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Announcing the Spring 2011 Scholarship Winners

We are SO pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 Spring Scholarship Program!

I received over 250 tweets about the program, 1,000 page views, and 31 eligible applicants (and another 70ish who started the application, but did not finish- not sure what was up with those people!). I was grateful that so many people wanted our help and think what we do is valuable. I cannot stress enough that there were many applicants who submitted amazing applications- it was a very difficult decision for me and the team.

I had wanted to announce the winners by video, but I had my fill of adventures with video this week (see our Facebook page), but as I said in my original pitch… enough about me, let’s talk about the scholarships! Here are the three winners who I am SO excited to start working with this week.*

Jessie Morgenstern, NYC- A fashion professional potentially considering a new profession



Zach Laplante, Massachusetts- An aspiring politician looking to change the world



Abby Cajudo, University of California, Berkeley- A graduating senior with a strong science background who is considering all career options

Wish them luck as we start our five session journey together.

*Unfortunately, we didn’t have any eligible applicants for the Woman Veteran’s Scholarship so I am giving two Young Professional Scholarships instead. My marketing plan for that scholarship tanked, but I am committed to that cause and will take it up again during the fall. If you have ideas, please share in the comments or by contacting us.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Announcing The Scholarship Selection Panel

Just five days until our Spring 2011 Career Coaching Scholarship Contest closes! As I’m looking at the applications that have come in (and there are a lot of them!), I saw a few from people I’ve met before or connected with on Brazen or Twitter and I want the competition to be unbiased. Last week, I reached out to some of my colleagues in education, communications, blogging, and recruitment to ask them to join my official Scholarship Selection Panel to help. The panel will read the applications and give me their recommendations for winners in each category. Justin and I will make the final decisions based on their recommendations and announce them on April 15th.

Here is our panel. Read about their accomplishments and the diverse paths they’ve taken.

Donald Ivanoff

Donald Ivanoff

Donald Ivanoff has been a higher education administrator and fundraiser for more than 25 years.  Most recently, he worked for Career Education Corporation (CEC) developing alumni outreach, communications and social networking programs at CEC’s schools in the northeast.  Previously, he served in two roles at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, NY; director of alumni relations and director of student activities and leadership development, coordinating a range of programs and services that positively engaged students and alumni. He has served on the advisory board for “Student Leader” magazine and been published in “Campus Activities” magazine. Donald has a BFA from The University of Bridgeport.

Greg Palmer

Greg PalmerGreg Palmer is a strategic communications consultant to non-profits, political causes, and government agencies, with a focus on improving online and social media communications. A former staffer for NYC schools chancellor Joel Klein and Congressman Henry A. Waxman, he works toward a more equitable society. He is passionate about marriage equality, civil rights, education, poverty, good government, journalism, and civic participation, among other things. He maintains a digital home at and is rarely away from Twitter (@gregpalmer).

Niki Stanley

Niki StanleyNiki Stanley is a Human Resources Professional with 10+ years experience specializing in corporate recruitment and human capital management. Having led talent-acquisition initiatives for companies such as Olympus America, Omnicom and Time Warner Cable, she currently supports teachers at the NYC Department of Education to market themselves during internal job searches within the district. Niki also hosts a blog called Neighborhood Fellows which address events and issues that affect the African-American and middle-class communities. Passionate about being a voice to strengthen and make a difference in her community, she serves as co-chair of the Urban League Young Professional Policy committee and is a fast-rising Matchmaker, determined to do her part to spread love and create strong families.

Adriana VilavicencioAdriana Vilavicencio

Dr.  Adriana Villavicencio is a Research Associate at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at New York University. Adriana served as a department chair at a charter high school in Oakland, California; as an English teacher in Brooklyn, New York; and worked on the development of a new school in Bangalore, India. She currently serves as a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education and as a staff writer for Being Latino Online Magazine. Her work for Being Latino covers a range of educational, political, and lifestyle topics. Adriana holds a B.A. in English from Columbia University, an M.A. in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Education Leadership from New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Latino Alumni Association of Columbia University.

Remember, applications are due on Friday, April 8 at 11:59PM!

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Eventpalooza and a Book Giveaway

Happy Monday! Rain stinks. If you’re like me and highly affected by the weather, make sure you’ve loaded your IPod Rainy Day playlist with upbeat music. For me, this means a little Stevie Wonder. Check the video at the end to see one of my favorites.

We’ve got three events this week and a book giveaway!

Precise Advisory Group Executives in Transition- Monday, March 21, 2011 at 7PM, $30

107 E. 34th Street

I’ll be one of the featured speakers. You don’t have to be an executive, or in transition, but just want to hear some great career, business, and financial advice.

Building Your Soft Skills Workshop, Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 7PM, $20

McAnn’s Upstairs Lounge, 3 W. 46th Street

I am doing my popular interview and story-telling workshop on Tuesday and am also giving away a book from The Opportunities Project’s Recommended Book List in our Barnes & Noble Store to one lucky participant!

