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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

Career Management Articles

Stay ahead of the curve with insights from our CTL Associates.

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  • 14 Dec 2015 11:32 AM | Anonymous

    By Beverly Harvey
    HarveyCareers

    The best time to negotiate a severance package is when you negotiate your benefits package—before you join the company.

    While companies are not required to offer any kind of severance package, most companies use severance packages or separation agreements as a release of claims against the company, its officers, and directors in exchange for a certain sum of money. Some use it as a way to pacify departing management, avert law suits, and display empathy. In most instances involving senior-level management, a severance package is offered. These packages are always open to negotiation providing there is no clause to the contrary in the employment contract.

    Before you begin negotiating, you should be aware of the critical components of a severance package versus those that are optional.

    Critical Components:

    • Severance pay: This is usually determined by the length of time you have been employed and  your management level in the company. Generally, companies offer one week’s pay for every year of service.
    • Bonuses and Commissions: The agreement should state how bonuses or commissions will be pro-rated and paid.
    • Health Insurance: The agreement should state how long you will be covered and who will pay the premiums on any and all insurances. Employer-provided coverage may end on the day of separation. However,  COBRA allows you to continue your current coverage at group rates.
    • Life and Disability Insurance: Employer-provided      coverage typically ends on the day of separation or soon after. You can negotiate a continuance option.
    • Retirement Benefits and Stock Options: The agreement should state exactly what your future benefits will be and should take into account the effect your separation will have on your stock portfolio.  According to IRS rules, your plan administrator must provide a written explanation of your retirement options 30-90 days before the final date on which you must take action.
    • Stock Options: The agreement should state how the separation will impact vesting expectations as well as the remaining time to exercise vested shares.
    • Outplacement Services: These services generally include writing your collateral materials (resume, cover letter, addendum, bios, etc.) and coaching you in all aspects of your job search. Many companies offer services with a particular outplacement firm and others ask you if you have a career coach you prefer to work with. Even if the company offers the services of an outplacement firm, you can negotiate for the selection of your career coach.

    Optional components:

    • Vacation time: Request payment for your unused vacation time.
    • Sick days/personal days: Request payment for unused sick/personal days.
    • Bonus/commission: Make sure all of your commissions/bonuses are accounted for (you should be prepared to accept a prorated bonus).
    • Agreements: Renegotiate terms of any preexisting non-compete or non-solicitation agreements.
    • Positive recommendation: Ask for a written understanding of what the company will say about your termination. Also, if not terminated for cause or poor performance, request a letter of recommendation from your former managers.
    • Company equipment: Discuss the termination of cell phones, pagers, company cars, laptops, or other home office business equipment.
    • Perquisites: Clarify how perks such as cars, association and club memberships will be addressed.

    Again, the most optimal time to negotiate your severance agreement is BEFORE you accept the position because once you have accepted the position, your “powers of negotiation” are severely diminished. Whether you negotiate before or after the fact, make sure you prepare by:

    • Making a list of the perks you would like. Jot down the reasons why your employer should provide these perks to you. This is the time to showcase your value proposition and achievements.
    • Reviewing the company’s policy on severance agreements as well as the terms of your employment contract.
    • Familiarizing yourself with applicable state and local laws.
    • Consulting with an attorney. While showing up at the negotiating table with a lawyer will set a hostile tone, have an attorney guide you through the legalese of the agreement and provide you with advice.
    • Planning your strategy to renegotiate or eliminate any preexisting non-compete or non-solicitation agreements.
    • Investigating if you are the only executive being let go or if there are others. If there are others, find out what they were offered by the company.

    After you have completed your research, schedule an appointment to discuss your severance package. Take your research with you to the meeting because a researched response is more compelling than an anonymous statement. You must convince the company that their severance package is unreasonable in order to create an opening for negotiations. Remember: this severance package has to sustain you and your family until you secure your next position–so it is imperative that you negotiate the best deal you can.

  • 14 Dec 2015 11:08 AM | Anonymous

    By Judit Price, MS, CCM, CPRW, IJCTC, CDFI
    Career Campaign

    Congratulations!! You have the perfect job. Your talents and organization needs are in sync and you know you can add significant value. But along the way you sense something is wrong. Since the ramp up period is very short and expectations very high there is little time to worry about getting familiar with the cultural norms of the organization, so why worry about it? That could be a mistake.

    We have written about the changes in the hiring process with today’s far greater emphasis on teamwork, “fitting in”, and how employees embrace and reflect the culture of the organization. This is a serious concern among many organizations. Of course, the interview process is supposed to weed out future malcontents. But it is an imperfect process. Managers make best guess projections and often hire good people who simply cannot adjust to the organization.

    All organizations have cultural norms and expectations. These are generally driven from the top down and reflect the personalities, philosophies and practices of top management. We are all familiar with top down edicts that indicate a belief or set of beliefs that are reflected in the customs, norms, expectations and values among employees. We have all experienced the ‘new employee handbook’, where policies are laid out in a manner that reflect the real world of the employee’s workday.

