Author Archives: eferreira

About eferreira

I grew up in Los Angeles but I moved to Massachusetts

Finding a Job in a Digital World

Image result for interview stock photo

When I listen to a podcast, there is often an ad for ZipRecruiter. ZipRecruiter “is the fastest way to find great people,” or so it says on the homepage of their website. Essentially, employers post a job to ZipRecruiter and the job posting gets pushed to all sorts of job searching websites like Glassdoor, job.com, geebo, and a bunch of others I have never heard of before. You just fill out the information once and your job gets posted to 200 different sites. That’s kind of cool. But there is a big problem with that. HR now has to deal with hundreds of applications; and if you are applying to a company that uses ZipRecruiter, they are probably having a robot go through your resume and cover letter to look for words like “manage”, “teamwork”, or “synergize.”
But I don’t want my resume looked at by a bot. I want my resume to be looked at by a real human being. I have applied through these websites before and I don’t even get a rejection letter from the company in question, yet alone an idea that someone printed out my carefully crafted resume and cover letter and then read them. This is where you reach a hurdle on the path to post-graduation-job-nirvana. I want to find jobs, so I look on Glassdoor, job.com, & geebo but then I want to stand out from the pack. How do I do that? I have no idea. Instead I am offering a solution to avoid those websites.

1. The other day I was sitting, looking at a magazine, when I realized something great about the thing in my hand. Everyone in the industry takes part in the magazine. Let’s say you are a psychology major looking for an internship. Why not pick up the latest version of Psychology Today and go through the pages and check out companies that advertise? My point is that your favorite magazines already reflect your passions, why not go through the pages of your passions to look for the company that you didn’t think to apply to?

2. Now that you’ve identified where you want to apply, keep a list. There are some tutorials out there on the internet on how to keep a proper list of applications. I don’t really like those. They include things like: application deadline, if you’ve completed the cover letter, other application materials, and people in the company you may know.
I really disagree with this strategy. Most employers announce in advance when the postings are going up and most employers have already found a match by the end of the deadline. Instead of a “application deadline” field, I prefer a “check during ___ (season)” field. Then, once the application is open, I write the cover letter and send of my resume in one sitting. Just to get it out of the way. I don’t need to check in with my checklist.

3. Everyone always says that the only sure way to get a job is through people you know. While I can agree that networking is probably the most consistent way to get your foot in the door, it isn’t always possible for all people. That’s why I’ve been using UMass career fairs as pure networking opportunities. Instead of spamming my resume across the career fair, I talk to a few recruiters that I know are just as passionate as I am on finding a job that’s the right fit.

4. City websites are my other secret weapon to avoid ZipRecruiter. I will search things like “Best Places to work in Seattle” and then I apply to all of those. Or I will search “Businesses with offices in the Prudential Building, Boston” because I dream of one day working there. I am always just looking for more names to put on my list that don’t get hundreds of applicants that all sound exactly like me.

5. I also tend to look at the products around me that I don’t necessarily think about. Odwalla and IMAX are both companies that I see all the time, but I wouldn’t think of applying to those because I don’t write them down.

There are ways to avoid your resume getting lost in a stack a mile high, it just takes some planning and forethought to avoid it.

Cross Platform Learning- Opinion

Last semester, my Moodle looked a little barren. Only two of my classes actually had Moodle pages. This would be okay if only 2 of my classes had websites. But all of them did. In fact, most of the classes I took had multiple websites that I was expected to check, and memorize, and be a part of throughout the semester. This is the story of how I kept up with:

  1. courses.umass.edu
  2. people.umass.edu
  3. moodle.umass.edu
  4. owl.oit.umass.edu
  5. piazza.com
  6. Flat World Learn On
  7. SimNet
  8. TopHat
  9. Investopedia
  10. Class Capture

 

The Beginning

At the beginning of the semester it was impossible to make a calendar. My syllabi (which weren’t given out in class) were difficult to find. Because I didn’t have a syllabus from which I could look at the link to the teacher’s page, I had to remember the individual links to each professor’s class. This was a total waste of my time. I couldn’t just give up either because that syllabus is where the class textbook was. I felt trapped by the learning curve of new URLs that were being slung at me. I had moments were I questioned my ability to use computers. Was I so bad that I couldn’t handle a few new websites? Has technology already left me in the past?


The Semester

One of the classes I am taking is on technology integration into various parts of your life. The class is an introductory business class with a tech focus. This class is the biggest culprit of too many websites. For homework we need website A, for class we use website B, for lab we use website C, the tests are based on the information from website D, and everything is poorly managed by website E.

Another class is completely a pen on paper note taking class. In the middle of lecture, my professor will reference something on the website and then quickly go back to dictating notes. Reflecting on it, this teaching had a method to using online resources that I enjoyed. Everything I needed to learn for the tests was given to me in class and if I didn’t understand a concept, there were in depth help on the website.

One class has updates on Moodle that just directs me toward the online OWL course. This wasn’t terrible. I am ok with classes that give me a Moodle dashboard so I have one place to start my search for homework and text books. The OWL course described also had the textbook. This was really nice. One stop shopping for one class.

My last class (I know, I am a slacker that only took 4 classes this semester) never used the online resource which meant I never got practice using it. This was a problem when I needed to use it.


The End

I got over the learning curve of the 10 websites for 4 classes I was taking. But next semester I will just have to go through the same thing. I wish that professors at UMass all had a Moodle page that would at least have the syllabus and a link to their preferred website. But they don’t do that.

The little smart watch that could: A pebble love story

If you’ve ever wondered what the geekiest gadget is to own you may get a few different responses. Maybe its a drone, maybe its a ringtone that is an anime intro song, but for a lot of tech nerds it was the Pebble watch.

Why do gadget heads love it so much? Well, Back in 2012 Pebble did a kickstarter campaign to fund the would-be watch company. It ended up being the most funded kickstarter ever. And geeks love a good kickstarter story. It’s the nerd version of David vs. Goliath.

But we also loved the technology behind it. Pebble watches were always water resistant. The battery life was about a week. The display is a e-paper display, and tech savvy people love discussing how much they love e-paper displays. Looking at the first generation apple watch, pebble had more battery life (7x more, actually), it had swimming support, and it did it all years before anyone else did.

By far, pebble watches have the most battery life compared to other popular watches

Pebble’s starting price is half of the next best watch AND has more battery life and swimming support.

Pebble and the Apple Watch 2 are the only watches on this list with swimming support. Remember that this is the basic pebble time watch. The pebble time 2 + heart rate has even more athletic support

Pebble was the under dog that never stopped impressing.

It’s app store had 1000 applications. That’s a ton for the little smart watch that could. You could attach the time piece to your bike and it would track your speed. The pebble watch 2 with heart rate could track your sleep schedule and calories (full disclosure, I bought one of these yesterday and am currently waiting for it to come via snail mail). It vibrates when you get a text or email; and unlike the latest and greatest Fitbit Charge 2, you can respond to text messages from the watch! All while maintaining incredible battery life.

Back in 2016, pebble was bought out by fitbit. A worthy adversary. And for a company that was primarily funded via kickstarter, it was an entrepreneurs’ dream. This means that pebble is selling off all of their inventory, so get yourself a pebble watch before they go away forever. Then you too can have the geekiest gadget around.

Good bye Pebble. You were dearly loved.

I’m in the Market for a Music Streaming Service

Some background: I am a music person. I have 55gb of music in my iTunes library and more reserved not on my iTunes. I’m also a purist. I pretty much only listen to albums all the way through. None of that playlist stuff. My ideal date is listening to the entire Beatles discography in chronological order by album (that’s a lie, but good line).

Inevitably, I’m growing tired of my music. I’ve listened to all of these albums all the way through and I know every word to every song. I can ~badly~ do the low, middle, and high harmonies and I can tell you if the acoustic version is better. Another issue I am having is figuring out new bands. I know their sound, and I love their sound, but I’m getting tired of it. I don’t want to be growing tired of music. I’ve started turning to podcasts (recommendation: Planet Money) but I miss the thrill of that new great album.

So, I’m looking for a streaming service. I don’t do lists of “bests” but I want to at least discuss a few.


