Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Summer and I'm Bored...and Broke..

There are free things to do, if you take a look around. Here are some activities you might want to check out:

First, some North Metro events:

Coon Rapids Dam has a series of free music events through the summer: some highlights include a Tribute to Elvis on 6-28; Family Pop Music on 7-12; and Island Party Dance on 7-26.

Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley is free to roam, offers free parking, and they also have Friday Night Movies for free. Movies start at 6:30. The movies are all G-rated and you can buy popcorn and lemonade for $1 if you choose to.

Anoka will have free music every Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the George Green Park.  There will also be a Riverfest in Anoka on Saturday, 7-14-2012, in downtown Anoka, featuring live music, crafts, ghost tours, and free boat rides.

Blaine  will hold a Family Fun Night on July 17 from 6-8:00 p.m. at Aquatore Park featuring free ‘kiddie’ games, music, and you can check out a real police car and fire truck.

Check with your own city to see if they offer similar activities such as concerts in local parks, local festivals, or carnivals coming to your area to keep you active this summer. If you aren’t on a softball league, you could go and watch teams play close to your home-that would be free (bringing a lawn chair would be a good idea). You could also consider participating in the National Night Out in August, to meet new neighbors or get together and have food and entertainment with people who live near you.

Here are some other ideas for things to do:

Minneapolis Institute of Arts – free admission (parking is not free—plan on about $5 per car)

Walker Art Institute and Sculpture Garden (Cherry Spoon Bridge) is free on the 1st Thursday of the month.

In late July and early August, you can watch the Vikings train in Mankato for free (if you can afford to travel to Mankato).

The Twin City River Rats is a group of waterskiers that perform tricks and formations in their weekly shows. You can watch them free at any of their events. The address given was 1758 West River Road in Minneapolis, and they generally do their show on the Mississippi River. For more details visit their website at .

Como Zoo south of Roseville is free, with extensive animal exhibits including a butterfly ‘house,’ and many interesting plant species, as well as a small ride park (that part is not free) and plenty of space for picnics and bike riding.

To find free live music events and outdoor movies in Minneapolis, go to and see what’s happening.

Enjoy your summer---and be safe!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Interview-Working With Older Adults

We were lucky to speak with Carol, whose career involves working with the elderly. Carol made a career change when she was in her 40's. Here's what she shared about her degree and career:

What was your major/degree in college? Major: Gerontology
                                                              Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Where did you earn your degree? Metropolitan State University

What is your position title? Director of Older Adult Ministry

Where are you employed? Mount Olivet Lutheran Church; I am going to be switching positions shortly to Open Circle.

What led you to choose your career?
I always enjoyed working with and being with older adults.  I had been in insurance for 16 years and  had an opportunity to go back to school and focus on another career.

What did you like or dislike about your college courses?
Coursework - enjoyed it very much because it was an area of interest for me.

What was your first job after you graduated from college?
1st job - Mount Olivet Day Services - I had done an internship for one of my courses and was hired after I graduated from Metro State.

What was the path you followed to get to your current job?
I got the job I have now because I heard of an opening at Mount Olivet through someone that worked there at the time.

What advice would you have for someone thinking about a career in social work?
Most importantly, do it because it is your passion.  Make sure you have the patience to work with this population.  If you do, it is a very rewarding career.

Would you have done anything differently while you were in college?
No.  I think after high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do so I just received my AA from Anoka- Ramsey. Going back to school in my 40's, I was focused and knew what I wanted as my second career.

What do you do on the job?
On a daily basis - many phone calls to homebound members in their home/facility;  visiting them in their homes; assessing their needs, offering resources to them or their families.

What other roles do you play?
Other roles - assist co-workers on their events - health fairs, speakers, caregiver meetings.

What do you like the most about your career?
Like the most - visiting with people, listening to their stories, helping them with resources.

What do you like the least? Does anything surprise you about the job?
Like least - knowing that it is time for someone to move from their home into assisted living & the refusal to do so; knowing that there will probably be an event such as a fall that will force them into a move.  What is surprising - the resistance that a person has towards change and towards moving from their home;  also the disappointment on their part that they are unable to drive their cars - this is major!!

Is this a stressful job?
Not too stressful -  very busy at times but not too bad.

What other careers could you have with your degree?
Other careers -  I could work in an assisted living/nursing home as a therapeutic recreation leader, or resident advisor.  The work I have been doing is very much social work although I do not have a degree in social work.

