Government Law Concentration

The Government Law concentration is for students who want to pursue a career within government, with a firm representing government agencies, or with a non-profit that regularly interacts with government.

The concentration offers specialized classes designed to prepare students to specialize in government law, and experiential opportunities that let students build the skills they need to succeed. Comprehensive local government programs, an optional semester working elbow-to-elbow with state legislative staff in Sacramento, and externships with state and federal agencies are portals to the world of government law.

The concentration fosters a supportive community among public service minded students and long-standing partnerships with alumni in government offices and with professional organizations provide important networking opportunities. UC Hastings’ well-earned reputation improves the appeal of our students to employers within the government and employers who work regularly with government agencies.

In short, a Government Law concentration tells employers that our graduates have expertise in government law, and are ready to hit the ground running.

Clinical & Research Opportunities

LEGISLATION CLINIC: Students in the Legislation Clinic learn about the role of lawyers in the legislative process by spending a semester in Sacramento working for a legislative committee, a legislator, or another public entity involved with the legislative process.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT CLINIC: Students in the Local Government Clinic work sixteen hours a week in Bay Area City Attorney and County Counsel Offices while simultaneously being enrolled in the Local Government Law class.

CENTER FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAW: The UC Hastings Center for State and Local Government Law (CSLGL) is a unique resource for lawyers, scholars, and law students with an interest in public interest law. Through research clinics, and conferences, the CSLGL provides a non-partisan forum for education and research on legal issues facing California’s state and local governments.

How to Enroll

To enroll in the Concentration, you must complete a Concentrated Studies Application, have the Concentration Advisor sign the form, and file it with the Records Department in advance of your Fall 3L registration appointment.

15 Tips From Professional Assistance and Customer Service

1. They Bring the Right Tools to the Job

There is just no substitute for knowing your customers. The right support tools make it easy. You’d be surprised at the number of meaningful conversations you can have when you no longer have to stumble around in the dark.

2. They Master Clear Communication

Excellence in anything increases your potential in everything. There are few positions for which this applies more than support—clarity in communication is paramount because it affects everything you do.

Styling affects communication. Tone affects communication. Common mistakes to be made are using passive-aggressive language (“Actually…”) or confusing customers with slang, colloquialisms, or technical jargon.

3. They Speak as Customers Do

Chase Clemons of Basecamp makes this point with gusto in A Brief Guide to Sending Better Support Emails, but the quick takeaway is that your customers want conversations, not “correspondence.” You’re not talking with the Queen of England.

4. They Always Use Positive Language

Positive language is a great way to avoid accidental conflicts sprung from miscommunication. While the change is subtle, the effects are drastic.

Say one of your products is backordered for a month and you need to relay this information to a customer immediately. Consider the following responses:

  • Negative language: “I can’t get you that product until next month. It is back-ordered and unavailable at this time.”
  • Positive language: “That product will be available next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as soon as it reaches our warehouse!”

5. They Give Credence to Complaints

Harsh words are not always indicative of insight, and complaining customers are not always a sign that something is wrong. Be that as it may, sometimes great feedback is buried within the vitriol—give credence to every message.

5. They Avoid Breakneck Speeds

“What builds a stronger tie to Arby’s may not be whether a customer receives a sandwich in less than three minutes,” says Gallup researcher William J. McEwen. “Speed won’t compensate for a cold, tasteless sandwich or for rude and incompetent service.”

Make sure your service isn’t leaving a bad taste in customers’ mouths, either.

6. They Know How to Close

The ability to close improves every single interaction. This is not closing a sale, it’s closing the conversation with a customer.

Leaving an issue unresolved creates unnecessary problems. Data suggests as little as ~4% of dissatisfied customers will ever speak up. Not everyone will communicate what is bothering them—often because you haven’t communicated that you care.

7. They Save Time and Retain Delight

Inbox zero needn’t be a zero-sum game. Delighting users is impossible when the team’s morale is being crushed under the weight of a cluttered inbox.

Keep it simple, sunshine. Since basic, common questions are where your keystrokes go to waste, start by addressing them with scalable templates.

8. They Help Customers Help Themselves

Great customer support should always be available, even when you aren’t.

When done right, self-service is personal at scale. View your help content as a top-tier reply from your support team made public for all to see and benefit from. Screenshots, videos, styling and more ensure your frequently asked questions will get frequently loved answers.

9. They Make Use of Strategic Automation

“Filtering” can sound worrisome in the realm of customer support, but it more accurately serves as direction. Customers receive the best support possible when they are sent to the right place the first time around.


  • Make iterative improvements. Want to keep response times down to ~6 hours? Set up a Workflow to remind the appropriate user(s) so that messages don’t sit and collect dust.
  • Highlight opportunities to ‘Wow!’ By setting up a folder and a Workflow for a keyword like “Refund” in the subject line, you
  • ’ll add a streamlined way to salvage potentially lost customers. Special conversations (“Upgrading,” “Canceling my account”) let you provide superb support at key crossroads.
  • Better manage VIP customers. It’s helpful to filter enterprise or long-term customers to their own folders to ensure timely responses. They may have different needs; set them up for success by getting them out of the main inbox.


10. They Are Carefully Data-Driven

Why rely on “It feels like we spend a lot of time on this issue…” when reporting can easily eliminate the guesswork?

This is actually an important, often-overlooked issue in support. Too much focus is given to the frequency of issues over the average handle time for each.

11. They Give Thanks in the Real World

We’ve entered a world where retention matters in business more than ever, but web businesses seem happy to avoid interacting with customers.

They aren’t pageviews—they’re people. How would you feel if a deli owner asked you to join their message board just to talk about how the cold cuts tasted?

12. They Encourage Unique Opportunities

Memorable experiences spring from the unexpected. When your team feels stifled by red tape, remember these words from Paul Graham: “An obstacle upstream propagates downstream.” If you make ideas hard to implement, your team will stop offering them.

Frugal wows are the answer, says Bain consultant Fred Reich. Take the opportunity to guide the support team away from throwing money at the problem, and instead pour thought and effort into it.

13. They Get Everyone on the Same Page

Running support without a playbook can feel as chaotic as a pee-wee football game.

Consider the time lost manually answering frequently asked questions. The same principle applies to explanations to your staff on the back-end. Encourage autonomy and eliminate confusion by creating unity through clarity.


Use a support lexicon. “Is it okay to say this?” Support should always feel welcome to ask, but you can eliminate excessive questioning through a support lexicon, a handbook on how to talk to customers. Focus on the dos and don’ts of tone and language, and outline the style of customer service you admire.

Address common objections. A while back I had a prospective customer make a “scale objection” to Help Scout. Could we handle 50 users? I knew some of our customers had over 400 unique users and replied as such, but I felt my answer would have been better with additional information. The next week, our support team made a customer objections doc, addressing things like competitor objections (“How are you different from ____?”) and pricing objections.

Outline your processes. When is it appropriate to write a piece of help content? Is it okay to set up a new Workflow without asking management? How should we document bugs and errors? Every support department will have these questions, and to best address them, give guidelines that allow for autonomy but that don’t leave people lost without a map.

14. They Take a Whole Company Approach

I’ll let our friend Mathias Meyer handle this one, from a previously published essay on our blog:

“When everyone in the company is involved in customer support, it changes the support dynamic significantly. Knowledge of issues, bugs, and features is much more widespread throughout the team

15. They Invest in Great People

The quality of your customer support will never exceed the quality of the people providing it.

If you plan on out-supporting the competition, plan on investing heavily in a team that can deliver.

Leadership has one main objective from which they should never stray: Hire who you trust and trust who you hire.

Tips on Negotiating a Great Consulting Rate

One of the more difficult parts of being a consultant is determining and negotiating your rate with a customer. Consulting is a lot different than product based sales because you can generally charge whatever you think you can get away with. The first few months of my consulting career, I was charging $67.50/hour. It took several iterations for me to find out what my time and expertise was worth, but eventually I did. My rate increased to $70 for my second client, $90 for the third, $120 for the fourth, and eventually peaked at $275/hour.

The key to making good money as a consultant is to know how to negotiate your rates. This is not a skill you generally learn in college. It takes time, practice, and even if you’re good at it, you don’t always get what you want.

Tip #1: Never be the first to mention a price

Standard practice for negotiating anything is to let the other person state a price point first. This establishes the minimum or maximum price. It also tells you whether or not you are in the right ballpark for whatever it is that you are negotiating over. For example, if you are going for a job interview and they ask you what the salary is that you are looking for, then you’re in a difficult position to be able to play this game. If you state a number that is too high, you’ll be disqualified. If your desired salary is too low, then again you’ll be disqualified because they will think you don’t have the required skills, regardless of whether you do or not.

Your goal is to land somewhere in the middle, and preferably at the high end of their price range. Unfortunately, they’re simply not going to tell you what that is unless you ask. If they were willing to pay $70k-$90k for the position and you only asked for $70k, chances are that you’ll end up with less because you set the maximum price by saying $70k.

In every case, someone has to mention the price first or everyone goes home. Companies will generally tell you what their expected range is up front in order to save time, but if they’re looking to save money, a lot of times they’ll simply say something like “salary commensurate with experience”. It’s garbage, but you have to live with it.

Tip #2: Never negotiate against yourself

If you’re the first to name a price, never let the other person tell you that the price is too high and ask you offer a lower price. This is known as bidding against yourself. There are two problems here. First, you are giving up ground in the negotiation without the other party doing the same. I’ve seen this happen and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it myself. Second, you will unintentionally give up more ground than you intended to.

For instance, if you are negotiating a consulting rate, most companies will ask you flat out “What is your hourly/weekly rate?” and the expectation is that you have to tell them. Again, you can’t always avoid naming the price first, so this is pretty common. Just make sure you are in the same ballpark as others who offer similar services. But when they tell you that your rate is too high, ask them what they would be willing to pay or what they see as reasonable. If you say $100/hour, and then drop it to $90/hour, you’ve just given away $400/week and received nothing in return. You haven’t even established the bottom yet, so you have no idea if they’re willing to pay $50/hour or $10/hour.

The point is, don’t immediately counter a resistance to your rate with a lower rate, even if you’re desperate for work. In fact, especially if you’re desperate for work. People like a consultant who is confident in their rates, but able to justify them with a list of happy customers who paid that much. Just don’t cross the line into cocky. Prospective customers will walk you out the door and eventually, out of business.

Tip #3: Don’t negotiate your price until you are ready to

Through a long-time friend, I met a guy in Philadelphia several years ago who was interested in having some programming work done for his business. He didn’t want much more than 10-15 hours per week and was looking for what I thought was pretty basic PHP and mySQL work. My thinking was that it was just a meet-and-greet to establish a relationship and then we’d go from there to discuss the work that needed to be done and the rates for that work.

Maybe 5 minutes into the conversation, he asked me flat out what my rate was. Now, in keeping with Tip #1, I tried to dodge the question and was a bit vague, saying that it depended on what he needed done. He pushed hard telling me exactly what programming languages were to be used and how many hours of work each week he was willing to pay for, so I had little choice but to name a number and it was pretty close to our standard consulting rates in the small enterprise space. Immediately he jumped all over it and said it was too high and waited for my response. I certainly wasn’t going to negotiate against myself, so I asked him what he felt was reasonable. Of course he low-balled it at $25/hour, which we both knew was way too low.

I never knew what hit me. It couldn’t have been more than 5 minutes later when we “agreed” on $50/hour and he ended the meeting quickly, saying he had to get going. As I walked away with my friend, I shook my head wondering what the heck just happened. We hadn’t even reached the bar when I realized that $50/hour didn’t even cover my costs, let alone make me any money. In fact, in all my years of consulting I’d never charged as low as $50/hour.

Tip #4: Establish the lowest rate you can accept and don’t budge

From the previous paragraph, I obviously made two mistakes at the same time. First, I wasn’t ready to negotiate. I had intended to feel out his personality and find his hot buttons, but when he immediately launched into negotiating, I got too jumpy and played the game. Bad idea. Second, I had given absolutely no thought to the minimum rate at which my developers could work for to break even. It didn’t even occur to me until after we’d concluded negotiations. By then, it was too late.

Decide for yourself what the lowest rate you can work for is, and don’t accept a penny less. Losing money is no way to stay in business.

Tip #5: Be ready to walk away if it’s not going to work out

Too many consultants make the mistake of reducing their rate further and further until their prospective customer accepts. You’ll never get ahead this way. If you do good work, people will hire you. You want your rate to increase over time, not decrease. If a customer only has a budget of $2,000 and can’t get a penny more for a week of work, you’d better be willing to work for just $50/hour. If not, you need to walk away and find another customer.

Any retailer will tell you that when you sell at a loss, you can’t make it up on volume. At least not without cross selling other items. It’s “Ok” to do something very short term to lose less money on a particular week or to land a longer term arrangement for more money, but don’t make a habit of it. If a job isn’t going to make ends meet for you, then you need to walk away and find one that does.

In the previous case of my abysmal Philadelphia negotiation, I eventually ended up walking away. There was no reasonable way to renegotiate the rate. For the money and anticipated length of the engagement, it just wasn’t worth the effort.

Tip #6: Take what a customer says about your competitors’ rates at face value

Was my customer bluffing about the rate of my competitor or no? Maybe, but I’ll never know. I basically had two options. I could either accept/deny the rate decrease, or I could ask for proof, trying to call his bluff.

Had I called his bluff, there were only two possible outcomes and neither was going to be good.

1) If he was unable to produce proof of the competitive rate, then I could probably have maintained the same rate. However, I would have also been calling him a liar. I somehow doubt that calling a customer a liar is going to encourage them to hire me.

2) If he was able to produce proof, then I still called him a liar because I didn’t believe what he originally told me.

This was a lose-lose situation if I were to attempt to call the bluff and I think he’d have gone with my competitor in either case. Ultimately, I accepted the lower rate because I wasn’t going to lose money on it and I knew it would hurt my competitor a lot more than it would hurt me.


Before you start any negotiation, make sure you know what you want, know what the minimum is that you’re going to accept, and be ready to walk away if you need to. If you’re not ready to negotiate, don’t. Ask for more time or to reschedule, citing a need to do some research or give some thought. Simply saying that you’re not prepared to discuss it is an honest way to handle the scenario. It tells the customer that you’re not brash and are willing to think things through. They may not want to wait, but this does a lot for your credibility as someone who understands how businesses operate.

