<![CDATA[My Site - Blog]]>Tue, 27 Feb 2018 13:14:49 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[So, I Graduated... Now What?]]>Wed, 18 May 2016 02:27:25 GMThttp://4ts.org/blog/so-i-graduated-now-whatThis last Sunday, I graduated. I said goodbye to my college years and everything that made them as special as they were to me. I said goodbye to professors, friends, suitemates, bad cafeteria food, and even to the sidewalks I’ve stared at morning after morning for the last three years. But before those goodbyes were even over, before I’d returned my gown or finished packing my car or gotten rid of the food in my fridge that I simply couldn’t, in good conscience, drag home with me, I was looking beyond graduation day. I wasn’t looking at graduation as the day when everything ended or everything began; it was just a day. That’s not to say it wasn’t a great day – believe me, I was stoked when I finally received my diploma. But it was a day that I knew would come and go, a day when I knew I’d be asked questions about my future plans, and a day when I knew I’d want to have answers to those questions. While I was preparing my answers, I learned something amazing: I actually have a plan. Sort of.

Just one day after graduation, I see the countless “graduated and unemployed” posts popping up on my newsfeed, and I see these with sympathy – after all, I’m not immune to student loan debt – but I also view them with a certain level of hope. For my part, I don’t know exactly what I want to do. I recognize that I’ve just graduated and that the clock is ticking for me to figure my life out, but, for all intents and purposes, I have figured it out. I have my plan, and even though that involves not having a paying job for a few months while I apply for jobs (yes, that is, in fact, the master plan), travel, and generally try to figure out a little bit more about who and where I want to be now that I’m not “Hope Swedeen, Student at Susquehanna University,” I’m pretty confident that I’ll be fine. I don’t say this because I did things “right” or because the world is just magically at my fingertips. I say this because I haven’t been looking at graduation as the last day or the first day of my two separate lives. I haven’t looked at graduation with sadness or with regrets or with fear. The most I can say for myself is that I was completely ready to not have homework for a little while. But never once did I think, “This is the end” or “This is the beginning” that day. I simply thought, “Keep going.” And that’s what I intend to do.

I’m going to keep going, moving forward with whatever plans I already have or make along the way, and nothing is going to stop me from moving, from changing, from progressing into new stages of my life. Sure, I may be sleeping on my parents’ couch for a few months. I might even be babysitting my brothers and doing chores around the house as though nothing has changed. But at the end of the day, nothing I’m doing is permanent. I hope to keep changing, to keep making plans and pursuing them as fiercely as possible. And right now, the plan is to work on my blog posts, work on my resume, work on expanding my literal horizons, and work on the indent I’m hoping to create in the couch without having to worry about whether I’m forgetting about an assignment. At least for now. (I just graduated. Give me a break).

So for those of you who are nervous about graduating from high school, leaving behind friends or family or lifestyles to pursue the next step, just remember: things aren’t ending; they’re progressing. You’re not leaving people; you’re welcoming new ones. You’re not leaving home; you’re making a home for yourself somewhere else. You’re not starting down a career path; you’re forging your own path. Whatever you end up doing, wherever you end up going after graduation, don’t be afraid, and don’t be sad; just be you, and just keep going. Keep trying to reach your goals, find new dreams if plan A falls through, and be prepared for changes, whether they’re welcome or not. Whatever you do, don’t pay too much attention to the ends and beginnings. Pay attention to this ongoing thing we all call life, and use each day as a means to an end, a building block for all the days after, not an end in itself.

-Hope Swedeen

What are your long-term goals? What are you doing now to reach those goals?
<![CDATA[9 Interview Questions You Just Can't Avoid]]>Tue, 10 May 2016 15:59:22 GMThttp://4ts.org/blog/may-10th-2016When you walk into an interview, you usually feel about the same way every time – a little excited, but mostly terrified. If you’ve been interviewed more than once, chances are, you’ve been asked different questions during each interview. Some employers will think up insanely difficult questions for their interviewees just to see how they perform under pressure, while others favor questions that will actually help them understand you and your background. No matter the interview, though, there are a few questions you can almost always count on being asked, and you should be prepared with your answers. I’ve had a few interviews now, including for positions on my university’s campus, mock interviews at our career development center and for actual positions in the “real world” (like this blogging position). I was asked each of the questions below in at least three – some of them in all – of my interviews, and I’ve gotten used to the idea that, whether I have a great answer or not, I’m going to be asked these questions.

1.  What goals do you have for your career? / What’s your dream job?

These two questions are very similar and yet very different. Although they both essentially ask “where do you see yourself ending up in the future?” one asks for firm goals that you’re actually trying to achieve, and the other asks for you to use your imagination. When an employer asks you what your career goals are, honesty is the best policy – you don’t need to embellish much here. Even if you don’t know where you want to end up, you can still know what you want to try out in the meantime and why it interests you; in the same way, if you know where you want to end up but haven’t quite figured out how to get there, talk about your ambitions. You never know – maybe your interviewer will have some helpful career advice for you.

As for the second question, if someone asks you about your dream job, it’s completely up to you to figure out how you want to approach it. You can either treat it as if it means the same as the question about your career goals, giving a serious and realistic answer, or you can make it a little more fun. I usually like to go with the latter, telling my interviewer a random dream of mine that might be entirely far-fetched and unattainable. Here, you have to judge why your interviewer is asking you this question. If it’s an entry-level position, they’re probably trying to get a feel for your personality and what you’d be like to work with, but in a higher-paying position, they probably want to hear your legitimate career plans. So think about why your interviewer is asking, and form your answer accordingly.

2.  How would you excel in this position?

Here, you want to focus on the job description that made you apply for the job, as that will show you what skills you’ll be needing. Now is the perfect time to bring up those skills and highlight any personal experiences that may or may not be on your resume that might serve as proof of how well you can put those skills to use.

3.  Describe yourself / Tell me about yourself / Tell me a story

This question comes in tons of different flavors, but they all mean the same thing: “Who the heck are you, and why should I care?” This is your interviewer’s way of saying, “Impress me in thirty seconds or less,” and it’s up to you to think of something that will give your interviewer a sense of who you are without leaving them bored. You of course need to tell them a little background, but because they’ve probably read your resume and have it sitting in front of them, it’s best to give mainly information that they can’t find by looking down.

Talk about something interesting about yourself or what brought you to the company or made you want to apply for the position. You can talk about anything here that you want, and what you choose to say depends entirely on you and how your interviewer phrases the question. If they tell you to describe yourself, you’ll probably want to use adjectives and descriptions that you can back up with personal experiences; for instance, you could talk about how you’re open-minded, and out-of-the-box thinker, and then talk about a project you’ve worked on that demonstrates those qualities. The key here is to talk about something that’s truly important to you – something that has helped shape you or make you who you are. Interviewers can tell when you’re passionate about something, and there’s never a better time to show an interviewer you’re passionate than when you’re describing yourself and your experiences. If they see that what you’ve done in the past has inspired you, they’re more likely to think that you’ll find and provide inspiration in the future.

4.  How did you hear about this position?

Fortunately, this is an easy question that’s asked pretty frequently, and all you have to do is answer honestly. Think about how you heard about the position – if it’s something that wasn’t that interesting, then add a little more information. If you found the job posting on a website, for instance, that could be a pretty dull answer, so talk about what, specifically, you were looking for when you found the listing, and what you found out about the company after researching that made you think to apply. Overall, though, employers who ask this question are generally just trying to figure out the most effective way to advertise job postings.

5.  What are your strengths?

This question can be as simple or difficult as you make it. If your strengths are highly applicable to the job for which you’re interviewing, then those will be easy answers for you. If, however, you’re applying for a job that’s a little outside of your comfort zone, or you don’t have any experience in the field, then you need to think of skills and attributes that would be helpful in that position. You might find some phrases in the job posting that can help you out, as they usually tell you what skills and characteristics a company is trying to find in an employee. For my part, I’ve mainly applied for positions relating to writing, so naturally, “writing” is one of my biggest strengths that I bring out in an interview. It’s also something that can be seen on my resume, so it’s easy to back up with evidence.

6.  What are your weaknesses?

This question tends to be answered fairly formulaically. In the past, people would say that you should answer with a weakness that could easily be twisted into a strength, such as “I’m obsessive,” which could easily translate to “I’m focused and will work until I get the job done.” This, obviously, isn’t much of a flaw to an employer. Now that enough people have used that not-so-tricky trick, there’s a new method for answering this question: choose and actual flaw. It seems strange to think that you should just openly admit your faults to an employer who you’re hoping will hire you, but what this employer is really looking for is honesty, to see how you perform under pressure, and to get a feel for your personality based on how you answer your questions. For this question, choose a fault that you really do have, but make it something that isn’t detrimental to your ability to do the job for which you’re applying.

I, for example, often say that my greatest weakness is public speaking; it’s entirely true, and it very well might be my greatest weakness in a professional setting, but it’s not something that affects my ability to write. And, if there’s any question of my ability or desire to overcome my weakness, I make this a two-part question, letting my interviewer know how I’m trying to combat my weakness. It would look something like this: “I would say that my greatest weakness is public speaking. I’m absolutely terrified to speak in large groups of people. But I’ve taken a public speaking class, take on leadership roles that force me to speak to groups, and I try to push myself to participate more in classes than I would naturally, and I think I’m growing to be more comfortable speaking to larger and larger groups.” You can see that, although I did tell the interviewer my weakness, I highlighted both why it isn’t such a bad weakness (it only affects my communication with large groups) and what I’m doing to try to make myself stronger than my weakness.

7.  Why are you interested in working for this company? / What do you know about our company?

For this type of question, you’ll really need to have done your research on the company. No matter how they ask, they essentially want to know what about their company is attractive to you, what you think of their mission, whether you hold their same values and ambitions, and where you see yourself fitting into the company. Before your interview, and before you even apply for the job, you need to look the company up online, look at any projects they’re working on, look at their successes and failures, read any articles that may have been published about them, and think about what you can bring to the table that they don’t already have or might not know they need. For me, answering this question is usually easy because I’m the type of person who needs to not only love what I do but the company for whom I’m doing it. When I interviewed with 4T’s, this question was the easiest of all of the questions because I could identify with the company’s mission, I could respect it, and I wanted to be a part of it. If you can express that to an interviewer, you’ll be golden.

8.  Do you have any questions for me?

This is the last question you’ll be asked in an interview, and you can almost guarantee that it will be asked. It gives the employer a chance to take a break from asking you the questions, get to hear some of your thoughts and concerns that have developed throughout the interview, and get a feel for just how invested you are in the company and how much research you’ve done. You should always have questions prepared – at least three – so that you don’t give a simple “nope” at the end of your interview. If you come in with only one question ready, you’ll be lucky if it hasn’t already been answered by the end of the interview, especially if it’s a long interview. For this question, it’s a great idea to base your questions off of the research you do on the company. If you see a project that interests you or that you’d like to be involved in if you were hired there, ask about it – ask anything. You can also ask your interviewer to explain something about the company’s working environment, which will show them that you’re thinking beyond the interview and really trying to make an informed decision about working there – that you want to know them just as much as they want to know you.

9.  Why should we hire you?

This question is, for me, the worst. It could be answered in so many ways, and you might have already answered it a million times, especially if your interviewer has asked you any of the other questions on this list. With this question, you really need to think about what you, as a person and as an employee, could bring to a company; what makes you special, more qualified, more deserving of this job than the other candidates? Your interviewer isn’t just asking why they should hire you. They’re asking why they should hire you above everyone else. At this point, you can use a little repetition from previous answers to drive certain points home; for example, if you really want to stress a point you made during question number two about how you would excel in this position, then do it – just make sure you bring up some new material as well. Again, focus on what makes you different or uniquely qualified. Why are you the absolute best possible candidate? It’s tough, I know, but if there’s any time to brag and put yourself on a pedestal, it’s an interview.

-Hope Swedeen
What are the most common questions you’ve had to answer in an interview? What are the toughest questions you’ve been asked?]]>
<![CDATA[9 Benefits of Learning With Video Tutorials]]>Wed, 04 May 2016 02:22:14 GMThttp://4ts.org/blog/9-benefits-of-learning-with-video-tutorials1. Great for visual learners

If you’re someone who learns better when you can see what you’re trying to accomplish laid out in front of you, then video tutorials are definitely for you. For pretty much anything you want to learn to do, you can find a tutorial online that will give you an audio-visual experience to help you through every step of the process. Whether you want to learn how to make something as a hobby or solve a certain type of math problem for class, you can find videos that give you a visual learning experience.

2. Independent learning – accessible anywhere, any time

It doesn’t matter where you are; if you have Wi-Fi, you can get online and find tutorials. You have the ability to teach yourself to do something anytime and anywhere you go, so if you need to know how to do something by the time your ten-minute train ride is over, you might be in good shape to know it if you can find a tutorial to help you out. I’ve used tutorials to learn how to do something simple like braiding hair, use fairly complicated programs like Photoshop, play songs on piano, use a function on a graphing calculator and do countless other educational or hobby-related tasks. The great part about tutorials is that you don’t need a teacher or a book to teach you how to do something; a short video will often suffice.

3. Can provide a face-to-face learning atmosphere

Even though you aren’t learning from a teacher when you use tutorials, they can still be a sort of face-to-face learning environment, if that’s something that you feel helps you learn. A lot of tutorials are made so that whoever makes them is on the screen walking you through the steps in their videos. Even though it’s one-way communication, if seeing someone give you instruction is the best way for you to learn, tutorials still might be a viable option for you. This is something that I’ve found to be true of myself, as I often remember pieces of information because I can remember exactly how a professor said something or what they were doing when they said it. So the most helpful video tutorials for me are ones that have someone on the screen talking to me.

4. Easy to find

Simply put, tutorials are super easy to find. All you have to do is search for keywords online, and you should be able to find a video that meets your needs within minutes.

5. Short and to the point

Video tutorials can be long or short, but they’re typically short so that you can find specific pieces of information very easily. For example, when I was looking for a tutorial to teach me how to make the background of an image transparent in Photoshop, I didn’t watch an hour-long video about all of the tools in Photoshop. Instead, I found a video that focused solely on how to make a background transparent, and it was less than five minutes long.

6. Ability to skip unnecessary parts and watch important portions multiple times

When you’re in class, you can’t very well tell your teacher to skip over content that you understand because there might be other students who need some extra instruction. At the same time, though, if you’re the person who needs repetition, you might not always get it; your teacher might move on to a new topic too soon. When you’re watching tutorials, you face neither of these issues. You can fast-forward and rewind as many times as you need to skip over information that isn’t relevant to you or review something that you didn’t understand the first or second or third time around. You can do this when you’re using a book to teach yourself how to do something, but it’s much harder to know what you can skip without having already read it, and it takes much more time to reread a section of a book to review than it does to replay a video.

7. Can be paused and saved for later

Just as you can fast-forward or rewind tutorials, unlike in class, you can pause your tutorial lessons and come back to them later. This is beneficial for obvious reasons, especially if you’re using a longer tutorial or a tutorial set to learn how to do something more extensive.

8. Free or cheap alternative to courses and books

Although there are websites that offer tutorials for which you have to pay to have access, there are thousands of free tutorials online that can serve your needs just as well. This is a much cheaper alternative to taking a course, either online or in person, or buying books to help you learn how to do something.

9. Endless supply to help with every aspect of whatever you’re trying to learn how to do

If you have a question that one tutorial doesn’t answer, you can pretty easily find that answer elsewhere. That’s not always the case when you’re reading a book or taking a course that doesn’t answer a question you have. Once you finish a book or course, that’s the end unless you search for another and hope to find that bit of information you’re missing. But with tutorials, you can always search for a specific question, and you’ll typically find your answer in a few short minutes.
-Hope Swedeen
What websites have you found that offer useful tutorials? What have you learned to do by watching tutorials?]]>
<![CDATA[3 Tips to Help You Stay Focused and Motivated]]>Tue, 26 Apr 2016 17:02:43 GMThttp://4ts.org/blog/3-tips-to-help-you-stay-focused-and-motivatedI hear all the time (and sometimes I’m the one saying it), “I don’t want to do this right now.”
There’s no escaping it. There will always be times when you’re forced to do something that simply doesn’t interest you. In school, it might seem like this is all you spend your time doing. Regardless, though, you still have to do it – unfortunate as that might seem.

So how do you deal with schoolwork that feels mundane and irrelevant? In other words, how do you make yourself work through assignments that in no way relate to what you plan to do in the future?
Personally, I have three answers to this, and each of them has worked at different times to help me get through school with my motivation (more or less) intact.

Any of this could be relevant someday; stay focused on it now to benefit yourself in the future 

I know it’s absurd to think that everything that you’re being taught will one day have a use, but it’s equally absurd to think that none of it will. Whether it’s weeks or months or years from now, at least some of what you learn in high school will serve a purpose – and serve you well. You never know what you might end up doing, and anything could be relevant someday. It might be difficult for you to believe that, especially considering that in a previous post, I spoke about a similar idea in an almost opposite way. In that post, I wanted to highlight the fact that not everyone is great at everything or will use everything they learn in high school. I stand by that, but I also know that, on the flip side, there are things that we learn in high school that might seem irrelevant at the time but are useful later.
There have been many times in college that I’ve looked back at what I learned in high school and realized just how much I gained from my classes. Sure, there were the useless bits of information – I will never in my life need to know the difference between igneous and sedimentary rocks (I hope) – but there are also classes that serve as a solid background for my studies now. For example, I took a government class in my senior year of high school, which focused on the political system and the way in which the government is set up and functions. At the time, I had absolutely no interest in government or politics, and even though I found parts of the class interesting, overall, I assumed I’d need to know very little about the setup of the federal and state governments. But now I’ve decided to go to law school. I’m taking a course called “Law and Politics,” and some of what we discuss in class and need to know for tests and papers is content I already know because I learned it in high school.
This is only one example, but I could give countless others to help you see just how much you will take from your high school education despite what you might think now. Thinking of my classes this way in high school got me through many assignments because, even though I felt that I would never need to know the things I was learning, I had plenty of teachers telling me how they continuously use random knowledge sets to their benefit. Especially in college, I’ve constantly assumed that everything I’m learning will be useful – if even just for a test or to apply it to another class. If you can think of what you learn that way – as a means of understanding a bigger picture or succeeding in a class in the long run, this just might help you work up the motivation to finish an irksome assignment on time. It’s not the easiest way to motivate yourself, and it’s definitely not the most attractive, but it’s something to keep you going if these next two options don’t help you stay focused.

Find something interesting about what you’re learning, and make the most of it 

You might be thinking this just sounds like a half-baked excuse for advice – if you don’t want to do something, there’s a good chance it isn’t interesting, right? But everything that is boring or annoying or just unpleasant either has interesting aspects or can be made interesting. It’s a cheesy concept, but it’s honestly helped me get through classes in which I struggled to pay attention – science, math and history, to name a few – and finish the work assigned for those classes. In classes like these that hold no interest for me, I’m always searching for something to keep my attention.
While in class, I focus on things like the way a teacher speaks and presents and the way other people react to what the teacher says. While doing homework and in class, I try to pick out small bits of information that are interesting and focus on those when I can; I find something that interests me within what I’m learning, even if it’s small, and I latch onto that. In an economics class in my senior year of high school, I was bored so often. There was no getting around it. But at least once a class, the teacher would say something that either related to me or intrigued me or went against something I had previously thought was true. I really knew nothing about economics, and I really didn’t want to, but I ended up enjoying several sections of what we learned because I focused not on the boring aspects (of course you have to pay attention to those to understand them) but on the parts of our discussions and lectures that interested me. When I felt I could let my thoughts drift a bit – if the teacher was still explaining something I understood or had stopped to answer a question that I knew the answer to, or at any time where I knew I wouldn’t miss something I needed to know – I would think about that small piece of information that interested me and try to apply it by scribbling little notes all over my notebook. Ultimately, I found that fixating on pieces of information this way helped me understand the concepts to which I paid so much attention as well as the concepts surrounding them, which usually played a role in my understanding.
Sometimes, though, I never “find” anything that interests me, so I make something up. I take each question and wonder how I could make my answer as extreme as possible – the wildest answer my teachers might get but still correct. I try to think of ways that something my teacher is saying might not work or be true. I treat my homework with a sense of sarcasm when it doesn’t interest me, making most of what I do into a joke. Even if it means I’m not taking a concept seriously, it at least means I’m paying attention to it, and it means that I might be able to push through an assignment by making my answers more of a joke, more sarcastic, and as outlandish as possible (though still right). But that could just be my sense of humor talking. If making a joke out of your work doesn’t help you get it done, try taking it more seriously. Try finding something about it that interests you because it’s so true you can apply it to your own life or so wrong that you can find no application. Overall, the goal when finding or making something interesting is to make the time go faster and to hopefully give you something that you can think about to keep you focused.
Keep the end goal in mind

