By Ahmad Jenkins
My second oldest son, Chad did something that made me so proud of him. He put forth all his intellect along with his fellow classmates to give back to a noble cause they felt strongly about.
The power and influence youth have on the world around them is an awesome thing. Whether it’s in the field of sciences, religion, social activism, etc. They can if given the right inspiration use those passions to truly make a difference.
Chad participated as a member of the ‘Arsenic Arresters’ which consisted of sixth and seventh grade boys along with their Advisor Laura Wilbanks from Texas Tech University and Dr. William Rodgers, an Associate Professor for Agriculture and Natural Sciences from West Texas A&M University. This group of young scientist formed hypothesis around addressing arsenic poisoning in their area’s water supply. For all the hard work these youngsters put in they won $25,000 after they took the top spot in the Lexus Eco Challenge, a national competition whose entries focus on innovative ways to improve the environment.
Arsenic, according to the World Health Organization, is a toxic metal that is a naturally occurring, and a consequence of pesticide use. Arsenic is a known carcinogen and is the number one environmental chemical of concern for human health in the United States and worldwide.
In today’s still competitive job market the interview still remains on of the most stressful aspects of job hunting for the job seeker. Sitting across from the first, and one of the most important people the job seeker will have to make a favorable impression on.
As foreboding as it may seem there are actually several actions that can be put into play to make the interview not so stressful; and in fact something that will more enjoyable, if not informative about the position you are seeking. As a fellow job seeker, I can also attest to how frustrating, if not scary interviews can be at times (especially if it’s for a position you really, really want.)
Four tips to maximizing your potential at Interviews
1. Finding your passion
I guess it would be a bit needless to say, your best bet at growing your potential at any interview would be before the interview, and that by applying and going for job positions your not only qualified for; but also have a passion for. Of course this requires a bit of reflection apart from sifting through online job boards, or even applying in person. Here are some questions to reflect upon in the search for a career that helps a person fulfill their passion, rather than just find a simple job:
- What makes me happy?
- What adjectives would people who know me use to describe me?
- What are my core values in life?
- What is my definition of success?
- What things at work am I good at accomplishing?
- What things at work do I hate?
- What do I want to be known for?
- What would be the description of my “perfect job”?With what kind of people would I be working?
- How would my work benefit me?
- How would my work benefit other people?
- How would my work make me feel?
Take the time out to go to a place where you can find quiet to reflect and honestly answer these questions. Being successful at whatever you chose means taking out the time to find what your truly passionate about, and that passion extends into your work where it will come across clearly not only to you, but also to those you work with.
2. Do as much research as you can on your targeted companies/job openings.
Once you’ve found that passion, that position that wakes you up every morning, and even keeps you up late (sometimes). Do as much research as you can about the position your going for. What do you as a job seeker bring to the table that allows you to stand out from others. Your research will also help you during the interview where you will face some very tough questioning from the hiring manager, for example one infamous question I’m sure we’ve all had to answer ( and even get briefly stuck on..) is ” Why do you want to work here?” Of course, for many of us the the first answer that springs to mind ( sometimes sarcastically) is, ‘I need a job’. As true as that may be, it actually says nothing about you that helps you to stand out as a good candidate for a position that hundreds of others are applying for.. and they also share your sentiment of needing a job.
Being prepared for a job interview, not only concerning what skills you bring to the position, but also why you are pursuing it will boost your chances of standing out among other job applicants.
This short story is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “Church Bells”. I wanted to to write a series of short stories to begin to introduce the characters and their background.
All her training had finally come to this moment, for Humble this would be her most challenging test so far in her training. Since she could remember Humble and her siblings; Tegina, Chad, and Donte have trained in Ninjitsu under the instruction of their father Mr. Mohammed. Mr. Mohammed was careful to pick tests that were not only challenging and fun for them, but also tested them in something they feared, or saw as an obstacle. Humble’s oldest siblings Tegina and Chad had earlier completed thier first tests. They both passed with flying colors, Tegina’s test was that she had to go on a three-day quest to fulfill a set of tasks known only to her and Mr. Muhammed. She returned exhausted, but had the biggest smile on her face. Chad’s challenge was just as exhausting, it consisted of one of the most extreme obstacle courses the children had ever seen; complete with rotating platforms, a small pond he had to swim, booby traps, and a small make shift fort to infiltrate without rousing the guards (Humble, Tegina, Donte, and Mr. Muhammed).
Humble’s test was no less difficult, and now she stood there staring at one of the most difficult challenges she had ever faced as a young ninja. There wasn’t much Humble feared, what few things she did she kept to herself. This however was different, she had to climb a 12 foot wall. Padded ‘logs’ were set up to swing across the length of the wall designed to knock the unwary climber off. On top of that 2 feet from the top blocks within the wall were set up to extend alternatively, creating platforms that appeared and disappeared. Letting out a breath, Humble adjusted her hijab and mentally prepared herself for the climb.
“Are you ready?” Mr. Muhammed asked. Humble turned to her father, and before she could say anything he gave the signal for her to begin her test that would challenge her and everything she had so far learned. As she began, Humble kept in mind what her father taught her about climbing. “It’s not a race, take your time… every step, hand hold and foot placement has a purpose…”. She was also careful not to look down. Before she knew it she had reached the halfway mark, and could see. A log swung close to her nearly knocking her off, Humble struggled to regain her composure and nearly got knocked off a second time by a second had she not pressed her small lithe body against the wall. Humble stopped short of the extending blocks, ” How am i going to get past these?” She thought briefly. She soon came up with a remedy, she had watched her mother play Super Mario Bros. so many times, and from that she had an awesome idea. She could time the extending blocks and use them as platforms to jump from to the other. ” Why not? It’s worth a try.”
