The Brandeis GPS blog

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

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GPS student wins big at Brandeis Innovation’s SPARKTank competition

Brandeis Bioinformatics student Donald Son and his team of entrepreneurs took third place in last Sunday’s university-wide SPARKTank competition, an annual live-pitch event hosted by Brandeis Innovation.

Competing against 12 other groups seeking seed funding to bring their startups to market, Son’s team received $10,000 to further their work on Green Herb Analytics (HerbDx). The California-based facility uses analytical chemistry, software integration and medicinal cannabinoid biology to provide quality assurance lab testing and ensure that the product entering the market is safe for human consumption. The startup also seeks to establish an innovative, cutting-edge brand with affordable prices.

While Son himself does not use cannabis, he has a personal connection to unregulated supplements and medicines and their impact on public health.

“I take herbs to manage my chronic fatigue syndrome and was initially concerned about what I was putting into my body,” said Son. “During my own research, I came across cannabis just as it was being voted on for recreational use in California. I felt the need to ensure the safety of this product to the consumer.”

HerbDx plans to put its seed funding toward a small lab space, a mass spectrometer to optimize pesticide testing, and to advance production and marketing efforts. Outreach efforts will include an increased digital and social media presence, partnerships with special interest groups, and visibility at trade shows and conferences.

About SPARKTank
SPARKTank is a live pitch event where Brandeis entrepreneurs compete for seed funding in front of a live audience. Thirteen teams comprised of Brandeis students, faculty and staff pitched their innovative ideas to a panel of industry judges with the hopes of receiving a portion of the $50,000 grant pool. The pitches included startups, technologies and entrepreneurial ventures, which demonstrated the extensive breadth of entrepreneurial spirit at Brandeis University.

The best free apps for online students

Students who are earning their master’s degrees while also working full-time have a lot on their plates, and often not a lot of room in their bags. Between laptops, tablets, take-home work assignments or text books, having everything you need to transition from a working professional to an adult learner and back again can be, well…a literal weight on your shoulders. Luckily for us, it’s 2017, and there’s an app for that. Here’s a list of our favorite tools that can studying at work, at home, during your commute, or anywhere in between a little bit easier.

Tiny Scanner Enjoy taking notes on paper, but don’t want to carry your book or notepad along with you? Tiny Scanner allows you to take a picture of any sheet of paper and easily convert it into a PDF to email to yourself. Carry your work with you wherever you go, and don’t lug around more than you have to.

RefME Need some citation help with that research paper? With RefME, you can choose from over 7,500 citation styles, scan the barcode of your book or journal, and RefME automatically fills in the rest. Take some of the stress out of your assignments with this convenient tool.

Google Drive Many of us use the desktop version of Google Drive to store our documents and study materials but can’t easily access these material on our smartphones. Download the Google Drive app and access your files on the go.

Flashcards+ Do you prefer to study with flashcards over your lunch break but keep forgetting to toss them in your briefcase? With Flashcards+, you can create custom-made flashcards and access them on the go. Never worry again about losing a card or two while you’re out and about. These virtual flashcards aren’t going anywhere.

Scribd Create your own custom e-library and download all the books and texts you need.

Graphing Calculator Forget about carrying around your old TI-84. Graphing Calculator handles more complicated data sets than the standard smartphone calculator.

Pandora– Working in a loud space and need some music to put you in your own world? Tip: classical music helps many people focus in a loud space.

1Password– Keep your passwords all in one place with the secure and convenient 1Password app. You’ll save yourself time and effort and you’ll never have to go through the “forgot my password” process again.

Microsoft OneNoteDon’t want to carry around a notepad or notebook? Microsoft OneNote lets you take notes on your smartphone. With this app you can take notes, make to-do lists, and access these documents from anywhere by simply logging into your account.

Did we leave one of your favorite apps off our list? Tweet your suggestions to @BrandeisGPS!

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS: WAYFAIR

SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS

Members of the Brandeis GPS Community may submit job postings from within their industries to advertise exclusively to our community. This is a great way to further connect and seek out opportunities as they come up. If you are interested in posting an opportunity, please complete the following form found here.

Where: Wayfair in Boston, MA

Wayfair Inc. offers an extensive selection of home furnishings and décor across all styles and price points. The Wayfair family of brands includes:

  • Wayfair.com, an online destination for all things home
  • Joss & Main, where beautiful furniture and finds meet irresistible savings
  • AllModern, a go-to online source for modern design
  • DwellStudio, a design house for fashion-forward modern furnishings
  • Birch Lane, a collection of classic furnishings and timeless home décor

Position: UX Designer

Position Details: 

Wayfair is looking for a User Experience design professional with a proven record of creating engaging experiences that foster repeat visitation. The ideal candidate is self-directed, analytical, and creative.

Executing interactive design and informing visual design as part of a multi-disciplinary team, the perfect candidate researches UX design trends and lives and breathes e-commerce best practices. At the end of the day, we want natural shoppers with the ability to dive into the customer mindset.

(IA) Information Architect Responsibilities

  • Limited ability to produce detailed IA documents, ensuring all details are distinct and user-friendly. All documents must clearly define the scope of the relevant project. These deliverables include: Site maps, user flows/task flows, user journeys, page flows, taxonomies/folksonomies, paths to purchase, etc

Interaction Designer Responsibilities

  • Produce fully annotated wireframes and functional specifications
  • Make interaction recommendations based on existing Wayfair UX design standards and industry best practices
  • Work closely with front end developers to ensure user-facing experiences meet our interaction design standards
  • Lead cross-functional design reviews for all necessary deliverables

User Researcher Responsibilities

  • Generate design prototypes to utilize during research
  • Competitive analysis: Evaluate competitor and industry websites. Provide a meaningful analysis of the findings
  • Conduct research that address both user behavior and attitudes
  • Conduct research using various qualitative and quantitative methods. This includes first person and remote research.
  • Conduct research using the following techniques: Competitive Analysis, User Interviews, Usability Testing, Mall Intercept

General Responsibilities

  • Produce design deliverables utilizing the Sketch app
  • Determine how HTML, CSS and JavaScript production issues might impact UX decisions and visual design considerations.

Requirements:

  • 2+ years of UX design experience for consumers and consumer brands—a big plus if you have experience in e-commerce
  • Exceptional knowledge of Sketch, PhotoShop the rest of the Adobe Suite
  • Unfailing advocacy for the user. This should be demonstrated in concepts, user flows, wireframes, and features that work across devices to produce a seamless user experience
  • Analytical thinking and a love of focusing on things like flow, scenarios, and usability
  • Demonstrated passion for mobile design
  • Prototyping that brings to life ideas that can be put into seamless user testing
  • The confidence and self-motivation to drive forward projects that have unclear direction or unknown variables
  • An online portfolio that includes e-commerce work, mobile wireframes, or comps, and demonstrates strategic thinking

To receive full consideration for this position, candidates are asked to submit an application on the Wayfair website. 

Please make sure to reference seeing this position through the Brandeis GPS job spotlight post.

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How to be a Productive Online Student

Online master’s degrees at accredited universities have become increasingly popular over recent years. Many programs, like the ones offered at Brandeis GPS, cater to professionals who are working full time and are seeking a degree to move the needle on their career. Truly asynchronous programs – where students aren’t required to log into a class at a certain time – allow students to set their own schedule when it comes to their academic study.  But for some online learners, the lack of structure can be a challenge. Below are some tips to help you achieve the perfect work-life-school balance while pursuing an online degree.

Schedule Your Time
Schedule your school time just like you would schedule an appointment or meeting. Consistency can be key. And don’t forget to get creative with your study time. Have a long train ride as part of your commute? Take care of your weekly readings while you ride. Drive to work? See if your text book has an audio version and listen in the car. Find a regular time to do your coursework, and soon it will become a part of your daily routine.

