New Career Readiness Classes

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UC Irvine was among several leading universities joining with technology platform Coursera to announce the launch of a series of career-focused courses. Called specializations, these classes are grouped in short series, developed specifically to help new college graduates and other adult learners meet the demands of a rapidly changing work environment. Read the UC Irvine Extension announcement here.

The courses are:

As a reminder, here are other free and low-cost career resources available from UC Irvine and UCI Extension:

The Root of Persuasion: How to understand and overcome emotional resistance to be a more effective communicator

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From the article, “Communication Isn’t Always Enough,” by Jerry Jellison, Ph.D.

Imagine that someone is trying to convince you to try a new food – for example, a tofu sausage – for the first time. At first, the thought may not seem attractive. But if you are willing to try just a little taste – to take a free sample – you might in fact discover you enjoy the combination of flavors, herbs and garlic.

We’re All Resistant to Change
As we consider this, let’s also admit that we can all be resistant to change. If you have any doubts about this assertion, ask anyone who’s tried to get you to change (e.g. your direct reports, life partner, or your children). Resistance isn’t an “us versus them” situation; it’s just that sometimes we’re the influencer and some- times we’re the resister.

“Rational” Resistance to Change is Emotionally Charged
Although resistance is driven by emotions, resisters don’t think they’re being emotional. They always have “good, rational” reasons for resisting change. To circumvent their negative emotions, you must be prepared to change your influence strategy.

Communication is ineffective because the source of resistance is largely emotional, not cognitive. A resister’s most common emotions are associated with fear of loss (e.g. loss of: job, authority, habitual work patterns, etc.) and self-doubts about their capacity to successfully make a change.

And someone who’s resisting wants nothing more than to keep communicating. Dialogue is in their self-interest: as long as you continue talking, the person doesn’t have to change.

Avoid the Unending Communication Trap
Instead of getting caught in the trap of unending communication, switch to a behavioral approach that circumvents resistance by directly minimizing negative emotions. The key is to get the resister to start taking small progressive steps in a new direc- tion despite any objections and fears. If you can get the person to try the new way two or three times, they’ll make several important discoveries: the change isn’t as frightening as they thought it would be; they’re better at it than they imagined; and they’ll experience some tangible benefits of the change.

The “free sample” is an influence technique that has been used for millennia and it’s based on the same behavior change concept. To use another example, realtors and car sales people invariably try to tempt you beyond your stated price range. They want you to take a peek at the ultra-modern kitchen or to take the red convertible for a spin about the block. If they can nudge you to actually experience the extra level of luxury, they hope you’ll rationalize spending more money.

The behavioral strategy is called activation and it includes a set of specific techniques that managers can use to implement change at work. These tools are designed to get people to take the first tentative steps. Personally experiencing the benefits of the new way is far more persuasive and convincing than talking, talking, and talking.

To learn more about how to use these behavioral strategies to be a more effective communicator, download the full article for free here.

The Art of Keeping on Time by Slacking Off

By Janet DiVincenzo

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I’m lucky in that I can bike to work about a third of the time. One recent morning I set out for work on my bike. I had to be at work a little early. My office was going to be used for a film shoot and I had to do some light housekeeping. So this wasn’t the morning to be late for work. I was already running a little late when I left the house but I wasn’t cutting it too close. Or so I thought. About halfway to my office, the chain slipped off the sprocket. I’m no bike mechanic, but I’ve done this sort of repair a few times. Still it’s never pleasant to get your fingers full of grease.

So I pulled over, threw down my backpack, and got to work. Okay, I can do this, I tell myself. But the chain was so taut I could hardly move it. There has got to be SLACK in this chain somewhere. I just have to find the slack and reposition the chain. Find the slack, I told myself! Soon I found the slack and fixed the chain. Phew. Greasy fingers just an unpleasant consequence.

The rest of the ride got me thinking about slack of a different kind. In project management, slack, sometimes called float, is the amount of time something can be delayed with causing other delays. I didn’t have much slack in my schedule this morning – but I had enough to overcome my short delay.

So, what about you? Do you allow enough slack when you schedule your projects? When you put together a schedule, do you assume that everything will pretty much go according to plan? Or do you build in time for when things go awry? Because, you know, they will and that’s when being a slacker really pays off!

2014’s Smoking Hot Careers

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By Scott Rutherford

Prepare for hotness. That’s the theme of today’s post. Can you handle it? Earlier this year, the Orange County Register honed in on the six hottest careers of 2014. In case you didn’t catch the story (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/jobs-616137-county-angeles.html), these fields are expected to be among the fastest growing in Southern California over the next few years. Browse the four below with open eyes. Opportunities are emerging throughout the region, none require an advanced degree, and the pay can be quite good. These careers are looking for warm bodies with a solid set of skills. How about you?

First, a quick recap of the article’s highlights:
1) These careers are not all high-tech. (So, you like to plan parties? You’re gonna love this…)
2) Sewage Worker, Hazmat Diver and Septic Tank Repair are not, we repeat, not on the list. Life is good.
3) The budget-friendly continuing education courses at UCI Extension can prepare you for four out of six of these trending and high-growth career paths, starting right now.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, an online or classroom program can quickly heat up your job prospects. Who doesn’t want to go from a cold and clammy “Argh, I seriously need a new direction,” to finishing up a brand new resume and feeling hot, hot, hot? (Insert a few dance moves here. No one’s watching.)

The math on these top 2014 jobs looks something like this:
Your Bachelor’s degree + specialized skills or training acquired through studies with UCI Extension = 1 hot career coming right up.

Get your sizzle on in these top careers for 2014 right here in Orange County:

  • Biomedical Engineer: Design and develop medical products, software and services in a profession that has the potential to have the highest anticipated percentage of growth between now and 2020. The OC Register reported that in addition to being the best paid of the region’s top 50 fastest growing occupations, engineer jobs are forecast to jump 87 percent in Orange County and 60 percent in Los Angeles, according to the state Employment Development Department.
    Prepare for hotness: Choose a UCI Life Sciences certificate program in Medical Product Development, Regulatory Affairs Management, Clinical Research, Clinical Trials or Comparative Effectiveness Research. Bump up your software know-how with complementary programs and classes in a number of technologies, languages and programs such as Java Programming and Embedded Systems Engineering.
  • Logistician: A knack for problem solving pays off in this career in which you finesse the manufacturing supply chain, distributing products to consumers quickly and affordably all over the globe. Fast growth in this field combines with high salaries, as more companies peddle their wares overseas and need professionals who understand fast distribution on a grand scale.
    Prepare for hotness: Grab your UCI certificate in Business Process Optimization, then consider further studies in Lean Six Sigma, Agile, Project Management and Facilities Management.
  • Marketing Research Analyst/Marketing Specialist: If you like crunching numbers, delve into the world of analyzing industries and targeting new markets for businesses. The OC Register revealed that Southern California is on target to see thousands of new marketing jobs over the next six years.
    Prepare for hotness: Check out UCI’s complete Business programs in Marketing & Communications, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Web Design and Development and Web Intelligence. Stand out from the competition with additional specialization through related programs including Predictive Analytics and Business Analyst.
  • Meeting, Convention and Event Planner: Cash in on your masterful party planning thanks to the corporate side of event coordination. The OC Register article explained that the number of meeting planner jobs in the region (including in-house staff and self-employed planners) is expected to grow almost 40 percent from 2010 to 2020 thanks to corporations’ expanding global reach and the need for professionally staged get-togethers. Prepare for hotness: UCI Extension’s certificate program in Meeting and Event Management equips you to become a sought-after event guru who can manage vendors, navigate contracts and whip a budget into shape.

Open Education: The Art of Being a Permanent Student

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By Larry Cooperman
Associate Dean for Open Education

Way back in the 20th century, being a student was something you did in your late teens through your early to late twenties, depending on your final degree. Both the job market and the Internet have conspired to change things. Entering a single company after school and staying with it for thirty years has become less likely, if next to impossible. Similarly, the undergraduate degree has become both essential, but also only a starting point to further education and career success and satisfaction.

The Internet has permanently changed the face of all postsecondary education, from undergraduate to continuing, professional education. In 2001, MIT President Charles Vest made a public announcement of MIT’s OpenCourseWare project, which eventually led to the free publication of resources from 1800 classes, campuswide. In 2011-12, MOOCs exploded onto the scene, combining short video explanations with a more interactive instructional path. Both of these resources are primarily for self-study, although the latter aims to offer a peer environment for collaborative assessment and discussion.

Okay, but where do I start?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention UCI’s excellent OpenCourseWare project, which has numerous courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, but also specific resources for continuing and professional education in project management, business analysis, human resources development, regulatory affairs for the medical and pharmaceutical industry, California teacher preparation, and even Business English and teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). That starting point for all of this is the OCW website.

If you go to our YouTube channel, UCIrvineOCW. There you can go back to school and study four years’ worth of chemistry lectures, or specific classes in Engineering, psychology, mathematics or graduate-level physics and chemistry. Do you need to review at an introductory level? We have that, too.

Yes, but it’s a big world out there? Where else should I look?
Our project, UCI OpenCourseWare, is a proud member of the Open Education Consortium, a grouping of more than 300+ universities, community colleges, educational organizations. Even IEEE, the largest professional association in the world, is a member. From the home page here, you can access some 30,000 modules, most in English, but many in Spanish, Mandarin and 17 other languages.

UCI is also a member of Coursera and offers a variety of courses, including preparation for K-12 teachers to teach in the growing online environment. The Open Education Consortium hosts some of its members’ MOOCs on EdX. These member MOOCs are different from others in that they will more often combine efforts by several universities and the course materials are truly open. You can download them, use them for teaching, share them with friends and more, no permission required. And, of course, EdX, like Coursera, offers many more.

Switch Careers, Change Your Life?

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For anyone who is burnt out, jaded or bored at work—or who has been laid off from their job recently—there’s good news from the paralegal field! This multi-faceted career not only pays well and offers a variety of exciting, fast-paced and fulfilling work every day on the job, but it also maintains reasonable hours and is rife with immense opportunity. How’s that for a life-changing new path?

With the recent tremendous growth in the paralegal field—the U.S. Bureau of Career and Labor Statistics has forecast an above-average need for paralegals through the next decade or so—job seekers from all backgrounds and experiences are taking charge of their professional destiny and changing the course of their careers for the better. Earn you’re paralegal certificate and you’re on your way!

For those who aren’t familiar with this position, paralegals important part of a legal services delivery team. Though they cannot practice law, paralegals play a leading role in assisting attorneys in their practice and thrive in a fast-paced environment fueled by time-sensitive matters. They’re often responsible for making crucial decisions, doing investigative research, performing legal analysis, summarizing depositions, and attending hearings. Paralegals report that they find the job gratifying because their work makes a difference.

Hear from four paralegals who love their jobs in this video filmed at First American in Santa Ana, Calif.So, what’s in it for you?

  • Variety and opportunity. No two days are the same.
  • Less expensive than attending law school and completed in a shorter period of time. Choose a pay-as-you-go paralegal certificate program with a convenient schedule.
  • Less stressful and shorter hours than an attorney position. Paralegals are able maintain a work-family-life balance.
  • Room for ongoing learning and growth. This field rewards and promotes top achievers.
  • Competitive wages. For a the nice-priced educational investment, paralegals are well paid and enjoy a comfortable quality of life.

Becoming a paralegal is a naturally perfect fit for those who wish to enter the legal profession without becoming a lawyer. The career attracts many successful people who already work in the legal field, including administrative assistants, legal secretaries and even out-of-work attorneys. That said, the booming paralegal field also draws mid-career changers from sectors as diverse as marketing, healthcare, Internet technology and journalism. If you’re detail-oriented, highly organized, hard-working, and a fast learner who loves to take initiative, this could be your calling.

At UC Irvine Extension, half of the paralegal program’s students are career changers in mid-career. Some have earned their bachelor’s degrees and are considering applying to of law school at a later date, with the paralegal certificate as a stepping stone and resume builder.

With paralegals in high demand everywhere from law firms and government agencies to courthouses, banks, large corporations and small companies, more returning workers are choosing it as their next career move. Driven professionals who have an appreciation for the law, a mind for details and a desire to make a difference find the field a dynamic choice in which they are well-compensated for work they truly enjoy. Read more about the journey to becoming a paralegal in the full article here.

Daring Adventures

By Janet DiVincenzo

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Helen Keller was quoted as saying “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” I took a daring adventure myself not long ago.  I signed up for an online art workshop. Now, let me just say, I was just about the last person who would ever take an art class in high school or college. I never wanted to draw. Can’t draw. Don’t like to draw.  Can’t even draw a credible stick figure, really. But I do like to make things — not just electronic things! I’ve done the odd assortment of craft projects over the years — collages, decoupage, things with cork, etc. And I’ve been a pretty competent card maker for about 15 years. My dream is to do mixed media collages using the stashes of sentimental paraphernalia I’ve picked up during my travels over the years and other assorted personal clutter, like concert tickets, museum receipts from foreign travels, and the like.

Like any dutiful student preparing for class by buying a textbook, I set out to the art supply store to purchase the recommended materials for the class.  Now I know my way around Michael’s pretty well. But this was an art supply store — where artists shop (not me!). Canvases? I don’t know from canvases!  She said we should buy 10 x 10 sizes. Uh-oh, I only saw 8 x 10. Hope that will work! These canvases seem so permanent, so professional! What if I screw up? Plus, they’re kind of expensive for a newbie. Oh well, in the basket they go. Oh, but wait. Maybe I should also buy a heavy duty sketch pad so I can first practice on paper — you know, get the hang of the paint, the brushes, etc. so I don’t go messing up one of the canvases. In the basket it goes. Oh wait. Here are some tinier canvases, like 5 x 5. So cute! How badly could I mess up those little guys?  Buy 1 get 2 free?  Whoosh, in the basket they go. Paintbrushes? Man they are expensive! And there are literally hundreds of them. How many do I need? I want to make sure I’m buying exactly the right ones!  But which ones!?  Now, on to acrylic paints — also kind of pricey. She said we should just get a few to start. But what colors? How much do I need? What if I buy the wrong kind? Am I spending too much money? Argh!  Anyone can see I’m a poser. This isn’t my tribe! Who do I think I am?

On the drive home it hit me. I was sounding like a lot of my newbie students — “Oh, I can’t really be a project manager yet.” or “I still need practice with the charter.” or “I’m just not comfortable with cost estimates yet.” Well, duh!  Of course!  Nobody hits it out of the park the first time. You just have to silence that inner (perfectionistic) critic that tries to tell you you’re not good enough. You just have to DO IT. Honestly no puppies will be harmed when I mix red with blue and discover, hey, that’s not the color I wanted.  And no kittens will be harmed when you produce a cost estimate that is less than accurate. You just have to decide you’re going to do it and not look back. Be daring. Be adventurous.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison