Career Exploration Class (CNED 2535)

By: Logan

Like many other college students throughout the country, I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life. During my freshman year I was filled with anxiety all the time because I was under the impression that we had to have our whole life figured out by the time freshman year was over. I was in my spring semester and I did not know what to do. Thankfully, UMD has so many great resources and opportunities. I was introduced to the class Career Exploration (CNED 2535), and I knew it could be a great help to me and anyone who is struggling to find a major or decide on a field of study.

My advisor had recommended the class for me and said that the class has helped many people. After doing a little research I saw that this class was perfect for me. This one credit  class can be taken in person one time a week, or can be done online. The main focus of the class is to highlight your specific skills and interests, and relate them to careers that would fit you well. Throughout the half semester long course we took every assessment or strengths test imaginable, including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory, StrengthsQuest, and many more. By taking all these assessments you learn what your true strengths and weaknesses are, and you learn what personality traits work the best with which career field. In CNED 2535, you have a small amount of homework assignments every week, and they usually involve either displaying your skills and strengths, or researching a field of study you’re interested in. So this class not only tells you what you are good at, but it makes you take those first steps in research to see if you would really be interested in a particular field or not. Another thing that was strongly stressed in this course was all of the resources available on our campus. It talks a lot about how Career & Internship Services and other offices can answer any question you have and can steer you in the right direction. During one class, recent UMD graduates were invited to tell us their stories of choosing their majors, their overall college experience, and what they are doing now. We then got to ask them questions about what they liked or didn’t like about their jobs, and they told us what potential employers are looking for. I learned a lot every single week.

Overall I thought the class was a very good experience and I benefited from it tremendously. After this class I felt confident in my major selection and in my own personal strengths. This class exposes you to so many great resources that any student on campus would benefit from taking it. If you are second guessing your major decision, or you want to learn your own strengths and weaknesses, this class would help you a lot and I highly recommend it.

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Confessions of a Former English Major, Part 1

By: Katie

“So you’re going to be a teacher?”
“You’re going to live in a cardboard box when you’re done.”
“Sooo… you want to be poor?”

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for English majors. It’s a tough world out there for the language and lit lovers.

My first semester of college, I declared a major in English, focus in Literature, Language, and Culture – the “super major,” as my adviser called it. I was set on the idea of being a writer or an editor, but after picking up a second major in Professional Writing and getting an internship in the field, I realized it just wasn’t for me. I changed my major and minor (now Psychology and Art) and completely switched paths for myself.

While I’ve abandoned the world of allegories, metaphors, and literary analyses, I will always have a little English major inside of me – a person who has heard too many people say there’s nothing a person can do with an English degree (besides teach) and that it is useless. What many people don’t know is that English majors are all over the place in the working world and not living in cardboard boxes lamenting their poor choice in a degree.

Skills You Gain as an English Major
Increasingly, employers are beginning to say they love hiring English majors. In a world so focused on science, engineering, and business, having employees with the skills that English majors acquire is invaluable. As an English major, it is important to recognize the skills you have so you can learn how to showcase your experience and represent your value.

English Major Confessions 1

English Majors Know How to Write (shocker)
The writing internship that made me change my mind about being a writer was something that I initially thought would be useless to me after changing my major. I want to go into counseling, not writing. What I realized by speaking to different counselors and advisers is that writing skills are valuable no matter where you go. Given the large amount of writing required in English classes, it’s obvious that English majors acquire incredible skills in writing. English majors are taught how to write in different styles, for different purposes, and to different audiences, giving them the ability to effectively persuade or inform others.

English Majors Know How to Communicate
Whether it be on paper, one-on-one, or to a group, English majors can communicate. English majors spend their time critiquing other students’ work as well as accepting criticism. They discuss ideas and learn how to articulate their opinions or thoughts to others. English majors know how to construct and present an argument effectively, something they learn in classes and out of necessity. When you have to defend your choice in major on a regular basis, trust me, you learn how to argue a point and win a debate (while using advanced vocab words and impeccable grammar along the way, I might add).

English Majors Know How to Think
Thinking creatively, analytically, critically, and individually – English majors can do it all. They are trained to look at a problem or an idea and analyze it, dissecting it and considering different perspectives. They are taught to look at the obvious answer, and then question it. Most importantly, they are taught to come up with their own ideas and ways of thinking and solving problems.

English Majors Know How to Manage Their Time
While I’ve taken a wide variety of classes during my time here that have all required plenty of work, the English classes I’ve taken here remain some of the most time- and work-intensive of them all. One English class alone could require 50-100 pages of reading every week, and trust me, reading 50 pages of Moby Dick is no simple task. English majors hone the ability to schedule their assignments, manage their time, and work under deadlines. For one research paper I did in an English class, I had to check out more books from the library than my backpack could hold. Literally. It unzipped itself and the books fell out as I was walking toward my dorm. Think working through that material in a timely manner is easy? It’s not.

