Watch Out World, Millennials are Coming for Your Job.

MillenialsThe millennial generation is booming. And if you were born between 1980 and 2000, you represent over 28% of the U.S. population, clearly the largest share. You’re known for being the most educated generation with 34% attaining a college degree according to NPR.

In 2015, nearly 50% of the entire workforce in America will be comprised of millennials and will reach 75% by 2025. But looking at the numbers, you may find yourself underemployed and only making minimum wage even as a college graduate.

But the opportunity and potential is there for you to really take over your destiny at work. And there are resources that can help.

UC Irvine created a program to prepare millennials for their first and next jobs. As part of the widely publicized open and free education movement (often referred to as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), the Career Success program is offered online, at no charge through Coursera. The courses are designed to help you build project management tools and techniques to initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control and close projects, how to increase personal and professional productivity through time management, the importance of finance and interpretation of financial information, and use successful management techniques and the five functions of management.

The University just conducted an in-course survey and found the following from 4,266 responders between the ages of 25-34:

  • A majority of students are taking the specialization to not only learn new skills, but also advance in their careers
  • 73% have enrolled in a MOOC prior to this one
  • 60% hold full-time jobs, working 40+ hours a week
  • 40% of responders said they plan on earning a verified certificate from Coursera
  • Responders are highly educated.  In regards to highest level of education completed, 35% have earned a Bachelor’s, 34% have earned a Master’s and 6% have earned a Ph.D., Law or Medical degree

It seems that online education (often free) was built for you. It uses the best mix of technology, it provides access from anywhere, it offers tons of knowledge fast and in small bits, it builds interactive online communities, and it allows you learn at your own pace and on your terms.

So here’s a list of the top 5 ways you can use education to give you the edge in the workplace.

  1. It’s free. The opportunity cost of enrolling in a free course is very low. So why would you do this? Because knowledge is power. And power in the workplace will help your mobility and your chance for job satisfaction and perhaps a better salary.
  1. You need a really good resume. By adding educational experiences to your resume, you appear to be “in the know,” a trendsetter, and willing to go above and beyond what’s expected at your job. And by finishing a MOOC created by UC Irvine and offered by Coursera, you’ve got the big reputations of a research-one university and the best names in open education to add some clout to your accomplishments.
  1. You need a competitive edge. So if you were interviewing candidates for a new position wouldn’t you consider their level and depth of their education in your decision? Of course you would. This is what can set you apart from everyone else interviewing for your dream job.
  1. Online courses give you the opportunity to collaborate and socialize with others that can help you. Networking is critical. And you never know who you will meet that will help you land your next job. Thankfully, online courses (again often free) offer you the opportunity to join online communities of people that share the same desires that you do.
  1. You want to move from the cubicle to the corner office. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that free online courses have the quality and content similar to what you would find in an MBA course. That’s why universities like MIT, Yale, and Harvard are in the open, online education game. Movers and winners invest in their education.

So check out the Career Success program on Coursera , it will be worth your time and investment.

Deflate Gate 2015: Should you Behave Like a Professional Athlete?

DeflateSo first it was Spygate and now Deflategate. What is going to happen next? I mean really Bill Belichick. You have what could be said the best quarterback in NFL history in Brady and you deflate footballs to get to the Super Bowl? How embarrassing! That’s something my 9 year old would do. Shame on you. And Tom, you’re married to Giselle. Does she know that you’re in the game of shrinking your balls? You’re both teaching our youth that you have to cheat to get ahead. Is that really what you want your legacies to be? It’s as bad as cheating on your spouses, or telling your kids its cool to cheat on the SATs.

I am, however, a huge sports fan and a big believer that pro athletes can be role models in business. With all of the controversy of late my beliefs might sound ridiculous. But when you think about it, there are tons of athletes that have used their talents to build their own personal brands and the teams that they have worked for. They indeed can be good examples of strong businessmen and woman.

But I’m not totally delusional. I know that with the good comes the down right bad and ugly. There are many that taught us exactly how NOT to behave in business like Ray Rice, Terrell Owens, Mike Tyson, and Pete Rose. And don’t even get me started on Lance Armstrong—what a fall from glory to a total disappointment that lost everything, including his respect. If I were Oprah, I would have punched him in the face during the interview. Livestrong, save it Lance!

But let’s focus on the notables before I digress. Here’s a small list of the valuable players:

Most Likely to be a Gunslinger.
Let’s talk Brett Favre—my all time favorite. I call him my Gun Rack. If he drove up to my house right now, in his pick up truck, with his dog Charlie in the front seat, I would leave it all and jump right in for a ride back to Mississippi.

But seriously speaking, Brett Favre did teach us some very important lessons, respectable and regretful, that we can apply to our careers. Let’s be honest, the man had a really horrible start. If I’m not mistaken, he played his rookie year with the Atlanta Falcons and never completed a pass. And then he was traded to the Packers.

Once he donned the green and yellow jersey he turned his career around in Green Bay. In his fifth season with the Packers he won his first Super Bowl. Favre is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 70,000 yards; exceed 6,000 completions, make over 10,000 pass attempts, and still have the most wins as a starting QB. The MVP played 20 seasons in the NFL—which on its own is extraordinary. And towards the end of his long career, he was one interception away from taking the Vikings to the “show.”

He’s considered a legend but perhaps he’s most well known for his career mishaps. He still leads the league in interceptions, and yes, its 59 more than anyone else in NFL history. He’s retired more times than we’ve watched him cry on national TV. He’s said to have left the Packers in bad standing and without mentoring his now lauded backup QB Aaron Rodgers.

I think Vince Lombardi said it best: “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.”

What can we learn from Favre?

Commitment—It could reasonably be said that he’s the ultimate company man. He played 16 seasons with the Packers. I mean come on, he was chastised for jumping jobs after his stent at Green Bay, but how many of us stay at a job for some 16 years? He studied, not only his team, but his competitors in great detail. That is what made him great. He spent his time, on and off the field, committed to his practice. He was uber prepared.

Longevity—The man has been knocked down and has picked himself up a million times. I’m sure there were Monday mornings when he wanted to pack it in and quit. But he served as the consistent leader of that locker room for a long time. Brett said it best, “Every game I’ve ever played, regardless if it was pre-season or Super Bowl, meant the same to me, and I laid it all on the line.” He never quit, he never gave up. He was born a winner.

Decisiveness—He made decisions. Quick decisions, off the cuff. He’s the guy you want next to you in a conference room full of executives when you’re put on the spot and need to make the call. A decisive person can lay down the gauntlet, believe in the decision, and make a plan to move forward and execute. Favre was a decision maker.

Most Valuable Team Players.
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won three Olympic gold medals in beach volleyball. No other beach pair, men or women, has won two golds since the sport was introduced into the Olympics in 1996. In fact, no woman has ever won three Olympic beach volleyball medals of any kind. They have been called the greatest beach volleyball team of all time. In 2004, they won their first Gold and did so by not losing a single set. After first and second round wins in their final games together, they continued their Olympic win streak of 32 consecutive sets without a loss until losing the first set of three to Austria in a preliminary round before ultimately winning the match. They both married and had children during their time together on the sand and through all of that, stayed strong partners. Although Misty has since retired, Kerri says that she misses her partner everyday.

May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings are an example of teammates that knew each other so well, with each and every move, that they won every match they’ve ever played at the Summer Games and lost just one of 43 sets.

What can we learn from these women that we can take with us into the conference room?

Know your partner­—The better you know your partner(s) the easier your job will be. Working with one teammate or with a large group can be difficult, but when you get in a groove with your crew, you not only get more done, you generate more powerful ideas. And those ideas lead to successful and sometimes award-winning projects.

Play to win—It’s highly unlikely that May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings won so many matches without having the true desire to win. And although perfection isn’t possible, the drive to win provides impetus. Winners respect their teammates. They honor their companies by showing up, ready to perform, day after day. Playing or working for a winning team is important, because it provides career satisfaction and a ton of job security. If winners do not surround you now, then figure out how to change your scenery to become part of something greater.

Most Likely to Succeed at a Young Age.
Shaun White has completely dominated the world of snowboarding for the last 10 years. He took home every major half-pipe contest before the age of 20. He won Olympic Gold and has won nearly every X-Game medal available, multiple times over. And he’s still innovating with new tricks that no one else can do. Shaun said, “You know the best thing about competition? There’s this whole strategy game, and when it all works out it’s like solving that hard math equation. You finally get the answer and you’re so happy.”

In terms of progression, no one has pushed their sports harder or further than Shaun. He goes bigger, and he goes higher, and there’s not a single snowboard rider in history that can match his competitive achievements. And he’s good at more than just snowboarding. He’s medaled in X-Games skateboarding as well. In terms of being a brand ambassador, Shaun is loved all over the world and has put snowboarding and skateboarding on the map and taken it to levels that even Tony Hawk could never have dreamed. And Tony Hawk loves him too. He also used his skills to build a huge brand for himself, The White Collection for Burton Snowboards and Target.

Shaun White has taught us that you can be really young and still become really successful. He pushed it as early as the age of 4 and never stopped. He learned to be a good businessman very early on and is reaping the benefits now. He also taught us that we don’t have to be singularly focused. As long as we’re able to master a skill, we can probably foster other talents and still be successful at both. Success at all levels is why so many, have so much reverence for Shaun White.

Our respect for athletes has waned over the years. I guess its because we see that sports figures are recognized more as celebrities like Hollywood stars, valued for the entertainment they provide. But many of us still hold these athletes to a higher standard of conduct. And I don’t mean to say that any of the aforementioned athletes haven’t made some bad conduct choices (Favre and his texts – ah hem), but what I can say is that there are lessons to be learned. Minus the scandals, the tabloid fodder, we do have examples that we can take to with us to work. Exemplars that can give us confidence, some direction, and spirit for greatness in our careers.

Career Launch Stories Recap

3 2 Capture
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our international students’ individual journeys while they studied at UCI Extension.  Each of them share a unique perspective on the opportunities and impact that this experience has made on their career and personal growth.  In case you missed any or all, here’s a chance for you to catch up!

A Story of Firsts – First Company-Sponsored Female; First Trip Abroad
Shiori Sato, age 25, Japan
Read story

Blending Business and Science for Global Success|
Yuta Okanoya, age 25, Japan
Read story

The Power of an American Certificate
Davood Shahabi, age 32, Iran
Read story

In Defense of Negative Employees


By Jeremy McCarthy

“If you are negative, I will kill you.”

A hospitality executive once told me that this playful stance on maintaining a positive attitude was his mantra with his team. Knowing that I had an advanced degree in positive psychology, he expected me to embrace his “negativity towards negativity” approach. But I surprised him when I told him he might be making a mistake.

When people are negative about something, it means they really care. And you don’t want to create a culture where people can’t come to you with problems. There is a time and a place for negativity in any organization.

Don’t get me wrong, I am as much of an advocate of positive attitudes as the next guy. I’d rather have a positive attitude, and I’d rather be surrounded by others who do. I even teach a course on “Positive Leadership” to help leaders create cultures that foster greater employee engagement. But every year in my course, we hold one discussion around negative employees. “What is worse,” I ask my students, “a negative employee or an apathetic one?”

Of course, there is no right or wrong answer to this question, and it invariably sparks an interesting discussion. Some will recognize that an apathetic employee can be a drain on the system as they collect a paycheck but contribute minimally to the goals of the organization. Most of my students will say the negative employee is worse, citing, “one bad apple can spoil the bunch” or other fears of the contagious nature of negativity.

But in their new book, The Upside of Your Darkside, psychology researchers Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener say, “you need an anxious person on your team,” because they serve as the “canary in the mine shaft,” alerting you to problems before your more optimistic team members even become aware of them. You need someone who will tell you when you are making a mistake.

In one of the spas that I managed, I pulled one of the more negative employees aside and asked for her help. She was the one most likely to be complaining about things to her colleagues in the break room so I said, “I can tell you really care about how things go around here, and you are holding us to a higher standard. I’d like you to help us get better. Can you start coming to our weekly management meeting and presenting us the biggest problems in the spa from the employees’ perspective along with proposed solutions?” I was taking the energy and passion that she clearly had, and trying to use it for good instead of evil. She became a huge asset to the team, a leader among her colleagues and helped us to be an even better place to work.

Being a leader is not about eliminating negativity. It is about recognizing the different strengths on your team and allowing them to spring forth for the betterment of the business. As you look at your own team, notice who the complainers are, but don’t kill them. Thank them for keeping you on your toes.

