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Step outside your comfort zone

August 14th, 2014 by

everwanted

Source: Pinterest (weheartit.com)

Whether you are marching down the hall for your final year of high school or checking into your dorm for freshman year of college, we know it is the first scary step to getting everything you’ve ever wanted.

Keep stepping out. Keep stepping up. Your biggest dreams are accomplished by putting one foot in front of the other.

> Make this coming school year the best one ever — and take NextStepU along with you. 

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Book quotes that taught me about life

August 13th, 2014 by

Ah, books. For me, they are a marvelous escape to which I:

a) don’t have to talk to real people,
b) can pretend I am somewhere else and,
c) can learn some valuable life lessons.

Some of those life lessons really stuck with me. So, I’ve put together my top 3 quotes from books (in no particular order) that I’ve read that have made me think twice. But be warned: I don’t read “cool” books. I am a big advocate of young adult fiction and I am a firm believer that they are capable of offering some of the most insightful advice you can get. Also, yes, of course John Green is on this list. Deal with it.

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1. “Life is not a wish-granting factory.”
Where it’s from: “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
What I learned: Um, *preach* to this quote. I don’t think it’s ever too early to learn that things don’t always go your way. You are not entitled to anything just for existing. What you earn out of life is exactly what you put into it. I try to remember this every time I have to do laundry because I know that if I don’t put in the effort to go down into the basement and do it myself, I will run out of underpants. (Note: this quote applies to much more than just underpants).
Why you should read it too: If you haven’t read this book yet, it’s likely because you are skeptical about all the hype. But cynics — hear me out! After reading this quote, can you not see for yourself that this book is, in fact, entirely cynical itself? And not just cynical, but wise and engaging and heart-breaking all at the same time? You will FEEL and it will be awful and terrible but just trust me and do it already, okay? (Okay.) ;)

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2. “Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss….but every once in a while, you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.”
Where it’s from: “Flipped” by Wendelin Van Draanen
What I learned: I know what you’re thinking, “oh, vom, this sounds like a romance quote.” Which, fine, in context it is. BUT the big picture idea of this is has so much more meaning. What I took from this quote is to remember that, with anything in life, you should never settle for less than extraordinary. And that statement goes two ways — yes, you should expect it, but don’t forget to be iridescent yourself. Be different, weird, passionate…and never let anyone or anything tell you that’s not okay. Also this quote was said by a grandpa and you have to listen to grandpa advice, it’s the law.
Why you should read it too: Full disclosure: I read this for the first time when I was in 8th grade. However, I have read it many times over since and it still gives me the same *feels.* This book is all about looking past the surface level and, to be honest, that can sometimes be a reminder we need every once in a while. So please, if you pick it up, look past the age of the main characters and make it apply to your life.

bookthief

3. “I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”
Where it’s from: “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusack
What I learned: Holy existential epiphany Batman, this quote is deep! To give some context, this quote is said by Death, as in, the Grim Reaper. Yeah, that guy’s the narrator of this book. It does make sense as the book takes place in WWII Germany, but still, it can sort of throw some people for a loop. Regardless, I adore this quote for a number of reasons. One, the fact that Death can consider humans beautiful. Seems counter-intuitive, but he’s a lot more complicated than you think. And two, it brings up the very good point that we (humans) are not one-dimensional. You don’t have to be one thing because you’re not. It’s impossible. It’s something that’s good to keep in mind when figuring out, say, your future. You have to make choices but remember: you don’t have to be one thing forever.
Why you should read it: Like I said, it’s narrated by Death. Don’t you want to know what he has to say?

LauraS_150Written by Laura Sestito. Laura is the Editorial and Production Coordinator at NextStepU and graduated from Nazareth College. 

> For more about college life, go to NextStepU.com.

 

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Trendy Tuesday — How to dress like a professional

August 12th, 2014 by

business-professionalFinding appropriate attire for your professional life can sometimes be a struggle. You want to look your best, but what’s appropriate and where do you draw the line?

Miami-based stylist Nikole Powers shares three tips on how to look professional, polished and chic at the office or wherever your day job lands you.

Tip #1: Layers are essential

Got a top that you absolutely adore but don’t think is office-friendly? Make it work-appropriate by layering up with tanks or camis. “A neutral camisole is essential to office dressing for any body type,” says Powers. Adding layers helps your wardrobe go that extra mile by being appropriate for work and play without giving you a reprimand on the job.

Tip #2: Check your hemlines & necklines

An office environment is very different from that of a high school or college campus. While you can get away with wearing pretty much anything while you’re at school, your clothing choices — and how appropriate they are — will be put into consideration once you reach the professional world. That means more than just modifying your outfits with a long tank top to cover up — it might mean investing in some more work-appropriate clothing.

For general length guidelines to stick to, Powers suggests, “Any [skirt or dress] more than a half inch above the knee is inappropriate and should not be worn.” In regards to neckline, she insists that “necklines should never show cleavage [and your] back and bare shoulders are [mostly] off limits too.”

Tip #3: When in doubt ask yourself…

“…Would my boss wear this?” Use this question as a guide whenever you find yourself wondering if your choice of clothing is appropriate or not. Keep in mind, this can be different for every sort of job; some office environments are more casual than others while others require strict guidelines on a daily basis. See if your workplace offers fun incentives like casual Fridays for employees who donate to a worthy cause, or wearing the company’s logo T-shirt for a day if you reach a certain milestone.

The best way to learn how to dress appropriately for your job is to follow the example of others. And, at the end of the day, always dressing to impress never hurt anyone!

> For more career tips and tricks, visit NextStepU.com to start your path to success today!

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Major Monday – Accounting

August 11th, 2014 by

iStock_000004752194SmallDo you work well with numbers? Are you organized and have good communication skills? Then you might want to consider a career in accounting!

Education
According to the College Board, this major is typically offered at both the associate’s and bachelor’s level. The difference between the two degrees, other than time, is how broad of an education you will be getting. For example, if you are pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will be learning about general tax principles and policy whereas with an associate’s degree, you will be focusing on a more specific realm in the field of finance and accounting.

What to know before you apply
Upon graduation from an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you will likely be putting in extra time to receive your Certified Public Accountant license. This means that, even if you have a job in the field, in order to move up in the ranks or to open your own firm, you’ll need to put in the time and effort to earn this extra certification. The test required to receive a CPA license can be costly and you have to complete and pass all of the tests within an allotted amount of time. However, by earning this certification, you have the ability to earn more money and have open your own practice.

Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants and auditors earned a median pay of $63,550 per year in 2013.

> For more information about the field of accounting, you can take an accounting pre-education course at NextStepAcademy.com.

 

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Freebie Friday — Solarpod™

August 8th, 2014 by

Solarpod-blog

NextStepU is always on the lookout for great items we know you’ll need to either survive your senior year of high school or get you through college. The Solarpod™ Buddy is one of those items!

Everyone needs this nifty little gadget! If you have a smart phone or a tablet, you have surely been caught off guard with an unexpected dead battery. When you’re on your own at college, a dead battery could become a safety issue. If you know you’ll be in class all day and late into the night, you would be able to charge your battery in the afternoon before you need to call for a ride home from the library. Having access to your contacts or maps is a necessity when you are walking around a new place.

Priced around $50, this handy device allows you to connect and charge mobile phones, tablets, MP3 players, handheld game consoles, and so much more. You can recharge the battery wherever there is light and it is easy to carry anywhere. One full charge can power a mobile phone twice and a digital camera seven times. 

I’m sure you all just added this to your graduation party gifts wish list, but you can also try to win it here first!

Enter for your chance to win your own Solarpod™ Buddy below by filling out the Rafflecopter app. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase necessary. Enter the Solarpod™ Giveaway before 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 8/14/14. One winner will be chosen shortly afterward and announced before 8/22/14. The winner must respond to the email he or she receives in order to claim his or her prize. Any prize winner not responding by 9/22/14 will forfeit his/her prize. Entries will only be accepted through the Rafflecopter application and before the deadline date.

