Self-Guidance: The Key to Success

By: Paying

All our lives, we have been constantly guided either by our parents, teachers, and/or society. It seems as though a good ⅕ of our lives were following what others have told us to do. As little five-year-olds, we have already started to be shaped to become successful and live a future with purpose. The question now is: what does it mean to actually be “successful” and how do we achieve that? 

When I first started my education in a head start program until the end of my 8th grade year, school was just a part of life and you don’t question it. When high school hit, the struggle of not knowing my strengths and interests complicated the vision that had been engraved in my head: graduate high school, attend college, finish in four years, and spend the rest of my life loving my career. I didn’t want to drop out of high school and disappoint my parents, I didn’t want to take a gap year after high school to figure life out, and I didn’t want to go into college not knowing what I’m there for. 

To answer my questions, I sought guidance from my Upward Bound advisors who emphasized the advantages of college. They reassured me that it’s okay to not know everything and that it was completely normal to feel the way I did. We researched colleges that could offer me what I would be interested in and would enjoy attending. Soon after, I officially declared that I would become a Bulldog at UMD in 2016. 

Image: Colored pencils in cup
Text: Every path you can take has its pros and cons, which varies person to person. The key is to believe in yourself and put in the effort to achieve your success.

After two years of my college life, I knew I had made the right choice to come in unsure because soon I realized how passionate I was in English related courses and declared as an English major. However, I didn’t know where to start because no one around me had a similar path of becoming an editor and once again I was lost. 

The career counselors at Career and Internship Services, along with my alumni friends, guided me through it as they provided stories of their own or others who have been in the same spot and the different paths they’ve taken. Although I was afraid to share my struggles of uncertainty, it definitely cleared my head and made me more confident in my future decisions and to this day I continue striving with the same confidence.

As my last year of education is wrapping up, I realized that soon I won’t have education to keep me busy anymore. Now I have to go out into the “real world” and make my own decisions for my own life, which is a very scary, yet exciting, thought. Throughout my life, I had asked for guidance from my family, my peers, and my academic mentors but now I’ve come to realize that I have started to guide myself. From asking for internships even if there aren’t any listed and becoming the interviewer rather than the interviewee to learn more about the career and/or organization. I am finally guiding myself to live the life I will enjoy and want.

I may have chosen to go through college but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to become successful. Some who never completed high school also reached success and same with those who decided college was not meant for them. A close friend of mine who I could not make it this far without once told me, “Success can’t be measured, it’s not an endpoint. It’s felt by both you and those affected around you.” Every path you can take has its pros and cons, which varies person to person. The key is to believe in yourself and put in the effort to achieve your success. 

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Crawford Jolly

Today is a Good Day To…

By: Gao

Talk about careers. It’s getting to that point in the semester where life is hurling self-discovery and crises (peep my last blog post) right at you. You are into your first, second, third, fourth, or maybe even fifth year of college and you don’t know if what you are doing is really leading you down the path you initially hoped for. Maybe you’re not doing so well in a class, contemplating your life choices, feeling the heat of the real world getting hotter and hotter, or worrying about your orange cat, Garfield, who is in the hospital. It seems that life is just crumbling at your fingertips and you don’t know what to do. That happens to most of us, especially when we least expect it. But it’s okay because we pick ourselves up and move along one step at a time. Right? 

Well for some of us, it’s not that easy. You might be wondering, in the midst of all this mess, “Where do I even start to pick up?”. Well, Career & Internship Services is right here waiting for you! You are NOT ALONE. 

Where to begin… 
Despite everything that is going on, you have to start somewhere! Even when it feels like you are losing control of your life right now, don’t let that consume you. Here are a few things I think you should try. It doesn’t have to be in any particular order; just do what works for you. As much work or stressful as it might seem, it will all pay off in the end. 

TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Take an interest, personality, and/or strengths assessment to see where and how well your intended career fits you.
  2. Do you know what you’re doing with your life? If no, COME SEE US and we can help you confirm a major, plan a career path, and search for jobs/internships/grad schools.
  3. Create and review an elevator speech! If you had 1 minute to describe yourself, what would you say?
  4. Career Handbook has all sorts of examples and tips on how to perfect your resume/cover letter/personal statement, find it on the Career & Internship Services webpage.
  5. View the Graduate Follow-Up Report Archives on the C&IS website for career ideas. See what recent grads are doing with your major!

