Category Archives: Illegal Termination

TI (9)? I Exist… And You?

Much has happened over the past week as David slouches in the saddle once again. Last time we reviewed how the power of affirmations and visualization can lead to great success, personally and professionally. Catching up with David we find that part of his process during the termination process revolves around one simple question: “Are you existing or living?”

DSC_0090 Two weeks ago I asked David to begin the affirmation and visualization process – of which he states he has. Problem is, he now questions if there is a meaning in life or do we just exist between birth and death? Actually a complicated question asked throughout the ages… and first asked (officially) by a Socrates. So many years later, same question… same excuses.

David: “Once terminated by Bertha, I stopped thinking about duties of the day and began to think about purpose… or if there is one. This thought hit hard last week while standing in a return line at Walmart. I saw on the faces of all entering sadness, hollowness, and burden. Their eyes and body language yelled existence, not living. I stood there, wondering if my eyes disclosed the same lack of passion… water began to swell and I’m not really sure why. I just felt so much sadness, like I was drowning in a river of emptiness.”

Taking David’s thought to the next level, questions slid inside a diving pool… are we poised to ask, do we dare ask, are we afraid of the answer: “Are you living or existing? Are you happy with your life, your career, and who you are?” With heaviness, I followed David’s experience at Walmart and took trip to our local market for a view from my own eyes.

Like David, I saw what he saw… for the first time my eyes opened to a world where self- and social- delusion no longer blinded vision. Who knows, perhaps I noticed you in the crowd… did you see me or are you capable of sight?

Knowing the vast majority of people are not satisfied with their current job/position, I would like to know how you are going through each day without purpose, not just professionally. With this, I encourage each reader to take the next fifteen minutes to reflect on themselves and respond to the following (would appreciate feedback but expect none):

  • What does the concept “exist” mean and how does it differ from the concept of “living”
  • Are you doing what you believe you were born to do
  • What keeps you motivated, professionally and personally (please do not say money)
  • When you are gone, what do you want to be remembered for (do not mention easy things like being a great mom, a great dad, a hard worker, a religious person, a great knitter—I am looking for something unique—and we are all unique—and personal)

With these questions in mind, I went back to David and asked for his insight. As expected, David remained depressed over the termination.

David: “When teaching and seeing student eyes open to new possibilities and insight, I grasped a sense of wonder dreamed about as a young child. Yeah, I’ve owned, operated, and ran large and small organizations, but the feeling of being alive was only profound when teaching. Bertha took that away, and enjoyed doing it. I’m trying to visualize regaining that sense of self, but all I see is her smile, smirking and slashing without regard to civility, right or wrong.”

Danny: “Yes, getting back on the track to ‘living’ is not going to be easy, but it can be regained. Perhaps you will find some comfort in the old saying, ‘what comes around, goes around?’ Who knows what karma has in store.”

What about you? Are you afraid to look into the mirror with eyes no longer shut? Are you existing day to day until death or are you living, appreciating the moment? When was the last time your body thanked your lungs for air? Think about it before slighting the question as being silly. Look behind the veil, if you can.

I’m not asking for me, I’m asking for you: Are you existing or are you living?

Looking onward, David comes to share more about his trip(s) and times alone with Bertha. Through the next few letters, you will recognize the deceit and desperation behind the makeup Bertha wore so well.

If you have any questions or would like to add to the journey, contact me directly at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how ECS can help you. Be sure and have your peers join in on the conversation and adventure… they may thank you one very difficult day.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Blog site: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

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Terminated Illegally (8)? Commitment to Persevere

Without seeing who you can be tomorrow,
you will never be more than who you are today.

It’s been a rough few weeks for David as he is still coping with the emotional and psychological trauma inflicted upon him last month. I’ve reached out several times to him over the past week but found only echoed silence. Fortunately he was able to pull up his bootstrap and continue highlighting a journey many have traveled.

Before David discussed additional elements leading up to the date of his firing, we took a few moments to examine his mental state of mind and a few techniques proven to strengthen self-confidence and motivation.

David: “Like I said, I just don’t get it. I worked hard, gained respect of my peers and those being mentored, and still it wasn’t good enough. I feel like a failure.”

Danny: “Losing your job will dent esteem and motivation; that’s no secret. But there are things one can do to get out of that temporary funk. For instance, what do you think about before you go to bed and when you first wake up?”

David: “What do you mean before I go to sleep? I think about how rotten it was being fired and how wrong Chity College was in so many ways. I think about this going to bed and it remains to burn my mind’s sunrise. And when I wake up, I just want to lay there, to not even get up and try. Keep thinking about ‘once a failure, always a failure.’”

Danny: “David, you have the power to control confidence and motivation. One technique proven to be effective is before going to bed one should think about a positive event completed during the day. It could be something simple like making a great meal or working on a project or being patient in heavy traffic (without raising blood pressure). Research is clear, what one thinks about as they go to bed impacts the quality of sleep and morning attitude.”

David: “You’re saying think positive thoughts and the world will be a better place? Sounds like a load of crap to me.”

Danny: “Not saying that at all. I am challenging you to think of something positive completed during the day each evening. And when you wake up, make a commitment to yourself that the day is going to be a good day, that you are in control, or that you will succeed. These commitments you make are often referred to as affirmations and can be quite powerful. Rather than dwelling on a hurtful past, center your concentration on a positive future.”

David: “Telling myself does not make it real. What’s the purpose?”

Danny: “True enough, but in order to change, to become more confident, and to ignite motivation, there must be a goal. Affirmations are the first steps to change from being a victim to being the champion you are meant to be. From affirmations, picture in your mind the day how you will feel. Begin with small and easily attainable goals, we’ll work our way into more challenging ones soon.”

David: “Fair enough, I’ll try this commitment thing. I’ll think about a positive before I go to bed, even think about a goal I want to complete once awake. And this affirmation thing, will give it a try.”

Danny: “To be clear, you are not going to dwell on the negatives, only on the positives. You will make positive affirmations when you wake up. I will ask you to write your daily affirmations in a journal as well. By writing affirmations on paper, the breath of life enters their soul.”

David: “Whatever.”

The power of personal commitments and affirmations can be significant and life-changing. As with David, I suggest each reader develop their own affirmations.

To share a bit about myself, my morning affirmation over the years has been (and continues to be): “I am the master of my universe, and I am the power.” Yeah, a bit corny and he-man cartoonish but it helps me recognize that if I want things to change, it must first come from within me; no one else.

I encourage you to share your affirmations over the week by sending them in through the comment page or directly to me. Next time we’ll go one step further with David by taking affirmations into the visualization stage.

As promised in previous submissions, we will detail the cognitive dissonance David had been experiencing over the past 18 months by highlighting external pressures and value-marginalizing techniques forced by Bertha. But first we need to get David back on the right track before the rabbit hole engulfs his confidence and motivation. For those in similar situations, no doubt you understand the reason for the detour.

If you have any questions or would like to add to the journey, contact me directly at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how ECS can help you. Be sure and have your peers join in on the conversation and adventure… they may thank you one very difficult day.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Blog site: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Terminated Illegally (7)? Refocus the Loss

Last time we reviewed the five stages of loss many encounter during the grieving process, including los of a job. Unfortunately, the effects of being illegally terminated can leave a bruise lasting a lifetime, let’s hope David is able to find acceptance before too long.

Today’s submission takes a curve as we look deeper into YOU (while concluding behind David’s reflection). For those who have suffered a loss, any type of loss, the grieving process can prove to be a difficult path to eventual emotional recovery. With this said, look in the mirror, open truth, and recognize that person looking back is defined by you, no one else.

Your turn: Using the list of stages previously reviewed, explain a career loss you suffered, how it made you feel, and how it affected your personal/family life.