Find Your Place of Productivity
Ask yourself when you are most productive. Perhaps it’s on that long train ride where you easily focus. Are you most productive on Sunday afternoons while sitting in your local library? Do you enjoy staying in your pajamas and doing work from your kitchen table? There is no right answer as everyone has different zones of productivity. Make sure the space where you want to work is available and distraction-free in advance. You will get everything done a lot faster if you go in knowing this is your time and place for coursework.

Take a Break
If you have an assignment deadline approaching, you may be tempted to come home after a long day of work and open your computer to get your schoolwork done as quickly as you can. Don’t do that – you want to put your best foot forward! Separate your job from your coursework, take some time to relax, go to the gym, or eat a snack. Keep your brain power focused on what you’re doing so you can achieve results that make you proud.

Participate and Stay Engaged
In an online classroom, it is easy to keep quiet and only participate when necessary. Don’t take that approach: you’re here to learn, after all! Schools like GPS intentionally offer small classes to foster engagement and collaboration among your peers and instructors.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to be a productive online student, and don’t forget to reach out to your advisor or instructor for guidance.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS: Zhao Laboratory, Hospital for Special Surgery

SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS

Members of the Brandeis GPS Community may submit job postings from within their industries to advertise exclusively to our community. This is a great way to further connect and seek out opportunities as they come up. If you are interested in posting an opportunity, please complete the following form found here.

Where: Zhao Research Laboratory at the Hospital for Special Surgery and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, NY

The Zhao Lab is particularly interested in the key inflammatory cytokine TNF-mediated osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption. By comparing with the physiological osteoclastogenic inducer RANKL, the lab has aimed to distinguish and identify novel regulators, for example IRF-8 and RBP-J, that predominantly control pathological bone resorption, thereby providing specific therapeutic targets for clinic with minimal side effects on physiological bone remodeling. The lab employs a combination of molecular and cellular approaches as well as various mouse models, including the inflammatory arthritis model and osteoporosis model for our research. Besides the coding genes, the lab recently challenged a new field- genome wide study of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). By using modern genomic approaches including second-generation deep sequencing and bioinformatics analysis they have successfully identified a few promising novel ncRNAs that were unable to reveal by traditional methods. The lab has opened a pioneering research area studying non-coding genes in osteoclast biology and osteolysis.

Position: Bioinformatician

Position Details: 

Seeking a laboratory technician who is interested in and has expertise in epigenetic and genome-wide studies. The lab uses bone marrow macrophages as osteoclast precursors and study the role of TNF and Notch/RBP-J signaling in their differentiation process. Competitive salary and an excellent benefits package (Medical, Dental, Life insurances and housing supplement) are available and will commensurate with experience and accomplishments.

Requirements:

  • Recent master’s in bioinformatics, biostatistics, or a related field
  • A record of peer reviewed publications
  • Have expertise in the analysis of ChIP-seq or RNA-seq , clustering, and pathway enrichment
  • Knowledge of R, Python, or Perl
  • Familiarity with molecular biology is preferred
  • High level of motivation and the ability to think critically

To receive full consideration for this position, candidates are asked to submit a CV, copies of a publication, and three references to to baohongzhao1@gmail.com or vitoneg@hss.edu.

Please make sure to reference seeing this position through the Brandeis GPS job spotlight post.

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Analytics and tech dominate 2017 top jobs list

If you’re a data scientist, you’re lucky enough to possess what Glassdoor calls the best job of 2017.

The online recruiting site released its annual top jobs list earlier this week, and it’s no surprise that data analytics dominated the majority of the positions in the top 10.

“We suddenly have a new and abundant resource that previously didn’t exist on such a scale: data — big data,” said Ellen Murphy, director of program development at Brandeis University’s division of Graduate Professional Studies (GPS). “Individuals with the skills and knowledge on how to mine this resource, refine this resource and use it strategically, are what industries are demanding. The need for data specialists will only continue to grow and expand.”

According to EAB, Glassdoor researchers examined user data and member profiles and assigned job ratings based on three primary criteria: median annual base salaries, overall job satisfaction and the number of openings for each position. Here’s Glassdoor’s top 10 jobs with median base salary and job score:

  1. Data Scientist, $110,000, 4.8/5
  2. DevOps Engineer, $110,000, 4.7/5
  3. Data Engineer, $106,000, 4.7/5
  4. Tax Manager, $110,000, 4.7/5
  5. Analytics Manager, $112,000, 4.6/5
  6. HR Manager, $85,000, 4.6/5
  7. Database Administrator, $93,000, 4.5/5
  8. Strategy Manager, $130,000, 4.5/5
  9. UX Designer, $92,500, 4.4/5
  10. Solutions Architect, $125,000, 4.4/5

View Glassdoor’s full list of the 50 best jobs in America here.

Army Reservist shares his GPS experience in his own words

Faces of GPS | Steve Boardman

In 2014, I was in pursuit of a career plan for the next 20 years of my life and chose to leverage my IT experience as a software developer to shift into consulting as a business intelligence and big data analytics expert. In search of a graduate program to help propel me into that evolving field, I spent more than 100 hours researching many data science and analytics degree options.

I found the Master of Science in Strategic Analytics at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) to be the best fit for my life situation for many reasons:

  • The core curriculum and available electives seemed to be a well-balanced mix of business application, management, and technical disciplines.
  • The industry-experienced GPS faculty was a benefit because it enhanced my learning based on my prior undergraduate experience.
  • As an Army Reservist, the ability to conduct coursework online is an essential benefit. Moreover, the 10-week terms with a significant break between them promote a good work, school, and life balance, enabling students to complete the program in only 2 and a half years,  taking one course at a time.
  • The tuition fees were lower than other competing schools, and would be covered by my Post-911 GI Bill VA benefits by 90 percent.

Since I started the Strategic Analytics program with GPS in spring 2015, I have completed seven courses toward my degree thus far and plan to graduate in the summer of 2017. Much of the knowledge that I’ve gained from the coursework has been directly applicable to my current position as an archival data systems development consultant. From what I’ve learned, I’ve been able to conduct more focused data analysis and produce more meaningful results to management, which has helped me earn their confidence and trust. As a result, I was given the lead role in spearheading my client’s business intelligence and data management strategy for analytics in September 2015. My return on investment is being realized even before completing my degree requirements.

boardman_wife_mil_formalCharging through the academic rigors of the program’s coursework and research has been achievable without a major sacrifice from family time and other activities. Living and working in Charleston, SC, with my wife and five-year-old daughter, my evenings during the week and weekends are well-balanced. Not every evening is spent doing school work, which my wife is very happy about. While taking at least one course per term, I am able to work a challenging full-time IT job, lead a platoon size unit in the Army Reserve part-time, play drums in a professional local rock band, and spend plenty of quality time with my family. I am grateful to my employer who pays for my remaining 10 percent tuition out of pocket. Now that GPS offers a 15% discount on tuition for active military and veterans, that saves my employer and the VA around $500 per course. Choosing the MS in Strategic Analytics at GPS was one of my best decisions, as it has proven to better my quality of life.

Steve Boardman is a software development professional with over 20 years of experience providing leadership in developing IT solutions for a variety of industries. He specializes in Enterprise Architecture (EA), Business Intelligence (BI) Strategy, Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) Implementation, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), Systems Integration, Application Development, and Legacy System Migration.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

The value of communications in professional settings

One of the most valuable skills in any workplace is the ability to communicate effectively and professionally. Although every professional uses differing language relating to his or her field, communication skills allow for one to thrive in a collaborative work environment. In order to succeed, professionals need to be comfortable speaking and presenting in a range of environments, from small meetings, to larger individual or group presentations. While many people are often not comfortable giving speeches or delivering presentations in professional settings, through practice, these skills can be honed and perfected.

Brandeis GPS’s online Professional Communications course arms students with these skills. By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Develop verbal and nonverbal communication styles by applying verbal and nonverbal skills in various speaking situations; videotaping and viewing one’s performance; critiquing one’s style; and receiving diagnostic evaluations.
  • Use techniques, such as cognitive restructuring, to reduce speaker apprehension.
  • Increase effectiveness in informative and persuasive message development using audience analysis, principles of organization, principles of Aristotle’s rhetoric, language devices, and supporting material (examples, narratives, testimony, and facts and statistics).
  • Write with clarity, brevity and vigor.
  • Strengthen self-awareness, assertiveness skills and listening skills to improve interpersonal, small group and public communication.
  • Analyze best practices for running an effective meeting.
  • Critically evaluate messages in terms of various criteria for effectiveness.

This course is available for professional development or as part of several GPS graduate programs. At GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling in a program. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. View our full course catalog here, and preview our spring 2017 courses here. Registration for the spring 2017 term opens on December 20.

Questions? Contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

Rethinking writing for digital environments

When you hear the word “writing,” what image jumps into your head? Likely it’s not picking up a pen or opening a notebook, as most writing today takes place on digital platforms. Whether we’re drafting copy for a website, social media, a blog post, or an ad, writing for digital environments introduces a whole new set of factors to consider as we seek to achieve our writing goals. For example, identifying strategic keywords when writing online content can help optimize a piece to successfully reach a target audience.

It’s also critical that we understand why various online platforms require different types of writing, whether it means monitoring character counts or using hashtags or abbreviations. In marketing, these tactics, along with others, are important to consider to make sure that whatever is being marketed is done so in an efficient and effective way.

Writing for Digital Environments is an online course that provides detailed information about how to write copy and messaging for various digital formats. Part of the MS In Digital Marketing and Design graduate program, the course subject matter gives special attention to differences in form factor, audience targeting, and SEO (search engine optimization) implications of various types of content. Content marketing tactics are explored in detail. View more information and course prerequisites here.

Those interested in the course who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still participate. At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling in a program. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. View our full course catalog here, and preview our spring 2017 courses here.

Questions? Contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

Improve your negotiating skills

Whether or not you’re a professional project manager, negotiating skills are crucial to the success of any project, small or large. When working with others, conflicts will always arise, but being able to control these situations and find “win-win” solutions that work for all parties involved is an incredibly valuable tool. Yet, negotiating is not an easy task and requires a wide range of strategies and skillsets. For example, you might need to create values by encouraging open communication between parties and finding shared interests so that both sides get something out of the situation. Changing your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) to boost your bargaining power in a negotiation is another useful tool.

To help project managers and those interested in conflict resolution acquire new negotiation skills, Brandeis GPS offers an online Negotiating and Conflict Resolution course that provides a framework to understand the basis of conflict, to select an appropriate conflict resolution strategy, and to employ tactics that optimize results for both individuals and organizations.  As part of the MS in Project and Program Management  degree program, this part-time, fully online course will explore several approaches to conflict resolution that differ among collocated and virtual teams. Students will also understand how cultural differences, interests, and values influence negotiation strategy and tactics. Topics will include:

  • Value creation and value claiming
  • BATNA strategies
  • Ethical and unethical negotiating tactics

By the end of the course, students will develop a systematic and positive approach to negotiating with colleagues, bosses, clients, other stakeholders, and external groups of all kinds–in ways that equip you to deal also with all kinds of conditions and circumstances.

Those interested in the course who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still participate. At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling in a program. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. View our full course catalog here, and preview our spring 2017 courses here.

Questions Contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

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