Monday, May 1, 2017

Mentor of the Month

Monira Gamal-Eldin. Monira is a Temple University graduate with a Bachelor's in Risk Management and Insurance & a minor in International Business. She began her post-degree career as a Claims Specialist at Zurich. She is now a Senior Risk Analyst in the Risk Management Department at C.R. Bard, Inc., a medical device manufacturing company. 

We asked her, "What was one of piece of advice she wished she knew while in college?" This is what she had to say:

"I joined LAMP as the Business Sphere lead, but transitioned to the Treasury & Legal role just last year. My experience with LAMP has been very rewarding. I think everyone can agree that we have so many amazing resources within our community that we don't always utilize to the best of our ability. Career and industry insight is one of those resources which LAMP aims to make available to college students and job seekers through facilitating the Mentor-Mentee relationship. The opportunity in front of us to help improve the professional development of our Mentees is what drives me to give my all to LAMP. 

One piece of advice that I wish I knew in college is that professionals want to network with you and share their advice - you just have to ask. I remember being nervous about taking up their busy time or being an annoyance to them, but now I know that most people are willing to set aside the time to help you and don't see it as a burden at all. Rather, they want the opportunity to pass on what they've learned to those who are inquisitive enough to ask."

-Monira Gamal-Eldin

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Time Management: A Few Tips to Manage Yourself a Little Better.

At some point between finals’ week all-nighters and the onslaught of meetings during your 60-hour work-week, you’re going to realize: time management matters. The cost of procrastinating becomes more than just a bad effort grade, and there are no extensions in the real world.

There’s no sugarcoating it. In our world, time is truly money.

The silver lining, though, to learning the importance of time management the hard way is that you realize that everyone has to work hard at it. It’s not some innate talent that a few people possess. Like all good things in life, you have to try.

There are plenty of amazing resources and strategies out there on the glorious internet that help you manage your time (see herehere, and here). But these are worthless if you’re not in a frame of mind that’s conducive for time management.

Here are a few tips to help you get your head in the game and always be on time:
           1. Remove the phrase “I’m too busy” from your vocabulary. 
This may seem counterintuitive, so let me back up.

Words, especially negative words, have reinforcing power. Talking about how busy you are isn’t going to make you any less busy; it’ll just contribute to your stress levels. And in a world with so much technology, we hear enough about busy-ness and stress.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell people that you don’t have time for something. But instead of just doling out that catch-all phrase, try actually spelling out what you’re doing instead. For example, you could say, “I have to do x, y, and z, I don’t think I’ll have time for that.” You might realize you have more time than you think. If not, at least now you’ve reminded yourself of what tasks you have to do.

        2. Take lots of breaks in your workday.

By breaks, I don’t mean social media time. I mean actually get up and walk around, even if it’s just to the bathroom and back. These don’t have to be long breaks either, just five minutes apiece.

Lots of little breaks let you stagger your energy so you don’t get exhausted so fast. They also help clear your brain, and they give you time to work through any problems you’re stuck on. Plus, changing your posture keeps you alert and helps you focus. If you need something to remind you to take a break, check out the Pomodoro Technique (and you can find free timers online!).

3.                3.  Let your mind wander. Write it down. Move on.

Hyper-focus is not an easy thing to achieve. It’s probably not even natural. And yet we’re trained to see that as a goal instead of letting our minds operate the way they’re used to.

Instead of over-exerting my brain and then getting upset with myself when I get distracted, I’ve started to keep a notebook next to me while I work. That way, whenever a random thought pops into my head, I’m able to write it down to deal with later. It’s a good way to externalize all of the other things in my head, and sometimes great ideas come out of it. After I’ve written down whatever it is that crossed my mind, it’s easy for me to go back to work with a renewed sense of focus.

      4.  Don’t eat junk food.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, hey, I’ve done so much today, I deserve a little break. Treat yourself, right?

There are two problems with this attitude. The first and more obvious problem is that junk food is the surest route to lethargy. It weighs down on you, sucks all your energy to your stomach and makes you sleepy after the initial rush.

The second problem is thinking that fueling yourself with junk food is a treat for your body. If it makes you feel like crap afterwards, it probably was crap to begin with. If you really want to thank your body after a long day’s work, give it something that’s actually good for it. If you start to treat your body with respect, you’ll start to treat your mind with respect. And that’s how you truly treat yourself.