Now that the person looking back is the same person paying attention, continue introspection by responding to the following (only you will be reviewing responses so be honest by expressing the emotional impact the loss created)…

Your turn: I dealt with the above loss detailed by the five stages:

  • Denial:
  • Anger:
  • Bargaining:
  • Depression:
  • Acceptance:

Too easy to sweep emotion beneath the carpet, the cost of jarring pain far outweighs the benefit. It’s a huge relief to accept and grow after personal or professional loss.

Truth is, more often than not, how we react to hardships is within you. How do you think David is reacting to his hardship? I think he’s on the right track but he also expressed how the illegal termination will leave a psychological scar for the remainder of his years.

For the record: The emotional journey doesn’t always stop at acceptance; more work required.

During the course of conversation with David, I shared this thought: “Time doesn’t take away pain, only texture.” For several minutes David held quiet and then mentioned the following:

David:While growing up, my grandfather told me that ‘if nothing changes, nothing changes.’”

His lesson appearing obvious: If you are not where you want to be now, strap your boots on and do something about it.

Between stares and silence, I felt it was my turn to bring forth a saying: “The true definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

David looked away, his voice faltered, hid momentarily, and then revealed how he was finding it hard to get out of his depression because he felt he was used and tossed out the window of a speeding wood-paneled station wagon like a burnt out butt no longer breathing purpose. I asked why he felt that way.

His response was long-suffering, whispery, and haunted by smothering apprehension: “Bertha used me, I feel demeaned each time I remember the discussions and moments we had at the beach; we were alone to the world, just her and I… I listened, consoled, and as she leaned into me, the connection was paralyzing. I was hooked and by the next morning, she had me. I don’t think I’ll get over what I thought was warmth but was only self-serving deceit.”

David went on; detailing events of the evening and conversations during the business trip we’ll share as our journey continues. To say the least, as an objective author and outsider, I am shocked Chity College and Bertha terminated David with such malleolus abandon and without regard to the ripples, personally and professionally.

If you have any questions or would like to add to the journey, contact me directly at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how ECS can help you. Be sure and have your peers join in on the conversation and adventure… they may thank you one very difficult day.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

 

Terminated Illegally (6)? Five Stages of Loss

Being a victim of termination rarely ranks high on the list of pleasantries. For many, the psychological and emotional distress caused by the loss of employment manifests itself physically. For those on the wrong side of a termination, no doubt you feel me.

The common stages of loss (employment included) many people experience are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Let’s highlight the five stages and examine David’s distress:

Denial: Quite often, the first reaction to learning you’ve been fired or let go is to deny that it is really happening. It’s normal to do this; in fact, it helps you get over the shock. This stage is usually brief and is only meant to carry you to the next step.

David: “Prior to the termination meeting, I felt comfortable. Heck, the email invitation from Bertha did not appear threatening… truth is, I was sucker-punched, to say the least. Once the axe came down, I thought that there was no way this was happening. After all, I’ve had only positive feedback from students, staff, and Bertha herself. And then to be showcased out like an animal on display; the cruelty and total dehumanization presented by Bertha was evil; pure and simple.”

Anger: As denial fades, the reality of the situation often comes back in an emotional and fearful way. It is at this time the concern over how you can pay bills is most pressing.

David: “Though the money was marginal, it was counted on for diapers, milk, and basic necessities. Yes, upset and angry over the process remains weeks later, especially when I allow myself to think about the over-powering and poisonous level of immorality by Bertha, her non-emotional glare, and her sense of snugness. I am feeling better but can’t sleep soundly as I keep replaying the way I was treated like a roach.”

Bargaining: Anger often makes one feel helpless. In order to regain control, it is common to begin making deals and thinking of what could have happened. Thoughts such as “If only I didn’t show up late that one day,” or “If only I was nicer to my boss,” or “maybe if I had agreed to more hours,” toss around our minds and add to sleepless nights. Making up “if’s” is another step to coping with a tough situation. After the “what if’s” run through your head and conversations, most people fall into the next step without realizing it.

