Real Talk: Is grad school worth it?

It comes with a high price tag and time commitment, but lots of jobs seem to want a degree beyond a bachelor’s or associate’s. So, is grad school worth it? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the simple answer is yes. Those with doctoral degrees, professional degrees, or master’s degrees have higher median usual […]

It comes with a high price tag and time commitment, but lots of jobs seem to want a degree beyond a bachelor’s or associate’s. So, is grad school worth it?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the simple answer is yes. Those with doctoral degrees, professional degrees, or master’s degrees have higher median usual weekly earnings and lower unemployment rates. While there are counterpoints to this idea (like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Oprah, who made their wild successes without obtaining any degrees in higher education) and data showing that an electrician or plumbing apprenticeship may be a better investment than either a B.A. or a Ph.D., generally speaking the higher degree of learning you have, the higher your weekly income.

But this is all in the abstract—and your real-life situation may not appear so simple as a bar chart. What about the tuition costs, the investment of your time and effort, the job opportunities and earning years you give up in the meantime, and the possibility that it might not work out the way you want?

The question most people need to ask first is: can I afford the short-term pain for the potential long-term gain? There are also differences in every industry and every degree program—some, like a medical degree, will get you a monetary return on investment sooner than an MFA in painting. Earnings vary by industry, demographics, and location, and of course by individual, and a graduate degree does not automatically line your pockets with more cash each week. (In the short-term, it will do the exact opposite.) Degrees also gain and lose earning potential over time; going to law school was a much better bet in the year 2000, before natural learning search algorithms eliminated much of the entry-level work, than it is today. You may also consider other factors like the value the graduate degree has beyond earning potential.

But no matter what type of degree you seek, it is work and it is a gamble. So here are a few factors to consider before you fill out your FAFSA and brush up on your math skills for the GRE.

If you are currently employed and the company will pay for it:

Take advantage of professional advancement programs within your current job. If your employer helps pay for grad school and you can juggle courses and your day job, then go for it. This helps take care of one of the main drawbacks of graduate school: going broke. Depending on the degree program, universities might even offer stipends and assistantships.

Getting funding assistance of any kind is one of the key bonuses that can help you get that degree to take you further in your professional endeavors. And, if you can remain gainfully employed while seeking a degree, your personal risk is considerably diminished. At the very least, you won’t need to find a new job if the degree program does not pan out.

If you consider your qualifications for future positions:

For some positions, you simply need a graduate degree. Librarian? Yes. Architect? Yes. Doctor? Yes. If the dream job you always see posted on your favorite job website requires a graduate degree, then it’s time to seriously consider investing in that future to make the dream achievable. The trickiness of the situation comes when you make yourself overqualified for other positions. For example, if you have a graduate degree in marketing, but have no job experience, you may be screened out of the applicant pool for entry-level jobs. In cases like this, it is vital to explore internship opportunities while in school and cultivate real-world work experience too.

If the degree has value beyond earning potential:

If you simply have a love of learning or a passion you want to follow, is it worth it? This is the case where “worth” may be defined beyond the monetary value. This means you will enjoy grad school with its challenges, but you may set yourself back monetarily for a few years. If you want a degree in art history, there’s no guarantee you will ever get a job as a museum conservator. You may still end up with a sales job and a vast knowledge of 16th century painters in your head.

Beyond personal enrichment, there are other types of value for a graduate degree—for example, if the program offers good connections and internships. This can help with careers that are harder to break into like television, acting, or journalism.

If you consider the money now vs. money in the future:

Degrees with more immediate pipelines to job opportunities (like nursing, law school, or an MBA program) tend to charge tuition; artist’s MFA degrees or a PhD in academic subjects that are less market-oriented tend to offer tuition remission, stipends, assistantships or on-campus jobs. (If they don’t, then it’s much less worth it; don’t go into debt for a nonprofessional graduate degree!) If you’re not in a professional degree program, the lean years may extend a bit longer beyond grad school, and you may only gain success years later as you work towards your goal around your day job.

If you are considering using the degree to teach at the college level:

The job market for professors has stagnated over the last decade, with a severe glut of degree holders and a dearth of jobs teaching full-time in university departments. Increasingly those earning a PhD in programs of study that can last 5-10 years are seeking out “alt-ac” jobs—meaning nonacademic jobs—or spending years doing low-wage, low-security teaching work before leaving the profession. Do the research on your field and its job prospects before you commit to spending so many of your prime earning years in graduate school for a teaching career that might never materialize, no matter how smart you are or hard you try.

