CollegeEducationHigh SchoolLearn

Everyone has that one teacher or professor that they just can’t stand – the one who seems to glare at you whenever you walk through the door, or maybe they don’t look at you at all and ignore you when you raise your hand. Everyone has one of those, but then there are the opposite kinds of teachers.

When you meet a teacher who isn’t a bore, a bully, or bothersome, you should get to know them. Maybe you already have a good friendship with that teacher, or maybe you’re on neutral terms but you’d like to get to know them better. It’s not sucking up or becoming the teacher’s pet. A genuine, solid, friendly relationship is a really reliable and comforting thing, and there are a few reasons why.

Mentorship.

When you become friends with a teacher, you’re more likely to get help from them for your assignments or projects. You need an advisor teacher? There you go. You’re struggling with a project and you’d like some tutor time during a lunch break or after school? Most likely, they’ll be willing to help. A lot of people don’t consider asking their teachers for help, but it shows your commitment to the class, and in return they will see your efforts.

*Keep in mind: when you apply for college, you need those teacher recommendations…

Advice.

Teachers have gone through high school and college. They’ve experienced the turmoils of teenage angst, the sense of confusion (“What am I going to do with my life?”), and everything in between. Most likely, they have gone through or know someone who has gone through what you are experiencing, and you can ask them for some life advice. You might get some interesting stories from them.

Connections.

You never know who your teachers know, especially college professors. When you’re looking for an internship or a job, even a side job such as being an assistant or babysitting, your teacher might know someone or somewhere that needs someone like you. Not only can your teachers recommend you, they can directly get you in touch with people at your future internship or job. Sometimes I feel icky asking for things like that, but I get offers without asking too, and that’s a great feeling. It means that the teacher/professor really thinks you can do it. Part of it is because they’ve gotten to know you so well.

Friendship.

Well, this one is a given. After graduation, you’re going to go to college or go work and you’re going to find yourself wondering how so-and-­so is doing. Once you’ve reached that comfort level with a teacher or professor, you can actually go get coffee or dinner with them. Once a year, I would meet up with an art teacher from high school to see how she is doing. Over the span of years since I’ve met her, she’s gotten married and had a son. Just as you would feel happy for a bestie who’s gotten married, there’s a soft spot inside for a teacher who was good to you, too.

Being friends with a teacher is an amazing thing. They’re helpful and reliable, and there is so much to be gained from a solid friendship. At the very least, it beats having to ask that grouchy math professor from junior year for a recommendation. Do your best to appreciate what your teachers are doing for you. If they aren’t so great, well, you can get through it. If they’re amazing, here’s your chance to get to know someone really interesting. Who knows, maybe they can help you out one day over a cup of tea!

Image: Bunches and Bits

EducationSkills

This generation is obsessed with social media. If we’re not sharing our thoughts in 140 characters or less, then we’re trying to take the perfect selfie for Instagram or updating our statuses on Facebook. We spend so much time documenting our everyday lives through social networking that we often don’t think about the other benefits of social media.

And there are other benefits.

While it’s possible to find a job or an internship through Facebook or Twitter, you don’t want either of those social outlets to represent who you are professionally. Those accounts are personal, so they’re less likely to feature any projects you’ve worked on or document the clubs and organizations you’ve participated in. Employers are not going to be on the lookout for your accomplishments on any of the social media sites that you frequent. I’m not saying that you should stop using them because we all know the likelihood of that happening is very low (I couldn’t give up Twitter). However, what I am suggesting is that you use social media to network to your advantage.

Take all of those extracurricular activities and your many accomplishments and start building your brand. When I first heard the term ‘build your brand,’ I didn’t quite understand what it meant. Then someone explained it to me like this: imagine two companies coming out with similar products. Both companies are known for distributing quality products and they both get great customer reviews. Knowing all of that, you have to ask yourself, what makes either one of them stand out? Which company will attract the most people and sell the most products?

Well, it’s the company that knows how to market themselves the best.

