August 2011 Archives

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On average, potential employers will spend only 30 seconds scanning your entire résumé, and if they come across a poorly written objective, your entire résumé can die a premature death. The résumé objective plays a key role in making a first impression. It's analogous to the handshake in the actual interview. In other words, the résumé objective occupies expensive real-estate on the page because it's the first piece of information the employer will read after the contact information. It's wise to write it with care. Here are some things to consider.

First, recognize that having one is optional. It's your choice! Its purpose is to convey your career goals. It should also begin to tell the story of what makes you unique and why you're the best candidate for the position. Consider this one.

To obtain a position where I can excel in my multilayer of excellent communication skills, professionalism, proficient computer, analytical, and organizational skills, and ability to surpass tribulations with creativity using my prior education and work experience.

Did you find yourself breathless from this long-winded, unintelligible collection of words? I know the recruiter did. In fact, he thought it was so awful he sent it to me to share with you.

So what makes a good résumé objective?

1.    Conciseness. Ideally it should be no more than one or two lines. Keep in mind it's a phrase not a complete sentence. Look for words to cut. Make every word count as if you were paying for it--because you are in the use of that valuable 30 seconds your potential employer may give you.

2.    Audience Benefit. Don't make this about how you'll benefit from working there. Here's an example of this type of loser objective.

I want to utilize my skills to play a major part in watching a company grow and further enhance my knowledge of energy and mineral engineering.

If you were writing a come-on for OkCupid or eHarmony would you write, "male looking for a female to do his laundry," or "female looking for a male to start her car in the dead of winter"? Of course not, because you know to attract a date you have to tell the potential romantic partner what's in it for him/her. Even though the language is different for the professional application of writing an objective, the idea is the same. If you can think of two or three key adjectives that describe who you are, you may want to start with these.

3.    Skills. Emphasize the skills you have developed in the experiences you've had. In other words, the objective is part career summary and part description of the job you are seeking along with a bit of a tease of what you can offer. Here's an example. 

Energetic, self-reliant engineer with research experience and excellent analytical skills seeking an entry-level position in ABC Company
Keep in mind that the objective helps your employer quickly evaluate your competency for the vacancy. If it's done well, you can set a positive tone for the whole résumé. If it's not, the Grim Reaper may claim your résumé.

woodward-1.jpgEastern Expansion
July 2011

By: Kimberly Del Bright
Camp Woodward grows from eastern Centre County to the Far East.

"If you build it, they will come."

Gary Ream must have heard that whisper among the rolling green hills of Centre County's Amish country, because the whisper grew into Camp Woodward, the epicenter of action sports and a story of global entrepreneurship for Ream, the organization's owner and director. Built 35 miles east of State College, Camp Woodward is a high-tech training facility for action sports. Step inside and you'll find vert ramps, wedges, ledges, rails, stair sets and massive foam and Resi-Pits. Outside you'll find the B3 Vert, Ball Park Jib on Snoasis, the Launchpad and more. That may all be a foreign language to many of us, but not to someone under the age of 25.

"There's no doubt about the influence this piece of property has had with youth around the world," Ream says as he begins the story of how Woodward spread from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, Colorado, California, and this summer, to campers in Beijing.

It's clear there was a lot of logic and a bit of luck that mixed together to get the magic right. Camp Woodward began as a gymnastics camp operated by Ream and Ed Isabelle, a business partner and former Penn State All-American gymnast. But when the Olympic boycotts of 1980 and 1984 decreased camp attendance, Ream and Isabelle began looking for a sport that could bring in more gender balance (gymnastics was dominated by females) and wouldn't compete with sports offered by universities. They went after BMX racing and eventually BMX freestyle. "We were fortunate to just sort of stumble upon it, understand it, play with it, be kids again and add some capital," is how Ream explains the initial foray into action sports.

It wasn't even called action sports at the time, and there's still a loose connection among several very different sports that gather under this umbrella term. Ream refers to them as "lifestyle sports," because "you live these sports; not because Mom, Dad and the coach are telling you to do it, but because of the passion in your heart." He ties the lifestyle aspect back to the surf culture of California in the '60s when athletes were seeking the biggest wave and the ultimate experience as opposed to such mainstream sports as football and baseball, where money and celebrity are the brass ring.

