Q & A: Success Skills in School and Life

Q:  Several months ago I finished my college course with a certificate in child care  which is equivalent to NVQ level 2. But I am still out of work and starting to give up hope that I will find a job in child care. Do you have any tips for getting into childcare? I am only 18 and haven’t been out in the working world.

A:  Be creative with your process. Canvass every day care center and organization– for profit or non-profit that helps kids. Network as much as possible and keep yourself motivated that you will find the right job. Be determined and flexible. You may have to get a paying job in an unrelated field, like temping, or take an internship in a day care field if the people you talk to are unwilling to hire someone without experience. Focus on what you can do that will be special and different. This will help you to stand out amidst the other applicants.

Q:  I am a senior in High School and have been searching for a summer internship for the past few weeks. I have visited many web sites and e-mailed dozens of companies, but landing an internship is certainly harder than one might think! Next year I will be attending the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I plan on double majoring in entrepreneurship and print journalism. I am looking for an internship (either in town or somewhere in another U.S. city) in the fields of journalism, publishing, or the music industry. Basically, I am stuck. I think that I am at a disadvantage due to the fact that I am not a college junior or senior. I have discovered that most internship programs are looking for someone with a few years of work experience. If I cannot find an internship, I would settle for any job I could find in one of the three areas. I would love to move away for the summer, and if possible find a good paying job/internship. Any information you could provide would be much appreciated!

A:  Companies sometimes make exceptions and hire high school seniors. Visit your school’s career office and ask the guidance counselor for a listing of summer internships. Select 20 that match your interests and apply to them. Be sure to include in your application a letter of recommendation from one of your teachers or an employer you’ve worked for. Another option would be an “off-site” intern, where you receive projects and research assignments that you can do in a self- paced way for a few hours a week. Talk to your parents and other trusted adults and tell them about your desire for an internship. Ask for their help in finding one. Sometimes small businesses will create an internship. Realize that many internships are unpaid, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile. Internships can help you develop skills relevant to your career interests. Above all, don’t give up on your dreams. Your effort will pay off if you remain persistent.

Q:  I am making a career switch. I am a freelance airbrush makeup artist (business owner) currently. I’ve been in business for almost two years and have built up some amazing contacts in the wedding industry and through all my business building efforts. I’ve discovered what my real strong suit is promotion, marketing and sales. Do you have any suggestions on how to show my abilities on paper and during an interview, so to convey my value as a potential hire?

A: I have co-authored a book, Keys to Career Success, which may be helpful to you at this stage of life. Since you want to go into marketing and promotion, selling yourself will be one of the first major opportunities. Think about your strengths and why a company would want you to represent them. Think through any objections that they may have about your past work history so that you can easily overcome those questions in the job intereview. Finally, talk to people whom you consider to be masterful in sales. Ask them what they do to be successful and what you can do to be like them.

Q:  I am balancing teenagers at home and now have to find care for my aging father. Can you help me with how I can possibly keep myself, my family and my work together while balancing these hard decisions with my Dad?

 A:  If you can afford it, you might want to invest in a therapist or a life coach. You are balancing many tough life transitions right now and it is important that you get the support you need to take care of yourself.  Getting help is not a sign of  weakness, although some people carry a sense of stigma about such resources. Stay true to your own integrity and remember that you can find the strength and  the guidance to make loving, supportive choices as long as you are loving and  supporting yourself first and foremost.

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