The same applies for us. There are always going to be people with the same GPA as us, people who participate in the same clubs, and people who produce the same quality of work. Just because you’re always going to have people who are similar to you, though, doesn’t mean that you are not unique. Like those companies that I mentioned before, we all have qualities or strengths that make us unique. You just have to play up those strengths and SELL YOURSELF.

You can’t do that on Facebook or Twitter, so travel to a different part of the social networking world and make yourself a LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t matter if you’re in college or still in high school. Make an account and start documenting the activities and jobs and/or internships that you have done thus far that help highlight your strengths and the qualities that make you stand out from the crowd. Make a personal website or online portfolio (both of which you can share on LinkedIn) and document the dual enrollment program you participated in, that summer abroad, or any project that you were a part of.

Building your brand is all about marketing yourself and marketing something is all about getting someone to buy what you are selling. Doing this now may be what gets you into the college of your dreams, land you the internship you’ve always wanted, or if you’ve already graduated from college, it may be what gets you into grad school. You are never too young to start thinking about your future because, before you know it, high school will be over and done with and so will college. It all goes by in a blur so use your time wisely and start using social media, not just  as a way to connect with family and friends, but to connect with professionals that your parents or people in your family may know as well. If you want to work for a particular company one day, there’s a chance that they’re on LinkedIn. Also, if you are in college, you can see what alumni from your school went on to do after graduation and see what career paths people who had the same major chose.

There are so many opportunities out there and a lot of them are online,  a place where we all love to frequent anyways, so put those fingers to work and instead of using them to type out your next status update, think about what you want to do with your future. It’s fine if you don’t figure it all out in a day, no one does, but it’s good to have an idea of what you want to do. It’s also good to start getting your name out there because you never know how far your accomplishments can take you. Not every high school or college student has a LinkedIn account or an online portfolio, so once you make that decision to start building your brand, keep in mind that you’re already ahead of the game.

Image: morguefile

ExploreFinanceSkillsTravel

Most of us want to travel the world, yet so few of us actually do it. We plan to save up, but somehow we just can’t stretch our dollars; we spend them on stuff before we can spend them on trips.

Having traveled through much of Southeast Asia (and a few other countries) on a very limited budget, I have met travel experts with lots of advice, and developed my own money saving tricks. Next week I will share my budget travel tips, but this article is about traveling with almost no money and either cutting out certain expenses (accommodations, food and transportation), or earning money while traveling.

I read a very accurate quote that went something like, “if you want to travel, you either have to spend time or money.” If you’re willing to sacrifice a little time so you can soak in unfamiliar cultures, see the world, meet new people and grow, these options could be for you.

1. Hostel Work Exchange

These jobs often offer free housing (and sometimes meals) in exchange for work, or they will simply pay you hourly. Hostel jobs are fairly competitive, so if possible, it is suggested to arrive in a location a bit before peak seasons for less stress. (i.e. before May or June in New York)

This site offers forums for job seekers and hostel employers to post opportunities. Hostel Management is another good hostel job search site.

2. Teach English Abroad

Teaching is quite a commitment, so this option is not for those who are iffy about that.

Most salaried positions last at least a year. Many schools will pay for housing among other amenities, and some (primarily in Asia) will even cover the flights to and from the host country. Some locations pay better than others. I have friends who have paid off student loans and traveled Asia with the salaries they made in South Korea.

Getting a certification to teach English (TEFL) is not always required but will both prepare you and bump up your salary. The following sites can get you certified and/or placed:

Oxford Seminars: Awesome. Pricey TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certification, but it includes classroom instruction, a practicum, a massively extensive database of schools in hundreds of countries and three textbooks to help you along the way. Plus, awesome like-minded classmates that can become travel buddies. As a former Oxford Seminars student, I recommend this wholeheartedly.

CIEE: I haven’t used this, but it’s a very reputable and reliable program that many friends have used to both teach and study abroad. They provide training and an optional TEFL certification.

People Recruit: This sends people directly to South Korea. A friend’s brother used this and had a great experience with it. It does not include a TEFL certification as Korea doesn’t require it.

3. WWOOFing

WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It pairs travelers with hosts and allows them to work on a farm, co-op, garden, or related space in exchange for food and accommodation.

WWOOF website for more information.

4. Odd jobs

These include working as a server/bartender, laborer, au pair, tour guide, and more. When you arrive in a location, look for “hiring” signs. Hop into restaurants and offices, bring your resume and be prepared to spend a little time unemployed and searching. Business cards help, too, but be sure they’re simple and universally useable. Additionally, highlight language and professional skills, and ensure you’re easily reachable within your host country (local phone number, provide email, etc.). This option requires more spontaneity, but it’s very doable and will offer some pay to live off of and travel with.

5. Working Holiday Scheme

Several countries offer working holiday visas and the opportunity to take on low-wage, seasonal jobs. The visas are available for people under 35 and typically last up to a year.

6. Skill-based jobs

You can do more than wait tables or answer phones if you want. It may take more digging, but will pay better and utilize your skills and any education you’ve received.

Alliance Abroad offers work placements before departure and provides accommodations. I’ve never used it but have heard it recommended before. They provide placements for business, event planning, food preparation and other skilled positions, as well as internships and general service positions.

7. Couch Surf

Couchsurfing allows you to link up with hosts in any country in the world and stay with them for free. Be sure to check up on the local culture’s etiquette so you know whether to bring a gift, buy meals, etc. Couchsurfers and hosts are generally open-minded travel-lovers who enjoy making new friends and helping others enjoy their cities. The database offers extensive reviews on hosts and ways to connect with other surfers.

8. Home Exchange

Swap apartments or houses for a trip. This allows you to stay, rent-free, in someone else’s home in your travel destination. HomeExchange is a good option for this.

9. Yacht or Cruise Ship Jobs

These are paid positions that include free room and board, meals and other expenses. These opportunities often go overlooked. While not a piece of cake, it is easier than one would think to find a safe, reputable job on a yacht or cruise ship.

Some good sites for finding service jobs on yachts or cruise ships include Crew 4 Crew, Jobs on Yachts and Cruise Ship Jobs.

Traveling with little money requires the traveler to let go of hard plans and remain open to sudden changes. It means time spent. It also often means no frills: hostels, street food, homestays, and sometimes a lack of western amenities. Challenges are part of it, though, and the memories and growth that travel create are incredible!

Plus, who knows? You may find your passion is teaching, farming, boating, or something you never dreamed of!

(Aside from friends and personal experience, Nomadic Matt had some great tips that helped with this article. He’s a fantastic budget travel blogger.)

What are your tips and resources for traveling paid or without significant expenses?

Image: Garry Knight, Flickr

Professional SpotlightSpotlightTravel

A guy who travels the world interning at cool companies in exchange for a place to sleep and something to eat? His name is Mark van der Heijden and he’s The Backpacker Intern. After spending years as a creative copywriter, Mark had an urge to do something different with his life and see the world. He had worked since graduation from school, and he felt that there was something missing.  Instead of just quitting his job to travel the world simply as a tourist, he came up with a creative solution. He would intern at companies for a couple of days in exchange for food and shelter.

The result? Companies such as Red Bull, the Adventure Film School, and Nile Rodgers Productions, just to name a few on a long list, have exchanged survival basics for Mark’s skills. Mark blogs, tweets, and posts on Facebook about all of his cool experiences, and it’s as if we were traveling right alongside him. It takes courage and an acceptance of the unknown to travel the world and leave the comforts of home.

During some stops along his journey, Mark didn’t know where he would be the following week, where he would be working, or if he would have a place to sleep. By utilizing friends, contacts, and social media, Mark has been able to accomplish something unique and inspiring. Mark paid attention to the voice in his head craving something more out of life, came up with a solution and plan, and has been creating his own path every single day. If that isn’t seizing your youth, we don’t know what is.

Name: Mark van der Heijden
Age: 28
Education: Bachelor, Creative Communication (Copy, Concept & Strategy) at Fontys Hogeschool Communicatie
Follow: TwitterThe Backpacker Intern

How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?

Never put yourself in a situation where you are following the common track. Create your own path. Don’t listen to what people think you should do. Do what’s best for you.

What did you study at Fontys Hogeschool Communicatie and how did you determine what to study?

I studied Communications. I specialized in copy concept and strategy. After two years you could choose a direction, and I chose that because you could make a TV commercial. I wasn’t thinking too much about the future, but that major felt good. During my studies I did an internship and sold my first creative idea. It gave me goosebumps, and it was cool to be able to use my talents.

How did your journey as The Backpacker Intern begin?

I used to work in advertising in Amsterdam for six years as a creative copywriter. I had a good job, great friends, lived in a great apartment, and Amsterdam was amazing. I couldn’t complain, but still I had the urge of some kind of feeling. I wanted to see more of the world and do more. Right after school I had a job, so I never had a big break to see the world like other people sometimes do. I had a feeling that I was missing that, and thought that I needed to do it. I wanted to do it all the way and see where I would end up, so I quit my job and started The Backpacker Intern.

I booked seven tickets for six months. That was the original plan. I realized I didn’t have enough money to do all the things I wanted to do. I thought I could come up with an idea or two to make some money along the way. Then I discovered that it wasn’t about the money, but it was about the experience instead. The only things I actually need on a trip are food and a bed. I came up with the idea to exchange my skills for those things. Not money, but the things I need to survive.

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How long was the process from when you had the idea to actually leaving?

I had the idea six months before and worked towards the departure date. In that time I crafted my idea and made it better. I procrastinated along the way, but the idea was too cool to pass up. I came up with a lot of names, but The Backpacker Intern stuck. I talked to a lot of people in creative industries and they helped me through my ideas and look at them with a different perspective. I bought the URL, and that made it official. The best feeling was when I had the logo. It was something. It wasn’t there yet, but it was alive.

As the departure date got closer, it became more real. One of my best friends and I brainstormed about making a video, and then we came up with the idea to use my cardboard sign in a film. We told the message in one take. I spread the video through my social media channels. I didn’t expect the project to get this big.

How did you determine your route?

I wanted to go to Asia, so I booked a ticket from Amsterdam to Bangkok. Then I wanted to go to San Francisco and Hawaii because I have friends there. From Asia I could go to Hawaii and San Francisco. I saw that I could go to Iceland from New York, and then from Iceland I’d go back to Amsterdam. The route is based on things I haven’t seen yet, the rates for the travel season, and where my friends live. It’s like an endless summer. I only have one sweater with me.

What have been the greatest challenges in your journey so far?

Planning everything is a challenge. I can now imagine why people who do a lot of things have an assistant. Usually in the daytime I’m working somewhere, but I also get a lot of emails throughout the day. I also want to stay in touch with my friends and family. I need to keep people updated with blog posts. If I don’t have a new internship, I have to decide what to do. I don’t sleep a lot, maybe three hours a day. I enjoy every minute, but it’s also work.

What would you do differently if you could start the journey over?

Nothing because then it would be a totally different journey. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that you learn from your mistakes.

A lot of companies have reached out to you. How do you choose which companies to work with?

I try to do a mix of work. I work at agencies, brands, and charities. Big companies and small companies. If I’m almost to a new city, I’ll coordinate with companies that have emailed me and arrange the internship. I Googled charity organizations in San Francisco because I wanted to work with dogs. I worked with Mutville Senior Dog Rescue, which was so cool. I emailed them and the owner replied. I worked there for two days and stayed at the owner’s house. It was so different.

What kinds of things do you do at your internships?

