Bloggers Wanted!

April 10th, 2015 by

In search of Penn State World Campus bloggers

  • Do you have advice for your fellow students on how to successfully navigate online learning?
  • Would you like to add guest blogging to your résumé?

If these questions spark your creativity, we’re interested in chatting more with you — because we think what our followers have to contribute is interesting.

The Penn State World Campus Blog reaches countless current and potential students and their supporters each month through posts and social media.

We’re looking for guest bloggers to write about topics of interest for all of us.

Potential topics might include:

  • How you selected your area of study? How will you put your degree to practice?
  • What motivated you to seek your degree through Penn State World Campus?
  • How do you manage your time inside and outside the classroom? Do you have best practices for staying organized?
  • What is it like to participate in a student organization through World Campus?
  • How does your work/military/family schedule impact your time to study?
  • How do you balance your personal obligations with your studies?

If you have a particular passion, area of interest, or hobby and think it would resonate well for our readers, now is your chance to pitch your story! For example, a nutritionist may consider writing a post on how nutrition impacts study skills. Parents may consider posting how they helped their child complete homework while completing their own assignments for Penn State World Campus.

We’ll work with you to make sure your post is written in a format that is best geared for our audience. While you can expect some minimal edits, we want to make sure your personality shines through in the post! We’re open to suggestions when it comes to writing, photography, and video.

If you’d like to learn more about this exciting opportunity, contact Jennifer Hicks at jah46@psu.edu.

Susan Russell: 2015 Penn State Laureate

April 1st, 2015 by

 

Susan Russell

Susan Russell, associate professor of theatre and 2014-15 Penn State Laureate.
Photo by Bill Zimmerman

The Penn State laureate, an honorary position established in 2008, is a full-time faculty member in the humanities or arts who is assigned half-time for one academic year to bring an enhanced level of social, cultural, artistic, and human perspective and awareness to a broad array of audiences. As this year’s laureate, Susan Russell, an associate professor in the School of Theatre, has focused on dignity.

 

We recently spoke to Susan about her role and what it means for Penn State World Campus students.

You have spoken at 15 of Penn State’s campuses and will complete the remaining visits this spring. How is your message different when speaking to Penn State World Campus students?

We all have the same core challenges, such as economics, ethnicity, gender, identity, media, nonviolence, politics, race, religion, rights, sexual orientation, etc. Youre not alone in these challenges! We all want answers. The strategies for conquering these issues are reinvesting in basic communication skills. Because of technology and our attraction to separation, we have invested so little time in face-to-face communication. We have to circle back to the basic skills of talking to one another. My mission as laureate is to help use dignity to find voices on any issues that beckon to us for more answers. To see our futures, we must communicate in the present.

What does the Penn State laureate mean to our Penn State World Campus students?

I want to be an inspirational leader who motivates you to ascend to your greatest potential. You have a voice and your participation is just one click away at my dignity website. I’m in it with you 100% and I’ve shown up for this conversation.

I’m interested in solving society’s hardest problems and finding ways to prevent systemic errors. This begins by repairing our basic communication skills.

Your message as laureate is dignity — changing comments into contributions. Can you explain what that means for our student population?

Dignity is one word that translates well with any culture. From Aristotle to Martin Luther King Jr., humans have talked about what dignity means and how we can achieve it for ourselves and others. To define dignity is to unlock what peace means. We must teach communication practices that present themselves as the better option to violence, such as respectful communication, eye contact, active listening, etc.

Is the impact of your message different for our students who are so widely geographically dispersed?

Human beings are human beings. Location doesn’t matter.

Do you think Penn State World Campus students have more or less opportunities to be inclusive and practice dignity?

Take a look at your world and ask yourself what you want to do to change it? Do you want to participate in a form of social change? Then, take action to become part of the solution. Do you want to increase your communication skills with your family? Then, take the steps to become a better communicator. Look at your challenges and find ways to answer what dignity means for you in your situation.

