Wisdom Wednesday: How to Explain You were Fired in a Job Interview

A job interview is all about getting one foot inside the door. Every applicant knows that giving the hiring manager a positive first impression is crucial. With stiff competition from a dozen or more other applicants, one minor career mistake can undo all your efforts at landing a job.

As with many things, however, proper preparation can be very helpful. It’s not enough to walk into an interview and offer a winsome smile. Do your research and prepare for difficult questions.

One of these tricky questions has to do with termination. How exactly are you to explain why you were fired or dismissed from your last job? Many applicants do not even consider the question, and therefore end up saying whatever comes to mind when the interviewer broaches the subject.

Here are five ways to help you formulate the best answer.


1.) Be Honest With Yourself


Before going to the interview, consider that this is definitely one question that will have to be discussed. Future employers will want to know why you were dismissed, lest the reason be something that affects their own organization later on. Analyze the events leading to your termination as objectively as you can, without shirking responsibility. When you approach the matter in a calm manner, you’ll be able to see where you (and your previous manager) might have gone wrong.


2.) Don’t Psyche Yourself Out


Just because you were fired doesn’t mean you have no more chances to get employed by someone else. Hiring managers know that there are a lot of reasons behind terminations, and this doesn’t automatically put you at a disadvantage.


3.) Prepare a Brief Answer


This doesn’t mean you have to prepare a memorized answer. Just a general outline of your response to the question should be enough. State the facts as truthfully as you can.


4.) Don’t Malign Anyone


When explaining your previous termination, it can be tempting to push all the blame on your former colleagues or boss. Refrain from doing so. It will reflect poorly on you. Stay objective, note where you and your previous manager may have made mistakes, and keep your language professional.


5.) Focus on the Positive


A lot of people have been fired in the past; what is important is to show the hiring manager that you’ve learned from your mistakes. Indicate that you’re ready to use your previous experiences to do a much better job with your future one.

Originally posted on iGrad.com

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Wisdom Wednesday: Landing and Internship, Its This Easy!

 

If you’ve just graduated from university or college, there’s a good chance that you’ll have difficulty finding a full-time, paid job in your chosen career path. Part of the problem is that employers want candidates to have proven that they have the necessary skills, and a lot of grads just don’t have enough relevant experience to satisfy such requirements.

This is why an increasing number of young professionals are turning to internships—they get valuable experience that will help build their resume, establish a network, and possibly result in a job offer. But the key is to gain the right kind of skills and experience—that’s why it’s important to find the right internship, not just any internship.

Here’s how to do it.

Make a Plan

Your main purpose in taking an internship should be to advance your career. So before you even start looking for internships, you should have at least a tentative career plan in mind. In fact, you should start laying plans before you graduate.

First, consider what your ultimate goal is for your career—do you want to become an executive, a consultant, be self-employed, or start your own business? All those options will involve different paths to take through your career, with different types of jobs and promotions along the way.

Second, think on what industry you’d prefer to work in—if you want to be an account, for example, you could work at a bank and handle individual people’s finances, or you could work for a big business of various industries to run their corporate accounts, or you could work for a non-profit organization. Marketers, human resources, and programmers are other professions that are useful to many different businesses and industries.

Finally, find out what type of entry-level jobs will serve as the best springboard for your career plan. Do some research and find out what types of skills and experiences will give you the best chance at getting those jobs, and pick an internship that best helps you get them.

Search for Internships

Now that you have a plan in mind, start looking into the various ways in which you can find internships. Here are some of the more common methods:

  • Search on major job boards like Indeed or Monster.
  • Use job boards specializing in internships, like YouTern, TalentEgg, or College Recruiter.
  • Search on niche job boards focusing on specific industries, like Culintro or IT Job Pro.
  • Check your university or college’s career center for listings.
  • Ask friends, family, professors, and classmates if they can recommend good internships.

The advantage of internship or niche boards is that they’re also sources of quality information to help you get your career started. Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone and everyone you come across for advice.

Narrow Your Search

When you start to find internship opportunities that you’re seriously considering, and even when you’re interviewing for them, there are a few things you should keep firmly in mind:

  • Remember your career plan and narrow your options to those that will help fulfil it.
  • Check the company’s reputation with interns and make sure you won’t just be getting coffee for everyone.
  • You have rights as an intern and the company should not take advantage of you because you’re “free labor”.

You should constantly be reassessing the quality of an internship opportunity throughout the process. Research the internship on job boards and company websites and ask questions about your role and tasks in the interview to make sure it’s a good fit for you.

Be prepared to walk away, even during the internship itself, if you think you’re not being given a fair chance or the training and skills you need.

Learn Everything You Can

When you get an internship that suits your needs, do not be afraid to ask for advice and training from your supervisor and co-workers. Your internship should be a learning experience in everything you do there—you can learn how to interact with your co-workers and bosses, and the more subtle inner workings of the industry and the jobs within it.

Most importantly of all, you should learn how to  network during your internship, so you’ll have lasting relationships that can serve as sources of advice, references, and referrals throughout your career.

Good luck, and happy hunting!

Originally posted on iGrad.com

Wisdom Wednesday: 20 Helpful Websites for Students!


Stack Exchange – a collection of question-and-answer communities. If you’ve got questions about chemistry, math, programming, or pretty much anything else, you’ll probably find an answer here.

Wolfram Alpha – a “computational knowledge engine”, this site can calculate basically any math problem and come up with data on all kinds of things! Step-by-step solutions to math problems used to be free, but they cost money now. For a free (but less easy-to-use) solution, try SymPy Gamma.

StudentRate – a site that aggregates student deals and discounts on clothes, travel, textbooks, electronics, and lots of other things.

Sleepyti.me – uses the sciences of REM cycles to calculate the optimal time you should go to bed in order to feel well-rested, based on when you plan to wake up.

Habitica – formerly HabitRPG, this website is a great tool for helping you develop better habits, and breaking bad ones!

Todoist – task manager of choice. This website has a clean design, great organizational features, and your tasks sync across multiple platforms.

Google Calendar – old and trusty. Google Calendar hasn’t changed a whole lot in the last few years, but it really doesn’t need to. It is accessible in any browser, has great smartphone apps, and just works.

Dropbox – Dropbox keeps all your files synced, updated, and backed up across all your computers. Recently, their browser interface has gotten much better – you can now preview most file types right in the browser without having to download them.

Lynda – a huge library of video courses that can help you learn tons of skills, mainly centered around computing and media production. Lynda is particularly good for learning the ins and outs of computer software.

Mint – a tool that lets you view all your financial account in one place, track your spending, and set up budgets.

Rate My Professors – a site that allows students to write reviews of professors. Don’t take this sites ratings as the golden standard, but it can be incredibly helpful within reason.

Coggle – a cool little mind mapping tool that lives in your browser.

Your college website! – If you’re not familiar with it, get on it. Most college websites have course catalogues, schedule planners, financial aid information, scholarship listings, academic calendars, student job boards, and other useful things.

Written Kitten – potentially the greatest writing aid ever invented. Set a target word count, and whenever you hit it, you’ll get a new picture of a cat. What could be better?

Cheatography – a really cool site that collects cheat sheets that condense information on all kinds of topics. This could be helpful for building study guides.

Bibme – a tool that can help you automatically generate bibliographies and source citations. This website lets you search for books and other sources; if it recognizes what you searched for, it can often auto-fill all the citation fields. (Not all citation generators do this)!

Ankiweb – This site is legit because it’ll let you create and study your flashcards in the browser. However, you do need to have Anki downloaded first.

Instructables – a site where people can post DIY project tutorials. You never know what you might find!

Originally posted on collegeinfogeek.com

Wisdom Wednesday: What is a “Good” Credit Score?

Learn about who keeps track of your credit score, and some rules of the road when it comes to determining “good” credit.

 

Your credit score is one of the most important components of your overall finances. Whether you want to establish yours, improve it or just keep it healthy, keep these things in mind.

  • Remember that a credit score lower than 650 could impact your overall financial health, making it hard to do things like get a loan or a good mortgage interest rate
  • Pay your bills on time, especially your credit card and loan payments —late payments of 30 days or more can leave damaging marks on your credit report
  • Opening multiple credit accounts in a short period of time may negatively impact your score
  • Check your credit report for free every year with Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
  • Contact a credit bureau if you find any mistakes
  • Remember that your credit score is determined by length of credit history, types of credit, credit inquiries, payment history, and total owed
  • Do everything you can to keep your “creditworthiness” high—that is, how big or small of a risk you look like to lenders

Wisdom Wednesday: It’s Not You, It’s Your Cover Letter…

If you Google “cover letter,” you will find the same format on hundreds of websites. The typical cover letter opens with a clear statement that tells human resources the name of the position for which you are applying and where you saw the advertisement. After the first sentence, a cookie-cutter letter details how the writer’s skill set fits the competencies listed on the job description.

