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Monday, May 16, 2011

My Career Search Instructor Gave Me Confidence

The Con TestImage via Wikipedia
Check out this entry in the Robertson College essay/video contest by Bakirathy Balasubramaniam.

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I can still vividly remember the first day our career service instructor Adrian Fernandes came to the class, I was seated as always at the corner waiting for the class to start, musing to myself.
As I always got nervous around people and do not have the confidence to speak up in class, I did not have many friends.

When the announcement was made that we will start our Pharmacy Technician course, first with career search, I had given up hope of ever facing an interview. I had gone to one during the holidays hoping for a part time job and it had been a disaster, so you may well understand why I did not treat the announcement with much enthusiasm, but I was wrong; the arrival of the career search instructor Adrian Fernandes changed everything.

During our first class he asked us to introduce ourselves and then formed groups of two and asked us to interview ourselves, taking one person as a great personality and the other as an interviewer. We were supposed to write down all what the personality says and deliver a presentation. As I was not very popular I did not have a partner to do the interview with. So Adrian seeing my predicament came to my aid and said he would do the interview with me. I sat there dumbstruck unable to utter a word to see his ability to understand each and every one of our problems without us saying to him.

I did not have anything to say actually I was unable to form the words ,sensing my problem he gently said "Do not feel nervous , remain focused ,use your personality and self confidence to speak positive of yourself and remember people who are slight nervous are the ones who perform exceptionally well.”

During the next few days of the class he made us to work individually and, as well, assigned groups to work together. To my astonishment I realized that I was friendly with the whole class in next few days and realized how different and outgoing person I am. I finally made up my mind. I had found a good instructor who was sure he could make me get rid of my nervous and I swore to myself that I would go to another interview and get a part time job.

His repeated request to attend meetings and to arrange meetings with Pharmacy Technicians gave me a turning point in my life.

I went to the youth meetings and took part in all their programs, and was asked to give my first speech, my heart was hammering so fast that I thought it would burst as I climbed on stage and my hands started shaking. I took a deep breath and my instructor’s words were ringing in my ears telling me to “speak with confidence.” I had barely spoken for five minutes when the bell rang for the end of the speech. Even though it was only five minutes I felt like it was a life time and it was a major breakthrough over my nervousness.

From that day onwards I took part in various programs and the fact that I had a talent to become an interviewer came as a shock to me because; the interviews we held during the career search class had changed my life.

I sent my resume for a part time job and I got a reply asking me to come to an interview, the time had come to fulfill my vow, so with wishes from my friends and family I had never felt before, I went to the interview, three days later I received an e-mail conforming me that I had passed and I was to report to work the next day.

Now almost every day when I see a professor I am reminded of him and I thank God and Robertson College for giving me an instructor like Adrian.

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If you would like to vote for this entry please leave a comment.  And please, no anonymous votes - give us a first name at least!
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Monday, May 09, 2011

Career Blogging 101: What Should I Blog About?

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
Have you started your career blog yet?  I'm going to assume you have.  If you haven't yet but you want to go and read these posts:

One of the most difficult things that new bloggers have a hard time with is figuring out what to blog about.  Before you can figure out what you are going to blog about, you need to have a good understanding of your blog and what you want it to focus on.  Assuming that you have already figured that out, let's talk about some ways to generate ideas.

One of the best ways to generate ideas for blog posts is to read.  Read articles, news, and other blog posts about your field of work.  Let's say you are an administrative assistant (or you want to be).  Start by going to Google and searching for "administrative assistant."  You are likely going to find a lot of job posting sites at first so you'll have to narrow it down.  

When you do a search in Google you are searching for everything by default, but you can narrow it down a lot by searching for specific kinds of sites.  On the left of the Google page there is a list of types of sites you can search like Images or Videos.  If you select the "more" option it will open up and look like the picture to the right.  Try clicking on Blogs or News or Videos and see what kind of results you get.

Now, as you are looking through these search results, don't actually click on anything.  Just look at the titles and descriptions.  As you do, you will find topics that you can write about.  Jot down your ideas in point form.

Once you have a nice list of ideas (15-30) is a good start, look through your list and see what clicks with you.  What do you feel that you have something to say about?  Pick one of the ideas you have written down and expand on it.  Write down some points that you would like to include when you write about it.  Before you know it you will have the outline of a blog post!