Do you have a short phrase or word that Penn State World Campus students could say in their heads when they feel themselves being judgmental or building up walls for others?

We’re in it together!

With so many articles and videos on your website right now, tell our audience something that we dont already know about you.

I’m a big gardener. I like to plant things by hand and by seed. I love being in the earth.

When 2016 rolls around and your role as the laureate comes to an end, what do you want people to remember about this year? What do you want to remember about this year?

It’s not over. In 2016 the walk continues. I want people to know that the possibilities are limitless.

 Additional Resources

If you’d like to learn more about Susan, please check out these additional resources:

Dignity Website

You may submit articles, clips, music, and videos for inclusion on the topics of discussion.

Penn State News Article

Read more about Susans perspectives on the topic of dignity.

Daily Collegian Article

Read Susan’s interview with the Daily Collegian.

Faculty Focus: Antone Aboud

March 25th, 2015 by
Antone Aboud

Antone Aboud

Antone Aboud is a professor of labor and employment relations at Penn State. We recently caught up with him to learn more about his unique background and what he enjoys about teaching courses for Penn State World Campus.

Please give our readers a sense of your teaching background.

After receiving my PhD in collective bargaining, labor law, and labor history, I worked for three years as an administrator at the Office of Faculty and Staff Relations at State University of New York’s (SUNY’S) Central Office. Regardless, I had always expected to teach. In 1979 I finally landed a full-time faculty position with SUNY’s campus at Utica-Rome, then SUNY at Potsdam, and finally in 1982 I worked for three years as the director of the Graduate School of Industrial Relations at St. Francis College in Loretto, Pennsylvania.

At the same time, I had also developed an intense interest in owning my own consulting business. As a consequence, in 1985 I quit full-time teaching. For the next 28 years I worked with my wife to develop a business. It was truly a “mom and pop” operation, but it allowed us to create a series of training programs related to workplace investigations, risk management, and supervision. Our teaching involved primarily noncredit offerings and took me to more than 40 states and the District of Columbia. It was an exciting period in my professional life. My largest regret was the amount of time I spent away from home as we grew the business.

How did you arrive at your position at Penn State?

While at St. Francis College, I had met Dr. Paul Clark — currently the director of the School of Labor and Employment Relations at Penn State — at a conference we sponsored. That was probably in 1983. After that single meeting, I did not communicate with him again until receiving an inquiry in 2011, asking me to apply for a part-time teaching position in the newly created online Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Human Resources and Employment Relations (HRER).

What specific courses do you teach for World Campus?

I taught HRER 505 Seminar in Human Resources for the first four semesters at Penn State. Since that time I’ve been involved with HRER 802 Organizations in the Workplace and HRER 860 Ethical Decision Making for HR Professionals. The course I teach most often these days is HRER 894, the capstone research class which all MPS students must complete.

What’s the most common problem associated with organization culture and management?

Very often, managers fail to align actual conduct with the organization’s stated values. For example, managers will often promote teamwork as a process that will best serve the organization’s internal and external customers. At the same time, the organization will reward behaviors that focus on individual achievement. In other cases management might allow “business necessity” to corrode otherwise important values, accepting a short-term gain but damaging organizational integrity. As these “exceptions” grow, the culture increasingly supports unethical conduct that often puts the organization’s mission and purpose at risk.

What unique learning characteristics do Penn State World Campus students bring to the classroom environment?

Virtually all of our students have already had some years in their careers. What I believe is unique about their involvement in classes is the degree to which they can relate course material to their work experience.

I remember one class I taught on ethics. Students read an article titled “Parable of the Sadhu.” The author discussed his involvement with a group of climbers in the Himalayas. Ascending toward the peak of one of the world’s highest mountains, the group encountered a Sherpa who appeared disoriented, apparently unable to protect himself from the elements. The author chose to continue the trek — achieve a personal goal — rather than accompany the person to safety. He admitted that he made that choice understanding that the Sherpa was likely to die.

The assignment asked students to discuss what their organization would expect of them in an analogous situation. Would it expect, for example, that they be distracted from their goal to assist someone in need? What emerged was perhaps the most inspiring discussion I have ever facilitated in any context. Students were not only able, but very willing to share very personal perspectives on not only what their organizations would expect, but what they personally would expect of themselves.

What provides inspiration to you as a teacher?

Virtually all of our students are working; in some cases, the work involves extensive travel.  Most have families, and I remember one person who was also mayor of his community. In other words, everyone is busy. In fact, it is because of this complexity in their lives that they are likely attracted to an online environment with an asynchronous delivery mechanism. They can log on and complete their work at any time, night or day.

What inspires me as a teacher is seeing so many students so committed to learning, given the myriad pressures they face. It is easy to forget how much they (and their families) give up as students grind their way toward a degree. It is most obvious to me when I see students with their families (sometimes extended families) attend graduation. A couple of semesters ago one graduate brought his wife and four children to State College for the ceremony from Washington State. What was clear was that his wife and children were as thrilled as he was as he walked onto the stage. At that moment I was reminded that it was not only I, but also every one of our staff who had contributed to this life milestone. These moments inspire me.

What makes you smile?

My wife and family, particularly my granddaughters, put smiles on my face.

My youngest granddaughter (8 years old) is perhaps the most optimistic person in the world. No matter what she sees, she responds, “I can do that!” When my older granddaughter was 5, she asked, “What is the last number?” My first reaction was that I went through nine years of college and never considered the issue.

What is your favorite thing about State College, Pennsylvania?

What I find most interesting about State College is being able to share conversations with students and faculty that I can’t easily have in other settings. And sometimes they happen quite unexpectedly.

I’m presently creating a new undergraduate class on human resource management. After discussion within the School, we decided it should be a “discovery” course, something that would allow even students who might never become HR professionals to learn about the subject not only from the point of view of the HR profession and management, but also from the perspective of the employee. And since the School is part of the College of the Liberal Arts, we also wanted to present some critical ideas in a way that connected to that particular set of disciplines.

In thinking through possible assignments, I remembered two pieces of literature that I thought might become readings and serve as the basis of course assignments: A short story — “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville — and a play — Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Soon after making some notes on the subject, I ran into what turned out to be a couple of graduate students sitting in a conference room near my office. Within a couple of minutes I learned that they were in an MA program in English. We spent 20 minutes discussing how “Bartleby, the Scrivener” would help students learn about human resources at work. It was the type of conversation that I know would not likely have occurred except in the type of academic environment that State College offers.

Mindset Matters: The Power of Positive Thinking

March 17th, 2015 by

Did you know that your mindset predicts how well you will achieve things? When you have strong beliefs about yourself, they can influence real-life outcomes. Research indicates a strong correlation between how intelligent we believe ourselves to be and how it affects our abilities.

Have you always thought of yourself as mediocre mathematician, a slow runner, or a poor cook? These beliefs are simply categorized as negative thinking. We then form

Love Me Image

Love me image by Veronica Maltoni, Flickr.

self-perception based on these beliefs. These perceptions then limit our ability to see any possibility for improvement or they inhibit decisions that could help change your mindset.

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck researches why people achieve and fail — even when they are equally talented. This concept is interesting on many levels. Especially over the last 10 years, the power of the mind and the positive impact it can have (if you use it correctly) is being brought to everyone’s attention — in science, history, and literature as well as spiritual endeavors.

Dweck indicates from her research that belief in one’s innate intelligence can be increased with effort and practice, and may ultimately help improve learning outcomes and academic performance in people of all ages — what she calls a “growth mindset.” She conducted a study on middle school students, some of whom had a predetermined and fixed mindsets about their intelligence; these students believed less in themselves and had less confidence in raising their own intelligence levels. She found that students who believed their intelligence could be increased and who had a “growth mindset” did exceptionally well academically, while the fixed mindset group did poorly.

In addition to the test, both groups of students were followed until the end of the school year. The growth mindset group significantly improved their grades in math; the fixed mindset group had no change in grades and no change in mindset.

Positive thinking tips

Mindset has a strong impact on decision making in order to reach our goals. Our motivation depends on positive thinking.

With a fixed mindset, you can:

  • have a critical “inner” voice. This self-criticism is sometimes hard to catch. If you feel like you have this inner voice, try to be aware the next time you are unmotivated to do something. Is there a voice telling you “no,” or a strong feeling — such as anxiety, or fear?
  • feel unable to make choices and that things simply “happen” to you —  instead of you being the one to “make things happen.” A fixed mindset means you believe you have fixed talents and abilities.

When you change to a growth mindset, you can:

  • view self-criticism as a way for you to change the perception of self. This step is a powerful way of becoming a more positive person. Positive attitude can help bring wisdom and enlightenment — and with enlightenment, there will be less negative self-talk and unnecessary anxiety and more opportunities for positive self-talk. One of these approaches that can be practiced daily is called positive affirmations.
  • understand the power of choice. You can choose how you interpret feelings, wants, desires, and goals. You can take responsibility for your actions and how much effort you put into yourself and your goals, as well as other aspects of your life.
  • practice self-love! Many people who love themselves are able to do so and still maintain the ability to think positively and logically while maintaining emotional stability. Treat yourself well and change your outlook by making decisions that you know will make you happy and motivated.

What are some other ways you can change your mindset?

Terry Watson, Disability Contact Liaison

March 12th, 2015 by

Terry Watson is the disability contact liaison for Penn State World Campus students. We caught up with him recently to talk about his background and the challenges and opportunities for World Campus students with disabilities.

Can you tell us about your position as the disability contact liaison for Penn State World Campus?

Terry Watson and the Nittany Lion mascot at Beaver Stadium.

Terry Watson and the Nittany Lion mascot at Beaver Stadium.

My position is to help students with disabilities succeed in taking courses online and ultimately graduate from Penn State. Students are either referred to me from their academic advisers or they seek out my help for their particular learning disability. I work with them to make reasonable accommodations so that they can complete their course work. I maintain a close relationship with Penn State’s Office of Disability Services to help make the best accommodations available for our students.

What’s your educational background? What interested you in this field?

I originally attended college at the University of Maine to study wildlife ecology and later mathematics. Over the course of several years and positions in the workforce, I graduated with a master’s degree in Human Development from the University of Maine. I completed my degree as a returning adult student, so I understand the challenges of the work-life balance that Penn State World Campus students face. I worked as a behavioral specialist for autistic students and helped them transition to the community and adulthood. When I learned of an opportunity to work as the first adviser who would focus on and assist students with disabilities at Penn State World Campus, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew I wanted this job.

What’s the best part of your job?

I’ve impacted the lives of 459 Penn State World Campus students who have disabilities to help them achieve their educational goals. That’s not only an impactful number, but it’s an impactful position to be in. I come to work excited, and I find myself upset at the end of the work day because I still have so many people that I need to help. For me, this job is personal. I have a disability, and I struggled! Now I have a child with a disability, and my position is helping to pave the way for his future learning opportunities — at Penn State and beyond. It’s very important to me that I continue this work.

Can you provide an example of how Penn State is a leader in helping students with disabilities?

Working to help students with disabilities is quite literally a team effort at Penn State. I work closely with our advising team to determine which students need particular accommodations. I also work with our military advising team to determine who might need extra assistance in that student population. If you haven’t read about Michael Miller, a World Campus graduate and military veteran who needed disability accommodations, you should! His story is incredible and just one out of hundreds of students who are in similar positions. Our accessibility team works tirelessly with faculty members who teach our online courses to look for creative ways for students to learn and complete their course work.

I’m a World Campus student with a disability — what should I do?

If you think you have a disability that may prevent you from completing your course assignments, check out our website with accommodation guidelines and requests. There’s often no checkbox for people who have disabilities, so if you have questions or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Pumpkin carving by Terry Watson.

Pumpkin carving by Terry Watson.

I’m a pumpkin carver. My interests in carving pumpkins started when I was working with autistic children. One child took an interest in my pumpkins, and it helped spark a relationship between the two of us moving forward. Ever since then, I’ve continued carving pumpkins. I’ve been asked to carve the entrance pumpkins for the annual Pumpkin Festival at the Arboretum at Penn State.

Terry’s Contact Information

Toll-Free: 800-252-3592

Email: TerryWatson@outreach.psu.edu

AOL IM: PSUWCTerry

Facebook: Profile Page

Skype: PSUWCTerry

Faculty Focus: Anthony Robinson

March 2nd, 2015 by

Anthony Robinson is an assistant professor of geography and director of Online Geospatial Programs at Penn State. He leads Penn State’s postbaccalaureate GIS Certificate and Master of Geographic Information Systems programs in the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. He also serves as an assistant director for the GeoVISTA Center in the Department of Geography. We chatted with Anthony about his teaching experiences in and outside of the classroom.

Please give our readers a sense of your teaching background and how you arrived at your current position at Penn State.

Anthony Robinson

Anthony Robinson

I came to geography by accident, like many of my colleagues. I was lucky enough to take a human geography course in my undergraduate days that set off a chain of events that led to my current work and position here at Penn State. I’ve always had a strong affinity for maps, and so I took on a focus in cartography, which led later on to research work in geographic visualization in my graduate studies at Penn State. My teaching in geography is focused on designing and evaluating geographic information systems. I want to know how we can make geographic information more useful and actionable for people.

What courses do you teach for Penn State World Campus?

I teach two courses for our Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) program. The first is called Geospatial System Analysis and Design, and the second is called Planning GIS for Emergency Management. Both are graduate-level courses that focus on how we can design new geographic information systems and evaluate whether or not they work for real-world users.

Can you tell our readers some more about the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute?

The Dutton Institute is the learning design unit for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Our group designs, develops, and teaches online programs for the academic departments in EMS. My specific role in the Dutton Institute is to serve as director of online geospatial education programs, which are offered by the Department of Geography and serve over a thousand adult learners every year.

Your current research focuses on designing and evaluating geovisualization tools. Could you explain what that means?

It’s very simple — I’m excited about testing new ways of interacting with maps. We have lots and lots of new and complicated geographic information sources, and I am keen to figure out how we can design tools that leverage that information to solve real problems.

It seems as if your work allows you to travel frequently. Could you tell us about the most interesting place you have traveled to and why?

I am very fortunate to be able to travel around the world for my job, both to engage in research work as well as to spread the word about our online programs. One of the most interesting places I’ve traveled for work is Hong Kong, where my colleague Beth King (senior lecturer in the GIS program) and I went recently to recruit World Campus students at an Asia-Pacific GIS conference. I love the way that city has woven into the mountainous islands, and how it has retained a strong character in a vast array of diverse neighborhoods. The fantastic food is a plus, too.

What have you learned from teaching Penn State World Campus students?

World Campus students have so much depth to offer in terms of their life and work experiences. It’s just incredible to teach people who are living and working all over the world, and who are bringing such a diverse range of experiences to their discussions and assignments in class. When I teach my Emergency Management GIS class, I almost always have several students in there who have years of experience working as first responders, data analysts, and decision makers for crisis management organizations. You can really push a class experience to a higher level when you can count on having such a talented group of students.

What inspires you as a teacher?

I think a good teaching experience is one in which I end up learning as much as my students do. It’s easy to feel inspired when you love your subject so much and you’re able to work with the best students on the planet. When I hear from a student that something we’ve done in class has sparked a new passion in them, that really fires me up.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of the classroom?

I have a recording studio in my basement at home, so I like to write and record songs whenever I get a chance. I play guitar and drums, and have a bit of a habit when it comes to collecting new music gear.

