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US News & World Report, best known for their annual college rankings, has recently released a list of the 100 best jobs.  Rankings of any kind are dependent on the criteria used, and often open to debate, especially in an area so personal as choice of occupation.  In this case, US News compared professions based on criteria they determined mattered most: number of expected openings, advancement opportunities, career satisfaction and salary.

The ranking supports trends that have become more evident over the past decade, as the top 10 occupations are in either the technology or health care sectors. However, it's interesting to see how other occupations were ranked, and view the information covered about that job based on the aforementioned criteria.  Job market and job satisfaction information can be very helpful in career decision making.

Under each occupation you will find an overall review of the work and job outlook, information about training or education requirements, as well as reviews and advice from real people who work in that field.  In addition, salary information, stress level and flexibility of this occupation are noted.  Finally, there is a link to these specific job openings in your geographic area, a job board powered by Indeed.com.

In case you're wondering, the # 1 ranked occupation is software developer and # 100 is painter.  Find out about the other 98 rankings by checking out The 100 Best Jobs!

Additional resources concerning occupations and the job market can be found on Explore Majors & Careers on the Career Toolkit.

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'Tis the season of the summer internship. On the commuter rail every day I see new and unfamiliar faces, young professionals in the making, many of them undertaking their first workplace experiences.

But questions arise for these workers: what to wear to the office? What is and isn't proper behavior? How do you know what to ask for, and when? How do you relate to your supervisor? And 1,001 other questions.

Hence this handy collection of resources, which includes articles, photos, and videos that can help resolve some of these vexing issues for workplace newbies. Here they are:​

Enough about how you look. While appearance and first impressions certainly matter, what about the substance of your internship experience?  What are you going to put into it, and what are you supposed to get out of it?

  • What to Expect on the First Day of Your Summer Internship - Popular wesbite HerCampus offers some great advice on starting out, and then some - meeting your fellow interns, meeting your supervisor, lunch, and more (including, yes, some dress tips as well).
  • 10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Summer Internship - Now we get to where the rubber meets the road:  what will you get out of your internship? Website Career Attraction provides insight about making the most of your internship experience.  For example, "Tip #2. Deliver - You want to make sure that you complete any assignments, whether easy or complex, by the deadlines. 'The dog ate my homework' (or its digital version) will not resonate here." 

And finally, videos. One set is from our video content partner, CareerSpots. The other video comes from fellow collegiate career office and New England neighbor, Brown University:

  • CareerSpots on Internships - Several of these 2-3 min. videos address topics such as how to handle yourself in the workplace, how to convert your internship into a FT job, etc.
  • Maximizing Your Internship Experience- This concise (running time: 5:07) and engaging video captures pretty much everything you need to know about doing an  internship and pulls it all together for you.

And don't forget all the resources at your disposal here in the CEC. You can always come by during drop-in hours or set up an appointment to speak to one of our coaches, as well as avail yourself of the resources here on our website.

To all you eager, budding young professionals out there in your summer internships, make the most of it, have fun, good luck, and see you back on campus in the fall!


Photo: Courtesy of HerCampus

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Whether you're an undergraduate deciding on a career direction or a new grad contemplating enrolling in graduate school, an important and practical step in the process is to do some market research to make an informed decision. Be sure to research and find the answers to these two questions: 

  • What does the job market look like for that particular career?
  • What are my chances of finding employment in that field?

The good news is that most liberal arts majors have many options, so if your research reveals a particular career path is not showing much growth in jobs, you can choose another option.  For example, a degree in English can prepare you for entry level positions in a variety of industries -  education, publishing,  business, and public relations to name a few. 

Within those industries, there are numerous areas and employers for whom you could work. If you decide on publishing, will it be in editing, circulation, sales, production, marketing, advertising, promotion or administration? And for what segment of the publishing industry will you work? Will it be trade publications, newspapers, university press, educational publishing, magazines, independent publishers, or alternative media?

Because there are so many choices, it's important to do market research so you will know the job market trends in that particular field. In addition, research provides information about the skills and experience you need to develop to make you an attractive candidate. 

