Melissa Phipps, Author at General Assembly Blog

The Power of Mentoring in the Workplace

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Mentors are clearly fabulous: Tim Gunn with Project Runway Season 13 finalist Char Glover. Photo courtesy of Lifetime.

It has been said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. This may be true but lately, mentoring has received a bit of an unfairly negative rap. First there was Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book Lean In advising women to never ask anyone to be your mentor, then came the book by economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett proclaiming we should forget mentors and find sponsors instead.

While it may not sell as many books, mentoring has been an overwhelming success story for corporate hirers. At least 70% of Fortune 500 companies have adopted formal mentoring programs and, according to one survey by Robert Half International, 94% of U.S. executives say that having a mentor is important for professionals starting out. Companies large and small understand that mentoring is a powerful tool for encouraging diversity and inclusion, and making people feel more successful and gratified in their jobs. If your startup is considering a mentoring program, ignore the hype and focus on the benefits of mentoring.

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A Napkin-Level View of Data Modeling

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Groupon’s original business plan. Image source: Amanda Peyton (via The Point blog)

If you work in digital, you have met them. The data people. You know, the ones who can see level upon level of digital data unfolding in their mind’s eye? The Beautiful Mind types who have the ability to create an almost three-dimensional Excel spreadsheet? Perhaps you are one of these people, and this stuff comes naturally to you. For the rest of us non-data thinkers, creating a digital map on paper is a skill. It’s known as data modeling.

The idea of a data model is to create an overview of a digital project that all invested parties can access, understand, and use to do their jobs. Whether you are a data specialist, an agile whiz, or just a content strategist who studied James Joyce in college and doesn’t inherently think in data bytes, if you work in digital, you will probably have to create a model.

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Online Learning Is a Boon for Small Towns and Small Startups

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Depot Town, Michigan. Image source: Cmadler via Wikimedia Commons

In today’s virtual world, the next great business idea need not come from California’s Silicon Valley or New York City’s Silicon Alley. It could come from a silicon cornfield, digital bayou, or mobile rustbelt in any one of thousands of tiny rural regions or small towns across America, towns that may have lost a past glory or never thrived because of a lack of employment opportunities. With online learning programs offering the ability to train adults to do in-demand careers, people throughout the country now have the same inroads to specialized learning and potential innovation available to residents of big cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, and Boston.

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The Best Interactive Tools To Help Kids Learn To Code (While Having Fun)

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As a mother of two boys under age 10, I know how hungry to learn children can be. My kids could teach themselves to read literature in Russian if they thought it would be fun. I kept that in mind while researching the best resources to teach kids to code. What children need is something that makes coding engaging, exciting, and (the word that parents cannot utter without turning whatever they are talking about into anything but) cool. Here are some apps, online programs, and camps to help your future coders get started.

Related Story: The Biggest Subject We Should Be Teaching Kids, But Aren’t

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Chart Your Course: Which General Assembly Class Is Right for You?

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However you want to come at your next career or business idea, we at General Assembly have a class to help you do it. With on-campus courses in 12 cities—including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, London, Sydney, and Hong Kong—and online classes available everywhere, it’s just a matter of making your next move. Which will it be? Here are a few questions to help you find an educational opportunity that fits your goals and lifestyle.

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The Biggest Subject We Should Be Teaching Kids, But Aren’t

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By 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings, according to the Department of Labor. There is much debate over whether or not everyone should learn code, but in a time when communicating with a computer seems almost more important than communicating in a second language, it makes sense that computer science skills be taught to all kids as part of their curriculum. The basics of coding are not necessarily difficult to master, and starting to learn young teaches kids how to ask questions, problem solve, and see new possibilities for what they are capable of creating.

Even President Obama has advocated for computer science education in America’s high schools. “Don’t just buy a new video game. Make one. Don’t just download the latest app. Help design it. Don’t just play on your phone. Program it,” said the President in his message to promote Computer Science Education Week in 2013.

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Considering Business School? Read These 10 Books Instead

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Image courtesy of Moyan Brenn on Flickr

There’s no denying that a master’s degree in business administration has cachet. Too bad that cachet takes a few years to achieve, comes with a hefty price tag and, these days, offers no job guarantees. Wouldn’t it be a nicer route to become a master of business through interesting career moves and investments, personal connections, great talks, classes and events, and a handful of enlightening business books?

Let’s start with the books. We’ve broken down 10 MBA lessons, and for each one there is a corresponding must-read book. Call it business school in 10 books. It won’t earn you an MBA, but it will give you an education in business.

Related Story: 10 Books To Read Before Pitching Your Startup

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The Social Network That Every Entrepreneur Should Be On

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Please bear with me while I make a case for something that most of us don’t likely need: Another social media network. Hear me out—this one is different. It’s the American Express OPEN Forum, and it’s arguably a must-visit for entrepreneurs, thought leaders, even corporate executives. What started as a resource for American Express clients has become an organic meeting place for the business minded. Call it LinkedIn for thought leaders, Facebook for founders; OPEN Forum is an online space where almost every exchange seems relevant to entrepreneurs and innovators. Here are three reasons you won’t regret joining.

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How to Set Boundaries at Work: Tips for Founders, Managers, and Employees

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When people talk about setting boundaries at work, it is often in terms of personal or individual boundaries and how they affect work-life balance. This balance is certainly important, but so is office-life balance. According to a PENN Behavioral Health study, Setting Boundaries at Work, there are several types of boundaries: job responsibility boundaries, interpersonal boundaries, and personal boundaries.

These boundaries start with the founder, define how managers do their job, and impact individual employees. Here is how to set boundaries in the workplace if you are a company founder, manager, or employee.

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Think You’re Cut Out To Work From Home? Read This First

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Image courtesy of Flickr

If you have ever worked in an office environment, it is easy to see the benefits of working from home instead. Working in your own home is often a more convenient, comfortable, cost-effective, time-efficient, and environmentally friendly option.

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