Use Mindful Communication to Improve Relationships

February 20th, 2015 by

“The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” — Mark Twain

Communication

Paul Shanks via Flickr

Human connection is communication. Effective communication is required of us in school, work, and family life. We need it to write our ideas, express our wisdom, and maintain and build relationships. In fact, good communication skills are required for nearly every professional career. Transmission of information can be found on the web, through sign language, in the news, and on social networks. How to communicate your argument, analysis, or thoughts genuinely and effectively requires small steps.

Mindful Communication

Mindfulness requires awareness without letting our feelings, thoughts, and ideologies be controlled by the past or future. The present moment is in the here and now, and when we enter a conversation, it should have good intent and purpose. Take a look at some of the questions below:

What common ground do we share?

  • People like to feel that they are connected. By using words like “we,” “our,” “us,” and “ourselves,” we can instantly build an engaging and lasting bond.
  • Reveal as much as possible about yourself. Openness is one of the key strategies I use when speaking to other people. When making new connections, I usually focus on moving and inspirational things I am doing with my life or that I am interested in. Your relationship instantly transforms small talk to a closer shared reality. Regardless of what your boss may say, you might be at work, but developing relationships with people builds a better foundation for any business.

Are we both comfortable speaking to each other?

  • One way of doing this is by showing them appropriate eye contact — looking away briefly at times helps to make it less intense.
  • If you feel like you want to improve your relationship with a person, you can try stating the obvious: “I may not always communicate this, but I really enjoy talking to you, and I think we work well together.” This statement helps to open the door for genuine conversation.

Is the purpose being clearly defined?

  • Are we addressing someone in a way that he or she can understand?  Be patient with the person and yourself that question if you do not have a clear understanding of the conversation the first time you are talking to each other. It may take three or four additional conversations for someone to fully understand where you are “coming from.”

Will our connection be superior after our interaction?

  • Be enthusiastic while speaking to someone. Smile as much as the occasion calls for it. This will make him or her feel special and feel more open to you the next time around. The key here is not to be fake. Smiling naturally relieves tension and stress.

Respectful Communication

Being mindful of the other person’s point of view is necessary even if there is a difference in belief or opinion. If you maintain a bird’s eye view of any situation, you bring yourself “up and out” of a narrow-minded version of your reality. A bird’s eye view is defined as viewing things as the birds do, or if you were to get into a helicopter and travel to work. You would see things you never saw before and likely enjoy the ride!

Ask Smart Questions

Pretend you are facing north and your friend is facing south. You both see something completely different. That’s how most people on the planet see — everyone may see something differently than you do. How do you get them to see your perspective?

If you ask the right questions, that person may be able to understand what you see that they can’t. How can you establish a connection and see what the other person is seeing? You often find the right questions by asking more than one. You could ask, “What do you see?” Or, you could ask more than one question that relies on details in return. “Do you see any clouds? What shape do they take and what size are they? Is the wind moving them? How high are the clouds in relation to the horizon?”

We may fail to ask questions while communicating with others.  Details may be left out, and we may not truly understand the other person’s point of view. We find ourselves assuming that the other person must know what we are seeing or thinking when we haven’t really told them anything at all.

Focus on Skills and Solutions

With the stresses we accumulate every day, it is easy to forget that other people are going through the same things. If we are more sensitive to someone’s feelings, we will create positive impact in the way that others perceive us and how we relate to them.

For example, we may find ourselves focusing on negative things and communicating to others in a negative way. When this happens, the people we talk to may become frustrated and unmotivated. If this is a constant struggle, it creates a hostile environment. However, if we focus on the skills someone has — and how he or she can apply this skill more often — this style of communication is far more appealing than dwelling on a problem. When we are in a negative frame of mind, our perspectives become narrower, ruling out possible solutions. Both people end up focusing on the issue instead of the solution.

Just as bad communication can ruin relationships, positive techniques have the ability to create lasting bonds at home, school, and the workplace.

