So You Want a Job After College? Stop Taking Selfies

beautiful woman selfie in a desolate landscape

Getting a job after graduation is hard. In fact, the U.S. Economic Policy Institute charts that roughly 8.5 percent of college graduates between the ages of 21 to 24 are unemployed.  The stats are bleak, no doubt about that, but there are things you could be doing right now to get yourself ahead of the curve. Whether you’re in school or not, you could be using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to improve your post-college job prospects.

Surprisingly (or to surprise for those of us who work in digital marketing) the one silver lining in an otherwise bleak economy is the social media sector. Despite the overall grim job market, a report by McKinsey Global Institute estimates that social media-related projects could add  between $900 billion to $1.3 trillion to the overall economy. Yeah, you read that right, that’s trillion with a ‘t”.

It’s not brain science, we all know that social media plays a huge role in customer service and marketing efforts for almost every industry. These initiatives add a lot of value to the overall economy by increasing productivity and fluency across departments and consumer marketing. The demand to hire savvy professionals who understand social media and how business can leverage social, is huge right now. In fact McKinsey estimates that by 2018, the United States could face a shortfall of 1.5 million data analysts and managers to cope with the flood of data to their businesses.

Who better to fill in this job gap than millennials. Students who were born between the 1980s to early 2000s, are the perfect candidates for the majority of in-demand digital communication jobs because they’ve grown up on these platforms. In fact, 90 percent of new jobs in the next year will require information and communication technology skills (Think: jobs like social media coordinators and community managers.) Social media was even named one of three top digital skills essential to a company’s success in a recent study by Capgemini Consulting and more than half of companies polled lack social media skills.

This is a virtual gold mine for college grads and digital natives. Most millennials are used to using the Internet for everything from online shopping, online tutoring, and even online grocery shopping (convenient!).  But even so, more young people are getting rejected from these in-demand jobs and it’s not because they don’t have the skills, it’s because they’re using the platform in the wrong way. That’s right, your selfies are turning employers off.

According to new research by the Young People’s Consumer Confidence Index, one in 10 young people have been rejected from a job because of their social media profile. Unfortunately, most young people using social media are more concerned about looking good for their friends than attracting potential employers. This may explain why selfies are rampant on the Internet.

So what’s a college grad to do? For starters, don’t hide

It’s important to keep in mind that whatever you post on the Internet, stays on the Internet. Consider that future employers, family members, mentors, and professors can find the things your posting if they really want to. As much as people hide behind private accounts or protected tweets, these parameters aren’t necessarily keeping wavering eyes off. Even though that might seem a bit creepy, there really isn’t any no reason to hide from social media. In fact, if you know and understand how to leverage social media, you can use them to land a new gig, no resume required.

Here are a few tips on how you can be using social media right now to get you closer to your dream job:


The great thing about Twitter is that you can connect with almost anyone in the world without a gatekeeper. You don’t need to go through Lena Dunham‘s manager to tell her how much you loved her new book. You can just tweet her! And guess what, she might be cool enough to tweet you back.

Twitter is a great tool that can help you connect with people you admire, potential employers, and network with industry insiders. Do you aspire to be a broadcaster, developer, or designer? I bet the people you aspire to be are tweeting their way through life right now. Reach out and begin a conversation! Start by tweeting what you like about their work. A genuine compliment can go a long way and you never know where it could lead you to next. After you exchange a few tweets, go a step further and direct message to get more specific and exchange emails.


Instagram is a great community for showcasing your creative side and connect with other talented creatives around the world. As much as I love cracking up to comedic gems like @thefatjewish, try to branch out from following celebrities or only people you know. Explore hashtags and find users in your city who are creatively leading an industry. Once you find a feed that you love, let them know! Like, comment, and direct message the user to begin a one-on-one conversation. After some time, you can even initiate an in-person meet-up and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to expanding your creative network.


As soon as moms started joining, Facebook became the lame little brother of the social media world. Regardless of how you feel about Facebook, whether you use it or not, be sure that your privacy settings are appropriately adjusted so that unwarranted users aren’t going through all of your tagged photos from last week’s rager. Better yet, go ahead and untag yourself from every photo of you at a rager. Trust me, you’re better off.

Keep your Facebook profile neat, tidy, and avoid ranting status updates. I know it’s tempting to go on a rampage about how much you love/love to hate Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but trust me, it’s better if you just don’t. Remember, there’s no way to delete your account so what ends up on Facebook, really does stay on the Internet forever.


If there was a magical golden social media ticket for landing your next dream job, LinkedIn would surely be it. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, start one (whether you’re job hunting or not). Make sure you have a professional-looking photo uploaded (no selfies!), include a bio, and at least the last job you’ve worked at. If you’ve never been employed, volunteer positions are just as valuable so make sure you include that. Start connecting with professors, past employers, babysitters, your mom’s friends, and anyone else you can think of! You never know who could lead you to your next great gig.

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Why Colleges are Requiring Students to Waste Time for Credits

ubuntu-910-browser-internetYou might think some of your current classes are a “waste of time,” but what would you think if you were paying for a course that, quite literally, required you to waste your time? The activity that most college students equate with procrastinating their homework – wasting time mindlessly clicking link after link on the internet – has now become their homework in itself.

A new English course at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school, is being offered called “Wasting Time on the Internet” and it studies exactly that. Not only is it being offered, but it’s actually a requirement for all students majoring in Creative Writing at the prestigious university.

A lot of the coursework is what a veteran of internet surfing might expect it to be: staring at the screen for three hours, interacting with others only through social media and other virtual communication. No interruptions are to be had by real-life friends. To accompany this, though, there is some real homework to be done – some intense reading on the history of boredom and time-wasting and critical discussions about affect theory, situationism, and everyday life will contribute to the students’ grades.

So what is the goal, here? Why would a professor force his or her students to do what they’re likely already doing? According to the course description, these time-wasting activities, such as “clicking, SMSing, status-updating, and random surfing,” will be “used as raw material for creating compelling and emotional works of literature.” When you think about the questions professor Kenneth Goldsmith hopes to encourage his students to answer: “Could we reconstruct our autobiography using only Facebook? Could we write a great novella by plundering our Twitter feed?” – it’s actually easy to see how this fits into a literature course.

Just like William S. Burroughs wrote about using drugs, the course is encouraging students to write in a way that’s honest about the world they live in. Their finished pieces won’t be the first of their kind – after all, artists like Tao Lin, Megan Boyle, and Sam Pink have already written entire works focused around GChat and Twitter. It’s just a way of using the way we live to create art, which is what all of the greats have been doing for centuries, and forcing ourselves to reconsider the way we think about using the Internet and dealing with boredom.

A lot of students might be eager to take the course since they think they’ll already be great at it – but it seems there’s a lot to be learned from it.

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Avoid 5 Common Health Issues to Be at your Best During Exams

119550654As the year’s first round of final exams approaches, college students are anxious to get them overwith as quickly as possible so that they can get home for winter break. For some, this means pulling all-nighters, drowning in caffeine, and forgoing exercise or any other semblance of healthy activity in order to ensure passing grades. The last thing you’re probably doing is worrying about being healthy.

While it’s important to study, it’s even more important to look after your health. Your exam performance will suffer if you’re exhausted, hungry, or experiencing one of these other common problems during exams. Keeping a schedule can help to ensure you’re getting in enough studying as well as “you-time.”

Tension Headaches
Sitting at your desk for too long, avoiding sleep, being stressed, and being dehydrated can all result in tension headaches. It’s important to get enough sleep and take enough breaks to avoid the stress that can cause these headaches, which will most definitely make studying impossible. Try doing some stretches every hour or so, drink plenty of water, and make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep (or, at least, some naps).

All those lattes and energy drinks might be giving you the energy to power through a night of studying, but if you’re not switching off with water every now and then, you’re going to get dehydrated. This could lead to headaches, fatigue, and a lack of focus – none of which are conducive to studying. Try filling up a 36-oz bottle of water and keeping it by your side to sip mindlessly while you study.

