Follow Your Dreams: How To Jump Into An Into A Tech Job (With No Experience)

Two of the key focuses of my blog are Career Discussions and Technology. With every passing year, new technologies are emerging and along with them the need for individuals who have backgrounds in the Information Technology (IT) fields. If this field particularly intrigues you, it will be important for you to know how to get in. The following contributed post is entitled, Follow Your Dreams: How To Jump Into An Into A Tech Job (With No Experience).

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Breaking into the tech industry can be a daunting task. Fiercely competitive and outrageously ambitious, it can seem like an insurmountable barrier to entry especially if you don’t have the relevant credentials. However, one of the great things about the industry is that although Here, we’ve outlined some key components for you to land your dream job digital IT.

Get Some Experience

Tech is a notoriously difficult industry to break into without the relevant experience. The top technology companies often want to see that as well as being a great personality fit, that you’ve taken the time to immerse yourself in the culture and honed your skills to ensure that you’re a perfect fit for your desired role. Look to cut your teeth on small entry-level projects that don’t take much investment and can easily fit around your lifestyle. Upload some examples of your work to freelancing sites such as Fivver, or Upwork to fine-tune your skills and get a grasp of the ins and outs of your role without too much commitment. It also gives you a chance to put yourself forward for a variety of projects and therefore allowing your skills to be even more well-rounded, which is exactly what many tech companies are looking for.

Time To Study

Sometimes, though it’s worth noting that smaller experiences may just not be enough to land you that dream tech job. Jobs in tech have stringent entry requirements, and many recruiters may not even consider your resume if you do not have the relevant qualifications or degree required for the position. Browse job specs and job boards liked Linkedin to get a rough idea of the minimum bar of entry and use that to define your starting point. That being said, going back to college may just not be a feasible option for you. If that’s the case you may want to look into taking on an apprenticeship. IT apprenticeships can be a great way to get hands-on technical training and at the end of it, you’ll come away with a recognised qualification that is bound to open some more doors.

Stand Out On Your Resume

Once you feel confident enough to apply for your dream role, it’s time to make sure that your CV stands up to scrutiny. Make sure that you highlight anything that may be relevant to recruiters, no matter how small or insignificant you think it may be. Be candid in your cover letter and let your future employer know why you’re passionate about tech and how you can now prove it with all the smaller projects and courses you have invested in. Don’t get called back for a second interview? Don’t give up. Keep working on extra projects and work experiences, to really beef up your CV.

The Benefits Of Starting On The First Rung Of Any Business Ladder

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and Career Discussions. Arguably the most critical aspect of your experience in the business world or any career is your start. There are advantages to breaking in on the ground level versus ascending right away. The following contributed post is entitled, The Benefits Of Starting On The First Rung Of Any Business Ladder.

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When it comes to starting in any career, most of us are loathe to start at the bottom. It’s no wonder when you consider that such jobs tend to involve long hours for little pay. Not to mention that, if you have your eyes on the prize, low-rung jobs may not be anything like the positions you imagine yourself in. Instead, then, we ignore those starting jobs and reach for the skies.

The trouble is that, while vision is crucial, it’s not always the best way to get a job. Often, aiming for high positions when entering an industry will set you back. There’s no way, after all, that you’ll be able to stand out against someone who’s worked their way up. Even if you do manage to get a high role from the off, you may find everything a struggle. You won’t know what you’re doing, after all, and that will be plain to everyone around you.

While reaching high is essential, then, you could see the following benefits by sucking it up and starting at the bottom.

It’s the easiest way into any industry

Breaking into a new industry is never easy. Even qualifications aren’t a sure bet into a decent job anymore. Now, employers love to see experience. And, that’s not something you’ll have if you’re starting. As such, you may find that you don’t even get interviews when applying for those higher roles. By comparison, the first rungs of most ladders are entry positions. They don’t require experience or even qualifications in many cases. Yet, they could provide your resume with the boost you need to get to the top.

You’ll be able to learn from the bottom up

When you gain a high position, it’s always beneficial to know every area of the business you’re in. All the better for running things smoothly and keeping on top. The trouble is that there’s no way you can do this if you enter at the top. You’ll have no clue about those bottom rungs you bypassed, and that can be problematic. By comparison, starting at the bottom and working your way up is a sure way to success when you reach the top. Consider professionals like Anton Kalafati of B Side Construction, who managed to work his way to up to be a majority owner in a leading company. His beginnings as an on-call repairman are part of the reason why he’s able to keep things afloat. Follow in his footsteps by accepting that lower position and learning everything you can from the bottom up.

A sure way to earn respect

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It’s no surprise that, if you enter a field from the top, you’re going to struggle to gain respect. Employee engagement is near enough impossible when you’re attempting to manage a team who know more than you do. That’s a fact. If, however, you’ve worked in their positions before, you’re pretty much guaranteed more respect. You’ll undoubtedly be able to manage everyone better as a result.

