What We’ve Been Reading

Summer is a great time to work on reading articles and checking out websites that could help you with your career development. By career development, I mean: choosing a major, changing a major, researching internship or job sites, preparing for applying to internships, jobs, or grad school, or thriving out in the real world in a big kid job. Here are some of the articles we’ve been sharing recently over on Twitter and Pinterest. Follow us @umdcareers (on Twitter & Pinterest) for great daily pieces of information from around the web.

Not the End of the Tunnel

By: Glen

July 1, 2015. It’s been about six weeks since I walked across the stage to signify the end of my undergraduate education at UMD. I am now a proud Bulldog alumnus. In the last six weeks, almost everything about my life has changed.

New house.
New roommates.
New job.

For the past four years, I was on the campus of UMD almost every weekday (minus the three month span in between my first and second years as a student). It wasn’t just for education; I dedicated my life to the school as a student employee, even through the summers. UMD was not just a place for me to work, it was my life.

Tunnel photo

Now I sit here; six weeks removed from the entity I dedicated the last four years of my life to. Suddenly, you realize all these moments from the past are a blur. Everything in life is new again.

My last couple blog posts were about the anxiety facing the unknown abyss that is life after graduation. Now that I am fully submerged, I can confidently inform you that it is not an abyss such as the deepest parts of this earth, but the relatively shallow ocean waters around a great reef. It is not as dark as you would fear, and is not as deep as you would expect. Yet, things are not perfect. The underwater world is still unpredictable enough for anything to happen. If you panic, you could still be in great danger. If you rush, things will go wrong. Actions need to be measured and calculated. When you know the next move, acting with confidence will push you forward.

I am happy to report that I enjoy this new life. There are numerous reasons: I am learning a bunch in my new job. My new roommates keep me incredibly active and are always supportive. I know there are going to be future options to propel me toward my career and life goals. Clocking out legitimately leaves work behind for the rest of the day. There is plenty to like about the graduate life… Right now, anyway.

There is an incredible difference between the life I led as a student, and the one I am already leading as a graduate. I suppose that is the whole point of this tangled web of metaphoric blog post I weft. Yes, there are plenty of unknowns to be afraid of for when you yourself graduate; however, you will find a way to make it to where you want to be if you are patient enough to calculate your post-grad moves in life. Trust your friends. Trust your mentors. Trust yourself.

Read Glen’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash|Modestas Urbonas

Bringing the Magic to Life: What Harry Potter Taught Me About Others

By: Katie

I’ve always loved Harry Potter. As a kid, I loved the magic of it, and longed to be a part of that world. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate different parts of the story my younger self couldn’t. Harry Potter is a story about witches and wizards and the cool spells they cast and evil villains they defeat, sure, but it’s much deeper than that. Harry Potter and the magical world he lives in can provide us with valuable lessons about others, ourselves, and our lives.

HP Magic 1

To start, I’ll outline a few of the most important lessons Harry Potter taught me about others.

No one is simple.

First impressions are important, and their effects are enduring. Your gut instinct can be a useful tool in discerning “good and bad,” or “right and wrong.” We know these are true, but it’s also true that the impressions and ideas we have of people can be false, or at least oversimplified. Draco Malfoy, when taken at face value, was a cruel bully working for the dark side. This impression, while admittedly not inaccurate, doesn’t reflect the fact that Draco was raised in a family that not only encouraged, but basically forced a cruel and aggressive treatment of others. In order to be “good,” Draco would have had to oppose his family and everything he’d been taught, not to mention He Who Must Not Be Named. Maybe Draco would have been the hero of the story if raised in a different environment, but that’s not the life he was given. While circumstance isn’t enough to justify cruelty, Draco’s story is a perfect example of why we can’t rely on a person’s outward appearance or interaction with others to determine their true character.

People may surprise you.

In the same way that we can’t always rely on our impressions or on a person’s behavior to determine their “goodness,” we can’t always rely on our past experience with them to predict what we will see of them in the future. Kreacher, the house elf that was bound to serve the Black family, didn’t attempt to hide his hatred for Mudbloods (and Hermione, by extension), Harry, and anyone who associated with either, and did whatever was in his power to resist helping them. He was a character who was easy to hate and appeared to be one with no redeeming qualities. However, Kreacher eventually changed his tune, and showed up to fight against Voldemort and the Death Eaters at the Battle of Hogwarts. Based on Kreacher’s past, no one would expect him to fight against the side he had been loyal to throughout his life. Kreacher’s character development shows that if we allow for the opportunity for people to surprise us, they just might end up fighting evil with us (or, you know, a difficult class…same thing).

