The following articles were authored by scotts

Not Just For Career Days

I know, I know.  You’re FINALLY done with the school year (congratulations!) and I’m sure most of you are getting ready for summer vacations and getting ready to relax.  Or, maybe some of you are working over the summer.  Either way, I bet you’re not thinking about career days right now!

I’m going to keep this email short and let you get back to your summer.  Did you know some of you actually use the scheduling software to schedule events beyond career day events?  I have worked with schools that use the software to schedule activities and even summer in service and training.

I mentioned in my last email about security and user enhancements this summer.  We’re working on them now and look to have it ready to go by the fall semester.  If you’re using the software over the summer, don’t worry – everything will stay up and running and work throughout the summer.

We’ll send more info as we get closer, but that’s all for now.  Go enjoy your summer!

– Scott


As we close on another semester, I like to look back on the last few months and reflect on the progress and changes with everyone.

First of all, we added a number of schools to our career day scheduling software (thank you so much for putting your trust in us)!   A lot of schools had great career day events, and I’m so happy we could be a small part of that.

Another thing I noticed this semester is an increased focus on security. Don’t get me wrong – security has always been important, and we continue to work diligently on security with our systems, but I definitely saw an uptick in documents from school systems asking about our security measures.  Thankfully, we have always had security measures in place, so it’s nothing new for us.

I thought it may be beneficial to discuss a few things we have in place and some exciting plans for the future.

We have a sister company, WRA Risk, that focuses on risk management and injury claims, meaning we have to work with HIPAA certification.  Not exactly the same as FERPA, but there is a lot of overlap with best practices:

  • Physical server security
  • Encrypted connections
  • Encrypted at rest database
  • A whole lot of other boring stuff (I’m happy to go into more detail for anyone that wants it!)

We have always housed our servers for hyperTechnologies and WRA Risk together, and we have implemented similar security measures.  And (of course) we don’t use any of the info you put in the system except for your career day schedules.

But we’re about to take it one step further!  We will be upgrading to the same software platform as WRA Risk this summer.  This will provide additional security and flexibility.  We’re going to also be working on some software upgrades to improve the user experience!  And this isn’t an ‘upgrade’ where you lose features and your existing info isn’t there anymore.  We plan to keep all the same great features and interface you are used to.  Our plans include

  • A fresh look (but the user interface will be similar – no learning curve)
  • Added security features
  • Easier to schedule other events beyond career day
  • Save multiple schedule PDFs in the system (no more download it or you lose it)
  • Your existing career day events will be in there waiting for you – you won’t lose anything

So that’s the plan, and I’m super excited to get this going for the fall semester!  I’ll keep you all posted.

– Scott

Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

I often look back at career day events where I have participated when thinking about how they worked and how I can adjust my software to better help facilitate the scheduling. I think back to some of my first events where I spoke and where I was constantly checking on how the software was working for the day.

In one particular event, I arrived a little early so I could get registered as a speaker and then get to work making sure there were no last minute issues with the software. As I walked in, I was greeted by student volunteers to find my name badge, welcome packet, and room number, and then I was escorted to the breakfast room. Wow, this was nice surprise! There was a setup of coffee, muffins, danishes, and other assorted simple breakfast foods. And I had a chance to sit and relax and talk to some of the other speakers. Then when it was time to start the career day, someone came in and escorted us to our rooms so we didn’t have to go searching.

That was my perspective as a speaker. Now I look back as someone who has been involved in a number of career day events and what ‘really’ goes on during the day. At the time, I didn’t think much of not seeing the counselor in charge of the event until everything started – I was escorted by volunteers I had never met before. What was REALLY happening was the counselor was frantically calling the speakers who haven’t shown up yet, or needed help finding the school, or didn’t know where to park, or even how to get in the building. Plus I’m sure there are so many other logistical details that just lump on more stress. But as a speaker, I didn’t see any of that. I saw an organized event where I could relax and grab a bite and some coffee and socialize before the event – and the room was available throughout the day to grab a quick coffee as time permitted. That left a great impression.

So, as always, I picked up a few lessons from this experience:

  1. It’s definitely good to get everyone at the event early. Food is ALWAYS a good motivator! Give your speakers a time to arrive and let them know there will be coffee, breakfast, etc.

  2. Use volunteers to usher the speakers. I don’t care how organized the event is – something will happen the morning of the event and you don’t want to rush your speakers around because you have to move on to other issues.

  3. Help your speakers understand where to park, enter the building, etc. Remember, some speakers may not have stepped in a school in 20+ years! Provide maps to the school, diagrams for parking, etc. – Making things easier for them really just makes this easier for you!

And if you’re not currently doing career day events, I hope these emails maybe give you some ideas in the future, or at least gives you a chance to take a break and read a story. If you know anyone who is putting on a career day and has some issues, feel free to pass this along. And by all means if you have any stories or thoughts (or better ideas than the ones I’m sharing), please let me know and I’ll send it out as a future email and let everyone know where it came from. With all of you out there, I know you have great ideas that can help each other out.

If you missed any of our previous emails, you can get to them here.
If you want to see our scheduling tool in action (videos), you can get to them here.

– Scott

The Accountant (no, not the Ben Affleck Movie)

First of all, I’m going on record that I am a fan of The Accountant with Ben Affleck.  Side note – I just got online to make sure I spelled Affleck correctly, and I saw on a Ben Affleck news feed that they are going to make The Accountant 2 – so that’s exciting!  But today, I’m not talking about that type of Accountant.  I’m talking about a Career day accountant and how it changed our career day software forever.

This was many years ago when the software was still a fairly new concept.  I worked with one particular school throughout the process – making sure the student imports, speaker imports, student choices, and schedule creation all worked correctly.  Everything had worked as expected.  The counselor reviewed and printed the schedules, and the students had a session to go to for every session (no blanks) so all was good!

I attended this particular career day to see how everything was working on the day of the event – are there any last minute adjustments, issues, etc.

First of all, for anyone who has been involved in accounting or know an accountant, please don’t be offended by this.  I’m an engineer – I get it!  But a lot of students (particularly younger ones, and I think this was an elementary school) dream of being astronauts, race car drivers, doctors, etc. – not accountants.  So when the students put in their choices, not a lot of students chose the accountant.

Our software starts with the choices, and then it fills in the rest based on what is available.  But at the time, our algorithm didn’t take into account a minimum amount of students per class – only a maximum to make sure the class was big enough for the session.

So as we’re seeing kids move from class to class for the session, nobody is stopping in the accountant’s room.  There may have been 2 students there.  The event volunteers are literally sweeping kids up as they pass by the accountant’s room and shoving them in there.  All while the account saw exactly what was happening.

Right after that event, I adjusted the software to add a ‘minimum students’ field, adjust the algorithm to use that information, and created a warning system not only for students with missing sessions in their schedule, but also a warning for speakers without the minimum number of students.

So there are a number of lessons to learn from this:

  1. Theory is great, but taking a live look so you can see what’s really going on is priceless (this is a lesson for me in this case, but it’s a great lesson that applies everywhere)
  2. Keep your speakers happy!  They took a lot of time out of their busy schedule to help out – make sure they feel like it was time well spent!
  3. Every profession is important, even if it’s not something we dream about.  Who knows – maybe one of the students that got swept into that session was inspired and became an accountant.  That’s what the career day is about – learn about possibilities they may not have known about.  Choices are great based on what the like, but the random stuff can be just as fulfilling.
  4. If you watch the movie ‘The Accountant’, you’ll see being an accountant can be pretty exciting!

Regardless of how you put your schedules together – our software, other software, manually, make sure your speakers have enough students in their sessions.

If you want to see how our system puts the schedules together, we have some step by step (very short) videos here.

We also have uploaded all our messages in this series on our school career day website under ‘What’s New’.  You can get to it here

– Scott

A professional wrestler, really???

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday break and are gearing up for an exciting spring semester.  I figured for my first email of the year, I would tell you a story about one of my first career day events and a few things I learned that day.

My wife’s school was having their career day, and this was the first time the school (or any school) was using our scheduling software to put the schedule together.  They asked if I wanted to participate as a speaker (I was still a microchip designer at the time and could talk about that).  I agreed to attend – I was happy to participate, but I also thought it would be good to be there in case any issues with the scheduling popped up.  My good college buddy Ben was coming to town that day, and he decided to come speak to the kids as well – Ben’s degree is in Chemistry and he was working in a lab at the time.

So the morning of the event came, and Ben and I arrived early, ready to go.  We got a chance to meet a few of the other speakers (and let’s be honest – size up the competition a bit – everyone wants to be the most interesting one there).  So we met a few different people with interesting professions, and then I meet…. a profession wrestler!

Now, I wasn’t up to date on the latest wrestlers.  If Hulk Hogan, the Iron Sheik, or the Rock came in, I would know who that was.  But apparently this wrestler was a fairly big deal.  He was related to one of the teachers, and she was able to get him to come speak to the kids.  Great – now the kids are going to have a session with this wrestler and then come to me for some boring tech talk!  How can I compete with that???  Meanwhile, my friend Ben is preparing, getting his equipment ready, and putting on his lab coat (yes, he brought his personally embroidered lab coat!)

I had brought some microchips and equipment we used to make them, and my plan was to pass them around and explain how we used everything.  The sessions came, and I spoke to the kids, passed around my chips, and all in all it went fairly well.  The whole time I’m thinking those kids must be excited to see that wrester!

The day came and went, and all in all everything went pretty smoothly (both my sessions and the event itself – I was still trying to make sure the scheduling worked OK).  I spoke to a number of teachers to get their feedback on anything we should change in the software.  And I kept hearing the same thing – ‘Ben was amazing!  Everyone loved him!’.  Apparently, Ben stole the show that day.  Turns out, he not only wore a lab coat, but he made sure he was in a room with a mirror over the table for lab demonstrations, and he did demonstrations, made slime, and did all kinds of cool things the kids loved (remember this was an elementary school, so the younger kids loved the slime). 

I learned a few things that day:

1. Use the people around you to get your speakers – you never know the interesting professions you can find (like a professional wrestler!)

2 . EVERY profession can be interesting.  It really comes down to how you present it.

3 . Preparation is key – Ben knew exactly how he wanted to communicate to the kids.

4 . The desire to present to kids is just as important as an interesting profession.

Finding speakers is tough (more on that in a future email)!  But once you find those speakers, how do ensure they are engaged with the students?  Do they know you can accommodate their needs, like the mirror table, or a projector, etc.?  Encourage them to bring things for the students to see and touch.  Make sure they actually like to speak to students!

Next time, I’m going to talk a little more about finding speakers and ways some speakers have made their session fun and interactive.

– Scott

‘Tis the season… for career day events?

This time of year, I’m always thinking about school career day events.  We see increased activity from our existing subscribers and new inquiries throughout the US.  And not only about our software, but general questions about putting on career day events.  It got me thinking…

Many of you have the same questions, concerns, and struggles when you are putting on your events.  And you probably don’t even realize there is a nation-wide community of people with the same struggles.

Since we started our career day scheduling software company over 20 years ago, I have had the privilege to help many schools and attend numerous career days, and I have kept notes on my observations, career day ‘gotchas’, and software changes we needed to make over time (and the reason we made them).

So I decided I’m going to start sending out emails every couple weeks at the beginning of the year with some tidbits of info I have picked up over the years.  This isn’t about selling the software – this is really about answering some of the questions I have heard, discussing some of the best practices I have seen, and hopefully helping those out who are new to scheduling career day events or want to enhance what they do.  If career day events are not your cup of tea, then feel free to unsubscribe and you won’t get any more of these emails, no hard feelings.   But if you choose to stay, I’ll send out some stories and lessons I have picked up since I started working with career days.  And I’d love to hear your feedback – many of you have more context and great ideas – and I’d love to share those thoughts with everyone.  

On the subject of context, I figured I’d give a quick story of how I got started with career days for those of you who don’t know.   I promise to keep it short!

I’m a techie by nature and by education (electrical engineering).  I specialized in hardware (microchip) design and tinkered in software.  My wife got a new job as an elementary teacher in Frisco, Texas.  One day, she came home and said she joined the career day committee.  Then she said they were putting the schedules together by using pieces of paper with student names and their careers, and spending a good few weeks matching it all up just to create the schedule (sound familiar?).  And finally she said she told everyone I was a ‘tech guy’ and I’d write her some kind of software to fix the problem.

So she came home and said I ‘had’ to build something.   She was expecting a smart spreadsheet or something, but I decided to build an actual piece of software.  Our first software worked, but it wasn’t quite web based.  I literally had to drag a mid tower computer around to show people the software.

Then, a light bulb went off!  I converted everything to a web based application. Two software generations, 15 States, and 20 years later, here we are!

I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane!  Have a great holiday season, and I hope you enjoy my emails to come!

– Scott