    Nevertheless, when an employee joins a new firm, the norms that develop from the culture, i.e. the work styles that are a common outgrowth of that culture, have to be absorbed and integrated into the new employee’s work habits. Unless this happens, the new employee’s future can be in jeopardy.

    For example, some organizations value a direct approach where the employee communicates with a “here is what I plan to do”, factors in constructive information and moves ahead. A contrasting approach, or style, is more collegial. The employee, either formally or informally, presents a problem and a potential solution and looks for common vision and support before moving forward.

    Both approaches can be effective. The problem arises when the cultural norm or work style is in one direction and the new employee approaches it from the other. If you are a hard charger who tends to ignore input, that may be fine in an organization that values that approach, being concerned only with the end result.  If, on the other hand, the process itself is highly valued to ensure organization support, a different approach may be needed. The difference is important and the result could be catastrophic for the new employee who wants to make that positive first impression.

    The point is we often find ourselves in situations with supervisors, peers, or employees in which the case is solid, but the audience isn’t buying it. It may have nothing to do with the substance of the issue, but have everything to do with the style in which it is being presented or carried out.

    Sensing the awkwardness, there may be a temptation to simply swallow the problem through fear of making a bad situation worse. Or, even worse, it is entirely human to mischaracterize the listeners as somehow unable to accept the brilliant insights being offered. That’s a style issue.

    We often talk about a win-win situation. Win-win implies successful negotiation to enable others to find common ground, a “comfort zone”. All too often the substance of an issue is not the concern. Rather, the style in which resolution is approached, the method of communication, and the degree and quality of interaction to generate support, can be critical. In other words, it may not be what you say, but how you say it that makes the difference between support and withdrawal.

    In the past, I have discussed personal work styles, those preferences or tendencies that deal with the way people acquire information, make decisions and use their energy, their inspiration, and their motivation. It is a fact of organization life that individual work styles will clash with organization style norms from time-to-time. For new employees, it is especially hazardous, because the employee has not had enough time to establish their worth, but has had the time to create dissonance.

    So, what should the new employee do?

    First, master the organizations style. Study the organization as best you can to understand the norms and taboos. Start building strong peer relationships from day one, listen carefully to the cues, and over-communicate with your boss. It is important to be visible and solicit feedback, and observe how others interact within the organization. Assumptions about staff deficiencies without understanding the cultural norms could be fatal.

    However, the name of the game is building success. In addition, as the employees gain confidence and familiarity, if not comfort, with style expectations, they can begin to move ahead more aggressively, if it is warranted. It is important to take the time to understand the new organization and the people with whom we interact. That understanding helps you find ways to cope with the new culture, minimize stress, and enable you to add value with organization support.

  • 14 Dec 2015 10:50 AM | Anonymous

    By Cindy Kraft, RCPBS, RCOIS, CCM, CCMC, CPRW, JCTC
    CFO-Coach.com

    The times, they are a’changing. Despite the truth of the lyrics from Bob Dylan’s song, there is one constant in the career arena. You are the only one who is looking out for your best interests. The days of hiring on with a company and retiring with a Rolex are gone forever. Those times have changed.

    While the average tenure of a finance executive is three years and could be as short as 18 months, those numbers are actually tending downward. Citigroup has just hired its 3rd CFO in less than a year. CFOs (and their bosses) are vacating their offices at an alarming clip. Future change is inevitable.

    Here are five power strategies for getting a jump on more effectively managing your career. Select just one and begin immediately, and you’ll be one step closer to effecting change … for the better.

    Power Strategy #1: Create a Plan, and then Work Your Plan

    Do the one thing for your career that you do so well for your company. Run your career like your run your business … create a plan and plan for the unexpected.

    Today, you are the most marketable and hold the greatest power when you are employed … a passive candidate who is NOT actively looking for a position but is open to hearing about potential opportunities. The senior finance executive, who brings a compelling record of performance, is the most desired and sought–after candidate.

    That means, the time to begin planning for your next move is while you are still “passive” and with no immediate or imminent move, planned or unplanned. Where do you want to be in 18 months? Three years? Five years? What do you enjoy doing, and want to do more of? What parts of your job do you dislike and want to do less of? What companies or industries need what you have to offer?

    If you don’t know those answers, you are leaving your career, the one thing that funds everything else in your life, in the hands of someone who is most likely looking out for his own best interests rather than yours.

    Power Strategy #2: Build and then Manage Your Digital Footprint

    This growing trend is not going anywhere in the near future. If recruiters and companies within your target market don’t know you exist, how will you be found for those opportunities that are a great fit for you? If you aren’t in the places where savvy recruiters are looking (not the job boards), it will be difficult to execute your plan in the time frame you desire.

    If you are not yet at the top of the corporate ladder, a compelling digital footprint can help position you to move up. Perhaps the CFO role is your goal. Maybe you are already a CFO, but haven’t received an invite to the executive table yet. If you are already part of the executive management team, what’s the next move? Google can be your best friend in facilitating what’s next – or – destroying the next step if a) you don’t exist; b) the message about you is not clear and consistent; or c) digital dirt has taken over your footprint.

