Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What your online presence can do for your career

Did you know I host a TV show? I know, crazy right? I never in a million years thought I'd be hosting anything, but that's what happens when you put yourself out there online. Things start happening.

This can happen to you too.

When I decided to write a book and get it published I read all there was to read on how to do this, and most of the books said to get a publisher as a non-fiction author you have to have a platform (e.g. an online presence).

So I started this blog to begin to connect with my audience and start to give away content for free. 

And since I'm a big fan of multiple learning styles I thought to myself (why don't I read some of my blog entries to my laptop camera and post them on YouTube for students who prefer to listen or watch something rather than read it).

My first YouTube videos are literally me reading my blogs (kind of embarrassing...I can't even watch them now). 

But I just went for it. And eventually, these producers of a local college success show filmed at Tallahassee Community College found me, connected with me, and hired me. I just got back last week from finishing the last episodes for season 2.

The latest episode below is all about professional and social networking, and let me tell you, it works!

When you put yourself out there, especially in the context of something you love and care about, like-minded people will flock to you. Job offers will flock to you. And the best part - you'll meet and connect with amazing people all over the world.

So do you have a good online professional presence right now? Could someone searching to fill your dream job find you? Get going, and hopefully this episode will help!! :)

And for more on building your online presence be sure to download my free ebook How to Get a Job Without a Resume!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Success Series: Why Asking for Advice is the Best Networking Strategy

"But I'm young."

"But I have nothing to offer."

"But I'm shy."

"But I don't know anything about business."

"But I'm awkward."

These are just a few examples of some of the comments I've heard from young people who are afraid of networking. And they are all valid and understandable.

But they're also all wrong. 

Networking is this scary weird term that often conjures up some sleazy guy in a suit trying to talk himself up and force his business card into your hand.

This is not the kind of networking I'm talking about. The kind of networking I believe in feels more like friendship, and being young and/or a student can be a huge advantage if you know how to leverage it. 

I've written about this formula a lot (it's pretty much the basis for the last third of my first book and the entirety of my second book) but I think it's always helpful to have a reminder. 

The best way to start to build your network in college is to ask for advice.

Sure, you may not know a lot. You may have nothing to offer. You may be awkward and shy. And that's okay!

You actually have more to offer than you realize. Because when you ask someone for advice, listen, and then take that advice, you turn that person into your coach/mentor.

And feeling like a coach or mentor to someone is one of the best feelings in the world.

We all want to impact people's lives. We all want to feel like what we've learned in our life can be passed on and add value to someone else.

When you ask someone you admire for advice and really listen, you create an incredible bond and build a friendship that can lead to some amazing opportunities and often add value to your life in ways so beyond the traditional business-card exchange (heck you don't even need a business card for this kind of networking!)

Building a network is vital to succeeding in college and career. It just is. 

No one is successful alone. 

Here is one way to start right now:

Go to your college's student life office, career center, or the office hours of your favorite professor and ask for their advice regarding something you're trying to accomplish right now.

You don't have to have all the answers. Be vulnerable and honest about your struggles. Ask for advice. If the advice seems good to you, take it, and then go back and say thank you.

Start small and be persistent. This takes time. Try to ask for advice of someone you admire at least once a week. 

And then watch as your network grows, your opportunities expand, and your path clears.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

College To-Do List Week 17: The best way to make friends & win scholarships

Are you sick of this coral tank-top yet? lol. 

I filmed the college to-do list all in one day back in Miami, so sorry for the single-note wardrobe. Ha. Hope the tips are helping!

Please let me know how you're doing with the to-do list items in the comments below or at How many items have you done? What results have you seen?

I'd love to possibly share your success story at the end of this series! 

It's really important to me to hear what you're going through and how I can use this blog (and the YouTube channel) to help. I want to hear from you! :)

P.S. The vlog above is about becoming a leader in a club. Most people only think about this in the fall semester, but spring is a great time to look into clubs as many officers will be graduating and clubs will be looking for new leaders!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Success Series: Humility vs. Arrogance (which one gets you farther?)

I've been reading about success since I was a sophomore in high school - I asked for the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens for Christmas that year (nerd alert! I know, I know...). 

In this series I'm going to be revealing the top success qualities I've seen both in books and in the lives of real successful people so that you can use them to be successful in whatever it is you're pursuing right now. 

Success Series - Qualities of the Young & Successful

week 1 - humility

If you want to be successful, especially at a young age, there is a crucial thing you must have: humility.

Arrogance can get some people far, but I believe that, especially when you're young, humility pays much higher dividends in the long run.

Here's how to tell the difference and see where you are now:

The arrogant person thinks s/he knows everything.
The humble person knows s/he has much to learn.

The arrogant person uses people to get ahead.
The humble person tries to help people with what s/he knows.

The arrogant person talks only about him/her self.
The humble person listens more than s/he talks. 

The arrogant person thinks s/he can only win if you lose.
The humble person thinks there's enough success to go around. 

The arrogant person thinks s/he has all the answers.
The humble person is excited to find the answers. 

The arrogant person thinks about how to elevate his/her own status.
The humble person thinks about how to make others feel important.

The arrogant person gives unsolicited advice.
The humble person solicits advice. 

Whether you're just focusing on being successful in your current classes or you have a big dream you're reaching for, the good news is that humility can get you far.

You don't have to have all the answers, and you don't have to pretend to be someone you aren't. People are drawn to humility, especially in a culture that often makes us feel like we should always look like we have all the answers on our own. 

When you draw others to you, you draw on the resources necessary for success in anything you're trying to accomplish. 

