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How to Prepare for a Job Fair

Job fairs are a great opportunity to connect with companies in the area and start to learn more about industries you might be interested in. Whether you’re searching for a job or just trying to network, job fairs can be a great place to get started.

Our team has put together some tips on how to make your first or next job fair a success!

Do Your Research

Most job fairs have a list of companies or industries that will be at the event. Look up the businesses before the event and figure out which ones interest you. Then, when you’re there, you’ll be able to dedicate time to visiting those booths first, instead of wandering around aimlessly.

If you find a company that catches your eye, it might be useful to see if they have any open positions posted on their website or a job board. Then you can learn more about positions that you might qualify for so you can ask better questions when you show up.

Come Prepared

When you start looking at job fairs, you might notice that some of them allow you to register before the event. It’s always a great idea to pre-register if they let you! That way, employers can review your information before the event even starts.

Here are some other tips for coming prepared:

  • Look your best! Dress in business attire and be sure to shower beforehand.
  • Print off your resume. It’s always a good idea to have a few copies with you. Not sure how to write a good resume? Click here for some tips.
  • Bring a few copies of your cover letter. Most employers won’t ask for it, but it’s best to bring it just in case. Need some help? Read our blog.
  • Hand out business cards. If you have business cards, it’s a good idea to bring them with you and to hand them out to the people you meet so they can remember you.
  • Come with questions. They’ll help you start a good conversation with employers. If you aren’t sure what to ask, click here for ideas.

Make sure to put your best foot forward when you’re at the job fair. Above all else, be professional, but be yourself!

The BCVision team works to help develop the workforce in Battle Creek. We are happy to provide assistance and resources, whether you’re looking for a job, in the process of interviewing for a job, or just want to develop skills in your current position. Reach out to partners like Michigan Works! Southwest for a list of available job fairs and opportunities, or contact us for more information.

How to Apply for Scholarships

Preparing for college is a long process. There are a lot of steps, from researching options to requesting reference letters and more.

For many students, scholarships are an important part of their college application process. These funds can make a huge difference in a student’s ability to pursue higher education. That’s why our team has put together some tips on how to find and apply for scholarships to help make secondary education more accessible.

Scholarship Basics

Scholarships are sums of money that are either reoccurring or a one-time payment. These payments are directly applied toward your education expenses, and they never have to be repaid. That’s why most scholarships have an application process, and why often times the qualifications require an essay. The essays are often required for applicants to explain why they are deserving of the funds. They’re granted based on need and on your achievements or application.

As we mentioned, scholarships don’t need to be repaid, unlike student loans. That means that they’re a great first place to look when you’re trying to find college funding.

Finding Scholarships

There are different types of scholarships. Some of them, called merit scholarships, are based on your grades and activities. There are also other types of scholarships that are awarded based on talents or demographics. There are also need-based scholarships, which are awarded according to financial need.

As we mentioned in our blog about when to start looking for colleges, there are a lot of great scholarship opportunities in the area including BCCF and BCCAN. Start searching for scholarships by asking your teachers or school guidance counselor for suggestions. They know you and your academics, and they might be able to point you towards specific scholarships that are a good fit.

If you’re part of a community, cultural, or religious organization, you can also ask those leadership teams for any advice. They might know of scholarships that are already available from those groups.

If you’ve already decided what college or university you want to attend, their admissions office may be able to connect you with scholarship opportunities, too. There are plenty of places to look! Just be sure to ask a credible source for suggestions in order to avoid scholarship scams.

How to Apply

Most scholarships will require you to answer one or two essay questions. These can range a lot in topic, but it’s important to always read the application thoroughly. Here are some tips to write an awesome response:

  • Read the whole prompt before you begin writing.
  • Don’t be afraid to make it personal.
  • Make sure to include one sentence at the beginning of your response that summarizes your thoughts (a.k.a. a thesis statement).
  • Make sure to answer the question truthfully.
  • When you’re done, read your response out loud. It may sound silly, but when you read out loud, your ear can help catch any grammar mistakes you might have missed when you wrote.
  • Run a spell check on your response.
  • If there is a word count requirement, make sure your response meets it. If there is a maximum word count, make sure you don’t go over it.

