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Career Transition

Finding Meaning in Your Work

June 14, 2021

You might love your job but sometimes wonder what you’re actually contributing to the world. There’s a common misconception that you have to work for places like a charitable organization, a research lab creating cures for illnesses, or an activist group to make a difference. These are just examples, of course. But, sitting behind your desk might not always feel fulfilling.

Maybe it should.

By changing how you think about work, you’ll start to see there are small things you can do each day to make a difference and find meaning.

Not sure just what those everyday meaningful moments might look like? Let’s talk about what you can do and the impact it can have.

How to Find Fulfillment in Your Work

It’s not necessarily up to your job to bring you a sense of purpose. You have to decide what that is on your own, and come up with personal ways to make your life more meaningful. That often starts with changing your perspective.

Start within your business. How does your specific job impact your coworkers, clients, customers, or anyone you interact with? Consider some of the following careers in data analytics:

  • IoT specialist
  • Data orchestrator
  • Data hygienist
  • Machine teacher
  • CIO

On the surface, you might not think those careers are helping anyone. But, it’s about how you analyze data and what you do with it that makes a difference. Most researchers are collecting data and putting it to use for good reasons – mostly to help the planet and/or mankind. That’s something you can feel good about.

Are you a web designer or programmer? Consider how making the sites you create more accessible can help others to use the web freely. Do you work in marketing? Focus on “green” efforts that can reduce your agency’s carbon footprint. Are you a business person? Have a positive impact on your whole team by hosting brainstorming sessions and making everyone feel valued.

We could list examples all day. The point is, whether you’re a corporate CEO or flipping hamburgers for a living, you can find meaning in your work when you look for ways to do it.

Pursuing a Positive Career

If you’re just graduating college and entering the workforce, you have a unique opportunity. You get to choose your own career path and look for jobs that will provide you with a sense of meaning.

Consider what you’re truly passionate about and any jobs that might allow you to do something with them. If your biggest concern is the environment, for example, you might want to work for a business that is focused on sustainability efforts.

Even if you can’t directly work with a business dedicated to such things, you can be a voice and a light wherever you work. Change the company culture by advocating for recycling programs and environmentally-friendly upgrades. Again, seeking out ways to make changes and find meaning can make all the difference.

You’ve probably heard the saying “it’s the little things that count”. Consider the things you can do every day at your job – no matter how small – that might have a more meaningful impact on someone else than you originally thought. The more you focus on those things, the better you’ll feel about the purpose of your career.

BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Career Student Life Transition

10 Powerful Tips For Graduates Entering The Workforce During COVID-19

April 29, 2021

Across many industries, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused uncertainty, affecting employment and experience opportunities for new graduates entering the workforce. As one example, a growing number of candidates are now interviewed virtually, impacting the opportunity to build relationships with the people involved in recruiting.

On the extreme side of things, many of today’s recent graduates will also be required to start their professional careers from home. Here are some insights for successfully entering the workforce during COVID-19. 

#1: Don’t Stop Learning 

Graduating from college doesn’t mean you are done with learning. While the knowledge and certificate or degree you acquired are valuable possessions, they are not the only things that lead to success. Beyond academic knowledge, there are a lot of things left to be learned that will put you ahead of others in finding, achieving, and being successful in your work life.

#2: Look For Internships First 

Though it is good to have aspirations for high-paying jobs, it’ hard to go from graduate into lucrative roles without taking a few other steps first. The number of open vacancies for recent graduates is now limited than in the past. Businesses are still trying to figure out how COVID has impacted their company and the industry in general, and they aren’t willing to make financial commitments or take the same risks they did in the past. If entry-level positions are slim, check out internships. One could even land you a full-time position once it’s completed!

#3: Start Building A Portfolio 

A portfolio is documentary evidence of what you are capable of doing. When other candidates compete for the same jobs with traditional resumes and cover letters, having a portfolio will help to differentiate you as a valuable resource. When desirable opportunities are not available, consider starting private projects related to the types of jobs you’ll love to be doing in the future. Or, consider volunteering in similar roles to show your strengths.

#4: Commit To Proactive Networking 

Being proactive about networking will put you ahead of other people that are usually waiting in a reactionary mode. You might have heard that your net worth is directly related to your network.  And, most people are holding back interacting with others because of the pandemic….now is the time to stand-out and shine when others are waiting! If your LinkedIn profile isn’t already in top shape, spend some time to do and use it as one of your greatest networking tools.

#5: Embrace A Relentless Drive

For you to move from being a graduate into the world of work, you need a relentless drive. More than anything else, this characteristic will empower you to withstand inevitable obstacles you may discover along the way. And, you can share those learning experiences with potential employers. A strong work ethic can land you just about any job, regardless of experience.

#6: Be Adaptable To Change 

When you are entering the workforce as a graduate, you are bound to experience a lot of opportunities that don’t match your expectations. At that moment, your best bet is to be open and adaptable to change. All employers want people who can adapt and change course during challenging times. This goes along with your drive. Work hard and be relentless!

#7: Try New Things 

Both in terms of learning and networking, you must commit to trying new things. Another way to look at this is that you have to embrace going outside of your comfort zone. The world works differently because of COVID-19 and you need to learn how to adapt. This might mean taking the time to learn how to use the new software the company is using for all of its virtual meetings. Or, figuring out the ins and outs of a project management tool that seems confusing now, but will be instrumental in organizing your team’s projects down the line.

#8: Define Your Meaning of Success

The big question is this – what does career success mean to you? Once you clearly identify what success means to you, convey that to others in a way that relates to your personal values, vision, and life purpose. Once this is communicated clearly, others can understand how they can help you achieve this, and how it fits with their goals for recruiting the right talent.

#9: Set Measurable Goals 

Having a goal is important. But if you don’t have a way to measure progress towards accomplishment of your goals, achieving them is difficult. As important as it is to set goals, measuring progress, and modifying your strategy when needed, are also important. Don’t aim unrealistically high nor sell yourself short and aim too low.

#10: Find Your Internal Motivation 

Motivation is the fuel that drives people to accomplish their goals. Without it, life will seem like a challenge. However, people need to find what drives them and satisfies their sense of self-worth and purpose. External sources can motivate you to achieve some things for a little while; however, they’re limited in helping you attain long-term, sustained success.

Spend time gaining self-awareness about your strengths, your goals, your measures of success, and what can get in the way of attaining these things.  Once you understand yourself better, you’ll know what you need for continuous growth, and which career roles will be best for you.

Adulting Career

The Best Options for You After High School

April 27, 2021

When graduating high school, many people assume that the next obvious step is going to college; however, this is not the only option available to graduating seniors. There is an endless number of positive experiences and opportunities at your fingertips. Whether you want to explore, venture out into the professional world or learn more about yourself, there are boundless choices and paths in front of you. As you think about your next steps, here are a few of the best options for you to consider.

A Gap Year

If you want to take time to reflect, grow and learn, gap years can be a great option. Gap years have gained popularity in recent years due to the invaluable and incomparable lessons and opportunities for reflection that are difficult to replicate. You have the wondrous experience of venturing out into a new community and visiting new places within the structure and format of the gap year experience. You can learn from others their reasons on why take a gap year, so don’t be afraid to ask around to help you decide if a gap year is the best next step for you.

Volunteer

If you find yourself wanting to do something positive and productive with your time after graduating high school, volunteering can be a marvelous move. Keep in mind that volunteering won’t pay the bills; however, it can be a formative and impactful experience. Not only will you inevitably learn about the community that you are supporting, but you likely will learn a lot about yourself and benefit greatly through the process.

Professional Ventures

For those who want to test the waters of the professional world, don’t be afraid to start working following high school and delay further schooling for the time being. Whether you need to pay bills and as a necessity or you are looking to explore the startup world, there are plenty of reasons and opportunities to start work right away. Professional experience can also be a great way to set you up for success in college and leave you more prepared than you would have otherwise been.