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7 New Year’s resolutions for career-oriented parents

Do you fall prey to the New Year’s resolution rollercoaster? In winter, most of us decide I will do better. By springtime, you already feel like a failure—or, you simply forget why it was so important to wake up every day at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. With kids, you’re not only navigating […]

Do you fall prey to the New Year’s resolution rollercoaster? In winter, most of us decide I will do better. By springtime, you already feel like a failure—or, you simply forget why it was so important to wake up every day at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. With kids, you’re not only navigating personal or professional goals; your resolutions can also factor in a whole other person or set of people: This summer I will finally teach my daughter to ride a bike!

Setting resolutions can be truly intimidating, and if you reach too far, you’ll set yourself up for disappointment and bad feelings. The real goal in making resolutions is to tap into the motivation you feel in the new year by setting low-key, flexible goals so you’re not setting yourself up for failure.

1. Shoot for good-enoughism, not perfectionism

This first one is a meta-resolution. There’s an old proverb:  Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Whether you missed a school recital or aren’t as far along in your career as you hoped, you have to get over the longing to be all things to all people, ditch the guilt, and meet yourself where you are. Give yourself a forgiving timeline to meet your goals and allow yourself to simply be good enough.

2. Establish new traditions

Schedule a new family outing once a month on the weekends—maybe explore a hiking trail or visit a local museum. Fostering a sense of adventure and trying new things can help you get out of a rut, and it also allows you to prioritize family time in a fun way outside of the house. Plus, once a month is a reasonable goal to set, and something the family can look forward to every time the calendar page turns.

3. Take a personal day once a month

Prioritizing self-care is something working parents “forget” to do (or perhaps feel is impossible), but it is something you need to do in order to remain centered, healthy, and able to be a good employee and a good parent. A whole day to do those little tasks that have been nagging but not urgent, or to get yourself organized, or take a long bath or read a good book—whatever a personal day looks like to you that would help you re-center—can allow you to de-stress and gain better overall focus. When you have too much going on, sometimes it’s important to just hit the pause button. You can tackle all your tasks the next day, we promise.

4. Ditch the multi-tasking

Have you heard multi-tasking is bad? Like, really bad. When you try to do two things at once, which is actually impossible, you do both things worse and your ability to focus suffers. But parents, whether you are aware of it or not, are constantly multi-tasking by default, trying to meet the needs and demands of multiple people at once. So, it takes extra care to try to focus on one task at a time. You need to establish boundaries. Kids know when you’re distracted, so half-listening to your daughter tell a story as you write an email sends the wrong message to her. Give yourself a clear space to do this task; go into another room and help your kids learn patience as they wait until you are finished.

5. Declutter your commitments

Parents get really good at saying “no” to their kids but are not necessarily good at applying the same practice to peers or coworkers. When you’re juggling too much, you have to prioritize. Will doing this make me happy, will it make me a better person, will it enrich my life? Make sure you feel a strong “yes” when you agree to do something. You don’t need to bend over backwards for everyone. Learn when your “yes”es constitute being a good coworker, a good parent, or a good citizen, and learn to say “no” when things are too much.

6. Curb your email

This is along the same lines as learning to say “no.” Email “autoreply messages” aren’t just for vacation time. It can be really freeing to turn on your autoreply message on your email as the last thing you do before you step out of the office. It sets a clear boundary in your mind that you will leave work behind, and also communicates that to others. If you don’t have a 9-to-5 job, this can prove trickier, but all the more vital. Set times when you will actively not check email and not think about work.

7. Declutter your “stuff”

The new year brings all the stuff you collected over the old year plus the new stuff you got from the holidays. It’s time to make space for that new stuff: recycle, donate, make a few bucks on Ebay, and empower your kids to decide what they no longer use and discover what clothes no longer fit. This can be a seasonal practice. But if you find your collection of “stuff” too daunting, even just getting rid of just one thing you don’t need in the new year will clear your mind and make you feel productive for 2019.

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Can technology improve diversity in hiring?

Improving diversity in all aspects of our cultural and business environment is an ever-increasing concern in the twenty-first century. While certain strides have been made in ensuring that people of all genders, races, nationalities, religions, and orientations are better represented in our society, these efforts have only just begun. Hopefully, far greater strides are to […]

Improving diversity in all aspects of our cultural and business environment is an ever-increasing concern in the twenty-first century. While certain strides have been made in ensuring that people of all genders, races, nationalities, religions, and orientations are better represented in our society, these efforts have only just begun. Hopefully, far greater strides are to come in our collective future. According to Jeanette Maister, the managing director, head of Americas at Oleeo, that hope may arrive in the form of artificial intelligence (AI).

