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5 Ways to Prepare for Success During Your Senior Year Of College

5 Ways to Prepare for Success During Your Senior Year Of College
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I may have jumped the gun by agreeing to write this article considering my final fall semester of college started three weeks ago. However, after working in the career center of my school for quite some time now and seeing senior after senior come in with the same “Help me, I’m graduating” look on their face, I think I can offer a couple sure-fire tips for success to graduating seniors. After all, I am one now (cue the world’s smallest violin).

Here are five ways you can set yourself up for a bright future during your senior year of college:

 1. Raid your nearest career center

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    I’m not kidding when I say this: if you haven’t gone to the career center at your school, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Not only are career counselors some of the most helpful people on this planet, but career centers provide students with a multitude of FREE (that’s right, I said free) services you can’t afford to pass up. Literally, you can’t afford it. Once you’re out of school, services like that are going to cost a pretty penny (a.k.a. NOT FREE). So go to your university’s career center, set up an appointment with a career counselor, and let them help you figure out your plans before and following graduation. I guarantee a weight off your shoulders is going to lift once you do.

    2. Spice up your resume

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      In the words of Mary Poppins, “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Think about it. If you were an employer looking through stacks upon stacks of resumes all printed in size 12 Times New Roman black font, you’d jump at the first sign of a visually-appealing paper too. That doesn’t mean go all arts-and-crafts-crazy on your resume and throw glitter all over it. It means make yourself stand out among the rest of the carbon copies by designing your resume in a way that’s not only tailored to a potential employer, but also tailored to show your personality. After all, an employer isn’t just looking for someone to fill a job. They’re looking for someone they want to work with. Check out Pinterest resume templates for ideas.

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      3. Internships!!!

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        You may be asking yourself, “Why did she put three exclamation marks following internships?” There’s a very good reason why, aside from the fact I’m on a sugar-high right now, and it’s because internships are the foundation for any career. Most, if not all, successful people started from the bottom and worked their way to the top. The best way to set yourself up for success is to start pursuing an internship in the career field you’re interested in. Once you graduate, the working world becomes a race to the employment finish line. With a couple internships under your belt, you’ve already got a head start.

        4. Talk to your superiors

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          Professors, internship supervisors, former bosses, current bosses–talk to them all. At one point in their lives, they were in the same boat as you. They get it. Trust me. Ask them about their experiences, what steps they suggest you take to land the career you want, how they became successful, and most importantly, NETWORK WITH THEM. Chances are they know some guy who knows some guy who has a cousin in the industry you’re dying to work in. If you play your cards right, you could end up working alongside that cousin following graduation. Just make sure to send a lengthy thank you card to the person responsible for that connection.

           5. Remain calm

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            With every other senior running around like a chicken with their head cut off, it’s hard to follow this motto. Believe me, I know. It’s like asking a dog to stop barking, but I firmly believe this final tip to be the most crucial in guaranteeing success.

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            Take a moment and visualize a successful person in your head. It could be your boss, a celebrity, a CEO of a major company, or generally someone you wish to emulate. Now, in your mind, can you imagine them losing their cool over feeling uncertain of their future? The answer should be no; and if it’s yes, then I think you need to re-evaluate your idea of a successful person because successful people don’t freak out (at least not publicly). They embody the three C’s–calm, cool, and collected. They’ve mastered the art of appearing and acting as though nothing fazes them; and for some, nothing really does. After all, success doesn’t mean having loads of money. It means self-discipline and seeing the results of your hard work.

            The best way you can be successful is by being secure in all that you’ve done and all you’re doing. People are said to be their own worst critics, but don’t let that be the case for you. Feel confident in the fact that you’re close to completing an opportunity that a lot of people weren’t as fortunate as you to have.

            So remain calm, carry on, and follow these steps towards setting yourself up for success this year. I promise you everything is going to turn out fine.

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            Featured photo credit: Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert Landscape/FlashBuddy via morguefile.com

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            Published on July 27, 2021

            15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

            15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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            During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

            But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

            Put the Pro in Professional

            After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

            1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

            The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

            Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

            2. Dress the Part

            While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

            Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

            For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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            Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

            3. Stage Your Workspace

            Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

            Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

            4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

            Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

            Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

            Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

            Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

            5. Arrive on Time

            In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

            Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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            6. Turn on Your Video

            Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

            If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

            Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

            7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

            Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

            Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

            Attend to the Pesky Details

            8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

            With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

            Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

            9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

            Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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            Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

            10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

            As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

            Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

            Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

            Talking Has a Time and a Place

            11. Chat Appropriately

            Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

            At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

            12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

            The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

            Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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            13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

            In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

            Manage Yourself

            14. Minimize Distractions

            While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

            Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

            15. Save Snacking for Later

            Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

            However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

            Final Thoughts

            Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

            Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

            Reference

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