11.27.13

Common Core: What it Means to You and Your Student

As a parent one of the biggest concerns that you will have for your child is their education.  No doubt you have, or soon will, spend countless hours debating between different schools and contemplating which one will offer the best programs and teachers for your children.  To further complicate the process a new phrase is being thrown around—Common Core—that leads to the questions, what is it and what will mean for your child’s education?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative, or Common Core, is a state led initiative to develop a nationwide common education standard in the areas of language arts and literacy and mathematics for kindergarten through 12th grade.  The National Governors Association, the Counsel of Chief State School Officers, and a variety of teachers, administrators, parents, and experts from each state provided input into the standards.  This program is not federally led and is not a part of No Child Left Behind.  Each state is able to choose for themselves whether or not to participate.  So far 45 states, 4 territories and the District of Columbia have adopted the program.

Many states began fully implementing the program for the 2013-2014 school year and all participating states will be fully implemented by 2014-2015.  The basic standards and skills to be mastered for each grade level are the same across the country; however, the details and how to teach each skill are left up to the states and teachers discretion.  A yearly assessment test is currently being developed to help test what the children are learning and confirm that they are on the right track.

There are several organizations that are working on developing standards in science, art, and foreign language.

The ultimate goal of Common Core is to equip students for college courses, the workforce, and competition within the global market.  By providing a consistent educational standard across the country every student will be equipped with the same skills.  The standards, however, are not easy.  No state was ask to lower their standards to participate in the program; only time will tell whether or not this program provides long term results and a solid foundation for their education.

Brian Sheppard is a former teacher who covers educational topics for a variety of websites and blogs.  His articles on K-12 education, college admissions, and educational debt have appeared on sites like the one found here for the past six years.

07.22.13

What Education Do Bankers Need?

city bankingAll careers in banking will require some basic skills: math, computer literacy (esp. databases and spreadsheets), communication and customer service skills, and a basic knowledge of business are the foundation of a banker’s education and can usually be obtained in a good high school program.  While that will be a solid starting ground for someone wanting to be a bank teller or personal banker, other types of bankers will require additional education.

College Degree

A bachelor’s degree will be useful for anyone seeking a career as a commercial or investment banker. Some banks now require college degrees for personal bankers, so getting a degree would be a good idea.  Many future bankers find that majoring in business administration with a focus on money, mutual funds, financial management or banking, if available, is ideal.  Others may choose to major in accounting.  A good program will include courses in strategic planning, management, regulatory compliance, and even marketing as it pertains to the banking and financial industry.

Internships

Many colleges offer internship opportunities for students either over summer breaks or as part-time jobs during the year.  Some even offer degree credit internships.  A good internship will provide on-the-job training and networking opportunities that can be invaluable when it’s time to look for a job.  It can also connect students with potential mentors who can help guide their educational path.

Internships also provide students with the chance to test out the industry.  They may discover that they are better suited to commercial banking that investment management or that banking really isn’t for them at all.

Advanced Degree

Some higher-level banking positions require an MBA. The best programs for bankers will cover international banking, financial regulations, economics, and market history and strategies.

Investment Banking Programs

Those wanting to work in investment banking will need to complete one of these programs.  These training programs introduce participants to investment strategy, banking services, business practices, and client relations.  The best programs will be highly competitive and employ case studies and group presentations as well as offering practice sessions with mock clients.

Licensure & Certification

Investment bankers will need to prepare for licensing examinations conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  This will involve an interview, background check, and a series of exams that will require in depth study.

In addition, most employers require that investment bankers also be certified as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) by the CFA Institute.  This certification requires a bachelor’s degree and proof of four years related work experience in order to qualify to take the three necessary exams.  Bankers will need to spend hours of intense study on topics such as asset valuation, corporate finance, portfolio management and accounting in order to be certified.

photo by: UGArdener

| Posted in Business | No Comments »
02.22.13

Get Taken to (Racing) School

There are two types of people that want to race—those that want to be professionals like Michael Schumaker, and those that simply dream of doing it as a hobby.  Luckily, there has never been a better time for either type of aspiring race driver; there are countless racing schools all across the US that cater to both types of driver, offering courses, small events, and personal instruction to get you the fastest lap.

Racing schools have popped up all across the county, from dedicated classroom/racetracks to simple go-kart courses that offer one-time classes, there are locations that fit anybodies needs.  As auto racing has become more popular in recent years, it has been a natural progression.  More people are exposed to the sport, more develop a passion for it, and more decide to pursue it on their own time.

One of the more popular types of schools are those found connected to go-kart courses.  Not the kind that is attached to a miniature golf course, but certified, really fast go-karts.  K1 is a national franchise that has sprouted in California, New York, and Florida near major cities to let aspiring racers to take advantage of their lower speed, lower difficulty vehicles and tracks.  But the real key is that they offer regular classes explaining race theory, vehicle control, track etiquette, and many other topics of import.  These are great places for brand new drivers because they can learn fundamentals without risking damaging or destroying their own projects.  In fact, a lot of famous drivers, including Aryton Senna, got their start in kart racing, which proves exactly how valuable learning with one can be.

Skip Barber Racing SchoolWhile go-karts have become much more popular, so has true auto racing.  Tracks like Laguna Seca have events year-around, and are open nearly every day for individuals and groups to bring their own vehicles for hot laps.  While many opt to simply get out and drive, there are dedicated racing schools at many of these tracks which offer all sorts of cool perks like rental cars, one on one instruction, and the ability to drive in your own car while you learn.  The price point is considerably higher than starting in karts, but going out on a track with a road-going car lets drivers get a lot closer to living their fast and furious dreams of being a top-notch racer.

A great example of a dedicated school is Skip Barber Racing School, which lets students take their pick from high performance road cars, race spec roadsters, and open wheel racers.  They have events at Laguna Seca and at Road Atlanta ranging between 1 and 3 days, and offer spots for as little as $1,000, which is dirt cheap considering how many seconds their instructors can shave off of a lap time.

But Skip Barber and go-kart schools aren’t the only way to learn how to drive.  There are, quite literally, too many schools to count, and it is almost a guarantee that there is a school near you.  Sure,  pushing yourself to the limit for a few hot laps is a lot of fun, but with some professional instruction you might be the next champion!

William Lee is a retired racer and mechanic who writes about all things automotive for racing websites as well as racing and car blogs.

01.27.13

The Allure of Auto Repair Classes

Auto repair is a dreaded experience for many, but for some mechanically inclined individuals, it is an enjoyable hands-on experience. What is the appeal in repairing a car?

  • Some people pursue auto repair as a hobby. They cite the satisfaction of working with their hands and problem solving as the reasons they love to work with cars.
  • Others learn auto repair as a means of self-sufficiency or saving money. People who live in remote locations and people who cannot stand the bills from the mechanic pick up car repair as a necessity.
  • People who truly enjoy the work pursue it as career, sometimes opening up repair shops for themselves.

Regardless of whether auto repair is a necessity, a passion, or a career, people have to learn the skills involved somehow. Keep reading to find out how people develop auto repair skills.

under the hoodSelf-Taught Mechanics

When you were a child, did you ever have a friend who loved to take things apart and put them back together?

Some of these people grow up and teach themselves auto repair. While formal instruction is available, these people are naturally inclined and usually begin teaching themselves at a young age. They work with manuals, shadow experts, and learn by trial and error.  Over time, they build up a skill set to rival those who are formally trained.

Self-taught mechanics usually practice their skills as a hobby.  Often they take on the role of hero by helping out friends and family with repairs.  They save themselves money with every repair and take pride in a well-tuned vehicle.

Formally Educated Mechanics

Usually formally trained mechanics build on a self-taught foundation.  They may decide that the work is so enjoyable they want to do it everyday.  Sometimes it is a practical decision, driven by the fact that there is always a demand for qualified mechanics.

Formally educated mechanics typically pursue advanced certifications such as ASE or I-CAR to build a reputation and have the best opportunity for jobs.

Ways to Learn Auto Repair

There are a number of ways for you to learn auto repair, whatever your motivation and ultimate goals may be.

  • Study Manuals and Consult Experts – this is a superb approach for patient hobbyists. There are numerous guides available from a basic transmission repair manual to online videos teaching you how to build a car from spare parts.
  • Pursue a Degree – community colleges across the country offer classes that teach students every aspect of car repair.  Most programs can be completed in less than two years and offer hours of hands-on experience.
  • Obtaining Certification – self-taught mechanics can increase their legitimacy by obtaining ASE certifications.  ASE is the industry standard and typically required to get a job as a mechanic.  If the objective is to open a small business, then ASE is critical to gain the trust of prospective customers.
  • Online Coursework or Independent Study – this is an excellent option for people who have tinkered with auto repair skills, but cannot attend formal classes. Coupled with certification, this path is as legitimate as a degree to most employers.

01.18.13

Are Finance Careers Still a Good Path?

After the extended recession and fallout from the mega bailout a few years ago, many wonder whether a career in finance is still a viable career option.

The short answer is yes, finance is still a secure career with plenty of options to move around and develop. Money is a hot commodity and people who can manage it and make it grow are always in demand.

The long answer is that the future of financial services is promising. Whether the interest is in working as a generously compensated employee at a major company, or more in helping small businesses and individuals obtain financing for their dreams, the future is bright.

When most people think of financial services they think of jobs like stock broker, mortgage broker, or even a retirement consultant. There are so many jobs beyond this narrow scope.

  • Real Estate Manager
  • Insurance Agents
  • Actuary
  • Corporate Finance
  • Financial Planning
  • CPA
  • Analyst

Preparing For a Finance Career

To prepare for these fields, a strong background in math is required. Finance is a numbers job, so computing numbers quickly should present no problems to a person in finance. Command of advanced math such as statistics is necessary to thrive. Deep understanding of the complex laws that govern the market are important too. Finance is almost as much law as it numbers.

Degrees to Succeed in Finance

At minimum, an associate’s degree in business with an emphasis in finance is required, though an associate’s degree will not capture much attention from hiring managers.

finance booksThe most versatile degree is a Bachelor in business with a focus in finance. The coursework involved will prepare students with studies in economics, math, accounting, business management, and business law.

In order to be considered for management and executive positions, a Master’s degree is a requirement. Students should choose a specialized focus that includes management in the curriculum.  Another wise choice is to pair financial management with computer engineering.  Financial services firms are constantly developing new systems and programs to analyze metrics and predict the future. Specialized knowledge of finance and programming will result in a lucrative, secure career.

People interested in financial services careers need to prepare themselves to spend lots of time dealing with numbers.

Martin Simmons is a retired stock broker who loves his second career as a blogger and career coach.  He has contributed financial advice to sites like www.moneymutualtvcampaign.com as well as doling out career advice on a variety of blogs.

01.19.12

Conducting Interviews

An interview is a great way to get to know more about a specific person or subject. While it used to be the arena of newscasters and journalists, in the twenty-first century, more and more people are finding that they can use interviews to enhance their web presence, both personally and professionally. For example, bloggers publish interviews with prominent individuals, local celebrities, and other bloggers. Companies may post interviews with their executives and managers to provide background to potential customers and investors. And students may find themselves conducting interviews as part of research projects and assignments.

The most important part of preparing for an interview, after confirming the interview logistics with the subject, is doing thorough background research. This means learning about the person being interviewed. An interview with Canadian real estate executive Daniel Drimmer , would likely begin with his CV, company profile, and other information provided by the client. A quick search online may lead to blog posts, a real estate press release , and news articles featuring Mr. Drimmer. There may even be references to journal articles or books that can serve as additional research.

Once the background research is done, interviewers should develop a list of questions to ask. These may include open ended ice-breaker type questions to get the interviewee to relax. It is a good idea to save the meatier questions for later in the interview, after a solid rapport has been established.

During the interview it is important to take notes , even if the interview is being recorded. These should provide context to the interview, such as general atmosphere, notable emotional or vocal reactions, and other things that will help add depth to the interview.

Once the interview is completed, take a few minutes to sit down and elaborate on the notes taken. In the fast pace of an interview, things will have been glossed over and some handwritten notes may be illegible. Reviewing the interview immediately increases the chance of deciphering those notes and being able to flesh out the interview while it is still fresh.

image courtesy geekcalendar flikr stream (creative commons license)

07.31.11

The Evolution of Technology

Technology is constantly evolving and adapting to the needs of the user. Today, the internet seems to be the quickest form of technology that is developing, along with communicative devices such as cell phones, tablets and computers. Every day millions of people use the internet and it has become an essential tool for any job in today’s society. The internet allows for many things and it is constantly changing to fit the needs of those who access it.

One major development in the internet is its use to communicate with others. With the invention and development of social media, people are able to stay in contact with each other across the globe. Social media outlets such as facebook, twitter, linked in and skype all allow people to communicate remotely which has proved incredibly useful for many people.

Another major development in the internet is web design. Businesses are beginning to realize just how important a website is to the development of a company or brand. A website is the first impression a person gets of your business. In today’s time people generally look on a company’s website before patronizing that business. If a website is not aesthetically appealing and it doesn’t have pertinent information, then the company is going to have problems conducting a lot of business.

As web design has become more popular, more and more colleges are offering it as a major. Companies such as IBM are beginning to come out with new tools for developers, such as the ILOG Elixir Interactive Demo. With all sorts of new tools, developers are able to create websites that are interesting, easy to use, and effective.

The world today moves at the speed of technology, and with the constant evolution of all things technical, people are always multi tasking and looking to get the next thing on their check list done. With the evolution of technology also comes the evolution of society.

07.24.11

Job Hunting in a Tough Economy

Searching for jobs in a slow economy can be frustrating and unrewarding. Many companies are down-sizing and consolidating departments as opposed to hiring new employees. Also, in difficult times, the companies that are hiring are not always the ones that you are looking to work for. Finding a company that is reputable and that truly cares about its employees has become an incredibly difficult task, recently.

Not only do companies have to lay people off but they are also cutting back on quality and services as a way to try and cut costs to make ends meet. When a business is enduring hardship, they are going to be hard pressed to offer the best possible service for the best price.

While there are many companies that are cutting back on services and quality, some are finding ways to keep their promises to their customers. TransGlobe Property Management Services is one of those companies that is keeping their integrity and still keeping their quality. TransGlobe manages rental properties and is based out of Canada. Some of their properties include rental apartments as well as commercial and business space. They are always striving to be the best possible resource for the customer and they are committed to the team that they put together.

Finding a job in a struggling economy can be one of the most difficult things a person has to face, but an even more difficult task is to find a job with a company that truly cares about its people and its customers. TransGlobe is one of those companies that care about its employees and its customers; you can take a look at available positions at Transglobe online. Some people say, a job is a job, but if you don’t like what you do or you don’t like the environment you are working in, then you will not only be unhappy but you will be less productive.

05.27.11

Maps: Common and Custom

The art of mapmaking is a time-honored craft that combines scientific knowledge with artistic sensibilities. A good map is going to be both chock full of information and pleasing to the eye of the beholder. Many ancient maps are truly beautiful, the hand-drawn lines, symbols, and features can compete with the works of fine artists.

Contemporary maps are almost universally created by machine. They exist as digital data that is manipulated by computer to create a map that is then printed or otherwise displayed. The standard map of us doesn’t change that often, so map makers are forced to rely on aesthetic design choices to distinguish their map from that of other publishers. There are certain conventions associated with making road maps, city maps, geological maps, and all other common types of maps — the ones that everyone is familiar with and uses on a regular basis.

The making of a custom map allows map makers — or the person ordering the map — to be more creative. A custom map may use a different color scheme or legend. It may be hand drawn instead of computer generated. Even if a custom map is being ordered from a map company, it will be one-of-a-kind. It may include branch offices of a company, highlight locations in the life of a person, or designate city’s with more descriptive names rather than legal ones.

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05.24.11

A Better Way to Buy Tires

If you have a blowout or realize that your tires have been patched too many times, you will find yourself having to spend the time getting new ones. You may be tempted to go to your nearest tire dealer and buy whatever tires they tell you you need. This is a bad idea. You may get an honest sales person to help you, but more often than not you’ll get someone who has to meet a quota or is trying to get rid of overstocked inventory.

You need to do some research before buying tires. That is the only way that you can make sure that you aren’t getting taken for a ride and that you are getting good value for your money.

The most important thing to understand before you head to a tire dealer is what you actually need for your car. The only way you’re going to avoid buying the cooper tires that are on sale is is you know that they don’t suit your needs. Search online for what type of tires are best for your car, driving habits, climate, and use. If you commute on highways you need different tires than if you haul cargo over country roads.

The other thing you need to know is where and when to shop. There are certain times of the year that are better for buying tires. If you can wait for those times, you’ll get better sales offers and can likely bargain the dealer to an even better price. Most large dealers list their sales and prices online, so you can comparison shop from the comfort of your laptop. You can even buy tires online to either be picked up at your local dealer or shipped to your home.

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| Posted in Automotive | No Comments »