Most majors in liberal arts are also good preparation for careers that need advanced professional training like law or higher education.  Doing market research can confirm the availability of jobs after graduate school and alert you to both the potential of a challenging job search and/or the possibility of relocation to where there is more demand for the specialty.

Where can you go to find information about which industries, functions and locations have the best outlook for employment?   Here are two good sources:    

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the OOH is considered the source of occupational information. You'll find  information  about nearly 1,000 occupations, including the nature of the work, working conditions, training and educational requirements, career advancement, and job outlook over the next ten years, earnings potential, and more.

O*NET - Also created and maintained for the U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET provides comprehensive information about thousands of professions, with detailed descriptions of job responsibilities, required skills, preferred interests, general work styles and environments, and more.       

Additional links to other online resources are available on the Beatley Library Career Guide on Career Exploration.

Photo: Courtesy of reumetarget.com

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Negotiating is a process in which two parties come to an agreement that is "mutually beneficial." It should be conversational, not adversarial.  When you have received a job offer, your future compensation and perhaps your job responsibilities are impacted by your ability to negotiate well.  Although the salary range in many entry level positions is limited, it is in your best interest to not settle for less compensation than the employer was willing to offer.  Paying attention to the following key ingredients will set the stage for a "Win-Win" outcome of your negotiations.  Your preparation should:

Inventory strengths:  Be able to articulate your key strengths and accomplishments.

Know your value added:  Ask yourself these questions, Why should they hire me? How do I stand out? Review the employer's problems that you can solve and present yourself as the "problem solver!"

Establish criteria:  Research and reflect on your own criteria about salary, benefits, job responsibilities, etc. Do market research through networking sites such as salary.com that provide labor market ranges. Ask yourself, salary you want? Salary you need? Your "walk away" bottom line. Remember: money left on the table is lost forever

Respond appropriately when an offer is made:  Once you receive the job offer, follow the guidelines below.  Be sure not to negotiate at this time!

1. Thank the employer and show your enthusiasm.

2. Clarify position responsibilities.

3. Clarify salary and benefits.

4. Request additional information, if needed.

5. Ask for offer in writing.

6. Ask for time to evaluate offer.

Prepare for negotiation session:

First, compare their offer to your requirements and determine item(s) you want to negotiate.  Second, develop the rationale:  What is your "value added?"  Not "I need the money."  Sample Problem:  Limited presence on social media compared to competition. You:  Previous experience with building organization's brand by creating Facebook and Twitter pages. Third, plan for the negotiation meeting and very importantly, practice out loud!  Thinking something through does not guarantee that you will deliver a well thought out rationale.  For more detailed information on negotiations go to Steps for Effective Negotiations on the CEC website.

 

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As we all know we are in the thick of Commencement season. Podium wisdom is being dispensed left and right over the course of these several weeks by distinguished elders, typically accomplished adults who have been there, done that and are sharing their hard earned life truths.    

But wait a minute - here's a distinguished elder who just got fired from her job, in a very public way, from a very presitigious and visible role. What would she have to tell us? 

I am talking, of course, about Jill Abramson, the former Executive Editor of the New York Times who was dismissed by Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. just prior to her scheduled appearance as Commencement speaker at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

As Abramson told the assembled graduates and their families and friends, "What's next for me? I don't know. So I'm in exactly the same boat as many of you!'' Abramson also averred that "like you, I am a little scared, but also excited." 

Now, have you ever wondered why they call it "Commencement" when it is the very LAST thing you do in your entire college experience?  Why it is called a beginning when it is quite obviously an ending?

Well, because it is the beginning, the beginning of the rest of your life! And as Abramson learned and related, life doesn't quit, no matter what age or how accomplished or how celebrated you are. It keeps happening, keeps coming at you.

Unlike some of the other colleges that rescinded their Commencement speakers' invitations this season, Wake Forest kept their promise and followed through with Abramson, even though she had just been knocked off her high perch. Astute university President Nathan Hatch asked her to speak about the importance of resilience, and she did, quoting her father who, Abramson said, was less interested in how his daughters' dealt with their successes than how they dealt with their setbacks. That's when you have to "show what you are made of", Abramson's father told his children.

'''And now I'm talking to anyone who's been dumped," said Abramson, "not gotten the job you really wanted, or received those horrible rejection letters from grad school -- you know the sting of losing or not getting something you badly want. When that happens, show what you are made of.''

Despite having recently swallowed such a bitter pill, Abramson was upbeat and told the audience that it was "the honor of my life to lead the newsroom" of the New York Times. That's keeping things in perspective.

I recommend that you take 11 minutes out of your life and watch Abramson's speech. And as you make your way on life's not-always-so-straight path, remember her advice. Things will not always go as planned or to your liking. And at those times, you will need to bounce back, to get up off the mat, to "show what you are made of." To paraphrase Abramson and her father, when life deals you a lemon, make lemonade.  

Photo: Courtesy Boston Globe / Jason Miczek / Reuters  

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It's that time of year, when college seniors robe up and cross the stage to receive a handshake and a sheepskin. All of them are proud and excited but many of them are also apprehensive about the real world and their employment prospects.

Well, some very positive news on the job market has come out recently, which should help ease the anxiety of this year's crop of graduates. The Department of Labor  just released figures for the month of April at the end of last week, and the national unemployment rate fell to 6.3% (from 6.7% in March), the lowest it has been in over five years, since before the big meltdown of the Great Recession in September, 2008. (This happens to coincide almost exactly with my time as Associate Director of Employer Relations here at Simmons, so this is welcome news indeed.)

Also in April, employers in the US added 288,000 jobs, the most for a single month in the past two years. "Not only is job growth continuing, but it is accelerating,'' said Patrick O'Keefe, director of economic research at the accounting and consulting firm CohnReznick. Read the full article from Friday's Boston Globe.

​And the beat goes on. The Massachusetts unemployment rate for March, the latest month for which figures are available, was also at 6.3%. See the dramatic ups and downs of the employment market over the last ten years in this infographic depciting both the state and national unemployment rates that accompanies the Globe article.

And. . .the beat goes on! As the National Association of Colleges and Employers (aka, NACE) reports in their April 16 press release on the hiring outlook for new college grads, "employers plan to hire 8.6% more Class of 2014 graduates than they hired from the Class of 2013." This data comes from the spring update of their hiring outlook survey with employers nationwide.
 
The story was picked up by CNBC which also ran an article on the improved employment outlook for college grads on its website.
 
Click through the links above to to get more detail in the stories and the breakdown by industry.
 
So take heart, graduates!  And remember: you only need one job to get you going. So get that resume and cover letter polished up along with your elevator pitch and get out there and take advantage of the upswing in the market. You can do it. And congratulations on your degree! 
 
 
Photo: Courtesy CNBC/Thomas Barwick/Digital Vision/Getty Images

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So often our non-verbal speech is louder than our spoken words.  A few years ago, after listening to a presentation I was making, a well-repected consultant at Simmons offered me feedback I have never forgotten. He commended me on how well prepared I was on the topic, but noted that my welcoming comments had failed to capture the audience because they had not been accompanied by a warm smile and a sufficient show of enthusiasm for what I was about to share. In other words, my non-verbals had not validated my spoken message. 

Preparation is an important component in helping to build your self-confidence, but mindful attention to your non-verbal speech and body language, is equally as important in getting your message across. This becomes critical when you are called upon to market yourself in networking situations, interviews or job negotiations.  You might spend a great deal of time carefully crafting words to send just the right message.  However, your non-verbals can either convince the listener or undermine what you say.  

Oftentimes, women in particular do not own and convey the inherent power that they have through non-verbal communication.  Research has shown that men generally take up more space than women and thus often gain a power advantage.  In the context of a job search, confidence is a key to creating your own space and thereby gaining credibility. This concept is so important that career coaches have been known to advise clients to "bluff" confidence even when the person is unsure of herself.  

Certainly, your posture affects you as well as other people.  It's hard to feel "in charge" if you have your knees together, your elbows close to your sides, and are leaning forward!  Practicing the "Power Pose" before an important meeting, interview or negotiating session gives you a real boost. Try it! Spread your feet to shoulder width, put your hands on your hips, stand very tall and look up to the sky. Hold this pose for two minutes. Taking more space makes you appear and feel more relaxed and confident. It isn't just the quality of your answers during an interview that will impact the outcome.  It's also your non-verbal messages that will go a long way toward persuading an employer to hire you!

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Bon voyage and best of luck! Following are fifteen pieces of real world advice I want to share with you as you transition from college to career:

 

 

1.  Go for it! Don't delay the job search after graduation as you may not realize that it takes several months, so if you haven't  already started, start now.

2. Know yourself. Know your passion, strengths, aspirations and what you want out of life.  You are in charge of your career. Know there are many ways to express your passion in a career and there are multiple paths.

3. Know the organization. Do your homework and research the organization to understand the culture and what the employer seeks.

4. Build relationships. Find professionals in your industry and seek their advice and guidance by asking good questions.  You can learn how they got a foot in the door and how they grew their career.  They may also have other contacts for you.

5. How you present yourself is key to your success. Share your story that demonstrates your interests, experiences, accomplishments and special qualities.

6. Let go of limiting beliefs and take risks. Have a positive outlook as that will impact everything. You may need to take some risks and from them you will always learn something whether you succeed or fail.

7. Not all advice is good advice. Your parents and friends may have good intentions, but know that in a changing economy, the job search process has changed.  Seek advice from professionals and career experts who have a pulse on the job market.

8. Apply for jobs that are a good fit. Don't jump at the first job offer if you are not excited about it.  You may feel pressure to take the first job you are offered in order to pay the bills, but research shows that you won't last long.  When you are motivated by a job, you end up accomplishing more and feeling more satisfied.

9. Create a strong online profile. Polish your LinkedIn profle as today more recruiters are sourcing for candidates online.  Make sure to show your strengths and what is unique about you.

10. Have perserverance in the job search.  If you are not chosen for a job, look at it as a learning experience and understand that the hiring process is complex and not an even playing field.  Ask yourself if you are presenting your best self in the interview.  If so, accept the loss and move forward.

11. Your attitude, energy and outlook matter.  Be aware of yourself and demonstrate with enthusiasm  the strengths you bring to the table. Also, stay on top of market trends and what employers seek in job candidates.

12. Exhibit a professional demeanor: Dress professionally and be aware of basic manners. Stand out from the crowd by being polished and polite.

13. Manage your expectations. Although you may be ready to leap to a higher position, accept the fact that you may need to take the necessary steps to position yourself for the future.  The more you do to master your job, make a contribution and prove yourself, the greater are the opportunities to grow your career.

14. Your first job is a starting point.  Your first job is not about making a decision for the rest of your life, but see it as a jumping off point towards your future.

15. A career is not a straight, but windy path. Discover what you like and do well that aligns with your values and this will serve you well throughout your life.

Andrea Wolf is Director of Simmons Career Education Center

Go west young grad!

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Student-Jobs-USA-Jobs-College-Graduates.jpgOne of the many benefits of going to school at Simmons is its location in Boston, a walkable city with numerous business, entertainment and cultural advantages.  Not to mention the presence of dozens of colleges and universities and upward of 250,000 students who make it their home. Given all that Boston offers, why would any new college graduate ever want to leave?   While many do stay, some grads return to their home towns for family or financial reasons, and others leave because the job market seems to be better farther afield.  And recent statistics seem to support that decision.

According to research results of the Gallup Daily tracking, conducted throughout 2012-2013 in the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), Boston ranked 27 out of 50 MSAs in best environment for job creation.  Houston, Texas was ranked # 1, with Salt Lake City, Utah, and Phoenix, Arizona among the top 5 cities. While you may decide to go west for a better job market, you don't need to travel too far west.  Columbus, Ohio ranked # 2 while three major metropolitan areas in California: Sacramento, Riverside and Los Angeles ranked at the bottom.

When it comes to the job market, it depends on the type of position you are targeting, and on the law of supply and demand.  If your market research is telling you that there are relatively few openings in your field, for example, new grad nurse positions in greater Boston and Massachusetts, but your search shows more opportunities in Florida or Texas, it may be time to relocate to land that first job.

Moving away from Boston can be challenging to those who see themselves as forever part of Red Sox Nation, so it helps to remember that your first job does not require a life time commitment.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker today stays at his or her job for 4.4 years with the workforce's youngest members expecting to stay about half that time.  While you don't want to be seen as a "job hopper", two plus years of experience in your field can often make you more marketable if you decide to move back.

