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THE OFFLINE SOCIAL NETWORK – Should You Join a Local Professionals Group?

August 8, 2018

Yes. That was a bit quick and presumptuous, but purposefully so. You’re busy. Too busy, maybe, to join professional groups, locally. You’re busy planning for your future, working to improve your present, and living as large as possible. Great.

Why then did we say “yes?” Because those are the exact goals a local professionals group can help you accomplish. Perhaps even with a bit of style. We’ll break it down for you.

Where are you in life? Not physically, but professionally, mentally, and even emotionally? You can learn a lot from those who’ve walked in your shoes already and you can be motivated by those who are going through life with you at the same speed. Like minded professionals working together and creating a community, that’s where these groups excel and are among the biggest benefits.

Breaking past the limitations of the internet, past the trends of “follows” and “connections,” you have the stated purpose of getting to know members of the group as actual people, not just faces or icons. It’s right there in the description — NETWORK, which is both a noun and a verb here. Go to a meeting and start a conversation. That will quickly turn into a connection, a recommendation, and eventually an opportunity. Turns out, 60 to 80 % of jobs are found through personal connections. That’s called having big “social capital,” which is a real term used to describe people in the know with people who know.

And who knows, you might even find a new set of friends. A recent study found that 58% of local professionals polled already belong to a group. Among those who don’t belong to one, 77% are currently looking to join.

Local professional groups are the perfect playground for exercising your leadership skills and strengthening talents you hope to flaunt in the workplace someday. For instance, working with new connections on a charity project will not only build you up but showcase your abilities to other people who will be in similar industries and can spread the good word about you, for you. It could lead to freelance or even a new job.

On top of the benefits highlighted above, many local professional groups have distinguished membership incentives such as professional coaching, exclusive deals specific to your business, travel discounts, and even healthcare.

Just remember, the more you put into the community, the more you get out.

Every community is different, but most major cities should have a division of the Young Professionals Organization or a Chamber of Commerce you can look into. Another option is to explore specific interest groups. Do you love the industry you work in, like to work on community events, help people less fortunate, play with animals? Regardless of what you enjoy spending your time on, take the time to search online to see what’s out there.


Are you too busy to join a local professionals group? Yes.

Should you still join a local professionals group? Yes.

Whereas right now you have so little time you don’t know how you’re going to make it; down the road you’ll have more friends, connections, and opportunities than you’ll know what to do with. The strength you’ll get in numbers will carry you so much further than the weight you could carry on your own.


3 Steps for Negotiating a Salary


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Colleagues touching elbows as they return to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tips for Adjusting Back to Office Life

After months of remote work, workplaces are finally opening up again. To some this is exciting. At last, one can interact with their coworkers and work in a more traditional environment. Some might feel the opposite. Regardless, the switch back to the office environment will take some adjustments in your daily routine. To help you make that switch seamlessly, we’ve made this list of 6 tips that will ensure that you have no issues on your way back into the office.  

Prepare Mentally

After all the time of just being able to roll out of bed and get to work, it may seem like a drag to get ready each day to go back to the workplace. You should prepare yourself mentally to not only wake up earlier and get dressed for work but also prepare for the many things that come along with being in the office. It’s important to note 
studies show that communication is vitally important to productivity, and despite the boom in work from home technology, nothing beats face to face communication, even if it’s from six feet apart. A conversation through a screen just isn’t the same. So if you’re dreading returning to work, focus instead on the benefit of returning – a better teamwork experience.  

Stick To What Routines You Can

Without a doubt, the switch back to office work will dramatically change your routine. As such, it is even more important to stick to the things that you can. Studies show that routines are essential to sound mental health. If you have a cup of tea at 10:30 every morning, continuing to do that will bring a sense of much-needed consistency to your routine. Similarly, if you have begun to start your day with a half-hour of industry news, continue doing that. Even the smallest pieces of your routine play large roles in keeping you feeling stable and will help you in the transition back to office life.  

Plan Out Your House Work

It’s easy to forget the days where you couldn’t just crush a load of laundry or do the dishes in between conference calls, but those days are back. It’s going to be harder to get all those household chores done. In order to get back on the metaphorical chore wagon, it may be worth setting up a plan to help you get what you need to be done around your home. Not only will it keep your home clean, but it could have health benefits  

Remember Your Commute

It’s easy to forget how your workdays used to be. That commute now seems so far in the past. Unfortunately, it and all the other elements of the workday are back. Commutes can add significantly to your day.  The average American commutes for 26.1 minutes one way. Over a five day work week, this is about four hours that you’ll be losing. As such, it is important to take into account the effect the commute will have on your day. Likely you will have to get up a little earlier than before, and it may be worthwhile to map out your commute before your return to the office. Your after-work time is also cut due to the commute, so post-work activities will subsequently have to be shortened. But don’t despair – a commute is a perfect time to learn something new with your favorite podcast or an audiobook.  

