• The Serious Business of Summer Fun and Relaxation

    It’s easy to fall into the trap, especially if you’ve already started your career or you’re working hard to kick it off, of overwork. In the United States, work is sacrosanct, and in many fields, overwork is simply part of the experience. If you’re motivated to get ahead and find success, it takes putting in the time and building your skills while preparing yourself for your next opportunity. However, taking time off, especially in the summer, is also important for your career.

    At Pickens Technical College, everyone from the administrators to the teachers to the counselors and staffers works together to give students opportunities. But they value their summer vacation times, too. Use their example and give yourself time to rest and reset your batteries when the sun comes out, and you’ll find yourself motivated to take that next step when school and/or work starts up again.

    Vacation time has been studied by researchers to try and find a link between regular rest and productivity, job satisfaction, and other indicators of success. Time and time again, vacation has been found to boost productivity. Don’t worry, you aren’t going soft or getting lazy if you decide to take a week or two off every summer.

    Let’s look at a few specific ways vacation time can help you be your best and advance your career:

    Boost Your Creativity

    Do you ever find yourself staring at a problem or task so arduous you simply can’t even start it, let alone perform your best work on it? It’s a symptom of burnout. In this context, I mean burnout not as a function of working 80 hours a week, but because your brain is fatigued. It could be because of lack of sleep, too much stress, too much repetitive work, or a number of other reasons. Spending time away from your desk, especially in nature (even if you’re only sunbathing), lets your brain rest. If you can manage to stay away from work for a week or more, your brain will be clear of its fatigue and you’ll find yourself completing arduous tasks more quickly and easily when you return.

    Relieve Stress

    I wanted to make stress relief its own section because it’s so important to realize what stress does to your body. When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that constrict blood vessels, increasing risks and complications from hypertension and other circulation problems. And that’s just the beginning of harmful reactions prolonged stress causes in your body. Stress leads to cardiac arrest and other problems, and it can build up in your system and affect your health and productivity. Release stress by taking a vacation and spending time outside.

    Create Habits and Examples of Self-Care

    Perhaps the most important reason to give yourself a vacation is the habit that it instills in you and the example you’ll be setting for others. When you make time off not just a fun treat every once in a while, but a necessary part of keeping yourself in peak condition to perform your job functions, you’ll create a habit that will benefit you for your entire career. Think of taking a vacation as akin to working out, minus the sweat and physical pain. When you reach that point in your career where you’re leading others, taking a vacation will send them a message and provide them with an example of why vacationing is necessary and important, encouraging them to do the same. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself managing a team of happy, energetic workers.

    Everyone is different. Some people manage stress and burnout better than others. Know yourself, know your body, and allow yourself the time to restore your powers and abilities with time off this summer.

  • The Basics of Dental Assistance

    The Dental Assisting program at Pickens Technical College is a popular one that teaches students to be contributing members of the dental profession. Dental assistants work with the dentist at the chair side in the dental office, providing support to dentists and patients. Experienced dental assistants perform direct patient care functions such as taking x-rays and tooth impressions, and providing preventative education and nutritional counseling as needed. They also handle clerical and reception work at many offices as well. Dentists are relying increasingly more on their assistants to keep customers relaxed and happy when they visit the dentist—no easy task.

    But it’s that difficult task that the dental assistant’s profession is given more and more often. Working with diverse populations is a skill that is increasing demand in the dental world as well, especially in large metro areas like Denver.

    Aside from learning the basic tasks that a dental assistant has to undertake on a day-to-day basis, PTC’s program also focuses on critical thinking, effective communication, information and technology literacy, quantitative reasoning, and professionalism. These skills are particularly important in today’s changing dental profession, where making patients comfortable, no matter who they are or where they come from, is paramount.

    Students who complete the Dental Assisting course at PTC will earn a Dental Assisting certificate and will be qualified to enroll in the Expanded Duty Dental Assisting (EDDA) Program, also offered at PTC.