Road Trips

Another quintessential high school graduate experience is a road trip. If you have never had a chance to truly explore the country, consider packing up your car and a few friends and taking a long road trip. Whether you schedule this before college or your gap year, this can be an exhilarating way to experience the world. Regardless of the length of your trip, don’t be afraid to take an adventure once you graduate high school.

College or University

You can always take a traditional path after high school and go to college. This is not just a chance to venture out from home. Whether you choose community college or a four-year college or university, the reality is that college can be challenging, and you need to be prepared and know what to expect. Whatever you choose, you should make sure that you select the option that best suits your needs, goals and next steps.

As you reach this pivotal point in life, don’t be afraid to take a detour or alter your path to find the best fit for your next chapter. Once you graduate high school, you have the world at your feet.

Adulting Career Student Life

3 Ways to Balance Work and Study

April 6, 2021

You’ve probably always had a certain subject that fascinated you. In your free time, you may find yourself reading about new innovations and insights in the field. You constantly have ideas on the topic that start with, “It would be so cool if they…” 

Sound familiar?

The only downside is that your field of interest has zero to do with your current job. 

It may be a great time to take the leap, study your chosen subject, and get a degree or certification that would allow you to channel that passion into a career that inspires you every day.

Studying and working simultaneously can be a daunting endeavor. But it can be done! Some sacrifices and strict budgeting will be required, but only for a finite period of time. 

Here are three tips for how to make the most of your schedule when balancing work and study:

Maximize your available “ear time.”

There are more times during the day than you realize when your hands may be busy doing something, but your ears are available to study. This is why it’s a great idea to get assigned reading in an audio version if available. 

Record all of your lectures and corresponding notes that you take yourself. You can even create “audio flashcards.” Record a question or definition and leave a few beats of silence for you to drill your responses as you listen.These recordings can be used when you’re driving, working out, cleaning, cooking, getting ready, waiting in line, etc. 

Also, be sure to take advantage of the time immediately before bed. Our brains retain information that we consume right before bed the most clearly into the next day. Wake up and refresh the information as you get ready, and you will have successfully “locked it in.” 

Another great idea is to use repetition immediately after hearing a lecture. Take several minutes to go over the notes you just took and “teach” them to yourself out loud as if you were the professor. This will solidify connections between ideas and make them far easier to remember in the long run. 

All of this will help the information you’re learning to become information that you know. Which means you won’t have to desperately cram before a test. Instead, you’ll be refreshing thought connections that have already been solidified with personalized associations.

Break apart your workload into bite-sized pieces.

A great method for managing your study load is to chop up your reading and studying into smaller goals for each study session available over a given period of time.

For example, you’ve been given a 50-page reading assignment due in five days. First, determine the available time you have outside of work and family obligations. If you have four hours over the course of five days, you can estimate your target per-hour page rate. For that particular week, it is 12 and a half pages an hour. And, depending on how long your time blocks are, you will divide your page goal accordingly. So if you have 15 minutes while you’re waiting for something to cook, try to read about three pages.

Breaking up your reading and studying into smaller, more manageable chunks will help you avoid the stress of trying to find huge blocks of time to complete larger assignments. And preplanning the proportions helps alleviate the constant, “I have so much to do!” feeling. You can relax a little, knowing that as long as you successfully accomplish each predetermined portion in the schedule you created with your free time, you will reach your target goal for the overall assignment. 

Take advantage of vacation days.

This tip is likely not a crowd favorite. When taking on the added workload of balancing a job and study, sacrifice will be needed on some level. The things you should not sacrifice entirely are as follows: sleep, exercise, meals, hygiene, your job, and at least some quality time with family and friends. 

But the things that you will need to be willing to sacrifice are watching TV, viewing social media, partying, and sadly, vacations. You will still be utilizing your vacation days but as brief rest days and pre-test or presentation prep days. 

When you get your syllabus, mark out when events like this are happening and put in your request to use a vacation day for the day before well in advance. This will allow you a dedicated chuck of time to refresh everything you’ve learned and finalize any preparations you may need.

A major benefit to this: it will decrease your anxiety leading into a test or presentation day. Increased anxiety will only undermine your performance, so take that vacation day to prep and gather focus.