Breaking Away From The Nine To Five Grind

A key focus of my blog is Career Discussions. Something most employees face is deciding whether or not leave their day job. This can come from outgrowing their current position or just wanting to start his or her own enterprise. There are several options to leaving your nine to five. The following contributed post is entitled, Breaking Away From The Nine To Five Grind.

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Everyone reaches a point in their life when they question their purpose and impact in a professional capacity. The career that you once adored and ran into with open arms, now appears dull, boring and monotonous. The thirst for change can sometimes feel all-consuming, and at other times you wonder if it is just a whim. The lure of something new and exciting can be terrifying. The idea of giving up a steady wage, a decent job and an unchallenging work environment is scary. However, often the most frightening decisions turn out to be the best ones we ever make. Consider where you want to be this time next year and work out whether you want to break away from the nine to five grind.

Become Self Employed

Many people choose to make a break from the traditional nine to five job in an effort to gain more control over their working hours, job remit and work location. If you have had an office job for the past decade and you have spent eight hours a day with a photocopier, a laptop and Janice, the head of marketing for company, you might want to broaden your horizons.

Becoming self employed needn’t mean setting up your own business, although if you do have an entrepreneurial side, you may fancy the challenge. Instead, consider taking up a trade. You could train to become a plumber, undertake a HVAC training programme and qualify to become air conditioning engineer, or enroll in a course to become an electrician. These trades are ideal to empower you to become self employed. You dictate your working hours, where you work, the jobs you do and how much you charge. Gain a good reputation and you will never be out of work.

Launch A Startup

If you have a book full of contacts that you have taken with you, you may be keen to set yourself up as a new startup within the industry sector that you have experience in. This will enable you to hit the ground running as you launch your very own business entity. You can keep overheads low by working from home, you can focus your efforts on networking, conducting market research and formulating your business vision, and you can provide an excellent service or product having learned the ropes in your previous role. Being your own boss and listing entrepreneur as your profession is new, exciting and provides you with the much needed challenge that you yearn for.

Travel

Perhaps the break that you need from your nine to five grind isn’t a permanent one. A change really can be as good as a rest. Instead of resigning from your current job, why don’t you take a sabbatical for three weeks, three months or even a year? You can then choose to go overseas, travel and see the world. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve always wanted to embark on a trek across the outback of Australia, complete the Inca Trail or see the temples of Japan, now might be the time to do it. Traveling can open your eyes to new wonders and leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated on your return to work.

Breaking away from the nine to five grind could be just what you need to improve your mood, health and happiness.

How to Avoid Conflict At the Workplace

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success, and a key focus is Career Discussions. Regardless of whether you’re an employer or an employee, it’s critical to understand how to avoid conflicts at the workplace as they can both hinder productivity and hinder career advancement. The following contributed post is entitled, How to Avoid Conflict At the Workplace.

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If your employees are unhappy and disengaged, chances are that their productivity will suffer, and they will not represent your company and brand as well as possible in front of your customers. This will lead to reputation damage and conflict in the workplace, which can cause long term problems. Instead of dealing with conflict, you might want to prevent it and take a proactive approach to maintaining a positive work environment. Find a few tips below.

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Clear Policies
To avoid disagreements that are based on assumptions and misconceptions, it is important that your business has clear human resources and behavior policies. If you don’t have one at the moment, chances are that your employees are just guessing which one is the best approach, and this will lead to conflict and arguments. Talk to a human resources professional to get help with developing your workplace policies.

Value Alignment

When you recruit people to represent your brand, you will need to make sure that they share your values and your vision. If your employees couldn’t care less about customer service or quality, chances are that you are employing the wrong people. There are many ways you can check whether or not your applicants’ values are aligned with your company policy and brand philosophy, using online tools and personality tests.

Effective Communication


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If there is a block in the communication channels, you will find it hard to communicate your goals and get your employees to commit to them. Workplace communication should never be flowing in one direction only. If you haven’t studied democratic leadership yet, it might be time to find out how you can encourage debates and discussion and avoid value conflict in the workplace, so your employees can fully engage with your company mission and vision.

Shared Goals

To make your workplace run smoother and to encourage collaboration and support, you will need to create shared goals. If you hold monthly appraisal meetings, take your time to sit down with each individual and find out what their personal career goals and aspirations are, so you can find a common trait and goals you can work towards together.

Conflict Management Frameworks

It is crucial that you have a procedure map in case conflict happens in your company. There is no point trying to deny that there is a problem, and the sooner you deal with it, the better you can handle the situation. Mediation, disciplinary procedures, training, and development, as well as sitting down with a civil attorney to learn about the legal framework of dealing with conflict and ethical problems at the workplace might be some of the best options.

When you have employees from different walks of life, conflict is something that may seem inevitable. Create a company culture that values and respects diversity and find a way to align your mission and vision with your employees’ own aspiration. Open up channels of communication, so you can deal with conflict as soon as possible.

Employee Engagement Ideas For Remote Teams

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and two focuses are Business/Entrepreneurship and Career Discussions. A great perk for many employees is being able to work remotely. Working remotely gives a lot of flexibility and can add to productivity. There’s a downside to it too, and management must consider how to get the most of teams of employees working remotely. The following contributed post is therefore entitled, Employee Engagement Ideas For Remote Teams.

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Ensuring your employees are engaged is not always an easy task, yet it can become even more difficult when dealing with remote teams. Nonetheless, the following employment engagement ideas from Unum should give you a helping hand…

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Frequent communication

When dealing with a remote team you should never take the ‘no news is good news’ stance. This is likely to lead to disengagement, as the team members may feel you don’t value them enough to tell them what’s going on. It is definitely a case of the more communication, the better.

Embrace instant messaging

A lot of managers believe it is more efficient for them to be the only point of contact. However, you risk alienating the team in question, and this is extremely damaging. Why? Well, information won’t flow effectively and work relationships won’t develop. Instead, promote healthy communication via the use of internal instant messaging.

Consider various communication tools

When engaging with a remote team you need to make sure you use the right tool in relation to the message you are giving. If you merely need to rely on a simple message, an email will suffice. However, when something is more elaborate, or complex, or requires brainstorming, it will be more effective to use an advanced video tool. You can easily find these on the Internet, and some are even free to download. However, managed solutions come highly recommend, as they will be developed to suit your business.

Better scheduling

Why should those on the other side of the world always have to take a conference call whilst they should be sound asleep? A lot of businesses schedule in relation to what is convenient for their home office. However, if you consider your remote teams and schedule for their benefit in some instances, you show that they are just as important and this keeps them engaged.

Give an explanation

This is a simple yet effective engagement idea for remote teams. Often, everyone in the home office will know what is going on and consequently their reason for performing a particular task. However, remote teams may be asked to do something and they have no clue why. This may interrupt their current workflow and thus cause irritation. Moreover, it may lead them to feel disengaged because they are working on something without purpose. Therefore, all you need to do is explain why.

Create personal connections

It doesn’t hurt to ask someone how he or she is and what is going on in their life. A lot of managers neglect to do this because they feel they are wasting time. However, creating a human connection is time well spent. If you can’t spare five minutes of your time to get to know an employee, no matter where they are located, they won’t feel valued. Instead, they will feel overlooked.

So there you have it, six easy yet highly effective employee engagement ideas for your remote teams. As soon as these practices are implemented you will immediately notice a difference. Start today by making a personal connection when you next communicate with someone in a remote team.

Improving Your Confidence at Work

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and a key focus is Career Discussions. No matter which career you’re in, you want to get to a place where you exuding confidence at work. While each job title and career are different, there are some common areas you can focus on to increase your confidence. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Improving Your Confidence at Work.

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Confidence is a funny thing. You be fine in some situations and then totally lose it in others. Such is the human condition. We all have different fears and anxieties and they play into how confident we feel in different situations.

Our confidence can be fleeting in some cases and strong in others. But learning to face your flaws and feel confident in every area is still possible. You just need a strategy for each area.

Presentation Skills

One of the main fears people have is a big presentation. Often the fear stems from having everyone in the room look at you and judge you for what you are saying. Even if you feel proud of the presentation you have made, there is always that nagging doubt that you got everything wrong!

Luckily, you can improve your presentation skills with practice and a little refinement. Perfecting your presentation to make sure that it is readable and easy for you to follow is the first place to start. If a sentence isn’t flowing or you are tripping over your words, a small rewrite will make a big difference. Similarly, finding a strategy to cool your nerves is a good idea. Practice your presentation a few times to get a feel for it and take a few deep breaths before you start. Speak a little slower than you might usually and you will soon find a rhythm.

Conversation in Meetings

There is a huge difference between feeling confident in making a presentation and being able to share an idea in a meeting. For one thing, in a presentation you just have to talk whereas in a meeting, you need to listen and progress the conversation.

One of the first steps is to persuade yourself that the jitters you feel are excitement rather than anxiety. This might sound weird but actually, the positive reinforcement does help.

The next thing to do is commit to talking early on in the meeting. The longer you stay silent, the harder it is to jump in. If you like, take in some notes so that you remember the points you want to make or discuss and do take notes as people talk to help you keep up.

Talking on the Phone

The phone is becoming something of a lost art between text and email but it is still a vital office skill everyone should have. There are lots of ways to learn how to talk on the phone and taking notes as someone speaks will help you concentrate. Again, speaking a little slower than usual makes things easier.

If you are making the phone call, it’s a good idea to plan what you would like to say ahead of time. Before you even dial you can have a list of key points, words and phrases you want to say. However, do allow for some deviation from your script. Keep things relaxed and don’t worry if you need to think about a response – just say you need to think!

Over time, your confidence at work will improve in all situations. Be patient and try not to let your anxiety spiral – you’ve got this!