Last of all, remember that negotiating your rate isn’t about you winning or losing. You need to ensure that you and your customer both get what you need. The key is to establish a long term relationship with your customers so they keep coming back for more consulting services when they need them. If you nail them to the wall during every negotiation, eventually they’re going to walk away and find someone else to work with

Facts and Figures Illustrate the Extent of Intellectual Property Theft

Not only is the United States the wealthiest country on Earth, but it is also the world’s greatest producer of intellectual property. American artists, entrepreneurs, inventors, and researchers have created a nation with a rich cultural fabric. Every day, Americans can avail themselves of consumer goods, entertainment, business systems, health care and safety systems and products, and a national defense structure that are the envy of the world. It is frequently said that the American imagination knows no bounds, and that is probably true. In fact, the U.S. Patent Office recently issued its eight millionth patent (Cyber Attacks and Intellectual Property Theft, Defense Tech, August 22, 2011). The U.S. Copyright Office has issued more than 33.6 million copyrights to date (U.S. Copyright Office).  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Intellectual Property Center has calculated the worth of intellectual property in the United States as being between $5 trillion and $5.5 trillion (Counterfeiting and Piracy: How Pervasive Is It?, Electrical Contractor magazine, 2008, retrieved November 12, 2011).

The role of intellectual property in the U.S. economy is undisputed. It accounts for half of all exports, for example (Counterfeiting and Piracy: How Pervasive Is It?, Electrical Contractor magazine). Unfortunately, counterfeiting and piracy costs the U.S. economy more than $250 billion in lost revenue and 750,000 jobs every year, according to one estimate (Counterfeiting and Piracy: How Pervasive Is It?, Electrical Contractor Magazine). Up to one-third of software products and music CDs are thought to be fake (Counterfeit Goods and Their Potential Financing of International Terrorism, Volume 1, Issue 1, University of Michigan Journal of Business,  January 2008). Reports Icon

More than 250,000 more people could be employed in the U.S. automotive industry if it weren’t for the trade in counterfeit parts (Counterfeit Goods and Their Potential Financing of International Terrorism). According to the Council of State Governments (Intellectual Property Theft: An Economic Antagonist, September 7, 2011), the U.S. economy loses $58 billion each year to copyright infringement alone—crimes that affect creative works. That includes $16 billion in the loss of revenue to copyright owners and $3 billion in lost tax revenue. Furthermore, the problem is transnational: The U.S. Department of Commerce puts the value of fake products—such as CDs, DVDs, software, electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, and auto products—at five to seven percent of world trade (Protect Your Intellectual Property  booklet, U.S. Department of Commerce).

Many people think of intellectual property theft as a victimless crime. However, many Americans are hurt or injured each year by faulty products or made sick by fake or improperly prepared or labeled drugs.  While actual numbers of injuries are hard to come by, it’s important to note that counterfeit drug sales in the U.S. were expected to amount to more than $75 billion in 2010 (Counterfeit Drugs: Real Money, Real Risk,, retrieved November 11, 2011). Worldwide, illegal drug sales amounted to an estimated $320 billion in 2010 (

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates 15 percent of the pharmaceuticals that enter the United States each year are fakes, with that number having increased 90 percent since 2005 (Counterfeit Drugs: Real Money, Real Risk, Some are manufactured domestically, but more than 75 percent of these drugs come from India (Counterfeit Drugs: Real Money, Real Risk, Frequently, online pharmacies that distribute fake drugs purport to be located in Canada, but a recent study conducted at the University of Texas found that of 11,000 online sites that claimed to located there, only 214 were actually Canadian (Counterfeit Drugs: Real Money, Real Risk, According to an article published on the Secure Pharma Chain Blog on March 22, 2008 (Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Statistics, Secure Pharma Chain Blog), 60 percent of all counterfeit drugs have no active ingredients, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that “even a small percentage of counterfeit drugs in the drug supply can pose significant risks to thousands of Americans” (FDA: Drugs: FDA Initiative To Combat Counterfeit Drugs, retrieved November 11, 2011).  Moreover, counterfeit drugs are commonly made and distributed by criminal gangs (Bad Medicine in the Market, AEI Outlook Series, Institute for Policy Research, American Enterprise Institute, retrieved November 11, 2011).

Shoddy counterfeit products, including airbags, also put American drivers at risk. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, fake car parts cost the U.S. auto industry $12 billion each year (Counterfeit Culture: Ripped-off Consumer Good: The Top 10 List, CBCNews,, retrieved November 11, 2011). The Anti-Counterfeit Products Initiative estimates that counterfeit electrical products valued at $1 billion, many of them shoddy and not manufactured to U.S. safety standards, enter the United States each year (Working With Confidence: Counterfeits,, retrieved November 11, 2011).

Intellectual property theft hurts everyone. Artists and performers lose the income that is rightfully theirs, corporations lose money and pass the additional costs along to consumers, and people may be hurt by shoddy goods used in the manufacture of cars and airplanes or be made ill by counterfeit drugs. Governments at all levels suffer from the loss in tax revenue and programs suffer. People are hurt when crime escalates in the neighborhood, the result of profits made by gangs that traffic in counterfeit goods, providing them to retailers at hefty markups. Intellectual property theft is a very serious crime.

Benefits Of Working In The Public Sector

Some of the biggest employers in the UK are in the public sector and in total over 6 million Britons work in this sector. Schools, councils and emergency services are at the forefront, but there are also many scientific posts and research positions to be found in the public sector.

What is the public sector?

Any organisation run by the government and funded by tax-payers money can be classified as public sector. This includes local and national councils, NHS hospitals and clinics, emergency services, schools, and much more.

The various departments of local government, for example, includes a huge variety of jobs. Social services requires everything from administrators to counsellors, and from psychologists to statisticians. Councils and government-backed organisations often require marketing specialists, scientific consultants and political researchers.

There are also unique bodies set up by the government to cater for specific needs, such as environmental agencies. Researchers, scientists and engineers are highly valued in such organisations.

The benefits

Help your community – As someone whose salary is being funded by taxpayers, a sense of responsibility to the community is instilled in public sector workers. The flip side of this is that you can directly effect your local area, or even the nation, for the good through the quality of your work.

Job security – Job stability is often referenced as a major perk in this sector.  The public sector is relatively stable, and whilst profit-based companies are prone to closure, public sector organisations have the stability of government-backing.

Working atmosphere – In terms of the atmosphere at work, the public sector is less demanding than the private sector. The cut-throat nature of work in a private company can be stressful. And, although the standards of work in the public sector are high, there isn’t the obvious competitiveness often found in the private sector.

Flexitime – Government organisations are quite accommodating when it comes to recognizing the different circumstances of its employees. Flexible working hours are common – usually based around a core time of hours, or on a ‘shift work’ basis. Part-time jobs and job sharing can be also found in the public sector.

Work less, earn more – If you’re still not convinced about the benefits of working in the public sector, then you might be after this: Public sector staff work nine years less and earn 30% more than private sector employees throughout their lifetime, according to this report.

Staff training schemes – Public sector organisations are committed to realising the potential in their staff. Employees are often encouraged, if not required, to improve their skills set by attending training programmes, or attaining external qualifications. This can lead to further career opportunities.

Pension scheme – Although there has been some furore over public sector pensions lately, having a guaranteed pensions scheme tied into your job is a substantial perk. Benefits in the public sector are 14% higher than comparable private sector benefits on average, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, which shows that things are still relatively good for public sector pensions.

Public or Private?

Although academics tend to gravitate towards either intellectually stimulating university work or financially rewarding private sector jobs, the public sector is an equally viable option.

4 Things Every College Grad Needs to Do to Land Their First Job

When you look for a job after college, you want to be prepared. Not only that, you also want to know exactly what you want in a job situation. You have a degree now, so in some respects you can call the shots. Sure, you don’t want to be demanding, but you want to have the mindset that you are the desired one. It’s a mutual situation, but if you take the upper hand, you can actually get more – for your time, salary and talent. However, there are also a number of things you will need to do before you land a job. The idea is to get yourself out there and boost your appearance, so that you look job ready. Here are four things every college grad needs to do to land their first job.

  1. Create a Digital Resume

First and foremost, you will need to create your resume. If you don’t want to go through the old-fashioned motions of printing out your resume, you may want to find a digital resume platform that will allow you the opportunity to share your CV with anyone at anytime. In fact, various employers can also find your digital resume if they search for it – you may even wind up getting scouted.

  1. Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles

If you went to ACU Online or Hofstra University, there is a good chance that you have a social media trail. Indeed, some of those photos may not be entirely flattering. This is why you want to clean up your photos. If you have any pictures of yourself engaging in activity that may not be job worthy, you definitely want to delete all those images. The key is to clean up your online presence as much as possible – this means that all your social media pages should be clean and you should ask blogs to take down pictures of you that may be compromising.

  1. Get Some New Work Clothes

On top of cleaning up your online presence and updating your resume, you also want to purchase some new clothes. When you go in for an interview, you want your clothes to be crisp and new. You shouldn’t look like you just got back from a long road trip or from a big party. Indeed, you should show up to the job interview dressed professionally. You don’t need to wear a suit or anything – unless the job calls for it – but you do want to go for business casual.

  1. Have a Clear Idea as to What You Want from Your Job

When you do meet with employers, you should have a very clear idea as to how many hours a week you want to work, how much you want to get paid and what benefits you expect. An employer will be a lot more willing to meet you somewhere in the middle or beyond if you are just honest and straightforward. In the end, sometimes bringing your A-game means being direct and truthful.

Should You Look for a Job Immediately After You Graduate from College?

There’s nothing like the feeling of earning your bachelor’s degree. Graduating from high school is one thing, but when you graduate from college, you have a lot to show for the last sixteen years of your life. You’ve put in a lot of hard work, and being a student isn’t always easy. That’s why it can be easy to want to take a break before you enter the work force, but is that really a good idea? The truth is that it all depends on your situation. You need to assess your options and your resources very carefully and only then will you know if you should look for a job immediately after you graduate from college.

Are You Pursuing a Post Graduate Degree?

If you’ve just earned your bachelor’s from a challenging institution like George Washington University and you’re in the process of applying to a masters program at another top school like Indiana State University, then finding a job after college is not in your best interest. Sure it would be nice to make a little scratch before you dive back into the books, but you have enough work cut out for you just preparing for your masters program. For most people, it’s in their best interest to just decompress over the summer and keep their focus on their studies.

What Was Your major?

Depending on your major, you may or may not get away with the whole soul searching as you travel around the world chapter of life straight after college. In most cases, if you’re an art or humanities major, then you can usually find a way to travel for a while after college and channel what you’ve learned over time into your work. However, if you majored in business, finance, economics or criminal law, then it’s probably in your best interest to turn your internship into employment and start cashing checks.

Do You Know Where You Want to Live?

Some people don’t want to go back to their hometown after college, but they also don’t want to stay in their college town. If you’ve never lived anywhere else, then it can be easy to feel like you need to explore a few cities before you decide where to hang your hat. If you can find a way to make some money online, then you can spend some time traveling and exploring different scenes while you figure out where you want to live.

Can You Afford to Not Work?

Some people can afford to spend some time decompressing after college and some people can’t. The truth is, most college students have some very hefty loans to pay off the moment that they graduate. So whether they find a job related to their major or not right away, they have to work if they want to pay the bills. If this is the case for you, then you definitely don’t want to waste any time not working.

American credit card debt getting riskier day by day – How to reduce the rates

According to recent reports from a credit card comparison site, Card Hub, credit card balances are again on the rise after several years of decline. The outstanding credit card debt of America is estimated to a total $900 billion by the end of the year, thereby bringing the average household debt to $7892, the highest since 2008, when the average debt amount was $8765. With the last 7 quarters among the last decade depicting growth in consumer performance, evidence is to support the notion that the credit card users are turning back to the pre-Recession bad financial habits. It is when the Americans have more access to their credit reports that there is a sudden rise in the debt levels.

As per a latest analysis from Fair Isaac Corp., the national average FICO credit score is now 695 and this has been the highest in the last decade. Another analysis by Experian put the average VantageScore and was developed by Experian and the other credit reporting agencies at 667 which was considered as pretty good. There are some credit card issuing companies like Bank of America, American Express. Citi, Chase and Discover offer customers with the free credit score. A new survey by found out 78% of Americans are not aware of the fact that their high outstanding credit card balances hurt their credit score. So, it is sheer ignorance that is leading to the rise in credit card debt.

Best ways of getting your credit card interest rate lowered

Whenever the credit card users carry huge balances, their foremost priority should be to reduce the interest rates as much as they can. You can either decrease balances by paying off debt or find an alternative way of lowering the interest rate. How do you do it yourself? Try out the ways mentioned below.

  1. Ask your creditor: Majority of the credit cards carry a range of interest rates which depends entirely on the creditworthiness of the user when he applied. Nevertheless, there are things that you can change after you have received your credit card. In case you were not given the best possible rate and you have enough reason to believe that your credit score is better now, you can definitely call your bank and ask them to lower your interest rate on the basis of your score.
  2. Negotiate again: Even when the representative of the bank refused to lower the interest rate on the first request, you shouldn’t be bashful while calling them and trying your luck again. People at the same bank might react in different ways to your current situation. You should be kind enough to relate your dire financial state to the new representative once again so that he might take some positive step.
  3. Threaten to close down your bank account: Once you’ve tried out all the polite requests with your bank, you can then call your bank and tell them you are considering closing down your bank account. Probably you will then be transferred to a representative working in the retention department whose main job is to keep you from closing down your bank account. Inform him that you will require a low rate or else you will close down the account if he can’t offer you a competitive rate.
  4. Transfer balance into a new card: One option that the cardholders can request is to get your account transferred to a new credit card product. If you can sign up for a balance transfer card, you can gain a card with nominal interest rate during the initial period. If you can choose to transfer your entire high interest balance into the new one within the time period, you can reap benefits of lower rates and lower monthly payments.
  5. Improve your credit score: Another way in which you can reduce the interest rates on your card is by improving your credit score. Repay your debts or choose to increase your income so that you can pay down your debts without incurring too much high interest debt. Remember that the more is your credit score, the better will be the rates that you receive on your credit cards.

With the constant rise in the credit card debt level within the United States of America, it is pretty natural that the people will definitely look for ways of reducing their debt burden so as to get back on track. If you too are looking for debt consolidation solutions, you can go through the debt consolidation review of certain websites on the net. Combine your monthly payments into a single monthly installment so that you can easily be able to get out of debt.

