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Read My Guest Post on Girl Meets Geek

Hey there! I am back from a 10 day traveling tour of 4 flights, 3 train rides and a bus (earned the Jet Setter badge on FourSquare!) and am now catching up on emails, calls, and everything else. Will have some updates about the 2011 Social Learning Summit and the American Education Research Association conference, as well as our scholarship winner announcement and more information on our Make The Change You Want event next Tuesday.

In the meantime, here is a picture from my co-working experiment yesterday at Cafe Envie, an open air cafe in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It was heavenly and inspiring. Also, please take a moment to read my guest blog post on Girl Meets Geek on Empowerment through Social Media. Thanks so much to  Kate-Madonna Hindes, one of my role models, for giving me the opportunity to write for her. We would both love your comments.




Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Guest Post: Stretching Your Comfort Zone by Amanda Pinto

I am pleased to feature a guest post today from recent graduate Amanda Pinto, a public relations professional. I met Amanda in the #jobhuntchat Twitter chat in early Fall 2010. Amanda wanted to move to NYC and I told her to look me up if she moved. In December, she did move here and we had an in-person chat over coffee at Ted & Honey in Cobble Hill and I was really impressed at her courage and conviction.

Amanda recently decided to move back to Georgia and I invited her to write a post for our readers on the lessons she learned about job searching and relocating to NYC, as well as advice for other job seekers and recruiters who are looking to hire the best of today’s recent graduates. Here’s Amanda’s post.

Amanda PintoIt’s not easy to step out of your comfort zone but often times it is what you need to find out who you truly are. I decided to make a move to New York City shortly after I graduated from college and it was an amazing experience. Unfortunately, NY didn’t work out for me job wise so I have just recently moved back to Atlanta to continue my PR job search.

In New York I learned a ton about the job hunt. First and foremost, social networking is the best tool you can have! I can’t tell you how many people I met in person because I had connected with them online first. I made very good friends through social networking as well. I even landed interviews because of Twitter!

The next lesson I learned was the fact that sometimes no matter how hard you try certain things do not work out. It’s extremely difficult not to take it personally when these things don’t work out but if I had let that get to me I would have gone crazy. Yes, at times you can blame yourself but there are other times where it is completely out of your control.

If I had any advice for people trying to recruit my age group I would say open communication is key. For me, I want to be kept up to date on where the hiring process is and not kept in the dark. I’d rather know that I’m up against this many people and that they have this amount of experience. Just tell me how it is. I feel like that is something my generation wants in this job hunt. It’s beyond frustrating when you have multiple interviews and then your contact person just falls off the face of the earth. I completely understand that they probably have many candidates but if you take the time to interview us more than once, please just let me know that you don’t want me.  I give a lot more credit to the places I applied to that gave me straightforward answers than the ones who beat around the bush.

I wouldn’t say my expectations were too high about finding a PR job in New York but I do think I should have been a little more realistic when it came to this economy. I wish I could somehow have gotten more experience in college but then again I literally did everything I could. I put myself out there countless times and I don’t regret it at all! As difficult as it is right now you won’t get anywhere if you don’t try. Therefore I know something will work out for all of us hard workers out there!

Don’t give up! Keep your passion!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog


Guest Post: Nutrition Tips for Job Seekers by Natalie Schneider

Today I’m featuring a guest post from fellow woman entrepreneur Natalie Schneider, a health and wellness coach who manages Natalie Wellness. I met Natalie because we shared a weekend in our Fire Island beach house (what do I always say about your next professional connection being where you don’t expect it…). We were both starting our businesses at the same time so we spent some long walks to the Lighthouse talking about them and the transition to entrepreneurship. We’ve stayed in touch and bounced ideas off each other as practitioners and business owners and I am grateful for our relationship. Like me, she also participated in the Kaufman Foundation’s Fast Trac program for entrepreneurship.

Here’s Natalie’s advice for maintaining health while conducting a job search.

Natalie WellnessWhen we are going through transition in our life, be it a career change or searching for our first job, it is extremely important to take care of ourselves.  We want to present our best image when we are interviewing, one that shows energy and vitality. Here are some basic steps to keep your energy level high.