How Your Choices Can Affect Your Career

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and a key area of focus is Career Discussions. Choosing the right career for yourself can be one of the most important life choices one can make. There are different reasons for choosing a career such as outside influence, industry trends or personal strengths. The following contributed post discusses this and is entitled, How Your Choices Can Affect Your Career.

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In life, we all have choices. We can choose what to eat for breakfast, what to wear each day, or even what to do in the evenings. Yet, we don’t always realize that. Sometimes, it’s just far too easy to find yourself living on autopilot – or worse, living for someone else. When this is the case, you may find that you are just living out of habit or repeating routine because your mind believes that’s what you have to do. But you do have a choice. And if you follow a path that your parents did, because it’s familiar – again, you can feel as if that wasn’t a choice. But it was. And this entire idea can be applied to your career too.

Because when it comes to your career, you always have a choice. You can choose your path and the industry you’re in. You can choose to better yourself or to grow. And you can also choose to quit your job and do something new or start a business. Yet, not many of us know that this is the case. We feel as if we should live in a certain way or we have to follow the crowd. Yet, you are free to make your own choices and they can then go on to have a huge effect on your career.

Mirroring Your Interests

First of all, you can choose to follow a path that you love. You can choose a career that you are passionate about an interested in. When you make this choice, you are going to find that you are incredibly satisfied not only in work, but in life in general.

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Suiting Your Strengths

The next thing that you need to be aware of here, is what you’re actually good at. So you have a choice here to make sure that the career you’re in is suited to you – not anybody else! This means that you need to get to know your strengths, so that you can be sure that the career choices to make are right.

Affecting Your Output

The next thing that your choices have an impact on, is your output. Because if you are making the right choices and your prioritizing quality and achievement, then you will start to see success. From choosing the right kind of action, to the best mass flow meter, to even the right expert to work with, it can all impact your output. So if you decide right, it can lead to success.

Sparking Your Success

And finally, perhaps the most powerful of all reasons for why you need to really take ownership of your choices, is that they can really be the catalyst for your success. If you control your choices and align them with your goals, you will find success. There’s no doubt about it. But you do then need to remember that you have a choice in the first place. And you need to start to make decisions that will allow you to see success.

Dr. Cedric Bright discusses his path towards medicine and the current medical landscape

One of the focuses of my blog is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and my most central principle is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. While we tend to think of clinical medicine as strictly a ‘Healthcare Profession’, its foundations are rooted in the Basic Sciences. Medical Doctors/Physicians are likewise scientists who specialize in patient care and healing sicknesses.

I recently met Dr. Cedric Bright in person through a mutual acquaintance at a family gathering. I’d heard of him through conversation, and I think I’d previously seen him before, as he was among the many physicians on Twitter using the ‘hashtag’ ‘#BlackMenInMedicine’. It turns out that Dr. Bright, the Associate Dean of Admissions at the East Carolina University School of Medicine , coincidentally knew Dr. Qiunn Capers, IV, whom I first saw using the hashtag.

At the gathering, Dr. Bright eagerly answered the questions of numerous medical school hopefuls who were in attendance. As they asked him questions, he in turn asked them questions about their preparation, their academic performance, standardized test scores, experiences in clinics and overall ambitions. At the recommendation of the host of the gathering, I listened in on Dr. Bright’s discussions and was fascinated by what he had to say.

With my blog having both education and a science focuses, and with me also knowing many medical school hopefuls, I seized the opportunity to ask Dr. Bright for an interview and he agreed. In the following interview with Dr. Cedric Bright, we discuss his background, his path into medical school and his career, and finally the current landscape of medical education – specifically what medical schools are looking for in prospects. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.

Anwar Dunbar: Thank you for the opportunity to interview you, Dr. Bright. Medical school has long been the destination for many undergraduates, and many people will love to hear what you have to say about what the journey towards practicing medicine entails. With that, can you talk briefly about yourself? Where are you from? What got you interested in medicine?

Cedric Bright: I’m originally from Winston-Salem, NC. I grew up there and attended a private boarding school. My parents were both public school teachers and believed in trying to give me and my brother every advantage we could have to be the best that we could be. They were of the ilk where, ‘This generation needs to do better than the last generation,’ and my parents made sacrifices for us so that we could go to private boarding schools.

From there I was accepted to Brown University for my undergraduate studies. I returned to attend medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). I did my ‘Residency’ back at Brown. I stayed on as faculty there for four years, and I wrote a paper which was published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, looking at perceived barriers in medical education by race and gender. That led to me being recruited to Duke University and the Durham VA-Medical Center. I spent 13 years there before I was recruited to come back to Carolina (UNC). I spent eight years at Carolina, and just left three weeks ago to come here to East Carolina.

AD: So, let’s go back to the beginning of your journey. Your parents – were they science teachers or were they teaching other subjects?

CB: They were general public school teachers. My father taught math and science in middle school, and my mother taught second grade in elementary school.

