The Real Cost of a College Degree

For the average American student, a high school diploma is no longer “enough.” In fact, for those of us not headed straight into the work force after twelfth grade, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree is the new minimum requirement. Unfortunately, the cost of college has become a backbreaking burden for many young adults seeking higher education. In fact, over the past 30 years, student debt has multiplied like rabbits – but seriously, if the numbers weren’t so ridiculous, the predictability of this situation would almost be comical.

With the cost of college rising each semester, it’s not so shocking to believe the facts – it’s terrifying. America’s “tuition has increased 1,120 percent; by comparison, even the “skyrocketing” cost of health care only rose 600 percent, and housing costs have gone up a paltry 375 percent” (www.dailyfinance.com).

The more informed we are as students, the better we can shape our future as young professionals. The graphic below, brought to you by http://www.coursesmart.com, explains the cost of higher education – Read. Understand. Grow. Share.

Take the Lead.

Today’s idea worth spreading is brought to you by TED. 

When it comes to exploring questions about “Why we buy certain products” and “What makes a great leader great” Simon Sinek likes to keep simple. In his September 2009 TEDTalk, Sinek presents a straightforward formula for inspirational leadership and he explains how the act of believing in what you do is a significant marketing strategy.

Through many compelling examples, Sinek outlines the difference between “leaders and those who lead,” reminding his audience that the secret to harnessing that “It” factor is knowing WHY you do what you do.

Sinek’s talk is easy to follow and relatable to student ninja and employers. Check out some great quotes from the full 18:05-minute talk -

 “Inspired leaders and organizations… all think, act, and communicate from the inside out.” 

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

“The goal is not just to hire people who need a job, it’s to hire people who believe what you believe.”

“If you hire people just because the can do a job – they’ll work for your money; but if you hire people who believe what you believe – they work for you with blood, sweat, and tears.”

Do you agree with the Sinek’s ideas on leadership? Leave us a comment and tell us why!

Ninja Spotlight

We Ninjas are stealthy, it’s our nature, but today we are drawing attention to one of our own in this week’s Ninja spotlight! Faced with a full schedule, exams, and a two-day deadline, this Ninja stepped up to the challenge and karate-chopped it to pieces. Check out Valentina’s video for Ninjathat and our interview with her below.

What types of challenges and rewards have your Ninja missions produced for you? Don’t forget to leave a comment! 

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Name: Valentina

Mission: “Ninjathat Short Animated Video”

Final Product: 

Ninjathat: What can you tell us about your Ninjathat experience?

Valentina: I’m a student with some experience with design, and doing missions seemed like the perfect way to test my skills as a freelancer and make some cash. During this mission, the mission leader waited a while to get me the script for the animation I was doing, [so] instead of the two months listed in the posting I had to get the animation done in two days. But that was okay – he was very accommodating and understood my concerns, and had no problem adjusting the budget of the project to include a rush fee. It’s finals week for me and I was short on time, so I had to take a day off work to get the animation done in time. It was worth it though!

NT: Time constraints are a common issue for many students. How long did it take you to complete your mission?

V: Out of the two days I had for the mission, one of them was completely filled with classes, so I couldn’t work on it then. That left me with one day to do a 45-second animation, which was pretty daunting, since this stuff takes a long time (and this was definitely my shortest deadline yet!). Because of this, I kept the design simple – no character animation or lipsyncing, just neat typography and clean graphics. I got it done in about ten hours, including the time it took to create the graphics and render the final product.

NT: Cool! What was your favorite part of the process?

V: I am an animator and love this stuff. My favorite part of the process was sitting down with a large mug of coffee and just sinking into the keyframes for a few hours, getting it to work.

NT: Anything else you would like to say to NinjaNation? 

V:  It was definitely great getting some experience working under the pressure of a deadline, but in next time I’ll try to give myself more time so I can make an even more crisp and professional product.

Resume formats: Traditional vs. Modern Design

Think of your resume as your pre-first impression.