If you aren’t sure about your response, try asking a friend, parent, teacher, or other trusted person to read it for you. They might be able to help you spot any areas that might need more attention.

Many scholarships have deadlines. The most important part of applying for a scholarship is to make sure that you submit it before the deadline!

The BCVision team works to foster talent development in the Battle Creek community. We are happy to provide assistance and resources for you throughout your college application experience and into your career. Contact us for more information.

Carol Poole, a Get Caught recipient, smiles at the camera.

Meet Carol Poole

Carol Poole is a program instructor for the Adult Education Program at Denso Manufacturing. Denso partnered with BCVision’s GED taskforce and Battle Creek Public Schools to offer employees a chance to earn their General Education Degree (GED).

Carol earned her GED in the 1970s. She went on to college and received a teaching certificate in elementary and special education. She also has a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Over the years, Carol has worked as a teacher and even had her own private practice. She then came out of retirement to continue pursuing her passion in education.

Helping Students Succeed

As a program instructor, Carol helps assess each student’s skills individually and then creates a plan for them to reach their goal of earning a GED or high school equivalency. She then teaches the curriculum. Carol even administers the tests that students must pass to earn their degrees. In addition to the academic portion, the students also learn soft skills which help them become better employees.

Carol goes above and beyond when it comes to helping students succeed and reach their goals. She meets students where they are and lets them learn at their own pace. She’s willing to work with students one-on-one and on weekends. She even provides snacks at her lessons!

Carol strives to change the perspective about learning. She believes education should be fun and exciting. She tells her students, “If you’re not having fun, I’m doing it wrong.” Her sense of humor and compassion helps her build relationships and figure out each student’s learning style.

Carol says the fear of failure can sometimes hold students back. She believes that with grit and commitment, anyone can earn their GED, no matter how long it takes. “The first step is the hardest and if you can dream it, we can help you do it,” Carol said.

Keeping the Momentum Going

Getting a GED can help elevate and enrich students’ lives in many ways. Carol believes it has a ripple effect, but it begins with education. She says education builds pride and self-esteem. As people develop a sense of pride in themselves, they also begin to develop a sense of pride in where they live.

The Adult Education Program at Denso Manufacturing impacts the lives of the students but also the lives of their children, grandchildren and eventually the community as a whole.

Many students come in with the goal to just get their GEDs. Over time, the students learn the value of education and that leads to curiosity and interest in other things like politics, financial literacy, skill trades, pursuing a college degree, etc. Carol’s goal is for the program to grow and encompass all the manufacturing companies in the Fort Custer area, so that employees at each company have this opportunity to earn their GED. “The more the program grows, the more lives we change,” Carol said.

The Best Part

Carol says the best part of her position is working with her team and the students she serves. Carol loves the relationships she builds with the students.

Getting her GED changed Carol’s life. “[Adult Education] is my passion, and I think it’s because I’m a GED grad, and I know all the doors that it opens to life.” Carol says she feels privileged to be a part of the students’ journey and success and she appreciates that they remember her down the line. Many students have reached out to her after graduation to thank her for helping them reach their goal. 

Do you know someone who is helping to move our community forward? Nominate someone today by emailing us at support@battlecreekvision.com. Make sure to read about our past “Get Caught” recipients like Cherise Buchanan, Priscilla Dieguez, and so many more!

 

 

Giving Back to the Battle Creek Community

We love being a part of the Battle Creek community. This is a place where everyone can live, work and play. That’s thanks to the people who make up our community and the volunteers who give back.

In order to foster a culture of vitality, it’s important to have people who are passionate about giving back to the community around and want to celebrate our city.

That’s why our team put together a list of some of the best ways to give back in the Battle Creek community. Keep reading to find out about some awesome opportunities.

Offer to Help

One of the easiest ways to give back to your community is to volunteer when opportunity comes knocking. If you’re a part of an organization, club, or other group, make it a point to volunteer the next time they ask.

You can also keep an eye out on the people around you. If you see someone struggling with groceries or if a classmate needs a ride, offer to help out. That helps to spread a feeling of community among all of us in Battle Creek.

