Have you ever found yourself subconsciously or consciously window shopping someone else’s career? Their career path or position seems to be shiny, bright, and if it had an Instagram account you would follow it. Some find themselves rethinking their current career path or wondering what exactly they could have done differently. Others have Happy by Pharrell Williams as a personal theme song because they are grateful to be getting paid for what they professionally love to do. Depending on which scenario applies to you; reflection on your next career move plays in your thoughts annually, quarterly, weekly, daily, and for some hourly. Where am I going with this you may be thinking?
This blog post was inspired by a recent Instagram post that I made that was focused on being intentional. Career window shopping should not be a repeated option in place of you taking fast action on being connected to your next career move. Whether you have just graduated from college, changing your career, or ready to become a bona fide entrepreneur; it all starts with the first step of being intentional. Be intentional to research your next career move. Be intentional to accept that it is not time for you to be reserved in your actions to move forward to create, launch, or expand your career legacy and pursue it with a passionate spirit of fortitude. Below are four suggestions to spark intention to being an active daily focus that will help usher you to being in tune to your next career move without you questioning the perceived barriers of lack of money, timing, family, experience, or are you ready for it…confidence in self. The suggested career shift steps below will help you turn the loud uncertain voices in your mind to crushed murmurs to silenced whispers to smiles and high-fives of cheers of accomplishments. Remember that being consistent with the career shift steps is nonnegotiable in order to see your desired career shift become a reality.
4 Intentional Career Shift Steps
- Power Thoughts. Meditate 5 – 15 minutes a day and visualize yourself interviewing, networking, or your new client signing your next level of funding contract.
- Journal. Write your vision and your plan to experience your next career move daily in a grateful tone.
- Train and Learn. Each industry warrants different levels of training to be considered a relevant subject matter expert. Consider investing in a success coach, working with an industry recruiter, challenging yourself to attend an additional networking or community event to connect with other industry professionals, or learn new industry tips.
- Ignite Change. Identify 5 new things you can do to be at your best professionally and personally.
I’m grateful that my intentional actions of completing my daily tasks list of preparation through words and actions are connecting me to decision makers that will manifest my career goals to a profitable reality.
Suggested ‘Intentional’ Read
The Wisdom of Florence by Scovel Shinn is a great volume of work that includes four complete books that will help you connect to the path of being intentional in all that you do.
Career Tipper blog has received several inquiries on how do international students transition from a student to an employee. For many international students that process can be confusing and take longer than expected. I reached out to a Human Resources professional that works with international students to successfully complete the process of becoming employees after graduation. Below I’m very glad to share the insight of Alondra DeGroat from a recent question and answer session I had with her.
Alondra DeGroat is a Human Resources Professional that has over 19 years of experience in multiple Human Resources roles in various industries ranging from telephonic to travel to logistics. Ms. DeGroat has earned her Masters in Human Resource Management and Masters in Project Management. She is also an active member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). Ms. DeGroat finds helping others to grow professionally and handling employee relations professionally fulfilling. She currently works with students who are on OPT (Optional Practical Training) Visas seeking to transition to H1B Visas. She also assists employees who are on H1B visas to transition to Green Cards. Outside of her professional interests; Ms. DeGroat likes to travel, read, write poetry, and enjoys being around family.
Career Tipper: What are the key steps that college students at any level need to remember when transitioning from Optional Practical Training (OPT) to a H1B?
DeGroat: Most international students have a goal after they graduate to remain in the US to work and gain relevant professional experience to their degrees.
Many students should identify an employment opportunity before graduation to secure a position with a company where they can use the OPT visa program to gain needed work experience and skills. The OPT length of employment is up to 29 months before sponsorship is needed (The initial length is 12 months with a 17 month extension).
International students should actively pursue opportunities to gain valuable professional experience by looking for internships with companies in their chosen industry that will provide them with the specialized experience they will need to secure future employment. Internships are great highlight points for international students to have on their resumes when searching for companies that are willing to sponsor international students. As a student intern, an actively enrolled international student can also inquire with the company they’re interning with to determine if there are open positions that would be a good fit for the international student’s skill set and see if the company is willing to sponsor international students. The key is to start the sponsorship discussion early.
International students should be looking for companies that will allow them to transition from a F1 student visa to an OPT to gain necessary professional skills. They should start targeting these companies 6 months to 1 year prior to graduation.