Who would be most suitable for this career?
One who has passion for working with the elderly, patience, and kindness.

Any other thoughts?
I think that working with the elderly is a very rewarding career.  You have to love working with this population and their families.  Families can be under a lot of stress figuring out what to do, and where to move their parents.

Thanks, Carol, for such wonderful insights!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Argh! An Interview!

You sent out several dozen applications. You posted your resume online. You asked for an application everywhere you saw signs saying "Help Wanted." You asked your uncles and aunts and grandparents and neighbors and a few random strangers if they knew of places that were hiring, and you marched right over there and applied.

And then...One of those places called you for an interview.

Why is it that something you were really hoping for causes so much panic?

You probably have less than a week until it happens. Now what?

You might be feeling anxious because you don't know what to expect. Since you can't predict what exactly will happen at the interview, being prepared for it can make you feel a little more confident.

First, be sure you know where the interview is. Take a test drive if you want to-you might be surprised at how many people do that, so don't feel dumb. You don't want to hit the road and not know where you're headed. Time how long it takes you and remember, with road construction or traffic, it's going to take longer. After you get to the place on your trial run, stop and write down some landmarks if that would help you (such as, turn left at the second gas station). There's no harm in arriving early for an interview. If you're late, that is not a good thing. You may spend some time finding where to park, also.

Second, think about what to wear. The good news is, you probably don't need to go out and buy anything new. If you have a suit, that's great (provided it fits and isn't 20 years old). A suit works for both men and women. If you don't have a suit, that's not a problem. Look for a crisp, well-made, tailored (not fancy) shirt and pants that look well together. For men, wearing a tie never hurts, even if the position you're interviewing for is not going to require it. For women, any put-together skirt or pants and top is going to work. Make sure the skirt is a conservative length, not too short or too long. Solid colors will look more professional.

Whatever you wear, be sure the clothes fit you well (be honest!). If they are too tight, they will not look professional and you will be even more uncomfortable than you already would have been. If they are outdated, it will definitely be noticed by your potential employer.

Be sure the clothes are clean and not wrinkled. Don't leave it to the last minute when you will not have time to iron something or sew on a button.
Not appropriate...

You may want to keep in mind the weather; you don't want to be too warm during an interview, causing you to perspire and get red in the face, which will make you look as anxious as you probably are, nor do you want to be shivering. It wouldn't hurt to have a tissue in your pocket just in case you need one.

Are you in need of an outfit? Ask a friend to loan you something, or check out a thrift store. Always be on the lookout for something on clearance racks, too. And remember, you can wear the same 'interview outfit' over and over; potential employers aren't going to know you wore the same thing to ten interviews.

Open-toed shoes should be avoided for an interview, no matter how dressy you think they are. A very high heel is not going to look professional, nor are flip-flops.Whatever shoes you wear, be sure they are clean and not ragged looking. Wear appropriate dark colored socks with your shoes if you are wearing slacks.

Be very aware of your grooming: Hair should be neat and off your face, and if you need a haircut, get one. Men, be sure any facial hair is neatly trimmed. At any interview, be sure you have brushed your teeth well and you don't have bad breath--but do not chew gum. Fingernails should also be clean, trimmed or filed, and fairly short. No polish or else a clear polish is best. A dramatic manicure is not going to impress the interviewers. Keep makeup to a minimum.
A little much...

If you have piercings that are visible, it may be best to remove the studs or ornaments for an interview. You can gauge how conservative the place is when you're speaking with your interviewers. A watch only, or very minimal jewelry, will be less distracting. It is often wise to cover any tattoos for the interview.

Third, what do you bring along with you? In most cases, if the interviewing person or persons expect you to bring any documents with you, they'll tell you when you are called for the interview. It is always acceptable to bring a notebook in case you want to make any notes, and again, be sure your notebook looks neat (maybe tucked into a binder or a dark colored folder--remember a pen!). Occasionally, you will have a chance to review the questions before the interview starts. This could be a chance for you to make some notes so you will remember things you wanted to point out to them. 

Fourth, practice being calm. Deep breathing can really help, as well as being sure you are using good posture. Are you sitting up straight? Are you looking the questioner in the eye as you speak? Do you lean in and indicate your interest in the position and the interview? Practice how you'll answer the questions they will ask. While you should not boast too much, be confident: they liked you on paper, now you need to underscore all you can bring to the position.

You can do it! And if it isn't this position that you land, you will get one eventually. Good Luck!!

For more interviewing tips and commonly asked questions, try this website: