Acorn to Tree LLC was created by NYS certified teacher and mother Patrice Badami.

I wanted to create a website that included many great resources in one place to enhance the lives of families and individuals.”

Some of the topics include: Free non-trial academic, recreational, nutrition, exercise and creative resources.

Please subscribe so I can continue to select only the best resources to bring to you. Enjoy!

Patrice Badami

About Me

Patrice Badami has a Masters in Elementary Education and Special Education. She has advocated for families of special needs children as well as for her own children with special needs.


Acorn to Tree Learn and Grow was created to help all children and their families have access to free educational and recreational resources.

Acorn to Tree Family Podcast

Podcast with Zack Ballinger

For more than 14 years, Zack Ballinger has been motivating individuals and audiences of all ages—at high schools, colleges, non-profit organizations, civic groups, and corporations—through his presentations, seminars, videos, podcasts, books, and articles. On the stage and from his heart, Zack brings a passion for purpose that is infectious and undeniable. As a motivational and TEDx speaker, author, and career consultant, he guides people to self-discovery that changes their lives. Zack holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Tennessee. He resides in Atlanta, GA.

Full Episode Transcript:

Patrice Badami  0:02

Hi, this is Patrice Badami, with Acorn to tree. And today I have a wonderful guest Zack Ballinger from, where he talks all things career. And here he is.


Zack Ballinger 0:13

Thanks, Patrice so much for having me, you know a little bit about myself, I’m a career consultant. I’ve been doing it for a number of years, and I help people basically find their direction when it comes to their jobs. And so what I really focus on on try to help people find their strengths or abilities, tunnel that into a passion, which is, I believe, a career purpose, and then guide them on that journey. And so we help in multiple ways is that, we’ve got our podcasts where we have career library where people can come on and share about their careers, you guys can connect with them and learn more about their careers. It’s an informal interview, we do videos on job interviewing, networking, various workshops. So we’re all out there to help you with your career.


Patrice Badami  1:02

Right, that’s wonderful. I really liked that. Because when I think back when I was in school, it was pretty much a worksheet where they had to check off what you liked to do. And this is a lot more involved, it’s a little bit more support. And I think it’s wonderful, what inspired you to start your website.


Zack Ballinger 1:18

Exactly. You know, what I found when I was years ago is I really struggled finding what I wanted to do career wise. And it took me a number of years, and I didn’t really nowhere to turn, I had read several books and tried to do a lot of different things, but nothing really added up. And so I spent a number of years unhappy in my career and medical diagnosis, eventually, what caused me to kind of change my direction, I was actually diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, and I lost 50% of my hearing. And at one time, the doctor told me to go sign up for disability because I wouldn’t be able to work anymore. And I just didn’t think that was right, but a whole different direction change for me and found a little bit more meaning that life is short, and you have to find what you really enjoy and if it makes you. And so I did that. And now what I try to do is inspire people to find their own journey. And that’s what really led me to the website and helping people with their careers.


Patrice Badami 2:19

I think that’s amazing. And the other thing I’d like to add to that is, you’re very, very important by having this website because you can help a lot of students who have disabilities, and they can have the ability to be relaxed in their own home, take a look at your website, look at all these different people in all the different careers and make a better judgment based on discussing things with these coaches. I think it’s amazing. If that, you know, for my son, that would be helpful for some other people. I think it’s a great, great idea. So what are some some tips just to begin with the process of interviewing even for college? What are some tips for interviewing that you might have?


Zack Ballinger 2:55

You know, the best tip and a lot of people think it’s common sense. But it really is what decides if you kind of move on from being a average interviewer to an expert interview, whether that’s mock interviewing, especially nowadays in colleges, they have these big buildings called Career Service Centers on their college campuses. That’s their job to help you to get better in your career development, they’re probably the most underutilized resource on a college campus to be quite frank. And what they can do is record you and they can actually ask you interview questions. And then they play back the recording, and they talk to you about how your answer was. And a lot of people start out job interviewing, they think they’re really good at it, but they heard an answer and they keep using that same answer. And then we’re wondering why we’re not advancing in the job interview. And later on or professional might say, Oh, my goodness, you’re answering that question by saying that, Let’s rephrase that. So your number one tip for out there whether you’re a professional or your student is mock interview with somebody and technology, Patrice, has made it so easy. We can get on our FaceTime bones and really interview right there and get some feedback on how our answers were, what our demeanor looks like, what our actions are, what our dress looks like, you’re able to master that those settings under that pressure, you’re gonna master it in the interview, you’re gonna come become much better, I’d say. The second tip is is networking. Before you even get in the interviewers chair, the relationships are made up front. What do I mean by that? A lot of people call it a good old boys network. It’s not necessarily true. What it means is the hiring manager may trust someone and say, Hey, do you have a great candidate for me? Yeah, I know Sally. I’ve worked with her for 20 years. She shows up on time she’s responsible. She’s sharp, she’s no She has great personal skills. That’s going to automatically put Sally in the front Weiner seat of the interviewers chair before anybody sits down So you have to be able to develop your network isn’t second key. And the third key is in job interviewing, is practice makes perfect. Get those questions down that people are going to ask you tell me about yourself. What are some of your advantages? What value do you bring to the company? What are some of your weaknesses? hone in on those questions, practice, practice, practice makes perfect.


Patrice Badami  5:23

Yeah, I think that’s very important. Because a lot of times, just looking at some of the jobs that are out there, I’m noticing there’s a lot of tech requirements, there’s a lot of actual skills you need to have in your wheelhouse. But if you don’t come across personable, they’re going to think in terms of there’s two parts to it. One is your skill set. One is how are you going to get along with the other people. So if you don’t come across, relaxed, self assured that you have an ability to come across sincere, that’s going to work against you, because there’s so much competition out there, you really need to learn and open your mind up and say, although you have skills, you need the personal bookies to get to be in place as well. So that makes a lot of sense to practice. I think that makes sense. So let me ask you, it’s taking a step back from interviewing for like maybe jobs, what would you say your website offers for a student who’s trying to figure out what they want to major in, in college?


Zack Ballinger 6:20

Yeah, I think we get so focused in at college on major seven, I try to focus in on your strengths, and what do you like to do? And what are you good at? And how do we channel that into a major now, you know, I think the way that these the website can help you find a major is if you truly find what you like to do, let’s say you have a passion for science and research, then we need to start talking about biology, chemistry, those type of majors. But what I try to help students do is, let’s take some pressure off the major a little bit, let’s focus on on your contacts, let’s learn about lots of jobs. Let’s job shadow people, even though if you don’t know, if you want to do it, then you meet other people doing this. And then you learn about this business, and you might find something you enjoy doing. So I don’t really focus too much on Well, if you don’t pick this particular major, then you can’t do this craziness. And students get so paralyzed by that fear. Well, I’ve got to pick the right major, it’s got to be accounting, because I got to do this. Really, you can do anything you want, as long as you have the degree and you can always take a supplemental courses, you can always get your Masters in something right. So I focus in on finding what your joy what you’re good at and matching that with a major.


Patrice Badami  7:44 

Right, yeah, I think it makes sense to just, I mean, people do tend to pressure they get feel the pressure, even when they’re just applying to college. So I think it makes sense to just get the there’s some basic classes, everyone has to take no matter what they’re at. So you start with those, then you filter in these job shadowing situations. And then you start building your network. And then you start feeling more relaxed. And then you start saying, Hey, I like this, or I don’t like that. But be open minded to do a lot of shadowing, even if it’s outside of something you wouldn’t even consider give it a shot. It’s just your time and your time to, you know, see the new things experience new people, and it’s a great idea to do this shadowing, I love that idea. Um, so when you say creating your professional network outside of, for example, if you do this job shadowing, then you get to know people. And then while you’re doing the process of shadowing you talk to them, you chat with them, you find something in common, sometimes they have groups of students, or even adults going on these shadowing situations. So maybe when it comes to creating a professional network, keep in contact with the people that you work with, for the job shadowing. So keep in contact with the different students or individuals you’ve met, keep in contact with the people who actually conducted the interviews, or the rather the job shadowing, and the companies that they work for. Because around where I am, there’s a lot of companies that work with this access VR, which is it’s a company that helps children with disabilities to set up some of these job coaching situations. So if you keep in contact with the companies, and then when you do your resume, you’ll have their company on there. They’ll say, Oh, that’ll open the door. So that’s what you have to keep everybody in a little notebook or wherever you do it. Keep information that will help you in the future. So it’s all building on each other. That makes sense, I think. So when it comes to actual careers and the people what are some of the types of people you have on your website that people can check out the videos?


Zack Ballinger 9:49

You know, the website is a great tool because the career library has careers all across North America from former DEA agent And to a firefighter, to a computer engineer, you name it, we have it an actor, designer, whatever the field that you might want to do, we are trying to create that library. And if we don’t have it, we’re actively working on trying to get somebody to fill in that position. Because A, what we want to do is we want to say, hey, if somebody wants to be an actor, or they want to be a country music singer, they need to hear the good, the bad, the ugly, what process does it take to get there? What kind of work am I expected to do? It’s not going to work out 100% of the time when it does not want to happens. And then you’re able to get a connection. I think that’s what you just talked about is a lot of people say, well, Zack, I want to be in pharmaceutical sales, I want to be a health care administrator, I don’t know anybody in that field. These career libraries give you that chance, because most of my guests say, Zack, I’d love to help any of your students, I’d love to help your professionals. Here’s my LinkedIn, here’s my contact information, and reach out to them. Right, then we had a nurse practitioner the other day, who said, If anybody’s passionate, and they think they want to do this career, here’s my email. Now, what better way? If you’re interested in being a nurse practitioner? Would it be to connect with Denise and connect and ask a time and ask some of your questions and learn from her about the job? That’s yeah, I


