At the End of it All

By: Taylor

In a blink of an eye, I’ve suddenly found myself at the end of my first year at UMD. This past year I’ve become a tour guide at UMD, began working at the Career & Internship Services office, changed my major to Communication, and next year I’ll find myself as a T.A. for UMD Seminar. It’s been an exciting first year and I couldn’t be more ready for summer break. With my busy schedule, I’ve had opportunity to meet a ton of other students, professors, and UMD staff. Networking and knowing people can sometimes play a big role in our next endeavors. Before we scurry off to our summer plans, here are some tips on not burning those bridges.

Image: bridge with water and cliffs in background
Text: Importance of keeping connections

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is this awesome platform I like to refer to as “professional social media.” I’d recommend students to connect with professors on LinkedIn or friends you met in of which your friendship only revolved around the class, you can even find our career counselors on it too! It’s an awesome strictly-professional way to remain interactive with professional peers.

Instagram
As time creeps up on us, it’s important to keep in mind your social media presence. Some of our friend’s Instagram’s may not be super professional, where I say Instagram could be a great way to keep in moderate connection with other students. You’re sharing important and personal moments of your life for family and friends to enjoy with you.

Email
When I was in middle school, I was convinced when I grew up no one would communicate through email. Today, I think some days I send more emails than Snapchats. Emailing has stuck around and continues to be an important way of communication. I’ve used email to update the teachers who wrote me recommendation letters; a quick message letting them know UMD is great and I’ve been enjoying my time here. This would be another great way to keep in contact with professors or any professionals you’ve been in contact with before.

It’s time for my conclusion, for this blog post as well as this year. As finals close us out, I bid you farewell. Remember to not burn any bridges made and to keep in mind of the bridges that can be made. LinkedIn, Instagram, and email are just a few options as to how to remain connected with people. If possible, meet for a cup of coffee instead and enjoy in-person presence.

Read Taylor’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Cody Hiscox

Senior Design: More Than A Class

By: Kirsi

Kirsi holding the field operator's sensor.
Me holding the field operator’s sensor.
Pointing a stealth camera at a circuit.

I didn’t want to take senior design (SD). I tried to get out of it two times. I have completed plenty of technical paid internships since high school. Why do I have to take SD? What do I possibly have left to learn?

Image: programming code on a computer screen
Text: Skills learned in senior design

With a closed mind opened, I was ecstatic to find SD was exactly what I hoped college would be when I applied six years ago. Our SD team competed in the Air Force Research Lab Design Challenge. We built a two user system that helps first responders navigate Amber Alerts, rubble searches, and active threats. Our system can identify objects of interest through cinder block, drywall, multiple rooms, and car trunks. You can watch a demo video of the system, all built at UMD by students! SD has been a huge opportunity for me to grow my soft and technical skills.

Display screen of the system showing data from four sensors
Display of the system showing data from our four sensors.

What You Will Learn In Senior Design:
A major experience missed by only interning in the professional world is being challenged improve communication techniques. In an internship you learn the ropes of reporting achievements, asking questions, and forming a consistent path of communication. This is more procedure than an art. Management, mentors, and peers who you interface with at internships are usually seasoned leaders and communicators. Student peers? Sometimes, not so much. To no fault of their own. Raw inexperience. This required compensation I did not expect and revealed major communication flaws I have.

Leading
Being a leader means self-drive, delegating tasks to others, and people wrangling. Part of leadership on a SD team simply comes from being there for many hours, being there when things happened, something that couldn’t be scheduled. Because of my time commitment, people asked me details about the project and next steps. Ultimately, I started delegating and prioritizing tasks due to this informal leadership promotion.

Mediating
It was a bit challenging to look past how someone was communicating, shed emotional charge, and focus on what the concern or question was. I had to learn to look past communication styles, meet peers where they were, and come up with a way to move forward. This required me to make sure my concerns or points did not come with any baggage.

Team giving a presenation
Our team presenting at the competition.

Reviewing
What is the point of making something cool if its importance can’t be described? I had to learn how to communicate our accomplishments to operators who may use our equipment in the future. I looked over and presented materials and made sure we were using understandable language.

Designing
The system we were building was for first responders, therefore, we met with law enforcement from the community for design and usability feedback. We met with police officers to attend SWAT training to understand how they would be responding to threats and what their priorities were. Throughout development, we invited first responders to our labs, put our devices in their hands to use, and asked for feedback on how to make things more user friendly. Additionally, I met with a graphic design major to make sure that data was clearly presented to operators.