Oleeo is a London-based company that provides solutions for companies looking to acquire new talent. Before joining Oleeo, Maister led recruiting efforts at such companies as Lehamn Brothers and Gartner, so she has a very firm background in hiring. In such roles, she has also witnessed the flaws in common hiring practices. Despite the desire of many companies to reflect society’s diversity more accurately in their hiring processes, many businesses just can’t seem to get with the times. They have no established processes for ensuring greater diversity. In fact, as Maister recently told SHRM Online, many companies are “still doubling down on the same approaches they have used since the 1960s.” She says that such half-hearted efforts are more about avoiding lawsuits than actually improving diversity. In many cases, these “efforts” to increase diversity are downright backward, as potential employers only consider whether or not applicants were sufficiently diverse after those applicants had been interviewed.

Maister sees technology as a possible solution to this problem. By using AI programs and Big Data to select the ideal person to fill a position, the biases of recruiters are less of an issue—these programs make automatic decisions based on myriad data points. It is essentially a computer-based form of blind screening, which is a hiring process that removes all identification information from an applicant’s application and resume. AI can focus only on skills and experience rather than factors such as name, age, and gender that could provoke bias.

Improving diversity in the workplace is not as easy as merely blocking out applicants’ personal information. It is a matter of ensuring that all phases of the hiring process are balanced and unbiased; it is also a matter of adjusting the language of job posts to be more inclusive, such as using gender-free pronouns in help-wanted ads. Some companies are already using technology that scans job descriptions for gender bias to help manage this issue. Algorithms and intelligent automation can also be used to cut the fat from job descriptions so that they only focus on the skills and duties essential to the given job. This will be a boon for women, who are more likely to ensure that they meet every criterion in a job description before applying than men are. In other words, by streamlining job descriptions, women will be more likely to apply to those positions.

Of course, to create a completely unbiased hiring process, the hiring technology itself must be free of bias. After all, these systems are programmed by human beings who come with their own baggage and may possess personal prejudices that can end up in the very programs intended to curb bias. Maister reveals that a solution to that potential problem is to make the selection compliance rates of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission an essential part of the algorithm.

This is just the beginning of a new age in which technology is used to improve diversity in the workplace. New regulations will likely be set in place as the technology improves, and existing technology must be scrutinized to ensure that it utilizes sound data. Like all aspects of progress, improving diversity in hiring is a process, but hopefully the end result will be greater representation of all genders, races, nationalities, religions, and orientations in the workplace.

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10 traits of a great manager, according to Google

There are many reasons that Google has been successful in its bid to become a globally dominant company. (Its onetime motto, “don’t be evil,” probably didn’t hurt.) But one of the most important factors is one you can’t see by going online and using one of their many tools, or asking your Google Home to […]

There are many reasons that Google has been successful in its bid to become a globally dominant company. (Its onetime motto, “don’t be evil,” probably didn’t hurt.) But one of the most important factors is one you can’t see by going online and using one of their many tools, or asking your Google Home to tell you: effective management. You don’t build a company that big and that successful without quality people at all levels.

In its regular Project Oxygen studies to analyze how to improve management and leadership at the company, Google has come up with a number of traits that make a good manager.

1. “Is a good coach”

A coach is only as strong as what his or her players produce. A high-quality manager supports the team, always working closely with team members to provide guidance, motivate them, and make sure that everything is moving along as it should.

2. “Empowers team and does not micromanage”

It may seem like getting the outcome you want from employees means micromanaging their every move. In reality, it’s a fast way to take power away from individuals and make them less likely to grow and change in ways that make the work better. A great manager knows when to step back and let team members take agency and initiative, building their own confidence and leadership skills while getting the work done. Trusting your team to do what they need to do is a morale booster, and helps create more productive, more satisfied employees.

3. “Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being”

If employees don’t feel supported, work is likely to suffer and you start losing talented people. A great manager makes sure that each team member feels valued and supported in their work. Knowing that your manager cares about you, and not just the work output, improves morale and helps employees feel like a necessary part of the team’s goals.

4. “Is productive and results-oriented”

Setting goals and making sure everyone is working effectively toward them is a key part of managing well. It’s up to the manager to set those expectations, and show that he or she is just as committed to them as everyone else.

5. “Is a good communicator—listens and shares information”

Nothing causes frustration in the ranks faster than poor communication to and from the top. There’s a reason that communication skills are on just about every job description under the sun. It’s not just about passing information, it’s also about knowing how to hear and understand what’s going on, react appropriately, and communicate outward. That means being able to navigate sticky work politics, as well as take feedback and concerns from employees.

