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A Gap Year: A practice to shape better career

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Study at a university is the most interesting, exciting, and useful time in a person’s life! You meet new people that you can share your interests with, find out something new each day; learn how to manage your time. As a whole, you prepare yourself to the future and the inevitable grown-up life. However, before you make up your mind to do it, you may also choose another alternative – a Gap Year.

Initially, it came to the world from the United Kingdom in 1970’s with the help of the work of Cornelius H. Bull, founder of Interim Programs. And was introduced to USA in early 1980’s. It was about the seven or eight month gap between final exams and the beginning of university.

Have you ever dreamed of seeing Paris or of backpacking in sunny Mexico? And surely you got tired of eternal education… I think that in this case you need to have a break and try yourself doing some different activities. Besides, most people finishing school do not know exactly what they are going to be after university. But the world says: “You need a higher education as soon as possible! Otherwise your future profession is going to be of a yard keeper or a plumber”. Being frightened, pupils start to choose in panic, the less harmless specialty for them. Then they have two options: they either find it interesting for themselves or work in another sphere. In Russia, only about 40% of college graduates work in a specialty (says ITAR-TASS), and in Ukraine – just 12-15% (according to the TSN News). Does that not mean that people should not be in a hurry?

A Gap Year – it is a wonderful chance to solve many of pupil’s problems, including haste.

First of all, it gives students enough time to organize their thoughts and to clear up their mind. With a Gap Year, it is understood that nobody expects quick decisions from you. It is a sigh of relief! When person feels calm, one is able to reason and objectively look at a situation.

In this free time, a student can refine the specific skills for college and find out useful information for a future life and career.

Secondly, a Gap Year serves as a field where youth can test their skills. Taking part in activities such as volunteer projects, working abroad and just travelling allows students to discover the world. They leave their comfort zone and grow, getting the best possible experience.

Working in different spheres and directions will make it much easier for students to choose the right one. And you don’t need to have a diploma for working. The point is to make an effort and to work in the right direction.

There is a great difference in opinions about taking a Gap Year and it depends not only on person, but also on region where one lives. In the developed countries (United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, etc.) it is welcomed. Western Universities really appreciate active and dynamic youth. A resume for the future work will seem richer and become even priceless because of the work experience.  However, in Ukraine, for example, people do not find a Gap Year important and necessary. The opinion is that it is just a waste of time and money. Nevertheless, to take a gap after school you do not need money at all! When you go to work, especially in your own country, you earn money yourself! It is a great chance to feel the responsibility and to learn how to deal with it.

Some may say that students, while having a Gap Year, forget everything they have learnt in school. Others may say that if you are not organized enough, a Gap Year will turn into a watching-TV-doing-nothing kind of life. Nevertheless, to my mind, school graduates should remember one thing – one can never know until they try. If you are not sure about your future profession, have doubts about the university you have chosen – take a chance and enter in your future life with confidence!

One year to see the world, one year to have incredible experiences, one year to get to know who you are – it’s priceless.

Berezhnaya Anna is a student of journalism at the Higher School of Economics, National Research University, Moscow.

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Students' Column

Is Writing An Easy Field To Break Into?

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For many of us, the idea of becoming a writer is something that we nurture from adolescence, our love of reading dovetailing with a desire to be heard. It is one of the most romanticized career ideas – just think about how many films and TV shows revolve around one or more writers – and it’s no surprise that student newspapers and magazines are often among the most popular extracurricular activities included on college applications.

What separates writing from many other careers is that there is not always an evident career path. Those of us who dream of one day writing for the newspaper we read scrupulously, or of signing a deal for our first novel, can end up quite disillusioned by the reality of trying to get paid as a writer. And while we’d love to think that it’s not about the money, there’s a great deal of truth in the motto that has become a mantra for so many writers: “I can’t pay my rent with exposure”.

Do you need to secure a regular writing job to make it a career?

If you dream of becoming a writer, you probably have an inspiration, someone who made you want to pick up a laptop and share your ideas for the first time. Chances are, these icons are individuals who can make a very comfortable living from a column per week thanks to a tenured slot at an established media institution, and they’ve “paid their dues”. That’s something that’s getting harder to do, as local newspapers are struggling to hold up in the digital age – making it harder to get a starting job in the industry.

Is freelancing a reasonable alternative?

The idea of being a freelancer can be attractive initially – if you’re not tied to any one media group, you won’t be committed to an editorial line – but it is tricky and guaranteed income is hard to find. It is a good idea to cultivate regular clients. You’ll learn their payment patterns, have the ability to invoice them in one touch through your accounting software, and can establish yourself as a reliable writer. It may not have been how you pictured freelancing, but a good client is worth cultivating – and they may well mention you to other potential clients.