I have to admit, these few suggestions have definitely helped me. I, myself, am going through this crisis of whether or not my decided major is fit for me. There are so many things I want to dip my feet into, but I only have so many limbs! I can’t swim if every piece of me is in a different body of water. And I think we can all definitely relate to this. 

If you want more suggestions/tips, look for our interactive bulletin board in the hallway of the Solon Campus Center! 

Bulletin board with career tips

Reflect
Once you have taken the time to follow through some of these suggestions, REFLECT. Ask yourself: 

  • How do these results resonate with me? What do they make me feel? Is it true to me?
  • What are my options?
  • Where do I see myself in the next 2, 4, or 6 years given these results?
  • How am I going to apply these results to my current understanding of my situation?
  • What is my end goal?

Take a moment to lay out all your options, considerations, and interpretations on the table. Talk it out with a career counselor, advisor, friends, or even family if need be. Weigh your options and even make a pros and cons list. Your questions, concerns, and understanding of everything may not be solved, and that’s okay. Taking these small steps will lead you to the answers you seek. It all begins with you, and the initiative you take to control what you can, instead of worrying about what you can’t. 

Of Possible Interest:
• Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College; Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Gao’s other posts

Photo source: UMD Career & Internship Services

When Good Things Have to End

By: Kirsi

Way back in January 2016 I started my work study position as a Peer Educator in UMD’s Career and Internship Services (C&IS). The semester before, I was looking for a work study position that would give me a break from my technical work and saw a Tweet about the Peer Educator position. Seven semesters, four years, and 2000+ resumes later, I am wrapping up my time as a Peer this semester. I have completed a lot, learned a lot, and shaped my future while working in C&IS.

Kirsi & Ellen filming for Love Your Major.

What I Did
One of my greatest weaknesses is making assumptions. I assumed that all I would do as a Peer Educator is review resumes and do homework when there was no resumes to review. Reality check, there is almost always resumes to be reviewed; dropped off, submitted on GoldPASS, collected from classes, or brought by students during drop-ins. If there was not a resume to review, C&IS puts Peers to work on projects – to advance the office’s mission, to grow your strengths, and match your interests. 

My favorite project I worked on as a Peer was implementing, “Love Your Major,” a retention initiative made possible by a grant from Strategic Enrollment Management. I challenged fellow students with the question, “Should I choose, change, or embrace your major?” The goal of Love Your Major was to encourage students to think about their major over the summer, so they could hit the ground running in the fall. The target audience was all returning students who would start their sophomore year fall 2017. Students received information about how to choose, change or embrace their major by mail, email, and social media. I hosted weekly interactive Facebook Live events. I interviewed fellow peer educators on how they choose their majors, described how Career & Internship Services can help students pick their major, hosted Q&As with career counselors, and gave an office tour of Career & Internship Services. It was extremely fun to mix web design with social media, with career outreach.

C&IS carefully collects data on where UMD alumni work six months to a year after graduation. I have edited, modified, and updated almost every webpage related to that data to insure that the public has the most accurate information. Learning about where alumni from each major go after graduating was interesting and I encourage everyone to take a look at that data.

letterboard down on table with letters everywhere
Sometimes, things have to get knocked down & put back together.

What I Learned
During my first year as a STEM major, I held a toxic elitist view on what majors are and are not meaningful. After working with Peers of other majors, learning about what alumni from other majors do after graduating, and hearing goals from students of other majors my mind was opened and changed. It was fascinating to learn the goals of each collegiate unit on campus, learn about each major, and hear about students’ career aspirations during resume reviews. I am thankful for how fun, cool, and supportive all of the fellow Peers I have worked with are! Enjoyment in office and extracurricularly. 

I had a morale break down one semester not far from graduation. I wanted to drop one of my majors, petition out of engineering senior design, overload a semester with classes, move to Arizona, and work at Taco Bell. I am not exaggerating, this is simply what I wanted, and I was serious about it. Fortunately, the C&IS work environment of being submerged in a sea of counselors snuffs out crises quickly. I am completing both majors (in less than three weeks), staying in Duluth until I do, and had an extremely positive senior design experience. I am thankful for C&IS’ supportive senior staff!

2019 calendar on wall
Counting down to graduation.

