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A Scholarship Story: Abby Cajudo

We are proud to publish the third of four blog posts from The Opportunities Project’s 2011 career coaching scholarship recipients. Meet Abby Cajudo, a northern California based scientist, social entrepreneur, and aspiring blogger.  

When I met Abby, she had a plan, but unanticipated opportunities came her way, leading her to different successes, so we changed course on our coaching topics. If I were you, I’d pay special attention to Abby’s advice on adapting- it’s something we can learn at any age! 

– Tracy

PS: Want to apply for a 2012 scholarship? Look for the info at the end of the post. 

Last May, I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. I experienced the same range of emotions most recent grads experience: excitement, fear, nervousness, “What the hell am I doing-ness?” It’s been over a year since I’ve graduated, and although I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be a year or two from now, I want to share some fundamental lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

Create your own opportunities.

“No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself” – Seth Godin 

During my last few months of undergrad, I was really nervous about what I would be doing after graduation. Most of my friends had plans. They had jobs lined up or plans to attend graduate school. I, on the other hand, had uncertainty. But instead of throwing myself a pity party, I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere by waiting for someone to pick me. Picked for an internship. Picked for a job. I needed to pick myself. I was volunteering at a non-profit organization during my last semester and it was there that I found my passion for community work, particularly around issues of health equity and health education. I saw so much potential to reach the local community through health education programs with this organization. But since the size of the organization was so small, I knew that I needed to let my voice be heard and share my ideas in order to show my value and potential to lead these programs. I needed to give myself permission to be bold. I proactively attended meetings and other events to gain as much knowledge as possible about the community I was working in and find ways I can help. Before I knew it, one month before graduation, I was offered a position at the organization as the program coordinator for a health education program!

Trust your value. You bring a whole lot to the table.

I remind myself of this every day. My first job out of college as a program coordinator, was a huge opportunity for me. I had demonstrated my potential to the organization and they were trusting me to lead their program. The program’s scope spanned the entire Bay Area I was in charge of collaboration between students, agencies, and other organizations. There were times I felt overwhelmed and under-qualified. Those were the times I needed to remind myself that I did have something to offer. Too often, recent grads feel like they don’t bring much to the table. The truth is, you bring a whole lot to the table! You bring your own perspectives, views, experiences, and opinions. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise due to your lack of work experience in “the real world”. Every internship, every college course, every assignment, every experience has shaped you into who you are. Own it. Bring it.

Don’t rush the process. You are where you are for a reason. 

Don’t rush it. You can’t rush growth. I needed to work a year at a non-profit to understand my love for community and my heart for service. My interests in public health and community health continue to get deeper every day. I recently started working for a research study with one of the largest clinical research groups, studying factors of breast cancer survivorship. I had no idea that I would be working where I am today. I thought that I would graduate undergrad, get a job for my “gap year” and go back to graduate school. One year out, even though I’m not there, I lovewhere I’m at and have time to figure things out. I’m giving myself time to explore and grow my passions. I don’t feel rushed or pressured by where my peers are at or what my peers are doing.

Plans change. You need to adapt.

If you asked me three years ago what my plan was, it was to go to pharmacy school. If you asked me one year ago what my plan was, it was to work for a year then go to pharmacy school. I realized within that year that pharmacy is not the field for me. That’s okay. It’s okay for plans to change. It’s completely normal. The most important thing is that you adapt. Give yourself time to adapt. Your plans changing is not a sign of failure, rather your ability to adapt is an indicator of your future success. Last Spring, I was privileged to win The Opportunities Project’s College Student Scholarship. My coaching sessions with Tracy have been extremely helpful in organizing my life and making specific steps in my career goals and networking goals. 

Inspired by Abby? Apply for our Second Annual Scholarship Contest by Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). 

The Opportunities Project Second Annual Scholarship Contest

A Scholarship Story: Alexandra Patterson

We are proud to publish the second of four blog posts from The Opportunities Project’s 2011 career coaching scholarship recipients. Meet Alexandra Pattersona student entrepreneur, writer, and aspiring librarian. I met Alexandra through a joint scholarship program with our friends over at YouTern and was happy to work with her while she was abroad in London. 