    At minimum, a stellar public profile should be visible in Linked In, Google, Zoom Info, Ziggs, Naymz, and even Facebook. Since recruiters look in all of these places, along with Googling your name to find out what else is available to back up or conflict with what you’ve written, it is critical to build and proactively manage your visible online presence … especially as a desirable passive candidate.

    One of my clients, in the course of joining groups on Linked In, came across a recruiter job posting that appeared as if it was written for him. In fact, upon sending his resume the recruiter immediately contacted him asking if he had modified his profile and resume to the position. He didn’t. He was clear about his strengths, marketable value proposition, and target market. He is currently in the running as one of three finalists for that CFO position.

    If you are a senior finance executive and would like an invitation to join Linked In so you can leverage an established network, please send me an email (cindy@cfo-coach.com) with “Linked In” in the subject line and I’ll be happy to send you an invitation to join my network.

    Two ways to build visibility and distinguish yourself from the competition are blogging and twittering. Senior finance executives are just now beginning to embrace this technology so it’s a good time for you to become an industry early adopter as part of an overall career management plan.

    Power Strategy #3: Create Meaningful Relationships

    Networking is not a stop-and-go strategy. It should not be something you begin when you need a job. And, it is not a collection of names on business cards that take up space on your desk and attract dust.

    Networking is an interactive, continuous conversation and the time to build it is when you don’t need it. That allows you to adopt the mindset of helping others before you need to ask for their help.

    What I have found after almost 14 years of coaching senior finance executives is that most of them have been so busy working in their jobs that they have no time to work on their career, and that includes networking. Sound familiar? If you take nothing else from this article, hear me now. Networking is your lifeline. If you wait to start networking until you need help, it is too late.

    According to an ExecuNet analysis of search firm activities, networking ranks first among recruiter activities, followed closely by online research. Reach out, and then stay connected. If you talked with only one person a day for five days a week over four months, that would be 80 people. Think of the impact to your network by reaching out to one person a day.

    I’ll be the first to admit that networking is time consuming. Especially face-to-face networking. Lunch meetings always take much longer than an hour, particularly when taking into account commute time. End-of-day cocktail/dinner meetings cut into family time and can be completely ineffective. Especially, if attending the same meeting each month is your only networking strategy. Then the tendency is to unwind and catch up with friends rather than strategically network.

    So from an executive perspective, here are two excellent ways to build your offline network while positioning yourself for that next strategic leadership role. First, become a Mentor … and second, seek out a Mentor. With succession planning key to companies’ retention planning, being a mentor looks good on your resume while building your network. Having a mentor puts that person’s circle of influence at your disposal.

    Power Strategy #4: Track Your Contributions

    There is little, if any, value in contributions that can’t be measured. Reducing costs, driving profitability, strengthening financial operations, reducing risk, enhancing shareholder value, turning around a failing organization … these are what I call vague generalities. How many finance executives do you know who aren’t using at least some of those terms?

    Those words, without quantification, delegate candidates to commodity status … one of many who all say the same thing, sound like, and therefore look alike. What will differentiate you and propel you to the front of the pack are two things. Why you did what you did and what the measurable and/or long–term impact was as a result.

    Why say this …

    “Conceived and executed a readiness plan to provide a platform for growth for 15 stores.”

    When you could say this?

    “Led the aggressive high–growth initiative to design and execute a multi–channel concept to exploit the rapidly growing xx industry, opening 4 additional stores and launching an e–commerce site that captured double–digit sales growth from 2005 to 2008.”

    Remember, you are being hired because there is a problem, challenge, situation, or pain an organization needs fixed. Position yourself as a problem solver who delivers a measurable impact and you will differentiate yourself from the others. Relying on what you did (responsibilities) relegates you to commodity status. Commoditization occurs as a goods or services market loses differentiation (Wikipedia).

    Almost every one of your competitors will be able to say they have done the same, or very similar things … graduated with a degree in finance or accounting, began their career in public accounting, secured their CPA, climbed the corporate ladder. It’s not what is the same about you and them, it is what is different and unique … and which a company is willing to pay to get … that will win you the interview and the position.

    Power Strategy #5: Do Something … and Do It Differently

    Last June, Ernst & Young conducted a survey of 250 C-suite executives from companies generating in excess of $1 billion annually with operations within the US, Europe, and Asia. The questions posed to this survey group dealt specifically with the role of CFOs. Globally, 31% of the respondents agreed that CFOs did not have enough understanding of the wider issues that businesses face.

    Today, the trend is towards Operational CFOs who hold an MBA and bring a broader education & finance perspective, along with a strong ability to synthesize information. CEOs and Boards will demand their Chief Financial Officers possess broader-based skills as they seek business strategists and leaders in filling that role.

    These CFOs will be futuristic, visionary, and strategic … and invaluable to guiding the company’s future path. As the financial markets turmoil and economic crisis continues, and perhaps deepens, an operational background will become even more coveted. Here’s why …
    CFOs can take over the COO’s role; but a Chief Operations Officer – without a finance background – can NOT step into the CFO role. In fact, according to Execunet, 2 of the 8 most in demand job functions include operations management & finance. Perhaps the most valuable quality a finance executive can possess today is flexibility and responsiveness to significant swings in a fast-changing market.