Are you passionate about your career direction and will relocate to be able to work in your chosen field? Or do you want to live in a particular place and will accept a close facsimile to your career ideal?  It's a question most job seekers have had to ask themselves at one time or another.   How will you answer it?

For more information about market trends, check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the Massachusetts Career Information System,  and other resources on Explore Majors and Careers.

Photo: compliments of college-financial-aid-advice.com

Top ten career tips

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Recently I was a guest at the School of Management Spring Networking Dinner. Along with the other faculty and staff present I was asked to stand up and offer a career tip, one piece of advice to the assembled undergraduates, of whom there were probably 75 or so.

I offered my comments but it got me thinking afterward. I was not really prepared to offer just one piece of advice, and I realized I had never really stopped to condense my thinking in response to this question. Next time, I said to myself, I'll be ready.  
 
So what follows here, after a bit of reflection, are my "Top Ten" career tips: 

Know thyself - There is much wisdom in this ancient Greek aphorism, often attributed to Socrates. A true knowledge of self is the necessary foundation upon which one's career lies. If you are not aware of what you are good at, what you like and don't like, your strengths and your weakeness, you can be pulled in any number of directions, which can lead to less than optimal work experiences. In the CEC you will hear us talk about VIPS - your Values, Interests, Personality, and Skills. Knowing these, knowing yourself, can act as a sure compass to help guide you in the right direction "out there" in the real world. 

Do what you love (with caveats) - Be honest with yourself about your talent level and whether the market will pay you for what you have to offer. Many of us may know what we love to do, but do we have the ability for it? How painful is it to watch those candidates on American Idol who love to sing and desperately want to be a star, but, sadly, have no singing talent? Even if you do have the ability, ask yourself if there is a market for it. Can you do this work and live in the manner you would like? If you are not sure, do more research, ask questions, and find out.
 
Experience is the best teacher - A phrase not written by me but oh so true. The more experience you have -- the more jobs, volunteer work, and different activities you engage in in and out of school -- the more you will come to know about yourself and the opportunities available to you out there. Listen to the feedback the world gives you and come to know what you like and where you can potentially thrive. A corollary here is that even a bad experience can have a positive outcome. If life deals you a lemon, make lemonade: "That internship was horrible! Now I know I don't want to do that for the rest of my life!"

You are the product - In my role at Simmons, representing the college to the world of employment, Simmons is my brand, the five schools and academic majors are my product lines, and each and every individual student is my product. In the world of work, this is how you need to see yourself, and if you are the product, then you need to learn how to market yourself. In your elevator pitch, resume, portfolio, personal presentation -- these are all components of your self-markering mix. And remember to sell your total package, not just your major and GPA but all your experiences outside the classroom as well, leadership, service, study abroad, travel, summer experiences - all provide transferable skills and demonstrate qualities that appeal to those who will want to bring you on board in the workplace.

We all have two jobs now - In the pre-industrial era eveyone had a defined job. You started out as an apprentice, worked your way up, and stuck at the same work your entire life. In the industrial era and later in the 20th century corporate era, large organizations emerged and were more likely to hire you on and manage your career across your entire working life, till retirement, a handshake, and the gold watch. Those days are pretty much gone. The workplace has changed. Today's workers can expect a lifetime of transitions in their work, much more the norm than before, not just between jobs but between careers as well. While it may seem daunting, it is also liberating -- now you are in charge, the master of your own fate. You can go where you want and do what you want to do. But only you can manage yourself. Only you can look out for #1. Thus, we all have two jobs now: the job you are currently in, and managing your career.  

Be open to opportunities - While you can have a career plan and a path in mind, unexpected things (aka, life) happen. You meet somebody on a train and they wind up offering you a job (true story). Be open to opportunities as they arise. Then, with your evolving knowledge of self and base of experience, evaluate each one. Is it a good fit for me? Think two steps ahead: where can I go after that? Does it lead where I want to go? Career theorist John Krumboltz calls these opportunities "happenstance", the unexpected twists and turns that can have a profound impact not just on your work but your life. Be ready for them.   

Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated - This remark was delivered by a keynote speaker at a large HR conference I attended a number of years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. Despite your best efforts and hard work, despite their having hired you in the first place, you may find that after some time in an organization you are seen only for what you are doing, not what you could do. You become part of the woodwork, taken for granted, not recognized any longer nor your true value appreciated. But you want to grow and prove that you can offer more, have ideas, have energy that is not being tapped. Then you have to do something about it, create or find a better siutation. Explore both internal and external opportunities. Helen Keller phrased it this way: "One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar".

Maintain your network - When you are first starting out in your career, networking may seem like a foreign and daunting concept - how do I do "networking" and do I even have a network? You will also think of networking as something that benefits you, a tool that can help lead to job and internship possibliites, or provide a connection in a new city if you decide to relocate. But as you spend more time in the workforce, you will realize that you become part of other people's networks, too, and that you can be just as valuable to them. The message here is that networking is a two-way street: yes, you can be helped, and you always want to be sure to show your appreciation and keep your network informed and up to date. But you can also reciprocate, be an aid to others, and then you are a member of a truly valuable network.  

Seek a higher purpose - I will echo the evening's keynote speaker, Mary Finlay, Professor of Practice in the SOM and former Partners Healthcare CIO. While there is a necessity to manage your own career and meet certain financial and other personal exigencies, if your work is solely for yourself you will burn out and become disillusioned very quickly. Simmons' core purpose of "Transformative learning that links passion with lifelong purpose" is not a hollow phrase. Working for a larger purpose, something that provides lasting benefits and is of value to others, provides a deeper and sustaining motivation. Being engaged in something larger than yourself can get you up in the morning and keep you going, not just for days and weeks but months and years. Taking an even broader view, the world faces many complex challenges in multiple arenas, some on a truly massive scale and of an unprecedented nature. We need all the dedicated talent we can get to face these challenges.    

It's a marathon, not a sprint - For most, the first several years out of college are a time of continued exploration and learning, albeit in the worplace versus the classroom. You will try on different occupational roles and see what fits (see "Know thyself" and "Experience is the best teacher"). Some of your peers may seem to have it all together (usually they don't) and some may actually have a clear and defined path early on, what I call the "lucky few." But most use the defining decade of the twenties to sort things out before eventually finding their path. You do not have to have everything figured out all at once. Be patient. Let things unfold, and learn as you go. As American poet Walt Whitman said: "All truths wait in all things / They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it."

Your job is not your life - While income and how you spend your working hours are clearly central, and Gallup studies show that career well-being is the most reliable predictor of overall well-being, don't freight your job with fulfilling every aspect of your life. Other dimensions of your life  -- personal, family, physical fitness, involvement in community, activities of interest (music, rock collecting, reading, travel, whatever) -- are also important and should not be neglected. Whitman again: "Of course I contradict myself - I contain multitudes." Embrace the multitudes and pay attention to those aspects of yourself too. Or, put another way, "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" (or Jill a dull girl).

Sometimes you need help - Have you ever seen a boxing match? When the bell rings to end the round the boxer goes back to his corner, slumps onto his stool, and gets attended to by his trainer and manager. That's what a career coach can do for you. They are in your corner. They help you take a break, step back from the action, work out a strategy, and get refreshed before you head back into the ring. While a lawyer attends to your legal needs and a doctor to your medical needs, a career advisor can help with your career needs. While at Simmons and as an alum, you can make us of the career coaching expertise on staff in the CEC.     
 
Be mindful of retirement - The "R" word may mean little or nothing to you now, but at some point, way out there on the horizon, your everyday working life will come to an end. And as the current run of Prudential TV ads is reminding us, many of us will be living far longer than previous generations, into our 90's and beyond, so we better be prepared not to outlive our retirement income. Plan now, save now, and you will thank yourself later.  

My final word on this is that there is no final word. While the foregoing are deeply held beliefs I might add another one here or there over time. And OK, for those counting there are more than ten tips here, which is the point. A career is a complex, organic, growing and evolving thing, and you can't boil it down to just ten immutable pearls of wisdom. It is an ongoing challenge, but one that Simmons grads are both prepared for and up to.

So what was the one tip I gave at the Networking Dinner? "Eisenhart's Theorem": We all have two jobs now.