When I met Alexandra, she was interested in exploring magazine work in New York and specifically how to market herself for those type of opportunities. As a former NYC’er, I was in full-support of that plan! I was happy to see that she made it to NYC in 2012 and followed her journey on her blog. I am even more excited that she is now a fellow Southerner.

I hope you enjoy Alexandra’s insights into her year following coaching.

– Tracy

PS: Want to apply for a 2012 scholarship? Look for the info at the end of the post. 

My Favorite Lessons: 2011-2012

1. I was underselling myself.

Though I had had lots of internship experience in the publishing industry, I didn’t sound like it when I wrote cover letters. I thought that just because my experience wasn’t at one of the top publishing houses it wasn’t worth it but after I learned that employers look at transferable skills I rethought my strategy.

2. My professional presence didn’t reflect what I wanted.

I had been writing a blog for a few months before coaching but I didn’t concentrate on my true passion: publishing. My blog was an asset, full of clips to show future employers and I wasn’t maximizing my blog. Once I started writing book reviews and concentrating on industry specific articles to repost, my clips improved.

3. I wasn’t concentrating on what makes me special.

I have a big personality. I’m always the girl who brings in snacks for the group and plans the outings but my job search didn’t reflect this. I decided to put a personal touch into my applications by creating a “brag book” full of my previous projects. For me, this was the “something special” that allowed me to showcase my personality, for others it might be something different.

What do you wish you could change?


Inspired by Alexandra? Apply for our Second Annual Scholarship Contest by Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). 

The Opportunities Project Second Annual Scholarship Contest

A Scholarship Story: Zack Laplante

We are proud to publish the first of four blog posts from The Opportunities Project’s 2011 career coaching scholarship recipients. Meet Zachary Laplante, an aspiring lawyer, do-gooder and all-around good guy who I was pleased to work with last year. At the end of our time together, Zack decided he was going to enroll in law school at the University of Pittsburgh- with funding!

Like me, Zack is a scrappy Massachusetts person so we hit it off from the start and I miss our Skype sessions. I know the world is going to be a better place when Zack graduates from law school. I hope you enjoy his insights and know that I did not pay him to say what he said about me.

– Tracy

PS: Want to apply for a 2012 scholarship? Look for the info at the end of the post. 


When I first came into contact with Tracy Brisson, I was in the midst of a very trying period in my career and my life in general.  I was preparing for law school simply because I felt out of options, and I had not developed the skills I needed to expand my network and determine the best path for me to take.  Fortunately, I was selected for a scholarship for coaching sessions from Tracy that were crucial in developing ideals and values that guide my goals and decisions to this day.  A mentor can be an absolute godsend when you’ve reached a brick wall, but it truly comes down to finding your own way and making decisions that fulfill you as an individual.  Here are a few of the key ideas that I have developed over the past year with a push in the right direction.

First, balancing your short-term and long-term goals is critical to success.

After graduating and finding that there seemed to be no clear-cut path for a liberal arts major with concentrations in psychology and political science (huge surprise!), I started looking into graduate school.  While I prepared my applications, I worked on a political campaign, went door-to-door raising money for an environmental awareness non-profit, interned with a couple different Internet start-ups, and even spent some time in retail.  All in all, every experience brought with it its own challenges and lessons, but I was always sure to take care of short-term needs while keeping a focus on long-term goals.  Time is money right?  You have to budget your time just as you budget your finances. Bills have to get paid, but that’s no reason you have to put your goals on the backburner.  Dedicate 20-30% of your day to networking and furthering your career, and give the rest to your day-to-day priorities, and you’ll be surprised how much you can get accomplished.

Second, the world owes you nothing.

I grew up with the naive notion that all you need is a college degree to make it, so I expected an immediate return simply from obtaining a degree.  Needless to say, I was dead wrong.  The truth is, you only get what you give.  Reaching your goals and fulfilling your dreams is less about what you have, and more about what you do with what you have.  The prodigiously talented author that dares not publish a word is doomed to obscurity just as a Harvard student will go nowhere without applying the innate talent that got them there in the first place (imagine if Mark Zuckerberg never dared to create Facebook!).  The world will not come to you unless you make it do so, so make connections, experiment and explore new possibilities, and don’t be afraid to introduce your own ideas into the mix.

Finally, every disaster is an opportunity.

