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

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

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

LearnSkills

Procrastination is that bittersweet friend of yours who dumps you when you need him or her the most. It is not the act of procrastinating per se that is most troubling. Delaying assignments by using Snapchat or watching cat videos is quite enjoyable. It is what happens ‘after’ that leaves us at our wits’ end. It leaves us with more worries, more stress, and more workload. Can this be contained? Yes, of course. Here are a few effective tactics you may use to do so.

1. Break the Bulk

Overwhelming work is a driving force for procrastination. Hence it would be in your best interest to break the workload into smaller components. For example, if you have a large project that needs to be completed, divide your work into sub sections such as Introduction, Topic 1, Topic 2, etc. This way it will be easier to digest how much work you have and you will be far more motivated to complete your tasks.

2. Set Artificial Deadlines

Deadlines help us keep pace. Our working senses get activated when we have a near deadline looming over our heads. Making your own deadlines before the actual deadline is a good way to get you on your feet. But they would be void without incentive. Make a penalty for not following deadlines and reward yourself for completing tasks on time. Make sure to not reward yourself too heavily, for you will get carried away and miss your next deadline.

3. Alternate Your Tasks

Boredom is procrastination’s best source of fuel. Don’t stick to one task as it will soon become tedious and the distractions around you will suddenly become more inviting. Alternating your tasks will keep you focused. I mix dull tasks with enjoyable ones to complete my work faster and more efficiently.

4. Stay in a Conducive Environment

Make sure you’re in an environment that is conducive to completing work. This entails doing work free of distractions. In my own experience, I switch off the Internet modem whenever I have homework to avoid WiFi-related distractions. Having friends who are motivated and supportive also helps. They will push you back on the right track when you feel like quitting. Tell your friends about all of your goals so that you become more accountable to fulfilling them.

How do you tackle procrastination?

Image: Jan Vašek

SkillsTravel

I am the type of person who likes to be prepared for every situation. That includes making sure that my car is prepared for every situation as well. There are a lot of helpful items that can be kept in a plastic bin in your trunk or the glove compartment just in case you need them. They can also be removed if you need the space. Mileage varies on which items you want to keep in your own car, but here are a few ideas:

1. Jumper Cables
Use these if your battery dies. A good Samaritan can help with the rest.

2. Tire Repair Tools
A tire gauge will let you know the pressure in your tires. Other tools include a jack, a tire iron, and a spare tire. Failing that, you can use a tire inflater or sealer that might get you to a gas station.

3. Duct Tape
It can fix all kinds of things.

4. Your Car Manual
I know that no one wants to read the manual but if you have a specific question you could find the answer in there.

5. Flashlight
You can use your phone for this. However, if you need a light for an extended period of time, you can drain your battery. Keep an actual flashlight around, just in case.

6. Road Flare
Safety first when it’s dark out or you need to grab people’s attention!

7. Small Fire Extinguisher
You may never need it but it could be life-saving if you do.

8. Your Insurance and Vehicle Information

9. Bluetooth Device
Handsfree phone calls are the safest way to go.

10. Phone Charger
You never know when you might need it.

11. Cleaning Products
I would recommend plastic bags, tissues and/or paper towels for any kind of mess that you encounter. If you’re really into cleaning, you can include a hand-held vacuum or an air freshener.

12. Non-Perishable Food
I recommend a bottle of water and a food item that doesn’t need to be heated or prepared like jerky or granola bar. You can keep this in a collapsible cooler if you’re on a road-trip. This will come in handy if you’re stuck somewhere.

13. Anything that can protect you and your car from the elements
A spare umbrella or jacket will help when you are outside of the car. I would also recommend a towel or a change of clothes to avoid ruining the interior of your car in different kinds of weather.

14. Blanket
A blanket can cost around $5 and will be helpful if someone in your passenger seat wants to take a nap or if you need to get warm.

15. Extra Money
You may have money in your wallet at all times. If not, keep some spare change or a small amount of money in your car. You might need money if you run into an unexpected tollbooth or you need to tip a tow truck driver.

16. Small First Aid Kit
You can go to the hospital for the big stuff. This is just for small injuries and won’t take up much room.

17. Sunglasses
These will protect your eyes and help you drive better.

In the end, what you keep in your car is your business. It comes down to what suits your needs. For example, if your share a car maybe you don’t have a say about what goes in. Let this be a starting point for you to drive more safely. It can also be a great list to prepare for the road trip of your dreams! Happy driving!