What you have to remember while you’re getting through school is that you’re not just getting through to get out. You’re getting through to get somewhere better – to open the door at the end that will lead you to your future. No matter what’s behind that door, keeping it in sight is always helpful. All through high school, I was kept motivated a lot of times by the thought of graduation and college. I knew that, at the time, it didn’t really matter if I failed or succeeded, but I wanted to go to college, so I knew that my GPA mattered – I knew that how I performed in high school would affect my chances of getting where I wanted to go later. This was probably the best method of motivation I had and still have. It helps you focus on why you’re doing something; and when you have a reason, it’s much easier to do it.
If you’re hoping to get into college, if you’re hoping to get a job that expects you to have a relatively high GPA, or if you’re planning on doing anything that will want proof that you can succeed in an environment where you have to do things you don’t want to and you have to complete assignments on time (pretty much every job, ever), then what you do in high school matters. How you do in high school matters – at least to some extent. So keep this in mind always. If you can’t wait to graduate, don’t just think about not being in school. Think about what’s beyond that. Think about what comes next for you and how you can ensure that you get there. Because if you stop caring about where you want to go and focus only on why you want to be done with high school, chances are you won’t do as well as you could – because you won’t have any motivation to do well.
-Hope Swedeen
How do you stay motivated to stay focused and finish your work? How do you make learning interesting for yourself?
<![CDATA[The Road Less Traveled: Pursue a Non-Traditional Career as an Auctioneer]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 16:29:52 GMThttp://4ts.org/blog/the-road-less-traveled-pursue-a-non-traditional-career-as-an-auctioneerAuctioneers usually run estate sales, selling all of the contents of a home, though they can also host small auctions if they choose to do so. Auctioneers will often sell personal property such as cars, antiques, and artwork, but they are also often responsible for selling real estate. This can include foreclosed homes, closed business and restaurants, properties of landlords who want to sell a large number of properties at once, and more.

Responsibilities of an auctioneer:

Auctioneers are hired by families or individuals, usually to sell a large number of items that couldn’t easily be sold independently. They sign a contract with their clients that stipulates payment rates, the number of workers the client will provide to prepare for and work on the day of the auction (or the number of workers the auction service will provide if the client chooses not to), and advertising costs. Auctioneers are responsible for advertising auctions as well, which involves creating a sale bill to publicize the highlights, or items that might be of the most interest, and updating the auctioneer service’s website to include information about each new auction and the items to be auctioned off. Essentially, auctioneers should be able to negotiate contracts, having a firm handle on what a client contract should look like and include so that they can agree on the services they will provide and which aspects of the sale will be taken care of by the client.

Once auctioneers have agreed on a contract with a client and advertised the event, they must write the terms and conditions of purchase for the items being sold so that bidders are aware of what a purchase will entail before making a bid. Auctioneers may also need to supply a staff if they agree to do so. This would include a runner, someone to display items during auction; a clerk, someone to record transactions with auction attendees and make sure all bidder numbers and item descriptions are recorded accurately; and a cashier, someone to tally bidders’ bills at the end of auctions and accept payments for items that were bid on. Strong communication skills are needed for an auction to run smoothly, as the clerks need to report accurate bidder and item information, and this must match the bills paid to the cashiers. Auctioneers must also be able to control disputes between bidders, if need be, and communication is key here as well.

​Following an auction, auctioneers keep payments in escrow, meaning they withhold the property sold in the auction until it’s certain that buyers have sufficient funds to cover their purchases and that their checks won’t bounce. An understanding of finances is imperative to be an auctioneer, not only for making sales but also for negotiating contracts and determining how much and at what rate you will be paid for your services.

How much would you earn?

Most auctioneers charge a commission, which means that they agree in their contracts to receive a set percentage of the sale of items. This percentage varies based on the price and type of item, so a real state property might have a lower commission rate of 5 percent while an auctioneer receives 40 percent on the sale of artwork. Overall, the income of an auctioneer is highly variable based on location and what you’re selling. However, Indeed.com reports that the average annual income for auctioneers in New York City is $63,000.

Requirements to become an auctioneer:

Many auctioneers begin on their career path as runners or clerks. Although in New York State there is no law requiring auctioneers to be licensed, many states do require you to be licensed before you can hold auctions. To earn your license, typically, you can either be an apprentice to a licensed auctioneer, or you can complete courses at a community college to earn your license. There are also accredited auctioneer academies that you can attend for programs (that are only about a week or so in length) to help you learn about becoming an auctioneer, but taking these courses will not earn you your license. If you intend to become an auctioneer in New York, this could be beneficial to you (especially if you decide to not get your licence) so that you can learn the ins and outs of auctioneering before taking on the task of creating your own auction service. There is also typically an auctioneering test that must be taken, which varies by state as with the licenses.

Perhaps the most interesting requirement to become an auctioneer is the ability to chant. This can be learned through an apprenticeship, auctioneer academy programs, and auctioneer classes. But chanting isn't universally used; there are some who never chant during an auction while others only chant, speaking swiftly for upwards of eight hours straight. So while it’s important to learn how to chant to become an auctioneer, it’s not necessary. In the same way, most auctioneers are trained in appraisal so that they can evaluate the worth of items they are selling, but it is by no means a requirement to have a license in appraisal or even be trained. Some auctioneers have hired appraisers to do this work for them instead.
-Hope Swedeen

What are your thoughts on pursuing a career in auctioneering? Is this a profession you could see yourself enjoying and profiting from?]]>
<![CDATA[2015 Gallup Poll Offers Insight Into the Factors That Help Produce Engaged, Hopeful Students]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 16:12:47 GMThttp://4ts.org/blog/2015-gallup-poll-offers-insight-into-the-factors-that-help-produce-engaged-hopeful-studentsThe Student Gallup Poll is a survey taken every year that reaches hundreds of thousands of students. It was developed in 2009, and since then, almost 4 million students in grades five through 12 have responded to the survey, answering questions about their experiences in school. The fall 2015 Student Gallup Poll alone reached over 900,000 students in 3,300 schools nationwide. This expansive survey is used as a means of showing educators how students in general feel about school so that they might create programs and adopt or improve teaching strategies to help students better meet the four criteria by which the survey measures student success: engagement, hope, entrepreneurial aspiration, and career and finance literacy. These four criteria are then broken down by the questions students are asked in the survey.

The first two criteria, engagement and hope, are related in that the two factors interact to determine what a student’s experience in school might be like. Overall, it appears that students who are engaged and hopeful while in school can be compared to those who are the opposite – disengaged and discouraged. Students who are engaged and hopeful appear to be more likely to pursue a college education, miss school less frequently, and not only earn better grades but also feel that they are successful in school in general than students who are disengaged and discouraged.

It might seem obvious that students who feel that their education is serving them well and who might enjoy being in school would be more successful, but what does it take to be an engaged and hopeful student? Is it really as difficult as it seems to be a student who meets the criteria that say “you’ll be successful?”
In the Gallup Poll, students were asked nine questions to determine their level of engagement, and it defined engagement as students’ “involvement in and enthusiasm for school.” The questions are listed below with the percentage of students in grades 5 through 12 who responded that they strongly agree with each of the nine statements about their engagement in school.
Overall, 50 percent of students surveyed were classified as engaged, 29 percent not engaged, and 21 percent actively disengaged based on the answers received for the 9 questions regarding engagement. Although the survey is geared toward helping educators understand how they can better serve students, it can be a helpful tool for students themselves to look at and perhaps understand why they’re struggling to remain engaged in their learning. If you look at the 9 criteria of engagement and think “nope,” in response to most of them, you’re not alone – not even close. Based on the survey data, the students who strongly agree with the statements are not the majority, and 50 percent of students aren’t considered “engaged” for one reason or another.

