Taking Engineering to a New Level—Q&A with NASA engineer Adriana Ocampo

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Adriana Ocampo, PhD, is the Science Program Manager at NASA headquarters. Take a look at NASA’s Q&A with the accomplished engineer.

Where are you from?

I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and I was raised in Argentina. My family and I moved to the United States when I was a teenager. I now live in Washington, DC.

Describe the first time you made a personal connection with outer space.

When I was a little girl, I would go on the roof of my house and look at the stars and wonder how far they were away from me. I would also make “spacecraft” with the pots and pans from my mother’s kitchen. I would dress my doll up as an astronaut, and my dog Taurus was my co-pilot.

How did you end up working in the space program?

As soon as I landed in the USA I asked: “Where is NASA?” After my junior year in high school, and thanks to the Space Exploration Post 509—sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—I was able to first volunteer at JPL and then work there as an employee during the summer. As I started college I continued to work at JPL. I majored in geology at the California State University at Los Angeles, earning a B.S. there in 1983. I then got my Master of Science in planetary geology from California State University, Northridge. I received both my degrees while working full time at JPL as a research scientist. I’m currently finishing my PhD at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Who inspired you?

My parents were my inspiration. They always encouraged me to reach for the stars and instilled in me the knowledge that education was the gateway to making my dreams come true. Space exploration was my passion from a very young age, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. I would dream and design space colonies while sitting atop the roof of my family’s home in Argentina.

What is a Science Program Manager?

Some of my duties include being the New Frontiers lead program executive. New Frontiers includes the Juno mission to Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the asteroid sample return mission OSIRIS-REx. I am also the lead Venus scientist responsible for NASA’s collaboration with ESA’s Venus Express mission, JAXA’s Venus Climate Orbit and the Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG), which develops strategic plans and assessments for the exploration of this planet.

Tell us about a favorite moment so far in your career.

A favorite moment would have to be my research that led to the discovery of the Chicxulub impact crater. The impact that formed this crater caused the extinction of more than 50 percent of the Earth’s species, including the dinosaurs. I wrote my master’s and PhD theses on this crater, and I have led six research expeditions to study this amazing event that changed the evolution of life on our planet.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the same career path as you?

“Dream and never give up.” When thinking about the great adventure that you have ahead, dream and never give up, be persistent and always be true to your heart. Live life with gusto. I would like to share my mnemonic (STARS) with you from the Girl Scouts book “Recipes for Success:”

STARS

Smile: Life is a great adventure
Transcend to triumph over the negative
Aspire to be the best
Resolve to be true to your heart
Success comes to those who never give up on their dreams

Source: NASA

Amazon’s VP of Alexa Devices on Working in Voice Technology, Taking Risks, and Alexa’s Hidden Tricks

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Amazom's Miriam Daniel smiling and standing in front of a poster for Amazon Alexa

By Alyse Kalish

Let’s say you want to be a part of building something great in your career—something people can tangibly benefit from, something no one else has thought of, and something you can point to and proudly say, “Hey, I made that.” If that’s the case, look no further for inspiration than Miriam Daniel.

She’s currently the VP of Alexa and Echo Devices at Amazon. That means she and her team are the brains behind the imaginary woman who answers all the random requests you make, from “Alexa, tell me what the weather’s like” to “Alexa, set a reminder to pick up milk” to “Alexa, play ‘Baby Shark.’”

We sat down with Daniel because, quite frankly, her career path is pretty cool—from working as a developer to joining the leadership team at Intel (and staying on for more than 14 years) to transitioning into AI and eventually landing her role at Amazon. Besides joining Amazon at a time when AI and speech technology was just taking off, Daniel has had the pleasure of building a product from the start that can help people—especially those who are disabled—lead more efficient and happier lives.

Here’s how she broke into this creative field, how she balances being a tech leader and a parent, and what advice she has for aspiring innovators.

Tell us a bit about your career path and how you ended up at Amazon.

I spent the first few years of my career working as a developer in various service industries, and then moved on to work at Intel for more than 14 years. I started there as an engineering leader before transitioning to product and business roles, eventually becoming the Director of Innovation Strategy and Product Management.

Then five years ago, I received a call from Amazon. After going through a rigorous interview process and consulting with a couple of my mentors, I decided to make the move. Today, I lead a talented, multidisciplinary team that spends a lot of time thinking about customers—what they want out of voice-driven devices and specifically how Alexa can make their lives easier and more convenient.

What made you want to enter this field?

I started dabbling in speech and AI while running the innovation group at Intel. The power of voice as an intuitive and natural means of human interaction with technology fascinated me. When presented with the opportunity to lead the Echo product line at Amazon, I jumped at it, knowing that this could be a transformative leap in using voice as the ultimate simplifier, cutting through many layers of friction to access information and services in the cloud. I was also excited to be a part of an early-stage innovative product with the ability to shape it from the start. I was ready for a big challenge.

What gets you excited about your job?

I’m excited by the fact that I get to innovate every day. Sometimes I feel like a kid in a toy factory—I dive right into putting the puzzle pieces together to solve hard problems that in the end simplify lives.

Building an entirely new way of interacting with products through voice and visuals was an incredibly difficult problem to solve. When we started, this was a completely new means of interacting with machines, and to see how far we’ve come (of course, there’s still so much more to do) motivates me every day.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role? The biggest reward?

The challenge is that building an Echo device is about so much more than just creating a piece of hardware—it’s about designing an experience, and it’s an experience that’s getting smarter every day. There’s no playbook here or precedent to go off of—we’re exploring and innovating as we go. There’s no such thing as “done.”

The biggest reward is when a customer tells me that they love the products we’re building and how much voice technology has changed their lives for the better. We hear anecdotes from parents, grandparents, teachers, distant family members, and customers with disabilities all the time, and their stories are truly heart-warming.

What’s one thing people don’t know Alexa can do?

Alexa is always getting smarter and is now starting to do things for customers that once were considered science fiction. One example is a feature called “Hunches.” As you interact with your smart home, Alexa learns more about your day-to-day routine and can sense when connected smart devices—such as lights, locks, switches, and plugs—are not in the state that you prefer.

For example, if your living room light is on when you say “Alexa, good night,” Alexa will respond with “Good night. By the way, your living room light is on. Do you want me to turn it off?”

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

Katie Bouman: the 29-year-old whose work led to first black hole photo

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Katie Bouman sitting at her computer with a smile on her face and hands up to her mouth in excitement

This week, the world laid eyes on an image that previously it was thought was unseeable.

The first visualisation of a black hole looks set to revolutionise our understanding of one of the great mysteries of the universe.

And the woman whose crucial algorithm helped make it possible is just 29 years old.

Katie Bouman was a PhD student in computer science and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) when, three years ago, she led the creation of an algorithm that would eventually lead to an image of a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, some 55m light years from Earth, being captured for the first time.

Bouman was among a team of 200 researchers who contributed to the breakthrough, but on Wednesday, a picture of her triumphantly beaming as the image of the black hole materialised on her computer screen went viral, with many determined that Bouman’s indispensable role was not written out of history – as so often has been the case for female scientists and researchers.

The data used to piece together the image was captured by the Event Horizon telescope (EHT), a network of eight radio telescopes spanning locations from Antarctica to Spain and Chile. Bouman’s role, when she joined the team working on the project six years ago as a 23-year-old junior researcher, was to help build an algorithm which could construct the masses of astronomical data collected by the telescope into a single coherent image.

Though her background was in computer science and electrical engineering, not astrophysics, Picture of a Black HoleBouman and her team worked for three years building the imaging code. Once the algorithm had been built, Bouman worked with dozens of EHT researchers for a further two years developing and testing how the imaging of the black hole could be designed. But it wasn’t until June last year, when all the telescope data finally arrived, that Bouman and a small team of fellow researchers sat down in a small room at Harvard and put their algorithm properly to the test.

With just the press of a button, a fuzzy orange ring appeared on Bouman’s computer screen, the world’s first image of a supermassive black hole, and astronomical history was made. In a post on social media, Bouman emphasised the collaborative efforts that had made the imaging of the black hole possible.

“No one algorithm or person made this image, it required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work to develop the instrument, data processing, imaging methods, and analysis techniques that were necessary to pull off this seemingly impossible feat,” said Bouman. While their discovery was made in June, it was only presented to the world by all 200 researchers on Wednesday.

