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What is Rich?

I’ve been confronted recently with people seeming perturbed by my use of the word ‘rich.’ This is a good thing. I embrace this. After all, the reason I named my financial literacy work “Keeping It Rich,” was because I thought it was catchy and an attention getter. So, I embrace the attention.

But being rich or stating the word rich is about much more than shock value. The word rich has been practically deemed a bad word in some communities and I very much want to change that. Too many of our communities have been misinformed about riches to their own detriment. We have some leaders who spew rhetoric from the stage, altar and pulpit that would make one think it is more honorable to be poor than to be profitable.  The truly unfortunate part of this is that the speaker has already achieved enough wealth and resources to achieve his advanced degrees, a comfortable home and a yearly vacation. However, he speaks of these things as if they are for a chosen, condemned few. We must break this psychological chain of poverty and begin the steps toward prosperity.

Part of the problem in low-income, inner city communities is that the children only know rich and poor. They have been told they are poor and the people they see on TV are rich. The problem with this theory is that it translates to say that if you are not doing something worthy of being on TV, you will be poor. This can’t be further from the truth.

The first key to Keeping It Rich is to DEFINE rich for you.

Being rich is a state of having wealth and means. How much wealth and means you need to be comfortable is a personal decision. Therefore the first key, DEFINE, is the most important key to Keeping It Rich. If you have no idea what being rich means to you besides the jaded negative opinion that was passed down to you from someone who had more than you, or from an image you saw on TV, then you are missing the first step toward your own financial independence.

Before we can speak about how to INVEST, which is the second key to Keeping It Rich, you must first DEFINE your idea of wealth. When I do personal finance seminars I begin by asking ‘how many people here are rich?’ Most people keep their hands down. I ask ‘how many people here are investors?’ Most people keep their hands down. Then I ask, ‘how many people here have a savings account or a 401k at work?’ Then everyone’s hand goes up. ‘So then, you are investors,’ I say.

It’s all about your definition.  What does rich mean to you? What will your life look like when you are rich? Make sure you are happy in that image. Don’t paint Puffy’s life because you may not want to be around a bunch of loud men with their pants hanging off on a regular basis. Paint your own rich images.

The first key is to develop this picture in your mind. Then, we can move on to the second key which will help you create that image for yourself.

In the meantime, keep it rich.

Sakina Spruell 
Business Journalist
Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/KeepingItRich

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Reinvigorated & Reaffirmed after CBCF ALC

Each fall, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) brings together African American leaders from near and far to partake in conversations about issues that affect communities of color. The conference also offers the opportunity for our leaders and young professionals to fellowship with one another. No matter your specific focus, there is a place for you at ALC. It is a comprehensive conference, covering topics from the African Diaspora to the influence of hip hop.

This year, I was privileged enough to not only to attend my first ALC, but also to be privy to the inner workings of a series of events through volunteering with IMPACT, a nonprofit for young professionals of color. While there were many take-aways from my first ALC experience, such a practical networking advice and professional development tips, I left the conference feeling an overwhelming sense of support and community.

At times discovering your path can be daunting. I, for one, have already found myself in moments of confusion and uncertainty. Throughout ALC I heard stories, either during panel discussions, townhalls, or one-on-one, of young professionals who could identify with my own sentiments. Often these individuals had an intense desire to impact their world but took a nonlinear and seemingly untraditional path to accomplish that goal. It was truly inspiring to be in the presence of these black young leaders who expressed life’s challenging realities as well as the triumph of such obstacles. By the end of ALC, I felt reaffirmed and reinvigorated to venture on my own path to positively affect my community.

My ALC experience proved to be a thought provoking opportunity that contributed to my own professional development. For those reasons, I am grateful for the chance to volunteer for ALC 2013 along with Team IMPACT.  For any college students thinking about participating in ALC next year, I would wholeheartedly urge you to do so. Take some time out of your schedule to attend the events or find an outlet to volunteer. You will be a part of an effort to better our community and gain exposure to a wealth of knowledge. In the words of Benjamin Jealous, let’s all get “fired up and ready to go” so we can continue to strive to make an IMPACT.

Written by Colleen Roberts

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What I Learned from IMPACT’s Young Elected Officials Roundtable

During the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference week, I was fortunate enough to volunteer at several events hosted by IMPACT.  Specifically, the Young Elected Officials Roundtable provided me with knowledge I can apply to my professional career path and personal life moving forward.  Through this event, I was able to reflect on my past experiences and set personal goals as thought-provoking discussions gave room to great advice about navigating the work marketplace.

All the panelists gave sound insight about public policy and navigating politics.  However, panelist Shawna Watley gave advice I will never forget.  She said, “the only thing that you truly have is your name.” After hearing this I realized that although I may have  great skills, multiple accolades, and great internships, I only have my name when networking.  If I don’t establish myself as a constant to be remembered, I will fall through the cracks.

The panel also asserted that my career path is nonlinear; a working professional must experience failure.  Many believe that their path is an undeviating passage to the top.  This affirmation reassured me that I do not have to follow the norm to enter political or public policy.  I have many interests: I want to enter diplomacy and international relations, yet I have a passion for philanthropy, anthropology and ethnographical study.  I’ve often been confused on how I will achieve all of my interests. But knowing one’s path may be riddled with bumps and stop signs, I realize failure and divergence are temporary opportunities to become more successful while attaining goals.

After the event ended,  I approached a couple of panelists, asking the following questions:  How do you make sure you contribute to your own community as well as contributing to the community at-large? How do  you transition from one career to another in an upward trend?  Panelist Stephanie Young answered my first question, telling me two things: Fulfill the work in your position, and make it a priority for yourself.  If I want to make sure I uplift the African-American community, I need to establish myself as a strong and reliable worker in my position, and when I do so, make it a priority to fight for what I believe in.

Panelist William Jawando answered my second question.  He gave me the following advice: Do the work, find mentorship inside and outside your sector, be persistent and slightly aggressive in making those connections.  When listening to William, I was reminded of the quote, “the only thing you truly have is your name.” He told me must make myself known in my community, and also in divisions where I want to establish work relationships.

Overall, the Young Elected Officials Roundtable was an excellent experience.  I gained quality advice. I was able to reflect on my professional career path along with personal goals.  I look forward to next year!

Written by Elise Phillips

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ALC’s Over– What’s Next?

By: Nina Smith, IMPACT Director

We’ve come to the end of another Annual Legislative Caucus (ALC), hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF). The four-day event, held annually in September at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., presents opportunities for young professionals to make connections and take their career to the next level. Each year, thousands of elected officials, business and industry leaders, celebrities, media, emerging leaders descend upon the Nation’s Capitol to take advantage of the many policy forums,  exhibits, job fair, book signings, and extensive networking opportunities.

I had the pleasure of participating in the Emerging Leaders Roundtable, co-sponsored by the CBCF and IMPACT.  The panel, moderated by political commentator Jamal Simmons, included heavyweights in the political world like Yohannes Abraham of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Virgil Miller, of Congressman Cedric Richmond’s office (D-LA), Stephanie Young from House Whip Steny Hoyer’s office (D-MD), Shawna Whatley, of the international law firm Holland and Knight, and William Jawando, former Obama staffer and current candidate for state office in Maryland.  Collectively, we shared lessons learned over the course our early careers.  The discussion touched on a number of issues including our college choice, past failure, and the challenge in being the only minority in the room–a particularly unique experience as a woman of color.

Here are five tips for young professionals unsure of how to build on the progress and connections they’ve made during the conference to set themselves apart and get them on the path to the career of their dreams:

1. Don’t underestimate the power of follow-up. Follow-up is a critical step in developing strong relationships.  Follow-up within one week of the conference, or in the case of an event, 24 hours.  When you reach out, whether through e-mail or by phone, reference where and when you met. Try to reference a specific part of the conversation, or something to help remind the person of who you are and what you discussed.

2. Think strategically, but remain true to your passion. I meet with young professionals all the time, and I find that  often times, they’re struggling to figure out how to balance their passion (what they like to do) with making the right career choice (making money). If you do what you love, the money will come. However, for those who aren’t into dogma I’ll make it simple– ask yourself what means more to you: money or being happy. I’ve read a plethora of studies which show that making money doesn’t necessarily equal happiness, so I would think carefully and strategically when making career choices.

3. Trust in the Process. What I’ve also noticed when talking to young people is that they are constantly comparing their walk to their peers. STOP IT. Right now. You’ll drive yourself crazy. Instead, focus on maximizing the opportunities you have where you are. And if you are truly unhappy, use your energy to think about the next step. Where you want to be in the next year, five years, 10 years from now. This leads me to the next piece of the puzzle….

4. Do Your Research. So maybe you want to make money or you want to have access to power in politics. Once you’ve identified (or at least thought about) a career path that you would like to take, start looking for those who are leaders in that field or industry. You should also read books and seek out other sources of information, including blogs, that provide tips and insider information on the industry so you’re well versed in the latest trends. Being prepared will help you take advantage of any opportunity.

5. Want to break into a new industry? Practice, or better yet, volunteer! Practice, practice, practice. And when you think you’ve done enough, practice some more. Find opportunities to perfect your craft or to learn a new one. Volunteering is one of the best ways to put your desire into action while learning or sharpening skills at the same time.

