Latina Engineers Push to Defy Odds in Tech and Increase Their Numbers

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The lack of diversity in the tech world continues to garner headlines and raise questions about the lack of gender representation in the tech workforce.

For Latina engineers, the path to success continues to be an uphill battle.

“There are very few people who look like me in this field,” explains Medalis Trelles, a 26-year-old software engineer currently working in Washington, D.C. “It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed when everyone is male.”

Only 13 percent of U.S. engineering jobs are held by women, and an even smaller percentage by Latinas. According to the latest report by the National Science Foundation, only 2 percent of employed engineers are Hispanic women.

Trelles was not one of those kids who grew up coding or working with technology at the age of ten. Her path to becoming an engineer has been a circuitous and difficult one, and she says she feels like an impostor sometimes because she was late to the game of computers and technology. “I had no introduction to programming in high school, or college.”

She emigrated to the U.S. from Arequipa, Peru with her parents when she was nine years old. She graduated from Cornell University in 2012 with a degree in Labor Economics, was in finance for a couple of years before she decided to start her own business.

She realized how little she knew about computers and coding when she tried to create a mobile app for her new dog walking business and didn’t know how. “I basically taught myself through a series of online courses, and community college courses,” explains Trelles.

Eventually she attended a coding boot camp in San Francisco and then at 25, tried to find employment in the competitive tech world. Her job search was tough and it was when the “women in tech” issue became really evident to her.

She feels that if tech companies are serious about diversity in their ranks, they need to embrace programs that actually foster and support candidates of different backgrounds.

“I think the apprenticeship route is the way to go for non-traditional people and also for people who don’t have a network built in for them,” said Trelles. “These will be game-changers for companies who really want to move the needle forward” in terms of diversity.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Ten Questions Never, Ever To Ask At A Job Interview

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Career-Advice

You must bring questions with you to every job interview.

Here are three good questions to ask your interviewer:

1. How does this position contribute to the department’s — and the company’s — success?

2. What will a successful first year in this job look like? What will your new hire accomplish?

3. Who are the internal and external customers of the person in this job, and what do those customers want?

You will come up with more questions to ask as you research the company you’re going to be interviewing with. You’ll develop questions about the position, the company’s goals, the manager’s communications style and much more.  New questions will pop into your mind during the interview. Don’t be afraid to ask questions — it’s the best thing a candidate can do!

At the same time, there are certain questions never, ever to ask at a job interview. Ten of them are listed below.

1. What does your company do?

You can say, “I know Acme Explosives manufactures stick dynamite for the coyote market — but I’d love to hear your perspective on the organization and its mission.”

You can’t show up at a job interview not knowing what the company does. That’s what the internet is for!

2. Do you have any other positions available, apart from this one?

Right now, you’re sitting in an interview talking about a specific job. Don’t ask about other positions unless the interviewer says, “I don’t think you’re a good fit for this job.”

If you feel that the job you’re discussing is not a good fit for you, you can say so — but until you’ve reached that point, keep the conversation on topic and remember that no one can force you to take a job if you don’t want to.

If they make you an offer and it doesn’t excite you, you can inquire about other available positions then. Cross that bridge later!

3. Which bus comes to your building from the east side of the city?

It’s up to you to figure out public transportation. Every public transit authority has online maps and schedules. It’s not the interviewer’s job to know every bus and train route, and this type of low-altitude question doesn’t brand you as a professional.

4. Do you use ABC Software here?

If they care about your proficiency with a particular software program, they will ask you. If you ask whether they use ABC Software and they don’t, you’ll be hanging in the breeze. The interviewer will say, “No, we use XYZ Software — are you proficient in that?” and you’ll have to say, “Nope.”

There’s no advantage to asking, “What kind of software do you use here?” in the early stages of your interview process.

5. Do you drug test applicants?

This is the biggest red-flag question you can ask. Even if you’re just asking out of curiosity or because you eat a poppy-seed bagel every day and you’re worried about the poppy seeds messing up your drug test results, don’t ask  the question!

If they drug-test applicants, they will tell you that when it’s time for you to take the drug test.

Cut back on the poppy seed bagels, just in case.

6. Are you interviewing other people for the job?

You can safely assume they’re interviewing other people. Also, what difference does it make? If it’s the right job for you at this moment in time, they’ll make you an offer, and you’ll accept.

Don’t worry about other candidates they may be considering. Focus on yourself!

7. If I don’t get the offer this time, how long do I have to wait to re-apply?

I include this question on our list of “Don’t Ask” interview questions because I have heard it from applicants’ lips so many times.

Everyone can understand how nerve-wracking the job search process can be.  Don’t make it worse by asking your interviewer what to do if you don’t get the job!

8. Are you going to talk to my former employer?

Any employer who’s considering hiring you is going to conduct some type of employment verification process. That process works through your former employer’s HR department.

Unless you listed your former manager as one of your references, prospective employers are very unlikely to talk to your old boss (or even to learn your former boss’s name).

Don’t put questions about your relationship with your ex-boss in their minds by asking, “Are you going to talk to my former employer?”

