Archive | In the Workplace

Career Paths in HR & Payroll

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HR and payroll jobs bring opportunities and challenges. If you’re planning a career in the field, make sure you know what to expect – and what will be expected of you…

Although their work takes place behind the scenes, HR and payroll employees are crucial components of business success. Contrary to common belief, HR and payroll departments don’t just focus on hiring and firing, or calculating wages and salaries – their roles draw on a spectrum of educational disciplines, involve a wide range of challenges, and take place across the industrial spectrum in every corner of the world.

So what do you need to begin a career in HR or payroll – and where can you expect it to lead?

The HR Domain

While the HR department is responsible for recruiting, maintaining, and managing the company’s employees, on another level, they work to realize their employer’s vision for the organisation, and shape its future. Broadly speaking, the duties of HR employees involve:

  • Recruiting employees with skills that will enhance their organisation
  • Participating in salary and contract negotiations
  • Inducting new employees
  • Disseminating company policy and promoting employer philosophy
  • Addressing employee needs and enquiries
  • Organising and delivering employee training
  • Providing professional oversight and advice
  • Participating in and mediating the dispute resolution process between employees and employers

Beginning your career

HR positions normally have no specific academic requirements, but in a crowded job market, university-level qualifications are obviously an advantage. Certain subjects and disciplines are particularly useful for HR roles, including IT and communications, psychology, sociology, math, and anything business-related, such as management or economics.

It’s certainly possible to kick-start your HR career with an industry-recognized accreditation, and a number of industry bodies provide training courses specifically focused on the field. Explore your options at institutions like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which offers training for both prospective HR employees and those already on the career path.

Beyond academic and professional qualifications, certain skills and talents are also relevant for prospective HR professionals. Strong interpersonal skills are advantageous since much of the role involves dealing with inquiries by other employees, while organisational, administrative, and communication skills are also useful in most contexts.

Choosing your path

HR careers could take place in any corner of the working world, and follow a number of paths. While HR careers are generally focused on serving client-employees, there’s plenty of scope for specialization within a certain industry or sector – or as a global HR specialist. HR roles include:

  • Assistant: Administrator positions are normally how most employees get their start on the career ladder. Basic duties involve procedural office administration and addressing client queries. Average Salary: $31,840
  • Administrator: With increased responsibilities, HR administrators play a part in recruitment, interviewing, and training for their employer organisations. Average Salary: $45,667
  • Manager/Supervisor: HR managers bear responsibility for their wider HR team, or or may lead their department. At this career stage, professional accreditation may become a necessity. Average salary: $98,818
  • Director: HR directors are high level personnel with an important role in shaping their employers’ decisions and policy regarding recruitment, training and employee management. Average salary: $137,274

The Payroll Domain

Payroll employees work not only to calculate and pay wages to an employee population but to ensure the pay process takes place accurately, on time, and in compliance with the rules and regulations of their territory. General payroll duties include:

  • Logging employee work hours and overtime
  • Calculating salary
  • Calculating tax and social security contributions and other relevant deductions
  • Reporting to relevant tax authorities
  • Issuing pay and payslips
  • Inducting employees into payroll system
  • Maintaining and updating payroll records
  • Addressing employee payroll queries
  • Augmenting the pay process to maintain compliance

Beginning your career

Payroll jobs are similar to those in HR in that they suit candidates from a range of academic backgrounds, however, thanks to the field’s focus on calculation and data, subjects like math and any other numeracy-based disciplines are especially useful to prospective employees. With that said, while math and accountancy graduates (at both high school and university-level) will likely stand out to payroll recruiters, achievement in IT, communications, management, and any business-centric subjects will also be valuable.

Ideally, payroll employees should be diligent and conscientious, and show strong attention to detail. Given the deadline-based challenges of the role (employees need to be paid on time), creative thinking and problem-solving skills are also vital – along with an ability to communicate clearly with clients and other team members regarding urgent pay queries.

Entry-level payroll positions will tend not to require industry accreditation, but this may become a necessity with progress up the career ladder. A number of internationally-recognized institutions offer payroll accreditation, including the American Payroll Association (APA), which trains employees in the Fundamental Payroll Certification, and the Certified Pay Professional certification.

