Month: October 2014

Social Media and Blogging

Blogging is a great way to get your image to the public. When combined with LinkedIn and other social media accounts, blog posts can convey your personality to professionals in your field and can set apart one person from another. According to Lyle Wetsch, “A series of recent surveys of recruiters show that they believe the use of social media is an efficient, cost-effective way to obtain quality new hires” (Wetsch, 2012, p. 31). Blogs have been a popular tool for individuals and groups to spread their word across about absolutely anything. Blog posts are also available to comment on, giving the owner feedback about what they have written about. Popular platforms to create a blog include, WordPress.com, Tumblr, and Blogspot, and are all extensively used by professionals in all fields. Each platform have their own different features and audience, but are all acceptable to get started with. I utilize this blog for technical posts, as well as have a private Tumblr for posting about my daily life.

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Another useful feature of blogging is how highly customizable it is. Platforms such as Tumblr, and WordPress allow for easy customization through themes and plugins. This makes it easy for novices to have a professional blog without any knowledge  of coding. However, if users are skilled in coding and would like to make specific changes to their blog, these platforms allow for css changes, allowing everyone to fine-tune their blogs.

Figure 2

“Branding is your reputation. Branding is all about building a name for yourself, showcasing what sets you apart from the others, and describing the added value you bring to a situation” (Cook, 2013, p. 1). When shopping for anything, we as individuals tend to seek out a specific brand that will fit our criteria. The same thing is being done to us as we are floating in the job market. “The contemporary personal and professional success requirement for an individual to maximize visibility has been growing in popularity, personal branding phenomenon appears to be here to stay” (Khedher, 2014, p. 37).Employers are looking for what will fit their needs, and what will mesh well with their brand. Having a specific mission in mind will definitely help. This mission will explain to others what you are driving for and can show others your unique individuality.

Even the projects you continually work on throughout your career and life will mold your brand. For example, the web site I am currently working on now for STEM NOW shows that I am an advocate for a fair and even workforce in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I do feel strongly about this and believe that everyone, regardless of race, sex, gender, upbringing, etc., should be given a fair chance to pursue what they want to accomplish. Working on things and being vocal about your passion will go a long way toward building a future.

Cook, L. (2013). It’s a Brand You World!. Richland Library. Retrieved from http://www.richlandlibrary.com/it’s-brand-you-world

Khedher, M. (2014). Personal Branding Phenomenon. International Journal of Information, Business & Management, Vol. 6, Issue 2. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d1254007-2bfa-4a12-b090-4cdc7ada9f2a%40sessionmgr4001&vid=18&hid=4104

Wetsch, L. (2012). A Personal Branding Assignment Using Social Media. Journal of Advertising Education. Spring 2014, Vol. 16, Issue 1. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d1254007-2bfa-4a12-b090-4cdc7ada9f2a%40sessionmgr4001&vid=21&hid=4104

Image credit to http://modernobserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Brand-Name-Logos.jpg

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LinkedIn Profiles, how to use them, how to market yourself, how to network

LinkedIn is one of the strongest professional social-networking websites and is currently still growing. According to their website, they have over 332 million members in over 200 countries and territories (LinkedIn Corporation). LinkedIn’s potential in fostering a budding career is far too hard to pass up as there are so many potential employers visiting the website each and every day.

Figure 1: Statistics regarding LinkedIn’s member count.

A LinkedIn profile is the first thing a probable employer will see. The profile should be worked on like a fine piece of art. The main use of these profiles is to market yourself to these employers, and a sub-par profile can easily get your profile thrown out when compared to those who have finely tuned their profiles.

While creating a profile, only make it viewable once it is fully completed. Making an incomplete profile live will greatly discredit your image as you are not truly marketing yourself to full potential. Market yourself by utilizing the sections as much as possible. Be detailed about your job experience, volunteer work, internships, and similar experiences. These profiles are all about trying to set yourself apart from the others. Other than filling in the blanks LinkedIn provides, there are other ways to market yourself effectively.