6. “Supports career development and discusses performance”

A great manager doesn’t just see team members as faceless worker bees doing the same job over and over indefinitely. A great manager works with team members to find opportunities for improvement and define job goals in a way that pushes them forward. Performance reviews (whether formal or periodic “how are things going?” check-ins) can identify ways employees can grow and let them know you’re there to support that.

7. “Has a clear vision/strategy for the team”

Another morale killer: not really understanding how or why the work is being done. Managing well includes coaching employees toward a particular goal or strategy. Sometimes those are handed down from above as part of a larger corporate mission, but other times it means defining what your group hopes to achieve. Having a clear strategy and communicating that to team members shows how everyday work is contributing to the company’s larger goals or mission. It’s your job to make sure everyone’s seeing the forest and the trees.

8. “Has key technical skills to help advise the team”

It may be that your job is assembling and cultivating experts—not being an expert yourself in a particular process or skill set. You don’t necessarily have to be better than your employees at everything, but you should definitely have enough technical skill to be able to speak intelligently about it, and be ready to provide guidance or support when necessary.

9. “Collaborates across Google”

No team is an island. (Okay, that’s not quite how it goes, but you get the gist.) No matter how specialized your team may be, chances are you have to get information from other teams, communicate with other teams, or collaborate on projects with other teams. It’s important to make sure those connections with other groups and colleagues across the company are valued, and ensure that communication is smooth between your team and others.

10. “Is a strong decision maker”

Being the boss means having to make the decisions, tough or not. Getting input from others is important, but if you want to push your managerial skills to the next level, that means owning the decision-making process and backing your decisions with as much information and education as possible.

If you’re looking to boost your bossing, paying attention to these 10 qualities will help you become a well-rounded manager.

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5 nursing career specialties to pursue in 2019

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing fields right now—and nursing is at the heart of this growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nursing profession is expected to grow by at least 19% by 2026, much faster than average for all jobs. If you’re thinking about a career in nursing, here are […]

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing fields right now—and nursing is at the heart of this growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nursing profession is expected to grow by at least 19% by 2026, much faster than average for all jobs.

If you’re thinking about a career in nursing, here are five fast-growing specialties to consider.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (also known as advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs) are an MVP when it comes to family or general medical practices. They provide standard nursing care (recording patient histories, examining patients, performing diagnostic tests, administer medicine or treatments), while also being able to perform tasks usually done by physicians, like prescribing medicine, ordering tests, and diagnosing illnesses.

What you’ll need: A master’s degree in nursing, plus passing a national certification exam and becoming licensed. Each state’s licensing requirements may vary, so be sure to check your own state’s requirements.

What it pays: The median salary for nurse practitioners is $110,930 per year, or $53.33 per hour.

The outlook: The number of nurse practitioner jobs is expected to grow by an incredible 31% by 2026.

Neonatal Nurse

Neonatal nurses care for premature babies, usually in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in a hospital. Because of the critical health problems experienced by many newborns, neonatal nurses provide essential, extensive care.

What you’ll need: A bachelor’s degree in nursing, plus specialized training. You’ll need to be licensed as well. Each state’s licensing requirements may vary, so be sure to check your own state’s requirements.

What it pays: The median salary for neonatal nurses is $65,000 per year, or $31.25 per hour.

The outlook: The number of neonatal nurse jobs is expected to grow at least 17% by 2026.

Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives are advanced practice nurses who care for expectant mothers and their newborns. A nurse midwife coordinates care during pregnancy and assists during childbirth and after the delivery for both the mother and baby.

What you’ll need: A bachelor’s degree in nursing, plus specialized training. You’ll need to be licensed as well. Each state’s licensing requirements may vary, so be sure to check your own state’s requirements.

What it pays: The median salary for nurse midwives is $100,590 per year, or $48.36 per hour.

The outlook: The number of nurse midwife jobs is expected to grow at least 31% by 2026.

Nurse Anesthetist

One of the fastest-growing and highest-paying nursing specialties is the nurse anesthetist. Nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia to surgical patients, working with physicians, surgeons, and other operating room staff. In addition to anesthesia, nurse anesthetists may help coordinate pre-and post-surgical care for patients as well.

What you’ll need: A bachelor’s degree in nursing, plus a master’s degree and/or specialized training in nurse anesthesia. You’ll need to be licensed as well. Each state’s licensing requirements may vary, so be sure to check your own state’s requirements.

What it pays: The median salary for nurse anesthetists is $160,270 per year, or $77.05 per hour.

The outlook: The number of nurse anesthetist jobs is expected to grow at least 22% by 2026.

Nurse Educator

One of the most valuable roles in the nursing community is teaching the next waves of nurses. This crucial role combines medical and clinical skills with teaching skills, and can be a good fit for nurses who have strong communication and leadership skills. Nurse educators may teach and train nurses at all levels, from specialized nursing training programs to bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate nursing programs. The constant demand for high-quality nurses means that there is high demand for nursing teachers as well.

What you’ll need: A bachelor’s degree in nursing, and potentially a master’s degree or PhD, depending on what you’ll be teaching. You may also need specific clinical experience, depending on the program.

What it pays: The median salary for nurse educators is $71,260 per year.

The outlook: The number of nurse educator jobs is expected to grow at least 19% by 2026.

Whichever nursing path you choose, know that it’s a rewarding, challenging field with many opportunities open to explore your specific passion and talent.

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4 mistakes bosses make when hiring new employees

By the time you’re ready to hire a new employee, it can feel like the end of a long and exhausting process. You’ve talked to lots of people, you’ve read countless resumes, and you could be under a time crunch just to get someone in and working. There’s probably pressure to wrap things up. Even […]

By the time you’re ready to hire a new employee, it can feel like the end of a long and exhausting process. You’ve talked to lots of people, you’ve read countless resumes, and you could be under a time crunch just to get someone in and working. There’s probably pressure to wrap things up. Even so, as you get ready to hire and onboard new employees, it’s important to make sure you’re avoiding some of the oh-so-common mistakes.

Mistake: Over-reliance on first impressions

When hiring, many people like to go with gut instinct when they meet a candidate. But are you hiring this person because you like them, or because they’re truly the best person for the job? Before making an offer, do a careful review of how the person meets your needs for the job. If they fall short in some areas (but your instinct is that they can learn or grow to adapt), make sure that potential is grounded in reality—not just wishful thinking. So don’t discount your first impression completely, but do several gut checks along the way to make sure you really believe they’re the right person for the role.

Mistake: Not preparing everyone for the new arrival

It’s not quite the same as sitting a kid down and explaining that he’s going to have a new brother or sister, but the dynamics don’t necessarily change all that much from childhood to adulthood. Your team probably knows you’ve been looking to hire a new person, but the “okay, it’s done, here’s your new coworker” approach can feel jarring.

If you can, involve team members in the hiring process, even if they don’t have any final say in the decision. You can still have them meet with the candidate during the interview process and ask for feedback. Before the new person starts, make sure everyone’s got a basic idea of who the new team member is. A “get ready to welcome X! He will be working on these projects, and I hear he plays a mean cello” email can help break the ice and prepare people for their new colleague.

This goes for the new person as well—he or she should get a brief overview of the team, who does what, and what the group expectations are. Starting in a new job can feel overwhelming enough, but knowing a bit about what the person is walking into can help ease the transition.

Mistake: Not defining expectations for the job and boss-employee relationship

Job interviews can be so focused on the on-paper requirements for the job that some of the interpersonal parts can get lost. When you’re interviewing someone and it’s likely to progress to a job offer, make sure they understand what your role as the boss is, as well as your priorities and expectations for the job. Again, the more you can let them know up front, the easier it will be to transition the right person into the role. Or at least identify potential red flags or conflicts before it’s too late.

Mistake: Expecting perfection from Day One

You’re hiring someone qualified for the job, as determined from the thorough vetting of the hiring process. So this person should be ready to rock it on day one, right? Yes… and no. While you shouldn’t lower expectations for the person in the role, it’s important to remember that there’s a learning curve in any new position. Even if the person held a very similar job at a different company, there’s still the potential roadblock of new systems, new workplace dynamics and politics, and different priorities.

Having a new employee onboarding plan can help this. By anticipating the things that the new person will need to learn and master over a certain amount of time (like processes, systems, software, etc.), you can help manage expectations—your own and theirs.

Putting a little extra thought and planning into your new hire now will help you avoid some headaches and misunderstandings down the line. And look at it this way: the better this transition goes, the more likely it is that you’ll have thriving, satisfied employees, and less likely that you’ll be going through the same process again sooner than you’d hope.

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How to negotiate maternity leave with your employer

Whether you’re pregnant or merely thinking about expanding your family, it’s important to know how to address the issue with your employer. We know it can be tricky to navigate the discussion, so we’ve compiled some tips on how to approach the topic with your boss. Know what kind of leave you’re owed Many companies […]

Whether you’re pregnant or merely thinking about expanding your family, it’s important to know how to address the issue with your employer. We know it can be tricky to navigate the discussion, so we’ve compiled some tips on how to approach the topic with your boss.

