Are you stuck in the crossroads of switching your major?   

Are you finding yourself enrolled in classes but having no clear direction of where you might be heading after graduation?  

Has a significant other inquired with the dreaded question: “What are you going to do with your life?”

If you had a head nod to any of these questions then I hope to offer some quick advice on career planning to get you stepping in the right direction.   For 6 years I worked as an Assistant Director of Career Services at another Georgia institution.  I have many memories of students who would come to my office the Monday after graduation and remark “Hey, Mrs. Karen, I need a job!”   Some of those students had never taken advantage of the fine services we offered previously.  At the conclusion of many an appointment I can recall that most, if not all, of the visitors emphatically declared, “Man – why did I not come here SOONER?”

As an online student, I know you are super busy.  You’re juggling coursework, maybe a part time or full time job, family obligations…. just LIFE!  However, are you putting “2 and 2 together” that the whole purpose for your education is to find out what you might want to do with that LIFE?   It is crucial that you spend some energy and time exploring your options.  

Taking the time to investigate and decipher your strengths/skills along with possible career fields and actual jobs is foundational to your post-graduation plans.  Many students think this can be done pell-mell.  In reality it deserves significant time and focus. 

I wish I could say that there is ONE pathway to take but the truth is there are many fabulous ways to glean knowledge.  I would be remiss if I did not direct you first and foremost to a most logical spot. Valdosta State University’s Office of Career Services  is where I found this direct link to virtual career related concepts.  Here, you’ll find practical resources including putting together a resume and preparing for a job interview. It is also wise to take a look at the steps outlined for career planning, which includes a handy outline of what to pursue during different intervals of your post-secondary experience.

If you are the one who has no earthly idea what you might like to do “when you grow up,” I will suggest that you begin with some fundamental questions as put forth by Debra Davenport (Executive Professional Mentor, Licensed Career Counselor & Employment Agent). "What do I really feel passionate about? What do I love to do so much that I would do it for free?"   Answering those questions will help drive your search.  She goes on to state that “Your career should be a natural extension of who you are as a human being.”

Another career expert, Marty Nemko, Ph.D. (Contributing Editor, Careers, U.S. News & World Report) asks different yet just as compelling questions.   “What do you think you would prefer in your ideal job?  Working with data?  Working with people?  Working with words?  Or working with concrete objects?”

This blog post was designed to get you thinking about how to begin career exploration steps. Do your research, and let us hear your plans in the comments below!

Karen M. Lingrell, M Ed
Assistant Director of Collaborative Programs
USG eCore and eMajor
klingrel@westga.edu
678.839.5278

Dr. Sanjeev Arora
Dr. Sanjeev Arora is a physics instructor for USG eCore, and was recently recognized by Affordable Learning Georgia for Innovation and Early Success in Textbook Transformation for his work in transforming textbooks to no-cost Open Educational Resources. Dr. Arora's work in this area contributed to $14,000 in savings to college students in 2014. More information on the ALG awards is available at www.affordablelearninggeorgia.org. 

Let's take a minute to learn a little more about Dr. Arora!

What is your title and what is your current non-eCore job?
I am a professor of physics and have been teaching as a full-time faculty member at Fort Valley State University since 1993.

What are the two main reasons you teach through eCore?
When I first came aboard in fall 2011, I was pretty much sitting on the fence as far as comparing the benefits (and pitfalls) of “face-to-face” vs. “online” teaching were concerned. I needed to first learn, and hopefully master, the technique and the pedagogy behind online teaching before I could really form any categorical opinion on this issue.

Teaching for eCore has validated, in my mind, the effectiveness of online instruction. I have immensely enjoyed interacting with some of the non-traditional students in my courses. Teaching my face-to-face physics classes at FVSU seldom affords me the opportunity to meet adult learners and understand their issues in the manner offered to me by my eCore classes.

Another reason I love teaching for eCore is that I am able to instruct students from academic institutions across the state.


What do you do differently now than when you first started teaching through eCore?
I have truly recognized the need to be flexible while maintaining the highest possible standards and integrity in my courses. While this statement itself might seem contradictory in nature, I believe this one skill (mindset?) is critical for effective instruction in all possible formats. When students request for extensions as far as submitting their assignments is concerned, I am more empathetic (provided there is no obvious pattern of taking an undue advantage).