If you look at this list, what sticks out to you? What do you find yourself disagreeing with? If you look at a list item like “I have at least one teacher who makes me excited about the future” and feel like that’s not true for you, try to do something about it. Find a teacher who you like to talk to, and start talking about the future. Start asking questions, start getting engaged for yourself – you don’t have to wait around for your teachers to make you feel engaged. The same goes for the other items on the list. I used to think that if a teacher didn’t teach me anything new or interesting, that day of school was pretty much a waste. But if you don’t feel like you’re being challenged or you’re learning anything interesting, challenge your teachers. Make things interesting. Ask questions about things that intrigue you or things that confuse you, and you just might find that school can be as interesting as you make it.

The same goes for the “hope” category on the survey. In this section, students answered 7 questions to determine whether they were “hopeful,” which the survey defines as “the ideas and energy students have for the future.” The results here are broken down into three groups. Forty-eight percent are hopeful, or students who are “more engaged with school, positive about the future, goal-oriented and can overcome obstacles, enabling them to navigate a pathway to achieve their goals. They possess the requisite energy to achieve their dreams,” according to the survey. Thirty-four percent are stuck, or students who “may lack ideas and have difficulty making progress toward their goals,” and 18 percent are discouraged, or “have difficulty identifying goals for the future and lack the motivation, energy or resources needed to achieve their goals.” Looking at these descriptions, how would you categorize yourself? Are you hopeful for your future? Are you discouraged? Are you sort of “stuck” somewhere in the middle?

The seven questions asked of students along with the percent who strongly agree with each statement are listed below.
The statement that sticks out to me is “I have a mentor who encourages my development.” This has the lowest percentage of students who strongly agree, when to me, it’s probably the most important question on this list. Only 33 percent of students, on average, feel that they have a mentor who encourages them, but it seems to me that if the number of students who did have a mentor were to increase, the other percentages within the “hope” category would increase as well. Setting goals, believing in your future, believing you’ll have a great job one day, and even knowing you’ll graduate are really tough concepts to tackle independently. It’s difficult to do or believe any of these things without feeling that you have reason to – without having someone who supports you telling you “you’re right; you can do it.” Not everyone has this luxury – some have to find the courage and motivation on their own. But if you’re someone who has access to supportive teachers, use that support. They are there not just to teach you but to prepare you and launch you into your future.

Your teachers can have a huge impact on your learning experience throughout your entire school career. In college, I’ve seen that having relationships with my professors is not only beneficial, it might as well be required. Constant communication and support have gotten me to where I am today whether it be with my high school teachers or my college professors. Although many of the teachers with whom I’ve built these relationships have sought me out and taken an interest in my education, I have still made an effort to reach out to teachers who I know will be helpful to me and have strived to maintain relationships with teachers who I might not have in class anymore but still want to remain close to. Often times, it is the job of teachers to check that their students are engaged and hopeful for their futures, succeeding as much as possible.

This survey is targeted toward teachers so that they can adjust their teaching methods to better help students get the most out of their education. But, ultimately, there is little that teachers can do if their students are not actively trying to be engaged or trying to find hope. If you want to be a student who is engaged and hopeful, who feels successful and gets good grades and is driven to pursue a future that will mean something to you, then get engaged. Do your part – take stock of your own educational needs, and start adjusting. Start demanding the education you want and building the relationships you need to further your own future rather than waiting for your teachers to make school everything you want it to be. Because once you leave school, no one is going to be adjusting to meet your needs – it will be up to you to go after what you want on your own. It just might be easier if you set yourself up for success in advance.

-Hope Swedeen

Are you happy with your grades and level of success in school? How could you become more engaged in and hopeful about your education?
<![CDATA[6 Useful Websites to Help You Find and Apply for Scholarships]]>Tue, 05 Apr 2016 17:22:36 GMThttp://4ts.org/blog/6-useful-websites-to-help-you-find-and-apply-for-scholarships1. Cappex

Cappex was the website I always found myself using when searching and applying for scholarships, and this was due mainly to the site’s ease of use and the way that it looked. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a scholarship website in that it generates lists of scholarships based on information you choose to input. What made this my go-to site was the simple fact that I liked using it and that, when I first began searching for scholarships, I was also searching for and evaluating colleges. Cappex, though it is primarily a scholarship search engine, houses information on all U.S. colleges and universities, including where they rank in various categories like financial aid and housing compared to other schools. Other Cappex users can also leave reviews of colleges (and leaving reviews allows them to enter a scholarship given by Cappex), so if someone visits a college or even attends that school, you’ll be able to see what they have to say about it.

Both the college and scholarship search features are enhanced and really only made possible if you create an account with a profile that is as accurate as possible. The site will ask you to include information in your profile that is meant to help it “match” you to scholarships and schools. For example, when matching you to scholarships, your home town will be used to determine whether you’re eligible for scholarships that are only available to people in a certain location. Your profile will also help you narrow down your school search by using information about how far you want to be from home when you go to school, how much of your tuition you hope to have covered, what type of housing you’d prefer, and so on. Once you fill in your profile, you can use the site for both evaluating and comparing schools, and applying for the scholarships that “match” your profile.

2. Fastweb

I began using this site at the same time that I began using Cappex, and I quickly found that they are very similar. If you use either Cappex or Fastweb to search for scholarships, you probably won’t have any reason to look for scholarships on the other, as the results you’ll get from building a profile on one will be the same as the results you get from the other. I ended up not using Fastweb after I realized this because I’d have the exact same scholarship matches on both sites, and that was really the only use I had for Fastweb at the time. However, Fastweb does offer some resources for career planning as well as articles to help you learn about aspects of college or even professional life with which you might not be familiar. I’ve seen articles, for example, about making smart decisions when creating a monthly personal budget, how to finance your college education, and tips for interviews. So if your college search is over and you’re interested in learning more about where you’re headed, Fastweb is a great alternative to Cappex and will serve you even better.

3. College Board

Rather than building a profile, College Board asks you to fill out a fairly short questionnaire that will ask you much of the same information that Fastweb and Cappex ask to compile a list of scholarships for which users are eligible. College Board might be a good place to start if only because it’s the site you’ll be using to sign up, possibly practice for, and pretty much do anything related to the SAT. It’s a way to cut down on the number of sites with which you need to get acquainted, as you’ll be using it anyway, and it’s a pretty large database, offering over 2,000 award opportunities and giving away about $3 billion every year. If you’re thinking about signing up, you can always browse the scholarships alphabetically to get a feel for what the site will look like and the types of scholarships you might see, which isn’t as easy to do on other scholarship sites like Fastweb or Cappex.