9. Does your company offer tuition reimbursement? How much is the deductible on your dental plan? How many vacation days will I accrue in the first three months? Does your health plan cover contact lenses?

It is a bad use of your precious face-to-face interview time to ask questions about the specifics of the company’s benefit plans. Ask for a copy of the health care program documents and read them when you get home.

You have a real person who works for the company in front of you — pick their brain about the work, the mission, the challenges, the opportunity and the culture.

Don’t turn your poor interviewer into a walking, talking employee benefits encyclopedia!

10. How long is your new employee probation  period?

This is another unnecessary and potentially alarming question for a job applicant to ask at an interview.

You can ask, “What is the waiting period for health benefits?” or, “What is your 401(k) eligibility schedule?” but don’t ask about the probationary period specifically.

If you do, it sounds like you’re anxious about making it through your probationary period. In reality, the probationary period for newcomers isn’t all that significant unless you work in a unionized environment that gives workers more protection after they’ve finished probation.

For everybody else, a major slip-up on Day 100 of your employment will outweigh the fact that you’ve completed your 90-day probation. Don’t give your possible next boss reason to wonder,”Why does this person care so much about the probationary period?”

Ask for a copy of the company’s handbook instead of asking this question — and read it cover to cover!

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

You Got the Job—Now What?

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Job Interview

Great—you got the job! A lot of people in this situation might think, “Now I can relax, cruise a while, and rest on my laurels.” Actually, your work is just beginning.

Ford R. Myers, career coach, speaker, and author states, “Having worked with thousands of executives who have successfully secured new positions, in my opinion, there are six priorities that you should focus on during the first 90 days of any new job.” These include:

  1. Establish positive relationships with your new colleagues. Be honest, open, friendly, reliable, and clear. Be outgoing and introduce yourself to coworkers (don’t wait for them to approach you).
  2. Develop a reputation for producing tangible results. Immediately, start a “success file” and track your accomplishments and contributions. Make note of the positive feedback you get from others in conversation and in writing—from clients, managers, clients, colleagues, vendors, etc.
  3. Communicate plans and progress to your superiors and to your team. Become known for setting challenging goals and completing projects on time and on budget—with measurable results.
  4. Begin building your own in-house contact network. Cultivate good relationships with everyone, including the employees above and below your level. Get to know people’s names. Reach out to the mail guy, the security guard, the IT guru, your manager’s executive assistant—everyone. You want business friends and supporters in a 360-degree arc around you.
  5. Review and fine-tune your job description with your manager. Sit down during those first 90 days and create an “individual development plan” for yourself and your role, which includes your short-, mid-, and long-term goals. This is critical to ensure that the job you landed becomes the job you love.
  6. Maintain a healthy balance between your work life and your private life. Don’t “go overboard” with enthusiasm for your new job. Family time, hobbies, and “recharging your batteries” are all part of your long-term professional effectiveness and success.

“You must focus on garnering respect, visibility, and credibility during your first 90 days on the job. The precedents you establish during this period will tend to last for your entire tenure at that organization. So, this ‘thumbprint period’ is critically important to your long-term success,” Myers adds.

Source: Reprinted by permission of Ford R. Myers, a nationally known career coach and author of Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.

UCLA Faculty Who Were First in Their Families to Go to College Help Others Like Them Overcome Fear, Self-Doubt

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UCLA Student and Grad

Gerardo Ramirez remembers his first day of college as one filled with conflicting emotions. He was eager and excited to be starting his freshman year at California State University, Northridge, but at the same time, he was apprehensive and anxious, and feeling a lot of pressure.

“The entire week before, I had nightmares that I couldn’t find any of my classrooms,” recalls Ramirez, who was not only navigating the physical campus but also entering the strange, new world of higher education as the first in his family to go to high school and college.

“I felt worried that I wouldn’t be able to do something as basic as find a class,” he says, “and that uncertainty in my abilities was a common concern for me throughout my undergrad years.”

Ramirez is now an assistant professor in UCLA’s Department of Psychology and one of approximately 100 UCLA faculty members, all former first-generation college students, who are participating in a new effort to offer support and encouragement to prospective and current first-generation UCLA students. More than 30 percent of UCLA undergraduates fall into that category.

Helping first-generation students feel connected

The UCLA First Generation Faculty Campaign is part of a broader effort to raise the visibility of first-generation faculty members across the University of California. At UCLA, the campaign is operating in collaboration with the First to Go program, which focuses on the retention and success of UCLA students.

“This campaign is intended to demystify the faculty rank for students and lets them know that behind the podium are many people whose roots are very similar to their own, and that a similar prestigious end is possible for them in whatever career path they are pursuing,” says Patricia Turner, senior dean of the UCLA College who was a first-generation college student who grew up in Sag Harbor, New York, where her mother cleaned houses and her father ran a farm in nearby Bridgehampton.

Originally from Virginia, neither of her parents completed high school.

First-generation students commonly face unique challenges when coming to college, says Turner, including pressure to improve their family’s economic situation, a narrow understanding of academic and professional opportunities, and lack of mentors.

Turner, who attended State University of New York, Oneonta, and UC Berkeley, says that highly competitive schools like UCLA can be especially intimidating for first-gen students who sometimes believe that professors at UCLA, one of the world’s leading universities, couldn’t possibly relate to them on a personal level.

“Academic success is linked to students believing that they belong to the institution,” says Turner, noting that more than 90 percent of first-generation students at UCLA graduate. “Students need to feel connected, and the response we have received to this program reinforces my belief that our faculty members are deeply committed to the undergraduate experience at UCLA.”

It’s especially important for first-generation students to complete their studies and inspire other prospective first-generation students because of what a college degree can mean economically to their future, their families, communities and society. According to a study by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce published in 2014, those who have bachelor’s degrees earn on average $1 million more than high school graduates over the course of a lifetime. In addition, Ph.D. holders earn $1 million more than bachelor’s degree holders.

Inspiring others to succeed

Being in college won Ramirez respect among his siblings and other family members, many of whom looked to him as an example of what is possible with hard work and dedication to academics. He also was able to offer them one-on-one counseling — something many lower-income high school students often don’t receive — and guide them on college admission requirements and financial aid and application deadlines, among other details.

As a college student, Ramirez avoided mentioning his first-generation status, but as a UCLA professor, he proudly shares his personal story with his students at the beginning of each quarter.

It’s this kind of support and perspective that inspired fourth-year cognitive science major and first-generation college student Denise Peralta to apply for graduate school after she completes her bachelor’s degree in June. “He (Ramirez) was the only professor to encourage me to go straight into a Ph.D. program. I wasn’t confident that I was ready, but, after hearing his story, I understood why he was pushing me, and I thought I could do it.”

Ramirez also opened her eyes to the importance of being involved in undergraduate research and helped her explore opportunities both at UCLA and other institutions. Peralta currently works in Ramirez’s research lab and hopes to one day teach math at a middle school similar to the one she attended in East Los Angeles. Her career aspirations are driven by a desire to foster a love of math and learning, and to serve as a positive role model.

“I want my students to see someone who looks like them, who came from the same neighborhood or one like theirs — and show them that success and a bright future are within their reach,” Peralta says. “I want them to say, ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’ And first-gen college students also need this kind of encouragement. This campaign gives us that.”

Advice from those who walked a similar path

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Paul Kroskrity became a first-generation college student after growing up in Long Island, New York, and later in Connecticut. He joined UCLA’s Department of Anthropology as a professor 40 years ago and served as chair of the American Indian Studies Program for 26 years. He believes that UCLA and the UC campuses in general are the perfect place for these efforts to flourish.

“The reason why this [First to Go] program is so good is that we have a really high quality institution, but we also admit students that are more diverse than those at the average university,” says Kroskrity, adding that UC campuses are an engine for social mobility. At other universities, he says, it’s not unusual for students who are the third or fourth generation in their families to attend college.

Kroskrity, who graduated from Columbia University and Indiana University, encourages first-generation students to get engaged, stay involved and not allow themselves to be constrained by self-imposed barriers or self-doubt.

“If you start limiting yourself by your own sense of what you are not capable of, or what you don’t know about, or how awkward you feel because it’s something new, you just don’t get the full experience,” says Kroskrity, whose mother didn’t complete high school and whose father was limited in his career because he lacked a college education.

“Take academic risks, talk to people that you might not have considered speaking to before, including your professors,” the UCLA anthropologist advises. “Reach out to people and get the full value of this experience. UCLA exists for them. You are not going to get these four years back, so use them in the best ways possible.”

Source: newsroom.ucla.edu

 

 

 

Here’s how NASCAR’s top female engineer is giving back to her native Puerto Rico

LinkedIn

In the über-macho, rough-and-tumble world of race car driving, the top female engineer in NASCAR is blazing quite a path and using it to give back to her native Puerto Rico.

“When I went to the university it was mostly guys, so the fact that I’m in a job where it’s mostly guys seems normal to me,” said Alba Colón, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Program, General Motors’ most visible racing program.

Colón oversees the engineers who test the engines and designs for the NASCAR drivers. “I fell in love with drag racing and I didn’t realize at the time that I was the first female, the first Latin American,” said Colón, who describes herself as a “worker bee” who is aware of her pioneering role.

“Every day I go to my job and I think, people are looking because you are representing something that is not the usual thing,” she told NBC News. “I take this job with a lot of pride.”

Colón is a graduate of the prestigious engineering program at the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez campus, in the western part of the island. UPR-Mayagüez has long been known for its science and math degrees and is a hub for U.S.-based recruiters.

General Motors hired Colón in 1994 as a data acquisition engineer, and since 2001 she has been with the company’s NASCAR cup series.

For years, Colón has been closely associated with recruiting and retaining graduates from her alma mater in Puerto Rico to come work for General Motors. After the devastation of Hurricane Maria, this role taken on even more importance.