Choosing your path

Given its importance and complexity, ambitious payroll employees can forge long, rewarding careers – and can expect to find exciting opportunities across professional landscapes. Typical payroll positions include:

  • Administrator: An entry-level position, payroll administrators will have processing and general administrative duties including inducting new starts onto the system. Average Salary: $25,000
  • Assistant: Payroll Assistants assume a higher-level of administrative responsibility and may be responsible for directing colleague activities and addressing queries. Average salary $31,000
  • Technician: Payroll technicians will facilitate the procedural aspects of the pay-cycle – maintaining software platforms and other technical components.
  • Manager/Supervisor: Payroll managers may be in charge of their team or department, and will communicate regularly with senior employees. Average salary $94,500
  • Director: An executive position, payroll directors will be responsible for guiding policy and advising senior employees. Average salary: $111,484

Many businesses choose to outsource their payroll process to third-party service providers. Outsourcing is particularly popular for businesses paying employees on a global scale, since it offers a chance to import compliance expertise for local tax laws. With this in mind, global payroll specialists are often in high demand.

This article was contributed by guest author Sandra Sommerville.

 

 

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Preparing For Business Life After Uni

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Finishing college and getting a degree is essential for pursuing your future career but it will not completely prepare you for business life. While it is very important to have a college degree, in order to make it beneficial as well, it is crucial to take key courses and to take advantage of the opportunities around you to prepare yourself for life after school.

The first thing you have to realize is that attending every class won’t magically make you an expert in your line of work. That means that you should go out, get your hands dirty and try to learn as much as you can in practice, i.e. outside the classroom. Take advantage of the opportunities around you and available resources of your college. If you limit yourself, you will limit your career opportunities and slow your professional growth at the beginning of your business life.

Start planning on time

It is very important to start planning your future career on time. As soon as you start college, you should make a plan for your future business life; thinking about jobs related to your career interests and setting a list of goals. That way you will have a clear idea of what needs to be done in order to prepare yourself for the job you want. Ask for help from your parents and college professors because it is always good to hear both subjective and objective opinions on your skills and character that may help define your future career if you are not sure about the choice you made or don’t know what to choose. If you start planning on time you will be less stressed about it at the end of school.

Self-development is essential

Work on developing skills you will need while doing everyday tasks for school, for example. Start networking with professors and other members of the faculty. It will help you improve your communication skills and you will meet people and make connections that can lead to career opportunities later on. Enhancing your leadership skill development will help you become more confident work-wise while you are striving to reach your career goals. Improve your skills by taking additional courses to ensure you have good qualifications for your future job.

Take on an internship

Gaining work experience while you are still studying is a great way to prepare yourself for a career in business as well as increase employment opportunities. Use your summer break to take on an internship or a job related to your line of work. That way, when applying for a job requiring work experience, you will have a better chance of employment even though you are a recent graduate. Also, you will gain practical experience, earn course credits, and of course, improve and develop skills.

Prepare yourself for the job

Using internet tools is also a great way to become familiar with business terminology and programs used for various business areas. Find tools or software you will need to use for your future job and learn as much as you can about how to use them and how they function. It will help you add to your skills and be well prepared for the future. You can find all sorts of information online, so make sure you search official sites and find official software to work on while preparing for business life. If a certain company caught your eye and you are striving for a career with it, educate yourself on their line of work and find out exactly what they are looking for. Get in contact with people who work there and ask for volunteering options since business owners appreciate confident, talented individuals who are taking initiative.

Know your skills

Many graduates don’t really know what they’re good at or what their skills are. To solve this problem, do a skills assessment test that can direct you and even create a particular career path according to your personality and your abilities. You can find a lot of these tests online or you can consult with your college professors and ask for suggestions or recommendation for the best ones to take. Don’t push yourself on developing skills that are not compatible with your character; instead concentrate on what you know and what you’re good at.

Following these steps can help you prepare for the after-school life and getting ready for your future job. Keep in mind that it is crucial to start early and work on developing career-related skills. Taking on an internship will give you the necessary experience and advantage when applying for your first job, so be smart, and start planning your future on time!

This article was contributed by guest author Ian Pearson.

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5 Reasons Employees Love ‘BYOD’

Bring your own device

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Most employers can’t keep up with changing technology as easily as their workforce can, so adopting a “bring your own device” policy is common for businesses these days. It allows employees to do work on their own laptops, tablets, and smartphones instead of company-issued equipment.

