’s brains about confusing concepts, so make the most of it!

Bring Snacks

During your short break, it never hurts to have a granola bar or piece of fruit on hand. Stay energized during this power hour(s) of Study Group.

What tips do you have for running productive Study Groups?

Image by Breather

CollegeCultureEducation

You’re probably friends with or know someone who’s an international student. But what does the term “international student” even mean? There are many ways someone can qualify as an “international student.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that the student grew up abroad. They might be dual or triple citizens, permanent residents, or have student visas.

Being an international student often comes with a lot of heavy baggage, and some American students might have a hard time understanding what it’s like to be categorized as “international.” The natural curiosity about where someone’s accent comes from or why they do something differently can make international students feel like they are exotic, as if there is something negative about their behavior. International students may get irritated when their differences (that are frequently assumed) are exaggerated and the similarities are overlooked. They might feel like anthropological objects rather than humans with interests when they’re bombarded with questions about their culture the minute they meet someone new.

This doesn’t mean that your conversation with an international student should sound scripted or that you should ask specific questions. Just interact with them like you would with an American student. Just because someone comes from a different place than you doesn’t mean you have to figure him or her out immediately. It takes time and effort to get to know someone. The questions like “where are you from?” seem simple, but the answers can be more complex than you think. It’s not easy to sum it up in a few short words. If you want to make international students feel welcomed to campus, here is a list of things you might want to avoid saying (especially the minute you meet them).

  1. “Where are you from?”

The first instinct you might have when you meet an international student is to ask that person where she or he is from. They get asked this question a lot – almost every time they meet someone new. It’s a normal and logical question to ask, you think. If international students try to answer it they might be asked even more questions and have to deal with even more misconceptions about their country. Sometimes answering, “where are you from” can be more complex than it sounds. Have you ever heard of a third culture kid (TCK)? It’s a term used to refer to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their developmental years (there are books written about them). TCKs might have moved around their entire lives for various reasons (like parents’ jobs), so it could be difficult for them to pin point just one place where they’re from. They might have more than one place that they call home. Don’t pressure them into telling you one particular place! Maybe they never grew up in the place where they were born. Instead of asking them where they’re from, ask something you would ask an American student you’ve just met, like “what’s your major, what organizations are you involved with?” There’s a difference between where a person is from and who they are (it’s part of who they are, but not all they are), so try to bond over common interests first. After you meet the person, and if you’re genuinely interested about where they’re coming from and want to know more about the culture, you can have a conversation over a cup of coffee or lunch.

  1. “How is your transition going?”

Don’t ask how their “transition” is going – that’s assuming that they have just arrived to the U.S. and dismisses the fact that they might have gone to middle school or high school here, or arrived at a very young age. To take it even further, this question might be interpreted as you thinking that they have to go through some sort of transition or assimilation to fit in. Instead, you can ask about the ways the United States is different from where they’re from. It’s a broad question, so again, you probably want to discuss it when you have more time.

  1. “Wait, what was that word you just said?”

Don’t assume that because they have an accent their English is worse than yours. And don’t pick or laugh at their accent all the time because that can make them feel very self-conscious and is just plain rude. Instead of blaming their accent, you can simply say something, like “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that— can you repeat it, please?”

  1. “Did you just learn English? How are you so good?”

All international students are required to get a high score on a standardized English test called TOEFL in order to get into an American high school or college. Chances are high that they even went to an American school abroad or in the U.S., or took International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in English. International students are also usually multilingual – other countries start teaching a foreign language in kindergarten or elementary school, and add a second or third foreign language in middle school. So instead of asking them how their English is so good, you can ask them how many other languages they speak, and compliment them on their multilingualism.

  1. “Did you ride a camel to school?”

Don’t joke about things that you’ve heard about another culture or country because a lot of these things are disrespectful stereotypes. International students might worry about reinforcing the stereotypes and feel responsible to break them. If you have specific questions about their culture, you can ask them about it instead of making assumptions. For example, “what’s the education system like in your country?”

  1. “That must be a cultural thing.”

Don’t assume that doing something different is “a cultural thing” or that it’s wrong. Like Pocahontas said, “you think the only people who are people, are the people who look and think like you.” If you don’t understand a certain phrase or behavior, just ask an international student to explain what it means.

  1. “Imagine you got deported for (   ). That would be so funny.”

International students are legal immigrants — they’re not getting deported, so stop joking about it. However, some might have a fear that every tiny infraction will result in being deported and this kind of joke could actually initiate stress or anxiety. You’re better off not bringing it up at all, even if it was only meant in a lighthearted way.

  1. “He/she is my (Russian/Asian/etc.) friend.”

It is not the best feeling to be the token foreign friend or the token foreign student in class. There is pressure to represent the entire nation or society. Instead of introducing your friend as “This is my Russian pal Natalia,” just say: “This is my pal Natalia.” Your friend is a person – not a categorized label. Feel free to ask your classmate about politics, but remember that there are many sides to the story and he/she is only expressing a personal opinion, not speaking for the entire nation.

  1. “That’s such an immigrant thing to do.”

For instance, if someone bows to express gratitude and you comment that it’s “such an immigrant thing to do,” that’s making fun of the person’s culture and is offensive. What is an “American” thing to do? If you’re curious about their traditions, ask them in a polite way.

Not everyone has a case of xenophobia – the dislike of someone or something that is perceived to be foreign or strange – but some people might unconsciously exhibit signs of it. Xenophobia can also display itself when a culture is stereotyped and exoticized. Be curious but patient, and ask questions at appropriate times and when you have time to discuss a topic more extensively with an international student.

It goes without saying that international students are valuable assets to our society intellectually and economically. In 2014 alone, international students contributed more than $27 billion dollars to the U.S. economy, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce (majority of international students receive funding from outside of the U.S.). Not only do international students bring economic benefits, but they also add cultural diversity to classrooms, help prepare American students for global careers, and build long-term business relationships.

Obviously accents and cultures are part of international students’ identities, but they shouldn’t define them and make them exotic or anthropological objects rather than human beings. Now that you’re all in school together, make it feel like home. Aside from international students being valuable assets, they’re also just humans who deserve respect and equal treatment. Everyone comes from different places in college, whether it’s Philadelphia or Ireland, and everyone needs a place to call home far away from home. And perhaps no one needs a home more than an international student, who can’t just simply drive a few hours to see the family.

Image: Flickr

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Gabriel Cabrera is a food and prop stylist who runs a gorgeous food, art, design, and culture blog called Artful Desperado, and we were hooked after seeing just one blog post. The photos will make you want to take photography (and perhaps even food styling!) more seriously, and Gabriel’s writing is fun, catchy, and engaging – you won’t be able to visit his blog just once.

After having studied Tourism Management at Universidad Anahuac, Gabriel received his Culinary Arts degree from Vancouver Community College. The skills he learned from culinary school comes into play every single day, whether he’s dreaming up a new recipe for Artful Desperado or for his Stylist job at Luvo Inc.

We are excited to share this exclusive interview with Gabriel, where he shares his top three photography tips, his favorite dessert he’s ever made, and an inside look on what his blog and stylist duties entail. Read on for more culinary inspiration!

Name: ​Gabriel Cabrera
Education: ​Tourism Management from Universidad Anahuac; Culinary Arts from Vancouver Community College
Follow: ​TheArtfulDesperado.com / Instagram@ArtfulDesperado
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

GAB: ​I think the process of seizing your youth never truly ends. To me it’s a constant state of mind where you must take every opportunity you can to shape your future. Seizing your youth is a life­-long learning experience through trial and error. This means you cannot give up and you cannot shy away from creative/life challenges, otherwise you will be giving up on some very valuable life lessons (which by the way, are tuition free!). Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you always end up with a new skill that will help you get closer to success.

CJ: You majored in Tourism Management at Universidad Anahuac. How did you determine what to study?

GAB: ​I chose Tourism Management based on my personal interests, which are travel and food. It was a tricky choice! You know, turning something you love into your full-time job may not be what you would expect. When I chose Tourism Management I thought “I’m going to travel everywhere for a living!” I was wrong; I was stuck in an office making sure everyone was enjoying their vacations, and that killed me. Some people thrive in the service industry, but not this cat.

Gabriel 5

CJ: You then went on to receive a Professional Certificate in Culinary Arts from Vancouver Community College. What sparked your passion for food and cooking, and what was your culinary school experience like?

GAB: ​I’ve always loved cooking. I was born in Mexico, so food is a HUGE part of our culture, pretty much every social interaction revolves around food (fine by me!). I wanted to do something with this foodie passion of mine, so I decided to take it to the next level in cooking school. I knew it was going to be hard work (despite what everyone thinks, a kitchen is more like the military than what you see on the Food Network). I had some really stressful moments where I thought to myself “why am I doing this!?!” but deep inside I knew I had to keep going. I did, and I don’t regret it one bit. I think that’s key – you’ve got to listen to your inner voice. Your gut is right 99.9% of the time and if something feels like it fits ­despite the stress and sleepless nights ­then it will turn out for the better. Trust me, your sweat and tears pay off!

CJ: You run the stunning blog, Artful Desperado. What inspired you to start your blog, and what do your blogger duties look like?

GAB: ​The blog started as a creative exercise to train myself to be more aware of what was happening in the art, design, and food world. From then on it took off and it changed a bit to be more focused on food and styling which is what I do.

My blogger duties are basically wearing many hats! Copy-writing, photographing, styling, editing, business skills (to create partnerships with sponsors or brands) and even a bit of HTML coding (for any bugs that may happen). A “day in the life of” looks like this: gather inspiration for a new post, test the recipe, gather props and ingredients, cook, style and shoot, edit, write the blog post, and promote to social channels. Mind you, due to my work schedule I currently don’t blog daily, I only update once a week­-ish.

Gabriel 2

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you would give a baking/cooking enthusiast?

GAB​: Travel! Seriously, get out there. Cookbooks are awesome, and so are ideas from Pinterest, but traveling is just the real deal. You don’t have to go somewhere extremely expensive or exotic (though, if you can, then yes! by all means go), you can do trips in your state or province and try different things you’d never try before. Architecture, culture, nature; all of them will have a major impact on the way you see/create food.

CJ: You take gorgeous photos on Artful Desperado and your Instagram. What are your top three photography tips?

GAB: ​Top three would be: 1 -­ Great lighting. Lighting is key to achieving a great photograph, learn the basics and practice as much as you can and soon enough you’ll start seeing it everything in a different light (pun intended). 2 – If it doesn’t look good, then don’t share it­. The Internet is full of images, no need to add something that’s not appealing (there’s plenty of that already). Just Google “Martha Stewart food photos” and you’ll see what I mean. 3 ­- Experiment. Try different set ups and styles until you find the one that fits you, this also helps you learn lots about styling/photographing in different situations so you’ll become a pro.

CJ: You are also a photographer and stylist at Luvo Inc, a company that provides healthy and convenient pre­made meals that are good for you. What does your role as photographer and stylist entail?

GAB: ​My job is making sure we visually showcase our food and team recipes in the best way possible, according to brand standards and also depending on what our customers love. I also coordinate our photo shoots making sure we have everything we need: food, props, equipment, etc. On a typical week I’d be brainstorming for a shoot, hunting new props, working with our team to design a set for our “scenes,” cooking, and testing recipes, etc. It’s busy!

Gabriel 3

CJ: What is your favorite meal or dessert you’ve ever made?

GAB: That would be a very simple and easy Mexican flan ­- honestly, whenever I make it it’s a couple hours before I eat it all. I love it because it brings back so many childhood memories and tastes like heaven.

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person hoping to set themselves up for success in the culinary world?

GAB: ​Have stamina! The kitchen is tough place. Also try to gain as much experience outside of regular work; go intern at a top restaurant or practice at home with friends and document it (these are the baby steps of starting to build your own recipes). Surround yourself with activities that will enrich your culinary style: go see some art shows, watch food documentaries and movies, check out classic cookbooks from the library. The more you know your craft, the more you’ll get noticed in the industry. Basically you’ve got to build respect from day one. Street cred, ya know!?

CJ:  How do you stay organized and manage your time?

GAB: ​I’m old-school and I use a monthly planner (an actual notebook) and a sketchbook. In my planner I put every single deadline I have and the name of the project. Any additional notes such as number of assets I need to create (e.g. number of photos or looks), shopping lists, mood boards, fabric samples, etc. they all go in my sketchbook in the appropriate project. Needless to say my sketchbook gets HUGE! But it’s nice to see all the things you done and keep all that important creative information for future projects.

Gabriel 4

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care about? If so, why?

GAB: ​I’m not sure if it’s a cause but it’s something I really care about: I am pro­-food­-happiness and anti­-internet-­stupidity. The first means to be happy with your diet: don’t be vegan just because, don’t eat a bunch of meat just because ­ do it because you actually enjoy it. If you’re a concerned about the environmental impact, then make better choices such as eating cruelty free products. If you’re a vegetarian and you want to eat a spicy chorizo sandwich then do it! Whatever you choose, do it because it makes you happy.

The second is so important and I feel the new generation of youngsters need to learn more about it: everything you post online will stay in there forever and ever, so be careful and internet-­etiquette savvy.

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

GAB: ​That would have to be negative feedback. As a creative I really take it to heart when someone doesn’t like my work. I’ve learned that is not the end of the world -­ different strokes for different folks, right? Instead of shutting down, I’m working on taking the bits that will help improve my work and move on.

Gabriel 1

CJ: What is your favorite book?

GAB: Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine by René Redzepi.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

GAB: ​I bake and/or go to take photos outside my home. Baking for me is like meditation as you’ve got to visualize your recipe, measure ingredients, etc., and the rewards are always oh­-so­-sweet (another pun!). Taking photos just for myself and not for work is also the best, a lot of times I go out and take a ton of photos and then delete them all. It’s kind of therapeutic.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20­-year-­old self?

GAB: ​Quality not quantity! Back then I felt I needed to have a lot of everything: friends, contacts, clothes. Really tightening your social life, contacts, and finances helps you stay focused on the things that matter.

Gabriel Cabrera Qs

Images by Gabriel Cabrera; profile photo by Tomasz Wagner; graphic by Carpe Juvenis

CultureEducation

“I honestly believe if people traveled more often, there would be less conflict because there would be more understanding.” I said this in my Youth Spotlight last week, and I meant it with all my heart. Traveling is a powerful educational tool for everyone and, I believe, is especially eye opening for minority youth like myself. Let me tell you why.

With cultural tensions spewed across the news and social media platforms as of late, people seem quick to grab onto fear before attempting to peacefully resolve a misunderstanding. We are all guilty of being fearful sometimes, but let’s remember, fear is only a result of unfamiliarity. For example, you may be terrified of insects until you watch the Discovery Channel and learn the many ways they help protect us from even scarier things like low crop yields and a massive buildup of animal waste (no, thank you!). Suddenly, you’ll think twice before stepping on the little creatures that are more helpful than we think, and this is all thanks to a bit of new knowledge.

The same concept goes for people. In my personal experiences as a young minority woman traveling, I have often found myself in places where no one looks like me. For some of you, whether Black, Asian, Hispanic, a lovely mix and so on, this might sound familiar. It can be awkward at times, but always eye-opening and beneficial for all parties involved. Travel is absolutely transformative for minority youth in three major ways.

First, it allows those unfamiliar with your culture to become more familiar. When I traveled to New Zealand a few years ago, I never saw another black person during the trip, aside from the few traveling with me in the tour group. This doesn’t mean black people don’t exist in New Zealand; I just never crossed paths with any. During my home stay with a Kiwi family (the native minority population in the country), they told me they’d never had any black friends before and I said I’d never had any Kiwi friends before. At first they were timid to ask pressing questions about my culture, but eventually conversation began flowing as I told them about ridiculous stereotypes that exist in America, the daily struggles faced, and about my personal family history. They reciprocated by telling me about theirs. As native New Zealanders, many of their experiences were similar to mine, as a black American. Who would have known? By the end of the conversation, we could all say we were friends. Pretty good ones, at that. Just think about it – if discussions like this would happen more frequently, there would be much more respect than conflict.

Not only does traveling teach others about you, but it can also teach you about your own culture. Every time you go to a new location, you unlock a part of yourself you didn’t know existed. For example, when I went to Paris for the first time in high school, I learned about how many black Americans in the 1920’s hopped the Atlantic and settled in the City of Lights. Many did this because they felt race was not as much of a hindrance to living a happy life in Paris as it was in America. There were more job opportunities, a booming arts industry, and less violent racism. I found it so interesting to learn about how people like me lived in other countries in the past, and are still living there today. Traveling to Paris expanded my mindset and, in a sense, gave me a newfound sense of my own identity within the world and its history.

Last but surely not least, travel has the power to make the variety of race seem minuscule compared to the unity of humanness. What I mean by this is that through exploring new areas, speaking to new people, immersing yourself in a different society, and catching a glimpse into how others live, similarities across cultures are more evident than any differences could ever be. We all struggle to find ourselves. We all get lazy, grumpy, giggly, frustrated, happy, and jealous at times. We all laugh at our own jokes, have secret crushes on people who don’t know who we are, and have blood flowing through our veins. You get the point. But mostly, we all want to just be happy.

So, whether you are thinking about traveling to another country, a new town, or a new school, I want to encourage you to go for it… for yourself, and for all of us.

Image: Jay Mantri

Skills

Their are many mistake’s you can make, but not all of which you’ll have the chance too make up for.

If that sentence didn’t make you cringe or shake your head, please keep reading. Poor grammar and spelling are both disappointing and alarming when we look at how prevalent they are. Ever go through comments on a blog post and read a perfectly insightful opinion, but it was perfectly botched with errors? It’s frightening. To casually communicate through text can be relatively inconsequential – skipping your commas won’t rock the boat when texting mom. But some errors have bigger implications, and are worsened when used in professional or educational settings.

Getting into such habits as failing to (or deliberately choosing not to) distinguish the difference between there, they’re, and their or incorrectly using plural possessives (cats’, cat’s, cats) can have repercussions. Here are my top three reasons why you should never make these mistakes again:

1. It gives the impression that you are not attentive to detail.

So you’re typing away and happen to put the apostrophe in the wrong place, or you use your when you meant to type you’re, and you think to yourself  “whatever, they know what I meant.” Sure, the reader knows what you meant, but you risk them wondering what other types of small mistakes you make. When you’re just starting out in your career and earning your stripes, getting it right is non-negotiable.