1. Hydration: Many people go through their day not drinking any water. Water is extremely important to the body. Caffeinated beverages do not count as water!

Helpful Hint- Buy a water bottle to keep at home and fill it up first thing in the morning.

2. Vegetables: Green vegetables are the number one thing missing from the American diet. Greens provide vitamins, minerals and fiber, which give us energy. There are hundreds of different vegetables available which change seasonally. Try a vegetable that you have not eaten before. If you hate spinach don’t eat it, eat the ones you like.  Most vegetables can be cooked in just 5-10 minutes by steaming or boiling.

Helpful Hint- If you really don’t want to cook, prepared vegetables can be purchased from delis, and grocery stores.

3. Sugar: Sugar gives us temporary energy and then we come crashing down. Too much sugar adds on the pounds and can lead to diabetes. It’s in a lot of our food and we don’t even realize it. There is tons of sugar in breakfast cereals and muffins, frozen dinners and beverages (sodas, ice teas, alcohol).

Helpful Hint- Eat natural forms of sugar such as fresh fruit, carrots and sweet potatoes. For a healthy alternative to soda try unsweetened coconut water which is super high in potassium.

4. Whole Grains: Refined white flour sends our blood sugar soaring and then we crash. This is because all the vitamins and fiber have been stripped from the grain.

Helpful Hint- Eat whole wheat breads, barley and quinoa.


Natalie Schneider is a health & nutrition coach who works with individuals and groups who want to have more energy, lose weight and learn how to eat healthy. She has given presentations on Sugar Blues and Eating for Energy at health clubs and corporations throughout the New York area.


More information about Natalie can be found at and on her blog

All readers of The Opportunities Project blog/website will receive 10% off on health coaching.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Guest Post: Why I Chose Communications by Aria McLauchlan

Aria McLauchlanI am so, so pleased to feature a guest post today from a client alumna, Aria McLauchlan! Aria is an Australian-turned-New Yorker who brought her business degree, work experience and a suitcase full of dreams to the city mid-2010. She is now settled and working in account service in a growing marketing agency, internationalizing her communications experience, writing her blog, Aria, Intrepid, and looking for little ways to inspire and make a difference. (Tracy’s note: Aria tweets about her commitment to making a difference and I recommend following her for that reason.)

Aria was gracious enough to write a post for me for my Why series. Many of us focus on How or What we do, but knowing your professional Whys are even more critical. People who have clarity about why they do something and can communicate it well get better results and that is something we discussed during our coaching.

So here is Aria McLauchlan on “why the girl who only ever wanted to ‘make a difference’ fell in love with advertising and marketing instead… and why she’s sticking with it.”

If you belong to the communications industry, there’s a very good chance you didn’t grow up wanting to be a ‘digital strategist’, a ‘copy writer’ or a ‘public relations consultant’. Those terms just don’t exist in childhood career aspirations.

But somewhere between childhood dreams of becoming a ballerina or an astronaut, and the glaring realities of an adult life, the idea of advertising as a career choice hit me in a beautiful, lightning-bolt moment of realization.

Watching a ‘chick flick’ at the age of 14 (I was born ten years too early to be able to earn any kudos from citing Mad Men as a source of career aspiration!), I saw two characters birthing a brilliant idea for sports giant, Nike.

While I’ve since forgotten the exact wording, the impact of watching an idea with unlimited potential unfold before my very eyes was immeasurable. This fabled idea would go on to win over an important client, glorify the career of these two characters, and inspire my own career path and college choices. Advertising as a job title entered my realm of consciousness. It was at this point that I knew that working with and conveying ideas, amidst the effortless ‘cool’ of the agency world would be the way to go.

Various personality and aptitude tests confirmed my inclination towards the communications industry, while the words Advertising Account Executive, printed casually in the depths of a monstrous high school Career Guide, spurred on a role that would prove to be a perfect fit for me in a field with which I was already enamored.

