Health

As a college athlete, health isn’t something I’ve ever been able to simply ignore. Though it can be frustrating at times to always carefully plan meals and workouts, I’ve seen the ways in which my active lifestyle has taught me important lessons about my health. Here are some of the tips that I’ve implemented over the years to keep me happy and healthy:

1. Do something active every day.

Even if it means going for a brief walk before breakfast. I find that it’s much easier to complete a workout if I do it first thing in the morning. This isn’t just good for your body, but good for your mind as well. The days where I’m not playing tennis or lifting, I’ll go for a hike or do yoga. I always find that cross training and stepping out of my comfort zone is more fun anyway!

Don’t beat yourself up if you only complete half of what you thought you could do. The hardest part is getting up and doing something. If you really take it one day at a time and work toward a small goal each day, you’re more likely to reach your bigger goal in the long run. Not to mention that the more you work out, the more you want to work out. Similarly, the less you work out, the less motivated you will be to start.

2. Document what you eat.

I want to clarify that I am not a calorie counter. But there is a difference between counting calories and writing down your meals. I, personally, don’t like looking at a list that reads: chocolate croissant, white mocha, and chicken Alfredo. I would much prefer to see a list that says: berry smoothie, grilled salmon, and quinoa.

For some people, it works best to write their meals down ahead of time. However, if you’re someone who has the tendency to cheat (guilty!), then sometimes it helps to write down what you eat after you’ve already eaten it.

This may be a bit of guilt tripping, but it forces you to take a serious look at the way you’re treating your body. You not only become more aware and health-conscious, but you can pay close attention to the way you feel after you eat certain foods.

Nonetheless, it does help to have a food schedule for the week. If you have an extremely busy schedule and very little time to cook for yourself, dedicate a couple hours on the weekend to prepare your meals for the week. Not only is it harder to cheat on meals you’ve already made, but it also saves a lot of cash.

3. Adopt the buddy system.

Not every friend you have is going to be working toward the same goals as you. However, it does help to have someone keep you accountable. Even the most disciplined people can’t maintain that discipline 24/7.

For example, if one of your goals is to keep track of your indulgences, make a pact with a friend to text each other every time you eat something sweet. Even if you promise yourself one small treat each day, you’ll feel obligated to let someone else know when you cheat. (Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.)

4. Don’t focus on the numbers.

Weight, calories, reps…they’re all just that: numbers. Weight fluctuates, calories are deceiving, and there are days when no one feels like working out.

As an athlete, I’ve learned to focus on three things: how I feel, how my clothes fit, and how I move on the tennis court. How you feel is always most important. Often times the healthier you eat and more active you are, the less groggy and more motivated you’ll become. Nutrition is energy. Exercise is a healthy and satisfying way to release that energy.

Nonetheless, it’s good to pay attention to other factors as well. If exercises that used to seem easy for you now seem difficult, that may be a sign that you haven’t been doing your body justice. If you’d reached a healthy weight, but now find that you’re swimming in your clothes or can’t button your favorite jeans, that may be another sign that you haven’t been paying close attention to your health. The busier you are, the more these little signs matter.

As most of us enter into adulthood and begin to lead busier lives, our health tends to fall on the wayside. Though my health was something that I was required to pay attention to, I admit that there were times I didn’t do my best at maintaining it. All in all, paying attention to your health will make you feel better. It will make you a genuinely happier person, fighting depression, anxiety and other mental health issues that kick in when school and careers become stressful.

So when you wake up in the morning and don’t feel like working out that day, do it anyway. Wake up an hour earlier if you have to. Skip the croissant and have some granola. To this day, I’ve never regretted a workout and I’ve never regretted eating my vegetables. The hard work is always easier than the regret of not living up to your potential.