There are other ways you can come up with ideas for blogs posts that I will talk about in the future.  One of my favorites is the Swipe File!  Intrigued?  Then you should subscribe to the feeds of Robertson Reader - there's a box near the top of the page where you can enter your email so you'll be notified when there is a new post up!
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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Online Education Options Were Key

Contest entry by Kristen Gray

Two years ago I got laid off from my job where I worked as a receptionist and bookkeeper. I looked for more work, but as I had no formal education in that field I found it hard to find a business that would hire me. When it came close to the time where my Employment Insurance would run up, I began to explore other options. That’s when Robertson College fell into my lap.

My husband had just graduated from university, and we knew we would probably be leaving the remote town we were living in. I knew from the start that doing my education online would be key. Having that option through Robertson College has been very important to me.

We did eventually move, but to an even smaller center, so I was extremely glad that I had already begun my coursework, as there are very limited institutes in the area that teach in the area where I am studying, which is Accounting & Payroll Administration.

I now have the flexibility to work, spend time with my two young daughters and do my school work. My daughters get to see that education as an adult is important and it makes me feel good as their number one role model!!!

The process to beginning my education through Robertson College was very easy!!! I simply asked for more information on the website, and within a day the ball was rolling!!! Everyone has been super helpful in answering any questions I may have; whether it is regarding my payments or a question I have about my school work. Without everyone at Robertson College, I wouldn’t be on my way to becoming the professional that I strive to be!!!

Overall, I would have to say that there is no “best” thing about iRobertson, I have enjoyed every minute of my involvement in the program and wouldn’t change any of it for the world!! Knowing that I have a name like Robertson College behind me reassures me that I have done the right thing.

If you would like to give you vote to Kristen, please leave a comment below.  You can give your praise or you can simply say, "She has my vote!"
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Monday, May 02, 2011

Want to Work From Home? Consider Being a Virtual Assistant!

The AssistantImage by Kathleen Farley via Flickr
People all over the world are discovering that when you have skills and training you can utilize your skills by working from home. This is a great option for many people but it is not for everyone. If you have thought about it long and hard and have decided that a work at home job is for you, one of the careers you might consider becoming a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant performs many of the tasks that a regular administrative assistant does from an office. They may answer phone calls, organize electronic files, write reports and memos, write sales letters, and do bookkeeping work. There is a great deal of options for those who wish to become a virtual assistant and work from home. The great part is that your clients may come from all over the world so there is a huge market for people who have administrative skills.

Before you decide that this is the career for you, you should determine whether or not you have the characteristics that are required of a virtual assistant. Here are 5 of the major characteristics that you will need to have:


  1. Organization – As a virtual assistant you will not just work for one person but for many people. You will need to keep track of the work you do for all of them and make sure that their material remains confidential by sending the right work to the right people. You will have to plan to keep your office organized and your work organized so that your clients will be happy.
  2. Communication skills – Although you will not have as much person to person contact you will have to communicate effectively by phone, email, and online chat. These skills are not easy and will take some work to acquire. You will have to be able to communicate your needs, ask questions, and understand the needs of your clients. As you discuss details of projects, it will be up to you to ask the right questions to make sure that the client gets what they want.
  3. Motivation – When you are working from home there is no one around to oversee your work. You alone are responsible for making sure that work gets done so you will have to be self-motivated. At a 9-5 office job, your breaks are set out for you but at home you will have to monitor your own work and make sure that projects are completed on time. You will be able to decide when you work but don’t let other things get in the way of the work that is going pay your bills and keep clients coming back for more.
  4. Resourcefulness – As a virtual assistant, you may sometimes have to look up information and be able to learn how to do something new very quickly. You need to be able to find places online that can help you when you need it. You will need to do research and be a good problem solver. That means that you will need to have people that can help you so having a good online network can be invaluable.
  5. Professionalism – Even though you might be working from your home office while wearing PJ’s and bunny slippers, your client should never have that impression. You client will want to feel that they have a professional taking care of their needs and they will want to feel that they have your 100% attention. If they think that you are sitting behind a computer with your children milling about, they may move on to someone they feel they can rely on more.


If you are ready to pursue a career as a virtual assistant, you need to develop skills that will help you in your endeavours. The Administrative Assistant course at Robertson College will give you all the skills you need to become a virtual assistant and work from home.  The Administrative Assistant courses are offered in Winnipeg, Calgary, and Brandon and online at iRobertson.
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