2009 January - Career Fuel2009 January - Career Fuel

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Issue:  January 2009
In This Issue:



It's Never Too Early to Prepare
Tips from an Executive Mom
Intern Etiquette
The Paycheck Breakdown
Resource Corner

It's Never Too Early to Prepare

The bad news about the job market just keeps coming these days. New Jersey lost more than 15,000 jobs in December alone — with a whopping 63,000 jobs falling away in all of 2008. And it’s not over yet. Job market watchers are saying that the worst is yet to come.
The economy is in a deep recession, which is always a good time to go back to basics. Here are some important ways you can prepare now for employment in the future, especially if you plan to go right into the job market after high school:

Hit the Books
So, you’ve decided against tech school or college, but the classes you choose to take now still affect your future. Think about careers you’re most interested in; talk to your guidance counselor about classes you can take.

Get Involved
Extracurricular activities are highly regarded by employers. Student council officer — great leadership skills; picking up trash along the highway with your service club — a willingness to get the job done, no matter what it is; Captain of a sports team — can handle responsibilities entrusted to you. You can also impress your future employers by earning a National Work Readiness Credential, a special certification that tells employers you are ready and capable to tackle an entry-level job. Visit the “Resource Corner” below to learn where you can find out more.

Get a Job
A part-time job not only gives you extra cash, but it can also give you a taste of what a company or industry is like. Match your interests with available job opportunities. Love shopping? Try a job in retail. Animal lover? Contact local veterinarians. Addicted to wheels? Check out car dealers. You may be opening a full-time employment opportunity, plus gaining an edge with pay and experience.

Be Yourself
Employers want responsible, confident employees — no matter if they come with a high-school diploma or a doctorate in physics. During an interview, be yourself. Highlight your related experience, achievements and strengths. Run through mock-interview questions to help you prepare.

Use Your Connections
Just like your friends helped you land that great date, your connections can land you a great job. Talk to people who work in the field you’re interested in. Ask about job opportunities and if you’d be a good fit. The more people who know what you’re looking for, the greater your chances of finding a job.

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Tips from an Executive Mom

Today, more than ever, it’s important to understand what makes you marketable with employers. Amid the 50 people who may be interviewing for the same position at a company, you want to be the one who stands out. Your good looks will only get you so far!
       Deborah Dagit is the chief diversity officer for Merck, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies that is headquartered here in Whitehouse Station. In addition to her status as a top exec, Dagit is also mom to Vanir and Marina, 7th graders at Woodglen Middle School, and Alina, 15 and a freshman at Voorhees High School. Here’s Dagit’s best advice for job seekers:

  • Speaking and writing skills are valuable in most professions. Be wary of over-using shorthand methods for communication like texting and make sure you are confident in your ability to write professionally and speak in front of groups.
  • Employers look for ways that you have demonstrated leadership. Get involved in school programs, community-based efforts, and other opportunities that allow you to show you are able to lead effectively and demonstrate collaboration and courage with peers and get along well with supervisors.
  • Follow your passion. While it is important to choose academic training that will prepare you for job opportunities that are plentiful in the marketplace, it is also important that you choose something you are genuinely interested in. If you are miserable at work, you will be unlikely to succeed. Find out what a “day in the life” is like for professions you are considering to help you get a true picture of what your career experience might look like.

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Intern Etiquette

Internships are a valuable way for students to learn if they mesh well with the career path they have chosen. Rarely do students have a bad internship experience. NJ Next wants to help you make the best of yours. Answer True or False to the following five questions, compiled with some help from career service guides, and then check out the answers at the bottom of the page.

1. Got an opinion while you’re in a serious meeting? Make sure you share it as quickly as possible so you don’t lose the thought.
True or False?

2. Everyone knows you’re just an intern; it’s OK to show up in jeans and a polo shirt on the first day.
True or False?

3. You should treat this experience as a real job.
True or False?

4. Nobody expects you to show up on time; after all, you’re a kid with a lot of other responsibilities.
True or False?

5. You should never air problems or concerns with internships on public sites like Facebook or on a blog.
True or False?

Answers
1. False. Unlike classes, where participation and discussions are considered essential, chiming in with opinions during business meetings is often frowned-upon.

2. False. Dress appropriately until you get the feel for the expectations of the office.

3. True. Don’t look at this as just an impressive addition to your college app or resume. Make sure your learning objectives are clearly defined.

4. False. Punctuality is always extremely important.

5. True. You can get yourself and your company in big trouble (as in lawsuit) if you say too much. Also, remember that emails written from a company computer are often monitored.

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The Paycheck Breakdown

  You’ve just finished two weeks on the job and you can’t wait to get your very first paycheck: money in the bank. You’re earning $8 an hour and you’ve worked two 40-hour workweeks. You should be taking home $640, right? Not a bad chunk of change. You rip open the envelope and—gulp—the dollar amount on your check is considerably less than you expected, by several hundred dollars! It’s no mistake, so where did all your money go?

Avoid this painful pay stub sticker shock by learning one important reality before you enter the work world: the difference between gross income and net income. Gross income is the total money you earn in a particular pay period and net income is the portion of those earnings after deductions that you actually get to take home. With a little help from those tax people, H&R Block, here’s your paycheck breakdown:

Study Your Stub!
So, you’ve decided against tech school or college, but the classes you choose to take now still affect your future. Think about careers you’re most interested in; talk to your guidance counselor about classes you can take.

Who the Heck Is FICA?
Extracurricular activities are highly regarded by employers. Student council officer — great leadership skills; picking up trash along the highway with your service club — a willingness to get the job done, no matter what it is; Captain of a sports team — can handle responsibilities entrusted to you. You can also impress your future employers by earning a National Work Readiness Credential, a special certification that tells employers you are ready and capable to tackle an entry-level job. Visit the “Resource Corner” below to learn where you can find out more.

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Resource Corner

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