Career Tipper: What are a few dos’ and don’ts while working on OPT?
DeGroat: While working on an OPT, one must be mindful of their plans and actions at all times. While the 12 month OPT is pending, travel is possible but not recommended. While the 17 month OPT is pending, travel is not allowed. The candidate would need a valid EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card to re-enter the country. Once the OPT is approved and the candidate has a job, they may travel and re-enter to resume work at the same position.
Candidates cannot accept any monies from perspective employers until their start date at the company (I.e. relocation expenses, bonuses, etc.). Any accepted monies can be considered as illegal.
Candidates are not eligible to work until they receive their EAD card from their college.
After securing the position; candidates should enjoy the job and use the experience to further their specialization.
Career Tipper: What are the key differences between the visa categories?
DeGroat: Let’s discuss a few different visas and their requirements for international students to develop a basic understanding of visas – F1, M1, H1B, & O1A.
F1 Visa – To enter the United States to attend, a university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, or any other academic institution, including a language training program.
M1 Visa – To attend any vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program.
H1B Visa – This is a non-immigrant visa that allows temporary workers to work in the United States for a specific amount of time in a specialty occupation. The purpose of the H1B is to give U.S. employers the opportunity to hire foreign professionals if a U.S. citizen or resident is not available. In order for the visa to be issued, both the employer and employee must satisfy specific requirements.
O-1: This non-immigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
Visa Descriptions Credits
USCIS – http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/temporary-nonimmigrant-workers
US Department of State – http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/study-exchange/student.html
Career Tipper: What is the best perspective for students and candidates to have while going through the OPT process?
DeGroat: The best perspective for international students and candidates to have while going through the OPT process is to be optimistic and follow all directions provided to them by their college’s Office of Immigration and the Human Resources office of their employer. Complete all the documents as directed and submit all documents on time. International students should keep and have easy access to copies of all documents related to their immigration process. They will need the documents repeatedly throughout their OPT and H1B process. Documents include all transcripts from previous colleges and copies of vital records (i.e. birth certificate, social security cards).
Career Tipper: What has been your most rewarding experience in assisting students transitioning from an OPT to a H1B?
DeGroat: My most rewarding experience in assisting international students transitioning through the process; is receiving the approval from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) for them to become employees. Knowing I have helped assist the employee to transition from one visa to the next is a wonderful feeling. For an employee to receive validation that a company considers their experience and skills exceptional and would like to sponsor them; is an honor for me to know that I was a part of making that happen.
Career Tipper: What type of training did you have to acquire to successfully and accurately complete the process for obtaining visas?
DeGroat: To successfully and accurately complete the process for obtaining visas, I attended various workshops being held by immigration attorneys as well as working directly with them for guidance and support. I have also worked with visa expeditors who have assisted in securing business visas for employees. The visa expeditors assist by physically taking all completed documentation after it has been completed into the various country consulates to expedite the visa process for the candidates.
I am excited to share that Career Tipper blog will be sharing an ongoing series of question and answer interviews with various industry experts and professionals sharing their insider and mindset tips to assist career seekers and changers pursue and experience their career goals and aspirations.
Our first question and answer interview is with Liz Cotner. Mrs. Cotner will be sharing her HR insight on how to plan and execute a successful and efficient career search. Liz Cotner, M.A., is a Career Ninja with seven consecutive years of Human Resources and Career Services experience. She has been promoted 3 times within her career ladder. Mrs. Cotner provides heroic customer service by assisting individuals with their professional career transitions. She is currently a Human Resources Manager that resides in Sarasota, FL. Mrs. Cotner is a member of HR Tampa of SHRM.
Career Tipper: Why do you enjoy assisting people to connect them to their next level career position?
Cotner: When I was 22 years old, I had obtained my first internship and job in Human Resources. The position was for a 3,000 employee hospital system in Michigan. I was a part of the Employment team, which allowed me to assist candidates. I quickly noticed that I enjoyed witnessing candidates excited facial expressions when they completed a job application or accepted a job offer. In fact, it was the best feeling I had endured in my personal and professional life to that point. It brought me a sense of passion that I had never felt before and pushed me to dive into being a subject matter expert in assisting all individuals with taking their career to the next level.
Career Tipper: What are your top three tips to a successful job search?
1. Uncover what direction your career passion is going. For example: IT, Healthcare or another field of choice.
2.) Drill into the reasons why you are passionate about a specific career path and why you are not passionate about what you are currently doing (if applicable).
3.) Create a basic Excel spreadsheet checklist to track your job search progress for each position that you submit. The suggested subheadings include: date of application submission, resume, cover letter, additional attachments, follow-up and general notes. A candidate may elect to use a more detailed approach than provided in these tips, but the basics will work for any career field.
Career Tipper: What is a great way for candidates to connect with a potential employer?
Cotner: Know thy self, know your passion, know your short-term and long-term goals and continuously improve your network of professionals and networking abilities.
Career Tipper: What are a few of your interview pet peeves?
Cotner: When the candidate is asked the question, “Where do you see your career heading in the next 5 years?” and the candidate responds saying, “I have no idea just yet”. This is an automatic decline for moving forward in the hiring process. A successful candidate, no matter what type of experience you may come with, always has a strategic career goal plan. Other pet peeves, are candidates not calling when they are running late to interview and chewing gum during an interview.
Career Tipper: What advice do you have for career changer that wants to start a career search?
Cotner: Dedicate an entire day to just yourself. Have no kids, no family, and no friends around, and sit with yourself. Take a notepad and write out a list everything you aspire to be, to have and want in the future for your career. Move forward and start filtering down your list by priorities. Next, pick your top 3 priorities and task yourself with end dates of when you will accomplish the priorities. Everything is manageable when completed in a step by step process. Lastly, if you are experiencing some fear of the unknown feelings; know that it is okay. We have all gone through processing the fear of the unknown and more than likely this will not be the last time you feel this way in your career.
Career Tipper: What encouragement advice can you give to someone that’s been searching for a career opportunity longer than expected?
Cotner. Dream jobs never come on the first five tries. “No” is not always permanent. Always send a follow-up thank you email to every new person that you meet and to every interviewer that you complete an interview with.
Every day there is an essential check list that we must complete to assist us in being productive and efficient in our personal and professional tasks and goals. I recently received a goal card system from Success Coach, Dr. Stacia Pierce. There were several success accessories that came in the goal setting system; goal cards, success stickie notes, and a making money is easy tumbler. Just like laughter is good for our soul on a daily basis, setting goals daily is equally important.
Goals are sparked by the needs and wants of life, based upon circumstances and vision. The goal card system definitely reiterated to me the fun, clarity, and detailed focus that is required of planning to experience your goals in every area of your life. Below are few goal reminders to use daily when writing your goals that will inspire you to greatness.
- Don’t Limit Yourself. Your goals can help you release the mental, emotional, or bureaucracy limits that may have you bound only by perception or by an ongoing experience that seems to be viral within your current career path. Writing out your goals will help you gain clarity to transition beyond your current career role, if that is your desire. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word goal means the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. Writing out your goals will lead you to start to believe that you can accomplish your ultimate career goals. A shift in your mind-set and an unlocking of any professional strongholds that may have you captive can be revealed through establishing goals for yourself. Make it a goal to identify your next level career position or business move and write your goal list of the action steps that you will take to be connected to your desired career opportunity. Remember to plan with a patient heart and be diligent to produce excellent focused outcomes that will connect you at the correct time of readiness to your career goal.
- Dream Big. I find that dreaming big for myself causes me to experience exciting, thought-provoking, fun, and creative success attraction resources that helps me to turn what seems to be impossible, to being possible. During my time of meditation I visualize myself experiencing the possible. Through affirmations, vision boards, and listing my career goals I have experienced many of my career aspirations and dreams. Make it a goal to mediate daily and visualize your career goals out loud in detail. For example, visualize where you work, the type of people you work with, the details of your position, what type of projects you work on, and the positive and profitable project outcomes.
- Repeat often. Identifying and writing out your goals on a frequent basis is energizing. Need a mid-day pep up, need to re-strategize a project, or you have hit a career plateau and not sure what your next move should be; write out your career goals. Revise the list often to have transactional outcomes that will connect you to the knowledge, resources, people, or reflective moments that you need to have to experience your career vision. Your words and goal responsive actions, in time will manifest in your life. Make reviewing your goal list a part of your weekly routine. Review your goal list at the beginning and at the end of each week.