It was the turning away from this dominant course that gave action sports their original appeal to the youth counterculture movement. But Ream maintains "it wasn't really counterculture as much as it was progressive. It was counter to the ones that didn't get it."

Ream got it, and Woodward began focusing on skateboarding, snowboarding, inline skating and BMX freestyle, in addition to cheer (the new term for cheerleading) and gymnastics.

By 1995 the popularity of action sports had grown, and Ron Semiao of ESPN launched the Extreme Games (now called the X Games) to take advantage of their success. Advertisers did too, labeling everything from deodorant to cleaning supplies "extreme." The natural reaction of the young athletes was to reject this commercialism. So you won't find the word "extreme" used at Camp Woodward, which manages to maintain the coolness factor as action sports grow. "We're 'accepted hip' now, but we never forget to listen to the youth. They drive this, and technology is a part of everything they do," Ream says.

Ream's keen business logic recognized the significance of technology to his 12- to 18-year-old campers, and he began adding digital media, such as video production, graphic arts and digital photography to the camp's offerings. This summer they're adding a music recording camp.

To get a sense of how this comes together, Ream uses the example of a recently completed music video with Fashawn, an up-and-coming hip-hop artist who was visiting the camp. Within a week, using on-site equipment and facilities along with dancers and cheer group participants, they made a professional music video they'll use at camp this summer. Ream's goal is to have all the music played at Woodward be made by the campers and associated with the Woodward brand.

"Music labels are history," he says. "We pull each of these activities and make them a stand-alone camp." The result: consumers create their own products.

The educational component of digital media camps is a big seller to parents, and since they typically write the check that pays for the kid's week there, this is important. But the digital media component is an even bigger attraction for the campers. Using Woodward's sophisticated technology, campers capture and edit their athletic feats and then upload the files to social networking sites, resulting in free advertising and online branding for Woodward. It's a win-win-win situation. "Technology is changing society, and it's more amplified with the speed of the computer," Ream says. "We're only a representation of what's taking place in the world."

By 2006, the world had noticed Woodward. China came calling. Leaders there originally wanted to build the world's largest skate park, but after a tour of the Woodward facilities, which included the digital media studios, they came back to Ream's office and asked him to help them create the world's largest Woodward.

Ream says their motivation was clear. China's one-child policy made inventive play difficult, the visitors told him. "We have family units that have only moms and dads taking care to educate the child to the highest possible level, but it's a vertical tube. There's no 'social consumption,'" they told Ream. "We need to stimulate 'social consumption.'"

Woodward signed a licensing agreement to create Woodward Beijing in 2008. The Chinese were responsible for the development and management of the new camp, and Woodward personnel were responsible for the programming, staffing, curriculum and designs for an annual consulting and licensing fee. "The ability to think we might be comfortable investing dollars in China--that's a pretty difficult thought process, so we told them the only way we'd be willing to do this is with a licensing agreement," says Ream.

Some believe the Chinese are interested in Woodward Beijing to get a jump on a future Olympic sport. Ream agrees, but he points to the Chinese Economic Stimulus Meeting in Tourism and Development he attended in 2009. It helped him understand their larger motivation. As he listened to hours of translated speeches by Chinese government officials, he noticed the common thread was the need to build a society that wants to consume. "They're internally trying to raise the quality of life by encouraging their people, particularly their youth, to enjoy life, because when you enjoy life, you spend money, and they also want to encourage creativity."

But lessons of the Chinese expansion are ongoing. "Nothing we're taught prepares you for the thought process of doing business in China because they are a government system, and I try to believe we're not."

The Chinese business model has flaws, he says. "The Chinese know how to build, but they haven't figured out the operations, programming and marketing."

Those skills are being put to the test now. Woodward Beijing was built in 2009, had a grand opening in 2010, and has opened its doors to the first campers this summer. They will be greeted to a $4 million facility built on the property of a former Chinese government resort hotel in the rural Daxing District of Beijing. The new camp has a 32,000-square-foot outdoor skate park and a 40,000-square-foot indoor facility with year-round offerings that include instruction in English and such recreational activities as chess, bowling and billiards to create more of an academy approach, yet with much of the same programming and instruction of U.S. Woodward camps.

