Freshmen

Monday, September 08, 2008

What’s it like to be a…Human Relations/Labor Relations Manager?

My actual position is: HR/Labor Relations Manager and I am also responsible for Safety and Hourly Employment activities.

What does a normal day look like?
Up at 4:30 a.m., drive to work at 5:30 a.m., thank the Good Lord for all of His blessings and another wonderful day. To work by 6:00 a.m., get coffee and fire up laptop, check Lotus Notes, voice mail and then start my day. No two days are the same, what happens from 6:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. just depends… When you are in the “People Business” you have to just roll with it. Being in HR/LR, your customer is anyone who walks through the door with an issue or problem. It is important to welcome them and focus all of your attention on them and their issues. You must make them feel they are the most important person at that moment. Be positive, calm and polite. The phone, the computer and others at the door can all wait. Always remember to try and walk in the other person’s shoes to try and understand their issues or perspectives.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/08 at 01:39 PM
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What’s it like to be a….School Social Worker?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
A normal day for me consists of seeing kids in the school setting who need counseling services for social and emotional concerns or behavioral problems. I also meet with teachers on a regular basis to talk about concerns they have regarding students.  I then can offer suggestions and a variety of accommodations and modifications that the teacher can make in their classroom to help that student be more successful. I also spend a large amount of time attending IEP meetings for students who require special education services.

School social work has changed over the years in the sense that school social workers are not pulling kids out on a regular basis from class for counseling sessions. We are now looking to work collaboratively with teachers in the classroom setting to help their students be successful within their learning environment without having to be removed from class for long periods of time.

School social workers also need to be extremely proficient and up to date with the latest special education initiatives and laws as a large part of your role is leading and facilitating IEP meetings for special education students. At these meetings, you help the special education team decide which services are most appropriate for the student in the school setting to best help them be academically and socially successful. 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/02 at 10:49 AM
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What’s it like to be a ...Water Treatment Engineer?

My job title is:
Leadership Program Associate

My actual position is:
Manager Trainee, Water Treatment Engineer. I also occasionally help with sales of specialty water treatment chemicals and capital (water treatment) equipment.

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?

Writing reports, running tests on water, meeting with customers.  It’s pretty consistent throughout the year.  I’ve had this position for almost 21 months and continue to pick up more and more responsibility in dealing with customers.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/02 at 10:25 AM
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Monday, August 18, 2008

What’s it like to be an ....Independent Consultant?

My job title is:  President/Owner
My actual position is (if this differs from job title): Independent Consultant at present time. 
What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
A normal day starts out with reviewing results of marketing programs from prior day/week. Review information reports from research or database analysis.  Review program results summaries from completed database marketing programs.  Review (and approve) pro forma ROI plans for upcoming direct marketing activities, including discussion of test plans and test investment.  Many days include meetings with product development (for research), line management (customer satisfaction measures), IT (for projects/problems being addressed) and direct marketing teams in Marketing.  Most weeks there is a meeting/update for senior managers.  Special projects require meetings with various members of senior and mid level managers.

Often I met with outside vendors to learn about new information available for the customer database, or new statistical techniques that can help group customers for improved marketing performance.

 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/18 at 01:23 PM
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What’s it like to be a ....Director of Curriculum and Instruction?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed? 
Everyday is different. I might be doing “administrivia”(creating budgets, investigating textbooks for purchase, keeping up with current state GLCEs or HSCEs, acting as the district contact for MEAP and MME), training teachers, modeling lessons in classrooms, planning with school improvement teams, working with building principals, etc.  Over the last few years, we have become much more focused on data; using the data from certain tests to help us to make good instructional decisions.  A great deal of my job has become gathering and interpreting data for principals and school improvement teams. The use of technology has exploded and trying to keep teachers up to date with shrinking funds has been a challenge.

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now? 
I was at preschool teacher and director for 15 years, then I taught Kindergarten and 1st grade for another 14 years.  At the end of my career, I was an elementary principal (K-4) and finally, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for a 3500-student district. (All except the preschool part of my career has been in the same district.)

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/18 at 01:03 PM
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What’s it like to be a….Tax Preparer?

My job title is:
Enrolled Agent-Enrolled to practice before the IRS. The IRS gives two days of exams to certify a tax preparer knows the tax laws well enough to appear for clients before the Internal Revenue Service on the same basis as Attorneys.  I also have a Masters in Tax from Golden Gate University, a business school in San Francisco.

My actual position is:
Tax Consultant, Tax Preparer

What does a normal day look like?
I meet with clients who want tax returns prepared and consult with clients who have tax issues.  I organize the tax information that clients bring me according to tax accounting rules, prepare tax returns, give tax advice and contact the state and federal taxing authorities on my client’s behalf.

 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/12 at 02:53 PM
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What’s it like to be an….Interior Design Assistant?