Stay Safe

Sadly, the COVID-19 epidemic is not over, and even though you’ve returned to work, it is still important to ensure not only your safety but the safety of your colleagues and customers. Your workplace has likely sent out a list of guidelines and instructions to help keep the workplace safe – follow these as closely as you can, as they are in place to help you. Many will require you to wear a mask. While masks are undoubtedly uncomfortable, they are an important piece in the COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Also, remember to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. They may seem like small things, but they make the difference.  

Enjoy Yourself

After months in relative isolation, you’ll now be returning to the workplace. Now is the time to bask in the human contact you’ve so missed. Interact with your colleagues. Enjoy leaving the house. This is in many ways a return to the much-missed normalcy. Make the best of it.    While the return back to work certainly won't be easy, eventually you will become used to it as you were before. It is an essential part of returning to normalcy. But it isn’t the only path to choose – more and more companies seem to be allowing their companies to work from home following the pandemic. If you’re curious about the future of working from home, check out this article.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2020 graduate cap
Tips for 2020 Graduates Entering the Job Market

While your last semester may have been online, you’ve graduated nonetheless, and you’re finally ready to head out into the world and face the job market. After graduating amidst a global pandemic, you may feel a bit uncertain about your job prospects coming out of college. The fact is you’re entering the job market at a somewhat inopportune time – job openings on Glassdoor have dropped 20.5% after all, and articles are published weekly on the status of the 2020 graduate. However, there’s no need to panic. We’re here to tell you that you’re more prepared than you think, and there are still jobs out there for you. But just in case you feel uncertain, we’ve compiled 5 tips to help you seamlessly enter the job market.  

Be Practical

It’s no secret that the economy is on somewhat shaky footing, making it a little more difficult than usual to get that perfect job. Obviously, that perfect job is the ideal, but now is the time to be practical and expand your job search. Look in areas that you may not have considered before or in fields other than your major. These may be lower-paying than you’d hope for, but the work experience is still valuable, and stepping out of your comfort zone won’t go unnoticed when pursuing future opportunities. Search on job sites like Indeed for entry-level jobs and work from there. Your college also likely has a career center that can help you find employment. Reach out to them to see what help they can offer. Many colleges have partnered with platforms like Handshake that serve to link students with employers.  

Acquire Skills

If you want to hold out for a job in your chosen field, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Now is the perfect time to acquire skills that your employers will find valuable and that will benefit you in the long run. You might take this time to practice job interviews to improve your interview skills. The more interviews you do, the more comfortable you will be during them. As such, never turn one down, even if you aren’t interested. It’s still worth gaining the experience. As for skills that will make you more appealing to prospective employers, sites like Linkedin Learning can help you brush up on things you know or help you pick up new skills. Online classes can also serve as a way to pass the time while acquiring new skills. While building new skills doesn’t bring in immediate income, these skills will serve to make you more valuable to a prospective employer and could improve your income in the future.  

Polish What Employers Will See

Employers see a wide variety of things when looking at a prospective candidate. The resume is perhaps one of the most important. Now is the time to perfect your resume. Add in any relevant work experience you may have forgotten to add. Do some research on what employers are looking for on a resume. This should be an ongoing process. Your resume should be constantly evolving as you acquire new skills and experiences. Likewise, this is the perfect time to get your social media profiles polished. Many employers use social media as a vetting tool for prospective employees. Remove any material that could hinder you from being hired, and, in particular, get your Linkedin profile as professional and complete as possible. Employers love Linkedin, and as more and more of the hiring process is moved online, it has become an invaluable tool for them to look at prospective hires. Thus, it is important for your Linkedin to be filled out and representative of you and your workplace skills  

Expand Your Circle

As important as your skills, networking is essential is you are in the job market. Particularly in these uncertain times, an effective network can mean the difference between being employed and not. Reach out to people in your field via Linkedin or other social media outlets. Ask questions and demonstrate your interest. You may be able to get an interview with them. Even if a job doesn’t come of it, your demonstrated interest will place you in the back of their minds as well as provide you with valuable interview experience. Similarly, interacting with people within your prospective field on any of your social media platforms is beneficial to you. Employers want to see that you are engaged within the wider community of the field. Also, be sure to attend virtual industry meetups and conventions. The importance of becoming involved cannot be understated.  


