Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Find the Perfect Mentor

What do Dr. Martin Luther King, Colin Powell, and Oprah Winfrey have in common?  They all attribute a large part of their success to meaningful relationships they’ve had with mentors. Regardless of what field you’re looking to enter, a good mentor can provide many benefits that will help you excel in your career path.

As we are preparing to launch the third year of our Peirce Student Mentoring program with an on-campus kickoff celebration, allow us to share some reflections about what goes into a successful mentoring relationship.

There are many different types of mentor/mentee relationships. Some mentors may be professionals in your career field, while others may simply be a role model you look up to. A good mentor will help you define and refine your direction, help you realize your full potential, provide valuable life advice, and push you to keep moving forward. You will need to do the work and the self-assessment, but they will be there for feedback and guidance.

Mentorships can come in all shapes and sizes. Some are formal, others are informal. Some mentors meet with their mentee weekly or monthly, and some connect through email, or on the phone. Others may meet quarterly or every couple of months for lunch. The most important thing is that you develop a relationship that is most beneficial for the both of you.

Here are some effective ways to find a mentor and tips for developing a successful relationship.

Understand why you want a mentorship
The most effective relationships will be those where you define what you’re hoping to gain even before you start looking for a mentor. Identify the areas you hope to grow in or any challenges you may be having with your personal or professional development. Think about your long term goals so that you can find a mentor that can best help you grow into the person who can achieve them.  Ask yourself these questions: 
  • What do I hope to gain from this relationship?
  • How can the mentor help?
  • Who would be the ideal mentor? Why? 
Find your mentor
A potential mentor could be anyone you look up to personally or professionally who is willing to help you reach your full potential. With that said, you could find a potential mentor in a variety of different settings and events. Some great places to find one include: 
  • Career related workshops
  • Alumni
  • Networking events
  • Professional development events
  • By talking to your professor
  • Civic groups
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • LinkedIn connections
  • Bosses or professional colleagues 
Many mentees also say they found their mentor while volunteering. Others have found theirs by setting up informational interviews with professionals working in the field they’re interested in.

You would do well to do some research on a potential mentor.  A Google search or survey of their LinkedIn profile ahead of an ask may provide valuable insight into their background, skills and interests, and provide you with information for a future conversation.

Develop the relationship
Keep in mind that being a mentor is a large commitment, especially for busy professionals. Ease into the relationship. You should never ask anyone you have just met or don’t even know to be your mentor. Perhaps instead of coming right out and asking them to be your mentor, ask if they would give you some advice or meet with you to answer a few questions. Depending on the outcome of that meeting, you can move to formalize the relationship. Consider asking if they would mentor you in a specific area rather than broadly asking if they’d be your mentor.

Keep in mind this is a two-way relationship. You should always be looking for opportunities to provide value to your mentor. In addition to looking for ways to assist them, you should also show your appreciation for their help and demonstrate your commitment to making the most of the relationship. Be sure to keep them updated on how you’ve progressed and thank them for specific things they’ve done to help you.

Look for a mentor who has already done what you’re hoping to do, who understands what it will take to help you get there, and is passionate about their field and helping others excel.

Good luck on your search! We’d love to hear how a mentor is helping you succeed both in and out of the classroom so be sure to keep us updated!

If you would be interested in being connected with an alumni mentor as part of Peirce’s Student Mentoring program, email cds@peirce.edu or call 215-670-9202.  A second cohort of the program will be launched early next year.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Common Problems Returning Students Face and Resources for Overcoming Them

Returning to school is an exciting time for both current and new students alike. But as you may have experienced, the first few weeks may present unique challenges for adult learners who are also managing work and family commitments. These challenges can arise whether you’ve been away from school for a few months or a few years.