English Majors Know How to Relate
The ability to understand, relate to, and connect with others is a skill that may not immediately present as useful in non-human services fields, but it is one that employers in all different areas are citing as a valuable trait they look for in employees. Reading works of fiction, something English majors do regularly, has been shown to encourage and build empathy and understanding. English majors study works that represent and explain different aspects of the “human condition,” including different cultures, time periods, and social issues, to name a few. They learn to think outside of their own experiences and consider those of others, something that gives them the ability to work effectively with all kinds of people.

English majors may not learn how to test for statistical significance or explain the function of different neurotransmitters, but they have skills that are just as important. As a student working toward an English degree who is looking to get a job, get an internship, or further your education, being able to recognize and talk about your skills is essential.

Part 2 of “Confessions of a Former English Major” will look at how you can connect your skills to a career and show those people who tell you your degree is worthless that you aren’t, in fact, doomed to reside in a cardboard box for the rest of your life.

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Learning From My Internship Experience

By: Cameron

Over the past summer I was lucky enough to land a mechanical engineering internship and I would like to share some helpful tid-bits that I learned while working there. The following post will outline some things that I did well or what I would have done differently.

Learning from Internship

BE PROACTIVE

Being proactive is the biggest thing that both my mentor and I wish I had done more of. In the “real world” your job isn’t perfectly outlined for you on some class syllabus and rarely is there ever only one correct answer. My internship required a lot individual and teamwork such as figuring out what questions to ask, figuring out whom to ask, and then asking them. During my evaluation my mentor said that it felt like I was always waiting to be told the next step. A common saying among professional engineers is “Nobody knows everything.” This means you have to seek out those know what you don’t know and ask them. I recommend putting a lot of focus into taking initiative when working as an intern. You’re going to make mistakes, and being proactive is what really defines you as an effective worker.

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

Building relationships with your co-workers is sometimes overlooked as important in an internship. During my internship I felt like I communicated well with a handful of people, but there were other people within arms reach that I hardly ever spoke to. I definitely wish I had talked to more people because you never know when networking will payoff. Your working personality and relationships play a huge role in your success as an employee. Even during an interview, a lot of employers are checking to see if you are someone they would like to talk to every day, five days a week.

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

Making the same mistake over and over can be incredibly frustrating to your supervisor. You should of course try to avoid mistakes whenever possible, but we’re all human so mistakes are bound to happen. When the same mistake happens again, there’s really no excuse. Learning from mistakes is something that I felt like I did fairly well during my internship. There were many times when I stumbled, but I always put a lot of effort into doing better the second time. I felt like this was recognized and appreciated by my supervisor. Not only will learning from your mistakes please your supervisor, it will also help you grow in your career. Both the successes and mishaps during my internship have made me much more prepared for my next experience.

Although these concepts may be fairly obvious to most people, I hope my experience has reminded you to keep them in mind whenever and wherever you work.

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Trying Something New

By: Ashley

I recently watched this short and inspiring TED Talk by Matt Cutts about trying something new for 30 days. You might be asking yourself how on earth does this correlate with finding a career or picking a major. I would then tell you simply that it does, though on the surface they seem dissociate. One of the major things we do in our office is help students figure out their major, minor, and passions; which segue into possible careers.  I am not saying you need to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to figure out what you want to do but it wouldn’t hurt to join rock climbing club, you never know if you like something till you try it.

Here at UMD there are over 200 clubs and organizations that students can join and be part of. Now that you have been convinced by my expertise persuasiveness and Matt’s TED Talk to join a club you might be asking what kind of clubs you would even like, or what kinds of clubs are out there.

Take a short interest assessment (or pull out your Strong Interest Inventory results if you’ve taken that assessment) to learn what your top interest areas are.

If you are a person who likes to work with data, can work with numbers and are considered Conventional on the RIASEC code of the Strong Interest Inventory a few of the clubs you might enjoy include:

  • Math Club
  • Chess Club
  • Society of Physics Students

If on the other hand you love working with and influencing people, and are an Enterprising on the RIASEC code a few of the clubs you might enjoy include:

  • Entrepreneurship Club
  • Management Club
  • Students Engaged in Rewarding Volunteer Experiences (SERVE)

If you are technically inclined, like to be outdoors, work well with objects, and are a Realistic on the RIASEC code a few of the clubs you might enjoy include:

  • Geology Club
  • Kayak & Canoe Club
  • Join a sport like Rugby or Badminton

If you are an Investigative on the RIASEC code and like to observe, evaluate and solve problems than a few of the clubs you might enjoy include:

  • Entomology Club
  • BattleBots at UMD
  • Biology Club

If on the other hand you love informing, enlightening, and helping people, and are a Social on the RIASEC code a few of the clubs you might enjoy include:

  • Communication Club
  • Access for All
  • Socratic Society

If you are an Artistic on the RIASEC code and love to create, and love using your imagination than a few of the clubs you might enjoy include:

  • Mud Guild
  • Knit Wits
  • Fellowship of Student Writers

I guess the overall purpose of this post is to challenge all of you to go out and join a club/organization and see what is out there, try something new and exciting, if only for 30 days. You never know what you might uncover, it might be a secret passion you never knew you had. Maybe that passion is what you want to pursue as a career…but like I said before you never know if you never try.