David: “I don’t really have too many “what if’s” as the ambush came to me as a total bombshell. I did nothing wrong, falling victim to a mentally instable reptile in disguise… a reptile inebriated by delusion.”

Depression: This occurs when the loss is hitting you the hardest. Loss is a difficult thing to cope with, especially when you realize there’s nothing you can do to get it back. Questions like “How am I going to pay my bills?” “Where will I find another job?” “What do I do now?” “How can I stay positive when all I get is rejection?” can take control of your thoughts. It is at this time that keeping busy and not giving into depression is extremely important.

David: “No doubt depression hits hard and it is hitting me harder than expected. I know I was bringing good to many and not being allowed to share remains the most difficult part for me. Yeah, it’s hard to be positive after this treatment. Quite honestly, the depression continues to cause migraines, sleepless nights, mental irritation, emotional injury, and physical difficulties as well. Unfortunately, over the past two weeks I’ve also gained ten pounds… my cardiologist is not happy.”

Acceptance: This stage is a gift that is not easily given to everyone and is not on a set time table. Acceptance means that you understand why you were let go, even if you don’t agree with the reasons, and this allows you to continue on with your life and career in a positive way.

David: “I’m not there yet. I don’t agree with the reasons as they were muddled by semantics. No doubt I will get over this travesty and the level of support by way of emails and calls has been a true blessing. For those, thank you for allowing a few sparks of light to enter a world smothered by forced apathy.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s “Five Stages of Grief” mentioned above categorizes what many experience due to job loss. David’s reaction fits the process, and I look forward to where his journey takes us all.

Next time we’ll be delving deeper into the five stages of loss, focusing attention to those who have experienced a job loss and developing a way to refocus the pain into a more positive and progressive step to career success… you don’t want to miss our next episode.

If you have any questions or would like to add to the journey, contact me directly at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how ECS can help you. Be sure and have your peers join in on the conversation and adventure… they may thank you one very difficult day.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Education Career Services Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

 

Terminated Illegally (5)? Filing for Unemployment

For those looking to file for unemployment, the Internet can be a handy tool. Though requirements and procedures may not be identical between states, the fundamental application remains consistent.

Taking David’s lead, he went to Google and searched “filing for unemployment in Florida.” No doubt you can do the same for the state you are in. Once there, he noticed the first few choices were exactly what he needed. After clicking “State of Florida.com / Florida Unemployment,” he was taken to the “Florida Unemployment Guide.”

Once there, review the options. I suggest you take advantage of the resources and read all you can. The following options are readily available:

  • Am I eligible
  • Submitting a claim
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Additional benefits and assistance
  • Help finding a job
  • Claiming weeks
  • Appealing denied benefits

According to the Florida Unemployment Guide, in order to be eligible for Florida benefits, several criteria must be met:

  • You must have lost your job through no fault of your own, so you must not have quit for personal reasons or been terminated for malicious misconduct (poor job performance does not disqualify you).
  • You must be totally or partially unemployed.
  • You must have a minimum amount of wages earned in what is called the “base period,” which is the first four complete quarters beginning 18 months prior to your claim.
  • You must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work. This includes being able to get to a job and have child care if necessary.

Naturally if you or someone you know has been fired, examining eligibility is a first step. To decrease stress and frustration, make sure you are eligible. Given this is a time of great hardship, you don’t want to become even more frustrated with the process.

Unemployment can be devastating on a multitude of levels. The psychological stress, the financial hardship, and the family pressure can be an overwhelming trauma. On this note, before detailing the actual unemployment claim application, it may be in David’s best interest to review the job-loss grieving process most people follow. We’ll notice David reacted classically to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s “Five Stages of Grief.”

For those who have been a difficult grief enhanced situation like being terminated, I believe you will find similarities.

Good news is, you are not alone.

If you have any questions or would like to add to the journey, contact me directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how I can help you. Be sure and have your peers join in on the conversation and adventure… they may thank you one very difficult day.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Terminated Illegally (4)? Should I beg or should I bolt

Truth is not defined by others.
Truth is defined by you.