How do you practice mindful communication in your life? Share your tips and best practices in the comments section below!

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) 2015 Membership Available to World Campus Students

February 10th, 2015 by

We’re excited to announce that undergraduate World Campus students—regardless of where you live—are eligible for a free electronic student affiliate membership with both the national and Pennsylvania branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW)!

AAUW

To join, complete the E-Student Affiliate Join Application, and be sure to choose “Penn State World Campus” as your college/university.

What is the AAUW?

AAUW is an association that advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research. AAUW has been empowering women as individuals and as a community since 1881. For more than 130 years, they have worked together as a national grassroots organization to improve the lives of millions of women and their families.

Learn more about what AAUW does.

What opportunities are available to me as an AAUW member?

Being a member can expand your personal and professional network and affect community change.  Your membership supports and furthers AAUW’s mission to advance equity for women and girls.

World Campus students are qualified to be members of the national and Pennsylvania branch. This membership includes the opportunity to:

Join now! To learn more about AAUW, visit the national AAUW website or the Pennsylvania branch website.

Sleep Deprivation and Your Brain

February 9th, 2015 by

Sleeping can affect the way you think, how you act, and how you perform physically. The easiest way to increase your vitality, happiness, and success is to sleep more. It not only improves cognitive functioning, it also increases our physical capabilities.

 What happens with sleep deprivation?

Brain

Allan Ajifo, Flickr

When you do not get enough sleep, your prefrontal cortex (responsible for problem solving and alertness) decreases in performance. This area of the brain is in charge of processing working memory (what you need in order to eventually retain information in the long term) and proper mental functioning on simple and complex tasks.

Long-term memory is affected when you do not get enough hours of sleep that night. For example, every night you should get adequate sleep, in contrast to catching up on sleep on the weekends. Even if you sleep in on the weekends, for the complete process of new information — which is composed of short-term memories (also known as working memory) to be moved to long-term memory — it needs to be done within 24 hours.

 Sleep on athletic performance

Sleep also plays a huge role in athletic performance. If you are not getting enough sleep, you may not be performing at your best. The top athletes even admit to their sleeping rituals and how these play a huge role in their training. For example, noted on the National Sleep Foundation’s article, “Sleep, Athletic Performance, and Recovery,” Serena Williams enjoys going to bed at 7:00 p.m. Athletes in training typically need more sleep than the average person. But what if you got that extra hour? The most important part of sleep is nonrapid eye movement (NREM), which is crucial for cognitive functioning. If you do not know how many hours of sleep you should be receiving, see my article, “How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Need to Study Effectively?” to find out more information on people’s sleep patterns.

 What are your sleeping habits?

I usually try to be in bed by 10:00 p.m., and I wake up between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. That’s about 8 hours of sleep. Everyone’s sleeping patterns can be different, and it is important to learn how to listen to your body. If you are waking up exhausted every day and depending on coffee to just get you out of bed, you may need to go to sleep earlier.

Changing Jobs within Your Organization: Part 2

January 30th, 2015 by

In the first part of this blog, we identified self-assessment as the first step to pursuing a job in your organization. The fundamentals in this post will address understanding your organization and researching what others do, including how to reach out to others.

Know Your Company

How many of you understand what other people in your organization do? Yes, we know who our colleagues are and that somehow they contribute to the collective day-to-day operations, but what is it like to do their job and what skills do they use to fulfill their responsibilities? Often, you will discover that there are many more jobs than you realize.

Most mid- to large-size company organizational charts represent a wide range of occupations. This means that there might be internal opportunities for you if you hope to make a change based on what you know about your interests, values, and skills. For example, let’s say that you work in management for a corporation, but you aspire to do accounting work. You probably will not have to look long before you discover that there are colleagues who spend their days focused on business operations related to auditing, budgeting, or analyzing finances at your company.

Here are some ways to identify options for you:

  • Review the organizational chart.
  • Read your company website with the intention of understanding how each unit functions to create the whole of the organization.
  • Talk with people who understand your organization from a big-picture perspective. You might find someone with an understanding about the kinds of positions your company hires for, possibly someone in HR, depending on your organization. You want colleagues who have some history with the organization, people whom you can learn from. Find out how other departments in your organization differ from your unit.

Research Jobs

While you want to have an idea of what positions are available at your organization, you can also look at general occupational information based on what you know about yourself, followed by identifying where people do that kind of work within your organization

You can learn about what others do for their jobs in several ways. First, you can read some information. Penn State students have access to a wealth of career information, such as virtual career libraries, that can help you explore different occupations. Additionally, there are useful resources online, such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook, ACT World-of-Work Map, America’s Career InfoNet, or O*NET, where you can relate your interests, goals, and motivations to various occupations. You might also want to talk with a career counselor to help synthesize your self-knowledge and relate this to occupations you want to explore.

In addition to reading about occupations, talk to people — because those who are doing the work you aspire to do are one of the best sources of career information. There are some guidelines and example questions to consider asking if you decide to talk with a colleague. Select people judiciously if you are not ready to let people at work know you are considering a change. If you are in a situation where you do not want people to know you are considering a change, you can always learn about occupations from people outside of your organization. But remember that there is some etiquette to keep in mind when speaking with someone about what she/he does. If you are struggling to find someone to talk to about occupations, LionLink is an excellent program that connects Penn State students with alumni volunteers for the purpose of networking.

Take Action

Presenting yourself. As you move toward another position, it helps to talk about your broad skills versus current job duties. For instance, instead of saying you answer phones as an assistant, you want to talk about yourself as someone who communicates well with customers and who manages data. The broad skills underneath job tasks are called transferable skills (because the acquired abilities can be transferred to different circumstances). When you talk with the right people at work, you want to speak the language of transferable skills.

Reaching out. Once you can talk about the relevant competencies you have, you are then in a position to find people in your organization who can help you. This is someone whom you can contact periodically and who is receptive to you. It requires social judgment, but if your interoffice networking is well received, it is possible to expand your discussions to career development topics. But you’re looking for someone who can offer you some advice.

You can seek out hiring managers in different areas that interest you. When you reach out, avoid asking what she/he can do for you. Instead, show them what you can do for them. Show how you offer value and share ideas on how you can help. This can happen with current supervisors if this seems appropriate for you; this assumes you have a good performance record with your supervisor. When speaking to your boss or a unit leader, keep in mind how you could make his or her life simpler with your help. Come to a meeting with a list of accomplishments in mind that demonstrate the transferable skills you bring that could help the unit.

Not all organizations are the same in structure or in office politics. Some of you are in a situation where you can speak freely about your career plans. Or you may feel like you cannot breathe a word of what you want to explore, even to someone in the HR department. While my thoughts assume the ideal situation, I would encourage you to think in terms of finding allies whose discretion you can trust as you explore talking with others about the organization or about what they do. Ideally, you can talk to someone in the organization — but practically, you might do better to speak with people outside your organization.

Finding opportunities. Eventually, you have to learn about opportunities within your organization. Do you know where and when your company announces openings? Are you monitoring the advertised openings? If you are interested in a position, be sure to apply promptly. Also, there are often informal ways that people learn about opportunities in their company. If you learn about a lead, follow up with a manager in that department. Networking from within your organization allows you to have positive experiences with your colleagues that people outside your company will not have. Be sure to follow networking etiquette. For example, you want to avoid asking something such as, “Who is high up, and who does the hiring?” You want to build allies, not offend people.

Resources for Penn State World Campus Students

Be sure to reach out to a Penn State World Campus career counselor for help exploring your options in your organization; you can also take some career assessments by working with a career counselor. Likewise, there are written materials available to help as you consider making a change. For example, there are virtual career libraries, such as WetFeet or Vault, where you can learn about changing careers, along with finding other information in regard to networking and occupations.

Have you experienced a career shift at your current company? Share your perspectives by commenting below.