Image: Julia Caesar

Travel

Now that we’re far enough into summer, you may have exciting trips planned for the next couple of months. As you research fun activities to do, pack your bags, and prepare for the adventures ahead, remember the words of wisdom from these five professionals. These people have traveled the world and learned from their mistakes, and they know what to keep in mind when it comes to exploring new territory. To read each professional’s full Spotlight, simply click on their photo.

travel roundup 1

travel roundup 2

travel roundup 3

travel roundup 5travel roundup 4

Image: Jose Martin with graphics by Carpe Juvenis

EducationSkills

There are literally one million ways to concoct a stellar résumé, and another million ways to mess it up. Developing a résumé depends on the role you’re applying for, the company you’re applying to, and where you are in your career (to name a few). Plus, if you think that living breathing HR employees are reading them, it’s not always that simple anymore. Many companies use programs to scan résumés and search for keywords and phrases that match their job opening. Times are changing, and so is the recruiting landscape.

In a previous article I mentioned some of the different factors that create a successful résumé. But to be more specific, I wanted to dig a little deeper into the do’s and don’ts. To be fair, there are certainly many other reasons why your résumé would be at risk to be voted off the island, just as much as the reasons below might not matter to some companies. But based on my experience these are the best ways to ruin your chances of getting your dream job. Beware!

  1. Using silly font. This is obvious but I’m going to say it anyway: Stick to the Times New Roman-Calibri-Arial family. This is not the time to whip out Comic Sans or Century Gothic. They give no added value and can be distracting to the hiring manager. I’m not sure what type of company would be enthusiastic about someone who uses Lucida Handwriting, but I’d be interested to know if there is one! I suggest just keeping it simple. Additionally, it may give the impression that your focus is not on the main objective of the résumé (which is to hire you!).
  1. Not proofread and making typos. I also mentioned this before in another post: By sending in your résumé it is assumed that you (and others) have proofread it repeatedly and decided that this final copy is your best. If there is a spelling error or grammatical mistake, it screams carelessness. Not to say that you are careless (we’re all guilty of errors), but play it safe and triple check.
  1. References Available Upon Request.” Years ago, including this phrase at the bottom of your résumé was popular, but not anymore. There’s LinkedIn, Facebook, and other ways of learning more about candidates than just their résumés. Plus, if a company truly wants this information from you, they will ask (and it’s usually on application forms, anyway). At that point, I’d assume you’d readily provide it. If not, be prepared to explain why. My standpoint is to either include your references with their contact information already on your résumé/on a separate sheet or don’t mention it at all.
  1. Filling up space with irrelevant/excessive information. We’ve all been there: crafted one big, perfect, I-can-do-everything résumé and went on an application spree. It’s not a bad résumé, so someone has to email you back, right? Wrong. Your résumé should be aligned with the job description, as well as the company’s mission and values. Even using the same words as the job posting is helpful. If you’re applying for an administrative job, there is no need to include your membership to the Art Club in 2010. So unless you did something spectacular that makes you more productive in the desired role, nix it. As for the length of your résumé, that is widely debated. I don’t have a right or wrong answer. But my opinion? Keep it at one page, unless you have over 10 years of professional experience. As a young 20-something, pick the top three or four things that scream “HIRE ME I’M AWESOME” and leave the rest out. Brevity is key.
  1. Using terrible descriptions. Imagine a résumé that actually represents your skills and accomplishments? Crazy, right? Hiring managers want to know what you can do and what is unique about your skills. You have one page to bait the company into asking you for an interview. Consider describing the changes you made in your role, what you learned, how you can apply it elsewhere, the projects you worked on, and how you did it. For example, if you were an Office Assistant, listing job duties like “answered phones, retrieved office mail, supported other departments” is not helpful. It says nothing. They know what office assistants do, so don’t regurgitate job tasks to them. Better descriptions would be: “Provided excellent administrative support between departments” and “Effectively responded to all incoming calls regarding the company mission, as well as provide exceptional customer service to additional inquiries.” It gives a little oomph to your rap sheet, despite how simple your job was. It at least shows that you cared enough to phrase your words eloquently. You’d be surprised how many people don’t do this.

Image: Startup Stock Photos

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

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

Travel

Airports: we love them for their usefulness, but hate them for the stress they cause. Growing up as an airport frequenter, I want to share a few useful tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way that make navigating even the maddest airports a breeze. Follow theses tips and, who knows, you may begin looking forward to – and even enjoying! – the airport rather than dreading it:

  1. Check-in before the flight.

Most airlines now allow you to check-in online, 24 hours before your flight. This means you can completely avoid ridiculously long lines at the check-in counters. Not only does this option allow you to (sometimes) pick your own seats (window, please!), but it also gives you wiggle room to show up a few minutes behind schedule and still make the flight in perfect time.