Connections, groups, and skill endorsements can factor greatly on how others see you. It is best to have connections that associate with the field you’re in. Connections in different fields may endorse you for things they have no knowledge of, which can greatly discredit you. When connecting to others, never use the default message LinkedIn provides. State who you are, and be clear with your intentions.

Figure 2: A typical professional headshot, shoulder up.

Always use a professional headshot as a profile picture. Profiles with a picture tend to have eleven times more views than those without (Williams, 2014). This is a large amount of untapped traffic that could lead towards a professional opportunity. Though they are called headshots, they should not just be of your head. Use photos that are from the collarbone up, as this will display a more professional aura.

Groups on LinkedIn are a great way to connect and expand your network. These groups also relay information to a specific field, and can filter out unnecessary information. Professionals also tend to utilize these groups, and are a great way to ask for questions or advice. Always be active in groups, as professionals will take notice of the effort made, and thus will expand your network even more.

LinkedIn Corporation. (2014). About LinkedIn. LinkedIn Press Center. Retrieved from http://press.linkedin.com/about

Smith, C. (2014). By the Numbers: 100 Amazing LinkedIn Statistics. Digital Marketing Ramblings. Retrieved from  http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats/

Williams, N. (2014). Professional Photos on LinkedIn Are Worth a Thousand Opportunities. LinkedIn Official Blog. Retrieved from http://blog.linkedin.com/2014/04/22/professional-photos-on-linkedin-are-worth-a-thousand-opportunities/

Agile task lists, what does “done” mean in Agile?

Agile task lists

After creating a product backlog from user stories, the next step is all about how to bridge the gap between having a plan, and starting real concrete work on the project. In order to do this, we need to plan out the sprints in detail, including what needs to be done during the sprint, which can be accomplished through sprint backlogs. Similar to product backlogs, sprint backlogs are a more condensed iteration consisting only of work that needs to be done during that one particular sprint. Within these sprint backlogs, there are tasks. “Tasks provide a way for the team to agree exactly who is going to do what to complete the story. Tasking exposes dependencies within the team as well as bottlenecks, resource availability, etc” (Leffingwell, 2013). This can improve and streamline the team by supporting and teaching the weaker team members after determining who they are. Also, agile task lists make the workload much easier to handle and much more organized.

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Figure 1

For example, my group utilized sprint backlogs (Figure 1) recently to track our work on the STEM NOW website. We split up user stories into smaller, more doable tasks that are trackable. Our most recent iteration of the sprint backlog included tasks like coding the headers, footers, and creating specific pages. The Agile style of product building tends to focus on putting similar tasks together, in order to build a potentially shippable product out of what was completed. Akin to how product backlogs are timed, sprint backlogs are also measured in estimated and actual hours worked.

Figure 2

This agile task board shows what tasks are currently in the list and their progress. It is an easy way to display to those not involved within the development of the project to understand how far along the product is. Task lists show transparency on what is currently being worked on to those outside of the project, and easily shows sprint managers who is slacking and who is on track.

What does “done” mean?

Everyone has their own definition of done. However this would not cut it in an agile setting. An agile team, from the product stakeholders to the development team, must agree on what “done” is. In an industry setting, done is not only just working code. There are multiple steps that need to be taken, such as commenting the code, making sure that multiple eyes have checked it, and meets industry standards, has complete documentation, and is agreed upon as finished by everyone on the team.

Hannington, F. (2013). Agile Task Board. Can I Be an Agile Technical Communicator When My Team Is Not?, Techwhirl. Retrieved from http://techwhirl-1.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/agile-_task-board.jpg

Leffingwell, et al. (2013). Tasks. Scaled Agile Framework. Retrieved from http://scaledagileframework.com/tasks/

Waters, K. (2007). Step 4: Sprint Planning (Tasks). All About Agile. Retrieved from http://www.allaboutagile.com/how-to-implement-scrum-in-10-easy-steps-step-4-sprint-planning-tasks/