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Guest Post: A Balanced Blog- A Modern Art

Keith Petri writes about blogging.Please welcome a guest post from my colleague Keith Petri. We’re doing an event next Tuesday, November 9th at 7PM on The Art of Pull: Achieving  Career Success with Blogging. Register now!

Keith Petri, the founder of eBranding Me, is a recent graduate of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. His studies in business, economics and studio art along with strong passions for marketing, technology and entrepreneurship led him to his current interest in social media and understanding of the new rules of networking. Through his prior entrepreneurial pursuits, recent blogging and extensive networking, Keith has seen the need for educating his peers on creating a positive online presence. eBranding Me is the culmination of his efforts.


Over the past year I have mentored numerous students on the importance of building an online presence. I stress the value of creating and maintaining a personal blog to display their individual expertise in a particular field of study as a method to attract potential employers involved in the industry. Still, time and time again, I hear my students say:

“What can I blog about? No one cares about what I have to say!”

Typical social media experts are known to encourage Generation Y students to post articles and insights about their past work experiences, current events and even book reviews. However, I find myself to be one of only a few counselors to encourage students to add personal experiences to their insights and publish the content on a personal, albeit professional, blog.
With the recent growth in social media, privacy has become a growing concern. And thus, the separation of a young professional’s social life and professional career has become increasingly difficult to manage – sometimes even resulting in termination due to social conduct publicized through an online social network. The horror stories many of us have heard from peers, career advisors and parents have made many Generation Y students weary of building a personal brand.I couldn’t disagree more!

“Transparency has become the new measurement for trust.”

As covered in eBranding Me’s eBook on the fundamentals of blogging, available for FREE download here, personal experiences can allow a reader to truly connect with the author and his or her experiences. The following list outlines some topics high school students, current college students and recent gradates can discuss to intrigue their blog’s visitors.

High School Students

  • Personal Hobbies
  • After School Activities
  • Community Service

College Students

  • Respond to a Guest Speaker’s Lecture
  • Summarize a Recent Classroom Discussion
  • Re-post an Assignment for Class (received feedback)

Post-Graduate

  • Attending Networking Events
  • Industry Insights
  • Adjusting to Life in the “Real-World”

While not every blog post needs to contain a personal experience or insight, allowing your readers to get to know the “real” you will allow them to connect with your writing and respect your work that much more. I believe that Alex Blackwell said it best in a blog post, “the goal becomes how to be transparent while not being excessively personal.”

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To see how Keith Petri includes personal experiences on his blog, visit and read some of his latest articles. Furthermore, he features a weekly series, published every Friday morning, highlighting the concluding week’s activities and events through text, images and video called the Weekly Wrap Up

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Careers and Curly Hair- What Do You Think?

A few months ago, a sorority sister who now works for the Los Angeles Times posted a question on Facebook- is anyone with curly hair willing to talk about their struggles with curly hair to one of her colleagues? I immediately volunteered. The request was posted a few weeks after I had shot my first pictures for my website. I had chosen to wear my hair natural and it had not been an easy decision for many reasons.

First, I have struggled with thick, coarse hair my entire life, just like I’ve struggled with my weight and my curves. They go together in my mind, something that sometimes makes me lack confidence in my appearance.  In my late twenties, I would drag myself to salons in Chinatown and Bay Ridge and get it blown out pin straight every weekend. In my early thirties, I decided it was a huge waste of money and time. I liked curly hair and I had never dated anyone who preferred my hair straight so what I was doing it for? If I was now leading my business and selling myself to people who wanted authenticity from their career coach, I thought I should show people who I truly am- an independent women of a certain ethnic heritage who embraces the look she feels is right for her. Right?

Second, even though I generally like my hair curly, it’s not easy to style. I rarely get it right. I either don’t use enough product, or I use too much. If I have a little more disposable cash when the next Groupon or Living Social Deal for Keratin treatments comes out, I am there, but until that time comes, I am on my own. The night before the photo shoot I washed my hair with DevaCurl, used a ton of leave-in conditioner and combed through every inch with Miss Jessie’s (expensive) Curl Crème. I put it up in clips and took them down every 30 minutes to scrunch. And then I went to bed and hoped for the best. Luckily, my hours of preparation worked and my curls survived the next day’s humidity.

(What my photographer and I should have really worried about was makeup- nothing stopped that from melting every 10 minutes. Thank God for iPhoto’s retoucher.)

Third, when I occasionally do get a blowout because straight hair is easy for a few days, I get compliments from women, especially in the workplace. I always roll my eyes in my head when these women tell me how beautiful I look because I feel like they’re projecting their own issues with their hair onto me. But maybe they were onto something. Maybe none of the strong females that I wanted to attract as a career coach would be attracted to my services because of how I wore my hair in my pictures. Maybe they wouldn’t think I was “professional” and that I had made the wrong decision after all. I believe that fear was really what prompted me to want to talk to the reporter.

A few months have passed, but the article finally came out this Sunday. After reading it, I was so pleased to be part of it and seriously impressed with the diversity of sources that Whitney Friedlander used. The research shows that I am not alone in my issues with my hair, or my belief that curly hair is great in both personal and professional situations if you wear it confidently. And over the last few months, the fear about my photo choice has also passed after I had my first paying clients. I know that my instincts were right- being myself and wearing my hair the way I wanted has been an asset. People want career coaches who are comfortable in their own skin because it makes them trustworthy and approachable.

Do you question your style decisions in your professional dress? I’d love to hear?
Tracy Brisson talks about appearance in career situations.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

My Pitch: Why Career Coaching Can Transform Education

Happy Friday! After a somewhat traumatic Thursday that involved a lot of time talking to Chase bank (don’t ask!), I am now writing from Savannah, GA. I am visiting an old friend and doing more planning for our special event on Tuesday, November 9th on Achieving Career Success through Blogging. Tickets go up again on Monday, November 1 so RSVP today!

I’ve planned a four (or is it five?) part series on Why I Do What I Do, but thought I’d start the weekend with a video aligned with the “why” question. In September, I applied for a slot in the first cohort of the Kauffman Education Ventures Program. This program is for 15 entrepreneurs who want to start for-profit, multi-million dollar education ventures, K-20. My hope for The Opportunities Project is that it eventually competes on the level of Kaplan and The Princeton Review- if you graduate and you need help getting to the next step, you would turn to The Opportunities Project for guidance, so I threw my hat in the ring.

I wasn’t ultimately chosen for the Kauffman program, and to be absolutely honest, I was relieved. I was not convinced it was going to be a fit during the pre-application process conference calls, and personally, I need the space in my life to try new things on my own. That is just too important to my personal journey now. Maybe next year. But as part of the application, I had to submit a YouTube video addressing two questions- (1) what inspired me about entrepreneurship, and (2) why I thought my venture could transform education. It was the first YouTube video I ever did and it was not exactly natural or easy filming. Even more difficult was posting it publicly and seeing users named “Maneater” favorite it. Eww. I thought about deleting the video after I found out that I was not selected, but I’ve decided to keep it up for a while. I like the reminder it gives me that it’s okay to be outside your comfort zone, especially when you care about something deeply. The second part also reminds me how passionate I am about fixing the world for our graduates.

Happy Halloween!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Bring Your Social Media Questions to Red Sky Bar Tonight

I am almost done with the Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook and have social media on the brain. Bring your questions about using social media in your job search to our monthly job-seeker happy hour tonight at Red Sky Bar. See you there!

Cocktails and Careers Happy Hour

Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 6:30 PM at Red Sky Bar

47 East 29th St (between Park and Madison Aves), New York, NY 10016

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Lessons from the Jersey Shore from the NY Times

I’ve been dying for a reason to write about the Jersey Shore in a post in a non-cliche way and the New York Times gave me a great opportunity today. They published an article about MTV and what they’ve learned about Generation Y through their experience with this show.