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Pending Home Sales Gone Bad

When pending sales go back on the market as an active listing, it arouses suspicions in the neighborhood. Everybody wonders what went wrong? Why did the pending sale fall apart? It could cancel due to seller’s remorse, but that’s a long shot.

Many home owners watch theFor Sale signs in their neighborhoods. In buyer’s markets, it’s very common to see a pending sign pop up after two or three months on the market because the DOM are often much longer when there are fewer buyers than sellers.

Just as common is when the pending sale sign comes down and the For Sale sign is left standing.

Why Pending Home Sales Go Bad

  • Buyer’s Remorse
    Buyers get cold feet. In California, standard contracts give buyers 17 days to do inspections. During this time, buyers can cancel a contract for any reason, but the most common is fear of buying a home. During this time period, buyers get their earnest money deposit back for any reason upon cancellation.A pending sale in the Land Park area of Sacramento recently fell apart on the day before closing. The buyer didn’t give her agent a reason for canceling. She simply refused to sign loan documents and forfeited her deposit. Her undisclosed reason was cold feet. This was a buyer who five years from now will likely regret her decision.

    First-time home buyers benefit greatly from employing the services of an experienced real estate agent who can walk them through the process of buying a home. An agent who notices the signs of cold feet can provide counseling services and help buyers avoid making a mistake.

  • Home Inspections
    To the untrained eye, many homes look the same: four walls, a floor and a roof. But to ahome inspector, every little crack in the wall and every spot on the ceiling could spell trouble. Wet basements, failing roofs and malfunctioning HVAC systems are three significant problems that an average buyer can’t reasonably inspect without professional assistance.Once a home inspector points out problems in a home, buyers tend to panic. All homes have problems, even new homes. Sometimes buyers demand that sellers replace worn appliances or fix pre-existing conditions that make a buyer uncomfortable. Buyers also can ask for a credit from the seller as compensation. If the seller refuses to do either of those options, then the pending sale cancels and the home goes back on the market.

    Do not make unreasonable repair or credit requests. One buyer demanded the seller buy several cans of ant poison and spray the perimeter of the home. Another demanded a $2,500 credit to replace a water heater. Hire a qualified home inspectorwho can explain defects and their significance.

  • Low Appraisals
    Most home buyers take out a mortgage. To protect the lender’s position, the lender will ask a buyer to pay for an appraisal. If the appraisal comes in less than the sales price, here are the options:
  1. Pay the difference in cash.
  2. Order another appraisal from a new appraiser.
  3. Supply the underwriter with comparable sales supporting the sales price, hoping to change the appraised value.
  4. Give the seller a second mortgage for the difference.
  5. Ask the seller to reduce the price.
  • If the parties cannot agree to work out one of these options, the pending sale will fall apart.

    Asking a real estate agent to provide you with comparable sales before you write apurchase contract can help you to keep your offer in line with recent sales. Hire astrong negotiator to get the offer accepted at a lower price.

  • Mortgage Loan Rejection
    Until the public records are searched by a title company or lawyer, buyers might not have knowledge of liens or judgments filed against them. Unless these liens are removed, a lender will not lend, and the buyer’s loan can be denied.Buyers who don’t know any better sometimes increase their debt ratios by financing large purchases while waiting for their mortgage loan to close. Taking out a loan for a new car or financing the purchase of furniture can make a buyer ineligible for a mortgage loan. If the loan is rejected because of a buyer’s impulse financing, the pending sale will go back to active.

    Do not take out any new loans while waiting to close the sale of your new home. Wait until your loan records and the transaction closes. Don’t make any financial arrangements that differ from those disclosed on your initial loan application.

  • Contingent on Buyer’s Home Sale
    Buyers can lose a home sale if the contract is contingent upon selling the buyer’s home and that home has not sold in the time specified. Few buyers can afford to own two residences at the same time by making double mortgage payments.Depending on the contingency agreement verbiage, sellers might also retain the right to kick out a contingent buyer and cancel the contract if another buyer wants to buy the home without a contingency.

    Have a back-up plan in the event your home does not immediately sell while you are under contract to buy another. Investigate taking out a bridge loan. With a little preplanning, some buyers save money by establishing a home equity line of creditbefore putting their existing home on the market.

Should We Hire a Professional Grant Writer?

Most nonprofits want to include grants from foundations or the government in their funding mix. It is a sensible thing to do, but not always easy.

Researching and writing grants is time-consuming and requires specialized and finely honed research and writing skills. Experience with grants and grant writing always makes the odds better for landing a grant.

You may be fortunate enough to have an experienced grant writer on staff, especially if your organization has a developed and long-standing grants program.

But for many nonprofits that is not so, and it might make sense to hire a grant professional or consultant, at least for a limited time.

We went to just such a consultant, Jake Seliger of Seliger Associates. We asked Jake what he thinks the pros and cons are of hiring a grant writer on a contractual basis.

The Pros of Hiring a Grants Consultant/Writer

  • The grant writer will actually sit down and write the proposal.He or she is not likely to spend time in endless meetings discussing what the proposal should be like. Some organizations assign groups to write a proposal, a strategy that often ends up producing what Jake calls a “franken-proposal,” cobbled together from mismatched parts.
  • The job will get done on time.Consultants could not stay in business if they did not meet deadlines. Since the goal of writing proposals is to get the money, that should be of paramount importance. But it’s surprising how many would-be grant writers fail to turn in complete and technically correct proposals prior to deadlines. A good hired gun will be super sensitive to the cold wind of the deadline breathing down his or her neck.
  • You have control. .You can hire the person of choice, and fire that person if the process doesn’t go well. Jake points out, “If you make someone an employee and discover six months later that the employee has spent more time playing solitaire and eating donuts than preparing proposals, that person can often be hard to fire for reasons of morale and law. If your consultant is no good, you just cancel their retainer or don’t hire them for the next job.”
  • You get the benefit of the consultant’s experience.According to Jake, “The diverse experience many consultants have can be a bonus, as exposure to different ideas, trends, and kinds of work can filter into other proposals. So can knowledge of funding “gotchas.” For example, Jake says, “We’ve figured out how to use, and why it’s important to turn in applications before the deadline. You don’t want to make a million-dollar mistake because the grant writer doesn’t know the ins and outs of the application system.”

The Cons of Hiring a Grants Consultant/Writer

  • The consultant does not have the institutional memory that an insider might have.On the other hand, if you have had staff turnover, the lack of memory could work the other way. No one remembers when and how the last proposal was done, or where to start next time. A consultant grant writer is always writing grants and stays up-to-date on how grants are done.
  • You might not pick the right person.It can be tricky finding the consultant who fits with your organization, listens well, and has the sharpest skills. Look for experienced grant writers with a roster of satisfied clients.
  • It may cost too much.Cost is likely the most frequent reason organizations hesitate to hire a professional grant writer. But that fear itself can trip up a nonprofit when they are reluctant to hire professional help to do the tasks they are not staffed to do.The cost can be deceiving as well.  Remember that with a staff member you have all the costs of salary plus benefits. Jake Seliger points out in his article “Tilting at Windmills: Why There is no Free Grant Writing Lunch and You Won’t Find Writers for Nothing,” that you will pay for grant writing one way or the other.

The bottom line about whether to hire a professional grant writer is that you need to consider:

  • what talent you have on staff (and how much time they have to devote to grant writing),
  • your need for grants from a variety of sources, and what outside talent you can find at what cost.

Be sure to interview several grant writers before you hire, get estimates of the overall cost, and names of former and current clients.

If you are starting from scratch, you can search these sources for listings of consultants, including grant writers:

  • The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) offers a Consultants Directory on its website that can be searched by specialty, name, or by geographic area.
  •  The Grant Professionals Association lists consultants by state.


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Tax Differences Between an S Corporation and an LLC?

Question: What are the Tax Differences Between an S Corporation and an LLC?

Many small businesses seem to be structured as an LLC or an S Corporation. CPA Gail Rosen was asked, “What is the difference on how these two types of entities are taxed?” Here are her responses to some frequently asked questions about taxes for these two popular business entities.


Many small businesses seem to be structured as an LLC or an S Corporation. What is the difference on how these two types of entities are taxed?

All businesses are taxed on their net profit(or loss) which is computed by taking sales less allowable deductible expenses. An LLC’s tax is paid on the owner’s individual tax return based on percentage of ownership in the company. If you are a 50% owner of an LLC, with $120,000 of net profit, you pay tax on 50% of that net profit($60,000) on your personal tax return.

An S Corporation pays a reasonable salaryto the working owner of a business. Then any remaining profit or loss (after subtracting the salary to the owner as a deductible expense) flows through to the owner’s personal tax return. Say you are a working 50% owner of a profitable business and you are paid $50,000 in salary. The corporation has $20,000 of net profit of which you are entitled to 50%; therefore, on your personal tax return you would pay tax on the salary of $50,000 plus $10,000 profit which equals $60,000 in total taxable business income.

Is there is a difference in how much it costs to maintain an entity as an LLC versus as an S Corporation?

An S corporation generally does pay more tax than an LLC due to the additional payroll taxes and state corporate taxes that can be applicable.

Any salary that the S Corporation pays to an owner is subject to state unemployment and disability tax. An individual owner of an LLC does not pay state unemployment or disability taxes and therefore saves the costs of paying these payroll taxes. That also means that because an LLC does not pay into these funds, the owner(s) are not entitled to state unemployment or disability benefits.

Many states also charge a minimum corporate tax that can be more costly than the fees associated with having an LLC. These taxes vary by state so you should do some research or consult a CPA in your area.

In the past, S corporation owners were able to avoid paying social security and medicare tax on any profits they made from their business after taking a reasonable salary. Starting in 2011, new legislation has taken away this benefit for many small professional service corporations.

It sounds like an S Corporation is more costly. Is there any reason that I should consider being an S Corporation?

Many new businesses today are freelance consultants who are working as independent contractors for mainly one client. This arrangement has many risks since the IRS can look at the relationship and determine that the consultant should have been hired as an employee versus an independent contractor. However, if the consultant structures the business as an S Corporation, the IRS does not have an issue with the relationship since the owner is structured under a corporate entity and is paying unemployment and disability tax.

As I stated above, an LLC pays tax on the net profit by making quarterly estimated payments to the IRS. I have some clients who are not diligent about paying their quarterly estimates and therefore get into trouble with the IRS. These people are better off structuring themselves as a corporation and using a payroll service so that their taxes are automatically taken out of their pay.

A lawyer should always be consulted about the limited liability protection an LLC gives versus a corporation. I have always believed that all businesses should pay for good liability insurance for the ultimate protection.

Any other advice to make this complicated decision a little easier for new business owners?

I generally have advised most of my new business clients to start with an LLC entity. The tax law allows you to switch tax free to an S Corporation once you are an LLC. But, you can not do the reverse. Once you are an S Corporation, you can not switch to an LLC.

There are always other tax, legal and financial considerations that should be taken into account when making such an important decision. Use the services of a good CPA to discuss your specific situation.


Disclaimer: The information on this post and on this GuideSite are for general information purposes only; it is not intended to be tax or legal advice. Consult your CPA or attorney to discuss your specific business questions.

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How to Get a Career in Public Health

Public health professionals are the people who study, quantify and improve health in a state or in the country as a whole. These professionals look at health from a population, prevention and health promotion perspective, instead of on an individual medical basis. There are many different careers you can choose in order to follow this path. For example, you can choose fields as diverse as medicine, mental health research, environmental studies, nutrition and legislative policy development. Most of these fields require degrees in higher education and a commitment to research and education. Find out how to get a career in public health.

Obtain your high school diploma or complete an equivalency certificate, like a General Educational Development (GED). Most public health careers demand a degree in higher education, so you will need to finish your secondary education.

  • People who choose a public health path should be interested in science, mathematics and statistics. A love of research or communication can also help you to work in this field.

Seek a public health degree. A number of different types of professionals work in the public health sector, most of which include an emphasis on statistics, mathematics, biology, environmental science or medicine. The following are degree programs that you can consider:

  • Get a bachelor’s of science degree in public health. This 4-year degree at an accredited university is likely to focus on a number of aspects of public health, such as administration, health information management and environmental science. This is an excellent degree program if you want to go on to be a doctor, nurse, dentist, social worker or physical therapist. This is a good course of study if you want to be involved in management.
  • Get a bachelor’s of science degree in epidemiology. This highly specialized scientific field works in both clinical and research positions to study and isolate possible epidemics. You can seek a research job with a bachelor’s degree, but you may want to pursue a master’s degree in epidemiology to improve your job prospects.
  • Seek a degree in environmental science. Environmentalists are employed at the state and federal levels in both research and field functions. They study threats on public health.
  • Seek a degree in behavioral science. This scientific degree features elements of human behavior and psychology as well as the effects of bad behaviors on health. Behavioral scientists study how the way we act determines our health, adding to information about the causes of major diseases, such as diabetes, strokes, cancer and heart disease.
  • Consider a degree in medicine, law, nursing, dentistry or nutrition. Although you do not have to go into public health if you complete these degrees, you can choose to practice in a public health setting.
  • Other professions that require a bachelor’s, but not a master’s degree, include policy advisor, health educator, health journalist, health communications specialist, local health officer and preparedness specialist.

Volunteer for a health-related charity, hospice or medical facility while you are in school. This experience shows a passion for health and health improvement. It can also subject you to some of the pressures of a career in medical health.

Boost your public health experience by seeking an internship in the local, state or federal government. Look for internships at agencies such as the Department of Public Health and Human Services, the Center for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency or a job with a legislator.

Seek a master’s or doctorate degree. Some career paths, such as medicine, epidemiology, behavioral science and dentistry require that students complete graduate degrees. You can choose to get a job in the public health sector and return to school later, or continue right into your degree.

  • People who are interested in being a corporate medical director, laboratory director or another high level administrative role should consider a master’s degree in public health. In these 1 to 2 year programs, you are required to demonstrate a high level of knowledge of issues affecting public health and prove your ability to find solutions.

Apply for an entry-level role in your field. The first place to check for jobs is your city and state governments. Look for job titles that include “specialist,” “researcher,” or “research assistant.”

Consider moving to a larger political area, such as a county seat, state capital or Washington D.C. If you want to work as a public health lawyer, policy advisor, epidemiologist or disease specialist, you may need to move to a public health hub, where there are many government agencies.