Whether it’s due to too much caffeine or too much stress, insomnia is prevalent in students studying for exams. Make sure to lay off the caffeine a few hours before laying down to go to sleep, and get some sort of exercise each day. Take a walk around campus or set aside 30 minutes for the elliptical – wearing out your body helps you sleep! You could also buy some natural melatonin supplements if you really need assistance.

Skin Problems
A lot of people have the tendency to break out in hives or rashes when they’re stressed. The best way to avoid this is, of course, to minimize stress. Aside from taking frequent breaks and getting enough sleep, make sure that you’re eating healthy so that you’re energized and focused. Also make sure to not spend too much time in the dry, heated indoors and take lukewarm – rather than hot – showers. Finally, use plenty of moisturizing lotion.

When your body is malnourished and/or deprived of sleep, your immune system is weakened and you’re more prone to colds (which is exacerbated by the fact that it’s cold season already). Take multivitamins, avoid germs by bathing daily and using hand sanitizer, and, again, get plenty of sleep so you’re not in a fog when exam day rolls around.

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Fight Boredom and Make the Most of your Winter Break!

520537513As you begin to pack up and head home for a month or so for your winter break, it’s bittersweet. By now you’ve probably secured a close circle of friends at school, and being away from the ‘rents is a nice dose of independence. Still, it’s great to be home and see the family and friends you’ve missed while being away.

At least, being home is nice for a few weeks. Then it gets…kind of boring? You might feel guilty admitting it, but sometimes you kind of can’t wait for class to be back in session.

When that feeling starts to set in, it’s time to start making the most of your winter break! You should look forward to being home as much as you look forward to being at school, and here’s how you can do that.

Start Working Out
Believe it or not, a lot of gyms know that college students come home for short periods of time, and they allow you to get a short membership or even pause your membership while you’re away. This is great if you want to start getting into an exercise regimen. Look up some beginner weight training courses on YouTube or start the Couch to 5K running plan for something to occupy your time. You can continue your training when you get back on campus, since you’ll have access to a gym. After a few months, you’ll really start noticing the benefits.

Take a Trip
You don’t have a lot of time to vacation during the school semester, so why not take advantage of your time off by traveling? Take a mini-road trip to some historic sites with your friends, or, if you can afford it, book a mini vacation somewhere warm to get away from the snow for a while. It’s good for your mind!

Look Into Shadowing
Do you know what career path you’re headed down? Now could be a great time to get better acquainted with it. See if you can shadow some accountants at a local firm or hang out in an artist’s studio a few days a week. You can prepare yourself for the working world little by little.

Read some Books
A lot of students say they’d like to read but just “don’t have the time.” That’s probably true – who wants to pick up another book after being nose-deep in textbooks all night? Winter break is a great time to get in some reading for leisure. Make a list of books you’d like to read and try to set a schedule to stick to.

Take a Course
Some students like the routine and busy work that college courses offer, and others simply want to graduate as quickly as possible. If you take an extra course every winter break, you could graduate a semester (or even a year!) early. Plus, you can keep your mind sharp for when you return to your normal class schedule.

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Degree Focus: Online Art Degrees

online art degreeThe rising popularity of online degrees is difficult to ignore, though you probably never thought you’d hear of students getting online art degrees. It’s true, though – this online discipline is becoming just as widely sought-out as the rest, for concentrations like fashion, graphic design, multimedia arts, and even painting. While earning a degree in art online has a number of possible benefits, prospective students do need to consider the down-sides, too.

Online arts degrees get you comfortable with tech. If you’re going to school because you want to open up potential career paths, you have to recognize that, as an art student, you may end up needing to take your creativity to a digital space in order to make some cash. Graphic design, video production, animation, et cetera are all fields that are in-demand, and if you’re not tech savvy, that will definitely set you back. For that reason, you can benefit from getting an online art degree since you’ll be doing all your learning on the computer, which can make you a more viable candidate for art/tech positions.

They’re often less expensive. Generally, online degrees are less expensive than traditional degrees because they help you to skirt the built-in “fees” that schools often charge. These cover anything from gym access to parking, and you don’t need any of that. If you’re not yet employed or getting a degree while working full-time, this may appeal to you greatly.