What I’m Doing Next
Early this winter I will be working full-time at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. This has been a multi-year long journey and still feels unreal. Our Peer supervisor suggests that working at NASA will feel real once I have been their longer than my longest Co-Op stint. In the far future I can see myself continuing my career in space exploration, becoming a K-5 teacher, and/or intentionally working at Taco Bell. I am confident about my future because of all of the love and support C&IS has shared with me.

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo source: Kirsi

Does Music Help Productivity?

By: Stephanie

In my last blog post, I talked about using a planner to stay organized and to maximize your productivity. Sure, a planner can increase this but only to a certain point. Another factor that can help you be more focused on finishing tasks is to listen to music (at your own risk)!

From New York Times, Dr. Lesiuk, an assistant professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami, conducted a study on workplace performance and concluded that, “those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas” (source). When you are listening to music, your mood turns positive and completing tasks become fun rather than a chore that needs to be finished by the end of the day. 

However, some types of music actually worsen productivity. The study, Psychology of Music, has shown that “complex music can distract from tasks that require high degrees of concentration” (source). When you are trying to read and comprehend what you’ve read, music with heavy beats or loud clashing can disrupt your deep thoughts. 

Image: headphones on yellow background
Text: Does music help productivity?

So, how do you choose the best music for you? Here are some factors you should consider when finding the next song on your playlist!

Lyrics
Some of us tend to enjoy music the most when we can actually sing the songs that roll through our playlist, but we lose focus on the work in front of us. How many of you can say they’ve had to stop mid-thought to sing their favorite lyrics? Yes, me too! Looking for instrumentals is a good way to counteract this. That’s one less factor to worry about!

Task Difficulty & Repetitiveness
Although this seems like common sense, you may not know how hard the work you have to do is, until you play music. If you find yourself distracted while completing a task that may seem simple, the work that needs to get done may require a lot more focus and thinking. Try turning off your music and easing into your work, if you’re getting more done than you were before with music, I think the appropriate conclusion is to continue without the music.

With task repetitiveness, a lot of us get bored of doing the same thing over and over. You start to become unmotivated with your work and even question what you’re doing. With the help of some good tunes, you’ll make repetitive tasks “more pleasurable and increase your concentration” (source). By doing so, it’ll be less boring and more fun with an upbeat background!

Increases Physical Productivity
While working out, I know for some of us, we dislike hearing our own thoughts echo inside our minds. Listening to music can help with that. It can distract your deep thoughts and help you become physically productive and without even realizing it, it helps increase the quality of your workout. As a matter of fact, “music improves physical performance by increasing capacity to exercise longer and harder, and delaying fatigue” (source). So, when you’re feeling exhausted from a heavy day of work, listen to some music at the gym to help you increase that intensity!

Overall, music can increase productivity in the right tasks. Be careful with your choice of music and if you have no idea where you’d like to start with your music, you can try listening to these five different types (source):

  1. Classical Music
  2. Nature Music
  3. Epic Music
  4. Video Game Music
  5. Ambient Soundtracks

Of Possible Interest:
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Stephanie’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Malte Wingen

Large Scale Internship Programs: What it Looks Like and the Pros of Going Through the Program

By: Amanda

So maybe you’ve decided that you want to pursue an internship for the upcoming semester or summer. Congrats! Now that you have made this decision, it is time to think about what type of internship you would like to have. Internship programs come in many different shapes and forms. For some internships you may be the only intern at a company, for others, you might find yourself a part of a larger group. Either way, there are benefits to both. Today I will talk specifically about the benefits of a large scale program.

For the duration of summer 2019, I had the opportunity to experience a large scale internship program. My program consisted of 70 interns working for 10 weeks in total. Although I was in the sales department, the company had interns ranging from finance and claims to digital media. Since I am from a town that is outside of the company’s radius, I also had subsidized housing included in my offer package. Typically, larger programs like the one I experienced are offered through big corporations, although there are some smaller companies that have them as well. 

Image: markers lined up on shelves
Text: Large scale internship programs

NETWORKING & MENTORSHIP
Throughout the course of my internship, we were provided with five afternoons where executives from the c-suite level would speak to our intern class with a networking hour to follow. I enjoyed this because this gave me an opportunity to speak with senior leadership that I would not normally have the chance to interact with. These seasoned employees took an afternoon out of their day to share their experiences, tips, and wisdom. 