It’s like I’m a human pocketknife. I can do a lot of things. My profession is creative and advertising. I’m best at making concepts, ideas, and solutions for brands, companies, and people. I can originate concepts, write copy, and create strategies. I make films, but I also clean dog poop.

I worked at a soup kitchen in Malaysia and I was making food for homeless people and drug addicts. That was the internship and nothing else. I’ve enjoyed many different experiences. The whole goal is to help people and to learn from them at the same time. I’ve enjoyed working with people from different professions and cultures.

Leaving your comfort zone in Holland must not have been easy. What did you do to prepare yourself for this adventure?

I am not scared about stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m used to eating crazy foods and jumping out of airplanes. I’m not a rebel but I enjoy trying new things. I enjoy traveling so much that I don’t get homesick. My longest trip was four weeks, but I still wanted to do more. Of course I miss my friends and family, but with Skype I can still stay in contact. The best friends will always stay with you even if you don’t talk for a while. You can pick back up where you left off.

Have you experienced any major culture shocks after traveling the world?

I was pretty shocked by the amount of homeless people in the U.S. Especially in Oakland, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. I wasn’t aware of how big of a problem it is.

Mark photo backpacker intern

What advice do you have for youth who are interested in advertising?

Just start and make a lot of ideas. It’s all about your portfolio, so show how creative you are. There are a lot of creative competitions you can attend. It’ll help to win a competition and have people notice you.

It’s good if you try to find a mentor, someone you find inspiring. Just reach out to him or her and ask for 30 minutes of time to talk. If he or she says no, then move on to the next one. Sometimes you need advice from people who are way more up the ladder. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Don’t be scared that your ideas are not good enough. I failed a lot and made a lot of campaigns that weren’t approved. I’ve worked for six months on a project and then the week before have it pulled. Just keep on going and keep on trying.

What are the top three traits that make a great intern?

Be open-minded. Don’t judge. Be crazy.

What motivates you?

I read a lot of books about creativity, watch great films and check out new and interesting products. It inspires me to make great things like that. It’s a really great feeling to make something.

The best feeling is if you create something that didn’t exist before and you can improve people’s lives. It’s so cool to make a change in people’s lives just by a thought you came up with.

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

Do as many internships as possible without getting paid. Besides school and a part-time job, learn as much as you can from inspiring and successful people. Offer your help for free. Work at places for free to learn new skills. Knock on the doors of Apple, Nike, Red Bull and ask to work for free because you want to learn. Learn how to help people without doing it for money.

Mark van der Qs

CultureTravel

Recently elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a speech about India launching a very cost-effective piece of space technology. Last November, India was the first Asian country to launch a spacecraft to Mars, putting itself in first place in the red race. If that mission is successful, India will be a part of a small group of countries to have successfully reached and explored Mars.

Modi proudly says, “Our scientists have shown the world a new paradigm of frugal engineering and the power of imagination.” This spacecraft and the mission all come at an extremely cheap price: 4.5 billion rupees, or $75 million. Modi even claims that this project costs less than the budget of the Hollywood movie Gravity.

The new Indian Prime Minister wants to also hold a meeting with neighboring South Asian countries that are a part of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to discuss how the freshly launched satellite is “a gift from India,” as Modi claims it to be with quite the zeal. He hopes for the amelioration among the nations of South Asia, as he wants them to also be an integral part in the world’s limelight.

Along with many accolades, the Indian government has faced some rebuke. India is a country that is filled with problems: poverty, disease, lack of sanitation, etc. India also dangles on one of the longest economic slowdowns it has ever faced. Should the government really be focusing on improving its space program over trying to combat the domestic and social issues ostensibly present?

Despite the criticism, Modi claims that space technology can offer quite a few uses and can become “an integral part of our daily life today.” India celebrates its leap in space science and hopes for a bright future in the field. But what do you think about advances in space technology? Would you consider joining this innovative field? How do you feel about the exploration of Mars? We want to know what the youth’s view of space exploration and technology is, as this is a blossoming field with vast job opportunities.

Image: NASA