If you want your cover letter to blend in with the crowd, follow this format. However, if you want to stand out, you need to approach cover letters differently.

The Header and Salutation

Before you begin writing, research the target business and unearth its purpose, its successes, and its challenges. As you research, make sure to find the name of the hiring manager. If the website is not forthcoming, let Google and social media help you. If online searches let you down, pick up the phone.

Never use “to whom it may concern” as you salutation. This is one phrase that really irritates hiring managers because it conveys laziness. In fact, if you use this phrase, you can expect your application package to go straight into the trash can. Instead, put the hiring manager’s name in the address and in the salutation.

You may be tempted to use “to whom it may concern” if you have found several names but are unsure of which one is the hiring manager. Even if you are not confident that you have chosen the correct name, avoid “to whom it may concern.” A wrong name is far better than the generic salutation.

The First Paragraph

The first paragraph should encourage the hiring manager to read further. Imagine a tall stack of application packages. If you were tasked with evaluating them, you would find quick ways to eliminate as many as possible. If your first paragraph shines, your package is likely to move to the short stack instead of to the trash can.

Remember that research you did? Use what you learned to make your first paragraph fit the tone of the company’s online presence. If you are applying to a bank, a formal first paragraph will be more effective than a witty first paragraph. However, witty or enthusiastic first paragraphs are appropriate in many situations.

To write a formal first paragraph, begin with an upbeat overview of your skills coupled with how you can use them to help the company. For example, you might say, “I am a graphic artist with over 10 years of experience, and I’d love to bring my skills and passion for excellence to your recently formed content development team.”

To write a witty, enthusiastic first paragraph, begin with fun, attention-commanding prose. For example, try opening with one of your accomplishments, with your driving passion, or with some praise about the company. Use the following examples as inspiration:

  • Lead with accomplishments. A former supervisor called me a superstar because she saw how I used focused listening to drive sales. Listening to people so that I can truly to meet their needs gives me a rush. I’d love to bring my successes in a fast-paced customer service environment to your customer service manager position.
  • Lead with your passion. Some people meditate, and others exercise. I write. Even when I was a child, I turned to writing when life got confusing or stressful. My passion for the written word has led me to from writing fiction and nonfiction to using the power of the pen to impact human behavior through copywriting.
  • Lead with why you love the company. Sweet tea may well be the meaning of life. This Southern beverage has accompanied me to football games, picnics, and Sunday lunches. When Milo’s made gallon jugs of sweet tea available to those too busy to make their own each day, I rejoiced. Promoting this sweet beverage on the Internet through your social media marketing position would be my dream job.

The Body

If you didn’t address the title of the position you are seeking in your first paragraph, include it in the first sentence of the body of your letter. Otherwise, jump right into how you can help the company succeed. Don’t be like everyone else and simply reiterate the job description. Use your research to address the company’s mission, success, and challenges.

It’s never a waste of time to learn more about the company to which you are applying. After all, when you get the interview, you’ll wow the hiring managers with your go-getter inside knowledge.

In the body of your letter, minimize “I” statements and focus on the company. Don’t just say that you have experience in sales. Give concrete examples of your success — statistics are great — and explain how your experience will impact the company. Addressing specifics about the company and how you would fit in makes your letter stand out in a sea of monotony.

The Closing

The opening and the closing are the two most important features of a sales letter. A cover letter’s purpose is to sell yourself, so be bold in the conclusion. Restate why you are perfect for the position, encourage the reader to learn more about you by reviewing your resume, and directly ask for an interview. Also, thank the hiring manager for taking the time to read your letter.

A great cover letter keeps its audience at the forefront of the writing process. Your audience is the busy hiring manager, so keep your letter short and upbeat. Motivate the hiring manager to call you for an interview, and double-check that you have used the company name throughout instead of the generic “your company” or “your business.” When your cover letter is short, compelling, and focused on selling yourself to one company at a time, you’ll be amazed at how many interviews you get.

