Taking the Scare Out of Your New Job 

A new job can be exciting stuff. Your first day feels like the first day of school, and new opportunities allow you to dream big.

But once you arrive and find yourself at your new desk, things can get rather frightening. You may begin to question everything – whether you can handle the workload, if your coworkers like you, if you dressed too casually, etc.

Instead of worrying, doing these 6 things can help calm your nerves and make every day at your new job feel like the first day of school.

6232656061_b852cb2f91Be humble Getting a new job means you’ve already won: you beat out dozens of other applicants for your new position. It’s important now to get out of the competition mindset and be prepared to learn from your coworkers by asking questions, taking notes, and being helpful without being pushy.

Leave the desk Whenever you can, move around your workplace and interact with others. By making an effort to put yourself out there, other employees will recognize your face faster and be more likely to approach you than if you were, say, eating lunch with your back to everyone at your desk.

Get feedback Take the uncertainty out of your first few projects by asking a supervisor or coworker how you did. The worst that can happen is you get advice on how to improve and avoid making the same mistake twice.

Make small talk Don’t be above small talk. While conversations in the lunchroom often start as something petty or minute, they are often the only way you can advance into more serious conversations with coworkers, and can help establish a new network of professional friends.

Be positive You don’t have to be overly jovial and bake cookies for the entire office your first week of work, but you should have a completely positive attitude. Down-talking your previous job, your workload, or the freezing A/C will only make you less approachable to coworkers.

Take someone’s lead Try to hang around those who seem to always be moving and shaking while starting out at a job. A veteran of the company is always the most in tune with the culture and language of the office, and just being around them will allow you to quickly learn how things are run.

Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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5 HealthyU Habits for a Healthier You

green-apple-and-stethoscopeThere’s no way around it; college students are one of the highest risk populations to get sick year in and year out. And with their relentless schedules and hectic lifestyles they are also the population with the most to lose when they do go out of commission due to illness.

So this flu season, be a part of the solution and try and avoid getting sick altogether. How do you do that? Develop a routine that promotes wellness and activity rather than stagnancy, and also pay attention to the little things that can be the difference between catching a virus or avoiding it. Here are some of HealthyU’s top habits that will strengthen your immunity and contribute to a healthier you this flu season and beyond.

Do the big three

Diet, exercise, and rest. They’re the core of a healthy body and mind, but are often the hardest things to do consistently. Rather than tell yourself you’ll simply do these three things, set specific goals for each day like drinking 8 glasses of water, jogging for 20 minutes, and getting to bed at a certain hour. Though it may not always seem like you have time to do these things, just think about all the time you’ll save by strengthening your immunity and not getting sick.

Get immunized

Many students forego the flu shot because they mistake the flu as simply a glorified cold. However, anyone who has actually had the influenza virus will tell you that it’s an entirely different animal. Unlike a cold, the flu will put you totally out of commission, making you fatigued rather than just tired, and turning everyday chores into near-impossible tasks. So do yourself a favor, take the flu seriously and get yourself a flu shot, as well as any other immunizations you can.

Be on the lookout

Being cautious about what germs may or may not be around you doesn’t mean you have to walk around in a hazmat suit. But it does mean a part of you should always be thinking “what could I do to be healthy right now?” That means not sharing drinks or utensils with others, washing your hands and surroundings, and covering up when you cough.

Don’t ignore the symptoms

Beyond living stressful lives, college students are at risk for more diseases, like meningitis, than most because the increased time they spend on crammed busses, in packed classrooms, or at bustling workplaces. This makes it that more important to address symptoms you contract. If they’re cold symptoms, treat them. If they’re intense symptoms you’ve never felt before, visit a health center. Either way, never be afraid to address your feelings and even sit a day or two out to avoid spreading them.

Be prepared

An illness can come on in no time. So whether you’re prone to getting sick or not, it’s a good idea to have a few things prepared in the event that you do get sick. This includes medication, tissues, as well as resources to make sure you don’t fall behind in your classes. Make sure you have a way of readily contacting professors and one or two fellow students to stay up to date in classes and avoid letting illness affect your grades.

Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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How to Give the Perfect Elevator Pitch

shutterstock_50740504-e1282613783260In the time it takes for an elevator to get from floor 1 to floor 20, how well could you sell something? If you can do it effectively, you’re in good shape to thrive in a climate in which many arguments must be made in 140 characters or less, single paragraphs, or, in the case of an elevator pitch, about 90 seconds.

Whether you’re selling yourself at a job fair, pushing a product at a competition, trying to raise money for a cause, or just trying to convince your classmates that your idea is a superior one, the ability to quickly and succinctly get to the point can pay huge dividends. Here’s a short guide on how you can perfect the art of the quick pitch.