Fresh Air Fund 2011 Career Awareness Fair, Saturday March 26, 2011

From executives to middle schoolers, we certainly have a diverse schedule this week. Since 2009, I have been a big supporter of the Fresh Air Fund’s career awareness activities and am honored to be one of the speakers. I am looking for a volunteer to help me run consecutive workshops between 9:30 to 12:30. Please contact me if you’re free.

And here’s that promised Stevie song to get you through the day. See you at one of our events.

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Pay What You Can Coaching (PWYCC) is Back

Happy Monday! I hope everyone has survived the Daylight Savings Time time switch. I am not sure how, but taking away the hour somehow cured my insomnia and I woke up with tons of energy this morning. I hope everyone else has equally amazing adjustments to the change.

The Opportunities Project Blog I am clearing out paper in my office as I am moving all of my vision, goals, and tasks from chart paper and index cards to an online system and in the process came across an old note about a site I wanted to try called Tagxedo that generates creative word clouds based on websites, Twitter feeds, famous speeches, and lots of other things you can find on the web. I played around with it last night and here is the tag cloud for my blog over the last month. I love it! The one for my overall website is really great, too. I’ll use it in an upcoming post, but I am thinking of using it for t-shirts or mugs. It’s really that great.

Now let’s get on to the purpose of the post!

In December, I introduced Pay What You Can Coaching as a holiday special. I really enjoyed the clients I worked with and I’m now bringing it back as a semi-permanent program of The Opportunities Project where every month, I’ll offer six PWYCC coaching sessions. During Pay What You Can Coaching sessions, you can pay me a combination of what you can and what you think the session was worth. The rules are on the official Pay What You Can Coaching page on my website. To participate, you must apply for one of the slots using the application form below. Good luck!

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Introducing My 2011 Spring Scholarship Program!

I’ve launched my 2011 Spring Scholarship program! I am giving away three scholarships and applications are due Friday, April 1.

Here are the three scholarships I’m giving away. You can apply via the Scholarship page on my News and Events channel.

1. The College Student Scholarship- Awarded to someone finishing his/her junior or senior year of college and exploring internships or first full-time job.

2. The Young Professional Scholarship– Awarded to someone with less than three years of full-time professional experience and needs some help finding a new or first job.

3. The Woman Veteran Scholarship– Awarded to a female veteran of our armed services who is pursuing work in the civilian sector.

You can also watch my video telling you about the scholarships and why I am giving them away. Look forward to your application and thank you in advance for sharing!


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Be a Sponsored Coaching Candidate with Hired for Holidays

Pardon the #Reverb10 interruption, but I have exciting news to announce. I have joined the Hired for the Holidays team as a sponsor! I am honored to work with the hosts of some of my favorite career related Twitter chats, including Heather Huhman, Mark Babbitt, Chanelle Schneider, and Rich DeMatteo. As a sponsor, I will give 8 weeks of free 45-minute career coaching sessions via phone or Skype to someone who is actively in the job search at the beginning of 2011. I want you be that candidate!

To apply, please fill out the application form. It’s embedded below, but you can also access it on its own page. If you are selected, you must commit to the terms of the Hired for Holiday Initiative, including blogging and providing social media updates about your experience.  Here are the other requirements:

1.   A professional quality head shot (JPG, GIF or PNG)

2.   Be “coachable”; the advice you’ll receive from your mentor will be practical, honest  and – most important – will help you find employment

3.   Be the “CEO” of your job search; the mentor’s role is to help you – your role is to find work!

4.   Agree to the “Pay it Forward” nature of Hired for the Holidays – this time next year, you agree to sponsor a candidate yourself, and help them find work

For information on all the requirements and great services you’ll receive, please visit You do not have to apply separately through their website to get me as a sponsor.

I am open to all types of candidates for this initiative, but would especially love to work with a college student, recent graduate, or young professional interested in public service, entrepreneurship, or a non-traditional industry.

Happy holidays and new year!

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Five Days of Career Coach Christmas: HOBY Resume Review Drive

And we move on to our next promotion in the Five Days of Career Coach Christmas Week!

Since May, I have been doing a resume review drive for my favorite charity, the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Foundation (HOBY). I participated in the program when I was in high school and it was very influential on my development as a young adult. I have been supporting the New York Metro Chapter informally for the last two years and now that I am no longer a full-time employee of the education department (conflict of interest rules), I hope to take a bigger role and have a bigger impact in 2011.

For your tax deductible donation to the New York Metro Chapter of HOBY, I will review your resume with critical feedback and suggestions. I have done dozens of resumes all year and am closing the drive on December 31, 2010. Please read my page with detailed instructions on how to submit your resume and your donation directly to HOBY.  This is a great way to meet your last charity goals of 2010 and get help at the same time.

For more information on the other promotions featured this week, visit our Promotions page!

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Five Days of Career Coach Christmas: Vajradhara Meditation Center Auction

It’s 22 degrees outside my Brooklyn apartment window. Brrr. Christmas is definitely coming.