Look for Opportunities

Keep an eye out for larger opportunities in the community. Some neighborhoods may have associations that you can join. Other groups in the community focus on different cultures or interests. Find one that you like, and then start asking how you can help them out.

You can also try asking teachers, supervisors, or other role models if they know of any opportunities to give back. If you can’t find any, try hosting a food drive with your friends or coworkers. Then drop the collected items off at a local charity.

Make sure to check out our blog about the simple ways you can improve Battle Creek for more ideas. There are also a lot of local resources available to you. Check out Neighborhood Planning Councils, United Way, and BCCF if you need a good place to start.

Sign Up to Volunteer

When in doubt, you can always volunteer to give back. Depending on where you volunteer, you can commit to a one-time experience or to a recurring position.

If you’re interested in flexible volunteer work, try getting involved in our Street Team or one of our other volunteer opportunities. We’re always looking for a dedicated volunteer base to help promote a culture of vitality.

There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in our community. Even if an organization doesn’t say that they are actively looking for volunteers, many will still gladly take your help. Try reaching out to causes that you’re passionate about. After all, when you volunteer for something you care about, you’re more likely to enjoy yourself and make a real impact.

Our team is dedicated to creating a culture of vitality in the Battle Creek community and ensuring that Battle Creek is a city where everyone can live, work, and play. Want to learn more? Visit our website to learn about how we are moving Battle Creek forward.

Which Questions to Ask in an Interview

Job hunting can be difficult. In fact, when some people get an interview, they find themselves nervous instead of excited. That’s because interviewing takes practice, and when you don’t know what to expect, the experience can be intimidating. Although it’s completely normal to have anxiety even if you are completely prepared.

We previously put together some tips on how to have an impressive phone interview, and many of those tips apply to in person interviews, too. That’s why we’ll be focusing on the questions you can ask to get the information you need to succeed.

When to Ask Questions

During a typical interview, the interviewer will ask you a series of questions that they expect you to answer. Once they’re done asking, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. Generally speaking, they are hoping you have some questions because it shows you are really interested in the role.

If you’re in an interview that doesn’t ask you for feedback, it’s okay to politely say, “I have a few questions about the position. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind answering them for me.”

In most cases, your interviewer will gladly answer any questions you have. If they aren’t willing, the job might not be the right fit for you.

Which Questions to Avoid

Although it’s good to ask questions during your interview, there are some questions that you shouldn’t bring up. Try to avoid topics like:

  • Salary or pay
  • Timelines for promotions or raises
  • Requests for special accommodations

These topics are important, and you should ask about them, but you shouldn’t do that until a job offer is on the table or being discussed. Then you can begin negotiating specifics, which is a normal part of the hiring process.

Which Questions to Ask

When you prepare for your interview, you might want to write down a few questions that are on your mind. That way, when you’re at the interview, you’ll come prepared with at least two questions that you can ask.

Here are some example questions to help give you ideas:

  • What is your company’s culture like?
  • Can you go into a little more depth about what a typical day in this role would look like?
  • What do you expect your new hire to accomplish in the first six months?
  • Why is the position empty?
  • When should I expect to hear back from you about this interview?

Remember to also bring a notebook with you so you can write down any questions that come up while you’re talking. 

The BCVision team is dedicated to developing the workforce in the Battle Creek community. We are happy to provide assistance and resources, whether you’re looking or applying for a job, in the process of interviewing for a job, or want to further your education to move up in your career. Reach out to our partners, like Michigan Works! Southwest for the next step in your career, or contact us for more information. Make sure to also check out our blogs about how to write an impactful resume and cover letter for more information.

When to Start Looking at Colleges

We know that college isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in pursuing a higher education, it can be hard to decide when is the right time to start looking at colleges to attend.

Our team wants you to feel prepared as you begin your college exploration, so we’ve put together some tips on when to start looking into higher education and what your next steps should be.

Getting Started

Most high school students take the SATs during their junior year. Even if you aren’t a junior, it might be worth thinking about where you want to go. If you’re not sure what your first step should be, try reaching out to your guidance counselors, an advisor, or career coach to help get you started.

