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Monthly Archives: January 2017

4 Top Emerging Fields for Post-Graduate Studies

1. Biostatistics

A master’s in biostatistics will earn you a median salary of about $113,400, according to Fortune, with at least a 20 percent projected job growth by 2022.

If those statistics aren’t enough to motivate you, how about this: biostatisticians help save the world.  Your ability to make lasting, positive changes in public health, clinical medicine, genomics, health economics—and the raw field of mathematics is essentially limitless.  So: if you have the science and math savvy, want to save the world, and live a pretty comfortable life on top of that, consider biostatistics.

2. Human-Computer Interaction and Artificial Intelligence

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the study of how people interface with computers.  From algorithm science to information science, psychology to anthropology, you could work on anything from projects related to design guidelines for all types of software to academic research to figuring out the best interface for human-robot interaction.  With humans interacting with mobile and touch devices, you can also delve into the intricacies of human-computer interface.

3. Homeland Security and Cyber Criminality

If current world events don’t have your head spinning, imagine how experts in homeland security and cyber criminality feel.  Cybercrime is relatively new specialty—and one that will continue to see nearly exponential growth in the coming years.  Cybercrimes involve computers, networks, and the intent to harm individuals, systems, national security, and financial markets.  These crimes cover the spectrum of identity theft to election hacking.  Sounds relevant, doesn’t it?

If you opt to study Homeland Security, you can bet that cyber warfare will be an intrinsic part of your training.  The graduate program in Homeland Security at San Diego State University, for example, focuses on prevention, deterrence, and response to instances of terror and espionage on national and international levels.  A cornerstone of their program?  Cyber security.

4. Urban Studies

A focus on making cities sustainable place to live and work—environmentally, socially, economically, politically, and financially—is the axis on which urban studies turns.  There’s a need for on-the-ground specialists—and researchers who can help inform decisions for urban spaces.  What do urban communities of the future need?  What do they look like—and how can they evolve?  How do they accommodate human needs—and the needs of their unique ecosystems?

Learn more about earning your master’s in urban studies.

What do these fields have in common?  Technology.  Brilliance.  A common desire to improve lives—no matter who you are or where you live.   If you don’t have the skills, interests, or abilities in these fields, do something that will help support them.  Learn to code.  Invent an app.  Learn how to use the technologies that these fields will require.  Innovate.  Educate yourself.  The possibilities are limitless.

Why You Should Study What You Love

1. Money ≠ Happiness

A 2010 study by Tim Judge shows what we’ve heard all along: money doesn’t buy happiness.  If you study something that you don’t enjoy in the hopes of getting a job that you don’t enjoy, but that pays well, there’s a good chance, you won’t be happy.  You’ll just have lots of money.  The results of that study show that the correlation between salary and job satisfaction is weak.  Corollary: if you want to engage with your job, money isn’t the answer—it doesn’t buy engagement (see #2).

2. Engagement

You can go through the motions of a job or course of study for which you don’t care and do just fine.  But why would you want to?  You can pursue something you love and have a job you like less—but the ideal?  Pursue something you love, engage in it, and let it drive your job search and your life.  Studies show that to be engaged in your work, you need to find something that gives you meaning and that you enjoy doing.  The desire to do what you want will allow you to engage in your work and feel inspired (see #3).

3. Inspiration

Not only will you feel inspired by engaging in meaningful work that you’re passionate about—you’ll inspire others, too.  When you’re excited about what you’re doing, your co-workers will benefit from your positive energy.  People who see you doing something you love for work will feel inspired to do the same.

Consider Nikki Lee, of Sydney Australia, who quit her corporate job to follow her dream of becoming a baker—and succeeding.  She says it’s “one of the most satisfying things” she’s ever done.  Feel inspired?

4. Doesn’t Matter What Others Think

Study something you care about, learn everything you can, do your best work, and don’t waste your breath on people who try to bring you down.  Typically, humanities majors face the brunt of criticism from parents, friends, and even some professors.  While their intentions may be kind (or maybe not), what you choose to study is yours—make sure you care about it, and don’t get too wrapped up in any hot air others might feel the need to share with you.  A polite, “Thanks, but I love it,” will usually do the trick.

5. University ≠ Job Training

Learn lots at university and worry about job training later.  Do a summer internship, if you’re that worried.  The key is to engage in university in subjects that tickle your brain—and take that passion with you when you look for a job.  The purpose of a university education, once upon a time, was to give you the time and space to study something that interested you—and learn how to read, write, think, and talk about it—all skills that you need to have in the workplace anyway.

University time is one of the few in your life when you have unrestricted time to delve deeply into subjects you love—and new subjects about which you know nothing.  It’s a time to learn and figure yourself out—inasmuch that’s possible.  Enjoy it.  Get the job of your dreams later.

6. Opportunity

Studying something you love can open doors.  You may not realize that by studying English literature as an undergraduate could lead you to a career in medicine.  If you love drama, study it—you can act, teach, write… or even work in a lab.  Employers want to hire employees who are passionate about what they do.  As your passions evolve, so will opportunities.  Cast a wide net, study what you love, and you’ll find opportunities—some might even find you.

Of course, we realize that there are plenty of stories of passions gone awry.  Things go awry for different reasons—loss of focus, settling for mediocre.  If you stick with something that you love and want to learn more about, do your best, strive for excellence, and have integrity, studying what you love may just translate into a job that you love, too.

Five Amazing Apps to Help Students Stay On Track

1. myHomework

This isn’t your mother’s planner. From receiving homework reminders to automatically downloading course files, this user-friendly, cross-platform planner syncs across all devices supporting easy access to classes and assignments at any time from any location. The result? A one-stop shop solution for tracking homework and assignments.

So how does myHomework stack up in a crowded field of similar options? AppPicker says, “With so many homework planners, organizers, and journals out there available to students it can be hard to wade through them to find the best one for you. This one just so happens to be a well-laid out, simple to use, and very effective app that may bring your search to an end. It’s ideal for college students who have multiple classes with assignments, tests, and homework they need to keep track of.”

2. Class Timetable (iOS)/Timetable (Android)

Think nothing will ever come between you and your conventional organizer? Class Timetable may overhaul your way of thinking.

Says Lifehacker, “Timetable takes all of the great things about a paper student organizer and puts them on your Android phone or tablet. You’ll always have a view with your schedule on it, so even though you eventually come to know by memory where you’re supposed to be at what time, you’ll always have a place to look at it. Timetable also makes it easy to note which days are holidays and vacation days, what assignments you have due on what days, which days you have exams or quizzes, and more. You can even search across assignments and classes…The app also supports DashClock Widget, so you can see your events on your lock screen, and comes with home screen widgets as well for a quick view of the class that’s coming up, or any lessons and tasks you have to do right now.”

Not only does it save timetables and tasks including everything from homework to exams, but it even automatically mutes during classes. Added points for its beautiful display.

3. My Study Life

Managing the student’s life isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be a full-time job, either. My Study Life puts everything students need within their reach by integrating the calendar and task manager into one convenient dashboard.

Raved one user, “My Study Life (MSL) is a great app for students to schedule their lives with…You benefit from getting notifications about all your upcoming classes, assignments, study times (or when you should be studying), and your exams. As a university student, getting notifications rather than having to go looking for the information that I need is a great way to keep on top of things or to keep from falling behind.”

4. OmniFocus

This task management app may not have been designed specifically for students, but there’s a reason why it’s been co-opted by so many of them for college use. For better or for worse, we’re living in a multitasking society. In response, OmniFocus has created a nimble solution which acknowledges today’s “contextual life” by helping users “keep work and play separated with contexts, perspectives and focus.”

Reports The Sweet Setup, “After much deliberation, soul searching, and not a little stress, I have come to the conclusion that the best productivity and GTD (AKA “Getting Things Done”) application suite for Mac and iOS users is OmniFocus.”

5. Focus Booster

Just because time management is a vital life skill doesn’t mean it comes naturally to college students. In fact, the opposite is often the case. This handy app not only helps students learn to manage their time, but it also promotes better learning through the use of proven Pomodoro Technique time tracking. Explains the company, “Working in sharp bursts with breaks in between can help you retain information because it allows your mind a rest, increasing your focus in study sessions.”

Says CNet’s Download.com, “While this program doesn’t come with a lot of fancy bells and whistles, it can be a real asset when you’re trying to increase productivity.”

While we often think of smartphones, tablets and other devices as distractions, the truth is that they’re also invaluable resources. These five apps are a perfect way for college students to enjoy enhanced productivity, time management, focus and more — all literally at their fingertips.