Young people in the island, said Colón, are “very anxious” to get jobs, summer jobs and internships lined up.

“They are very smart and hard workers. They don’t have a lot of resources compared to other universities in the states, but they take the same classes and they have to find how to make things happen with the little resources that they have,” said Colón. “Those are skills we look at, that passion to make things happen.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Which MBA Program is Right for You? You can get your MBA your way.

LinkedIn

Today’s business schools offer more opportunities than ever to help you find a program that meets your specific needs. Programs generally fall into the following categories:

Full-time MBA programs are primarily for students who are able to take time off from working full-time to concentrate on their studies. These programs are ideal for both “career switchers” and “career enhancers.” Global companies sometimes send employees for a total immersion experience in countries that represent an important business market.

  • Programs typically last from 12 to 21 months
  • Longer programs often include a three-to-four month internship option
  • Core course requirements are completed in the early stage of the program
  • Specific concentrations and elective courses finish the latter stage of the program
  • The mix of electives and requirements varies among programs
  • Students often relocate to attend full-time programs

Part-time MBA programs are designed for working professionals and allow students to work full-time during the day and attend classes in the evening or on weekends. Part-time programs are popular among career enhancers—those who have experience and want to further their career in a chosen field. They are also a smart choice if you already have a network in your field to help you find a new position post-graduation.

  • Courses are scheduled year-round
  • Programs typically lasts 2 to 5 years
  • Commuting is more common than relocation

Executive MBA (EMBA) programs enhance the careers of professionals who are already specialists in a field or industry. EMBA programs focus on honing general management skills in core classes, with little or no opportunity for specialization. Enrollment is often tied to a new or anticipated promotion, and most students are company-sponsored.

  • Students work full time and attend classes on Fridays and Saturdays, usually on alternate weekends, over two academic years
  • Offers a full immersion experience, with learning outside the classroom and extensive faculty and student/team interaction
  • The shared professional experience and expertise of students becomes part of the curriculum

Virtual/Online MBA programs are a good option for those who need or want to work full time and who cannot or do not want to attend classes in person. Most online programs allow students to complete assignments and review lessons when and where it works best for them.

Which type of program is best for you?
Before you make your decision, you’ll want to consider a variety of factors to determine which type of program will best overall experience to meet your professional and personal goals.

Goals and Program Elements

  • How do you learn best?
  • How much flexibility are you looking for in a program?
  • What is your industry or job function goal and how that could affect your choice in program type?
  • Do you already have a functional or industry specialty, or do you need an MBA to develop one?
  • Will an internship help you make a career transition?

Lifestyle

  • Can you handle going to school full time and working part time, or vice versa?
  • Do you want classmates who share your interests and experience level?
  • Are you ready for the responsibilities of an MBA-level position upon graduation?

 Family Considerations

  • Will your partner need to relocate and/or enter a new job market?
  • Does the school offer support for partners and families?

 Location/Other

  • Do you want to study locally, in your home country, or abroad?
  • Do you prefer to be in a college town or a city?
  • How will the school’s connections with the local business community help?
  • Will your current employer support you in a full- or part-time program?

Carefully consider your answers to these questions, and you’ll have a much better idea of which type of program will be your perfect fit.

Source: FORTÉ Foundation

California hiring underrepresented groups in renewable energy industry

LinkedIn
Clean Energy Jobs-

By Carol Zabin and Robert Collier

As California policymakers speed up the state’s switch to renewable energy, a key question is this: Do the much-touted new green jobs actually go to a diverse cross-section of the state’s workforce, or are disadvantaged communities left out?

According to data obtained and analyzed by researchers at University of California Berkeley’s Labor Center, the answer is that in recent years, a significant share of strong, career-track jobs in the construction of renewable energy power plants statewide have, in fact, gone to low-income residents and people of color.

Our recently issued report shows that the joint union-employer apprenticeship programs used in these projects have played an important role in diversifying California’s clean energy workforce.

In Kern County, local data shows that 43 percent of entry-level electrical workers on solar power plant construction lived in communities designated as disadvantaged by the California Environmental Protection Agency, while 47 percent lived in communities with unemployment rates of at least 13 percent.

Kern County electrical apprentice pay schedules show a clear progression toward the middle class. Current first-year apprentices start at $16.49 per hour plus full benefits and receive wage increases as they move through their five-year training program. Graduates become journey electricians earning more than $40 per hour.

Statewide, the picture is similar. Among the 16 union locals of electricians, ironworkers, and operating engineers that have built most of California’s renewable energy power plants, about 60 percent of new apprentices were people of color.

Diversity varied by trade. Latinos, who make up one-third of the state’s labor force, represented 53 percent of new apprentice ironworkers, 34 percent of electrical workers, and 23 percent of operating engineers. While African-Americans are 6 percent of the statewide labor force, they made up 4 percent of new apprentice electricians, 6 percent of ironworkers, and 9 percent of operating engineers.

