Ankeny School Board Vote 2017 – Candidate Round Up

The Ankeny Community School District will vote the nominees to three School Board seats on September 12 (the second Tuesday in September per school policy). Since there’s only a couple of days left to do your homework, I thought I would collect some of the disparate resources for Ankenians to make it a little easier to review the nominees, and hopefully get you interested enough to get out to the polls (search for your address on the Secretary of State website since school vote polling locations could be different than where you normally go).

Meet the candidates.

I’ve pulled a short list of links together for you to get to know the candidates. I basically pulled each persons Des Moines Register interview, a link to their Facebook Page (if it exists), and their LinkedIn profile (if it exists). These are essentially the only resources out there for which you to base your opinion on, which seems lacking.

James F. Ford

Susan Gentz

Aaron Johnson

Lori Lovstad

George Tracy

What about endorsements?

A few local and/or state organizations recommend candidates, so here’s a roundup of what I could find on those:

ISEA Recommended Candidates

  • Jim Ford
  • Aaron Johnson
  • Lori Lovstad
  • George Tracy

Ankeny Education Association Recommended Candidates (sourced via FB posts from the candidates)

  • Jim Ford
  • Aaron Johnson
  • Lori Lovstad
  • George Tracy

AFSCME Iowa Council 61

  • Lori Lovstad

Iowa Women for Progressive Change Political Action Committee

  • Lori Lovstad

Hear them in their own words.

The Ankeny Area Chamber of Commerce (thanks Chamber!) held a public forum that allowed candidates to field a common set of questions, both planned and from the audience. The video is of the full session, so if you’re going to watch it’ll take 90 minutes.

When you’re ready to vote…

After digesting all of that info you feel like you’re ready to vote, review the sample ballot to make sure you understand the process (pick no more than three). The polls will be open from 7:00 AM until 8:00 PM and the polling places for this election are listed within this publication or you can visit the Secretary of State page to look up your School Election location.

But wait, there’s more.

This won’t be the last you hear about the Ankeny School board this month. On September 18 the existing board is scheduled to vote on how to handle more than $43,000 outstanding lunch debts, so stay tuned for that.

If you know of other links (endorsements are especially hard to find) that I’ve missed, drop them in below. And thanks for spending some time getting to know these candidates, and giving local elections the attention they deserve!

3 Tips For Entering Courses on LinkedIn

I spent some time this morning finishing up my course entries into LinkedIn, and encountered a couple annoying issues, so I thought I’d share them and how to prepare for / work through them,

Issue 1 – The “pretty editor”
This is the blue entry form that displays above your profile after you get the “Add your courses” pop-up. There are a couple things that bug with me with this. First, if you encounter an error, say goodbye to everything you’ve entered. You’ll get a non-specific error message, and will not return to the form.
Tip 1: Use the less pretty editor by going to the courses section and selecting edit from there.

Issue 2 – Course limit error
You can list a max of 50 courses for all of your education. If you’re like me and have a hefty undergrad course list, it may be worth leaving off “Intro to the Internet” to save room for more impressive courses.
Tip 2: Leave off lame intro courses if you think you’ll run into this.

Issue 3 – Duplicate course error
If you have two entries that have the same course name, regardless of course number or school, you’ll get an error. If you took Strategic Management in both undergrad and grad school, be prepared to see the error and adjust.
Tip 3: Abbreviate as necessary, or use parenthesis with a note to provide additional detail to the course.

It’s not much, but knowing about these before I tackled the project would have saved me about 15 minutes of annoying little errors.

Have any other LinkedIn tips? Leave ’em in the comments.

My Advice for Graduating College Students

Last week I received a request from Central College (sent out to all Alumni) seeking advice for the incoming freshman class and graduating seniors from former students. I sat thinking deeply for a minute, and then started writing down the “tips” that were jumping into my head. One after another, I jotted an idea with some notes behind it, until I had a decent list. I spent a few more days working through my thoughts, doing a little bit of research, and editing the best that I could.

My advice for graduating Central students is below. I started with a separate post for incoming students. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my tips. What did I forget? What did I miss the mark on?

Advice for graduating Central students:

1) Build your network.
Don’t be scared to reach out to anyone for help. The worst that will happen is that they’ll ignore you. You’ve heard “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” by now, and while it’s not the complete truth, there’s a large percentage of jobs that don’t make it on to the “boards” and end up being filled through referrals. The only way to be part of the referral ecosystem, is to have a robust network.

2) Don’t take a job just for the money.
If you’re passionate about something, take the job offer that’s most closely related to that passion. It’s easy to convince yourself to take the entry level job that pays a few thousand dollars more, and tell yourself you’ll be able to transfer into the functional area you are passionate about later. Don’t be so sure. Your work experience from day one out of college immediately influences what opportunities are available to you later. Someone else is going to take that lower paying job, and in a year or two could be your competition for other jobs. Taking the job that pays less allows you to learn and gain relevant experience that will pay off much bigger rewards down the road.

3) Create a financial plan for yourself.
This doesn’t take much explanation. Live small. Pay off debt. Get in a good place before you buy that house and car.

4) Find a mentor. Or two.
Similar to your advisor in college, you might want help navigating the waters of a new career. Finding someone who can give you genuine answers to difficult questions about technical and organizational behavior challenges will help you keep your sanity. A mentor can also help you build your network, because they likely have spent years building their own network and are often willing to leverage it to help you out.

5) Continue educating yourself.
Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate. You don’t have to jump into formalized graduate level coursework, but find something you enjoy and explore it. When you get bored with a topic, find something else and dive into it. Tackle a new subject every week, or every month. Tie what you are learning into your work to enhance your skills, but also spend time in unrelated topics. Remember that studying outside your comfort zone helps develop lateral thinking skills that help you with innovation and problem solving.

6) Don’t doubt your capabilities compared to other graduates from bigger schools.
One of my big fears graduating Central was that I would enter the workforce and find that colleagues from bigger state schools would be able to run circles around. I feared that because they had a less liberal education, they would have a deeper knowledge of certain topics and more advanced technical skills. This is rarely the case. From my experience, the education at Central (and likely most other Iowa Conference and private schools) is more broad, yet just as deep as state counterparts. It really comes down to the person, but in most cases, I felt more prepare and capable than colleagues with state school educations.

My Advice for New College Students

Last week I received a request from Central College (sent out to all Alumni) seeking advice for the incoming freshman class and graduating seniors from former students. I sat thinking deeply for a minute, and then started writing down the “tips” that were jumping into my head. One after another, I jotted an idea with some notes behind it, until I had a decent list. I spent a few more days working through my thoughts, doing a little bit of research, and editing the best that I could.

My advice for incoming Central students is below. I’ll be creating a separate post on my tips for graduating students. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my tips. What did I forget? What did I miss the mark on?

Advice for incoming Central students:

1) Study Abroad.
I didn’t, and it’s the single biggest regret of my time at Central. I had a load of reasons [excuses] not to go, but just a few years out of school I realized that most my excuses not to go were actually the reasons that I should have. Living and studying abroad is a tremendous opportunity, and the hype around it is legitimate. Don’t miss out.

2) College is a tool. Learning is up to you.
Central will provide you with every resource you need to learn, but finding passion for learning is up to you. Having the resources available and applying routine to make sure you study enough can seem like you’re doing it “right”, but without a passion to really understand what you learn, you’re not getting what you’re paying for. Four years seems like a long time, but it will go fast. Use the time you have, and the resources provided to explore and learn.

3) Liberal Arts is a good thing.
You will undoubtedly question the rationale of taking a seemingly random assortment of courses that make up a Liberal Arts education, but stick with it and eventually you’ll realize the importance. Steve Jobs said that all innovation hinges on Liberal Arts, because it allows you to connect the dots between unrelated ideas. Your education at Central will develop your horizontal & lateral thinking skills, which allow you to solve problems more creatively than others. In any job you’ll have in the future, creative problem solving is critical.

4) Build good habits.
It’s easy to just show up at Central and feel like your only obligations are class related, but almost everyone will be involved in something extracurricular at some point. With all the “chaos” in your world, it’s easy to slack on the little things like getting exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and having relaxing social time. Build those habits early so they stick with you.

5) Connect with professors.
Not through social media (though that’s OK too). Connect with them intellectually and emotionally. Spend time after class or in their office asking questions. Most of the educational content covered in your classes is available somewhere online for free. Think about your tuition as access to Central’s facilities and the minds of it instructors, not just as access to a textbook curriculum. Make your professors teach you during, after, and outside of class.

6) Write down every question you have and get an answer to it.
During orientation, class, and even casual conversation, you’ll have questions. When you do, write them down. It’s easy to shrug them off and wait for them to pop back up when they’re relevant, but at that point it’s usually too late. Writing down your questions allows you to keep up with the “conversation”, and find answers when the time is right. Documenting your questions and answers can also establish you as a resource to other students (think: “make friends”) who undoubtedly have the same questions, but are too scared or lazy to act.

7) Adopt a productivity system.
Find a productivity system (like Getting Things Done + Inbox Zero) that you can utilize to keep yourself productive. Figure out how to effectively use your calendar & reminders, and how to manage projects and independent tasks. Adopting a productivity system will establish a habitual process for managing everything you need to accomplish, so you spend time completing tasks instead of organizing yourself. Trying to defragment assignments, projects, extracurricular work and research through multiple sources and mediums will drive you insane. Start this up as early as possible, and mold it to fit your needs as you go.

8) Read Seth Godin’s “Stop Stealing Dreams”.
Seth Godin write a short manifesto on education that has some big ideas. It might change your view on education and what your role as a student should be. The availability of information at your fingertips no longer necessitates an education based on the rote memorization of facts. Education today should teach you on how to research and synthesize that wealth of information to identify solutions. Central President Mark Putnam has a great blog that talks about his vision for education, and its purpose in our society. And it’s clear that the vision of President Putnam is creating an environment at Central that few other students outside of Central are experiencing. Combining 1) an understanding of your role as a student, with 2) the environment that President Putnam is orchestrating, is a tremendous opportunity for you to become something special.