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Monday, 29 July 2013

Drop Everything for the Summer? That's Not Possible...Is it?

These are (probably) the last years that you can throw caution to the wind, hop a plane and take a job overseas…just for the summer. It is why even though you’re based in the US, you’re looking at a job posting site based in the UK. As a university student, taking that summer job (or the all-important summer internship) could be the key to unlocking future career opportunities. So how do you do it? How do you make a summer leap possible?

Save Early
As a college student, saving is really hard to do. You need textbooks and class supplies and sometimes you just have to go out to eat somewhere that isn’t the cafeteria just to save your sanity. You’re used to living on a shoestring and thinking of saving as something that you should do later on. Stop it. Save every single penny you can. The more you save, the easier it is going to be for you to be able to afford to travel for that short term job or internship.

Set Up Housing Ahead of Time
If you wait until you hop the pond, finding housing is going to be a nightmare. Start your planning as far in advance as possible. Even a couple of weeks worth of planning is better than none. Two weeks is enough time to track down temporary student housing with roommates or take advantage of summer dormitory availability at schools in the city where you will be working. You might even be able to take advantage of relationships that your own college (whether it’s University of Texas at Dallas or SUNY Plattsburgh) has set up with schools abroad to help get discounted housing rates at sister schools.

Store Your Stuff
If you’re only going to be gone for a week, you can probably leave your stuff where it is. If you’re going to be gone for a few weeks or a couple of months, though, you’re going to want to be using starch based packing materials in your local storage unit to minimize deterioration. The great thing about college towns like Dallas (and others) is that they usually have ridiculously cheap storage options available for students. Store your stuff in a secured storage facility until you get back. That way you don’t have to worry about whether or not it is safe and definitely don’t try to cart it all with you!

Get a Good Travel Rate
Use sites like Kayak and other travel sites geared toward students or that will help you find discounted or student travel rates to help make your airfare easier. The cheaper your tickets across and back, the more money you’ll have to spend while you’re abroad.

Find Other Temporary Expatriates
One of the hardest things about temporary jobs is the loneliness that comes from not wanting to get attached to people you’ll have to leave in just a few weeks. Luckily, finding people from home isn’t difficult. There are thousands of Americans living and taking extended trips abroad who are happy to “adopt” students like yourself who are having a hard time dealing with home-sickness and who need a taste of home sometimes. Sometimes just hearing that familiar Texan twang is enough to cheer you up!

Have you had experience traveling for internships or short term jobs as a student? What were some of the things you did to smooth out your experience?

How to Use a Religious Degree

You may know a student that has chosen to major in religious studies, and the first thing that goes through your mind is one question.

What does someone do with a degree in religious studies?

The answer to that question isn’t specific. It can have many answers. An increasing number of students are taking religious-studies degrees and putting them to use in fields like social work. Some students may travel overseas and work in underdeveloped countries, learning more about that country’s religion and how it applies to the student’s field of study.

Christian universities offer religious studies degrees in various forms, both related and unrelated to the church. A common misconception, if you go to a Christian school, is that you have to become a minister or a pastor at a church – in a sense, give your life over to God and forsake everything else, much like a priest or a nun.
That application, while it is sometimes true, is only part of the picture.
There are many students that choose to take religious studies as part of a liberal-arts background. Let us take a look at some of the areas where studying religion can provide a solid base.

Non-profit organizations
Many churches and religions teach giving back to the community, whether it involves tithing your income to the church or volunteering your services at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter or other place of business.
Having a religious-studies background can help you understand how certain groups approach the church and its role in the community. These non-profit organizations may also have worldwide ties like fighting hunger in third world areas. By helping out in these areas you are exposed to different and diverse religions and cultures.

Writing about religion
Journalism or English majors may take religious-studies courses to learn about various religious backgrounds and practices. Any journalist can write his or her way through an article on a specific religion or church, but it helps if you have knowledge of the particular subject.
Not many newspapers or magazines employ basic religion writers, but those that have a strong background in the church will have more of an understanding of the subjects that they write about on a daily basis.

Government and religion
Believe it or not, government can play a role in religion. We are not talking about church and state issues here. Instead, governments need to be aware how human cultures are different in each country. What is acceptable in one country may not be in another.
This is where someone adept in religious studies can fit in nicely. If you have studied various backgrounds and what can be offensive to some religions, you could instruct higher-ups in your government to avoid certain topics.

Many religious students have taken degrees in their field and used them to minister in a different way. People who have social or psychological issues are often helped by social workers or counsellors that can steer patients in the right direction.

There is nothing more satisfying than helping someone overcome issues relating to themselves like drug abuse, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and other topics. While you are not instructing them to turn to God for advice, you are helping them to realize that people do care about their plight.