Despite my obvious alignment for my newfound role, advertising seemed to be at odds with many of my values and wider beliefs for the world; beliefs that were informed and highly influenced by my highly liberal, progressive family background. As my closest mentor has continually, although always gently, attested of our rampant consumerist society, and by extension, the industry which promotes it – why create perceived problems or needs, when so many real problems and needs already exist!?

My answer and rebuttal lies in this:

I’ve since discovered that beyond the perceived world of agency-cool, long lunches and sexy parties, and at the heart of the reality of non-stop 14 hour days whilst earning $30K a year out of college, the ‘glamour’ of communications has a much truer, if not seemingly intangible appeal.

The industry that is grounded in research, planning and insight, and that communicates that insight in the form of an idea that can resonate with all of us, is the same industry that has the resources [read: people], the capital, the capability and the influence to change the way we shop, the decisions we make, the causes or companies we support, the way we think, and ultimately, the way we are.

It is this potential that I see unleashed by a growing number of my counterparts every day. The ability to make a real difference in the corporate world might just be an idea, but I also feel it is a privilege and an opportunity. Now who wants to market that?


Want help getting clarity on figuring out and communicating your Why? Schedule a free 30 minute consultation with me to talk about what I can do for you as a career coach and consultant.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

You Are Your Best Investment by Mindy Berla: #Reverb10

I invited my friend and colleague Mindy Berla to guest post for me a few months ago and am happy to feature her post today. Mindy is a Bay Area-based personal trainer who blogs at Digitally Fit. I asked her to write about the connection between taking care of your body and professional growth as she works with clients who struggle and succeed with both. The strategies used to flourish are usually the same.

I am aligning her posts with three of the Reverb10 themes. The first one, Body Integration, is something I can’t write about from a genuine place so I needed another expert to talk about it. The other prompts, Try and Beyond Avoidance, reflect my personal commitments to my body for 2011 as I learn how to take better care of myself. My core business so far has been about the mind- writing, thinking, and changing it- and it’s been difficult to feel integrated with my body. But I am committed to change. I am inspired by Mindy’s post- and tough love- and hope that you are, too!

#Reverb10 Prompts

December 12 – Body Integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

December 18 – Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)

You Are Your Best Investment: How Personal Training Can Get You To Your ‘A’ Game by Mindy Berla

In each of us there exists unexplored dimensions of our strengths.  Broadening one’s notions of him or herself is what ultimately manifests growth and change. The changes that can occur from new ways of perceiving ourselves result in new confidence, motivation and newfound ways of creative thinking.  If we are able to envision becoming the very best version of ourselves, both physically and mentally, then there is no limit to what we can achieve in life.

A personal trainer can help a client find more direction, and thus new achievements.  Throughout a personal training program the client is learning more about him or herself.  As the client discovers new muscles in the body, more space through flexibility and an unknown capacity for strength, he or she begins to feel more of a positive, “Can Do” attitude.  This attitude ends up spreading out to every part of one’s life.

The act of finding new ways to believe in ourselves is priceless and in business, confidence is everything. However, confidence and respect are earned. If we don’t believe that we are capable, durable, reliable and steadfast, then how can others see it? We must believe that we are the asset to the company, the university, the team.  Seeing new strengths within ourselves helps us to realize our full potential and then act on it.  Laziness and ambition do not make for a healthy concoction.

The healthiest relationship that you can reliably invest in is yourself.  You are your best investment and you are the source of your own fulfillment.  All too often in American culture we seek outside stimulants and material objects as a means to happiness. The happiness and peace of mind exists within us.  It is up to us to find our awesomeness.  As we choose to value our health by monetarily investing in it, we are thus making it a priority.  This dedication and determination to better ourselves does not then go unnoticed to those around us.

My clients constantly speak of how others perceive their new spark of energy, determination and will.  Many clients have been promoted at their jobs while other clients use the training as a source of grounding and encouragement during their application process for a medical, masters, business or law degree.  Other clients use personal training as a means of diffusing pressure from a highly stressful job.