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Why you need Next Step Academy

August 7th, 2014 by

NextStepU is thrilled to introduce you to the newly re-launched Next Step Academy website. Here is a handy little graphic to loop you in on some of the new features to the site.

new-site-2

With the new NextStepAcademy.com, you can explore career options before you commit to a major. There are also life skills courses to prepare you for paying for college, understanding credit or managing your time.

This is just a small sample of the many course that will be available — with new courses being added each week!

Register to take the FREE courses and then upgrade your account when you are ready to explore career options or earn badges for your resumé.

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Beyond the life you have now

August 6th, 2014 by

As we move into the month of August, I am coming to the realization that, once again, we are approaching the end of summer.

And, as I always think at this time of year, “how did this happen again?!” 

I like the sunshine. I like the warm weather. And, since I’ve made the terrible life decision to stay in upstate New York, I have but a small window to live in my ideal climate before I go all grumpy again and annoy my friends and loved ones with my incessant complaints.

Me, between the months of November and March.

Me, between the months of November and March.

Anyway, while this time of year always gives me mixed feelings, this year is also slightly different from the rest. Up until now, there’s always been a new “cycle” that started up for me in the fall. A new school year, a new semester, a new sports season, a new job, but now? That’s not the case. My life doesn’t work in a series of cycles anymore and, to be honest, it can sometimes be difficult to accept. (Like, what do you mean my next four months aren’t all planned out for me? I just have to…live? And…make my own plans? Madness.)

My point — and I swear I have one — is this: approaching a new stage in your life is not an easy thing. In fact, there are some times when you probably think it’d just be easier not to have to change at all because you’re doing just fine thank you very much. 

My rebuttal: sure, you’re fine for now, but what about later down the line? Are you really going to be happy in high school/college/grad school forever? Do a test for me: think back to when you were in middle school (yes, I’m doing it too and it’s a scary picture; the sacrifices I make to prove a point).

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What if you had accepted that time of your life as the best it’s going to get because it was too difficult to change? How many things would you have missed out on because you weren’t willing to take that leap?

With the fall approaching, many of you are probably going to be going into a new life cycle, whether it be a new school year, your graduation year or your first year in college. There are going to be times where you’re going to want to hide in the present just because it’s easier than facing what’s next. But at the end of the day, I think we’re most fulfilled when we grow and change and discover what really makes us happy.

Also, it means we’re not in middle school anymore. #NEVERFORGET.

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Trendy Tuesday: 5 must-haves for your dorm

August 5th, 2014 by

BLASTmedia-trendy

College students wait all summer to leave their parents’ house — so they can start shopping and packing for their dorm rooms. Here are five things you won’t want to forget to pack.

1. Cleaning power
While we would like to think you live mess-free lives, things do tend to pile up, so you’ll need cleaning supplies. The Monster 600XL, a 3-in-1 hand & stick vacuum is perfect for any dorm or off-campus lifestyle. This portable compact vacuum takes up minimal room and comes with seven attachments, making it easy to clean any mess.

2. (Extra) Storage space
Wouldn’t it be nice if college dorm rooms had cabinets and shelves for all of our new shiny stuff? Unfortunately that’s not the case, so be sure to stock up on some extra room. You can find big drawers for extra clothes or a small set just for makeup and pens.  

3. The perfect jacket
Available in four different colors, this unisex light jacket is the answer to all of your “What kind of jacket do I need today?” questions. Paired with jeans for a day of classes or thrown on as you head to the gym, The Anorak has vents and a removable hood to keep you covered in any kind of weather. The Anorak also features a front and back pocket for your phone or wallet.

4. Brand new bedding
Moving means getting new sheets! There will be hundreds of sizes and patterns to pick from, so have some fun when you shop. Your comforter tells visitors to your room a little more about your personality — so make a great first impression!

5. Home entertainment hook-up
The first week of school doesn’t involve much schoolwork, so you need to be prepared for having your friends over at your place. Blumoo lets you run all of your home entertainment devices right from your smartphone. Looking up the TV guide for the afternoon or “turning down for what” for the night, Blumoo will let you do it all.

Now that we’ve sufficiently given you too much to think about, why not have a chance to win some of these trendy dorm goodies?

BLASTmedia-blog

We know you need gear for your dorm, and your dollar is already stretched thin. So, we are happy to offer you up a chance to win from Blumoo or Monster! The wireless entertainment hub or vacuum could be yours — just fill out the Rafflecopter app form below for your chance.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase necessary. Enter the Blumoo and Monster Giveaway before 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 8/11/14. One winner will be chosen shortly afterward and announced before 8/19/14.  The winner must respond to the email he or she receives in order to claim his or her prize. Any prize winner not responding by 9/19/14 will forfeit his/her prize. Entries will only be accepted through the Rafflecopter application and before the deadline date.

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Major Monday — Hot Careers 2014

August 4th, 2014 by

iStock_000019076247Figuring out what major to pursue in college that will pay off in the long run is not an easy task. You have to consider not only what you’d like to do, but what you can also be successful at upon graduation.

To help narrow down your options, consider pursuing one of these 10 “hot” careers, according to UC San Diego Extension:

1. Computer systems analyst
Schools with related majors: CDI College, Morrisville State College
Median annual salary (according to BLS.gov): $79,680

2. Market research analyst/Marketing specialist
Schools with related majors: Troy University, Pennsylvania College of Technology
Median annual salary (according to BLS.gov): $60,300

3. Accountant/Auditor
Schools with related majors: Genesee Community College, D’Youville College, Gannon University
Median annual salary (according to BLS.gov): $63,550

4. Management Analyst
Schools with related majors: Hofstra University, Nova Southeastern University
Median annual salary (according to BLS.gov): $78,600

5. Elementary school teacher
Schools with related majors: Mercyhurst University, Lubbock Christian University
Median annual salary (according to BLS.gov): $53,090

6. Cost estimator
Schools with related majors: University of West Georgia, Virginia Commonwealth University
Median annual salary (according to BLS.gov): $58,860

7. Financial analyst
Schools with related majors: Stephen F. Austin State University, LeMoyne College
Median annual salary (according to BLS.gov): $76,950

8. Database administrator
Schools with related majors: Florida Institute of Technology, Sullivan College of Technology and Design
Median annual salary (according to BLS.gov): $77,080

9. Computer programmer
Schools with related majors: FCC Anthem – Orlando, Mohawk Valley Community College, Johnson & Wales University
Median annual salary (according to BLS.gov): $74,280

10. Meeting, convention and event planner
Schools with related majors: Finger Lakes Community College, Mount Mary University
Median annual salary (according to BLS.gov): $45,810

> For more career and majors advice check out NextStepU.com.

 

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Freebie Friday — RENDI

August 1st, 2014 by

Rendi-blog-final

Time to think about going back to school! For those of you still in high school, we know you’ll do amazing things this year. If you are on your way to college, this will be the experience of a lifetime. Most importantly, no matter where you are headed in the fall, you’ll need to be prepared.

We’ve joined up with Rendi this week to share with you a better way to protect your iPhone. You know you need something like an OtterBox to protect your phone, but you also want something fun and stylish. Rendi has the answer!

Rendi, a Colorado based company, has recently launched customizable OtterBox Symmetry cases — protected by OtterBox, personalized by Rendi.

Through a design tool on the Rendi website, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of patterns, color combinations and customized monogram labels to create a personalized case for your phone. These cases are not only protective, but also an expression of personal style with trendy and sophisticated designs.

“Rendi’s case customization designs give women lots of fun patterns and colors to choose from to personalize their phones. Our product launch is a harbinger of much more phone fashion to come,” says Annie Danielson, owner of Rendi.

We know you already clicked over to the Rendi site and started looking at all of the ways you’ll be able to customize your phone case. Figure out your favorite combinations, because you have a chance to win your very own iPhone 5/5s case here!

Fill out the Rafflecopter app below for your chance to win your own personalized OtterBox Symmetry Rendi case.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase necessary. Enter the Rendi Giveaway before 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 8/7/14. One winner will be chosen shortly afterward and announced before 8/15/14.  The winner must respond to the email he or she receives in order to claim his or her prize. Any prize winner not responding by 9/15/14 will forfeit his/her prize. Entries will only be accepted through the Rafflecopter application and before the deadline date.

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