It’s important to treat your job search as a job because, for a time, it is your job. Stay at it, and constantly be reaching out to prospective employers. It can be hard to stay motivated in the job search, but remember that this is necessary. Plan out your job search and keep track of the contacts you make. They could be useful later on. Make sure to take breaks when necessary. Like any job, the job search is tiring and can lead to burnout, so make sure that you rest between sending out those surges of applications. Eventually, you will make it.   Congratulations on graduating. Now for your next challenge. It would be a lie to claim this as a great time to enter the job market, and it is certainly an unfortunate time for you to graduate. The job search will be difficult, but by working hard and following these five tips, you could certainly still succeed. You can do it. If you’re looking for more post-graduation tips, we’ve got you covered. Check out this article on saving money after graduation.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
Young woman working from home
Will Working From Home Become the New Norm?

For a long time, there has been a stigma around working from home. Worries over efficiency, teamwork, and distractions all made working from home seem to be a detriment to any good business. Instead, it was only reserved for those with a history of responsibility. But the Coronavirus has changed all that, forcing many individuals to work from home, and the experience has undoubtedly changed the way we think about working from home. Several companies, Twitter prominently among them, have decided to allow their workers to work from home permanently if they so desire.


With changes in work structure as such becoming more common, the question is, will the switch to working from home be a widely accepted change, traveling further than just the Silicon Valley companies?


The Great Work-From-Home-Experiment

According to a 2016 Gallup survey, 43% of employees worked from home in some capacity, but this was generally once or twice a month. The Coronavirus crisis has changed those numbers dramatically. Gallup data from April shows 63% of employees have been working from home in the last seven days. But the switch to remote work has not been seamless. Concerns about efficiency and technical issues abound. Platforms like Zoom have been chastised for their lack of security, and the quick switch has resulted in some drops in efficiency.


Despite these concerns, the remote work business has boomed, much of it due to an incredible supply of powerful work-from-home tools. Tools like Slack® and SmartSheet® have made the transition much easier, and as a result, have seen an avalanche of new and recurring users. Microsoft® reported that the number of calls through their Microsoft Teams® had increased 1,000 percent, a number too staggering to signal a stop. They also claim that the percentage of users turning their cameras on has increased dramatically. Both of these statistics show a growing comfort with using virtual meetings. While some of the awkwardness of talking through a computer screen remains, these are undoubtedly the first steps to normalizing remote work and video conferencing.


The Effects

The worries about the effectiveness of remote work have long prevented it from entering the public sphere in a major way. It is a difficult question about how to manage accountability, and common wisdom would claim that working from home makes it easier than ever to slack off. After all, the person who was once leaning over your shoulder or popping by your workspace is now gone. There is nothing to prevent you from browsing Facebook for an hour. However, studies have proven that working from home is largely effective and good for the morale of employees. A recent study of 3,500 remote workers found that the majority prefer working remotely, with 98% claiming they were willing to recommend working remotely to others. One of the largest boosts to morale that working from home provides is freedom from the commute. Researchers have found that adding 20 minutes to a commute can make you as miserable as getting a 19% pay cut.


But the question remains of whether or not one can truly be productive working from home. Many studies say yes, but still, some conventional wisdom says the opposite. Less interaction with coworkers, less pressure from a supervisor, among other benefits associated with being in the same place a business is a team effort after all. If people are separated, how is it possible that they can be anywhere near as effective as people who are face to face and working hand in hand?


The Disrupters

True to their names, many of the companies that have begun to allow employees to work from home full-time are Silicon Valley companies, and they seem to disagree with conventional wisdom. At the beginning of May, Twitter stated that they would allow any employees who wanted to work remotely to do so. Facebook has made a similar statement, allowing their employees to work through the end of the year remotely. However, they have an interesting catch. Depending on where their employees live, their pay will be affected. Someone living in North Dakota will be making less than someone living in San Francisco. This accounts for the different costs of living in the two areas. This highlights one of the many benefits to employers of remote work – the option to pay based on location. Not everyone needs a $100,000 salary for a one-bedroom apartment.


Speaking of expensive buildings, another benefit of remote work is that employers are able to cut down on their office space. Office space in big cities like New York or San Francisco is colossally expensive. In New York, office space costs about $6.16 per square foot, totaling about $14,000 for each employee a year. Knowing this makes it easy to see why it is tempting for employers to take their employees online. Even more traditional businesses like Morgan Stanley have decided to take advantage of the boom in work from home technology. Who can resist saving the amounts of money that a reduction in office space can provide in expensive cities? These companies are setting trends for the work of the future, and it is likely that some other companies will follow in their footsteps. After all, it makes hiring the best employees easier by offering them more freedom, and other companies will have to compete with that freedom in other ways if they do not offer remote work.


Here to Stay: Probably

The Coronavirus pandemic has made the benefits of remote work clearer than ever, despite the concerns of lost productivity. Some benefits, such as the need for less office space and the recruiting benefits are simply too hard to ignore, and with the rise of dozens of new productivity tools, working from home has never been easier.


If you are looking for a new work from home job, check out our list of 8 legitimate work from home jobs.


Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.