When faced with an employment termination, there are two basic reactions: Begging for your job back or accepting the fact you have no job – leaving the area with dignity (or not). Being in an executive positon for over a decade, I’ve had the displeasure of terminating more than a handful of employees. Though lesser appear to be shocked by the event, most know (at least on the subconscious level) their days are numbered.

Last submission we detailed what happened during David’s firing, today we’re going to return to the shark tank as we look at the final few minutes…

David: “There I was, Bertha held out my final compensation (minus 32 outstanding hours), making it clear my stay was no longer welcomed. I placed the few pieces of paper into my briefcase, thought for a moment, and stated ‘I am going to leave professionally because that is who I am.’”

Danny: “Did you think about apologizing or asking for reconsideration?”

David: “Throughout the 15 minute harpooning, the open wounds Bertha and Mr. Farris poured salt into went too far, too deep, too painful to allow another opportunity. I knew from the moment of walking into the office, a decision was made and rebuttal would be futile. Plus, I knew I was much better a person than the two bottom-feeders circling me.”

Danny: “Were you asked to sign anything? Were you given paperwork?”

David: “Did not sign anything. Was not asked to sign anything; besides,what value is there in a signature of a broken soul? I was given Mr. Farrris’ business card, a copy of my original application of employment, my final check, and a copy (signed by Bertha) of a Notice of Trespass Warning.”

Danny: “Can you summarize what a notice of trespass warning is for those not familiar?”

David: “Sure. The Notice of Trespass Warning given to me detailed how ‘I was NOT (all caps—an intimidation strategy?) authorized, permitted or invited to enter or remain on the property located at…. And went on to further advise that if I trespassed on said property, Chity College intends to pursue criminal charges through the State Attorney’s Office for Trespass. Any previous authorizations for you to enter or remain on the premises are hereby revoked… signed by Bertha.”

Danny: “And you were there for 18 months without incident? Were they afraid you would suddenly turn into a monster?”

David: “I don’t know what they were thinking other than the total annihilation of any resistance. Definitely felt like bolting out but thought twice about it. I wanted to be the professional, not the piece of dirt they were trying to label.”

When it comes to being fired, the tendency to lash back is fairly common. Problem with that: burnt bridges and it proves nothing. One can yell, fight, argue, and call the other names, but for what outcome. Truth is, you still will not have a job, no matter how loud you scream. The other option, walking out proudly, with head high, and dignity your companion, you prove yourself to be the professional in all ways.

David: “They tried to define me… to present their rationalized truth as reality. But their truth was filled by bias, by a sense of ignorance, and by a sense of what they wanted the truth to be. This way their illegal behavior could be justified and perhaps they would be able to sleep at night.”

Danny: “So you walked out professional, respectfully. That shows a great deal about character and who you are as an individual as well as a testament detailing the level of shallowness Bertha and Mr. Farris possess.”

David explained how vulnerable he felt as he stepped out the two front glass doors. A sense of confusion still intoxicated his mind. How could this be happening? What was he going to do next?

Next segment we’ll find out David’s next step and what actions are available.

If you have any questions or would like to add to the journey, contact me directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how I can help you. Be sure and have your peers join in on the conversation and adventure… they may thank you one very difficult day.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Terminated Illegally (3)? Once a loser…

An individual’s character is not determined by the stumble.
An individual’s character is determined by the ability to stand back up.

We often accept self-characterizations bestowed by others without even realizing it, allowing negatives a room of their own within our very psyche, allowing the shove to prevent the stand.

During times of struggle, conflict, and termination, the tendency to grasp at old habits fuel an immediate journey to attain emotional safety… where comfort is found below the line of social visibility. Think about the time(s) you’ve been emotionally dismantled… how did you cope? Did you hide? Did you run? Did you stay down? Being fired from your job affects layers upon layers of that which defines us. I’m not saying terminations are not a necessary evil; I’m saying the process can lead to abuse.