  1. Keep accessories minimal and shoes open.

Taking off loads of rings, bracelets, a watch, a belt, and your favorite sports hat can seriously slow going through airport security. No one wants to be that person who is continuous beeping and holding up the already annoying process. To avoid this, be sure to keep accessories, especially metal one, to a minimum. Also, try and wear open-toes shoes like sandals or flip-flops. Most times, TSA will not request these types of shoes be taken off through security. This saves both time and your feet from walking on the cold dirty airport floor.

  1. Ask if there are any first class seats available.

This might sound silly, but you truly never know until you ask! When there are those luxurious, first class seats available, airlines do not always announce it. Make sure to speak kindly and smile wide to the worker at your gate because sometimes airlines will update you for a reasonable price or even for free. Along with this, occasionally airlines overbook and need volunteers to switch flights in exchange for a stipend, free flight, or other perk. Be sure to take advantage of these opportunities if your travel plans are flexible.

  1. Don’t skimp on snacks and water.

I always have three things with me while traveling – granola or Chex mix, a fruit, and water. Because you cannot bring any outside food through security, pick up a few healthy, filling snacks from your gate that will last you for at least 12 hours. Usually I will leave these items in my carry-on and make them last until I reach my final destination. It is important to travel with some sustenance in case you do not have time later to pick snacks up or you’re like me and need to eat every few hours to function properly!

  1. Make the most out of a long layover.

Like I said in another article, “why not turn an inconvenient few hours into an opportunity to explore?” Layovers can be pleasant if you plan them wisely. Quickly explore the city if you have a long layover, get a massage, browse the bookstore, or eat a good meal in the gate during a short one. Regardless of how long your hiatus is, if you start to look at your layover as an opportunity you’re bound to enjoy it.

  1. Strategize your carry-on essentials.

It is important to pack your carry-on lightly and cleverly while traveling. Make sure everything you need is there, and necessities are all you have. Along with typical necessities like boarding passes and passports, I always pack a thick pair of socks and over-the-ear headphones. Both of these items keep me feeling calm and comfortable in the airport and on the plane. Pick a few items that keep you level headed, whatever they may be, and remember to pack them on your carry-on. You’d be surprised how much a few familiar objects can lower stress and anxiety levels.

I hope these airport hacks serve you as well as they’ve served me throughout the years. Happy traveling!

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

Skills

For many of us, public speaking had us quivering in the back of the classroom crossing fingers not to be called on.  Speaking in front of a large crowd can definitely be intimidating, especially if it’s not your forte. However, hopefully remembering a few of these tips can help you master this skill in a heartbeat:

1. DO: Embrace Your Nervous Energy

Nervous energy can be the first barrier that a speaker encounters with a crowd if not grounded in a proper way. “How to get rid of it?” you may ask yourself. There are many ways of doing so and one of them, contrary to popular belief, is by making yourself vulnerable. Walking up to the podium and making a light joke about the spilled coffee on your shirt or throwing in a “I’m nervous so please bear with me,” may just save your speech. The audience is not against you; in fact, they are with you. People know how nerve wrecking it can be to stand up in front of a bunch of strangers, and allowing them to identify with you is key.

2. DO: Outline Your Talk

It is vital to begin your presentation by introducing yourself and addressing the purpose of the speech to make clear what you hope your audience will get out of your talk. Who you are is very important and the audience wants to know that. Giving them an outline also allows your audience to create reasonable expectations with what it is you are willing to provide for them.

3. DO: Make Eye Contact

Eye contact is one of the most human ways of connecting with other people. Of course, it is obvious that one cannot make direct eye contact with every single person in the room, assuming your audience is impressively large. But as you introduce your speech, make sure to begin by turning your head to look at the person farthest on your left to slowly scan the room all the way to the person farthest to your right. This creates a way for you to comfortably glance at different areas of the room while not excluding the people that may not be in your direct field of view. Also, if you are uncomfortable making direct eye contact, try slowly moving your eyes above various heads. It reliefs awkward eye contact and creates the illusion that you are making it.

4. DON’T: Speak in Up Tones

You may not have noticed this, but your tone of voice is representative of how people will “secretly” view you. There are two kinds of people: the kind of people that speaks in up tones and the kind of people that speaks in down tones. It is most common to hear a teenager speaking in up tones while older people tend to speak in down tones. An up tone is the tone of your voice when you are asking a question while a down tone is the tone of voice you use when you are stern. Throughout your speech, especially when you introduce yourself, make sure you always use down tones. Practice it throughout the day to help you achieve this is as your dominant tone. It allows you to sound more confident and legitimate.

5. DO: Utilize Pauses

Pauses are not a sign of weakness. A few seconds of silence may be uncomfortable for you but hold it out – the silence captures the audience’s attention. Silence is power. When you are trying to make a relevant point and have just said something that you want to be remembered, pause and wait for that message to sink in. In addition, if you have forgotten a line or a point, pausing is a great way for you to compose yourself. Pauses are also great for replacing fill-in words: “ummm,” “eeeh,” “errrr,” “mmm,” “uhhhh,” or even the stretching of words. You may not notice it right off the bat, but dropping just one fill-in word is a call for catastrophe. It sets a tone of insecurity and boredom. Practice using pauses instead of fill-in words and you will note just how powerful your talk can be.

6. DO OR DON’T: Use Gestures

There is a common misconception that gestures during a speech are a must. However, one must realize that everyone is different. There are people who convey powerful messages by simply standing still with hands folded in front of them as their words capture the audience. Others have a musical voice which can easily be supported with beautiful hand gestures. It all depends on the person because if a person forces gestures and pacing, it may come off as awkward and stiff. It’s important that every person embrace his or her own style.

Public speaking can get your knees weak – it does for me! Public speaking can be a nerve wracking thing, though it really doesn’t need to be. Overcoming these fears is the key to effectively conveying any message in front of a public audience.

Are you ready to take on this challenge? How do you combat your public speaking nerves?

Image: leahbraun.net

CollegeEducation

High school seniors all over are going through the same struggle right now. That’s right, college applications and interviews! As the deadlines start rolling in, many colleges start offering interviews which mainly take place between January and March. Here are the key aspects of what to expect:

First Contact

You get an email greeting you. Your interviewer has been assigned to you and introduces his or herself. They then ask for a place to meet, and may already have a suggestion. In my experience, all the interviewers had day jobs (one even worked at Goldman Sachs) and are really busy. They’re accommodating you because they’re alumni to the school you want to apply for. That’s why you should schedule a time that you definitely won’t be late for. Make sure you can get to the place on time. Sometimes it’s the college itself, sometimes it’s at Starbucks. Wherever it is, be polite and be quick to respond.

Preparation

Now that you know who your interviewer is, it’s time to do some research. Besides knowing as much as you can about the school, find out more about the person who is interviewing you. Can you find out what they’re doing now, what they majored in, or what year they graduated? It gives you a sense of what their experiences were like, and you can ask more informed questions during the interview.

Remember to dress appropriately for the interview. No chipped nail polish, graphic T­-shirts, or skin-baring outfits. It is pretty common to see seniors wearing collared shirts because they had an interview that day after class.

If it’s a webcam interview, which is an option for many colleges, make sure to be dressed appropriately and have decent lighting. Try to be in a room that wouldn’t be too noisy or that has too many distractions in the background.

The Day Of

Even though you’re really nervous, it’s alright. At this point, you should have practiced answering potential questions and have written your own for the interviewer. You are prepared! That’s why you can look your interviewer in the eye in a friendly, relaxed manner and that is why you have a solid and comfortable handshake.

The interviews themselves have a similar pattern. “Tell me about yourself. Tell me why you want to attend this college. Tell me what you know about this college. What makes this college the one, and not another college?” Try to come up with answers beforehand.

Then they turn the tables over to you. “Do you have any questions?” This is where your research comes in. Ask about a club you might be interested in, or about living options and the main benefits your interviewer got out of attending that college.

Follow Up

Yes. You have to do one more thing. The Thank You note. Remember, this person took time out out of a busy schedule to talk to you. The least you can do is show your respect. Try to reference things you talked about in the interview so they can remember you out of all the other students they’ve interviewed. It shows you’re interested, and you’ll stand out.