The widespread adoption of BYOD (bring your own device) to work has changed the nature of how connected we are — or are expected to be — in an office setting.

As our availability shifts, so do expectations that we should be more connected to work 24-7. Employees don’t even seem to mind this as they’d rather use their own devices for business purposes than unfamiliar work-issued equipment. Why? Here are five reasons.

Work & Play

The line between work life and personal life can be pretty blurry sometimes. Whether we like it or not, our smartphones connect us to both personal and professional endeavors. Many of us embrace the blurriness because it’s all part of “life,” and we tend to spend most of our waking hours on work related stuff anyway, whether at home or in an office. But it can be intrusive if you let it, which is why striking a balance may be necessary. Versatile business devices, for example, separate business apps from personal apps so you can use your device for both work and play. It beats having two separate phones.

“Considering 20 percent of the 1,500 job seekers surveyed by FlexJobs last year would take a cut in pay for more flexible work options, the BYOD trend is necessary to creating more work-life balance,” states an article on Entrepreneur’s site. “Not to mention, working from devices that employees are already familiar and comfortable with can help them complete tasks quickly and efficiently.”

Efficiency Queens & Kings

Instead of learning how to use computers or technology you’re not familiar with, it’s easier to stick with what you know as it saves time. When companies allow you to use your own mobile device, they are basically letting you choose the tool you see most useful to get the job done. Just imagine if a painter couldn’t pick his own brushes or if a mechanic couldn’t use her own tools. Similar philosophy, right?

Keep the Talent

Millennials and creative types especially like flexibility in the workplace because they often work outside of the 9-to-5 office paradigm. BYOD is a good recruitment and retention tool as many tech-savvy workers see their personal devices as an employee benefit. They can work either in the office or at home on the weekends and evenings with more fluidity than switching between devices. BYOD is particularly important for tech-heavy jobs like graphic design, UX design and programming because different operating systems support different products.

Expanded job titles

Speaking of creative types, our super mobile society has widened the job possibilities endlessly. In the marketing field in particular, technology is transforming the old marketing landscape with new career opportunities in a huge range of content channels. If you’re in marketing, you could actually help companies look at gaps in the their marketing plans and offer skills that will help a potential new employer step up their game and separate themselves from the competition.

Morale Booster

Even though the employee is usually the one who ends up paying to use their own equipment, which doesn’t seem that enticing on the surface, there’s still a sense of freedom or independence associated with being able to use your own device. Sometimes it’s the simple things that encourage employees to stay with a company, especially if the employer actually pays for the device of your choice.

This article was contributed by guest author Devin Morrissey.

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How to Start Your Own Business with Little to No Money

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If you dream of running your own business but have a limited budget, don’t despair! There are ways you can get your venture off the ground without a big bank loan or support from relatives. Here are a few tips on how to start your own business with little to no money:

Work from Home
Working from home rather than investing in office space is an ideal way to save money as you start your business. Try to create a dedicated workspace. This will make you more organised and help you to switch off from work at the end of the day. Alternatively, if you have a little bit of money and don’t find working from home conducive, find an office sharing facility where you can rent a desk rather than an entire office. Retailers may also be able to find shared space at local venues.

Keep your Day Job
If you’re still at college but have some free time, now is the perfect opportunity to start working on your business venture. If you’re already at work but don’t have any money to invest in your new business, it’s a good idea to keep working for as long as possible. Use your lunch breaks, evenings and weekends to work on your business idea. And save some of your salary to fund it.

Choose a Business Carefully
Some businesses require more initial investment than others. Businesses which operate with a lot of stock require storage and if you have to deal directly with your customers you’ll need a shop front, which can be expensive. If you love the idea of working for yourself but don’t have a fixed business idea in mind, consider prospects with low initial overheads. For instance, freelancing as a writer or graphic designer only requires a computer, an internet connection and some software. Or setting up a cleaning business, like 1300 Rubbish, just requires some insurance and cleaning products.

Don’t Opt for Bricks and Mortar Right Away
A bricks and mortar residence for your business – be it an office, a retail outlet or a workshop – costs a considerable amount in terms of rent, utilities and insurance. If you can avoid it, try to keep your business online to begin with. With a good website, you can tell customers all about your product or services and even sell to them, too. Not only do you save money on premises, you’ll also open your business up to customers from all over the country, not just those walking by your door.

Use Online Platforms
A great website is a cornerstone of any good business. But if your budget won’t stretch to what you’re looking for, consider whether an existing online platform could do the job in the meantime. eBay, Shopify and Etsy are good options for retailers, Airbnb could work if you’re setting up as an accommodation provider, and freelancer platforms are great if you want to find work without a strong online presence.

Get Social
If you’re running a tight budget, it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to spend hundreds on a big marketing campaign. But you still need to get your company name out there. Make the most of social media. Develop a presence on a number of platforms and use them to engage with potential customers and share information about your company. A well-maintained Facebook page can even work in lieu of a business website.

Setting up your own business with little to no money requires a lot of dedication and resourcefulness. As you develop your business and begin to make some money, invest back into the company. That way you can work towards having the office or the website or the marketing budget that will take your business to the next level.

This article was contributed by guest author Melanie Saunders.

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How To Successfully Pitch Ideas To Your Boss

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When you consider yourself to be an ambitious professional, you’re probably looking at everything you can bring to the table at your current workplace. Being able to provide more than your coworkers can help you climb the ranks within your company by proving your value. The fear of rejection might make you hesitate in pitching your ideas, but if you approach your pitch with the right strategy, you won’t have anything to worry about.

Consider the Value of the Idea

If your idea is really only half an idea, you’re not in a position to make your pitch. You need to be able to answer a few questions: Does this idea solve a problem? Is this idea profitable? Is there an easier alternative to my idea? How will my idea be implemented?

If you have answers to all of those questions, you have an idea that’s ready to be pitched. If it isn’t, you’ll need to find answers or modify your idea in order to satisfy the criteria. When you bring it to your boss, your boss will see and understand that you’ve developed a clear vision.

Show How Your Idea is an Innovation

In order to provide value, your idea needs to be innovative. You should develop a concept that moves up, rather than across. If it doesn’t make a huge change above a current process, product, or service, it may not be worthwhile to pursue that idea. Be prepared to present the full scope of what changes with your idea. You’re selling this idea, which means you need to make it attractive to your boss. Your emphasis should be placed on “better”, rather than “different.”

Compare Your Ideas With Your Competitor

Everyone in business is looking to be more competitive. If your idea will help you successfully compete, it’s automatically more attractive. It’s time to start researching what your competitors are doing and analyze your ideas against theirs. Will your idea give you an advantage that could lead to a larger share of your market? Will it bring you into the future to keep your competitors from overshadowing you? The best pitches place an emphasis on one-upping the people you’re going head to head with.

Come with Paper

Words can be interpreted in many different ways, but numbers don’t lie. Prepare the facts and figures ahead of time to support your idea. If you already know how the idea would be implemented, pitch it with that plan. If you can put together the package deal and put it all into writing, your boss will have all of the information he or she needs in order to give your idea the serious consideration it deserves. Even if you don’t get a decision right away, having the documentation keeps your idea on the table.

Be Open to Feedback and Criticism

Your boss might like some parts of your idea and dislike others. It’s important that you don’t take it personally. Instead, use this as the perfect opportunity to show your boss how receptive you can be. You might need to modify your idea in order to satisfy the concerns of your boss, and that’s fine. It’s collaboration, and welcoming another perspective can help your idea become better. If you can’t work out the kinks, you can always come up with a new idea.

It’s important that you don’t stop pitching just because your first pitch didn’t go the way you wanted it to. Trial and error is how innovators are born, and if your boss sees that potential in you, that might mean even more than getting the credit for the next big thing to happen in your workplace.

This article was contributed by guest author Camilla Dabney.

 

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The Pros and Cons of Job Hopping

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At one time, it was common for workers in a wide range of industries to find a great job with a successful company and to spend most or all of their career working for the same company. However, things have changed, and job hopping is now far more common. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average time a worker remains employed with the same company is 4.6 years. This average is only 2.3 years for those who are between the ages of 20 to 34. As you might imagine, there are both benefits and drawbacks associated with changing jobs frequently. It is important to understand these pros and cons so that you can take steps to maximize the benefits strategically while detracting from the negative effects of frequent job changes.

Improve Job Skills

When you work in a single position or company for many years, you may not have the opportunity to use all of your knowledge and training. These skills become stale, and your understanding of certain concepts may become worthless over time when knowledge is not used. More than that, you may not be able to fully develop new skills that could help you to take your career to new heights more quickly when you only work in one position over the years. Each position you work in can introduce you to new skills and training opportunities, and having a more well-rounded resume could potentially help you to land a better job down the road or to reach the pinnacle of your career more quickly.

Increase Income Potential

Regardless of whether you are comparing the average salaries of engineers, pharmacists or other professionals, you may be aware that most employers offer only a nominal cost of living salary adjustment each year. Some companies unfortunately do not even offer this small increase in income, and it may be several years or more before you receive a single raise with some companies. On the other hand, the earning power of your education and skill set may increase at a much faster rate, and you may discover that you need to change jobs periodically in order to earn the income that you are truly capable of. Keep in mind that your improved skills learned by frequently changing jobs can also help boost your earning power more quickly over the years.

Get Comfortable With Different Work Environments and People

Another great benefit of changing jobs periodically is the ability to work in a wider range of work environments and with many different people. This includes exposure to different managerial styles, working with a wider range of co-workers and learning how to meet the needs of a greater range of customers or clients. Through these new and varied experiences in different workplaces, you may feel more natural and comfortable in various work situations over the years. This can help you to interview more successfully for new jobs, and it can also help you to thrive in new positions. In some cases, individuals use this benefit to become a successful consultant in their field.

Employers May View Frequent Job Hopping Negatively

Many employers and hiring managers are well-aware of the trend for individuals to switch jobs more frequently now than in the past. However, when individuals change jobs too frequently, this can be a red flag for employers. For example, there is a difference between how an employer views a job candidate who changes jobs every three to five years versus how an employer views a candidate who has not stayed with a company for more than a year. Employers typically invest time and money training their new hires, and they want to select candidates who they feel comfortable may stay with the company for at least a few years. Even if you are a more qualified candidate than other applicants, your tendency to change jobs frequently may dissuade employers from offering you a job.

Relationships Could Be Impaired

Another potential downside associated with changing jobs frequently relates to your professional relationships. Careers are often developed through the ability to network extensively and to establish excellent industry connections. Some individuals you meet in a professional setting may be loyal to a specific company, and if you only stay with that company for a very short period of time, it may not be long enough for you to develop a lasting relationship. In addition, you may not stay in a company long enough to develop great references for future positions.

Switching Jobs Without a Plan

If you plan to switch jobs often, it is important to do so strategically. You should search for jobs that offer you the ability to enhance your current skill set, and you should research future job opportunities before deciding to make a career move. Understand how many years of experience you need developing a skill or working in a certain position or at a specific level before you change jobs. Make plans to stay in a specific position for a defined period of time before you leave. You should never leave a job because you are bored or frustrated, and you should always keep your attention focused on increasing your skills and earning potential.

Job hopping can be beneficial when done strategically, but you can see that it also can damage your career and jeopardize your ability to get a great job in your field if it’s done haphazardly. While many employers understand that the average time a worker may stay in a position is approximately four to five years, you should plan to keep a job for a period of time that helps you to strategically advance your career and maximize your income. With the right strategy in mind, you can enjoy great benefits by changing jobs periodically over the years.

This article was contributed by guest author Cassidy Hennigan.

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Why Ecommerce Could Be the Answer to Your Unemployment Woes

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Congratulations – all of your hard work over the couple of years has paid off and you’ve finally graduated with that coveted degree! After years of studying and spending hours in the library, it’s time to sit back, put your feet up and wait for all those job offers to start rolling in. Right?

While we wish we could say that it’s that simple, as you may have already realised, the job market is a pretty tough place for graduates to be right now. Increased competition means that it’s more important than ever for graduates to stand out when applying for jobs  – and as you may discover, it’s a lot harder for you to get your hands on that dream job than you initially thought it would be.

However, don’t despair – not all hope is lost! While it may feel hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, there are plenty of other options out there for bright young graduates like you.

Have you ever considered going it alone and starting your own ecommerce business? No? Well, read on.

With a growth rate of 23% year-over-year in the USA, and a total value of $322.17bn sales in 2016, it’s not hard to see why unemployed graduates might consider ecommerce for their big break. But what else is in it for you?

If you are looking for an alternative way to start earning some money and put your degree to good use, here’s why ecommerce could be the answer to your unemployment woes.

