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Graduate Student Survival Guide

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You know those kids from high school, the ones who couldn’t decide what they wanted to do with their lives and got full time jobs straight after graduation? They looked at you with a twinge of envy as you headed off to college while they loaded up on dress suits and sensible shoes. They were certain they’d be following after you in a couple of years; you were certain they’d spend the rest of their lives picking up the boss’s dry cleaning and making coffee for high-powered executives.

graduate school tips

Now, however, you are beginning to doubt yourself. After four years of undergraduate life, a crummy part time job, and riding the bus everywhere, your friends’ lives are starting to look rather enviable. Their full time wages dwarf your measly graduate student earnings and their lifestyle clearly sits a few rungs higher up on the socioeconomic ladder than yours. Resist the urge to start comparing accomplishments because, at this point in your life, you won’t come out ahead.

Help me I'm poor

Your friends in the outside world have been working for a few years now, and they have the consumer lifestyle to prove it. They drive around in the latest hipster-colored micro car while you are still riding the bus on a student pass. They dine out at restaurants with tablecloths and menus that change with the seasons, while you subsist on microwave dinners and cafeteria food. Their clothes reflect the latest fashions and they hang out at trendy bars sipping expensive cocktails. You live in jeans and khakis, topped with t-shirts bearing such witty slogans as “Come to the nerd side. We have pi.”

Come to the nerd side, we have Pi

Your version of a night out on the town is Two Dollar Tuesdays at the student pub, where the antics of freshmen students reveling in their newfound freedom long ago ceased to be entertaining.

wolf of wall street

Your friends rent condos in the heart of the city, furnished with matching sofas and chairs, big screen TVs, and bathrooms all to themselves. You, on the other hand, are possibly still living with your parents, accepting home cooked meals and complementary laundry service in exchange for house rules that haven’t changed since you were 15 and frequent interrogations regarding your study habits and social life. Or perhaps you are sharing a shabby rental house with five other students who are equally cash-strapped and lacking in domestic skills, and with whom you compete for hot showers and space in the refrigerator.

dorm life

Yes, compared to life as a graduate student, your working friends out there in the Real World seem to be doing very well. But trust me when I say that this is merely an illusion. What you need is a glimpse into the future to put things in perspective…

It’s twenty years from now and your friends are mostly married with children. The earnings that seemed like a windfall fresh out of high school aren’t so flush now that there are mortgages, health and life insurance premiums, and kids who need orthodontic work. Your friends long ago gave up their fancy bachelor pad rentals downtown and now live in cookie-cutter subdivisions way out in some far-flung suburb. They traded in their micro car for a minivan but they commute by public transit because it’s faster and less expensive. At work, they are still waiting for the fourteen guys ahead of them in seniority to either retire or die so they can move up the career ladder, but the most they can hope for is a lower management position because the upper ones are filled exclusively by those with—you guessed it—college degrees.

dead end job

Oh, they didn’t plan it this way. But you see, you were smart: it’s easy to decide on a few more years of student poverty when that’s all you’ve known since graduating high school. But when it came time for your friends to consider going back to college, they were already living lifestyles that were hard to give up. The idea of going back to pizza nights and dormitory life was too difficult to endure, so they put it off and put if off and now most of them are just looking forward to retirement so they can finally do something interesting.

grad student survival

So hang in there, graduate students. The grass may seem greener on the Real World side of the fence right now, but in a few years you’ll see that you made the right choice. You’ll find that, since your friends were too immature to save any of that money they were earning while you were in college, in the end they didn’t come out ahead of you at all.

What like it's hard? Harvard grad student

And while you now have an enjoyable and upwardly mobile career ahead of you, they are waking up to the realization that they inadvertently made a career out of a job that was supposed to be a holdover until they decided what to do with their lives. Try to keep that image in mind the next time you see one of your acquaintances looking all sharp and fashionable on their way to the newest club. You’ll have your revenge one day, I promise.

dr who phd college grad school

Word Crimes With Weird Al

This might be the best thing posted on the internet this year.

