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6 Things That Every Workforce Entrant Should Know

6 Things That Every Workforce Entrant Should Know
    Photo from bradbridgewater on Flickr

    It feels like the past 4 years of college have flown by and now with only one month of school left I have never felt the days pass more slowly.

    There is still a ton of stuff left to do for school-work and what I like to call “administrative” tasks like making sure important forms are filled out so that I can graduate. You think that this would be stressful enough yet on top of all of that I am transitioning my role as student to employee.

    Looking and interviewing for your first “real” job can be a daunting task and without the help from others that have done it before me, I would have been lost. Below are some of the things that I have learned in the process of becoming a new employee that hopefully you can use when you are doing the same thing.

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    Before Interviewing

    Know what you are looking for

    Do you want an office job? Do you want to move around? How about work on large teams or by yourself? These are all things that you should consider when looking for your first out of college.

    There are some things that are going to be the same everywhere you go (sorry, there aren’t really any jobs where you have to work 0 hours a week), but there are some things that differ form company to company. For example if you work for a large consulting firm you may have to move around and work for other companies that you may not mesh with.

    Know what the company is looking for

    It’s great to start your job search knowing what you are looking for, the problem is that most job seekers and potential employees stop there and just apply wherever they think that they want to work. What’s important is for you to understand what the company that you are applying to is actually looking for.

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    Back to the consulting idea, if you are looking for a place to go to stay for an indeterminate amount of time and not have to move around that much, then consulting probably isn’t for you. Consulting companies are looking for people that aren’t afraid or even like to move around on a regular basis. Knowing what the company is looking for in an employee is something that you can use to your advantage when applying and interviewing.

    Research the company online and check out their site

    This is not a suggestion. You have to know what the company does that you are applying to and understand what they are known for. You would be surprised out how many people have no clue. During the interview process they will surely ask you why you are attracted to their company and an answer like, “you will help me pay my bills” will probably not help you.

    Just check out their site, read, and take notes of what they are about.

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    From Interview To Offer

    Make sure to speak

    So much of our communication now-a-days is in the typewritten form through email or text message. There is something to say about email etiquette for sure, but if you want to make a big impact to a company that you are in the interview process with, consider talking to them on the phone or if you can in person. Email can only portray so much of yourself; speaking on the phone not only shows them that you aren’t some scared animal behind a keyboard, but also what kind of person you are, if you have a sense of humor, etc.

    With so much of our communication through text, it is a breath of fresh air to speak to someone in person.

    Learn about benefits and ask questions

    Something that tends to happen to new entrants into the working world is that they get scared that if they ask questions about things that “they (think) should know”, they will look like an uninformed neanderthal to everyone that they talk to. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

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    In my limited experience of interviewing I have found that asking questions is the only way that you will find out what certain benefit packages mean, including health insurance options, 401k, profit sharing, etc. HR reps are there to help you with anything that you may need, so asking questions just shows them that you want to be more informed; not that you are a blabbering idiot that knows nothing.

    Learn about company culture

    One excellent thing to do is to learn about the company culture from non-HR people. I have found that HR reps are very pro- “their firm” and tend to sugar coat almost everything. If you want the nitty-gritty of how teams inside of the company work, suggest to your HR rep the idea of meeting with some employees that would be on the same team as you or even middle managers. Most times you will meet them anyways, but if not make sure to mention it.

    It seems that once you get outside of HR types, employees are much more candid. There is nothing like the impression you can get from someone that has been working on the front lines of the company. Asking questions like, “how do managers work with the subordinates here?” or “how stressful is your work environment?” are types of questions that will help shed some light on company culture.

    Transitioning from student to worker and creator can be a very stressful and challenging endeavor, especially if you have no clue what to expect. These tips just brush the service of what you should do while you are looking for and interviewing for potential jobs. The most important thing to remember when you don’t understand something or are confused is to reach out to others that have been through the process and ask questions.

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on September 28, 2020

    How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

    How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

    The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.

    Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.

    Here are some study tips to help get you started:

    1. Use Flashcards

    Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.

    Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.

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    To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.

    One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.

    Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.

    As Tony Robbins says,

    “Repetition is the mother of skill”.

    2. Create the Right Environment

    Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.

    Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.

    3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information

    In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.

    An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

    4. Listen to Music

    Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.

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    5. Rewrite Your Notes

    This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.

    Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.

    To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.

    6. Engage Your Emotions

    Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.

    Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.

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    For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

    7. Make Associations

    One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.

    Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.

    To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.

    You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.

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    Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

    Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

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