    Meet the Instructors

    With the addition of newcomers Cathy Mauricio and Heidi Heath last year, the PTC Dental Assisting program now has three experienced, engaging instructors to help students enter the dental assisting profession. Mauricio teaches both EDDA and Dental Assisting at PTC. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Colorado and attended dental school at San Martin University in Lima, Peru.

    Heidi Heath is a PTC graduate who cut her teeth, so to speak, in the dental industry by completing a 300-hour internship at a particularly busy dental practice before returning to PTC to teach up-and-coming dental assistants this year.

    Heath continues to work as a temp EDDA to help her stay connected with the rapidly changing field and help her students even more. She is on the Advisory Board Committee at Pickens and believes in PTC’s mission to provide students with hands-on learning in environments as close to the real thing as possible.

    The veteran of the Dental Assisting instructors is Chuck Lee, a licensed dentist in the state of Colorado and a PTC instructor for the past six years. Lee spent 25 years in the dental industry after earning his dental degree from the University of Colorado. He founded his own private practice in 1989. Lee has seen it all as a dentist and knows what students need to know to be successful.

    The dental profession is changing because its patients are constantly changing. PTC’s Dental Assisting program ensures that its students are prepared to meet these changes and challenges head-on with experiential learning and an emphasis on making patients of all kinds feel welcome.

  • How to Turn Nervous Energy into an Asset in Job Interviews

    I’ll be honest. I don’t take advantage of the well-documented mental help that meditation and other thinking exercises offers. It’s not because I look down on Eastern Medicine, or that I think I’m better than everyone who does yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation; it’s because I often feel I don’t have time.

    That’s not an uncommon sentiment, I realize, but in certain situations, trying to focus my mind and relieve unnecessary stress has helped me.

    Pickens Technical College is of course here to help you find jobs using the skills you’ve acquired. Its Career Services office is there to help students both before and after graduation get introduced to the opportunities they went to school for in the first place. Part of that getting-a-job process is the interview. The Career Services office can help you practice for interviews and prepare.

    But what about those pesky butterflies in your stomach? The trick isn’t to try to destroy those feelings and that energy (by the laws of physics, you can’t destroy energy), but to transform it into something useful.

    I’ve been there. Before meeting with a client for the first time, the butterflies swirl and crowd my stomach. It’s a natural reaction, but by doing a few simple cognitive exercises, you can relieve your nerves and infuse yourself with the focus you’ll need to wow employers at the interview. As a skeptic, I was surprised by the effectiveness of doing these exercises, and you might be, too.

    The key to eliminating your nervous energy is to get to the root of your anxiety. Believe it or not, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pay for a month of therapy. It’s actually pretty easy to arrive at the root causes of your anxiety when you think about it. Before you start this deep dive, however, remind yourself that your feelings aren’t unnecessary. People punish themselves for being nervous or anxious when then can’t figure out why. All of your feelings are legitimate if you’re feeling them, even if you can’t immediately identify their cause.

    Take a few moments to yourself and ask why you’re feeling nervous. In the case of job interviews, the root cause is usually pretty simple and self-explanatory: you’re nervous you’ll do or say something terrible in the interview that not only keeps you from getting this job, but keeps you out of your dream career altogether. Remember that the worst thing that could happen is that you don’t get the job. Unless you do something truly outrageous (chances are you won’t if you’re nervous about the job interview), you’ll get another chance at a good job even if you fail horribly in your next interview.

    For me, at this stage, it helps to write it down. Listing my anxieties helps me get it out of my body, in a strangely satisfying way. You might get the anxieties out into the world by saying them out loud or telling someone else about them. The simple act of identifying your anxieties and examining them is crucial for turning anxious energy into useful energy.

    The next step sounds much simpler but is actually much more difficult. Once you have the roots of your anxiety exposed, stop gripping at the fear these things cause and understand that no matter what happens, you’ll be okay. This thought process can take some time and work, but if you try, you’ll arrive at the simple knowledge that everything will work out. Once you’ve arrived at this conclusion, you’ll be relaxed and focused on your interview.