Washington’s Insider Secrets: How to Land Top Internships in Politics

(Image: Thinkstock)

Have you always dreamed of one day working in the White House? Do you have a passion for public policy, government or civic administration? Hey, maybe you’d even like to land a spot working with key members of President Obama’s administration.

If any of the above applies, you’ve probably got your eye on an job opportunities at the center of American politics, Washington, D.C. But how do you land those coveted and competitive gigs? Washington D.C. career coach Beverly Jones has a few insider tips for those who want to position themselves for a career on and around the Hill:

Talk to your congressional delegation.
There’s no central clearinghouse for internships on Capitol Hill. Decisions are made by each senator and representative, and most acknowledge a preference for residents from their own state or district. So get in touch with the members of Congress who represent you. You’ll find their phone numbers on Contacting the Congress.

Cast a wide net.
Slots are limited and competition is intense for congressional internships and most of the formal programs. But many folks look elsewhere. Non-governmental offices—like think tanks, associations and trade groups—open their doors to interns throughout the year. Often arrangements are informal, and sometimes internships are created just because a promising candidate makes a good case.

Read more at Brazen Careerist…

New Android App Helps You Create a ‘Harlem Shake’ Video

Group Hopes to Help Black-Owned Businesses Stay in HarlemMany “Harlem Shake” fans who’ve watched the highly-popular YouTube videos are not familiar with its origins. The original “Harlem Shake” went mainstream in 2001 when the historic neighborhood’s own G-Dep and Diddy featured the dance in the “Let’s Get It” video. (Its roots go even further to the ‘80s with Harlem’s Al B, but we’ll skip the history lesson.)

Whether you’re a fan of the new-age “Harlem Shake” or not, it’s gained enormous traction with more than 200,000 YouTube results, and now there’s an app helping those who want to get in on the dance craze create their own video.

Harlem Shake Video Creator, a new Android app, is helping Harlem Shake enthusiasts create their own video clip and upload it directly to YouTube. You can download the Lite version for free; those willing to pay for the tool can shell out $1 for the Pro version. The Pro account removes the ads and allows you to save the completed video to your smartphone’s library.

 

Q&A: Commissioner Jacqui Carpenter: CIAA Isn’t Just a Big Party [Part 1]

This year's CIAA Basketball Championships featured a new logo and new slogan.

When it comes to the CIAA Basketball Championships in Charlotte, you’re either there, on your way or wishing you were on your way. Whoever you are, we talked to new CIAA commissioner Jacqui Carpenter on a range of different topics for you. It was so good (she doesn’t pull many punches) that we decided to break it down into a two-parter. We’ll post part 2 Friday morning. Stay tuned!

People are buzzing about the tournament in Charlotte this year. What’s been the key with marketing?

We have a great relationship with all the current sponsors that we have. We have a media rights agreement with a company called Urban Sports that helps us manage those sponsorships. Since I’ve come on board we’ve worked very hard to work more collaboratively at identifying sponsors and also maintain the sponsorships that we have. Nationwide has been a great partner with us. Food Lion has been with us about 17 years. Coca-Cola has been great as well. We’ve got some long-standing relationships that have been pretty healthy that we’re looking to grow for the future. A lot of them have invested in scholarship dollars that go back  to our member schools. It’s been quite a blessing for us given the struggles we have raising dollars and getting money into our institutions.

Verizon is one we’re looking to work with and looking to expand. We’re looking at some of our social media platforms to help push out all of our events and get to a different demographic.

I also want people to understand the tournament is a staple of who we are and what we’ve done, but there’s so much more to our conference than just the tournament. We’ve got 16 championships. We’ll have our indoor track championship where we have a coach that is nationally known, George Williams of St. Augustine’s University. He has a premiere program. Shaw University’s womens basketball team won the national championship last year. Winston-Salem State football played in the national championship against Valdosta State. I think when our athletic programs are healthy and good, that really helps with our connection with our sponsors in terms of what they get back by being attached to us.

To what extent was some of the CIAA’s recent struggles made this a less enticing position for you to take?

