Learning in America: International Student Stories

In the last three quarters, we’ve been following three of our international accelerated certificate program (ACP) students, Shiori Sato, Yuta Okanoya and Davood Shahabi to document their experiences. On Fridays, this November, we will share each of their personal journeys and show how UCI Extension will help them launch their new careers upon their return home. We hope that you will join us!

How to Make a Viral Video: 7 No-Brainer Steps

By Zen Yieh
Chemists Know

If you’ve been dreaming of churning out the next viral video—or wondering why your last video masterpiece didn’t reach more eager eyes—let’s take it from the top. We did it, and you can too!

We’re speaking from recent experience with a UC Irvine Department of Chemistry video, no less. Allow us one little toot from our virtual horn: This baby took in over 50,000 views in less than one week. And those who watched, subscribed, favorited, and shared are still passing it on after 80,000 views:

So how did we do it?

Trust, us—there’s an actual science to this, so to speak. The biggest marketers in the world maintain top-secret personal theories. Here’s what we think worked for us.

  1. Know your audience and create something that resonates with them. Our target viewer fell into a specific niche: chemists and scientists, current and potential chemistry students, and self-proclaimed science nerds. They’re a big group. From there, we wanted the non-science-minded friends they shared it with to enjoy it, too.
  1. Tie it into pop culture before the wave breaks. Most of us could only watch the first few parent-kid dance videos to Pharrell’s “Happy.” Yet leave it to Disney to create a film with a bubble that just won’t burst. After UCI Chemistry Department professors nearly went nuts listening to their kids singing “Let It Go,” they decided to join the bandwagon and rack up video views in the process. Writing new lyrics with a chemistry bent sure helped them get the original ones out of their heads. At least temporarily…
  1. Tell a good story. Keep your focus on the story and the emotion you want it to create over the number of views you’d like to hit. Do you want viewers to laugh? Cry? Both? Emotions make people share and share and share—especially warm, fuzzy ones. Touch an upbeat nerve and tug a heartstring if possible.
  1. Add elements people love. We’re all suckers for quick “I’m taking a break” videos with humor, pets (miraculous tricks or doing human things), weddings, blunders and adorable babies—as long as they have a unique spin. Keep it clean and family-friendly, but offer something that will get people talking.
  2. Rehearse to make it great; have fun to keep it fresh. Did you notice that our video’s lead singer was really, really into it? In addition to being a chemistry grad student, Gianmarc Grazioli is also a musician, singer and songwriter. (Raw talent helps.) Your video length also needs to be in proportion to its interest. “From the very beginning, we knew we had the difficult task of juxtaposing textbook-technical chemistry lyrics with a relatable, everyday main character and child-like humorous visuals in order to make the video appreciated both by actual chemists as well as enjoyable and accessible to any viewer,” says producer Shaunt Kouyoumdijan. “When we heard the chemists’ kids start singing along to our parody, we knew we made something special.”
  3. Add a catchy title and description blurb to capture attention. Then lead in with memorable music or a captivating opener. (Think: a suspenseful or adrenaline-packed opening film scene.)
  1. Get it out there. Yes, Facebook, yes Twitter, yes blogs, yes, share! Ask for comments and respond graciously. Consider tweeting it to a few select celebs who might appreciate the subject matter. Katy Perry and Taylor Swift (among many others) are just real people who have catapulted amateur videos to viral success through a simple click and share. Don’t be shy—overshare.

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

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


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.