We’re going to accept this as an endorsement from Weird Al:

weird al word crimes

The song is on Weird Al’s latest album, “Mandatory Fun,” on sale now.

5 Things To Do Before Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

As our economy changes, more people are starting businesses, developing and marketing product that will make a difference for the world, and reaping the rewards of being an entrepreneur. All entrepreneurs have the drive and passion but many lack the preparation. Without preparation, the largest hurdle for most entrepreneurs is the financial success. Many people start with great ideas only to crash and burn nine or eighteen months down the road. Here are five things that every entrepreneur must do before he or she charges down the leadership path of entrepreneurship.

1. Take care of your personal finances.

The key here is to pay down your personal debt. If you are carrying more debt than you can handle with your current employment, it is time to downsize and pay off or eliminate debt before you follow your entrepreneurial spirit. Develop a monthly budget that you can stick to and takes into consideration emergencies such as car repairs, medical bills, and extra household expenses. Make certain you have at least a 12-month reserve of money to pay your bills. As an entrepreneur, you might not get your first paycheck for many months so be prepared to pay your bills from savings.

2. Make certain any of your contractual obligations will not affect your focus.

Look over previous employment contracts and make certain what you are deciding to pursue will not be in violation of that agreement. Review all current agreements you are involved with and if you plan on working part or full time as you follow this dream, make certain you can explain to your current employer how this will not affect your work performance.

3. Limit your distractions.

We all need to have our “fun” and have time for family but it is critical that anything outside of family time be evaluated for how it may take away from your focus on entrepreneurial activities. Keep in mind that you need a few diversions to help you balance your health and mental welfare but you just might have to give up a few of the extra-curricular activities. As a good way of planning your time, limit those extra activities to no more than 90 minutes a day on average.

4. Clean up your social media look.

You are going to be meeting with investors, bankers, potential partners, and of course, those who will purchase your product/idea/service and you need to look professional. Of course, you will dress the part but many of the people you will meet might check out your Facebook or Linked-In profiles, stop by your Instagram or Twitter accounts, and even read your blog. Sometimes when we are having fun, we might post pictures or say things we do not want to share as an entrepreneur. Clean up that image and show your best side.

5. Have a 12-month plan.

This plan needs to include your personal as well as entrepreneurial/business budget. Write, rewrite, edit, review, and seek counsel from trusted friends, colleagues, or professionals on the business plan. Include your vacation, medical appointments, and important events on the calendar portion of your 12-month plan. All of these ideas are very important for people setting off on entrepreneurial projects. The important thing to note is that these ideas also apply to anyone wanting to apply for a new job, write that first book, or set out on any new adventure.

Get Inspired To Write & Win $500!

There are only 2 days TODAY is the LAST DAY to enter our GET INSPIRED TO WRITE sweepstakes! Head over to the contest info and submission page on facebook to enter for a chance to win $500 from Edit911!

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Glove and Boots are here to fix your grammar!

The internets are full of wonderful advice – and here’s some from puppets Glove and Boots that we thought was relevant and entertaining… check it out if you need a humorous refresher on grammar!

Authors Anonymous Official Trailer (2014)

Finally another movie about authors – a topic that not enough authors write about and not enough movies are made about! We think authors are pretty fascinating people!

Here’s the movie synopsis: When a dysfunctional group of unpublished writers accept Hannah into their fold, the last thing they expect is her overnight success. Can these lovable misfits achieve their artistic dreams and avoid killing one another in the process? Starring Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Chris Klein, Dennis Farina, Dylan Walsh, Jonathan Bennett, and Teri Polo.

We think it looks really fun and cute — what do you think? Leave your opinions in the comments!

 Authors Anonymous Movie

10 Surefire Tips for Securing Capital Investment

vc investment capital

1. Protect your idea with a patent/copyright/trademark.
Depending on your business venture, you will need to take precautionary steps to protect your idea. This may involve filing a patent, copyright, or trademark. In any of these cases, it is important that you develop quality documents, easy to read figures, tables, and graphics so that the reviewer can determine the merit of your work. Venture capital investors may want to review these documents and along with your business plan, this might be the first impression of you and your capabilities.
Please remember that these protections do not keep someone else from trying to develop your idea, but they do give you the right to fight it out in court.

2. Write an excellent business plan.
Your business plan is a dynamic document. One investor group may need a particular format while another group may ask you to present the plan in their preferred review layout. The business plan needs to state who you are, what you are doing, why you need investment, the scope of the market (what is the valuation of the market), how you intend to proceed with the investment, and what the return on investment will be should someone invest. Most importantly, the business plan needs to be grammatically correct and have no spelling errors.

3. Have your business plan vetted and reviewed by experts in the field.
You need to take the time to have someone in your field read your business plan. Possibly a trusted colleague or a subject matter expert/reviewer/editor can help you with noticing the little things that are missing. These people can also help find areas of weakness in your business plan. With investors, you often have one opportunity to impress. Make sure that you put your best and most developed idea forward. In the business plan, it is important to point out how much you are investing of your own money into the idea.

4. Valuation is important.
Spend time thinking about the valuation and show that you did some real work on the projections. Find a banker or investor who might give you some time and help you develop the corporate valuation.

5. Develop a slide show.
To go along with your business plan you will need a slide deck that puts your business plan into pictures, graphs, text, and images that people can review. Many people are visual. Reading a long business plan may not be the first choice some individuals. Give them a slide show that they can scroll through and begin to “see” your idea.

6. Have your marketing plan developed and ready to show.
The success of many businesses comes with the marketing plan. It may seem like having your marketing plan all developed is not going to help you gain investment, but the truth is that investors will be far more impressed if you can show them the details of how you plan to make money on your idea and their investment.
Consider having flyers, a short video, and other items that will help you market to your target demographic. It is important to note that by developing your marketing, you will be able to fine-tune the demographic most likely to purchase your product or idea. Make sure to have all the documents, videos, and flyers proofread by multiple people. Nothing ruins a good marketing plan more than having bad grammar, typos, and spelling errors.

7. Invest your own money in the venture.
Invest at least a few thousand dollars in your new business. If you are not willing to invest, why will someone else want to loan you money? The capital investment you put in represents a material percentage of your net wealth and shows that you are dedicated to the success of the project.
Many entrepreneurs tell everyone about the sweat equity they are putting into the business. The truth is that everyone starting a new business is putting this type of effort in and potential investors expect this effort.

8. Have a working prototype available.
Investors do not want to take on product-development risk. If your idea is fabulous, they may take this risk but they will likely want a larger portion of your company. Have a working prototype available for review. A working prototype shows the investor that the development and proof-of-concept risk is mitigated.

9. Acquire Investment first from “friends and family.”
Many investors want to see that you have raised money from friends and family because it validates that people who know you think you are capable of making this idea come to life. How much should you seek from friends and family? This depends on your idea but $25,000 to $50,000 is a good sign that you are seen as capable and competent by family and friends.

10. Generate revenue.
This is a difficult task but very important. The company does not need to be making millions in the first month but a small amount of revenue will show that you have a good marketing plan and your idea is moving forward.

On a final note, raising capital is challenging and time consuming. If you take these ten steps, you will be better prepared to be a success in the capital investment round of funding.

Top 10 Most Epic Movies Adapted from Books

Jaws

10. Peter Benchley’s Jaws
Jaws (1975) became the preeminent summer blockbuster movie and the highest grossing movie ever at the time. Benchley based his book on some real life events and people that added to the intrigue, but Spielberg’s movie scared people out of the water and back into the theater to see it a second time. My parents took me to see this movie when I was 5 (no kidding), never dreaming the shock value involved even for adults.

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9. Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) is a marvelous adaptation of the work by Stephen King. Andy Dufresne is a character you root for and are not disappointed with the movie’s depiction. Dufresne triumphs over surprising corruption and cruelty that is shocking. But the payoff is huge!

no-country-for-old-men

8. Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men (2007) showcases the Coen Brothers’ quirky, magical touch, lifting this adaptation to the big screen. The bad guy’s musings reminded me of the first time I read Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find, showing depth and philosophical musings juxtaposed with cruel violence.

fightclub

7. Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club
Fight Club (1999) has a tremendous twist preserved in the movie and captures the frustration of bureaucratic, corporate America. Most of us take out our frustrations on pints of Ben & Jerry’s best rather than each other thankfully. Fight Club actually leaves you thinking long after you watch its conclusion.

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6. JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) was an adaption of one of the most beloved reads of my childhood. I was so pleased when I saw the film adaptation that it made me want to purchase the set for safekeeping. I was a bit surprised at the long shots of the evil minions building their army — not attractive folks. But I would say the worst part was the waiting inbetween releases of the three movies.

True Grit 2010

5.Charles Portis’ True Grit

True Grit (2010) is one of those movies that has it all: drama, revenge, underdogs, kid heroes, and cowboys. Jeff Bridges was amazing. My wife was so drawn in by the story and grit of the girl actress and didn’t mind some of the shocking violence. This tremendously successful western thrilled audiences even without John Wayne.

Silence

4. Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is truly scary to read and imagine in your own mind. Surely no movie could reach those levels of intensity? Anthony Hopkins is Mr. Intensity in this film and impacts audiences’ dreams weeks afterward with his portrayal of Lechter.

Jurassic_Park_poster

3. Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park (1993) is another Spielberg blockbuster that both delighted and thrilled fans while avoiding too much of the lecturing on chaos theory. I still think of that cup of water, resonating with the footsteps of the approaching Tyrannosaurus Rex. But I don’t think I will forget the poor fellow meeting T-Rex — and his demise — in the outhouse.

godfather

2. Mario Puzo’s The Godfather
The Godfather (1972) is a brilliant masterpiece directed by Francis Ford Coppola, complete with violent moments that only a portrayal of the mob could allow. It replaced Gone with the Wind as the highest grossing movie when it premiered. Puzo assisted with the screenplay, no doubt lifting its production to the heights it achieved. And who can forget Marlon Brando? If you do, you may no longer be part of the family.

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1. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind (1939) is the number one movie of all time on the charts for prices adjusted for inflation. The movie was epic, sweeping, moving, and star studded. It premiered in a day when the running time was not the obstacle it is today. It was honored as the first film to ever receive 5 Academy Awards. I can still watch this movie and be enthralled with it for hours. But the shock of Rhett Butler’s final words lives on in movie history, and it was truly shocking to the audience of the day.

Written by Dr. William

Library Lady Jane: the Grammar Guru Grants an Interview!

Library Lady JaneIf you write anything at all and you haven’t heard of or followed Library Lady Jane (aka, Jane the Librarian), start getting to know and follow her now. She’s a guru of grammar and a darn nice lady too! We’ve admired her work for quite some time, so we decided to connect with her and see if she’d grant us an interview. To our great delight, she did!

Edit911: Where did you get your love of grammar?

Jane: I got my love of language from my Mom, and from constant reading, another love that was bequeathed by her and pretty much every member of my extended family.  Mom demanded perfect grammar and regular precision of vocabulary, and I loved being able to get it right.  When she saw that, she had me read books on language really early; I remember reading The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way, by Bill Bryson, some time around fifth grade.

 

Edit911: Why do you think so many people have so much trouble with grammar?

Jane: People have difficulty with grammar because they hear it spoken and see it written imperfectly far too often, and they don’t have good models to imitate.  Grammar is taught in very dry ways, and grammar in school would never have interested me in the slightest if it hadn’t been a key to decoding formulas I already knew from reading great books from a young age.