Applying for colleges is rough, and doing interviews for them can be scary. It’s alright, everyone feels that way. With enough practice and information, you can become comfortable with the process. Good luck!

Image: Gratisography

EducationSkills

It’s daunting to have to present yourself to the workforce via one sheet of paper. A resume is a job-seeker’s initial introduction, showing proof of interview-worthiness. So although we cannot have our resumes talk on our behalf, vouching for our righteousness and go-getter attitude, there are actual ways to properly prepare them for the hiring world.

Highlight classes that are valuable

For college students, sometimes there isn’t time or even transportation to juggle multiple off-campus internships and side jobs. If you find yourself completely swamped with your academic load alone, highlight classes that are appropriate for the job you are applying for. Under your Education section of your resume, include a line entitled Relevant Coursework. Simply list off courses that you have taken that 1. Are applicable to the job and 2. Consist of material you are well-versed in. Let’s say our student-job-seeker is looking to get involved with a non-profit health clinic. They want to make sure that hiring managers acknowledge the type of material they are familiar with. Here’s a quick example of what that could like:

EDUCATION
University Name                                                                                                                       (Expected) Graduation Date
Degree Type, Major(s) & Minor(s)
GPA/Academic Distinctions (Dean’s List)
Relevant Coursework: Health Behavior Theory, Nutritional and Global Health, Introduction to Grant Writing and Research Proposals, Administrative Health Policy

That’s why it’s so important to choose classes you can confidently talk about! You never know, you may get called in for an interview and be asked to elaborate on what you’ve learned. Depending on how much space you have to fill up a 1-page resume, listing 4-5 courses can help focus your interests.

Don’t underestimate projects

Whether you major in engineering, biology, studio art, psychology, math or environmental sciences, there are opportunities through classes and clubs that require hands-on projects. Individual or group projects can be research-based for a senior thesis or as final exams in certain classes. Any relevant project that you have devoted a substantial amount of time and effort in deserves to be featured on a resume. Things to remember:

  • Quantify as much as possible when it comes to how many people worked on the project and if there were numerical results from your project/study
  • Give your project and yourself (if possible) an understandable title:
    • Health Sector Management Class Project, Team Member
    • Art in Living Spaces: Senior Thesis, Group Leader
  • As with all other experiences listed, have at least 3-4 bullet points to elaborate on what you contributed to the project

Watch your verbs and their tenses

Hiring managers on average spend only six seconds looking over your resume. Yikes! With such a fast overview, you want to make sure your bullet points flow well so everything is easy to read. Start every bullet with a strong verb. Some call these proactive verbs, some say action verbs. Use appropriate verbs and depending on your work history, apply the proper tense. For present jobs, present tense. For past jobs, past tense. Easy enough, right? You’d be surprised how many people forget to update their verbs as time goes on.

Be consistent with your labeling and format

This one gets overlooked way too often. After you have tweaked your resume to your liking, the best way to check for errors is to print it out. Have some friends act as spelling and grammar police, searching for any errors you might have missed. For your own proofread, here’s what to look for once you have a printed document:

  • Do the margins cut off any text?
  • Is your name easily visible?
  • Is your contact info up-to-date?
  • Are the dates you have listed all aligned?
  • Did I list all of the locations of my experiences?
  • Is it one full page?

Remember, resumes change with you. Updating and changing things up can help keep your information fresh and relevant. For you college students out there, take advantage of your campus career center and get the resume critiques you need to feel confident in your job search. It’s never too early to start building your resume the right way!

Image: Flazingo Photos

CultureTravel

Globe-trotting and sight-seeing may not always be within our reach. Sometimes our travel funds are running low or we don’t have a long enough break to really go anywhere. For those of you fresh off a semester at school or enjoying time off from work, turn your vacation into a staycation. Staying at home to create your own leisure moments is often times the best way to unwind and stay frugal during the holidays. Travel time: zero. Destination: relaxation.

Ramen and Rom Coms

You know you love it. Invite some friends and family over for a cozy night in. Supply the packages of ramen and have your guests choose their favorite romantic comedies to watch. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s an easy last minute hangout idea. (Life points to the person who chooses Crazy Stupid Love.)