When the economy crashed, the obvious reaction was panic.  Living in a country where we almost feel entitled to future prosperity, having the floor drop out from under us was a shock I don’t think anyone was ready for.  However, as we pick ourselves back up, our generation is beginning to redesign and re-envision the world based on our experiences and interpretations of this new world.  In the wake of catastrophe there will always be those with a vision for the future, and I believe that is a spirit everyone can come to embrace.  See the positive in every negative, find the upside to every downside, and when you find something worth fighting for, stick to your guns like your life depends on it.  I’ll end with wiser words than I could ever write, and I hope they inspire you like they inspire me:

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though
checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy
nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor

– Teddy Roosevelt

Best of luck out there everybody, and thanks to Tracy and The Opportunities Project for helping me find my way.


Inspired by Zack? Apply for our Second Annual Scholarship Contest by Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). 

The Opportunities Project Second Annual Scholarship Contest

Lesson of the week: Tell Fear to FUDGE OFF

Happy Music Monday (with another eCourse sneak-peak)

We’re ready to get this week started off with a she-BANG! Part of being able to do that is recognizing what works and what doesn’t, as well as recognizing what is standing in the way.

Lesson of the Week: Tell Fear to Fudge Off

Do you sit and wonder about all those “shoulds”, “woulds”, “coulds” and “what ifs” but remain inactive because of the possibility of failure… or even better, SUCCESS?

Say hello to my dear friend, fear (another one of those four-letter words that begins with a capital “F”, if you let it have that power!). I’m personally well acquainted with this one, and we all experience this on one level or another. Tracy and I’ve discussed this before, and she stated, “Anxiety can develop as your ‘world’ increases, too.”

While I know this is true, that seems ridiculously counter productive, doesn’t it?!? In Lesson 10 of our summer eCourse, aptly named Tell Fear to Fudge Off, we are all over this one. We even include a template to help you evaluate some of your most stifling fears to get you moving toward that next step.

If you haven’t signed up to Avoid a Cruel Summer, (we don’t want to admit this but…) time is running out! It’s mid-August already, and we’ll be finishing up this eCourse as the hot, sunny beach season leaves us. So don’t wait: With both audio, and video files to guide you, we’re ready to help prepare you to Up Your Game for 2013 now. We look forward to hearing from you on our Facebook or Twitter regarding your process and your progress!

Career Coaching Scholarship Contest Continues…

We’re excited to have started receiving submissions for our  2012 Scholarship Program and the deadline is Friday, August 24th, just 11 days away.

You do realize there are FIVE opportunities to win, right?

If you (or someone you know) is in need of career coaching to bring your work to the next level, we want to help!

And now for our weekly Music Monday inspired by the frustrations this week’s topic (FEAR) can bring forth, but let’s not take this one too seriously, okay?

(Click here for the entire YouTube playlist for the Avoid a Cruel Summer eCourse.)

Have a great week!





Guest Post: How to Get Your Employer to Pay for Your MBA

We’re publishing a long overdue guest post today from Erin Palmer, who works for US News University Directory. While we are not always a fan of taking on more debt and obligations to make a career change, if you are considering going back to school, there are some tangible tips in here. Enjoy!

So you’ve worked hard to earn your bachelor’s degree and you’re working your way up the company ladder, but you keep getting passed up for that big promotion. No matter what you do, someone always seems to have the advantage. If this sounds like you, then it may be time for you to consider earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

After some investigation, you know that getting an MBA can be expensive. If you don’t have the funds, you may consider a grant or scholarship to help you pay for your degree. Another option to consider is getting your employer to pay for your MBA. If this doesn’t sound easy to you, having a strategy will help your chances in getting your company to foot the bill and keep you from falling further into debt.

Will they pay?

Firstly, you’ll have to find out if your employer would even consider paying for your education. Many large companies have policies in place, so check your employee handbook. If you can’t find information on your own, check with your HR department, as they usually are the first to know about such programs. For smaller companies, you may have to go directly to your supervisor or the owner of the company. Before you do, make sure you’re ready and have your case clearly thought out ahead of time. If no policy is in place, your preparedness might be enough to set the trend in motion.

They’ll want to know your expectations for tuition. Are you asking for them to pay all of the tuition? Will you split it with them, or do you have outside sources (loans, scholarships, grants, etc.) that will cut down on the costs. If you do decide to split the costs, do the outside sources count toward your half, or are they deducted first with the balance then divided between each party. These details should be worked out prior to any arrangement or enrollment being made.

