Back to School

It’s back-to-school time, join your kids in learning—pick up new skills or brush up on old ones

Be inspired by the kids and make August back-to-school month for yourself to take your career to the next level.  Take the opportunity and brush up on those Excel skills you haven’t used in a few years. Wanted to learn Photoshop, French, or coding for a while? Need to catch up on labor laws or HIPAA regulations? Now is the time.

There are plenty of free and reasonably priced resources available to further your skills. If you are employed, check with your employer first. Most larger organizations will offer in-house training. Don’t pass on those opportunities! You can often take them during work hours, and they directly relate to your job.

If your employer doesn’t offer this kind of professional development, there are other options you can explore.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Take a look at Coursera, Udacity, or edEx. They offer college classes from some of the best universities around the world in a variety of fields and disciplines. You can either just follow along, which is usually free, or complete the assignments and receive a certificate for the class (you will have to pay a fee for that). Udacity even offers nanodegrees in a number of technology fields, such as iOS or Android development. The degrees can often be completed in 6-8 months and involve classes and assignments (and a fee).

Continuing Education classes at your local college

College continuing education departments offer a wide variety of options, in person as well as online. You can learn a skilled trade, learn a specific software, or improve your web design or public speaking skills. They also offer classes to prepare for professional certifications, such as SHRM Certified Professional for human resources staff or PMP Certification for project managers.

Options in the Baton Rouge area include:

Your local public library

Last but not least, your public library offers a myriad of resources and access to classes free of charge. The East Baton Rouge Parish Library offers a large number of in-person computer classes covering widely-used programs, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, etc., at all its branches each month . In addition, library card holders have access to online classes and tutorials through the Digital Library. Through Gale Courses, users can access six-week online classes in a variety of fields that finish with a certificate. Atomic Training, Treehouse, and Lynda help you learn tech skills. Mango offers online language classes and training. Browse the Digital Library to find a resource that inspires you to keep learning.

Take your professional development to the next level with these resources. Be a life-long learner. Now is the time!

Tech Talk: Career Cruising, Part 3 – Careers

This is the third post in a series delving into various aspects of the Career Cruising database available through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Digital Library.  Read all posts here.

This post will be a more in-depth discussion of the careers feature.  The careers tab contains exhaustive information about a large number of occupations. The information is displayed in a very user-friendly way and serves as a great starting point for your career exploration.

You can search occupations in five different ways, either alphabetically, by school subject, career cluster, industry, or using the career selector. The most innovative tool is definitely the career selector. Here you can narrow down your career choice with several parameters: school subject, career cluster, type of education, core tasks, earnings, and working conditions.

My parameters were:

  • school subject – English
  • career cluster – business management and administration
  • type of education – 4-year degree; core tasks – Artistic Expression, Building or Creating Things, Organizing People and Planning Work Activities, Writing
  • earnings – 60,000 or more per year

And these are the matches the career selector found:

It’s fun to play with and see how the results change when you adjust the parameters.

Another interesting way to search is by school subject. Let’s see what the options are if our favorite subject is English and we don’t plan to go to college. There are twenty-seven results.

Each of the occupations is clickable and will lead to in-depth information about the respective occupation. Let’s choose court clerk:

For each occupation you will get two video interviews with people doing that particular job. There is information about typical salaries, the necessary education and qualifications, a sample career path, and links to the respective professional organizations. Another useful feature is the link to closely related careers. For court clerk, Career Cruising considers the following to be related careers.

This is a great tool for people in the career discovery stage as you get a lot of information about careers in a certain area of interest that you might not have thought about otherwise.

Last but not least, you can get great information about all the different military careers that are available in the different branches of the armed forces.

We chose to search by job family, but you can also look alphabetically or by service branch. If you click on a certain job family, it will display the different occupations within, tell you if they are officer or enlisted paths, give you a description of job content, and also show you closely related civilian careers .

Overall, this database can give you comprehensive occupational information presented in a very user-friendly and intuitive way. We highly recommend it as a starting point for anybody who is considering his or her career path regardless of age, education level, and career stage. This resource is free to you with a valid EBRPL library card through the Digital Library.

Written by Anne Nowak.

The Job Interview: 5 Ways to Calm Pre-Interview Jitters

Score — you got the interview! The date is set, but the closer the day comes, the more nervous you get. You are afraid of not having good answers and being tongue-tied and too stressed to think straight.

That’s normal. When asked why interviewing is stress-inducing, most candidates say because there is a lot at stake and because they don’t know what questions will be asked.

Here’s the good news: There are five easy steps you can take to calm your nerves before that next interview!

Practice, practice, practice

Do a mock interview! Ideally you can practice with a professional. For instance, make an appointment to come to the Career Center, and we will do an in-depth mock interview with you. We will talk through the most commonly asked questions and work out the best answers with you. If that’s not an option, do an internet search for the most commonly asked questions, or check out our website. Then carefully craft your answers and practice with a friend. Take out your smart phone and video yourself. That way you can see your body language and catch potential issues! (For tips on body language, see this post.)

When you have come up with the best possible answers, write them down and practice, practice, practice. The more confident you feel in your answers and how to deliver them, the less nervous you’ll be!

Prepare, prepare, prepare

You want to know as much as possible about the organization you are interviewing with. Check out their official website, social media presence, and recent news coverage.

You also want to prepare your route to the interview site and what you will wear. Check your clothes ahead of time to see if they need to be washed or dry-cleaned.

Again, the more prepared you are, the more confident you will be!

Listen to music

On your way to the interview, listen to music that makes you feel good. Sing, rock, rap along to your favorite music. It will energize you and make you feel good and at ease.

Do a power pose

Right before the interview, somewhere in a private corner, try power poses. Never heard of them? Check out this TED talk by Amy Cuddy. Stand up straight, shoulders wide, hands to your hips. Poses like this can make you feel more powerful and confident. Some studies even show that they can actually change your body chemistry to make you more powerful and confident.

Acknowledge your accomplishments

Last but not least, the fact that you were invited to the interview already shows that the organization thinks you might be a good fit. You made it to this stage past many other applicants and are one of only a handful (sometimes only two or three) candidates invited to interview. You have already crossed most hurdles, and the interview is just the very last one. Recognizing this should give you a feeling of accomplishment and increase your self-confidence.

Now that you are prepared and full of self-confidence, there is no room for nervous jitters. Go and nail that interview!

Written by Anne Nowak.

New Career Center Books

This month, our list focuses on recent graduates, who may be starting to worry about the uncertain road ahead. Not to fear, the Career Center can help! Try one of these titles. You may place a hold on any Career Center book through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

How to Get Money for College
by Peterson’s Educational Publishing

This enormous book aims to help you navigate the labyrinth of college financial aid. It is a compendium of information about financial aid at US universities. It includes detailed profiles on hundreds of schools’ financial aid opportunities, a state-by-state listing of public scholarship and grant programs, and a quick reference chart to help you compare your options.

Better than College: How to Build a Successful Life without a Four-Year Degree
by Blake Bolles

Have you ever thought that college may not be the best fit for you? Are you afraid that without a college degree, you won’t be able to have a successful career? This book questions much of the conventional wisdom about the necessity of a college degree. It suggests different ways of gaining marketable knowledge and skills, with example success stories, self-assessments, and ideas for ways to get started.

101 Weird Ways to Make Money: Cricket Farming, Repossessing Cars, and Other Jobs with Big Upside and Not Much Competition
by Steve Gillman

You’re done with school, but not sure what to do in the real world? Not crazy about the idea of working in an office? Try this list of unconventional jobs which were almost certainly not options on the career tests you took in high school. The book is divided into subsections based on the type of work (Working Outdoors, Internet Opportunities, etc.), and each job listing includes a description of the work, information about pay, and resources to find out more and get started in the field. The options include everything from Rodeo Clown to Chimney Sweep to Overseas English Teacher.

Written by Lynnette Lee