Work from home

Thanks to order fulfilment options such as dropshipping, where an external company manages stock control and deliveries for you, there’s no need to have your own storage warehouse. Therefore, depending on what products you’re selling, one of the perks of running an ecommerce business is that it’s pretty easy for you to work from home.

Yes, you heard that right. No need to put on that business wear and leave the house at 6am to start your daily commute. You can roll right out of bed and work in your PJs if you like!

Earn while you sleep

Since ecommerce allows customers to purchase goods via an online store, there are no barriers in terms of distance or time (depending on where you ship to). Therefore, you have a wider audience for your products or services than if you decided to open a physical store in a shopping mall, for example. Your business is always open – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Low operating costs

Running a physical store costs a lot of money. Just think of all the overheads you’d have to pay for rent, electricity and staff. By running your own solo ecommerce operation from home, one of the main benefits is that the overheads are much lower.

For example, an online store requires fewer personnel to manage it thanks to automation and inventory management. You can also benefit from cheap online marketing channels such as social media to spread the word about your business.

But wait – there are downsides too

It’s important that you’re not fooled into thinking that setting up an ecommerce business is going to be an easy ride – because it certainly isn’t. In order to be a business owner, you need to be prepared to work hard, especially in the early days when you are trying to get your ecommerce store off the ground.

You need to spend lots of time researching your business idea and creating a plan to help you establish whether your idea is commercially viable or not. While working yourself certainly isn’t for the fainthearted, if you found it easy to motivate yourself to study hard at college, then you might just have the dedication needed to run your own ecommerce business.

How to start an ecommerce business

If you think that setting up an ecommerce business could a good option for you, then here are a few handy tips to get you started:

  • Find the product or service that you want to sell: Yep that’s right, it’s time to do some research! Once you have an idea in mind, go online and see what your competition is doing, then ensure that you offer your customers something better
  • Choose the name of your business: Once you’ve decided on your product or service, it’s time to pick a memorable name for your business that will help you to stand out in the crowd. To make sure that the one you want isn’t already in use, conduct a corporate name search
  • Register your domain: When you’ve settled on a name, you’ll need to buy the domain – ideally one that is the same as your business name, with a strong extension like .com. Find out more about how to do this here
  • Build your store: Next up you need to work out whether you want to host your own online store or use a third party marketplace such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy. When you’re just starting out, using established marketing channels can help you grow your sales – but you won’t build up much brand equity that way

With the benefits and downsides considered, if you’re a graduate who is currently unemployed and is interested in finding out more about getting into the world of ecommerce, then there’s never been a better time to get started. 

This article was contributed by guest author Victoria Greene.

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Seven Things I Learned this Summer as a Law Office Intern

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I interned at a law office this summer in Fort Worth, Texas. Not just any law office, but one that represents people accused of crimes. That, in and of itself, made it interesting and exciting. Even though I didn’t get to do a lot of legal work (unless taking documents to the courthouse counts), it was a worthwhile experience. I tried to soak it all in and, in the process, hopefully took away some valuable life lessons. Here are seven eye-opening things I learned interning at a law office this summer.

