How to get a job right out of college

A quick note: I wrote this article for Edu.com back in 2000. That site no longer exists, but the article does, and I updated it to keep it current.

So you’re about to graduate and you’re starting to fret because you don’t have a job lined up. If going back to live with your parents seems like a bad idea, then you’d better do your homework. “Yeah, but where do I start?” you ask. Right here and now would be alright…

Use what you already have
First, don’t dismiss the resources that your college or grad school has to offer. Any good school ought to have a Career Services office, a place that will at least help you get an entry-level job if not more. My college, Middlebury, had just such a place. Of course, I never used it because I was too cool for it. Then I paid the price in crappy jobs. That was the first lesson I learned: use every opportunity to your advantage.

Networking (no, not the computer kind)
The least I could have done with my summers was to research internship opportunities. A few months during the summer (when you have nothing better to do anyway) will pay off big later on if you do a good job. Not only do you get to network and make important contacts, these people may actually hand you a job if they like you. And the whole thing is pretty much a no-brainer. You go to work, you, do a good job, then get a real job.

I knew better than to pass up internship opportunities while I was studying for my Master’s. (Besides, they’re pretty much required.) I interned with a local health plan, and while I didn’t get a job out of it, I learned an awful lot about how to function in such an institution. I also got a consulting gig with them when my internship was over. I designed and implemented a Physician Profiling application for them. They were even willing to put up with me while I was still learning my way through programming in Access. The whole thing turned out great in the end, and it persuaded me to go into computer consulting as freelancer, which is what I’m doing now.

Get started
Second, check out the job search sites. There are so many of them these days, you’re bound to find jobs that you like. If you’re looking for entry-level jobs, here’s what you’ve got: CollegeRecruiter.com, College Grad Job Hunter, CareerGuidance, and CareerBuilder. The list probably goes on, but this should get you started in your search for that elusive “real” job that will pay your rent and food.

Note: While in 2000 some job sites used to specialize in entry-level jobs, most good job sites these days will list both entry-level and regular jobs.

Serious play
Now, if you’re like me and you didn’t let those summers go to waste but worked instead, you may be ready for some grown-up jobs. While the competition will definitely heat up, the crop of available jobs and the pay for those jobs definitely looks better. CareerBuilder is a big site with lots of jobs. Another really good site is Monster.

CareerXpress is a site that will distribute your resume to employers and headhunters for a fee. CareerJet is another site that collects job listings from multiple job sites and makes them available to you for easy searching. Do your research though. Find more sites if you’re interested in this. Make sure exactly how the service works, or you might get ripped off.

For that special-ized job?
Discover Me is an interesting service, because it claims to match your personality with that of top performers in a specific job. If you’re in healthcare and you’re despairing because there are no sites specific to your needs, here’s one: HireHealth. They’ve got jobs about everything related to healthcare.

Or perhaps you went abroad for a semester or two, and fell in love with that country. Europe has that kind of power, I know. Maybe you want to go back there and work. Hey, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too. Check out these two sites and make your dreams come true: Planet Recruit and Datum Online, which list international jobs. And who says you can’t reach for the sky: 6FigureJobs is just the place to go for those of us that like to think large.

If you’re in technology, you’re in luck. Those sites really abound, and the jobs are plentiful (or were, before 2000). The good thing is that computers make the world go ’round these days, so there will always be a demand for good IT people. Here are some sites for us lucky ones: Dice, ITclassifieds, Techies, Jobs, and Positionwatch.

Try the past, you may be surprised
Have you tried newspaper classifieds? Some of you may be wondering what they are, and I’ll tell you. They’re a good way to find local jobs, so give them a shot.

Final thoughts
Network, but don’t be sleazy. Be nice to everyone you meet, you never know when they can help. And be sure to help when you can. Don’t keep count, just be helpful. At your job, be professional. Leave the playing around to the goofs who will never be promoted. Do your job and perform above expectations. Never burn any bridges if you can help it. It will come back to haunt you, believe me.

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How to get started in web design

A quick note: this article was written back in 2000, and it shows its age. At this time, I have no intention of editing it to bring it up to the present. To me, it’s an interesting snapshot of the “old days”…

If you’re interested in Web design and want a simple “how to” guide to starting out, you’re in luck. That’s what this article’s about.

Learning the ropes
Thanks to the huge growth of the Internet during the past few years, it’s become easier than ever to get yourself on the Web without writing a single line of code. Sites such as Tripod, Homestead or FreeYellow will host your pages for free, give you tens of megabytes for you to fill up with files and free tools to help you build your site online in minutes.

Got the hang of it?
If you’re a little more advanced and want to work on your own HTML files, the Web is full of resources. You can have access to free online tutorials to help you beef up your design skills at the same sites mentioned above, or at sites such as CNET or ZDNet.