Know the company

A decision like funding education for an employee often comes down to timing and economic factors. Is now a good time to ask for assistance? If the company seems to be cutting down on expenses and is struggling during a troubled economy, the chances of your request being approved are slim. However, if the company seems to be growing and spending money toward their future, and if others before you have gotten similar requests approved, the scene may be set for a request.

Do your research and expect to answer questions

If you’re looking to work in top management at the executive level, a bachelor’s degree will most likely not be enough to get you there. According to a recent survey of top executives, 80% earned a graduate degree in business, which is important for those seeking top management positions.1 Having statistics like this to support your case will let your employer know you’ve taken the time to consider the value of an MBA.

Also, expect a lot of questions from the company. Have the basic facts down, but also generate some substance behind each fact that will heighten the value of your request.

Case for support

A good MBA program will train its students on basic business principles that will help them become a leader and an sharp business manager in the future. You can expect courses covering accounting, marketing, strategic planning, corporate finance and economics. Many specializations are available within MBA programs that you might want to consider as well. From finance and IT to marketing and management, if you have an interest in one of these areas, then you would probably want to select a specialization.

If a specialization fits within the company you’re working for, and you genuinely want to pursue that major, you’ve just found your angle. Explain how studying a specialization will benefit the company in the future, likening it to enhanced continuing education that will help the business profit down the road. Showing how spending the money now can return profits for the company in the future should always be a point for you to explain to your employer.

What can you expect?

A company isn’t usually going to invest the type of money associated with an MBA without some commitment from you, the employee. Many employers will require that you work for the company a certain period of time following your graduation date. Along with that, you’ll often be asked to sign a contract that outlines your obligations, including grade requirements, tuition terms and work periods. Should you not hold up your end of the contract, you may be required to repay all or part of the money spent by the company. So make sure you are comfortable with any contract you sign, prior to signing it.

Leave them with information

Offering up a printed outline of your case and the MBA program you’re interested in can give them some concrete information to look at when making their decision. Leaving them with some kind of report further shows your commitment and thought process behind the request. Include such items as:

  • Name of the school and the MBA program
  • The program’s curriculum
  • Costs and duration of the MBA program
  • The reasons why you need an MBA
  • Benefits of the MBA to the company
  • The reasons why you think the company should pay for it

By showing your commitment to the company and a willingness to develop yourself professionally for the benefit of the business, you will lay the foundation for a solid request of assistance. Remember that not all companies will agree to pay all or even a portion of tuition, but it shouldn’t keep you from seeking an MBA if you find it necessary. At the very least, your employer will know you have a desire to advance – which could go a long way during your time with the company.

About the author

Guest post provided by U.S. News University Directory an education portal designed to help students and working professionals locate hundreds of accredited bachelor degrees, online masters programs and certification courses from top colleges and universities, as well as, a growing collection of articles and career videos.

Nope. You Can’t Have It All.

In this week’s newsletter, I used the Secret Sessions with Tracy column to discuss success, and how you can feel safe and confident with what you already have. About a month ago, I saw my female Generation Y Facebook friends rapidly posting Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece in The Atlantic on how she discovered through her personal journey working for Secretary Clinton and balancing her desires to be a better mom to her teenage son that women couldn’t have it all. The online dialogue about this hasn’t stopped and I decided to throw my own two cents in and would love your comments.

I had never heard of Professor Slaughter before I read her piece and it sounded like she has an amazing and intense career with crazy impressive credentials, all earned while growing a family. I admire her for that and my intent is not to bring down another woman, but she published her piece in the public domain opening it up for discussion. And when I read her article, I hate to say that I cringed over and over again. I wondered if The Atlantic was afraid of editing such a distinguished academic, but it seemed rambling at times and more importantly, I just didn’t get her point.

I know women are responding to this article because they really want to have it all. My take is that is just not possible. We have limited resources, including time, energy, emotions, and money and there are just too much in today’s world to experience it “all” at high levels. Really, for an effective life, the focus must be on enough, and you can have enough of what you want with clarity and strategy.

Here are three coaching tips for folks who are feeling unfulfilled with the current status of their lives.

Do you know what “all” is?

