These are the 10 best cities for 2013 college grads

KatelynMorrisThe time has finally come; you will be graduating in less than a month. The question is: Are you prepared to make the necessary changes you need to in order to get a job and afford the cost of living? Some areas provide more opportunities and more affordable housing than others. These are key factors as you begin to plan for your future, especially when the unemployment rates are high. HackCollege has done some of the research for you in determining what cities college graduates would more likely thrive in, based each city’s mean annual income, median price for a one-bedroom apartment, and the unemployment rate.

The top ten cities in 2013 for college graduates seeking employment are

  1. Atlanta, Ga.AtlantaForApril29Post
  2. Boston, Mass.
  3. Dallas, Texas
  4. Denver, Colo.
  5. Houston, Texas
  6. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
  7. Raleigh, N.C.
  8. St. Louis, Mo.
  9. Seattle, Wash.
  10. Washington, D.C.

Along with seeking out areas with prospective job opportunities, it’s important for college graduates to choose cities that with meet their lifestyle needs as well. A Forbes article “America’s Best Cities for Young Adults,” by Morgan Brennan said, “The criteria for a great city geared toward young adults include a young, trendy social scene, decent entry-level career opportunities and a quality of life that consists of more than store-bought ramen noodles.” The following list is based on a city’s nightlife, unemployment rates, and cost of living.

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. Houston, Texas
  3. New York, N.Y.
  4. Chicago, Ill.
  5. Denver, Colo.
  6. Dallas, Texas
  7. Seattle, Wash. Seattle-WashingtonForApril24Post
  8. Atlanta, Ga.
  9. San Antonio, Texas

As you may have noticed, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Houston and Seattle made both lists, which mean you get the best of both worlds. These cities offer not only top employment opportunities, but each meets your social life and entertainment requirements.

Time to get packin’!

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What I’ll miss and won’t miss about college

KatelynMorrisAs I sit down to write this, the excitement and fear of graduating overwhelms me. In four days I will have completed four years of college, four years of high school, three years of middle school and six years of elementary school. That’s 17 years of my life spent inside a classroom, and it’s all coming to an end. It’s a bittersweet feeling when I think about leaving. Looking back, there are things I’m going to miss, but then there are things I’m glad I’ll be leaving behind.

I’m going to miss…

Power of Scheduling I’m going to miss having the power to schedule my day. It was up to me to decide whether I wanted to wake up for that 8 a.m. class. Sometimes, I had no choice because the class was only offered during a certain time, and I needed it that semester. But for the most part, I had the power. Now, our bosses will hold that power, and we will have no choice but to accept.

Skipping Class I think we all have taken for granted the ability to opt-out when we didn’t feel like getting off the couch. The freedom to skip class is one of the things I’ll miss most about college. I know when I get a job that I’m going to need a better excuse than “I don’t feel like going.”

Summers/ Breaks One of the best things about being in college is not being in college. Having summers off only happens when you’re a student, unless you’re a schoolteacher. Once you have a full-time job you can kiss those days lounging by the pool goodbye. Not to mention, those winter, fall and spring breaks do not exist in the life outside of college, unfortunately. The only break you get is when there is a national holiday, with emphasis on the “day” in holiday.

I’m not going to miss…

Oral Presentations I hated giving presentations. Although I became better as the years went on, that nauseated, heart-throbbing sensation I would experience right before my speech never seemed to go away. I now know how important it is to have learned how to effectively speak in public, but I’m so happy that I never have to be graded or timed for a presentation again. SecondPhotoForAprilo24Post

Being Broke I’m hoping that I’m able to find a job that provides me with a little extra spending money. I realize that I’ll be paying off my student loans for the next 20 years, but I would like to be able to afford a new pair of shoes when the urge is there. Over these past four years, I would always find myself digging through my purse for change just to buy a cup of coffee.

Sleep Deprivation The words “finals week” and “sleep” were rarely found in the same sentence if spoken by most college students. Coffee, energy drinks and anything with caffeine were the main staples of our diets, which inhibited us from sleeping even after we quit studying.  At least during the first few years of my college life, my mind didn’t understand that going to bed at 3 a.m. wasn’t healthy.

As a commuter student, I’m sure my list differs from those students who live on campus. I have never lived on campus at Pitt-Bradford, but I did stay in dorm rooms when I attended Duquesne University and Penn State Behrend my freshman year. (Yeah, three different schools in three semester; crazy I know, but I’m still graduating on time with a degree from the University of Pittsburgh nonetheless!) So, based on my time spent in dorms, I’ve come up with one more of each from the perspective of a student living on campus.