Easy-Peasy Bath Salts

Here is what you’ll need for a luxurious and silky bath time experience. This does wonders for dry skin sufferers, especially in the winter time. It will calm your skin while the epsom salt can help ease joint pain and muscular aches.

 1 cup of sea salt
 ½ cup of baking soda
 2 cups of Epsom salt
 Mix well in a big bowl
 Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil
 Put your mix into a jar and add a few spoonfuls to your next bath!

Tea Party for One

If you’re looking for some solo time, enjoy a piping hot cup of tea and relax with a good book. It’s always refreshing to read for fun (and not for a grade), but if your brain feels fried from final exams and essay-writing, try audible.com to check out their great selection of audio books. Listen to your books instead and sip on some green tea mixed with fresh mint leaves and a dash of sugar.

Music and Mind

Free-writing is both a powerful and cathartic process. Allow yourself to free your conscience completely with 20 minutes of free-writing. There are no rules or prompts or deadlines, just your stream of thoughts put on paper. Play some music (preferably loudly) while you write to fuel your creativity. You never know, you might get a poem, a letter to self, a letter to a loved one, or the start of a series of journal entries. Tip: listening to music and rainymood.com simultaneously creates a wondrous audio experience that is definitely worth trying.

Image: Mike

Skills

To some, it’s terrifying. Talking in front of a crowd may trigger anxiety in all shapes and forms. Sweaty and shaky hands, uncontrollable muttering, blank facial expressions, and a mundane tone are all symptoms of the fear of public speaking.  However, there are ways that can help condition you to become more resistant to the “everyone please stop looking at me” and “wait, what am I even saying?” moments in life. It takes practice and it takes time, but it is so worth having your (steady) voice heard. Whether you are presenting in class or at work, keep these tips in mind:

Ground your nerves

A lot of people get extremely nervous while talking out loud. Sometimes this boils down to a fear of judgment. BREAKING NEWS: people in the room are most likely thinking of themselves or what they have to do that day. It’s a human thing. When they do tune in to what you’re saying, make sure that conveying your message is more important than their thoughts about you. Take big, deep breaths before your presentation and prepare yourself to work out your mental muscles. Focus on your nervous energy and picture yourself bottling it up and transferring it out of your system.  A big chunk of the magic behind good presenting is being able to psych yourself up (not psych yourself out). Think about yourself in control. Bring all your nervousness out of your mind, out of your arms and hands, down to your toes and into the ground. Then leave it there. Guiding yourself through this imagery is a powerful tool.

Know your voice well

Practicing a speech or presentation in your head is not enough. For optimal results, practice the exact presentation out loud to familiarize yourself with the sound of your voice. We hear ourselves talk every day, but the tone changes as we cater to the informative or persuasive styles of speech. Understand and recognize how your own voice fluctuates between styles so that you are not afraid of your own voice. You’ll be better able to gauge what volume is appropriate during the real thing and whether or not you begin to drift into a quiet, timid voice versus a loud and clear one. Recording yourself may be a bit awkward and cringe-worthy at first, but it is extremely helpful in identifying your pitch, sound, and pauses.

Be an expert (or at least act like one)

Know your information so well, that if you stumble, you can talk your way through accurately. That is the biggest goal. Sounding confident and credible is crucial to create audience engagement. Understanding the topic can lend way to less “um’s”, “you knows”, and “things like that.” These filler words are not our friends, leave them out. When researching your topic, learn more about it than you need to talk about. Filter out the extra information when writing your speech so that your audience is getting a concentrated and relevant presentation. Having that reservoir of information will be a lifesaver if anyone has follow-up questions or if you lose your place while talking.

Memorize a performance

Understand the mechanisms of your body while you speak. Try not to just memorize the words you will be saying. Rather, memorize the entirety of your presentation, from steady pacing back and forth, to hand movements, eye contact, and even your tone and changes in tone. Now this doesn’t mean that you should analyze every movement, rinse and repeat. You should, instead, have a working script. Similar to any play or musical, actors in these productions are able to make each show seem like it’s the first time for their audience yet they are still saying the same lines and presenting within the creative bounds of the story.