When I read the piece, I had no idea what “all” was for Slaughter (I’m not going to recap the article so if you haven’t read it, please visit the link above for context). Was “all” really working 18-hour days for someone else doing bureaucratic work? Because the work that she described she was doing at the state department didn’t sound fulfilling and she hinted it was a pain the ass. So was it the title, power, and access? If it was the second that she truly wanted, there are lots of different ways to achieve that with different time constructs and relationships.

Second, did Slaughter want to spend more time with her son or did she just feel guilty about the decisions she had made? It was unclear to me. I wouldn’t judge any parent for making decisions about her life balance- after all, earning a good living and taking care of your life is important to being a good caretaker. But you have to know and then act accordingly.

The “all” you almost everyone is aiming for is experienced through emotional satisfaction and flow, not a collection of achievements and experiences. We have a hard time with this because job titles are so tangible and feelings are amorphous, but it’s the path to contentment.

No one gets unlimited time so get comfortable making choices and determining priorities.

Maybe it was just clear to me, but Slaughter seemed to want to do 48 hours of activity in every day, which limited her credibility on the topic for me. Time management is not a mother or gender issue. You must make choices about your time and energy. No one gets to avoid prioritizing.

When I chose to start a company, I knew that for a specific period of time I would work monster hours, be stressed about money, and potentially strain my relationships, as well as put a temporary halt on my quest to start a family. This was a choice I made because the urge to start my company was so strong. Logically, you cannot starts something without initial sacrifices and I talked about this when I was a guest on the GTD Virtual Study Group podcast. I made a commitment to limit the period of my sacrifice as I gained more resources and understanding of strategy that worked for me. Again, make timebound choices that make you feel empowered.

Finally, You can do more things if you accept you can’t be perfect at everything. Sometimes your work won’t be as great as you want it to be, but you’ll probably be the only one who notices. And yes, daycare is essential, but your guilt is not. So ask yourself what can I delegate? What can I ask for help with? What can you say no to? This piece from Fast Company on the myth of “work life balance” has more specific tips I highly recommend.

Your story is not only about you.

The part that left me with the most discomfort after reading Slaughter’s piece is how she treated the role of her husband and son in her journey. Her marriage may be fantastic, but her choices in writing on how she recognized their role in her journey was troubling to me. You can’t tell your story without the inclusion of critical characters.

What we do has an impact on our friends, family, and others. Life is about enjoyment and sharing experiences and you can’t hole yourself on a solo path without including people. All or enough is no fun on your own. Your relationships should not be an end destiny or about is not about ownership and collection. How can you plan to be present others while pursuing your goals and not have them as part of your collateral damage.

So what do you think? And if you want to read more about it, Harvard Business Review had a great series on Slaughter’s piece. Here are three posts from that series I highly recommend reading.

Anne-Marie Slaughter Misses a Huge Opportunity by Sylvia Ann Hewlett
– how Slaughter’s focus on motherhood is a disservice when childless women face the same issues (amen, sister)

“Having It All” Is Not a Women’s Issue by Stew Friedman
– the male response

Sandberg vs Slaughter, Who Wins? Business Loses by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox
– what is our responsibility as women in creating power in the workplace?


Rosie the Riveter image courtesy of Wikipedia

9/11 and Your Life

One of my favorite books these days is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins where rocking teenage heroine Katniss Everdeen is forced to fight to the death with 23 other kids in an annual event organized by a post-apocalyptic government. After the event, privileged citizens who saw the event on television talk about where they were and who they were with during the games and not about the death and destruction they saw. That scene reminds me of how some of us are reacting to the upcoming anniversary of September 11, 2001 as I see more articles and blog posts that ask “Where were you when you found out that the planes crashed the World Trade Center?” It’s an understandable way to deal with complex emotions about something so horrific that we could never have imagined it before it happened. But it also allows us to escape truly reflecting on a terrible tragedy where thousands of people lost their lives that day and even more were changed irrevocably.

I have definitely been one of those people who have been trying to avoid the upcoming anniversary but have realized this week that I can’t escape it and shouldn’t. On 9/11/01, I was stuck underground at the World Trade Center on the 3 train for almost 30 minutes and had no idea that the planes were crashing into the buildings above me. Later that day, I watched part of WTC 7 collapse from a spot in front of  St. Vincent’s Hospital with hundreds of people who were waiting for survivors that never came and made a decision while I was standing there that has haunted me for the past decade.