Sometimes life throws a fast curve ball.  Being fit means that you know how to react and to resolve the situation.  Because you are accustomed to dealing with strenuous workouts, you know that you will be able to get through a rough time in your life. The stronger we perceive ourselves, the more unstoppable we become.  Everyone should be able to push up our own body weight. If not, how can we lift ourselves up after a fall?

The phrase, “In This Economy” has become an excuse for many unprepared for a struggle.  The courageous, strong and successful person is the one that picks him or herself up after a fall, is creative enough to see a new opportunity and then goes for it. If we don’t have high standards for ourselves, then how will we excel? To get to the top, we must do the work that is necessary to get there.

Personal training is about learning the focus and diligence it takes to feel like a pro and getting you to your “A” game.  It is also about enriching your quality of life. Everyone deserves to wake up with energy, to be capable of climbing a mountain and to enact our own personal manifestos.  Every person contains greatness waiting to happen.  Personal training drives us to see that our effort is everything, that investing in oneself is a priority and that achieving excellence should always be within our reach.

Mindy Berla is a Personal Trainer based in the San Francisco Bay Area with a holistic approach to fitness.  Mindy specializes in weight loss, endurance and core training through nutrition, strength training and Pilates.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

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)


  • 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.”

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

Guest Post: Have You ‘Googled’ Yourself Lately?

As you all know, we are getting ready for our big LinkedIn workshop this week. As part of our online presence theme, I am very pleased to feature a guest post today by Sara Lancaster of No. 2 Pen. I met Sara at a networking (it works, people!) event for the Women’s Education Project in March and she has been helping me with my website content. You should see her influence in about a week as I change the layout and language on some of my pages.

So pay attention to Sara’s advice on online profiles!

Have You ‘Googled’ Yourself Lately?

If you are embarking on a job search, you should search for your name now and continue to do so regularly. This is not about vanity; it’s about managing your online reputation.

How to Google yourself properly

Google has something called “personalized search,” which means it keeps track of your search history and serves you search results based on your preferences. In order to get less biased search engine results for your name, log out of all your accounts and clear your computer’s cache.

Then try the following search strategies:

  • Sara Lancaster (name)
  • Sara Lancaster writer (name, occupation)
  • Sara Lancaster Denver (name, city)
  • Sara Lancaster CU Boulder (name, alma mater)

You might also try these combinations of searches using quotation marks around your name or by using your last name only.

How to remedy an injured online reputation recently published an article that stated 75% of HR departments screen candidates online, and that 70% of US-based HR professionals did not hire someone because of what they found online. What will an employer find out about you?

Facebook photos of you drinking at a party? An outdated MySpace page that you haven’t even looked at since high school? Your name on a forum talking about how you spend 18 hours a day playing World of Warcraft?

Now is the time to close old accounts, update privacy settings on the accounts you want to keep, and rewrite the “About Me” sections of your profiles. Consider having a professional photo taken or at least post a respectable photo to all public social media accounts.

Since Facebook is often the biggest trouble spot for potential employees, please be extra vigilant about untagging yourself from photos and making your profile private. Do not request to be friends or accept friend requests from employers, previous employers, and future employers unless you are confident you and your friends will keep it clean.

How to stack the search engine pages deck

Now that you fixed or tried to fix what’s already online, you should add content to the web ensuring potential employers have plenty of impressive content to review. Here are few ideas to get you started, but be creative! This is your chance to shine in the web space.

  • Create a YouTube video (using your flip cam) introducing yourself to potential employers
  • Complete your Google profile and add a link to your LinkedIn profile (If you aren’t already on LinkedIn, this is a must!)
  • Set up a profile on that includes a bio and your resume
  • Start Tweeting about the industry you want to work in
  • Blog about a hobby or topic you are passionate about

Managing your online reputation is an ongoing process. Be cognizant of what you put online and ask your friends to do the same.

Sara Lancaster is a website content writer and online marketing consultant for individuals and businesses. Read more about Sara, her agency, No. 2 Pen, and about how a website could help you in your job search by visiting the No. 2 Pen blog.