Jumpstart your Summer

Happy Summer!!!  It’s June 1st and school is out for most students!  What do you have planned for your summer months?

While it’s great to have some fun down time to hang out with friends, the summer months also give teens a lot more free time then they usually have during the school year.  For some teens this extra time can lead to trouble (with the most teen wrecks happening during the summer months).   For others, this extra time may just mean a lot more time for video games or snapchat.

But summer is also a great time for teens to get a jumpstart on their college and career plans.   Listed below are a few great activities to help you make the most of your summer break.

  1. Get a summer job or volunteer in a field of interest. One of the best ways to see if a career possibility is a good fit is to spend some time working in that field, observing the daily work flow, and meeting people who are doing what you’re interested in.   So before you head off to the mall to fill out 50 applications for retail and fast food locations, consider looking for openings in a field you actually want to work in for a few years.  These summer jobs are also great resume builders and can lead to full-time positions through networking relationships.
  2. Take a personality assessment. If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to career options I always recommend taking the Holland Assessment to review some career options that would fit your personality type. While there are many other useful personality assessments you can take I have found the Holland Assessment to be helpful due to it’s simplicity and the immediate career options to consider as results.  (Link here) 
  3. Research college options. Once you have decided on a career path you’d like to pursue you can start researching what colleges or additional training options would best prepare you for work in this field.  Campus visits can be a great way to get a feel for the college when you have your options narrowed down– but most of your initial research can be done online.  A few helpful websites:
  1. Work with a Career Coach. Career Coaches help students discover a career field that would be a good fit for their unique personality and also help students who are already educated in their chosen field prepare for a successful job search.   Typical coaching relationships can vary depending on the clients goals, but I typically recommend 3 meetings with my clients initially.   (See some FAQ’s on Career Coaching here.)

I hope these suggestions have given you some fun and productive ideas for your summer- enjoy the break from the daily routine of school and take advantage of your extra time to prepare yourself for your future.

 

Four Favorite….

Career & Life Planning Resources for 2017

I wanted to share a few of my favorite resources for the New Year on Life & Career Planning- I hope you find these helpful!

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Favorite Podcasts:

  1. Success Talks: Interviews with various successful people from multiple fields (featured in Success Magazie)
  2. Michael Hyatt: This is Your Life
  3. The Tony Robbins Podcast
  4. TED Radio Hour– Various speakers on multiple topics

Best Books on Life / College / Career Planning:  (most are available as ebooks and on Audible)

  1. Living Forward – Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy
  2. What Color is your Parachute for Teens –  Carol Christen
  3. Teens Guide to College and Career Planning– Justin Muchnick
  4. The Art of Work- Jeff Goins

Helpful Websites for Career Planning:

  1.  Occupational Information Network:   www.onetonline.org
  2.  Career One Stop:    www.careeronestop.org
  3.  My Next Move:   www.mynextmove.org
  4.  Bureau of Labor Statistics:

My Newest Habits:

1.  Make small but consistent healthy choices. 

Often New Years is a time for dramatic resolutions that can quickly become overwhelming and lead to burnout.  If I had decided I should start running 5 miles a day I would quickly get discouraged and give up.  Instead I decided to make a few small changes that I can realistically stick with over time, including:

-Drink more water and less caffeine.  (It’s easy for me to drink coffee and sweet tea all day long- but that’s not the best way to stay hydrated and the excessive caffeine actually makes it harder for me to focus.)

-Do something physical for at least 10 minutes a day- even if it’s just a brisk walk.  (This one is not difficult now that I get to chase my very mobile 1 year old around most days- it’s not official exercise, but it wears me out!)

-Eat one more salad and one less fast food meal a week  (On work days I quickly default to the familiar cheeseburger and french fries for lunch- but all those calories just make me feel overly stuffed and lethargic by about 2:30.  I feel much more energetic with smaller portions and healthier options.)

These simple changes will have a positive impact on my health over time and are easy enough to commit to and stick with over time.