Continue on to The Guardian to read the complete article.

WonderWorks Branson Providing Local Schools with In-Service STEM Educational Program

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STEM teacher showing two grade school children a nail and balloon experiment

WonderWorks, the indoor amusement park for the mind, is scheduled to open in Branson, Missouri in October 2019. They are teaming up with schools in Branson and Hollister County, to offer in-service educational opportunities.

These programs will begin the week of April 15, 2019. This is just one of many STEM activities that WonderWorks offers and focuses on using scientific methods to engage students in learning about both the principles of pressure and fingerprints.

“Since WonderWorks is under construction, we are happy to bring these great programs to the classrooms” says Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer at WonderWorks. “These hands-on programs provide them with fun STEM lessons that will engage students and expand their understanding of the topics.”

The interactive lessons that will be taken to the local schools include:

The Principles of Pressure: 

This program will be in-service at local elementary schools. It uses the scientific method to understand how pressure works and specifically how you can lay on a full size bed of nails and not get punctured. This is a two-part demo that includes understanding how much pressure it takes a nail to puncture something. The kids will work with the teacher to develop a hypothesis, conduct an experiment using a balloon on a nail, and then repeat the experiment using a block of wood. They will use math to determine the weight that can be on the nail before the balloon pops.

Fingerprints: 

This program will be in-service at local middle schools. Using scientific method and reasoning, the interactive learning program includes having students look at their fingertips through the magnifying lens and examine the patterns on their skin. They will learn how unique fingerprints are formed, they will make a set of their own printed fingerprints, and will compare their unique pattern with common types of fingerprints.

Both sessions will give students a hands-on learning opportunity that should boast their science interests. The programs offer opportunities for interaction, using scientific methods, creating hypothesis, and evaluating the outcome.

“We are excited that WonderWorks is entering the Branson market and bringing educational programs not only within their attraction but to the schools directly,” says Brian Wilson, superintendent at Hollister Schools. “They are committed to STEM programs and are helping teachers by creating an interactive learning environment.”

WonderWorks Branson will be the company’s 6th location. WonderWorks new home was the previous location of Baldknobbers Theater located at 2835 W 76 Country Blvd. The new location will feature the attraction’s iconic exterior – a grandiose house flipped upside-down. The unique façade is part of WonderWorks’ background story. According to legend, it was once a top-secret laboratory that was lifted and flipped on its roof by an experiment gone awry. From its exterior to its interior, visitors of all ages will enjoy a family friendly, out of this world experience, which will make for some amazing memories.

The interactive indoor amusement park offers STEM-focused activities for all ages. There are over 100 hands-on activities that are focused on the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. Some of the exhibits will include a bubble room, Professor Wonder’s adventure, interactive sandbox, illusion art gallery, and xtreme 360 bikes. For more information on WonderWorks, visit the site at: wonderworksonline.com/branson-coming-soon/.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, the upside-down adventure, is a science focused, indoor amusement park for the mind, that holds something unique and interesting for visitors of all ages. There are four floors of non-stop “edu-tainment,” with over 100 hands-on and interactive exhibits that serve a STEM educational purpose to challenge the mind and spark the imagination. WonderWorks has locations in Orlando, Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach, Panama City Beach, and Syracuse. For more information visit: wonderworksonline.com.

6 ways college grads can find their first job faster

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Young student holding books and carrying a backpack, smiling to camera

Millennials and Gen Zers receive plenty of advice on how to ace a job interview. But before you can wow an interviewer, you have to actually land an interview.

Applying for jobs may feel like it’s mostly a waiting game, but there’s more to do than just submitting applications online, and taking those extra steps will get you better job search results. CNBC Make It spoke to Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume, who offers new grads these tips:

1. Prioritize your connections
Identify who in your already-established network currently works or previously worked in the field you are most interested in. Augustine also suggests keeping any highly-social friends in mind. “These natural connectors from your personal network can often introduce you to relevant people outside your social circle that could be valuable during your search,” says Augustine.

2. Don’t underestimate your alma mater

Alumnifire, an alumni networking platform, found that 90 percent of hiring managers would prefer to hire a fellow alumnus if possible. In order to find alums who work in your target field, attend alumni events in your area and use LinkedIn to sift through search results. If you find an alum connected to a particular company or industry you’re interested in, approach them with confidence. Briefly mentioning that you went to the same college is a great way to spark a conversation.

3. Join organizations
In college, social groups and clubs are often built into campus life, but to continue to make new friends and expand your network after graduation, Augustine suggests using websites such as Directory of Associations, VolunteerMatch and Meetup to find people with common interests. “The bigger your network, the easier it will become to find and connect with others who can help you achieve your job-search goals,” she says.

4. Invest in your professional development
Begin by taking advantage of informational interviews. These differ from traditional job interviews in that the goal is to gain insight into your desired field or a specific company, allowing you to take steps to become a more marketable candidate. You may also want to work on developing a new skill to better your chances of being hired for a position. Search for industry conferences or start a free or low-cost online course through platforms such as Courseera, edX, Skillshare or Lynda.

5. Consider taking side gigs
Whether it’s helping out at a non-profit or picking up some extra freelance work, there are plenty of experiences that might not be full-time but could be great resume-boosters. In addition, they can lead to new connections that can open doors to job opportunities. When looking for freelance listings, check out websites like UpWork, Freelancer, Guru and College Recruiter.

6. Take another look at your resume
“Think of your resume as a marketing document whose content has been carefully curated based on your job goals,” says Augustine, “rather than a record of your work history and education.” This will help get through the applicant tracking systems that some employers use. These systems sort through resumes and highlight top candidates by searching for keywords related to the position being applied for.

Continue on to CNBC News to read the complete article.

Karlie Kloss Reveals the Three Cs She’s Looking for in Kode With Klossy Summer Camp Applications

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Karlie Kloss posing with young diverse girls in a classroom setting

Karlie Kloss has a super hectic schedule these days.

The supermodel, 26, is currently promoting her latest gig as the new Project Runway host (the season premiere of which aired Thursday on Bravo) and gearing up to host one of the coolest summer camps for girls through her nonprofit, Kode With Klossy.

Kloss launched Kode With Klossy back in 2015 as a way to empower and inspire young women to become involved in tech. Throughout the year, the nonprofit hosts learning experiences to help girls pursue their passion — and one of the most well-known programs is the annual Kode With Klossy Summer Camp.

The organization hosts free two-week summer coding camps across the country annually for young women ages 13 to 18, to teach the fundamentals of programming and web development. The 2019 applications are officially open — and Kloss is running around the city (literally) to spread the word.

Kloss took to the streets of New York City to let everyone know about the opportunity, even making her own “Ask Karlie” booth to attract interested applicants. She also spoke with PEOPLE to and tells them  even more about the program and answer all their coding camp questions.

Find out what makes an application stick out from the rest, how she chooses applicants and whether you’ll see her in one of the Kode With Klossy sessions this summer!

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Energy Efficiency Takes the Lead in Job Growth

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hands holding a world globe

Energy efficiency added more new jobs than any other industry in the entire U.S. energy sector in 2017 and now employs nearly 2.25 million Americans, according to a new jobs analysis from E4TheFuture and the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).

The new report, Energy Efficiency Jobs in America 2018, finds energy efficiency workers now outnumber elementary and middle school teachers and are nearly double the number of Americans who work in law enforcement.

“This good news buoys us beyond politics to unite a focus on the positive,” said Steve Cowell, president of E4TheFuture. “We have long known that energy efficiency is a major source of jobs, and by conservative estimates, about one in every hundred U.S. adults now works in energy efficiency. Efficiency is also a key strategy for meeting multiple policy objectives. It saves money, improves health, lowers carbon emissions, and creates local jobs that cannot be outsourced.”

The report highlights energy efficiency’s growing economic importance. Efficiency added 67,000 new jobs in 2017, making it the fastest-growing job category in the energy sector. Energy efficiency employs twice as many workers as all fossil fuel industries combined. Efficiency workers now account for 35 percent of all U.S. energy jobs.

“We all know energy efficiency creates savings for consumers and businesses with every month’s electric bill,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “We also now know that energy efficiency creates jobs – millions of them – all across America. These are good-paying jobs at your neighborhood construction company, upgrading windows and installing insulation; at your hometown HVAC contractor, installing heat pumps and high-efficiency air conditioners; at your local factory, manufacturing Energy Star appliances and LED lighting systems; and at thousands of related companies nationwide.”

Among the states, California leads energy-efficiency employment with 310,000 jobs, followed by Texas (154,000), New York (117,000), Florida (112,000), and Illinois (87,000). Seventeen states now employ more than 50,000 workers and the 25 states with the most energy efficiency sector jobs all now employ more than 30,000 workers (1.9 million total). Only four states saw a decline in energy efficiency employment in 2017.

With workers in 99.7 percent of U.S. counties, energy efficiency has become a nationwide job engine integral to state and local economic growth. More than 300,000 energy efficiency jobs are located in America’s rural areas, and 900,000 jobs are found in the nation’s top 25 metro areas. One out of every six U.S. construction workers are involved in energy efficiency, as are more than 315,000 manufacturing jobs, according to the report.

More detailed breakdowns of energy efficiency jobs for all 50 states and the District of Columbia—including job totals for every state’s congressional and legislative district and maps of each state’s top counties—can be found at e2.org/eejobsamerica.

Other key findings:

  • 11 percent of energy efficiency jobs are held by veterans, nearly double the national average for veterans’ share of employment (6 percent)
  • In 40 states and the District of Columbia, more Americans work in energy efficiency than work with fossil fuels
  • Construction and manufacturing make up more than 70 percent of U.S. energy efficiency jobs
  • More than 1 million energy efficiency jobs are in heating, ventilation, and cooling technologies
  • Energy efficiency employers are expecting 9 percent job growth in 2018
  • Energy efficiency now employs workers in 3,000 of America’s 3,007 counties
    · Small businesses are driving America’s energy efficiency job boom, with 79 percent of energy efficiency businesses employing fewer than 20 workers.

Source: e4thefuture.org

12 Proven Strategies to Prepare for a Job or Career Fair

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Career attendees walking to event

Knowing the right way to prepare for a job fair can help you land the next great job on your career path. Whether you’re seeking your first job or your fifth job, attending a career or job fair is a smart strategy for marketing yourself to potential employers.

Forget reviewing hundreds of online ads or spending countless hours filling out applications and emailing resumes! At a job fair, you can connect directly with recruiters and hiring managers from a wide range of companies, learning about them as they learn about you.

Yet, knowing how to effectively prepare for a career fair means you’ll stand out from other attendees and ultimately find your next great career role. Follow these steps to make the most of every job fair you attend.

How to prepare for the career or job fair

A key contributor to your success will be in your preparation. Here are some tips:

If you can, pre-register for the event: This can include submitting your resume and/or other information just in case attending employers review your information before the fair.

Research the companies that are attending: Having a background on these organizations means you can ask specific questions about the job and company. “This impresses [company] representatives because it shows a genuine interest in them,” according to the UC Berkeley Career Center.

After researching, decide who you’ll talk with: By doing this, you don’t have to waste precious time wandering around and deciding who to start a conversation with. You’ll know when you walk in the door, greatly increasing your chances of success. If you can get a layout of the fair beforehand, you can make a “plan of attack” to see each employer in order of interest.

Prepare and print your resumes: Bring more than you need, as some companies may want more than one copy. If you have multiple job objectives, make sure you bring enough versions of each resume, and of course, be sure your resume is well-written and free of errors.

Create and practice your elevator pitch: This 30- to 60-second speech should explain who you are, what your skills are, and what your career goal is. This is one truly important piece of learning how to prepare for a career fair, and Carnegie Mellon University has a page with some great tips on creating a solid elevator pitch.

Prepare for potential interviews or interview questions: Check out this list of the most common interview questions and prepare your answers beforehand. This will ensure you present yourself professionally and help calm your nerves.

What to do on the day of the fair

Arrive as early as possible, come dressed appropriately for the job fair, and then follow these tips to make the most of your time:

Be confident and enthusiastic: Introduce yourself with a smile and a firm handshake. Companies are there because they want to meet you, and more importantly, make a hire. Be ready to give your elevator pitch when appropriate. If you’re still a student, talk about your academic and extracurricular experiences as well as your career interests.