Floors 1-5: Cut to the chase

Your opening 20 seconds should get right to the task of answering the question “what do you do?” or “what is your product or idea?” At a career fair, for example, your pitch doesn’t have time to start with “in 2010, I began my college career, and then I…” and so on and so forth. Instead, leave the past out of it and get right to the present by saying what you can do today (i.e., your skills). Recruiters will be engaged immediately, matching your traits with those required for the job opening. Similarly, for business proposals, cutting to the chase means describing right off the bat what your product or idea is, not its history.

Floors 5-15: Prove it

Once you’ve given a general outline of the facts, it’s time to show why your skill or product is different than others. This is all about addressing one trait (maybe two) that makes you unique. Is it a statistic that shows how effective you are? Is it a method you use to, say, write code, that isn’t used elsewhere? Whatever it is, make sure your differentiator is based on facts. One of the easiest ways to lose your audience is to use emotional terms like “excited” or “determined,” which hold less weight in elevator pitches as there is no real time to prove those claims.

Floors 15-20: Close strongly

By this time, you’re fifteen floors up and time is at a premium. So it’s time to answer the one question you think your audience is asking. “What’s the next step?”, for example. “What brought you here?” No matter your kind of pitch, it is important to end your statement with something that reminds the audience that you solve a problem or fill some sort of role. In job settings this is easier: You can provide the skills and have the perfect background to help the company. In pitches, however, make sure you creatively remind your listeners why their vote of confidence will benefit them as well.

A good elevator pitch ultimately comes down to being confident and professional without coming off like a pushy salesman. Once you’ve figured out the steps, practice as much as you can in front of a mirror, friend or family member until everything is perfect down to the body language, and you’ll be ready to tackle whatever opportunities come your way.

Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, orYouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or emailinfo@acispecialtybenefits.com

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The Waiting Game: Advice for What to do After Applying and Hearing No Response

waitingYour resume was perfectly formatted, your cover letter was tailored especially for the position, you even landed a preliminary interview. So why haven’t you heard back yet? In an age where much of communication happens instantaneously, it can be especially disconcerting for students when a job application or interview is followed by, well, nothing.

But instead of being overly frustrated by the post-application silence, campus experts suggest students take measured, constructive steps to improve their resume and attitude.

Follow up

The issue of following up usually goes one of two ways: students either don’t do it, or do it when it’s too late and the application window has long been closed. Andrew Casalegno, a fourth-year kinesiology student who recently found work after countless applications, advises that if you are really interested in a position, then let the employer know and follow up within a week of applying or interviewing. “Following up is not only a way to show that the position or company is at the top of your list, it keeps the conversation going and makes it more likely that you receive closure.”

Leverage what you do have

Students don’t have to be just another resume in the stack. Networking and connections can allow students to make their application more noticeable. If a student has had face-to-face contact with an existing employee and expressed their interest, for example, that’s an advantage.

“I take business cards from job fair representatives who I speak to. This way, I can directly contact the person who I spoke with to have my application reviewed. If I don’t get a card and just a name, I can even email the hiring manager, attach a resume, and ask ‘can you please forward this to X, we spoke at the career fair and discussed my interest in the position,’” shares Casalegno.

Quell frustrations

It’s also important that students’ frustration with the application process doesn’t translate into destructive behavior, like taking to social media to denounce a company. Instead, Casalegno suggests students change their perspective to help move forward

“Sometimes that’s just not the company you want to work for. Maybe it’s not the best fit. But if your heart is set on a company, that’s fine. look for other networking opportunities within that company for the future, but keep pressing forward rather than spend your time being frustrated.”

Review your resume

Whether or not students are experiencing trouble getting replies from employers, Casalegno recommends that students meet with their career counselor regularly to have their resume reviewed and updated. “What I recommend first is always to see if there’s something on your resume that can be tweaked, or if there’s something that you’re missing, and having a counselor to help with that is a big advantage many students don’t have.”

Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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By the Numbers: What Today’s College Statistics Tell Us

8_26_12-too-many-numbers-440x265If college graduates from 2004 were to return to their alma mater, they’d probably remember everything, save for a new building or walking path here and there. But if they were to get back in the classroom? Well, they probably wouldn’t recognize a thing.

Many factors, including employers’ heightened demand for a college degree as well as the explosion of new technology, have resulted in a student population that is now broader and more inclusive than ten years ago.

A closer look at the numbers will also show that students must do more to compete for their success. Here are some of the ways this is happening:

71 percent of students are non-traditional

Plain and simple, fewer students today focus just on school. More students have full-time jobs, internships, families, and even serve in the military on top of a full classload. And while this shows that more students are taking their education – and future – into their own hands, it’s also been shown that more students are being forced to take time off school for financial reasons. What this means for you is that whatever your case is, go into college with a 4, 5, or even 6-year plan so that you don’t have to end up sacrificing education for other obligations.

18.65 million students are taking at least one online class in 2014

This number, compared with the mere 5.14 million who reported taking solely in-person classes, is one of the biggest advantages busy students have today that they didn’t ten years ago. The rise of online classes means that students are spending less time commuting and more time learning. If you find yourself wishing your class times were more spread out, or that you could study more at night and from home, online classes can be your friend.