Why am I dying to write about the Jersey Shore? One of the struggles I am facing in writing my career coaching blog is incorporating more of the irreverent side of my personality. Coming from a huge bureaucracy where you’re encouraged to hide every personable part of you, it’s a new experience to have creative freedom and I am still tentative with it. My personal brand “General Do-Gooder,” the big-sister type expert, is authentic, but it doesn’t capture everything about me and I’ve been looking for a great opportunity to show more of the carefree pop-culture addict in me and come off a little less earnest.

So again, why the Jersey Shore?  Last night, after working on my website for seven hours, I watched a very disappointing finale on my DVR (Pauly D- why did you decide to scream constantly this season? You were charming because you didn’t notice the cameras- go back to that!), but that episode was an anomaly. I just love this show and for many reasons. First, I don’t watch a lot of reality TV, but (most of) these people are just purely entertaining. Second, I am a veteran of share houses on Fire Island, and every now and then there will be a tender moment among the cast that reminds me of the best of those times, something I treasure, but is in my past. My friends and I were older and more educated than the Jersey Shore crowd, but get close to an ocean, see stars in the sky, be 50+ miles from your “real life,” and have too easy access to alcohol and hormones, and let’s just say, things sometimes take own course. Plus, I had an amazing friend from those days that reminds me of JWoww. She was like a sister, but I eventually had to say goodbye because she was… like JWoww. Sometimes I wonder if that then made me Snooki… and then I just don’t go there.

Third, I find the little things in this show fascinating. Gawker calls Jersey Shore the most important sociological experiment of our time, and I agree. The gender issues alone would make a great dissertation- it goes beyond the quotes they make about women and the kitchen and the girl fights. It’s how the girls/women talk about each other and accept certain behavior from the men in the house. They always refer to each other in their camera interviews as “that girl” or “this girl” instead of by name, but never talk about the men that way. I find it so strange. I know. In an episode where someone made out with two girls at once, this is what stood out to me.

In the NY Times article, MTV staff talk about lessons they learned about millenials from their Jersey Shore success. One, is that there was a shift where people went from loving the fools on The Hills to the “authentic” Jersey Shore. I don’t think it’s that simple. The Hills was authentic in its own way- you knew exactly what you were getting. The world changed in the years since The Hills debuted and everything reflects that. I see that all the time in my career coaching- people operating from a place of fear about their immediate finances and not a place of faith because of the constant anxiety the world is pushing on to them. Second, MTV really discounts the importance of likeability. On The Hills, you started with a number of likeable, if unstable, girls and then had the show circle around villains. Who wants to watch that? Also another great career lesson- when the opportunity arises for you to remain likeable, even in difficult situations, take it.

Finally, the second other important lesson MTV found was that Generation Y is family oriented and their parents are a critical part of their lives. The family aspect of the Jersey Shore was very appealing to viewers in that demo. As I work with more clients, I see that this is definitely true. More than my friends, recent graduates and students rely on their parents’ advice in their career and personal decisions. While I think that’s great, and I envy it, I struggle as a coach because there’s a fine line where your advice starts delaying your twentysomething’s adulthood. As great as it is that Vinny’s mom comes over makes them pasta, if he didn’t land this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on this show, how old do you think he would have been before he was financially supporting himself? And he is probably the cast member with the most education and skills. One of my number one questions right now is relevant to this- what is the best way for me to work with college students’ parents while getting the best coaching results with the actual client? Suggestions welcome.

I do realize I wrote three substantial paragraphs about the Jersey Shore and only two short paragraphs about lessons that I probably stretched a little. But it just felt so good! Here’s to Season Three!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

The Question of Why in Career Decisions

You may have noticed lots of stuff going on the website today- moving things around, adding pictures, fixing language. Still a lot of work to do. I apologize if anything is not working and please contact me if you’re looking for something and can’t find it.

One of the topics I’ll be blogging about in the next few weeks is Why. Why I do what I do. It was a huge decision to leave my very stable Director of Recruitment job behind and launch The Opportunities Project and I did it for a lot of different reasons. Some were personal and some were influenced by new beliefs about the world and the way it’s been working the last few years. I hope to roll at least three reasons out in the next week. I am also looking for guest posts from anyone else who wants to talk about the Whys in their life.