On the third day of our Career Coach Christmas promotion week, let’s talk about our participation in a charity auction. Through December 16th, my career coaching package is part of the Vajradhara Meditation Center online benefit auction. It’s one of many items that were donated by local Brooklyn businesses with 100% of the proceeds going to the center. While I encourage you to bid on my coaching package, there are lots of other great services and products in the auction. In fact, even though I am one of the people who donated, I am considering making a last-ditch bid on one of the rings. I won’t tell you which one because I want less competition!

I discovered the Vajradhara Meditation Center this August. In my 2010 journey to find my calling, the subject of meditation constantly came up in conversations with everyone. If I was truly going to quit my job and become an entrepreneur, how was I going to quiet my mind to handle the stress? Also, meditation has been proven to help with creativity and productivity– things I desperately wanted. I tried meditation on my own and failed miserably. Every time I sat quiet, my mind would race, thinking of all the things that I needed to do to get my business to the next level. I did find that I was able to get into a meditative state when I (1) did guided meditation, and (2) when I was with other people. Once I came to those findings, I hopped onto Google to find other Brooklynites who I could meditate with and that’s how I found this wonderful center.

Recently, I did a four-hour workshop at the Vajradhara Meditation Center and it was amazing. I really knew very little about Buddhism, though this center’s programs are really for people of all faiths. It was very interesting to learn about the four truths. The workshop was amazing- both the meditations and the teachings- and I have used what I learned at least three times in the week and a half since I attended. One time does not make me a master and I am beginning to have some struggles with stress and the meditation process again so after the holidays, I plan to visit their center more frequently.

Even if you’re not into meditation, the Center also does great programs for their community and kids so bid on something anyway! And lastly, if you are a non-profit looking for donated services for your fundraiser, please contact us. This is our third this year and I get great joy when I get to help a good cause.

In case you missed our other promotions this week, Day One was our Barnes & Noble discounts and Day Two was our Pay What You Can Coaching Days. You can also view all the promotions on our Promotions page.

Time for warm gingerbread tea!

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What It Feels Like For A Girl: The Girl Effect

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that everyone is taking a day off from being a recruiter, a student, a job seeker, or whatever professional role you want to shed while you enjoy the four Fs: Food, Family, Friends and Football.

While the turkey is cooking, I wanted to post something for you to reflect on while you are giving thanks, especially on this American holiday. Last night, I saw an amazing video about an organization called The Girl Effect on Tara Sophia Mohr’s Wise Living blog. The Girl Effect invests in adolescent girls in developing countries to eradicate poverty, create thriving communities, and slow the spread of AIDS. The video is incredibly powerful and if you have three minutes today, please watch it. Even in these hard economic times, we should be thankful to live in a country where our daughters don’t face marriage and motherhood at age 12 as expected milestones in their life’s trajectory.

My business is about helping people achieve that next step in their career and lives, especially young women. Even though it’s 2010, I’ve worked all of my life in organizations that were primarily staffed by women, but led my men. I want take part in a shift that changes that for future generations in our country. I hope that in time, it’s common to have people just like me in developing countries, helping young adult women find amazing careers and become leaders, all because today’s generation changed the current realities expressed in this video.

The Girl Effect If you’d like to help, The Girl Effect has many suggestions. For me, they will be part of my 2010 charitable donation list. For job seekers and students who have time and are looking for ways to develop strengths (see The Opportunities Project’s Core Competencies), starting a club or campaign to benefit The Girl Effect would be an excellent opportunity to learn new skills and do good at the same time.

Lastly, the title of the post is a reference to the Madonna song What It Feels Like for a Girl. The Glee version has been an IPod favorite for those days when I want a little female empowerment in my music and Ani DiFranco is too heavy. If you’re a female handling the Food today, I highly suggest it for the kitchen soundtrack. If you’re handling the Football, you’re my hero.

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Veteran Career Follow-Up: LinkedIn Report, WSJ and NYT

Thanks for the wonderful responses to my post yesterday on what we can do to help veterans with their careers. A few articles were sent to me and I wanted to pass them on today.

Wall Street Journal- New Programs Steer Veterans, Families to Entrepreneurship

My alma mater Syracuse University (Cuse!) is working with veterans to help them start their own business. They are doing some work specifically with women veterans in 2011. Maybe I can help?

New York Times- Helping Veterans Find Civilian Jobs

The wonderful Niki Black forwarded an article from yesterday’s New York Times that I somehow missed on what private sector companies are doing to recruit and help returning veterans, including Microsoft.

Speaking of service, I highly encourage you to check Niki’s blog out. Her organization, Neighborhood Fellows, provides resources targeted towards the Black community and encourages conversation about lots of issues. Today, she’s talking Kanye, which is always interesting.

Linked In- LinkedIn Releases Data Insights and Tips to Help Veterans Build Careers

Finally, LinkedIn released a report on how their site can help veterans connect and find new careers. As much as I am an evangelist of LinkedIn, even I was surprised by the power it has for veterans. It is more evidence that you cannot conduct a successful job search in 2010 without maximizing LinkedIn.

Bringing us to today’s shameless plug for our LinkedIn event on Tuesday, November 16. After reading the LinkedIn report, you’re coming, right?

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