AD: What inspired you to become a medical doctor? Did you have a mentor in medicine? Also, are you the first medical doctor in your family?

CB: I’ll tell you that I’m not the first doctor in my family, but I also never met the person who was. He is a distant cousin on my grandmother’s side. I don’t recall hearing stories of him, though I’ve seen pictures. In terms of myself, my father being an educator brought home books for me and my brother to read. It was a series describing what doctors, nurses, engineers, fireman, police, etc., “do”. After reading those books, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, and my brother wanted to be an engineer. Fast forward 20 years, he’s become an engineer. Fast forward 25 years, I’ve become a doctor.

AD: During your journey, were there any challenges in your undergraduate studies or throughout medical school itself? Or were you a ‘straight A’ student where the road was all set for you?

CB: I was nowhere near a straight A student, but I was a hard worker. My parents put me in some courses that taught me how to study. In doing so, they helped me with my concentration. I probably would’ve been diagnosed as “Attention Deficit Disorder” (ADHD). I still have lot of ADHD tendencies now in my old life.

I learned techniques on how to manage my thoughts, my ability to focus, and even with that I had some academic difficulties. I learned how to use the system – how to ask for help – how to not be afraid to admit that I didn’t know something. I learned how to visit teachers during their office hours, and how to spend time after class working on things. I learned how to ask my colleagues who were willing to help – all those types of things.

I did reasonably well in high school. I particularly did well in Chemistry; my teacher was my football coach. I was quite fond of him and he helped me understand Chemistry very well, such that I did very well in it in college.

I did quite well my freshman year in college. Subsequently, I had the ‘sophomore slump’. I pledged a fraternity the spring semester of my freshman year, and I came back and ‘acted’ that fraternity the first semester of my sophomore year, and my grades summarily crashed. At that same point in time, I decided that I didn’t like Biology anymore and I didn’t want to do Chemistry. I decided that there must be something else that I could major in. Low and behold I’d taken some courses in Film because I’d been interested in it, and so I decided that I’d major in it.

AD: Oh, interesting.

CB: My Pre-Med Advisor said, ‘You don’t have to major in a science to go to medical school,’ and I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to take you at your word on that!’ So, I ended up majoring in Film (Semiotics), and what it taught me was how to understand non-verbal communication, understanding how the body moves and when a person’s body is or isn’t reflective of their verbal statements. Being able to interpret my patients better, I think that helped me in the long-term.

AD: Interesting.

CB: So, I pulled my grades up my next two years after my sophomore year, and I think that’s why I got into medical school. My grade point average (GPA) wasn’t great – it was less than a 3.0 and I’ll leave it at that. I had to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) three times to get a score that would at least get me noticed. I think the final score that I got was a 27. I only applied to two medical schools and I got into the UNC, which was crazy.

After getting in, I was advised to do a summer program and I’m grateful that I was. It surrounded me with like-minded individuals. The first thing I tell young people today is to make sure you do some type of summer program to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. They become your colleagues of the future.

AD: Interesting.

CB: The program also helped me to understand the difference between undergraduate-level and graduate-level studying. Had I not done the program, I’m sure that I would’ve had more academic difficulty during my first year.

AD: So, you’re referring to the complexity of thought and….

CB: And the amount of time you must put into it. For instance, I was used to studying maybe an hour or two a day, and then ‘cramming’ towards the end and still being able to get a good grade. You can’t do that in medical school. In medical school you must put in four to five hours every day. You must put in six to eight hours on the weekend – it’s a ‘grind’ and you must get used to that grind. You have to become disciplined and not fall prey to the ‘Jedi-Mind Tricks’ that your classmates would throw on you by saying that they spent the whole weekend hiking the Appalachians. They might have hiked a mile, but they spent the rest of the time studying. They want you to think they didn’t. So learn not to fall for the Jedi-Mind Tricks. Everyone is working hard in medical school.

AD: Jedi-Mind Tricks (laughing). What was your ‘specialty’?

CB: My specialty ended up being ‘Internal Medicine’, but that’s another story.

AD: Okay.

CB: Let me finish this point. I prayed before I got into medical school. I said, ‘Lord, don’t let get into medical school if I’m not going to graduate!’ So, when I got in, that took a load off me because I knew that I’d prayed and that he’d answered my prayers and I knew that I would graduate. The question then became how. I’d done the summer program, but my first semester of medical school, seemingly on every test I was one to two points above passing and I wasn’t ‘killing’ it by any means.

I was the last man on the totem pole probably every time and on every test. At the end of my first semester, I passed three of my courses, but I failed one by less than a half a point. So, I ended up having to remediate that course during the summer, but after coming back from the Christmas break, I realized that I couldn’t do the same work that I’d been doing and working the same way. I had to change my study habits.

For the most part, I’d studied with one of my frat brothers. It worked well, but it didn’t work well enough. So I said let me branch out and see if I can study with some other people. So I started studying with some other people who didn’t look like me and I started finding ways in which they studied that reminded me of the study programs my father had put me in back in the day. I started re-utilizing those study techniques and suddenly, I began to thrive. I had to make an adjustment and go back to a study technique that really helped me out when I was younger, and it turned out to be the elixir that I needed in medical school.

From that point on in my second year, I moved into a house with six to seven other medical students. Each night we’d study until about 10 to 10:30 at night and we’d come out to the common area of this house and have this massive ‘Quiz Bowl’. The whole point of the Quiz Bowl was for me to take the most esoteric fact that I knew and try to stump them, and for them to take the most esoteric fact that they knew and try to stump me.

Now here’s the key Dr. Dunbar. If I stumped them, I had to teach them. And if they stumped me, they had to teach me. The effect of that was that by the time we got to the exam, we’d asked so many questions of each other from so many different perspectives that there weren’t too many questions on the exam that we hadn’t already discussed. So like a ‘rising tide’, we all did very well. What that speaks to is how you work in medical school to get the ‘volume’. It’s not aptitude that impedes people’s progress in medical school, it’s dealing with the volume.

It’s kind of like trying to eat an elephant. If you’ve got one person trying to eat an elephant, it takes a long time to do it. But if you’ve got seven to eight people trying to eat the elephant with everyone describing what they’re biting and how it tastes, the texture of it, you get to know the whole elephant, but you just ate a part of it. Does that make sense to you, sir?

AD: Yes.

CB: So that’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned about approaching large volumes of work. If you approached it first being responsible for taking care of your own individual preparation and coming together and working with other individuals who have put in their own individual preparation, you can work very effectively as a group. But it first starts with individual preparation.

AD: Okay, so there’s a component there that requires individual preparation and then there’s a teamwork component there.

CB: That’s correct. The individual preparation gets you to 50%, but that team component gets you to 90%.

AD: That makes sense. When I first got to graduate school, I was used to working by myself, and I discovered that I couldn’t do that and get the grades that I needed. Just quickly, which fraternity did you pledge?

CB: I pledged Omega Psi Phi.

AD: In term of my next question, you discussed this at the gathering where we met, and it really resonated with me. When I was an undergraduate student at Johnson C. Smith University in the late-1990s, many of us pondered practicing medicine, but few of us thoroughly understood what it took to get into medical school. Aside from the academic credentials, what are some of the personal qualities aspiring medical students need to be successful and, in general, what are you all looking for? I remember you saying that you want them to have touched patients before.

CB: That’s true. We want to see that you’ve had a journey of learning about the didactics and the science component, yes, but also about the humanity – doing volunteer service for people less fortunate than yourself. This helps you to understand the social determinants and sometimes the behavioral determinants of health, and how they manifest themselves in our community.

We want you to have spent some time doing some type of hands on patient care, whether its learning how to take blood pressure, learning how to take vital signs in the doctor’s office, or being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and helping to triage patients and get them to the emergency room. Or it could be just driving an ambulance to take people to their regular hospital visits, being a nurse, or being a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) doing the hands-on dirty work in the hospital. Lastly, it could be being a pharmacy tech spending time working in a pharmacy where people are coming in asking questions about their medications. And helping them understand the side effects, and reactions from other drugs and things of that nature or being a hospice volunteer to helping people with end of life issues.

These are the types of things we’re looking for hands-on wise. There are a lot of smart people in the world, but there’s a difference between being smart and having intelligence. We’re looking for more intelligent people than we are smart people. Smart people know how to answer questions. They can get a question right all the time, but they don’t know how to talk to people. They don’t know how to deal with the ‘human component’. Intelligence is knowing what you know and being able to apply it to the people in front of you at the right time, for the right person, for the right reasons.

AD: Now in that same vein, if I recall correctly, in terms of determining why students want to attend medical school, you’re not looking for canned, ‘cookie cutter’ answers. You want to hear some depth to their answers, right?

CB: Yes. The ‘depth’ comes in multiple ways. For example, when someone writes about their experiences, I don’t care so much about what they did, I want to know how it made them feel. I want them to be able to share with me if there was a significance that changed their view of death if they worked in a hospice; how they think the healthcare system works as the ‘donut hole’ as it goes to prescription drugs.

I want them to be able to share if they know the significance of how nurses are so overworked and have too many patients, such that a CNA becomes so very important; how to take care of people in the hospital, or how to take care of people in the clinic as a medical assistant. Why (what was your motivation)? What did you feel? What did you observe? What did you learn? That’s more important to me than what you did.

AD: So, this is my last question. The landscape of medical education and medical school, has it changed since you were a student yourself? We have a lot of technology now. People communicate differently. I’m sure the actual medical approaches have changed. Can you talk about how things have changed from then to now?

CB: I think when I was coming through, we didn’t have as many imaging tests and diagnostic procedures, so our touch to the patient became more important. Doing the appropriate physical exam was enough for you to come to a diagnosis. You didn’t have to have an X-ray. You didn’t have to have a ‘CT’, because if you did your exam right, you knew what your exam told you. Now we depend too much on technology to tell us what’s wrong with a person, and it doesn’t always equate to us finding the right answers on how to take care of people.