Research shows that it takes employers approximately 15 – 20 seconds to scan over a resume and form an opinion about a potential candidate.

Because of this, students with little “real world” experience often struggle to find a way to stand out against countless other applicants to a complete stranger (and on a single sheet of paper, nonetheless). Suddenly, the simple task of applying for a job becomes a daunting process, but don’t worry students, that’s only because it is. Although using excellent grammar and avoiding cliché descriptions are imperative to creating the perfect resume, style and format are just as important.

For some students, the pursuit of the perfect resume quickly becomes a tedious venture full of generic objectives and embellished experiences. While most students take a traditional approach to formatting their resumes, others believe that vamping up the physical appearance of this document is the best way to showcase their artistic abilities and thus increase their chances of getting hired; and they are not alone. For a handsome fee, companies such as Loft Resumes will give your resume a makeover and help you edit it twice; however, I respectfully disagree with their modern, eye-catching approach.

A resume is an individual’s opportunity to showcase their work experience and explain (in a concise manner) how they are qualified for a particular job. In a professional world, relevant experience should not need flashy, distracting graphics and bright colors to stand out. The right candidate will be someone whose ambitions and objectives speak for themselves. Traditional resume formats include size 10 – 12 black typed font, clean lines, organized sections of information, and an appropriate amount of well-placed white space. But even this predictable format is tricky to nail and students who do not put effort into editing and revising their resumes can end up with sloppy looking documents.

On the other hand, for some jobs, designing an aesthetically dazzling resume makes a lot of sense – graphic designers and fashion mavens come to mind. But even then, outsourcing the creative opportunity to design your own resume, to companies like Loft Resumes, seems counterintuitive and impractical.

Below are examples of Loft Resume’s “Style-conscious resumes for the standout job seeker.” What advantages do you think resume makeovers have over traditional, plain resumes? Leave us a comment below!

Thigh-vertising: Creepy, yet Legitimate

Absolute Territory PR, a Japanese advertising company, has invested their company’s vision on something people check out anyway, female thighs.

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Photo via Twitter. Named after the naked space between the bottom of a girl’s miniskirt and the top of her knee-high socks, “zettai ryouiki” (translation: “absolute territory”) is an ad agency that is tapping into an untouched, yet often-ogled market.

This whole concept kind of creeps me out, but at the same time, thigh-vertising makes a lot of sense. Let’s think about it for a minute:

Premise 1: The best way to ensure your ad gets maximum exposure is to place it (or in this case, stick it) where lots of people will see it.

Premise 2: People (aka men) stare at young women’s bare legs.

Conclusion: Lots of people will notice advertisements placed on a young woman’s naked thigh.

Do you agree?

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Almost anybody can become a walking billboard. Absolute Territory requires that their girls be at least eighteen-years-old and have a minimum of 20 friends on their social media accounts. Fortunately, no plans have been made for the employment of men’s hairy thighs for advertising space. (Sorry dudes)

According to a report by Oddity Central, over 1,300 girls have signed their legs over to the edgy PR company since last November, and that number is rapidly growing.

Once hired, the effort required of young Japanese thigh-vertisers is pretty low. The girls are obligated, under contract, to pick a sticker ad and wear it for at least eight hours a day, for a set period of time. After the sticker is in place, the girls are free to go about their normal daily routines. In order for Absolute Territory PR to ensure their employees are doing their job; the girls have to post “selfies” with their leg advertisements to Twitter, Facebook, or other social media websites.

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Photo via Dime.jp

It may be only a matter of time before we see body-limb billboards in America. In fact, Absolute Territory PR is not just available to Japanese businesses. American rock band, Green Day recently hired the PR agency to promote the Japanese release of their latest CD “!Uno!”.

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Photo via Tumblr

TEDTalks: Time and Money

College students, this one goes out to you. Have you met, TED? TED.com is an amazing website that posts stimulating videos of “Ideas worth spreading.” TEDTalks cover a plethora of topics that are grouped into six categories: entertainment, technology, business, global issues, design, and science. The information stemming from TED speakers is consistently inspiring, fascinating, hilarious, ingenious, influential, educational, and the list of adjectives continues… But I digress.

