Dr. Randall Hansen is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home page of The Career Doctor.
If you have any career- or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue (08/02/02):
- Finding legitimate work-at-home career opportunities
- Planning educational goals in bid to become college professor
- Deciphering an employer’s corporate culture
- Deciding where it’s best to obtain a master’s degree
|Q:||Cory writes: I have been a secretary for over 16 years with quite a bit of experience. I desperately want to work from home with my computer but only seem to be able to find these pyramid schemes where they want you to pay money. How can I find a career where I can work from home that is legitimate? There has to be something out there somewhere!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Many job-seekers share your interest in having a work-at-home career — whether as a home-based business entrepreneur a freelancer or a telecommuter — for the many benefits this career path offers including staying closer to your family being your own boss seeking more work flexibility and reducing time spent commuting.
Unfortunately along with this increased interest there has been a corresponding increase in work-from-home scams. We see these scams in our email in our postal mail in our newspapers and even on roadside signs.
How can you avoid the scams? First by using common sense. Anything that promises a ‘get-rich-quick’ promise is most likely a scam. Anything that requires you to make an ‘investment’ in equipment resources etc. is probably a scam.
Instead focus on business ideas that use your talents and skills. You might start an at-home secretarial business for small businesses in your area — or even online. Another possibility for someone with your skills is a virtual assistant a field that seems to be booming right now. Someone who excels in making crafts might open a home-based craft business.
Finally you should realize that a home-based business is not always the best choice. There are numerous costs involved a loss of employer-sponsored insurance and other benefits and a fairly high risk of failure.
To learn much more about a home-based career find online resources and books and more please read the latest article published on Quintessential Careers: Your Home-Based Career: A Key Resource Guide.
|Q:||Michelle writes: I have two years of college under my belt and have been taking a break to make some money and decide what I really want to do. I have decided that I would really like to go to school to be a college professor but I have no idea what steps I need to take to get there. I have been trying to look online for pages that will offer information as to what courses I need to take and how I go about planning my next college steps but I cannot find any. I would really appreciate your advice and links to helpful pages!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First I have to applaud your decision to take a break and find your career calling — your career passion. The earlier you can accomplish this feat the happier you’ll be — even if you end up having several career passions throughout your life. My career passion is education and whether it comes in the classroom through this column or through my Website I know that I am making a difference in people’s lives — and that drives me to excel.
Where do you go from here? Well of course you need to complete your undergraduate education. If you’re interested in teaching at the community college level you’ll need to continue on and obtain at least your master’s degree. If you’re interested in teaching at the university level then you’ll most likely need your doctorate degree. There are some exceptions to these generalizations but for the most part they hold true.
College professors specialize in a specific discipline so I am assuming that besides knowing you want to teach you also know what you want to teach. My advice is to schedule appointments with professors who teach the subject that you want to teach and pick their brains about the best schools to complete your education the job outlook for the discipline and the life of a college professor.
Let me end by getting on my soapbox a minute. Some people perceive that we college professors have the ‘easy life’ working ‘part-time’ because we only teach three or four courses and getting lots of time off (including long summers). Part of the perception is true — we do get a fair amount of vacation time but when school is in session our jobs are anything but part-time. Besides teaching (which includes prep time class time grading advising etc.) university professors must conduct research and get published in scholarly proceedings and journals and be active participants in service activities (inside and outside the university).
You can find links to several great articles about attending graduate school as well as links to great graduate school resources by going to the Graduate School Resources section of Quintessential Careers.
You can also find more information about the steps to becoming a college professor by visiting eHow Inc.’s eHow to Become a College Professor.
You can also learn more about becoming a college professor by reading some of the resources and reviewing some of the job descriptions found in this section of Quintessential Careers: Academic Educator & Teaching Jobs.
|Q:||Karen writes: I have encountered this situation in one way or another on three of my last four jobs and I am wondering if there is a good way to see it coming and to deal with it. The problem: a company culture that involves a lot of drinking and hanging out after work. I’m a drafter. I don’t mind staying late if there’s work to do. But I’m not into drinking; I have responsibilities outside of work and the noise in a bar often makes it very hard for me to carry on a conversation. (By the way I have no problem ordering soda when my friends have beer.) This probably hurt me on my last job. I got cut and I’m looking again and I’m wondering if you have any ideas.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You’ve found the hard way the importance of researching companies while job-hunting. We usually talk about the importance of researching a company for the job interview but it’s just as important to conduct research to make sure there is a good fit between you and the employer. If the cultural fit isn’t right as you have unfortunately discovered then the job usually ends up not working out for the job-seeker.
What is corporate culture? At its most basic it’s described as the personality of an organization or simply as ‘how things are done around here.’ It guides how employees think act and feel. Corporate culture is a broad term used to define the unique personality or character of a particular company or organization and includes such elements as core values and beliefs corporate ethics and rules of behavior.
How do you uncover the corporate culture of a potential employer? The truth is that you will never really know the corporate culture until you have worked at the company for a number of months but you can get close to it through research and observation. Understanding culture is a two-step process starting with research before the interview and ending with observation at the interview.
Before the interview. While you are researching the company for the interview spend some time searching for clues about the company’s culture. Review the company’s annual report Website and other materials. Some companies even discuss their corporate culture on their Website (often in their career center section).
At the interview. Experts suggest arriving early to the interview — unannounced if possible — and spend the time observing how current employees interact with each other how they are dressed and their level of courtesy and professionalism. If there is a meal involved observe if the employees drink alcoholic beverages with their meals. Ask questions about outside or after-work activities.
Learn lots more tips in my article published on Quintessential Careers: Uncovering a Company’s Corporate Culture is a Critical Task for Job-Seekers.
|Q:||Doug writes: I have a strong desire to teach in college. I will be moving from where I live in the next couple of years but have time to get my graduate degree from my alma mater. Would it be better to get my graduate and master’s degree from the same school now or wait and get my master’s and Ph.D. from the same school?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Most experts agree — and I am one of them — that if you can get your degrees from different schools you’re the better for it. By attending different schools you interact with different professors face new challenges are exposed to different philosophies etc. That said there are quite a number of college professors I know who attended the same school for all of their degrees.
There are a number of considerations you need to contemplate. If your alma mater has an undergraduate faculty and a graduate faculty or if you are getting your master’s degree in a different subject — in either case being exposed to different faculty — then your alma mater may be a good choice. But even if these situations are not the case the convenience factor has to play a role. One other issue to consider: some doctoral programs accept students into an accelerated master’s program leading to a doctorate for students who only have a bachelor’s degree; several of my colleagues have gone that route. Prestige (and ranking) of the schools you attend also play a role in your future job-hunting plans.
I suggest that your best resource for finding an answer is to schedule some time to talk to faculty members from your alma mater in the discipline you want to teach. Conduct some informational interviews with them — pick their brains and solicit their advice and opinions.
Don’t forget that you can find links to several great articles about attending graduate school as well as links to great graduate school resources by going to the Graduate School Resources section of Quintessential Careers.
And be sure to go to the Quintessential Careers Informational Interviewing Tutorial if you need to learn more about how to conduct informational interviews.