What to do:

Simply take a second glance at your email. If you’re unsure about a word or phrase, Google it or have a coworker take a look. For extra cookie points, ask your boss’s opinion. They’ll appreciate your effort and can make other suggestions for improvement.

2. It makes you sound, well, not smart.

Whether you’re the CEO, the director, or just starting out as an entry-level associate, the last thing you want is have others assume you don’t know your literary basics (because you do!). You want to be seen as a valuable contributor to your team, and your brilliant suggestions and ideas can be doubted if your emails are flooded with poor grammar and typos. It could discredit you as a source of knowledge and even cause a misunderstanding (you meant to mention your college degree, not your collage degree!).

What to do:

When expressing your ideas, be as clear and concise as humanly possible. State the objective, the procedure (if applicable), and the anticipated outcome. For efficiency, preempt possible questions and include the answers. It’s not a 10-page essay for creative writing, so don’t be afraid to use bullet points. To conclude your email, add “please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.” It shows your willingness to further help explain details as needed.

3. It could cost you a job interview.

Mark Manson (one of my favorite bloggers) refers to grammar mistakes as “basic errors.” In job applications, this faux-pas gets people thrown in the “instant deletion” pile. While he admits to extend some leniency with those who aren’t in the business of writing/editing (such as digital artists), I still personally believe there’s no excuse to mess them up anyway.

What to do:

Proofread! Proofread it a million times, and then have your friend, mom, dad, neighbor, and dog proofread it. You want to have multiple sources to give you the maximum amount of feedback. Make adjustments until it’s perfect.

There you have it! As a warning, beware of those subtle errors that aren’t always staring you right in the face. We’re all guilty of missing the mark at one point or another, but it’s important to try and correct it whenever possible.  As millennials, we are, after all, the most educated generation in history.

Image: Stewart Black

CollegeEducation

Okay, that’s only sort of true. Obviously it matters. Apart from your graduate school applications, some say a GPA’s significance is limited to the three years following graduation, and others argue that it has no fundamental value post-education at all. But before taking sides, I have a slightly different perspective.

While currently working in HR for a global cable & wiring manufacturing company, I find myself on the other end of the scavenger job hunt – I’m now the interviewer. I sift through résumés, interview and screen candidates, and aim to ultimately select the best person with the most appropriate set of skills. During my interviews, I take notes on KSAO’s: knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics that were reflected on their resume. Those “other characteristics” are the real kicker. They can be a variety of details, such as their potential fit to our company culture, for example.

The truth is, whenever I review someone’s résumé, the last thing I look at is their GPA.

I ask myself questions like, “Does this résumé look like they just threw words together and sent them with 50 other applications?,” “Did they make any stupid grammar/spelling mistakes?,” and “What did they do that makes them more valuable than someone else?” It’s never about the number next to their college degree. Sure, putting your 3.0+ is helpful, but quite frankly, unless you can show evidence that you’re capable of getting the job done, it’s only a fun fact. It’s everything else about that application that either gives them the boot or scores an interview.

Granted, your GPA clearly matters when applying to graduate school – but even then, once you’re in, your grade is not nearly as important as the content you truly learn. The phrase “easy A” exists for a reason, and that is exactly what I encourage students to beware of. It looks great on paper, but means nothing. Ultimately, you’ve lost the battle. It sounds like common sense, yet people don’t invest time in their skills that make them employable: critically analyzing situations, strategizing, networking, and communicating, to name a few.

“But I’m still in school and not working! How am I supposed to make myself employable?!” Good question! There’s a plethora of opportunities around you to help build your skills without having to register for a class. The best way? Figure out what you like doing – something that won’t burn you out because it’s a source of joy – and go for it. If you’re a social person, make friends with as many people as you can! Network like crazy. You never know who you’ll meet, who they’ll know, or how and when they may be helpful.

Yes – I’m literally telling you it’s a skill to make a bunch of friends. And if you’re feeling super ballsy, take that class with that professor that everyone avoids because they’re rumored to grade “unfairly.” Challenge yourself to make them like you and help you – prove to him or her that you’re different from everyone else. The ability to understand a really difficult person is much more useful in life than memorizing that one formula that one time in that class a semester ago. You’ll build the confidence to influence people, and the capability to change a person’s mind, attitude, and behavior is priceless.

Needless to say, going out of your comfort zone is uncomfortable and awkward, but I promise you’ll thank me for it!

Don’t stress yourself out over your grades – go do amazing things in real life and have fun doing them!

Image: Flickr

EducationSkills

The almost-there feeling of getting an interview for graduate school is both an exciting and daunting one. You feel accomplished for sending out those applications and validated that you are headed in the right direction. So pat yourself on the back for making it to the next step and get ready for your interview the right way.

First and foremost, be yourself. Your background and interests were what brought you to the interview and now it’s just a matter of figuring out if the program is the perfect fit for you. Faculty, staff, and current students that are interviewing you are looking for students who are genuinely interested in their program and have unique skills and interests to offer. Believing that you are capable and ready is the best way to start preparing. Once you have that covered, prepare with these four tips:

1. Research and Relate

You’ve researched the school in-depth and you know what it stands for. You know the school’s mission and the goals of your program of interest. Now it’s time to familiarize yourself with more specific information. Look into the course catalog and read about the classes you would be taking. Jotting down notes about the learning outcomes for each course can help give you a framework of the “language” and style of the program. Are there specializations that you are interested in? If so, ask yourself why they interest you.

If you are seeking graduate school, there has been some sort of spark within you that has motivated you to learn more. Asking yourself to examine that spark can help you verbalize how your personal history blends with your curiosity for the program. Other details to look for include what types of internship or fieldwork opportunities they offer, graduate assistantships or fellowships, and faculty-specific research interests that tie in with yours. It’s helpful to have this sort of knowledge bank so you can connect what you have learned and experienced so far with what you will be learning in the future.

2. Know the Interview Format

It’s always good to know if you will be in an individual or group interview. In many cases, a program representative will let you know via phone or email what the interview dynamic will be like. If not, it’s okay to inquire with an admissions counselor. Individual interviews allow you to be the main focus of the panel. One of the best ways to prepare is by writing a list of possible interview questions and having a friend conduct a mock interview with you. Pay attention to the length of your answers. Are you being concise or talking too long? Are you saying “um,” “you know,” and other filler words? What are your hands, arms, and legs doing while you’re talking? Have a colleague take note of fidgeting, awkward pauses, volume, and eye contact.

With group interviews, the attention is divided and things can get a little tricky. Fortunately, there are ways to make group interviews go a lot more smoothly. For starters, non-verbal communication can keep you engaged throughout the interview even when you’re not the one talking. Nodding your head in response to others shows that you are listening and open to what everyone is saying. If the panel asks a question and does not direct anyone to start answering, wait a few moments to gauge the room and be the first to answer if you are ready. If another person begins to answer first, do not worry. The most important thing is what you say, not when you say it. If you’re looking for a way to begin your answer, try short starter statements like “I’ll start this one off,” or “I agree with that and have a similar experience as well,” or “I’ve considered this a lot while applying and…,” or “There are a few things that come to mind including _____ and ______.” Statements like these will help you ease into your answer and help you sound prepared and reflective.

3. Prepare with Questions That Ask More

It is common for faculty and program directors to ask questions that dig deeper than the expected “So why choose our school?” question. Rather than asking a question at surface level, they may ask a question with a different angle to examine how you respond to more difficult subject matter. For example, rather than asking about your opinions or experience with diversity, they may ask what about diversity makes you uncomfortable and how you see yourself overcoming that. Rather than just asking what makes you a good candidate for the program they may ask what you have done to prepare yourself for the rigor of graduate studies. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself the hard questions before the real thing.

4. Absorb and Emit Positivity

Although you may be nervous during your interview, good energy can get you through it. Condition yourself with positive thoughts before and during the interview. Having good thoughts about yourself and those around you can show through the tone of your voice, facial expressions, and body language. It can also calm you down if you begin to feel anxious. Feel excited about the opportunity at hand to meet professionals at each school. Feel proud of your accomplishments and thankful for the chance to share more about yourself. Remind yourself that the outcome of your interview does not define you as a person and that whatever comes your way is for your benefit. You have come a long way to now be in a turning point towards graduate studies. Be confident and be you, and the rest will fall right into place.

Image: Flickr

CultureLearn

Today is National Pi Day, and we want to celebrate by highlighting some of history’s most amazing mathematicians (in addition to eating a big slice of pie!).

Some cool facts about Pi:

  • It has been represented using the Greek letter “π” for the past 250 years.
  • It is a mathematical constant that’s special, unique, and significant in its own way.
  • It is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.
  • It never ends or settles into a repeating pattern.
  • It is the most recognized mathematical constant.
  • Computing the value of Pi is a stress test for computers.

Five of history’s most interesting mathematicians:

DN-SC-84-05971Grace Hopper (aka “Amazing Grace”) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. As a child Hopper would dismantle household gadgets, specifically alarm clocks, to figure out how they worked. During WWII Hopper decided to take a leave of absence from Vassar where she was working as an associate professor of math and was sown into the U.S. Navy Reserve as a volunteer. A pioneer in her field, she worked at Harvard University for the navy and was one of the first programmers to work on a computer called Harvard Mark I that was used in the war effort. On top of it all, she invented the first compiler for a computer programming language.

 

williamplayfairWilliam Playfair was the founder of graphical methods of statistics, in other words charts and diagrams. He was a Sottish engineer and political economist who invented four types of diagrams: the line graph, the car chart, the pie chart, and the circle graph. Born during the Enlightenment – a Golden Age when the arts, sciences, industry, and commerce were all thriving – Playfair was involved in many different careers. He was an engineer, accountant, inventor, silversmith, merchant, investment broker, economist, publicist, land speculator, editor, journalist, the list goes on.

adalovelace

Ada Lovelace is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. She earned this title after working on one of the earliest mechanical general-purpose computers called the Analytical Engine. The notes she took on this project are recognized as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. This has earned her the title of “first computer programmer.” As a young child Lovelace showed signs of being highly influence by math and science, and her parents pushed her to pursue this talent.

 

 

 

isaacnewton

Isaac Newton is best known for having developed the theory of gravity and physics, but he also invented calculus (as did Gottfried Leibniz, who he had many disputes with over this topic during his life). This Englishman formulated laws of motion and universal gravitation using mathematical processes. Born on Christmas Day, Newton was known to be an independent person who never married. His work in science and math are some of the core foundations on which many other developments were made.

 

 

 

sofiamath

Sofia Kovalevskaya was the first major Russian female mathematician. She contributed major original advances to analysis, differential equations, and mechanics. She was the first woman to ever be appointed to full professorship in Northern Europe and was one of the first women to work for a scientific journal as an editor. Born in Moscow, Kovalevskaya studied in Germany by auditing courses at a German university. For a long time she tried to build up her career but because she was a woman she was unable to. Finally she was accepted as a professor in Stockholm, Sweden.

 

 

Which leaders in math and science inspire you?

Image: Flickr, Grace Hopper, William Playfair, Ada LovelaceIsaac Newton, Sofia Kovalevskaya

EducationSkills

I remember the day I decided to take on a senior thesis in strangely vivid detail. I walked out of my advisor’s office feeling extremely confident and excited about the project I was about to undertake. However, by the time I had made it the three blocks back to my dorm, I was on the phone with my best friend in a panic, fervently begging her to talk me out of the decision I had just made.

As I look back now, over a year later, I can happily say that it was one of my better decisions. I currently work as an intern in a biological anthropology lab at The George Washington University studying primate behavioral ecology. For the past three years as an undergraduate student, I have studied data on maternal behavior and infant development in wild chimpanzees, wrestled with excel spreadsheets for countless hours, cataloged infinite sheets of behavioral data, and memorized an extensive protocol for entering data into excel and our online database. I came across this internship opportunity through an email sent out to all students pursuing their anthropology major.

My greatest passion has always been finding the answers to questions. I was never satisfied chalking things up to fate, chance, or destiny. Everything in my mind has to be answered with facts and correlations. I’ve always been curious; most of us are. The idea of research appealed to me because it is a way to establish facts and reach brand new conclusions – having tangible answers has always been crucial for me.

When I learned that the lab was working with Jane Goodall’s database, I knew I needed the job. Jane Goodall has been a personal inspiration my entire life. Her courage, strength, and dedication to science have always been traits that I admire. Jane embarked on a research journey in Tanzania in 1960 that many men and women would not have dreamed possible. Her independence and drive allowed her to succeed during a time when women were barely respected in scientific research. She individually named all of the chimpanzees she studied, researching their culture, hunting behaviors, and tool use. Her discoveries changed the worlds of primatology, anthropology, and the way we study evolution.

Although I didn’t necessarily plan on pursuing a career in primatology, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get my foot in the door of research and learn more about something I loved. I’ve learned that in order to discover your true passions, trying new things and jumping on interesting opportunities is a must. Working in the lab taught me that research was something worth pursuing, even if biological anthropology and primatology weren’t my primary passions.

When I first began working in the lab, entering data was exciting and informative. However, I soon realized that I was itching to get more hands-on in the work that the other lab members were doing. I would watch as the graduate students developed their research questions for their dissertations, and the post docs queried data for their analyses. I wanted to see if I had what it took to create my own questions and pioneer my own project. I met with my research advisor to discuss options and she suggested I begin work on a senior honors thesis.

The concept of individual, original research can be daunting, and it has been anything but easy for me. My near-fatal flaws include procrastinating and a lack of organization, but over the past year I have learned many valuable lessons about pioneering my own major project. Hopefully these skills will be applicable to you throughout your own research, senior theses, or any other type of long-term project.

1. Create a flexible timeline with small goals

This is extremely important for those of us who tend to leave things until the last minute. My thesis has taken place over the course of three semesters. I dedicated my first semester to creating proposals for two research topics, a major literature review, drafting preliminary research questions, and writing a 10 page introduction. I set deadlines for these individual tasks with my advisor in order to hold myself accountable. My second semester was all about performing the actual analyses and revising the questions after preliminary results. This semester, I’m finishing the final analyses and writing up the full body of the paper. Having smaller goals and requiring someone else to help keep you on track has really helped me stay organized and has limited my procrastination.

2. Keep an up-to-date spreadsheet tracking all of your sources/literature

The first step in research is almost always reading. There are so many studies that have already been done and it is crucial to educate yourself on the facts and information that already exist in the academic world. I ended up reading over a hundred journal articles in preparation for my research project. At first it was hard to keep track of the knowledge I was gaining just from the notes I had been jotting down, so I created a system to keep track. I started logging every article into an excel spreadsheet, listing the title, author, year, species, questions asked, methods, and results. This made it easy for me to look back and pull out the relevant information. I gained a foundational knowledge of my topic, as well as ideas for potential research questions and methods. For someone with severe organizational problems, this was a lifesaver, and I am constantly referring to this document. Make Excel your best friend!

3. Be proactive when it comes to meeting with your advisor

Fostering relationships with professors and mentors in college is one of the best moves you can make. Not only will they support you during your time in undergrad, but they typically have abundant connections that they are more than willing to share with you when it comes to your future. However, you are not their number one priority. Professors have multiple classes, conduct their own research, and are involved with countless other commitments. Therefore the responsibility is on you to be proactive when it comes to getting help with your project. You may have to be the one to schedule weekly meetings to touch base. You may have to be the one to create your own deadlines. Chances are that the more proactive you are the more your mentor will recognize your motivation and drive, and will do his or her part to help you succeed.

4. Treat the project as if it were a class

At most universities, working on an individual research project with an advisor can qualify you for research credits. For example, I got three credit hours towards my degree for each semester I performed undergraduate research. Therefore, I learned to treat my thesis as an actual class. If you think about it, you spend about two and a half hours in class per week, with an additional two to five hours on homework and readings. Each week, I try to dedicate that same amount of time to my project. This way, tasks don’t build up and you will feel less overwhelmed.

5. Utilize the people around you

I cannot stress this enough. Having other lab members around to support me has been absolutely invaluable. The grad students had all written senior theses in the past and are currently working on dissertations, which makes them excellent resources when it comes to research design, time management, and staying sane. At first, I felt a bit awkward approaching them; I wasn’t exactly sure that they would want to spend their time mentoring an undergrad when they already had so much on their plates. Luckily, they have been in your position before and understand the importance having mentors. Ask to grab coffee and talk about their projects and tips that they might have for you. People love talking about themselves and their work, and your colleagues want to see you succeed!

6. Never stop reading

New information is constantly being published. Even though I performed my major literature review over a year ago to jumpstart my research, there are countless new articles on my topic. It is so important to stay informed and always have the relevant and recent information on your topic. Reading the latest publications may give you new ideas for how you want to frame your paper, something else that you should control for, or another question you should be asking.

Good luck with your own research and thesis journey!

Image: Flickr

Education

With the start of the second semester of my freshman year, I felt more confident than I did going into my first. However, I didn’t expect the seemingly never-ending workload to start only a few weeks in. This past week has been an extremely stressful week for me where I seem to literally not have a minute of free time. Here is a list of ways that I deal with my stress to make life a little easier when it just seems like the world won’t give you a break!

Surround yourself with positive people

Having people to motivate you and keep you focus and grounded is seriously important. A smile or a “you can do it!” can really make a difference! If you’re really stressed, try to spend time with people who are going to help you get things accomplished, rather than people who are going to load their own problems on you and not consider yours.

Make a list and check things off as you go

Of course making a list of everything you have to get done can be overwhelming and may seem more stressful at the time, but doing this will allow you to check things off as you go which will help give you that deep breath of relief! It will also help you stay focused and keep an eye on what you need to get done.

Stay organized

Keeping an agenda or planner of time that you have to get things done can really help you out. It will allow you to successfully manage your time and give you ease of mind knowing you have a time and place for everything.

Don’t underestimate the power of a hot shower or nap

A hot shower or a hot bath (with a bath bomb of course) can help you unwind, relax, and take a breather from your hectic day. It’s just as important to relax as it is to get things done. A half hour nap can really make a difference when resting your mind and allowing yourself to take a step back.

Make sure to take a break

As stated above, it’s just as important to relax as it is to get work done. Take a break for coffee or a smoothie and that pizza you’ve been craving, check your social media accounts, or have a much needed phone call with your mom or best friend. These small things can really make a difference.

Image: Unsplash