Religious degrees aren’t just meant for people to go to church anymore. They have many uses ranging from government to retail to social work to education, and pretty much everything in between.

The next time you are stuck on undecided, pick up a book and learn a little bit about religion.

You might be surprised at how it applies to everyday life.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

1-in-4 Graduates Plan on Becoming an Entrepreneur

As The Apprentice closes for another year, thousands of new graduates are entering the tough world of business for themselves.

With graduate unemployment rates remaining high at 8.6% (HECSU), a recent survey by Save the Graduate reveals that 26% of this year’s graduates are ‘seriously considering’ working for themselves, up 15% on last year.

Students at The University of Manchester are the most enterprising in 2013, and one Manchester graduate shared their reasons for going solo:
“I've applied for hundreds of jobs, but with no real response from employers I've concluded that the current job market is just too saturated with graduates and degrees don't mean as much these days. So I may as well try and make my own way”.

The growth in graduate entrepreneurs could be pinned against many factors, from popular TV programmes like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den to government initiatives.  The reality of high job competition is also deflating the once optimistic career aspirations of graduates.
23% of those surveyed cited high job competition as a major challenge to landing a job, with 18% also saying a lack of experience is a significant barrier.

Overall, the average 2013 graduate expects to achieve a starting salary of just £17,600pa, with 15% setting their sights below £12,000pa and 63% considering an unpaid internship in a bid to get a toe on the career ladder.
With the traditional employment path still rocky, the alternative route of starting a business in a cultural and economic climate which increasingly supports entrepreneurs is tempting for many new graduates.

Owen Burek, a recent graduate and founder of Save the Graduate comments:
“The Class of 2013 appear to be more entrepreneurial than ever, which can only be a good thing in a stalled economy. Entrepreneurs have traditionally been the underdogs who bypassed higher education to make their millions, but I believe that we will see more and more young entrepreneurs passing through our universities due to circumstance coupled with wider support. 
I started my own business in a university business incubator, and there’s been a noticeable growth in entrepreneur societies and enterprise events across UK universities in recent years, all of which encourage students to consider this viable path once they graduate”.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

How to avoid recruiting second-best for higher level positions

You may be able to get away with second-best employees at lower level positions in your company, but if you do the same at executive, high-level positions that demand intellectual thinking and fast decision making, the results are going to show in the annual revenue reports of your company.

In this case, working with a recruiter can save you a lot of time and money, and you’re likely to connect with the best out there in your industry. For example, if you're in the business of gambling - a casino recruiter can help you find that perfect candidate for such a position. Online specialists can look to a digital marketing recruiter. Wall Street and stock market companies can search for stock market recruiters – you’ll find recruiters available for almost every industry.

While most of the work will be done by the recruiter, you can optimize the process of search and make it more productive through these tips:

1.  Give unlimited information to the recruiter
Unlimited means you should give as much information as there’s to give about the job description. You’ll need to craft a compelling copy of the description, pointing out the exceptional qualities, skills and expertise that you’re looking for. Be passionate about the information you give out so that the recruiter knows that second-best won’t cut it for you.
When recruiters have all the necessary information, they’ll be easily able to say sorry to second-best candidates and shuffle through to find the best one and tell them why your company’s position will be a great decision for their careers.

2.  Don’t give second thoughts, later
Recruiters are going to be efficient in their search only if you’re efficient in your input and feedback. Both of you want the process to go ahead as soon as possible, so you’ll have to play your part and prevent second-thoughts from coming to your mind.
This means you should be sure about the high-level positions that are vacant. You should also be prepared to give timely answers to potential candidate questions and provide quick feedback to the recruiter about different candidates throughout. It’s quite important that you provide honest feedback and point out in case of even the slightest hesitation.

3.  Be upfront about the selection/screening requirements
Remember, recruiters are searching for the best and finding the best isn’t an easy process, even for them. You may be saving your time and energy by searching through a recruiter, but you should play responsible and save their time and energy as well.
You can do this by being upfront about the selection process. If you have a list of specific questions that candidates have to answer related to top-level positions, make sure you jot down a list and hand over to the recruiter. You can’t just assume that the recruiter’s screening process will include all such questions.

4.  Explain your company’s culture
Give the recruiter an insight on the culture of your company. The recruiter may not find it difficult to select the best on paper, but he/she needs to make sure that the candidate will be able to adapt to the culture instantly as it’s an executive level position.

You can tell the recruiter what’s acceptable at the company and what type of behaviour can be seen as second best.

In the end, build a long term relationship with the recruiter fill top-level positions with the best talent. It’s also wise to stick to a single recruiter for the process because if you go with several recruiters, you may end up with second-best.