I’ll miss…

PhotoForApril24PostProximity of Friends Living on campus is great because you can always find something to do with someone your age. When I moved home to live with my parents, it was always such a hassle to text people to see what they were doing or what was going on that night. If you live in a dorm room, you have the convenience of walking down the hall to a friend’s room just to hang out if you’re bored

I won’t miss…

Twin Beds I absolutely hated sleeping in a twin bed. I never felt that I could stretch out. One time I actually fell out of bed because I wasn’t used to the small size. It was one of the worst parts about living in a dorm room.

Now, four days to go. See you at commencement.

Don’t do this on social media if you’re applying to college

KatelynMorrisIf you’ve applied or are applying to college, you need to know that college and university admissions officers are looking at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites to determine if your online behavior matches your application.

According to a news story posted on Kentucky station WDRB.com, “One study reports 80 percent of college admission officers use Facebook to check students out. Some have cost themselves financial aid opportunities and even been rejected from a particular school.” FacebooklogoForApril22Post

 Your reputation online can affect your admittance into a college as much as your high school grades can. A 2008 Kaplan study surveyed 320 admissions officers to determine how social media can affect students. According to the study, “38% of the 320 admissions officers who responded found something online which had a negative impact on their evaluation of the student.” Anything on a student’s profile that could compromise his or her reputation, infringe on his or her future college ethics code, or showcase unethical behavior could all cause a negative response from college admissions officers.

TwitterLogoForApril22PostTo further clarify social media usage for potential college students and current college students, Mashable  gives advice for “12 Things Students Should Never Do in Social Media.”

  1. Post Illegal Activities
  2. Bully
  3. Trash your teachers
  4. Post objectionable content from school computers or networks
  5. Post confidential information
  6. Provide overly specific location check-ins
  7. Lie/cheat/plagiarize
  8. Threaten violence
  9. Ignore school-specific policies
  10. Have unprofessional public profiles
  11. Rely on privacy settings 100%
  12. Post emotionally

While negative posts and pictures could cost potential college students their future plans, positive posts could be used to InstagramLogoForApril22Posttheir advantage. High school guidance counselors recommend showcasing community volunteer work or organizations you belong to.

So the moral of the story is just use common sense. Good luck.

These 5 ‘soft skills’ will give you a leg up in a job interview

KatelynMorrisDemonstrating specific job skills and classes you took in college should be at the top of your list for interview discussion points. Your potential employer wants to know to what level you are qualified for the job based on the knowledge you were able to retain from college. Along showcasing the knowledge you acquired during the past four years earning your undergraduate degree, other not-so-technical skills are important to display to your future employer. I’m referring to soft skills here, which are essential aspects of your personality that you should highlight during the interview.

Miriam Salpeter, U.S.News & World Report contributor, said, “Emotional intelligence, otherwise known as soft skills, is the category of skills most likely involved when evaluating likability or fit.” She believes that likability could be the determining factor for whether a completely qualified applicant gets the job over someone equally qualified who possesses that key factor.

Five of the major soft skills are work ethic, positive attitude, communication skills, time management and self-confidence. To make sure you incorporate your soft skills into your interview, Salpeter suggests the following tips:

  1. Work Ethic: Give examples of past situations where you “went above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done.” Tell them how you have never missed a deadline, or that you’ve had to work overtime until the task at hand was completed. Let them know that you have familiarized yourself with the company’s mission and values, and that you want to be a part of their success; whatever it takes to do so.
  2. Positive Attitude: It’s important to give off positive, upbeat energy, even if you’re not the bubbly type. Smiling, a cheerful tone of voice and laughter can all be signs to the interviewer that you could bring positivity to the workplace; nobody wants a negative Nancy around. Once, again give examples of how you have encouraged or motivated employees you have managed or worked with in the past.
  3. Communication skills: Practice and be prepared with verbal and written examples of your past work to show the employer that not only can you effectively portray your capabilities, but you have proof to back them up as well.  Use your communication skills to sell yourself, and make them want to hire you.
  4. Time management: Allocating your time and energy to different tasks based on immediacy and importance is a skill highly valued. It’s crucial for employers to hear how you would get things done in a timely, efficient manner. Tell them how you have managed your time in past situations.
  5. Self-confidence: Many factors influence how employers view your level of confidence. From your handshake (it can’t be a wimpy one) to the way you dress, it’s important to make them think you are the best candidate for the position and you know it.

Communication Coach Brett Rutledge explains more about what is and isn’t a good handshake.

Ask these 6 questions to kick butt on your job interview

KatelynMorrisWhen it comes time for you to begin interviewing for jobs, it is important to understand that the employer shouldn’t be the only person asking the questions. Knowing what questions to ask will not only make you look prepared, but it could be exactly what you need to do to get the position. The answers will also show you whether you are a good fit for the job.

Kelly Gregorio, blog writer for Advantage Capital Funds, advises interviewees to ask these 6 questions before ending an interview.

  1.  “If I were to start tomorrow, what would be the top priority on my to-do list?”
    (Asking this questions shows your potential employers that you want to learn exactly what will be expected of you for the position and that you intend to “start things off with a bang.”)
  2. “What would you say are the top two personality traits someone needs to do this job well?”
    (This question asks the interviewer to think in terms of a person rather than an employee, which will allow you to determine whether you are a good match for the job.)
  3. “What improvements or changes do you hope the new candidate will bring to this position?”
    (Flaws or mistakes the last employee who held the position made will give you an idea of what not to do on the job. Also, it leads the employer to believe that you will want to be the best at the job.)
  4. “I know this company prides itself on X and Y, so what would you say is the most important aspect of your culture?”
    (Asking this question shows that you are prepared and have taken the time to familiarize yourself with the company.)
  5. “Do you like working here?”
    (How the interviewer answers will be an indicator as to whether you will enjoy working in the organization.)
  6. “Is there anything that stands out to you that makes you think I might not be the right fit for this job?”
    (This question shows that you want to hear constructive criticism and make improvements accordingly.)

Now that you know what to ask, there are some topics to avoid discussing at first. According to Gregorio, “While salary ranges, benefits and schedule flexibility are important details you deserve answers to, hiring managers don’t appreciate questions like those until at least your second interview (or maybe even after they make you an offer).”

Your grade point average doesn’t matter – what?!?!?

KatelynMorrisSome students spend their entire college career thinking that their grades will determine whether they land the career they want. While high GPAs prove students’ performance in school, it doesn’t directly reflect how they will perform in the workplace. Professional success is a combination of hard work, intelligence, personality and communication skills. Success can be earned despite that D+ in your 19th century European History class. Becky Johns in Ragan’s PR Daily lists the nine things that matter more to employers than grades.

1. Know how you learn

It’s important to understand what kind of learner you are: visual, audio, hands-on. This will help you through college and benefit you once you enter the workforce. New information will be presented to you at all times, and it is your job to quickly retain and utilize it.

2. Applying theory to real-life situations

Using the information you learned from the classroom, professors and textbooks will not always be straight forward or in the exact scenario you understood it to be. “The real world will always throw new variables at you, so knowing how to adapt theory to practice is crucial,” Johns said.

3. Time management

College is a great time to learn time management; balancing the time you need to study for a test or write a research paper and still fit in a workout have time with friends is no easy task. But, it’s a useful and necessary skill to have for the professional world beyond the classroom.

4. Relevant professional experience PhotoForApril10Post

Getting involved in college can truly create an advantage when you’re battling hundreds of qualified job applicants. Internship experience may be the one factor that sets you apart from the crowd. Experience can also come through jobs, student organizations and volunteering.

5. A portfolio proving you can produce work

Samples of your best work can show employers what you have to offer them and exactly what to expect if they hire you. School work and internships can provide good pieces to showcase your abilities. Otherwise, you can produce samples on your own time. The Center for Career Development offers tips to get started building your portfolio.

6. The ability to give and receive feedback

Not only will you receive criticism and positive feedback as an employee, but you will be expected to give your honest opinions about your co-workers’ work. Both may be difficult to do, but it will make a better employee out of you.

7. Presentation skills

Remember all those times your professors told you how crucial it was to be an effective speaker? They were right. From job interviews to company projects, employers want people who can communicate ideas clearly and confidently.

8. Writing skills

Communicating takes on many forms, and writing is one of them. Johns said, “Focus on developing this skill, because it will matter in everything from reports to pitches to emails.” To get some practice, you can work on your portfolio.

9. Your network

The sooner you start meeting new people and building professional relationships, the easier it will be to create a network that provides opportunities for future employment. Joe McKendrick, contributing writer for Forbes said, “One way to boost this is to get active with professional groups and participate in conferences.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should slack off in class. But if you haven’t done well in a class or two, it shouldn’t derail your career path if you’ve developed these other skills.

Good grammar skills pay off, literally

KatelynMorrisWant to know how to increase your chances to get promoted and earn more money? It’s a little thing English teachers like to call grammar, and Forbes magazine tells you why. GrammarForApril8Post
A recent study conducted by Grammarly, a top-ranked computer software program, proved just how important perfect grammar is to your professional career. The study used 100 LinkedIn profiles to conduct the report.  Through its research it found that “fewer grammar errors correlate with more promotions.”

Brad Hoover, CEO of Grammarly, said that good grammar is more than knowing how to spell a word and using its and it’s correctly. Hoover said, “Grammar analysis is much more complex, and requires a much deeper understanding of the relationships between words.”

Many employers use grammar skills as an indicator on whether an applicant will perform well in the workplace. Kyle Wiens, chief executive officer of iFixit, is one of them. He said that grammar plays a deciding factor in whether he will hire someone.

Hoover said grammar skills that reflect positive workplace performance may include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking
  • Intellectual aptitude

So, if you think grammar isn’t important. Think again.