What would you do to your eCore course if you had a "magic wand"?
I would really like to add video-recordings of myself going over the physics content to enhance the course. We might be missing out of enrolling some students who really would like to watch their professor explain the concepts on the board.

Dr. Arora displaying the department poster at a local high school.
What's one of the coolest things you do in your eCore classes?
I have developed the habit of calling my students randomly during the semester. It obviously is a good idea to do so, when a student is lagging behind and you wish to motivate the student. But I call sometimes to say “bravo” to a student who has written an excellent report or has shown me a unique way to solve a problem. I believe as educators, we do not say “kudos” to our students as often as we point out their mistakes. I can almost sense that sometimes the students are actually surprised that I have called just to praise them. I can almost visualize their faces beaming with joy at the other end. What better way to boost their self-esteem than providing them with positive feedback in a truly non-patronizing manner?

Other than yourself, who do you think is a simply fabulous eCore instructor, and why?
I would name all my colleagues at FVSU who teach for eCore. They have provided me with the initial support and have shown me the “ropes”. While I have not perused through all the faculty patch interviews, I am pretty confident that most of esteemed colleagues would have mentioned Christy and Ashleigh as true beacons of wisdom when the online (offshore?) waters get patchy once in a while!

Tell us a secret - something about yourself that few people know.

I am an avid karaoke singer, who loves to belt out one melody after another, much to the chagrin of my bemused audience. I am passionately interested in reading books and articles on philosophy and psychology and currently seem to lap up any material I can lay my hands on concerning the debate between free will and determinism. Was I destined to teach for eCore and have a fabulous time doing it? Even if I “willed” it, it has been a tremendously satisfying choice so far!!
Dr. Arora singing away the "physics" blues.


Kelley Christopher is an instructor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of West Georgia, and an eCore Instructor. 

In her experience teaching Intro to Criminology classes, Kelley found that hugely relevant issues within the criminal justice system such as female offenders, corrections, capital punishment, and race, were not adequately covered in many introductory books. In an effort to fulfill that need, she recently co-edited a textbook titled "Filling in the Gaps" to cover those specific topics.

Please take a minute to learn a little more about Professor Kelley Christopher!


Where did you complete your degree(s)? 
New Mexico State University and Troy University for graduate work. I completed my undergrad work at Southern Oregon University.

What drew you to your field of expertise? 
My fascination with human behavior; particularly deviant and criminally deviant behavior. What is not fascinating about human behavior? And it does not matter that I have studied criminal deviance for 35 years; these folks still fascinate me.

How long have you taught eCore classes? 
Since 2010

Why did you choose to become a college instructor? 
I love being with students and being able to witness their own passion for knowledge come to life.

What do you like most about teaching online? 
Being able to “chat” with students at all hours and the flexibility that online teaching offers. We also get students who live in other states/countries and they often add depth and a different perspective to sociological issues.

What was your most challenging subject in school, and how did you get through it? 
Oh my goodness; anything that even remotely resembled math. Of any kind. Ever. I labored through it several times before I finally passed during my undergrad work. I was an embarrassment!

What do you like to do in your free time? 
I have a 4 year old grandson who (seriously) did hang the moon. I love just being with him; he is one of the funniest people I have ever known! I also love the work in my yard… pulling weeds and planting. There is something very grounding about having your hands in the earth that I need.

What’s your favorite movie of all time? 
It would probably be The Color Purple. My favorite line is, “I think it p*******s God off when we walk by the color purple and don’t notice it.”

If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be? 
Seriously an awful thought since I love teaching….but if I really had to choose, I would be working with The Innocence Project. Hands down my ultimate dream job.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings? 
Pay off my and my Mom’s houses, provide homes for my children and siblings, and invest the rest so I could have a comfortable retirement and be able to leave my kids some money.

What is something interesting about you that your students would be surprised to know? 
I love to “remodel” my home/s. I have all my own tools~seriously. I love the Home Depot and Lowes. You can take me to Tiffany’s once in my lifetime and take me to Lowes every weekend and I would be fine with that. I can do anything except electric work. I got zapped by a water heater about 15 years ago and that was the last time I fooled with anything electric (you only need to get hit with a 220 once before you learn not to do that again).

What advice do you have for students taking online classes for the first time? 
Stay on top of the reading and assignment schedule and if a wrench gets thrown into your mix, let your professor know right away. I will work with anyone who I believe is operating with integrity and am less willing when I think someone is being shady with me.