Image: Pexels

Skills

Asking for help can be hard when you’re going through a hard time. At times it can be a case of pride. You don’t want to show how much something is bothering you or how much it is hurting. Perhaps you don’t want to burden someone with your problems. Whatever the reason, I can say it is always a good idea to ask for help when you need it.

I have never regretted asking for help. Have you ever not raised your hand in class because you were worried about asking a dumb question? We’ve always been told that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Even if there were, you could either have an answer right away or you could just agonize on your own for however long it takes for you to figure things out. When you speak up, you get answers.

I admit that this is a lesson I have had to learn more than once. I once missed a day of school while sick. I didn’t ask for anyone’s math notes because I was sure I was smart enough to piece together the information on my own. A week later, not only had I not figured out what I missed, but I didn’t understand anything that came after it. Instead of letting my confusion grow, I finally asked my teacher for help. Guess what? Everything began to make sense.

If someone can’t or won’t help you, it’s not the end. It just means you can move on to someone who can help you with your problem. This idea is not limited to class lessons. The holidays in particular can be troubling times for people. Some feel overwhelmed about spending so much money or the need to make a holiday perfect. Some people feel like they have to spend the holiday alone. Like the fear of asking for help, this pressure we put on ourselves tends to all be in our heads. Reach out to friends or family if you want to spend the holiday with someone. If you need space from your loved ones, you can volunteer somewhere. Don’t suffer because you’re afraid to reach out.

If you’re scared or confused in life, it never hurts to ask for help. You may want to prove you can do things on your own, which is valid. However, if you are slowing yourself down because you don’t want to admit that you need help or because you’re scared others will see you differently, don’t worry so much. Everyone has problems. No one was born knowing everything or being able to do everything. We all learn as we grow. Even in adult life we are still learning. The very problem you are struggling with may be just the thing that someone else is struggling with. You just have to be brave enough to talk about it. Not asking for help just wastes time that you could use to move forward. So don’t waste anymore time. Just ask.

Image: CollegeDegrees360

Education

Getting back into college mode is hard after a break. While Thanksgiving break wasn’t that long, it was enough time for me to get used to doing nothing but sitting around the house all day, watching movies, and eating delicious food. When it was time for me to leave home, a part of me wanted to stay and start my career as a full-time couch potato. Since that really wasn’t an option, I had no choice but to come back to school. Now that I’m here, the only thing I want to do is be lazy and not do homework or study for finals. It doesn’t help that our next big break is just around the corner.

It’s seriously all I can think about. I don’t know about everyone else, but I am excited to be able to laze about and spend time with family for more than a week. Since it’s the end of the semester, there won’t be any homework or group projects to work on. We will no longer have to worry about studying for quizzes or final exams. We’ll be home free! I know you’re getting starry eyed just thinking about it but don’t let yourself slack off just because we’re almost at the end.

You owe it to yourself to end this semester off strong. Treat your finals like every other test you’ve had thus far and put in the time to make sure you are as prepared as can be for your exams. It’s okay if you had a rough start to the semester. It’s okay if you’re tired. It’s okay if all you want to do is go home and forget about this thing called college for a little bit. I understand how all of you are feeling right now, which is why I am here to tell you to keep pushing. You might’ve had a rough start, but ending strong can make up for that. You might be tired and just want to go home, but your break will be so much more rewarding if you give your finals your all. Not only will you feel great for pushing through, but your grades will reflect your hard work as well. A runner wouldn’t give up or slow down when the finish line is in view. Well, finals week is our finish line. So pretend that you’re that runner. Push yourself to do better and work harder than ever so that you can come out a winner.

Losing momentum is the worse thing you can do to yourself. If you feel yourself wanting to give up, just remember that you can get through this. It doesn’t matter if this is your first semester of college or your fifth. We all need a pep talk during this time of the year. We all need to be reminded that we are brilliant and amazing and we can achieve anything as long as we work for it. So work for that gold medal. Do your best to ace your exams and even if you don’t do your best on an exam you gave your all, just remember that you did the best that you could and really that’s all you can do.

If you want to win a chance to be lazy during Winter break, then earn it by putting a lot more effort and hard work into finishing this race out strong.

You can do it. I believe in you!

Image: Anne

Culture

Halloween is a night of fun, and of mischief. Whether you’re on campus or at a party in the city, it’s always good to have some safety tips in mind.

1. Do stuff with friends. Your friends take care of you and you take care of your friends.

2. Have a breathe­able and walk­able costume. Have back up shoes. If it’s cold, have some layering possibilities.

3. Avoid having a seance. Avoid all attempts to talk to spirits or bring back the dead.

4. Eat before drinking. Don’t leave your drink lying around. Don’t drink too much.

5. Know your surroundings when you’re going to a place. Know the people at the place. When you arrive somewhere, locate the bathroom and know your escape routes.

6. Charge your phone and keep it with you. Also have all of your emergency contacts in your phone, as well as your friend’s numbers.

7. Stay if it’s fun, don’t if it’s lame. No stress.

8. Follow your this-­is-­sketchy gut.

9. Have a way to get home or have a place to crash (friends from rule #1).

10. Carry a mini-flashlight or glowsticks with you to provide light when it gets too dark.

11. Have fun and be smart!

How will you be staying safe tomorrow? Happy Halloween!

Image: James Lee

CultureTravel

There are always risks to traveling. Your flight might be delayed or the airline might lose your luggage. I eliminated some travel risks from my life by creating an all purpose packing list. It’s the list that I consult before every trip to make sure I leave nothing to chance. The list is partly common sense and partly items I added over the years based on recommendations. Even if I don’t bring everything on it, it’s good to consult just in case. Here are some tips to make your own list:

packing

1. Remember The Essentials

Think of what you cannot live without while on a trip. Try to think of what you need in your everyday life. For me, my clothes, my wallet, and my cellphone must always be packed. I need these items no matter where I travel or for how long. Write down the things you can’t live without, even for a couple of days.

2. Be Smart When Packing Toiletries And Medications

It’s always good to bring travel-sized toiletries with you. You may want to take your chances using whatever soap and shampoo is in your hotel, but there might not be any. Remember that when going through an airport, you don’t want any liquids pulled out of your carry on, so think about that while you are packing.

I would also think about any medications you might need. Depending on how long your trip lasts, you might not need your entire pill bottle. In fact, you might not want to bring any medications if you are able to go to your local drugstore. Just consider where you will be going on your trip. When I was in Europe, the language and cultural barrier made it hard for my friends to find cough medicine when they needed it. Bring some medicine from home if you think it will be more convenient.

3. Think Seasonally

All of the items on my list are convenient for travel during every season. Once you have every possible item on your list, it is only a matter of deciding what to bring. For example, I won’t bring my raincoat to Hawaii in the summer, even though a raincoat on my list. Check the weather forecast and consider what you might be doing on your trip. You can also throw caution to the wind and say, I’ll just pack what I packed last time, but if your usual plans change, you might be unprepared. It doesn’t hurt to keep all of these items on your list so you don’t forget anything.

4. Only Bring The Electronics You May Need

Electronics can be optional on your list. It’s always a good idea to remember to bring your phone and your charger. Someone else might have one, but you don’t want to worry about it. Keep in mind that a lot of electronics, such as a laptop, are expensive and can be stolen. Also, you might not want to bring something as heavy as a laptop if you don’t think you will have a lot of downtime. Put it on the list anyways in case the opportunity presents itself. If you are traveling to a different country, remember to bring power converters for your plug-ins.

5. Entertainment Can Be An Asset

Entertainment doesn’t seem that important until you are stuck at the airport for two hours. This category could include a book or movies to watch in the hotel. It’s good to plan for these things. Just think about how much time you will have to read or watch movies while you are away. If this is not a priority, you can make room for other things in your bag.

6. Determine Your ‘In Case Of Emergency Items’

I have a list of worst case scenario supplies. This would include matches, batteries, or a first aid kit among other things. Chances are you can buy these wherever you go. The point is to have them in the moment that you need them. They don’t take up much space in a bag; however, a lot of supplies can take up valuable space and weigh you down. Be practical.

7. Pack Some Accessories

Accessories tend to be different, but we all have them. Accessories might include a hat, glasses, scarves, or jewelry. I would advise against bringing anything you are worried about losing. Sort your accessories into accessible bags for convenience.

8. Remember Anything Needed Specifically for the Trip

These are the items you will need to get anywhere. This would include your driver’s license, passport, flight plan, or money. Even if you are not taking a plane, you could find a car, a train ticket, or anything else you definitely need to get you to your destination. You don’t want to get all packed to go and then realize you can’t go anywhere. Put them on the checklist to be sure.

9. Take Care Of Things At Home

This is actually just one item on my list but it covers the broad idea of making sure that your regular life isn’t interrupted by your trip. Think about everything that needs to taken care of while you’re gone. An example would be getting time off work or returning books to the library. You will probably do this anyway in the months and weeks before your trip. The point is to give it some last minute thought before you leave so you are not stressed out during your vacation.