It was also highly encouraged for us to set up “Meet and Greets” with employees throughout the company, both in our division, and also in other areas. Essentially, this consisted of grabbing coffee for 30 minutes with an employee and asking them how they got to their position, what their day-to-day roles consist of, and what advice they may have. With a company as large as the one I was working at, this was an ideal way for me to network cross-functionally.

At the beginning of the summer I was paired with a mentor. My mentor was outside of the sales department. We sat down multiple times throughout the summer to touch base on my progress, goals, and any other miscellaneous questions I had. 

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Throughout my three months I was able to attend two conferences and join two Employee Resource Groups. Employee Resource Groups act as ways for employees to dive into specific interests they might have. I joined the Young Professionals Society and Sustainability Group aka the “Green Team”. Through the Green Team, I attended a quarterly breakfast in which I was able to talk with professionals from across the community looking to implement sustainable practices into their company. 

CASE COMPETITION 
Many large scale internship opportunities have a case competition. This consists of interns being split up into teams of 6 to solve an assigned issue the company is facing. Our issue this past summer was: “how to reach more consumers digitally”. We worked on this case over the course of the summer and presented for 10 minutes with a panel to follow. This competition helped me to meet interns from across the company who I would not normally interact with. 

INTERN EVENTS 
Over the summer, we were provided with nearly weekly intern events. During our time we attended multiple semi pro soccer and baseball events at which free food was provided. Additionally, we went to mini golf and had a few game nights. There were multiple times that the company would cater dinner into the apartment building where the interns were living. Again, these types of events acted as both intern bonding and networking.

Overall, if you are at all thinking about going through a traditional, large scale internship program, I would highly suggest applying. Through this type of experience, you will be able to learn about the many functions of the company, meet lots of people and set yourself up for future success.  

Of Possible Interest:
Internships; Networking – all our blog posts on the topics
Internships; Key to Networking – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Faris Mohammed

Beginner’s Guide to Using GoldPASS Powered by Handshake, Part 1

By: Kendra

What is GoldPASS powered by Handshake?
GoldPASS, Handshake, or GoldPASS powered by Handshake are some of the different names you might have heard before. Regardless of the name you might have heard, the system is the same. GoldPASS is an online platform that connects students and alumni from any of the five University of Minnesota campuses with jobs, internships, and employers. One can find full- or part-time positions, summer jobs, internships, or volunteer opportunities by using GoldPASS. The reason behind the different names is because many different universities and colleges across the United States use the system, which is Handshake, for employers to post opportunities. GoldPASS is just the name that the University of Minnesota chose to distinguish our Handshake platform from others. 

Why use GoldPASS?
Based on my previous explanation, you might be thinking that GoldPASS sounds very similar to LinkedIn … so why use it? The best part about GoldPASS is that employers who post their opportunities in the system are specifically seeking University of Minnesota graduates, as GoldPASS is only for University of Minnesota graduates and alumni. If this weren’t true, they would not bother with GoldPASS and they would just post on LinkedIn or similar sites. This is not to say that you shouldn’t use LinkedIn, because that is a great resource, too. GoldPASS, however, is just for us, which I think is pretty cool. Also, GoldPASS is a smaller platform than LinkedIn or other job posting sites, which means less people will be vying for the same opportunities. 

image: desktop with notebook, computer keyboard, and coffee cup
text: beginner's guide to GoldPASS powered by Handshake

What can GoldPASS do for me? 
Upon completing your profile on GoldPASS, the possibilities are endless. One can see job postings that are curated just for them, events that might be coming up on any of the five campuses, and more. One of my favorite aspects about GoldPASS is users have the option to have their profile private or public. A personal example: When I was in the process of completing my profile, I had it private so employers and other students would not be able to see it until I was finished. This was nice because it allowed me to perfect everything before others were able to see any of it. Then, when I was ready, I made my profile public. This allowed different companies to seek students based on their available jobs and reach out to them. In fact, I have had companies reaching out to me about their positions because my education and skills aligned with what they were looking for. So, while GoldPASS is for students to connect with and find employers that interest them, it is also useful for employers to find future employees.