- Saffa Khan

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Study Skills and Habits

Everyone has his or her own way of studying. Whether it’s flash cards, excessive note taking, or reading everything aloud to yourself till you’re positive you can’t forget it, your study habits are what work for you. We asked various members of LAMP to give their own study skills and advice on what helped them be the best student they can be. Here are some of the responses:

 Anna Mouchref told us a skill she used and continues to use is removing distractions. “You truly cannot focus by multi-tasking. There is a difference between walking while listening to music and carrying a coffee vs. mentally managing three different topics on your iPad, iPhone, and Macbook Pro; it just doesn't work that way. Setting priority and committing/guarding that priority and time is crucial.” She also recommends the book ‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller as a good read.

Heidar Albandar told us that eating healthy, and particularly a good breakfast, was key to having a good study day. “I found that if I had a good source of protein, and ate enough to remain hunger-free for a solid 4-5 hours, then I was going to better retain what I read.” It is not uncommon to encounter many people who say that ‘I don't eat breakfast because I'm not hungry in the morning’. Developing a habit is something that takes a concerted effort and dedication and is definitely worth when it comes to having a sound morning diet.

Mohamed Ramadan added that the best study habits he found to be successful were to always start projects, assignment, exam prep the day it was assigned. “Procrastination is an easy trap for college students and I found that if you start right from day one you were one, more likely to have the material relevant to the assignment fresh in your mind, two, less busy relative to peak times during a semester when you had midterms/finals/several assignments due from different classes, and lastly, come exam time you feel less stressed and overwhelmed because you've been engaging the work all semester rather than pushing it off till the end.”

Other skills or habits that were recommended were organizational and interpersonal relations skills such as reading before class, reading intelligently by learning how to skim, get a class buddy to take notes with, and using your professor’s office hours. Again, a person really has to find what works best for your lifestyle and way of learning. Focus on the skills that give you the best results and push you to be the most successful you can be.

-- LAMP Team

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"Personal Statements: How to Set Yourself Apart.”

Often writing about yourself can seem daunting and for those who aren’t used to touting their achievements or writing about their experiences and life it can be an uphill task. But, it is quite pivotal to a strong personal statement that you find the narrative of your life and achievements that encapsulate your powerful story. A lot of times we believe that our story is not interesting enough or “special,” this tends not to be true. All of us have a narrative that when articulated eloquently after careful self-reflection can tell the hiring, admissions or selection committee why we are the best candidate for their, respectively, job, university or grant/scholarship.  What I outline below are 2 easy steps towards writing the best personal statement.
“Be yourself.” This seems pretty straightforward, but can be very hard to convey in essay form. Committees are looking for unique individuals, who are self-reflective and intelligent. When you write an honest portrayal of your life’s story, highlighting what motivated you on your path of career or studies, those reading the essays will be able to see who you are and meet you before you have even walked in the door. For example, my own background as an Egyptian-American constantly asked me to look into my roots and history.  This drew me towards studying Arabic and then the history of Egypt and the Middle East. I knew that I would not be able to fully understand the culture, people, religion and language that my father attempted to pass on to myself and my siblings without an extended studies in Egypt. As soon as I found my opening I was able to convince my parents that I wanted to travel and I was off to learn about a country and people I had only known as part of the local diaspora of Egyptians in Philadelphia.   
As you can see I have, succinctly, told the story of my background, which led to my interest in studying Egyptian history and Arabic.  I have also demonstrated my willingness to travel, explore and learn.  All positives in a personal statement.  I also highlighted my uniqueness in the hopes that the admissions committee recognizes me from the rest of the pile. All the while I have remained true to myself with an honest depiction of my narrative.
Finally, I recommend pulling out an interesting fact, morsel, event, or achievement that is a strong demonstration of the type of quality or qualities you want the reader to come away with about yourself. You should make sure whatever you choose to describe is relevant to the committee reading your personal statement. Remember to cater your personal statement to support your application.  Connect the event or fact about you to the larger personal narrative you are constructing.  It should show why are you deserve to be considered for the position or an admission into the program. Scan your life and achievements for the strongest evidence that demonstrates who you are and what you would bring to the table.  If you concentrate on these two steps I guarantee the personal statement you write will blow away your reader and your application will stick with them throughout the process. And this is the key to success, having people remember who you are from the pile of similarly successful candidates who have also applied. Best of luck and remember tell your story!

- Mohamed Gamal-Eldin

Mentee Spotlight


In my process of applying to graduate school over the past few months, Aziz Jalil [Mentor and Sphere director for Science and Research] has mentored me and provided me with countless constructive feedback on both my personal statement and resume.  He is a punctual and diligent person who has been responsive to emails including questions and concerns. He demonstrated a genuine interest in my success and endeavors which was evident in his positive attitude. He taught me how to highlight significant attributes and skill-sets that I have which would make me stand out from other applicants.

In addition, he suggested different techniques and approaches that I can consider to improve my writing including grammar, structure, organization, and format. I greatly appreciate his willingness to give me guidance by sharing his knowledge and experiences with me. 

While he is a graduate student with his own responsibilities and work load, he was organized and professional by setting deadlines and would provide constructive criticism. His commentary and efforts were immensely helpful. Although back-and-forth revisions are bothersome and it was not his responsibility to continue helping me, Aziz did not push me away whenever I asked for his expertise and feedback. Once the paper was complete, a research supervisor who once served on the selection committee read my final draft and praised me on how well-written and rich it was. With Aziz’s guidance, professional advice, and approachability, I was able to meet my own expectations and meet the requirements prior to the deadline. I highly recommend him as a mentor/advisor to anyone.

-Mentee, Science and Research Sphere

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Look Back at 2016

2016 was an important year for us. We reached the 100 mentor-mentee milestone and created more than 45 relationships. We established partnerships with other organizations and provided our mentors and mentees with opportunities across various fields. We organized events and webinars, and even attracted the attention of local news outlets.
Perhaps the one thing that makes our team the happiest is knowing that we've made real impacts on people's lives. It's great to hear the sweet words of a mentee who has landed a dream job, or another who has just been accepted to the grad school they've worked long and hard for. Even with these successes our team continues to assess and find ways to improve. 
2017 will be another big year for us. We want to be more focused and increase our level of quality and efficiency. As Steve Jobs said, "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected". To take our program to the next level we'll need you. We need your passion, your experience, and your dedication. I look forward to a new year and an opportunity to working with every single one of you.

"Individuallywe are one dropTogetherwe are an ocean".

Monday, January 16, 2017

On Choosing Your Path

“Most of us don't merely take up the space the universe intended for us.” Caroline McHugh couldn’t have said it better in her TED talk, “The Art of Being Yourself”.  I want you to read that first sentence again, maybe even twice. Choosing a career path is only the start of taking up the space intended for you, and using your given talents in a way that is both satisfying to you and also contributing within the space you are working. If you’re anything like me, I think it’s a little absurd to know what you ‘want’ and ‘are’ going to do for the rest of your life upon receiving your high school diploma. Knowledge is so vast, and through the many opportunities and different paths you may choose to take, it can sometimes feel like the paralyzing weight of the world is crashing down on you (too dramatic?).

Anyway, here are some things that can perhaps ease that weight, and give you clarity:
  • Take an MBTI test to better understand your personality strengths and how that could look, or best fit within a career.
  •  Talk to a career counselor, mentor, and/or trusted professor at your local university – if they’re the right person in the right job (irony), odds are that they want to help you make that decision. Close friends and family are also good for talking through this sort of stuff.
  • Think about and write down your interests, strengths, and values – this can help guide your decision, or at least bring better awareness to what you find important.
  • Explore different fields and functions – shadow a family friend or ask a company an informational interview. This is not only extremely helpful, but can also open doors for you in terms of your professional network.
  • Use online resources like LinkedIn to meet and network with professionals. Don’t be afraid to send someone an email asking for an informational interview. Also, explore companies, job boards, and role descriptions. It can be daunting, but also enlightening. (PS: I hear LAMP is a great organization that can help too!)

It’s important to please never forget that this is your decision to make and it is your life you are living. A job is what you choose to make it; it can either be a stream of income to help cover your rent and pay off student loans, or your career can be a source of daily intrinsic satisfaction. The search isn’t perfect, and sometimes you have to see things as stepping stones to get to where you truly want. Be patient through the process, and learn and adapt as much as you can during each step.

-Anna Mouchref