No one is successful alone, and arrogance repels. 

Humility helps build the relationships that make success happen. To be young and successful you'll need an army of mentors and leaders who can teach you what they know and connect you to others who can move you forward.

Humility doesn't mean that you should put yourself down, hide in a corner, or not try. It just means that you are focused less on your image of success and more on actually contributing or creating something meaningful (for your community, your world, or maybe even for your next class project). 

You don't have to have all the answers to go for big dreams, you just have to be willing to find them, willing to seek help, and willing to admit you don't know everything. 

Try it. It's kind of liberating. 

Be sure to subscribe to the blog via e-mail in the top right-hand corner to stay on top of the Success Series. Next week I'll be talking about how to increase your confidence (yes - humility and confidence can go hand in hand!).

College To-Do List Week 16: Best use of LinkedIn for College Students

The College To-Do List is here to see you through until the end of your Spring 2014 semester! It's the small things you do consistently that make the biggest difference. 

Click below to find out one of the best uses of LinkedIn for college students!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The 5 Stages of Failure: How I felt when Harvard said no

Author's Note: I decided to share the personal experience below because of all the e-mails I've received over the years from students who've failed a test or a class or come across an obstacle MUCH greater than not getting into a dream graduate program. This is for you. Do not give up. 

If you've been following this blog you know I recently interviewed as one of the top 50 for Harvard's EdLD program in Boston last week. It seemed as if I was one of the youngest being considered by far, and thus I did not make the top 25 who were accepted into the program.

I found out last Friday night and to say I was crushed is an understatement.

It's been 5 days and I feel like I've been going through something that reminded me of the 5 stages of grief, but for failure. I'm no psychologist so I am completely making this up, but here's what happened to me:

Stage 1: Embarrassment
The first thing I said when I found out was: oh my gosh I'm going to have to tell everyone I didn't get in. I'm so embarrassed. 

Stage 2: Denial
Maybe they made a mistake. Yes! I'll get an e-mail and they'll be like, "sorry Isa, even though we're Harvard we just don't have it together and sent you the wrong email, you actually DID get accepted." That e-mail did not come. 

Stage 3: Self-loathing
Even though rationally I know failure is integral to success and have read dozens of books on how to bounce back from failure, none of it worked in that moment. 

For example, platitudes like "you can get bitter or get better" went through my head. I knew I would get better. I knew I would come out of this. I knew I was still dedicated to my mission of helping students break the cycles of poverty through education. But in that exact moment I still felt bitter. 

And I questioned my worth completely. These questions consumed me: what am I doing? why am I trying so hard? what made me think I was good enough for this? should I just give up? have I set my sights too high? am I just the worst? am I not cut out for this? am I even making a difference? 

This is the ugliest place to be, and for a few days I felt absolutely numb. It's a place I knew I could not or would not stay, but it seems impossible not to visit, even for a moment, when failure happens.

Stage 4: Acceptance of Encouragement
Though embarrassment is what I felt first, I knew I needed to get the telling of my failure over with. 

I emailed the handful of people who directly helped me get to the interview process with their advice and recommendation letters. I e-mailed close friends and family who'd been encouraging me all along. And I made the dreaded Facebook announcement.

Then what happened next honestly shocked me. People said the kindest things that reaffirmed my worth and future, including the wonderful Harvard professors and current EdLD students who'd offered their gracious help in my application and interview process.

Now of course, you know I'm the first to tell anyone that college acceptance does NOT define you. But like all advice, it's easier said than felt, especially in the depths of initial failure. 

I decided to sit back and just soak up what others were saying.

When I was in the self-loathing stage it would have been easy to just say "oh they're just being nice" or "what they're saying isn't actually true." But instead I decide to let the encouragement wash over me. 

I decided to believe what people were saying was true, even if I didn't feel it in the moment. 

Stage 5: Hope
Because of other people's encouragement I began to hope. I wish I could say I had the strength all by myself and didn't need anyone to help me overcome this failure.

But that's just not true.

And in fact, my book is all about why other people - peers, professors, and professional mentors - are integral to success.

We all need other people to tell us what they see in us in the dark times when we just cannot feel it ourselves. 

So let yourself go through the process, whatever that means for you, but don't do it alone. Tell people about your failures. Ask them for advice. Use failure to think about what you really want and other ways you can still get there. 

What also helped me hope again was my mission statement: helping students break cycles of poverty through education.

While I'd failed at one of my goals that I thought would help me get there (i.e. getting into Harvard) I knew this wasn't the only route available. I could come at it from other directions, and that is just what I will do. 

Failure is not easy at all. Even knowing that pressing on after failure is a requirement for success doesn't make it any easier in the moment. In fact it's even harder than all the books prepared me for. 

In the moments when I felt heartbroken, hopeless, and numb I felt like I was also failing at "failing forward," which made it even worse. 

I think it's important to acknowledge the sadness. I no longer believe that people who find success after failure are those who never go to that dark place - I think the key is just that they don't stay there. 

Fail hard. Fail again. Build your strength. Don't do it alone. Act even when you don't have motivation. And write down what really moves you - that thing you really want, that you're really working for; that thing that moves you, excites you, motivates you. That thing that will keep you going even when your immediate goals don't work out. 

Have you written it down yet? Go ahead. Do it now. Read it every morning. And keep going. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

College To-Do List Week 14: What to bring to your advisor

The College To-Do List is here to see you through until the end of your Spring 2014 semester! It's the small things you do consistently that make the biggest difference. 

Click here to see what you should bring to your advisor this week (hint: it will save you a ton of time and money!!)