The presence of military veterans in these programs also was higher than in California’s workforce as a whole. While veterans are only 4 percent of statewide workers, they comprised 9 percent of new electrical apprentices, 6 percent of ironworkers, and 12 percent of operating engineers.

The weak point in these apprenticeship programs, as with the rest of California’s construction industry, was the participation of women, ranging from only 2 percent to 6 percent among the three trades.

All told, the track record shows that California has made progress toward broadening access for disadvantaged workers to good jobs in the clean energy economy. But this diversity has not been automatic. A key driver of progress is the fact that most renewable energy plants were built under project labor agreements, which ensure union wage and benefit standards and free training for low-skilled workers through state-certified apprenticeships. Recruitment efforts by unions and the projects’ locations were also important since many renewable power plants are in counties such as Kern that have high unemployment and concentrations of low-income communities.

Looking forward, job access in the clean energy industry can be advanced by adopting specific programs such as publicly funded pre-apprenticeship training and local-hire provisions, in combination with project labor agreements.

Additional progress is likely if state lawmakers approve SB 100, which would commit California electricity providers to obtain 100 percent of their power from clean energy sources by 2045. This would drive further growth of renewable energy construction, which in turn would create more jobs and more openings in state-certified apprenticeship programs. The net result would be an important step forward along California’s path to meeting its climate challenge while simultaneously broadening access to middle-class jobs.

About the Authors
Carol Zabin and Robert Collier are director and policy specialist, respectively, of the Green Economy Program at the Center for Labor Research and Education at UC Berkeley.

Source: startrends.xyz

 

New Year’s resolutions for career success in 2018

LinkedIn

By Eric Titner

A new year is often looked at as an opportunity for making positive changes, and we’re all familiar with the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions—as we end each year and look forward to the next, we take stock of the things we want to improve upon or change in our lives.

Those among us who are diligent enough to take things one step further set a plan for achieving our resolutions, and some among us actually follow through by putting in the time and effort to achieve our stated goals. And for the most dedicated and focused among us, sometimes a positive change and lasting result is achieved.

Our New Year’s resolutions can vary across an endless array of categories—from finding love, making new friends, and moving to a new city to acquiring a new hobby or skill set. Among the most popular resolutions that people make involve job- and career-related goals. However, while making a New Year’s resolution for career change and success can be the beginning of a wonderful new chapter in our lives, it’s really just the first step.

Positive intent can be a powerful motivating force for change and growth in our lives, but the truth is that it’s often not enough—this is the reason why the majority of us fail to completely commit and follow through on the resolutions we make each year. The truth is, most resolutions flounder in the starting gate without any real forward progress ever being made, and many others are met with a feeble, half-hearted effort that eventually goes nowhere. We need more than a positive attitude and hope—we need a plan.

According to a recent article on The Muse, “Those who took meaningful steps to achieve their resolutions—setting step-by-step goals or telling their friends and family, for example—were far more likely to achieve their desires than those who made no specific commitments… So if you really want to see results this year, it’s critical that you set your goals with sincerity, and set yourself up for success.”

What are your New Year’s resolutions for career success in 2018? More importantly, do you have a plan for achieving them? Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular career-related resolutions, and some advice for taking them past the “good idea” stage and closer to the “goal achieved” category.

I want a promotion.

Who among us doesn’t want a loftier position with a more impressive sounding title and a higher salary, regardless of where we currently work? The truth is, this isn’t always an immediately attainable reality for everyone—maybe you’re just getting started at your current job and it’s too soon to start thinking about a promotion, or maybe the place you work at is small and there’s no clear upward trajectory. Whatever the reason, if you’re seeking a promotion and there’s no obvious path for growth for you in your current job, perhaps this means you should make a more drastic change as part of your New Year’s resolution planning.

However, if there are opportunities for growth on the horizon for you, then take a step back and a deep breath and think carefully before blindly charging into your boss’s office and demanding a promotion.

Take stock of your current situation—have you spent the last year working hard to convince your boss that you are ready, willing, and able to take the next step to a new job with greater responsibility? Has your boss been giving you positive feedback all year about how valuable you are to the company and how everyone is impressed with the job you’ve been doing? If so, then you’ve already been working hard to achieve your goal of getting a promotion—the next step is choosing the right time, place, and method for asking for one. This is highly subjective and based on your individual job situation. Do you have annual review meetings with your boss to discuss such issues? If so, then this would be the ideal time to broach this subject. Or perhaps your boss is open to feedback and discussions whenever they arise. If so, choose a day when your boss seems to be in a good mood and go for it!

Maybe you haven’t been getting great signals that your boss would be terribly receptive to the idea of you asking for a promotion. If this sounds more like your reality, then it may be wise to concoct a more long-term plan. Spend the next several months—maybe even the entire next year—anticipating your boss’s needs, doing your job to the absolute best of your ability, and sowing the seeds for popping the big “promotion question” next year. Like we said earlier, sometimes you need a plan, and there’s nothing quite as defeating or draining as asking for a promotion before you’re ready and meeting rejection.

I want a new job.