10. Make It Your Own

In the end, what ends up on your list is whatever you feel like packing. For example, I am not really a camper. If you are someone who goes camping often, there is probably a lot of camping gear on your list. The list is about making your travels easier. Once you discover what you want to get out of a trip, write down whatever you need to in order to make it happen.

These are just a few categories that I used to make my own list. You are your own person with your own needs. You need to find what works for you. It will take you awhile to think of everything you will need. You can even consult some travel websites for advice. My personal list is a checklist but I know that not every box has to be checked. The point is to be ready so at a moment’s notice you can get out there and have fun.

What does your ultimate packing list look like? What are your must-have travel items?

Image: Strange Luke

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

Health

Life gets in the way of a million things: plans, expectations, and more importantly, meals. Maybe you were already seven minutes late for that meeting and the idea of breakfast was pushed aside onto your mental list of irrelevant things you should do but don’t, such as wearing your retainer six months before your next dental appointment. But what if I tell you that skipping a meal translates to skipping out on a million ideas, brain connections, and memory collections. If you’re getting a clue at where I’m going with this, meals are not meant to be a burden, but more so, a fundamental supporter. They provide for the building blocks of your body. If you are having trouble keeping up with your meals, try out different things and explore a little change. And by this, I mean take more control of your days. Meals should be consistent and here are a few reasons why:

  1. Sugar roller coasters are not theme park-fun

In other words, eating lunch at 12pm and then at 4pm interchangeably between days calls for chaos in your system. When you have not eaten for a while, your blood sugar drops drastically and the next time you do eat, it sky rockets. In turn, you are setting yourself up for a diabetic lifestyle due to the constant insulin blasts. Doctors say that eating as many as five to seven small meals a day is a healthy way to keep your blood levels at a more-or-less steady level for most people. Take control of your schedule. If you are in the middle of work or class when you should be taking a lunch break, take the time to pack a meal in some tupperware or bag up a sandwich to squeeze in a chance to refuel your body during that busy time of day. It is essential that your body collects the appropriate vitamins and minerals in order for it to function properly. This also brings into consideration the content of your meals and snacks. Refined sugar will drastically spike blood levels unlike whole natural foods which, in turn, slowly and steadily raise your sugar levels. Sugar rushes not only cause disorder in the body but they also cause blood sugar to suddenly drop and this causes hunger shortly after. We all know that this isn’t exactly the most convenient of cravings when keeping an eye on health and weight.

  1. Your metabolism is like a muscle

People skip meals because a) they are incredibly busy or b) they are trying to lose weight. Either way, your muscles will weaken if they are not worked and likewise, your metabolism will get slower when it is not put to use. Each time you eat and digest food, your metabolism is making use of itself, as it should. A great portion is transformed into energy for daily necessities and a small portion, depending on the food of course, is turned into lipids. Skipping meals, on the other hand, halts this ongoing process and essentially affects your metabolic process. The next time you do eat, much of what you put into your system will not be as quickly broken down as it once was. Another way to view your metabolism is by thinking of it as a computer. If you turn it off, you must wait a while for it to start up again. Promoting its regularity is vital.

  1. Untimely meals translates into formless days

When a person lacks the discipline of eating on time, it only leads to a sense of disorientation. Putting off meals creates an entire shift when it comes to eating regularly. If breakfast is belated, your lunch will be too. If lunch is skipped, dinner will become your lunch and a late night snack will undoubtedly creep into your nocturnal endeavors. The cycle is eternal and one way of avoiding this is by making sure that you get something in your body shortly after you wake. Be it some yogurt and chia, toast with hummus, or even a vine of grapes, breakfast is the turning key to your engine. When outlining or scheduling your day, make it so your meals become your bullet points and your daily activities become your sub-points.

Eating on time is fundamentally important. It allows for a poised body ready to be productive. Living by a healthy meal routine will only help you conquer each day through a balanced system, a clear mind, and better access to the well of information your brain houses.

EducationSkills

Last week I talked a little bit about building your brand and how to do it. Even if you’re still trying to figure out how to market yourself, the best time to make a LinkedIn profile is now. Think of it as your lemonade stand where you can set up all of the ingredients you need to be the best lemonade stand you can be. Okay, maybe, that isn’t the best analogy in the world, but the point is that in order to get people to buy what you are selling, you have to let employers know that you are on the market.