You need others.

Harry was always a brave and courageous person, willing to fight the battles of the wizarding world all on his own. Bravery, courage, and independence are certainly positive traits to possess, but there comes a time when the desire to do it on your own needs to be suspended and you need to turn to your support system to help you out. Harry couldn’t have accomplished what he did without the support of others, particularly his partners in crime, Ron and Hermione. They never left his side, stuck up for him when others challenged or questioned him, and helped him fight any dementors or death eaters or obnoxious classmates who crossed his path. It is essential to build and maintain a quality support system – a group of people who complement who you are, are stronger where you are weaker, and who are able and willing to do whatever they can to help you succeed.

With the world of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling created a set of rich, complex characters whose stories can provide a guideline of how best to interact with and understand those around us, whether they be friends, enemies, or strangers. In future posts, I will look at more bits of wisdom Harry Potter taught me.

Read Katie’s other posts

Photo Source

Grad School: Year 1

By: Hayley

Editor’s note: We’re welcoming Hayley back for a guest post! Check out all her previous work on the blog from when she was a student.

I have learned a lot of things in my first year in grad school. I expected to learn standard course material and major information you need to have before you move into your chosen profession. I didn’t expect to learn so much about what it is really like to be surrounded by people who share your passion; something I imagine is similar to what it will be like in the real world.

Grad School Yr 1

The people in my program all want to be school counselors and, naturally, when you narrow down the field like that you end up with people who share common interests and beliefs. I think this is something I should have expected but having never experienced something like this I had no idea what to expect or how to prepare for it. It kind of caught me off guard, in a good way. Being surrounded by people who are so much like yourself gives you the opportunity to truly be yourself and to grow as professionals together. I have made some great friends in my first year and will be entering my internships in the fall knowing that there are people supporting me and going through the same thing I am. I know once we graduate I will have a network of professionals who I can count on.

I have also learned more about myself in one year of grad school than in all four years of my undergrad. I am growing into the adult I would like to be and getting to know my adult self. Along with all of this growth there have been a lot of growing pains. I have become a stronger, more confident person and as a result of this, failures are becoming more difficult. I am putting in a great deal of effort to build up my own self confidence and self esteem but it becomes hard to do that when you are passed over for jobs or when you struggle to find internship sites. However, that network of future professionals in my cohort are there to encourage and support me through all of this. Grad school so far has been an amazing experience. It has been one of the toughest things I have ever done and I’m sure the tough part is just beginning, but if I could go back I would do it all over again.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Hayley’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | William Iven

Stay Motivated in the Internship or Job Search

By: Ellen (career counselor & guest blogger)

You may be one of the many recent college grads who are still looking for that great first out-of-college-big-kid job. Your motivation to keep up with the search may be failing as you look longingly at the beautiful weather outside or if your email inbox is filled with auto response emails saying thanks, but no thanks. You may be on month 6 of the search and just out of ideas of where to go next. Well, today’s post is for you. Also, if you happen to be in the middle of an internship search, this advice applies to you as well. Any time is says “job” search, you can input “intern.”

I did some intense research (by intense, I mean I went to Google) and looked for articles about staying motivated in the job search. I typed “stay motivated in job search” into Google and got 15.5 million results. That’s a lot of advice to take in. Ultimately, staying motivated in your search is really up to you. Each of us is motivated by different things and what works for me may not also work for you. My goal is to share some of the ways I have stayed motivated during job searches and hope that one or two of the ideas may work for you. I actually still use a lot of these methods in my regular day-to-day work. And honestly, if your search is suffering because you’re not motivated, trying something different won’t do too much harm.

Stay motivated

Okay, so here’s a quick list of things I do/use to stay motivated:

  • Drink my morning coffee to start the day off right
  • Make a task list – for the day and big picture
  • Listen to music – different playlists for different moods
  • Surround myself with my goals and motivational quotes and images
  • Change up my location
  • Move, run errands, exercise (give yourself a break once in awhile)
  • Do different things throughout the day
  • Use short chunks of time to maximize productivity
  • Write in color and/or in a fun notebook
  • Call Mom (or another person who gives great pick-me-up pep talks)
  • Use a work/reward system

Now to highlight a couple of these items.

