The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Month: October 2014

Graduates with Roots in STEM Face Growing Career Opportunities

By: – Custom Content Coordinator

As we enter May, young people here in Boston and across the country are about to embark on a new chapter in their lives. Many will be graduating from college and taking their first step into the great, wide, professional world. Question marks fill their future as they wonder what kind of opportunities await them and their hard-earned bachelor’s degrees.

While it is impossible to forecast the job market with absolute certainty, it is undeniable that the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) hold the greatest opportunities for job seekers now and in the future. Industries like renewable energy, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and technology are rapidly growing and demand increasing numbers of skilled workers to sustain their expansion.

The computer and math occupations account for close to half of all STEM employment, followed by engineering with 32 percent, and then physical and life sciences at 13 percent, according to U.S. Department of Commerce. Significant growth is projected for computer and mathematical scientists, engineers and engineering technicians, architects and architectural technicians and more STEM occupations.

Those with strong STEM education backgrounds “will find themselves at the center of our new economy,” tech expert Vinay Trivedi said in the Huffington Post.

But unfortunately demand is outpacing supply when it comes to STEM-related careers. Fewer students are pursuing advanced math and science degrees, creating a problematic skills gap threatening the United States’ position in the new global economy.

The U.S. ranks 30th in math and 23rd in science, according to latest Program for International Student Assessment; and the latest ACT results show that only 44 percent of our high school graduates are ready for college-level math, and just 36 percent are ready for college-level science, the National Math & Science Initiative reported.

The impact of the skills deficit which develops in secondary level education has deleterious consequences once those students reach college. Many students abandon interest in STEM career by the end of their sophomore year, Irv Epstein, Professor of Chemistry at Brandeis University, observed.

It is a national imperative to reverse this trend. President Barack Obama declared creating the next generation of STEM leaders an educational priority for the nation at his State of the Union Address in January.

“I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that–openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work,” he said. “That’s inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.”

program-hero-softwareMany have answered President Obama’s call to improve STEM education. In addition to early education initiatives, select colleges and universities have stepped up including Brandeis University who has partnered with the Posse Foundation to provide merit-based scholarships to minority students interested in pursuing STEM degrees.

But meanwhile, as programs launch to serve the next generation of students, the STEM jobs are still waiting, available for current job seekers who have the skills and ambition to seize the opportunity.

For those who lack adequate STEM skills but are eager to break into expanding, innovative industries, there is a way for them to bridge the skills gap: graduate education. Don’t wait for a job to pop up that fits your resume. Act now to get the training you need for the jobs available.

Brandeis University’s Division of Graduate Professional Studies prepares ambitious professionals for exciting, expanding opportunities in the job market right now. 

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The Leadership Journey: How to Communicate so People Will Listen

by: Phil Holberton, Awarding-Winning Adjunct Faculty at Brandeis GPS

I have been hanging around the leadership arena for many years, and I can’t tell you how many mistakes I have made along the way with my communications.

Why is this so?

I know what to do, but my mind races ahead. I recognize I have the words to say what I want.  The only trouble is they come out too fast, disorganized and in my own shorthand unnamedthat makes it difficult for others to fully understand me.

Has this happened to you?

I work hard, everyday, to improve my communication skills.  Some days are easier than others. If I am feeling on top of my game, my words flow effortlessly. But when I am anxious, my mind is a hotchpotch of thoughts racing to my lips to be the first out of my mouth. Invariably my communications shorthand clicks in.

How can we get back to basics?

Before a meeting or a speech, take time to organize your thoughts. Write an outline, maybe even write the entire speech, but –  please! – never read it unless you want a room full of people dozing off. That said, memorize your opening and closing so you have it down cold.

Anything else?

As you prepare your remarks, imagine your audience. Who’s going to be there? People new to the topic or industry veterans?  What do they want to know that they already don’t know? What three major points do you want them to leave with?

Notice, I said three points. Okay, maybe only one or as many as four. But avoid a “brain dump” – rambling on and spilling everything you know. Start with a catchy, humorous opening. Hit your points, and wrap up with a pithy conclusion.

The best speeches tell a story. You’re the CEO, say, of a genetics firm and once asked a leading infectious physician what diagnostic test topped out her wish list. Her response: “I need a tool that will tell me if a MERS patient will respond to a specific antibiotic.”  So began the company’s fact-finding mission to personalize antibiotic treatments to save lives.

 The 7 Cs of Communication:

Drs. John Baird and Jim Stull wrote the 7 Cs of Communication, which are widely used today. They aim their advice at written communications. Here I’ve adapted it for the spoken word.

  1. Clear – be clear as to your intent; don’t make your audience read between the lines, which can lead to confusion and frustration. Be straightforward and fully explain what you mean.
  2. Concise – less is more. Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? Many folks spend 80 percent of their time explaining things that aren’t much value to the audience. So mine the 20 percent of substance and build on it. Don’t ramble.
  3. Concrete – turn your words into pictures.  Use colorful words and images. Lean toward the specific and away from the abstract. You say your product is “better” now? Exactly what does that mean for the customer who will buy and use it?
  4. Correct – double-check your facts and be careful of plagiarism. If you want to use someone else’s quote or material, be sure to attribute it. Also, avoid making sweeping generalities or opinions that have no factual basis. Finally, don’t represent your opinions as “facts.” That’s counterproductive and may turn people off.
  5. Coherent – connect the dots –  don’t make people guess. This goes back to knowing what your audience knows. Don’t assume they’ve read your book, are familiar with your business, or possess advanced business expertise. A key challenge is a mixed audience with a wide band of sophistication. My advice is to start out at a lower level and work your way up.
  6. Complete – there are all kinds of angles to this one.  Speak in complete thoughts, Don’t make your reader guess what they should conclude. Avoid speaking in shorthand and using confusing acronyms.
  7. Courteous – we do not need to insult others just to make our points. A condescending or arrogant speaker is quickly turned off. An audience is far more likely to warm up to a speaker who is respectful of them. Avoid slang, locker talk, and profanity. It’s just not appropriate.

I’ve added my own 8th C of communication.

  1. Connect – engage your audience as much as possible. Open your speech or meeting with a show of hands. Ask your audience questions. Invite their questions. Always use eye contact and look for signs of affirmation that folks are listen0x600-636x310ing. If you see eyes wandering or people sneaking out the door, stop and ask the audience what they want to hear about.

Beyond the 8 Cs:

Power Points are almost de rigueur nowadays, but they distract the audience and compete for the speaker’s attention. Use your Power Point to anchor your speech with a few key words or visuals. Avoid long paragraphs.

Finally, keep in mind that emotion binds the speaker and audience together. Build excitement and passion. Speak to the desire of every human to be of value in this world. I frequently talk about the human impulse to move up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs -a pyramid of human needs that starts with basic survival and peaks with self-actualization. Everyone wants and needs to gravitate up that pyramid to some level. Appeal not only to an investor’s logic, but to their potential to save lives or transform communities. Logic doesn’t move people to action. Emotion does.

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5 Tips for Making New Contacts & Connections  

By: Cara Chatellier

Recruitingblogs.com states that 80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking.  In order to find a new role, become better at your own job, learn from industry experts and more, networking is essential.

Below you will find 5 ways to make new connections and contacts to grow your network!

Tip #1: Go to a Networking Event

Networking events are a perfect way to make new connections. Try to go to an event with
Listening to partnerover 30 attendees where you know there will be a number of people to mingle with.  One of the great things about these events is: everyone is there to chat and connect—make the best of it! Make sure to talk to as many people as possible!

Networking Event Best Practices:

  • RSVP beforehand to get updates and location information.
  • Bring plenty of business cards
  • Be prepared. If you can see attendance lists, research companies of those you may meet!
  • Leave your phone in the car, your pocket or bag—be attentive and present.
  • Smile and be open to chatting with others

Join Brandeis GPS Staff, Faculty, Advisory Board Members, Corporate Partners and Students of the past and future for our first ever Networking Event! 10/16 6-9pm RSVP here!

Tip #2: Join a Networking Group

Well first, what NetworkingGroupis a networking group? It’s a group (most likely on LinkedIn or meetup)
where you can be alerted about new job opportunities, gain access to new groups of people, learn about new events and swap industry  tips and knowledge.

Networking groups are a technique to meet others, both professionally and socially.

 

Tip #3: Connect, Connect & Connect some more!

LinkedIn offers an unrivaled method to connect professionals in your field via social media.

Make sure you add:

  • Everyone you meet in a professional setting
  • Professionals with similar backgrounds
  • Professionals in similar industries with different roles
  • Members of associations you’re interested inLinkedinPic

Don’t forget to follow the LinkedIn Best Practices:

  • Spell-check personalized messages
  • Actually read the profiles of those you are messaging
  • Schedule face to face meetings or phone calls with your connections, (make them ‘real’)!
  • Use a recent and professional photo
  • Recommend only those you have worked directly with and who you feel confident in their quality of work

Tip #4: Attend Industry Relevant Conferences

Conferences are a great way to keep up-to-date on industry trends. Most conferences will have large rooms with tables from different vendors. It’s a perfect opportunity to learn about new technologies, companies and opportunities.

ConfConferences allow you to network with professionals in your industry. You can share your ideas and get immediate feedback from credible individuals.

Conversations at conferences can lead to business connections. Make sure to share your business cards and don’t be shy asking about other similar events which may be beneficial.

Tip #5: Attend Industry Specific ‘Meet-Ups’

According to Meetup.com, ‘Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups.’ Meetup makes it easy to meet members of your industry of field of interest in a fun and interactive way. TheMeetupre are thousands of meetups you can take part of, and most of them are free.  Since you already know the subject matter, this will make it easy for introverts to step into the networking world. The only question is: why not?

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