Author: Miranda Grimm

 

 

Wisdom Wednesday: Interview Etiquette

We’ve all been there (or will be at some point): Nervous, palms sweating, unsure of what’s to come. All you want is for them to like you. Really, really like you! As you wait watching the receptionist tick away at her computer you begin to zone out…and then suddenly you hear the pitter-patter of shoes coming down the hallway. Your heart skips a beat and you have about 30 seconds until you’re in the spotlight… I’m talking about The Interview!

We have all had our fair share of interviews.  if not, you need to become privy as to what goes over well with potential employers and what could be the nail in your prospective career coffin. Today we will be going over interview etiquette and discussing the tips and tricks you need to know to land your dream job…

Before The Interview

  1. Research the company.
  2. Update your resume. (If possible try to keep it to one page in length.)
  3. Bring: A fresh notepad, a pen and two copies of your resume.
  4. Dress appropriately and avoid any oversized or layered jewelry.
  5. Wear natural makeup and keep your hair simple and out of your face. A few of my favorite interview hairstyles include ballerina buns, low ponytails, and half-up styles.
  6. On the way to your interview, listen to your favorite pump up song to boost your energy and confidence. (It sounds silly, but it always works!)
  7. Turn off your phone and spit out the gum.
  8. Arrive on time (and not too early, 10 minutes is usually best).
  9. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
    Tell me about yourself.
    How has your experience prepared you for this job?
    What is your greatest weakness? (Tip: Whatever your weakness is, always present it as something that you are “working on.” For example, “I’m working on talking less when I am nervous.”)
    Why do you want this job?
  10. Prepare a few questions of your own, such as the following:
    Why is this position open?
    Is there an opportunity for growth with this position? If so, where does it lead?
    What was your career path to this job? 


During the Interview

  1. Be nice to everyone in and around the building. You never know who works at the company or who will be interviewing you.
  2. Give them a solid, confident handshake.
  3. Smile. You want to be approachable and it will ease your nerves.
  4. Be polite and energetic. No one wants to interview a slug.
  5. Maintain good posture.
  6. Don’t talk too much–you don’t want to be a chatterbox, but definitely don’t provide them with one word answers either. Also, do NOT interrupt the person who is interviewing you.
  7. Remember to ask your questions at the end of the interview.
  8. Do NOT ask about money during the first interview.
  9. At the end of the interview, ask when a decision is going to be made and when it is appropriate for you to follow up.
  10. On your way out, be sure to graciously thank them for taking the time to meet with you.

 

After the Interview

  1. The second you walk out of the interview write a hand-written thank you note and pop it in the mail that same day. Yes, as in snail mail. It may seem old-fashioned, but this is an often-overlooked gesture that is greatly appreciated and highly noted by potential employers.
  2. Follow up if you haven’t heard back by the date specified during the interview. Do not follow up before that date.
  3. Do NOT (!!!) tweet, Facebook post, or blog about your interview. We all know that the first thing a prospective employer does after an interview is Google the interviewee.

Author: Lauren Conrad

Wisdom Wednesday:How to Write the Perfect Networking Email

While social networking is a strongly required asset to any business, face to face introductions are still just as high on the list. Hence, when being a part of or running a business and looking for prospects, networking events are a must-have in every daily agenda.

However, the question that remains is how to become a new connection and not someone a person met that one time. The answer: a strong follow-up email that separates you from the other business cards on your new friend’s desk. But before hitting the “send” button, there are three things your email should include to make sure you really separate yourself from the herd:

A Moment From the Conversation

People love to be remembered, especially when they know you’ve interacted with so many others on the same day you met. If you can remember a moment of the conversation, such as talking about their love for macramé, or hearing their story about how they started their business, put it in the email. Make the comment light, but professional and, if possible, connect it to suggesting another meeting. For example:

“I loved that I met a fellow scrap-booker—we should definitely try out that new store together and maybe grab a coffee after.”

You impress the person here in two ways: First, you remembered them and were focused on the conversation despite the busy surroundings. Second, you’ve shown yourself to be a real person they can further connectwith either professionally or personally.