Be in your own space. Some artists find it difficult to get the creative juices flowing from inside a classroom. When pursuing an online art degree, you can study wherever you feel inspired. You can also access lectures online and absorb them at your own pace if the structure of a classroom does not work for you in general.

No studio experience – possible downside. Some students, on the other hand, like being a studio so that they can collaborate with other students and professors. If you feel that this might affect the quality of your portfolio or if you think you want the full “art-student” experience, going virtual might not be for you.

More self-discipline required. Are you able to hold yourself accountable? Some students work better under their own pressure, while others hugely benefit from check-ins with professors and being able to discuss their progress. This is something you need to consider – will the need for self-discipline benefit you and help you grow, or will it hinder your productivity?

Not much interaction with other students. It’s just you and your computer when you take an online course. Some students really enjoy interacting with one another face to face and seeing each others’ work come to life. If you crave interpersonal inspiration rather than working in solitude, that’s definitely something you need to consider.

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The Low-Down on Mandatory College Courses

Habits of the Most Successful College StudentsWe hate to break the news to you, but just because you’re planning on being a math major in college doesn’t mean you never have to suffer a dreaded writing course again. Nor do art majors get off the hook for Intro to Algebra. That’s right – even though you get the option to study what you love, you still have a few basic requirements that will need to be filled, and they won’t always be fun. They’re necessary, though, for making you a well-rounded college grad and for preparing you for the looming “real world” you soon have to enter. Here’s some info so you know what you’re in for.

Core Classes
Math, science, English/writing, history, psych. You may not have to take them all – that depends on your school’s specific requirements – but you can definitely count on having to take at least one class in most of these categories whether you like it or not. They are the classes that are put in place to make sure that you get the most out of your education, but some schools allow you to opt out if you’ve taken AP courses in high school. They may also offer cognates (for example, taking philosophy instead of English). Some students choose to save time by taking these college courses online or over breaks.

These are the classes you will henceforth refer to as “pre-reqs,” because it’s easier, and they are the basic courses you need to take to set the foundation for the more complex ones in your major. You can’t take phlebotomy courses without first taking basic bio, for example. It seems like a hassle, especially in regards to scheduling, but it’s really just there to save you from flunking out of the harder courses.

Almost every school has a “freshman seminar” requirement, and when you go to choose which you’ll take, it might seem totally random at first. Seminars might not pertain directly to your major, but they are there to teach you basic skills and information about what it’s like to be in college. You’ll have to perhaps write a research paper, work in a group, use the school’s resources, and more – it’s just to warm you up for the rest of your education.

Speaking or Writing
Some schools have you take public speaking courses while others place a lot of emphasis on writing courses, and many require both. They may seem silly at the time – it’s not like you’re going to be giving many presentations as a future accountant, dancer, or architect. But later in life you’ll realize that communication skills of this sort are important no matter what your future may hold.

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Five Healthy, Dorm Friendly Meals!

516729177Are you one of those college students who is deathly afraid of gaining the mythical “Freshman 15?” Some college students, of course, don’t fall victim to it, but the term exists for a reason: for the first time in your life, you can have ice cream for breakfast if you want to. Your parents aren’t around to cook meals that satisfy the food pyramid, and perhaps more importantly, all you’ve got to work with is a microwave and a mini-fridge. You’re struggling to guess how many calories are in the dining hall’s mystery meat, so that doesn’t help.

Though it’s difficult, it’s not impossible to eat healthily from a small shared dorm. You just have to plan ahead and work with your limitations. Here are some ideas for healthy, dorm friendly meals.

Got a long day of classes ahead? Worried you’re going to cave and visit the on-campus Dunkin’ for breakfast, and wash it down with a Baconator for lunch? It doesn’t have to be that way – wraps are a great take-it-and-go alternative. All you need is your favorite lunchmeat, a spread like mayo or hummus, and some easy-to-store veggies like spinach leaves, cucumbers, and bean sprouts. It’s filling, healthy, and tasty so you can eat it between classes.