 

Edit911: What advice would you give people who want to improve their grammar?

Jane: If you want to improve your grammar, read your own writing aloud.  Yes, it can be painful, but you will surprise yourself with what you catch if you add the sound of your own voice to the process of revision.  Also, read more.  Read good, well-written, entertaining books when you have the chance.

 

Edit911: Do you have a favorite grammar book and grammar website?

Jane: My favorite grammar book is The Elements of Style, affectionately referred to as “the Strunk and White.”  It’s the only physical book I find myself reaching for for reference purposes on a semi-regular basis.  I don’t have a particular favorite website, but I find myself agreeing with Grammar Girl a great deal of the time. I very rarely use only one resource for grammar or language questions, though, because when such questions arise they are often points that language experts have some disagreement on, or they’re points of definition of use and grammar terminology, so it is necessary to compare several resources.  Google is my best friend for that kind of inquiry; it definitely helps to have mastered some advanced searching techniques.

 

Edit911: What else would you like our clients and visitors to know about you and your work?

Jane: I’m just a librarian with a passion for language!  I got started working with Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) because I sent him a fan email about four years ago and offered to help him with proofreading, and that led to the creation of the semicolon comic (“How to Use a Semicolon“).  We’ve never met in real life.  He sends me comics, and I proofread them to the best of my ability and aim for a fast turnaround, because he often wants to publish as quickly as possible.  Sometimes we collaborate a bit more closely on the text, especially when he is focusing on points of grammar, but we’re not perfect. I’ve overlooked some mistakes that make me cringe now, and wow, the internet is an unforgiving audience for that kind of thing.

How To Use A Semicolon The Oatmeal

Jane has some additional advice: if you want to improve your own writing, or if you have a document that needs another set of eyes, I would encourage you to seek out resources that you might have at your disposal that you may not have considered.  Are you in college or graduate school?  Utilize the writing center on campus. I worked at Auburn University’s writing center for almost three years while I was in school there.  Out of school?  Try the public library. As a public reference librarian, I helped people with papers, resumes, even contracts occasionally, for free.

And, if you have a longer document that absolutely has to be right, it is worth it to pay for professional editing and proofreading services.  I have seen important documents that were poorly edited because someone didn’t want to pay an experienced professional for their time and expertise, and that only reflects poorly on you, the initial author.  Don’t skimp for this kind of service!

Thanks for your wise words and friendly exchange, Jane! You can follow Jane on Twitter @libraryladyjane

Featured Client: Jeff Bacot

On The Hole Jeff BacotDo you like novels and golf? On the Hole is an award-winning novel about golf—and so much more—by Jeff Bacot. On the Hole won the prestigious 2013 EVVY Merit Award for fiction in May, and just won the 2013 GOLD MEDAL Award for sports fiction, with a 5 star rating from the judges of the “Readers Favorite” group.

Regarding Edit911’s editing, Jeff has this to say: “Winning these awards was in no small part because of the brilliant editing help I had from you, Dr. Robert, and Dr. Dan. Edit911 was instrumental in helping me get my novel done. In fact, I literally couldn’t have ended up with my novel nearly as well-written as it is without having had your fantastic editing suggestions and guidance.”

On the Hole is a terrific story! Thanks for entrusting it to us, Jeff!

To learn more about Jeff and his award winning novel check out these resources:

Jeff Bacot

1.  Author:  http://jeffbacot.com/

2.  Book:  http://www.outskirtspress.com/onthehole/

3.  Blog:  http://www.tumblr.com/blog/jeffbacot

4.  Interview w/ Washington Times:  http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/written-word/2013/may/9/interview-hole-author-jeff-bacot/

5.  Press Release:  https://www.prbuzz.com/books-publishing-literature/127267-jeff-bacotss-humorous-and-menacing-on-the-hole-receives-evvy-award-and-washington-times-recognition.html

6.  Twitter: @jeffbacot

7.  Clarion ForeWord:  https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/on-the-hole/