An Idea for Their Business

If you read any sales books, they all say the same thing: Give a gift and you’ll make a connection that has a real chance of prospering. So in your email, give a suggestion as to how you can help their business; call it giving them a personal coming attraction. This peaks the receiver’s interest and will hopefully continue the conversation. A great example:

“I was thinking about your book; have you ever considered trying to pitch it to pet-friendly hotels? I may have some contacts related to this if you’re interested.”

If you have an idea, but you’re not able to help, suggest it anyway, especially if you know someone you can refer them to. This will show that you’re professional and that you are realistically trying to help the person, even if you can’t profit from their needs.

An Action Item

Don’t let it end at just an email that can be passed by; give them something to do in response. Suggest a time and date to meet up again and do a face-to-face follow-up, or ask a simple question for them to answer. This will make sure your message isn’t ignored, and shows you want to connect further. Sometimes (and even I have this moment) you hand over a business card and wonder if it will even be worth the paper it’s made of. With an action item, you show that you’re a profitable and positive connection with initiative.

The biggest rule within all of these steps: keep the conversation going. In one event, we don’t just come home with little pieces of paper, but a handful of opportunities to connect with the future of our career one person at a time. But before this can happen, we need to follow up and follow through. With this small, but powerful checklist, we can make every new conversation evolve into new opportunities.

Wisdom Wednesday: 10 Secrets to Sounding Super Confident

If confidence could be bottled, it would be an overnight sensation. Confidence is a trait we admire in others and lament the absence of in ourselves. But while some people may indeed just be born confident, it’s a skill the rest of us can easily acquire.

As all the best performers and public speakers know, confidence is as much about appearance as it is about feeling it. So where better to start honing your confidence than in your voice, one of the most important tools you have to give others a favorable impression?

As psychologist and author Larina Kase says, “True confidence is not thinking that you’ll get a great result. It’s knowing that you can handle any result.” Read on to learn the 10 secrets of sounding confident. These expert tips will prepare you for success in any professional or public speaking situation.

1. Practice.

The key to doing anything well is doing it often and speech is no exception. When you’re nervous about a difficult conversation, such as making the case to your boss for a raise, or a scheduled talk in front of an audience, practice what you’ll say beforehand. Public speaking expert Dale Carnegie recommends using a real or stand-in microphone if you’ll be using one during the actual event. Recording yourself is also a good way to figure out if you’re using the best pacing and pauses. It also allows you to evaluate your voice for clarity and volume.

2. Don’t articulate a statement as a question.

People ask questions when they’re missing information or want approval for an idea or decision. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with either of those situations, both can make you sound vulnerable. To project your ideas with confidence, don’t let your voice creep upward at the end of a sentence. Maintain an even tone of voice and finish your statements with periods, not question marks.

3. Slow down.

Carmine Gallo, author of Talk Like TED, claims 190 words per minute is the ideal rate of speech for public speaking. At this speed, your audience will feel less like you’re talking at them and more like you’re having a conversation over lunch. If you speak too slowly you run the risk of putting your audience to sleep. And if you talk too quickly you can sound amateurish or nervous, like you’re trying to get it over with as fast as you can. That’s why 190 words per minute is the sweet spot you should aim for.

4. Use your hands.

The body language that accompanies your message is just as important as the words coming out of your mouth. Audiences perceive speakers to have more positive traits such as warmth and energy when they use a variety of gestures, according to Carol Kinsey Gorman, Ph.D., an executive coach and consultant in nonverbal communication. While some physical gestures, such as fiddling with clothing or touching hair, can distract or convey a lack of confidence, using your hands when you speak is a great way to communicate your excitement and knowledge about the topic.

5. Throw away caveats and filler phrases.

Do you ever begin your sentences with “This is just my opinion,” “Sorry,” “I’m still working on this,” “Well,” “I mean,” or any number of other negative or useless prefaces? Most people do as a matter of habit or nervousness, but caveats and fillers can damage the confident tone you’re trying to strike. Instead, say what you mean and nothing else. For example, “We should take this pitch in a different direction” is much more persuasive than “Well, I think we should take this pitch in a different direction, but I’m still trying to find out the best route to take.”