I also think that our technology and having to ‘keyboard’ so much on these electronic records takes us away from the human touch – the humanity of medicine which is the one-on-one conversation with our patients because we’re too busy ‘charting’. Our eyes don’t meet enough. Patients wait months to come see a doctor, not watch a doctor type. Seeing a doctor means we have eye-to-eye contact and we talk as two human beings intimately in one setting, and I think that’s becoming a lost art in medicine. Doctors are under time crunches to see more patients and to make the same amount of money, or to make more money.

AD: I think that rolls into my last two questions. I know that every student is different, but on average, what are the major learning points for the medical students when they come in, because I imagine that these are all very bright individuals. What are the main things they must learn? Is it what you described for yourself? Or is it something else?

CB: I think the main thing they need to learn is that it’s not their aptitude that’s going to determine their altitude, it’s their attitude. If they come in with the right attitude of wanting to learn, and sacrifice whatever it takes to learn, and not come in with the attitude of, ‘I’m not doing this or, I’m not doing that’. That just doesn’t work in medicine. They also must learn how to deal with failure. The thing about medicine as with all walks of life, Dr. Dunbar, is that we all fall down. There’s no shame in falling down and we shouldn’t fall apart the first time we fail.

But what we should do is learn from the mistakes that we’ve made. Learn from what has occurred, grow and move forward, and get back up. I like to say that there’s no shame in falling down. There is shame in laying there. And don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that their life is perfect. All that is, is a mask. We all fall down. We all have imperfections. We all fall short of the glory.

AD: My high school basketball coach used to tell us that exact same thing about attitude and altitude. My last question is going to be a little more global. Under the Obama Administration, we had the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and now that’s kind of been stripped down. In terms of the medical field itself, do we still have enough doctors? Is it still a thriving field?

CB: It’s very much a thriving field, and there will always be a need for doctors. I wholeheartedly believe in that. Artificial Intelligence will never be able to replace doctors, because they don’t have the touch. There’s more than enough need for physicians and, in many places, we’ve said there’s going to be a shortage of physicians in the future. That’s because we have areas where more physicians are passing away than physicians are being made.

The ‘Baby Boomers’ are probably a third of our physicians that we have in the workforce and they’re retiring at a rate of almost 1,000 every month. So, we’re going into a crisis of having more physicians retiring than those who are graduating. It’s a very interesting dichotomy and the American Association of Medical Colleges has been preparing different reports to show that. I was actually looking at one the other day.

The bottom line is that there’s a two-fold problem. We’re not making enough doctors and doctors are retiring, or we have enough doctors and there’s a maldistribution of doctors. Some would argue that theory. We have enough doctors, but all of our doctors want to practice where there are other doctors. But in actuality, we may need to redistribute them so that they practice in other areas that are rural and have less physicians in that area.

AD: Well, Dr. Bright that’s all the questions that I have. Thank you for your time and for sharing your path and knowledge and expertise about the medical field. A lot of people will benefit from this, and I look forward to doing it again.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed it, you might also enjoy:

Dr. Quinn Capers IV discusses Implicit Bias and the #DropAndGiveMe20 campaign
Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education
The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
How my HBCU led me to my STEM career
Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Fighting The Corruption: How To Protect Yourself As A Whistleblower

One of the focuses of my blog is Career Discussions. Whether in the Public or Private sectors, there are instances where employees witness some form of corruption and must decide whether or to say something, or to simply look the other way. While it may be for the greater good, in some instances, there could be long-term ramifications for being a ‘whistleblower’. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Fighting The Corruption: How To Protect Yourself As A Whistleblower.

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Have you seen or found evidence of activity in your workplace that seems shady, unethical, or downright illegal? If your answer is yes, then you have a tough choice to make. You can either keep quiet and allow these issues to continue or voice your concerns and risk facing backlash. If you go with the latter and decide to become a whistleblower, then it’s crucial that you protect yourself from any dangers that may arise from speaking up. Here are six ways for you to do that.

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1. Put Everything In Writing
Once you’re certain that there’s an issue to be addressed, you should document any information that you have gathered and store it somewhere safe. Record phone conversations, keep texts, emails, and letters, and film any face-to-face discussions. Make sure that you have hard copies of all of this information, just in case you experience technical issues or ever get hacked.

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2. Speak To A Professional
A common response to whistleblowing is character assassination. For this reason, you should find yourself a lawyer experienced in whistleblower lawsuits. They will help you to fight this backlash, as well as support you and put forward the best case possible. Many laws provide a financial incentive for whistleblowers, so your lawyer will also help you maximize your rewards.

3. Stick To The Facts
Making false claims publically can see you sued for defamation. Because of this, you need to make sure that you stick to the facts and never exaggerate any of the information that you have gathered. The more reliable and honest that you can be, the more credible you will appear. This means that you’ll have a much easier time convincing others that your claims are genuine.