Among these challenges there are three that I typically see more often than others. I’ve outlined them below and provided resources that will help you not just during the first few weeks, but throughout your entire academic experience.
  1. Preparedness – Naturally in the beginning, students aren’t always sure of what to expect and may become overwhelmed. In some cases, this can lead to lower participation and engagement in class. Unfortunately, this only adds to their challenges as it puts them further behind.
  2.  Attendance – It’s very important for students to start off on the right foot with participation and attendance. Stats show that students who miss class have a much higher risk of failure while those who attend every class and participate are typically successful. Keep in mind it’s not just that you are at every class, but that you are engaged in the class.
  3. Time management – A large population of students at Peirce also work and are raising a family. This can make managing those commitments and schedules especially challenging.
Fortunately, Peirce understands these issues that many students face. As a result, we offer many different free resources to help you overcome them. Understanding the resources that are available to you will help you thrive during those first few weeks and beyond.
  • Tutoring – You can request individual appointments or group tutoring. You can even get tutoring by phone or on Saturdays to help accommodate your busy schedule.
  • SMARTHINKING – Smart thinking is an online tutoring service available to students. You can connect with a live tutor, called an “e-structor” and ask questions. You can also to submit your papers and essays and receive feedback on mechanics and different things you can work on for improvement.
  • Workshops – Peirce students are encouraged to attend workshops held at the Walker Center for Academic Excellence and the Career Development Services Office. These workshops will provide you with valuable tips and advice for succeeding both in the classroom and in your career.
  • Academic Advisors - Get to know your advisor and the different ways they can assist you. Your professional Academic Advisor that has been assigned to you will help you plan out your academic program and make the best use of the services available.
  • Faculty - Taking the time to speak to professors before class, after class, and during office hours has many different benefits. Faculty can offer different perspectives and may know of additional resources in that field that can help you overcome challenges.
  • The Peirce Connections blog – Our blog provides plenty of tips and guidance from our academic, advising, and career development experts. By browsing the blog you’ll learn effective tips for networking, interviewing, financial aid, upcoming workshops, and much more. Also keep an eye on our social media channels where we regularly update the latest posts and provide additional tips. 
A last piece of advice I’ll leave you with is strive to have continuous enrollment. Students who take courses year-round – fall, spring and summer – typically do better because of the consistency. One reason for this is because it keeps you continuously focused on your academics.

Another reason is because so many of your courses will build upon previous coursework. Keeping the principles from previous courses fresh in your mind makes advancing right into the next semester that much easier. Continuous enrollment students are more successful and complete their degree quicker than those who take time off, and it’s a lot easier to stay engaged and on top of classes

Most importantly, become an advocate for yourself and take ownership of your education. We want to help every student but we need to know when you need help and how we can assist. If you have any questions about the resources available and which will most help you to succeed, feel free to set up a meeting with your advisor and visit our the My Advising and Student Services tabs on my.peirce.edu.    

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Featured Learner Series: Koyia Osby Utilizes Peirce Resources to Help Her Land Legal Assistant Position

At Peirce, we’re always thrilled to celebrate student successes. We enjoy bringing you their stories not only for the inspiration, but also for practical advice to students who may be pursuing similar career paths. We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Koyia Osby, a Peirce student pursuing a Paralegal Certificate, to discuss her job search and the position she was recently hired for at Reed Smith LLP.

Below Koyia discusses her search for the job and how Peirce faculty and Career Development Services played a role in helping her to land her new job. She also gives advice for students at Peirce that can be applied regardless of what degree you’re pursuing.

What brought you to Peirce? I decided to attend Peirce because I was focused on changing careers. Previously, I worked all over the city in Social Services/Social Work. I began to feel stagnant and drained from working in that field for almost 10 years. I realized there was NO room to grow and I grew discouraged.

 What degree are you pursuing? I am pursuing a Paralegal Certificate. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English/Journalism.

Tell us about your position at Reed Smith LLP? I was hired as a Legal Assistant at Reed Smith. I obtained a $10,000 pay raise also. I was encouraged to look for employment at a law firm by a paralegal that I met while working for my previous employer. Prior to coming to Reed Smith, I had not had any law firm experience. The paralegal that I spoke to gave me tips and advice regarding entry level positions at a firm. She encouraged me to apply to legal assistant/secretary jobs and Paralegal even though I haven’t finished school yet. She suggested that I list the classes that I’ve already taken and add them to my resume. Dean Miller also gave me similar advice even after I completed his class. He made smart/practical suggestions to his students that have helped us along the way.

How did CDS help you obtain this position? CDS helped me obtain my position at Reed Smith by giving me the hands on attention that is needed when looking for employment. Ed Hill and Robin Dizes went above and beyond with helping me find a job in my new field by sending me job leads, connecting me to individuals in the field, initiating follow-up meetings with me to inquire about my job search and revamping/revising my resume completely so it reflects my Peirce course work. 

What’s the difference between a traditional resume and one tailored to the legal field?  Once I tailored my resume to the legal field and highlighted my course work, I began to get calls for interviews from several firms in the area.

How did Peirce help you prepare for your current position? Peirce helped me prepare for this position because the firm was extremely impressed with the education that I am receiving. During the interview I was able to describe what my course work entailed and how it applies to the position I was interviewing for. I also worked in the CDS office as a work study administrative assistant. That position helped prepare me to work as a Legal Assistant because I now support three different attorneys. I worked closely with Ed Hill, the Career Counselor, and assisted with the mock interviewing, resume preparation and discussions about career choices/employment.

How did Peirce help you prepare for a career as a paralegal? Peirce is preparing me by offering exceptional education that is taught by attorneys who have worked in the field. Each of my professors has been patient and thorough with explaining the course work making learning for me interesting and enjoyable.  It was extremely difficult to commit myself to school after being in the workforce for so long. Peirce made my transition easy. I felt supported by all departments whenever I had a question or concern for example, The IT department has fixed any problems that I’ve had with my personal laptop, the financial aid department assisted with my student aid questions, and CDS always makes sure each student is fully equipped for the work force before, during and after graduation.

What are your plans for after graduation? My future career plans are to segue into a Paralegal position once I’ve gotten more job experience here at Reed Smith. I have three classes left before I graduate.

What advice would you give to other students preparing for legal career? I would and I have given students advice about preparing for their career by telling them to utilize ALL of Peirce’s resources, network with everyone in your chosen field, build relationship not only with your professors but with the staff at Peirce because today’s society is all about who you know!

Congratulations Koyia! Thanks for sharing your story and advice with the community! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Criminal Justice Event Featuring Tom Minton, Director of PA Homeland Security

Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and all interested Peirce students, mark your calendars! Next Tuesday, September 30th Peirce College’s Criminal Justice Studies Program will host an insightful conversation with Tom Minton, the Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security.

Tom is native to the area and has over 22 years of experience in the FBI where he specialized in terrorism investigations. Minton was involved in the investigation of the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, the bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and led a significant portion of the investigation into the 9/11 attacks. He also sits on the Advisory Board for the Peirce Criminal Justice Studies program.

During the event he will talk about his experience and the current landscape of the criminal justice profession. He’ll give students career perspective and insight into what you’ll need and how to prepare if you’re interested in pursuing a career in homeland security.

Peirce Criminal Justice Studies events are designed to give students a real-world perspective from subject matter experts with extensive experience in their respective fields. Even for students who may not desire to work in homeland security, they’ll gain valuable insight and a broader perspective of careers related to criminal justice and legal studies.

In advance of the event, if you are interested in learning more about Tom Minton, the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security, and their functions, you can visit www.homelandsecurity.pa.gov and check out their mission and objectives. Also, Tom will be happy to answer any questions you have about careers in criminal justice during the conversation. The event will be held in Room 64 on September 30th from 11:00AM – 12:30PM.

The recently launched bachelor’s degree program for Criminal Justice Studies offers classes both on campus and online. The program prepares students for careers in the quickly evolving field by providing them with hands-on, real-world experience handling the legal, social and technological challenges in the criminal justice field. Students learn from instructors from across the country who have excelled in the field and served in organizations including the FBI, CIA, and National Guard. To learn more visit our Criminal Justice Studies program

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Top Five books for College Students

If you talk to any successful person they’ll almost always credit one or more books as major contributors to their success. Some of these books may have inspired or motivated them while others gave them the technical knowledge they needed for advancement.

As a college student, now is the perfect time to gain as many perspectives from people of all walks of life. Like you, many of these authors had to overcome obstacles to achieve their goals so it’s inspiring to hear their stories and advice. Admittedly, with so many great books that have a positive impact on college students, it was hard for me to narrow the list down to just five. Nonetheless, I believe the books below will help provide a solid foundation for personal and professional success throughout your life.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey – Written over 25 years ago, this book has been hailed as “one of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written.” Millions of people from all walks of life, including Presidents and CEOs, have been captivated by its transforming message. Students will find timeless wisdom and advice for pursuing their goals, whatever they may be.

The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career – by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha – Written by LinkedIn cofounder and Chairman Reid Hoffman, The Start-up of You is “A blueprint for thriving in your job and building a career by applying the lessons of Silicon Valley's most innovative entrepreneurs.” The book dispenses invaluable advice for building a sustainable career in a quickly evolving job market. A must for any student who wants to learn the essentials of thriving in the modern workforce. 

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson – This book is essential reading to help you embrace the changes that you’ll encounter as you pursue your degree, graduate, and advance your career. The author believes that change can be good or bad, depending on perspective and teaches you how to transform change into opportunity.

This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace – Probably the best and most important graduation speech ever given, This is Water has now been reprinted as an essay in book form. The speech was originally delivered during the commencement ceremonies at Kenyon College on May 21, 2005. Its message will help students of all ages understand the impact of education on their personal lives; that the true freedom acquired through education is the ability to be adjusted, conscious, and sympathetic.

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – Written by the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize, I Am Malala reminds us of how precious education is and how much of a difference one willful, rebellious person can make. Gunned down in 2012 by Taliban for fighting for her right to an education, she has since become a global activist for education rights. This is her inspiring story told in her own words. 