Missed the conference this week? Want to learn more? IMPACT will host an #IMPACTTips Twitter town hall this Friday at 1:00 PM EST  to discuss tips for young professionals. Join us by using the hashtag #IMPACTTips.


Here are the details:

WHO: @TeamIMPACT Directors, staff and interns

WHAT: #IMPACTTips Townhall

WHEN: Friday, September 27, 2013, 1 PM – 2 PM EST

WHERE: Twitter

 

Nina Smith is currently a Director of IMPACT and a publicist at THE ROOT.

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Remembering the Call: My Reflection on the March on Washington

In the future, when I indulge in moments of solitude and contemplation, I will remember the year 2013 as one of the most significant times of my life.  The first half has been full of historical moments, creating lasting impressions.  There have been moments of intense joy and pride and other occasions that have elicited anger and despair. As a member of the African-American, Caribbean-American, my race and ethnicity have been more salient earlier this year.

Black America has been in the forefront of the media due to President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, the SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act, the remembrance of our slain brother Oscar Grant, and the Trayvon Martin case verdict, which instigated a movement. Emotions accompanying our journey in 2013 were expressed and formed into constructive action with the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

The serendipitous coincidence of the March and these significant moments of history could not have occurred at a better time. Commemoration events were not only a time to remember the work and triumphs of the generation that came before us, but also a call to action. It was a bold and necessary reminder that after 50 years great changes have taken hold in American society, but the work is not yet done.

It was made very clear during some reflections that this new civil rights movement we has exhibited the diversity of the freedom struggle. As leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable thread of mutuality.” One group’s struggle toward freedom is our communal plight. We cannot reach a just world until all identities, experiences, and lives are recognized and appreciated. Injustice is a detriment to the privileged just as much as it is to the oppressed. As we continue advocate for change that truth will be illuminated.

To everyone who has given me an opportunity to bear witness to these impactful and life-changing moments, I wholeheartedly say, “thank you.” I feel ever so blessed to be a twenty year-old studying and living in Washington, D.C.  I am surrounded by a powerful living history. As I think about tomorrow, I am inspired because our past proves that fighting for freedom results in change. During these formative undergraduate years, I will remind myself to reflect on what I have been called to act upon.

Written by Colleen Roberts

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March on Washington 2013: A Life-changing Moment

On August 28, 1963,  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Martin Luther King’s speech inspired millions of Americans, including myself, to fight for racial equality and economic justice. King’s speech continues to resonate in the ears of millions today.  As I look around, there are thousands of people celebrating a speech that Dr. King gave at this location fifty years ago. Although I was not born when King delivered the “I Have A Dream” speech, his words continue to motivate me to fight for what I believe in.

The “Let Freedom Ring” Ceremony commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington is a day I will never forget. The ceremony is a rich experience with history and symbolism. People from the labor, education, civil rights, gay and lesbian community were in attendance. Entertainers and notables such as Hill Harper, Jamie Foxx, Bill Russell, Oprah Winfrey, Reverend Shirley Caesar, Reverend Al Sharpton, Forrest Whitaker, and many more spoke. I am happy to hear the remarks from President Barack Obama along with former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. They believed in King’s dream to come together.

Attending this event has been a life-changing moment for me. I am never too young to fight for what I believe in. The “Let Freedom Ring” Ceremony was a day to make people’s dreams turn into a reality. I would like to thank Reverend Martin Luther King, for having a “Dream” to stop the injustice, inequality, and discrimination around the world. I am truly honored that I was able to be a part of such a great movement. I hope to continue to fulfill King’s dream and fight for equality all across the world.

Written by Diana Sainvil

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Career Skills You Won’t Learn in School

There are a number of skills important to being successful in the job market, but you won’t necessarily acquire them in school. These skills will not only help you to thrive as you make the initial transition from school to work, but also to manage your career for the long term. And they may be different from the skills that brought you success as a student. Your needs, the demands of the job market, and the nature of your field will all change over time. Developing career skills now, in the areas of planning, networking, conducting a job search, and persisting through the process, are critical to finding that next job, whether it’s your first experience or you are a seasoned professional seeking advancement. This guide will help you begin to navigate the job market and make the most of your online degree.

Planning Skills

Career planning efforts should take place before you send out your first employment applications. These activities will help you to identify employers hiring in your field, establish your professional presence online, and develop a strategy for how you will move forward with your search.

Identify Potential Employers

Create a list of specific companies and organizations that are currently seeking people with your job skills. You may already be working in your field and have an awareness of where hiring is taking place. If so, add these businesses to your list and continue to explore similar companies and those that provide related services. If you are planning to enter a new field after graduation, now is the time to find out more about the industry you are interested in and identify potential employers to add to your list.