6. Stay hydrated.

Professional singers have favorite pre-show beverages to soothe and prepare their vocal cords. And while you may not need to hit any octaves during your next conference call, hydration is equally important for speakers. Studies show the positive effects of hydration on vocal cords; basically, it keeps them moisturized and enhances the sound of your voice. The best way to stay hydrated is to stay ahead of the curve—by the time you feel thirsty, it’s too late. Drink water regularly throughout the day for the best results.

7. Express gratitude.

Dr. Ramiro Zuniga explains the link between gratitude and confidence: “When a leader shows gratitude, it helps create a positive atmosphere. The display of gratitude conveys the message that all is well and moving in a forward direction.” Thus, thanking coworkers and direct-reports for their contributions and achievements is another way to say the company is thriving and on track to do even better in the future. Start the conversation with a little gratitude, even a “Thanks for coming,” and you’ll convey confidence from the start.

8. Insert smiles into your speech.

Have you heard the adage that smiles are contagious? Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at George Washington University, explains the benefits of smiling on both the speaker and the audience: “Smiling not only makes your voice more pleasant to listen to, it also conveys confidence…You will appear friendly, approachable, and composed.” That’s more than enough reason to grin the next time you give an important talk.

9. Use silence to your advantage.

What’s your biggest public speaking fear? For many people, it’s silence. They worry about forgetting an important idea or losing their train of thought midway through a sentence. Speakers who try to engage their audiences with questions worry that no one will respond. But silence isn’t your enemy; it can actually be a powerful confidence-projecting tool. Professional Speech Coach Gary Genard points out that audiences need strategic pauses in order to retain and understand important points. Additionally, the ability to live with silences, whether of your own making or the audience’s, makes you seem confident.

10. Maintain good posture.

Holding your head high and rolling your shoulders back won’t just make you look confident; it will improve the sound of your voice as well. Good posture enables you to breathe deeply in and out through your abdomen, which is how actors and other public speakers project their voices to resonate clearly throughout the space. So to maximize the power of your voice, sit or stand up straight and take a deep breath.

 

Wisdom Wednesday: 8 Instagrammers to Follow for Top-Notch Career Advice

When it comes to Instagram, you probably follow your best friend, your sister, and your best friend’s sister… But as you’re scrolling through your feed, who do you look to for awesome inspiration, beautiful images, and reliable career advice you can actually relate to? We’ve gathered some of our favorite Instagrammers who are always making our feeds better and brighter, so you can get double-tappin’ ASAP.

CreateCultivate              

This online platform and creative conference caters to all female entrepreneurs that are working and growing in the digital space. Their fun and colorful feed is full of great quotes, office outfit ideas, and a handful of successful women. Plus, CreateCultivate featured one of my absolute favorite inspiration illustrations that reminds you to always work hard and be gracious.

HerAgenda

What I love about HerAgenda is that you’re not just seeing the same five quotes you always find all over Pinterest. Here, you’re getting fresh advice and bold images, so you’ll never miss them as you’re scrolling through.

LeanInOrg

We always hear about how we need to #LeanIn to our careers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also need daily reminders of what happens when we do! Lean In’s powerful Instagram features and celebrates incredible individuals who’ve really made a difference. Learn from their journeys and their words as you’re navigating your own career.

HootDesignCo.

This design company located in the heart of Missouri not only has quirky and cohesive photos, but it also delivers some solid career advice. Wondering what three things may be ruining your brand? Looking for new ways to dress for success? You must check out this marketing and branding hub.

TheBrandGals

Sometimes the best advice just comes from downright beautiful inspiration. Looking at TheBrandGals feed, you’re immediately transported into a world where creativity is endless, ideas are clean and thought out, and your desk always looks perfect.

LinkedIn

If you’re looking for quick and simple tips on how to make your LinkedIn profile noticed by employers (have a photo and list your skills), all accompanied by pops of motivation, look no further than the LinkedIn insta.

Business Insider

While it’s a lot more than just career advice, Business Insider offers some useful, easy-to-read tips on powering through a workday on no sleep, how not to be a bad speaker, and how to pay off your debt. All that just by scrolling through my feed? I’ll take it.

Levo

Last but not least, I have to give a shoutout to the ultimate source for social media career advice: the one and only, Levo. Levo’s wonderfully curated feed is full of Power Outfits, interactive career polls, and awesome individuals!

Author: Madison Feller