  1. You have no idea what you are doing. No intern truly knows what to expect going into an internship. You don’t know if you will be someone’s assistant, if you will be aiding on an important project, or if you will just be getting coffee and making copies. You are venturing into completely new territory. The key is to go in with an open mind and a good attitude. The bulk of my time at the law firm of Varghese Summersett was actually spent working alongside the media relations director on various projects. An internship is all about learning, so even if you don’t know how to do something at first, by the end of the summer you’ll be surprised at the things you’ve accomplished. This summer I helped edit an e-book, worked on legal directory link building, and tried my hand at writing law blogs – including one about abuse of a corpse. Never saw that coming.
  2. Your bosses aren’t as scary as you think they are. I don’t know who started the stereotype that bosses are supposed to be mean, but 8 times out of 10, they aren’t. This is also true of attorneys. Contrary to what some people may think, bosses are not here to make your life miserable or to bark orders. They are here to guide you and to teach you and, hopefully, they get something in return. When you are an intern, you never feel like you completely fit in the office. You aren’t technically a real employee, but you still work in the office like everyone else. Being intimidated will get you nowhere and make your internship unpleasant. Everyone is there to help you learn the field you are working in and assist you in expanding your mind.
  3. Make friends with the other interns. No one wants to go to work for eight hours and not have a single person to talk to. Not only will making friends make the time more enjoyable, it will also be a useful tool to use throughout your internship. Fortunately, there were several other interns working at the law firm this summer. Several were in law school. Two, like me, were undergrads. One was a senior in high school. Rest assured, many of the other interns also have no idea what they are doing. You can use each other to help navigate through your work — maybe one of them knows how to do something you don’t? Now, I am not saying you’ve got to become best friends with them, but it helps to have someone to talk to during the slow parts of the day, someone to help you figure out what your boss just assigned you to do, someone to bounce ideas off of when you are totally lost, and someone to grab a quick lunch with when you need to get out of the office.
  4. Always check your email. Email is the main source of communication in a fast-paced office environment. People do not have time to get up from their desks and walk to the other side of the office when they need to ask a quick question. Your email is your life line. It is the thing that your boss will use 90 percent of the time to give you a task. So, if you don’t check it you could miss something — and that WILL make your boss scary.
  5. Dress appropriately. Depending on what type of business you are working for, there is a certain way you are expected to dress. It could be casual where you can wear jeans and a blouse, it could be business casual where you can wear a dress and flats, or it could be business professional where you must wear dress pants and a jacket. Since my internship was at a law office, the dress code was business attire. It is your responsibility to find out what kind of attire is expected BEFORE you start your internship. The two most important things I learned this summer when it comes to dressing for a job are:
    1. if you are wearing heels, always have a pair of flats in your bag
    2. it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  6. Don’t be scared to ask questions. Most of the time you are going to be doing something completely new to you. It’s okay not to know how to do something. What’s not okay is if you mess it up because you were too afraid to ask for help. You cannot learn without asking questions. Also, don’t think you are bothering your supervisor by asking questions. They would rather be interrupted for five minutes for a question than spend two hours fixing something you did wrong. Everyone has to start somewhere.
  7. You get out what you put in. You are ultimately the one who decides if your internship was a waste of time or a valuable experience. If you come to work every day skating by doing the bare minimum, then what was the point of getting an internship in the first place? You aren’t only wasting your time but the time of the people who have tried to teach you and work with you. However, if you put forth the effort to step out of your comfort zone, your internship will be a great opportunity. The things you discover doing an internship can be very useful and insightful. Maybe you discover something you are passionate about and want to pursue, or maybe you find that this isn’t the right field for you. Both can be very beneficial in choosing your career path. No matter what you learn from your internship, the only way for you to make it a rewarding experience is to put forth the effort and give it all you’ve got.

This article was contributed by guest author Karlee Mansfield, a sophomore at the University of Mississippi, where she is majoring in finance. She interned this summer at Varghese Summersett PLLC, a criminal defense firm based in Fort Worth, Texas. She is interested in becoming a lawyer one day.

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Out of College: How to Stay Productive at Work

Image by Annie Spratt, unsplash.com

Starting a new 9-5 job can be overwhelming; how do people go to the same job, every day, for 40 hours a week? It’s all too easy for monotony to set in and make you wish you never started your job in the first place. With all the stress, other people who think they know best, and doing the same thing every day, losing motivation is basically a guarantee. But it doesn’t mean that there is nothing we can do about it. By making a few simple changes, you can make your job exciting and start looking forward to future tasks once again. Here is how I did it and the tips I picked up along the way:

Get things done
Try to focus on all the tasks you have at hand and go at them with everything you’ve got. There must be a reason why you started your job in the first place, and by passionately accomplishing your tasks, you will be able to find that flame inside of you and fall in love with your job again.

Stay organized
It is no secret that people are more productive when they work in an organized environment. You should be able to easily find anything you need to get the job done and keeping your workspace tidy will put you in the right mindset every day when you get to work. So even if things get cluttered during the day, try to always tidy up before leaving the office. Physical space isn’t the only thing that should be neat: if you are working on your computer, sort out all of your files, declutter your desktop, delete any unnecessary notes, reply to or archive all emails and set yourself up for success the next day. Make sure you always have a pen and paper to write down some ideas and that you can access answers to any question related to your work.

Learn how to deal with coworkers
Very few people have the opportunity to work completely on their own, but there is a good reason why people usually work in groups: having someone with a different skill set than you or someone you can bounce ideas off of is a great way to boost your productivity. But how do you deal with the other ones; he ones who really just won’t let you work in peace? The golden rule is: just nod and carry on. Trying to argue with someone who has a different opinion than you will only take time from your day that could have been spent in a much better way, especially if you feel like the discussion wouldn’t give productive results.