Apple Music- $5 with student discount (1 month free)

I am NOT an Apple hater. In fact, I am typing this on my MacBook Air. However, I feel the feels for iTunes right now. The bad feels. When iTunes Radio came out I was pretty excited. I listened to it. I much preferred their radio algorithms to Pandora’s (I really hated Pandora’s algorithms, but that’s a different section) because they played music that I liked, not music that they thought I could like. For some radio stations (Herbie Hancock radio) there weren’t even ads! Then, with the genesis of Apple Music that all went away. I was angry when I had to pay for my Herbie Hancock Radio or my Kaiser Chiefs radio. I feel so hurt by them that I am done with Apple Music. Even if it’s cheaper, my heart can’t be bought by cheaper.


Pandora- Free with ads, $4.99 without

It’s just radio, I want to play what I want when I want it. Next.

Ok, not next. If I put in an artist that isn’t in the billboard top 100 I still only get billboard top 100 artists. If I put in an indie band, I want to listen to indie, not whatever Pandora gives me.


Spotify- Free with ads, $5 with student discount (3 months for $1)

Spotify is the obvious answer. It’s pretty cheap (well, comparable in price to the others so far) and it seems to have all the music I want

Taylor Swift- Not on it. Taylor Swift famously left Spotify because of money reasons. (She was still making a ton of money off of Spotify)

Lemonade, Beyonce- Nope. They don’t have that either. They have the rest of Beyonce though. But they don’t seem to have some of the newest latest and greatest albums.

Another thing to keep in mind is all of the ads. Their ads are finicky. You can’t turn down the volume on them, you can’t skip them, and they are everywhere. Because Spotify is an app, and not a website, you can’t use ad blocker to remove anything. So many ads. The graphic designers made this cool interface with a cook charcoal color scheme, but the ugly green ad banner really detracts from it.

I also don’t like that Spotify markets to my age demographic. Music isn’t for college students, so neither should Spotify. It just rubs me the wrong way.


Google Music- $10 (first month free)

I’m currently test running my free month on Google music and I have to say I like it. I really like it. I like that it’s super easy to put all of my music up onto Google Music; I like that its google; I like that they can also handle my podcasts (another recommendation: What’s the point by fivethirtyeight); I like that they have T-Swift (whom I don’t actually listen to); and I like that Ad Blocker works on it. It’s great.

I hate their recommendations. It just recommends music I already know or music that isn’t my taste at all. I don’t listen to rap, why are you showing me Drake? I also don’t like that if I want to share my account (shhh) I have to give someone my Google credentials. That includes my Google Drive, my gmail, my photos, and my calendar. I want to be able to send the latest album to my mom without her knowing everything that I’m doing in my life.

Google music is also less mainstream. I’m into that. I also like that I can put their uploader onto friends computers and I can poach their entire iTunes. That’s nice. (That idea was curtesy of my last boss who used to do that).

You may have noticed that it is $5 more expensive than Spotify premium for students. I don’t know if I can look past that much money as a student. But we will see.


In my very short analysis, I have decided against Apple Music and Pandora. I’m on the fence for Google Music and Spotify. If at the end of 30 days Google Music hasn’t stolen my heart, I think I’ll be giving my rose to Spotify Premium.

Podcasts We Are Listening To

Tell us what you are listening to by taking this survey! At the end of it you can see what other people around campus are listening to!

I recently got into podcasts and I thought I was the only one listening. Turns out I was wrong. Here is what IT User Services is listening to:


Me, Lizzy Ferreira (Student Consultant)

My favorite new podcast is Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell. I read a few of his books high school and really enjoyed them so I wanted something more. Revisionist History definitely has a liberal political agenda, but it’s honest about it. Instead of saying “This is what happened, this is history” it delves into a topic that is deeply historical but discusses them in a modern context. I got halfway through the episode titled Vietnam 1964 on my way to work today. I am eager to get back to it during my lunch break.

I listened to my first podcast back in Middle School. It was a podcast about Harry Potter and I was pretty into it. This was back before there were iPhones that automatically downloaded podcasts for you, so every time a new episode aired, I had to turn on my very slow computer, launch iTunes (which to this day still takes forever), download, and sync to my iPod nano (the original nano). It was clunky and awful.

Now I have an iPhone that handles everything for me. My 19 podcasts are downloaded every morning and I get to listen to them on my walk to work. For my hour lunch break I listen to another one or two and then I have a few for my walk home and for cooking (I love cooking).