But my advice to you is to start easy. If you overwhelm yourself with tech terms and get into learning code from the start, you’ll most likely get bogged down and probably stop learning. Begin with FrontPage Express (you can find it at Microsoft’s Windows Update site) or some other free HTML editors such as Cool Page, HotDog or PageMill. The downloads section at ZDNET is where you’ll find free HTML editors and other cool web design programs and goodies. has a really good section on Web publishing tools.

Moving on up
Once you get the hang of these, you’re ready to graduate to the big dogs. Some of the premier HTML editors available these days are Macromedia Dreamweaver and UltraDev, Allaire Homesite and Microsoft FrontPage. What’s good about them is that they integrate ease of use with advanced features such as JavaScript, DHTML, ASP (Microsoft Active Server Pages, JSP (Java Script Pages) or CFML (Cold Fusion Markup Language) capabilities. These languages are what make most business Web sites run these days. They’re the hard code behind the pretty fronts that you click on.

Dreamweaver is made by Macromedia, the same company that made Flash a household name. I can’t say enough good things about this program. It is the premier web design application on the market, and it makes it fantastically easy to create quality websites. Of course, you also pay a pretty penny for it (price is around $250-300). UltraDev is Dreamweaver on steroids. Not only does it have all of the capabilities of Dreamweaver, but it also writes advanced code for you and makes it incredibly easy to add database functionality to your website. The price for it runs from $550-600.

Homesite on the other hand has a really nice and functional division between the work window and HTML view, though it lags behind Dreamweaver in the visual quality of the GUI. Allaire (which makes Homesite) was recently bought by Macromedia, so I’m not sure what the future of this application will be.

Microsoft FrontPage is good for beginners because it offers so many features and plug-ins, but it’s awkward to work with unless you use it exclusively. Switching HTML files between it and other editors is a nightmare because it changes the way the code is written. I stay away from it – far, far away – because I just don’t want to deal with the bloated code and the extra folders that it creates for itself on my web server.

After you use these programs yourself, you’ll discover your own pet peeves. And when you do, congratulate yourself, because you’ll have made it to the next level.

So you think you’re hot
If you think you’re ready for the big leagues, the Web development sections at CNET or ZDNet are the ones for you. CNET has a really good section with HTML tutorials and Web design, while ZDNet has a huge Developer section with all the tutorials and free code you could ever want. Other free code also abounds online. You’ll find more than enough CGI, Java and applets if you do a few diligent searches. It also never hurts to actually spend some money on good software books. Most of the time, they’ll come with CD-ROMs filled with free code and other goodies.

Goodies
Good clipart and sounds (great for enhancing your page) are also available free online at places such as AllFreeClipArt.com, About.com, or Volition.com. The best way to find the sounds you like is to search for them by categories. Say you like The Simpsons. Well, then you’d search for them by name, find the sound file that you need, then insert a hidden sound tag on your index page. This sound would then play every time that page was loaded. And if you want to be really annoying, you can make it play over and over and over…. Of course you will have to watch for copyright infringements. If it’s a personal page, no one will probably bother you, but if it’s a page that sells stuff, or your own page on your company’s website, you might get in trouble. Just make sure you check to see if it’s okay first.

Going pro
Last but not least, if you want to be good at this, learn from the masters. Actually, steal from the masters. Go to the sites for some of the coolest design companies these days: The Designory, Me Company, Fusive.Com, Contact Designs, Control V Interactive, DayStream, Exprimare or Lupuspernix. The list is debatable, and so is the order. The important thing is to find some really good sites and pick them apart. Look at the source code. Save the HTML files to your hard drive. Open them up in Dreamweaver, see what they’re made of, how they’re put together. Try to replicate the graphic design in Freehand, Illustrator or PhotoShop. Get into
Flash. It’s hot these days. See what you can do. Then do it better. And when you’re ready, apply for some jobs. You can’t keep bumming off your parents forever. Here’s how!

When I grow up, I want to be?
If you get to know all the stuff I’ve talked about, then you’ll probably wish to specialize, or learn more about a certain aspect of Web design. There are three main areas:

  1. Code Monkeys: these guys and gals want nothing more than to sit in front of the monitor writing JavaScript and messing around with SQL (Structured Query Language) or ASP (Active Server Pages) all day long.
  2. Graphic designers: these creative folks make the great fronts you see on some of today’s coolest Web pages. Homework: go find these really cool pages. Judge them, and be subjective. Art is what you make of it.
  3. Web designers: these guys are the go-betweens. They take the stuff that graphic designers make and they put it on Web pages. Then they get it ready for the code monkeys, which will go in and finish out the job by integrating the HTML with the other code that makes sites work (see above). At most places, the 2nd and 3rd categories are one and the same, but at bigger companies, you will find that most designers will fall into these three categories.
  4. Art/Creative Directors: these gals and guys work on the big picture and chart the direction in which a project needs to go. They’re interesting people with quirky habits, and for the most part, they know what they’re doing.

