How to Make the Most of Winter Break as a Senior

By: Heidi

As we’re approaching the end of finals week and the deadlines are slowly but surely wrapping up, the only thing on our minds is heading home and catching up on some much-needed sleep.

While time to relax and taking a step back is important, this month-long break can be used to get a head start on preparing for the job search and get some things done that you usually don’t have time for.  

Snowing street scene; text: How to make the most of winter break as a senior - connect with alumni on LinkedIn, fine-tune your resume, donate or recycle old textbooks, schedule informational interviews, spring clean your professional wardrobe, read a book

Connect with Alumni on LinkedIn
As a university student, you have the ability to connect and join a variety of Alumni groups on LinkedIn. Whether it’s a group with the school you’re apart of such as the “Labovitz School of Business and Economics at UMD” or joining the official UMD Alumni Relations page, it will allow you access to job postings and Alumni. 

Guy in a suit cartoon; Text: it's not stalking...it's expanding my network

Fine-tune your resume
Since you’re further along in your academic career, you’ve likely had projects and more experiences to highlight that are related to your future career. Touch up your resume to show these new experiences off.

Donate or recycle old textbooks
That math book from your freshman year or the philosophy book you only ever skimmed? Donate it with your extra time over the winter break so it can be recycled or donated to someone else.

graphic of box to donate books in

Schedule Informational Interviews
If you have the opportunity to meet someone in person, now is the prime time. Scheduling a phone call works too and can give you more insight than a google search to a company’s culture and opportunities to look out for.

Spring Clean
Out with the old, and in with the new. Donate your old intern wardrobe to someone who may be in need right here on campus. Champ’s Closet at UMD located in the Office of Student Life, Kirby Plaza 245 allows you to drop off clothes right there. Not only will it feel good to help someone else out, but you can free up some closet space to have room to update your wardrobe for your professional career.

Read a Book
Whether it’s professional development or just for fun, it can be nice to shift gears and escape the usual textbook. Reading something new can offer a new perspective or can serve as entertainment. Reading can help you stay fresh during your time off and also help you further develop your interests.

More Ideas for Your Winter Break:
How to Have a Productive Winter Break
Making Progress During Winter Break

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Filip Bunkens

Internship Relocation Challenges: Part 3 Mentally Relocating

By: Kirsi

Keeping busy the first few days relocating is easy while warming up to a new living place, co-workers, and tasks at work. It seems like all the boxes are checked…

I have a place to sleep at night.
I planned a work commute.
I’m assigned interesting challenges at work.
I have met my co-workers, management, and fellow interns.
I attend events outside of work like movie nights and laser tag.

…but it still seems more like surviving instead of thriving. It may even feel robotic. What is missing is mental relocation.

blue and red toy robot; text: internship relocation challenges, mentally relocating

Transitioning Into Work Mode 
One of the toughest hurdles to overcome in order to make the most of your internship is transitioning into thinking like an employee. Thinking like an employee is hard if it’s the first time. Although it is a different mode of thinking from past experiences – such as academics, military, sports team, or for yourself – skills gained from past experiences can help you. Now that you are interning for an organization, the organization, department, and teams’ goals become your goals. Instead of fretting about solely personal performance, the performance of a business, product, service, or team is an additional responsibility. New thought processes that may arise include…

  • What can I learn from other employees working on the same project?
  • I have found a problem but how can I propose a way to fix it?
  • What has not worked in the past?
  • How do I want to develop professionally?
road with mountains surrounding it.

Embracing Temporal Independence
After the workday is finished, it’s time for school work…. wait, there is no school work? When you clock out there is no take home work? What is there to do?! Now that evening hours are cleared out, there are opportunities for how to spend your time. This may seem daunting if your usual summer/ school break friends aren’t around to goof around with and no school assignments to tackle. Filling your time does not necessarily mean filling it with people and socializing. There are many things to do with allocated time…

  • Try a new hobby you have not had time to dig into
  • Pick up a new sport/ esport
  • Explore the new location
  • Hangout with fellow interns 
  • Chill at home
  • Host a board game night
  • Try new restaurants with fellow interns
  • Take a day trip to a city nearby
back of woman walking with umbrella on a rainy street

Managing Existential Dread
After harnessing a new mode of thinking as an intern and finding new things to do with un-allocated time, there may be some intermittent moments of doubt. When you are turning in for the night, the lights are out, the door is locked, and suddenly a new place can feel pretty scary. Trying something new on your own can be intimidating too. It’s not uncommon to lose confidence, question if you like what you are working on, and fear transitioning into life beyond college. Call a family member, friend, or someone you trust and share your worries with them. Additionally, you can contact counselors at the career center for big picture career questions like, “I have learned so much at this internship but I don’t know what to do next”, “I don’t know if I like what I am doing”, “I don’t like my major after having this internship, what do I do now?”. Career counselors’ goals are to help you take actions that will help you feel confident about your future.

Physically, socially, and mentally relocating, whew, didn’t realize there was so much involved in an internship after accepting an offer! Don’t let a new opportunity intimidate you. There is support all around and people who want you to be successful. Good luck!

Of Possible Interest: 
Internship Relocation Challenges: Part 1 Physically Relocating
Internship Relocation Challenges: Part 2 Socially Relocating
Internships – all our blog posts on the topic
Internships – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Sources: Unsplash | Rock’n Roll Monkey, Natalie Rhea Riggs, Patrick Tomasso

4 Tips for When You Realize You’re in Over Your Head

By: Amanda

This past Fall I went into my sophomore year full of energy and anticipation like I was lining up to hit a home run at the plate. Freshman year I dipped my toe in the water with my classes, but now this was it, sophomore year was my time to dive in head first and get involved on campus. I attended the activities fair and put my name down on every sheet I could get my hands on. Yes, this all was very fun and of course, it was a good way to meet new people, but about halfway through the semester when my classes started to get difficult I began to see signs that I was simply spreading myself too thin. When I would be in one place, I was constantly thinking about my mile-long to-do list or what I had to do afterward. Although I had everything planned on Google Calendar, I was always paranoid, wondering if I was potentially missing a meeting I should be at. On top of all of this, I felt I was missing the essentials in life: quality time spent with friends and family, and time spent alone with myself. After discussing my issue with a few co-workers, I began to realize this type of situation is happening to students all the time. There are four key actions to take when you realize you are in over your head.

colorful square tile background. Text: 4 tips for when you realize you're in over your head - cordially back out of commitments, plan it all out, enlist help of others, know you're not alone.

CORDIALLY BACK OUT.
Backing out is something that everyone hates doing, it might make you feel like a flakey person, and could even be comparable to a break-up. First and foremost, it is absolutely crucial to end on good terms. If at all possible, talk to the group/person face-to-face and explain to the situation. Open communication is key. Be honest about what is going on, admit your own wrongdoings and apologize if needed. Ending on a favorable note makes it easier in the future if you have to work with the group/person again.

PLAN IT ALL.
Whether it be an old-fashioned planner, Google Calendar, or Microsoft Outlook, find a method of planning that works best for you and stick to it. Sometimes seeing everything laid out can help you to figure out what is realistic to accomplish.

ENLIST HELP.
Take a step back and reevaluate your tasks. Yes, I am sure some of them need to be done by you and only you, but is there a possibility you could get a co-worker or roommate to help you with the others? By even delegating one task from your to-do list, a slight weight may be taken off your shoulders.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  
At the University of Minnesota Duluth, we are given twelve free counseling sessions per semester. Take advantage of these. Talking with an external source can be an aid in finding clarity. Additionally, pinpoint the type of stress that you are having. Is it career stress? Drop in and see us at the Career and Internship Services office. Financial Stress? Go see what the OneStop can do for you. Trouble taking tests? Disability Resources is waiting to help you.

Although my sophomore year Fall semester may not have gone as planned (well, when do things ever go exactly as planned??), I was able to learn key life lessons. Know that it is possible to be fully involved on-campus, work, do well in classes, and have time for yourself when you plan accordingly and learn how to say no. It’s time for you to stop overworking yourself and a get a grip on your life.

Of Possible Interest:
How to Say NO
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic
Self-Care 101
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Andrew Ridley

What to do with a Writing Studies Degree?

By: Rachel (a Writing Studies major!)

What does the Writing Studies program entail? 
Within CLA, UMD offers a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Studies. There is also an option to minor in this program, which is called Professional Writing. While these titles are pretty self-explanatory, you might be wondering what the program actually entails.

To start, every Writing Studies student is required to take four core classes. Aside from this, you must take an Advanced Writing class and capstone course to be completed during your last semester. Other than that, you take 15 credits of writing electives and 6 credits in communication, English, management information systems, journalism, linguistics, or theater. This allows you to customize your education to your interests and career goals. Some of the electives I’ve taken so far incorporate aspects of graphic design as well as web design and software skills which are highly attractive in today’s job market. I’ve also taken more traditional literature classes that prioritize reading and analyzing writers’ works.

Looking down on a pencils in a pencil cup on desk. Text: What to do with a writing studies degree?

How can I use a Writing Studies degree?
You might be surprised by how many careers involve a level of writing. Reports, formal memos, or casual emails all require some writing ability. To even land a job, it is likely you will have to compose a resume and cover letter. While all jobs incorporate some writing, there are certainly some that center around it more than others. Here are some writing-related jobs in different categories (in no particular order):

Creative Writing
You can certainly head a creative route and work as a novelist, video game writer, or screenwriter.

Journalism
Journalism is another field within writing, with subcategories such as photojournalism and sports journalism. TV stations also hire writers for producing and writing content.  

Law
At the entry level, you can work as an administrative assistant in a law firm. Since the field involves such a high level of writing, a background of study in business and writing is a smart way to set yourself up for law school.

Freelance
Working as a freelance writer can be a great option! There are several websites to advertise your skills and help you connect with clients. A similar but somewhat controversial field is ghostwriting. As a ghostwriter, you would develop content for a client, but you don’t get any of the credit for your work. The pay can vary widely, and ghostwriters have been used by songwriters, politicians, celebrities, and novelists.

Colored pens on open notebook. Text - Career Ideas for Writing Studies: creative writing, journalism, law, freelance, business, editing, publishing, copy editing, technical writing, and more.

Business
Within a wide scope of businesses, there are a variety of roles that would be strengthened by a background in writing. Some examples include communications specialist, marketing associate, public relations specialist, content strategist, or social media manager. Some organizations also hire proposal or grant writers.

Common Roles Across Industries
Other typical jobs for writers include editors, publishers, and copy editors or proofreaders. You can find these positions in a variety of organizations. If you can speak and write in more than one language, there are countless fields that utilize translators.

Unique Roles
While we’ve addressed some common areas writers work in, there are countless obscure roles you probably don’t know exist. Think of everything you read; someone is responsible for writing that! The backs of cereal boxes, birthday cards, the fine print at the bottom of those ads for medicine on tv. . .it’s all written by someone. Technical writers are often tasked with writing documents like manuals. In certain fields, such as engineering, demand for these positions can be quite high, but they typically require knowledge in your field as well as writing expertise. Another interesting position is speechwriting. Some celebrities, politicians, and executives actually hire writers to come up with their speeches.

Hopefully this opens your eyes to the many directions Writing Studies can take you! If you enjoy writing to any degree, I would encourage you to think outside of the box and combine that with your other interests to see how you can find success in your career.

Of Possible Interest: 
• What recent UMD grads are doing: Writing Studies, English, Journalism
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Best of luck!
Rachel

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo sources: Unsplash | rawpixel & Jessica Lewis

The Basics of Illegal Interviewing

By: McKenzie

Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates from ages 18-48 the average US citizen will hold 11.7 jobs in their lifetime and a trend seen in recent years, as the BLS studies younger candidates, has found there to be an increase in the number of jobs held from 18 onward. This means the average person will likely experience at a minimum of 11 interviews before they retire.

Jar with colored pens and blank notebook open on a desk. Text: The basics of illegal interviewing.

What is illegal interviewing? 
The term illegal interviewing may inspire images of a shady business deal and other ominous activities but in reality, it is actually rather subtle. Illegal interviewing is when employers ask their prospective employee’s questions which they are not legally allowed to in an interview.

What can’t employers ask me?
Employers can’t ask you questions regarding your age, ethnicity/race, gender/sex, country of national origin/birthplace, religion, disability, marital/family state, and pregnancy.

Why is it important I know about illegal interviewing?
Illegal interviewing can be a way to eliminate you as a candidate for a position—whether intentional or not. You should be aware of it because you if you are the most qualified for employment in the position applied for then you shouldn’t be excluded from the opportunity.

Who should I tell?
If you are up to it, you should start by speaking with the person and say, “I am not comfortable with that question,” and explain to them why it is not appropriate. Doing this could help candidates in the future who may not feel comfortable speaking up. If you don’t feel like you can bring it up to the interviewer then you can bring it up to their HR (Human Resources). Some companies will want to follow-up with you about your experience, that would be another time to bring up any inappropriate questions that may have been asked.

Of Possible Interest: 
Job Questions that are Illegal – The Balance Careers
Interviewing – UMD Career Handbook
Key to Interviewing – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Lewis

Career Planning Process: Explore Options

By: Paying

There are so many paths you could take during your career planning process: assessing yourself, exploring options, developing skills, marketing yourself, and managing your career. Not one person is the same and it doesn’t matter which order you choose to do these in. In this blog post, I’ll be writing about and giving advice based on my experience and the path I’ve been going about!

Career Planning model in a circle the text reads (starting on top and moving to the right): Assess Self, Explore Options, Develop Skills, Market Yourself, Manage Career

In one of my previous post, I shared my experience with an assessment offered by the Career and Internship Services office, this is where I first started my career planning process: assessing myself. After that experience, I started to question if my major and minor were ‘good enough’ to get me to my career goal: an editor. From this point on, I went to the next step in my career planning process: exploring my options. There are so many places one can choose to explore that it might seem overwhelming, and even scary, but it can be as easy as asking a friend for advice.

Since registration for Spring Semester was approaching, I first looked into the possibility of double majoring and/or minoring. I asked for advice from co-workers, both students and full-time staff, as well as family and friends. From there, some of my friends had recommended I speak with their friends who then advised me to speak with some professors at UMD who are knowledgeable in my field of interest. Turns out I was already taking a course taught by one of the recommended professors! She assured me that the path I’m going down is fine and was actually similar to hers. With assurance from my professor, I went on to speak with a friend who was majoring in Journalism, a field I thought about double majoring in. After our conversation, I crossed that option off my list because it wasn’t the right path for me to go into for editing however, she recommended I speak with both her significant other who was a Professional Writing minor and her close friend who actually works as a managing editor for the student-run news organization on campus, The Bark.

Lighthouse with light beam at night. Text: Career planning process: explore options.

Weeks of talking with many different people with different backgrounds led me to finally choose to add on another minor: professional writing! Now that I settled confidently with my educational path, it was time to explore more options to give me experience related to editing. I got in contact with two student employees from The Bark and was given a publishing opportunity! About a week after speaking of the opportunity, I was going to get one of my written pieced published on their website but first I went in to discuss the edits I would have to make. When I went into their office, I found out one of their workers was actually a person I sat next to in class. After the meeting, I was referred to a job posting by The Bark to apply as an editor!

Within 2-3 weeks of exploring my options while going through my career planning process, I added on a new minor, I have a piece published, and I am connected to new people who are experienced in a field I want to have a career in! Exploring options may be something as small as reaching out to a friend and it could lead you to something as big as a job offering or an internship! No matter what you choose to do, all it takes is one step and from there, you’re already closer to your career goal.

Of Possible Interest: 
Double Majoring: Pros and Cons
Career Planning for Humanities Majors
Career Planning – 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 Sources: UMD Careers; Unsplash|Evgeni Tcherkasski

How I Figured Out What I Want to be When I Grow Up

By: Eva

Before college, I knew that I wanted to be a therapist. From middle school until junior year of high school this was my dream profession until I began to worry I wouldn’t make enough money. At that time, 16-year-old Eva didn’t understand that success is measured in thousands of ways and depends on who is holding up the ruler. When I started college through PSEO (Postsecondary Enrollment Options) a couple months later, I enrolled in pre-business classes, but one economics course steered the fate of that short-lived decision. In the following years, I would scramble to find the perfect career that would make me rich, successful, and better than “normal.” I felt a lot of pressure to perform and compete against other students for scholarships, grades, and recognition. This mindset might have been the perfect environment for some people to thrive, but for me, it meant that my goals were made with skewed parameters that required unsustainable levels of energy. I think a lot of people have felt the way I did my first few semesters of college.

Before I go on, I have to acknowledge something super relevant to my experience. I am a young white woman from a middle-class family. I think many people in college, whether first-generation or legacy, white or POC, able-bodied or disabled, can feel pressure from their families and communities. My particular brand of pressure is inseparable from ableism and white privilege.

After my brief stint as a business major during PSEO I switched to nursing. I got my CNA license, enrolled in pre-nursing classes at LSC (Lake Superior College), and was given my first pair of super-cute teal scrubs as a high school graduation present. I loved that as a nurse I could help people in such a direct way. However, after three years of caring for elderly people as an aide, caregiver trauma started to seriously impact my mental health. That realization was incredibly difficult but necessary because it helped me understand my limits.

succulent with grey pot; Text: How I figured out what I want to be when I grow up

I explored my options: I was always told that I wrote well, but I was repelled from an English or Writing degree because of the (untrue) stereotype that graduates with liberal arts degrees are unsuccessful. I tried for several months to transfer to UMD for a biology degree but the core science classes at LSC only counted as electives at UMD. I couldn’t afford another five semesters of college and that fact allowed me to ignore that I was still headed in the wrong career direction. Another area I had done well in was laboratory procedures, which sounded like an acceptable route. I signed up for Medical Lab Technician classes at LSC. There were parts of the classes I really liked, such as drawing blood, looking through microscopes, and learning about pathology. Overall, I felt overwhelmed and disappointed with my choice.

By this point I started to realize that I had been shoving myself into a box I didn’t fit in. I had been trying to make my idea-centered brain work with numbers and logic. Not only was this wasting my strengths, but because of the low enrollment cap on the program I might have prevented someone else from succeeding.

When I looked back I realized that whenever I’d talk about being a nurse or lab tech I felt like I was talking about someone else. All of the prerequisites and checklists felt like I was a hamster in a wheel and not someone about to begin the rest of their adult life. Back to the drawing board. My favorite classes had been sociology and anthropology and many of my role models had similar degrees. After a lot of Google research, I decided that anthropology would be a great place to start. After three and a half years of college, I finally figured out my priorities – and was proud of them.

But wait! There’s one more twist to this story. My first full-time semester at UMD I began working as a Peer Educator at Career and Internship Services. I remember talking with the counselors about all the careers I thought I might like, but after years of chasing the wrong degree I knew I still did not feel right. Part of the student employee training involved personality and strengths assessments, all of which hinted (shouted) that I should consider counseling. I liked the sound of it, especially because it allowed me to help people hands-on, but caregiver trauma is a relevant issue for counselors I couldn’t ignore. Then I had a “could have had a V8” moment when the thought occurred to me that I should look into career counseling.

I could help people, have a useful career that took advantage of my strengths, work in a position that aligns with my values, and have a reliable income. I felt like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders, almost literally. The pieces clicked together with an ease I had never experienced before. I know that I might change my mind in the future. At least for now I have a plan, which is more important than the plan actually happening.

Of Possible Interest:
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Eva’s other posts 

Photo Source: Unsplash | Scott Webb