Keep your list of potential employers up-to-date, adding and removing information to maintain a current roster of contacts. Find a format that works for you and is easy to edit. This may be a simple handwritten ledger or a more complex spreadsheet. Create entries that include details such as: company name, websites, location, human resources contact, any vacancy announcement information, and how you found out about them (e.g. through a friend, social media, news article, alumni). Remember to focus on the skills required, not just the type of company. You may find potential opportunities that require your skills in a variety of organizations, ranging from non-profits and private businesses to government agencies and educational settings.

While you will continuously find leads and ideas about potential employers, there are a few ways you can begin your research now. Explore the following resources and get your list started.

  • Venues and special events. Check with your college’s career center to find out where you can meet employers in your local area and online through career and employment events, such as career fairs (virtual and traditional) and employer information sessions. If you don’t have access to a college career center, you can find out about career fairs through news outlets in your local area, as well as through national career fair planners and directories such as National Career Fairs. Job-Hunt.org also provides links to some of the larger events and reminds us to consider both privacy policies and the lists of employers participating in each fair before deciding to join in.
  • Online services.  So much information is available via the Internet today. Look for job databases, online application, and resume referral systems. There are general sites, such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, which include searchable information on a wide variety of jobs and industries. And there are more specific sites that feature jobs related do a particular industry, such as Dice.com for information technology careers.
  • Alumni directories. Work with your school to locate lists of alumni from your program. This information may be available online in a searchable directory or available from an alumni services office or career center. Find out where graduates from your program are working and if their organization is hiring.
  • Recruiters.  Many companies use either in-house human resource recruiters or contracted recruiting and staffing firms to identify potential applicants. Locate recruiters making placements in your career field and find out how you can work with them to identify potential job opportunities. EmploymentDigest.net provides guidance on working with recruiters that includes researching the companies to find out where they make placements and being truthful in presenting your experience and job interests.

Get in touch with your career center advisors to find out more about how your school is working directly with employers. Keep in mind that employers that are already recruiting at your school are likely aware of your program and the fact that it is online, and find some benefit in actively recruiting there.

But don’t just compile a list of employers and leave it at that. Use it to maintain your focus on employers that are interested in hiring in your field, and to help you document future networking and application efforts. It’s important to stay organized as you make multiple contacts and send out resumes.

Establish Your Online Presence

What will potential employers find out if they search for information about you online? A positive and professional online presence is gaining importance in today’s job market. Having an online presence allows you to not only participate in social networking activities related to your career field, but also present your experience, interests, and skills to potential employers in an arena where they are already active – the Internet.

A recent article in Forbes provides a sneak peak of the future of job search and placement activities, a future in which your online presence may replace your traditional resume and provide a way for employers to find you based on a match of their job needs with your skills and interests. Taking the time to thoughtfully establish your online profiles, with a job search in mind, is a key part of the preparation you need to complete before applying for positions.

Develop a Job Search Strategy

How much time will you invest every week, every day, in looking for a job? How will you make contact with potential employers? Where will you look for position announcements? Developing a job search strategy to answer these questions helps you to focus your efforts so that the time you spend looking for a job is as efficient and effective as possible. Consider your other commitments, such as school, family, and current employment and plan wisely.

Block time on your schedule to conduct your search and create a list of specific activities you’ll engage in to complete your search. Organize a list of contacts and decide how you will follow-up with each one and what search techniques you will use. If you are interested in career fairs for example, find local events and virtual ones that are scheduled to take place and register. Keep a record of your efforts and review this periodically. Figure out which activities are working well, and which ones aren’t, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Networking Skills

Active professional networking means reaching out to and maintaining contact with those individuals who can provide you with information about your career field and potential opportunities. These efforts may open up leads to positions you weren’t aware of, jobs that are filled through referrals, and opportunities that are so new they haven’t been advertised. The Riley Guide cites a recent report that found over a quarter of external hires where placed as a result of referrals.

Networking can take place in a variety of ways and result in both helpful information and assistance.

  • Contact your previous employers, internship supervisors, and other individuals who may be aware of your skills and experience. Let them know that you are in school, or a recent graduate, and what type of employment you are seeking.
  • Join and participate in relevant professional groups, both formal and informal, that are made up of people working in your field, and that involve discussions about trends and employment. Keep in mind that joining is just the first step in networking with groups — you’ve also got to take the initiative and actively participate in the events and conversations.
  • Ask for help. Let your network know you are looking for a job and what you are looking for in the way of information and assistance. Be as specific as possible with your requests. Ask for an introduction to a valuable contact, for example.
  • Thank those who are helpful to you. Express your appreciation for their efforts and consider how you might offer similar assistance to others in the future.

Hopefully you’ve already begun to engage in these kinds of activities, but if not, now’s the time to do get started. Not every networking contact will result in helpful information, but you will continue to build skills through active participation in the process. Select several ways in which you are comfortable interacting and add these networking activities to your schedule and job search strategy.