Patrice Badami  11:22

think that’s amazing. Because, you know, they might even be able to give you some insight into the real, you know, not so much just the how to get the position. But what do you do on a daily basis? What skills do you need to have? In order to do it? For example, if you’re doing going to be a firefighter, you know, what, how, what are the types of things you’d be doing? As far as what type of physical shape do you need to be in to be able to do it? How much strength you need to have for nursing, for example? I was actually, I was studying nursing myself at one time. So for that, what exactly is involved with shift work? And how, what are the shifts like what happens during that time? So I think it’s amazing, it’s really taking a step in into the actual professional shoes of another person, I think that’s this, that’ll be so helpful, because sometimes, you don’t really get the whole picture in the interview. There’s more ins and outs, you realize once you actually get at the position. So another thing I was just wondering is, when it comes to resumes, which you know that that’s part of the process, what type of information would you offer concerning that? Is that something that there’s probably professionals on your site that help with that?


Zack Ballinger 12:34

Yeah, we do have professionals that help with that, you know, resume writing, you always want to get a second pair of eyes on just a couple of tips on resume writing, really, resumes need to shoot, demonstrate what value you bring to the organization. And it’s so important because I read a lot of resumes, they say, worked in customer service. Well, that doesn’t tell me much. What I need to know is what you actually did in your role above and beyond the duties that called you to do. You know, you might have a new job description of what you did in the first bullet point. But what did you do in your role to bring value to the organization, for example, a great bullet point would be increase retention within the sales department due to extend the customer service relationships lead to a 23% increase in sales manager hiring managers want to see something numerable they want to see what you’ve done, what you’ve achieved, and what you try to do. Make sure on your resumes follow the traditional format of a resume, you know, I like to chronological form, the the fancy new age resumes, guys, I don’t know they look great, and they look beautiful, and the pictures and everything. But what happens is is what you may not know is a lot of bigger companies, they have a resume, so order technology software, and present certain buzzwords or key words or your resumes or format, or it’s in this weird, different way to do it. That company automatically spit your resume out of the site. So you really want to keep a basic traditional resume, saved the phone and the bows for something. Now. Now if you’re an actor, and you’re professional, and it’s I get different careers and different matters for different resumes, but we’re talking about business resumes, make it very simple.


Patrice Badami  14:30

Because I’ve noticed, for example, I use Canva. It’s, it’s a design tool, and they have a lot of templates, and most of them, I would say 85% or so they all have a photo of the individual in the corner, and it’s all there’s a lot of designs on it. So you’re saying that that’s actually not necessarily the best way to go. If you’re not going to be doing a career where for example acting, that’s interesting. See, I didn’t know that. Okay, that’s your consulting.


Zack Ballinger 14:57

It might be great to have one of the Those type resumes because you see a picture of yourself and you’re able to stand out a little bit from your competition. I don’t see any problem with that when you’re going up. But when you’re going to these big companies, they do have computer algorithms that will spit you out if it doesn’t follow a certain method, or the formatting goes weird or anything like that. So really make sure that a resume is in the standard template, especially when you start applying for jobs through LinkedIn.


Patrice Badami  15:27

And when it comes to internships, that also seems like something that you might touch on concerning the job shadowing could lead to the internship. So what would you what would you say would be the first step is first to job shadow, then it’s, it can lead to an internship, perhaps, and that could lead to a job. What would you say? Is the what do you see as the steps here?


Zack Ballinger 15:50  

Yeah, that’s a great question. There’s no real silver bullet, you know, I would say if you can do an internship first, and then you can always supplement it with job shadowing. But you know, there’s plenty of internships out there. And a lot of students I get hung up on, they’re like, Well, I want to be a lawyer, and I can’t get this particular job and internship, it doesn’t matter. You know, try to do obviously, the law firm. If you don’t, if you get can’t get in there do so another type of internship, because what happens is you make connections, you learn the other sides of the business, you learn nonprofits, whatever it might be, you learn, you connect, you engage, plus, you get a recommendation, you show up to work on time, you work hard, you demonstrate your skills, you’re a great employee or a team player, you can use that reference to get you another internship, great job, you’ve got that experience level already now. So that’s what I would tell students, they’re number one mistake is when they don’t get a particular internship, or they focused in on they’re like, I want to internship with IBM, and that’s the only internship I want. That’s a really the wrong way to look at it, the way to look at it is I want to get, I like doing this, I want to do this particular internship, if that doesn’t work out, do an internship, it doesn’t matter. Start from there, you’ll build connections, you won’t regret it.