Recently on TEDTalks, Keith Chen discusses a theory linking linguistics to the current state of savings accounts. Chen, an Associate Professor of Economics at the Yale School of Management, explains his research in a twelve-minute video posted below. In his talk, Chen focuses on two groups of languages: those that differentiate past, present, and future tenses and those that do not. For example, American English dictates that past and future tenses sound and are spelled different from the present tense (i.e. rained/ raining/ will rain) versus the Chinese language which does not distinguish tenses (i.e. rained, rained, will rained.)

What does this have to do with saving money? This enthusiastic economist professor calculates that future language speakers (i.e. American English) save much LESS than futureless language speakers (i.e. Chinese).  Because Americans are conditioned to view the future and the present as two separate things, they are more likely to regard their current income as money to spend now and thus unsuccessfully save for their futures.

The realization? While correlation does not prove causation, Chen’s point is thought provoking and significant because time is a man-made concept. The future is now.  Students who realized this will be the ones who eliminate the idea of future tenses from their mindset and save what income they have to be better prepared come graduation day.

Check out more awesome videos at www.Ted.com 

LikeBright x Ninjathat = SXSW

This year, hundreds of applicants competed for a chance to present at South by Southwest’s fifth annual Accelerator forums … after much nail biting and drum rolling, the results are in:

Congratulations to

(and to all the other finalists!)

for being selected to present

 at this year’s SXSW Interactive Startup Accelerator competition!!

LikeBright, a company who believes that your friends make the best online matchmakers, is up against some very talented opposition in the social startup category. But these newcomers certainly aren’t acting like rookies; LikeBright is teaming up with our Ninjas to make their first SXSW legend… wait for it… dary.

Ninjathat x LikeBright? Talk about a perfect match! We recently connected with Kristen, community manager for LikeBright to pick her brain on SXSW plans and LikeBright Ninjas.

Ninjathat: Is this your first SXSW event?

Kristen: Yes! And we are so excited we are practically dancing in our seats.

(*But really, http://blog.likebright.com/likebright-is-bringing-the-party-to-sxsw-finalist-south-by-southwest/)

Nt: How does being an exhibitor change your plans for SXSW from what they may have been before you found out?

K: LikeBright applied to the 5th annual SXSW Accelerator and were selected as one of the finalists. As a finalist, LikeBright will be will pitching our product to venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and press on stage. Being a finalist is what is allowing LikeBright to attend SXSW and share what we’ve been working on.

Nt: What kind of goals are you looking to accomplish via SXSW?

K: We want to present an awesome product that gets people’s attention, and in turn, grows our community. We want the visibility of SXSW to lead to new investors, partnerships, and more users.

Nt: Why do you see value in using Ninjas to accomplish these goals?

K: LikeBright is like the “little engine that could.” We are a small, yet dedicated, hard working team. We need Ninja’s to do some of the outreach we just don’t have capacity to do as a small team. When LikeBright is on the Accelerator stage presenting, we can easily get the attention of investors and press in the audience, but we want to connect with the broader SXSW community and in a more personal, friendly way. Ninjas will allow a greater number of people to feel like they have a personal connection to our brand. Ninjas will be LikeBright Ambassadors and our front line to introducing the brand to SXSW participants.

Nt: LikeBright Ambassador Ninjas? Sounds great!

K: In summary, the Ninjas will be (1) giving out wristbands (2) telling the LikeBright story (3) promoting the fundraiser for the DV shelter and (4) snapping and posting pics to social platforms or prompting people to take their own photo and use #LoveWins.

What ways can our Ninjas help you? Well I guess that all depends on what’s still on your SXSW to-do list.

Tell us below and check out a list of all the great Accelerator finalists: http://sxsw.com/interactive/startupvillage/accelerator/finalists#overlay-context=interactive/

And a full schedule of the 2013 SXSW events: http://schedule.sxsw.com/