    One of the rules in successful sales is to do what your competition is not doing. That’s a good rule to follow in managing your career too, since most candidates play it too safe. Leverage your differentiation by focusing on how your unique background and expertise have combined to positively impact your previous companies.

  • 14 Dec 2015 10:48 AM | Anonymous

    By Jack Mulcahy, ACRW
    Jack Mulcahy Resume Services

    Everyone who has been in the workforce long enough has been fired. Some acrimoniously, some relatively peacefully. There seems to be no getting around it: every worker, at some time in his or her life, will probably be fired from a job.
    When you’re fired from a job, your first reaction may be panic. What will I do now? Will anybody else hire me? How do I explain to an employer, not to mention to myself, that someone didn’t want me?

    Unless you’re a thief or you deliberately start fistfights with your coworkers, you may get fired for the converse of the reason you got hired. The primary reason candidates get hired in the first place has less to do with their skills and much more to do with whether the employer believes they’ll fit in with the company, its culture, and their coworkers. And if you stop fitting in, whether it’s because of a change in management, culture, team, or assignment, chances are your days are numbered.

    Of course, a personality clash with the boss is another reason you could be fired, perhaps a more likely one. Before you take the job, you go into the interview, and you and the prospective manager are both on your best behavior. You want the job; s/he wants to hire you. Yet once you’re on the job, you learn that you just don’t like that manager, now that both of you have dropped your masks of good interviewing behavior. Suddenly, your dream job seems more like a nightmare. You’re being asked to do tasks that weren’t in the original job description, things that you either can’t do or don’t do very well. You find out that the last three people in your position quit after an average of four to six weeks.

    The next thing you know, you start walking on eggshells, afraid to make the wrong move. And before you know it, you’re called into the manager’s office and told, “Sorry, it just isn’t working out, and you’ll have to go. Pack up your things.”

    How do you explain this to a prospective employer? Before you go into the interview, it’s a good idea to purge as much as possible the negative thoughts about that previous employer. After all, the worst thing you can say is, “The last boss was a jerk who never understood me.”

    In fact, never make any negative comments about any place you’ve worked, if only for the reason that you never know who might know whom. The best strategy is to be open about being let go and that you simply didn’t fit in with the company, and emphasize that you learned some valuable skills you can use on the new job.
    A similar response could be that the decision was mutual; you were in the wrong place at the wrong time in your career, and both you and your manager realized it. No hard feelings. No matter which of these answers you give, your previous employer is unlikely to give any response except to confirm that you worked there from date X to date Y.

    But your previous employer won’t be giving you a good reference if you’ve been fired; this is where other references can come in. You may have cultivated relationships with coworker at that company who will vouch for you. Perhaps even a vendor or a customer you’ve dealt with would speak in your favor. This is where you need to search your past extensively to find someone who shares your high opinion of yourself.

    Whatever you do, however, don’t let one bad boss ruin your future. There are plenty of them in the business world, and this may not be the first you’ll run across. Put your self-esteem back on as you would a new suit and go out there and knock them dead at your next job!

  • 16 Dec 2014 8:00 PM | Anonymous

    by Lisa Raufman
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisaraufman/

    I have had clients do additional research about careers and the job market because I found websites they enjoy exploring. Many of our students like to read blogs and “believe” the advice they get from real students who have gone through the career search experience. Below you will find very user-friendly websites from universities across the United States. If there is a * next to the name, it means that the first entry is a blog by students at that university.

    List of resources at sample university career centers:

    Columbia University: http://www.careereducation.columbia.edu/ http://www.careereducation.columbia.edu/resources/industry (Be sure to note the social media and job boards connected with each industry)

    Harvard University: http://ocsharvard.tumblr.com/tagged/careerfair

    Tufts*:http://tuftscareercenter.blogspot.com/ http://www.tufts.edu/home/students/career_services/

    UC Berkeley: https://career.berkeley.edu/Info/CareerExp.stm

    University of Central Oklahoma*: http://careers.uco.edu/resources/index.asp

    University of Oregon*: https://career.uoregon.edu/blog/students

  • 05 Nov 2013 8:14 PM | Anonymous

    By Joan Runnheim Olson

    Tanya Parades, who has worked in male-dominated careers most of her life, shares her strategies to overcome any challenges she has faced. I have several "strategies" that have now become second nature when working around men...

    1) Earn their respect and show them respect: I have to be better at my job than the average male in the same position. I must temper any emotional outbursts (definitely never cry especially in frustration…oddly, throwing things is more acceptable). It's okay for the guys to swear loud, but I keep mine under my breath (unless it physical pain so they understand why I am not working for the next five minutes, plus having them see the blood helps). I have to take the view that I am an ambassador in a foreign world....so I must be a shining example of my species.   

    2) I must not do things that make them think I am saying I am better than them (i.e., my level of education, my financial or family background, neighborhood I grew up in etc.). I will answer if asked these things but usually in a short, "Oh, I went to Wilson High School.” [End of subject].

