Author Archive | Lisa Amato

Image by rabiem22, Flickr

Image by rabiem22, Flickr

Another exam season has arrived – and you’re probably thinking it came way too fast. Don’t panic – we’ve compiled a few tips to make sure you study the best you can to retain the most information.

  1. Stay healthy, both mentally and physically

  2. Your body won’t function properly if your brain is lacking energy. Now is not the time to eat chips or skip meals. Eat on your normal schedule, and eat well. The last thing you want to do is get sick or feel lethargic when you need your brain in tip-top shape. Remember to also keep a positive attitude about exams (as difficult as that sounds) – you may be stressed, but know you’re trying your best and keep your focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.

  3. Stay focused and eliminate distractions

  4. Shut off your phone and put your technology away. If you need your laptop for notes, disable your internet connection; that way, if you’re even tempted to log onto Facebook, the “you are not connected to the internet” warning will remind you of what you should be doing. If you live with roommates, make sure they know you need space and silence for your study time; if they can’t help socializing, relocate to a library.

  5. Give yourself time

  6. Generally, exam season comes right after end-of-semester essay season, which follows almost-end-of-semester presentation season, which follows midterms. You feel like you have zero study time. Realize that even if it’s not much, you just need to make the most of it. Postpone outings with your friends until after exams. Stop complaining about not having time (you’re just wasting it!), buckle down and use the time you’ve got. If you have a free night in between assignments, use it to review what you’ve learned recently. Anything you can do during the semester will help when it comes to exam season.

  7. Create a plan

  8. Spend the first half hour of study time preparing yourself mentally and getting organized. Figure out what you need to study, and how much time you have. Divide the work up over that amount of time and study different sections each day/hour (depending how tight your schedule is). Use the last day of your study time to do a full review. Don’t get stuck on one concept and spend your entire study time on it.

  9. Stay organized

  10. Make sure your study space is clear of any distractions, extra papers, or garbage. At the beginning and end of each study session, clean up your workspace. It will help psychologically – your brain will feel decluttered. Start each day fresh and keep track of what you’ve made progress on. If it helps, make a list of the topics you need to cover, and cross each one off as you complete it. You’ll feel accomplished.

  11. Draw pictures

  12. We’re not talking about scribbles of cats and dogs. Draw a chart or image that pertains to your studies. Even a simple flow chart of steps in a process could do wonders. Sometimes in exams, these are easier for your brain to remember than pages and pages of words. Don’t be afraid to use some colour, but keep your drawings simple; don’t waste your time getting that arrow perfectly straight.

  13. Use old exams and practice questions

  14. If you can get your hands on exams from previous years (which many professors give out as examples), don’t discount them. Study for a while, then try the exam. Chances are your professor will not use the exact same exam, but at least you’ll get an idea of their style and how questions might be phrased.

  15. Talk about it

  16. You’d be surprised how much easier it is for information to stick in your head when you say it out loud. Meet up with a friend and talk out your responses to questions, and you’ll quickly realize which concepts you understand, and which you may need to spend more time on. Take this opportunity to ask your friend questions about topics you’re fuzzy on, or book an appointment with your teaching assistant or professor.

  17. Take breaks

  18. Don’t try to study for 24 hours straight. You will get tired, and your brain will get tired. You’ll stop retaining information. It’s a good idea to take short breaks, even just for a 5 minute stretch, every half hour or hour. Get some food and fresh air. Give the information you’ve been studying a chance to sink in, and then get back to the books. Set aside time at the end of each study session to relax – don’t go to bed stressing about the exam. Your body needs sleep! Listen to some music or read a book to wind down.

  19. Know your study style

  20. Not everyone studies the same way. You may retain information the best when you talk to a friend; others may need quiet reading time; others may need to write things out repetitively. By now, you should know what works for you. Don’t study with your friends because it’s what they need. If you don’t work well that way, do your own thing. Your friends won’t be writing your exam with you, so make sure you do what’s going to work for you.

Did we miss a study tip? Tweet us @StudentsDotOrg and let us know!

Good luck with your studying – the end is near!

Image by TheSeafarer, Flickr

Image by TheSeafarer, Flickr

You have no job experience. You’re in school 30 hours a week, nearly 40 weeks a year. You feel like all other time is spent studying, working on assignments, and drinking coffee to stay awake. You’re conscious of your future, and the online community talks about how everyone “needs” to be on LinkedIn. You know it’s useless to set up a profile with nothing on it. So how can you create one that will actually add value for recruiters or industry professionals?

Great question. Starting with the 10 tips below will make a world of difference to your professional online brand:

  1. Post a professional profile picture

  2. The group photo from that party last summer may be your most photogenic shot yet. The one with your dog licking your face is cute too. And you look drop-dead gorgeous in the photo where you wore that low-cut dress. Here’s a tip: save those for Facebook. LinkedIn should be used for making industry connections and trying to further (or even begin) your career. It’s in your best interest to use a professional picture. Choose a clear headshot with only you in the photo, and a solid or lighter background. Remember that most recruiters will be viewing a thumbnail of your photo, so it’s your face you want visible, not your dog’s tongue.

  3. Add a relevant headline

  4. If you have a part-time job, add that as your headline. If you’re on the job hunt, don’t be afraid to call yourself a student, but also use phrases like “aspiring professional” (make it specific to your industry). Show recruiters that you’re interested in the industry and ready to start your career.

  5. Use keywords

  6. Keywords within your headline and the rest of your profile will help recruiters or industry professionals find your profile in a search. Do some research on popular terms in your preferred industry and make sure to talk about them within your profile, but only use the terms that are relevant to you. Keep your profile honest.

  7. Don’t ignore the summary section

  8. This isn’t one of the sections where you can select a description from a drop down list. You’ll need to use some brain power here and describe your qualities to a potential recruiter. What is it about you that will make a recruiter want to know more in an interview? This is a good place to highlight those keywords, and to show how you’re different from other potential candidates.

  9. Don’t be afraid to show your personality

  10. Is LinkedIn a professional platform? Yes. But remember that recruiters want to see you have a personality. There are ways to make your profile professional, but relaxed. If you have hobbies, mention them. Stay away from slang and exclamation marks, but there’s no need to be overly stiff either. Find a balance that shows who you are.

  11. Include your volunteer experience – and extracurriculars

  12. When you don’t have work experience, recruiters will be drawn to your volunteer experience. Even if you do have work experience, some recruiters place a great deal of value on your extracurriculars. If you can show initiative and success in places where you aren’t being paid, they’ll start to imagine what you could do for them with a salary.

  13. Ask for recommendations

  14. No one likes asking people to say something positive about them, but once you get that first recommendation, your self-confidence will skyrocket. Those recommendations will also mean a great deal to recruiters. Now, don’t go looking for recommendations from people who barely know you; the whole idea is to add value to your profile. Ask people you’ve volunteered with/for, who you’ve been part of a committee with, or who can vouch for your work ethic.

  15. Join groups for your industry of interest – and be active in them

  16. LinkedIn is brimming with hundreds (if not thousands) of groups for every industry. If you’re looking towards working in one or two specific industries, find groups that interest you and join them. Read up on what professionals are discussing within the group, and offer your insights when you can. This will show up on your connections’ feeds, and if you’re adding value to the conversation, people will be aware of it.

  17. Proofread

  18. One of the biggest keys to professionalism is ensuring your profile is error-free. Check for spelling and grammar. If you’re unsure, Google it. Get someone to review it for you. Your profile is, essentially, your online resume – put as much care into it as you would with your hard copy.

  19. Be proactive

  20. Do all job postings seem to require 3-5 years of industry experience? You might be looking in the wrong place. LinkedIn has recently become more student-friendly; they even have a student-specific job section full of internships, co-ops, and entry-level positions. Don’t make recruiters come to you – be proactive and start the job hunt on your own.

Follow LinkedIn’s student-focused Twitter account for more advice on optimizing your LinkedIn profile: @LinkedInU.

Good luck with your profile! Tweet us @StudentsDotOrg when you have yours set up and we’d be happy to offer feedback.

York University, University of Toronto, and the University of Western Ontario booths at Ontario Universities' Fair

York University, University of Toronto, and the University of Western Ontario booths at Ontario Universities’ Fair

The 2013 Ontario Universities’ Fair took place on the weekend of September 27-29. With all 21 Ontario universities and more than 121,000 students in attendance (as tweeted by @OntarioUniFair), it would seem the popular annual event was a success. But how do you really know?

We got a hold of Fair attendees Catherine and Christian, grade 12 students from two Toronto-area high schools. Here are their responses from our interview:

Did you know what schools you wanted to talk to at the Fair? Did you have specific programs in mind?
CATHERINE: I knew two of the universities I wanted to talk to, but I was open to other schools. I am interested in French Teaching, and I focused mainly on the universities that offer this program.
CHRISTIAN: Before I went to the Fair I heard that it was going to be tough to get around due to the overwhelming amount of people attending, so I analyzed the top programs and schools I was interested in. I narrowed it down to five schools and programs and stuck to finding out more about those. My broad selection of schools and programs was spread out across Ontario: Queen’s Commerce, Schulich’s IBBA, Brock’s Sports Management, University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and Western’s Richard Ivey School of Business.

Did you do research on these schools and programs before the Fair?
CATHERINE: I did research on one of the universities’ websites before going to the Fair. I also received information from an administrator who came to my school last year to talk to us about their French program, and I’ve talked with parents I know whose children attend the university.
CHRISTIAN: I did research on each school prior to my visit. I asked guidance counsellors about specific programs I was interested in, and I researched schools on the internet to find out about admissions.

Did you find it easy to access and talk to the people you wanted to at the Fair?
CATHERINE: Yes. Each booth had well-defined areas where you were able to easily find the representatives.
CHRISTIAN: I found that the better-known universities (Queen’s, York, Western etc.) were hard to get information from as there were hordes of people in front of the booths. Unfortunately, I think the larger universities did a poor job of making their schools approachable, as there were hardly any representatives roaming around. However, weaving through the crowds to get questions answered was entirely possible, and just required some patience.

Did you talk to students or administrators? If both, which one did you find more useful?
CATHERINE: I talked to the administrators at the Fair; I found them helpful because they explained the types of programs offered, and gave me a general feel of what their university would be like.
CHRISTIAN: When approaching universities with questions about admissions, I spoke to students. Their answers provided me with insight on the kind of experience the school would offer. There were few administrators for each booth, and they were almost always occupied.

What questions did you ask?
CATHERINE: I asked many of the same questions to each school: do you have a French teaching program? What courses do I have to take? Do you offer scholarships? How much is residence and what is included? Does your program offer travelling, exchange or taking a course abroad? What teachables do you offer?
CHRISTIAN: My questions were tailored to the specific programs. For example, I asked a Brock representative about their sports management program, and the internship that intertwines with the program.

Did you get the information you were looking for? Were you left with any unanswered questions?
CATHERINE: I got the information that I needed, and much more than I expected. I was left with a few unanswered questions, but they are ones I should easily be able to find online.
CHRISTIAN: I had some specific questions I thought would be difficult to answer, if at all. However, I was pleasantly surprised; questions such as if the iBBA offered an internship in Germany, and whether the sports management program at Brock had a connection with Sportsnet, were answered in a split second.

Did they offer up any information you didn’t think to ask about?
CATHERINE: They made me aware of the changes coming to the teaching program and how it will affect me with more years of study combined with more practicums in the program.
CHRISTIAN: The universities created booklets that contained incredible information from admissions to tuition to programs, and everything in between. These gave me much more information than I thought I needed.

Were you attracted to the booths of any schools you were not originally interested in?
CATHERINE: There were some booths that caught my eye with their French and teaching signs. I approached their booths and talked to their representatives about what programs they offer to make sure I make an informed decision.
CHRISTIAN: One particular booth that stood out was that of the University of Windsor. Their booth was centred around an ice hockey shooting strip, where you could shoot to win Toronto Maple Leaf tickets. The idea was to promote the school’s reputation with their strong tie to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. It was a great way to draw students in.

When you left, were you interested in other schools or programs you hadn’t thought about before the Fair?
CATHERINE: After seeing the different universities and learning about their programs, my interest was piqued and I looked up their websites to learn more about how their benefits compared to other universities.
CHRISTIAN: I became more interested in a sports management program after learning about its reputation and offerings.

Did you attend any of the school’s presentations? Did you find them useful?
CATHERINE: I did not attend to any of the presentations.
CHRISTIAN: I attended University of Toronto’s presentation. I definitely found it useful, as it went in depth about offered programs, specifically, the Rotman School of Business and the different majors within the program, which I was unclear about prior to the presentation.

Do you think attending the Fair helped your decision on what schools and programs to apply for?
CATHERINE: I think attending the Fair was helpful because I was able to ask questions that the websites didn’t answer. It was an easy way for me to see what each university offers.
CHRISTIAN: Not necessarily, as my primary choice was not swayed. However, my secondary choices were definitely influenced by the Fair.

What were the best and worst parts of the Fair for you?
CATHERINE: The best part of the Fair was receiving materials on the programs offered, costs, and general information about the university. I liked being able to talk to many different representatives and just have access to other universities. The Fair was unfortunately very crowded (even though I went on the Friday), and it was overwhelming at times because I wasn’t sure what to ask.
CHRISTIAN: The best part of the Fair was definitely being able to get answers to my questions from the representatives; I can’t think of a more viable source than being face-to-face with people from the school. The worst part of the Fair was having to weave through the hordes of people in order to receive booklets and ask questions. This was expected, understandable, and inevitable, with 120,000+ students, parents and educators attending the event within a weekend.

Would you recommend the Fair to other students?
CATHERINE: I would recommend going to the Fair, and if you do, go with your parents so they’re also aware of what the university offers and the costs involved. It is very interesting to find out what universities are out there and it is helpful for those who don’t know what they want to do in the future.
CHRISTIAN: Most definitely! The Fair is an incredible place to get valuable information, receive answers to your all-important questions, and even to meet new people.

For more information on the Ontario Universities’ Fair, visit Ready to apply? Here are some tips on Applying to Ontario Universities.

Image by Gangplank HQ, flickr

Image by Gangplank HQ, flickr

In school, you’ll see plenty of opportunities to apply for jobs – full time, part time, internships, co-ops – even an application to attend a conference or be a club executive may require a resume. Use the beginning of the school year to freshen up your documents so if something does come up, you’re not rushing to complete them. Here are a number of tips we’ve compiled from @wisebread‘s weekly #wbchat – this one on modern tips for resumes.

  1. Eliminate the Objective
  2. This one will come as a surprise to those of us (myself included) stuck in our standard resume format ways. Look at the objective on your resume. Chances are it says something along the lines of “To use my skills to help your company succeed.” If everyone applying for the position has the same cookie cutter sentence, it won’t help any of you. Remove the redundancy and use that space for more important information. Perhaps, add in a section with your unique skill set.


  3. It’s Okay to Brag, But Be Honest
  4. Your resume is one of the only places where it’s deemed acceptable to brag about yourself. This is your time to shine. List all the qualities that will tell an employer why you’re amazing at what you do. That being said, keep them accurate and honest. Don’t exaggerate; if you get to the interview stage, you’ll spend more time trying to cover up your little white lies than talking about the job. If there is a gap between jobs in your resume, explain what you did during that time. Chances are you weren’t on the couch day after day (we’d hope) – were you volunteering? Writing/blogging? Travelling? Be sure to include these – they might be just as interesting as another job to your interviewer.

  5. Eliminate the Fluff
  6. Bragging about yourself is great, but no one wants to read a five-page resume. Cut out anything you’ve added as filler. Keep it simple and concise. If you can get your resume down to one page (without eliminating important information), do it. Instead of writing about your job description, include accomplishments and numbers wherever you can – here’s an example:

    Written as a Job Description Written as an Accomplishment
    Responsible for promoting the conference to peers Promoted the conference to peers, resulting in a 25% increase in attendance


  7. Tailor Your Resume
  8. How many resumes do you have? Is it necessary to have more than one? It depends on the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying to anything and everything, yes, you may need different resumes for each industry. The majority of people have one; but as standard as a resume might seem, it should always be tailored to the industry and the job you’re applying for. Highlight different skill sets and add descriptions that may apply to the specific job. Consider creating a LinkedIn profile; it can be updated more easily than a resume and you won’t forget new job responsibilities when the time comes to refresh your documents. Remember though that a LinkedIn profile is not a replacement for a resume.


  9. Proofread, Proofread, and then Proofread Again
  10. A number of hiring managers have mentioned that if a resume has a spelling mistake on it, it immediately goes into the trash. As harsh as this may seem, the logic makes sense – if you don’t have the time or care to proof your resume – a document that could essentially start a new career for you – how do they know you won’t be as careless with the work you’re given at their company? Always proofread your resume. Send it to a peer to make sure that not only are there no mistakes, but that the content is applicable to the job you’re applying for.


  11. Stand Out, But Keep it Professional
  12. Everyone wants their resume to stand out. But is printing it on pink paper with a spritz of perfume (Legally Blonde style) really the way to do it? Always look at the type of company you’re applying to first. If you’re applying to a law or accounting firm, you’re best to use a standard black and white format. If you’re applying to an ad agency or web design firm, you can probably afford to be more creative. If you’re not sure, play it on the safe side.


  13. Critique It As If You Were the Hiring Manager
  14. Our last piece of advice, and a very important one, is to take a step back. Read it with a different mindset. If you were a big shot hiring manager and you could pick anyone to work for you, would reading that resume sell you? Would you be excited for an interview with this student? If not, try to figure out what would entice a hiring manager to talk to you. Do you need more facts and figures? Do you need to talk more about your accomplishments? Ask family or friends if there’s a better way to word your skills.


    If you need more assistance, check out your school’s career centre. The counsellors will be more than happy to review your resume with you and provide suggestions for improvement. Once your resume is finalized, you’ll need to start your interview prep. Here are some tips to get you started!


In an effort to provide students with the invaluable content they want to know for the next step of their educational careers, has been surveying high school and post-secondary students on what exactly they’re looking for online when it comes to this aspect of their lives. After poring over the results received so far, we knew we had to share them with you.

Our goal is to ensure the next generation of students is completely armed with the knowledge that will allow them to make informed decisions; not only about attending the post-secondary institution that’s right for them, but also in regards to their personal lives and future careers. With this in mind, check out the infographic below displaying our current survey results, and keep checking in with us as we begin to delve into these topics, day in and day out.
Want to provide your feedback? We’re still collecting data in our survey. Fill it out here.

From the Students Themselves: What They Want to Know

What students want to know about college

Image by Hobbies on a Budget, flickr

Image by Hobbies on a Budget, flickr

One of the best things about attending a post-secondary school is getting that powerful card that you’re going to store in your wallet and cherish. I’m not talking about your credit card – it’s your student ID card. Granting you access to student-only events and discounted admission to various attractions, this card is one of the first things you should research when you’ve decided on your school. It’s the business way of saying “we know you’re probably broke, so here’s a break.” Take advantage and keep as much money in your pocket as you can – you’ll need it in the future, when even coupon cutting doesn’t seem to be enough.

Benefits offered depend on your state/province, your city, and your school itself. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Public transit student rates
  • Discounts to on-campus food locations
  • Local business and restaurant discounts
  • Free or discounted admission to local bars
  • Admission to student-only events

Once you graduate, your school may offer an alumni card that gets you discounts for tickets, stores, restaurants, and sometimes even insurance rates.

On top of your school’s identification card, here are some other ways to get discounts as a student:

Card Cost What You Get
SPC Card (Canada) $9 plus shipping
Available for 1 year
Valid at over 100 locations, most offer 10-15% off clothing, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops & more.
See the full list.
StudentSaver (Canada) Free Discounts range from 10% to 50% for goods and services including restaurants, salons, art classes and more.
This card is available to both full- and part-time students across Canada.
Student Advantage (US) 1 Year + Rebate: $20
2 Year + $10 Rebate: $30
3 Year + $10 Rebate: $40
4 Year + $10 Rebate: $50
plus shipping
Discounts on a ton of brands, including hotels, transportation, clothing and technology.
ISIC (International) $20 plus shipping
Valid for 16 months
Acts as student identification across the globe so you can take advantage of discounts in every country, whether you’re visiting or on exchange.

Don’t forget to shop around too – especially in July and August, stores are full of back to school sales! A quick Google search for “back to school sale” will give you a ton of places to look for discounted laptops and school supplies. Deals for students are plentiful. Take advantage of them while you can!