Is starting your own outlet a realistic option?

Writing is a competitive world, and as a freelancer you will always be fighting with other freelancers for what can often be a small amount of work. You may prefer instead to take matters into your own hands by starting your own project. Often, this will begin with a blog; there are ways and means to monetize such a site, but you’ll need followers to make it happen. If you take this approach, social media is also going to be pivotal. Talented writers can still get read these days – and it can lead to higher-level recognition and a stable writing job – but there is still going to be a grind and you’ll need to have the discipline to produce content that is both interesting and regular.

The truth of the matter is that if you want to become rich and have a comfortable living doing something you love, writing is a sector that is filled with potential obstacles and it can be frequently disappointing. However, if writing is what you love, then there are ways and means of going about it – as long as you keep cultivating contacts, it can be a rewarding career.

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Experiencing Success After You Graduate

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The university and college experience can be so long and complex that you get completely caught up in it. It’s fully immersive. So, when you graduate, you can easily feel completely disoriented and lost. Very few people walk straight out of their graduation and immediately into their first job. Instead, you’re going to have to find your feet and put a whole lot of effort into your own success. The steps you’ll need to take will vary depending on where you want to go and what you want to do. But the following pieces of advice can help you to get started out on the right track, regardless of what you want to do. Hopefully, they’ll come in useful for you!

Student graduation

Research Success Stories in Your Chosen Field

Whatever field you’re interested in entering, chances are, there are some pretty big success stories. Take a look at people who inspire you within your area of specialism. Who are they? How did they get to where they are now? What did they do after they graduated? This can help to inspire you and to give you some key tips that could really help you to follow in their footsteps. Remember that you are standing on the shoulders of giants. You can learn from the greats that came before you to further excel in the role or industry you’re determined to experience success in. If you’re interested in starting a business, take a look at Phillip Kingstons journey at phillipkingston.com. If you’re interested in politics, read the biographies of great political leaders. If you’re interested in art, read the life stories and approaches of some of the greats. There’s all sorts of guidance and inspiration out there.

Use Your College’s Resources

Just because you’ve graduated doesn’t mean you’re immediately cut off from all of the resources that have been available to you at your college or university. Make sure to use the resources available to you for as long as they’re available to you. Many colleges offer training and classes on job hunting. This can include finding positions that suit your skills and experience, CV writing skills, interview skills and much more. These resources may seem basic and common sense, but you can actually learn a whole lot more than you’d imagine from them. You never know what tiny piece of advice could make all the difference to your entire career path.

Be Persistent

When you start applying for jobs, you need to develop a tough skin. Few people land the first job they apply for. Even fewer will be offered every position they apply for. You need to be prepared for some level of rejection and you need to make sure that you are persistent when faced with disappointment. Keep going and you’ll eventually land the kind of position you have your sights set on.

Of course, different areas of specialism will require different steps in the process. But the above advice should help regardless of what you plan to do. Keep it in mind and you should do well!

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Careers An MBA Can Open Up For Engineers

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If you are an engineer wondering what your next career step should be, it can seem as though the opportunities are almost endless!

On the one hand, you could continue to improve on your technical abilities and become a specialist in one particular area. This can be a highly lucrative strategy, and one that appeals to people who know which work they love to do and just want to learn more about it.

On the other hand, you could broaden your skill base and give yourself a wider range of career opportunities by undertaking an MBA. This is a great option for people who are looking to diversify their skills and introduce some new kinds of work into their day, and give themselves a great career outlook into the bargain.

Transferable skills

MBAs can provide you with a huge number of skills that are applicable in multiple industries.

An MBA will teach you about things like budgeting, strategising, accounting, financial management, system models, people management, marketing and business structures. These are all skills which can be highly beneficial in a number of industries or even for starting a business of your own!

Another great benefit of an MBA is that you will get to study alongside people who are also looking to accelerate their own careers. This means that you will make contacts who will not only become useful friends and a useful support network as you embark on the next stage of your career, but you will meet a huge array of people who you can learn from in unexpected ways.

The exact modules that you study will of course be dependent on which MBA course you choose to take up. If you are considering taking up an MBA in order to further your engineering career, then it’s worth researching MBA courses that are designed with engineers in mind. You can find out more here if this is something that appeals to you.

Read on to find out what careers an MBA could open up for you.