Okay so maybe you’ve reached as high and as far as you can possibly go in your current job, faced every challenge, conquered every obstacle, and mastered every skill that you could possible acquire. It’s time–you’re ready for a change. It happens, and it’s a perfectly natural and healthy part of any career path. In fact, job changes are often great opportunities to climb to the next rung on your career ladder. However you should consider some advance planning before you race out of your current job screaming, “I quit!”

Get a feel for the current job market in your field and area. Are there a wealth of opportunities available, or is it slim pickings? Take a subtle poll of the folks in your peer network who work at other companies. Does it sound like you may be able to go after an opportunity through your contacts?

If conditions out in the job market seem great, then plan for your next steps—polish up your resume and cover letter, make sure your interview clothes still fit, and get out there! However, if you’re seeing some warning signs that right now might not be the best time to jump ship, then bide your time and plan accordingly. Don’t forget, you can do some subtle and covert planning for your next job while you’re at your current one so when the iron is hot you’ll be prepared to strike!

I want to make a major job or career change.

Perhaps you’re just not feeling completely happy or fulfilled in your current industry, and something is telling you that perhaps now is the time to make a major change. This could be a good thing—the truth is, job unhappiness is often a major cause of mental and physical distress and could have a wide range of negative effects on our health and well-being.

According to a recent Huffington Post blog post by Alexander Kjerulf, founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Woohoo inc, “Way too many people hate their jobs. Exactly how many is hard to say, but depending on which study you believe, somewhere between 20 percent and 40 percent of employees are miserable at work.” Kjerulf goes on to say that hating your job can weaken your immune system, make you gain weight, rob you of sleep, ruin your personal relationships, and even increase your risk of serious illness. Not a good way to ring in the New Year!

So, if you’re eager to make a major job or career change… you guessed it, make a plan. Consider making a list of pros and cons for taking the plunge. If everything in your life is pointing to making a major change, figure out what new goal makes the most sense for you. Take an inventory of your skills and experience, along with your interests and aspirations, and figure out which careers/industries you best align with. Do you have any friends or family who have jobs that sound potentially intriguing to you? If so, ask them more about it. Do your research—the Internet is a great source of information for researching new companies and careers.

Although making a big career change can be a wonderful moment in your life, acting impulsively could really backfire. There are countless stories of people who made quick decisions to leave their current working worlds for new ones, only to discover that they were ill-informed and really had no idea what they were getting into and wound up being just as unhappy—or even unhappier—as they were before. Don’t become just another unfortunate member of this group. Plan wisely and carefully, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a real shot at positive and lasting change.
I want to build new job skills.

This is a great goal for most of us and can really help put you in a better position to achieve the other resolutions on this list in the future—getting a promotion or a new job, or even changing industries. And even if none of these goals are in your immediate future, acquiring new skills can be a rewarding and fulfilling enterprise on its own and help us feel more empowered and effective in our current positions.

If you’re looking to acquire new job skills in the new year, consider the following. Do you want to acquire skills that will make you more effective at your current job or a new one? Your answer to this question will help you determine which skills you should look at. Also, are you looking to invest money towards acquiring new skills? If so, there are a wealth of career and adult education/skill-development programs available across the country; a great place to start is researching the offerings at colleges and universities in your area. You’ll likely come across a wealth of options, both in class and online—you just need to decide which are right for you.

If money is an issue and you’re looking for a more cost-effective approach, there are some great free and low-cost options online. One great resource is Skillshare, an online learning community created, maintained, and curated by veterans and experts in their respective fields who are dedicated to teaching others the skills they’ve acquired.

Here’s the bottom line—many folks who are unhappy with their work lives or who are just eager for a fresh start or new challenge take the new year as an opportunity to make a change, and it’s a great time to do so! Because so many people are focused on career changes at the beginning of a new year, many companies and industries ramp up their hiring during this time—and those among us who are serious and dedicated can take full advantage of this reality. If this sounds like you, perhaps now is a great time to move forward—but do so wisely and plan accordingly. Good luck and Happy New Year!

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This Scientist Made a Major Discovery By ‘Playing’ With Bugs

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Stephen Baca

By Catalina Gonella

While hiking the hills of Kenya and coming across “amazing spiders” and other creatures, Stephen Baca rediscovered his childhood love for bugs. Sitting around a campfire later one night, he decided to concentrate his studies on just that.

Baca would go on to pursue entomology, the branch of zoology that is concerned with insects, and then earn a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. It was a choice well made, because in the past few years, the 31-year-old has become a world authority on the evolutionary history of a family of burrowing water beetles known as Noteridae. While conducting his research, he also has helped to clear a path for underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields.

“When I was younger, I didn’t realize you could do this for a living,” Baca told NBC Latino.

Beetles

Turning an obsession with crawling things into a career

As a kid growing up a part of a proud Hispanic-American family in New Mexico, Baca had always been interested in anything that crawled. He would even host lizard catching competitions with his cousins as a kid. “I suppose I was always the one who wanted to learn more about them,” Baca recalled.