Where should I start? 
The first thing one should do when starting to use GoldPASS is login and start completing their profile. To login, click on this link: https://app.joinhandshake.com/login. Upon logging in for the first time, users will be prompted to complete their profile as shown below:

Sign in screen for GoldPASS

To have a complete profile, one will need to enter their education information (ie. which campus they are attending, their majors/minors, and expected graduation date), their interests, work and volunteer experience, skills, and more. I think of my profile as a super in-depth resume, because it holds the same purpose as a resume does: to give a viewer a snapshot of what I have done to make myself applicable for the opportunities I am interested in. This process can take some time, especially when done thoroughly and with detail. The great part about this is that users have the option to make their profiles private, which I recommend doing until your profile is complete, or as complete as possible. Here is a snapshot of my GoldPASS profile:

Kendra profile on GoldPASS

As you can see, my profile is only 85% complete, which is entirely okay. I do not have certain areas of my profile added simply because I do not have information to add to them, which, again, is okay. Fill your profile with the information you do have. As you move along in life, you will gain more and more experiences, skills, and information you can add to your profile. Another item that can be added to your profile is your resume. When a resume is uploaded, it must be approved before you can begin applying for opportunities. We want resumes to be approved just so we can make sure they are great before employers get to see them. If you are in need of a resume review, stop by Solon Campus Center 22 and a peer educator would love to help you out. After uploading a resume, you are all set to start searching for and applying for opportunities, which I will dive into in my next post. 

Stay tuned for a second part to this GoldPASS powered by Handshake Guide, where I will go into more detail about how to use the system. If you need any assistance with your GoldPASS account, please don’t hesitate to stop by our office at Solon Campus Center 22 and we would be happy to help. 

Best, Kendra

Of Possible Interest:
GoldPASS powered by Handshake
Internships; Job Search – all our blog posts on the topics
Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Lukas Blazek

Experience: The Easiest Thing to Gain…Sometimes

By: Paying

With graduation right around the corner in six months, I’ve continuously reflected on my time in college and all the changes that came along with it. What I’ve lost and what I’ve gained were common thoughts that ran across my mind. As a Peer Educator, one of our main pieces of advice we give to students is to gain experience and get those skills to showcase. While I sit here writing a resume and cover letter for job applications, I realized how many experiences and skills I’ve developed throughout the years, however, it was not as easy as it sounds. Along the way, I also experienced all sorts of losses. 

When I first started my college life, all I had time for was fun and games, and, of course, classes. I would rest in between classes because of how exhausting everything was. Looking back, I was not the best student. I would stay up late to have fun, skip class, and repeat. The only things I did that were beneficial were joining all sorts of organizations and intramural sports; some of the few activities that I began adding onto my resume. 

My second year soon came along, I picked up one more activity: secretary of an on-campus organization, Hmong Living in Unity and Balance. This was the year where I had to learn what prioritizing meant; I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted anymore because I had other obligations besides school. Instead of going out everyday to see friends, I spent countless hours in meetings to plan for events and provide UMD students a sense of a home away from home. Although I lost time to have fun and relax, I was able to gain one more experience to add onto my resume.

Image: colored pencils next to each other on white background
text: "It's all about realizing what you need for your future and what you can let go of to make that happen."

Going into my third year, I was offered a job at the Career and Internship Services office as a Peer Educator! Not only did I perform duties for my position, but I also assisted other supervisors in presentations. For one of the presentations, I was one of only three student speakers in an event filled with adults. Ten hours out of the week was spent strictly in the office during the breaks between classes which meant no more naps; something that was hard for me to get used to. With no naps, each day ended earlier for me as I stayed in to rest and sleep earlier rather than go out like I used to, but I knew that everything would be worth it.

Now in my senior year, I decided to pick up one more on-campus job which meant I could only work during the day for both and that led me to register for night classes. Not only did I pick up another job but I also became an editor and writer for The Bark! There would be days I would work seven hours straight and then go to a three hour class right after. Other nights were a bit less hectic but included two hours at the gym with plenty of hours to finish projects, not just for class, but work also. At one point, I overworked myself which led to me catching the flu and having occasional bloody noses. Through trial and error, I was able to balance my professional life from my personal life. 

There are so many opportunities laid out but it’s up to us to work for them. It will definitely not be easy and there are moments where you will want to give up, but nothing in life comes for free. As you go on day by day, you start to realize that it’s actually not that bad. It’s all about realizing what you need for your future and what you can let go of to make that happen. I remember four years ago, I struggled with finding enough experiences to add onto my resume. Now I struggle with choosing which experiences I should leave in and which to take out because I realized that developing skills happens everyday in everything you do. Experience can easily be found, but the work put into it will be tough. We can’t get to where we want to be right now, but we can make it happen.

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Philip Veater