- Special Sections
(BPT) - There’s no denying that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education is on society’s radar. President Barack Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” initiative hosts a yearly STEM-themed science fair at the White House. STEM summer camps are popping up across the country and hundreds of thousands of parents, educators and policymakers convene annually at STEM conferences nationwide. The nation’s job market even reflects the popularity as recent data shows that across STEM fields, job postings outnumbered unemployed people by almost two to one.
Although STEM education is recognized as a crucial way to spark students’ interest in innovation and technology, there remains a perception that it only focuses on a few areas of study and does not expose students to more creative activities or job fields, like visual arts, music or writing. However, STEM education helps children develop several crucial skills outside of an interest in science, especially at the elementary level, and these skills can be applied across most areas of study. Here are a few extra benefits of STEM education beyond the beaker and microscope:
* Cultivating creativity – Creativity is rooted within the scientific process, especially when it comes to figuring out solutions to problems. STEM education encourages students to look beyond the obvious solutions and come up with creative ways to make something work in a new or different way than is typically intended, such as figuring out how to survive without natural sunlight. This kind of experience parallels the creative process a musician or artist undertakes, as there may not be a wrong or right answer and the student will likely discover something interesting no matter what.
* Building teamwork skills – Many popular STEM activities, such as building a bridge using only toothpicks and gumdrops, require students to work in pairs or groups to accomplish their objective. This gives kids opportunities to learn how and when to both lead a group and listen to their peers, and demonstrates the value of what they can accomplish when they put their heads together to complete a task
* Becoming problem solvers – STEM education centers around problem solving. The entire practice of engineering is about finding a solution to a problem, and if that doesn’t work, starting over again and finding another one. This kind of thinking helps kids develop crucial problem-solving skills so that they are ready to tackle life’s problems, big or small.
Recent studies have shown that kids are not asking as many questions as they grow older, causing a loss of interest in their environment. This startling notion has prompted policymakers and educators to take action. In 2013, several groups including the National Research Council (NRC); Achieve, Inc.; the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA); as well as thousands of science educators, scientists, business leaders, and other leaders in science education, came together to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These new standards emphasize exploration and experimentation, rather than unengaging lectures or rote memorization of facts.
In addition to new science standards, there are many programs that reinforce STEM skills and foster a love of science in kids of all ages, such as the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision program. The world’s largest K-12 science award program, ExploraVision invites students to think ahead 20 years into the future and propose an idea for a new technology and approach based on a challenge or limitation that exists today. ExploraVision incorporates many of the science and engineering practices promoted in the NGSS, so teachers can use it as an opportunity to enrich their curriculum with hands-on experiences or offer it as an extracurricular opportunity for their students.
“ExploraVision provides a unique opportunity for kids to experience the benefits of STEM education, especially at the early age in the kindergarten-3rd grade level of the competition,” says Bill Nye, acclaimed scientist, educator and program spokesperson. “As they work together to solve a real-life scientific problem, they develop not only an interest in science, but also develop their creativity, leadership skills and communication skills.”
While STEM education may increase the prevalence of much-needed scientists, engineers and mathematicians, it will also help contribute to a generation of well-rounded, inquisitive children who are equipped with skills to help them become the future leaders of the world.
(BPT) - For many small businesses, tax form filing season can be one of the most dreaded times of the year. But with the winter months quickly approaching, there is one simple step that can save you and your business headache, heartache (and money): double-check all reporting documents and deadlines.
While checking these easy-to-find facts seems like a simple thing to do, it is one of the most neglected actions among small- to mid-sized companies.
It is vital to double-check the information on tax forms for accuracy, while also making yourself aware of all year-end deadlines to prevent fines or other penalties. Going by what you did last year is never enough, as forms, deadlines and regulations can change in subtle ways.
Raising the stakes, in recent years, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has increased penalties for misfiled or late tax forms. As a result, it’s essential to be vigilant in assembling and reviewing reporting documents. Re-reading those forms and setting reminders may be the easy fix that saves your business time, money and aggravation.
“Small-business leaders have enough stress in their daily lives, the last thing they need is to wonder after the fact if they have complied with all deadlines and regulations,” says Janice Krueger, a tax and reporting expert at Greatland, one of the country’s leading providers of W-2 and 1099 products for business. “A recent study revealed that 43 percent of filers are concerned about being fined by the IRS for not complying with new rules or regulations when reporting. We want to help alleviate those concerns by informing taxpayers about filing requirements and deadlines, along with the ramifications of errors, late filings and failure to file.”
Many 1099 and W-2 reporting penalties have increased over the past few years and it is critical that businesses file and complete all wage and income filings on time. Here is a list of filing penalties for W-2 and 1099 forms Greatland believes taxpayers should be aware of this season:
* The penalty for failing to file accurate information on returns is $60 per return
* The maximum failure-to-file penalty is $1.5 million.
* If returns are filed within 30 days after the due date, the penalty is $30 per return.
* The maximum penalty for organizations that issue returns within 30 days is $250,000.
* The penalty for filing returns more than 30 days after the due date, but before Aug. 1 is $60 per return.
* The maximum penalty issuing returns more than 30 days past the due date, but before Aug. 1 is $500,000.
* Failure to file information returns or if filed after Aug. 1 results in a fine of $100 per return.
For small businesses, defined as organizations with annual gross receipts of $5 million or less for the three most recent tax years:
* The maximum penalty for organizations that issue returns within 30 days after the due date is $75,000.
* The maximum penalty for organizations that issue returns more than 30 days past the due date, but before Aug. 1 is $200,000.
* The maximum consequence for small businesses that fail to file or file after Aug. 1 is $500,000.
To make sure your business has all of the accurate information needed, you can find a full list of federal and state filing regulations to remember on Greatland’s W-2 and 1099 fact center website.
(BPT) - Having a successful and fulfilling job and life outside of work can present challenges. While the debate over achievable “work/life balance" and “having it all” wages on, one thing is for sure. Some companies are becoming quite adept at creating policies, programs and services that go a long way to help their employees find the right mix of personal and professional satisfaction.
Perhaps, no one knows the stress of managing career and personal responsibilities better than working parents. In fact, 36 percent of all working moms are the primary breadwinners for their family according to a recent Prudential Financial 2014-2015 study “Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women.”
”Employers are realizing the importance of providing supportive work environments for parents not only as a way to attract and retain top talent, but as a driver of engagement and performance,” says Maureen Corcoran, vice president of Health Life & Inclusion at Prudential. “And workers reap the benefits, too - particularly women who still remain the majority of primary caregivers in our society.”
Over the years, a number of programs that Prudential offers have been cited for excellence by Working Mother magazine. These include Prudential’s child care and adult care benefits, flexible work arrangements, career development opportunities, and benefits for new mothers and fathers, such as up to 26 guaranteed weeks off after the birth or adoption of the child (two of which are fully paid).
Finding a good personal mix of work and life effectiveness is a gender and age neutral challenge and an individual’s needs change over time as they go through different career and life stages. If you are looking for a new job or would like to start a conversation with your current employer, consider these six areas that contribute to getting it right:
The ability to have some control over your work schedule to accommodate personal obligations can reduce stress and boost productivity. Ask about flexible start and end times, the ability to work from home or to phase back into work after having children. Does your company allow compressed schedules or part-time work when life demands increase?
2. Paid time off
PTO is helpful because it gives employees the opportunity to take vacations, manage family and household needs and take sick days without financial worries. Oftentimes, PTO can be negotiated at the start of a job.
3. Unpaid time off
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid time off to employees who have a qualifying life event. Company size, employee tenure and hours worked apply. Some employers offer more time for events like the birth or adoption of a child or caring for an elderly parent.
4. Health and wellness
Striking the right balance between work and life can positively impact physical, emotional, financial, spiritual and social wellbeing. Along with health insurance, benefits like personal wellness workshops, on site fitness and clinic services, free life, health and budget coaching demonstrate a company’s commitment to its employees’ overall well-being.
5. Personal development
If you want to grow your career beyond on-the-job training and stay marketable, does your employer support it? Ask about company-paid training programs, tuition reimbursement, options to participate in industry groups and mentoring. Professional development is primarily your responsibility, but many companies offer great ways to assist you.
6. Caregiver perks
The demands of working caregivers (of children and aging loved ones) are many. Programs that benefit working caregivers include child and adult care services, lactation benefits for new moms, work schedule flexibility, resource and referral services and counseling services for employees’ family members.
“Companies that have a whole-person perspective on their employees, recognizing and addressing the needs of their workforce inside and outside of the office are smart,” says Corcoran. “The investment they make in this work not only pays off for employees but for their customers and shareholders.”
(BPT) - If social media isn’t at the top of your list when starting your job-searching endeavors, you might find the process slow and tedious. That’s because social networks are the way nearly all U.S. companies are finding new employees, according to Jobvite.
As you finalize your resume and create drafts for cover letters, be sure to plan your social media strategy as well.
“Make sure you have a social media strategy to augment traditional methods such as face-to-face networking and informational interviews,” says Lyndsay Cooper, career services director for The Art Institute of Tennessee-Nashville, which is a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta.
Check out the following tips to give yourself an edge in your job search.
* Brand consistency. Make sure your profile is professional and reflects the job you’re looking for across all social media platforms. Ensure your privacy settings are secure (especially on Facebook). On LinkedIn, make sure your profile is complete with skills and recommendations. On Twitter, link to your website, blog or online resume. And don’t forget Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and Foursquare.
* Know your audience. Your audience on Facebook is different from your audience on Twitter or LinkedIn, so make sure your updates reflect that. On LinkedIn, share articles and blogs on industry-related topics. On Facebook, post more personal (but not too detailed) updates to remind your friends that you’re in the job market.
* Be proactive. Use social media to connect with recruiters, employers and employees of companies you’d like to work for. Join – and participate in – organizations, groups and blogs in your industry or alumni groups. Become an industry expert or thought leader.
* Research. Use social media to create your target list of companies, then research those companies and their employees. Use hashtags on Twitter to find jobs. For example, if you are interested in fashion, search #fashionjobs. Sites like Twellow let you search people’s bios and the URLs in their bios; you can easily find, follow and engage key employees of those companies so they get to know you before you approach them for a job. Prepare for a job interview by using social media to research the interviewer and find common topics to break the ice.
* Network online. Expand your network and engage others with similar interests by posting, sharing/forwarding, tweeting and retweeting relevant articles and blogs. This raises your online profile, and encourages others to do the same for you. Twitter works well for this.
* Know your online profile. Google yourself and make sure what you see is what you want it to be. Go to Klout.com so you can see your “klout” score, which reports how influential and engaged you are across platforms. Another great site is wefollow.com, a Twitter directory organized by shared interests or categories. Users can add themselves to the categories that best fit their interests.
Today, employers use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media to identify, recruit and check out new employees. The Internet has helped level the job search playing field by offering access to resources that enable you to identify and prepare for career opportunities. But it’s also offered employers access to more talented job candidates. A smart social media strategy can help you stand out and land the job you seek.
For more information about The Art Institutes, visit www.artinstitutes.edu.
(BPT) - It’s a competitive market for all types of jobs, from entry level on up. If you have an interview scheduled, make certain you’re prepared for the questions you’ll be asked.
The first step is to do your homework, which includes researching the company, the industry and the job position you’re applying for, says Jodi Berkshire, assistant director of Career Services at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. No one can be prepared for every question an employer might ask, but you should be prepared with ways to gracefully answer categories of questions. Here are Berkshire’s top five job interview questions to anticipate:
1. "Tell me about yourself." Don't mistake this one for an easy question. If you don't carefully prepare your answer prior to the interview, it will show. Craft a short response that gives a thumbnail sketch of you professionally. This is a great place to insert some of your sterling qualities and accomplishments, and you should make sure that they dovetail with the requirements of the position for which you are interviewing. Be positive and enthusiastic, and whatever you do, don't ramble.
2. "What are your strengths?" "Why should we hire you?" Here's a simple way to prepare. Take a sheet of paper and fold it in half vertically. On one side list all the specific technical qualities that you possess. Look at the job description and consider each skill that is mentioned. For example, if the job description mentions software skills that are required and you have those skills, go ahead and list them. In the other column, list the personal qualities that you bring to the job. These could be things like punctuality, reliability, enthusiasm, work ethic, professionalism, etc. Again, take another look at the job description and anticipate what qualities that hiring manager would be looking for. Here is your chance to sell yourself. Don't be afraid to let them know what a great addition you'll be to their company.
3. "What is your greatest weakness?" "How have you overcome it?" You have two good choices here. You can either choose a weakness that is really a strength to an employer (you become so engrossed in your work that you find it hard to take a break until the project is completed), or choose something that you had to master at the beginning of your career that would be an expected learning curve for any entry-level recent college grad (you didn't really grasp project management in your first job and you had to make a deliberate effort to learn about time lines and time management). If you choose the second example, make sure that you stress how your performance increased once you mastered the missing skill.
4. "What do you know about our company?" "How did you hear about us?" Or, "Why do you want to work for us?" These are all variations on the same theme. The real question is: Did you do your homework? Any interviewer will expect that you have researched the company. That means that you should know their website inside and out. Have you Googled the company? Have you read any recent articles about them? If the only information you have to offer is what any person off the street who isn't applying for the position knows, it shows that you don't care enough and you're not very thorough.
5. "What would your past employer tell me about you?" Again, tread carefully. Do not under any circumstances say anything negative about any past employer. Settle on a few of your strongest qualities and concentrate on those that reflect your strong work ethic and professionalism. Here is another perfect opportunity to sell yourself, but once again, be careful not to ramble.
Once you've done your research, practiced answers to commonly asked questions and become comfortable with the idea of selling yourself, remember to smile. In most interview situations, the candidate who appears to be relaxed, confident (not arrogant) and enthusiastic usually has the best chance of being hired.
For more information about The Art Institutes, visit artinstitutes.edu.
(BPT) - The holidays are typically everyone’s favorite time of the year. They’re filled with family, festivities, good cheer and good food. But for anyone juggling parental duties, work and online learning, relaxing and enjoying the holidays can be a challenge.
Kimberly, Idaho resident Desiree Carr, a mother of three with a full-time job, knows pursuing a college degree and balancing holiday demands is no easy task.
“Carving out time to study on top of my kids’ schedules, a 40-hour work week and setting time aside to spend with my husband can be daunting at times,” Carr says. “For me, a healthy balance and support from my family is the key to making everything work. And honestly, some weeks are tougher than others – especially during the holidays when there are so many distractions.”
Carr’s goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science to move ahead in her career, which helps keep her focused, even in the most trying times. She plans to complete her degree at Arizona State University Online, and then continue on to law school. Having these goals constantly top of mind helps her remain motivated during the holidays despite the mistletoe and cheesecake.
For working parents pursing an online education, constant motivation is a great first step in achieving your career goals. Here are some other best practices to keep in mind that will allow you to balance schoolwork, family and holiday preparations while still enjoying the most festive time of the year:
Set up a support system in advance. Let your friends and family know in advance that you’ll need their support preparing for the holidays. Share your educational goals and how you are planning to accomplish them, and let your family know how important it is to have their support. Instead of doing all the cooking for holiday gatherings, ask your friends and family to each bring a dish. This will save you several hours and give you more time to study. If you have school-age children, study with them to keep their minds active over the holidays. It’s a great bonding experience and will show your kids just how important learning is for both of you.
Create a study environment that helps you excel. Chances are your house will be full of loud voices, laughter and commotion during the holidays. A quiet workplace without interruption from your family is necessary for continued success in your online courses.
“I recommend going to a local coffee shop for a couple hours every morning,” Carr says. “If you stay home to study over the holidays, there’s a good chance you’ll be interrupted and tempted to catch up with your family instead of studying.” ASU Online offers discussion boards, library resources, tutoring and career advisors that are available online 24/7, so all you need is a laptop and a cup of coffee to get started on your assignments every morning.
Frequently communicate with your classmates. Your classes may be online, but you should still connect with your classmates on a regular basis over the holidays via the online discussion boards.
“I often found that other students in my classes were facing similar challenges on assignments so we helped guide each other in the right direction with the support of our professors,” Carr says. If students from your classes live near you, form a study group to interact in person as well as online.
The holidays can be a stressful time of the year, but the added responsibility of online studies doesn’t have to add to the stress if you plan ahead. Enjoy the holidays and make this special time with your family a priority, but don’t let your studies fall to the wayside. Trying to catch up and get back on track after the holidays can lead to unnecessary pressure. Remain focused on your end goal of completing your degree and the gift that this accomplishment will bring to you and your family.
(BPT) - Finding that perfect job opportunity doesn’t come around very often for many, and when it does, excitement can take over and cloud the ability to stay focused on the best version of your resume.
“The main purpose of a resume is to get contacted,” says Mary Kate Robinson, career services director at The Art Institute of Houston. “Be sure to have your key ‘do’s’ first including rank/order, your experience, appropriate duties and accomplishments, correct spelling and grammar, and evidence of your knowledge, skills and abilities.”
Before you hit send on that application for your dream job, here are five not-so-obvious don’ts from career service directors from The Art Institutes International Minnesota and The Art Institute of Houston.
1. Don’t have conflicting information on your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Take the time to be certain that what is stated on your LinkedIn profile matches the resume you are sending. “Employers are doing their homework, and you don’t want to waste valuable interview time correcting facts or explaining discrepancies,” says Robinson.
2. Don’t use the same action verb. The thesaurus is not a dinosaur and it is not extinct. Avoid using responsible for over and over again. Switch it up. Use other action verbs such as created, delivered, designed, in addition to responsible for.
3. Don’t get grandiose with your accomplishments. In other words, stick to the facts. “I often correct recent graduates on the terms highly experienced or extensive knowledge,” says Becky Bates, career services director at The Art Institutes International Minnesota. “Unless you have a proven track record and have high credibility in a specific industry among colleagues, you shouldn’t be using those terms; and even then, your examples should speak to your knowledge, skills and abilities.”
4. Don’t overly promote your soft skills on your resume. “Employers ask for your resume and a cover letter for a reason,” says Bates. Keep your soft skills on the cover letter and leave the hard skills for the resume. Your cover letter should be the place where you express interest in the job, then tell them how your hard skills on your resume correspond to the specific position you are applying for, and lastly, you ask for the interview.
5. Don’t turn your resume into a laundry list. Resumes are supposed to tell stories, Bates says. “Resume reviewers only spend about five-to-seven seconds on a resume before they decide whether or not they want to continue reading.” Start your resume with a summary or objective, an introduction of sorts. The next information on your resume should tell the reviewer why you are qualified for the job. But Bates cautions that you should begin with your strongest point depending on where you are in your career. If you just graduated from college, your education is your strongest point, and so your education should be listed first, said Bates. “If you’ve had 6-to-10 years of experience in an industry, the fact that you worked at McDonald’s should go last.”
Today’s employers and gate keepers including recruiters and human resources are conducting thorough searches, and no longer solely relying on a list of experiences. The more holistic presentation you provide of yourself as a professional, the better chances you’ll have in rising above the competition.
For more information about The Art Institutes, visit artinstitutes.edu.
(BPT) - Math, science, English and history – every day, children learn these important lessons in school. But every day at lunch, they walk into their school cafeterias to learn another important lesson: how to make independent nutrition choices. It’s like going to a restaurant without the grown-ups, and with K-12 schools serving up to 31 million students every day, it’s one of the largest restaurants in the country.
This guided independence in the lunch line provides an important sense of empowerment for students as well as a chance to develop healthy eating habits for home.
“The many different foods we provide in our lunchrooms allow students an opportunity to put together a meal that they choose – and because of our work to develop menus, whatever combination of foods they select will provide them the nutrition they need,” says Paula Pohlkamp, nutrition services supervisor from the North St. Paul school district, Minnesota. “We’re helping them build good decision-making skills while giving them the energy they need for the rest of their busy days. It’s a win-win situation.”
School nutrition teams in schools across the country have worked diligently to meet the 2014 requirements for the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, with weekly menus reflecting significantly reduced sodium levels, increased amounts of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, and needed proteins and nutrients. The regulations are rigorous and require careful planning. Sodium levels for elementary school lunches have no more than 1,230 mg of sodium while high school meals have 1,420 mg or less.
“Our menus are created months in advance by a menu committee,” explains Pohlkamp. The committee samples new products, attends food shows, conducts taste tests with the students and then works to assure total nutritional content for each day’s menus. Pohlkamp’s district has also utilized marketing classes to conduct focus groups with all grade levels to obtain valuable feedback. The process closely tracks the type of research that goes into menu development for restaurants.
To meet the ever-evolving and sophisticated palates of even their youngest customers, schools want to offer a broad range of flavor profiles – some reflecting regional preferences and many reflecting restaurant trends – all with reduced sodium and increased whole grains.
For example, the new 4.5-by-8-inch Big Daddy’s(R) Pesto Chicken and Thai-Style Chicken Artisan Flatbreads for school from Schwan’s Food Service, Inc. are thin, crispy flatbreads that look and taste like restaurant fare. The Pesto Chicken flatbread is topped with a pesto sauce, chicken and a blend of Italian-style cheeses. The Thai-Style Chicken is topped with a flavorful Thai sauce, mozzarella, chicken, carrots, soy nuts, scallions and cilantro. Each flatbread has a whole grain rich crust, 22 grams of protein, 30 percent of the recommended daily amount of calcium, only 340 calories and less than 470 mg of sodium.
Other favorite lunchroom items reflect the trend of customizable offerings, such as salad bars, fresh subs and build-your-own burritos. But in all cases, students enjoy finding favorite, familiar and on-trend foods in the lunch line.
“Lunch is a pretty pivotal meal for kids,” says Susan Moores, a registered dietitian who works with schools in the Twin Cities. “It sets the table for energy levels throughout the afternoon and it influences how they’ll learn and perform during the balance of the day.”
Lunchrooms that offer a variety of healthful, delicious foods make it easy for kids to stretch their independence and worry-free for parents to let them do just that. School cafeterias have a great opportunity to be not only a restaurant, but also a classroom of sorts, adds Moores. “Any time we can help kids learn how to make healthful food choices, it’s a good thing,” she says.
(BPT) - The digital age has made online information widely available both for good and bad purposes. When it comes to the nation’s security, monitoring, tracking, securing and analyzing digital data is a key factor in defending intelligence networks.
Creating a line of cyber warfare defense is the U.S. Navy's responsibility, which has a community charged with mastering the capabilities, tools and techniques required to effectively collect, process, analyze and apply information.
This is a growing field, and individuals interested in careers in computer science and computer engineering will find excellent opportunities with the Navy. Enlisted sailors and naval officers specialize in information-intensive fields that include information management, information technology, information warfare, cyber warfare, cryptology, intelligence, meteorology and oceanography. Collaboratively, they develop and defend vital intelligence, networks and systems. They also manage the critical information that supports the U.S. Navy, joint and national warfighting requirements, maintaining the Navy’s essential technological edge.
Cyberspace is the interdependent network of information technology infrastructures, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems and embedded processors and controllers. America’s Navy has highly technical computer scientists and computer engineers who develop tools and techniques in the information environment that ensure situational awareness, provide defense against attacks and deliver tactical advantages.
Some of the day-to-day jobs include gathering data through sources ranging from advanced cyberspace operations to unmanned surveillance systems, converting data into actionable intelligence, and maintaining cutting-edge communications networks that effectively share and safeguard information. It’s all part of the mission for those who serve in the professional areas of information and technology in America’s Navy – for those warriors who do battle within the cyberspace domain and the electromagnetic spectrum.
As a member of the Information Dominance Community, Navy sailors apply principles and techniques of computer science and computer engineering to research, design, develop, test and evaluate software and firmware for computer network attack, exploitation and defense in cyberspace operations.
For more information about opportunities to serve, visit www.navy.com/careers/information-and-technology.html.
(BPT) - Between networking, polishing your resume, applying and interviewing, finding a job is time consuming. Once the offer comes in, all your hard work is done, right? Not necessarily. Now is the time for negotiating – a process few people are comfortable with. Skipping it, however, can mean that you miss out on better benefits or a higher salary.
“You should always negotiate a higher salary,” says Vanessa Jackson, director of career services at The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago. “Hiring managers expect this, so they do not start by offering the highest salary in their range.”
Rule 1: Be polite
The first rule when it comes to negotiating is to always be polite. “Say ‘Thank you very much for this opportunity. I am so excited to join your company.’ Then move into the negotiation,” says Shannon Delecki, assistant director of career services at The Art Institute of Michigan.
Your requests should never sound like demands. If they do, you could negotiate your way right out of a job. Remember, the negotiation is a balancing act. You want a higher salary but you’re looking to work with the person on the other end of the negotiation, so be respectful and use good manners always.
Rule 2: Know your worth
Make sure you’ve done your research. “Know the average salaries for the position and for the market,” says Delecki. That means what others with similar experience would make in the same city where you’ll be working.
And this isn’t a time to be modest about your potential value to the company. “Tell the company why you are worth more than you are being offered. Show them how you will contribute to the company’s profits and help their bottom line,” advises Delecki.
Rule 3: Ask for the right amount
Ask for too little and you’ll sell yourself short, but if you ask for too much you’ll risk offending your future employer. How much should you ask for? Jackson recommends anywhere from $3,000 - $5,000 above the company's offer. After conveying your gratitude for the job offer, confidently state: “I’m hoping to negotiate a salary closer to $XX.”
Rule 4: Don’t forget other benefits
There are times that companies may not be able to budge on the dollar amount, but that doesn’t mean negotiations are done. This could be an opportunity to negotiate other benefits like paid time off. “Ask the company whether they can be more flexible about vacation or PTO days,” says Delecki.
In addition to vacation days, other benefits that you could try to negotiate for include flex time for working from home and subsidized day-care costs. “I’ve known people who negotiated for immediate vesting in the company’s 401(k),” observes Jackson.
Rule 5: Be realistic
Keep in mind, people negotiating higher-level jobs will likely have more success negotiating. If you are just out of college and accepting an entry-level job, employers typically will not negotiate much, if at all. Young professionals can always ask, but they must be realistic about what they should ask for and about what an employer is likely to approve.
(BPT) - With school back in session, you might hear your kids talking about the activities they get to do in class, on field trips or in after-school activities. To make all these extra adventures successful learning opportunities for your kids, they require financing and manpower. So what can you do to keep the extracurricular programs going strong?
Here are some tips to help the teachers at your kids’ school continue to offer those extra programs your children rave about when they get home:
* Volunteer – Chaperones and volunteers are always needed for school activities. Your school might require a background check, so be sure to volunteer your services early in the year to get that process out of the way. Ask the teachers if they have a volunteer sign-up form or process so you can participate in the activities where you are able. And it’s not just the classroom activities where extra hands are needed ? other areas of the school like the library or the school newsletter might also benefit from a volunteer’s help.
* Join the parent booster clubs – At the middle and high school levels, booster clubs are established. They’re often for sports teams, but other club groups like theater, speech and the marching band often have booster clubs as well. These clubs are involved in fundraisers and lobbying for funds from the district to support the school group.
* Support programs that support teachers – Many businesses and programs take the initiative to support schools and teachers. For example, Staples donated $1 million to DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding non-profit where teachers create project requests for classroom resources. Since 2000, $267,248,616 has been donated to support 297,226 projects in 58,722 schools across the country. It’s thanks to donations like the $1 million from Staples and individuals like yourself that these crowdfunding programs are successful. Be sure to let your teachers know about these crowdfunding opportunities if they have any classroom needs.
* Use your talents to help students – Schools often need tutors to help students in all subject areas. Additionally, at the high school level, students are trying to figure out what they want to do in the next stage of their lives. If you are in a career where you can offer a mentorship program, you can provide excellent career-starting opportunities for the school district and students. This tutoring and mentorship support will take many students far – further than they can go without your help.
As the school year progresses, you may find additional ways you can support your kids’ school and teachers. Be sure to share your support, whether in person or financially, so you can make a difference in the lives of your kids.
(BPT) - School-aged kids count down the days to summer vacation when they can play outside and take a break from homework duties. However, being out of the classroom isn’t all fun and games – summer learning loss is a real issue that parents worry about every year.
Research shows students can lose two to three months of learning over the summer break, which means teachers spend more time in the new school year revisiting topics from the year past. Kids deserve time off, but that doesn’t mean learning should fall by the wayside. Parents today have more options than ever to keep kids learning and having fun throughout the summer months.
Make math practice fun
Parents can keep math skills fresh and make learning fun by pairing math and technology this summer. Games and customized learning activities engage kids to fight math learning loss and even get a head start on the upcoming year. For example, the TenMarks Summer Math Program (http://summermath.tenmarks.com) is a customized program for students in grades 1 through Algebra 2 and Geometry. Students work at their own pace – just one hour a week – through a personalized program that features hints and video lessons to refresh topics they’ve learned and introduce new math concepts for the upcoming year. Levels, points and customized rewards provide a motivating and fun environment. TenMarks Summer Math Program is free this summer (previously $39/student). Also new this summer, the TenMarks Summer Math Program is available as a Kindle App; as well as on any browser or iPad.
“Using TenMarks over the summer definitely had a positive impact on my daughter – it helped her move up a grade in school,” said Renee Lennon, mom of 4 kids from Maryland. “By having videos and helpful hints, my children were able to use TenMarks independently all summer long.”
Research reading titles that inspire
Instilling a love for reading is important for all kids, whether infants or teenagers. That’s why the summer months are the perfect time for children to read books of their choice or start a fun new series. Reading programs are plentiful during the summertime, but with so many books to choose from, it can be overwhelming for parents and kids to narrow down options. To ensure kids select books they’ll love, it’s smart for parents to have the inside scoop on which titles are popular. Amazon’s Summer Reading for Kids site (www.amazon.com/summerreadingkids) offers curated lists that will keep young readers turning the pages all summer long, as well as other themed booklists, such as Graduation Gifts for Little Scholars and Nature Nonfiction, to encourage learning enrichment. It’s simple to search for books by age group so parents can find the perfect read for their children.
Find science learning opportunities locally
Inspiring curiosity through hands-on activities helps to strengthen science skills during summer break.Fortunately, there is a multitude of scientific opportunities that allows kids to go outside and explore. For example, planting a vegetable garden helps children learn how photosynthesis works. Investing in a magnifying glass or microscope can also provide endless hours of activity for little explorers. For children of all ages – consider visiting a local zoo or science and technology museum. Students can also explore specialized science summer camps where kids can create their own science experiments and build their understanding for subjects such as physics, biology and engineering.
Combating summer brain drain doesn’t have to be difficult for parents or students. With a few creative ideas and engaging programs, children will be ready to go to the head of the class come fall.
(BPT) - The school year is here and with it, all of those hectic schedules. You may think the chaos of another school year means you’re too busy to provide your children with nourishing after-school snacks, but that doesn’t have to happen. There are many easy recipes available that will allow you to provide wholesome and delicious snacks to your kids, and there are easy ways to be sure they enjoy them. Here are a few ideas.
Ask them to help
Your children will be more excited about eating a healthy after-school snack if they have a hand in its creation. Creating a garden vegetable tray is an easy way to let kids customize their snack to their own taste preferences. Smaller kids can organize the grape tomatoes while you cut the peppers, and when you’re finished, you can all enjoy the snack together. This large recipe is perfect if your kids are bringing friends over. You could also create the tray on a Monday and then enjoy it all week long.
Garden vegetable tray
1 16-ounce package Stonyfield Plain Organic Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow squash, sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 medium jicama, peeled and sliced into sticks
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 bunch of radishes
1 bunch green onions - about 10 - trimmed
1 head romaine lettuce, large leaves only for the base of the vegetable platter
1 red bell pepper
Mix Simply Organic Southwest Ranch Greek Dip Mix with the 16-ounce package of Stonyfield Plain Organic Nonfat Greek Yogurt. Chill for 30 minutes.
Line a large tray or shallow dish with a decorative napkin and Romaine lettuce leaves.
Seed the red bell pepper by slicing off the top of the pepper, then pull out the membrane and seeds. Discard membrane and seeds, but keep the top for decoration.
Fill the hollow bell pepper with chilled Simply Organic Southwest Ranch Greek Dip and place in the center of the tray or dish.
Arrange corn, zucchini, yellow squash, grape tomatoes, jicama sticks, orange and green bell pepper, radishes and green onions around the red bell pepper dip cup.
Place toothpicks or skewers on nearby serving platter.
Hide healthy foods in delicious flavors
Sometimes the right presentation is all you need for your children to enjoy healthy snacks. This recipe for a banana, pineapple and orange smoothie hides nutritious fruit in a savory offering that feels more like a dessert. Just make sure your kids don’t drink it too fast to ward off brain freeze.
Banana, pineapple and orange smoothie
1 medium sized frozen banana (peel removed before frozen)
1 cup frozen pineapple
6 ounces Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon Simply Organic Orange Flavor
1/2 teaspoon Simply Organic Vanilla Flavoring
Fresh orange slices and shredded coconut, for garnish
In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape the sides down as needed throughout blending.
Snack on the run
After a long day of sitting at their desks at school, your kids may not be interested in sitting at the table for snack time. If you’re kids are on the go, this quick, savory recipe will give them a nutritious snack they can enjoy anywhere so you don’t have to turn to chips or candy.
2 cans (16 oz. each) chickpeas, drained, rinsed and dried
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 packet Simply Organic’s Crazy Awesome Veggies seasoning blends
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Place chickpeas in bowl.
Toss with olive oil and seasoning blend until evenly coated.
Spread in a layer on rimmed baking sheet.
Bake 30-40 minutes or until crisp.
Creating delicious, wholesome snacks for your kids is easier than you think. All you need is the right recipe. For more easy recipe ideas to make back to school as healthy and nutritious as possible, visit www.simplyorganic.com.
(BPT) - You’re spending your nights standing on the sidelines, cheering your daughter as she dribbles a soccer ball across the field. Or maybe you’re cheering on your quarterback son as he yells “hut” at a football scrimmage. The school year - and its associated sports - is an exciting time. But with that excitement comes the risk of traumatic injuries - including concussions.
Concussions are generating a lot of attention these days as an increasing amount of research highlights the difficulties in treating them.
To this end, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has developed Sports Concussion Guidelines - available in both English and Spanish - to help coaches, schools, parents and athletes better understand concussions, and when an injured athlete should be allowed to return to play. The guidelines cover the following:
Players: Concussions can happen in any sport and at any time during the season. A concussion can occur when the head hits, or is hit by, a solid surface. It can also happen when the head’s motion is stopped suddenly, even if it doesn’t strike, or is struck by, a solid surface. If you witness changes in the behavior or personality of a player on your team, or if you see them giving a blank stare, acting disoriented, suffering from memory loss or even vomiting, ask the player if he/she was involved in a collision. Alert your coach if you witness or are involved in any violent contact while on the field.
Parents: Educate yourselves about the signs of a concussion, as you know your child best when he/she might be exhibiting unusual behaviors. Download the AAN’s concussion reference sheet for parents, coaches and players at AAN.com/concussion, and share with your young athlete your concerns about him/her playing with a head injury. While cheering for your child in practice and in games, keep an eye on the play for any potential head collisions and report anything significant that may have been missed.
Coaches: Have a conversation with your players about the dangers of concussions, and communicate clearly that they can happen in any sport at any time. The AAN offers a Concussion Quick Check mobile app to help coaches, parents, and athletic trainers quickly identify if a player is exhibiting signs of a concussion. Additionally, listen to your players if they are talking about someone having taken a hard hit. Enforce the rule that players should not be allowed to return to play following a head injury until they are evaluated and cleared by a physician.
Physicians: Concussions are also generating more attention in the medical field. Physicians are ethically obligated to safeguard the current and future physical and mental health of the student athletes they treat, whether the student has a concussion or not. This includes providing parents and athletes with information about concussion risk factors, symptoms and discussing the potential for long term brain health effects from repeated blows.
“Brain disease threatens to steal from us what makes us human,” says retired NFL player Ben Utecht, who suffered five known concussions during his football career and is now the spokesperson for the American Academy of Neurology and its foundation, the American Brain Foundation. “I will fight relentlessly to see that through research we can in fact find the origins of healing through the cures that are waiting to be discovered.”
(BPT) - When open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplaces closed earlier this year, more than 7.1 million Americans had signed up for health insurance coverage. As millions of new patients continue to gain access to insurance under the Affordable Care Act, industry leaders are facing the challenge of providing quality care while meeting the needs of an aging population and patients with more chronic health issues. One emerging solution is the concept of “care teams” that more closely engage health care professionals from all disciplines.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends health care delivery through such multidisciplinary teams, among other tools, to help health care systems lower costs while continuing to provide the best possible care for each patient. Care teams that include nurse practitioners and physician assistants are proven to alleviate demand for physicians without increasing their supply, according to 2013 research from RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research and analytics institution.
Doctoral education in nursing practice prepares nurses with enhanced leadership skills to strengthen practice and health care delivery, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). For this reason, nurses with doctoral education are being emphasized as an option for future leadership of care teams, as noted in the IOM’s report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Nursing educators are taking note, with more institutions offering advanced nursing degree programs that prepare nurses through specific curriculum focused on implementing efficiencies in health care delivery and enhancing nurses’ leadership skills.
Nurses are responding to meet this need and leading the care team charge through continued education. The AACN reports nearly 15,000 students were enrolled in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs in 2013, a 21.6 percent jump from 2012.
Chamberlain College of Nursing is one education provider that is responding to the industry call to action to prepare nurses to develop and drive care teams. Chamberlain offers a DNP Healthcare Systems Leadership specialty track designed for master’s-prepared nurses who want to pursue advanced leadership roles within their chosen specialty. Students learn about leadership in the context of nursing informatics, health policy, higher education administration and executive health care practice.
“The DNP graduate should be equipped with the tools to address modern health care delivery issues and improve the health care setting through more integrated, streamlined care,” says Mary Brann, DNP, MSN, RN, Chamberlain instructor and executive director for clinical excellence and regulatory compliance at a 540-bed university medical center. “Chamberlain’s DNP Healthcare Systems Leadership specialty track prepares advanced practice nurses to lead and manage complex health care systems. In my clinical role, I seek doctoral nurses to fill leadership roles and help lower health care costs by establishing more effective, patient-centric models of health care delivery.”
As Brann points out, industry advancement requires more nurses be prepared to facilitate the transition from practice that occurs in silos to practice that includes comprehensive input from all disciplines and the patient to ultimately elevate patient care and improve system efficiencies. Under these models, patient satisfaction increases because they are receiving more coordinated care and have more access to the resources and services they need.
“Nursing students today are developing skills to lead nurse units in providing comprehensive, cohesive, contiguous patient care; partner with health care educators to increase the pipeline of future nurses; and provide a heightened level of patient engagement,” Brann says.
As health care continues to evolve and progress, so will the responsibilities and contributions of nurses. Nurses today are integral to responding to issues facing the health care industry. Those with doctorate degrees will be essential to incorporating new approaches and solutions, such as care teams, within the future health care setting.
(BPT) - If you’re a high school junior or senior, or you’re the parent of one, you know the college rush crush can be bewildering and stressful. To get into the college of your choice means a whirlwind of applications, university visits, admission interviews and exams. However, there are steps that students can take to have the best chance at success.
Steve Kappler, assistant vice president of career and college readiness and head of postsecondary strategy at ACT offers these tips to help navigate the world of college entrance exams:
* Test what you’ve learned: Some exams are designed to test aptitude and reasoning, but the ACT exam shows what you’ve learned in the classroom over the last 3 or 4 years. Use what you know to make your college dreams to come true.
* Free test prep: ACT has free online tools and test-taking tips that help you prepare for and know what to expect on the exam. ACT even offers a question of the day to keep you practicing as the test date approaches.
* Don’t stress, it’s okay to guess: On the ACT, you do not lose points for incorrect answers, which is what happens on some other college entrance exams. So if you don’t know the answer, take your best guess on the ACT: it can’t hurt your score.
* Send your scores: Let schools know you are interested in them. The myth that certain schools only accept certain tests is just not true. All four-year colleges and universities across the country accept ACT scores. Your scores help colleges see if you are ready to succeed in first year courses on their campus.
* Writing – yes or no: Not all colleges require students to submit writing scores. The ACT Writing Test is optional. Save yourself time and money by checking to see if the schools you hope to attend require writing.
* Apply for financial aid and scholarships: Many scholarships are extremely competitive, so start researching early. Use your ACT scores to apply for financial aid and scholarship opportunities. There are numerous online resources dedicated to helping students find the financial support they need for college.
Most importantly of all though, students and parents need to register for the ACT, the nation’s most-taken college entrance exam, in order to help achieve the best chance for success. Registration for the June 14 test date runs until May 9, with late registration available until May 23. Fall test dates are also available in September and October. For more information or to register, visit ACTStudent.org.
(BPT) - A natural-born athlete, Erin Hamlin grew up playing a variety of sports, although it wasn’t until the age of 12 that she was introduced to luging. Her prior athletic experience instilled a great deal of concentration, dedication and strength of mind and body, and it wasn’t long before she worked her way through the national team’s developmental luge program and was living and training full-time in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Hamlin’s hard work paid off and she went on to compete in the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games and recently made history when she became the first American luger to win a medal when she earned bronze at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. In addition, her momentous feat was recognized by the United States Olympic Committee at its 2014 “Best of Us” Awards Show where she earned the title of Best Female Olympian of the Winter Games.
Q: What was it like to compete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and make history by becoming the first U.S. singles luger to win an Olympic medal?
“Each time I’ve competed at the Olympics, I’ve learned and grown so much. The challenge of being the greatest in the world is what drives me to pursue my Olympic dreams,” says Hamlin. “Becoming the first American luger to win a medal in the history of the sport was a surreal experience. Standing on the podium and accepting my medal was the culmination of years of preparation, dedication and persistence to achieve success in my sport.”
Q: Now that you’ve made history and achieved Olympic success, what other life goals are you looking to reach?
“After I retire from competing, I want to help corporations plan more environmentally friendly events. Being a part of many sporting events over the years has shown me that there is room for improvement from a sustainability standpoint. Continuing my education and earning a degree will allow me to explore a career in which I can achieve this,” says Hamlin.
She adds, “To help me reach this goal, I am preparing for my career by earning a bachelor’s degree in technical management with a specialization in sustainability management at DeVry University.”
Q: How do you balance you athletic training with your academic endeavors?
“Since I can take my courses online it allows me to balance my school work and my rigorous training schedule. I feel that learning helps me look forward to what is next and earning my degree will prepare me to achieve success off the track, as well,” Hamlin says.
Q: What advice do you have to share with young athletes who aspire to compete in the Olympic Games?
“It can certainly be intimidating to balance school and other life responsibilities – especially when you aspire to be successful in athletics or any extracurricular activity,” says Hamlin. “The big picture can be very overwhelming. It’s important to remember to stay focused on the end goal and break it down into smaller steps – that way it becomes much more manageable.”
DeVry University is an official education provider of the United States Olympic Committee. To learn more about Hamlin or other Team USA student athletes who have competed in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, visit newsroom.devry.edu.