My next course in Positive Leadership will begin January, 2015 in the Spa and Hospitality Management Certificate program offered through UCI Extension.

The Power of an American Certificate 3 of 3

Davood Shahabi age 32, Iran

This is the third installment of our international accelerated certificate program (ACP) student stories.

In his early thirties, Davood Shahabi had already accomplished a great deal. A native of Iran—where English is spoken rather inconsistently—Davood was fluent in English, had studied in several countries, had earned both an MBA and a doctorate of veterinary medicine and had years of work experience in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Still, he felt something was missing from his ideal career path, one that would eventually land him a top job. His next move might lead him to Dubai or the United Arab Emirates and he envisions that an American education combined with an internship in shipping, aviation or business development will be the perfect formula to take him there.

“To say that I studied in a business-oriented country at a recognized university and earned an American certificate—that has prestige,” says Davood Shahabi, an Accelerated Certificate Program (ACP) student earning a certificate in International Business Operations & Management (IBOM). “It will be important to future employers,” he acknowledges, as well as boosting the impression he will make when introducing himself in business.

Davood’s ACP colleagues mirror his sentiments. Each arrives self-motivated and, when surrounded by other high-caliber students with equal determination, they push themselves, stretch their boundaries, broaden their outlook, shape their career path and ultimately thrive.

For Davood and other ACP students like him, the accelerated programs are an attractive option because they require less time to study overseas. Representing between 20-30 different countries during any given quarter, students earn a specialized certificate by taking 6 or 7 courses over 12 weeks of a full-time, intensive daytime program. For another 10 weeks, students can add a real-world internship. In six months, they leave UCI with a certificate and practical work experience—not to mention enormous confidence, specialized knowledge and understanding of America’s culture and other cultures from both a business and a social perspective. (VIDEO

In Irvine, Davood immediately feels at home in what he describes as a “calm, peaceful, low-density” area. “People are very warm and friendly, especially at UCI,” he shares. Living with an American family in a homestay situation, Davood doesn’t have his own car. Instead he diligently rides a bicycle to campus thanks to the mild climate and wide roads. On rare occasions, a member of his host family will drive him if he is dressed up for a class presentation.

Though a skilled presenter with honed English and several degrees, Davood was previously only familiar with impersonal classrooms. “The professors didn’t care how you worked or how you learned,” he says of institutions he attended in Iran and Malaysia. “Here, they follow the students’ progress, engage you and immediately respond to your emails.”  Davood values that UCI offers a window into the “American style of thinking” in approaches to both business and education. “I am learning more practical import and export methods I didn’t know about in Asia due to regulations. I have my MBA, but what I learn here is on an international level, and the instructors were very good at explaining it.” Davood affirms that his interactions with his instructors were as valuable as the ACP certificate itself. (VIDEO)

He plans to follow the IBOM program with a second ACP and an internship. Once attracting just a handful each quarter, 40 to 60% of ACP students opt to join the 10-week internship program and put in a non-paid 20 to 35 hours per week. More than 200 Southern California companies participate, from Panasonic Avionics, Hannspree, Billabong and Mazda to companies specializing in finance, engineering, technology, hospitality/tourism, logistics, human resources, marketing and more.

“The UCI interns provide a fresh viewpoint for my organization,” says Cecilia Castro de Andrade, president of Oceanview Investments Corporation. As owner of the Havaianas store in Huntington Beach, Calif., Castro de Andrade values their cultural diversity as well as their comments and suggestions about every aspect of her business. She has taken great pleasure in watching her interns improve their English, interact with American staff members and scurry down to the pier on their lunch breaks—all which “makes their experience in America very productive” after completing the program.

IBOM’s graduation is bittersweet for Davood and his fellow students. One festive night inside the stately University Club brings students from all ACP programs together again under a tented ceiling aglow with strands of white lights. Some haven’t seen each other since orientation. Others haven’t spent a day apart. “One of the biggest advantages of the program is getting along with different nationalities and learning how to work with each other,” Davood says. “At the beginning of the quarter, we didn’t know each other, but by the end, we were close and would get together to go play beach volleyball.” Like many students, Davood views his certificate and his internship as essential ingredients for a brighter future, one that will set him apart from the competition and provide a clearer path paved with specific aspirations that are meaningful to him personally. (VIDEO)

Three Reasons Why Visionary Leaders Succeed

By Patricia Bravo, MBA

It’s almost the end of the day, you barely had time to grab lunch and you’re culling through your email looking for urgent items to address. You notice a request from your boss asking for your outline in preparation for the upcoming strategic planning session your team will be attending. It would be easy to recycle last year’s agenda and send it off to her so you can get back to getting your email down to a manageable volume. You know that your business and the team would benefit from reconnecting with the organizational vision. Yet, investing time to consider your vision is low on your list of priorities right now, given everything else on your plate. Sound familiar?

It can be tough to pull away from day-to-day activities to look ahead into the future. Visions provide clarity and direction and serve as a guidepost for organizational strategy.

Here are 3 reasons to invest time in considering your vision:

  1. Leaders focused on a vision distinguish themselves by accelerating business results and becoming known as a leader others want to follow
  2. Leaders who rally their teams around a shared vision set their organization up for greater success
  3. Leaders who collectively guide their teams towards a shared ambition create an environment where performance can accelerate and flourish

Take time now to consider your vision. What did you discover?

Career Launch Stories – International Students in America, 2 of 3

Two weeks ago we announced that we would be sharing stories about three of our international accelerated certificate program (ACP) students. This is the second in the series of three.

Blending Business and Science for Global Success
Yuta Okanoya age 25, Japan
ESL, ACP IBOM, ACP Project Management, Internship

Yuta Okanoya was right in the middle of earning his master’s degree in bioengineering and chemistry in Japan when he decided to pack up and leave. As he began to forge his career intentions, he realized that it would take more than a strong science education to stand out from the competition and achieve his goals. It required a bold move—and a one-year absence from a program he was enjoying. It was only when he took a step back and looked at the big picture of his career that he determined that learning English and international business skills in America would give him a cutting edge, even if it meant delaying his advanced degree—and missing his friends and family—during his time away.

“My dream is to work globally,” says the Accelerated Certificate Program (ACP) student. “So it’s very important for me to learn about other cultures and the way they do business.” He studied English for several months at UCI Extension before beginning the ACP in International Business Operations & Management (IBOM). He is in the U.S. to polish his language skills, study business and complete a professional internship. “Usually one year is not enough to do all of that,” he says, so he was thrilled to discover UCI’s program through an agent and applied.

In Irvine, Yuta finds a welcoming community. “In Japan, it is almost impossible to talk to strangers,” he says. “I like the people. Tokyo is humid and crowded. Everything here is very big, at UCI and in America.” Yuta is one of the ACP students who lived with a local family rather than living in campus housing or renting an apartment. “I had planned to stay three months, but my host family is so nice that I decided to stay for a year,” he reveals happily. His host mother is Japanese-American and his host father is Chinese-American, which he says gave him an instant comfort level. “They invite me to go to church with them and meet people there,” he says. “And they helped me buy a car,” which will be imperative for getting to and from his internship.

Despite his jam-packed schedule, Yuta arrives to his ACP classrooms looking relaxed in newly purchased flip flops, a SoCal wardrobe staple and affordable fashion statement. There, his focus is apparent. Without a business background, he occasionally experiences information overload, but he also knows this means he is absorbing what he came to learn.

Before he arrived at UCI,“I only knew things specific to biochemistry, so every day I learned new things about business,” he explains. (VIDEO) While the frequent group presentations with classmates from all corners of the globe challenge him, “it is getting easier” with practice, he smiles. “At grad school in Japan, the professors just talk and talk,” Yuta says. “At UCI, we have a conversation; there is discussion. For me, it’s very comfortable, and I didn’t expect that.”

In fact, Yuta says he didn’t like the popular online classes that he took in his home country because he couldn’t interact with fellow students or ask questions of the instructors. “I didn’t learn anything,” he says. “I prefer a face-to-face classroom. If I have time, I would come back and study again.”

Yuta says that during class he was always thinking about how he could use the methods he was learning to export Japanese devices in the future. “When I go back to Japan, I hope to combine that knowledge for my career.” For Yuta, the ACP program has expanded the way he will approach his career upon his return. (VIDEO)