[Interview] Austin Belcak on how to skyrocket your chances of landing your dream job

career covid-19 performance Jul 26, 2020

Despite our best hopes, COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon.

This will continue to impact how we think about and navigate education, skill development, job searching and our careers.

As far as job searching and your career goes, Austin Belcak has you covered.

Austin is the Founder of Cultivated Culture, which helps people use unconventional strategies to land jobs they love (without connections, without traditional "experience," and without applying online). He has also served Director of Partner Development at Microsoft in New York City since 2015.

Austin has helped thousands of job seekers land offers at Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Uber, Spotify, Deloitte, Accenture, Sequoia Capital, Tesla, SpaceX, ESPN, The NFL, & more.

Cultivated Culture has continued to help people get great jobs through the pandemic, and his community has grown to over 350,000 people in just 4 years through his website, email...

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[Interview] Advice from a college admissions counselor: what your student should do this summer


Summer plans have been disrupted by COVID.

Sports, camps, travel, internships and jobs have all been affected.

If you're worried your son or daughter is going to waste this summer, check out this interview with Brian Estrada, the Associate Dean of College Counseling at Providence Academy in Plymouth, MN.

Brian offers a unique perspective: this pandemic actually provides students with an opportunity to differentiate themselves this summer in the eyes of schools and employers.

Previously, Brian served as the Associate Director of Admissions for Dartmouth College and the Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Vanderbilt University.


Want to put Brian's advice into practice? Check out our COVID Playbook to help your students succeed during the most unique semester we've ever seen.

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How are we still here?

Photo by @isaiahrustad for unsplash.com

Most of the teens we work with are black.

Our goal is to help them create a 10-year vision for their lives that’s bigger and more exciting than they ever thought possible.

So when I saw this video, my heart broke.

"From one black man to another, we have to do better", by curtis_hayesnc

We’re trying to get these teens to dream big about their career, lifestyle and relationships.

But Curtis M Hayes is in tears telling this 16-year old kid that instead, he has to focus his vision on fighting for equal treatment.

Equal treatment. In 2020.

How are we still here?

  • The 13th Amendment was formally adopted in the U.S. Constitution 155 years ago.
  • Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus 65 years ago.
  • Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech was 57 years ago.

How are we still here?

One thing has always been true.

Adversity reveals character. Adversity is when the most powerful leaders step up.


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How to feel instantly better during this crisis (or anytime)

Photo by @the_altered_guy for unsplash.com

It's so easy to think about what we DON'T have right now.

I catch myself thinking about things I miss like:

  • My normal routine
  • Seeing my family
  • Going out with friends
  • Going out to restaurants, bars and coffee shops
  • Walking outside without worry
  • Being able to get groceries normally
  • Lifting heavy weights
  • My 1x month haircut
  • Hands that aren't cracking from dryness

I'm sure you have your list, too.

But this is the problem:

When we focus on what we don't have, compared to what we expect to have (what we consider "normal"), we feel negative emotions like fear, stress, anxiety, sadness and anger.

During this pandemic or not, I've found that when I feel negative emotions, 100% of the time it's because something that happened didn't line up with my expectations of "what normal should be."

These negative emotions affect our mood, our productivity, how we treat others and even our physical health.

The antidote?

"Trade your...

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10 things you can do today to start thriving during the crisis

Photo by @nesabymakers for unsplash.com

Before this pandemic, if you would have asked me...

"How would you do if you were forced to be in your condo for 2 straight weeks?" 

...I would have had a pretty negative answer.

But surprisingly, after 15 days and counting of self-quarantine, I feel really good.

That is directly related to this list of 10 items I hope you consider using for yourself and your students over the next several weeks.

With less commuting, less program and club meetings, less social gatherings and potentially less schoolwork, this is an amazing time to focus on improving our lives and the lives of our students.


10 things you can do today to start thriving, not surviving


1. Consider this an incredible opportunity

Photo by @szolkin for unsplash.com

At first, I panicked. I was worried everything would come to a halt and I'd be sitting inside, bored and with nothing to do.

Then, I realized I was overreacting. Things were...

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How to eat better without sacrificing the foods you love

The most common New Year's resolution

Can you guess the top New Year's Resolution?

Eating better, according to a survey by YouGov.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common resolution that most people don't stick to for very long, so they set it again next year. And the year after. And the year after that...

Fortunately, this is a resolution I don't have to worry about anymore.

I'll tell you how I eat pizza, burgers, and chicken sandwiches, drink 2-3 nights per week, and still get made fun of for how good of shape I'm in by my family and friends.

But first, why do so many people fail to eat better?

They feel restricted.

Most people "start the year off strong" by going on an intense diet like juice cleanses or Whole30. Even if you make it through the entire diet, it's really hard to go back to normal and maintain your current shape or continue getting in better shape.

Especially if you don't love the food you're eating.

When you're restricted, you're always going to feel...

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220 Founders named Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders by the National Afterschool Association

afterschool announcement Feb 28, 2019

In selecting NAA's Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders of 2019, the National AfterSchool Association sought to highlight emerging professionals who are active in the afterschool community—young leaders who possess passion, creativity and a commitment to youth; who embrace professional development; who embody the NAA core competencies.

We’re honored to announce that we’ve been recognized by the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) as NAA’s Next Generation of AfterSchool Leaders!

It is a privilege to be recognized among some of the country’s most impactful young leaders seeking to change the landscape of afterschool, education and youth development.

"The National AfterSchool Association believes that strong leadership in afterschool programs have a direct impact on child and youth development. We count on these emerging leaders to help shape the next generation of the afterschool field." -Gina Warner, President and CEO of NAA

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4 books that changed my relationship with money

money Jul 24, 2018

Photo by Ben White on unsplash.com

Which of your relationships are most important to you?

We tend to immediately think of the important people in our lives, both personally and professionally.

But there are other relationships that are just as critical. Among them:

  • Your relationship with yourself
  • Your relationship with food
  • Your relationship with money

I've seen firsthand how the money relationship can change your life.

My "unconventional" relationship with money has allowed me to do some pretty unconventional things like:

  • Create a summer camp in college
  • Leave behind six-figure compensation in Corporate America at 25
  • Start a company where I get to do what I love every day
  • Be comfortable not paying myself for the first 1+ year in business

I owe my relationship with money to three main experiences:

1. The Moheban Masters Game

When I was in high school, my dad created a money game called "Moheban Masters" for my brothers and me.

Each month, we earned a pretty big salary for a...

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As a millennial, I’m not saving for retirement

money Jul 17, 2018

Photo by Andreas Wagner on Unsplash

When I said “no” to traditional retirement

In high school, my mom and dad were actively involved with a successful multi-level marketing company.

Because my parents are awesome, they involved my brothers and me by introducing us to the product, explaining the financial model and even bringing us to one of their team meetings.

I’ll never forget that meeting.

It was led by two local Team Leaders, a healthy and good-looking married couple in their late 30s / early 40s with several children.

I’ll always remember the woman telling us about what she did that day: sleeping in until 9am, working out with a personal trainer, playing outside with her kids for several hours, responding to some emails in the afternoon, and then coming to this meeting. She kept talking about the incredible freedom she had because of the income from this product.

Some of you might be rolling your eyes at multi-level marketing or her story, but a...

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A simple budgeting exercise helped me save $90K in three years

money Jul 09, 2018

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor and don’t play one on the internet. Consult with a certified financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Thanks to my uncle...

In October 2011, I signed a contract for $65,000/year plus a $10,000 signing bonus.

On the one hand, I was elated. I was about to graduate from Indiana University in May, so the most I had made to this point paled in comparison. Plus, this was to work at a prestigious bank in my dream city, Chicago.

On the other hand, I was nervous. I knew I wanted to save a lot of money, but how was I supposed to do it? What kind of accounts should I set up? How much would I even have leftover after taxes?

Once word about my offer got around to my family, individual members started reaching out to congratulate me. Fortunately (but not surprisingly), one of them was my Uncle Jeff.

“Hey Mammoo, congratulations on your offer!” he told me over the phone. “So...

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