Patrice Badami  17:09

And it also will make you stand out look unique and look unique. And it’ll diversify what your resume shows there’ll be, they’ll look at it. And they’ll say, oh, it’s not just, you know, the person who had all law internships, for example, they’ll say, Well, that’s very interesting. It’ll make you stand out. And people will say, Okay, this person’s flexible, they’re able to work in different situations that, you know, that’s an interest, I think it’ll be helpful. And it also might, you know, provide just a different experience. So beyond that, I would say, when it comes to people who are entering into a different part of their life, and maybe their career change people there people who are changing their careers, what would your suggestions be for them? And what would you say your website offers them?


Zack Ballinger 17:54

Yeah, I think when we’re talking about career transitions, it’s real difficult for people to see things. And what I mean by that is, let’s say you’re in a company right now, you don’t really like your job function. But you’ve always aspired to be this, let’s just say you’re in sales. And you’ve always wanted to be a software engineer. And so you may be starting out looking at IBM and Google and all these different companies, what you need to step back and see what are the basic qualifications, I need to be a software engineer. And so if that’s a couple extra horses, if that’s a different degree, then we have to do that, like you can’t be a doctor. Without the degree, we can agree with that. So you have to see what your basic, basic needs are to fulfill that job. Second thing I would do if you’re already at a company, this is what people don’t do. And I think it’s a big mistake is you’re in that sales role in that company. Let’s talk to your manager and say, You know what, I’ve always kind of wanted to do the software engineer path, I’ve succeeded here in sales. Is there any way I could meet Henry or Sally in the IT department, talk to them for 30 minutes, and was part of my career development. Most hiring managers love that initiative. They want you to collaborate? They want you to learn new skills, so they sure reach out to them. You start interviewing with Sally learn about their role, what is that you do at the company? Is there any side projects I could do? Is there anything I can do to help your department for my learning, people don’t mind to offload a little work, especially if you start working on a project there, you understand the function, you get experience in your own company. You may change yours software engineering to that job right there at the company. So investigate it first through that method. And then when you start looking at jobs, a lot of people get discouraged. They start out these big huge companies. There’s like five years software engineer experience. Really, if you start and you look past that, yes, there might be basic core qualifications for every company but there’s always companies how hiring outside the box, you really want to intercept that network with that person before they even post the job. And get your experience inside your current company to leverage that, when you start interviewing.


Patrice Badami 20:14

And they oftentimes, if you they already know you, and they know that you’ve done well, they’re, they love the idea of hiring within. So they’re not putting any risk to themselves. So it will work out for both of you, both the company and yourself. So that makes sense to reach out to your human resources department or the department that you’re interested in moving into. That’s a great suggestion. Another thing I wanted to ask you is for new, like moms who are entering the, you know, they’re coming back into the workforce, they have children, they’re looking maybe for remote work, is that something that you might have information on that some of your resources might be able to help them with?


Zack Ballinger 20:52

Yeah, you know, I think we were working in that caught me now we have either you know, different where people don’t want to commute or, you know, you we’ve done the pandemic and now you’re used to working from home, like you said, you’re maybe have to work from home because you’re taking care of some children. I think, you know, the best thing there is like, if you can explore some type of side hustle, and whether that’s, you know, selling, doing a business on eBay, whether it’s Etsy, something like that really focus in on what you enjoy doing, and maybe even make a sides a side income and then that might sprouted into a small business idea. But there you’re right, there’s plenty of jobs out there part time, the hottest jobs out there right now because the labor market is on fire. You know, I know we’re going through some tough economic times but I’m telling you this is probably the best time to find a job ever, ever.


Patrice Badami 21:51

And people are creating their own jobs. You know, for example, me I started this acorn to tree and you started this Zack Ballinger. And we’re, I guess heading towards the end of our our podcast, but I just wanted to reintroduce you so that people can have your name once again. Zack balance And he talks about all things career on his great website. And I want you to just tell me a little more but just before we go about your website.


Zack Ballinger 22:17

Yeah, so all the resources are there. Those are up there. We talked about the career library that’s posted there. We have career coaches that come on from time to time and answer your questions, anything about your career, anything about your journey. Those coaches can guide you and help you we bring on small business people to answer questions. The shooter is a small business right for me is a side gig right for me. We bring on that top of mind all this on the website. We’ve got word resources.


Patrice Badami  22:45

Check it out, reach out to people, open up your mind and look into Thanks once again, everyone for listening to Acorntotree family podcast. We look forward to speaking further with you and thanks again, Zack.


Zack Ballinger 22:59

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Check out the website:

Language Translator