Image by buddawiggi, Flickr

Image by buddawiggi, Flickr

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a webchat hosted by @wisebread on “Acing the Interview”. It resulted in some very unique tips and suggestions that we could all benefit from. Check out the summary below (you can also search the hashtag #wbchat to see what people had to say):

Do your research
Don’t think of it as a chore before an interview. Remember that you want this job, and the important thing is that you like the job that you’re applying for. Get up to speed on the company, the culture, and the latest news and current events both within the company and the industry.

Personal Experience: I interviewed with a large makeup conglomerate and was asked to give an example of one of their recent marketing campaigns. I drew a complete blank because I had only practiced typical interview questions. I had not researched the actual job I thought I wanted.

Dress professionally

Screen shot 2013-08-02 at 10.29.31 AM

It may seem like common sense that you should “dress for the job you want” – but what does that mean? As in @HillHouseRock‘s post above, different jobs may call for different clothing choices. The general consensus in the webchat was slacks and a blouse for women, and at minimum, slacks and a collared shirt for men. That being said, you can never go wrong with a suit, and it’s always better to err on the side of professionalism. Don’t forget to be wary of things like jewellery (keep it simple, not flashy!), makeup (natural is better), and hairstyles (pin back long hair if you play with it when you’re nervous!).

Experience from the Chat: From TNA pants to hair rollers to tennis shoes, people have seen quite a few inappropriate wardrobe choices for interviews. Be careful how you dress – first impressions are vital!

Practice makes perfect
It’s impossible to predict what questions your interviewer will ask, but there are a few that you should have prepared answers for. Questions like “tell me about yourself” or “what are your strengths and weaknesses” are pretty standard. When practicing, think of examples from past work and school experiences that will give the interviewer an idea of issues you had to resolve, and how you did so.

Personal Experience: Before interviewing, I prepared a few key scenarios from work and school, which allowed me to give fast examples for any questions I was asked. Whether it was “tell me a time when you had a conflict with a peer” or “tell me how you dealt with a particularly difficult customer”, I was ready – and could tailor my stories to fit their questions.

You can be the interviewer too

Screen shot 2013-08-02 at 10.52.15 AM

At the end of an interview, your interviewer will almost always ask if you have any questions. As @HillHouseRock noted in the chat, you’re interviewing the company as well. Get all the information you need before you accept a new job. Asking questions will also demonstrate initiative and that you’re interested in the position, not just a way to make money.

Personal Experience: A go-to question I’ve always asked (provided there’s a good vibe with the interviewer) is “What do you like about the company?”. It tends to soften the interviewer and allows them to open up and talk about themselves. Even though it takes place at the end of the interview, it allows you to wind things down with a conversation as opposed to an abrupt, potentially awkward ending.

Follow up

Screen shot 2013-08-02 at 11.03.24 AM

Following up with your interviewer after the interview is a great way to remind them who you are – especially if they’ve been interviewing all day. In your follow-up, point out something that you discussed to jog their memory. Thank them for taking the time to interview you, and mention what you enjoyed most about it.

Personal Experience: I’ve never mailed a handwritten thank-you note to an interviewer before, but as you can see above, @WESTconsinCU has a great tip to send a timely, yet personalized note!

The best tips
In addition to the above list, other tips mentioned included being you, being relaxed and friendly, speaking clearly and slowly, making eye contact, showing interest, being punctual, showing confidence but not being a know-it-all, telling the truth, and being conscious of your body language. Also, don’t forget to manage your online presence.

Personal Experience: It all comes with practice. The more interviews you have, the better you’ll get at them! Know the basics and become more familiar with the rest as you go. Joining this webchat was a great way to hear the opinions of many different people, and you can ask your own questions too.

Do you have a question about interview tips? Tweet us @StudentsDotOrg.

Image by ivanpw, Flickr - follow on twitter

Image by ivanpw, Flickr

Every student is going to have a different set of people they follow on social media, depending on their interests. You might be a diehard hockey fan and religiously check up on your favourite player. You might love sitting in a quiet corner of your house with a new book and scour @NYTimesBooks for ideas for your next read. You might be interested in the thoughts of business leaders and gather insight from @BillGates.
We want to know what your interests are. Who – or what – do you follow? Remember to share this page with your friends via the links at the top of the page so they can give their input too. We will summarize the results and provide you with a list of the most popular accounts to track on social media, as chosen by your peers.

This survey is currently disabled.


In the mood for another survey? Give us more of your insights here.

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