I knew coming in that there would be some challenges to the new commissioner. But to be honest I’ve never walked away from a challenge in my life. I tell people all the time that I’m living my dream job and I was willing take this position no matter what the challenges would be. What I’m really looking forward to is to make a difference and do something that haven’t been able to do in the past to get us into a better financial situation. We are working hard to look at our budget and expenses to ensure that as we move forward we’re being more financially and fiscally responsible. The priority is that if we’re spending and doesn’t help the student-athlete then we probably don’t need to be spending much or the same in that area. I’m continuing to do assessments of our financial matters to make sure we’re moving in the right direction. It’s not an easy turnaround. I would like everything to be great and gravy the next day. But the reality is I’m coming up behind a predecessor that’s been the been the commissioner for 22 years and had done a great job at bringing revenue to the conference, but with that brought some challenges as well. Maybe we didn’t keep up with the growth and [manage what we were spending]. We need to make sure that we’re spending our dollars wisely so that we have money to give back to our members institutions.

Check here for part two with the commissioner tomorrow.

Opportunity: Under30CEO is Looking for Guest Writers

writingWe are looking for guest writers who want to focus on career and personal finance advice/information. The advice should of course be tailored to 20-somethings and the situations and challenges they find in these areas. Some topics to think about are savings, budgeting, student loans, interviewing, job search, credit cards, debt, resumes and of course many more. Feel free to pitch your ideas!

Take a few minutes to browse Under30Careers.com and Under30Finance.com. This should give you a good idea of what we are looking for.

If you’re interested please email cara(at)under30media.com for more information. You can contribute as frequently as you want and we promise it will be great exposure to our audience of 100′s of thousands of educated, ambitious readers.

Thanks everyone!

Michael Winans Jr. Sentenced To Nearly 14 Years In Ponzi Scheme

Michael Winans Jr. Sentenced To Nearly 14 Years In Prison
A judge sentence a member of gospel music’s Winans family to nearly 14 years in prison for his role in a 8 million dollar financial ponzi scam.

Michael Winans Jr, a third-generation member of the Winans family attracted more than 1,000 investors in 2007 and 2008 in a scheme to sell Saudi Arabian oil bonds. He promised 100 percent returns in two months (usually an indicator of a ponzi scheme), then used the money for personal expenses or to pay off earlier investors.

Winans made his pitch from church pulpits and used friends to unwittingly round up investors, in order to keep the scam going. In court he said he had no “malicious intent” but acknowledged he continued to collect money even after it was revealed to him that the bonds were bogus.

In court U.S. District Judge Sean Cox read letters from some of the victims who had been defrauded by Michael Winans.  Records revealed about 600 people are still owed about $4.7 million.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission calls the kind of crime committed by Winans “affinity fraud,” which involves targeting specific groups, in this case Christians, and using their shared faith to attract investments from the group’s members, as well as from their friends and family members.

Read More: Huffington Post

 

International Influence: 10 Power Men in Africa to Follow on Twitter

Small Business advice from Twitter’s FounderWhether you’re stateside or abroad, social media has made our world a lot smaller. Last week’s Social Media Week (SMW) events and conversations, many of which took place on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to name a few platforms, are proof that geographic borders can’t contain the flow of ideas in the digital age.

With the dust slowly settling on SMW Lagos, which made its debut in Africa last Monday, BlackEnterprise.com is highlighting power men in Africa who have made a sizeable social impact. These men were selected for their influence and position in their respective industry, relevance within their field or due to their promising future.

From motivational leaders and businessmen to a rapper or comedian, these 10 power men should be on your Twitter list:

Obi Asika

CEO of Storm 360

Nigeria

Twitter Handle: @obiasika

Followers: 28,895 Followers

Obi Asika is a creative industries entrepreneur with a particular focus on content production and distribution, technology and broadcast media. Widely respected as the CEO of Storm 360, one of Nigeria’s leading entertainment companies, he also serves on the board of companies across industries ranging from infrastructure, oil, gas, power and real estate. He is a founding partner of Dragon Africa Associates, a strategic communications firm based in London, Lagos and Accra. Recognized as one of Nigeria’s visionary risk takers, Obi is the brainchild behind the success of Social Media Week Lagos. Nigeria became the first African country to host this global event.