We’re always eager to hear your book suggestions. What books would you add to the list that have inspired you or helped you to achieve success?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scholarships and Roadmaps: Steps for a Seamless Transition from Community College to Peirce

In today’s competitive workforce, many students are realizing that an associate’s degree is only the first stepping stone towards achieving their career related goals. That’s why many of our students have transferred to Peirce after graduating from community colleges throughout the region to pursue their bachelor’s degree. If you know someone looking to pursue their bachelors, read on and share this post with them to find out about seamless transfer options and guaranteed scholarship opportunities.

At Peirce, we’ve partnered with almost all community colleges in and around Philadelphia, South Jersey, and even a few in Delaware to help students transition into one of our bachelor’s degree programs. A key part in making these partnerships so effective is the roadmap agreements that are in place. These agreements are developed in coordination with community colleges to ensure that students graduating with an associate’s degree are prepared to make a smooth transition into a bachelors program. They allow community college graduates to start at Peirce with only about 60 credits standing between them and their bachelor’s degree.

Most associate degrees will align with any of our related bachelors programs including Business, IT, and Legal Studies. There are also several other degree completion options that include our Integrated Leadership, Legal Studies in Business, and Technology Management degrees. These degrees offer accelerated courses and have six sessions per year, so you can earn your bachelor’s degree quickly.

In addition to the roadmap that allows for a seamless transition, students with an associate’s degree
are eligible for an Articulation scholarship of up to $3,000 per year for up to 4 years. The scholarship applies to recent community college graduates as well as those who may be returning to school many years after they received their associate’s degree. The total amount of scholarship funds you’ll earn is determined by your final GPA upon graduation from your community college, and whether you plan to enroll full time or part time.

When you’re ready to transfer, a counselor will sit down with you to discuss all of your options. Once you’ve decided which path is best for you, the process of transferring from community college into Peirce can be done in four easy steps.
  1. Apply to Peirce.
  2. Provide a copy of your transcripts.
  3. Work with your advisor to select your courses and register.
  4. Complete the required paperwork to receive your Articulation scholarship.
If you haven’t received an associates and have questions about transferability of your credits, someone in admissions will be happy to speak with you and perform a credit evaluation, even if you’re not ready to apply. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Jump Start Your Career with the Peirce Co-op Education Program

Are you looking to get a jumpstart on your career while still a student? Then you should consider Peirce’s Cooperative Education Program (CWE), also known as a Co-op. The benefits of participating in a Co-op have been well documented and could have long-term advantages for your career.

For starters, you’ll gain real-world experience the field you’re studying. Because of this you’ll better understand and appreciate the materials and principles from related classes. It’s a great opportunity to immediately apply what you’ve learned.

From a financial perspective, often times Co-ops are paid and you’ll still be able to use financial aid funds toward the course.

And that’s just during the Co-op. There’s another significant impact that could boost your career. During your Co-op you’ll become more professionally polished and gain that out-of-classroom experience that employers want. According to the National Commission for Cooperative Education, 95 percent of co-op students find jobs immediately upon graduation. Since these are typically done during your last semester, there’s a good chance your Co-op could be extended into a full-time job upon graduation.

At Peirce, our Co-op programs are 16-weeks long and can be completed in the Fall, Spring, or Summer sessions. During this time you’ll be required to work 135 hours at an off-campus approved Co-op site, or about 8.5 hours per week. You’ll also have a full-time faculty member assigned to oversee your Co-op course.

To get started, you’ll need to have completed 22 credits towards a certificate, 30 credits towards an associate’s, or 90 credits towards a bachelor’s degree and have a 2.5 GPA. Co-ops usually occur in the final semester of either the associates or bachelor’s degree program. It’s best to plan ahead well before you intend on taking your Co-op to make sure your personal and academic schedules are compatible and to account for the 7-week Pre Co-op workshop. This will also give you more time to identify and pursue potential Co-op opportunities.

Once you’re ready to pursue your Co-op, simply follow these steps:
  1.  Speak to your Academic Advisor and let them know of your intent to take Co-op.
  2.  Register (via your Academic Advisor) for CWE 098 (AS level) or 099(BS or CT level) online Pre Co-op workshops. These 7-week online workshops are offered by the Career Development Services office. Since these are workshops rather than actual courses, you won’t get academic credit for the Pre Co-op workshop and they are provided at no cost to you.
  3.  Contact Career Development Services to discuss the types of Co-op that you wish to pursue.
  4.  Register for Co-op (via your Academic Advisor) for the last semester of your classes.
  5.  Career Development Services will assist you in the process of obtaining a Co-op site; however you are responsible for conducting your own job search and securing a Co-op site.
If you’re currently working you may be able to complete the Co-op at your job. Just keep in mind the hours and Co-op responsibilities must be outside of the hours you normally work. To be considered for this, start by sending a copy of your job description to Career Development Services.

If you have any questions related to the Co-op program, feel free to stop by Career Development Services or email us at CDS@peirce.edu.