2.  Wake up 30 minutes earlier than I need to.

I’m using this time to pray, plan out my day, read, or spend some time planning for our future.  And it’s truly amazing the impact these few minutes alone have had on my mindset and productivity the rest of the day.  (My husband actually got me started on this when he started setting his alarm and getting up at 6am.  At first I was mildly annoyed to be woken up so much earlier than absolutely necessary- but when I decided to try getting up early too instead of laying there trying to squeeze in those last few minutes of sleep I suddenly had so much more free time in my day!  And where mornings used to be alot of frantic rushing around and stress, they’re now calmer, peaceful and actually pleasant- which is a nice start to the rest of the day.)

3.  Waste less time on TV, Facebook, etc.

 It’s so easy to grab my phone when I have a free minute, open Facebook and spend 30 minutes scrolling through other people’s lives.  Or to watch “just one more episode of whatever” on Netflix…6 or 7 times.   And while there’s nothing wrong with catching up with friends or enjoying a couple shows occasionally-  these activities have the potential to drain away a lot of my time with very little positive results to show for it.   I’m becoming more aware of how I’m choosing to invest my free time.

4.  Fill the void– Be productive with downtime; read, listen to podcasts, exercise or connect with someone.

We all have things we know would be beneficial for us but we “just don’t have time” for.  And while it may be difficult to find a whole extra uninterrupted hour in a day, we all have little pockets of time we can put to good use.   Five minutes to go for a quick walk outside, 10 minutes to read one chapter in a book or call a friend you haven’t talked with in a while.

We live in Houston so we spend a lot of time driving and in traffic- and I used to just flip constantly through several radio stations and get frustrated we weren’t moving any faster.   However lately I’ve been using my drive time to listen to podcasts and that gives me something to focus on and makes the drive time feel so much faster.  A friend of mine uses her drive time as prayer time and prays for herself, family and friends while driving.  How can you make better use of the little pockets of time we all have scattered throughout our day?

These are just a few of the resources and life changes I’ve found to be helpful recently and I hope they are useful for you too as you start off 2017!  I’d love to hear what positive changes you’re making in your life and what helps keep you motivated and focused on your New Year’s Goals!

 

Free Resources for Personality & Career Assessments

I wanted to share a few helpful and FREE resources for people interested in learning more about their personality type as it relates to their career choices.   There are so many different personality assessments you can take online but these use the Holland Code- which is my personal favorite as it has only 6 personality types and it relates your personality type to career options that could be a good fit for you.  So I hope these help and let me know if you have any questions!

 

http://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip – 60 questions for your Holland Code results

http://www.mynextmove.org/  – excellent site for students researching careers

https://www.onetonline.org/  (Occupational Information Network by US Dept of Labor)

 

http://www.careeronestop.org/ExploreCareers/explore-careers.aspx – another good site for researching careers

 

http://www.truity.com/test/holland-code-career-test – 72 questions Holland test and information on careers and educational levels

 

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Career Coaching FAQ’s:

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What is a Career Coach?

A career coach is someone who is trained to help others navigate through the career planning process successfully.

 

What kind of training did you receive?

To become a Certified Career Coach I went through a certification program with the Career Coach Institute which included trainings, personal study, a final exam and practice coaching sessions.  I also attend coach training events for continuing education credits needed for certification renewal.

 

What topics do you cover in Career Coaching?

Topics covered in Career Coaching sessions include:

-Life & career goals

-Career options for personality types (using the Holland Code)

-Skills & interests inventories

-College or training options

-Job market trends

-Gaining experience on the job

-Increasing marketability in the job search

-Resumes, LinkedIN, and interview preparation

 

Who is Career Coaching for?

I specialize in working with high school and college aged students who are making college and career related decisions.  I also work with adults who want to make a career change.

 

How does Career Coaching work?

Career Coaching is typically done one-on-one with a career coach and a client either in person or via phone or Skype.  Sessions are typically one hour with homework projects given between sessions.   I can also do group coaching sessions (usually less than 12 clients) or workshops on Career Planning for larger groups.

 

How do you charge for Career Coaching?

I offer two coaching packages, both include 4 coaching sessions are they are $500 each or both for $875.

  • The Discovery Package includes a personality assessment and covers skills and interests, goals, education and career options, and crafting a plan for the future.
  • The Action Package covers assistance crafting a resume, increasing marketability in a job search, and interview skills.
  • The Jumpstart Workshop is a 4 hour half-day planning session which can be tailored to best meet the individual’s clients needs and is $500.

Prices vary on group coaching and workshops, please e-mail for more information.

 

Why work with a Career Coach? 

Career Coaching can help shorten and clarify the college and career process.  This clarity can also save significant amounts of college funds as it helps reduce the amount of time students are in school.  A lot of students graduating high school aren’t sure what they want to do in their future and this often results in students changing majors multiple times in college, dropping out before they graduate or being unable to find a good job in their career field after they do graduate.  Better planning before college can help make this transition from high school to adulthood smoother and more successful.   (Click here to read some recent statistics on college students and career planning.)

 

How did you get started in Career Coaching?

I struggled greatly with figuring out what to do with my life after high school.  I had a ton of creative ideas that ranged from being an astronaut to a fashion designer to a zookeeper- but no real practical plans when it came to a stable career path.  My parents recommended becoming a nurse and since I didn’t have any better ideas that’s what I did.  But I never felt that nursing was a good fit for me and my first 2 years as an RN were proof of that.  I felt strongly during those 2 years that there had to be a better way to do life and I started researching career planning.  I discovered the field of career coaching and felt that this was a way I could help others avoid some of the stress I experienced in my career path.

 

What perspective do you coach from? 

My foundational belief with career coaching is that God created each of us with a unique personality and purpose and it is my goal to help clients discover their God given gifts and passion.  I strive to help my clients find the perfect career path for them- and to find a job they both love and can make a living doing.  I believe the best way to motivate students is to help them find their passion and purpose and set them on a path to making their dreams reality.

 

Testimonials:

“Jennifer sparked awesome student involvement and interaction in her Career Planning presentation today- she is friendly, engages with the students, and shares very well thought out information.  She covered every aspect of career planning and each topic was valuable and presented in a way that was easy for the students to relate to and understand. I recommend Jennifer’s Career Planning workshops for other high schools because it is important for students to begin this planning early so they have a goal in mind when planning for college and careers.”

–Ms. Beckert, High School Teacher FBISD

 

“I would like to thank you for the awesome presentation today at Marshall High School.   I really enjoyed your material and the delivery.  Your presentation kept the students engaged more than any other presenter that have spoken to them. The students enjoyed it and one of the students even made the comment ‘when is she going to come back?’  It has been a pleasure to work with you.”   

-Ms. Hicks, High School Teacher FBISD

 

“We enjoyed your visit and your message. The young people we deal with are amongst the most misguided and needy of the message. I think the presentation was insightful and most importantly let them know that a future is possible.”   

-Mr. Dobbs, Probation Officer, Juvenile Detention Center

 

“Career coaching has been very enjoyable and I am already benefiting from it.  It helped me plan out how to obtain my goals in small, do-able steps.”    

-James, High School Student

 

“Your workshop gave me a more solidified look at the immediate future and reinforced the importance of the decisions I make during these critical years.”  

-David, High School Senior

 

“This workshop gave me a head start on what to expect in life after high school.” 

-Cole, High School Senior

 

“Your presentation was funny and kept me interested the entire time; your personality is amazing.”  

-Jorge, High School Student

 

“I loved your presentation and it really motivated me!  Thank you so much!”

-Natalie, High School Student

 

“Your workshop really helped me organize my thoughts on my future.” 

-Briana, High School Student 

For more information on Career Coaching with Jennifer, please e-mail jennifer@beforethelaunch.com.

 

Recent Statistics on College & Career Planning

cgUnemployment rates as of March 2015:

High School Dropout: 8.6%

High school graduates with no college: 5.3%

Associate’s degree or some college: 4.8%

Bachelor’s degree or higher: 2.5%

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm

Approximately 44% of college graduates are unable to find a job in their chosen profession and take jobs in unrelated fields.  (This is often referred to as  underemployement.)

http://educationbythenumbers.org/content/underemployment-college-grads_1589/

Many college students change majors three to five times- extending the four year degree to closer to six years.

 http://www.collegeparents.org/members/resources/articles/when-your-college-student-changes-majors

http://business.time.com/2013/01/10/the-myth-of-the-4-year-college-degree/

The average college student graduates with about $29,000 of student loans.

http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/04/pf/college/student-loan-debt/

The national ratio of counselors to students in schools is 471:1.

http://nation.time.com/2013/12/03/the-high-school-guidance-counselor-shortage/

Career Coaching can help high school and college students prepare more efficiently for the college and career process than just letting them figure things out on their own.  For more information on Career Coaching with Jennifer please click here.

Living your dream- or living the slash?

More and more lately I meet people who want to live their dream but are stuck living in the slash.  Writer / waitress.  Actress / barista.  Entrepreneur / Retail Sales.  Their time is split between what they want to be doing and a job that pays the bills.   Transitioning from the job to the dream can be challenging.  This can be more difficult for people pursuing non-traditional careers like entertainers, athletes or business owners.

Here are a few ideas to help chart your path out of the job and into the dream:

  1. Make sure you have talents (natural ability) and skills (learned ability) needed to be successful in the area you’re pursuing. We’ve all seen the American Idol auditions that someone should have redirected a long time ago. If you’re planning to make a living with your passion you must excel in it.
  2. Decide if you’re willing to commit the time and work necessary to making your passion a successful career. Some interests can be kept as a hobby but don’t have to be the source of your full time employment.
  3. Bridge the gap. Since success in non-traditional careers can take some time it’s usually helpful to have a dependable way to pay bills while you’re working toward your goals. One option is to look into some certification programs that can be completed in 1-2 years and can have a beneficial return on your educational investment.
  4. Network. Spend as much time as possible around people doing what you are interested in and ask them how they got started and if they have any advice for someone starting out in the field. One way to find these groups is to search for trade associations in your area and go to their monthly meetings.
  5. Volunteer or intern in your field of interest to start getting some real life experience and to make more connections for future career opportunities.
  6. Find a mentor who can help you walk through the process.
  7. Work hard and don’t give up.

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Detours

Sometimes life doesn’t work out exactly as we envision.  Sometimes there are bumps in the road in the road to success.  Sometimes mountains.  Sometimes quicksand.  Sometimes being a grown up isn’t as easy or as glamorous as we anticipated.

An unplanned pregnancy, a relationship ends, illnesses happen, jobs don’t work out.

So then what?  What do you do when you need to come up with a Plan B, or C, or D right now?

You have two options:

  1. Shut down / Get bitter

-Focus on the past, replay regrets – what should have been and what went wrong and make excuses for why things can’t get better.

  1. Keep going / Get stronger

-Focus on the future, keep moving, learn from the past and get better because of it.

The difference is your attitude, not the circumstances.  So when life gets messy and it’s not what you were planning for don’t just shut down.  Give yourself time to analyze the situation, reevaluate your goals and recalculate your directions- but keep moving.  Don’t get stuck.  Do the best you can with what you have to work with and remember you can’t control the rest of the world, but your response is up to you.

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Which adjectives best describe your typical day at work?

  Focused  or  Distracted

Productive  or  Busy

Organized  or  Overwhelmed

Engaged  or  Apathetic

Calm  or  Anxious

Which list best describes your typical day at work?

My first two years as a new nurse definitely involved all the adjectives on the second list and few from the first.  I worked 12 hour days on the med-surg floor taking care of about 6 patients with lots of issues, medications, doctors, and worried family members.  And I hated my life because of my job.  I remember thinking multiple times a day, “There has got to be a better way!  This can’t be it!”