Humble continued to climb until she was close to the first block, and after taking a deep breath launched herself to it, and scrabbling on top. She had mere seconds to jump to the next, and wasted no time in keeping time to keep from tumbling off. Before she realized it Humble was near the top, and pulled herself to the top. Standing up to get a full view of her accomplishment, she almost lost her balance from the dizzying height. At the base of the wall she could see her sister, brothers and father looking up at her. Chad, Tegina, and Donte (her youngest brother) were clapping and cheering for her. This was Humble’s proudest moment. She had conquered something she had been training to achieve for so long, and felt like dancing… of course she didn’t for fear of falling.
Author Stefanie Newell shares how she knew she was a writer in her younger years.
By Ahmad Jenkins
While I love being a writer there are times where I do tend to take myself far too seriously. Of course I’m not saying this profession is easy, actually it can be very demanding. The more devoted, and the more you love every aspect of your job; the more demands you find yourself trying to fulfill.
When I first started to embark upon becoming a writer I really had no idea as to the reality of a writers daily habits in order to be truly successful, something I’m still working to get down myself. I’ve also made many ‘newbie’ mistakes, the first was signing up and attempting to work with content mills. I soon learned that while content mills provide plenty of work for those who are in need of it, which is good for those who are willing to deal with the literally writing for pennies, and dealing with ridiculously short deadlines which leave very little time for properly researching and writing quality material.
Needless to say I kicked the Content mill bug fairly quickly. As many other writers I’ve interacted with have also commented, you’ll find work; but you seldom are given the opportunity to put your best into the projects you take on.
I’ve learned to take my writing ‘not so’ serious. In other words while some people may find it better to produce quantities of content for pennies, Quality is always better. I’m not saying don’t worry about deadlines, rather not allowing them to take life out of the work that we do as writers.
One of the first things I learned as a Freelance writer is to overcome my shyness, and fear of rejection. While it seems easy enough from the outside looking in, you actually have to develop a pretty thick skin in order to become successful. Apart from the researching, writing, submitting queries, and and interacting with fellow freelancers and editors; for someone as shy as myself it can be scary place when your inexperienced.
This can also apply to other career fields besides writing, in fact, even in actively seeking employment the average person goes through a cycle of rejection that can make the entire process seem like a mountain he/she is reluctant to climb. So what’s the remedy? At some point and time in our careers (… or search of one), social life and other aspects of our lives we are bound to face some rejection; surely there are steps to overcome them when they happen.
Three basic steps towards facing rejection
While it might seem like a daunting task to stare rejection in the eye without allowing it to overcome you, it really isn’t as bad as, or overwhelming as it appears.
1. Not all forms of rejection are personal, but rather some maybe forms of useful criticism – When that job interview you thought went so well, actually doesn’t turn up helping you get your foot in the door, it could be a number of other factors behind it beyond your control. The firsts step to controlling a fear is to first be at peace with it.
2. Allow rejection to guide you, often times it isn’t a no, but rather a redirection to try something new, or work on something that you’ve been neglecting.
3. Realize that not everything that you set out as goals are expected to come automatically, progress takes time, as well as patience. If something doesn’t go the way you expect it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve failed.
These steps aren’t set in stone of course, however they are steps I’ve learned in dealing with personal rejection as well as the advice I’ve taken from various other sources. These three steps I feel were beginning steps to help, and I hope they do. Facing rejection can be a seriously trying thing if not approached with a change in attitude, a new way of looking at it; it can quickly become overwhelming. It can also be turned around and used for motivation, and that is where the steps presented come into play.
When I started this journey of mine as a freelance writer, I had been out of long term work for over a year. I occasionally came across temp, and side jobs that family and friends turned me on too. Yet finding something permanent proved elusive. So I took my love of writing to a new level, I put a purpose into it. My purpose being not only using my writing to express myself, but also to teach and inform others, even entertain and inspire (Are you not entertained? Well, maybe not yet).
I had no idea of how much work writers put in on a daily basis. How structured your day has to be, the amount of marketing you have to do, and the frustration you feel at how slow progress can be at times. It may seem easy from the outside looking in, however it isn’t. It’s a career in itself where you are the boss, the manager, HR, and accounting wrapped all into one. So being disciplined is a large part of the regimen, and something I’ve had to learn the hard way. Yet for all the frustration, all the rejection that could come my way ( and often times does), I would rather struggle with something I love doing, than being discontent with something I hate doing but feel I have to just for the sake of making a paycheck.
Through my time freelancing, and also looking for other means of an income I’ve come across an often used phrase that has brought up mixed emotions of fear, and frustration, “Any job is better than no job”. I have to say, I’ve grown to hate this saying with a passion! Not so much that I’m a lazy individual who doesn’t want to work, or that I feel there are some jobs that are belittling to me, everyone does have to make a living. Rather, there are some jobs, some people just weren’t made for. Let me give an example, when I was younger I always wanted to be a police officer so much so that from the age of 19 – 23 all my work experiences, training, and ambition was geared towards that profession. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to become one, at this time I felt lost, and felt a deep void as far as what I wanted to do with my life. In trying to fill that void I took on a number of jobs that while they paid the bills that void still remained. Looking back I can see it, it was having a purpose in the work that I did, and not so much what I did.
A job, any job can and will wear on you if you aren’t able to see past a paycheck. ‘Horrible bosses’, and irritating co workers will work your nerves, and drive you crazy. However, anything can be a job if you see a purpose in it that drives you, gets you up in the morning with or without coffee, and may even have you putting in late hours; only to wake up early the next morning to do it all over again.
So, with all that said… what’s your purpose? Yes, you.