Everyone can work towards a positive relationship with public speaking. Think and stay calm, research thoroughly, and channel your inner performer. Good luck and speak out!

Image: Carla de Souza Campos

EducationSkills

The stress levels are high and the amount of time to study for tests and get the last assignments of the semester finished are extremely low. Many of you are probably pulling all-nighters and downing cup after cup of coffee just to stay awake. It’s going to feel like a long last couple of weeks before we’re officially finished with this semester, but once we get through our last days of classes, we can take our finals and go home.

But getting through these tough times are easier said than done. This is why I’m here to help you rock finals week. The better you do on your exams, the better you’ll feel about dedicating so much of your time to study.

Here are some of the things that I like to do to prepare for Finals week:

  • Take naps – a well-rested brain is a higher performing one. While all-nighters can be beneficial to you, you can’t focus on much of anything if you didn’t get much sleep. It’s also harder to retain the information you learned.
  • Stay focused – I know you don’t need anyone to tell you this, but I know how easy it is to get distracted. One minute you’re practicing math problems and the next you’re on Facebook. If you find yourself losing focus, maybe try new methods of studying or if you’ve been studying for one test for hours, maybe try studying for another one. You don’t have to spend hours doing this but make sure you do spend a few hours focused. Remove all of the distractions if necessary or study in a quiet place like the library.
  • Form study groups – Sometimes it helps having other people in your class around when you’re studying so if you need help you don’t have to go too far to get it.
  • Listen to classical music – There are a lot of studies that say that classical music helps you retain more information and others that say it doesn’t really help with anything, but I personally listen to classical music when I’m studying to a.) Block out distracting noise and b.) To help lower my stress levels. If you’ve never listened to classical music while studying, please give it a try. I recommend making a classical music station on Pandora.

Also, here are some things to do before you take your finals:

  • Eat a balanced breakfast – This is a tip for the day of your exams. If you can, try to have a nice, big meal for breakfast. It’s not good to start your day off with an empty stomach, especially before an exam.
  • Use the bathroom – I know this might seem like common sense, but some people just want to get their finals over and done with that they forget to go to the bathroom, even if they don’t think they have to go at the moment.
  • Got a cold? – Bring cough drops and tissues. You never know when you might need them.
  • Wear comfortable clothes – No need to get dressed up to take a test. Break out the sweats and the comfy shirts with the long sleeves. Don’t bother brushing your hair or really doing anything to fix your appearance. It’s final week! You have a right to be as casual as you want to be.
  • Believe in yourself – You’re only going to do as good as you think you’re going to do so think good thoughts and try your best to stay positive.
  • It’s only a test – I don’t like not getting good grades on my finals, but I always remind myself that it’s just an exam and it’s not a reflection of my intelligence.

Finals week is really stressful and it can seem like it’ll never end, but it will. Just remember to treat yourself well during this time. Eat three (healthy) meals. Get a good amount of sleep. And stay positive. Study as much as you can and just do the best that you can.  Soon this will all be behind us and next semester will be a clean slate.

Good luck everyone! Rock those finals!

Image: Ryan McGilchrist

EducationSkills

Finals are among us. For those in college, this means papers, projects, and a lot of cramming. For those in high school, this also means papers, projects, and a lot of cramming… There’s just so much to do! Homework, extra credit, paper outlines, group projects. Besides that, part time jobs, internships, after school activities. And before all of those, sleeping and eating! There’s a lot that seems to be happening right now, but there are some ways to deal with all the havoc that is December!

Prioritize.

Always do what you need to do first. Which one comes first: the big thesis paper or that extra credit project? Watering your plants or giving yourself a shower? Going to a club meeting or studying for an exam for that really tough teacher? Always do what is important, and don’t bother with the small stuff during this time crunch. The little things can be slipped in, but devoting large chunks of time to a 10 page paper is an efficient way of getting ideas out, onto a document, and out of the way. The little things you can do as mini breaks in between. Get up to stretch and do a 10 minute yoga pose for exercise, but do this between paragraph four and five of your essay. Moderate and prioritize.

Eat and sleep.

My university’s labs are open 24 hours during finals. In the early 3­-5am hours, students can be seen sleeping at their desk with the screen doing a five hour export. Other students can be seen with three empty cups of coffee next to their sewing machines with half finished shirts and dresses. But whether you’re in art school, business school, or high school, you need to get your sleep and your nutrients! You and a friend can do food­runs. Someone runs out to get dinner for both of you, then you trade and do the same for lunch. Do this for fabric material, photo paper, paint, ink, printer paper. One person can do that half-hour-run to Staples and the other person can do that half-hour run to the cafeteria. Roommates, workshop partners, lab buddies, you name it. It is the time to keep your body functioning during a time when there isn’t enough time.

Know your limits.

Alright. You didn’t sleep in the last 24 hours, and the night before, you only slept
three hours. Your hands are shaking from too much caffeine, and for some reason the words on the
screen are starting to move on their own. You have a dull headache that has turned into nauseousness and your neck is cramped. You haven’t seen daylight in two days. It’s time to stop. Yeah, that presentation is important and people are counting on you. Sure, that exam is 50% of your grade. But what’s the point if you’re going to pass out in front of your professor or wake up to the exam sheet stuck to your cheek? Sometimes enough is enough and there’s only so much you can do. That’s when you take a breather, take a walk, take a shower, take a break.

Dealing with everything is crazy. You and everyone around you are in high gear. Once
you figure out all you need to do, you’ll do them. Keep yourself going with enough sleep and
food. Sometimes, you have to just put everything down. Take it easy and good luck!

Image: TMAB2003

Health

It is still fall and yet, somehow, winter is already upon us.  I know that there are people who are fortunate enough to live or go to school in a state where snow and cold weather are not a problem. But for those of us who have to deal with freezing temperatures and (worst of all) snow, here are a list of ways to stay warm:

  1. Tea/Coffee/Hot Chocolate – Having a nice, hot drink is essential to keeping warm. Not only are they extremely yummy but they also help warm you up in a matter of seconds. Get yourself a travel mug and fill it with a hot beverage of your choice.
  2. Layer up! – I know you might feel ridiculous at first but you won’t regret it later when you’re feeling nice and toasty. Put on several long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, a hoodie, two pairs of socks, and leggings underneath your jeans or sweats. Throw on whatever you have and don’t worry if it doesn’t match. The more layers you have on, the warmer you’ll be. Trust me!
  3. Gloves, hats, and scarves – Remember that hat and scarf set your grandma made you? You know the one you didn’t want to wear because it makes you look funny? Well, now is the time to break it out! If your grandma doesn’t knit or crochet, then you should probably go to the nearest Walmart or Target and stock up on gloves/mittens (2-3 pairs will do) and get yourself a scarf and hat set if you don’t already have one.
  4. Are you sleeping near the window? – Unfortunately, I had to push my bed up against the window so we’d have more floor space in the room. If you’re in the same predicament as I am, make sure to keep more than one blanket on the bed. Also try to keep the curtains closed at all times to block the air out and keep the heat on when you’re in the room. If you don’t have heat in your room, get a small space heater (if it’s allowed on your campus). Lastly, don’t forget to sleep with a pair of socks on and a warm pair of pajamas or a onesie!
  5. No canvas shoes – I learned the hard way that canvas shoes don’t really do anything to keep your feet warm. If you can, try to avoid wearing them in the colder weather because your feet will freeze up as soon as you step outside. If you don’t have a wide range of shoes to pick from, then wear two pairs of socks with your canvas shoes to protect your feet from the bitter cold.
  6. Eat warm food – No ice cream or frozen yogurt during this time of the year, unless you really can’t live without it. Instead, eat any soup or stew you can find. Those are the kinds of things you eat when it’s cold out. Not only are they filling but they also will help keep you warm.
  7. Are you forgetting something? – I have quite a few friends who walk outside without some sort of coat or jacket on and I never understand it. Don’t be like them! The key to surviving these cold months is to stay as warm as possible and the best way to do that is to wear a coat or a jacket. Whatever it is that you have! If you forget to put it on, then you’ll more than likely regret it.

There are not any right or wrong ways to stay warm. Do whatever works for you! These are just a few tips that help me survive the colder months. How do you stay warm?

Image: Jens Cedar