When he was in middle school, one of his teachers happened to be an entomologist who would bring his bug collections to class. Fascinated, Baca began collecting insects himself.

“In middle school, I was this weird guy. I like to think endearingly weird guy, but I don’t know for sure,” Baca said, laughing. “I used to carry around a jar and forceps in my backpack, in case I saw anything cool.”

High school, on the other hand, was boring for Baca, and he eventually lost track of his passion for insects.

When he got to college, he decided to major in business, figuring he would set himself up for a “decent career.” He ended up leaving school after only one year.

“I just didn’t have the patience for school at all,” he said.

After that year, Baca worked several jobs, from delivering pizza to waiting tables and bartending. After spending a summer working on a ranch in Montana, he decided he would go back to school. This time, he stuck with it.

Baca started out at a local community college and eventually transferred to the University of New Mexico where he earned his bachelor’s degree in biology.

It was around this time that he traveled to Kenya and experienced his career-altering epiphany. The things that crawled, such as the marching army ants, were what excited him. “I was just like, man this stuff is amazing, I used to love this as a kid!”

When he got back, he connected with a professor who allowed him to volunteer at his lab conducting research on aquatic beetles. After six months, Baca visited Peru to conduct fieldwork, and that’s when he got hooked. “It kind of snowballed from there,” he said.

Now, Baca is living out his childhood dream. Having earned his Nicaragua_w_caimanmaster’s in entomology, he is now working toward his doctorate in the same field at the University of Kansas. Or as he puts it, “getting to play with bugs all the time.”

Overturning a water beetle world

Recently, Baca was the lead author of a study that delineated the evolutionary history of Noteridae. His work was published in the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

Working with co-authors Emmanuel Toussaint and Andrew Short of University of Kansas and Kelly Miller of University of New Mexico, Baca was able to determine the relationships of 53 species of Noteridae. His study completely overhauled the classification within the family of aquatic beetles.

“It’s important to note that papers like this, that especially when they result in large changes in the classification, have a lot of downstream impact,” Floyd Shockley, an entomologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, told NBC Latino. “Especially on the large community of amateur collectors that just enjoy collecting beetles,” he said. The impact on museums, and other places that house insect collections will also be major, according to Shockley.

While conducting the study, Baca and his team discovered faults in a computational method for partitioning genetic data—the “k-means” method. The researchers sent their results to the developer of the computational method, who decided the model should be discontinued.

The method was just gaining traction, but the discovery by Baca will prevent other biologists from getting inaccurate results by using it. “The developer had already realized there were issues with it,” Baca said. “We were kind of the last nail in the coffin.”

Passing on the STEM “bug”

Baca is also passionate about the work he does as the president of University of Kansas’ chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

He became involved in the group back when he was an undergraduate at University of New Mexico through one of the school’s biology professors, Maggie Werner-Washburne. When Baca asked her for a recommendation letter to help him get into grad school and the National Science Foundation, “she agreed, but only on the condition that I go to a SACNAS meeting.”

Though he didn’t really know what SACNAS was at the time, he agreed to attend. “I loved it because the whole time, they were just kind of talking about the things that I felt were sort of lacking in my life before,” Baca said.

In high school, no one had asked him what he liked or was interested in. “I didn’t know that I could make a career out of this stuff,” said Baca. “And that’s kind of the fun thing about sitting here now, is that I had no idea this was ever possible.”

“And that’s kind of one the reasons that I like to get into some of these outreach groups,” Baca explained.

He was nominated to become the president of University of Kansas chapter shortly after deciding with a group of students that he should lead because he was the oldest of the group. “We’ve been pretty ambitious about it,” said Baca. They just celebrated their one-year anniversary and recently became recognized as an official chapter. Baca’s goal is to continue to do more outreach work, to undergraduates and especially to high school students.

“One of the things I’ve learned more than anything in doing this,” said Baca, “is that putting yourself in a position where you can talk to people or sharing your story and giving them a little bit of advice, letting them know that there are resources out there for them, and people advocating for them, is where the most profound effect comes from.”

Sources: NBC News, NBC Latino. View original article at: nbcnews.com/news/latino/how-latino-scientist-made-major-discovery-playing-bugs-n733251

Why You Should Only Apply to Jobs You’re Serious About

LinkedIn

Whether you’ve recently graduated or left a job you hated, you are desperate to find a new career opportunity. So, what’s next? You create a LinkedIn account and submit your resume to as many job postings as you can, if their job title or description includes some of what you’re looking for.

Don’t do that; it’s a waste of time.

Submitting multiple resumes won’t land you your dream job. Instead, it’ll fill your voicemail and inbox with messages from employers you care little (if at all) about.

As eager as you may be to experience “turning over a new leaf,” you shouldn’t settle for less than your potential. Sure, applying to tons of jobs seems reasonable if all you care about is finding a source of income. However, if you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, those around you will notice.

Here are three benefits of applying to jobs strategically:

  1. You’ll be prepared for when you’re “put to the test.”

If you impulsively submit resumes in hopes of hearing back, your efforts will only put you on someone’s radar rather than convince them their company needs you. However, if you apply to fewer job openings, you’ll have more spare time to know what you have to about a company. Ask questions and find answers. Make a list of deal-breakers and do some research. Look at their company website to learn more about who they are and what they do, and check out their social media accounts to see how they present themselves to the public. You should also look up company reviews.

  1. You’ll be reminded of what makes your heart skip a beat.

A lot of people say that when you talk about someone you love, your eyes light up. Well, this “theory” explains your affection for things other than people. When you’re invested in your work, you’ll be so eager to start a new project that your drive will rub off on those around you. Although applying to a job you care about won’t guarantee you a position, it will help you make a good impression. If given the opportunity to be interviewed by someone who works for your dream company, he/she will ask why you’re interested in becoming part of the team or why you’ve chosen the field you have. Though it seems silly, the way you respond will either draw in or pull away the interviewers.

  1. You’ll change the world.

Tradition is great because it helps establish a company’s image/reputation, but it can be damaging, too. This is where you come in. Your perspective will serve any employer well, which, in turn, will encourage you to be an active community member. A lot of companies may have your vision, but they don’t have your ideas. Whether you do or don’t get the job, you’ll understand how to make better use of your talents.

As ironic as it may sound, the smaller your pool of opportunities, the better. Although it may seem as though you’ll be limiting yourself, this will increase the value of the content you are submitting. Your application and resume will be sharper, as you’ll be spending more time ensuring that the person you are is the person that is reflected in your submission. Knowing that you’re only applying to a few places will encourage you to put your best foot forward.

HACE is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of Latino professionals. Through education, access, and professional development, we help Latinos succeed in every phase of their careers. Visit www.haceonline.org to join our network!

How Personal Tragedy Made Her a ‘Change Agent’

LinkedIn

Nikki Barua, a recent regional and national Supplier of the Year award winner, is a successful entrepreneur who is highly respected by her peers, competitors and blue chip clients. Building her digital agency, BeyondCurious, from scratch, she has achieved a level of success that many business owners can only dream of. But her accomplishments don’t tell the full story of her remarkable journey, and how she overcame personal loss, financial struggles and self-acceptance to get to this point.

She emigrated from India to the U.S. to attend business school and realized she was different as “an immigrant, minority and gay woman.” She imitated people around her in the hopes of fitting in. This continued as her career was taking off at a leading agency.

Then, in 2008, her world fell apart. Barua recounted how she experienced the greatest loss of her life—her partner had committed suicide. “I lost everything I valued—my partner, my home, my pet and my assets. And, I felt really alone. Through my grief and suffering, I learned that in order to connect with others, I first had to connect with myself.”

During this painful time, she found her purpose—to be the catalyst that unlocks the limitless potential of people. Barua launched BeyondCurious with no clients, case studies or capital. She soon attended SCMSDC’s Minority Business Opportunity Day and met Chris Genteel from Google, who invited her to participate in a development program for minority suppliers.

“In just weeks, I had a playbook and learned to make the most of my meager budget,” she says. “I got access to advice and products that helped me accelerate my business and reach new customers. I got support from Virginia (Gomez) and her team. I had clients like Toyota take a chance on us when no one else did. Soon my business was growing and so was my team.”

As Barua gained recognition, she found her voice and self-acceptance and the responsibility of sharing her story to help others. She used her keynote address at the SOTY luncheon to urge diversity professionals “to be the change agent that shapes the narrative for our future as the world becomes even more technologically advanced, geopolitically charged, economically challenging and socially conflicted.”

She said, “let us choose to be the light. Let us remove barriers and give voice to people so they aren’t just surviving; they are truly thriving. Let us use our collective voices to shape a new narrative!”

Source: scmsdc.org

Nikki Barua’s message to supplier diversity leaders:

Be the door opener, not the gatekeeper.

Reframe your role, go beyond corporate initiatives and become a champion for change. Represent suppliers and be aggressive in creating opportunities for them. Every new supplier you engage with levels the playing field and creates the path for others to follow. Enlighten colleagues internally and drive accountability within your organizations. Challenge the status quo and your own unconscious biases. Connect diversity to real business impact and let commercial success validate the ideology.

Be a beacon of light, not a bystander.

Create visibility for what matters and let your voice be heard. Invite discussions on topics that no one wants to address. Don’t be afraid to have the courageous conversations. Visibility creates awareness, and awareness leads to acceptance and that’s what creates a new normal. When your organization is diverse, when your products create impact, when your culture is empowering—you are creating hope for those trapped in the shadows. Express yourself and be the role model for others.

Make it about new perspectives, not about pigmentation.

There is something deeper and more profound that happens when you surround yourself with people who look, act, and think differently than you do. Those that embrace otherness in people are better equipped to accept the “otherness” that innovation represents. Diversity and innovation demand similar attributes—openness to the unfamiliar, acceptance of the unknown, excitement for change. Diversity isn’t a feel-good thing or a box to check. Diversity is about accepting otherness and differences in perspectives so that the most powerful ideas prevail.