What We Wish We’d Known Before The First Job

Are you one of the millions of new grads heading off to your first full-time job this summer? Then this post is for you. Because the millions who have been where you are have many things to share about what they wish they’d known when they were in your shoes. So here goes, starting first with basics before you even step foot into the office:

Figure out what you owe, so you the things you have don't own you.

Figure out what you owe, so you the things you have don’t own you. (image by steadfastfinances)

Budget And Save
If you haven’t actually made a budget, now’s the time to do so. Find out what your take home salary is going to be. And by that we mean, figure out the final dollar amount on your paycheck after taxes and deductions.  [Read more…]

Graduation Advice You Should Hear More Often

It’s graduation season, with many an esteemed speaker sharing words of timeless wisdom with you about your place in the world. Well, we’re not them. So we’ll stick to unsexy basics that every graduate should know, but that you’re never going to hear about at commencement. (Probably because they’re even more timeless bits of wisdom that your loving parents—many of whom may have helped pay for your expensive education—have been sending your way from the day you were born.)

[Read more…]

Why An Internship?

intern on floor while others stand around her

image by Travis Isaac


Why an internship? The question arises frequently. Here is why we think they’re still a useful, and frequently indispensable part of a college student’s journey from college to career:

A college education and basic work skills aren’t the same thing.

It is probably a massive understatement to say that college educations and the way we learn to work vary greatly around the world. But the fact is many educational systems emphasize “book learning” even more than we do here in the US. Furthermore, many of the small unprofessional jobs open to students in the US from middle school onwards simply do not exist elsewhere—the paper route, babysitting, bagging groceries—unless perhaps your family owns the business in question. It is not uncommon for our interns to frequently arrive in the US with no real experience whatsoever. They’ve never answered a phone, had a boss, taken orders, been part of a staff or a staff meeting. An internship, particularly in a foreign country, offers real life experience so that an education becomes useful and marketable in the global business world[Read more…]

Work-Life Balance

Tough choices

Does it have to be an either/or? (via Mat)

Marketplace aired a really interesting segment last week about the effects of the Chinese New Year on American businesses. The festivities for Chinese New Year last a couple of weeks on the mainland. But the fallout for American businesses, who outsource a lot of production and manufacturing to China, can last months. Supply pipelines get backed up for up to two months and employee turnover is high, with some employees simply never coming back. The segment – which we highly encourage you to listen to – ends with Marketplace’s Lizzie O’Leary and American CEO Scott Ellyson of East West Manufacturing wondering if the situation will:

  • remain unchanged, with American companies working with Chinese tradition even though it makes a significant financial dent in bottom lines
  • going the American way where we may go slow or work through the holidays but certainly never shut down completely
  • or some combination in between.

Happy medium? (via Dan4th Nicholas)

Ellyson seems to think the answer is a combination in between. And we support that. Here’s why. [Read more…]

Holidays, Vacations, and Rolling Vacations

kid on a beach on vacation

“Vacation’s all I ever wanted …. ” (Image by Boudewijn Berends)

Ah summer….when everyone takes a vacation! Right? Wrong.

Newcomers to the US are routinely surprised that the country doesn’t shut down in the summer. We certainly have some of the same wicked temperatures they do, often in old towns where air-conditioning isn’t a given. And yet, Americans suit up and go to work June through August. That isn’t because we don’t believe in vacation. Rather, it’s because the US does what’s called a “rolling vacation.” Yes, the summer is traditionally when people take a vacation. But not everyone at the same time. It’s a very very rare company or business where everyone has vacation at the same time and business is suspended. There is always a skeleton staff, during regular business hours. Even when business is slow. (Unsurprisingly, this catches Americans by surprise – routinely – when we go abroad. “Why is it so empty? What do you mean the store’s closed until Monday?” And of course, the answer is usually “vacation.” Or if you’re in the UK, “holiday.”) [Read more…]

What’s For Lunch?

Lunch. One word. Fairly universal. But how the American workplace treats the mid-day meal is always eye-opening to Advanse’s students. Here are some of the things our students notice and struggle with right away:

When Is Lunch?!

Lunch break + Calligrapomorphic

A lot of people in the US eat at their desks – either because of work load or because it’s quicker! (Image by Mo Riza)

Ah yes, the American predilection to simply barrel through the day, not stop, and just work work work because time is money. Americans are some of the hardest working people on the planet, and many will argue that the direct result is one of the largest, most robust economies in the world – despite the current economic riptides. We don’t disagree. But we’ll be the first to say that although efficiency is a good thing, we are not robots. [Read more…]

Judge Not: Bill Gates’ South Korean Faux Pas

Did you hear about the one where Bill Gates didn’t get the memo and came off as a goober?

First, let’s define the word goober….it can mean an assortment of things, including a peanut. But when you call someone a goober, you’re essentially using an American southernism to call that person an unsophisticated person, a yokel, a rube. And in fact, the first time I’d heard the word used hilariously and disparagingly was to describe—wait for it—Bill Gates! His offense? He was on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” and once again, didn’t get the memo. Guests on any show usually wait for the host to go to commercial before they exit the stage. Gates? Not so much. When the conversation was over, Gates just got up and left. This being a comedy show, the result was even more hilarity, with Stewart milking it for laughs.


The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill Gates Crashes
Daily Show Full Episodes Indecision Political Humor The Daily Show on Facebook

But the next morning, as we laughed about it at work, my boss said, “Once a goober, always a goober.” [Read more…]

Tax Day – Your “International Visitor” FAQ

More than the Ides of March, Americans dread the Ides of April, aka Tax Day, April 15. For that is when we all render unto Caesar and pay our taxes. And although Advanse’s students are not affected, this is still a useful post to read and file away. If nothing else, you’ll know what not to say, particularly to fellow international students who might be affected. Because more than one international student will find themselves unpleasantly surprised this week, especially since FICA’s been nibbling away at their small F1-Visa allowable 19.5-hours-per-week-maximum paycheck all year long.

Image of tax prep - papers, glasses, pen, coffee

What you need to do your taxes – your paychecks, a calculator, patience, and coffee. Coffee always helps.

“What do you mean I still have to pay taxes?!” [Read more…]

If College Is The New High School….

Little known JOBS PROGRAM provides plenty of work for everyone

What do you want to do with your life? (Image courtesy woodleywonderworks)

It Takes a B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk

That’s a deeply depressing headline, if ever we saw one. Wasn’t the point of going to college to get in the door higher than entry-level? Or at least get past entry-level low-wage positions faster? Except as the article in the New York Times makes clear, the college degree has now become what the high school diploma used to be. [Read more…]

Why SPRINT With Advanse?

Dunedin ICT Internship Speed Dating 2010

Dunedin ICT Internship Speed Dating 2010 (image courtesy of Samuel Mann)

February marks three major events in DC. Typically, it’s when parents begin scrambling for summer camp spots for their kids, it’s when colleges are usually in the thick of evaluating admissions, and it’s about your last window to apply for summer internships.

That last part always comes as a huge shock to first-timers, freshmen, or international students who might be unaware of the US academic calendar. But in fact, most smart students in the US began applying for summer internships back in the fall. As in, they began researching their options for June back in September, and were probably done applying in October. [Read more…]