Here is the comprehensive list of all of the podcasts I subscribe to: NPR’s Invisibilia, Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, NPR’s Radiolab Presents: More Perfect, Jessica Williams’ (of The Daily Show) 2 Dope Queens, WNYC’s Note to Self, NPR’s Code Switch, WNYC’s Radiolab, NPR’s Ask Me Anoter, Radiotopia’s The Allusionist, NPR’s Planet Money, NPR’s How To Do Everything, NPR’s NPR Politics Podcast, WNYC’s Freakonomics Radio, Fivethirtyeight’s What’s The Point, White House Speeches (Audio), Fivethirtyeight Elections, BBC World Service Global News Podcast, West Wing Weekly, and Serial.


Matt Harrington (Multimedia Support Specialist)

“I like This American Life for when I’m walking because it tells a story”


Freyja (A student consultant, via chat, lightly edited for punctuation):

Lizzy: What is your favorite podcasts that you subscribe to, and why?

Freyja:  Ugh, you have to ask the hard question first… I don’t really have a favorite per say, just lots of really informative and interesting podcasts like On The Media, Embedded, TAL, On Being, Dan Carlin’s stuff, Congressional Dish, Intelligence Squared, Scathing Atheist, Mental Illness Happy Hour, Savage Love cast to name a few…

Lizzy: What is the last [podcast] you listened to?

Freyja: BBC Global News Podcast, they put out an episode twice a day, I try to listen to them on my commute and stay informed of whats going on in the world.

Lizzy: I listen to that too! Do you listen to it twice a day? I don’t.

Freyja: I try to get through them both, although if it’s similar content to the previous, one I will fast forward through it.

Lizzy: What has been your favorite piece from them? I liked the one where they interviewed the guy that makes all the baguettes for the French Air Force. He was funny.

Freyja: For sure the coverage of the migrant crisis, it’s something that is completely omitted from US news, and that’s the thing, US news is so myopic, I love the world focus they have.


Frank Aronson (Technical Consultant)

“I listen to a left wing radio talk show “Stephanie Miller Show” because she mixes politics and farts. I listen to “The Bob and Chez Chow,” [whom are] also left wing prognosticators. I listen to Mark Maron’s “WTF!”. The Obama interview is a classic. He [also] interviewed Teri Gross on her on show. He asks totally off the wall stuff.

Occasionally I listen to “On the Media” and I will occasionally listen to Rachel Maddow and “Real Time”. I have never actually seen Rachel Maddow in Northampton, [but] I have a friend who knows her.

A lot of [my podcasts taste is] politics/funny

The only paid subscription is Stephanie Miller. It’s about 2 hours without adds. My favorite [on her show] is Charlie Pierce, whom they have twice a week, he was a Boston/ Worcester boy when The Atlantic was in Boston. Sometimes he will put a sentence in there that you can’t believe you actually heard on the radio. He is a good interview.”


Liam Macci (Student Consultant, Interview via facebook web chat)

Lizzy: What was the last podcast you listened to or subscribed to?
Liam: The Maritime History Podcast
Lizzy: And what do you like about that podcast?
Liam: It offers an interesting perspective on history, not from the vantage point of a nation state, but of the sea, which spans the entire planet, but is owned by no one.
Lizzy: When do you listen to podcasts?
Liam: Commute, workouts, meals, any time I’m doing something that doesn’t require cognitive function
Lizzy: How many podcasts would you say you subscribe to? (Checking on your phone is not cheating)
Liam: 11

Dylan Hand (Student Consultant)

I listen to a podcast called CED Talks, its run by a guy named Cedric Phillips who is a lead commentator for Star City Games, they do live-streams of the Magic the Gathering tournaments.

He talks about a variety of things like basketball, boxing, and Magic. He is enjoyable and relaxed. He had Stephen Curry of the Warriors on once. It’s funny and insightful from an informative point of view.

It’s the only podcast I listen to and I listen to it through sound cloud. I think a lot of people put their podcasts onto soundcloud.

 


If you would like to listen to some podcasts you can use a podcatcher app for a smart phone such as: Apple Podcasts for the iPhone, Pocket Casts, NPR One App, Overcast, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music (Hey! I just wrote another blog post about that!).

You can also download podcasts from their websites onto your computer. Many podcasters also post a lot of their stuff onto SoundCloud.