4. Unigo

Unigo, which merged with Scholarship Experts, is probably the easiest site to use when just taking a quick look at the scholarships or even types of scholarships available. They are broken down by category and the broken down even further from there. There are “merit-based scholarships,” for instance, which are further broken down into “leadership” and “first-generation” scholarships. The categories are easy to locate and browse through, so, just like with College Board, if you’re unsure if this site is for you, look through it first. It’s another site that will ask you to build a profile, though a less in-depth one than on Cappex, as it is only for Scholarships, and you’ll be matched to scholarships to save you time. I’ve never used this site to search for scholarships myself, as the two companies just recently merged and created the site, but it seems to be very easy to use.

5. Scholarships.com

I used this site heavily at first but then drifted away from it, as other sites seemed more worth using. It’s a site that could use an update because a lot of its pages are very text-heavy and filled with lists of information, but it’s still extremely useful despite being a little overwhelming. Just like Cappex, Scholarships.com matches you to both scholarships and schools. However, it doesn’t operate in quite the same way. The site offers a “college matchmaker” that asks several questions to understand the characteristics of a school you might be interested in attending. This isn’t as personalized or detailed as Cappex’s system, so I always preferred to use Cappex for this part of my search. The Scholarship matches are still useful though, and although the matching system is not as in-depth as any of the others I’ve mentioned so far, I did find some scholarships to apply to that were different than what I was able to find on other sites, so it’s worth taking a look at what’s available. Like with Unigo, you can browse through scholarships by category before creating an account to get a feel for what’s available.

6. Scholarship Points

This is the most unique scholarship site on this list, as it operates in a completely different way. Rather than matching you to scholarships or asking you to build a profile of any kind, the site is built around the idea of earning points. Rather than completing applications for scholarships, the points you earn on the site are used to enter drawings to become a scholarship winner. There are only a few scholarships offered each month, but you can enter using your points as many times as you’d like, increasing your chances of winning the more points you spend. It’s definitely a site for those of you who have hours to spend on the computer, but if you’re someone who needs to spend more time offline, then I wouldn’t suggest this site.

It’s pretty much luck-of-the-draw scholarships, but because there is a way to increase your chances, it can be almost like gambling. Instead of paying money to play, though, you’re paying with time. The site asks you to earn points by using other websites to complete surveys, play games, and even apply for scholarships, and you’re promised hundreds of points for each task you complete. You then spend your points on whatever scholarships you think you’d like to try to win, and the idea is that there is less competition for the lower amounts, so if you have fewer points, you should aim small. I only used it for about two weeks because in order to earn points, I’d often have to create accounts on several other sites that would then be sending me emails every day, and I eventually got fed up with the number of sites that had access to my information and deleted them all. Had I gone on for more than two weeks, though, I’m sure the email storm would have been so much worse. So if you’re thinking this site is for you, just be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.

-Hope Swedeen

What scholarship search engines do you use, and what types of scholarships do you tend to pursue? What is some advice you might have for applying for scholarships?]]>
<![CDATA[10 Ways to Use Your Smartphone Productively]]>Wed, 30 Mar 2016 02:43:45 GMThttp://4ts.org/blog/10-ways-to-use-your-smartphone-productively1. Read
There are several apps available for reading, and if you don’t have a kindle, your smartphone will work just as well for very little money. There are apps that cost a few dollars a month that will give you access to hundreds, if not thousands, of titles. Find an app that works for you, and start reading on your down time without having to haul a book or kindle around.
2. Research how to do something you’ve never tried but want to 

If you’ve always wanted to learn to do something but never have the time and you find yourself with nothing to do but entertain yourself with your phone, use the time to do some research. If you want to play piano, learn to skateboard, take up knitting, or anything else that you just don’t have any experience with, look up the motions you should go through. Start with the basics, and the more time you have alone with your phone, the more you can learn about whatever it is that you want to know how to do.
3. Pocket.com 

Pocket is a way to save articles, videos, web pages, and pretty much anything published online so that you can view them later. If, for example, you’re doing research on how to do a new skateboarding trick and want to go back to a video later, you can save it to Pocket until you’re ready to put the video to use. It’s a convenient way to store information without any chaos or extra features. It’s basically a personal database of information that you know you want to refer to again later, and you just have to sign up using your email.
4. Write

Open your notes app and just write something. It doesn’t matter much what you’re writing, but it makes sense that you’ll always have something to write about. We’re continuously thinking about something, so why not write about it? As someone who loves writing and does it almost constantly, I’ve always been one to write down random thoughts and go back to them later to expand on them. I know people who write poetry or the beginnings of stories they might write more of later, notes about apps they’d like to create, music lyrics, reflections, and countless other short spurts of writing inspired by what they’re experiencing and thinking every day.

5. Work on learning a new language or advancing in a language you might already be studying

You can find apps created to help you learn a new language or even just brush up on your foreign language skills, many of which are very cheap. You should find an app that works best for you based on your level of experience with a language, and keep in mind that the languages available in each app will vary and be limited.

6. Read or watch the news 

As a journalism major, I try to get as many people as possible to keep up with news in any way they can. I know a ton of people who use Facebook pages for their sources of news, the news stand app on iPhones, or read news online. It’s something that you can access anywhere and from so many sources that there’s no reason not to. It’s always better to be informed and up to date on what’s going on if only so that you have something to talk about when you have no idea what to say to someone.

7. Podcasts 

Podcasts are a great way to learn something new, and all you have to do is listen. There are countless series of podcasts to listen to on so many platforms, all of which cover varied topics and use different methods to cover them from one-person story-telling to conversations between several people. You can listen to a podcast to learn about just about anything, so if you have a hobby, an interest in a topic, or you want to catch up on news, search through some podcasts.

8. Install a flashcard app to study for tests anytime, anywhere 

This might be your least favorite option, but it’s also probably the most productive thing you could do on your phone. If you have a test or quiz coming up and you’re someone who uses flashcards to review, having a flashcard app will be invaluable to you. You can study at any time regardless of whether you’re at home with all of your notes or class materials, and if you find yourself somewhere and feel like you’re wasting time that you could be using to study (as I often do), pick up your phone and start!

9. Play games to improve your memory 

You’ve probably heard of sites like Lumosity that are meant to help you improve your memory, and you might have even tried them out. If you haven’t tried these memory games, the next time you go to play Candy Crush, try finding an app or website and start playing games that will improve your memory instead.

10. Put it away 

If you’re still at a loss as to what to do on your phone, try putting it away. It’s great to have a few minutes to just be alone with your thoughts, and you never know what you might hear or see that is so much more interesting or entertaining than whatever you’d be doing on your phone. 

-Hope Swedeen

What productive uses have you found for your smartphone? How can you motivate yourself to be more productive?]]>
<![CDATA[6 Things You Need to Know About the New SAT]]>Tue, 22 Mar 2016 16:37:12 GMThttp://4ts.org/blog/6-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-new-satIf you’re preparing to take the SAT this year, or if you’ve already taken it, you’ll know that, as of March, 2016, the test changed rather dramatically. Students and teachers must now adjust to the new test, and if your school offer test prep for the SAT, they’re probably trying to implement and understand the changes as well as they can. If you haven’t been exposed to these changes yet, or if you’re confused about what they’ll mean for you as a test-taker, I’ve listed six changes that I feel are most important and that sum up the basics of what you’ll need to know about the SAT before you take it.

The information can be found on several sites, including the Princeton Review, College Board, and Veritas Prep, but I’ve consolidated and combined that information so that, hopefully, you’ll be able to understand the changes without having to flip between sources, as I did. College Board also provides a page that explains why changes were made and what exactly they will entail, so if you’re looking for some information on that, visit the “Key Content Changes” page.

1. No penalty for wrong answers 

In my opinion, this is one of the most important changes to the SAT. On the old SAT, test-takers were penalized 1/4 of a point for every answer they got wrong. This never sat quite right with me because it not only penalized those who didn’t have the knowledge base to figure out the right answer, it penalized those who are serial second-guessers. I know so many people who, myself included, sometimes, second-guess themselves on every answer because there’s so much at stake. On the SAT, it’s easy to view the test as a gateway to college or financial aid, so it’s already stressful enough. But when you’re also told that you’ll do worse if you guess than if you don’t, it makes it so much more difficult to be confident when you aren’t guessing. Now, though, the test is made to be much easier for second-guessers or even just guessers, taking off no points for wrong answers.
2. Each question offers 4 multiple-choice answers rather than 5 

This isn’t a huge change, but, hopefully, this will mean that it will make it easier to find the correct answer and you’ll have an easier time guessing if you need to.
3. Total score range: 400-1600 for 2 scored sections 

The total score possible used to range from 600-2400, which included a 200-to 800-point score in each of the three sections. Now, however, there are only two sections, but they are still scored between 200 and 800 points.
4. Two sections: Evidence-based reading & writing, and math with new standards 

Whereas the SAT used to be composed of three scored sections: Math, reading, and writing, plus a required essay, it is now only two sections. However, these two are broken down into two subsections each.
The evidence-based reading and writing section is broken down into one reading test and one writing and language test. With this change comes several changes to the theory behind what types of questions should be asked and what test-takers are expected to know.

  • There will be no questions that ask test-takers to complete sentences using “SAT words.” Instead of the test focusing on whether you know what one word means, it will expect you to have a grasp on a more widely-used “professional” or “collegiate” vocabulary (much more basic than the SAT words that no one actually uses) and the ability to understand words with multiple meanings that can be applied to different sentences depending on those meanings.
  • Reading passages will draw from “founding documents,” or significant historical, literary, or scientific documents that test-takers are expected to understand whether they have studied them extensively or not (The United States Constitution, for example, is not something that everyone has studied super closely, but it is something that everyone is expected to be able to understand if they ever need to). This means that reading passages will not only be less arbitrary, they might even be texts that you’ve read before.
  • The SAT now includes some questions that will be prompted using graphs, tables, and infographics, whereas, before, there were zero graphs throughout the entire reading and writing sections. This is a spectacular change for me because, as a visual learner, graphs make everything so much easier to understand. While they will likely be complex graphs, I would still prefer to look at data rather than read it in paragraphs and try to lay it out in my head to give it context. If you’re a visual learner like me, I have no doubt that this change will be beneficial for you.
  • You might have to “show your work” on some reading and writing questions, and this is where the idea of “critical thinking” comes into play. While before you could answer questions without sharing how you reached your answer, when you’re completing the reading section, you might face some questions that ask you how you found the answer to previous questions. This will ask you to either choose the logical reason that would have led to a previous conclusion or will ask you to specify which part of the passage you used in determining your answer. While this won’t be complicated if you know how you got your answer, if you were a little fuzzy on what the right answer was to the first question, the second might be nearly impossible. Luckily, you won’t be penalized for guessing, so just try to connect the dots as best as you can.
The math section is broken down into one subsection that can be taken using a calculator and one that cannot. The math section will be more difficult than before, in all likelihood, because the level of high school math that is expected to be understood by test-takers is higher than before.

  • The section focuses on algebra, geometry, and some fundamental and advanced math like trigonometry, so be prepared to meet some difficult questions that you might struggle with. Trigonometry was difficult for me in high school, but I know several people to whom it came easy. Just make sure that you spend extra time studying for the elements of the test that you know will be most difficult for you.
  • The math section has never been easy, but now most, if not all, questions will require you to go through several steps to solve them. This means that you’ll need to be able to find the right answer after going through several steps that you might mess up, and these questions will likely take more time because there are multiple steps.
  • Fundamental or foundational math skills are more important than having extensive knowledge in one type of math or another. If you have a deep understanding of basic concepts that are seen throughout or used as the basis for a specific type of math (like angles in geometry), then you are in decent shape for a large portion of the test, but there will still be questions that ask about harder concepts that are specifically designed to differentiate students who have a higher level of understanding of mathematics and those with a more basic understanding.
5. The test is now 3 hours long rather and 3 hours and 45 minutes – with more questions per section and more time to complete each section 

This does come with a few caveats, as the test writers didn’t simply decide that the test was too long for students to handle. Now, there will be a break between the reading and writing subsections and again between the two math subsections (with and without calculators). There will be no break between the end of the evidence-based reading and writing section and the math section, which may prove difficult for some test-takers when trying to switch gears from English to math. The test might also be longer if students choose to stay for the essay section of the test, which lasts 50 minutes. The SAT will provide varied amounts of time for each section, and each will include a set number of questions to be answered. Overall, test-takers will have 180 minutes (3 hours) to answer 154 questions. I’ll lay out the time limits for each section, but if you want a comparison to the old SAT, go to collegeboard.org and check out an article in the Time Magazine.

Reading: 65 minutes for 52 questions
Short break
Writing and language: 35 minutes for 44 questions
No break
Math (without calculator): 25 minutes for 20 questions
Short break
Math (with calculator for higher-level problems): 55 minutes for 38 questions
Short break 
Essay: 50 minutes for one essay question

6. Optional Essay (scored separately) – 50 minutes instead of 25 

The new SAT offers an optional essay at the end of the test (while the previous test's essay was required), and test-takers have to pay an additional fee to take this portion of the test. You may be asking yourself “why in the world would I pay more money to write an optional essay?” Excellent question. You wouldn’t. Unless the colleges you’re applying to require it. Make sure that you know before signing up for the SAT whether the schools you’re applying to suggest or require that you write an essay on the SAT, and if they do, be sure to sign up for it or your application probably won’t be considered.
You can find a list of which colleges and their essay requirements on collegeboard.org. If your school isn’t on their list for some reason, contact the admissions office directly or look online. It might be a good idea to check anyway just in case the website’s list isn’t up to date for some reason. If you’re not sure which schools you’ll be applying to, spend the extra money on the essay portion just in case. If you end up not needing it, it’s about $10 wasted, but if you do end up needing it, you’ll save yourself from having to spend money to take the entire SAT again just to write an essay. You can also add the essay portion onto your account later if you don’t do it when you first register for the SAT, so if you’ll know whether you need the essay before your test date, feel free to leave the essay off until then.
The essay has changed in that it has become substantially more complex and thought-provoking. While there used to be a single, short prompt, which would ask you to agree or disagree with a particular quote or statement, now, the essay asks test-takers to read a 600-to 700-word passage and evaluate how an argument is organized and built, essentially analyzing what literary techniques make a passage persuasive. To learn more about the essay portion and what has changed, go to College Board’s “SAT Essay” website page.
If you’re looking for resources to help you prepare for the new SAT, there are the typical courses and tutor packages that you can purchase from any SAT prep website, but there are also some free online resources that you should take advantage of, especially if you’re not looking to spend hundreds of dollars on test prep. Khan Academy offers articles with tips for preparing for the SAT from time management to study habits to what to expect on the test day, and it also offers videos that demonstrate how to complete problems in each section. There are currently only four practice tests out for the new SAT, but because it is so new, they are all free and readily available to everyone on collegeboard.org along with several other resources for SAT prep.

-Hope Swedeen

What are some concerns you have about taking the SAT? How are you preparing?]]>
<![CDATA[8 Steps to Follow After Getting Through Your First Interview]]>Tue, 15 Mar 2016 16:10:40 GMThttp://4ts.org/blog/8-steps-to-follow-after-getting-through-your-first-interview      In a previous post, we talked about the do’s and don’ts of interviews from how to dress to what to say, but we didn’t go into too much detail about what you should do after an interview. The steps you take after an interview can actually be as important as, if not more important than the interview itself. Once you’ve gotten through your interview, employers will expect you to know which steps to follow, and if you don’t, any chances you had of getting a job might disappear entirely.
Step 1: Think about what went well and what didn’t, and keep applying and interviewing

Was there a question in particular that you weren’t prepared for and could have had a better answer for? Think about what your answer could have been and how you could make that work in the future. Think about what your weaknesses were in the interview – were you jittery and fidgeting? Were you talking too fast? Did you ask enough questions? Don’t forget to think about what you did well so that you can replicate it the next time you have an interview – did you have a really good answer to a question that you think might come up in other interviews? Write all of this down so that you know for future interviews what you need to improve and what you can count on yourself to do well. It will also come in handy for the second step of your post-interview process.

Step 2: Send a thank-you note to each interviewer

You should make sure that you send thank-you notes within 24 hours of having an interview, but don’t send them too soon after. If you wait a few hours, it shows that you’ve processed your interview, evaluated it, and considered which parts were most important to you. Be sure that you get your interviewers’ contact information and preferred method of contact so that you know whether you should send an email, a printed letter, or even a hand-written note, and where to send it. If you’re unsure of how to ask for contact information and they don’t bring it up, simply let them know that you’d like to follow up, and ask, “I appreciate your taking the time to meet with me. How should I send a thank-you note?”

When you start writing your thank-you note, think carefully about what you should include. You should be sure to reference things specifically talked about in the interview so that they know you were invested in the conversation, and you might consider adding a few talking points that you didn’t get to in the interview and wanted to. This shows that you know more than you had time or opportunity to talk about in your first conversation, and it might prompt them to give you a second interview to talk with you about the points you bring up.

If there was a question that you weren’t satisfied with your answer to, answer it again and stress why you feel it’s an important question. Or, if there’s a question that you found particularly interesting but might not have had time to think carefully about during the interview, answer it again with added analysis. This shows that you valued the conversation in your interview and that you have the ability and desire to delve deeper into topics in which your interviewer is interested. Also, if you blank on a question during your interview, the follow-up is a great time to give an answer. People understand that it’s difficult to think on the spot, and if you already missed one opportunity to answer a question, why miss another great one?

Consider attaching one or two work samples that you didn’t have a chance to talk about or share to stress your ability to do well in a field. If you don’t have work samples, talk about something related to whatever job you’re applying for – a book you read, an article, an event, etc. The goal is to show them that you’re a candidate who will be able to do the job well and that you’re not just interested in the job – you’re dedicated to it.

All of this said, at no point in your thank-you letter or in any form of follow-up should you act like you already have the job. Confidence in your abilities is encouraged, but if you’re cocky about your eligibility for and entitlement to a position, your interviewer is probably going to be more annoyed than impressed. So even if you think you landed the job, be gracious and humble rather than cocky and overly assertive.

Step 3: Tell references that they might be contacted

If you haven’t already told your references that a perspective employer might be contacting them soon, do so after the interview so that they know to be on the lookout for a phone call. Even if they aren’t contacted, it’s better to keep in touch with your references so that they can stay aware of what you’re doing and remember why they agreed to be your references. Even though they might be your only references, they very well could be references for a number of people, so make sure that you are someone they can remember and will want to continue being a reference for.

Step 4: Use your network

Starting out, you might not have many people in your professional network, but if you know someone who knows your interviewer or someone high up in the company, or if you know someone who works for the company, ask them to put in a good word for you. LinkedIn is a great place to start, as you can reach out to employees at companies to which you plan to apply to ask them questions in advance, building a relationship with them before you apply, get an interview, or go to an interview. If you know someone at a company with whom you keep in regular contact, you might have a better chance of getting a job there. So look up a company that you hope to work for on LinkedIn, find an employee with a job title that interests you, and strike up a conversation about what they do, what their company does, and what they like about their work place. You might find that they’re just as interested in getting you hired as you are in being hired.

Step 5: Follow the timeline your interviewer gives you for following up

If they tell you they’ll let you know in a week, wait a week before sending any questions about the status of your application. If you don’t know how long you should be waiting because you forgot to ask in the interview, ask when you should expect to hear back in the thank you email you send.
If you do call them once your waiting time is up and they haven’t called you, don’t be too persistent. Call once or twice afterward and leave messages with whomever answers, but after that, if they’re not calling you back, they’re probably not interested.

Step 6: If you get a second interview, bring new information and conversation to the table

Don’t go into the second interview expecting interviewers to ask the same questions or even to be interviewed by the same people as the first time. Think of new conversation topics or ways to expand on things you already talked about. Do more research into the company so that you have specific questions to ask and talking points to address to show that you’ve done more homework between your two interviews and are still 100 percent invested in getting the job.

Step 7: If you get turned down, don’t take it too hard

If you got every job you interviewed for, the work place wouldn’t exactly be competitive, so you should expect to be told “no” at least a few times in your interviewing process. When you are turned down for a position, it’s important to remain gracious, thanking the interviewer for the opportunity and highlighting things you liked about the prospect of working for their company. You never know when they might need someone like you for a different job, and they just might be calling you next time.

Step 8: Stay in contact

If the employer does have another opening in the future, they’ll be more likely to offer you another interview if you’ve maintained interest and kept in contact. The more dedicated they see you are to working with their company, the more likely they are to think you should be working there. So, while you’re applying to other jobs and keeping your options open, don’t lose hope that you might, one day, end up where you want to be even if it didn’t work out the first time. That said, don’t try to connect on LinkedIn right away. Wait until you’ve found out whether you’ve been given the position, and if you haven’t, then add the interviewer(s) on LinkedIn. If you do it before you find out, it might make an interviewer uncomfortable when reviewing your application because you’re already in their “network” but aren’t getting the job.
- Hope Swedeen
What are some things that you’ve found go over well in an interview? Have you used social media to keep in touch or make connections with employees at a company at which you’re interested in working?