If college sounds like the right fit for you, you might want to start asking the people in your life where they went to school. You’ll probably get a wide range of suggestions, from large universities to local community colleges like our own Kellogg Community College. Be sure to ask your family and friends if they have any advice from their own search and experiences too! That can help you if you need help finding a good place to start.

If you’re a junior or have already graduated, that’s okay! It’s never too late to start exploring a college or university education as an option. If you’ve been out of high school for a few years, you may qualify as a non-traditional student, which could even mean that you qualify for additional grants or scholarships, too.

What to Look For

Once you have a few colleges you’re interested in it might be time to start looking for key factors that can contribute to your success. If a college or university catches your eye, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this college or university offer a degree that I would like to pursue?
  • What are the admission requirements, including required test scores, essays, and application fees?
  • How expensive is tuition at this college or university?
  • Does this college or university offer financial aid? What about scholarships?
  • Will I feel welcomed and inspired at this college or university?

If you find that the answers to these questions match your expectations, or if you can’t find enough information to know the answers, you might want to arrange a college tour. That way you can explore the grounds and talk one-on-one with someone who can answer your questions directly.

Start Preparing

If you find a college that you want to attend, it’s time to start preparing. Ask around at your school to find out if there are any scholarship opportunities that you could apply for. You can also typically find scholarship contests online that offer small but useful boosts to your education fund. Check out BCCF and BCCAN for great resources for local available scholarship opportunities.

Some universities may require letters of reference. If you’re thinking of attending college, it’s never too early to start asking people in your network for letters. Check out our blog on how to get started.

Remember that everyone’s educational experience is different. It isn’t a race to the finish, so keep your head up and do your best. After all, every step you take to further your education can help you change your future for the better.

The BCVision team is dedicated to fostering talent development in Battle Creek. We are happy to provide assistance and resources for you throughout your college application experience and into your career. Contact us for more information.

Writing New Year’s Resolutions that Last

Welcome to 2020! Every new year brings the opportunity to start new habits and reach new heights. This year, we want to help you create New Year’s resolutions that can have a positive impact on you and your community.

The hardest part of starting new habits or breaking old ones is dedication. That’s why we’re giving you some tips on how to stick to your new goals all year round.

Write Great Resolutions

A lot of people write resolutions that are either very general or too ambitious. When you come up with your new goals, make sure to make them measurable and realistic.

What do we mean? Instead of deciding your goal is to “give back to the community,” try making your goal something like, “Volunteer at least four times this year.” When you do that, you set yourself a specific goal and a time frame. Once you volunteer once, you’re motivated to do it again to achieve, or exceed, your goal. It’s within reach!

When you’re choosing your resolution, make sure that the goal isn’t too hard. If you already volunteer twice a year, for example, giving yourself a goal of four times this year is achievable and reasonable. If you pick up trash every other Saturday, try doing it every week. One step up is always the best way to go.

Stay Motivated

When you have specific goals, it is far easier to stay motivated. It can still be discouraging when you haven’t made any progress after a few months in the year.

If that’s the case, try this: break the year into four sections. Those are January-March, April-June, July-September, and October-December. During each one of those quarters, make sure to accomplish one thing that gets you closer to achieving your resolution.

If you’re following our volunteer example and you want to volunteer four times this year, you can volunteer once during each of those three-month periods. That way, you don’t feel overwhelmed. Break it down into smaller, bite-sized chunks.

Need Ideas?

Some of the best New Year’s resolutions are the ones that help out your community. If you’re stuck on what to do this year, try asking yourself these questions:

  • Are there any local nonprofits I’d like to help out?
  • How can I help the people I see every day?
  • How can I help to make my neighborhood better?
  • What is a small way that I can make the people around me happy?
  • What is a big need in my community?
  • What is a cause that I’m passionate about?
  • Who can I collaborate with to create impactful change?

Hopefully just reading those questions sparked some ideas for you. If you’re still stumped, fill out our volunteer form. We’d love to talk to you about how you can help us make the Battle Creek community a place where everyone can live, work and play.