Four Things You Need to Know About Making a Career in Comedy

1. You don’t need a degree in the field.

Degrees in comedy are few and far between. And while the value of programs like the University of Kent’s MA in Stand Up Comedy is undeniable (any working comedian will tell you that practice makes perfect), there are also plenty of ways to get the experience you need on and around campus. In fact, taking different coursework — for example, political science studies — can give you upper-level insights….and plenty of fresh material.

But even if you don’t do any of these things in college, you can still pursue a career in comedy.  Rodney Dangerfield, Ricky Gervais, Phyllis Diller, Larry David and Lisa Lampanelli are just a few examples of famous comedians who started late.

2. Extracurriculars can pave the path.

Joining a college sketch group, taking an improv class, and attending comedy performances can all help you start creating and honing your craft. If your college doesn’t have a sketch or improv group, consider starting your own. In addition to building your skills amidst like-minded comedy lovers, you’ll also score extra points for leadership.

An added bonus? As Matt Lappin, segment producer on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” and “Strangers with Candy” writer, told Writer’s Digest, “Getting noticed is a bit of a crapshoot. A lot of it is being in the right place at the right time.”  The takeaway? Because there is an element of luck when it comes to getting discovered, the more you put yourself out there, the more your work will be seen, heard and eventually noticed.

3. Critical thinking and writing skills matter.

According to the website Creative Stand Up, a flexible range of writing skills is essential to a successful standup career.  Also imperative? The ability to think critically, and write well. Creative writing courses are a great place to start, especially if they’re geared towards comedy like the Writing and Producing Comedy course offered by NFTS.

According to humorist Mary Hirsch, “Humor is a rubber sword – it allows you to make a point without drawing blood.” The best comedy isn’t just funny. It also serves a higher purpose in becoming social commentary that makes people think. A recent piece published on the website Humanity in Action highlights the role comedy plays in “holding up a mirror and forcing us to confront realities that we would often prefer to ignore.”

This is evidenced no more clearly than Octavia Spencer’s recent opening SNL monologue about the confusion between her award-winning movie Hidden Figures and two other films, Fences and Moonlight: “So many people have been coming up to me saying, ‘I loved Hidden Fences!’ … I get it, there were three black movies at the Oscars this year. And that’s a lot for Americans. So if you’re going to get confused anyway, I thought I might as well make some money off it. That’s why I produced Hidden Fence Light.”

While these kinds of jokes may seem breezy and off the cuff, this type of comedy writing is actually an intensive and reflective act. Consider this explanation of joke-writing from The Science PT podcast: “Many jokes are based on observational humor. The first thing a comic will do is make observations about the world around them and common life experiences….Then they will examine one of those observations and think about the common ways that most people intuitively interpret that observation (the more universal the better)….At this point the comic must look for alternative interpretations that no one else has considered but are just as true, if not more so…The more the alternative interpretation is unintuitive yet true, the funnier it is.”

4. A writing buddy will make you better.

Many working comedians swear by the value of collaboration. As Comedy Workshop Productions president Judy Carter said in an interview with Experience, “People who just write material at a computer sound too literary. You want to create material in the presence of another human being, so you can see it on his face when he’s bored.”

Former staff writer for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and multiple Writer’s Guild Award winner and Emmy nominee Roy Jenkins echoed the sentiment, telling Writer’s Digest, “When you’re writing around a table, you hope you’re not in an environment that’s totally competitive; that you’re all pulling on the same oar. There’s always going to be an element of competitiveness. When it’s friendly, it’s fun. The idea is to go back and forth to the point where it’s hard to say who came up with what in the script. Everybody pushed and pulled it. That’s the best, when nobody is keeping score. You’re just having fun.”

One last thing to keep in mind? Thomas Edison’s famous saying, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration,” absolutely applies to the world of comedy.  In other words, making it in comedy isn’t all laughs; it also takes a huge amount of work, persistence and perseverance. The truth is that all comedians fail before they succeed, but that’s part of the process. As John Friedman, producer and host of the cult-hit “The Rejection Show” and author of Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped and Canceled told Writer’s Digest, “Trust your own instincts and take risks. It’s OK to write something that doesn’t work and, when you do, try to think of it as one step closer to writing something great.”