It doesn’t matter if you’re still in high school or in college. There is an internship out there waiting for you and you’re only a LinkedIn profile away from finding it. Don’t waste anymore time; if you don’t already have an account, sign up! It doesn’t hurt to have another social media outlet. Don’t panic if you’re not sure where to start. I’m here to help!

While I was building my profile, I did a lot of research on how to make my profile look as professional as possible. You don’t have to read countless articles on how to make a good LinkedIn profile – here are the 10 things that you should include:

1. Professional photo: LinkedIn may be like Facebook in the sense that it connects you with other people, but that doesn’t mean the profile picture you use for Facebook (the one where you’re making silly faces with your friends) should be the same one you put on your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is like the more conservative cousin of Facebook. Whereas Facebook is for personal usage (though this doesn’t mean you should post anything and everything), LinkedIn is the Internet’s door to the professional world; a place where recruiters from different companies look at the profiles of students just like you.

Keeping that in mind, don’t let their first impression of you be a picture of you sticking a finger up your nose. Instead, use a headshot that has a plain background. If you’re like me and can’t afford to have a professional photo taken at the moment, take the picture yourself with your phone or camera in front of a white wall. Or, use an old picture and use Paint (or any equivalent program) to cut yourself out of the original photo and paste it on a white background. The second choice is really time consuming, but is ultimately can be a good option for the time being.

2. Summary: This is the section where you talk about yourself. You don’t have to share your entire life story, but it may be good to talk about your college major or write a paragraph about what your future goals are. You can also mention your purpose for making a LinkedIn profile, i.e.  to find an internship in [insert field]. Remember to keep the summary brief since recruiters won’t spend an hour on your profile. You want them to get past the summary and onto the good stuff, such as your work experience and courses that you have taken.

3. Collegiate/high school experience: The four years you spend in high school and in college tell a story. Whether you participated in after-school programs or in clubs, it doesn’t matter. Document it all! If you held any leadership positions, that is especially great.  These are the kinds of things you should put on your LinkedIn profile to let everyone know that high school and college isn’t just about the academics for you. Don’t forget to list all of the relevant courses you have taken so far. This means any business, language, major, etc. classes you have under your belt. Displaying a sample of your work (i.e project, paper, etc.) in this section might also be a great idea. Or, if you don’t want to do that, make an online portfolio and link it to your profile. That way you can have a separate space for all of your work.

4. Skills: We are all good at something, whether it’s having great written communications skills or being good at building websites. There is an employer out there looking for someone with your expertise, so make sure you list the things that you have excelled in. If you can get endorsements (people who can attest that you possess said skills), then that’s even better! The more endorsements, the better. Try not to have more than ten skills on your profile though. Only list the ones that are important and the ones that you think will make you stand out from the crowd.

5. Awards: Are you the student who gets good grades or is a star athlete? Good for you! List all of your accomplishments in the awards section. Let people know that you have rewards as proof for outstanding work.

6. Headline: A headline on LinkedIn is like the headline of a newspaper article. It’s the attention grabber; it’s your chance to send out flares to recruiters so that they can find you more easily. You can constantly change your headline to fit your liking, but if you’re not sure what to put there, start off with ‘Student at [insert school].’ or ‘Intern at [insert company]’. If you don’t have an internship and would like one, try using ‘Aspiring [insert profession] seeking an internship in [insert job/field].’ You could use a combination of the three, just play around with it and look at other profiles to help and inspire you.

7. Contact info: You don’t have to provide your phone number (and I advise against putting your phone number online) but what you can do is put your email address on LinkedIn. This way, recruiters or anyone who is interested can contact you through email. LinkedIn may be a professional site, but you always want to be careful with who you give your information to.

8. Groups/companies/universities: The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can join groups that fit your career interests. LinkedIn groups, once you become a member of them, give you access to thousands of people that otherwise wouldn’t show up in the ‘People You May Know’ section. Getting involved in discussions will get you noticed, and you may even learn valuable lessons from professionals that you aren’t connected with. Also, ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ the companies that you would want to intern for or possibly work for in the future. If you want to go college or graduate school, ‘Follow’ your dream universities to stay on top of what’s going on.

9. Connections: Make sure to only add people you know. If you do get those few random invitations, make sure to check out their profiles first before you add them. It’s good to have a lot of connections, but it’s not good if you don’t know your connections. That said, connect with professors, teachers, old friends, family members, people you’ve worked with, etc. Sometimes it’s not about what you know but WHO you know. Keep that in mind as you navigate the networking realm.

10. Alumni tool: LinkedIn has become more accessible to college and high school students alike in recent years, especially with the addition of the alumni tool. Here you can see what people who graduated from your university (or your dream university) went on to do with their degrees. You can also look at their profiles for tips on how to structure your own. If you have any specific questions, you can message them. I love the alumni tool and it’s certainly something you should check out if you’re new to LinkedIn. Go to ‘Connections’ and click on ‘Find Alumni’ to access that tool, and for more information on a particular university, go to ‘Interests’ and click ‘Education.’ Both of these can be found at that top of the page.

I hope that this list was helpful to those of you new LinkedIn users who don’t know where to start. I don’t want to tell you how your profile should look because not one profile should look the same. I do, however, want to give you a sturdy foundation to build your profile upon. Just remember that you don’t have to get it ‘right’ the first time. You can always edit your profile to your liking. With that said, make sure to keep it updated. If you get a new job, update your experiences on your LinkedIn profile. Or if you’re unemployed but you have an internship or are involved in a club, let it be known that you are staying busy even if it’s not a job. Also, if you haven’t participated in a lot of extracurricular activities, internships, or jobs, don’t let that discourage you from not making a LinkedIn profile. Maybe that blank profile can be what motivates you to get more involved. Who knows?! Just don’t wait to create your profile because you won’t know how successful your lemonade stand will be until you build it.

Image: Esther Vargas, Flickr

CollegeFinanceSkills

It’s time for college. It’s also time for budget crunching, piggy bank breaking, as well as money saving. Our wallets tend to go on a diet when we go to college, but here are some tips to keep your wallet saturated with healthy greens and to make yourself happy with those few extra bucks.

1. Price Comparisons for Textbooks

Unless you cannot find a book anywhere on the Internet, go to the student store on your university campus. Word on the street is that the student store charges more than the retailer themselves. Use websites like SlugBooks to buy cheaper priced books.

2. Go for Paperback Books

Paperback or hardcover, you’re still getting the same information, aren’t you? You don’t need the hardcover book. Find a paperback and use it whenever you can. Besides, paperbacks are much lighter on your back.

3. Renting Textbooks

Have a general education class such as Economics 101 that you’re taking to fulfill some requirement? Never going to open that book again once the class will have finished? Rent the book. Do not buy it. Though you cannot make too many marks (or any, depending on the rule), renting your textbook can save you over a hundred dollars. You can use it and access it at any point after it is delivered to you, and then you just have to ship it back on the due date, so make sure you take note of that!

4. Use Public Transportation or a Bike

Do not bring your car with you to campus, especially if you are a first-year. Paying for parking is quite a hassle, and can drain your wallet instantaneously. Use buses; they’re quite popular on college campuses, especially with universities that are small cities, such as Chapel Hill. Students usually ride for free, which is awesome because who doesn’t like free services and goods? Also, you’re doing the environment a huge favor by not emitting exhaustion gas into the atmosphere. Bikes are another good idea, as this investment can go very far, literally and metaphorically. Bikes are street safe and walk path safe, and you’ll be on-time to class almost every time.

5. Sell Your Old High School Stuff

I, for one, had a lot of old Advanced Placement (AP) guidebooks left over from high school. Though some are still useful references to me, a lot of them were not, especially for the classes that have nothing to do with my intended major and that I had placement credit for. I just sold it on Amazon and made almost a hundred dollars. Don’t limit yourself to just books—sell anything that you simply cannot use anymore (within reason of course).

6. Make a Budget

Try organizing your spending and income into a table such as this one:

Money Spent Item Bought Service Spent on Earnings
$3 2% Milk
$40 From Tutoring
$10 Getting Eyebrows Done
$100 Selling things
$50 Textbook

This is just a neat way to help you keep track of everything! You will never have to wonder where that one dollar went, and you’ll feel more in control of your money.

7. Work Study, Jobs, and Internships

This is perhaps the most obvious way grab ahold of fortunes during high school. However, it should also be remembered that jobs teach you the value of money. For some people, it’ll send the message of “Do I need to buy that Sephora lipstick? I have to use MY money.” You’ll rethink buying some of your coveted material objects, but in the end you will be glad you thought some of your monetary decisions and purchases through.

Money is all around us. We just have to know how to hold on to it. Learning how to be responsible with your money now can truly benefit you in the future. When there’s an economic crisis in the future, you’ll know how to handle it from your experiences during your youthful years. Best of luck to those of you going to college or are in college, and always have a positive mindset!

Image: 401kcalculator.org

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