Know what kind of leave you’re owed

Many companies offer some kind of paid maternity or parental leave (which can include paternity leave or the time to care for a newly adopted child). The length of time can vary, so be sure to check your own company’s policies to see what the baseline is. With paid leave, the company pays for a certain number of weeks off.

If your company doesn’t offer paid leave, or you want to take additional time off for parental leave, then you could be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). FMLA leave is unpaid, but it ensures that your job will be secure for up to 12 weeks’ absence. This kind of leave can be used flexibly for any family purpose—like maternity or paternity leave, or caring for a sick relative.

Have a plan in place

Before you go to your boss, know what you’re planning to do. How many weeks of paid (or unpaid) leave are you expecting to take? Will you have a mix of paid and unpaid leave? When will it start? When do you anticipate being back? Are you seeking a flexible work schedule once you’re back to work?

When you’re planning for your leave, know what it is you want. If your company has a flexible policy or if you’re hoping to negotiate terms outside of the stated leave policy, knowing what your options are and what you want to get out of the discussion is key. The more you have figured out up front, the better you’ll be able to present a sensible plan to your boss and negotiate as necessary.

As you prep for your meeting with your boss (in person is best, even if you’ll have to file a written parental leave plan later), it can also help to have information and statistics about how parents and children benefit from that initial bonding time, and how self-care improves outcomes for new parents and their babies.

Don’t wait too long

It’s better to start talking with your boss about your plans as soon as you feel comfortable disclosing your pregnancy status. You don’t have to announce it to your entire work world just yet, but kicking things off with a confidential discussion with your boss gives you (and your company) the time you’ll need to plan ahead for your leave.

Negotiate to get the leave you want

Negotiating leave is pretty similar to negotiating your initial job offer or when you want a raise. Like with any other negotiation, it’s important to approach it with realistic expectations. Sure, in an ideal world you’d have, say, a year off with pay. In reality, most workplaces offer a limited number of weeks, so it’s unlikely you’d be able to negotiate a huge extension of existing policy.

Instead, make sure your plan balances what you want and need for your family with your company’s expectations. It may be that you can get more time, but at a reduced salary. Or maybe you can create a flexible schedule where you work a different schedule or part-time for a certain period of time. If you’re seeking something above and beyond your company’s stated policy, be ready to compromise and have other options in mind (like unpaid leave beyond a certain point if your employer can’t or won’t extend a certain amount of paid leave).

If you give yourself the time to hash this out with your employer and have all the necessary information at your disposal, you’ll be able to come up with a plan that works for you, while keeping your professional life on track. And don’t forget that haggling over these things now might seem stressful, but it can help you get the most out of your parental leave when the time comes.

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7 things to do if you want to work abroad

There are a number of ways to get a job overseas, but most of them require lots of planning. Before you hop a plane to Bali or Paris to scout local job opportunities on your own, there a few factors and opportunities to consider to help you get the most out of working abroad. 1. […]

There are a number of ways to get a job overseas, but most of them require lots of planning. Before you hop a plane to Bali or Paris to scout local job opportunities on your own, there a few factors and opportunities to consider to help you get the most out of working abroad.

1. Start your job search before you go abroad

While it may seem adventurous or romantic to go exploring the world, there’s a lot of research that has to go into creating a financially feasible plan. Landing a job is different than bumming around Europe with a backpack. While it can have similar benefits like language and cultural immersion, finding short-term and long-term work is much different than your average vacation. It may be as simple as defining your search delimiters on the right job site, to much more targeted, like seeking out the job ads that are in local news websites from your desired location or networking among friends and alumni organizations. Depending on your financial situation and ultimate goals for working abroad, lining up the job beforehand is almost always better than going broke for a month while you try to find opportunities locally.

2. Nail down all paperwork well in advance

There’s one tricky thing you don’t worry about in your average job search in your home country: work permits. Technically, you can just show up and live for a few weeks in another country, but if you find a job, you’ll need to know how to get a work permit. In many countries the work permit application may need to be approved before you arrive. Oftentimes a company procures a work permit for you for a particular job. You may also need to have a residency permit. Thus, changing jobs while you’re overseas comes with an added complication: new work permit applications. There are also different types of visas, like a working holiday visa (for those between the ages of 18 to 35) and temporary work visas which are offered to American citizens by some countries like Canada and the UK for several months. Whether you’re considering long-term or short-term work, it’s best to set up your work permits before you pack up and move – even before you buy a plane ticket (because your plane ticket can be revoked without the proper documents set in place.)