Take notes if necessary: Do this especially “when you inquire about next steps and the possibility of talking with additional managers,” says the UC Berkeley career center. “Write down the names, telephone numbers, etc. of other staff in the organization whom you can contact later.”

Ask the company representative for a business card: This will give you all the information you need to get in touch with this person if necessary and to send a thank-you note for the time the representative spent with you. Believe it or not, many a candidate has won the job because of a thank you.

Network, network, network: In addition to the company representatives, make time to talk with other job seekers to share information on everything from the companies to job leads and get their contact information if possible. Also, definitely approach any professional organizations at the fair and get information for future networking opportunities.

Actions to take after the event

Once you’ve prepared for the career or job fair and then actually attended, there are a few important things to do once it’s over. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Follow up with company representatives you talked to: As mentioned above, send a thank-you note as soon as possible after the fair. Review your interest in and qualifications for the job and promise to follow up with a phone call. You can also attach another copy of your resume to the note or email.

Continue to network: Reach out to fellow attendees you talked with to share your experience of the job fair and ask about their successes. Tell them you’ll keep them in mind if you see an open position they might want and ask them to do the same for you. Join any of the professional organizations that were at the fair if they are appropriate to your career goals, as well.

In addition to the tips above, the University of Minnesota has advice from employers on various aspects of how to prepare for a job fair, which is helpful for both students and experienced professionals alike.

By following these guidelines at your next career fair, you’ll give yourself an excellent chance of landing that next great job in your career path.

Continue on to read the complete article at topresume.com

5 Things Workers Think Are More Important Than Salary

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When we think about the things that drive us to accept a job offer, money tends to top the list, and understandably so.

After all, everyone has bills to pay and financial goals to meet, and having a respectable salary makes that possible. But money isn’t the primary driver in workers’ job-related decisions. Here are five factors that employees regard as more important than compensation, according to CareerBuilder.

 

1. Location

Though some people don’t mind commuting, a terrible one can turn an otherwise decent job into a nightmare. When considering a new role, take the associated commute into account, keeping in mind that unless your company has a work-from-home policy, you’ll likely be dealing with it day in, day out. Choosing a job in a convenient location will lend to better overall satisfaction and less stress, and that’s something you’ll be grateful for in the long run.

2. Affordable benefits

It’s one thing to get health benefits, but it’s another thing to pay an arm and a leg for them. Employers subsidize health insurance at different levels, so ideally, you should aim to find a job where you’re given access to a decent plan at an affordable out-of-pocket cost to you. Furthermore, it’s not unheard of for companies to subsidize employee health plans completely so that your insurance actually doesn’t cost you a dime.

3. Job stability

There’s something to be said for not having to constantly worry about getting laid off. Though there’s no such thing as a lifetime guarantee that you’ll never lose your job, your chances are much lower if you accept a role in a thriving industry, and at a company with a solid track record. In other words, make sure to vet your employer before signing on, because if a given company has been losing money year over year, it’s a sign that it’s not the most stable environment. At the same time, make sure any job offer you accept is truly a good fit. You might manage to talk up your qualifications and get offered a reach position, but if you struggle with it, you might find yourself out of work soon enough.

4. A good boss

A great boss could spell the difference between enjoying your job and hating it. What qualities should you look for in a manager? For starters, it helps to work for someone who’s approachable, open to ideas and feedback, and honest. You should also aim to work for a person who will push you to do better, and support you on the way there. At the same time, there are certain types of bosses you should try to avoid, like those who feel compelled to micromanage or are extremely set in their ways.

5. A positive work culture

Working for a company that values its employees, fosters collaboration, and encourages creativity is a good way to wind up happy on the job. You can get a sense of a company’s culture by asking what the work environment is like during interviews, and reading company reviews online. The right culture fit is essential not just to your happiness, but your professional growth as well.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

Have a Job Offer? Consider these 5 things before saying yes

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Women-job-interview

Corporate culture may be the key to happiness at work. You can have an exceptional job offer, but if the culture is not a match, it could be problematic.

You deal with a lot—coworkers, the boss, and office politics. If you can’t succeed in a certain culture, you can’t succeed in the job.