My job title is: Interior Design Assistant at a small but expanding design agency


What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
A Normal Day:  I never know what to expect on a daily basis. I work mostly with designers who need my assistance for a number of reasons.  Some of the assistance I provide includes: searching for a fabric, piece of furniture, accessory, light fixture, tile, etc… that fits into a given design; making deliveries to or picking up items from clients’ homes, vendors or retail stores like Pottery Barn.  Attending every rep meeting with sales representatives from many vendors. For example, each fabric line we carry has a rep and they usually come in a few times a year to update our library and introduce us to new products. (Sometimes they even take us out to dinner!) I also take care of our company’s huge library of design materials- each item has a specific home in our library, so I make sure things are where they belong.

My job is fairly consistent throughout the year.  It does get busier during the holidays when we are shopping for client gifts, wrapping and decorating.  I have been at my job for more than a year. It keeps getting busier and I have much more responsibility now. 

 

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/23 at 09:05 AM
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What’s it like to be a ...Senior Architect?

I don’t know about you but when I think about the field of architecture, I think grand buildings, creative structures, post-modern lines. But patience? That’s not a quality I normally associate with the profession. Turns out, that’s an essential. Read on for a fascinating peak into the life of an architect.

My job title is: Senior Architect (very recently retired)

My actual position is (if this differs from job title):
Job responsibilities included project management and oversight. I was responsible for leading and scheduling a group of employees and for reviewing their work. Generally, the Project Manager is responsible for a project’s client contact, schedule and budget.

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
Generally the work day is fairly consistent, averaging 8 to 10 hours per day. I think the biggest change over the last few years is that project schedules have been compressed, primarily due to the use of the computer and clients’ needs to get immediate returns on their investments.

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now?

In the architectural field, you are required to serve a period of internship prior to being able to take an exam for licensing. Even after licensing, a period of learning continues. One intermediate step before becoming a project manager is to be a Job Captain or Project Architect, who is responsible for project design and coordination with other design disciplines involved and works with the Project Manager.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/16 at 12:34 PM
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Monday, July 07, 2008

What’s it like to be a .....Curator of Archives?

Check out the following for a glimpse into a curator’s world, where multi-tasking and creative thinking are essential survival tools:

Q. What does your typical day look like?
A.Typically I spend the first hour of the day answering email, which comes from around the world; usually inquiring about resources available in our collections. 
○ Then I move on to specific projects underway, which can range from reviewing finding aids for processed collections, to producing reports (including statistical summaries) of date we collect   for the college, the seminary, or the denomination (we serve as the archives for all three). 
○Probably ten percent of my time every week is spent in some sort of committee related function. 
○ Throughout the day I am on-call for researchers who come in and have questions about the collections – from genealogists to post-doctoral scholars.
○ I determine which collections to acquire and then spend time working on acquiring those collections. This requires a sense of what data is or may become of interest to the wide range of   researchers that will visit our collection.
○ I work on the various administrative functions (budget, personnel, etc.) necessary to run the department.
○I spend time researching and doing some writing on the history of the three member institutions (denomination, college, seminary), some of this writing is intended for publication.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/07 at 11:09 AM
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Friday, July 04, 2008

What’s it like to be a…Marketing Specialist?

Marketing Specialist at a multi-national footwear company:

A typical day for me starts with checking my email.  Usually there are orders to be filled for the sales people out on the road or questions from the creative department on the projects that we are working on.  Throughout the day I do the majority of my work on the computer.  I use Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Publisher to work on catalogs and buyers guides, filling orders, coming up with and proofing ads, etc. 

This is usually pretty consistent throughout the year.  My focus changes a little bit depending on if we are working on a new line of shoes or not.  A new line of shoes means a new catalog and that makes things a little busier.  Also, after a new line comes out the sales people are making more visits to accounts so usually requests for orders are more frequent. 

I started my career path working in shoe sales, but I also interned on Capitol Hill, worked as an administrative assistant, and managed a retail clothing boutique. 
I came to the company where I am at now because a friend of mine worked here.  I was looking for a new job and she told me that I could forward my resume to her boss.  I came in to meet with him for an informational meeting.  When a position opened up, they thought of me for the job and, after interviewing, I was offered my position.

In terms of educational background, I received a BA in business and political science from Calvin.  I feel that my education, combined with my work experience is very beneficial in my position.  I gained confidence in my writing and presentation skills while an intern.  I learned leadership and problem solving while working in retail and I learned multitasking and office skills while working as an administrative assistant.  I feel that all of those skills make someone in my position successful.

One of the greatest rewards of this position is being able to see a finished product after hard work.  Completing catalogs or seeing the final version of an ad is exciting.  A good day is one that is busy with all different kinds of work.

The biggest trend/change I see in the future is the shift towards technology.  In the next 5-10 years it will be essential for people to have a good understanding of computers and technology because that is where we are headed.

For further information on marketing careers, check out American Marketing Association‘s Career Management/Ask the Expert link.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/04 at 09:47 AM
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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What’s it like to be a ____? (series intro)

Freshmen ask. Seniors ask. Even grads arrive in my office with variations on the same question. Sometimes even wistfully, they ask something to this effect, “I’d like to know where to go with my major/gifts/talents, but how do I find out what’s out there?”

Good question. How do you know where to head if you don’t know what the destination will look like? What’s it like to be a doctor, lawyer, or social worker? Or going beyond the obvious, what’s it like to be a child life specialist, a credit analyst, an archivist? A marketing specialist or actuary? What do these people do every day and how do you know if it will a good fit for you in particular? 

Of course, there’s always the web. One can start researching careers at sites like Career Browser or the gold standard of them all, O*Net. Great sites. Helpful information but, at best, still generic. Not personalized. Not necessarily what you have been gifted to do.

What I typically suggest is that people follow up with their own informational interviews, i.e. that they spend time with a professional who can pass along rubber-meets-the-road type of advice. Stuff you can’t get from books.

So to help students in that fact finding endeavor, I have decided to put on my own research cap and run a series of blog entries straight from the mouths of professionals in the field. It’s all up and coming under the title of “What’s it like to be a ______?” So check out the forthcoming stories or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you’re interested in letting students know what you do every day.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 07/01 at 02:26 PM
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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Would You Steal This Job….

I recently came across a site running what I would love to cover—mini stories of actual people from a rather interesting spectrum of jobs. Check out Would You Steal This Job for at least a cursory introduction to jobs like community director, college recruiter and photographer, just to name a few. If you’ve found yourself wondering, as I have, what’s that job like? Well, here’s a place that will provide you with a quick glimpse. Not exactly a day-in-the-life-of, but at least some sites for further research.

And, a closing note for today. Aunt Bonnie will be taking spring break until the last week of March when blogging will resume.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 03/15 at 03:04 PM
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Monday, February 13, 2006

Hiring for attitude….

I visited a place yesterday where precision counts. Well, okay, I was just getting a haircut but the opening line still applies, right? I mean, who wants a bad haircut. The point is that during our extended one-way conversation (stylist as speaker and me as listener), she went on to talk about who gets hired now days and why. To quote, “We hire for attitude. Technique and skills we can teach but not attitude.”

Attitude in that setting means bending over backwards, doing more than what’s expected. And smiling graciously in the process.

So those summer and part time job experiences? Great forays into the Land of the Great Attitude, where you can perfect your approach and collect stories along the way to demonstrate your successes.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/13 at 02:10 PM
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Friday, February 10, 2006

MySpace…not just for kids

Looks there are plenty of people finding fascinating material on MySpace this week. That would include local high school administrators who found pics of their students drinking at a weekend party. And there’s no closure yet as some students and parents alike refuse to accept the two week extra-curricular suspension penalty. We’ll see whether or not the issue ends up in court but the issue leaves a divided student body and another illustration of unanticipated MySpace consequences.

A recent issue of Money magazine (February 2006) advises parents to “counsel teens and even post college kids to be aware of the potential long-term consequences…” (Talkin’ ‘bout MySpace Generation, p. 27). But 2 minutes and a very cursory glance at MySpace contributors makes it plain that post college kids aren’t the only ones who need advice. How about 27 year olds who admit that they are the type of person who will wait in the car to drive you away after you, the perpetrator, commit a nasty prank?  Hmmmm. And the employment sector for this person would be…..?

Evidently, removing injurious information may not be enough, as Money mag goes on to talk about search engines, such as Archive.org, designed to cull information assumed to be deleted from the the web.

Best course of action, my 27 year old “friend”, is to change your profile, edit your entry and alter your on-line persona. You’ve got a larger audience than happy stud muffins reading about your meant-to-be-humorous, but nonetheless deviant, predilections.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/10 at 02:29 PM
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Monday, January 23, 2006

New Years, Aunt Bonnie style….

With all the schedule-destroying intrusions which have happened this past month, my actual Aunt Bonnie’s New Year’s celebration day this year is going to occur on Feb. 1. Yup. The New Years resolutions, fresh starts. All that stuff begins on my very own, personally declared “new year.”

I’ve been known to do this sort of thing in the past. Move a scheduled date to one which works better. So, for instance, if my birthday comes on a Monday, or some other “dull” day, I might move it to a Friday for that year. Given that my birthday falls on Sept. 11, I had a few years where I celebrated on every good day for a whole month.

Okay, so where’s this heading??? It’s actually more than sheer babble, as it has job search implications as well.

If you’re one of those moderately to very frustrated job searchers, someone whose job search is lasting way longer than planned, why not look at the calendar and choose a new DAY ONE? Make it at least a week away to allow yourself time to reassess what you’ve been doing and why you’ve not achieved results (the most common cause being too much time spent on Internet job boards).  Revise your plan and re-launch. Fresh-spirited and enthused.

So Happy New Years…on whichever day you choose.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 01/23 at 04:18 PM
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