Throughout your time as a working student, have your “why” handy. Write a mission statement for yourself beforehand and read it whenever you feel a bit like tearing your hair out. Writing down your “why” will also help you understand where this motivation to study and shift gears is emanating. If at first, your “why” is only “to make more money,” you may want to do more research into careers that can make you more money but also genuinely interest you. 

When you read your “why,” you want it to touch something deeply motivating and energizing within you. Once you have that, it can act as a pair of jumper cables when you feel depleted and fuel you as you master the balance between work and study.

BIO: Kristie Santana is a life coach based in New York City. She is the founder of the National Coach Academy and co-founder of Life Coach Path. Her mission is to help prepare aspiring coaches for a thriving career doing the work they love.

Career Transition

3 Ways to Gain Experience That Will Land You a Job After College Graduation

April 1, 2021

If you head to college right after high school graduation, your focus for the next 4+ years probably isn’t going to be climbing the corporate ladder. Granted, you’ll work toward a major and learn how to do a specific job.

But, that doesn’t mean a career will be available to you immediately after graduation. College can offer a degree, but you’ll enter the working world with “entry-level” experience, which many employers don’t want.

So, what can you do to gain experience while you’re in school so you can kick off your career right away?

Immerse Yourself in the Collegiate Experience

One of the best ways to gain experience and get advice is to take advantage of all the services your college has to offer. Develop a close relationship with student services. It’s their job to not only get you through your collegiate career but help you prepare for the “real world.” They can assist you when it comes to things like resume writing so your job applications will pass things like automated applicant tracking systems.

Student services can also help with:

  • Campus life and extra activities
  • Mental and physical wellness
  • Diversity on campus
  • Alumni relations

Those functions can all help you gain more experience for a future job. Getting involved with activities and clubs on campus can help you gain experience in teamwork or leadership without having to work in an actual “job.” Plus, those who work in student services might be able to connect you with alumni in the industry you’re interested in.

Whether you’re getting your degree online or in-person, reach out to student services in an email or give them a call. Student services should be available to the entire student body.

Take a Part-Time Job

Many college students end up working part-time jobs to help pay for tuition, food, or off-campus housing. But, the right part-time job can actually be a great way to network. Having an internship in college is helpful, especially if it’s in the industry you’re interested in. But, internships don’t usually pay, and you may not get the hands-on experience you need if you’re just getting people coffee.

So, while there’s nothing wrong with waiting tables or working retail, try looking for a part-time job that will allow you to hone in on the skills you’ll need for a long-term career. That could include working in an office, or even starting your own freelancing business on the side for writing, graphic design, or any other useful skill you want to grow. You could even start your own online business as a side hustle. 

Even if you haven’t decided on your major, holding down any part-time job will let future employers know that you’re responsible and able to stick to a schedule, so it looks good on a resume.

Get Involved Locally

If you don’t want to work in college, consider volunteering either on campus or in the local community. While it won’t show up as work experience on a resume, sometimes life experience is more appealing to employers. Getting involved with an organization that matters to you will give you hands-on experience.

You’ll grow skills like:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Organization
  • Patience

Adding these skills and your volunteer experience to your resume could be extremely beneficial, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Landing a job after graduation isn’t just about having experience in a particular industry. It’s about having well-rounded skills and knowing how to market them. Keep these tips in mind to get the job you want after graduation, rather than sending out dozens of applications with nothing in return.

BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Career Student Life

7 Online Business Ideas for College Students

February 18, 2021

As a college student, schoolwork can be frustrating. It is not just because college life can be challenging, but also due to the lack of financial independence.

Luckily, college students these days can earn money from the comforts of their home. That is, if you know time management skills and how to meet your deadlines.

If this is something you can handle, here are seven online business ideas that you can start today.

Online Tutoring

If you know that you excel at a particular subject, consider getting into online tutoring. You don’t even need to go to your students’ house to teach them because you can do it through a video call.

When you tutor a student face-to-face, you can charge higher for it, but if you can’t do it face-to-face, especially nowadays, you can do online tutoring.

What’s great about that is that you can teach anyone from anywhere. You also have the advantage of offering cheaper rates because you don’t have to be face-to-face to teach your students.

Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is such an approachable way to make money online, even as a college student. It’s another gig that you can do no matter where you are, even when you’re in your college dorm. Since you probably have to write papers as a college student anyway, freelance writing is just like that, but you get money from it.

Ecommerce Store

If you have a hobby where you make things from scratch, you might want to sell them online by starting an ecommerce store.

Anybody can do it, and you can sell almost anything online. If you make stickers, knit, or even create digital products, you can start an ecommerce store.

The options are endless, but your biggest struggle might be your ability to stand out. Think about what makes your brand or product unique and how to best get the word out about it!

Website Development

If you have programming or web development experience, consider working as a freelance web developer. There are plenty of small or even large companies who want someone to make websites for them. Your expertise will surely come in handy, especially in this digital age.

Virtual Assistant

Running a business is a tough job that requires you to juggle a lot of tasks and roles. That’s why many entrepreneurs hire assistants nowadays to help them manage their workload.

In this modern world, we now have something called a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is like an executive assistant, although you do things online.

This allows you to work with someone from another country. And your tasks can include organizing your boss’ schedule, scheduling and confirming meetings, and more.

This can be an excellent way for college students to earn some money, and gain some experience you can put on your resume. And you might even learn a thing or two about running a business from your employer.

Dropshipping Business

These days, there is a growing number of people who buy their daily needs online. Whether it’s for groceries, clothes, or anything under the sun, there’s an online shop there for you.

However, inventory management can be overwhelming, especially if you are staying in a dorm. This is where dropshipping could come in handy.

That’s because it allows you to run an online store without having to worry about where to store your products. That’s because your manufacturer and supplier can handle it for you. This also includes packing and shipping products, as well as handling returns.

Luckily, there are a plethora of dropshipping guides online. Hence, you’ll never run out of ideas on how you can maximize your dropshipping business.

Blogging and Vlogging

Social media has allowed people from all walks of life to become celebrities of their own.

If you’ve always been interested in being known for your character, you might want to start blogging or vlogging your daily life. It’s like having a passion project that can make you money, but it can take a while before you start seeing money rolling in through ads or merchandise. Think of a niche and see how far it takes you!

The online business ideas listed above can help college students to earn money while pursuing their degree. The best part is that you not only make money, you are also setting up your career path.

Career

7 Tips to Help Students Prepare for a Bioscience Career

January 21, 2021

College is the time when young adults start to transition to the life and responsibilities of adulthood. It’s no wonder this period can be complicated and nerve-wracking. After all, this is the time when many students are starting to prepare for their future careers.

The same thing is true for bioscience students who are wondering what career path to take.

If you’re looking for some tips, here are a few that will give you some inspiration:

Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Don’t let shyness or your over-reliance on yourself stop you from working smarter.

There are plenty of people who are willing to help you and give you advice. When you’re feeling stuck, there’s no shame in reaching out to people to provide you with some perspective.

Over time, you’ll come to realize that your career path is clearer now that you’ve gotten some feedback from others in the same line of field you want to be in.

Develop Strong Study Skills

When you’re planning a bioscience career as a student, you probably know studying doesn’t end when you get your diploma.

When you’re in this industry, you’re always going to be a student, so you must develop strong study skills.

If you don’t develop these skills, you will stagnate, which should never be an option, especially in the scientific field. Therefore, you should start sharpening your study skills now.

Seek Out Mentors

With social media, it’s a lot easier to connect with professionals in the bioscience industry. That’s why Michelle Dipp, co-founder and managing partner at Biospring Partners, encourages students not to be afraid to seek out mentors.

You don’t even need to find them in real life to have the mentors to help provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to succeed.

Some of these bioscience professionals provide nuggets of knowledge for free through social media. What’s great about that is the diversity of guidance you can get while building your network.

Since it’s much easier to reach them through the Internet, you can get all sorts of gems from around the world. Take advantage of it!

Consider Your Length of Study

If you want to find success in a bioscience career, you’d likely need more than a bachelor’s degree.