Do different things throughout the day and make a task list. These two items can really go well together. Figure out what you want and need to accomplish for the day, week, and month. This will help you to figure out what to do in the immediate future and also sketch out the big picture of what’s going on. Personally, I use a paper planner for big picture stuff of things going on and also projects I am in the middle of. I use the task list in my Momentum for Chrome app on my computer for my daily tasks. Once you figure out what you would like to accomplish for the day, don’t spend all your time on one thing. Basically, don’t spend all your time on Indeed. If you’re not finding anything on Indeed, hop over to LinkedIn. Here are a few ideas of different things you could plan for your day:

  • Job search for a set amount of time. The timer on my phone and I are good friends. Set your timer for 30 minutes and look for jobs. If you find one that is interesting and you want to apply for it, save it. Worry about applying for positions later. Setting a specific amount of time for a specific activity allows you to maximize your productivity.
  • Spend some time on LinkedIn. Reaching out to connections, contributing to a group or two, searching for jobs, connecting with someone new, and researching what alumni from your institution are doing are just a few things you could do on LinkedIn. Sample goal: connect with three new people this week.
  • Have a coffee meeting or informational interview to learn more about a specific profession or company.
  • Attend local networking events or participate in a young professionals group.
  • Apply for jobs. Yeah, you’ve got to eventually spend some time applying for positions.
  • Research different career paths that go with your college degree and/or look interesting to you.

Change up location. Treat your job search as if it were your job. Get dressed, leave the house, and go be productive. Do not stay in your pjs all day. You will not be productive nor motivated to get anything done. Your location can be different each day based on how okay you are with different noise levels. Personally, I like going to coffee shops. You can also check out libraries, a local college campus, or other locations that have wi-fi and don’t mind you sitting there for a while.

Use a work/reward system. Accomplish a set number of items on your task list? Treat yourself. Sample work/reward system: apply for 10 jobs and treat yourself a coffee from Starbucks, Caribou, or your favorite local coffee spot. Just be leery of treating yourself to something that could easily suck you in for hours (i.e. Netflix, Pinterest, Instagram, video games, etc.). If you do treat yourself with something like this, break out the timer again.

As I said at the beginning, staying motivated is really something you need to figure out for yourself. My advice is if even in the big picture things aren’t going great, set up a system where you can be motivated for accomplishing smaller tasks on your list. Try not to let the one big thing get you down. Eventually, things do work themselves out.

Of Possible Interest: 

Photo Source: Unsplash| Morgan Sessions

Decisions are Hard (How to be Deliberative)

By: Katie

Trying to choose a package of shredded cheese from a wall of choices stresses me out. When ordering food or drinks, I frequently just echo one of my friends’ orders. I over-analyze and consider each possible answer on Buzzfeed quizzes. It takes me a long time to make any decision, regardless of how simple or complex it is.

Basically, I’m deliberative. Sometimes to a fault, as in the times just listed. Other times, it’s definitely to my advantage.

Deliberative is one of 34 possible strengths you can get on the StrengthsQuest assessment, and it happens to be in my top 5. Those who have the Deliberative strength are careful, cautious, and anticipate the potential risks and obstacles associated with each decision. While they don’t always act quickly and aren’t the first ones to pipe in with their thoughts, those actions and thoughts are typically logical, reasonable, and beneficial to those affected.

Decisions are Hard

It’s a little tricky to be a deliberative person, and it’s easy to let this strength take over. Here are a few things I’ve learned about controlling the deliberative nature and getting the most out of it.

Don’t assign too much weight to the small things.

Deliberative people have the tendency to look at all problems similarly, seeing an array of solutions to be considered to reach the end goal of making a solid decision. This is a great strength to have when it comes to the bigger decisions, but for the smaller ones, this in-depth consideration isn’t necessary. It will take practice, but try to fight the urge to treat every decision as significant. For me, this means consciously reminding myself that it doesn’t actually matter if I choose a fox or an owl as my favorite animal or if I order pancakes or waffles. If you won’t remember that decision a year or even a week or month from now, it’s probably not that important.

