Online Education: Using Twitter to Get the Job You Deserve

Social media is a twenty-first century revolution that has swept the globe. It has given billions of people new opportunities to share their voices, connect, and facilitate the type of discussion that helps propagate more revolutions. It has infiltrated television, movies, advertising, mobile phones, online education, and a whole slew of other niches that are heavily embedded in many peoples’ daily lifestyles. To say that social media is here to stay would be an absurd understatement. In a way, the world is moving towards virtual connectivity on a level that parallels the time when the Internet first became available for personal use.

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Your Business Cards

We’ve discussed the cheap revolution before. It’s the notion that you can do so many things today and use countless services for a fraction of what they used to cost. This helps drive entrepreneurship and it helps people sell products or services without a huge support organization. You can be a one-person wrecking crew, using email, the web and social media to network, chase leads and close sales.

That said, there are still some older traditions that you shouldn’t abandon. While you may not need a fancy office and a receptionist answering phones, you should have a web site or other online presence, and you should have things like business cards. The online and mobile worlds are important, but person-to-person networking is still critical.

But here the cheap revolution helps as well. You can access business card printing services online and avoid all the hassles of the past. It’s easier and cheaper and you get exactly what you want. So do all the new media stuff, but never abandon old methods of meeting people in person and exchanging business cards.


Real Estate Career Outlook OK

In its heyday, real estate was one of the most lucrative careers in the U.S. Top agents and brokers could easily make six (or even seven) figures a year doing what they loved—selling homes and commercial properties. Today, the market has obviously cooled, so it’s a bit tougher for agents and brokers to make a buck. However, according to financial analysts and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the real estate industry is far from dead. In fact, because home prices and interest rates are so incredibly low, right now is the best time to buy. What this means is, although real estate agents and brokers may make less per sale than they’re used to, there are lots of sales to be made. So, if you want to break into the real estate industry and you’re willing to wait, say 3-5 years for the industry to really bounce back, you could end up making a very lucrative living down the line.

Employment in Real Estate at a Glance

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook (2010-2011), employment of real estate brokers and agents  is expected to grow faster than average for the 2008-2018 decade. The industry is still very competitive, with well-established, more experienced brokers and agents leading the pack. Beginners do face an uphill battle, but can use the time to learn the ropes, establish themselves, and prepare for better days down the line. As such, the Bureau suggests that beginners have enough money to live for about 6 months or until commissions increase.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of real estate brokers and sales agents (combined) is expected to grow 14 percent during the 2008-18 decade, which is faster than average for all occupations. Separately, employment of real estate agents is expected to grow 16 percent and real estate brokers is 9 percent, for an average of 14 percent overall.

Brokers and agents can expect job growth based on “a growing population, particularly young adults, who will be forming households in greater numbers.” These buyers will require the services of real estate agents and brokers to buy their homes. In addition, although some argue that renting rules right now, millions of people still believe in the American Dream. This means owning a home. According to BLS, home sales will be sparked by the continuing desire for people to own their own homes and their perception that real estate will be a good investment over the long run.

According BLS, in addition to job growth, agents just entering the field can expect a large number of job openings based on the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Real estate brokers and sales agents are older, on average, than most other workers, and many are expected to leave the occupation over the next decade.

Salaries for Real Estate Brokers and Agents

Today’s real estate industry is no place for part-timers. If you are ambitious, well trained,  enjoy selling, and have “extensive social and business connections” you will have the best chance of success. In addition, large urban areas and “rapidly growing communities” are the best places for real estate. Employment is heavily concentrated in these areas.

The Bureau reports average salaries for agents and brokers, but keep in mind that commissions are the main source of earnings in this industry and they vary greatly “according to whatever the agent and broker agree on, the type of property, and its value.” Region may play a role as well. While commissions can be all over the board, several years ago, the National Association of Realtors reported an average commission rate of 5.2 percent across the nation, with a range between 5 and 7 percent. Again, average salaries should be taken with a grain of salt. According to BLS:

The median annual wages, including commissions, of salaried real estate sales agents were $40,150 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $27,390 and $64,820 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,120, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $101,860. Median annual wages, including commissions, of salaried real estate brokers were $57,500 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $36,420 and $93,970 a year.

Residential building construction offered the highest median average annual wages at $63,280 per year for real estate brokers and $49,620 per year for real estate agents.

Becoming a Real Estate Agent or Broker

Yes, to be a successful agent or broker, you have to have a pleasant personality and be trustworthy, mature, and enthusiastic about selling real estate, but in today’s competitive real estate industry, you need much, much more. A high school diploma is the minimum requirement to break into the industry, but many firms wont even look at an applicant that has less than a bachelor’s degree. Common degrees for this field include real estate, finance, law, business, economics, accounting, and marketing.

Whether you have a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree, you must be licensed to become a real estate broker or agent. This means you’ll have to pass a written examination. Many states also require 30-90 hours of classroom instruction. Broker’s must take a more comprehensive exam and have between 60 and 90 hours of formal training, and typically 1-3 years of experience selling real estate. In some states, a bachelor’s degree in real estate may allow you to waive the experience requirements to become a licensed broker.

Because laws are always changing, among other things, many states require continuing education for license renewals. Brokers and agents must renew their licenses every 1-2 years, depending on state requirements. Contact your state real estate licensing commission for specific licensing requirements. Visit for contact information for each state commission.


How Do Scientific Staffing Agencies Work?

A scientific staffing agency specializes in matching professionals that work in scientific fields with employers in the industry. The types of positions are not limited to biologist, astronomer, meteorologist, engineer, or physicist. Scientific staffing agencies also work with technicians, lab assistants, research assistants, record clerks, and many other entry-level workers in the science sector.

Scientific staffing agencies work with the employee and the employer to find the right match for both parties. Companies, facilities, and organizations sign up with the agency much in the same way as a potential employee does. The agency meets with a representative of the company to assess its needs. If the agency feels like the company would be an asset, the agency will perform a background check on the company and if it passes, the agency will enter into a contract outlining how and under what terms it will help with the company’s staffing needs.

To sign up with a scientific staffing agency, job seekers must begin by submitting a resume and references. Once the agency has verified an applicant’s employment history and references, he or she will be invited to interview. At this point, the applicant may be asked to take a series of skill tests and sign an authorization for a background check. In most cases, a drug test and credit check may be required as well.

Once the process is complete, the agency will begin searching its database for possible matches. Scientific staffing agencies work with hundreds of employers on a daily basis, so many job seekers end up working multiple temporary assignments before the agency finds a permanent match. Temporary workers typically work assignments that last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. In some cases, these assignments lead to a permanent position.

Whether you’re a temporary worker or the agency places you in a permanent position, you will never have to pay a fee for their services. Salaries and fees are paid by the hiring company, organization, or facility.

How to Locate Scientific Staffing Agencies

It’s perfectly ok to use your favorite search engine to locate scientific staffing agencies, but this shouldn’t be your first choice. If at all possible, obtain a referral from a friend, family member or co-worker. Someone with firsthand experience with any given staffing agency is much better than dealing with an agency blind.

If you cannot find a referral, jot down 5-10 agencies that you find online and start researching. Find out how long they’ve been in business, if they are listed with the Better Business Bureau, and if there are any complaints against the company. You should also make sure the company can be reached by phone, email, and fax—not just email. Make sure the company has a physical address/office as well. If there’s a problem, you should have the option to speak with someone in person.

A reputable company will be more than willing to provide answers to any questions you may have and they are even willing to provide their own references and testimonials for you to check out on your own. Remember, if a staffing agency offers vague answers to your questions or if they request a fee, chances are it’s not an agency you want to do business with.


Top College Funding Programs for Military Personnel

There are more than 1.1 million active military personnel in the U.S. today and more than 1 million reserve and National Guard members around the country. Civilian personnel also make up a sizable number of America’s military system with more than 634,185 active employees distributed throughout the four branches of military service—the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Many members of the military will continue their careers within any of the four branches of service, while others will pursue interests outside of the military, such as obtaining a college degree.

One of the biggest benefits of serving in the U.S. military is the opportunity to have most if not all of your college tuition covered. For veterans and current members of the military, the U.S. government has set aside more than $4 billion in education benefits and more than $3 billion in grants. Veterans and current members of the military are almost guaranteed a substantial amount of “free” funding for college, regardless of income, in the form of benefits, grants, and scholarships.

Depending on the program, students may enjoy benefits that cover anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of undergraduate or graduate school expenses. In addition, low-cost student loans are also available to all members and former members of the military.

Programs for Veterans and Current Members of the Military

Because the U.S. military is made up of a diverse group of American citizens and the military is diverse and complex in itself, there are literally hundreds of college financial aid programs to consider. The following are the largest financial aid programs offered by the U.S. government/military. It is important to keep in mind that each of the four branches of military offers its own distinct financial aid programs.

The Montgomery GI Bill

The Montgomery GI Bill provides benefits to veterans, service members, and certain dependents of disabled or deceased veterans interested in pursuing a degree or vocational training. The GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits to servicemembers. For post-9/11 veterans, the benefit will cover the full cost of tuition at any public school in the country and a sizable number of private schools. Tuition payments will be paid directly to the school and each student will receive a $1,000 book/supply stipend per year as well as a monthly living stipend. Tuition payments are capped at the cost of the most expensive public school in each state. Please click here for a state-by-state breakdown. To calculate your benefits, click here or visit the GI Bill 2008 website at:

To apply for the Montgomery GI Bill visit the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to complete and submit your electronic application online or you may call 1-888-GI-BILL (1-888-442-4551) to have the application form mailed to you.


For individuals interested in earning a college degree and serving as an officer in the Army, Army Reserve, or the Army National Guard, the Army ROTC program is for you. The program is offered at more that 600 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and it is the largest single source of Army officers. Army ROTC scholarships pay up to $20,000 a year for college tuition and education fees or room and board. The student may choose what area he or she would like to use the scholarship award for.

In addition to a maximum $20,000 per year, ROTC students will also receive a tax-free subsistence allowance for up to 10 months each year the scholarship award is in effect. The amount of the subsistence allowance increases as student’s progress through the program. Army ROTC scholarships are based on merit and grades, not on need. So a student may fall into any income bracket and still qualify for a scholarship award. For more information about Army ROTC, visit the official Army ROTC website at:

Federal Pell Grants

Many forms of financial aid for veterans and military personnel may be combined with the Federal Pell Grant to help cover the costs of college. Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Pell Grant Program is the largest grant program offered by the federal government.

U.S. Congress sets the maximum award amount based upon a student’s need analysis and status (full or part-time). For the 2009-2010 academic year, the maximum award is expected to fall somewhere between $4,241-$4,310.

To apply for a Federal Pell Grant, simply fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form online at

Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP)

The Veterans Education Assistance Program is a matching program designed to help cover the costs of college tuition and it may also cover the costs for refresher courses for individuals who have been out of school for a while. Enlisted individuals can contribute $25-$100 per month to an educational fund. The Federal government will match the contribution with $2 for every $1 contributed by the service member. The program pays the service member up to 75 percent for undergraduate courses and 90 percent for job-related courses.


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