You need to have a master’s degree, and if you plan on doing research-based jobs, a doctorate is essential. It’s best to prepare for a life in the academic field early.

Stay Up-to-Date

If you’re planning on looking for entry-level jobs in the bioscience field, it pays to keep yourself updated on everything in the industry. This simple thing is going to give you a competitive advantage over other candidates for a similar role.

It lets people know that you have a genuine interest in the field. Mind you, students have an advantage when it comes to updated industry knowledge. So use that advantage to prove that you can be an asset to the team!

Expand Your Knowledge

Although you might want to focus on a particular industry niche, you should at least feed your curiosity about other sectors. Perhaps you are curious about how bioscience can contribute to agriculture.

Being open to expanding your knowledge is always a good idea no matter what field you’re in, so remember to keep an eye or an ear out all the time. You never know when this will help you in your future job.

Find Internships

Studying is going to be a significant part of your bioscience career at any level. However, there’s so much more to a career in the biosciences than studying.

After all, nothing beats experience, so try to get into internships as much as possible.

Not only will it give you practical experience, but it will also help you expand your professional network.

Conclusion

The seven tips listed above can help you be the most prepared as possible for when the time comes you have to start making career moves.

The bioscience industry is a unique field, and there are plenty of opportunities present there for you. You just need to make sure that you prepare for it so that you’re ready to take them on.

These tips will serve as your foundation for a bright future ahead, so apply them as soon as you can!

Career Student Life

How to Land a Job Through a Video Interview

January 15, 2021

By now, most of us have accepted the shift from in-person interviews to digital interviewing. Even as life returns to a pre-pandemic state, hiring is unlikely to revert completely back to the way it once was. 

Employers have realized the benefits that come from remote recruiting, including the larger pool of qualified candidates that comes from eliminating geographical barriers. Video interviewing has become so popular, 86% of organizations are now using them to hire employees, with no signs of slowing down.

Here are some tips to make sure you’re prepared for your next video interview

What You Should Know about Video Interviewing

Video interviews do not always occur in real-time, like a Zoom call where you meet face-to-face electronically at an agreed upon time. They can also take the form of a one-way, pre-recorded interview where the interviewer is not present. 

In pre-recorded interviews, you record answers to pre-set questions, asked either in written form or via video, and the recruiters review your responses at a later time. Many students and graduates are unaware of this, and the surprise can throw off even the most prepped job seekers. Now you know!

Tech Tips for Virtual Interviews

Since video interviews occur online, naturally you’ll need some hardware and software to participate. The specifics depend on the platform being used, but here’s some general information to help:

  • Make sure your Internet connection is strong and secure.
  • Use a desktop or laptop rather than a cell phone or tablet. This will provide a better experience and limit shaky recordings.
  • While you can use built-in audio, you may want to opt for headphones with a microphone. This helps to minimize echoes and improve sound quality.
  • Use Chrome or Firefox as your browser as these are the most reliable.
  • Exit out of any apps that require access to your camera or microphone.

Looking Good on Camera


Nailing your video interview starts with looking the part. Dress professionally, style your hair appropriately, and find a well-lit and quiet location where you can be easily seen by the interviewer.


More tips:

  • Position the camera at or slightly above eye level.
  • Be mindful of what’s behind you! Tidy your surroundings and ensure nothing unprofessional is on display.
  • Project confidence by practicing good posture and open, positive body language. Smile and try not to cross your arms or fidget.

Increase Focus by Minimizing Distractions


Since most virtual interviews are done at home, this increases the potential for interruptions, which might throw you and those evaluating you off.

Stay in the game with these suggestions:

  • Let roommates, partners, or or children know when you’re participating in a video interview. Ask them to be quiet and considerate for the duration of it.
  • Close doors and windows to reduce noise and prevent pets from entering.
  • Silence your phone and turn off any music or television in the background.

What Questions to Expect During Your Video Interview

Now that you’ve taken steps to prepare your environment, it’s time to prep answers to anticipated interview questions. The most common video interview questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in this job?
  • What is/are your greatest strength(s)?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What makes you the right person for this position?


These are the types of questions that would be asked whether you are interviewing in person or over video. Think of concrete examples you can share from your work, school or volunteer experiences. Be honest, project confidence, express enthusiasm for the position and practice, but make sure not to sound like you’re reading from a script.

With these practical, easy-to-follow tips, you’ll be well-positioned to land a job offer following your video interview. Good luck!

Career

Tips for Writing a Killer Business Plan

December 22, 2020
Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Are you gearing up for the next phase of life after college and considering embarking upon a business venture? If you intend on taking it seriously, you will inevitably need a business plan. 

Your business plan is an important document and well worth your time and effort to perfect. When executed effectively, it has the power to paint a vivid picture of how your business will operate, the goals it will strive toward, and what ethos it will be driven by. 

Formatting your business plan 

There are two main styles that a business will choose when formatting their business plan:

Traditional business plan – This typically spans 12 or more pages incorporating detailed analyses, supporting documents, contracts, permits, licenses, credit histories and more. They take much more time to create upfront, but taking a deep dive into your business that leaves you with an extremely thorough outline can serve you well.

Lean startup business plan – One or two pages summarize the most important elements of your business strategy. This potentially covers all of the same sections as a traditional plan, but is more condensed to give overviews rather than elaborate analysis. 

Investors and lenders will typically prefer a traditional business plan, but if you expect the course of your business to undergo significant change, a lean startup business plan covering the fundamentals may suffice.

Whatever template you choose to create, you can use the following tips to ensure that you craft a solid and compelling plan to propel your business forward.

Keep it simple

Keeping it simple does not mean dumbing it down – but if your plan starts to waffle, you’ll quickly lose your reader’s interest. When it comes to business plans, more than many other forms of writing, you need to keep it sharp, concise and effective. Only use photos, graphs or charts that significantly enhance the reader’s understanding of your vision and ensure that your formatting makes your document even easier to navigate.

If writing isn’t your strong suit, consider hiring a writer or editor. You can find freelancers to help out with this on sites like UpWork or Fiverr. Just make sure you opt for high rated sellers with excellent reviews.

Work backwards

When creating a plan for a future vision, it can be helpful to reverse the process in your mind and draft your plan from there. For example, realistically consider where you would like your business to be financially after the first 12 months, and then work backwards. What goals would need to be achieved after six months? Three months? One month? Work these milestones into your draft and soon you will see your business plan taking logical shape.

Know your competition

Never speak negatively when referring to your competitors. Familiarize yourself with who they are and what they are doing both well and poorly, and, in your own business plan, outline how you will differentiate your brand from the rest. What will be your company’s unique selling point or proposition (USP)? Be sure to highlight whatever it is that sets you apart from the rest – unique approaches that have viability attract the attention of investors and show that you have thought this vital aspect of the business through.

Know your customer

Successful business plans demonstrate well thought out insights into their customers and a desire to truly understand their clients. What are their needs or problems they have that your business will solve? What is your target demographic? Who will be buying your product or service? Why do they need it? These insights lead to the all-important question – why will they pick you?

Outline your marketing plan clearly

It’s easy to have lofty dreams, but not so easy to drill down on exactly how those dreams will be achieved. A solid business plan demonstrates that the how-to has been carefully researched and considered, and that you have arrived at a series of specific steps that you will take to execute your vision. Where and how will you market? What will you offer and to who? How will you generate new customer leads? How exactly will you entice consumers away from the competition?

Be realistic 

It’s great to dream big, but remember to keep your immediate plans within realistic parameters. Don’t overestimate your revenue forecast or inflate your financials. Do your research and position yourself with confidence, not naivety or arrogance. What will you offer and how much will you charge? What do comparable businesses charge for similar products or services? Keep your projections realistic to cultivate trust with your reader and be sure that the financial information you share is rooted in solid facts.

There are thousands of online resources at your disposal when it comes to crafting a winning business plan – we’ve just highlighted some key points. Be ambitious, yet realistic. Demonstrate care and research regarding customer insights. Speak respectfully but confidently when analyzing your business in comparison to others. Back your claims up. And importantly, once you’ve collated your business plan’s content, deliver it in a concise, sharp style. Get to the point whilst infusing just the right amount of passion to drive your intentions home. Good luck!

