Gencie Houy

Gencie Houy teaches the Adulting 101 class at Texas Tech University and helps students learn how to live independently while teaching them the real skills they need for real life. She has many years of experience teaching Family and Consumer Sciences at the secondary and post-secondary levels and earned her PhD from Texas Tech University.

Articles From Gencie Houy

4 results
4 results
Adulting: How to Succeed in Your First Job

Article / Updated 12-08-2022

To do well at your job requires a combination of many qualities and skills. You must have a strong work ethic, be trainable, and have basic problem-solving skills. Throughout your life thus far, you have been working to build the foundation needed to be successful in the workforce. You have most likely received the training you need from your schooling, extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, work experiences, and guidance from parents, teachers, and mentors. Hard skills versus soft skills Skills that employers want vary from job to job, but they all include some form of soft skills and hard skills. Soft skills relate to how you work, and hard skills relate to what you know. Through a combination of soft skills and hard skills, you will find the right mix to be successful on the job! Hard skills Hard skills are technical skills that you learn in the classroom, in professional trainings, in online courses, in certification programs, or on the job. These skills are related to a particular field, and they require specific knowledge in that subject area. Hard skills are easier to define than soft skills because they can be tested; you can either speak a second language fluently or you can’t. Another example of a hard skill is if you want to be an architect, you must be able to understand and apply the technical skills of building and construction. You hope the bridge you drive across every day has been designed and built by an architect with the hard skills required to make the bridge safe and durable. The following are some examples of hard skills: Computer skills Data analysis Scientific expertise Writing Geometry Photo editing Graphic design Social media management HTML, JavaScript, and other programming languages Software use, such as Microsoft Office, Google Office Suite, Salesforce Foreign languages Patient care Accounting Scheduling All of these hard skills are pretty specific. Some skills are transferrable to different careers, but to land the job you want, you need to know the specific hard skills required for that position. Usually, you can find the degree requirements, licenses, and hard skills needed for a position listed in the job description. Check out the table below to see what level of higher education or training you need to meet your career goals. College degree levels Degree Type Years Required Example Associate Degree Two to three years Associate of Science (AS) Bachelor’s Degree Four or more years Bachelor of Arts (BA) Master’s Degree Bachelor’s degree plus two to three years Master of Education (MEd) Doctoral Degree Master’s degree plus four years or more Doctor of Philosophy in Systems and Engineering Management (PhD) Keep in mind that you do not have to attend college to have a successful career, but a high school diploma is a necessity. If college is not required, be ready for on-the-job training, apprenticeships, or program certifications for many job positions. For example, you do not need a college degree to become a certified electrician, but you must complete an apprenticeship that includes 8,000 to 10,000 hours (approximately four to five years) of on-the-job training, plus testing to receive your license or certification. If you do not have a certain hard skill, no worries; sign up for some college classes or community programs to perfect your skills. Also, many places provide on-the-job training to make sure you know the hard skills needed to be a part of their teams. Soft skills Job performance is a big deal. It’s what employers use to gauge raises, bonuses, advancement, and job security. Soft skills are a large part of your performance. Soft skills are personality traits that affect how you interact with others and have their roots in your behavior, attitudes, and values. Soft skills are just as important, if not more so, as the hard skills or qualifications that you need for a job. Many people end up underperforming in a job not because they couldn’t do the work, but because they couldn’t get along with others. Here are some valuable soft skills that can be helpful in any job: Time management: Can you consistently come to work, get there on time, and finish projects by the deadline? Multitasking: Can you handle multiple expectations and tasks at a time? Attention to detail: Can you pinpoint technical errors? Can you focus on the task at hand for hours at a time? Innovation: Can you come up with new ideas? Can you think outside the box? Are you proud of yourself and your ideas? Problem-solving: If you get in a bind, can you figure out a solution on your own? Emotional maturity: Can you control your emotions in stressful situations? Can you act appropriately and professionally in the workplace? Dedication: If you say you will do something, will you actually do it? Do you follow through on job assignments? Duty: Do you understand that you are required to meet the obligations of the job if you want to keep the job? Enthusiasm: Are you excited and positive in your approach to your work? Honesty: Can you be trusted with sensitive information and be honest about your mistakes? Leadership: Can you help set a direction and guide other people to the right place? Collaboration: Can you be respectful of others’ opinions and ideas on your team? Do you work well with others? Overall, employers are looking for good human beings. Are you reliable, can you be trusted, and can you communicate effectively? If you can show impressive soft skills, you will go far within an industry and could quite possibly move up the ranks. While it’s important to be qualified with the hard skills needed for a job, some employers might choose someone with more advanced soft skills because they can be trained in the hard skills. Soft skills can be sharpened by asking for feedback from others. From the list above, are there some soft skills you need to develop further? If you neglect your soft skills, you could be the cause of conflict in the workplace. Don’t put your career at risk.

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Adulting: How to Communicate Effectively

Article / Updated 11-18-2022

Listen to the article:Download audio Verbal communication is speaking to communicate your thoughts. To some, verbal communication comes naturally, but others may not feel comfortable speaking in certain circumstances. You might get nervous speaking in front of large groups of people, or maybe you would just rather listen and observe when you’re with your friends. This is perfectly normal, but for those situations when you have to talk, you need to be able to communicate what’s on your mind. Effective verbal communication The following are qualities of effective verbal communication. Holding your tongue until you have thought about what you want to say. Consider what points you have to share before opening your mouth. Steer clear of embarrassing yourself or hurting someone with your sharp tongue when you speak without thinking. Speaking clearly. When you have something to say, make sure you say it understandably. If you are in a habit of mumbling, try to pronounce each syllable carefully so others get what you are trying to say. Otherwise, people will tire of trying to decipher your words and will move on.Also, be respectful of the environment you are in. Do not talk too loudly when it is not warranted. Be mindful of the speed at which you are talking, as well. People will not be able to follow along if you are a speed talker and leave them in the dust! Exuding a positive vibe. Express yourself in a welcoming manner — warm and enthusiastic. You do not want to be the negative person who is always complaining or criticizing others. Other people can find that exhausting to be around. People want to hang out with you if you are positive when you talk. Knowing your audience. I am willing to bet the way you talk to your close friends is different from the way you talk to your boss. Keep this in mind when communicating with different people and remember to remain appropriate with each audience. Asking for feedback during conversations. The only way you are going to know if someone is following along with what you say is by asking occasionally if they understand your point. You might say, “Does that make sense?” Being aware of the give and take of a conversation. There is a delicate balance between talking and listening. If you begin to hog the conversation and talk too much, your listener might get bored and stop paying attention. Brushing up on conversation starters It can be a little scary to begin a face-to-face conversation, especially with someone you just met. Beginning a new conversation by asking a question is a great way to show someone you are interested in them and to get the conversation flowing. Making “small talk” could lead to a more in-depth conversation. Questions to initiate a conversation include: How is your day? What brings you here? Can you believe this weather? What type of music do you like? Seen any good shows lately? What is your favorite food? If you show genuine concern for and interest in another person and how they answer the questions, a great conversation could begin flowing because they will feel like they are heard and in turn listen to you! Believe it or not, everyone likes to talk about themselves. If you aren’t sure what to say in a conversation with someone you just met, get them talking about themselves by asking questions. Before you know it, you’ll have gotten to know that person on a deeper level, and they’ll feel edified in the conversation with you. Speaking without words You don’t need to talk to communicate; a smirk or a smile can say volumes! Communicating without words is called nonverbal communication. Body language is what your body is involuntarily or voluntarily doing to communicate. Facial expressions, body posture, arm gestures, and eye movement can show your true feelings about a topic. Here are some examples of things body language can communicate: Smiling with arms by your side means you are happy and ready to contribute. Crossing your arms gives off a vibe that you are not interested in a topic, disagree, and are closed off to what is being said. I cross my arms a lot when I’m cold. If you’re like me, it’s important to be aware of what your posture might be conveying to other people. Biting your nails or playing with your hair shows others that you are nervous or anxious. Resting your hand on your cheek shows you are eager for knowledge or you are evaluating your thoughts. Rubbing both hands together can mean that you have lost your patience or are nervous about what is to come. Avoiding eye contact shows you could be guilty, shy, or bored. Resting your head on your palms shows stress, sadness, or exasperation. Tilting your head to one side shows interest in the topic being presented or curiosity. Placing your hands on your hips shows confidence and authority. The direction your feet are facing communicates your feelings about the conversation you're having. If your feet are facing the person, it means you are interested; if they are facing away from the conversation, it means you are trying to get out of there! Leaning away or back could mean disinterest or even fear. When your words do not match your nonverbal cues, you could be giving off mixed messages. What you truly think and feel will always find a way to show. After all, actions speak louder than words. However, if a physical or mental impairment keeps you from mastering these body language expectations, just do the best that you can.

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Adulting: Moving Out for the First Time

Article / Updated 11-17-2022

Home sweet home — the home you have grown up in. We all remember our childhood home. Whether you still live at home with your parents, live away from home but with roommates, or live on your own, there are a couple of things to think about when it comes to your home. The ultimate goal of a home is to provide these three things: A home provides for you physically, such as protection against weather, outside elements, a place to sleep, to eat, and to be safe. A home provides emotional security. You can find a place to relax in privacy and comfort. Your decor might even reflect your taste. A home provides you with a social atmosphere that gives you a sense of belonging and love. Your home might serve as a gathering place for family and friends to live, work, and play together. Some of the basic needs from psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs (see the figure below) can be met just by having a home. When your housing serves an emotional and social need, it’s more than just a roof over your head. It becomes a home. When is it time to move out on your own? How can you determine when it is time to move out and get a place on your own? When is it time to create that sense of belonging and security in your own home? The time is different for each individual. The following are some indicators that it may be time to move out of your parents’ house, family members’ house, or other current living situation. You begin to feel like you do not have ownership over your personal items, even if you purchased them. You have an emergency fund in savings. Your schedule is the opposite of those you live with and you begin to feel uneasy coming home at crazy hours. You want a pet, but they are not allowed in your current living situation. You want more privacy. You cannot decorate your space to express your creativity. You already pay most of your own bills. Your mental health is affected negatively by your living situation. Living in a place of your own brings a sense of accomplishment but also much more responsibility. Considering your housing needs and wants When it comes to housing, people have different needs and wants. You may think something is necessary for a home, but others may see it as a drawback. Here are some questions to consider when thinking about housing: Size How many people will be living in the space? Will you need room for regular guests and visitors? What will the space be used for? For example, will you need a work space or home office? Stage of life Is this your first time living on your own? Are you married with children? Do you need space to take care of your extended family? Special considerations Do you or a family member have a special need regarding mobility? Do you need to be close to public transportation or a safe area to walk for a person with vision impairment? Will elderly individuals be living with you? Location Is it important to live close to your school, job, or place of worship? Would you rather live in a busy city neighborhood, a quiet part of town, or in the country? Do you want quick access to stores, restaurants, or public transportation? Is the size of the city important to you? Lifestyle What type of day-to-day living is important? Do you want to be close to friends and places for an active nightlife? Will you be working from home? Financial considerations Is there a high cost of living in the area? Does the neighborhood require a home owners association (HOA) fee? Does the house require extra maintenance, such as caring for a pool or large landscapes? Believe it or not, location should be at the top of your list when deciding on a home. Do you really want to live in a property where you will need to commute hours a day to your workplace or school? Do you want to settle down in a neighborhood with a high crime rate? Location may not be in the forefront of your mind when looking at some eye-catching housing options, but trust me, you will thank yourself later if you focus on where your house is located. Different types of housing After you've decided what type of location you want to live in, you have to consider the types of housing available. Depending on the location, you might have many options available to you, or you might be limited. The two most common types of housing are stand-alone housing and multi-dwelling units: Stand-alone housing has the following characteristics: Built to house one individual or a family Is freestanding — not sharing any walls with another unit Can be large, small, or multiple stories tall Offers more privacy than multi-dwelling units Is usually a more expensive option than other types Multi-dwelling units have the following characteristics: Contain several housing units in one structure Can be a duplex, which is one building with two separate units that share one wall; one person usually owns both units and either rents both or lives in one and rents out the other Can be multiplex housing, which is where three or more units share the same building, such as a condo, which can be rented or owned Can be considered a townhome, where the single-family home is at least two floors and shares one wall with another house. Each townhome is individually owned Can be apartments; an apartment building is a structure that has multiple rental units; apartments range from three or four units to high-rise apartments that have hundreds of units; an apartment complex has separate buildings with units grouped together for rent. Include student housing such as dorm units Often are more affordable than stand-alone housing Are readily available and can be used for a short or long amount of time May include shared laundry facilities, pool area, workout area, or other special features Are usually less private than a stand-alone dwelling Have limited storage, yard area, and parking May not allow pets When attending a college or university, many students choose to live in student housing. A dorm room is a small, shared space that consists of one room for sleeping, eating, entertainment, and studying. Many students feel that living in student housing allows them to meet new people and experience everything college life has to offer. Throughout your life, you will likely live in different types of housing. Depending on your stage of life, it might be time to downsize or upsize. Later, you may find yourself taking care of your parents, much like a role reversal; they might need to live with you or consider other options such as retirement homes with senior living care. Taking care of your aging family members is a large responsibility that should be done with the upmost dignity and respect. After all, they did raise you into the amazing human you are today!

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Adulting For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 10-14-2022

If you think adulting is hard, you’re not alone. The moment you turn 18, you’re expected to be a master of everything, from personal finance to household chores, even if you’ve never done any of these things before. This handy cheat sheet is a reference for the basics of adulting. It includes tips on running your own life, including communicating, managing money, staying healthy, and even taking care of your household chores.

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