Why Corporate Culture Matters

It is too simplistic to think that corporate culture is solely about mission and values. It manifests itself in other avenues, such as working overtime, availability of flextime and telecommuting, how people interact with each other, the dress code, benefits, professional development opportunities, how performance is evaluated, leadership style, and the decision-making process. In essence, everything is culture-driven.

When you have a pending job offer, primary consideration may be compensation, benefits, and perhaps the commute. Those are all significant factors, but when you are thinking about making a move, dig a little deeper.

Key Considerations Before Accepting the Job

1. How did you feel when during the interview?

It is normal not to feel completely at ease, but you should have some sense of feeling comfortable. During the interview, be a consummate observer—from the time you walk in until the time you leave.

Pay attention to the way you were greeted and how were you treated during the entire process. Were all communications professional, timely, and respectful?

If you hear a common theme in the questions the interviewer asks, that is a clue about what he or she will expect from you. For example: “Tell me about a time when your workload was particularly heavy. What steps did you take? “How do you establish priorities to never miss a deadline?”

Also observe how people interact with each other in the office—were they friendly or did you detect friction? Pay attention to how they act when their boss is around.

2. Can you thrive with the office vibe?

Is it a suit-and-tie culture when you are a business-casual person who loves jeans on Fridays? Is it the ever-popular open office space? I’m the quintessential introvert, and I know that an open office space would severely limit my performance. It is simply not how I work best. If that defines you as well, see if you can tour the office before you make a final decision. The physical space, noise level, and interactions with staff will all play a crucial part. There’s most likely not going to be a perfect environment, and all jobs will include some sort of give and take. The bottom line is to know your deal breakers so that your performance and satisfaction are not inhibited.

3. Is the company on firm financial footing?

Due diligence is the name of the game. If the company is public, you may be able to gather information on their financial stability from public filings and reports. If you are thinking about working for a government contractor, it is OK to ask about the length of the contract. If the contract is nearing an end, will they be able to place you elsewhere? You can also uncover information from a simple Google search and checking their social media mentions. You’ll be able to get a sense of whether there might be trouble ahead. Try to ascertain whether they have been adding jobs consistently or if hiring has been shrinking.

4. Will you be better off after taking this job?

Here is a million-dollar question: If you had to find a new job in the following year, will this job help you with your professional development? Before you start any job search, you should have a strategy. Accepting a new role should be a stepping stone that inches you closer to your career goals. By the same token, if you stay with this organization can you see a path of career development? Avoid exchanging one dead-end job for another one.

5. Can you respect and like the person to whom you will report?

Studies have shown that a significant number of people leave a position because of their boss. Having a great manager can make or break your work experience. When you’re in an interview, it is a two-way conversation. You owe it to yourself to ask questions. Find out how success will be determined. Learn as much as you can about your manager’s expectations beyond the job duties, as well as his or her leadership style. This will give you an indication of whether you’ll be working for a leader who is reasonable or one that will make you unhappy.

Author
Jan Johnston Osburn
news.clearancejobs.com

Want To Learn Coding? Check Out These Resources Recommended By Tech Experts

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Nearly everywhere you look—from business management, to customer engagement, to product development—technology plays a massive role. As such, tech-related skills—and coding in particular—are excellent additions to nearly any professional’s resume.

A variety of books, apps and websites make it easy for even busy professionals to get a start on learning the fundamentals of coding. But which entry-level resources are the most effective? Below, 13 experts from Forbes Technology Council share their recommendations for beginners interested in learning coding.

1. Code Complete

The single best cornerstone book on good software development is Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction by Steve McConnell. Oftentimes new developers will get hung up on “The new technology X book,” which is a mistake. You need to understand the fundamentals before jumping into the details. While this book has code examples, it focuses more on patterns and practices. – Matt KruczekTallan

2. Lightbot

For the very young or those who have not yet had any experience with procedural abstraction, I would recommend the Lightbot site/app/game. This learning tool is fun and can identify problems with abstract thought processes. It is an excellent first attempt at understanding programming concepts without having to worry about language/syntax and all the other elements of a programming toolchain. – Chris Kirby, Retired

For the complete article, continue on to Forbes.