I am excited to report to that our SD team won the competition bringing the gold home to UMD! I am honored to be a part of this team and thankful to have such a positive experience! I highly recommend making the most of your senior design!

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 Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Source: Kirsi & Unsplash | Markus Spiske

Senior Year as Coffee Drinks

By: Heidi

Senior year is full of change when it comes to thinking about the future and where you hope to end up. The job search process can be full of ups and downs, while still finishing up classes, making time for friends, and all the fun events that can take place. And what are these late nights and early mornings fueled by? Your favorite cup of coffee full of its own unique blends and flavors. Here are my thoughts on what it feels like to be a graduating senior and all of the emotions that come alongside it.

What the job search process really feels like: Red Eye
When you order this coffee, you’re confident in the blend you ordered after a little research you did on the coffee shop’s website. Unfortunately, they were out of the coffee you wanted to order and once you placed your order, the barista poured you the wrong kind. Not what you were expecting, but you respect the process of what it takes in order for a good cup of joe.

Notes of: Excitement, Fear, Disappointment, Relief

Image: looking down on 3 coffee cups on wood table surface
Text: Senior year as coffee drinks

Senior slide: Americano
The deadlines have surpassed you, yet for some reason your work seems to still be incomplete. You know exactly what you need to do to get the job done, but the action just isn’t quite there. This cup of java is exactly what you need to get the job done and finish strong my fellow seniors.

Notes of: Procrastination, Regret, Early Mornings, Late Nights

Crossing things off your bucket list: Cold Brew
Those road trips you’ve always wanted to do but left until senior year or a last spring break trip with your friends aren’t going to happen if you’re not fueled properly. Those early mornings and late night adventures could use a little kick, so why not treat yourself in the process.

Notes of: Excitement, Indulgence, Spontaneity

All of the Goodbyes: Flavored Latte
Whether it’s wrapping up clubs you’ve been involved in for the past four years, saying goodbye to your younger friends who will still be around for a few more years, or to the friends who you will be soon parting ways with. A comforting latte with your favorite flavor shot is exactly what is needed for this situation, and ideally shared with a friend.

Notes of: Bittersweet, Nostalgia, Gratitude

Next Chapter: Macchiato
You’re on the horizon of change whether it’s a big move, grad school, a gap year, or a challenging career. Rather than going into it with fear, the best we can do is embrace this new chapter with a positive attitude ready to take on whatever comes your way. You’ve conquered these past four years, who says you’re not ready for what’s next? Let this next chapter be fueled by your passion and confidence knowing you have important contributions to give to the world. This cup of coffee is whatever you choose to make it be.

Notes of: Pride, Bliss, Elation

Of Possible Interest:
Job Search – all our blog posts on the topic
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic to help you thrive in the phase of life.

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Nathan Dumlao

Phone Interviews: My First Impression

By: Paying

I have recently been applying for summer internships for the Twin Cities while I’m in Duluth and was contacted for an interview. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make a trip down for the times that were listed so they offered me a phone interview which I have NEVER done before. For this blog post, I will be sharing my first impression getting interviewed over the phone and some advice for those of you who may want help preparing for it!

Before the Phone Interview
Our office actually has a blog post of how to prepare for a phone interview so go check it out for more in depth advice! For me, I was told the interview would be about 30 minutes to an hour long so I decided to book a study room in the Library so I wouldn’t be interrupted. Make sure to find a private and quiet spot before your interview begins and double check that your phone is fully charged!

Besides that, I also did research beforehand and looked up information through our Pinterest board for simple tips and tricks of how to handle a phone interview compared to an in-person interview. If not being able to see your interviewer is an issue, don’t be afraid to request for a video call!

Image: black and silver table rotary phone
Text: Phone interview tips

During the Phone Interview
One thing I did not expect for my phone interview was for there to be multiple interviewers on speaker! The room echoed a bit and one of the voices was further away from the phone which caused it to not be as clear. It’s okay to ask for clarification on questions!

Since everything is done through the phone, be sure to pronounce your words clearly! Talk in a bold voice as if they were right in front of you. A good tip for this is to stand up and keep a smile on your face so you don’t sound slouched or mumbled.

Usually when I am told something or is asked a long question, I nod and say “Mhm” to show that I am being attentive and that I understand. However, it is quite different in a phone interview and threw both me and the interviewers off multiple times. Since I was on speaker, it sounded as if I was interrupting to ask a question so I had to adjust and not say anything until they were done speaking. Expect to adapt to the situation!

After the Phone Interview
As for any other interview, send a thank you email! Thank them for their time and address any other questions, comments, or concerns you or the interviewers may have had. After that, be prepared to be patient and wait for them to finish interviewing the others.

Now that you know what to expect for a phone interview, be prepared and be confident! Good luck!

Of Possible Interest:
Interviewing – all our blog posts on the topic
Interview Like a Pro – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Pawel Czerwinski

The Desk Essentials

By: Kendra

So you just got your first job after graduation and your first day is tomorrow … First off, congratulations! Second, what are you going to bring with you? I am sure you will bring your keys, wallet, and a cup of coffee/tea (of course), but what else might you need? With all of the nerves and excitement that comes with getting a job after graduation, no one worries about what to bring with them to make their life at work easier.

Image: white notepads and gold binder clips on white desk
Text: The desk essentials

I asked a few professional staff what sorts of random items they have in their desks that come in handy and here is what I found:

  • Deodorant — No one likes to be smelly at work!
  • Lint roller — You never know what sorts of dust and fuzzies will stick to you throughout the day.
  • Stain remover — A stain on your top or pants would be embarrassing!
  • Fidget items — For the long days when you just can’t quite sit still.
  • Hand weights — Do some exercising during your breaks!
  • Shoes — If it is rains or snows, you have nothing to worry about because you have dry, warm shoes waiting for you in your office.
  • Nail clipper and nail file — Sometimes you just need to clip your nails or remove a pesky hangnail.
  • Earring backs — You never know when the back of your earring will fall off!
  • Bandages — Blisters, paper cuts, hangnails, etc.
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste — You’re safe if you forget to brush in the morning and if you have some garlicky pasta for lunch.
  • Small mirror — Perfect for touching up make-up, hair, or just making sure you have nothing in your teeth!
  • Pain medication — Don’t let a headache ruin your day.
  • Thank you cards — It is always nice to send thank you cards after meetings with important people in your workplace, having these available will make it super easy to do!
  • Coffee mugs — You might like to offer coffee or tea to people you meet with.
  • Sewing kit — You never know when a seam will come loose.
  • Shoe polish — Clean the scuffs and dust off of your shoes to keep yourself looking put together!
  • Screen cleaner — It is amazing how dirty a computer screen can get. Keep it clean and clear with some screen cleaner.
  • Glasses cleaner — No one likes a smudgy pair of spectacles!

Getting a new job after graduation is exciting! Even if you don’t have a job where you are seated at a desk, having some of these items in your car, purse, or backpack can be really handy. This is not to say that you need every single one of these items, but it allows you to think of things that might be helpful to have with you as you go to work each day because you never know what might happen. I wish you the best of luck with your new job and hope that having some of these items was of help for you!

Of Possible Interest:
What to Bring on the First Day of Work
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic
Now That You’re On The Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Stil Classics

Navigating the Curveballs

By: Amanda

Sometimes life throws you curveballs. As a student or a working professional, whether it is through illness, injury, or essentially anytime you need to take time off, it is crucial to know what your options are in both school and work life. Here are a few areas to look into:

Meet with your Academic Advisor
Academic Advisors are a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into. They can help to understand options when going through sticky situations. Their job is literally to aid in keeping students on path towards graduation. Take advantage of your assigned advisor, after all it is a free resource built in to your tuition. 🙂 No matter what the situation, you can count on your advisor to have the answer to your question, or be able to direct you to where you can find the answer. Depending upon the situation, they may suggest a medical withdrawal. As daunting as this process may seem, open communication with your academic advisor will help all run seamlessly.

Image: looking down on colorful pens in a jar on a grey background
Text: Navigating life's curveballs

Medical Withdrawal
With proper approval, a medical withdrawal on a student transcript is not something that will make or break a student’s academic career. There are three main steps that go into a medical withdrawal. First, a petition must be made. Through a petition on the OneStop website you can cancel all classes or individual classes, depending on the situation. Keep in mind, that if only one class is canceled, there should be a brief explanation why one class is being canceled and not others. On the last page, you can have your advisor recommended the withdrawal. Second, there must be a medical supplement form submitted. This is simply a form filled out by a Medical Professional with specific dates and information. Finally, keep in mind a tuition refund. Adjusting credit load can alter tuition, as well as financial aid. This is the most complex part of the process and if not done right could potentially make a student owe money. Make sure to set up an appointment with OneStop to work out the fine details.

Family and Medical Leave Act
FMLA requires employers to provide job secured unpaid leave for all excusable medical and family reasons. In order to be eligible for FMLA the employee must be at the business for at least 12 months and work at a company that employs 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius. As college students who will be soon entering the workforce, it is important to have knowledge in this area and be fully versed in all rights.

Counseling Sessions
Remember that through UMD each semester you get 10 FREE counseling sessions with your tuition. This is almost one counseling session per week. No matter what you are going through, know that you are not alone and there is always someone here to talk. Once you’re out working, your company may also have an Employee Assistance Program the provides consultation and referral services in counseling and a number of other areas. Here’s what is available to UMD employees, as an example.

Life throws difficult curveballs and situations our way often and it is important to know how to deal with them. These resources are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to resources offered. The first step is to meet with an advisor or your supervisor and see what is available for you!

Of Possible Interest:
Disabilities in the Workplace – all our blog posts on the topic
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Lewis

Changing Your Mindset

By: Rachel

Sooner or later, it seems like we all reach that point where we’re ready to be done with the semester, and we don’t care who knows it. It’s all we seem to talk about, and sometimes it’s even reflected in our work. The reality is, you’re going to face seasons like this throughout your life. Perhaps you’re just sticking out your job for two weeks until you can move on to the next one, or you’re just gliding through the last few days before your week-long vacation. Maybe right now you’ve got your eye on that diploma regardless of the GPA attached, or you’ve determined these last few weeks are just an inconvenience (albeit busy!) that must be endured, because your mind is already preoccupied with summer.

In my opinion, one of the biggest contributors to living a successful life is finding joy in the present moment. So many of us get caught up in what’s less than ideal about our current lives, and we believe things were so much better in the past or they will be in the future. Often times, we were complaining just as much then and we will just as much in the days to come, unless we change our mindset.

Image: colored confetti on brown stone background
Text: Change your Mindset

I’d like to offer you a few practices that might help you change your mindset to help you make the best of every situation you find yourself in. It’s important to recognize that not every aspect of life is ideal or healthy. There are times where enduring feelings of negativity might be a sign to take a different path, change majors, or find a different job. But, even the path of your dreams will have a few rocks in it; the key is not to let them trip you up.

  • One of my favorite ways to find joy in where I’m at in life right now is to ask myself what I’ll miss about it years from now. Sure, college can be a struggle, but when I look at my calendar and get stressed about the jam-packed days that never look the same as the next, I picture myself as a 50-year-old pining for the days that were filled with variety, and it makes me appreciate my current life a little more. I’m sure we all got sick of eating every meal in the Dining Center at some point, but I knew the day would come where I’d run out of fun meal ideas and dread washing the dishes, so I made the most of it.
  • I’ve found it extremely helpful to have close relationships with people of a wide variety of ages. These people can lend you perspective, and while the problems in your life right now might loom bigger than any others you’ve ever experienced, people with more life experience can usually assure you that what seems like the end of the world actually isn’t. It’s like that insurance commercial, they know a thing or two, because they’ve seen a thing or two. They might not always know best, but having friends who have already survived college or their first years in a full-time job can tell you what things are not worth working yourself up over and other things that are worth pouring your energy into.
  • Practice gratitude. Many of you have probably heard of the 21 Day Gratitude Challenge, where you write down 3 things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days. Scientists say this is long enough to form a new habit. The point is, regularly recognizing the aspects of your life you can be thankful for means you’ll be more likely to embrace even the trying times with gratitude.
  • Taking a step back and reminding yourself of the reasons why you’re on the journey you are can be a great way to recenter your mindset. Maybe you really struggle with school, and you can’t wait to be a counselor holding appointments where you’re able to help people. Well, you know you’re probably going to need a degree to do that, so focus on the end goal, and try to make the most of each step along the way. Perhaps you don’t love the types of job positions you find yourself in now, but you know you have to put in your time to earn the kind of position you really want. Give your best to that role, and try to focus on the aspects you enjoy.

I truly hope you’re able to use these tips to embrace the last few weeks of the semester (and your life as a whole) by appreciating the present moment. Sometimes all it takes is a little change in your mindset.

Best, Rachel

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

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Chris Barbalis