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Sleep Well, Wake Well

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch July 24, 2023

Post written by guest blogger Emily Grugan; Postbac IRTA fellow, OITE Summer Program Staff Assistant

Life is demanding. We have careers and families and social lives, not to mention hobbies and fitness goals and, hopefully, a vacation every now and then. No matter how we arrange our schedules, though, there are still only 24 hours in a day. And we all know we should be spending at least 8 of those hours asleep. However, whether we’re staying up for a late-night work/study session, or we’re left tossing and turning thinking about the to-do list pertaining to it, 8-hour nights of sleep can quickly become a long-lost memory as opposed to a regular habit. In other words, the things we do during the day are the reasons we lose sleep at night. And yet, a lack of sleep can be the reason we are unable to do the things we want to do during the day. You see the vicious cycle (and likely you’ve experienced it to some degree yourself). Here are some important tools to utilize in establishing a healthy sleep routine, so that you can maximize the other very important 16 hours of your day:

  1. Maintain a consistent bedtime/wake time: Just like the rest of nature, the human body benefits from a consistent circadian rhythm*. It is important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, including on the weekends. Staying up late/sleeping in sporadically can have a similar effect on the body to being jetlagged.
  • Get natural light on your eyes (unfiltered/not through a window) as close to your wake time as possible: Getting natural light on your eyes in the early morning is one of the best ways to establish a healthy circadian rhythm. This will set off a series of biological events that will promote better wakefulness during the day and sleep at night.
  • Limit caffeine intake: Caffeine has a half-life of 5 to 6 hours. To give some context, this means that if you have a cup of coffee at 2PM, by midnight a quarter or more of the caffeine you consumed is still affecting your brain and body*.
  • Consider limiting naps: Naps can hinder nighttime sleep for some people more than others. Throughout the day we are building up our “sleep drive”, putting us in the best physiological position to fall asleep at night. For some, naps can interrupt this sleep drive enough to cause problems with getting good sleep in the evening.
  • If you are struggling to fall asleep: Don’t spend more than 15 minutes in bed lying awake. Get up (ideally while limiting light exposure) and do something (e.g., read a book by a dim or amber light; do some calming stretches by candlelight) until you feel tired again. Then give sleep another try. Repeat this cycle until you train your body to fall asleep when you lay down at night.

*To learn more about your own circadian rhythm, and to contribute to research on the subject, see the website/app developed by Dr. Satchin Panda and his team, of the Salk Institute.

*To learn more about the effects of caffeine on sleep, check out this short podcast by Dr. Matt Walker, one of the leading experts on the subject of sleep.


The Resume Black Hole

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch July 10, 2023

The resume black hole is real and chances are some of your documents have gone into the ether at one point or another. In reality, your resume got weeded out by resume-filtering bots called applicant tracking systems (ATS).

ATS makes hiring managers' lives much easier. Most job postings receive, on average, 250 applications. Large companies receive about 50,000-75,000 resumes each week. Given that most companies only interview five (give or take) candidates, there is a lot of filtering to be done. According to Top Resume, 75% of resumes are never even seen by human eyes.

So, how can you beat the bots and make sure your resume is seen in real life? Here are some top tips:

1. Don’t use a fancy template.
A simple word document with bulleted content is often best. Fancy templates often get scrambled by ATS. The cool columns and graphics you added get converted to weird looking code. How can you test that your document is ATS friendly? Copy the content into a plain-text document and review results. If characters appear incorrectly or sections become disorganized, this is your clue that your document needs to be edited before submitting.

2. Use a clean resume design.
As noted above, complex resume designs and unusual formats confuse ATS, but they also tend to annoy recruiters who are accustomed to scanning resumes in a certain order. Qualifications summaries tend to be a good section to have first followed either by “Education” or “Experience”.

3. Keywords are key!
Optimize your resume with keywords found from the job description. Not only do you need to consider placement, but frequency of these relevant keywords throughout your resume as there are two systems often utilized by applicant tracking systems (ATS). In the first, some ATS will determine the strength of your skills based on the number of times a term shows up in your resume (tip: add the term two to three times throughout your resume). The second approach will assign an estimated amount of experience for a particular skill based on its placement within the resume (in Qualifications Summary, for example) . To make your resume truly compatible with any ATS, you'll want to optimize your resume with both systems in mind.

4. Don’t put important information in headers or footers.
Try not to use headers/footers at all in your ATS-approved resumes. This information is often not scannable by the systems, so it will be missed entirely.

5. Don’t use hyperlinks.
Hyperlinks such as email and LinkedIn can disrupt some ATS systems, so always remove the link just in case and ensure that the text is in black font and not underlined.


Overcoming Procrastination…Today!

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch July 17, 2023

Post written by guest blogger Emily Grugan; Postbac IRTA fellow, OITE Summer Program Staff Assistant

Procrastination: we know it well. We know the annoying, nagging feeling of an incomplete (or possibly untouched) task poking at the back of our minds. We go about our day doing whatever we can (anything, everything we can) to avoid that assignment or paper or project. We even tell ourselves some rather convincing stories in an effort to justify such avoidance. Often, they involve some otherwise perfectly respectable activities (hence their high-level convincing capacities) such as cleaning the house or taking the dog for a walk*. For example, we say to ourselves, “I know I need to study for that test, but the carpets really need vacuuming and the living room tidied up. I’ll do that first. I’ll be able to focus better afterwards.” Or “I know I said I’d start going back to the gym today, but I’ve got a lot of chores that need to get done. I’ll do those today and workout tomorrow.” You likely know what your go-to procrastinatory activities are (and the stories you tell yourself that go along with them). A comical depiction of this (displayed above) describes some of these as the Four Horsemen of Procrastination: Napping, Snacks, Social Media, and Minor Chores.

 A more serious take on the matter can be read about in the book, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. Pressfield describes procrastination as a form of what he calls “Resistance”. “Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance…We don’t tell ourselves, ‘I’m never going to write my symphony.’ Instead we say, “I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.”

Fortunately, there are things that can be done to overcome procrastination or “Resistance”. Here are a few examples:

  1. Start by doing something that is more difficult than the task you really need to be doing. This will increase your dopamine levels and reduce the resistance you feel, allowing you to attend to the task you’ve been procrastinating*. For example:
    - Take a cold shower/do some form of cold exposure
    - Complete a five-to-ten-minute meditation (especially if undistracted bouts of meditation are difficult for you)
    - Complete a challenging workout
  2. Do your most challenging and/or least desirable tasks within 4 or 5 hours after waking up. This is when your physiology is more primed toward focus and alertness.
  3. Establish a system of accountability: Identify a person in your life that can check in with you on the progress you’re making.
  4. Try working on your task with the Pomodoro Technique: work for 25 to 30 minutes, break for 5 to 10, repeat. (There are lots of YouTube videos you can follow along with: ;
  5. From Pressfield’s book: Start thinking of yourself as a “pro”. If you act like a professional, you’re more likely to achieve professional results. In an example from his book Pressfield writes:

“Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. ‘I write only when inspiration strikes,’ he replied. ‘Fortunately it strikes every morning at none o’clock sharp.’ That’s a pro. In terms of Resistance, Maugham was saying, ‘I despise resistance; I will not let it faze me; I will sit down and do my work.”

For a fantastic and in-depth discussion on the science behind procrastination and overcoming it, see Dr. Andrew Huberman’s podcast, “Leverage Dopamine to Overcome Procrastination & Optimize Effort”:

*Jump to roughly 1:43:00 to hear reference to the specific examples described here.


Understanding the Impact of Misgendering and Deadnaming

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch July 31, 2023

The language we use is powerful and it can directly impact how we make others feel. In the spirit of fostering a more inclusive and empathetic environment, it is important to be an ally and educate oneself about gender identity.  This blog post will give some basic definitions and guidance to help work toward a culture of inclusivity and respect.



According to resources from Uplift Philly, misgendering is the act of using the wrong pronouns when talking to or about someone. Pronouns are a way to describe someone’s gender and there are many pronouns, including, but not limited to: She/Her/Hers | They/Them/Theirs | He/Him/His | Ze/Zir/Zirs | Xe/Xem/Xyr | It/Its/Itself. Some people use multiple sets of pronouns, often referred to as rolling pronouns. 
Rolling pronouns are when more than one set of pronouns are used interchangeably or change over time depending on the individual’s preference. As an example, someone might introduce themselves with the pronouns “he/they”.  Many non-binary or gender nonconforming individuals prefer rolling pronouns for identifying gender fluidity. These pronouns may change from day to day or situation to situation and should be respected as such.
Deadnaming is the act of calling a transgender person by an incorrect name; often the name they were given at birth and no longer use. A person’s chosen name is an integral part of their identity and often reflects their own journey toward self-discovery.
How to avoid misgendering/deadnaming?

If you meet a new person and don’t know their pronouns, don’t make any assumptions based solely on appearance. Asking about someone’s pronouns can feel threatening for transgender people, so instead introduce yourself with your preferred pronouns and see if they share theirs in return. If they don’t, then simply use their name. In order to avoid deadnaming someone, you must commit to using their current name. Even when telling past stories about the person. 

Oftentimes, misgendering and deadnaming happen by accident. If you catch your mistake, there is no need to give long-winded excuses. Quickly apologize and correct yourself.


For transgender and non-binary individuals, being consistently misgendered and/or deadnamed is deeply hurtful and invalidating. It often triggers feeling of anxiety, depression, and alienation from society. Misgendering and deadnaming can even expose them to anti-trans violence and unsafe experiences.  Several studies show that when you use someone’s correct pronouns and name, it drastically decreases that person’s thoughts of suicide, depression, and anxiety. This is especially true for transgender youth.