Thursday, December 17, 2015

What Did YOU Learn Today?

One of the things we do at Community Business College is ask all of our students, “what did you learn today?”

It’s a good reinforcement tool and sometimes the answers to that question tell us a great deal about where a student is in the learning process and it caps off an end to the class with a quick learning review.

After completing a QuickBooks class module with the learning-challenged students from Modesto’s Mentor Network yesterday, we reviewed their Profit and Loss Statements. This is something new for the college and we did this class as a pilot project. As you'll see, it was a huge success!

In this QuickBooks class, the students got to choose their own stores, come up with the names and stock it with virtual products. They learned how to order stock, pay for it, sell it and make deposits.

For those not in the know, a Profit and Loss (also known as P&L) Statement is a tool for businesses to use to determine whether or not your business is profitable, how much of a profit has been made or if the business has incurred a loss.
Our Sample P&L Statement

Profit and Loss Statements are also commonly referred to as an income statement, statement of financial performance, revenue statement, earnings statement, or statement of operations. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “A report by any other name will still smell the same.” Whatever you decide to call it, the purpose of the report is to present the revenues recognized for a specific period, and the cost and expenses charged against these revenues, including write-offs (e.g., depreciation and amortization of various assets) and taxes.

So yesterday, they got to run their Profit and Loss Statements for the first time. Then they got to make them blue, modify the report and save the report. We did some more sales, went back and checked the Profit and Loss and saw the growth.

The class learned about the literal “bottom line” on the report tells them how well their company is doing and the real meaning behind the term “Black Friday” (the day when traditionally, companies that are “in the red” see their profits move back “in the black.”)

Then we got to run the sales graph which is QuickBooks’ very colorful illustration of the results of the sales of a company.
That got a lot of oohs and aahs.

At the end of the class, we asked, “so, what did you learn today,” and almost unanimously came the replies about making profit. Of all the QuickBooks activities they did that day, seeing the graphic results of the work in their stores is what they remembered most.

And they had fun learning, too.

All of the students and the aides worked really hard to get to this point. QuickBooks makes things easier but it still takes patience to make work correctly. And these students did it. It warms our hearts to see them enjoy learning so much and it reminds all of us how lucky we are to have the gifts we have.

So here’s the question of the day: “What did you learn today?”

Can you help us keep this program going? We set up a GoFundMe campaign to try to offer this program to those who have special needs. Check out the details here at

Learn to master QuickBooks in one of the campus-based or online classes Community Business  College offers. Then when you’re done, pass the Intuit Certification Exam and receive an official QuickBooks certificate

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Break Times = Good Times

Community Business College has always incorporated 50-minute clock hours for classes. That means each hour a student is here on campus in class, there is a 10-minute break every hour.

Ten minutes provides time to move between classes, but it also provides time to reset your mind. Many a student has told us how they were wracking their brains to get solution to the problem they’re working on, and it wasn’t until they got up, walked around and thought of something else that the answer came to them.

There was even an article out this week about the need to get up and move after you’ve been sitting at a computer for a long time, and get enough sleep each night. According to the study, taking quick walking breaks can extend your life.

And yet…
We have noticed more students hear the words “it’s break time” and instead whip out their smart phones. This happens even when the computer they are sitting at is fully Internet enabled. It’s the smart phone where all the personalized settings are, of course.

When Community Business College provides advanced classes to professionals, the smart phone phenomenon  seems to be more pervasive than people who are take our classes for the unemployed.

What’s Lost

Although checking in with your phone gains you a few updates of what’s happening in the world, or on Facebook, it takes away the physical benefit of just moving around.
Sometimes, a student will find the smart phone so distracting, he or she will forget to use the restroom during break time.

But not only do we lose out on a little exercise when we stay seated at our desks for a long period of time, but we also miss the social interaction that comes with, in this case, taking a class and learning together.

Maybe the answer is setting our smartphones to remind us to take a break every now and then.

Learn other stress management techniques in the Stress Management class Community Business  College offers.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

On the occasion of this day, a Thanksgiving Day Poem:

     A day of giving thanks arrives on a cool November day,

     It reminds us to speak aloud what we so often forgot to say.

     For it’s easy to take for granted the blessings we receive all the days of the year,

     Strange, since words of gratitude are pleasing to both speak and to hear.

     From today’s first waking moment until the dreams of night start their song,

     It is a joy to be able to give thanks all day long.

Happy Thanksgiving Video
Click the turkey to watch the video

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Fall Job Fair That Left Us Lonely

The Job Journal hosted a job fair yesterday and Community Business College staff helped out by providing free resume critiques. Here's what happened...

Each time we attend a job fair, the experience is a little different.  This job fair in Modesto was notable because we ran out of resumes to critique. That almost never happens.  Why did it happen this time? Here are some theories:

     People are gearing up for the holidays so job search is on hold.
              The word didn’t get out about this particular fair.
                  More people have jobs than need jobs.

Of the possibilities, the first two seem to make more sense than the third theory.

But, needless to say, offering unemployed job seekers free critiques on their resumes we learn about what’s trending. It’s a good service that a lot of people appreciate.

All told, we helped 34 people with their resumes, from the job fair. It always provides us with a good feeling to help those in need.

In fact, one service group brought a class of youth with intellectual developmental disabilities over and we were able to help them spruce up their resumes and practice interacting with strangers.

We also had a job seeker travel all the way from Ione, California for this job fair and we had a priest who is no longer a priest and needed help on his resume to get a secular job.

By the way, another resume evaluator reminded job seekers that their job search efforts might be tax deductable.

And, finally, one other interesting factiod from this job fair – this may be the first job fair we attended that had two nut companies recruiting for employees at the same time: Diamond Nuts and Fisher Nuts.

So here are the trends we saw amongst the resumes:

Here are some of the tips that came up at this fair:

Rules? We don’t Need No Rules

In addition to the regular rules of job fairs, we did find one worth adding.
First, the regular rules still apply:
          Come dressed as you would for an interview;
          Bring copies of job-ready resumes to hand to employers;
          Be prepared to answer interview questions;
          Take lots of notes to follow up later.
 But here’s a new rule: Don’t come to the job fair if you’ve finished drinking a few beers and spilled some on your shirt.
Yes, it happened. Somebody walked up for a free resume evaluation smelling like a homebrew factory. And, needless to say, he was not as sharp as would have been if he had come in sober. Now, granted, looking for a new job can be really stressful, but it’s not bad enough to hit the brews BEFORE you go in.

It sends the wrong message. It’s like the one person who went from employer to employer, wearing a t-shirt that says, “I’m not laughing with you, I’m laughing at you.

Another thing we came across is someone with Lotus 1-2-3 and old Word Star listed as software skills. Our advice? Stick to listing contemporary programs on your resume unless you find a job opening that specifically asks for one of these classics.

Loyalty To The Extreme

One job seeker was quite concerned that she wouldn’t want her next employer to see that she was still working.
She thought it would make her look disloyal to her current employer. She is working at a part-time job position but is looking for a full-time job her current employer couldn’t provide.
Her leaving for a better position is just the way of things and almost every employer understands that. The bottom line is if employers really want to keep employees, all they have to do is offer better wages, better perks, more hours, etc. That’s part of being an “At Will” employer. If employees can get a better deal somewhere else, they should take it. After all, the employer is under no rules of loyalty to keep employees and layoffs happen all the time.

The Dreaded Double Entendre.

One resume was an electronic oriented resume with lots of technical skills listed. One of the attributes was “Sound Design Skills.”
So was he saying he has audio skills like for dubbing in audio in movies?
Or was he trying to say that his design skills are sound?
When working on your resume phrasing, remember to watch out for phrases that can be read more than one way.
There have been other, more extreme examples of this, like the ever embarrassing – “I was told by my last employer that he was lucky to get me to work for him.”
Sometimes it helps to have friends and family read your resume for that reason alone– it gives you a new pair of eyes who can read things differently like a potential new employer might.

The Real Job Of The Resume

One of the school’s resume evaluators found a common concern - Getting interviews can be quite a challenge.
Here’s one of the most common reminders we offer:  It’s the resume’s job to get you the interview. Then it’s up to the interview to get you the job.
We’ve never heard anybody say that they got a job just off the resume. There almost always is an interview required.

The last quirky thing that occurred at this particular job fair? One job seeker couldn’t stop sneezing. It must still be the end of allergy season.

Do you find the job search process frustrating?  Try taking a short course on finding a job with our six-week, instructor-led online course at:

Need some tips on developing your resume? Get the professional resume development package on sale now at Groupon.

Or try taking a six-week, instructor-led
 resume class or job search techniques class at Community Business College.

And of course, there’s always our popular
 Use Linked In To Jumpstart Your Career certification class.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Veterans Day Job Fair at the Modesto EDD Office

Stanislaus County hosted a job fair for veterans this morning. Although the job fair had a particularly focus of helping our veterans, the fair was also open to the job-seeking public. 

It was an overcast morning after a rainy day and there weren’t the long lines of job seekers waiting to get in that there have been at past job fairs, but give them kudos for trying, especially for trying to help veterans - a much under-served population here in Stanislaus County.

The fair ran from 9 AM to 1 PM today. Given the list of exhibitors that showed up, it appears this fair ended up being more of a “resource fair” than a job fair, per se.

With regards to the exhibitors, there were many of the same ones who attended last year’s Veterans Day fair.

Below, Community Business College has listed some of the participants who attended the fair. If you weren’t able to make the event, you can still look up most of these exhibitors by their websites. (Google searches are an amazing advantage of modernity). Job opportunities are usually posted on the organizational websites. Other services can typically be found there as well.

2015 Veteran Fair Exhibitors
Employment Development Department Office, Modesto, CA

Staff Mark Employment Agency
California Employment Development Department
The Veteran’s Administration
California department of Business Oversight
California Department of Veterans Affairs (Cal-Vet)
Heavy Equipment School
SMX Staffing Agency
American Legion
Stanislaus County Veterans Service Organization
Goodwill of San Joaquin County
The Veterans Day Job Fair Hall  11/10/15

Need some tips on developing your resume? Get the professional resume development package on sale now at Groupon.

Or try taking a six-week, instructor-led resume class or job search techniques class at Community Business College.

And of course, there’s always our popular Use Linked In To Jumpstart Your Career certification class.


By the way, Community Business College will be closed tomorrow for the Veterans’ Day holiday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Google's AdWords Workshop

Community Business College regularly offers businesses classes on how to conduct online marketing, including instruction on using Google to help organizations improve their businesses.

Today, we had a workshop based on Google’s “Hangout” sessions to help people who want to use Google’s AdWords to their advantage. This is the first of a 3-part series.
“Take Aways” from Session 1

Here are the best tips from the Google AdWords session:

1.       The first, and most important tip, is to make your ads relevant.

Making your ads relevant means thinking about how people might specifically be searching for your type of business online. It’s not enough, for example, to just say you want to use the keyword “flowers” if you’re a florist. Why? Because people searching for the word “flowers” can be agronomists, horticulturists, silk flower artists, etc. The goal of good AdWords is to narrow your scope enough to fit your particular clients.

2.       Use very specific landing pages to match your ad.

When people click on your ad, you want to take them directly to what you’re advertising. Don’t make them work hard to find something within your web page. An example of this is if you have a large grocery store and you want to highlight the sale you’re having on breakfast cereal, the link in your AdWords should not take the user to your main page where they then have to do a search to find the item they were looking for.

3.       Learn to use Google Tools to improve your campaign’s performance.
Google spends a lot of time and money on these tools in order to help businesses learn what is working and how to adapt to new strategies when necessary. Google tools are bonuses that come with an AdWords account so using these can help you put each advertising dollar in the right place. Here are a few Google metrics you can use:

Your Quality Score – Google makes an estimate of its expected click- through rate for your ad based on your ad’s relevance (there’s that term again), combined with landing page experience.

Ad Rank – Here Google calculates your maximum cost per click bid and the quality score. It uses this tool to determine which ads appear on its pages and their position on the search results page (this can be critical to getting your ad noticed).

Keywords and Negative Keywords – A good campaign needs both of these to be successful. “Negative Keywords” are words you want Google to exclude when thinking about showing your ad in response to a user’s search. Add only negative keywords you think would be an irrelevant result for a user.
Here’s an example: If you own a high end clothing retailer, you really are not looking for clicks from people who are looking for discount clothes (remember, negative keywords are not being mean, they’re actually helpful to everybody – i.e. people who are looking for one thing don’t want to be bothered by ads for things they don’t want).  
And you don’t want someone who searched for “discount clothes” accidentally clicking your ad and costing you a click. It doesn’t seem like much but when your campaign is running full blast, these can add up. Negative keywords can help prevent mistakes like that from happening.

Search Terms Report – This is a keyword resource and can be used for both positive and negative keywords. This report can provide a lot of useful insights into how an ad campaign is running and provide some hints on how to improve a campaign. This reports should be checked often (twice a day is not too much if you’re running a very active campaign).

4.       Basic Google AdWord rules for making the most of AdWords:

AdWord accounts need at a minimum:
-          At least 2 ad groups
-          At least 2 ads per ad group
-          At least 5 quality ads keywords for each of your ad groups
-          At least 5 quality negative keywords for each of your ad groups
-          Check the search terms report weekly to understand how your AdWords are working.

So the big theme of this workshop is when you’re happy with your AdWords, Google is happy, too.

Despite the fact that they make a little money off of them, Google really does not want its users to be charged for clicks they don’t want. It annoys the users and lessens Google’s credibility, and it really makes AdWords users feel they’re not getting what they pay for. That’s where Google makes the big bucks.
Google has literally written the book (or, rather the e-Book) on search engine advertising. Using the company’s expertise can help businesses refine its online presence and get the right people to what they do.
Want to learn more? Check back here at this blog periodically for new updates and tips or take one of these online classes from the Community Business College online course catalog:

Develop an Internet marketing plan for your business that incorporates SEO, advertising, email, social media, and more.

Learn how to track and generate traffic to your website, create reports, and analyze data with Google's free, state-of-the-art Web analytics tools.

Learn proven, step-by-step strategies to achieve higher positions with major search engines. Discover the industry insider secrets on how search engines crawl the Web, rank websites, and find previously undiscovered sites. Explore how to select keywords, how many keywords you’ll need, and which keywords hold the most potential.

Learn how to write Web content and produce multimedia elements to make your website or blog a must-visit site on the Internet.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What To Expect At September's Job Fair?

The Job Journal hosted another job fair on September 22, 2015 from Noon to  4 pm at the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel  in Stockton. Admission is always free for job seekers (Click Here for Details).

Community Business College provides job placement staff to offer free professional resume critiques to attendees. This is normally a component of a resume development package but the college provides the service free of charge as part of its community outreach.
Stockton Job Fair - September 22, 2015

What jobs were being recruit for at this fair? Here's the official list (each listing has an active link to a job description, CBC does not endorse these jobs and advises its job seekers to check before purchasing any job leads):

To find current job opportunities in the Central Valley, the school has set up a page with the most popular places to post resumes and search new job opportunity listings: 

Please feel free to check back to this blog for results of future job fairs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Work-Related Education Expenses As Tax Deductions

Adult students who attend Community Business College may be eligible for tax deductions for the expenses they incur while attending school. Questions come up as to how the expenses that come getting training can be used at tax time. The most common questions are: Who is eligible for work-related tax deductions? Which expenses can be taken as deductions? What do I need to take a deduction if I’m eligible?

So here’s what the folks at the Internal Revenue Service say about educational expenses.  (By the way, this information is specifically for work-related education expenses. For full-time academic students at eligible institutions, see this webpage:

You may be able to deduct work-related educational expenses paid during the fiscal year as itemized deductions on IRS Form 1040, Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

Which Expenses Are Eligible?
In order to be deductible, your expenses must be for education that either:
         (1) maintains or improves your job skills or
         (2) that your employer or a law requires to keep your salary, status or job.

However, even if the education meets either of these two tests, the education cannot be part of a program that will qualify you for a new trade or business or training that you need to meet the minimal educational requirements of your trade or business.

Are There Exceptions?
Although the education must relate to your present line of work, educational expenses incurred during temporary absence from your job may be deductible. After your temporary absence, you must return to the same kind of work. Usually, absence from work for one year or less is considered temporary.
Expenses that you can deduct under this category include:
  • Tuition, books, supplies, lab fees, and similar items that support your education
  • Certain transportation and travel costs, and
  • Other educational expenses, such as the cost of research and typing
If you are an employee when you incur these expenses, you generally must complete Form 2106 , Employee Business Expenses, or Form 2106-EZ , Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses. Deduct these educational expenses as miscellaneous itemized deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A ; they are subject to the 2% of adjusted gross income limit. For information on the 2% limit, refer to Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions, and/or Form 1040, Schedule A Instructions .

Remember, any expenses paid by an employer on your behalf are not tax deductible on your tax forms.

What If You’re Self-Employed?
Self-employed individuals include educational expenses on Form 1040, Schedule C , Profit or Loss From Business, Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit From Business, or Form 1040, Schedule F, Profit or Loss From Farming.

Keep in mind that if you are not self-employed, your employer may report the educational assistance payments on your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, in the appropriate box under "other." In this case, taxable reimbursements will be reported by your employer as income to you in the appropriate box of Form W-2. Consult a tax professional for more advice on how to manage your deductions.

What’s the Key For Deductions?
The three most important things to remember if you’re taking deductions are: 1) document everything; 2) document everything; and 3) document everything. Documentation is very important to the IRS and can help you in justifying any deductions you take. If you are eligible for mileage deductions, print a Google maps page that shows the miles you travel. Keep all your receipts for your expenses together and don’t be afraid to take pictures. Take a snapshot that shows other class members with the same books and materials you purchased.  If you are going to claim clothing, take a photo of your clothes before you started training and the ones you got for attending school. The two photos should show that you needed to meet dress code requirements.

Need More Information?
For more information on educational expenses, education tax credits or information for specific types of employees, such as performing artists, refer to Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.
Updated information on this process is available at: Topic 513 - Educational Expenses at the IRS website at

Get the full details of which expenses are deductible here at this IRS page (this also includes the most current mileage rates for the purposes of deductions) -

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Most Excellent Microsoft Excel Users

As you may have read on the Community Business College Twitter page, we had another examinee pass the Microsoft Office Specialist Excel Expert exam. The goal of the certification is to provide people a chance to show others (e.g. current bosses, prospective employers, patronizing computer-savvy high school children) that they know their stuff. It’s been a way for employees to differentiate
themselves in competitive job markets and broaden employment opportunities by displaying advanced skills.


Why Excel Certification?

The Microsoft Excel certification is part of the set of Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications that is offered by Microsoft. Community Business College instructors have certifications but they’re not just designed for the academic community.

Microsoft Office Specialist certification can also lead to increased job satisfaction. Research (conducted by Microsoft, of course) indicates that certified individuals have increased competence, productivity, and credibility.


For employers who are looking for specialized computer skills, Microsoft Office Specialist certification provides skill-verification tools that help assess a person's skills in using the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program. It’s also nice to have an official-looking certificate with the Microsoft logo to hang on your wall. The boss might tell you that you don’t know what you’re doing, but you can point to it and say that Bill Gates’ Microsoft says you know what you’re doing.


Excel has come a long way…

The days of VisiCalc are gone, of course. For the uninitiated in personal computing lore, VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program for home computers. It was also the first “Killer App” - a good reason to pay a thousand bucks (or more) for a box that nobody else in the house seemed to think had much potential.  There was really no practical need for a home computer – word processors could do your word processing and typewriters were getting pretty sophisticated. Games could be done cheaper on game consoles and sometime the graphics were a LOT better. The Internet was still just a twinkling in DARPA’s electronic eye.


Surprisingly, it wasn’t word processing but spreadsheet software that made the whole home computer revolution possible. There was nothing else that could do spreadsheets like a personal computer. And so the worksheet became the face that launched a thousand-thousand PCs.


Since those days filled with simplistic dreams of what spreadsheets were for, though, they have come a long way. From PacMan games programmed in Excel to “extreme couponer” organizers to “million-dollar idea” business plan templates, Excel has shown its versatility. The program has become so specialized that it’s official certification exams have been broken into two tiers.


“Core” Excel Versus “Expert” Excel

The Microsoft Office Specialist exams come in two versions – Core and Expert. Core covers the basics of spreadsheet layouts and is designed for regular users to get certification. The expert exam gets more advanced, obviously.


For most people who come to Community Business College, the core exam is what they’re looking for. Learning Microsoft Excel is not difficult but as someone once said, “it takes a few minutes to learn but a lifetime to master.” When first learning Excel, it’s also a good time to put your hours of game time to good use, especially if you’ve played Battleship. Battleship, by the way, is an excellent way to understand the coordinate reference system Excel uses. At Community Business College, we’ve seen Excel students who have played Battleship and those who haven’t (yes, it’s true, some people have never played Battleship). Those with the “Battleship background” pick up on how Excel functions a lot faster than those who don’t.


The core exam is the exam that covers the fundamental and most common uses of Excel, such as:

  • Formatting Cells and Worksheets
  • Creating Cell Data
  • Cell Functions
  • Changing Worksheets in a Workbook

(By the way, Community Business College offers some free materials if you’re interested in taking the exam, just ask us for a copy of the Microsoft Excel study guide).


If, however, people want to prove they are true Excel aficionados, test takers will tackle the expert level. Expert exam certifications demonstrate proficiency in the more advanced Excel features and uses.


The other advantage of buying a Microsoft Excel expert voucher (they cost the same as the core voucher), is once you pass the expert level exam, you are on your way to becoming a Microsoft Office Specialist Master. The master certification is an extra certification received after passing all of the following Microsoft Office exams: Excel and the Microsoft Word expert exam and the MOS: PowerPoint exam and MOS: Outlook exam (either the Access, OneNote, or SharePoint exams can be substituted for the Outlook exam).
We’re glad we had another candidate pass the Microsoft Excel expert exam and is on his way to becoming a Microsoft Office Specialist Master. By the way, the way he passed it was he purchased the MOS exam voucher with retake. We strongly encourage test takers to do this because, although the voucher with retake is initially a bit more expensive than just the single voucher, it can save money in the long run because it gives you two shots at passing the exam without having to pay full price for each exam. This can save you money in the end, especially for examinees who have never taken one of these interactive exams before.


Excel Classes and Testing
Once again, congratulations to our newly minted Microsoft Excel expert and good luck to all those in the future who plan to take the exam!

Happy Valentine's Day 2019

Our students are the best! Thanks for the chocolates and thanks for sharing with the class! We really do have the Best Teachers Ever! ...