Apply for a mid-level position if you have completed a master’s or doctoral degree. This academic experience may allow you to skip forward a few steps on the employment ladder; however, you will need to complete many years of public health experience in order to take on a senior role. You may need to move to an agency location to take on this role.

Seek a leadership position in your agency or department. Public health professionals who have years of experience in the field can be promoted to senior positions where they publish results, educate the public or manage public health initiatives.

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How to Cancel a Purchase Contract

Just like how the best time to think about selling a home is when you decide to buy a home, the best time to think about canceling an agreement is when you sign an agreement. Any kind of agreement. Whether it’s an agreement to purchase real estate — known as a purchase offer — or a buyer’s brokeragreement, documents to refinance a mortgage, a listing agreement, any document that binds you to perform.

Before you sign legal documents such as these, ask how you can cancel if things don’t work out or if you change your mind.

If you don’t receive a satisfactory answer or you can’t figure it yourself by reading the cancellation clauses, then don’t sign until you have a lawyer review it for you and advise you. One of the best $500 I ever spent was to have a lawyer look over a “work-for-hire” employment agreement for me. As a result, I turned down the opportunity and saved everybody unwanted grief, especially me.

How to Cancel Listing Agreements

  • Ask About Cancellation Upfront.Before you sign a listing agreement, ask your agent if you can be released for any reason, even if that reason is, “Hey, I want to list with another broker.” If your agent tells you “no,” then you might not want to list with that company. Why, I ask you, why would you list with a company that would not guarantee your satisfaction with its services? If an agent says it’s company policy, then that is not a company with whom you want to do business. Period. Next broker, please.
    • Ask the Broker for a Cancellation.Be aware that Exclusive Right-to-Sell listings contain a safety or protection clause. If you ask an agent after the fact to cancel the listing and the agent refuses, call the agent’s broker and request a cancellation.
    • If the Broker Refuses to Cancel.If the broker rejects your request for cancellation, then ask the broker to assign another agent to you.
  • Is the Broker Reputable?Most brokers who want to maintain good community relations will cancel a listing if the seller insists. Nobody wants to be known for holding a gun to the seller’s throat.
  • Call a Real Estate Lawyer.If there are no workable solutions, call a real estate lawyer for termination assistance, but first, tell the broker of your intentions to do so. Sometimes that’s enough to get a release. Bear in mind that many listing agreements are bilateral agreements: a promise for a promise. This means a good lawyer might be able to find a way to argue that the broker did not hold to the promise and get you released.

    Canceling a Buyer’s Agency Agreement

    Ask your agent to give you a form called Termination of Buyer Agency. The TBA issued by the California Association of Realtors, for example, will cancel oral or written agency agreements when properly acknowledged and executed.

    How to Cancel Purchase Agreements

    • Read Your Agreement.Ask your agent or lawyer to point out to you the cancellation clauses. In some states, all inspections are completed upfront, and once a purchase offer is signed, the offer is binding. In other states, inspections take place after the offer is signed and provide for the return of the buyer’s deposit if the offer is canceled pursuant to an inspection.
    • Federal Law Gives Buyers 10 Days to Inspect for Lead Paint.Ask your real estate agent or lawyer if you want to or need to cancel during this time period. Ask how you do it and which form to sign. You can waive this right in writing but few buyers would be prudent to consider doing so.
    • After Expiration of Inspection Periods.In states like California, standard default periods are 17 days for inspections. However, if a buyer does not withdraw all contingencies, that time period is extended until the contingencies are withdrawn. In other words, the buyer does not lose the right to cancel simply because the contract cancellation period has expired or lapsed. It continues until a seller objects.

      In such cases, sellers are advised to give buyers a Notice to Perform, calling for action within a certain time period, typically ranging from 24 to 72 hours. If the buyer does not sign a release of contingencies within that time period and deliver it, the seller can then cancel the contract. For more information, contact a real estate lawyer.

6 Steps To Take Before You Start A Consulting Business

Before you start a consulting business browse through the six steps below:

  1. Build up your rolodex. Start planning a year or two ahead if you can. Build relationships within your current work environment with colleagues, suppliers, competitors – anyone who will be a good contact for you when you start your consulting business.LinkedIn can be a great way to stay in touch with key people.
  2. Define your area of expertise. What service needs are missing in your industry? Where do people struggle the most? This is where your biggest opportunities can be found. List your strengths and area of specialty. Who can benefit the most from this knowledge? This is your ideal client. Don’t try to offer something to everyone. You will be far more successful by applying your expertise to a niche market that needs what you have to offer. In this way you can tailor your services so they really add value to a specific group of people or businesses.

  1. Create a set of talking points around you and your services. Think of these like 30 second sound bites, or mini sales pitches; short, concise descriptions of what you do and how you do it. These talking pointsshould highlight the reasons you are different than other consultants in your field. They first thing you should talk about is the value you bring to your clients. How can you help them? What will they experience after using your services? What will they gain from you? You will want to practice saying these points out loud, and be sure to time yourself. A good consultant spends more time listening than talking, so before building a lengthy sales presentation read Basic Skills That Every Successful Sales Person Should Have.
  2. Create templates for proposals. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel each time you do a new proposal or project. Design forms and fill in the blank templates. This will ensure your work always has the same look and feel, and covers all of the relevant points. Also be sure to have a one page description of your and your services that can be emailed to prospective clients. I like to use a “Frequently Asked Questions” format.
  1. Design your pricing structure. Put it in writing. When someone asks “How much?”, you want the answer to roll easily off your tongue. Don’t under-price either. Your time is of value. If you don’t believe that you need to revamp your service offering. You should also have a pricing template to help you estimate the time a project will take so you price appropriately. To get started with pricing read Developing Rates and Policies.
  2. Know what comes next. Lay out the sales and design process. Have contracts ready. The worst thing is when someone says “yes” and you realize you have no idea what to do next. Be prepared and ready so when they say “yes” you can lay out a time line and expectations for the next few steps.

MLS Only Listings – What’s the Debate About?

What is an MLS Only Real Estate Listing?:

The term “MLS Only” usually refers to a listing that is taken by a broker at a set fee or very reduced cost just to place the property in the Multiple Listing Service.

The broker in most cases offers no other services to the seller. This means that the seller shows their own home, does their own contract negotiations and makes their way to closing on their own.

This listing gives the seller the benefit of MLS exposure, but not much else in the way of assistance.

What Makes MLS Only Attractive?:

To sellers, it’s price. The Multiple Listing Service is still the most effective marketing tool for real estate, as all the professional real estate agents and brokers use it to locate properties for their buyers. The sellers recognize this and want their property on the MLS, but don’t want to pay the listing side of the commission.

The Real Estate Industry’s Opinion on MLS Only:

There are two very differing viewpoints on this practice.

Realtors® mostly believe this practice to be quite risky for the sellers. Some states have passed minimum service laws requiring certain basic representational services be provided for all sellers. This takes away the ability to provide MLS only. Many real estate professionals also believe it adds risk to their business, as the seller will frequently be looking for help in the process from the buyer’s agent/broker.

The Government’s Stance on MLS Only:

The Department of Justice has threatened suits against states that implement minimum service legislation. The DOJ views MLS Only listing as a viable option to save consumers money in their transaction process. The government’s viewpoint is that the consumer can make an intelligent choice of services they need and shouldn’t be forced to pay for minimum services required in state legislation.

Being Declared a Personal Services Corporation Can Really Cost You

I would venture to guess that the one shareholder small corporation is the most common kind of corporation created in Canada.

But tax-wise, it’s also one of the most dangerous. As more and more contractors are discovering to their chagrin, if your small corporation is declared to be a personal services corporation (a.k.a. personal services business) by the Canada Revenue Agency, you might as well not have a corporation at all as far as income tax deductions go.

Worse, you may be on the hook for a hefty tax bill to make up for tax deductions of previous years that have been disallowed.

There are two sections to this article:

1) An outline of the problem – what could happen to you if your small business is declared to be a personal services corporation;

2) What you can do to avoid having theCanada Revenue Agency (CRA) view your business as a personal services corporation.

You may want to read What Is a Personal services corporation? first and then return to this page.

Why You Don’t Want a Personal Services Corporation

The basic problem is that income from a personal services business is not considered to be active business income by the Canada Revenue Agency.

So if the Canada Revenue Business determines that your incorporated business is a personal services business, you suddenly have three tax problems:

1) You will not be able to claim the Small Business Deduction, as the Small Business Deduction can only be applied to active business income.

So instead of having the first $500,000 of your corporation’s income taxed at a much lower rate, that income is now taxed at the (much higher) personal rate.

Corporate tax rates vary from province to province, but the difference can be very expensive tax-wise, as Mark Goodfield, managing partner of Cunningham LLP, a Toronto based law firm, explains in his The Blunt Bean Counter blog:

"In Ontario that means the corporation will be subject toincome tax at a rate of 39.25% (in 2012). For comparative purposes, the current small business income tax rate is 15.5%. As a consequence, when taking money out of a PSB by way of dividends, the ultimate combined personal and corporate tax rate will approach 58% in Ontario, a very punitive amount which is 12% greater than a high-rate employed taxpayer would pay."

2) You will not be able to claim many standard business deductions.

As a shareholder in a personal services corporation, you are an incorporated employee; therefore, tax-wise, you are not self-employed. You can no longer write off any expenses, such as accounting and legal fees, supplies, and office space, against your corporation’s income. The only eligible deduction for your corporation will be any salary and benefits paid to the incorporated employee.

3) Possible tax penalties because of reassessment.

Worst of all, if your corporation is classified as a personal services corporation, you can be hit with a large tax bill because you “got it wrong” when you filed your corporate taxes and claimed the Small Business Deduction and business expenses.

And the Canada Revenue Agency is not limited to auditing or re-assessing only last year’stax filings; as there is no stated time limit on the audit process, the Canada Revenue Agency can examine business records from previous years as well during a tax audit. You could be re-assessed and found owing for years of back taxes.

How to Avoid Being Classed as a Personal Services Corporation by the CRA

The obvious way to ensure that your small corporation is not deemed to be a personal services business at some point is to ensure that your corporation has more than five full-time employees throughout the year and/or that your corporation only provides its services to an associated corporation, as these are the two things that the Canada Revenue Agency lists as clear evidence that a small corporation isn’t a personal services business. (See Ch. 4 of T4012 – T2 Corporation Income Tax Guide.)

Just as obviously, this is not a serious option for many small corporations.

However, there are other measures that you can take. First and foremost, you want to avoid being in the situation of working only for a single client, especially in a long-term relationship. The more clients you have the better in terms of avoiding the personal service business designation.

Even if you don’t have five, having any employees is a help and something that the CRA considers when determining a small corporation’s status.

You also need to pay close attention to the four issues that the Canada Revenue Agency uses as a litmus test to determine whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor:

  1. how much control over the work a contractor has
  2. ownership of tools
  3. the chance of profit or risk of loss that a contractor is exposed to
  4. the degree of integration

Are You a Contractor or an Employee? provides detailed explanations of each of these points.

And you want to avoid the perception that you are an employee of a particular client. If a third party could mistake you for an employee of the company, you’re in danger of the CRA viewing you that way, too.

Little things can loom large when it comes to perception. For instance, you should always invoice your client, monthly or by project. If your client just pays you without the submission of an invoice on your part, it’s a red flag.

In Closing

If you are a contractor who provides your services primarily to one other company, don’t panic. But do familiarize yourself with the issue, particularly the Canada Revenue Agency’s distinction between employees and independent contractors and take what steps you can to enlarge your small company’s horizons and protect your corporate status.

Besides reading my article that explains the basic factors that the Canada Revenue Agency uses to decide who is an independent contractor and who’s not, I recommend that you take a look at these Canada Revenue Agency documents:

  • RC4110 Employee or Self-Employed?
  • Workers Engaged in Construction – Employees or Self-employed Workers?

You may also wish to consult a professional such as a tax accountant as to how best to safeguard your corporate status.

Inventing 101

One of the most common questions that a newbie inventor has to ask is, “What do I need? Do I need a patent, trademark, or copyright?”

These are the three different types of what is called intellectual property. These are products that come from the creative mind. Intellectual property is imagination made real. Intellectual property is an asset just like your home, your car, or your bank account and there are ways to protect and profit from intellectual property by using a patent, trademark, or copyright.

Intellectual Property – Patent

Utility, design, or plant patents protect inventions and improvements to existing inventions. Inventions must be “things that have purpose” and not ideas or names. For example, I would patent my invention of an improved car tire that never goes flat.


Intellectual Property – Trademark

Trademarks are words, names, symbols, devices and images that represent products, goods, or services. Trademarks identify and promote different brands or services. For example, I would trademark register the service name of my catering business, Quickie Caterers. Also, I would trademark register the brand name of a cookie that I manufacture and sell, Fluffy Not Stuffy Cookies.


Intellectual Property – Copyright

Copyrights protect the expression of ideas in literary, artistic and musical works. For example, I would copyright register all the books and articles that I have written. Also, I would copyright register all the paintings that I have painted.


Can I Combine Intellectual Property Types?

You can use all three types of intellectual property protection together if necessary.

For example, I would patent my invention of an improved car tire, a car tire that never goes flat. I would also trademark register the brand name of my invention, the Tireless Tire. I would copyright register the instruction manual that I wrote that explains how to take care of a Tireless Tire.


What Do You Want To Learn More About?

  • Inventing 101 – Patents
  • Inventing 101 – Trademarks
  • Or Inventing 101 – Copyrights

Will I Need to Hire an Intellectual Property Lawyer?

Filing a patent application is very hard and complex. Filing a trademark application is not easy. Filing for copyright protection is the easiest. Patent offices will not assist you in the preparation of applications, however, they do provide you with some instruction and guides. If you are ready conduct any intellectual property activity as a beginner you are strongly advised to contact a registered patent attorney or agent.


How do I Finance and/or Market my Ideas?

The Small Business Administration or SBA provides excellent information on starting,planning, marketing, obtaining venture capital and financing a small business. The SBA also provides training and counseling.

Also see – Funding – Obtaining government grants, small business loans, scholarships and other programs to fund your ideas.


Be a Smart Consumer

Before doing busdiness with promoters and promotion firms, you should check on their reputation before making any commitments. It’s best to be wary of any firm that promises too much and/or costs too much. Many inventors pay thousands of dollars to firms that promise to evaluate, develop, patent, and market inventions and then do little or nothing for their fees.