Fela Durotoye

Development Consultant

Nigeria

Twitter Handle: @feladurotoye

Followers: 27,615

One half of Nigerian power couple Fela and Tara Durotoye, Fela is a leadership development consultant, and arguably Nigeria’s most sought after transformational speaker. He’s widely recognized as one of Nigeria’s most respected voices for change, personal leadership and national transformation. Fela is the CEO of Gemstone Group, which consists of the Gemstone Nation Builders Foundation and Gemstone Development & Management Ltd. aimed at “raising a Generation that is Empowered, Motivated & Stirred To Operate with Natural Excellence”. Fela has consistently used social media to fulfill his life’s mission of building leaders of excellence in Nigeria. In addition to his Twitter followers, he has over 173K fans on Facebook.

Trevor Noah

Entertainer

South Africa

Twitter Handle: @Trevornoah

Followers: 717,584

Trevor Noah is a stand-up megastar in his native South Africa where he exploded onto the entertainment scene just five years ago. Born to a European father and South African mother, Trevor draws on his mixed-race heritage, experiences growing up in the townships of Soweto, and his observations about race and culture as themes in his critically-acclaimed comedy routine. Considered the hottest export coming out of South Africa today, Trevor made his US television debut on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and toured the US with stand-up comedian Gabriel Iglesia. Trevor just completed his London debut at the Soho Theater with a sold out four-week run of his acclaimed show The Racist.

Sarkodie

International Hip-Hop Star

Ghana

Twitter Handle: @Sarkodie

Followers: 133,672

Heralded as the fastest rapper in Africa, Sarkodie is affiliated with Akon’s Konvict Musik label, and is now a firm fixture in international music circles. A recording artist, entertainer and brand ambassador, Sarkodie won a BET Award in 2012 for Best International Act, and was awarded with the Ghana Music Award Artist of the Year twice. With a furious flow likened to Busta Rhymes, and flowing between Twi (his native Ghanian language) and English, he is considered by many as one of the leading pioneers behind the international music genre—and subsequent dance craze—Azonto.

Economic Uncertainty Continues to Hinder Small Business

The SurePayroll survey finds optimism among this normally-optimistic group continues to stall.

A couple of months ago when you were coping with the looming fiscal cliff, you probably at least thought you would have some clarity when it was over. Whatever the outcome, small business owners would know the direction the country was heading and plan accordingly. However, with the fiscal cliff behind you, and March starting tomorrow, you’re probably feeling an even greater wave of uncertainty. Almost a tidal wave.

Economic conditions in Europe are unsettling, with Italy’s recent struggles and the downgrade of British debt. Meanwhile, constant talk of the sequester and spending cuts here in the U.S. only add to that edge.

No wonder the SurePayroll survey shows that small business owners continue to employ fewer people and growth has slowed.

In February, the SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard found hiring among more than 40,000 small business owners was down slightly (0.1 percent), as it was in January, and paychecks were up (0.1 percent), likely due to existing employees working longer hours or getting overtime pay. Optimism among small business owners remained virtually unchanged at 59 percent.

Considering the inaction in Congress, it’s hard to see much changing in the near future. In order to spur growth, Congress needs to focus on policies that generate demand.

Focusing on the minimum wage, for instance, isn’t going to do it. As part of the survey, SurePayroll asked small business owners about the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour. While 58 percent of small business owners said they support raising the minimum wage, 71 percent said the states should set it, and 77 percent said they already pay their employees more than the minimum wage.

What’s probably more on the minds of small business owners is that the sequester is going to take money out of the economy. Economists will argue back and forth on the affect these spending cuts will have, but at the end of the day, the conversation generates the same uncertainty as at the end of 2012.

The ways forward are just not clear. It’s not a surprise that small business owners continue to play it close to the vest.

Sequester Cuts Already Hurting Small Businesses & Contractors

Sequester Cuts Already Hurting Small Businesses & Contractors

Although the across-the-board federal spending cuts known as the sequester don’t take effect until Friday, small businesses across the nation are already reporting that they’re hurting.

According to the SBA, the Pentagon awarded 20 percent of its prime contracts and 35 of the agency’s subcontracts to small firms.  If the proposed cuts to the Pentagon’s budget are implemented, more than 2 million jobs could be lost, with nearly half of those coming from small business, according to a study by Dr. Stephen S. Fuller of George Mason University.

“Many small businesses are subcontractors, suppliers and vendors to larger scale businesses that are the prime federal contractors,” he said. “These subcontractors, suppliers and vendors have little recourse when their contracts with their primes are scaled back or terminated; in fact the suppliers and vendors may not even know that their business is linked to a federal contract that could be canceled due to something called ‘sequestration.’ ”

The cuts will also hit certain states harder than others. Fuller points to Virginia, Maryland, Washington,DC as “ground zero” for the most painful of the budget cuts.

“California will take the biggest hit, because they’re 10.5% of the total federal budget subject to sequestration, but Virginia is 9.7%, and it’s a much smaller state, so it’s that much more important,” Fuller says. “The trio of Maryland, Virginia and DC has 21% of the federal payroll and procurement dollars subject to sequestration, but just 4.7% of the nation’s population – it’s a disproportionate level of exposure.”

Read More: Fox Business

 

The Seven Stages of Small Business Success

small business successWith 28 million small businesses in the U.S., it’s hard to be a member of planet earth and not have a personal connection to small business. Small businesses play a critical role in the economy, making them a hot topic of discussion.

What’s the problem if everyone is talking about small business?

The problem is this: Small business means different things to different people.

Small businesses come in many shapes and sizes. If you’re a solopreneur, you have different needs and challenges than a business with 10 employees. And you have widely different needs and challenges from a 100 person company.

What I’ve discovered in working with thousands of small businesses for the last decade is that there are seven stages of small business success. It’s important to remember you can have success at any of the seven stages. The goal of the seven stages is to help you articulate which stage your small business is in and the success factor you need to focus on. Having this focus helps you make intentional decisions about where you want to be in the future.

7 Stages of Small Business Success

Solopreneur

Of the 28 million small businesses in the U.S., 22 million of them are solopreneurs. In this stage, businesses have one employee and bring in $100,000 or less in annual sales. The success factor for the solopreneur is time. Ask any small business owner and you’ll hear that there isn’t enough time in the day.

Handling every part of the business, from finances to sales and marketing to everything in between, is a dizzying cycle that can ensnare even the best multitaskers. A shortage of time butting up against the ever growing to-do list can detonate the solopreneur’s chance of success.

The key to thriving in this stage is to establish a meticulous time management system. Devote the largest pieces of your time to what actually makes the business grow. Don’t forget to carve out time to take care of yourself, to be with your family and to remember why you actually became an entrepreneur in the first place.

You’ll stretch yourself thin, but you’ll at least stay sane while in this stage.

Partnership

Partnerships comprise 1.7 million businesses across America and make somewhere between $100,000 and $300,000 annually in sales. The solopreneur grows beyond him or herself to two or three employees in this stage, which usually means bringing on a partner. There’s great value in strategic partnerships and they can really ramp up your business’ growth.

But, there’s a flip side to everything. The wrong partner can stunt your company’s growth and cripple its path to success. Start by evaluating your own weaknesses. If you lack financial know-how, find a partner who is passionate about projections and balance sheets. If your instincts are to act as a manager, a visionary entrepreneur that dreams big might be what you need. There’s not always a perfect yin to your yang, but look at each potential partner as an entire package.

Having partners in place allows you time to harness the main success factor at this stage– sales. It’s a bit uncomfortable for many entrepreneurial types to sell, but you have to get new customers to survive. You have to figure out how to talk about your product in a way that speaks to the benefits your customers need.

There’s no one in the world who’s more passionate than you about your product or service. So get over your fears and start selling.

Steady Operation

As your business steadies, you will reach this stage in which 1.9 million businesses also reside. A steady operation has four to 10 employees and annual sales of $300,000 to $1 million. Once your business has the sales operation running, you’ll need to get focused on marketing and service. It’s essential to get a plan in place to make marketing systematic and profitable for the business.

As a small business, you can’t afford to have marketing efforts not generating revenue. Learn to make smart marketing decisions that help you grow sales and keep customers.

Customer service is also something to focus heavily on at this stage. Invest in the people and systems that make your customers feel like VIPs and you’ll end up with a boost in repeat sales, referrals and a higher customer retention rate.

Local Success Story

There are 900,000 businesses nationwide that are local success stories and have between 11 to 25 employees. As your business grows from $1 million in annual sales up to the $5 million mark, the big picture must be at the forefront of your mind.

The success factor at this stage is setting the vision. You face the reality that you won’t always have a hand in hiring and you have to trust the people in charge of these decisions. It’s intimidating for an entrepreneur to relinquish the control he/she had over every detail of the business. But setting your vision and making it known to your team will go a long way. A clear vision will attract the right people to your business.

As your business expands into this phase, you will begin to be viewed as a success story in your local community. The growth of your company will be an inspiration to other small businesses in your area.

Your example of setting the vision and letting go will be an important model that others will follow.

Managed Organization

In this stage, your business has expanded to between 26 and 100 employees and annual sales from $5 million to $20 million. There are 200,000 businesses like this across America and the success factor of hiring in line with your vision will set companies in this stage apart.

Most CEOs feel that when they get to this level, all the focus needs to be on shareholders. If this is true, then you must turn your attention to employees and the company culture. Happy employees make happy customers who make happy shareholders.

Culture is what holds managed organizations together. Culture attracts the right people, ejects the wrong ones and ultimately guides a company’s path to success. Actively including every employee, regardless of rank and title, in the direction of your company will make your entire workforce feel invested in the business.

This can be a difficult stage as you add more layers of management. The wrong leaders will dilute and weaken your culture. Be sure to establish core values and a mission that can be shared among staff and valued from top to bottom. Employees will feel mutual respect and a culture they can’t resist.

This, combined with the processes you’ve already put in place will move your company forward like a machine.

Mature Company

You’ve reached a place of substantial success to the tune of annual sales between $20 million and $40 million. You now have 100 to 200 employees and you’re in the same stage as 60,000 other businesses. You’ve become a stronghold in your industry. It’s time to unleash the success factor of strategic planning and mix in concrete performance measuring tactics. Without solid planning, your company will become stagnant and that’s when it becomes vulnerable.

Revisit your strategic direction and gauge its effectiveness often. If you notice a dip in progress, it may be time to reevaluate your strategy. The pulse of a mature company should be checked regularly.

A healthy culture combined with a strong strategic planning process will allow you to move into the rare space of corporate player.

Corporate Player

As the business escalates to annual sales between $40 million and $100 million and anywhere from 201 to 500 employees, entrepreneurs must make the terrifying decision to surrender even more control. There are 30,000 companies in the nation at this stage and the leaders of these companies have to make some tough choices. The vision is still yours (mostly), and the company is still yours (maybe), but the time comes to handpick a leadership team you can trust.

The success factor for this stage is leadership development and you must choose and develop leaders who share your vision and are every bit as determined to preserve your culture as you are. These leaders should be ethical beyond reproach, treat every member of your team with respect and exude their commitment to the business and its core values in their daily actions.

You want to trust the business is in good hands.

Every one of these seven stages is incredibly distinct and it is possible to achieve success in each one. Stop where you’re comfortable. Keep in mind that people are what make or break your business. Small businesses have needs of their own that cannot be sated in the same ways those of large corporations can. Small business owners must take the time to recognize which stage of success their business is situated in and act accordingly.

Success is in the eye of the beholder, but success factors can take you there.

7 Stage Photo via Shutterstock

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