    3) I try to listen attentively and actively. I make noises as I listen, saying yes or I agree...and try not to ask too many questions. I think they see my questioning them as their being bad at explaining things. If I understand less than about 60% of what they are saying or explaining I may temper a question with a phrase such as "Ok, I can't keep this straight in my brain. We do what after _______?" This leaves the problem of not understanding on me and not because of them. If I understand 60% or more, I will practice on my own when no one is looking which is what they expect you to do.

    4) Things like "men don't read instructions"... seriously they view it as a sign of weakness or lack of job knowledge. They would rather tinker with stuff for 20 minutes than read the instructions and get it done in five minutes. In fact, I was literally laughed at when I admitted I read the instructions on how to install a new style of faucet. Logically you would assume that the warranty is only valid if the faucet is installed correctly, but that thought never crossed their minds.

    5) Finesse and neatness do not count: Most men just want to get the job done. They don't think about or really care about how the homeowner/contractor might react to a large hole in the wall or some spilled water on the floor. Again as women for some reason we often tend to think how our actions or inactions will affect others and we seem to be able to put ourselves in other people’s places better. This is one reason women are wanted in service work and finish work.

    6) What you do not ask is, "Why do I 'have to' do all this?" and this is something females may know intuitively but not vocalize. Men are extremely competitive.... especially in a one-on-one basis. They are constantly one upping each other, relating in ways I would never dream of. They are often like little brothers or something arguing.

    7) And when men disagree they will tend to talk over you (not give you your say in the subject) they will say their piece and if you try to counter their opinion they will raise their voice slightly and tell you again what (they believe) is the truth, and say it again and again until you stop trying to say your opinion.   So sometimes you just have to shut up and nod ... believe what you want in your own head.

    8) As for lifting things you just have to experiment... I often have to use levers, pry bars, extra tools or whatever I can find that helps me.

    9) I have experienced culture related gender bias from Hispanic workers from out of state who have no idea of the training involved to get a plumbing license in this state. I have also experienced it from contractors who think women should be at home. In those instances my foreman was good enough to step in for me or dispatch was smart enough never to send me to that contractor's jobsites again.

    10) I personally never talk about my private life except for the very basics like, "I need to go grocery shopping so I have snacks for lunch."  

  • 06 Oct 2013 8:22 PM | Anonymous

    By Cari Lyn Vinci

    Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber have something in common with Frank Sinatra (ask your parents). He was known for doing things “MY WAY” and sang his way to the top of the charts. Today, Millennials are taking a cue from the “Chairman of the Board” and figuring out how to become “Chief Executive Officers” of their lives. 

    And so the story goes for the young women interviewed for this article. If you own a business, are employed or work as an independent contributor, you are CEO of your life when you take charge and take responsibility to create your dream life and career. When you visualize yourself as a successful adult, when you understand the connection between education and lifestyle, you can commit to getting an education to create a dream life. But first, you need to know what is possible.

    ME, Inc.’s goal is to help teens with that discovery. These Sacramento area young women have various backgrounds, interests and career paths, yet they have several things in common. They all made challenging career choices; they LOVE their work and the chance to help others; they earn a “very comfortable” living that provides opportunities for growth; they chose STEM careers (science, technology, engineering or math) that allow free time for family, friends, travel and FUN; and they are having “the time of their lives.” We are telling their stories to help teens discover and visualize their future.

    Rocket Scientist

    Everyone jokes about how it “doesn’t take a rocket scientist” to figure something out.  But Elaine Schreiber can figure it out because she is a rocket scientist -- at Aerojet Rocketdyne!  She credits her career choice to her high school math and chemistry teachers plus her best friend’s brothers who were headed to Cal Poly.

    Although she was terrified at the time, she approached a recruiter from Cal Poly and applied through a special program. Elaine needed to get over the initial shock of being the only girl in the college class and thinking the guys in the class knew more than she did. Elaine admits it can be very intimidating and she almost left. But Elaine didn’t give up. 

    When it finally hit her that no one in the class was any smarter than she was, she decided to stick around. With a degree in Math and Science, Elaine has more doors open and she can move across disciplines. But book-smarts aren’t all that Elaine brings to the table. She is a great communicator, great at multi-tasking, has interpersonal and organizational skills. These “non-textbook qualities” enabled her to become a project engineer intern, which helped in landing a job and advancing her career. Elaine made smart choices and she has never looked back.

    Girls who Code

    For Kristen Beck, getting paid to ask questions is a daily occurrence in her capacity as a UCSD Korf Lab PhD Candidate at the UC Davis Genome Center. “I get to be curious all day and share my results with others,” she says. Over the years, Kristen had many role models including her Mom, who is a geriatric-social-worker-turned-successful-entrepreneur. Surprisingly, in high school her computer education was limited to learning Excel; programming wasn’t even taught.

    Fortunately, in college, Kristen’s undergraduate instructors believed in her and encouraged her to continue school to get her PhD. As instructor and advocate for “Girls Who Code,” Kristen enjoys seeing the 15–17-year-olds transform as they learn to program. It’s not a scene you see every day: high school girls with laptops working in groups experimenting with controlling a robot as their fingers tap on laptop keyboards.

    Kristen explains that “Learning coding is learning problem-solving. These skills are confidence builders and life changing for the students.” Kristen says: “Work now is very different…it’s a new thing…Millennials work to be happy. As a computer programmer, work is always changing. I can work anywhere with a laptop, at home or in the park. There is great support in the office. I would tell my teenage self to learn to prioritize; to be highly productive and efficient so I can take time to exercise and de-stress and find a work/life balance.”

    Saving Lives

    Faith Friend is a clinical scientist working with the organ transplant team at Blood Source. I had a great role model because my mom was the first non-male scientist I knew. My science teachers in high school were all men and nearly every one of my science professors at UCD were men too,” says Faith, who would like to think that those statistics are changing. 

    She always loved science and when she decided not to go to medical school, she looked into many professions that required a Bachelor of Science degree and ended up in a good place career-wise. “In our lab I would say that women stay because they are surrounded by other supportive women and they like the fact they can provide comfortable lifestyles for their families.”

    Rock Star

    Elizabeth Stevens-Klein works for the US Army Corp of Engineers, she has an 8-month-old baby and a stay-at-home husband. When she was young she had no idea what she wanted to do, so she thought about what she liked. “Growing up on a farm, I had an interest in natural sciences -- mostly biology and chemistry,” says Elizabeth. “Then, my high school chemistry teacher showed me how to study and explained to me that there really is nothing wrong with a woman becoming a scientist.”

    The time came in high school when Elizabeth felt a lot of pressure to choose a college major and she didn’t want to pick one because she though that meant a life-long commitment. She took a year off, worked as a waitress and went to a community college and taking random courses to see what she liked.  Elizabeth found her answer in geography…because it “encompasses it all.” Today she is one of the few female geotechnical engineers working with the armed services and loves her career and the life she created. Yes, Elizabeth is a “Rock Star.”

    Lighten up and relax

    Theresa Iiams, a software development manager at DST Output, was always a ‘math geek’ and computer science relies heavily on that background. “I expanded my skills in programming and analysis while working with a very successful database administrator. She was a mentor and teacher for me.” My STEM career at DST Output provides a comfortable salary and since technology is constantly evolving, the opportunity for change and problem solving.

    Tammy Dysert is director of systems development at DST Output and loves it. She had a friend and mentor who taught me. “I can do anything I put my mind to”. She also taught me that work/life balance is important. “I like that I get to solve problems every day. There is always some new challenge and I never get bored. My career has allowed me to travel all over the world.”

    “I have worked in Scotland and New Zealand. It can be challenging to survive in a field that has been dominated by men, but it is important to persevere. Take it as a challenge to break through the barriers. It is worth it. If I could talk to my teenage self, I would tell myself to lighten up and relax.”

    Marketable Math

    Olya Blasé’s parents helped her think through her options. They asked her, what could you study to land a job or open your own business? They asked her what do you enjoy doing that is marketable? She excels in math. So, she took internships to gain experience to decide if she liked the field. A former boss helped her learned to set boundaries and create a balance work/life. Her company, Ernst & Young, gave her an option to work three days a week and that allows her to be with her children. Millennials want flexibility and Olya’s lifestyle is a prime example.

    Fast Pace

    Rebecca Peirce was influenced by her grandmother and aunt (both nurses) and became an emergency room nurse at Sutter General. Because she is interested in science and math, she volunteered in the ER and went back to college at 23. She enjoys the fast pace, the something new everyday environment. Her career allows her to be compassionate and to think on her feet. Taking care of people and teaching them is a big part of what she does and she enjoys that. She works, “crazy, long hours (12-hour shifts); but only 3 days/ week.” Rebecca reports, “I am well compensated and have benefits. That is a big plus that allows time and funds to update our house, save $$ and to live without any financial stress.”

    Bridge Builder

    Joyce Hribar at SMUD is the first Civil Engineer in her family. “I get to build things. It’s amazing what a team can do when you are all working together towards a common goal. It’s rewarding to see a photo of a bridge and very cool to hear my kids say, ‘Mom, there’s a bridge you built!’” Her grandfather had a very strong influence on her education.

    Joyce said: “He was a Superintendent of Schools in the Philippines. When he retired, he came to live with us. He bought a huge blackboard for us and would bring home workbooks from the local drug store. I have fond memories of playing school with my grandfather and working on math problems on the big blackboard. It was fun for me. Little did I know he was building my strength and love of Math. Technical fields and engineering, in general, are highly regarded and pay very well. If you manage your pocketbook wisely, being an engineer gives you the opportunity to live very comfortably and have fun. If you like science, technology, engineering and math, careers in these fields can be very rewarding. Women are in demand in these fields … because they are technical and good problem solvers.”

    Bright Futures in STEM-related Careers

    To sum it up, what do a rocket scientist, a civil engineer, a nurse, director of systems development, a clinical scientist, a software development manager, and a GIS specialist all have in common? They had role models to influence and guide them, they strive for balance, a family and a career, and their educations provide a most comfortable lifestyle. 

    They interned or took entry-level positions to get in the door. But because the fields they pursued are in such need of their talents, there is no limit to what they can achieve.  As a result, they are making a difference in the world by helping others. And even though they’ll acknowledge that it’s HARD work, they are determined and are succeeding. As Faith said, “Failure isn’t the absence of success; it’s the absence of the attempt.” These women are CEO’s of their lives. What sets them apart? Their STEM careers helped put them in charge to create their dream lives.

    About ME, Inc.

    InVINCIble Enterprises is developing ME, Inc. to empower smart, talented teens to become CEO of their lives. The program presents inspirational role model storytelling, success skill development, life planning, mentoring, and networking opportunities for motivated teens.  We collaborate with Clients who have a vested interest in developing talented youth to help solve talent pool problems for Fortune 500 companies; provide greater ROI on education for students and parents, and reduce dropout rates at universities and colleges. To learn more, contact Cari Lyn Vinci at carivinci@gmail.com.
  • 23 Sep 2013 1:05 PM | Anonymous

    By Kathleen Sullivan

    Many people believe that a first impression is the most important impression you make. However, when you are leaving your job, your last impression is the most important impression, if not the only impression, you will make. To ensure that your last impression is a good impression, follow these eight ways to make a graceful exit from your job.

    1. Meet with your manager or supervisor in person to give your notice, unless you are located remotely. Having a face to face conversation shows respect for your employer and allows him to ask any related questions.

    2. Provide a brief, professional rationale for why you are leaving your job: a better opportunity, a more convenient schedule or commute, or your interest in a career change. Do not air any differences or disappointments you have with your current role or organization. An employer will understand your desire for self-improvement, but will not appreciate hearing your complaints at that time.

    3. Give at least a two weeks’ notice. If you are in a management position or play a critical role in an important project, offer three to four weeks’ notice. A reasonable notice will lessen the impact on your employer of losing your expertise and allow him some time to find a permanent or temporary solution. 

    4. Document your job responsibilities, processes, contacts, including any technologies, tools, or resources you use to perform your job. Even a good manager will not know the details of how you perform your job on a daily basis and this information will allow him to have an easier transition. 

    5. Offer to provide training to your successor. If there is an overlap between the time when you give your notice and the time when you leave the organization, share any information, resources, or skills you use to assist the person who will assume your responsibilities. Remember that you received job information and training, and your employer will appreciate your support with onboarding the next person. You may even offer to be available for a brief follow up call or email for a short period of time after you leave. 

    6. Do not slack off. It may be tempting to sit back and anticipate a new start, but staying focused and productive will cause your manager and colleagues to remember you as dedicated and loyal even if you are leaving. 

    7. Wrap up as many loose ends of your job as possible. Finish as much work as you can and communicate to your manager or successor any tasks you have not been able to complete. They will experience enough uncertainty when you leave and you will lessen their anxiety if you are clear about the status of your projects. 

    8. Say goodbye to colleagues, clients, and vendors. You have invested time and energy working with these people and may have professional contact again with them in the future. Let them know you are leaving and express your appreciation for having worked with them. In some cases, you may wish to continue your professional relationship with them and ask for contact information or to connect with them on LinkedIn.

    If you follow these tips, your last impression will be a good impression. This impression will follow you long after you leave an organization, particularly if you want references and or to network. Your professional image is one of your most valuable career assets. Be sure to continue to cultivate and maintain your image as you leave your job. You will never get a second chance to make your last impression a good impression.

  • 23 Aug 2013 1:10 PM | Anonymous

    By Kathleen Sullivan

    Back to school reminders and promotions are everywhere this time of year. It is easy to get swept up into the rhythm, excitement, and challenge of going back to school this fall. However, deciding to go back to school has serious consequences for your career, finances, and lifestyle, some of which have long term effects. Here are important factors to weigh to determine whether going back to school is the right choice for you. 

    1. What are your goals for going back to school? You may long for a new role in your field, a career or industry change, the status or higher income that a degree or professional certificate can confer, or the satisfaction of your intellectual curiosity about a topic. Take the time to assess and clarify why you want to go back to school and the outcomes you are seeking.

    Based on your motives and the results you desire, is going back to school the best way to achieve your goals? Will the degree or certificate you receive qualify you for a new or higher position or meet your financial objectives? Do you also need additional practical experience to be qualified for the position, professional advancement, or industry you are seeking? If you are satisfying your intellectual curiosity, can you do this with more targeted workshops, readings, and self-directed study?

    One way to determine if going back to school is a means to achieving your goals is to speak with people in your desired role, level, or industry. They can offer advice on the best steps to take to be qualified for these opportunities. If school is not the primary way to achieve your goals, you may wish to blend specialized training with on the job experience, internships, or apprenticeships, or enlist a mentor to take the right steps to reach your career or personal goals. 

    2. How will you finance your educational costs? The cost of going back to school can be very steep. The average cost of one year of full-time graduate school at a public institution can range from $10,000–$15,000 and at a private school, $30,000 or more. A year-long professional certificate or training can average $5,000–$10,000. What resources do you have to meet the costs of going back to school? Do you have personal savings or assets you can use? Can you obtain financial assistance from family members? Is it enough to cover all of the associated costs of education like books, equipment and supplies, travel expenses, etc.? Will you need to take time out of work to go back to school? If yes, how will you compensate for the lost opportunity of working and earning a salary? Do you qualify for financial aid? There is government, private, and institutional funding for continuing education, but often it is in the form of loans rather than scholarships or grants.

    If you are taking out loans, can you borrow enough money to finance your education? Do you understand your repayment obligations and can you meet them? If you are over 50 years old, how will financing your educational costs and your repayment obligations affect your money for retirement? Is there tuition reimbursement available from your employer? Some employers offer full or partial assistance for education or training, which often must be related to the skills needed for your current job. Do you know if you qualify and whether you can meet any obligations to the employer for accepting this assistance? Can you take advantage of any tax breaks? Tax credits, deductions, and savings plans can help offset the expenses for continuing education. Do you have the information to know if you can take advantage of these tax benefits? Before going back to school, determine the real costs of your education or training. 

    Research multiple options for financing your education and create a realistic budget for the time you are in school. Be sure that you can afford to meet educational and living costs and any long-term obligations. To get information about financing your education, check with financial aid professionals who work for federal or state assistance programs or at colleges, universities, or career training schools. Also, speak with human resources staff at your employer to find out if you qualify for tuition reimbursement and any related conditions for accepting these funds. To determine how you may qualify for tax breaks, consult the IRS web site under the Tax Benefits for Education section for more information

    3. What impact will going back to school have on your lifestyle? Going back to school has a significant impact on your time and energy, your personal life, and your family and friends. How will you manage the impact of going back to school? Can you develop a realistic schedule that balances the time you need to attend classes or training, complete homework assignments, do your job, and fulfill family obligations and any other personal commitments or interests? How will your family, employer, and friends react to your being in school? Will they understand that your time and attention are divided? Do they appreciate that you may have a limited budget that restricts expenditures and activities? Are they willing to adjust to these changes? Will they be supportive or resentful? Are you willing to forgo some personal, professional, and recreational opportunities while you are back in school?  Do you have the commitment and determination to make sacrifices to complete your degree or certification?

    Before going back to school, determine how you will balance your school, personal, and work life. Put a framework in place including a schedule and budget. Have frank conversations with family and friends and your employer. Ask for their understanding and support. Be sure you personally have the conviction to go back to school. Going back to school is an investment in time, money, and lifestyle. 

    Before you make this significant decision to go back to school, evaluate the return on your investment. Be sure that going back to school is the right course to achieve your professional goals and personal fulfillment, assess whether you are able to finance the costs, and ensure that you have the support and balance in your lifestyle to make it happen. Only you can determine if this is the right choice for you.


  • 19 Jun 2013 2:47 PM | Anonymous

    By Lisa Raufman
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisaraufman/

    I am a Community College Counselor and am happy to share a new resource with you that provides up-to-date information about the value of a community-college degree in California, The website found at salarysurfer.cccco.edu, provides the following information:

    • Salary Surfer is a groundbreaking online tool that allows students and the public to view the aggregated median earnings of those who complete a certificate or degree in a specific community college discipline and then enter the workforce.
    • The new tool displays median annual incomes for those who complete 179 of the most widely enrolled programs and did not transfer to a four-year institution. Salary Surfer shows the median earnings for a community college graduate two years prior to earning a certificate or degree, then two years and five years after earning a certificate or degree.
    • An analysis of the data found in Salary Surfer shows the tremendous return on investment provided by community colleges: 
      • Students who complete an associate degree more than double their annual pre-degree earnings after two years in the workforce and nearly triple their pre-degree earnings after five years in the workforce. 
      • Nearly 45 percent of students who graduated with an associate degree earned more than $54,000 annually five years after getting their degree. That is the median wage of someone with a bachelor’s degree living in California, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 
      • About 25 percent of those graduates with associate degrees had median wages of more than $77,000 five years after graduating. That is higher than the median income level for those Californians with a master’s degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 
      • Median wages five years after award for students with associate degrees in vocational disciplines was $61,600 compared to $39,300 for those with non-vocational associate degrees. 
      • Associate Degrees with the highest median incomes five years after award include: Electrical and Power Systems Transmission ($96,200);  Physician Assistant ($95,700); Radiation Therapy Technician ($91,300).
    • Future earnings potential can be valuable when making decisions about which educational discipline to pursue, but it should not be the sole determiner. A student’s interests and aptitudes also need to be factored in when making these decisions.
    • When looking at data on Salary Surfer it is important to remember that wages of students who transfer to four-year institutions are not included, nor are self-employed workers. With the release of Salary Surfer, which can be found at salarysurfer.cccco.edu, and the earlier release of the Student Success Scorecard, which measures student outcomes at all 112 colleges, the California Community Colleges becomes the most transparent and accountable system of public higher education in the nation.
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