Engineering operations director

The three main skills that you’ll need to work as an engineering operations director are:

  • Analytical skills. The ability to gather and interpret data.
  • Math skills. The ability to perform addition and subtraction but also to visualise data.
  • Communication skills. The ability to clearly communicate your thoughts, opinions and ideas to those around you using a variety of methods, including presentations, via email and in person.

The average salary for an engineering operations director is $129,001 so it’s definitely a well paid position!

The main purpose of the role is to lead a cross-functional team to achieve the objectives that your department has been set. To succeed in this role it’s important that you have a good knowledge of engineering processes and engineering equipment, as you will be the one providing the overall strategy to your team on what needs to be done.

You will be responsible for the budget of your department and you will need to report regularly to your management on expenditure and progress. You will also devise and implement strategy for improving the performance of your department, as well as having an overall understanding of all the projects that are happening within it and ensuring that they are completed on time.

Vice president of engineering

A VP of engineering is part of the management team. As such you won’t get too involved with engineering, but you will get involved with solving logistical problems, dealing with personnel and working out budgets.

It’s an incredibly well paid job. The average salary is $170,000 per year, and at the higher end of the spectrum some VP’s of engineering are paid $270,000.

Your actual duties will vary significantly depending on the company you are working for. Engineering is a field that is hugely diverse, so the nature of the projects that you are overseeing will differ between companies. Whatever the company you are working for, you will be working in upper management. You will work alongside the president, product managers and other management staff in order to plan and oversee all aspects of engineering goals and operations within your company. You will ensure that the appropriate planning and testing procedures are in place to ensure that you deliver quality projects on time.

Generally you will spend a lot of your time in meetings, liaising with staff and ensuring that deliverables are met. You’ll also use your engineering knowledge to carry out site inspections, to ensure that everything is working as it should be and that everyone is working safely.

Engineering project manager

If you’ve worked in engineering you’ve no doubt come across your share of project managers! A project manager is used every time an engineering project is embarked on, it will be up to them to gather the requirements, see what is feasible and then plan out the project. They will then keep a continuous eye on the project to ensure that it is being delivered on time and within budget.

Having an engineering background is helpful if you want to work in engineering project management, because it means you will have a good instinct for what is possible within certain timeframes and budgets. However, collaboration with others will be a key part of your job. It’s essential that you have excellent communication and organization skills, so that you can keep the project team working together effectively.

The average salary for an engineering project manager is $140,760, although this varies hugely depending on the company you are working for.

Project managers have a varied and fulfilling career because they will spend their time working on a lot of different projects, meaning that they are always solving new problems and learning new things! In addition to this, project management is a field that can work really well as a freelance career. Many businesses prefer to bring in highly experienced contract project managers if they have a requirement for a fixed amount of time, as it means that they can more easily budget for the project in question. If you choose to work in this way the rewards can be even greater than the already generous salaries available to salaried engineering project managers.

The budgeting, forecasting, analytical and communications skills that are a key part of an MBA will give you the skills you need to complement your engineering background and create a fulfilling career as an engineering project manager.

CEO of your own company

As well as allowing you to work in a high level management or project position, obtaining your MBA could be your next step in becoming CEO of your own company!

Engineers are naturally analytical and great at making predictions and solving complex problems. These are all qualities that are highly valuable in a CEO. Combine the advanced business and strategic knowledge that can be gained from an MBA and you’ve got a pretty unstoppable combination.

A great example of an engineer who studied for his MBA and used this advanced knowledge to allow him to chase his dreams of being an entrepreneur is Rob Deering, founder of Australia’s Meet Billy.

Meet Billy is an app that allows older people to continue to live in their homes for longer. The basic idea is that the users daily activities are logged into an app. If they miss an expected activity then their family or carer can see this and be notified more quickly if something has happened.

The app works by using a series of internet of things (IoT) sensors to find patterns of behaviors. Smart analytics can then read the expected versus the actual behaviors and identify any changes before they become serious or result in a medical emergency. The app is already proving to be highly popular amongst users.

Rob started his career with a degree in mechanical engineering. He then worked as a consultant for five years, before embarking on his MBA. He credits his MBA for opening his eyes to new pathways, especially those that combined his skills in engineering and in business.

If you are thinking of using an MBA to open up opportunities of starting your own business, it’s a good idea to have in mind the type of business that you would like to start before you begin researching MBA programs.

By doing this you can approach your chosen institutions with your idea and they can let you know how best they can serve you. It’s a good idea to find a programme where the modules on offer will directly benefit your future plans, so that you can apply them to your business idea as you learn.

If possible it’s also a good idea to find an MBA course where there are links to the industry in which you would like to work. This will mean that you can meet people who will be helpful to you, either as business contacts or as people who you can learn from.

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