3. Know you might have to deal with low-paid work

The tradeoff, for most overseas opportunities, is of course money. There are countless opportunities for volunteering and internships world-wide with various reputable organizations. Students can often take advantage of internships during study abroad programs. Joining the Peace Corps, an another example, will take you places and use your skills to serve an impoverished community abroad. This is good experience to broaden your horizons and for your resume, but this type of opportunity is one you have to weigh against your current financial stressors. The Peace Corps provides language training, cultural immersion by living with a host family, a monthly living allowance and paid airfare. There is also no age limit to joining the Peace Corps, but you must be over 18.

4. Brush up on your teaching skills

You may have hated high school English but being able to teach English is one of those “needed skills” for many countries when you’re applying for a work visa. If you don’t want to teach long-term but do want to remain in a foreign country, you can consider a teaching job as your foot in the door to find other local job opportunities. There are many teaching placement programs that can get you started, though some require prior experience.

5. Consider global company opportunities

Even applying for a position at a global company could get you to the place you want to be eventually. This is perhaps the lengthiest way to find a job overseas, but also one of the most financially stable. Search for travel opportunities within your current organization. Business trips are a short-term way to get you to feed the travel bug, get paid to do it, and not worry about establishing residency in a foreign country. But you never know when your organization may be opening new positions overseas. Keep an eye out for these internal hiring opportunities.

6. Find a job that will always go abroad

If you’re just starting in your career or looking to change careers to one that brings you more travel opportunities, there are a number of fields that offer the travel-driven a regular influx of travel opportunities. Jobs in tourism and leisure, travel writing, and working for an international airline are perhaps the most obvious. But there are other less-obvious choices that require you to work globally like a job in geophysics, archeology, and many government jobs in foreign affairs.

7. Study up on your potential new city

Diving into a new culture can be exciting, but you should definitely try to learn a bit before you go. Brush up on local politics, read cultural histories, try to learn from a phrasebook, and get a sense of the local customs. If you’re looking for a particular metro area, research what potential companies you could work for in the area. Any new job will have its own new “culture,” but working abroad may bring new facets you haven’t anticipated. If you’re primarily motivated to work abroad by a spirit of learning and adventure, then you’re already in the right spirit.

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How to handle anxiety and stress in the workplace 

The world of work offers many challenges. We get to learn more about our passions and interests, as well as our strengths and areas for improvement, and it gives us opportunities to mature as we take on new responsibilities, gain professional satisfaction, and chart a course for our lifelong career journeys—all key factors in leading […]

The world of work offers many challenges. We get to learn more about our passions and interests, as well as our strengths and areas for improvement, and it gives us opportunities to mature as we take on new responsibilities, gain professional satisfaction, and chart a course for our lifelong career journeys—all key factors in leading a happy and fulfilling life.

However—there’s a flipside to the work coin, which includes the reality that work is not always fun and easy. In fact, for most of us, our work lives can be a serious and persistent source of anxiety and stress, and it’s no small matter: It can affect all facets of our lives—not just our time spent at work—and can have lasting effects on our physical and mental well-being.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) recently conducted a survey regarding workplace stress and anxiety. Among their key findings:

  • Employees say stress and anxiety most often impacts their workplace performance (56 percent), relationship with coworkers and peers (51 percent), quality of work (50 percent), and relationships with superiors (43 percent).
  • More than three-fourths who say stress interferes with their work say it carries over to their personal life, particularly men (83 percent vs. 72 percent for women).
  • 7 in 10 adults report that workplace stress affects their personal relationships, mainly with their spouses. Men (79 percent) report it affecting personal relationships more than women (61 percent).
  • The main culprits of work-related stress are deadlines (55 percent), interpersonal relationships (53 percent), staff management (50 percent), and dealing with issues/problems that arise (49 percent).

Does this sound familiar? If so, and you’re experiencing anxiety and stress resulting from work, you’re not alone—and you don’t have to suffer through it with no end in sight.

Be honest about it

When some of us feel the weight of workplace stress and anxiety, our first impulse may be to write it off as something else. We analyze the symptoms—everything from lethargy to sleeplessness to irritability and changes in mood and behavior—and make excuses. We say that we’re just tired, or we’re just feeling sick, or even that it’s due to the weather. Basically, we do anything but acknowledge that our stress has a direct and obvious source—our jobs. We also try to rationalize that it’s only temporary, and that things will get better after this project or this “busy period,” even though it often never does. The truth is, these attempts to rationalize and “explain away” our work stress and anxiety only serves one purpose—to prolong it and avoid confronting it. The first step in handling workplace anxiety and stress is to be honest about it. This empowering move will help you begin to deal with it effectively.

Diagnose the problem(s)

Workplace stress and anxiety is similar to other problems in life in that you need to fully understand the issues contributing to the situation before you can turn the tide and overcome it. When you’re feeling the effects of work stress and anxiety, take a step back from things and give yourself the time to fully understand each and every individual source and symptom that is affecting your life. Often, a “one size fits all” solution to your workplace anxiety is ineffective when there are multiple sources at play. Once you see all of the sources clearly, you can start thinking about effective individual solutions for each. Often, just understanding the problems can alleviate some of the strain and propel you on the path to improvement.

Get help

Like other issues involving our jobs, we’re rarely completely alone in having to deal with stress and anxiety. Help is available—whether or not you choose to ask for it and accept it is your call. Depending on the issues that are contributing to your stress and anxiety and your specific workplace dynamic, you may benefit from taking the direct approach—be open with colleagues or bosses regarding the issues in an attempt to come up with effective solutions. Also, don’t forget that friends, family, and peers can be great sources of help and guidance here—especially if they’ve gone through similar situations. Also, don’t count out seeking the help of a professional. Many workplaces offer help through counseling and guidance services (both in-house and/or outside), and you always have the option of hiring a professional for help, the cost of which may be covered by your insurance plan. The bottom line is that you’re not alone here, and seeking help to deal with difficult issues isn’t shameful or embarrassing—it’s smart strategic thinking!

Find outlets

While there are times we can effectively tackle and reduce our workplace stress and anxiety by confronting it head-on, the truth is, sometimes it isn’t quite so easy. Simply put, some of us just have to accept that it’s a facet of our jobs. However, what we do have control over is how we spend our time outside of work, and making time for activities that help us offset the negative impact of our work is always a good idea. Get involved in things you enjoy doing in an effort to alleviate workplace stress and anxiety—finding a fulfilling life outside of work is very often the key to finding happiness within it.

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How to bond with your employees without compromising your authority 

Authority and power are complex issues that come with the task of being a manager. In the workplace, the ability to hire, fire, and give raises sets the power dynamic between employees and bosses. But while power and authority are clearly linked, authority is a bit murkier to define—it relies on the established relationship between […]

Authority and power are complex issues that come with the task of being a manager. In the workplace, the ability to hire, fire, and give raises sets the power dynamic between employees and bosses. But while power and authority are clearly linked, authority is a bit murkier to define—it relies on the established relationship between employees and their bosses and can be built over years and lost in an instant. Bonding with your employees and projecting authority are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the two things are much closer than one might think.

Here are a few ways you might develop both leadership traits.

Establish an atmosphere of mutual respect

Authority doesn’t come automatically with a job title. It is earned when managers are clearly knowledgeable and competent, and when they get results. But you can’t get those results without team effort—and your interaction with employees plays a vital role in establishing authority. In order to truly lead a team, you need to earn trust and establish an atmosphere of mutual respect with employees. If you find yourself pounding on your desk and engaging in intimidation tactics, chances are you are trying to assert authority rather than earn it. But if you build a base of shared respect, then bonding with employees will grow your authority rather than diminish it.

Take an interest in your employees

You don’t want to invite daily gab sessions or become a shoulder to cry on, but being responsive to employees and really listening can help foster your authority. Simple things like knowing where your employees went to college, or the names of their family members, or their personal interests and hobbies, can help you understand their motivations and actions at work and help establish basic respect. This type of bonding also fosters a working relationship that can open the channels of communication so that when your employees have a good idea, they can reach out. This way you can be the boss employees want to listen to and will trust to follow.

Be a real person

So, can you drink a beer with your employees and just be a regular person? Sure. But you can’t drink too much or share too much personal information. Letting employees see that you’re a real person with your own life and interests outside of work does not compromise your authority, but is part of that two-way street of building mutual respect. Social settings like the office party can help you bond while keeping it professional.

Set boundaries

After you relax with employees at an office party or talk up your golf game, you need to be clear when it’s time to focus back on work. The afternoon progress meeting is not the place to shoot the breeze, so take care to establish the atmosphere you want with a simple, firm-yet-kind acknowledgment of when it’s time to get back to business.

Head off problem employees

Occasionally there will be the employee who can’t separate the friendly boss from the friend and switch gears back to work-mode. If you find an employee becoming overly familiar, too joking, or disrespectful, this is where your authority needs to put its foot down. Nipping a problem in the bud is best, and opening the channels of communication with the individual employee can turn the situation around.

Bonding with your employees, when done the right way, can actually help you gain authority. It can take years to cultivate but largely stems from you setting appropriate boundaries and maintaining genuine interest in your employees as people. So ask yourself: are you approachable, or intimidating? And which do you think will get better results?

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