Make lists. Make all the lists.

When making decisions, lists are the loyal, trustworthy, comforting best friends to keep by your side at all times. Need to figure out where you want to go to grad school? Make a list of where in the country you want to go, followed by the list of schools in those places, followed by the things you’re looking for in a program. Don’t know what you want to major in, but know what you’re kinda sorta interested in? Make a list of your interests and the classes you can take in those areas to help you rule out the ones that aren’t for you. Keep lists of what things you do and don’t like about the classes you take, the jobs you have, or the things you’re involved in to make sense of your experiences.  Making lists is one of the most reliable ways to soothe the deliberative soul.

Seek out all of the advice you can.

Find advisors you trust who can help you see all your options, narrow them down, and choose the one that is best for you. These people need to be patient with you and genuinely interested in you as a student and person. Whether it be an academic advisor, an instructor, a career counselor, or some other person, having someone who can help you deliberate will be invaluable in your decision-making processes. Finding people who can walk through your options with you or who have knowledge or experience in areas you know less about can provide you with the information you need to make a decision you’re comfortable with.

Find environments that allow for deliberative thinking.

Seek out places and people that allow you to think independently and make decisions on your own, but also provide you with opportunities to ask questions and learn from others. Avoid environments that require you to constantly make quick decisions or don’t allow for deeper thought. Choose to spend time with people who will be patient with you as you struggle to choose between pasta or soup, and be just as patient with yourself. Also, if tomato basil soup is an option, I don’t even know why you’re considering any other choice.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Katie’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash|LuisLlerena

Cameron’s Final Thoughts

By: Cameron

The day has finally come to graduate. At times I’ve dreamt of this moment and at other times I’ve dreaded it. On one hand I made it to the finish line and I’m ready to begin my life as an adult. On the other hand college is over and there will never be another experience quite like it. Today I want to talk about a few things I learned over the years at college.

Talk to your advisor regularly

My second semester in college I tried to make my own schedule and I failed miserably. Long story short, I ended up getting a C in a five-credit class that I didn’t even need to take. After that I was in my advisor’s office multiple times every semester. Not only were we able to find a schedule that worked for me, I was also able to make up for lost time and graduate in four years. It definitely helped that my advisor was awesome, which I know isn’t the case for everyone. I had to switch once myself, so don’t be afraid to switch your advisor as well.

Cameron's Final Advice

Keep your textbooks

When you have piles of student loans and money is tight it is tempting to make a few easy bucks by selling your textbooks, but I’m here to tell you it might be worth keeping them. You’ve invested a lot of money into these books, so selling them back to the school for a tenth of what you bought them seems crazy. Sometimes you can get a decent deal selling them online, but what if you need the textbooks again someday? Granted there are plenty of resources on the internet, but you’ll never know another book as well as you know your undergraduate textbooks.

Get involved

My biggest regret is not getting involved in more extracurricular activities. Getting involved with clubs, especially clubs related to your chosen career path, will help you make connections, build practical skills, and impress employers. Working on a team and communicating with people are two of the most important skills a person can have in the work force. Some people don’t get involved because they think they don’t have enough time and they’re worried that their grades with drop. This is definitely a reasonable concern, but if you ask any employer many of them will say that they put a lot more value on practical and communication skills than grades.

Take risks

When you are presented with an opportunity that seems unusual or out of your comfort zone, seize it. Some of my best experiences have happened because I was willing to take a risk every now and then. It should go without saying that you should never do something that may put your life at risk, but don’t be afraid to try out a new sport, or study abroad, or even just talk to a classmate who you haven’t met yet. You never know what might happen.

Make connections

My final piece of advice is to meet people! College is tough, but you don’t need to do it alone. Whether you are working on homework together or just letting off some steam it is important to have a solid network of friends. Not to mention that the connections you make in college may be your co-workers down the road or life long friends.

So in summation, enjoy your time in college while it lasts. Personally I don’t believe that college will be the best time of you’re life, but there is no denying that college is an incredible experience. If you want to live without regrets then make sure to stop and smell the roses once and awhile. For those still in school, good luck and have fun! For those currently graduating, congratulations and good luck in your future endeavors!

Read Cameron’s other posts

Photo: Unsplash/Joshua Sortino