Career Transition

How to Get the Most Out of an Internship for a Future Career

November 30, 2020

Every student faces a hard reality after graduating — you have to have some kind of work experience to get a decent job. But how can students who’re spending most of their time studying get this experience?

The answer, often times, is through an internship.

This is a great way for students to practice their knowledge and gain new skills. Some students even manage to land a job at the same place they worked as interns.

In other scenarios, students get several internships at once. According to a report by Chegg, out of the average 60% of students who usually do internships in their class, 27% get two internships, and 13% do three.

With that said, internships are usually quite competitive, and it takes a lot of effort and even luck to land one. It means that you can’t afford to waste such an opportunity, and you need to make the most out of your internship.

So, here are a few practical tips on how you can take away as many benefits from your internship as possible to pave the way for a successful career.

Develop Connections

Building the network of connections is probably one of the most important parts of the internship because you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits from it in the long run.

In fact, getting useful connections is one of the things students want from an internship because if they form successful relationships within a company or an organization, their chances to stay and work there after graduation will be higher.

However, it’s not just about getting a job. Developing solid connections will also help you get the knowledge that no college could give you.

What can you do to build such connections?

  • Be friendly. Don’t shy away from conversations, participate in organizing events, and corporate parties. Even something as small as joining your co-workers for lunch can help develop a meaningful relationship with them.
  • Have a one-on-one meeting with your boss. At the beginning of your internship, ask your boss for a meeting, during which you could ask about their career path and the knowledge they had to get to be where they are. Such a conversation will help establish rapport and lay a solid foundation for a good relationship.
  • Always keep in touch. Even after your internship is done, make an effort to maintain the relationships that you formed because they can benefit you at any time when building your career.

In general, when applying for an internship, say that your goal is not just to learn, but also to build connections. Everybody in the business world understands the importance of that, and they will appreciate your openness.

Find a Mentor

An internship cannot be successful if you don’t get a mentor. This is the only way to get solid knowledge and start developing skills as you learn from someone who’s been in the industry for quite some time.

It doesn’t matter which internship you’re doing, getting a mentor is essential for your success. Even if you’re an intern in a foreign language school helping students learn Italian, try to spend as much time with a teacher assigned to you. Observe them, see which teaching methods they use, and then apply that knowledge.

So, before your internship, discuss the possibility of getting a mentor and explain why you need to have one. After all, you will need someone who will dedicate their time to guide you through all the processes, so this person needs to be prepared for that as well.

Ask for Feedback

If you want to get the most out of your internship and make this experience benefit your future career, you shouldn’t shy away from feedback, no matter whether it is good or bad.

Feedback can help you evaluate your achievements and see what else you can do and learn to improve your knowledge and skills. Whether it’s coming from your mentor or an average colleague, this feedback will help you grow as a professional.

Here’s how you can as for feedback in a correct and appropriate way:

  • Ask for regular meetings. Make sure that you discuss your achievements with your mentor on a daily basis and document every comment that you receive to see what you need to work on.
  • Make weekly feedback requests. Ask your mentor to give you weekly evaluations with both positive and negative feedback to objectively evaluate your work.
  • Ask for feedback from different sources. From time to time, ask for feedback from the company executives as well as other employees who could also give you some tips on how you can improve yourself.

Don’t be afraid of feedback because it’s also a valuable source of knowledge. Don’t outright reject it and try to look at it as a learning opportunity if you want to get the most out of your internship.

Takeaways

Everybody has different goals when getting an internship. Some obtain one just for connections, others want to learn something valuable. However, there’s always a common goal for everybody – to get everything they can from an internship.

Hopefully, these tips will help you do exactly that and lay the foundation for a successful future career.

BIO: Kate Khom is a passionate writer and blogger who likes sharing her thoughts and experience. Currently, she is working as a digital marketing specialist and develops online business branding, you can check her site. Feel free to contact her on LinkedIn.