4. Don’t Discuss The Situation
While your case may not be quite so serious, there have been situations in the past where the whistleblower put themselves in danger by speaking up. If you think that your life or family could be at risk, it’s better to remain anonymous, at least for now. Avoid discussing the situation with anyone other than the authorities and your lawyer, including your close friends and family.

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5. Keep Doing Your Job
Whistleblowers tend to lose their jobs as a result of speaking up. However, until the same happens to you, it’s crucial that you keep working as normal. After all, you don’t want to give your employer a valid excuse to get rid of you. Make sure that you continue to show up on time, keep yourself productive, follow the workplace policies, and try not to make any more waves for now.

6. Prepare For The Worst
Although you can hope for the best, it’s sensible to prepare for the worst. With that in mind, you should build up an emergency fund, just in case your boss decides to fire you regardless. If you think that you could be in any danger, you may also want to go and live somewhere else for a while. This could be with a trusted friend or family member or just a hotel.

Blowing the whistle means exposing the wrongdoings within a company or organization. While this is the right thing to do, it can leave you vulnerable to a number of risks. To make sure that you’re protected, follow the advice above.

Calm In The Cubicle: Encouraging Your Employees To Be Stress-Free

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and two key focus are Career Discussions and Health/Wellness. If you’re a manager in an organization or a business owner, a key consideration is keeping your employees at as low a level of stress as possible. If you can do so, you can get them to give you a consistently high level of productivity. The following contributed post is therefore entitled, Calm In The Cubicle: Encouraging Your Employees To Be Stress-Free.

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What we can suffer from when we are starting out on our business journey is that the business takes priority and not necessarily anything else. You might be working to promote your business day and night, and this can be to the detriment of the most important aspect of your company, the employees. After all, if we overworked and underpaid our employees, how long are they going to stay with us? Not very long. But, if we work at improving our employees, nurturing their capabilities, but also ensuring that they are happy in our working environment, this will naturally translate to productive and efficient work. So we need to think about those employees sat in the cubicle, on their own for hours on end, are they actually being productive? Maybe it’s time to look at the more stressful aspects of work, and eradicating them for good?

What Stresses Out Your Employees?
First things first, we don’t have an open door policy; we need to get this arranged. To get an open dialogue with our employees, we need to have continual contact with them, but we need to find what is making them feel bad. These days, stress and anxiety are two common components of modern living, and this naturally spills into their working lives. Sometimes their working lives are the very reason. If we can start to unravel this by having good quality communication and regular contact with our employees to ensure that we are on top of these issues, we can then put the stops in place that benefits everyone.

Fixing The Space
If you have rows upon rows of cubicles, this needs to go. In addition to this, you may want to take your attitude to the workplace out of the 20th century and bring it bang up to date! To alter the space and make it an environment where employees are not just hemmed in like farmyard animals, you should take inspiration from the more modern startups and make them a talisman for what you want to achieve. There are professionals such as Vertical Interior Design that can help you to redesign your office space so you can get rid of the cubicles and the open plan, and make it a more inclusive and collaborative space. This will help your employees to feel they are in more of a collection which will actually impact their work for the better, but those office cubicles never lend themselves well to communicating with anyone. When you see those offices that are silent and almost ghostly in presence, you’d never expect the environment to be a nurturing one.

Flexibility
If your employees feel that their job is the biggest source of stress in their lives, what you can do to make it easier on them is to employ a more flexible approach to their working day. For example, those busy working parents who are always rushing to get in for 9 in the morning, but always end up being late may feel that they have the Sword of Damocles hanging over their head every time they turn up a little bit late. But instead, why don’t you push the clock back a bit for them? Having a more flexible schedule will make them stress less and work better.

Sourcing The Right Stimuli
Because a typical office is somewhere that’s the very embodiment of drab, or demotivation, or without the right touchstones, you can focus on these negative aspects and they can color your entire attitude to work. So if there is nothing much we can do about this, then we need to work at improving the cognition of our workers by implementing certain things that can help in the long run. The right snacks can be a godsend, especially when you look at the fact that the typical office culture celebrates sugar and greasy carbohydrates in the form of doughnuts and pizza, every time there’s a deadline that is tight or you want to reward your employees. But this only makes them sluggish in the long run. Likewise, if you have a very busy office space, and you have employees that are struggling to focus, you can make the most of various productivity tools to help your workers focus better in this stressful environment. The right noise app can drown out any office hubbub and allow your workers to focus on the task at hand. Likewise, if you’ve got a lot of work that needs doing, and a lot of typing, then voice recognition programs could cut that workload in half!

Stress in the workplace comes in many different ways, shapes, and forms. Work-related stress is very common, but there are the external aspects that can cloud their ability to work as well. If we can encourage a more relaxing environment in the workplace, this will translate to a happier person and a healthier environment.