Canned Soups
Most college students take one look at that small microwave and think they’re doomed to eating Cup ‘o Noodles every night for the semester. Soups are just as easy to cook (if you’ve got a microwave-safe dish) and offer way more nutrients and fiber. Most soup brands have a line of healthy options for you to choose from and they’re delicious, too. If you’re worried about sodium intake, there are plenty of low-sodium options.

Grab and Go Snacks
Maybe your meal plan is working out fine but you need a few things on-hand for late-night munching or to hold you over between meals. You’ve got plenty of options, if this is the case. Carrots and celery go great with peanut butter or hummus, and none of these options take up too much fridge space. Some other options include individually-packed boxes of raisins, a container of nuts and some sandwich baggies, string cheese, apple sauce cups, or crackers with turkey pepperoni.

Microwave Eggs
Just because you don’t have a stove doesn’t mean you can’t have a protein-packed breakfast. All you need to do is beat two eggs in a coffee mug (add in some cheese, spinach leaves, or other chopped veggies if you have them), and microwave it for 30 seconds. Take it out, stir it, and zap it for another 30 seconds for fluffy scrambled eggs!

Oatmeal is incredibly dorm-room friendly. Packets of instant oatmeal cook quickly in the microwave, but you could also buy rolled oats in bulk to make “overnight oats.” Put equal parts oats and milk (or yogurt!) in a tupperware container, add a sweetener like brown sugar or honey, and toss in extras like walnuts, flaxseeds, or blueberries. Put the container in the fridge at night and in the morning you’ll have a delicious cold cereal to nosh on.

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Are Associate Degrees Valuable?

517285033When people talk about going to college, especially right after high school, one would assume that they’re referring to their plans to earn a four-year (bachelor’s) degree or higher. Very rarely do you hear of people discussing their plans to earn an associate degrees.

It has never been a secret that having a college degree is a great way to improve earning potential (among other things) – so why do so many people dismiss the associate as an option? Does it have any value in today’s world?

The answer is yes, in some cases – let’s explore its potential.

It Depends on the Program
Because college degree equals more money in most peoples’ minds, they also make the association that a ‘lower-level’ college degree means a lower pay grade. While that’s somewhat true, the gap, in some areas of study, is borderline negligible. Let’s look at this study of wage statistics in Virginia from last year. Researchers found that nurses with four-year degrees jumped into the career world with an average salary of $48,959, while nurses with associate’s degrees immediately began earning, on average, $45,342. Not only is the associate’s pay grade comparable to its four-year counterpart, but it’s also higher than the average salaries of a number of different four-year programs. In short – do your research!

Industry Plays a Role
It’d be insane to think that the average two-year art student will be making more than the average graduate of a four-year engineering program. However, some industries are simply more lucrative and require less schooling. Two-year degrees in technical fields, for example, have been shown to be more financially valuable than a great number of four-year degrees across all sorts of industries. In most cases, those who pursue an occupational and technical associate’s will make more money than those who pursue non-occupational associate’s. This shouldn’t be news to anyone.

So, what do I do?
Still not sure whether to go to your local tech school or get your bachelor’s at some big-name university? Do your homework – and not just the kind you get in class. You need to simply research your industry of choice to find not only what type of degree best suits your goals, but also what school you should go to, what supplemental certifications you should get, and what the job market is like in your region.  If you want to take classes online, research the top online colleges; if you want to live in Washington, DC, research what kinds of jobs exist there for engineers. But to answer the big question: yes, associate’s degrees – like bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctorate’s – have plenty of value if you pursue them wisely, but can end up as no more than a hunk of debt if you don’t.

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The Pros and Cons of Open Enrollment Colleges


As you embark on your journey to find the school that best suits your post-high-school life, you may come across a term you’re unfamiliar with: open enrollment. If you’ve heard it before, it was probably when your parents were discussing healthcare or their 401ks, and those are a whole other can of worms.

Open enrollment schools refer to colleges that don’t have a stringent acceptance process. Anyone who has graduated high school is welcome to attend and acquire an education. Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to attending an open enrollment school, so we’ll delineate them here to help you get a better understanding and facilitate educated decision-making on your part.