Freedom is not free

In August 2001, I had begun work on my plan to leave New York. I had moved to NYC after college because of an opportunity and a boy, but my dream since I was a little girl obsessed with politics was to live in Washington, DC. While I loved the friends I’d made and the work I’d been a part of in New York, it has always felt like owning a fantastic pair of shoes that never fit quite right, become irritable and even painful after walking in them for long periods of time, but you never throw away because they look so great on the shoe rack. After some networking and lots of job applications, I’d been invited to a high level interview for a federal agency in DC on September 13, 2001. Standing with all those people on that corner, I just felt that I could not leave NYC and cancelled my interview the next day. For various reasons, I never pursued employment in DC again even though the desire to live somewhere outside NYC constantly returns. While I try not to have regrets in my life, it’s sometimes hard not to think about all the missed opportunities of a decade based on that emotional decision.

This summer, I traveled to Newark, NJ a few times a week to work on our Teach Newark project through the PATH station next to the World Trade Center site and watched tourists take pictures there as if they were at a theme park, contributing to an increasing level of sadness and anger about that day. I’ve been thinking about all the people who woke up that morning thinking they had a lifetime in front of them and didn’t, and all the people who did make life-changing decisions inspired by the day, whether they are grateful or now regret their impulsive moves. As we approach the anniversary in a few days, I encourage you to make it a day of personal reflection and think about your own life and whether you’re honoring time the way it deserves- personally and professionally- and what you can do to change that in the next year and decade if you’re not. Truly never forget.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Q&A with Team Member Lauren Wannermeyer

We’re super excited to have Lauren Wannermeyer helping The Opportunities Project with social media! Until this point, if you were interacting with The Opportunities Project on Facebook or Twitter, you knew you were talking with Tracy 24/7.  Now Lauren will also be manning the accounts and we’re pretty sure rather than get confused, you’ll value having the fresh perspective.


Now here’s some Q&A with Lauren!



Q: What’s the best career advice you’ve received as a college student? 


A: The best career advice I’ve received as a college student was to make my experience. College students are constantly foiled in the search for internships with that old fall back recruiters use. They tell you that you don’t have enough experience. Well obviously! I’m a junior in college and I can’t get any opportunities because everything today requires experience. And how are you supposed to get experience when no one will take a chance on someone without any? So my career advisor told me to make my own. Reach out to local businesses and volunteer to help them. That’s how I ended up doing Faegan’s and I had no idea that it would end up being so big!


Q: Tell me about how you used Twitter or LinkedIn to meet someone cool.


A: I follow a lot of people on Twitter and I’m not shy about responding to people, even if I don’t know them! People on Twitter like to be @mentioned, the love to answer questions and read comments. LinkedIn is a little different. I didn’t know how to use it to begin with. I kept getting stopped by a message telling me to buy the “pro” version. Then I realized that if there was only 3 degrees of separation or if I had a shared group I could talk to anyone. I used that knowledge to reach out to SU alums who worked for the Food Network. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten any job opportunities there yet but it’s still good to have those connections.


Q: You’re on Foursquare a lot- what’s your favorite things about that tool?


A: Mayorships! I guess that’s the incentive to using Foursquare. It’s just a kind of nerdy brag rights kind of thing. For example I was the mayor of the Schine Student Center at Syracuse for a while. It took me forever to get it! It’s also fun snatching mayorships from friends.


Q: Twitter has taught me that we have a lot of similar pop culture interests- Glee and The Hunger Games, for example. What’s your favorite summer movie ever and what are you looking forward to this summer (TV or movies)?


A: It’s hard to pick just one favorite summer movie! But this summer I’m excited for the new Harry Potter movie and I’m always huge into So You Think You Can Dance. I also love Pretty Little Liars. It’s not strictly a summer series but it’s so good right now!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Q&A with Team Member Salena Moore

We were excited to welcome another team member recently, virtual intern Salena Moore. Salena is a student at Syracuse University and is helping us this summer with updating the systems we use to manage our database for clients and partners where we store contact information and communications.This also includes helping to improve the performance of our email marketing systems, which then helps our sales cycle. We grew so fast in 2011, we’ve had a hard time keeping it together and are grateful for another insightful perspective. Here is Salena’s Q&A.


Q: What interests you about working in education?

A: I would have to attribute my initial interest in education to my mother’s involvement within the field.  She has been an educator in the Milwaukee education system for over 25 years.  In fact, she opened up a school when my brother and I were young because she felt that we were not receiving a proper education. Because of this, I grew up understanding the importance of good schools and how there was a lack of a quality education where I lived and in the entire nation.  Education is important and given the fact that the job market is even more competitive, children need to be more prepared for that environment.  Making sure everyone has the proper education for succeeding is what most interests me.

Q: What are the worst and best things about college?

A: That is a good question! I think that best thing about college is that I am able to explore a number of interests through different majors/minors and I am also able to meet people from different places around the world.  It is a good place to “find yourself.” One of the worst things in college is going there and getting lost in the hype of it all. Many kids go to college and forget what they came for.  College is what you make it; you just have to make sure you use it to your advantage.

Q: What do you think is going to be the be the most important education issue in the next decade?

A: I believe the most important issue in education in the next decade will be the financial challenges placed on schools.  As we all have seen, America has experienced big budget cuts and there might even be more threats to cutting funds in the future.

Q: What is the most important thing you hope to learn from interning with The Opportunities Project?

A: I hope to improve my data analysis skills and to improve my understanding of exactly what career path I should pursue!  Being that I am still in college, I believe that working with The Opportunities Project will allow me to explore more of my interests and it will open up a world of opportunities for me in the future.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog


Q&A with Team Member Alisha Miranda

We are super excited to feature a question and answer post our new team member Alisha Miranda. Alisha is helping us build our business in new ways, and in particular by tapping into new young professional communities across the digital world so we can help even more people achieve their professional dreams.

For those of you who don’t know the background, Alisha and I met on Twitter through Job Hunt Chat. It’s been a social media success story for both of us! Here is Alisha’s Q&A.

Q: Why did you decide to go freelance instead of find a corporate job when you graduated from college?
A: I graduated college and quickly (and luckily) found a full-time job in the music industry, as I wanted. But a few months into that job, I realized it was not what I truly wanted. It was a typical 9-5 setting with bosses who declined open ideas from their employees and were manipulative with tasks, so after six months I quit and moved on to a new opportunity. It wasn’t until I started working in marketing for a travel start-up that I learned what was really conducive to a productive working environment for me, and that my work style is very different from what corporate America expects and demands. Having the freedom to manage my own projects, at my own pace, and pitch ideas to an enthusiastic team was what really got me excited. I was able to develop my own network from there and begin freelancing projects on the side. Once I was able to experience my own independent success, I refused to go back to a corporate job.


Q. What do you think is the biggest challenge today’s young professionals struggle with when looking for work?
A. I find a few big challenges for young professionals on the job hunt today. Personally, I’ve seen and experienced discouraging employment opportunities due to the economy. For example, some companies are taking advantage of free labor and blaming it on a bad recession, encouraging an uber-competitive market for internships where young professionals are basically doing all the work for little or no compensation, or even credit. There’s also a sense of devalued work and confidence in young professionals these days because of a lack of full-time employment: fair salary, vacation days, benefits, etc and high turnover and downsizing among companies. So the challenge is to remain positive, know your worth, and pitch yourself as a “customized package” to fit into different employment opportunities.

Q. Can you recommend a book that everyone should read?
A. Though its related to the restaurant industry, I’d say “Medium Raw” by Anthony Bourdain. It’s a book that I think young people should read because he discusses all the highs and lows, the struggles, the drama, the crappy pay and gigs, and sometimes dream-crushing moments you’ll have to endure to become a person you’ve always wanted – but if you manage to get through all of it, the results are rewarding and priceless. It’s the same with any other profession that people dream to own – if you can put on your realism hat and get through all the bumps along the way, you’ll end up a winner.

Q. Best. Twitter. Story.
A. I don’t have one best story about my Twitter experiences but I will say that to enter a room and have people come up to me shouting “Hey, makeshiftalisha! I love your work!” on a regular basis is pretty fantastic. It’s not about the number of followers or web stats to me, it’s about the connections I’ve made and the brand I’ve been creating that keeps people remembering and supporting me.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog