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4 free computer programs that you should already be using

April 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Examples of the one-click editing features of Paint.net


    In the wake of a recession we’re all looking save a buck whenever we get the chance. Whether it’s eating ramen noodles instead of filet or drinking wine-out-of-a-box instead of your normal Pinot – saving money on simple things can give really give you a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. That’s why it’s great to know that if there’s something that you want, there’s almost always a way to find it for free on the internet…it’s just a matter of putting in some quality surfing time.


    To save you the hassle, I’ve searched around and picked out four of the best, free software programs that are available for download on the internet.


    Paint.net (www.getpaint.net) is an image and photo editing software for computers that run on Microsoft Windows. Originally developed as a replacement for Microsoft Paint, Paint.net has developed into an extremely powerful and easy-to-use editing tool that is often compared to Adobe Photoshop ($699). This program has several “one-click” design features that will have you looking like an internet Picasso in no time. Check out this video to see how you can use Paint.net to create your own custom YouTube page.



    OpenOffice (www.openoffice.org) is an open-source office program for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It’s compatible with most office software suites such as Microsoft Office, and also works on all common computers. It’s actually easier to use than Microsoft Office since any document can be created from the same program, instead of using one for spreadsheets, one for word processing, one for graphics, etc. In addition, OpenOffice will also convert any of these documents into a pdf.


    Google Reader (www.google.com/reader) is like a fully customizable newspaper, which delivers stories to you as soon as they are posted. You pick the news sites and blogs that you want to subscribe to, and the stories are delivered to you as soon as the site is updated. There are many different useful applications for this. For example, instead of constantly searching Craigslist, you can set Google Reader to deliver specific posts to you immediately once they are published…making it easy for you to be the first one to make contact. You can use this in your job search or “for sale” items.


    RoboForm (www.roboform.com) saves your username and password info so that you need only click one button on your browser to immediately log-in to the site that you are on (up to 10 passwords for the free version). In addition, enter all of your profile information once and the program can be used to fill out forms online with one click (including name, address, telephone, fax, email etc..even credit card info if you want). All passwords are encrypted for your security. RoboForm has won several awards including CNET’s “Software of the Year” and one of PC World’s “25 Products We Can’t Live Without”.


    Do you think you can use Paint.net to make a better picture of Mr.T? Upload your best attempt to iGrad’s Facebook Page.



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4 ways to get a job without even trying

March 12, 2010 7 comments

This is how my cat found a job.


    Do you ever wonder why some people seem to find a job without even trying?!  Meanwhile you’ve sent out close to 1,000 résumés and all you have to show for it is one interview for a Multi-Level Marketing job?  Well, that’s all about to change.  Now, I’m not saying give up your job search, sit back and watch American Idol, and a job will just fall in your lap.  But there are some things that you can do in addition to your job search, that are very productive and a lot more fun.


  • Volunteer. It’s fun, rewarding and no matter how much you slack off you can never get fired.  Check out Idealist.org…most of the time you can find volunteer opportunities that will actually give you experience in your field.  There are positions for Marketing, Web Design, even Tax Preparation.  Most of the time you will be working alongside others that are in your field and actively employed…instant networking!!


  • Paint Your Résumé on Your Car.  Here’s an article about a Loyola student who got job interviews just by driving around.  I have to to thank my sister Kelly in Maryland for telling me about this.  You don’t necessarily have to defile your car…the morale of the story is be creative.


  • Interview the Interviewer.  Sick of going on job interviews?  Then conduct some of your own.  Find some people in your field (or other fields you’re interested in) to interview.  An easy way to find and get in touch with them is through LinkedIn.  If you do not know how to do this, please take a second right now and watch this video showing how to network on LinkedIn.  The people that you interview will often be in a position to hire you or connect you to someone that can…either at their company or another.  Everyone loves giving interviews…it makes them feel important…especially when you tell them it’s for a report or for your blog.  What??  You don’t have a blog??


  • Start a Blog.  Make sure that your blog is relevant to your field.  Promote your blog on all social media outlets.  Once you get 1 million followers you can make enough money off your blog that you won’t have to work.  Okay, this may be a long-shot…but blogging will keep your creative juices flowing and will also give you material for a portfolio.  If you don’t have a portfolio than you really need to read my last post: 4 job-hunting tips that you HAVEN’T heard.


    • Do you have a good story about how you got a job without even trying?  Or any other tips?  Please share below if you do.


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  • Kris Alban

    iGrad – Resources for life after college



The Power of Contrarian Thinking

February 25, 2010 1 comment

A few years ago I had the opportunity to move to NYC and work as an equity trader.  While this experience proved brief and unsuccessful, it did make me realize two very important things:

  • Living in Southern California for close to a decade has rendered me unfit to survive in sub 50-degree weather, and
  • Contrarian thinking is extremely valuable, but is rarely taught in college.

A contrarian is one who thinks or acts in a way contrary to the popular opinion.  In terms of investing, acting on contrarian thinking can be very profitable or very costly…but it is always important to at least consider the contrarian point-of-view.  I first learned this lesson as I witnessed experienced equity traders stockpiling (pun intended) Apple shares as the price was plummeting due to rumors circulating on the internet about Steve Jobs’ health.  While the masses (including myself) panicked and sold their stock, contrarian thinkers saw this as an opportunity to acquire a valuable stock at a steep discount.

Unfortunately, this type of thinking certainly didn’t help me out as an investor, but it has proven invaluable in other aspects of life.  Since this experience I have learned to always look for opportunity when others only see problems.  Some examples of this:

  • Discount Buying

Similar to buying a stock when its price goes down, you can save a lot of money if you are buying when everyone else is selling.  Because of all the recent recalls, you can get an amazing deal on a Toyota right now (although I legally can’t advise buying one because I could be held responsible if you blow-up).  Get your snowboard and winter jacket in the spring… buy your board shorts and bikinis in the winter…and if you’re really a true Boston fan, purchase your Patriots/Red Sox apparel any other time than during the playoffs!

  • Getting a Job

Anyone that has attempted to look for any type of job in the past year has certainly noticed that your résumé just doesn’t get noticed at the same frequency that it used to.  Being on the other side of things I now understand why.  Just posting for a part-time position can flood an employer with close to 1,000 applicants!  Not to mention that almost every cover letter submitted was developed according to the “textbook” way that is taught in school.  The applicants that got interviews and eventually got jobs with us were the ones that took a risk with their cover letters and did something different.

  • Entrepreneurship

It may not exactly be contrarian thinking, but I consider it similar.  The most successful entrepreneurs don’t view problems the same way that everyone else does… they see opportunity.  For example, instead of complaining about taking the time to call voicemail and listen to the message (I can’t be the only one that does this) James Siminoff started PhoneTag, a product that converts your voicemail to text and sends a text message to your phone.  Another example of this is the “It’s My Solo Cup” invention.  For years I have been annoyed every time I put my Solo cup down on a table only to look down a minute later and see seven completely indistinguishable red solo cups sitting on the same table.  Recently Solo released a cup with a panel attached that allowed you to scratch your name onto it.  Absolutely brilliant…but it really didn’t take a genius to come up with that one.

In conclusion, contrarian thinking is something that is easier said than done.  It either takes a lot of practice, or in my case several bad equity trades that end up costing you a lot of money.  But if you start thinking this way now, it can end up creating a lot of opportunities for you in the future.

– Kris Alban

iGrad – Resources for life after college