You might think the story ends here, but listening to Ream you feel it's just the beginning. "The other global side to this story is the Olympics," he says. He's convinced that what Shaun White did for snowboarding in the Winter Olympics can be done for BMX freestyle and skateboarding in the Summer Games. If you don't think that's likely, recognize that in 2010, Christophe Dubi, a Swiss member of the International Olympic Committee, spent his vacation at Woodward with his 12-year-old son. Ream thinks Dubi started to "get it" by the time he left. But Ream is cautious.

"We're looking to position these action sports in a way that the IOC gets what it wants, but the structure supports and protects the passion of the youth. Once you go to a world stage that becomes much harder because you're crossing cultures."
Another area he sees potential in is education. "I really think the ultimate thing Woodward will attack is to start our own school. Can we sneak in the math and science? It's not going to be hard if we let youth tell us how to teach."

If Ream's track record is any indication, listening to the whisper of youth can lead to a building boom. And someone will surely come--maybe from as far away as the other side of the world. •SCM

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Building a compostable toilet, making a mud hut, creating vermiculture tubs and learning about organic farming are just a few of the things 22 freshmen who participated in "Sustainability Research in Jamaica" offered by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) got to do this summer.

As part of Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP) led by Neil Brown, Research Associate for The Alliance for Education, Science, Engineering, and Development in Africa (AESEDA), and Kimberly Del Bright, Giles Writer-in-Residence for EMS, students studied sustainability and communication on campus. They also traveled to Jamaica for 12 days where they were challenged to PLAN for sustainable living, DO projects that reflect sustainable solutions, LIVE in sustainable ways, and develop materials to SHARE their experiences.

The LEAP pride was introduced to four sustainability principles adapted from "The Natural Step Framework," a comprehensive model that helps organizations integrate sustainable development into their strategic planning. Additionally, the students studied rhetoric and composition (English 15) to better understand and respond to arguments concerning sustainability. Evaluating the debates over environmental protection, economic development, and the costs to society were explored considering viewpoints of scientists, advisers, legislators, policy makers, reporters and others.

After four weeks of learning about sustainability and argument, students traveled to Jamaica for 12 days where they were challenged to PLAN for sustainable living, DO projects that reflect sustainable solutions, LIVE in sustainable ways, and develop material to SHARE their experiences.

Here's what they had to say about their experiences:

The guys were instantly turned into twelve-year-olds [because of the lizards and the attempts to catch them]. We tried all day to catch these speed demons, but their deceptive tactics are directly comparable to that of a leprechaun. Soon, Saia, a worker at Durga's Den showed us how to make lizard catchers out of the leaf of a tree. Then the fun began. We had catching competitions, bets, and lizard battles.
~Alex Strohl

We also hosted a toga party on [one of the evenings in Jamaica]. We invited all of our classmates and the teachers. We had a fantastic time dancing to the Backstreet Boys, Usher, and other random tunes, until we heard a knock on the door--it was Martha! She entered the room dressed in the finest sheets of them all. Martha went home with the prize of the night. She won "Best Overall" for her toga.
~Ashley Vargas

While in Jamaica, there were many locals who were obviously very different from us. It was fun to have conversations with them and learn their stories, but it was difficult to understand their language. The real Jamaican language is not nearly as easy to understand as the guys from Cool Runnings! Learning to deal with their crazy slang helped me become a better communicator. If I was not fully focused on what they were saying, I had no chance of interpreting their words...It made me more aware of the fact that not everyone understands what I say either.
~Kyle Will

One essay per week, many bug bites, and using a hole in the ground as a toilet, these words describe my summer at Penn State; to most the thought of even one of these things causes distress. However, I would not trade my LEAP experience for anything...Through my experience, I learned the value of the writing principles, teamwork, and awareness...and I will continue to apply these skills throughout my life.
~Jess Zaverukha

We learned to get along and work cohesively as a team. Catching lizards, rap battles, hours upon hours of "Would-You-Rather" games, and countless dance parties, all allowed us to bond, creating friendships that would follow us home to State College...I've learned that to succeed in college, independence, confidence, and self-motivation are key qualities. The initiatives I take to think ahead, plan, and take care of all tasks, big and small, are slowly but surely being fine-tuned.
~Megan Steward