Avoid a Financial Disaster

If all you have is an idea, don’t ever take the easy way out and think a company or individual is going to do everything for you. Many of these companies are not the real deal. Avoid getting ripped off.

  • See Also – Questions For Promoters – Required information disclosure from promoters and promotion firms.


Discount Real Estate Brokers – Can You Save Money?

To talk about discount brokers is to say there are standard-fee brokers, and nobody will own up to that statement. Why? Because all real estate commissions are negotiable.

However, many real estate brokerages, hoping to capitalize on the growing realization among consumers that real estate commissions are negotiable, have created market niches for themselves that promise to save sellers money and rebate commissions to buyers.

How Do Discount Brokers Operate?

In Minneapolis, for example, the traditional brokerage fees are as high as 7% of the sales price. The average co-brokering fee, the fee paid to selling agents who cooperate, is often as low as 3.15%. So those listing agents make a lot more money than selling agents.

An agent in Minneapolis was advertising fees of 4.5%, giving 2.5% to the selling agents and keeping 2% for her company. After a client explained to her that she would gladly pay 5% if the agent would co-op 3% to the selling agent, the agent changed her advertising policy, figuring she was still 2% under the rate most other brokers charged.

Here are other examples:

  • Flat-fee listing policies. This brokerage takes all listings at a flat rate, paying a cooperating fee on top of that amount to selling brokers. That cooperating fee is also paid by the seller. You might see a brokerage ad offering to list your house at a fee of $2,000. Somewhere in the tiny print, if it’s disclosed at all, will be a disclaimer that this fee is exclusive of the fee paid to the selling broker. This type of advertising is misleading to the consumer.
  • Small percentage-fee listing policies.Some brokers advertise it will take a listing for 1% or 2%. Again, many of these brokers don’t draw attention to the fact that the selling broker, in most instances, is still paid an additional fee by the seller.
  • Buyer commission rebates. You can alsofind real estate agents who advertise that if you hire one of them to buy a home, the company will credit the buyer a percentage of its commission or a flat-fee at closing. This money comes from the fee the seller pays the broker who presents the buyer.Generally, a company that elects to give away part of its income to buyers does so in the hopes that it will attract such a huge volume of business that it won’t miss the money. You may or may not receive individualized attention and service due to increasing pressure on these low-profit companies to keep the business coming in the door.
  • Graduated fee policies. These brokers offer a cornucopia of fees and services, depending on the type of representation and work required. For example, if you think you can sell your home without any assistance from the listing broker, you might be able to work out an arrangement for MLS input only. This means the broker will put your home into the multiple listing service but take no phone calls from agents, will not show your home, nor put a sign in the yard or advertise it elsewhere. Some MLS groups prohibit this practice, but it’s done anyway.On the other hand, if you want the listing broker to handle increased responsibilities, the fee will go up, but it will still be less than most full-service brokerages charge.
  • Reduced fees in exchange for another transaction. A few brokerages subscribe to the theory that two in the bush is better than one in the hand. If you agree to buy a home through the listing brokerage instead of hiring a selling agent, many times the broker will reduce the listing commission fee.

Why Would Sellers / Buyers Accept Reduced Services?

To save money. That’s the number one motivation. Some sellers are extremely savvy about selling their own homes and don’t believe they need a full-fledged marketing campaign. Sometimes they don’t. Especially if it’s a seller’s market.

I once sold a home in one afternoon. I’d been thinking about selling, and had an old metal For Sale sign in my garage that was rusting out. When I saw the next-door neighbors were holding an Open House one Sunday afternoon, I dashed outside and stuck the sign in my yard. The house sold that afternoon. Some markets are like that.

Where Can You Find Discount Brokers?

All over the Internet. Here is a directory of Discount Broker Web sites where you can look up each of these companies and scrutinize the services offered to you. If any of these links do not work, it’s probably because, by the time you read this, the company went out of business or was swallowed up by a conglomerate. This is by no means an exhaustive directory:

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Change a Youngsters Life for the Better


If you are looking for a way to have a positive impact on the world, there is no better way to do it than providing foster care to a child or youth that is in need. Children are the most vulnerable people in society. When they are not getting the care they need from their biological family, people who step up to help them in their time of need are always in demand.

Help a Youth in Need

There is always a need for foster carers throughout Australia. If you are able to provide emergency care for children or youths that are no longer able to live with their families due to abuse, neglect or serious dysfunction in their family unit, your help is needed! If you are good with kids and understand that some of the children being served in the foster care system have been through a lot of traumatic experiences, you could be a good foster carer that can help these youth to start rebuilding their lives. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the child being taken in, they may require temporary or short-term housing. Youths that are involved in more complicated situations may require respite care or long-term placements.

Many People Qualify to Be Foster Parents

If you have never given much thought to providing foster care because you did not think you had the qualifications, you might be more qualified than you thought. For the safety of the children, people who want to foster must undergo a stringent screening process and take training courses to prepare them for the challenges that could face them as a foster parent. Training to become a foster parent can take a number of months to complete all of the steps, but once you have completed the training program, you have the opportunity to help children that are facing very real problems and help make a difference in their life.

Other requirements that must be met to qualify as a foster parent include having space in your home for the child you are going to foster. There are no requirements for home ownership, so people who rent can foster children if they so desire. If you were under the impression that you needed to be married in order to foster, this is also untrue. People who want to foster kids must be over the age of 20 and pass health checks, background checks, and complete a training course before being cleared to foster youths in their home.

Become a Childhood Partner

If you’re unable to directly help a child through fostering, there is always the option to become a childhood partner. Instead of providing a home and personal care to children, you may alternatively choose to make regular cash donations that help the children and the Organisation continue the work they are doing in the communities they serve. All donations are tax-deductible and can be completed as a one-off contribution or set up as a recurring donation that is processed every month using a credit card or a bank account number.

There is no donation that is too big or too small. Any amount that you can afford to give is put to a worthy cause helping children that have very few options available to them without your helping hands.

Get Started Today

When you are ready to help a youth in need, there’s no time like now to get started as a foster carers. You will find that our extensive training program teaches you nearly everything you need to know about the process of fostering. Further, we offer our foster parents access to one of the best support systems available in Australia to help them along the way. If you can help a child that is in need, you should waste no time and get started today. You’ll b happy you did.


Commission Credits to Home Buyers

A while back a friend in Texas called me to say she was in the market to buy a home. Part of her strategy was to ask listing agents to give her part of their commission to help with her down payment. None of the agents whom she approached was willing to accommodate her request, and she was confused. Why won’t listing agents give me money, she asked?

This request intrigued me. I wanted to know how she came up with such an idea.

She is a paralegal. I wondered if perhaps one of her clients asked her to kick back some of her salary to help pay her employer’s bill. It’s one thing if a lawyer wants to take a case pro bono. It’s another if the client expects the paralegal or lawyer to subsidize the client’s obligations.

Listing Agents Who Credit Commissions to Buyers

This is a controversial subject. Some listing agents will kickback all or part of a commission to a buyer or seller. Not very many agents are willing to part with hard-earned money, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Say an agent has signed a listing agreement with a seller. The seller agrees to pay the agent 7% commission. The agent then agrees, say, to split that commission with a buyer’s agent. So the listing broker gets 3.5% and the buyer’s broker gets 3.5%. Each agent represents a single party.

However, when a listing agent works in dual agency by representing both the seller and the buyer, typically that agent receives all of the commission or, in this case, a full 7%.

Some buyers believe that since the listing agent is making more money, that agent should give it to them. They reason that if they hired a buyer’s agent, the agent would get half as much.

Now, some agents will negotiate real estate commissions with the seller in advance. A seller might agree to a variable commission rate, meaning if the agent ends up bringing the buyer, the commission would be reduced to, say, 5%. This way the agent earns 5% for representing the seller and the buyer, andthe seller benefits by paying a lower commission.

Some of the problems associated with variable commission agreements are:

  • Cooperating brokers are at a disadvantage when multiple offers are presented. Even if thepurchase offers are identical to each other, the seller will take the offer presented by the listing agent because the seller will net more.
  • Listing agents are accepting additional liability for buyer representation and doing twice the work without twice the compensation. So, the listing agent has an added incentive to sell the buyer a different property that pays a full buyer’s agent commission.
  • If a buyer wants a piece of the action, there’s not enough leftover to go around.

Buying Agents Who Credit Commissions to Buyers

Sometimes buyers don’t have enough money to buy a home, so they ask their agent to help them out by rebating part of the commission. While agents cannot pay an unlicensed person a commission, they can decide to rebate a portion of their commission to the buyer as a closing cost credit or to pay part of the down payment, providing the buyer’s lender will allow it.

A handful of real estate companies advertise that they will always rebate commissions to a buyer because:

  • Rebaters believe real estate agents make too much money.
  • The discounters hope rebates will attract a volume of buyers to their company to compensate for their loss of income.
  • Often, they do not provide full service to a buyer.

Many of these types of discount brokers expect the buyer to do much of the legwork and to interact solely through email and by FAX. They do not show property nor drive the buyer around. They generally do not attend home inspections nor explain paperwork. Typically, the first time they meet with a buyer is at closing, if they attend the home closingat all.

Do Commission Credits Benefit Buyers?

On the surface, you might think, “Well, that’s a no-brainer!” If you are well versed in real estate and understand how to negotiate, you might not need an agent to represent you. However, understand that even under an arrangement where the seller is paying a 7% commission, the seller still gets 93% of the sales price.

The seller is making more money than the real estate agent. The seller has more money to distribute. Why try to pinch a few thousand from the agent when the seller has the deep pockets? It might make more sense to hire your own buyer’s agent to fully represent you and aggressively negotiate on your behalf. An experienced agent often will get you:

  • A lower sales price. You could save tens of thousands.
  • A seller concession for closing costs. Most lenders will allow a minimum of a 3% seller credit toward your closing costs, which is more than many buyer’s agents earn.
  • Home improvements pursuant to your request for repairs. A new roof can easily cost $15,000.

Fortunately, my friend decided to hire her own agent and ask for seller concessions. Also, please realize that I’d list URLs of companies that credit commissions to buyers, but I’m afraid that by the time you read this, they might have gone out of business.

How to Bid on Government Contracts

You may think that government contracts are only for large corporations, but this isn’t the case. Small businesses can and do win government contracts on a regular basis. Bidding on federal government contracts is unlike bidding with local government entities, as federal bids are subject to a specific process, but with the right preparation, you can be successful. We’ll show you how.

Access the Small Business Administration guide. It will help you with procedures and policies that you must adhere to when bidding on government contracts.

  • Seek out organizations—including your local or regional Chamber of Commerce or nearby college—that offer tutorials, seminars, online classes and other guidance that can help you through the process. Some cities also have a federal procurement office.

Set up a System for Award Management (SAM) profile. The SAM acts as a master list of all the businesses who wish to work for the federal government. Treat your SAM profile like a sales pitch. Include your capabilities, special equipment and skills that you can bring to the job you’re bidding on.

  • Experience counts a great deal, especially if you can relate it to the contract on which you’re bidding. The government also looks for stability; it wants to see that you have been financially sound for the last few years, which indicates you’ll be in business in the years to come.
  • You will need to obtain your business DUNS number, which refers to your physical address. You can apply for a number free online at the Dun and Bradstreet website. You’ll also need your Taxpayer Identification Number handy.
  • SAM registration is free. After you complete your profile, it will be posted within 72 hours. If awarded a job, the SAM facilitates automatic payments.

Check Invitations For Bid (IFB) through government agencies. All IFBs are posted online at the Federal Business Opportunities government website. Each IFB will dictate details of the contract. Most IFBs are for contracts of $100,000 or more.

Evaluate your company and how it would match up with a job offer in an IFB.Be completely confident that your company can complete the job and do it well before bidding. If you are awarded a contract and fail it most likely will be your last government contract.

Follow the rules and regulations of writing a bid. Utilize the Small Business Administration, your local procurement office, consulting firms and other resources.

Research past bids which are public record. Make sure your bid is low but also realistic. Significant past award information and raw data are available from the US Government at the Government’s procurement sites

Use data analysis tools and techniques to target those contracts you have the highest likelihood of winning.

Respond to each requirement outlined in the IFB in your bid. Make sure your bid is clear and points out the direct benefits of working with your company.

Consider partnering with another business.

  • Small businesses can be somewhat limited in capability but by partnering you can fill in gaps.
  • Some government contracts can only be awarded to those businesses owned by women, minorities or veterans. If your business doesn’t fall into one of those categories, it may be helpful to pair up with a business that does.

Fill out any required forms and submit your sealed bid. Bids will be opened at the assigned time as listed in the IFB.

How to Work As a Customer Service Representative

Customer service representatives are the direct link between the company that they work for and the clients looking for service. They are the initial point of contact and it is their job to help customers, answer their questions and to provide assistance. Customer service representatives may perform a variety of duties depending on the type of company products and services provided to the public. Job functions may include resolving complaints, processing exchanges, or routine calls for providing information and guidance. Job prospects for customer service representatives are excellent, as most companies will provide on-the-job training. Here are some helpful tips and suggestions on how to become a customer service representative.

Evaluate your background and skills when considering a position as a customer service representative. This type of work requires excellent interpersonal and communications skills as you will be having direct contact with customers on a daily basis. Client contact may be over the phone, in person or involve communication via email, fax, regular mail or a combination of formats.

Consider that customer service representatives must have patience and be professional in their interactions with customers. Daily contact may include angry and irate individuals. Your job is to provide problem resolution and to help the customers.

Realize that the work of a customer service representative may be repetitive and stressful. Your work day will usually entail being on the telephone for much of the time as well as involve continuous data entry on a computer.

Consider that the work environment for a customer service representative may be in a large company office where the workspace is clean, quiet and comfortable. Other possible work sites include retail stores where the work involves constant contact with customers and the atmosphere may be very busy and noisy.

Know that some examples of job duties performed by customer service representatives include processing orders over the phone in addition to handling requests and complaints. You should have strong phone skills as well as computer and data entry skills.

  • Consider the type of service offered by the company that you are considering working for. If you want to work in a bank as a customer service representative, for example, you should have strong mathematical abilities.
  • Realize that the various functions of a customer service representative will vary depending on the type of business associated with the company that you work for. The work of a customer service representative can encompass many duties including providing technical support, processing refunds and arranging appointments.

Know that on-the-job training is generally provided to familiarize new customer service representatives with the type of services provided by the company. Orientation will also include training focusing on how to access and use their computer and telephone systems.