As an online student, you may have different opportunities to network during your program. Traditional students may benefit from on-campus events that feature alumni and employers. Similar opportunities may be available for you, via online interaction and communication. Take the initiative to seek out these opportunities through your school advisors, as well as those sponsored by organizations in your local area. Remember that networking is an ongoing process beneficial in the job search and throughout your career as you face work-related challenges and seek continued advancement in your field.

Job Search Skills

“The job search process” is a commonly used term that may include a wide range of steps and tasks related to securing employment. There are other requirements you will need to address as you submit your application for the opportunities you discover from the professional networking tasks listed above.

Resumes

There is a wealth of advice on how to write resumes and cover letters available online, at your career center, and through private resume writing services. The function of the resume is to attract an employer’s attention to your qualifications, show how you fit their needs, and hopefully prompt them to invite you an interview so they can find out more about you. There are several key considerations before moving forward. Take a look at these guidelines and plan for how you will proceed with your own resume.

  • Organize. There are two primary ways in which traditional resumes are organized: chronological (listing your experiences in a time sequence) and functional (listing your experiences by skill set). There’s no right or wrong here. It’s about presenting your information in the best possible way, which may even be a combination of approaches.
  • Summarize. Your resume should be a summary of your qualifications and may include sections such as Education, Work History, Skills, Activities, Awards, etc. The list of possible categories is endless, but they should all work together to highlight your most relevant experience.
  • Focus. Present your achievements in past positions instead of basic job descriptions. Use action verbs and quantification to describe what you have done in the past. Be as specific as possible. For example, “Managed an annual marketing budget of $50,000″ is more informative than “Responsible for managing finances.”
  • Format. Will you be mailing, emailing, or uploading your resume? Or all of the above? It will probably be necessary for you to have different versions available in terms of file format. A PDF may be helpful when sending as an email attachment, a word processing document for printing hard copies, and a text file for cutting and pasting. Readability is critical and document formatting such as bolding, and italicizing may not convert well when uploaded or cut/paste into an online system, so have several options available and look for specific instructions from employers. You may also want to consider setting up a virtual resume through an online system like VisualCV or as part of a personal website.
  • Review examples. Find examples of resumes and explore the variety of possible styles and approaches that are being used. Resume writing experiences trends that come and go, so it is beneficial to look at current practices, especially in your field. Your career center may be able to share sample resumes from previous students in your program, and there are many, many examples (good and bad) available online. The National Association of Colleges and Employers and Susan Ireland’s Resume Site are just two of the available sources to explore.
  • Get a critique. Have at least one person, but preferably more than just one person, review your resume and offer a critique. You should definitely include a career center advisor in the process, as well as others who have experience in your field. Is there someone in your network who could provide a review and make suggestions?

Your resume will be unique to you. While it may adhere to accepted practice in terms of organization and format, you should ensure that it is accurately reflecting your qualifications.

Cover Letters

Cover letters, also known as letters of intent, letters of interest, and job search letters, work with your resume to help you get an interview. Your cover letter should be your introduction to hiring managers and persuade them to read further.

  • Be brief. These letters are just part of the screening process and should ideally be kept to one page in length. Don’t repeat information in your resume. Instead, highlight the most relevant parts of it and address your interest and qualifications in the position.
  • Tailor the information. Each cover letter should be written for the specific employer to whom it will be sent. It’s tempting to create one letter than can be sent to everyone, but that approach will result in a letter that is not as relevant or focused on each position and company, and therefore not as effective.
  • Review examples. Looking at sample cover letters can be helpful to get a better idea of what is expected. There are different formats to consider as well. Quintcareers.com and Minnesota’s iSeek.org both provide cover letter tips and samples. Don’t forget to check with your career center as well.
  • Get a critique. Just as with your resume, having others review your cover letter and provide suggestions will ensure it is professional in nature and helps you say what you need to say.

Job Interviews

Once you’ve received an invitation to interview, you should begin preparing for the meeting in multiple ways. Again, you’ll find a lot of advice and guidance through your career center professionals, but here are a few of the basics to get you started.

  • Consider location. Will the interview take place in person or at a distance, either online or over the phone? An in-person meeting involves dress for success considerations. Phone interviews and video conference meetings will require you to set up a quiet location.
  • Research the company. This is basic advice, and luckily, you may have already done some preliminary work to write your resume and cover letter. However, take additional time now to further explore the company you will be interviewing with – be ready to answer questions that will test this knowledge. Use company websites, as well as resources such as Vault.com to find out more.  Does the company also have a profile on LinkedIn?
  • Gather your documentation. Prepare extra copies of your resume, a list of references with contact information, a presentation of relevant work samples, and all academic transcripts. These are all items that may be helpful to you as you answer questions in an interview and may be requested by the employer during or immediately following the interview. You may also want to consider building a career portfolio for use in your job search and interviews.
  • Practice possible interview questions. There are lists of general questions that can help you practice how you will respond in the interview itself. Consider having a “mock interview” with someone in your network or through your career center that will give you a more realistic opportunity to practice. Practice makes perfect as you gain experience fielding interview questions, and your skills in being interviewed will increase, as will your comfort level with the experience.
  • Prepare your own questions. You may be given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session. What additional information do you need to know about the organization and the available position? Prepare questions that help to move the conversation forward and improve your understanding of the needs of the company. Be sure to avoid discussing salary at this point.
  • Follow-up. Sending a note of thanks to each of your interviewers is both professional and courteous. Write individual letters and send them within 24 hours after your interview. It is acceptable to send these either by regular mail or email. Review several samples online to get a better idea of typical format for expressing your interest, fit, and appreciation.

As an online student, you should prepare to answer questions about your online learning experience.  A 2009 review of research conducted to identify employer perceptions of online academic degrees found that employers often cite the following reasons for their reluctance to accept online degrees in the same way that they accept traditional degrees: perception of a lack of rigor and more limited face-to-face interaction, potential for cheating and plagiarism, perception of online programs as diploma mills, and a questioning of the overall commitment of online students to their education as compared to students that attend on-campus programs.

The review also found that there are specific conditions that could make an employer view an applicant with an online degree more favorably. If the applicant received the online degree from a school with a positive reputation and the right accreditation, that could make a difference. Applicants with previous, related work experience, in addition to the online degree are also viewed more positively. While employer acceptance of online degrees is growing, there is still a general perception that online courses do not have the same educational value as traditional face-to-face courses. Anticipate how will you respond to interviewers who ask about the value and quality of your online degree.

Be prepared to discuss how you chose your online program and the value and quality you experienced as a student. Provide feedback about how the program was accredited and the qualifications of the faculty. Be prepared to describe the ways in which you interacted with your instructors, your classmates, and the course content. Explain to interviewers how the skills you gained through your online studies complement any related work or practical experience you have and qualify you to work in your field.

Job Offers

Many employers extend offers over the phone and follow-up with an official offer letter. It is important to thoroughly evaluate a job offer before making a decision, no matter how tempting it may be to accept or decline on the spot.

  • Timeframe. Ask when the employer will be giving you a decision. This will vary with each offer, but typically you’ll have a few days to respond. If you are not sure, ask if there is a timeframe.
  • Offer details. Job offers may or may not include a lot of detailed information. It is okay at this point to ask about salary, compensation, work location, and start date if these topics have not already been addressed in previous conversations. Create a personalized checklist of items you need to consider, and to compare if you are in a situation where you receive multiple options. A written list can help you sort through both the pros and cons of each offer.
  • Negotiation. If you are interested in possible negotiation of the terms of the offer, first ask if this is an option. Many employers do offer you the opportunity to negotiate different components of the offer, ranging from salary and relocation to vacation and professional development. Salary is a typical point of negotiation. Do your own research to find out more about expected salaries in your field, and for people with your level of education and experience, before entering salary negotiations.
  • Decision-making. The decision to accept or decline an offer is yours to make. Arriving at a decision can be a difficult process, but it can be aided by conducting research and asking questions, as well as seeking the advice and support of your network.
  • Accepting/declining. Once you have made your decision, communicate it clearly with the employer. You may want to contact them directly at first by phone or email and follow-up immediately with an official letter of acceptance or rejection. Be conscious of time and reply with your decision within the agreed upon timeframe.

There’s a lot you can do to put your best foot forward during the job search process. Maintain a focus on helping each employer realize the ways in which you are a good fit for their organization.

Persistence Skills

There’s no doubt that today’s job market is challenging. What if a job offer doesn’t come right away? According to the Career Services Center at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, you can expect your job search to take anywhere from 8 to 23 weeks. It could even take longer depending on your needs and the economic conditions surrounding your field during the time of your search. What can you do to survive a long search?

  • Find a support group. Rally your friends, family, and members of your network to help with brainstorming and making connections, as well as to provide encouragement along the way.
  • Monitor and track your industry. Set up organized news feeds of information that will keep you up-to-date with information and events.
  • Plan ahead. If you begin preparation early in your academic program, it may be helpful to budget for an extended job search, saving money for personal expenses if there is a gap between graduating and starting a new job.
  • Stay involved. Be an active participant in local and community organizations and professional groups. Find ways to keep your skills sharp and continue your networking through volunteer projects and short-term work assignments.
  • Consult with career professionals. Chances are these advisors are already available to you as part of the support services offered by your school. Don’t underestimate the value of working with a career services expert who can provide guidance in all areas of your career planning and job search.

The Future of Work

Today’s job market and its influences are dynamic. All sectors of employment are responding to global factors, economic uncertainty, and high-level industry changes. Remember that hiring trends change over time, so while some occupations become obsolete, others are emerging as new fields.

The nature of work itself is changing. Technology now plays a major role in both how work is accomplished and in how positions are being filled. Your experience as an online student may provide you with essential skills related to completing collaborative projects, working independently, and communicating efficiently in virtual work environments. Be ready to market that type of experience and education in multiple ways, and stay flexible to meet the evolving needs of employers.

To read the original post on Best Colleges Online, please visit: here.

Written by and reposted with permission from Teresa Crane

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Unnatural Disasters

On June 25, President Barack Obama proposed his plan to cut carbon emission – a key component to the recent climate disruption. The president’s proposal will allow the Environmental Protection Agency to hinder power plants’ carbon pollution in order to establish new pollution standards.

Each time we burn fossil fuels– gas, coal, oil– we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As a result, climate change has a negative effect on our environment.  This will cause extreme weather conditions such as melting glaciers and rising sea levels. We fail to notice other extremities such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, prolonged droughts, and record-breaking heat waves.  Climate change is upon us and carbon emission is a huge contributor.

Now, it should be noted that this issue has declined due to past efforts. For example, Energy related CO2 emissions in the US fell by 205 million metric tons in 2012. There is good to this timeline of events: In 2007, SCOTUS ruled that the Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to step forward and address the problem at hand – carbon pollution. Oh, and that’s not all. In March 2012, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution for new power plants. During his speech, President Obama mentioned that we are living on the healthy planet that the generation before left us. Of course, there is always a continuous effort to decrease carbon pollution.

It isn’t hard to calculate the effect that this carbon emission/climate change can have on mankind, but let’s focus on the young communities of color.

According to the Environmental Health Sciences, there is an unequal distribution of pollution among races such as African American, Hispanic, and other communities that are impoverished and full of minorities. There shouldn’t be a such thing as an economic gap when you begin to discuss effects of pollution.  But, it exists.

Cheryl Katz or the Environmental Health News affirms,

    “Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Fresno are among the metropolitan areas with unhealthful levels of fine particles and large concentrations of poor minorities. More than 50 counties could exceed a new tighter health standard for particulates proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

We, as people of color, reside in these polluted areas. We are on the receiving end of common chronic inflammatory diseases such as Asthma.  We are directly affected by carbon emissions.  We should be the strongest supporters of carbon emission cuts proposed by President Obama.

How can we bring climate justice to the forefront of discussion?

I encourage you to attend the very next city council meeting and voice your discomfort in the powerplant in your community. Change can only happen when the affected express themselves. Personally contact the local Environmental Advisory Board and place a sense of urgency to find more ways to cut carbon emissions. It is President Obama’s duty to enact policies for the betterment of the nation, but it is up to you as a civilian to uphold, support, and act on that call of duty. We can leave the future with a deteriorating planet or we can leave them the same environment that was given to us.

- Written by Falating Woods

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A Simple How-to: IMPACT Your Community

Are you eager to serve your community? Are you ready to make a difference in the world? You can make an IMPACT on the local, state and national level!

Here’s how you can IMPACT your community:

  • Do you want to improve graduation rates among students? Read to children at a elementary school nearby, or become a youth mentor for high school students.

  • Do you have a passion for helping the sick? Volunteer at your local hospital to aid those in need!

  • Want to be a leader in your community? Join a non-profit board or committee to help make important decisions that will affect your neighborhood.

  • All opportunities can be found at your local/citywide United Way.  Contact them today to be guided towards improving your community! http://www.unitedway.org/

To affect your statewide community, there are many organizations to offer your efforts to, such as:

  • Do you want to lend a hand with affordable housing efforts?  Habitat for Humanity aims to build and repair secure houses using volunteer efforts and donations. The website can direct you to all of the building sites in your state where you can donate your time and energy to improve the standard of living in the area. http://www.habitat.org/

  • The Food Bank – Would you like to help those who suffer from hunger? Local food banks serve multiple counties across their states to distribute a significant source of nourishment and nutrition. Log onto http://feedingamerica.org/ to locate your nearest Food Bank today!

You can also volunteer with organizations that make a difference nationwide:

  • The Nature Conservancy – Are you concerned about the environment? You can become a member of national organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, where you will be updated on how and where to improve the environment.  http://www.nature.org/

  • Are you anxious to help people in need of emergency assistance? The American Red Cross Association specializes in first response, and is the premiere organization to find opportunities to get involved in Disaster Relief across the nation.   http://www.redcross.org/

  • Are you passionate about civil rights? Join the National Action Network to promote equality and justice for all races, genders, nationalities, and religions.  Become a member and contribute to its legacy. http://nationalactionnetwork.net/

Let’s say you are unable to donate your time due to schedule conflict.  You can always support an organization by submitting a monetary donation!  There is always a way that you can IMPACT your community!

Written by IMPACT intern Elise Phillips

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New Times, New Strategies, Same Struggle

We shall overcome, someday.  These were the words bellowed by African Americans as they fought the inequality of constitution tests, jelly bean guessing jars, and the grandfather clause; the song sung as marchers were sprayed with fire hoses and attacked by vicious dogs while trying to exercise their constitutional right as American citizens; and the charge given to today’s emerging leaders to appreciate the struggle of our predecessors and to understand the power of our vote.

Where We’ve Been

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) was enacted by Congress to prohibit racially entrenched voter disenfranchisement in the South. Section 4(b) of this legislation established a strict formula for subjecting areas to Section 5 of the act—the preclearance requirement. These sections worked in tandem to ensure that federal authorities in Washington, D.C. pre-cleared or approved any change in voting procedures within jurisdictions that maintained unjust prerequisites to voting and had lower voter participation in the 1960s and 1970s (§1973b(b). Recognizing the continued necessity for these provisions, in 2006, a bipartisan Congress voted to extend this legislation for an additional 25 years. The Shelby County v. Holder case challenged the constitutionality of Sections 4(b) and Section 5.

Where We Are Now

Shelby County initially sued the Attorney General in a Washington, D.C. federal district court. In 2011, the district court ruled that Congress had sufficient evidence of voter disenfranchisement in 2006 to warrant continued enforcement of preclearance using the existing formula. In 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the ruling of the lower court. However, just two weeks ago, in a recent 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b), noting that it was unjust to subject jurisdictions to a formula based on outdated voting data from 40 years ago. While they did not strike down Section 5, the loss of Section 4(b) makes the preclearance described within Section 5 unenforceable unless Congress creates a new formula based on current statistics.

Where Do We Go From Here

States have wasted no time creating new voter procedures. According to a June 25th Huffington Post article by Ryan Reilly, only a day after the Supreme Court ruling, Texas implemented legislation that was previously outlawed based on its potential to impose “strict and unforgiving burdens on the poor.”

Enactment of these once prohibited laws could pose serious problems for the 2014 midterm elections. With no federal regulation for new procedures, the Pandora’s box of voter disenfranchisement has essentially been reopened.

Many legal experts and civil rights leaders throughout the country are calling for a congressional fix to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Attorney Leslie Proll, Director of the Washington, D.C. Office of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said, “the Court’s recent decision calls upon Congress to ensure that voting rights protections continue. We certainly expect Congress to heed that call.”

There’s no doubt that a federal resolution would be optimal. However, the current political climate of Congress coupled with the lack of bipartisan productivity overall, leave me less than optimistic.

The focus is too much on the battle and not enough on the overall war. The battle is the case of Shelby County v. Holder, but the war is ensuring all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote regardless of race, age, class, socioeconomic background or poll accessibility. A successful path forward should address the Supreme Court decision, but it should also work to ensure voter equality with or without preclearance.

How Can We Make Voter Equality A Reality

1. Get informed! As young professionals, we know the change we can create when we use our voice. Chat about the VRA with your peers at happy hour. Start the discussion with your friends via social networks. It is our duty to speak up and to be heard! You can start today by tweeting about this post with the hashtag #VoteReady.

2.  If Congress fails to pass a new federal measure, more time must be spent organizing at the state level. Citizens of previously protected jurisdictions must increase pressure on their state legislatures to evaluate new voting procedures for fairness.

3. Expect the expected, and prepare. Two major issues from the 2012 Presidential election were the relocation of polling centers and the implementation of new voter ID laws. If there are plans to move a voting location, we must demand transportation for voters to the new polling sight. If unfair voter ID laws exist, allow students to obtain acceptable state identification on-campus with a mobile DMV. Where there is a will, there is a way. It will take time, energy and yes, money, but can one rightfully place a price cap on fairness and equality?

As stated by Kim Keenan, General Counsel for the NAACP, “Voting is a quintessential American right. Until we fight for this as a nation…the world will know that we preach democracy but we do not practice it.”

Ultimately the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Shelby County v. Holder case are not just Black and White issues; they are American issues. Voter inequality is a deprival of one’s constitutional right as a citizen of our great nation. It should be an outrage for any American, regardless of race, to see another disenfranchised by the law. Unity, not separatism, will truly propel us forward. If things have changed so much in the last 40 years, “we the people” must change with them!

Written by IMPACT intern Erin Keith

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