Employee empowerment is not part of the equation during a termination. Strategic nonverbal communication, subjective semantics, and blatant crushing are an often used tactic patterned by management. As David shared more morning events, time for you to take a step back and remember the last time you were fired (or had done the firing).

David: “Bertha closed the door immediately after I entered. She followed me a few steps, marching all the way like a stiff combatant readying the ambush. A chair was leaned my direction; choices were stolen instantaneously while Mr. Farris sat in a predatory power pose two feet away.”

Danny: “Once the process began, were you given the opportunity to defend yourself or was fate tied by the two in control?”

David: “Like soul-malnourished sharks, the two attacked, suffocating any breath of resolve. I was a loser, they made sure I knew it, they made sure I believed it, they made sure I lived it.”

Danny: “The strategies of showcasing total control are common when it comes to employee terminations. Too often those taking charge push the intimidation role too far. Can you share the types of nonverbal messages being sent?”

David: “Bertha said little, she mostly stared blankly at the attorney. Her ability to look at me was limited either by of her lack of belief in the process or lack of belief in the cause, or so is my opinion. When she did speak, her tone was uncomfortable, matching eyes void of compassion or commitment. She sat without curve, simply robotic. Mr. Farris, on the other hand, performed as if he strived on the scent of blood, eager to seize. With a leaning forebode, he overshadowed any counter resolve. His mind, body, and soul strived on the powerless… the losers of the world. His tone, aggressive and cocky, drove one way, his way… resistance was futile.”

Danny: “Sounds like you being invited was meant to break your will, nothing more. I’m trying to understand, as you mentioned last time and the inviting email from Bertha where you being referred to as ‘silly’ comes into play. Perhaps it was the element of surprise on their part so you would be ill-prepared to counter any form of defense? Another typical offense by the home team. Anyway, what was going through your mind?”

David: “Oddly enough, being terminated was not what was going through my mind. What was going through my mind was the process. Why the drama? Why the rooster-stance? Why the complete destruction of another person’s character? My mind, without intent, ventured back to childhood and how my grandfather told me how I was a loser. My grandfather hounded that once a loser, always a loser. That’s what I thought about… his words ‘once a loser, always a loser’ elevated into the morning’s memory.”

Danny: “How could something like a simple termination loosen those memories?”

David: “Not sure why, they just did. Seems like my life details the life of a loser… when a good thing came my way, those in power always found a way to snub out hope. I’ve lost a great deal in my life, much more than most. For years our apathetic society defined me as a loser, of an individual not worthy of success or belief. Times like this morning confirm what my grandfather believed many years ago: ‘once a loser, always a loser.’”

Danny: “I’m sorry you had to endure this, no doubt the intent was not to terminate, but to intimidate you into total submission. My advice to you is that your willingness to stand up, open yourself to vulnerabilities, and not accept what your grandfather claimed, is what defines you… not the other way around. How did the discussion conclude?”

David: “I was given a direct command that if I ever stepped foot on this campus, the police would be notified and I would be arrested. I was told never to make contact with any staff (was told this several times) or students. Bertha then stated that my final compensation was enclosed in an envelope (she then handed me the envelope). I asked if this included compensation from month’s prior that was never paid out. She said no but would get with Jay.”

Danny: “They gave you a final check missing compensation? And you left simply hoping the money they owed would be paid at a later date? After the termination?”

David: “Yes. Then I was told an escort would show me the way out and to my vehicle. Nice, not only dehumanized within the office, I was showcased as a trophy, pumping the shark’s ego even more. I left, never looking back, was disallowed too.”

David’s grandfather may have believed “once a loser, always a loser,” but I do not subscribe to the motto.

If you are ever terminated, recognize it is NOT what defines who you are. You are the master of your universe, no one else. We’ll travel more with David next time when we ask the question “Should one beg or go (during a termination process)?”

If you have any questions or would like to add to the journey, contact me directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how I can help you. Be sure and have your peers join in on the conversation and adventure… they may thank you one very difficult day.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services
Blogsite: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com