Whether you like sports, news, law, music, pop culture, history, or good story telling there is a podcast out there for you.


Want to tell US what podcasts you are listening to? Take our quiz to tell us what your favorite podcast is and to see what other people on campus are listening to!

Formatting in Word – Not Frequently Asked Questions

You have a mysterious railing sentence. I bolded it for you.

I write a lot of papers. I am an undergraduate, I take gen-eds that require essays, and I typically have to follow MLA format. No matter how long I write in MLA I still have some questions regarding how to format it in Microsoft Word. Those annoying formatting issues that just pop up. I hope to solve a few of those not-frequently asked questions that come up when writing a paper.

Q: You know when you are writing a paragraph and one line falls over to the next page and Microsoft Word helpfully adds a line of text? How do I stop that?

A: These are called widows and orphans. When you are writing a paragraph and you get a one line spillover this is called a widow. An orphan is when you are writing a paragraph and one word makes up your last line of text. Both of these can be really annoying.

Quick and Dirty Fix: If you are not writing in MLA format and you don’t care about margin space then you can just change the margin size [page layout –> margins –> and change margins to your will]. Or, a quicker and dirtier fix is just changing your paragraph to eliminate a sentence or add some more. The issue with this fix is that when you go back and edit your entire paper and you may end up

Actual Fix: If you hope to actually fix this issue Word has a real fix for it too. It’s actually really easy too. The simple fix is [file –> paragraph –> line and page breaks tab –> uncheck the widow/orphan control box]

Q: Talk to me about strikethrough

A: I use strikethrough when making lists and I want to show that I have marked something off the list. This is what strikethrough looks like. There is no direct keyboard shortcut for strikethrough. Instead, you have to go through font every time. The steps are [highlight desired text to be stricken –> right click –> scroll down to font –> under the font tab –> check the strikethrough box]

Q: I do a lot of chemistry homework and I use a lot of super and subscripts. Please tell me there is a keyboard shortcut

A: I’m going to copy and paste Microsoft’s answer to this problem:

  • For superscript, select the text or number that you want, and then press Ctrl, Shift, and the Plus sign (+) at the same time.
  • For subscript, select the text or number that you want, and then press Ctrl and the Equal sign (=) at the same time.

Q: I accidentally wrote a paragraph in CapsLock and I don’t want to rewrite it. Is there a fix?

A: There is! And while researching this I audibly gasped because I thought it was impossible. The steps are to highlight the text you want to change the case of, and then press [shift+F3].

Hopefully these tips will help save you some time when you’re next writing a paper this semester. Additionally, check out the IT website for how UMass students, faculty, and staff can sign up for Office 365.

Career Planning Online

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Now that you have graduated you may be thinking about the future. On the other hand, you may not be thinking about the future. Either way, enjoy your week of cap throwing, social gatherings, and parents. Maybe you got a cool graduation gift from that uncle or you’re just taking some time off or you are traveling the world. No matter what, reality may hit you sooner rather than later if you don’t have a job lined up.

If you are really late in the game, the government offers an interesting career path tool. That can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. Check out My Next Move to see where you should be going with your life.

Another under-appreciated resource is Linkedin. Recruiters are constantly combing through profiles and reaching out to potential employees whose skills match the job descriptions of the positions they are trying to fill. There has been an increasing expectation for job seekers to have a Linkedin account, so having an up-to-date profile could be the difference between an interview and a paper shredder.

You can also check out services for UMass Alumni from UMass Career Services. Career Connect, a tool to search for jobs and internships and update your resume, is available for one year after graduation. Just keep in mind that Career Services will be transitioning to a new service this summer, so be sure to backup your resume and job postings by May 20th. As an alternative, a similar non-UMass affiliated job search tool is Indeed.

Whether you are a senior leaving high school or a recent graduate from UMass, knowing where to go next may be daunting.

Maybe you already have a job lined up and you know exactly what you want to do with your life and what you will do with your first pay stub. No matter what, you can still check out this online career tool. When I found this website today I didn’t intend to use it to discover my calling. Instead, I tried switching the answers in my head to see what my opposite result would be. This was a fun game. My career “opposite” was midwife. Not that there is anything wrong with being a midwife, it just isn’t for me.

Congratulations and good luck!