Teacher’s Powerful Exercise of ‘Leaving Emotional Baggage at the Door’ Has Totally Changed Her Classroom

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classroom teacher headshot and an image of a bag with paper scraps hanging on wall

This Oklahoma teacher is being praised for teaching her students a powerful emotional lesson that they will not soon forget.

Karen Loewe has been teaching seventh and eighth grade students for 22 years, but her most recent day in class was apparently the most impactful day of her educational career.

For her sixth day of classes at Collinsville Middle School, she decided to try a new exercise in empathy with her students called “The Baggage Activity”.

Upon establishing that her classroom was a safe space for expression and respect, she asked what emotional baggage meant to her students. She then asked them to write about some emotional baggage of their own—and since they were not required to put their names on the paper, they could describe their issues as freely as they wanted without being identified.

he youngsters were then asked to take turns reading what their classmates wrote, and all of them were given the opportunity to identify themselves as the person responsible for the writing.

“I’m here to tell you, I have never been so moved to tears as what these kids opened up and about and shared with the class,” Loewe wrote in a Facebook post. “Things like suicide, parents in prison, drugs in their family, being left by their parents, death, cancer, losing pets … and on and on.

“The kids who read the papers would cry because what they were reading was tough. The person who shared (if they chose to tell us it was them) would cry sometimes too. It was an emotionally draining day, but I firmly believe my kids will judge a little less, love a little more, and forgive a little faster.”

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Make the Most of Your Meetings!

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Typical managers spend nearly 40 percent of their work hours in meetings, not to mention the time spent preparing (and recuperating).

A survey of business leaders showed:

-33 percent of time spent in meetings is unproductive.

-75 percent of the respondents said it is “almost essential” to have an agenda, yet they use them only 50 percent of the time.

-Only 64 percent of meetings achieve their intended outcome.

A disciplined approach to making the most of meeting time will help to maximize team effectiveness.

Set an objective:

Answer these three questions.

What, ultimately, do I want to achieve by this meeting?

What, specifically, has to be accomplished by the end of this meeting?

When the meeting is over, how will I know whether the meeting was a success?

Use your answers to define your meeting’s objective. Then make participants aware of the objective up front. Make sure the key people attend are the key people and are the ones with the knowledge and experience needed to accomplish the meeting’s objective.

Arrange for the proper facility: Little things (how the room is arranged, the room temperature, or whether there’s coffee or not) can make a tremendous difference in the success of a meeting.

Write an agenda There are numerous ways to accomplish this task. Have a planning committee set the agenda, or send out a pre-meeting survey asking people to list one to three topics they want to discuss. When writing an agenda, put the most important items at the beginning. The agenda should be distributed far enough in advance so participants can adequately prepare for the meeting. The agenda should state the date, location, start, and finish time, topics to be covered, the expected outcome (information only, discussion, or decision).

Make the Most of Your Meetings Advice for achieving successful business meetings time allotted to each topic. Studies show that productivity decreases sharply after about an hour and a half of meeting.

If you must have a long meeting, provide adequate breaks.

Keep the meeting on track Consider using a facilitator or getting a team member to serve as timekeeper. If a facilitator is not used, the meeting leader is responsible for keeping the meeting on course and adjourning on time. You could also assign meeting roles to facilitate progress such as chairperson, note taker, timekeeper, or observer.

You might also allow the participants to suggest agreements for the meeting before the meeting begins, like those listed below.

– One person speaks at a time
– No side conversations
– Everyone participates
– Listen as an ally
– Set time frames and stick to them
– se a consensus decision-making model

If, as the leader, you notice that only a few are contributing, you can direct a question to others, such as “What do you think about . . .?” Should discussion stray from the agenda, you should ask, “Is this subject relevant?” and have the group determine if it should be added to the agenda or saved for a future meeting.

Summarize the meeting In closing, the leader should summarize the group’s accomplishments, review action items (including who, what, and when) and, thank everyone for their participation. The summary of the meeting should be appropriately documented and distributed to team members and key stakeholders.

Reprinted with permission: The Lindenberger Group, LLC.

Forks Up! Dig into this guilt free mac and cheese recipe that’s ready in minutes

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Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? Regardless of what your dietary needs or preferences might be, everyone can agree that they have a special place in their hearts for it. The creamy, ooey gooey lusciousness surrounds each noodle, keeping us coming for morsel after morsel is sometimes too much to handle (or maybe not enough?).

We love finding new and exciting ways (especially healthy ones) that allow us to enjoy mac and cheese guilt free. And now thanks to Planta South Beach we have just the recipe to help us reach that goal.

Not only is this recipe delicious, delectable and enticing — but it’s also great for you and the environment. Nab the recipe below and get to cooking!

Vegan Mac And Cheese from Planta South Beach

Ingredients:

4 cups croutons

1 cup almond parmesan

4 teaspoons salt

2 yellow onions, diced

1 head cauliflower, chopped

1 cup confit garlic

3 tablespoons confit garlic oil

2 tablespoons garlic powder

½ cup almond milk

2 teaspoons lemon

1 quart cashews

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 cup rigatoni

2 tablespoons green peas

3 tablespoons smoked mushrooms

Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

BREAD CRUMBS

– Crush croutons by hand until crumbled.

– In a bowl, mix crushed croutons, almond parmesan and salt. Set aside.

GARLIC ALFREDO SAUCE

– Sweat onions and cauliflower in a pot with 3 tablespoons of garlic oil. Cook until translucent, season with salt.

– Use a Vitamix or blender to combine onions, cauliflower, confit garlic, almond milk, nutritional yeast and garlic powder until smooth and set aside.

– In a separate Vitamix or blender, mix the cashews and lemon juice until smooth. Start at a low speed and work your way up. Once mixture is smooth and creamy, slowly start to add the puree mixture.

– Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.

MAC & CHEESE

– Boil pasta for 8-10 minutes or until al dente, then drain.

– Sauté peas and mushrooms, salt to taste.

– Mix pasta with Garlic Alfredo Sauce until creamy.

– Set oven to broil at 350°F. Transfer mac & cheese to baking pan and top with bread crumbs. Put in oven until golden.

– Garnish with fresh parsley.

Continue on to HOLA! to read the complete article.

First-time leaders need to stick to these 4 truths to succeed

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Congratulations! You have just been promoted to a leadership role in your company. You have aspired to be a manager and leader throughout your career, and you have finally achieved it. Now, here’s the bad news.

Research conducted by CEB shows that 60% of all new managers fail within the first 24 months of their new position. And the main reason they fail is that they were not trained properly on how to manage other people and be an effective leader in the first place. You don’t want to add yourself to that statistic, do you?

As a first-time manager, your job is to focus on building trust, engagement, and culture within your team of direct reports. Effective management is about a lot of other things, too, but at the end of the day, culture and the way people work with each other on your watch is what has to come first. The people you work with have to trust you and believe in the culture you are building before they can believe in and ultimately execute the strategy you are giving them.

In my own career, the people I looked up to the most or learned the most from were individuals who cultivated that sense of trust. They engaged with me, and other team members, on a personal level. They welcomed a direct connection. And they took it upon themselves to get to know me and see me as more than just someone they were managing.

This past year, I took on a new role within SAP as head of Partner and Small and Mid-Size Business (SMB) Marketing. I am responsible for a team of 100 people across four or five levels within the organization, spread across four continents.

After reflecting on what I appreciated most about my own managers, I wanted my new team to know I was always available for a one-on-one chat, whether the conversation was work-related or not. My belief, and what I have learned from my managers before me, is that in order to build trust if someone on your team needs to talk, that relationship needs to be a priority.

Once you have trust as your foundation, you can begin helping your team adopt these four things necessary for them to be successful.

Show (don’t just “tell”) people how to have an urgency for change

Companies that succeeded in the past oftentimes struggle to find their next big leap forward.

I have been at SAP for 14 years, and I have witnessed moments (just like any other company) where new strategies and changes are adopted immediately and effectively and other moments where new strategies and changes are forgotten and tossed by the wayside. When changes don’t get implemented, it is not necessarily because they are more difficult to execute. It is often because the environment, the team, is not prepared in order to internalize that change.

In a metaphor, “change” is sort of like planting a tree.

First, you have to prepare the ground (your team’s culture), so that it has the best chance of growing and flourishing the way you would like it. Second, you have to show people how and why the changes you are proposing matter. People need to see and understand for themselves the long-term impact—not just be given a task with minimal visibility of the larger strategy. And third, you as the manager need to make each and every person involved see how they fit into the bigger picture. Human beings need to know why their part matters, and how their individual efforts impact the efforts of the group.

What tends to happen instead is new leaders take a seed, throw it onto rocky ground, and say, “Here’s our new strategy.” They offer minimal explanation into how or why it matters. They don’t help people see how their individual efforts matter. And then they get frustrated when nobody feels a sense of urgency to implement the changes into their daily responsibilities.

You have to put people first, always

The only asset we truly have is our people. Our people are who keep the company moving forward, our people are who keep our customers and partners engaged, and our people are who collectively create the entire energy and culture of the organization. This means it’s my job, and the job of all the other managers, to ensure our people feel happy, motivated, and like they’re making an impact. It’s our job to make sure they don’t feel like they are being lost in the shuffle of the company’s fast-moving environment.

Celebrate as a team. If one person or a small group of people accomplishes something, allow everyone to be part of that milestone. This will make the success more meaningful for those involved and stand as motivation for everyone else.

Support the efforts that don’t succeed. When team members go outside the scope of what is “normal,” try their hand at something new, and fail, their courage to be wrong is the quality that should be highlighted—not the failure itself. It’s the Thomas Edison principle. Your team might fail nine times out of ten, but that 10th time, you all may invent the light bulb together.

Hold people accountable by acknowledging their intentions. At the end of the day, people are human beings. Sometimes, we’re wrong. The manager’s job then is to create a space where being wrong is okay—but to also hold people accountable to ensure the idea was given its best effort.

Create a culture of openness and sharing

Oftentimes, the best ideas will come from your team—not you.

As a manager, you have to be the one to set the bar higher for your team. I’m not just talking about the goals team members set for themselves, but how they go about achieving them in the first place. Effective leadership is not just about “knowing the answer” but being able to facilitate conversations in a way that allows the best ideas and “answers” to unfold on their own. Every project and initiative your team takes on, ask yourself, “Have I raised the bar enough? Did we go beyond what was expected, and do something we can be proud of?” The more your team can lift itself because of the culture you have built and the expectations you have set, the less you will have to continually do it for them.

Unfortunately, a lot of first-time managers (and even seasoned managers) don’t allow their teams to achieve their full potential, because they get wrapped up in their egos.

They feel like unless they are the ones to come up with the idea, they aren’t going to have a job anymore. Or, they need to feel like they’re running the show and being seen as the leader, instead of taking a step back and letting the best idea (from whomever) emerge on its own. They say they want to collaborate but, in reality, they want to be the center of attention. As a result, the team reciprocates and feels like their efforts don’t really matter. They learn to just sit back and accept things as they are, instead of helping push the bar higher and uphold the team’s standard for excellence.

As a manager, your number one job is not to be the smartest person in the room. Your job is to essentially organize the room, and make sure the right people are working on the right things, together. From there, your job becomes about having an open mind, listening, and deciding who needs who else in order to be most successful.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Hot job! Taco Bell offers $100,000 salaries and paid sick time

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woman restaurant manager with clipboard inspecting kitchen

Wanted: Restaurant manager. Competitive salary: $100,000.

The six-figure sum is not being offered at a haute cuisine location with culinary accolades, but rather at fast-food chain Taco Bell. In the increasingly tight U.S. labor market, the company is betting a higher salary will help it attract workers and keep them on the team.

The Yum Brands Inc.-owned chain announced Thursday that it will test the higher salary in select restaurants in the Midwest and Northeast. It will also try a new role for employees who want leadership experience but don’t want to be in the management position. Current salaries for general managers at company-owned Taco Bell restaurants are between $50,000 and $80,000, according to the company.

Workers at company-owned Taco Bell restaurants nationwide will be offered at least 24 hours of paid sick time per year, the company also announced. According to a spokesperson, Taco Bell previously offered paid sick time only to managers and is now extending that offer to all employees at company-owned restaurants who have had their jobs for at least 90 days.

It’s another example of how stubbornly low unemployment is changing the face of fast food, which for decades has been seen as the quintessential low-wage job. Restaurants including Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants Inc. and Shake Shack Inc. have recently reported that labor inflation is hurting margins.

In November, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, matching the lowest since 1969, while average hourly earnings climbed and exceeded projections.

Continue on to the Los Angeles Times to read the complete article.

 

This is the most essential trait you need to land any job

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Hiring manager interviewing potential candidate for a job

There’s no denying the value of having relevant experience and a winning personality when you’re looking to land a new job. However, a recent study conducted by TopResume confirms there is another quality that employers find even more attractive when making hiring decisions.

When asked “Which of the following is most important in a candidate?” nearly half of the recruiters and hiring managers cited potential as the number-one factor, beating out experience (37%), personality (16%), and education (2%).

But what, exactly, is potential, and how can you demonstrate this trait to prospective employers during your job hunt? While there are various definitions floating to describe a “high potential” (HiPo) employee, it ultimately boils down to two qualities: problem-solving skills and a willingness to learn.

SOLVE PROBLEMS CREATIVELY
Managers are always looking for people who will bring solutions, rather than problems, to their departments. These are the types of hires who will provide the most value to the company, no matter if the position is in customer service, public relations, or engineering. Employers across all fields want to find workers who will face challenges head-on and seek creative solutions, rather than avoiding the situation or ignoring it entirely.

DESIRE TO LEARN AND GROW
Thanks to the fourth Industrial Revolution’s rapid pace of change, expertise has a shorter shelf life than ever before. In fact, according to Dawn Graham, PhD, author of the book Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success, most of us will be forced to become career switchers at some point in the future because of these constant changes. No wonder employers are interested in candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances and challenges in the workplace. The best employees are lifelong learners, people who actively seek out new experiences, knowledge, and feedback to increase their skills and add value to their organizations.

THREE WAYS TO DEMONSTRATE POTENTIAL
Our research confirmed that most employers evaluate these qualities in a candidate based on what they find on a person’s résumé and during the interview process. Here’s how you can show hiring managers you’ve got the potential they’re seeking in their next top hire.

PREPARE PROOF POINTS
Anyone can declare a knack for tackling problems or a love of learning on their job application or during an interview. However, if you want to convince recruiters you possess these desirable skills, you need to offer proof.

Start by brainstorming a list of examples in your career when you demonstrated creativity in order to solve a problem, learn a skill, or meet a goal that benefited the company. For example, perhaps you gave yourself a crash course in blockchain technology to prepare a pitch for a potential client that your team successfully landed. Or maybe you delved into YouTube videos or took the initiative to complete an online course to quickly learn a new skill that was required to successfully complete a work assignment.

Spend time fleshing out the stories that best illustrate your skills. Then, determine which of these stories can be woven into your résumé or your interview responses.

MAKE SURE YOUR RÉSUMÉ LEADS WITH RESULTS
Review your list and flag the stories that resulted in an achievement or a contribution that benefited your employer, such as lower costs, safer operations, greater profits, happier customers, etc. These will be the most appropriate examples to incorporate into your résumé.

Use the bullet points under your résumé’s Work History section to highlight these successes. Where possible, begin each bullet point with the result of your efforts and then describe the actions you took to achieve such a result. This is known as the “result by action” format. The “action” part of this bullet point is your opportunity to specifically demonstrate how you leveraged a specific skill to provide value to your former employers.

In the cases where you completed training programs, courses, or certifications to expand or deepen your skill set, be sure to include these professional-development activities in your résumé’s Education and Professional Development sections.

PREPARE FOR BEHAVIORAL-BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Employers often ask candidates to describe how they behaved during a particular situation in the past in order to gauge how they might perform in a similar situation in the future. The sample behavioral interview questions below are designed to help interviewers assess your ability and willingness to adapt, to think creatively, to solve problems, and to take initiative—in other words, your potential.

Describe a time where you had to solve a difficult problem. How did you handle it?
-Tell me about the first job you ever had. What did you do to learn the ropes?
-Give me an example of a time when you had to think on your feet in order to delicately extricate yourself from an awkward situation.
-Tell me about a situation in which you recognized a potential problem as an opportunity. What did you do? What was the outcome?

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Are Your Communication Skills Up to Par?

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Whether employers are hiring someone to make sandwiches, sell shoes, run science experiments, or repair plumbing—communication skills are always on the “must-have” list.

But what exactly do employers mean by “communication skills,” and how can you tell if you have them?

Here are some high-impact communication skills to check yourself on or work to develop, whether you’re looking for work or already have a job.

Face-to-face still matters

Although workplace communications are often online, well-rounded communicators need to be effective in face-to-face conversation, e-mail, on the phone, and—if used by the employer—text.

Communication needs vary by position, but most jobs require some face-time interaction with managers, coworkers, or customers, and employers appreciate an employee’s ability to bring their A game in person.

How well do you connect in face-to-face interactions? Some scenarios include:

Do you greet coworkers and welcome customers?

Extend a handshake at interviews and when meeting clients?

Participate and stay engaged when your team is gathered for meetings or events?

Are your non-verbals showing interest and engagement? Consider these points: Make eye contact, nod or smile when you agree, and use open body language; avoid crossing your arms and turning away from the other person.

Be intentional in your communication

When you start your communication from a purpose of understanding and how the other person might receive it, your communication will be clearer and more effective. When you analyze your job, or the job you’d like to get, consider these points: Who needs to understand what you have to communicate?

Possible targets for your communication might include: your manager, coworkers, the public, customers, students, patients, or others involved in the work you do.

What purpose does your communication serve? For example, do you want:

Customers to buy your product?

Patients to understand their medication?

The public to attend an event?

Your manager to know you’ve accomplished your goals? Once you know your intention, think about what kind of message your audience would respond to. Examples could include: Posting flyers in a neighborhood where your target customers live, writing a fact-filled report that shows how your work performance met job goals, creating a video that patients can re-watch, showing how to use medical equipment rather than to trying to explain complicated instructions repeatedly, texting reminders to students to register for classes.

Treating others professionally = good teamwork

Employers want their work teams to succeed, which typically means that team members get along, participate fully, and resolve conflicts when they do come up. The employer benefits and generally everyone on the team has a better experience. If you make assumptions about a team member, and they’re not the most positive, ask for clarification and clear the air after a misunderstanding to help build trust and keep the team functioning.

Do you let your team know when you need something or don’t understand something? Ask managers for feedback so you know what they need? Share information that would help others on the team?

Respect shows up in what you do and what you say. Do you speak positively about others on the team? Are good manners a priority with customers and coworkers? Do you make room for other people’s ideas?

In your team interactions, do you contribute to finding solutions? A team works better when members look for areas of agreement, and let unimportant differences go so the team can move forward together.

If you’ve decided your communication skills need some work, it’s never too late to brush up.

Source: CareerOneStop

How to write the best résumé for 2020

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To turn your résumé into a high score résumé, highlight your personal bests and top career achievements. From the top of your résumé down, focus on your next level: the job you want next, not the job you have now. And punctuate your story of how you made it this far by crafting each bullet point into an accomplishment with a success verb and a number. Entice potential interviewers by providing quantified, proven results that detail your successes.

YOUR HIGH SCORES
High scores are very useful for understanding someone’s mastery of a game, a sport, or a skill. The person who can type 145 WPM has a built-in advertisement of their prowess with this statistic, and it attracts attention from people looking for that skill. Similarly, your résumé is an advertisement for your capabilities and should promote them by showing what you’ve been able to achieve in your job to date.

Whether it’s accounts won, servers maintained, leads gained, or warehouses managed, all of our activities in our professional careers can be quantified. By sharing your specific high scores rather than vague duties, you give your future boss the ability to understand how far you can run, how high you can jump, in your career.

When you start to think in high scores, you’ll banish boring phrases such as “seasoned executive,” “responsible for,” and “managed.” And you’ll recast your experiences to include the most exciting and impressive outcomes you’ve achieved in each area of your job. Share your high scores attained, achievements unlocked, and badges won to attract your future boss’s attention in 2020.

YOUR NEXT JOB
The summary at the top of your résumé should be all about your next job, not your current one. Your war stories about achieving a new personal best in Tetris, tennis, or the triathlon don’t start with a boring recitation of the first time you played the game, so your professional summary shouldn’t summarize the old times. Focus instead on your next challenge.

If you’ve been a director of marketing for four years and are ready for a promotion, your professional headline should focus on your next role: “VP, brand marketing.” By declaring who you are going to be next, you’ll be appealing to bosses in the market for a VP. Spending this precious space on your current level is a missed opportunity. After all, you don’t need to advertise for the job you already have.

YOUR BULLET POINTS
Each bullet on your résumé should show a high score that is a significant achievement in your role that demonstrates your skills and capabilities in practice. Each bullet point should be constructed with a success verb and a specific numerical accomplishment in that job.

Typical résumé advice says to use active verbs, but that’s not enough. Some active verbs are bland and do nothing to help persuade a future employer. “Managed,” “established,” “defined,” and “performed,” are all considered active verbs and are frequently used on résumés. But these aren’t good verbs for communicating your high scores. You wouldn’t say “I managed a little character through a variety of levels,” or “I performed various moves in the game.”

Success verbs that show you as the hero of your own story are better. Words like grew, increased, shrank, optimized, gained, or minimized make it clearer how you’ve achieved your high scores and why you might do it again.

Everything in business comes down to the numbers: profit and loss, stock price, or market share. That’s why it makes sense to convey your worth to your future boss in numbers in your high scores.

“Show, don’t tell” is the best advice. Within the confines of confidentiality, your bullets should provide specific proof to support the skills and accomplishments in your professional summary. Simply asserting you’re good isn’t persuasive. For each bullet, describe the accomplishment with specific details. Those specific results, specific stories, and specific successes will resonate most with future bosses.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Uber passenger pays off driver’s outstanding college debt

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Latonya Young wearing cap and gown pictured with Uber passenger kevin esch

A Georgia Uber driver recently graduated from Georgia State thanks to a man who helped her pay an outstanding debt that prevented her in finishing her degree program.

According to ABC News , Latonya Young recently graduated from the Atlanta university after starting her college journey many years ago. At age 43, Young now has an associate’s degree in criminal justice.

Her return to college was made possible thanks to an Uber passenger. According to ABC News, Young had picked up Kevin Esch for a 20-minute ride. Young told Esch about her desire to go back to college, but that a $700 outstanding debt prevented her from enrolling.

Shortly after the ride, Esch decided to help the mother of three out. Nearly 18 months later, Esch was there to see Young graduate.

“I have thanked him so much but I feel like I haven’t thanked him enough,” Young told “Good Morning America.” “It was not just the money but his willingness and his sacrifice for me to do better in life.”

“It was something I could do that I thought was worth it and would really help her,” Esch told “GMA.”

Continue on to KXLF to read the complete article.

Finding a Place to Belong at Yale and Beyond

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Alanna Pyke pictured smiling leaning casually on her homes stairway

By Susan Gonzalez/Yale News

“Community” is the word graduating senior Alanna Pyke utters most often when reflecting on her time at Yale College.

“What I really came to value here is a sense of community and being a part of something that is bigger than myself,” says Pyke of her Yale experience.

For Pyke, one of the most valuable communities was the one she found at the Native American Cultural Center (NACC), the place that inspired her to choose Yale out of the more than 15 colleges that accepted her, and where she experienced a deep sense of belonging. She was impressed by the fact that an entire building was dedicated for the NACC.

“The Native community and also Dean [Kelly] Fayard [assistant dean of Yale College and director of the NACC] were such a huge part of my Yale experience,” says Pyke. “The NACC at 26 High St. is a welcoming place, where you can go to relax or study or see friends. I spent a lot of time there.”

Pyke — the first Native student to be valedictorian of Massena Central High School in New York — says that no one in recent memory from her high school or her reservation had gone to Yale. Feeling supported on campus, while maintaining a connection to her indigenous roots, was important to her.

A member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, Pyke grew up in upstate New York on the Akwesasne Reservation, which straddles the New York and Canadian border along the St. Lawrence River. Prior to seventh grade, she went to an elementary school on the reservation where she was taught the Mohawk language.

At her next school, which was predominantly white, Mohawk was not taught; Pyke was told that she could study French or Spanish instead.

“I remember crying when I found that out,” the Yale senior recalls. “I didn’t know why I was crying at the time but I know I thought it was a big deal that I couldn’t continue learning Mohawk. I eventually realized why it was a big deal: At school, I was no longer connected to my culture.”

As a first-year student at Yale, Pyke had a job as a first-year liaison at the NACC, helping new students feel welcome at the center. She soon found herself spending time there after her shift, and was encouraged by other Native students to attend special events or meetings or to take on leadership roles.

While she says she was initially “a little too shy” to hold an official post, she quickly found herself a member of the NACC-affiliated Association for Native American Students at Yale (ANAAY), the American Indian Science & Engineering Society, Yale Sisters of All Nations, and the Yale Native American Arts Council.

Pyke, who is majoring in molecular, cellular, and development biology (MCDB), acknowledges that it was sometimes challenging to balance her studies, research commitments, and leadership duties in the Native community. She says she is grateful for having the opportunity to study Mohawk at Yale (via the Native American Language Program) and was active in a student campaign to lobby the Yale administration to offer for-credit courses in indigenous languages.

As a woman of color in STEM, the Yale senior says the mentors she had in the sciences were vital to her success, and she is particularly thankful for the Science, Technology and Research Scholars (STARS) Program, which supports women, minority, economically underprivileged, and other historically underrepresented students in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

In addition to mentoring, the program provides research opportunities, networking, courses and workshops, and career planning to undergraduates in STEM disciplines.

While participating in a STARS Summer Research Program, she took a science course co-taught by a group of faculty members including Marina Moreno, associate research scientist and instructor in MCDB, who became Pyke’s faculty adviser. Moreno is also one of the STARS coordinators.

“She helped me through this entire endeavor of getting an education,” says Pyke. “Without the STARS program, there’s a big chance I wouldn’t have stayed in STEM. I don’t think I would have made it without Dr. Moreno and STARS mentor Rob Fernandez.”

This summer, Pyke will begin Harvard University’s Research Scholar Initiative, a post-baccalaureate program to enhance scholars’ competitiveness for Ph.D. programs. She is interested in continuing genetics or genomics research in the future.

“Many Native communities have a distrust of science generally and of genetic science in particular,” says Pyke. “It’s been used wrongly in the past, or used without consent.”

Pyke hopes to give back to her own community through scholarship. “Representation is important because it will inspire future generations of Native scholarship and scientists, and add diverse perspectives to different fields,” she says.

Source: news.yale.edu

This is the one question you should ask before setting a New Year’s goal

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three professionally dressed women

It’s goal-setting season, and many of us are looking to switch things up in our working lives next year. This can be tricky because, even when you know it’s time for a change, it can be hard to know exactly where to start and what to do. Sometimes, it’s hard to define what it is we want to change in our career. We just know it’s not fulfilling us in the most important ways.

Not all career goals require big changes. Some may be achievable without moving into a different role or switching employers, especially if you work for a company with a robust learning culture. In other cases, the onus may be on you to do some self-directed upskilling before you’re truly ready to make progress toward your goals.

Fill in this blank to more crisply define exactly what’s driving you:

I want to _______.

Grow in my current role

If you’re happy with your employer and functional area, that doesn’t mean you should coast along until something forces you to act. It’s always smart to keep building upon your skills.

Look to what more seasoned coworkers are doing that you could add to your skill set. See if there are new technologies or tools you can get a jump-start on learning, even before your job demands them. Ask your manager if you can schedule a career conversation for them to advise you on where you need to develop your expertise in order to increase your impact—or snag a promotion. Make sure you talk to someone on the learning and development (or HR) team, so you’re aware of any development opportunities available, and let them help connect you to educational resources aligned to your goals.

Move into management

If you’re eyeing a transition into management, keep in mind that managing people is very different from performing an individual job function. The hard skills that got you where you are today won’t be enough to prepare you for the responsibilities that come with managing direct reports or, perhaps, an entire team.

The competencies that separate the best managers tend to be those we refer to as soft skills or people skills. They’re things like problem-solving, relationship building, emotional intelligence, and effective leadership. Again, I recommend speaking to your manager and others in your professional network and asking them where they believe you need to grow in order to become ready for management. This isn’t a goal you’re likely to achieve all by yourself, so identify the sponsors who can support you in this endeavor.

Pivot to something completely different

If your career goals involve moving into an entirely new field, you’ll likely need to do work on your own to assemble the requisite skill set. I’m lucky enough to be at a company whose business is connecting people to learning resources that can help them meet their career objectives. Our culture supports the learning needs of all employees—whether they want to grow in a current role or try a new discipline—but this isn’t the norm.

At many companies, employees can only access training related to their functional area. If that describes your situation, avail yourself of the wide variety of learning resources out there, from online courses, videos, and books to in-person workshops, boot camps, and industry associations.

Completing coursework is just part of the journey, however. You’ll still need to be able to demonstrate you’ve mastered those newly gained skills, so seek out programs that include practical exercises and projects you can share with a hiring manager.

Grow my influence and impact

Maybe your career goals are less about your actual work and more about the broader role you want to play in your organization. You want to elevate your influence, market your expertise, and maximize your contributions.

As with a move into management, I recommend brushing up on your soft skills here. To grow your influence, you need to forge connections with other influencers in the organization and be able to articulate the value you bring. And come with your own ideas for where your expertise can be leveraged for maximum benefits, such as serving as a mentor, engaging in peer-to-peer learning, or being a consultant to other teams.

Not sure

Maybe you’re feeling restless but undirected. You know your current position isn’t cutting it but aren’t quite sure where to go next. That’s okay. I have ideas for you, too. Depending on where you are in your career, I suggest asking yourself some questions to help clarify your thinking and set you on the right path heading into 2020.

At every level
Am I still learning something new every day?

Entry level
What skills do I need to excel in my role?
Are there skills my role requires that I don’t have?
When I look at colleagues a level above me, is that something I want to be doing?

Midlevel
Does my role leverage my strengths?
Do I want to work toward becoming a manager?
Do I enjoy the work I do?
Am I progressing in my career the way I imagined?

Leadership level
Am I still challenged in my role every day?
How am I supporting and empowering my people in their roles?
Am I happy with the balance that I have between work and life?
How can I bring others along with me as a leader, or be a mentor?
Am I ready for the possibility of working many more decades into the future? What are the implications for my current and future roles?

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.