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Where Does It Work to Network?

By: Michael

As you may have read in my previous post about how to network, I discussed some basic tips on how to conduct yourself at your first event. Today, I’m going to talk specifically to UMD students and provide some suggestions on all of the places and events you can network at, in case some of you are still in the dark. I’m sure by now you’ve heard repeatedly how important networking is or even already heard numerous tips about how to succeed at it outside of my own advice, but once you are given that info, it seems to be that everyone expects you to find out where to go on your own from there. To prevent that, I have listed some common networking areas as well as some upcoming opportunities that I think all of you should consider when dipping your toes in the networking waters.

where to network

Alumni Networking (November 19!)

A great upcoming opportunity to network for UMD students is the upcoming alumni networking event downtown at the Greysolon Plaza. This is a great chance to meet with other UMD graduates and gain some insight on what other students did to get to where they are today after graduation. In addition to having a bit more to relate about, this event is a little more casual and is a great time to practice networking for the first time.

Job Fairs

Although the bigger job fairs have come and gone this fall, there are still opportunities in the spring to attend.  Job fairs are great for networking because it puts a large number of employers all in one spot and they are all there to talk to you students. Theses types of events can be a bit more challenging networking-wise, so I would encourage any of you to attend our workshops about job fair success and networking.

Information Sessions

A lot of companies who recruit on campus tend to have their own information sessions outside of campus. These are a great opportunity to network with employees at a specific company who you might be interested in working for. They tend to be more laid back than job fairs, with most supporting a casual environment. If you would like to get your foot in a door with a company, this is one of the first steps I recommend taking. Make sure to collect business cards, have conversations with as many people as you can, and don’t forget to follow up afterwards.

Join On Campus Organizations

Many student groups offer numerous opportunities to network with people working in particular fields or areas of interest. Groups like Management Club and Accounting Club provide many opportunities to meet recruiters and firms. Also, organizations that are more active on campus-related issues tend to have great connections to the greater Duluth community. Determine what you are interested in and consider joining some extra-curricular groups on campus, it looks great on your resume and provides lots of direct networking opportunities.

Use Your Connections

Family and friends are great resources when looking to expand your network. Some of you may have heard of the 6 steps of separation and have used it to some degree. Basically the theory is that everyone in the world is connected in six or fewer degrees of separation, or that you know anyone through a friend of a friend of a friend… etc. Keeping this in mind, your networking opportunities increase massively by integrating yourself into other people’s networks as well. I have found this to be one of the most beneficial forms of networking that I have experienced to date. It is really easy to use this method to begin your networking process as you can start with familiar faces and build your way up. Start asking your friends and family about anyone they know that might be interested to talk to you about your career goals and what you are looking for in terms of employment. A meeting over coffee or lunch has always seemed appropriate for this type of networking and best of all, you have a one-on-one interaction and little distraction such as what the setting is like at a job fair.

Above are just a small number of places that you can network at, but what I have to tell you is that when you really find yourself in the career world, the best professionals know and will tell you that networking never stops and that there is an opportunity for it in even the most seemingly unlikely of places. Take a look at this article and you will find that you may find connections anywhere, so building these skills early on is crucial.

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Double Majoring: The Pros & Cons

By: David

I see that you’ve decided to tune back in with the topic of double majoring. In the last blog post I had mentioned that I’ll be talking about the pros and cons of double majoring. As you may already know I am currently a double major in Communication and Psychology and it’s been quite the journey. To start off, I’ll be talking about the cons first and then I’ll transition into the pros from there.

The Cons

The biggest concern students have when they think about double majoring is the workload and time commitment. One major itself already requires a lot of work and time commitment, but having to double that may seem a bit overwhelming. My suggestion would be to balance out your workload and time for both subject evenly. For me personally, I try my best to balance out my coursework for both majors throughout my semesters. This semester I am currently taking two Communication courses and one Psychology course and for next semester I plan to switch it around by taking two Psychology courses and one Communication course.

To be honest, double majoring requires a lot of work and effort. Now that I am in my upper divisions for both majors I have to read and work harder than ever! If you are contemplating if you should double major or not just keep in mind of the work that you’ll have to put in. In addition, it also really depends on what you’re going for as well. Some majors require more credit hours than others, therefore it may be quite difficult to add a second major.

The amount of time that you’ll have to put in for two different degrees will be quite mind boggling. Considering that you have a part-time job, clubs, sports, a social life,  you will have A LOT to balance by adding a second major. This is my first semester having to juggle all of that and so far it’s been quite rough, but I’m getting by. Balancing your time between two different degrees may prove to be difficult, but possible. Some students choose to cram all their credits into their entire four years while others tend to spread their classes more evenly and stay an extra semester or two. I myself already plan on staying for an extra year to finish my two degrees. I figure, what’s the rush? Might as well enjoy college while you can, right?

Anyways, the main thing that you’ll have to worry about when it comes to double majoring is the time commitment and hard work that you’ll have to put in for two degrees, but as we transition into the next section you’ll realize that it actually becomes quite beneficial after graduation.

The Pros

Despite the work and time that you’ll have to put in, you’ll soon realize that having two degrees can actually be quite beneficial and has its perks. By having two degrees on your resume, that itself already makes you much more marketable. Also, it shows that you were dedicated to take the extra step to complete two degrees versus completing one major and one minor. Lastly, it gives you the chance of going into several different fields after graduation.

After graduation, you’ll want to market yourself as best you can and having two degrees can really help with that in various ways. As I had mention in the previous paragraph it really shows that you are dedicated and determined to put in that extra work for the second degree. Just listing two degrees in your resume can be very beneficial in the sense that it demonstrates your work ethic.  I know I had mention in the previous section that the work required for two degrees might be overwhelming, but like the good ol’ saying goes, “the price of success is hard work”.

Along the lines of being more marketable, you’ll always have the chance of going into several fields with two degrees. Within one degree, the subfields that come along with it are numerous and having two degrees only doubles your opportunities for success. For example, within my Communication degree I can go into business, mass media communication, higher education, and various different fields. With my Psychology degree I can go into counseling, social work, education, and many various fields as well. In the end, if you don’t like a certain occupation or field you always have the chance to go into different fields within your degrees.

To conclude, double majoring is a tough process to get through, but definitely worth it in the end. Do consider the work, time, and effort that you’ll be required to put in, but also consider the benefits, perks, and pros to double majoring as well. Whether you’re considering or contemplating you should double major or not, I hope this blog post has helped you just a bit in your thought and planning process. In the end, double majoring isn’t for everybody and that’s totally fine! Do and stick with what you’re most comfortable with even it means just sticking with one major. Farewell and safe travels to you all fellow readers. Stay gold and keep it classy!

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When Grad School is for You – Just Not Right Now

By: Meg

I’m graduating soon, and with that comes a lot of thoughts about the future. I’m going into Social Work, so while I know grad school is going to happen, I’m not ready to apply yet. Even though you might not be filling out applications with your fellow grad school bound classmates, there are still some ways to prepare for it.

Grad School not right now

Research

Look at the programs that you’re thinking of applying to: check the website, talk to current and past students, and talk to professors if you can. You want to learn what they’re looking for in a student. This could affect your job choice in the interim. If your programs are looking for specific experience, you should know that now.

GRE

A lot of grad schools require GRE scores, and some of them require subject tests. Your GRE scores are good for 5 years after you take them. If you’re planning on applying to grad school within that time period, it might be a good idea to do this testing while you’re still in school mode. It also gives you a definitive deadline for when you’re going to apply.

References

Grad schools LOVE reference letters. Take a look into the grad schools you think you’ll apply for. Chances are they want 2 or 3. When you’re out in the workforce, you’ll want to make a good impression on your supervisors. Now, however, is a good time to get a reference letter from a professor or advisor who you think would help your application. Ask them if they feel like they could write you a (good) letter, and keep it on file. Keep in contact with this professors or advisors once you are done with undergrad. Let them know what you’re doing and where you are in the process when you finally get to applying to grad school. At that point you may want (or need) to get an updated letter or reference form – you want your UMD contacts to still be a good reference for you.

Deadlines

Set some deadlines for yourself. Tell yourself that you want to apply in 3, 4, or however many years. Then prepare for that. Don’t commit to a job that isn’t going to go anywhere for 4 years when you’re planning on leaving in 2. This isn’t set in stone, and if, while you’re out in the world, you decide you don’t need (or want) to go back to school, then no harm done.

One of the best ways to prepare for grad school while you’re not in college is to get out of school mode. Grad school is intense, no matter what the program is. So while you’re taking time off, get some experience out in the world. Whether that means working a “big person” job, or taking some time off and traveling, just do it.

Of Possible Interest:

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