How to keep your exercise goals

So you’ve had it with yourself. You’ve decided it’s high time you started to exercise. You’ve heard about all the benefits: increased energy and stamina, better health, more strength, and of course, a better looking body. But you don’t know where to begin, and simply deciding that you’re going to drop 20 pounds or add 20 pounds (whichever your case may be) probably won’t work for most people. You need a plan, and you need to break down that plan into achievable steps or goals.

This article makes it easy for you to identify and prioritize your exercise goals and establish an easy to follow exercise program. Just follow along and jot down your own notes or answers to each of the points mentioned.

  • Make sure your goals are in line with your priorities. For example, if your first priority is your family (you want to spend time with your wife or husband, or you have children,) don’t go all out with your exercise and steal away all of the quality family time. Your exercise will separate you from them, create tensions within your family, and in the end, you’ll probably associate exercise with that bad experience and you’ll be less likely to begin a new program. Instead, talk with your spouse about your plans and work out a schedule that works for both of you. Begin with exercise sessions 3 times a week for 20-40 minutes each. As you start experiencing the benefits of exercise, share your enthusiasm with your spouse. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that they will join in your exercise program.
  • Set realistic, achievable goals and time frames. This is a biggie! Many people get discouraged and stop exercising because they don’t achieve the goals they set for themselves. Of course you’re not going to achieve your goals if they are too high and lofty. Having fallen prey to this mistake myself, I can tell you right now that you will not drop/add 20-30 pounds in a month, or in some cases, even in 2 months. It just will not happen, unless you’re incredibly lucky or you do some incredibly thoughtless thing like going on a crash diet. What will most likely happen is that you will be able to drop or add 10 pounds in a month of serious exercise. These are what’s called “beginner’s bonus”. After that, your gains or losses will come harder for the following reasons:
    • If you’re trying to lose weight, you are, but you’re also replacing that weight with muscle, so as your muscles grow, you’re adding weight and replacing the fat weight that you’re losing. So if you are lifting heavy weights and hoping that your own weight will drop as a result, you’re in for a surprise. If you’re lifting light weights, focusing on lots of repetitions and lots of cardio exercises (which increase your heart rate), your weight will probably continue to drop fairly steadily, although the leaner you get, the harder you will have to work for those last few pounds. So, unless you’re very fat, your “beginner’s bonus” will wear out quickly and you’ll need to work harder in order to continue losing weight.
    • If you’re trying to add weight because you’re thin, your body will like staying thin and won’t like adding weight. So after the initial shock of exercise and an initial amount of weight gain, your body will try to stay at the new weight or even go down to its previous weight. What’s worse, if you gorge on food hoping the sheer amount of calories will force your body to add more weight, you’ll be adding lots of fat, not muscle, and then you’ll be both scrawny and flabby (bet that’s a pretty picture…).
    • Basically, the fight will be with yourself. After the beginner’s bonus wears out, you’ll really need to get determined and stick close to your exercise schedule, because sooner or later you will reach something called a “plateau”, which is dead point in your progress. The only way to get out of a plateau is to set small, achievable goals and document everything, so you can follow your progress on a daily basis. Then it’ll be a game of comparison: you’ll compare the numbers with the dates, and before long, you’ll see yourself progressing again.
  • Visualize the results. Every time you look in a mirror, imagine yourself at your goal image, and keep that image in mind as you exercise. The power of getting results depends on the determination that you use in picturing your end result. Even when the image gets stale or seems too far away, you have to hold on to it and truly believe you can get there, or else the game is lost. Once you get in a regular exercise schedule, it’s all a mind game. You have to actively decide to go to the gym, to stay in there till you’re done with what you planned to do, to eat right, sleep right and stay focused. Otherwise, you’ll get lost on the wayside and never reach your destination. Focusing on your goal image helps keep you on track and gives your the extra power that you need to finish your workouts.
  • Take positive steps toward your destination everyday, even if it’s just a few moments for reflection. While it’s harder for you to control your thoughts or feelings (you will have many doubts), it’s much easier to control your actions. If you want to drop those pounds, make sure that every bit of food you eat is healthy, and every exercise that you do at the gym is done toward losing that weight. If you want to add weight, make sure you eat all of the food that you planned, that you work out until the point of total exhaustion at every workout, and that you get more than adequate amounts of sleep. And take a few moments a few times each day to think about the progress you’ve made and enjoy the goals you’ve already achieved. You’ll be re-enforcing your drive when you do that, and you’ll motivate yourself to go even further than you planned. Every little bit that you do counts, no matter what your goal is.
  • Reward yourself. When you give yourself a reward for your achievement, you unconsciously give yourself support for your actions. Give yourself a worthy gift for a worthy success, but don’t spoil yourself. In other words, if you’ve just dropped 20 pounds, don’t celebrate with a triple fudge Sundae and an all-course brunch. You’ll be ruining everything you worked for. Instead, re-inforce the positive habits you’ve created by doing something healthful, like getting a full body massage or treating yourself to some exotic fruit smoothies. Chances are you won’t need to worry about rewarding yourself; if your body looks better, your spouse will probably find plenty of ways to reward you…