In the meantime, here’s a video to get us started thinking about it from TED. Every successful entrepreneur has told me that I need to read the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek. It’s on the list! Here is Simon talking about his research and his findings that the real leaders in our world always know the Why before they know the How and What. I think knowing the Why is critical to all our life decisions and it’s an important lesson to reflect on as we finish the week.

Source: Lifehacker: It’s Not About What You Do, but Why You Do It

I am also looking for guest posts from anyone else who wants to talk about the Whys in their life. All are welcome- just leave a comment and I’ll follow-up!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

LinkedIn Follow-Up and mediabistro.com Article

A few weeks ago, we had an amazing workshop on LinkedIn at the Center for Arts Education. Hurricane Nicole was whipping the city with crazy weather, but some dedicated jobseekers showed up to learn how they can use this powerful tool to get to the next step. Participants who paid for the workshop received some special handouts and step-by-step instructions on how to make their profile stand out and expand their network. For those who couldn’t come, here is a link to the public Prezi.

Using LinkedIn to Launch Your Career on Prezi

Also, I was quoted in a story published by mediabistro.com this week as an expert on LinkedIn. You need to be a member of mediabistro.com, but am looking to get a copy of the article that I can publish on my website (fingers crossed). In the meantime, the author, Kristen Fischer, has a great blog called Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes about the after-college life. Check it out!

If you’d like more information on upcoming workshops, join my Meetup- it’s free!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Personal Career Insights for the Fall

After graduating from the Fast Trac entrepreneurship program, I helped a consulting client with their recruitment and HR issues and took some time. Time, the one great resource we all have! I used my time to plan the fall programs and services for The Opportunities Project, as well as step back and think about how I am doing on my own personal goals.

Careers and InsightsPart of my reflection involved spending the last few days out on Fire Island to do some writing. For those of you unfamiliar with Fire Island, it’s an amazing little island off  Long Island with no cars- you have to take a ferry to get here. I have been coming out here for about seven summers, but never so late in the year. The markets and restaurants are closed so I am enjoying some yummy packaged food from Trader Joe’s, some local red wine, and lots of tea to keep warm. It’s colder in my rented apartment than out on the beach!

So as I finish this period of looking inwards, here is a preview of what to expect in the next few weeks.

· More Cocktails and Careers Happy Hours where you can expand your network and get free career advice

· Special workshops with partners who have a lot of value to add to everyone trying to launch or take the next step in a fabulous career

· More guest blog posts and online interviews with people who have great advice for you

· Insight into why I launched The Opportunities Project, which I still haven’t sufficiently explained

· Rocking career advice from me

· Reflections on education policy. The press over the movie Waiting for Superman has made me realize that my work in that sphere is not done, no matter how successful a career coach I become. Why should you pay attention as a job seeker or someone interested in recruitment? Because of extensive government data, we know more about employee performance than in almost any other industry- and that’s not saying a lot. Still any understandings are helpful, right!

· An updated website, including new service prices now that my October 1 milestone passed.

Another day of walks on the beach and then looking forward to talking more this fall!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

LinkedIn and Cupcakes by NineCakes September 30

We’re less than 24 hours to our first workshop on LinkedIn and the second on the Cupcakes and Careers Tour. I am pleased to announce that our cupcakes for the second stop on our tour are from cake studio NineCakes. Their desserts have been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings and on the Today Show. The NineCakes shop is a few blocks from our home office base in the Columbia Waterfront District of Brooklyn and I am always excited when I get to support a local vendor!

Just a reminder, tomorrow’s event is at the Center for Arts and Education at 225 West 34th Street on the 11th Floor. In addition to indulging in some amazing cupcakes, we’re going to discuss how you can use LinkedIn to promote yourself, research, and engage with others. I heard on Twitter that LinkedIn is doing a promotion next week on 60 college campuses to get their students to complete profiles so we’re very timely. See you there!