Over 13 billion dollars spent on electronic school supplies every year by students

Another huge benefit students have cashed in on is technology. Phones, laptops, tablets, and apps are allowing students to be better organized and stay more connected with their schoolwork all the time. And with more technology, electronics have also become more accessible. Costly technology myths, for example, no longer apply today. So as long as it doesn’t become a distraction, electronics can help you keep up with the pace of today’s classroom.

91 percent of bachelor’s grads who feel their degree has paid or will pay off

More than ever, a college education is valuable. While there is still huge demand for skilled workers and trade employees, much of the education in even these fields has shifted to higher education, and even an associate’s degree in your field can make you stand out to employers. If you have any questions about your education, be sure to contact SOAR for help with school supplies, 4-year plans, or anything else.

Sources: edudemic, WSJ, Pew

Contact ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+,Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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Upping Your Energy When You Need it Most

OB-YF101_0716ya_D_20130716162021As schedules get busier and classes get back into full swing, our bodies are quickly forced to shake the hangover of those hot, endless summer days. But while most people go through this in the fall, tiredness and fatigue can be more than just an inconvenience, but a year-round distraction for sleepless students.

Don’t let grogginess and irritability hurt your performance in school, and instead shake low-energy spells with these tips.

Dial back caffeine intake

One of the first reactions you might have to the two-o’clock in the afternoon feeling is probably to grab a cup of coffee or an energy drink. However, drinking too much caffeine too often can begin to lessen the effects of the drug as your body builds up a tolerance to it. So when experiencing constant tiredness, replace caffeine with lots and lots of cold water, and instead of a thermos of coffee, carry around a few high-protein snacks. These options are not only healthier, but will give you a cleaner awake feeling.

Don’t make same mistakes tonight

Consistently staying up later than you want can be the result of many things. But going to bed at a reasonable time is most commonly a matter of planning and willpower more than anything. So start tonight — set a bedtime that is just a couple dozen minutes earlier than when you went to bed the night before. Also, start a power-down routine where you turn off all electronics an hour before sleeping and do less strenuous activities, like getting ready for the next day or reading a physical book or magazine.

Track sleep

Maybe you are getting all the sleep you can and you still get groggy throughout the day. In this case, it’s probably a good idea to look at the sleep you are getting to make sure it’s good sleep. Use an app such as Sleep Cycle or Sleepyti.me to wake up at the end of sleep cycles and feel more refreshed, or even consider seeing a specialist or contacting SOAR for more information on sleep resources.

Get more sun

Being outdoors makes your body work a bit harder which makes it sleep a bit better at night. On top of that, simply doing your work in the sun increases your vitamin D levels, which is a key component to physiologically fighting fatigue.

Separate sleep and work

When you physically can’t stay awake in class, it’s time to start taking a short nap before or after that class and doing things like sitting up front and practicing good posture to stay alert. By that same token, when you’re going to sleep, make sure your only goal is to sleep — don’t bring work into your bed or go over plans for tomorrow in your head. That convolutes the line between work and sleep, a trap that leaves you with the least energy when you most need it.

Find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email info@acispecialtybenefits.com

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Tech Industry Trends Every Student Should Know

9.12.2014 healthyUThere’s a reason that “Silicon Valley” is now a household term. The rapid growth, large influence, and lucrative opportunities of the area have proven that the tech industry is here to stay.

But it’s also attracted millions of students to the industry, many of whom have been using computers their whole lives and look at the field with dollar signs in their eyes. For those serious about working in the area, though, it’s important to see past the dazzling aspects of it all and look closer at the current-day trends.

Jobs in technology are no longer restricted

In 2014, a general rule of thumb is that if it exists, there is a technology component to it. This means that for students whose first love was cooking, for example, there now is a technological side of it. Find what you love first, then explore the tech opportunities that may lie within.

Portfolios can give you an edge

The accessibility of the internet means that anybody can begin learning and taking free courses on technology at any time. After enough practice you can begin building your own websites, apps, and even “hacking” (deconstructing) current systems – all accomplishments that look good alongside a resume.

It’s no longer an independent job

There’s a reason Silicon Valley is full of collaborative coffee shops and “incubation” offices. Like any innovative work, peer review is key to new, abstract tech ideas turning into sound products. And on top of learning from others, working with others will help you to learn how to collaborate, which brings us to our next trend.

The ideal techie is not all tech

If anything, the skill most lacking in the tech industry is teamwork. As such, companies are more and more looking for well-rounded individuals who aren’t just talented, but team-oriented and communicative as well.

It all happens one step at a time

It’s no secret that the large growth and revenue coming out of the technology industry is unprecedented. However, don’t set your standards too high and expect huge pockets right away. Instead, take what you can get at the start of your career and use jobs as chances to learn more, build skills, and meet people as you climb the ranks.

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