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Saturday, August 30, 2014
John Cage 4 minutes and 33 seconds
John Cage 4 minutes and 33 seconds

Maybe the proper way to write this article is to write nothing at all. But would it then even be considered an article. It is, if you think it is. Well, the title and meaning of this article is taken directly from John Cage’s music piece 4’33”. It’s literally 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence (with the score indicating 3 distinct movements). It’s also the only piece ever made that can be played on every instrument, even on the pots and pans in your kitchen. Most will wonder how “silence” would qualify as music. In response, I ask, what is music?

Everyone has seen Mondrian’s “Composition in Red, Yellow, and Blue.” How many have actually understood it? I remember saying that I could do the same with a ruler, a box of crayons, and an hour of time when I was in the fifth grade. And sure, I could, and so could you, but then it would just be a series of lines and colored boxes. Mondrian, however, presented the world with a new idea (which I won’t get into here). Think of his painting as a combo package; the painting itself and a well-researched, well-written paper on the meaning of the painting, except that the paper is invisible, and the exact words (while hinted at by the artist) is up to each individual viewer. Do some research and try to appreciate it before writing it off as new-age nonsense. The same applies to music. Attending a John Cage concert might not “sound” the best to you (or “sound” at all), but you will leave it with a new concept of what music is, and, in turn, a new appreciation for all kinds of music. Modernist art can’t be enjoyed, or even appreciated, if you don’t understand it first.

Check the internet for the countless performances of Cage’s 4’33” before and after reading this article. Now it may seem like silence to you, a lack of music of really. But, after it is explained to you, it should seem as musical as anything.

Cage was an advocate for something called “chance music.” It relies on random occurrences to decide the music that will be performed. For example, a performer might draw a card to decide what key the piece will be played in, or flip a coin to decide what instrument to play it with. Or maybe play an instrument in such a difficult and uncomfortable way (like up-side-down) to ensure that it can’t be played the same again. This way every performance is truly unique. Cage took this idea to the limit with 4’33”. The piece isn’t 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence as it would seem, but rather 4 minutes and 33 seconds of the random noises the audience and the surrounding environment happens to make. The rationale behind this is that during every performance, the performers can’t control everything (a baby may begin crying, or someone could hit the wrong note), so why try to control anything at all? In 4’33”, the audience and the environment are the performers.

It can also be interpreted in a more “Zen” fashion; sometimes the best thing to hear is nothing at all. A few minutes of no noise every day, other than the random sounds of the surrounding environment, could be very relaxing. If you think about it, the random background noises of everyday are an entire opera really! The chirping of a cricket could be the basso continuo, a man’s series of coughs could be a recitative, and the buzz of a fly gradually becoming more prominent could be a grand string crescendo leading up to the aria, which happens to be a woman yawning.

So, now since your almost finished reading this article let me remind to watch a performance of John Cage’s 4’33” and at least try to appreciate its message now that you understand it. You don’t have to like it. And to truly make this article worthy of its title, I need you to act like you just read nothing at all and leave your own ideas in the comments below. Imagine this article has no words at all; I’m leaving the task of writing it up to you…

Posted Saturday, August 30, 2014 4:40 AM    0 comments

Monday, August 25, 2014
Tips for Boosting Your Resume
Tips for Boosting Your Resume

During this very competitive job market, many are concerned with making their resume stand out to employers, in order to increase their chances of getting a job.  In addition to your education, employment, extracurricular activities, and accomplishments, here are some tips on boosting your resume to make it more unique.

1) Computer knowledge.  In our age of technology, most companies require use of computers, and of course, it is very possible to have computer skills without having a computer science degree.  You may wish to list some programs that you know how to use, such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop.  Perhaps you may have a background in web design.  Also, if you know any computer programming languages, you can definitely list those in the "skills" section.  Lastly, especially important for marketing positions is the ability to use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

2) Foreign languages.  Knowing foreign languages can be important for almost all careers, as they allow you to interact with a lot more people.  Whether you know grew up speaking a foreign language, or you simply just took a few foreign language classes, you can list those.

3) Publications.  Enthusiastic writers write novels, scientists may contribute to scientific journal publications, and anyone can contribute to a blog.  If you have any of these types of publications, be sure to include it, because not only does it demonstrate your writing skills, but it also provides samples of your past work to physically show your employer that you have great work experience.

4) Charity and philanthropy events.  If you have ever participated in any fundraising events, such as dance marathons, that had charity goals, you can list these as well, since these types of events demonstrate that you have passion and commitment towards goals, and that you are a generous person, willing to give back.

5) Classes outside of your major.  If you have ever taken a college class outside of your major and think that class is relevant to the job you are applying for, be sure to put it on your resume.  For example, if you want to be a teacher, you can write about some education classes you may have taken.  If you are applying to journalism, you can write about some English or writing classes.

6) Travel experiences.  Traveling experiences can be relevant to your resume if you did work there.  For example, you may have done a journalism report in a foreign country, taught English to foreign students, volunteered with underpriviliged communities, or done something to facilitate international public relations with a company.  These experiences are extremely impressive and unique.  Also, if what you did was part of a study abroad program, then that would go under the "education" section of your resume.

7) Certifications.  Certifications, such as CPR certification, would be important if you are applying to a job in healthcare or as a lifeguard.  Perhaps you have a certification in something like nursing or emergency response.  You would want to put these down, as they represent your past experiences and your abilities to act under intense pressure.  A teaching certification would also be important even if you are not applying to educational careers, because it can demonstrate that you have knowledge in public speaking and communication.

8) Personal website.  If you have a personal website, such as through LinkedIn, then you can write it at the top near your contact info.  Having a personal website is a very great and efficient way to showcase your talents, because you can upload samples of your past work onto this website, especially if you are a photographer or graphic designer.

Posted Monday, August 25, 2014 4:06 AM    0 comments

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Tips for Maximizing Your Internship Experience
Tips for Maximizing Your Internship Experience

Internships, especially in college, provide you with very valuable experience to hone your professional skills and meet other people who share your interests.  Here's a few tips on getting the most out of your internship experience.

1) Be professional.  This is probably the most important way to maximize your internship experience.  Being professional first includes being respectful and polite to other employees and your supervisor.  You should also arrive early and depart a little later than you're supposed to, in order to display your work ethic.  In addition, follow the dress code, if applicable, and any other company rules, if they apply.

2) Maintain contact with your supervisor.  Stay in contact with your supervisor, whether through in-person discussions, the phone, or via e-mail.  This way, you can first know what is expected of you during your time as an intern and what kind of assignments and responsibilities you are given.  As you begin your assignments, be sure to contact your supervisor to make sure you are completing your tasks correctly, and even if you are completing them correctly, then you can still feel free to contact your supervisor to send them progress reports of your work, so they know how you're doing.  Lastly, don't be afraid to ask for feedback on the quality of your work, and more importantly, don't be afraid to ask questions if you have any.  After all, asking questions will actually impress your supervisor because it shows you are not afraid of taking initiative to find out what you can do to improve your work.

3) Complete projects efficiently.  You should complete your projects efficiently, meaning that you should have them done by the deadlines, but of course, this does not mean you rush through them.  Make sure that you manage to meet the deadlines, while still taking your time, in order to ensure it is quality work.  Of course, work with a lot of passion and enthusiasm.  If you happen to complete a project early, you should ask for an opportunity to do another project, if you have the time.  Your initiative will be very impressive to your employer.

4) Network.  Meet with as many other colleagues as you can and talk about your career interests and passions, because these people may be able to help you find jobs in the future, because it is possible they may have connections or recommendations.  Of course, also talk to your supervisor, to see if they can provide you more opportunities in the company, or they can recommend you to different companies.  At the very least, the people you meet will offer valuable advice on landing your dream job, and you can make great friendships as well.

5) End your internship positively.  When your internship is ending, be sure to give your supervisor and colleagues a very enthusiastic goodbye.  Exchange contact information so that you can maintain your connections that may be helpful for finding future jobs.  Write a thank you note to your supervisor to express your appreciation for the valuable opportunity you were given, and also, don't be afraid to ask them to write you a letter of recommendation, if you wish.

Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2014 4:58 AM    0 comments