Be in a productive environment
Whether that means being surrounded by a team of hardworking people, putting up motivational posters, or working in complete silence, a productive environment is something we should strive to achieve. When my company was moving offices, we consulted experts in office interiors to make sure that we were getting most out of the environment. For us specifically, it was important to have a relaxed, yet hard-working environment with plenty of space for large meetings. For your offices, it might mean making sure that everyone has enough workspace to do what they need to, or that they are in an environment that stimulates creativity. Opt for comfortable chairs and desks, simple but effective rugs, big space, and air conditioning to create a great business environment.

No matter how long you’ve been working at your job, or how long you plan to stay there, being productive throughout the day is important, mostly because it keeps your brain working and gives your life direction. If you ever feel like you completely lost your passion, or you are not sure why you are doing what you are doing, try to remember why you first started, or what your favorite part of the job is – or even see if you might be better off switching to a different position with new challenges.

This article was contributed by Emma Joyce.

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Pros and Cons of Having a Part-Time Job in College

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Is it possible for students to focus on GPA scores when they have a part-time job? Even though it is a major distracting factor, a job can have a positive influence on the studying process. It is all about prioritizing. If you put your studies first, you will get the results you want. On the other hand, working too hard can lead to wearing oneself out and therefore bad grades. There are many things to consider before making the decision to get a job while studying in college. These pros and cons will help you make up your mind!

Pros

Stable income

This is the first benefit that comes to mind. It is a great opportunity to start earning money. Students often complain about their financial situation and getting a part-time job can fix it. Take this decision seriously and try to understand if you are ready to take on this kind of responsibility. Do not look for a job with the sole intent to earn money. Think carefully about the responsibilities you will have and evaluate your skills objectively.

Ability to spend money wisely

Having a part-time job teaches students not only to earn, but to spend money as well. It is very tempting to buy all those little things you’ve always wanted now that you’ve received your first paycheck. But it is wiser to start saving. Life is full of surprises. You never know what you might need that money for in the future. It is more practical to have some savings than exchange your remuneration for a fading instant joy.

Improved time management skills

Always being late is not a good characteristic for an employee to have. It is a sign of disrespect and irresponsible attitude. Some students think that there is no way to combine classes and work without sacrificing something. There is a constant dilemma of skipping classes to be on time for your shift. To solve this problem, you need a job with a flexible schedule. Discuss the schedule with your manager and ask if there is a chance to adapt your work shifts according to it. Have a study plan and manage your time taking it into consideration. The tight schedule will help you to understand the real value of time and spend it wisely.

Valuable experience

No matter what kind of job students can find, there is always an opportunity to get useful experience for your future career. The working environment can improve your communication skills. A candidate who can easily find common ground with others has more chances of landing a job interview than the one who does not. Your first job can teach you to solve conflicts, find non-trivial solutions to all kinds of problems, and be more responsible. All of these qualities will come in handy after the graduation.

Networking

The people you get to know while working might have a tremendous impact on your future professional development. You never know who will be your lucky ticket to the business world. Be polite and try to maintain good relationships with your colleagues and managers. It is often a friend of a friend who knows someone and can arrange a job interview for you.

Cons

Bureaucracy issues for foreign students

Foreign students will have to go through more stages before they can get a job. They will need to fill out paperwork to prove that they are students and have permission to work. As a rule, such permission does not give foreign students the right to get a part-time job somewhere in a private business sector, so your college is one of the few places you can take your chances to find a job.

Constant exhaustion

Be ready to face the unwelcoming reality of sleep deprivation. Being tired all the time is an annoying component of working. Your time management skills might have nothing to do with it. Putting too much on your shoulders has its drawbacks and exhaustion is one of them. If you see that this feeling does not go away, think about the health issues you might have. Your health is by far more important than getting a salary.

Lack of time

The sad truth about having a job while you are still in college is the need to reject the invitations from your friends because there is no time left for fun. That is not entirely true, but you may meet up with friends less often than you did before.

Thoughts of leaving college

This might be one of the negative consequences of earning money so early. Students do not see any sense in going to college if there is a possibility to get paid without a diploma. Although there are some examples of people without college degrees starting a successful business, it is better to have one just in case.

This article was contributed by guest author Peter Druker.

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