Eventually I found another job- still in nursing but this time in the Baby Department and my overall job satisfaction improved greatly.  But even working with precious little babies can get a little hectic from time to time…especially when there’s 20 of them all over the nursery and they all decide they’re hungry at 7:10am, which is also when all the doctors show up needing help with this and that and the phone starts ringing that we need nurses for more deliveries and there’s visitors staring through the nursery glass watching us zoom around trying to organize the chaos… and then I just remind myself, “It’s ok- it could be worse- it could be med-surg!”  But even on the crazy days I am still grateful for that job, in that department, and with the awesome nurses I get to work with.  (Some days I might have to remind myself that I am grateful a few times before I start to believe it… my nursing friends understand this…  🙂

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Our work days can be noisy and our schedules can get hectic quickly.   Here’s a few ways to manage the chaos without having a nervous breakdown:

  1. Sleep – Your body and mind need time to rest. Often when we’re feeling stressed we try to cut into our sleep to get more done- this is rarely helpful long term.
  2. Pray or meditate- Giving yourself some quiet time to focus before a busy day can help us stay in the right mindset throughout the day- and our attitude has a profound impact on our day.
  3. Prioritize your To-Do list- focus your best attention on the most important tasks, delegate or decline the ones you don’t have time to do well now. Give yourself time to prepare for upcoming projects & use that time efficiently.
  4. Be healthy- Food is our fuel and our bodies and brains can only go so long on coffee, coke and cheeseburgers. Exercise is a great stress reliever and there’s so many different options to help make exercise fun.
  5. Relax and have fun- When you work in job situations with high levels of stress or responsibility you need time to unplug from that and just relax. Friends or hobbies can help with this.  My personal favorite way to relax after a chaotic day is a bubble bath. Vacations are also fantastic ways to take a long break from work and recharge.

Finally, depending on your personal life and job satisfaction, you may need to reevaluate your work situation and goals and see if there could be better options you could consider.  If you’re living for Friday’s and dreading Monday’s it might be time to explore new opportunities.

Do you LOVE your job?

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Valentine’s day is a time to celebrate the people you love.   But when was the last time you loved or celebrated your job?  Answer the following questions as honestly as you can about your current job:

The best thing about my job is _________________________.

When I wake up in the morning to go to work I feel ______________.

My favorite part of my workday is ___________________________.

If I could change one thing about my job it would be ______________.

If I am still working in my current position in 10 years I will feel ___________.

Your answers to those 5 questions should reveal a lot about your job satisfaction, engagement and motivation in your current position.   Maybe you’ve already found a job that is a perfect fit for you.   Or maybe you’re still looking for that perfect position.

Job satisfaction involves several factors including: duties, compensation, location, work environment, pace, boss & co-worker relations, work-life balance, etc.   We know that no job is ever going to be 100% perfect all the time- but what I want to help you find is what job would be the best fit for you?   Personality type and personal interests and motivators are the best place to start when considering what jobs would be good options for you.  Ask yourself these questions and include your answers in your search for your dream job.

What do I love to do? _______________________________

What am I really good at?  ______________________________

What is my optimal work environment? ______________________________

What gives me a sense of accomplishment? _______________________________

What am I created to do? _______________________________

Finding a job you love (and can make a living at) is not usually an easy project.  It takes time to learn about yourself and what options would be the best fit for you.  It takes time to prepare for the job you’re seeking.  And it takes time to work through the job search process.  But finding a job you love is worth the effort and time it takes.

And as Steve Jobs said, “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart you’ll know when you find it.”

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New Growth

We had a bit of break in the gray winter weather yesterday so I scooped up the Yorkies and headed off for a long walk around the pond.  They were so excited to be out of the house and bounding around chasing ducks and celebrating the sunshine.
 
As I was walking through the layers of fallen leaves I looked up at the empty tree branches and wondered how much longer it would be before they started blooming again with new growth for Spring.  

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And I realized that sometimes in our lives we have to let go of old things to make room for new growth.  And sometimes we don’t want to let go of what’s familier to us, don’t want to move, or change jobs, or leave old friends because sometimes all we focus on is what we’re losing. 

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But the beauty of the seasons and of our life is that the new is coming.  New growth, new jobs, new friends, new seasons. 
 
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 What in your life is God calling you to let go of to make room for new growth?
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…”  Ecclesiastes 3:1
 
This blog post is deticated with love to my sweet Mother, who was my very first blog subscriber and one of my biggest fans- and who has been working on Spring Cleaning for a while now… Remember Mom, “Let it go, let it go!”