My journals, specifically the ones comparing Jamaica to America, have taught me about different lenses...By constructing a résumé I have learned the importance of organization and how placement of key points can have a major impact on my reader.
~Connor Simpson

It is important to relate to your reader...For example, If I were writing to college students, trying to get them to stop drinking so much, I wouldn't start with saying that they are all morons...Instead, I might start off by pointing out that I, too, am a college student, and I like to blow off steam at parties. I learned that by establishing common ground with the reader...the argument is more credible.
~Kaitrin Rodgers

I participated in many projects, including how to build mud huts, composting toilets, beds (which we actually slept on), vermiculture tubs, and how to farm organically. I learned about growing crops, how to prevent soil erosion, and how to re-use materials that in the U.S. we may think of as trash.
~Jillian Rodgers

My professors worked hard to create synergy between their course and challenged me with new things to think about...When Professor Bright would talk about how to make an argument, Dr. Brown would discuss how that relates to sustainability. Through this back and forth relating of the material, it was easy to see how they connected and reinforced what we learned...They [also] encouraged us to be life-long learners.
~Greg Ritson

[Future LEAPERS] I hope you have as much of a meaningful experience as I have had. Coming into this class I despised writing and reading, but through my experiences with both her [Professor Bright's] class and Professor Brown's class, I have learned to enjoy writing and have even become more accustom to reading. Without this class, I would still be filling my ants in a puddle of lemonade.
~Tim Osusky

At Durga's Den, one of the activities I participated in was building a mud hut. This required a group of us to figure out how to work together in a team. In the building process, we had to take the bricks of mud made the day before, and stack them on the wall. At first, the six of us who were doing this worked individually, and we made little progress. Then we came together; we started working as a team...Working together as a group is much more exciting and makes the task more enjoyable.
~Stefan Moff

One of the main things focused on at Penn State is to make the experience of college your own. I want to set up a program through my college (Agricultural Sciences) and through Penn State, so that I can go to Haiti and study, furthering my education. I have witnessed the impact of learning through experience and the way it is more beneficial to me.
~Cara McDonald

To go from Senior Week to classes at Penn State, all in a matter of hours was nerve-wracking, but I had to remember what you always say Dad, "how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." At first, that elephant was hard to even look at, but now I can confidently say, that it tastes good. In other words, I've grown up a lot since I've been here. I'm no longer the nervous high school kid you dropped off who was aimless about what he was going to do for the next four years. I'm ready to command and conquer this place I now call home.
~Ryan McCaffrey

I just want to thank all of you [fellow LEAPERS] for making me feel like I am part of a family...I finally feel like a part of the Penn State Community. In a few short days, we will be ending summer session. After that, most of us will continue to East Halls, in the fall to go our separate ways pursuing our futures...I am grateful that my [Penn State] family started here with you.
~Nicole Marusco (a.k.a Grandma)

The average American child is instilled with the idea that contentment is equivalent to financial success: high-paying jobs, big houses, and abundant food. It is assumed that anyone who does not achieve this is unhappy...Spending time in [Jamaica] made me realize just how skewed my perception of the world really was. I found myself stuck by a new idea: sometimes it is those who have less in life that are the fortunate ones.

I will never forget my first visions of Jamaica. Watching out the windows of the crammed bus, I could not take my eyes off of the landscape which was washed in a bluish-grey from the tinted windows. Dilapidated shacks and half-built houses stood in stark contrast to the handful of mansions and resorts that dotted the mountainside. The roads were filled with old vehicles: mostly vans and trucks filled to overflowing with Jamaicans. Stray dogs ambled along the side of the streets looking for food. This was not the tourist destination that I had imagined.

One of the most memorable evenings of the trip occurred when a group of fisherman cooked us dinner on the beach. Herbie taught us about the different components of the meal. He stood in front of us in the shabby, dirt-stained clothes he had worn all week; half of his teeth were missing. He showed no shame. Instead, he seemed honored to have the opportunity to bestow his knowledge upon us.

Whenever I get caught up in the hectic pace of the United States, I will take a moment to think back to my time in Jamaica and what the people there taught me: happiness is not measured in monetary wealth but in our level of contentment with what we have.
~Molly Cain

Here's a student-made YouTube video of their experience.

If you'd like to learn more, contact me at, or Neil Brown at

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