1. Lessened discrimination. A lot of people hold the opinion that competitive schools don’t provide a fair opportunity to students from poverty-stricken areas, certain races/genders/incomes, et cetera. Allowing anyone to attend creates a school with impossibly broad horizons.

2. Lessened pressure. At schools with a competitive acceptance rate, students often feel very stressed out due to the pressure associated with maintaining their acceptances. Open enrollment schools don’t set the stakes so high, so often students find that they have a better attitude toward learning and are less stressed out.

3. A chance for everyone. Some students are led to believe that they simply don’t stand a chance at furthering their educations, whether it’s due to a learning disability or mistakes they’ve made in the past. These schools give students who haven’t always been academically-oriented a chance to prove themselves and, most importantly, a chance to follow their dreams.

1. Controversy. A lot of people believe that open enrollment schools must either lower their standards for education or increase their tuition in order to be successful. After all, how can a school take in so many students and still ensure that they’re all getting a good education? It’s up to the students to peruse the provided resources for college students the school they attend to ensure that the institution has its priorities in order, but you still may catch some flak from those who are uneducated about the system.

2. Discipline. You have to remember that, while you won’t fail out of this school, you are still paying for an education and it’s up to you to make the most of it. Just because you can take and re-take a course as many times as you wish, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t push yourself.

Points of consideration

1. Deadlines. With so many students applying, deadlines for these schools are often very strict, so it’s important to abide by them.

2. Your goals. Just because these schools have lower pressure doesn’t mean there’s nothing to lose. College is expensive any way you roll the dice, and it’s best to only attend when you’re certain about your drive to succeed.

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The Most Popular Online Degrees of 2014

Most Popular Online DegreesWhen making the decision to pursue a degree online, you might feel like you’re the only one, especially if many of your friends are attending school on-campus. However, online degrees are more popular – and more credible – than they’ve ever been. Not only that, but more and more students are making the decision to further their existing education to make themselves more valuable and worthy of a promotion in their current career fields. This is one of many factors that affects which online degrees have become the most popular – along with possibility of being hired, sense of fulfillment, and financial payoff. For a number of different reasons, these have been some of the most highly-pursued online degrees as of late.

Information Systems Management
Those who pursue a degree in Information Systems Management specialize in creating computer technology solutions for various organizations based on their needs. Once implementing these solutions, they then maintain them. They manage the other members of the IT support team, ensure security, and promote efficiency in diagnosing and solving issues. Because computer technology is so relevant in today’s world, it’s easy to see why so many are pursuing this degree. Professionals are in high demand, and jobs in the field are often quite secure.

Web Development
The reasons for pursuing online college degrees in Web Development are not dissimilar to the reasons for acquiring the aforementioned degree: websites are necessary and relevant, coding is not a common skill, and professionals are in demand. There are many nuances to becoming a web developer, from learning various types of codes, to learning the basics of design, to figuring out what a business needs to achieve their goals. Many students desire the fulfillment of having a creative career but the security of pursuing a path in tech.

Health Care Administration
No matter what, there is always a shortage of healthcare professionals. Knowing that, a lot of students take this path because they want to be able to easily find a job after graduating. Others are simply empathetic creatures that want to devote their lives to helping others. Regardless, the degree opens doors to a lot of jobs that are not as hands-on as working as a medical professional, but still involve helping get people the care they need, which makes it a very desirable career.

Like any degree, a degree in Engineering is just not for everyone. It takes a very math-or-science-brained person to excel in this field, but those who do excel to a great extent. Because engineers have a lot of specialty areas that they can choose from, it’s not difficult to be both successful and fulfilled with an engineering degree. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt that engineers are notoriously highly paid. Its popularity, for that reason, is quite unsurprising.

A lot of people are interested in working with the law, but aren’t necessarily interested in the lifestyle of a lawyer. Being a paralegal has a lot of benefits to offer, and it’s very efficient to get certified online. You’ll enjoy a good salary and a cushy work environment while learning from challenges every day. There is even the opportunity to be independently employed and work in any geographical location. Because of the nature of getting this certification online, you can even work in a law firm to gain experience and position yourself to move up over time while you earn your degree.

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