Consider that positions as a customer service representative may be available for all shifts, including nights and weekends. Depending on the type of company and the services that they provide, some customer service representatives may work on holidays.

Assess your personal lifestyle to help you decide what type of customer service representative position is the best fit for you. Depending on your needs, if you have a family or are attending college, you can apply for a part-time position as a customer service representative.

Browse the Internet and visit online job boards to look for customer service representative positions. Also browse the websites of companies that you would like to work for to scan for possible job openings. Apply for those customer service representative positions that you are interested in.


Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual Property Law – Practice Description

Intellectual property law (IP) is a growing practice area that protects creations of the human mind. These creations include inventions that qualify for patent protection; literary and artistic works such as books, plays, music and artwork; product names, slogans, logos and packaging; symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce; and trade secrets.

Intellectual property law encompasses six primary areas:

  • Patent Law
  • Trademark Law
  • Copyright law
  • Trade Secret Law
  • Licensing
  • Unfair Competition

Why Intellectual Property Law Is Growing

Intellectual property is an organization’s most valuable asset. New developments in science and technology have created the need for lawyers with specialized backgrounds in these areas to help protect the intellectual capital of businesses, authors, inventors, musicians and other owners of creative works.

In today’s competitive landscape, demand for intellectual property lawyers is growing. As long as invention and innovation exist, intellectual property lawyers will be needed to procure the rights to new ideas and protect the ownership of existing creations. Even when other law practices are affected by recession, intellectual property law continues to thrive.

The growth of the Internet has created a surge in intellectual property crimes, particularly hard goods piracy, Internet piracy and cybersquatting (the abusive registration of trademarks on the Internet).

Content protection and electronic rights in a digital age is a fast-growing IP niche. China and developing countries are enacting sophisticated laws and paying greater attention to IP enforcement, fueling the growth of intellectual property law internationally.

Intellectual Property Law – Job Duties

Intellectual property lawyers counsel clients on establishing and protecting intellectual capital. Most intellectual property law practices span the entire gamut of intellectual property matters, from patents, copyright and trademark law to licensing, franchising and distribution to technology transfers and trade secret projects. Intellectual property lawyers also assist in licensing inventions, transferring proprietary technology, drafting licensing agreements, negotiating settlements and conducting IP asset due diligence.

Intellectual property lawyers litigate intellectual property matters across the globe, representing clients in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the International Trade Commission.

Intellectual property lawyers frequently consult on creative ideas and develop new ideas that will increase the value of their clients’ IP portfolio. They also advise on new rules and regulations governing the protection of unique ideas.

Education and Background

In addition to a law degree, most intellectual property lawyers possess scientific, engineering or technology-related degrees. This specialized scientific or technology education and hands-on industry experience help IP lawyers lend their expertise to a wide range of industries including biotechnology, pharmaceutical law,computer engineering, nanotechnology, Internet and e-commerce.

Related Practice Areas

  • Trademark Law
  • Patent Law
  • Copyright Law
  • Trade Secret Law
  • Unfair Competition
  • Licensing

Training for a Librarian Career

Look for jobs that require a college degree. Some librarian positions in public libraries require only an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. These types of positions are often for teen and children’s librarians.

Study for a Master’s in Library Science. Almost all intermediate and advanced level library jobs require a Master’s in Library Science (MLIS). These professional librarians have more advanced duties, such as overseeing the assistants or updating the library’s collections.

Specialize. Librarians fill many roles, including reference librarian, corporate librarian, cataloguer, library manager, collections manager (deciding which books are added and removed), children’s librarian, teen librarian, school librarian (K-12), academic librarian, systems librarian (involves IT work), or running the circulation desk. Research the roles that sound interesting to you, and focus your education towards these positions.

  • Many library science programs also offer a specialization in archives. Archivists handle historic texts, preserving them physically and granting access to them for research.

Train for an academic library. Many academic librarians also hold an additional master’s degree in a specific subject. If you’re passionate about an academic subject, such as art, law, music, business, or psychology, this path can combine it with your interest in libraries.

Consider working in a special library. Special libraries are usually private, company libraries that hold collections centered on legal, business, medical, or government resources. Most librarian positions in special libraries require a minimum of a master’s degree in library science. A librarian may also need to have degrees or experience in the special library’s specific subject area. Example subjects include law, business, science, and government.

How to Land Your First Client

Consulting is a big—and growing—business.

The market for consulting services is estimated to be between $130B and $150B annually, and professional consultants are among the highest paid workers, earning more than many doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

It’s not surprising that consulting is attractive to many people who want to launch a business. After all, if you have a saleable skill, it’s an easy business to enter.

No one will stop you from calling yourself a consultant and startup can cost as little as printing business cards and getting a business license.

On the flip side of the coin, consulting is fiercely competitive. Just ten firms own almost 40% of the consulting market share in North America alone, and they fight for every opportunity to grow. Today, clients have instant access to legions of experts at the click of a mouse, and they have found low-cost, offshore alternatives for many consulting projects.

The beauty of this market, though, is that many of the large, lumbering consulting firms focus on thin slices of the market. That creates an opportunity for smaller firms and individual consultants who know how to use guerrilla methods to snag their share of profitable business.

So how do your break into consulting?

Think about Your Fourth Client First

As a new consultant, you should be able to generate a project—or maybe several—through your networks of friends, past employers, and colleagues.

After all, research shows that clients use their networks to select consultants more than any other method, and they, no doubt, know someone who knows you.

Unfortunately, your address book alone won’t sustain your consulting business long term. If your goal is to build a sustainable consulting practice, the real question isn’t how to get your first client, but how to create a business that will attract the second, third, and fourth clients to your practice.

Before you ask your contacts—or anyone else—to hire you as a consultant for that first project, ensure your success by taking a longer view of your business. Work hard to land that first client, but also put the marketing and consulting fundamentals in place that will secure your future as a consultant.

Start with these four simple tips:

  1. Know exactly what to say—in one minute or less—to prove you are the best consultant a client can find.
  2. Create a marketing strategy that emphasizes action over planning.
  3. Become a master of the consulting process, not just a subject-matter expert.
  4. Win with value and results, not price.

Have Something to Say…

Prospective clients rarely look for consultants until they have a pressing need. In other words, “we just can’t do it ourselves; let’s get outside help fast.” A recent client admitted that his team had been spinning its wheels trying to resolve a complex transportation problem for three years before they hired consultants and gave them four weeks to come up with a solution. They did.

The point is that, when most clients are in the market for help, they want it yesterday. And they want the best consultants they can find, at an affordable price. So, take the time to define what makes you the best consultant a client can find.

Many consultants mistakenly believe that by defining their expertise broadly, they’ll appeal to a wider audience and land more clients. The less specific you are, the less likely it is clients will think of you when they need help.

Why would clients turn to you for their most important projects? Be prepared to answer these questions during your first conversation with them:

  • What, exactly, are you offering? Is it strategy development, financial management, operations improvement, sales and marketing advice, technology development, change management assistance, or something else?
  • Why is it needed? What specific business problem or opportunity will your services address?
  • How will the client be better off after having worked with you?
  • What’s really different about your firm, its services, results or approach?
  • What quantifiable benefits and results can your client expect?

If you can’t articulate the answers in a minute or less, keep working. You may only have that one minute to make a first impression on a client, so make it count.

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Becoming an Independent Contractor

Whether you are a writer, an engineer, a consultant, or  another independent working positions, you are an independent contractor. This means you are self-employed. Beingself-employed means that in this position you aren’t an employee and you have your own business, filing taxes as a business owner (sole proprietor or other business type). You should take the steps to set up a business entity. Here’s why you should become a business entity and the tasks you need to start your business.

1.  Why You Should Set Up a Business Entity as an Independent Contractor

Working for others as an independent contractor has benefits and drawbacks. The benefits: you are truly independent. The drawbacks: no one is going to help you with taxes and legal issues. Learn more about the realities of being self-employed and the benefits of setting up a business entity.

2.  Decide on Your Business Legal Type

The number of legal types is confusing. This list gives you an overview of each and directs you to more information about each type. If you are starting as an independent contractoror freelancer, consider forming a limited liability company. If you are making a product and planning on hiring employees, you might want to consider incorporating. If you are working in a professional practice – dentistry, law, accounting, for example – you might want to set up one of the partnership entities. If you are a solo contractor performing a service, you might want to start as a single-member LLC.  Learn more about the legal types of businesses so you can talk to your attorney about which is best for you.

3.  Apply for a Tax ID Number

Even if you don’t plan on having employees in your business, you should apply for a tax ID number (also known as an Employer ID Number). This number is a unique number for your business and it helps establish you as a business entity.

4.  Register your Business Name

When you have selected a business name, don’t rush out and buy business cards and stationery yet. First, check to be sure no one else is using that name. Then, considertrademarking the name if it is unique. Finally, you may need to file a fictitious name (trade name, or d/b/a) statement if your business name is different from the name of your company. Learn more about these steps in registering your business name here.

5.  Set up Your Business Checking Account

Getting a business checking account will help establish that separate business entity, so it is clear to the IRS – and anyone else who cares – that you and your business are separate entities. Here are some considerations in setting up that checking account.

6.  Set up Your Business Record Keeping System

Capture the information you need to support your use of legitimate business deductions. Here is a simple system that will give you all the information for tax time.

Consulting vs. Freelance

It’s not unusual to interchange the terms consulting and freelance when describing the services you perform as a contract worker. However, each word has a very different connotation when describing the type of relationship you plan to have with customers. Understanding these differences is an important part of positioning your business for future success.

First, let’s consider the formal definition of what it means to be a consultant as opposed to the definition of a freelancer.

And then I will explain why the differences matter.

Consultant: a person who is paid to provide professional or expert advice in a particular field or specialty.

Freelancer: a person who works independently, selling work or services by the hour, day, or job, with no intent to pursue a permanent or long-term arrangement with a single employer.

It’s easy to see how you might confuse the two. After all, both convey the idea of performing work or services for other people or companies.

To further emphasize the difference, take a look at the synonyms commonly associated with each term. Synonyms for consultant may include like-descriptors such as, advisor, guru and specialist. Synonyms for freelancer tend to be tied to a specific career field or job title, and most commonly that of writer, journalist and graphic designer.

Why does it matter? It’s all about client perspective.

When hiring a freelancer, customers tend to think of using your services for a short-term project with a very specific outcome.

For example, writing a case study or designing a brochure. As a freelancer, your role is to take initial direction from the client and then go off and complete the assignment. Typically, the work is done off-site, using your tools and resources. You control nearly every aspect of the project, including determining the best method for tackling the project and deciding the necessary timeframe for completion. Once the project is finished, your relationship with the client ends – at least until the next project comes along.

As a consultant, your clients look to you for detailed guidance on a particular area of expertise. For example, you may be hired as a crisis communication consultant or a marketing strategy consultant providing advice to the client. In many cases, the scope of the project is more extensive, and could include several smaller projects within the overall agreement. For instance, a marketing consultant may be hired to conduct competitor research, organize focus groups, oversee the development of an ad campaign, and write a marketing plan. For that reason, the work may occur as part of a long-term or ongoing commitment, as opposed to having a definitive start and finish date across only a few weeks.

If you are working on-site for the client, using the client’s resources, and have your schedule dictated by the client, then you may also be considered an employee (under the definition of the IRS). In that case, you will receive a W-2 for the tax year, instead of aForm 1099 for miscellaneous income as an independent contractor.

Is the work of a consultant more valuable than that of a freelancer? No, absolutely not. The value of your services lay in the quality of performance and whether or not the objective of the project is achieved. However, the way in which you categorize your work does shape how your prospective clients view your terms of service. As a freelancer, you may be hired on a project-by-project basis; while as a consultant, you could land a long-term gig that may even lead to permanent employment.

How to Find Job Search Help

As a professional career counselor employed by a college, I will often receive requests for assistance from “non-affiliates” (individuals not affiliated with my institution). Due to the ratio of staff to client-base, our policy is to limit services to only our own students and alumni.

Over the course of many years, my colleagues and I have often helped non-affiliates to realize that there may be a wealth of other local and Internet resources that they have not yet tapped, including career counselors in private practice.

This brief article is meant to help college graduates and other job seekers identify free, or inexpensive, resources in their geographic areas.

Contact Career Services

If you are a college graduate, be sure to contact the career services office at your own alma mater(s). Many institutions, like mine, offer lifetime career development services for alumni. Others offer limited services; still others offer services at extremely reasonable rates. And much of what is offered may be available long-distance.

One of the most important services to request will be access to your alma mater’s version of our Career Advisor Network (alumni who have volunteered to speak with you, respond to your career-related questions, and advise you on your job search).

You may be able to request telephone appointments with the career development professionals at your alma mater(s) for services such as resume reviews and advising sessions on job search strategies or interviewing techniques.

You’ll also want to get any required passwords for access to your alma mater’s online job listing databases.

And it never hurts to ask if your alma mater(s) have existing reciprocity agreements with institutions in your geographic area (allowing you to access the services of the local colleague’s career services office). But be prepared to hear that your access will be limited to non-password-protected job listings (no counselor contact).

Find Free Job Search Help

Here are some other ideas that are helpful to all job seekers, whether they’ve graduated from college or not.

Check with your local public library to see what they have in their career research and job search collections. Ask if they offer job search workshops or run a job search club.

Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to ask about career/job fairs that may be planned for the near future.

Tap resources and services available through your state Department of Labor office. You will find both online resources as well as in-person options. For more in-depth information on this idea, refer to the previously published article, Departments of Labor: Job Referrals, Training and Other Employment Services.

Locate a Career Counselor

Finally, if you want actual career counseling (rather than just job search advice and resources) and live at too great a distance to make the often-mandatory in-person sessions with career counselors from your alma mater(s) feasible, you may want to engage the services of a private career counselor in your local area. efore doing so, be sure to consult the National Career Development Association’s (NCDA) Consumer Guideline for Selecting a Career Counselor. It provides an excellent overview of the roles of a career counselor, training and credentials information, what you should expect and demand as a client, ethical practices, and more.

What To Do With a 1099 Form

Being self-employed has many obvious advantages, including getting your income pre-tax. As an independent contractor, freelancer or self-employed individual, getting a check for the gross amount owed may feel like you have hit the tax loop-hole jack-pot! But in actuality, Uncle Sam still gets his, its just on the back-end. This is where the1099-MISC tax form comes in. Whether you just received your first 1099, think you need to send someone a 1099 or are just curious about what happens when you make pre-tax money, here is a simple breakdown of how it all works.

