Career Lessons from Lord of the Rings

By: Ashley

About a year ago I wrote a blog post on the lessons learned from Disney movies, this time around I thought I would write about lessons learned from something more near and dear to my heart, the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. A few of the lessons that correlate with Tolkien’s novels that I have learned over the course of my time here at UMD as an undergrad are:

LOTR Lessons

Say yes to adventure

I think the most obviously benefit for Bilbo Baggins on saying yes to his adventure was that he ended up making off with a large sum of treasure but he also found friendship with many dwarves and elves of Rivendell. I think college is a once in a lifetime experience, these 4 or 5 years are years where we discover who we are and who we want to be and I think we often get caught up in the stress of it all and forget that now is the time to take chances and go on adventures. If you have the chance to study abroad do it, I didn’t and I think it could have been a blast even if it might have ended up adding on an extra semester, who knows maybe it wouldn’t have but what could hurt from going to the International Education Office (IEO) and inquiring about opportunities overseas? Go out and find an internship or volunteer, even if it doesn’t relate to your major, maybe you will find a new passion you didn’t even know you had.

It pays to have friends

Throughout The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy Frodo and Bilbo were helped out of troubling situations by their friends. Many times Gandalf saved the day, and without Samwise, Frodo would have never gotten the One Ring to Mount Doom. If I had not met my wonderful friends I would have probably ended up never exploring the city of Duluth the way I have and would have never made the memories I have over the years without them. Stay true to your friends and keep them close because you never know when you will need them or they will need you.

Never lose hope and never give up

Even though you might not get the first job, internship, or grad program you apply for that doesn’t mean you should cut your losses and give up. In The Return of the King at The Battle of the Black Gate Sauron’s army was defeated and the battle was won, but victory seemed hopeless and by the means of the destruction of the One Ring by Frodo, Middle-Earth was saved. The Fellowship never gave up and in the end they succeeded, but not without shedding a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Figuring out what you want to do with your life and finding the right workplace for you isn’t meant to be a walk in the park, it takes perseverance, hard-work, and it means not being afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Learn how to defend yourself

Just like Legolas had his bow and arrow, Gimli had his axe, and Bilbo and Frodo both had Sting, you too need to learn how to defend yourself. I don’t mean to say you need to learn karate or go buy a sword; what I mean to say is that as an undergrad entering the work force the best weapon you have at your disposal is your resume. Being able to present your skills and experiences helps demonstrate to future employers what you have to offer. Making sure your resume is up to date before applying for jobs is just as import as checking your chainmail before you head off to battle.

To experience great things, you have to leave your comfort zone

Just like Bilbo and Frodo both left their comfortable lifestyles at Bag End, we made a choice to leave our hometowns to come to Duluth and have the college experience. By choosing to go on their adventures both Bilbo and Frodo got to meet amazing people and do amazing things and in the end they got to sail to the beautiful Undying Lands with the elves. Even though we may not be meeting dwarves or saving Middle-Earth, we get to discover who we want to be, what we want to do with our lives, and get to make wonderful and lifelong friends. In order to make these friends, to gain insight into potential jobs by volunteering or interning, and to get to know the wonderful city that has, for me, become a second home, you have to step away from the familiar and safe and take risks. Like Bilbo says in The Fellowship of the Ring “it’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

These are just a few of the lessons I learned from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels that apply to my life as a college undergrad and soon to be college graduate. I hope this post was as inspiring as it was entertaining, I hope everyone is making new friends, defending themselves, and setting out on new adventures because that is what college is all about!

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The Interview: What do They Want to Know?

By: Glen

I had my first interview for a full-time position during spring break of my last semester of college. I had read pro tips for interviewing, had a mock interview, and had a previous internship interview at a large company. My best friend had given me his big takeaways from his 9 month circuit of interviews before landing his first job. I thought I had all the knowledge I needed to perform in an interview situation.

I was wrong.

There are a few different types of interview: the unstructured interview, the semi-structured interview, and the structured interview. You will almost always see a semi-structured or structured interview. In these interviews, the interviewer will have a specific set of questions prepared, and will generally not stray from those questions. Whether or not they do is the difference between a structured interview and a semi-structured interview.

Why is it important to know how an interview is structured? The reason it is preferred to have structure to the interview is because each question is designed to answer certain questions about the potential employee. The employer wants to find (or reaffirm) that a potential hire has specific qualities, skills, and work styles that fit with the position.

Before my first interview, I had taken a personality/work style assessment for the employer I wished to work for. My set of scores got me an interview, and some of the questions they asked me were specifically related to the scores I received. However, I was unaware of this until the last piece of the interview.

Luckily for me, I had a trained interviewer working with me, who was willing to be direct when my answers to their initial questions did not quite answer their questions. It was then that I learned I could have done much better in the interview if I understood what answers they were trying to get from me with the questions they asked.

Here is my challenge to you: before you interview, understand what qualifications they are looking for that might not be possible to address in your resume. Things like teamwork, handling problems, making decisions, and leadership are just a few of the possibilities. Use your resources! The recruiter, and the job posting are good starts. You will feel much more prepared if you have an idea of what is coming up.

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Proud to be an Ally

By: Sadie

What does it mean to be an ally?

You may have heard the term “ally” mentioned from the acronym, LGBTQA, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Asexual or Ally. The “A” in LGBTQA can also stand for Aromantic, Advocate, or All. My personal definition of an ally is someone who not only supports homosexuality, but someone who supports people of all diverse backgrounds. An ally stands up for the rights of any individual, focuses on diversity and inclusion, and displays mutual respect and personal safety for people of all backgrounds. An ally is not so much of an identity, but a behavior. It is more about what you do than how you identify. Most importantly, being an ally means being a friend, a supporter, and a voice for those who can’t always speak up for themselves.

Why am I an ally?

My freshman year of high school, I joined the Gay, Straight, Alliance Club. I was asked by my best friend, who wasn’t out at the time, to join because he was too afraid to go to the first meeting of the year by himself. He wanted to meet new people and I was hesitant at first, not really knowing what this club would do for me, but I went anyways to support my friend. Looking back, joining the GSA club turned out to be one of the best experiences I had in high school. The club educated us on multiple topics, created a safe space for students, and served as a positive, inclusive organization at our school. This is where I first learned what it meant to be an ally.

After attending weekly group meetings, I really got to know the people who were once strangers to me. They told their stories, taught me how to listen, how to break down those judgmental barriers, and how to truly understand how it feels to be different in the world.

What are some things you can do to be an ally?

  1. Attend an event on campus that is diversity related, or something you wouldn’t ordinarily think about going to! Here is UMD’s Multicultural Center Events Calendar:
  1. Take a class that touches on topics of race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, religion, etc.
  1. Join a club, maybe something out of your comfort zone that you would like to know more about! Here are all of the different types of organizations offered here at UMD:

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What do I Put in a Teaching Portfolio?

By: Whitney

As a teacher candidate, I have heard several times from professors and principals that I should have a portfolio. The problem is, I have no idea what I should put in my portfolio or where I should be keeping my portfolio. The American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) publishes a Job Search Handbook for educators every year. I found the section “Successfully Marketing Yourself Through the Use of an Electronic Portfolio” to be very helpful. You can pick up one of these handbooks in our office!

One major point this section made is that a well put together portfolio can either make or break you in the job search. The overall layout and design of your portfolio can have a lot to do with whether it will make or break you. You want to make sure your portfolio is easy to follow and that your design or “decoration” doesn’t get in the way of the content of your portfolio.

The first part of your portfolio that the employer will see is your Welcome Page. This doesn’t have to be a big long welcome, but it should introduce you as an educator. AAEE recommends including a professional picture of yourself or an original picture that represents you positively as a teacher. This could be the same picture that is on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.

A nice aspect of an online portfolio is that you can include audio or video clips to introduce yourself or a concept to future employers. This could be an original addition to your portfolio that will help you to stand out to future employers. If you choose to include an audio or visual clip, I strongly recommend including subtitles to your video to show that you are sensitive to the topic of accessibility. When creating or selecting clips for your portfolio, it is important to make sure that they are high quality and professional.

The biggest part of your portfolio is the artifacts or documents section. These documents should show that you can “effectively and positively impact students learning.” You should make sure this section of your portfolio shows your ability to:

  • Plan and implement standards based instruction.
  • Effectively assess.
  • Manage a learning environment.
  • Collaborate with others including peers, community members, parents, etc.

Similar to when you send an electronic version of your resume, you will want to save any uploaded documents as a PDF before uploading them so the format stays the same no matter what type of device the employer is using to open the document. It is important to make sure that these documents are accessible, so consider asking several friends and family to open the document to make sure that it is available. If the documents aren’t accessible you will loose all effectiveness and it will not reflect well on you as a teaching candidate.

An electronic portfolio can be a great option for providing employers with samples of your work that is easily accessible before, during, or after your interview. There are other formats that you can use to present your portfolio and you will need to choose the format that is best for your purpose. To see other possible formats you may want to check out my previous blog post “Why Make a Teaching Portfolio?”

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Your Activities Section and You

By: Logan

One of the most underrated sections of the resume is the Activities section. This section is simply for stating activities you were involved in, or clubs and organizations you were part of. Many people believe this section is not necessary on the resume because it might not include any activities that are “relevant” to the person’s objective. In this post I will explain to you how an activities section can spice up your resume, what it means to employers, and different ways to format it.

As I said before, many people believe that the activities section is unnecessary. This is understandable. What does being on an intramural hockey team have to do with being a computer science major? But this does not mean you should leave out all of your the extracurricular activities and organizations. If you are struggling to fill up your resume, an activities section would be perfect for you. You can include everything from a fraternity you were involved in, to being in the coloring club – you can include them all!

Even employers like seeing an activities section. Multiple employers have told us they are more likely to hire someone who was active in organizations and involved with the school or surrounding community. Having activities and student organizations on your resume shows that outside of class you were staying active. This is especially true for students in athletics. Athletes have to donate so much of their time to their sport, even in the off season. After going to class all day athletes are required to go to practice, weight train, go to team meetings, and more. Being a student athlete takes up so much time and effort, so students who are involved in athletics should try to showcase this as much as possible. This shows where the student spent their time when they were not in class.

There are multiple ways to write your activities section, it just depends on the activities you have and how detailed you want to be in your explanation. If you are involved in many different organizations and groups, the easiest thing to do would be to simply list them. First, write the name of your position (even if it’s “member”) in bold. Then write the name of the organization you were involved in, followed by the month and year of when you started and the month and year of when you were finished (if you are still currently involved with the group, write “present”). Remember to put the activities in reverse chronological order, the newest organizations will be at the top.

Microsoft Word - Document1

If you have fewer activities you may want to go more into depth about these experiences. You would start off by listing it the same way as we did before (position, organization name, dates), and you would use bullet points to explain the activity and what you did in the organization. This is useful for activities where you are a position holder or executive member. Using this method you can describe all of the skills you used while in this organization.

Microsoft Word - Document1

The Activities section can be a very useful and informative section. it shows employers what you did in your free time and how involved you were in your school and the community. So try and be as active as you can in your school and join as many clubs and organizations as you can. UMD has hundreds, and there are clubs for almost everything. It is a great resume builder and a great place to meet people and grow your network.

Once you graduate, the activities section on your resume will most likely morph to “Professional Organizations” and/or “Community Involvement.” The idea of getting involved in different activities extends throughout your career development. As a new professional, you’ll benefit from getting involved in professional organizations locally and at the state and national levels.

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Dare to be You

By: Willow

I think as college kids, and as humans in general, but especially college kids, we worry way too much about what others think we should be. Not only that, but there are a lot of negative attitudes around groups of people who act certain ways or wear certain things. Frat bros, farm girls, jocks, stoners, or God forbid, theater majors. So anyway, here’s my question, since when is what makes you happy a bad thing?

We’re all in college, doing our thing, learning our skills, trying to figure out who we are. Its hard enough, without us devaluing what others are doing. I’m sure we’ve all been there, someone makes a comment like “Environmental Science? That’s a pointless major.” And there you are feeling two inches tall because that’s your major.

So let’s do this instead, let’s support our friends, and enemies, and strangers whether they be basic, complicated, or somewhere in between. And let’s remember that we don’t have to explain ourselves to others. If you are doing what makes you happy, others should be happy for you, and if they’re not, well you should still support them because it’s the right thing to do. Let’s all try to be better together. Life is hard, don’t make it harder. In the words of Kid President, “If life is just a game, aren’t we all on the same team?”

Smile Folks, we’re all in this together.

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What Can I Put on My Resume? Anthropology Edition

By: Meg

As an Anthropology major, there are plenty of places to go with my major. I could go into the field, or work in marketing, or social services, or anything that peaks my interest. Anthropology really teaches an out-of-the-box way of thinking, which is appreciated everywhere.

Since we’ve learned so much in our major, we need to be able to quantify it on our resume. Don’t sell yourself short! If you’re working in the field, you might want to talk to a career counselor or your advisor to write a CV that will fit your needs.

Skills and Projects
Anthropology students do a lot of research. That will be used almost anywhere you go to work after school. So make sure to emphasize it. If you take a research methods class, you can have a section for all the methods you’ve used (interviewing and coding, Photovoice, content analysis, survey, etc.)

You can have a section for projects, where any completed research (qualitative or quantitative) can be showcased. If you have a research paper you’re proud of, list it. If you have any publications, those can be listed with other projects, or a separate section.

Having experience in another language is useful for most fields, but it’s definitely a selling point for Anthropology.

If you know another language at conversational or above, you can put it on your resume, either in a section on its own or under “Skills.” I have ASL (American Sign Language) and IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) on mine.

Anth Resume

Teaching Assistantship
Teaching is a great skill to have, and it shows that you knew the subject material well enough to teach it to others. A teaching assistantship gives you the opportunity to know the department better, you can present to the class, and the organization required is nothing to sneeze at.

List this under experience, quantify everything you do (spent 5 hours developing presentation on x, presented 20 minutes to 140 students), and make sure to show any new skills and accomplishments.

Field School
If you’re planning to go into Archaeology, field school is a must. If you’re going into Anthropology, it’s still really useful. If you’re working outside of the field, it’s actually a super wonderful opportunity that you should take advantage of.

You learn so many new skills, spend time using them, and spend a lot of time with people who are working in the field. Document everything you do, and emphasize it on your resume.

Community Service/Volunteering
Any service work you do shows community engagement, so be sure to put it on your CV, and put it on your resume as often as you can. If you would like to work in a certain community, make sure to get plenty of experience that applies there. For example, if you want to work with Latino immigrant populations, learning Spanish and volunteering at a Spanish speaking community program would be beneficial.

You can have a Community Service section if you have a few different experiences, or you can list it under Activities or Experience.

If you’ve written or co-written grants, even to get donations for your student group, you should definitely discuss that. Grant work is hard, and nonprofits and research institutions write them all the time. Any experience you have would be welcome.

If your grant was done within one of your Experience positions, you can list it as a bullet point such as: “wrote grant proposal, including statement of need, and received $1,000 to purchase equipment for developing a sustainable herb garden to donate to CHUM.”

Remember, your resume isn’t just for listing jobs. You want it to be an accurate representation of what you have to offer. Your skills, experiences, and the causes you believe in should be on the paper as much as they can be. You’re a whole, well-rounded person, and your resume should reflect that. If you have any questions as to what should be on your resume, stop in for our Resume Drop-In hours Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 2-4 pm in SCC22.

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