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How to build a network at the beginning of your career

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Networking is incredibly important in today’s working world, even at the early stages of your career. Here are some tips to help you get started.

You’ve probably heard by now that networking is a crucial part of working life. But when you’re at the start of your career, it can be hard to strike up conversations or even identify the people you should be having them with.

To help you start building a solid network at the early stages of your professional life, here are some tips as told by people in the Silicon Republic community.

Remember that networking should be mutually beneficial

While networking can be a challenge for every type of person, Iana Boghiu, IT business analyst VP at Citi, said it can be particularly daunting for introverts. In her own career, she has found that being true to herself and slowly moving beyond her comfort zone have helped.

“Some companies have formal networking; I joined Citi’s Women in Tech and wider Women’s Network groups to get to know people in Dublin as my team is global,” she said. “It’s up to you to find what’s right for you, be it attending physical events or writing articles and blogs on a topic that interests you.

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“Then build on that by slowly getting yourself outside your comfort zone to expand your skills and network, because it comes down to allowing people in your wider circle to know you and your skills.

“Look at themes that you are interested in because you want to be true to yourself. Long-lasting relationships will work only when there are genuine and mutual interests and trust. In the end, it’s about having people around you that will celebrate your success, push you during hard times or direct you when you are lost or looking for new areas.”

Niamh McInerney, head of graduate recruitment at PwC Ireland, echoed Boghiu’s point about the importance of networking being mutually beneficial.

“At its core, effective networking at any stage is based on the exchange of mutually beneficial information,” McInerney said. “Whether online or face to face, I would say the tips for effective networking are the same.

“For me, these include identifying who you want to connect with, being clear on what you are looking for, doing your research, deciding specifically what you would like them to know and listening. Don’t be afraid to give something back and do the follow-up afterwards. Connect with them on social media.”

Get involved with diverse groups

Triona Geraghty, deputy HR director at Aon, and Cat McGurren, EMEA recruiter at Patreon, both agreed with Boghiu about getting involved with different groups – both within and beyond a company.

“Invest time and show an interest in connecting with others,” Geraghty advised. “One way of networking outside of your immediate team members is to volunteer to join various business resource groups or social committees.

“A certain amount of networking will naturally occur in the day-to-day of completing tasks and other role responsibilities. One tip to go above and beyond this is to add networking as one of your goals – task yourself to connect with two new colleagues per month, for example. You never know how and when particular relationship will smooth a future path!”

‘Networking is one of the most powerful skills you can have in your career and is a skill that can be learned’
– MARIE RYAN, FIDELITY INVESTMENTS

McGurren believes it’s worthwhile looking into technology clubs and societies at college. She said: “Many of these have a Discord community to chat about graduate roles, and all of them invite companies to come and talk to them. It’s a great way to meet future employers.”

McGurren also recommended engaging with tools and technologies that reflect your interests. “It’s OK to reach out to people and ask when their intern or graduate programme opens for applications. Our vacancies are mainly in product and technology, so it’s important for us to see that candidates have a genuine passion for their industry. We like to see evidence of a GitHub account or personal coding projects.”

Present your work

Gordon Morrow, a senior software engineer at Verizon Media, believes that the easiest and most effective way to network early in your career is to “present initiatives and solutions worked on by your team to the wider audience”.

“This worked for me personally by presenting at a large internal conference in Sunnyvale, California,” he said.

“As a result of this, I interacted with a lot of people in the wider company and made many connections, which proved invaluable when working on new tech stacks or design work as I had a network now to reach out to. Tools like LinkedIn meant that I could connect and share experiences both from my own work and also what the industry trends were.”

Make your networking ‘diagonal’

According to Marie Ryan, senior corporate actions manager and scrum master at Fidelity Investments, getting to know more people will help open doors in your career and expose you to “sounder advice in making the important decisions that shape your life”.

“Networking is one of the most powerful skills you can have in your career and is a skill that can be learned,” she said.

Ryan’s tips included being your authentic self, setting out two or three specific questions to ask your new connection before meeting them, being clear about your goals, making sure to follow up after your initial meeting and being intentional about who you want to connect with and why.

“Networking is not always about looking for upwards leaders; ensure to network diagonally and use other resources such as groups, affiliations and team initiatives to get involved.”

Say yes

Conor Davin, a quality control analyst in MSD Dunboyne’s microbiology lab, says that “putting yourself out there” is an important part of building a network. This is what helped him take on the role of biosafety officer alongside his main job, giving him opportunities to present to more senior colleagues.

“I’ve had the chance to take on new responsibilities, acquire additional training and get more involved in different tasks,” Davin said. “I would strongly recommend taking opportunities when they’re offered.

“While you might feel like you’re too busy or don’t have time, you should take those opportunities when they arise, because otherwise you’ll never get a chance to see what you like or meet new people.

“It all comes down to putting your hand up, saying yes, and getting involved.”

Don’t be put off if you’ve changed career

Networking can be just as daunting if you’ve decided to make a career change later in life. Dun & Bradstreet software engineer Stuart Grimes, for example, completed a diploma in computer science after working as a chartered accounted for almost 20 years.

“Looking back on those first few months, I would recommend that you take the time to establish a network of knowledge for yourself,” he said. “There are many technologies we all use in our day-to-day work. Try and understand the constituent parts of your role, identify the people who have the most knowledge about that topic, and approach them. Ask if it’s OK to reach out to them with questions or, better still, try to schedule a regular time with them where you have a chance to build up a bank of questions.

“This is a great way to build your knowledge and your network, and really helps establish a great working relationship with your new colleagues.”

Make the most of online networking tools

Avanade’s early careers lead for Ireland and the UK, Isabelle Fernandes, reminded us of the importance of tools for networking in the era of remote working.

“LinkedIn is your friend,” she said. “Tell people why you’re interested in them and suggest a virtual coffee; a 15-minute Teams chat translates across continents, professions and generations. So long as you match up the time zone, you are more empowered than ever to learn from others and meet new people and opportunities.

Fernandes also said that LinkedIn’s Recommendations feature can be a great addition to your networking toolkit. “Remember, no one is totally out of reach.”

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Johnson & Johnson Ireland moves to 100pc renewable electricity

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The move comes following a power purchase agreement between Johnson & Johnson and Ørsted, which has windfarm sites in Clare and Kerry.

Johnson & Johnson has revealed plans to move to 100pc renewable electricity across its Irish operations.

The company has entered into an eight-year corporate power purchase agreement in Ireland with Danish company Ørsted. The agreement will help to ensure that the company’s entire Irish operations will be powered by electricity from 100pc renewable sources from now on.

Ørsted will supply the company with more than 1TWh of renewable energy during this period from two windfarms located in Kerry and Clare. The agreement will also help Ørsted as it invests in its strategy to construct more renewable generation in the future.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD, praised the move in the context of Ireland’s climate action plans.

“Johnson & Johnson has embraced its environmental responsibilities globally, but also here in Ireland, and this agreement will help the company to achieve its wider climate goals. We are at a crucial point in the global fight against climate change and initiatives like this should become the benchmark for all companies to aspire to,” he said.

Towards net zero

Last year, Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide VP of environmental health, safety and sustainability, Paulette Frank, spoke at Silicon Republic’s Future Human event about the company’s “bold” climate goals. From her base in the US, Frank told attendees of the virtual event that her colleagues viewed the pandemic as “inspiration to propel” its climate action “further faster.”

Sourcing electricity from 100pc renewable sources is a goal the company set to achieve by 2025. By 2030, it wants to achieve carbon neutrality in its global operations.

John Lynch, plant leader at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Ireland, said the company was proud to have met its targets in its Irish operations.

“Across our 10 sites and workforce of more than 5,000 here in Ireland, we are committed to supporting Johnson & Johnson’s climate action goals. In the last decade we have invested more than €60m in over 80 carbon footprint reduction projects.

“Today is a major landmark on our journey in Ireland to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and underlines our commitment to ensuring a better, healthier world.”

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‘At once intolerable and addictive’: five wellbeing courses and apps, road-tested | Health & wellbeing

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Australians are the world’s biggest consumers of health and wellness apps, punching well above our per capita weight in our quest for peak physical and mental condition, according to research from telecommunications company Uswitch. In recent years we have also been making them – with everyone from fitness influencers to mental health advocacy groups launching digital products.

I’m partial to a bit of mobile-based movement and mindfulness myself, but I have a complex relationship with wellness. While I love green juices, pilates and my “ness” being “well”, I can’t abide many contemporary uses of the word. In the diet, fitness, fashion and other industries, “wellness” can feel like a barely repackaged “weight loss”, while “healthy” has replaced “slim” as companies respond superficially to the body positivity movement without really changing their ways.

Despite wholesome beginnings in the 1950s, wellness is often framed as a goal for the financially and genetically privileged – and don’t get me started on the pseudoscience.

So I choose cautious cynicism when engaging with wellness and wellbeing products – but I’ve also been alone in my house for the greater part of two years, so I’ll try pretty much anything.

Sweat

Cost: $19.99 a month

Screen shot of the Sweat app from Kayla Itsines.

Sweat is a women’s health app co-founded by Australian fitness influencer Kayla Itsines, who boasts a worldwide social media following of more than 40 million. It offers over 30 programs for training at home or the gym, including high-intensity interval training (Hiit), low-intensity training, yoga and barre.

I did sessions from the PWR Zero Equipment program and it was all easy to follow and very doable. Audio and written instructions and onscreen demonstrations are clear, and self-accountability is super easy. It’s perfect for lockdown and for busy people cramming in exercise wherever and whenever they can. Plus, I can report that burpees are still the merciless work of Satan herself.

Itsines has created an app that exists in the wellness space with little of the self-congratulatory, quasi-spiritual hoopla other influencers lean so heavily into. Sweat isn’t pretending to be something it’s not. It’s a workout app, you do workouts on it. Yes, there are recipes and lifestyle tips but they aren’t offered as miracle pathways to a higher plane of being.

Is it my preferred mode of exercise? No. But it’s convenient and flexible and I can see myself using it when I travel. If that’s a thing that ever happens again.

Worry Time

Cost: Free

ReachOut’s WorryTime app
ReachOut’s WorryTime app. Photograph: Reach Out

ReachOut’s WorryTime is an anxiety management app from the online youth mental health service that uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to disrupt and manage repetitive thinking.

I am by no definition a youth, but I have mild anxiety and WorryTime’s methodology appealed to me. You nominate a daily time to do all your worrying and when you feel anxious, you note why in the app; every day at the designated time, you worry about what’s still plaguing you and delete what’s not. Easy!

I used WorryTime diligently for a while, noting my fears, my troubles and doubts and reassessing them every 24 hours. All was going well until I got busy with work, stressed about work and scared I’d stop getting work. Where the app had been a welcome task, it became a bugbear.

I was trying not to think about things that made me anxious and knowing the app contained a list of them created a classic avoidance paradigm. I skipped a day. And the next day. And the day after that. Soon the WorryTime alarm was causing me the very anxiety it was engaged to minimise. After a few weeks of this mental chicken-egg dance, I deleted the app. I may have been in the foetal position at the time.

I’m not advocating against WorryTime. It could be a great tool for others. There are no one-size-fits-all mental health salves. It would be nice if there were though.

Bibliotherapy with State Library Victoria

Cost: Free

Dr Susan McLaine, host of State Library Victoria’s Bibliotherapy podcast
Dr Susan McLaine, host of State Library Victoria’s Bibliotherapy podcast. Photograph: Supplied

My favourite discovery from this whole exercise is bibliotherapy or book therapy, an age-old practice that uses literature to support better mental health and wellbeing. Basically, you read or are read aloud a prescribed text, specifically chosen to raise questions, uncover truths and encourage healing. It’s also fun to say.

In response to the pandemic, a new podcast called Bibliotherapy with State Library Victoria was launched. Hosted by bibliotherapy practitioner Dr Susan McLaine, it offers to help people “stay calmer in this fragile time”. In each episode, McLaine reads a short story and a poem and poses questions for listeners. Texts range from emerging and obscure writers to Tolstoy, Donne and Kipling.

I love this podcast. There’s something so intimate and soothing about being read to, no doubt embedded in childhood nostalgia. McLaine’s voice takes some getting used to, though to be fair I find this with most podcast hosts, but her choice of texts is excellent and she reads everything slowly and deliberately, “savouring every word and offering space between words”. It’s the closest thing to a hug I’ve had in months.

The only bad thing about it is that there are only two short seasons. After a brief search for similarly soporific, story-based podcasts and apps, I found the excellent Dreamy podcast, a collection of beautiful sleep stories by First Nations storytellers like Jazz Money and Aurora Liddle-Christie. Bringing tens of thousands of years of oral tradition into the digital world, Dreamy is “helping people of all walks of life to quiet their minds, drift into dreams, and disconnect from their devices”.

I also found Sleep Stories on the Calm app ($14.99 a month). It’s full of grown-up tales and mindful nonsense to soothe or bore you into slumber. There are even equally terrible and amazing celebrity cameos: Matthew McConaughey, Cillian Murphy and the hot duke from Bridgerton will read to you like you’re a child. Last night Harry Styles read me the worst poem I’ve ever heard – for 40 minutes. Five stars. Would listen again.

The Resilience Project

Price: $4.49 one time fee

The Resilience Project Wellbeing App.
Photograph: Supplied

The Resilience Project app is a “daily wellbeing journal” for all ages from a Melbourne-based organisation of the same name, providing evidence-based mental health strategies and “sharing the benefits of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness” to schools, sports clubs and businesses.

Users are encouraged to log on every day, note how they feel, record who or what they’re grateful for, perform acts of kindness and do a short guided meditation. This nice daily ritual only takes a few minutes but proves a small antidote to the current news cycle.

I don’t see myself using it long-term, because of repetitiveness and the world’s shortest attention span, but during this lockdown I’ve appreciated the nightly reminder to acknowledge my blessings and privilege and to reach out to friends.

Though it can’t do the heavy lifting where mental health is concerned, I’ll put it in my arsenal of chronic depression coping mechanisms, and try to use it in bad times. It won’t soothe what only drugs and Great British Bake Off can, but it might provide a few minutes respite.

The Class

Cost: $40 a month

The Class Digital Studio is a mat-based exercise program, with elements of yoga, pilates, cardio, free-style dance, expansion, and release.
The Class Digital Studio is a mat-based exercise program, with elements of yoga, pilates, cardio, free-style dance, expansion, and release. Photograph: The Class Digital Studio

The Class is an American exercise methodology-slash-mindfulness practice with semi-cult vibes, taught by a host of ridiculously hot and relentlessly cool twentysomethings who can pull off white Lycra and blend in on a Girls set.

In fortuitous timing, founder Taryn Toomey launched online classes in late 2019, taking the Class into locked down homes around the world from 2020. Australians can access a wide selection of on-demand and live online classes, and there’s even an Australian teacher. Timezone differences narrow live options quite a bit, but most live classes become on-demand classes, so it doesn’t really matter.

Frequented by celebrities including Alicia Keys, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone, the Class is a mat-based, music-driven “cathartic workout experience” designed to “strengthen the body and balance the mind”. It’s yoga meets Les Mills meets clubbing. Movements are simple, repetition is key and loud exhales are encouraged. You may do squats for a whole song, free dance for another and star jumps for the next. In between, there’s stillness.

Teachers speak a kind of motivational psychobabble that is at once intolerable and addictive. It verges on the spiritual and flirts with cultural appropriation but remains just secular enough that I don’t turn it off. “Be in your power”; “You are enough”; “Softness is your birthright” and so on. Many teachers end their sessions with “I love you” which I somehow don’t hate.

At first, I struggled to put aside my prejudices against self-indulgent, pseudo-mystical wellness fads and find peace with beautiful women telling me to accept myself while making me do burpees. But the more I did it, the more I was able to just let go and roll with the theatre. Plus, it’s actually a very good workout.

I am now willingly paying for the Class. Let’s never speak of this again. I love you.

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NFTs not annoying enough? Now they come with wallet-emptying malware • The Register

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In brief Whether or not non-fungible tokens are a flash in the pan or forever, malware operators have been keen to weaponise the technology.

An investigation was triggered after a number of cryptowallets belonging to customers of the largest NFT exchange OpenSea got mysteriously emptied. Researchers at security shop Check Point found a nasty form of NFT was in circulation, one that came with its own malware package.

People were receiving free NFTs from an unknown benefactor, but when they accepted the gift the attackers got access to their wallet information in OpenSea’s storage systems. The code generated a pop-up, that if clicked, allowed wallets to be emptied.

After disclosing the issue Opensea had a fix sorted within an hour – we wish others took such prompt action – and the platform appears to be secured. But beware of “free” gifts, particularly where money is involved.

Crime doesn’t pay? really?

A US Treasury report has said that in the last three years ransomware operators using over 60 different variants have siphoned off $5.3bn in Bitcoin payments.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network report [PDF], first spotted by The Record, said that the ransoms taken in the the first six months of this year amounted to $590m, up from $416m for 2020, and the problem is getting worse, according to ten years of 2,184 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) analysed by the agency.

“If current trends continue, SARs filed in 2021 are projected to have a higher ransomware-related transaction value than SARs filed in the previous 10 years combined, which would represent a continuing trend of substantial increases in reported year-over-year ransomware activity,” the Treasury team warned.

Arming robots with sniper rifles, not worrying at all

US-based Ghost Robotics showed off an unusual new gadget this week at a meeting of the Association of the United States Army – a sniper rifle robot.

The robotics firm already has unarmed robot dogs acting as sentries at Tyndall Air Force Base but mounted a 6.5mm sniper rifle with a range of up to 1,200 meters (3937 feet) with both day and night vision cameras. The manufacturers were at pains to point out that this is not autonomous in any way and a human always controls the trigger, the robot just gets into position to keep its human operator safe.

The robot caused something of a storm, and Ghost Robotics CEO Jiren Parikh attributed this to the emotional connection robot dogs evoke and decades of movies about killer robots.

US warns critical water systems under attack

American online watchdogs at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has issued a security advisory following a spate of attacks against water and waste management facilities.

Since 2019 CISA said it had recorded five attacks against water systems, mostly ransomware but also aa former employee at Kansas-based water company who tried to tamper with drink water quality using credentials that should have been revoked when they left the biz.

For ransomware operators such businesses are tempting targets. Since water is such an essential service, it’s no-doubt thought that they’d be more likely to pay up rather than cause widespread disruption and panic.

Ukrainian cops cuff botnet suspect

The Security Service of Ukraine announced this week that they had arrested a man accused of running a massive botnet and charging for its use.

The man, a resident of Ivano-Frankivsk region in the west of the country, is said to have been running a botnet made up of over 100,000 infected systems. His opsec wasn’t great, he used telegram to tout for customers and, police say, made use of “electronic payment systems banned in Ukraine.”

A search of the suspect’s premises revealed computer equipment used to operate the botnet, and data stolen from botnet participants. Police say the suspect was also a representative of legitimate Russian payment service Webmoney, which is however under sanctions from the Ukrainian government.

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