What Is A 1099-MISC Tax Form?

The 1099-MISC Form is used to report miscellaneous income for individuals and companies who have been paid $600 or more in non-employee service payments during a calendar year.

What To Do If I Receive a 1099-MISC Form:

Legally, all individuals or companies who hire an independent contractor or freelancer are required to send a 1099 Form by January 31st of the tax-filing year. So if you did the work in 2011, you should get your 1099 by January 31st of 2012.

If you don’t receive one, but did do work and did receive payment, there could be two reasons. First, if your payment was less than $600 total, the payee doesn’t have to send one. Second, if your payment was $600 or more, your payee may have just forgotten. Consider contacting them to remind them of the work you did and the payment you received, and ask if they plan to send a 1099. It will help the process along if you send them a completed W-9 Form, which basically provides them with your social security number or tax-ID number so they can properly fill out the 1099 Form.

If after contacting, they still don’t send anything, legally you are still required to report the income. This also goes for the income that was less than $600.

Quick Example of When You Should Receive a 1099-MISC Form:

Say for example, you work the weekdays as an employee for a corporation, but on the weeknights and weekends, you are a freelance server for a number of partycatering companies. Each night you work you receive $100 in pre-tax money (meaning nopayroll taxes are taken out). At the end of the year, you have worked 25 nights and have received a total of $2500. The catering companies are under the obligation to send you a 1099-MISC form for the total amount paid (if over $600). You would then report all of the income you earned on your personal taxes under a Schedule C.

What To Do If I Need To Provide a 1099-MISC Form:

Perhaps as an independent contractor, freelancer or small business owner, you needed to outsource some of your work or hire an expert. If this is the case, you are required to provide a 1099-MISC form to any independent contractors, subcontractors or freelancers (not employees and not corporations), to whom you made more than $600 in payments over the course of the tax year. Please note that attorney fees of $600 or more may be handled differently. Check out the IRS website to get clarification.

Quick Example of Why You Would Provide a 1099-MISC Form:

For instance, say you perform in a band and did the booking on a few of your gigs. The client pays you the full amount at the end of the show, and then you take your cut and pay out the remainder of the band with the rest. If by the end of the year you have booked out $10,000 worth of work, and each band member netted $2,000, you would need to provide each band member with a 1099-MISC Form of $2,000. Why? Because it is your legal obligation, and come tax time, you will want the paper trail. You may receive 1099-MISC forms from the clients who booked you in the total amount of $10,000. There is no way you want to be personally responsible to pay taxes on the total amount when you only netted $2,000. Your 1099-MISC forms to your band mates will offer the proof that you hired out a portion of that work – which can be deducted — leaving you only liable to pay taxes on your $2,000.

Consulting Firms

Consulting Overview: Consulting firms are major employers of financial talent, and tend to be highly-sought by newly-minted MBAs because of high pay (see our article on what consultants earn), prestige and opportunities for advancement into the ranks of management among client companies. Recent high-profile examples include CEOs James Gorman (who went from a consulting position at McKinsey to executive management at one of his clients, Merrill Lynch, before moving on to become CEO of Morgan Stanley) and Vikram Pandit of Citigroup.

There are numerous niches within consulting, some of them highly technical and arcane, and individual firms may have their own odd mixes of specialties, but the major categories within general business consulting include:

  • Systems Consulting
  • Human Resources Consulting
  • Strategic Consulting
  • Operations Consulting

Systems Consulting: Systems consulting, helping clients design, implement and/or maintain data processing systems for a wide variety of purposes. In many cases, systems consulting essentially involves contracting out or outsourcing programming projects or systems maintenance by companies that lack the internal information technology staffing levels or expertise to execute these projects on their own.

Systems consulting firms that develop accounting and financial reporting systems typically will seek members of staff with financial expertise germane to these sorts of projects. Programming or other technical expertise is not necessarily required to be hired, depending on the firm and the position.

Much of the work in the field involves understanding clients’ needs and developing solutions for clients in collaboration with programming experts.

Human Resources Consulting: Human resourcesconsulting is a growing field, spurred by the increasing complexity of laws and regulations regarding employment. Smaller companies, in particular, often lack the resources to build up internal human resources, legal and compliance departments with all the necessary expertise, and thus have cause to engage consultants in this field.

Even large corporations often find it advantageous to tap the expertise of human resources consultants in the design of employee compensation and benefit plans, if they seek to compete for the top talent in their industries.

Strategy Consulting: Strategy consulting firms such as McKinsey, Booz, Bain and BCG have long histories as magnets for top talent from elite MBA programs, offering high compensation and prestige. Strategy consultants, as the name implies, focus on conducting studies for clients that are assessing their strategic position and the lines of business that they are in, or seek to enter. These consultants also tend to be the most maligned for seeking out expertise and data already resident in their client firms, and repackaging it as their own work. Strategic consultants frequently develop plans that suggest mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to their clients, which thus leads to work for investment banking firms.

Operations Consulting: As opposed to strategy consulting, operations consulting (which goes by a wide variety of other names, such as business process consulting) is involved with analyzing very specific business processes and working closely with the client to implement solutions. There often is close overlap with systems consulting, if new or redesigned information technology platforms are part of the solution devised by the operations consultants. Traditionally, consulting within large public accounting firms, such as the Big Four, has leaned heavily towards operations consulting and systems consulting, and not towards strategy consulting.

Operations Consulting Case Studies: Follow this link to see several case studies that illustrate the types of engagements that fall under the heading of operations consulting.

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How to Answer Selection Criteria For Government Jobs

You have requested an application to work in the public sector and now find that you will need to answer the selection criteria for the government job. These criteria exist as an attempt to ensure that employment occurs solely on merit and that everyone has an equal opportunity to be hired. They are meant to help the selection panel determine your suitability for the job by evaluating your skills, knowledge, ability and qualifications.

It is important to carefully respond to the selection criteria even though the process of writing a response can be very time consumin

Request an information pack when you see a position that you are interested in pursuing. It may be referred to as a job description, information kit or selection criteria and contact information used to obtain the pack can usually be found at the bottom of the job listing.

Review the criteria to see if you meet the qualifications. If it is likely that you will struggle to answer several of the criteria, you may want to consider if you want to go through the effort to complete the responses to all of the criteria. You may also want to get a hold of the contact person and ask if someone is currently holding the position. If so, then that person may have the inside track for the job. In either case, you can always apply but the odds of success are less likely.

Understand the code or key words of the selection criteria.

  • The words “demonstrated” or “proven ability” refers to skills or tasks you have previously used or performed. You will need to refer to your actual experience and give a specific example in addressing this criterion. It is best to describe the situation that arose, how you responded to it, and how your actions affected the outcome.
  • When responding to language concerned with your “abilities” then you will need to speak to your potential based on your previous ability to accomplish similar skills or tasks through training or experience.
  • Terms like “sound,” or “high level,” will require that you show that you have that advanced level of skill or knowledge.
  • Where the words “an understanding of” is found, you will not only need to show the depth of your knowledge on the subject but also detail its importance.

Evaluate the length of each response. This will vary based on the position sought and your background. Your responses will need to convince the panel that you have the knowledge and experience necessary for the position.

It has been recommended that the response for each criterion be between 1/2 – 1 pages long.

Have someone review your response. While you may be a good editor, there may be errors which you would otherwise miss.

Business Expenses

Every business incurs expenses. Even independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers pay for software, computers, or travel out of their own pocket to make their jobs easier. For incorporated businesses, being able to deduct expenses will reduce their business taxes. For sole proprietors, being able to deduct expenses has an even bigger impact: business expenses will reduce both the regular income tax and the self-employment tax.

The bottom line? Keeping track of all your business expenses will go a long way to reducing your tax liabilities.

What’s a Legitimate Business Expense?

That’s a question I hear all the time from clients and readers. There’s no hard and fast rule. The basic definition is that an expense must be “ordinary and necessary” for your trade or profession. That definition comes straight out of the tax law, so don’t blame me for being vague. This topic is so huge, the IRS has devoted an entire publication to the topic of business expenses (Pub 535).

Generally speaking, a business expense has a legitimate business purpose. Buying a copy of TurboTax so I can review it for is a legitimate expense. Even an IRS auditor can see how having a copy of this tax software directly relates to my job. Taking my friends out for dinner, however, is not a business expense. Even though my friends might ask me tax questions or discuss how my business is going, the dinner really isn’t about closing a deal or negotiating a contract.

IRS auditors are on the look out for personal expenses that are masquerading as business expenses.

Problems arise when an expense might be partly personal and partly business related. A common example I encounter are freelance professionals who have a personal project that turns into a published article. A freelance writer, just to give one example, might be repairing her house, and end up writing some tips that gets published in a magazine. Would her home repair expenses be legitimate business expenses? Or would they be entirely disallowed in an IRS audit? Or is this a middle of the road answer? As a general rule, the IRS will allow you to allocate the expense to personal and business use, and deduct the business portion on your tax return. (See Publication 535, Personal versus Business Expenses.)

So here’s a useful tip. Always keep track of all your expenses, even if you have doubts about being able to deduct them. It will be easier for you to ask your accountant about expenses if you keep track of everything.

Keeping Track of Business Expenses

Personally, I use a full-featured accounting software to track my income and expenses. But then again I’m an accountant and feel comfortable using software such asQuickbooks, Peachtree, and Microsoft Office Accounting. I highly recommend these programs to small businesses. Using a full-featured accounting software will help you monitor the health of your company.

Full-featured accounting programs can take a while to get used to. And it’s easy to get frustrated with all the features and utilities. So for freelance professionals, I recommend using personal finance software. The top choices here are Intuit’s Quicken or Microsoft Money. Both programs are very easy to get used to and can track all of your finances, not just your business expenses.

As an added bonus, the better tax software programs allows you to import data from Quicken or Money. To make your tax preparation process as smooth as possible, I suggest spending some time making sure your expense categories are set up properly. You can add, delete, and modify categories in all personal finance and accounting software. By having intuitive, easy to remember categories, you’ll be able to generate meaningful reports. And most programs will let you link the categories to particular line items on the tax forms. Setting this up can go a long way to reducing the amount of time you spend preparing your taxes.

All the accounting programs I mentioned can generate profit and loss reports (calledincome statements by accountants). These reports help you analyze how your freelance business is doing, whether you are profitable, and how you are spending your money. If you decide to hire a tax accountant, having these reports to greatly expedite the preparation of your tax returns.

For more information, see a list of common deductible business expenses.

Top 10 Permitted Duties of an Un-licensed Real Estate Assistant

If you’re an un-licensed real estate assistant, or an agent or broker utilizing one, be sure you understand and follow your state’s regulations as to what they are allowed to do. This list of permitted activities for an un-licensed assistant is from the New Mexico regulations, but is similar to the rules in other states.

1.  Obtain Information with Written Instructions

Obtaining information pursuant to written instructions from the responsible person from public records, a multiple listing service, listing exchange or from third party sources including, but not limited to, surveyors, banks, appraisers and title companies is allowed.

2.  Open House Duties

Hosting and/or distributing literature at an open house is allowed if: (1) an unlicensed assistant does not discuss, negotiate or solicit offers for the property or provide any information other than printed material prepared and approved by the responsible person; and (2) the responsible person is present at the open house where the unlicensed assistant is located; and (3) all inquiries are referred to the responsible person or other associate brokers or qualifying brokers.

3.  Distributing Prepared Information

Disseminating and distributing informationprepared and approved by the responsible personis OK for the un-licensed assistant. Note that the information is prepared by someone with a license.

4.  Delivery of Documents to Brokers

Rules OK the picking up and delivering of paperwork to associate brokers or qualifying brokers other than the responsible person.

5.  Document Delivery to Clients with Limitations

An un-licensed assistant can be assigned the duties of picking up and delivering paperwork to sellers or purchasers after a contract has been executed. This is if the paperwork has already been reviewed and approved by the responsible person, without answering any questions or providing any opinions or advice to the recipient of the paperwork; all substantive questions must be referred to the responsible person

6.  Write and Place Advertising

The assistant can write advertisements, flyers, brochures, and other promotional materialsfor the approval of the responsible person, and place classified advertisementsapproved by the responsible person.

7.  Place and Remove Signs

Placing and removing signs from real property is OK as directed by the responsible agentor broker.

8.  Order Repairs

Under the direction of the responsible agent or broker, an un-licensed assistant can order repairs or services for a property.

9.  Banking and Accounting

An un-licensed assistant is approved for receiving and depositing funds, as well as maintaining books and records while under the supervision of the responsible person.

10.  Document Processing

If prepared by the responsible person, an un-licensed assistant can engage in typing and word processing of documents.

Craigslist Job Scams

Because it is free to post listings in many cities on Craigslist, the site is known for having many job scams. These scams often have generic job titles, such as “Administrative Assistant” or “Customer Service Representative,” and may say that you can work from home. The listings often lack a specific company location or say they are international. This way, they can say they cannot interview you in person.

These job scams will ask you to send money and/or to set up a bank account to receive paychecks (which, if sent to you, are not legitimate). Other Craigslist employment related scams ask you to subscribe to a site where you can find more job listings, or have you join a site to receive web training.

Some scams will ask you to pay for a background check or credit check as a condition of employment. Others, once you have responded to the posting, will ask for your bank account or credit card information to process your application or start the hiring process. Some of these companies will instruct you to wire money for a training kit or employment supplies.

Craigslist Job Scam Warnings

Craigslist provides a warning regarding some of the typical scams that may be listed on the Jobs section of the site. The scam postings may list jobs which don’t exist, offer a chance to participate in paid research trials, or to take advantage of other opportunities to supposedly earn money.

The job seeker is then directed to fee-based services and/or sites where you are instructed to enter personal information that is used for identity theft.

Those sites include:

  • Background checking services
  • Credit check or credit report
  • Sites where you are directed to enter your resume, bank account or credit card numbers, or other personal information
  • Sites where you are asked to sign up for a “free” trial offer
  • Sites offering fee-based training or education
  • Sites offering opportunities for making money
  • Survey or focus group sites
  • Sites designed to deliver malware or misuse your personal information

How to Avoid Craigslist Job Scams

To avoid Craigslist scams, research each company that is listed to ensure that the information on the listing matches that on the website. Do not send writing samples, your resume, or any contact information before you are confident a listing is not a scam, and never send money through a Craigslist listing.

Your choice of search keywords can also help you avoid scams. Be as specific as you can when searching for a job – if possible, list both a specific job title and location to evade these scam listings.

It should be a red flag when you read a job posting or get an email about a job and fees are involved. Legitimate employers don’t ever ask job applicants to pay for anything related to job applications or to hiring.

In addition, remember that legitimate employers will never ask for bank account information prior to hiring you and then it would be only for setting up direct deposit after you are employed with the company.

Craigslist has a number of legitimate job listings, so do not be discouraged. Simply be cautious when applying to jobs and giving out personal information.

More Information on Job Scams

How to Avoid Scams
How to tell if a job is a scam, typical employment scams, work at home scams, and how to avoid scams.

How to Report a Scam
Have you been scammed or almost scammed? Here’s information on how to report a scam, including where and how to report an employment scam.

Scam Warning Signs
What’s a scam and what’s not? It can be really difficult to tell the difference between scams and legitimate job openings, especially when it comes to work at home jobs. Here are scam warning signs to watch for and how to spot a scam.

Where To Get Help When Your Unemployment Runs Out

What can you do if your unemployment runs out or you’re about to run out of unemployment benefits? First of all, check with your State Unemployment Office to make sure that you are receiving all the extended benefits you qualify for. If you’re close to being out, take a look at the other resources that are available and take advantage of whatever you can to help you get by until you find a new job.

What to Do When Unemployment Runs Out
Don’t be proud – your temporarily reduced circumstances may entitle you to food stamps or other government benefits. Remember you paid for those benefits out of every paycheck you earned. Your state’s Social Services department can inform you what assistance you.

qualify for. If you are a member of a church, ask if any help is available. Community organizations often have resources to help the unemployed with food baskets, donations, and babysitting assistance. If you can get assistance from family or friends, don’t hesitate to ask.

Visit the Library
Check with your local library. Many libraries have computers you can use to search for jobs, as well as job search workshops. In addition, if you don’t have your own computer you can use the library computer to check email (get a free Gmail, Yahoo, or other account), and apply for jobs (save a copy of your resume and cover letters online using Google Docs).

Loans for Unemployed Workers
You may be able to borrow money, even though you are not employed.

Here’s information on the types of loans available for unemployed workers, how to qualify for a loan, and options for borrowing money when you are out of work.

Free Job Search Help
How job seekers can identify free, or inexpensive, job search and career resources in their geographic areas.

Check With Your Local One-Stop Career Center
Check with your local One-Stop Career Center. They often have information on local resources such as community organization that may be able to offer support with utility bills, food costs, etc. One-Stops might also have information on temporary positions, in addition to permanent or long-term job listings and possible assistance with upgrading skills/obtaining training to increase the job seeker’s marketability.

Non-Profit and Social Services Agencies

2-1-1 Call Center
Call to find local assistance with training, employment, food pantries, affordable housing, and support groups.

Directory of Homeless Shelters
Homeless shelters throughout the United States from the National Coalition of the Homeless.

Food Banks
Directory of Food Banks, listed by state. Food banks offer meals or groceries, or both.

Free Phones
Free phone service is available to eligible low-income families through several different programs. Each program is funded by telecommunications companies to ensure that low-income families have access to affordable phone service.

Loans for Unemployed Workers
Information on the types of loans available for unemployed workers, how to qualify for a loan, and options for borrowing money when you are out of work.

Help With Pets

If you are having difficulty caring for your pets, there is help available. Check with your local animal shelter and veterinarian to if they can assist or refer you to sources for pet food and care. Other options include:

  • Petco Foundation

Home Affordable Modification Program (AMP)
This program, along with others, allows qualifying unemployed homeowners to reduce or suspend mortgage payments for 12 months or more, so they can focus on finding a job without the pressure of foreclosure.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Each state has a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (formerly called welfare). TANF can help with food stamps, financial assistance, training, and job searching. This directory, from’s Guide to Single Parents Jennifer Wolf, has contact information for every state.

Food Stamps
The federal Food Stamp Program, now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps low income families and individuals buy food.

Medicaid provides medical benefits to low income people who have no medical insurance or have inadequate medical insurance.

WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children. WIC is a supplemental nutrition program administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Additional Federal Benefit Programs
Information on federal assistance programs from Guide to US Government Info Robert Longley, including: HUD Public Housing Assistance Program, Dislocated and Laid Off Worker Program, Dislocated Worker Program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and health insurance programs for uninsured children.

State and Local Social Services Offices
Click on the map to find state and local social services offices in your locations.

Job Search Resources

Job searching can be a major issue when you’ve lost your Internet access and/or don’t have a computer. However, you can job search online without having your own computer. If you can access a computer at a library, for example, you’ll be able to check email, create, update and print resumes and cover letters, and apply for jobs.

How to Get a Teaching Job in New York

Nearly 200,000 New York State public school teachers serve 2.7 million students in almost 4,500 public schools. In most cases, New York teachers must have obtained a bachelor’s degree and completed some sort of teacher preparation program before pursuing a public school teaching job. This article covers the prerequisites and requirements for how to get a teaching job in New York.

Earn a bachelor’s degree and complete a teacher preparation program.Depending on your status as a college student, you have several different options for meeting these requirements. In some cases, a teacher preparation program is part of a bachelor’s degree, and in other cases, you need to satisfy the teacher preparation requirements separately.

  • If you have not yet begun your bachelor’s degree program or if you still have the ability to change your major, consider studying in a traditional teacher program at the college of your choice to complete both of these requirements at the same time.
  • Those who have already completed a bachelor’s degree usually enroll in a graduate program at a New York State college or university. These programs typically involve an internship at a public school.
  • Those with a degree in a specialized field, such as physics or mathematics, may complete an Alternative Teacher Certification (ATC) offered by a college-school partnership.

Prepare for and pass the required tests. As a group, NY teacher certification tests are known as the New York State Teacher Certifications Certification Examinations. These tests are available as paper-based or computer-based tests. The state makes preparation guides and practice tests available for a small fee.

  • Pass the New York State Liberal Arts and Sciences Test, also known as the LAST.
  • Pass the Assessment of Teaching Skills � Written (ATS-W) test.
  • Pass a Content Specialty Test. Content specialty tests cover a specific subject or subjects, such as Agriculture, Chemistry or French.

Apply for a teaching certificate at the New York State Education Department Office of Teaching Initiatives, if necessary. Those who successfully complete a teaching program at a New York State college or university or an ATC program will be automatically recommended for a certificate by the institution of higher learning. Prospective teachers who completed their degrees outside of New York State must apply for a certificate.

Apply for a teaching job. Teaching jobs are competitive, so it is a good idea to apply for jobs in multiple schools and districts if you do not have a specific school or area you are targeting.

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How to Become a Publicist

A publicist is one who is in charge of publicity. While this may sound easy, a great publicist not only generates a positive image for their client, but also successfully spins any negativity directed toward that client. Public relations specialists work in almost any field, with clients ranging from actors and singers to hospitals and corporations. This career path is fast paced, exciting and often difficult to break into; so before learning how to become a publicist you should learn the necessary skills in communication, writing, image protection, event planning, business and marketing.

Research colleges that offer degrees in communication, journalism, English or marketing. Studies in journalism or mass communication may help you more in terms of learning to write press releases and familiarizing yourself with media law; however, many firms and individuals hire specialists with degrees in English, marketing or even business.

Intern at a public relations firm or other media outlet while you’re in school.This will give you valuable real-world experience and knowledge and will also give you something to add to a resume when you begin looking for jobs. Many degree programs require internships and will help you find one that suits you.

Keep any press releases, newspaper clips or other files you generate during your college coursework and internship and file them into a book you can show to potential employers. This shows employers you possess the skills required for the position and have experience beyond the classroom.

Finish your degree and begin searching for jobs in the public relations or publicity field. and are great places to share your resume or search jobs, but many businesses advertise openings in your local newspaper. Look for positions that specify “entry level” or “assistant” if you don’t have a lot of experience; employers expect applicants for these positions are straight out of college or just breaking into the career field.

Apply for openings, taking care to follow the employers’ instructions regarding resumes, clips, tapes or other application requirements. Follow up after your application package has been sent to make sure the company received it and to ask about the position closing date.

Dress professionally for interviews. The employer wants to see you understand the business and look the part. Publicists are often speaking for their client in front of cameras as well as in print, so many employers require a personable attitude, friendly demeanor and professional stature.

Work your way up in the publicity career ladder. Start as an assistant or junior public relations officer and work your way into more responsibility and ultimately higher wages. You may not land your dream job on the first try; chances are you will sit in an office and write press releases before being trusted with larger projects.

Consider going back to school after a few years in the industry to receive a master’s degree in journalism or communication. This will make you more marketable and will give you a better chance at getting the jobs you want and earning the salary you feel you deserve. If you wish to run your own firm or teach at the college level someday, a master’s degree may get you there.

Requirement Of Political Related Topics In An Article

From political related topics, it is important to understand that political management program require some of the core programs during their course time in universities and colleges. Some of the core programs are: fundamentals of political management, applied political communications, political data and analytics, and principle of political leadership. Students should choose one among these elective subjects and they are political power and practice and thesis research. In certain college and universities, with the help of advisor help students are able to select electives outside the program. Many advisors has advised and guided those legislative affairs and strategic public relations programs are considered as best elective subjects for political management course program. The listings of political management course explain main concepts, developments, roles, and practices for political management field. It also provide information on strategy memos, creating and critique campaign messages, and engaging citizens and decision makers. The course explains about plan for producing and adjusting strategic communication and messages in demographic politics.

Electives Of Political Management Program

Some of the political management programs available in universities and colleges with its description are: The fundamental of political management program provides some of the main concepts, developments, and roles that are present in political management. This program helps students to create memos, how to engaging citizens, colleagues, and decision makers. In applied political communication course program, it provides models and methods from which professional are able to plan and create strategic communication in demographic politics. This would use variety of communication forms like fact sheet, press release, video release, public address, blogs, and posting in social media networks. In political data and analytics program, students able to get information on introduction and uses of quantitative data and statistics present in politics. It enables students to learn about how to evaluate research designs, statistical data, regression analysis, and data analytics. It also consumes data for strategic purposes. In political power and practice program, students will be interacting with knowledge of political strategies, tactics, and situational considerations in order to provide proper solution for political problems. Some of the other topics that present in this program are gaining and wielding power, complexity for making democracy work, negotiating and branding skills, and also understanding consequences for winning and losing. In issues management program, students will be gaining information on tracking, influencing, and altering issues for the purpose of policy developments. It provides information on legislative, executive, and judicial venues and processing policy making. In international lobbying program, students will get information on GW Online it will help you to practices and analyzing strategic methodologies and able to provide best practices across all countries and to their political systems. They provide information and guidance to operate lobbying techniques and communication technologies in the program. There is also a proper investigation and appropriate research is available for improving practice area.


How to Write a Job Justification

A job justification (sometimes called a position justification) is commonly used in academia and in public sector jobs. This documentation helps flesh out why a newly created or previous position is necessary. It also guides and formalizes a process that ensures that jobs are created and filled based on organizational need. Here are some tips for how to write a job justification.

Determine the appropriate format to use. Most organizations have a required form that employees must submit to justify a new or previous position. If your organization does not, ask the recipient of the job justification what format is preferred. Companies without forms usually handle job justifications verbally, in which case you only may need to prepare your own notes as talking points.

  • Present your justification in a memo with bullet points if you don’t have any guidance on the format. Keep it brief and focused on the business impact of filling (or not filling) the position.

Research the history behind the request. If this is a new position, include a paragraph about the circumstances that led to the need for a newly created job. If it’s an existing vacancy, address why it is open, how long it has been vacant, and how the is work currently being done.

Calculate the cost of the position. Document the actual dollar amount in a separate bullet point. Determine a salary or hourly wage estimate, as well as the cost of benefits like health insurance, training and sick pay. Some forms also ask for the amount of training and other support a new position will require, so that other departments can evaluate the impact of the new addition.

Calculate the cost saving or revenue potential of the position. Note the projected dollar amount as a separate bullet point. If this is a revenue-generating role (like sales or production), address the amount of revenue you expect the person in this role to generate. If it’s a support role, document whether it will free up other employees to engage in revenue-generating activities, save money in other ways, or increase customer satisfaction.

Explain how you will fund the position. Write this information in a separate bullet point. Be sure to address whether you will be making cuts in other areas, or applying for a grant to cover all or part of the cost. Include information about whether your anticipated cost savings or revenue increase covers all or part of the cost of the position.

Document negative consequences of not creating or filling the position. Write a paragraph or bullet point about what will happen if the position is not approved. Be sure to explain who will do the work, and what work will not get done. Include details on the likely cost to the organization.

How to Decide on a Career in Public Administration

Are you interested in a career in public service? If so, going into public administration is a great idea. You have the ability to serve the public good, and to have an exciting and rewarding career, as well. More than eight million people worked in state and local governments as of 2006, and several million more worked in the federal government. Read on to learn how to start your career in public administration.

Read as much as you can about public administration careers. People who work in public administration are generally focused on three basic concepts: economy, efficiency and equity. These government professionals analyze information, oversee budgets and expenses, draft and implement policy, manage resources, do safety inspections and audits, and in general work in the interests of the public.

Learn about some of the job titles of people in public administration. You often can get a good idea if a career is for you simply by looking at job titles in the field. Some of the common jobs in public administration include city manager, county manager, customs inspector, systems analyst, consumer safety inspector, and criminal investigator.

Investigate some of the most in-demand areas of public administration.Some areas of public service are more in demand than others. Some public services jobs at the state and local level in some areas are being outsourced to cut costs, so you want to make sure you enter an area of the field with good growth potential. One of the fastest growing is the area of public administration consulting. You would analyze the operations of a government agency or group, and make various recommendations to boost efficiency and achieve goals.

Learn about earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in public administration. To be able to enter into higher-paying public sector jobs with more responsibility, you need to usually have a master’s degree in public administration, or MPA. Some of the top schools for an MPA are Syracuse, University of Georgia, Indiana University, Harvard, and University of Kansas.

Conduct research for scholarships and grants for a public administration degree. While scholarships are more often available for bachelor’s programs, if you do some good searches, you will be able to find quite a few scholarships for a master’s degree in public administration. You also can visit the financial aid office at your university to see if you can qualify for other aid, including work study or fellowships.