Personal Development: The Laws of Leadership

By: Heidi

Everyone always talks about leadership, what is it, are we born leaders or can we develop into leaders? As someone who feels like I haven’t been born as a natural leader, I was curious to read about what it takes to be a leader. Is there a certain formula you have to follow? Why are some people deemed leaders and others are not? And what does it take to get identified as a leader?

In the beginning of reading the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell, he covers The Law of Process which focuses on how leadership is something that develops daily, not in a day.

He compares leadership to investing. It’s something that will compound over time, and not like investing successfully in the stock market and making a fortune in a day.

What matters most is what you do day by day versus over the long haul. “The secret of our success is found in our daily agenda.” He asks, “What can you see when you look at a person’s daily agenda? Priorities, passion, abilities, relationships, attitude, personal disciplines, vision, and influence. You can see who a person is becoming by looking at what they are doing every day, day after day.

What separates a leader from a follower? Leadership experts Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus made a discovery about the relationship between growth and leadership: “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers.”

To be a successful leader you must first be a learner. The learning process is ongoing, requires self-discipline, and perseverance. You should have the goal each day to get a little better, building progress on each previous day.

Every person’s leadership growth process is different. Whether you possess natural ability to lead or not, there are five phases that can assist you in the process of developing leadership.

Flying V of geese - Leadership is something that is developed daily, not in a day.

The Phases of Leadership Growth

Phase 1: I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know.
As long as a person doesn’t know what he or she doesn’t know, there is no room to grow. Most people fail to recognize the value of leadership and essentially leadership is the ability to influence. In the course of each day, we usually try to influence at least four people. Don’t focus on that fact that “you don’t see yourself as a leader” but instead remain curious with all there is to learn.

Phase 2: I Know That I Need To Know
Ever found yourself in a group project or leadership role only to realize that no one is following you? Being put in charge is not the same as being a leader, we must learn how to lead. Former British prime minister once said, “To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.” We must understand that knowledge is required to go forward.

Phase 3: I Know What I Don’t Know
The moment you realize that leadership is what is going to make you successful in your professional career, you can work to develop the skills necessary to succeed. When having breakfast with a colleague, Maxwell was asked: “what is your plan for personal growth.” Fumbling for an answer, he later admitted that he didn’t have one. From that day on, he made it a practice to read books, listen to tapes, and attend conferences on leadership. Not only will daily practice help you grow in a professional career, but your personal life as well.

Phase 4: I Know and Grow, and it Starts to Show
Once you have recognized your lack of skill in the previous steps and begin the daily discipline of personal growth, alignments will begin to take place. When teaching a leadership workshop, Maxwell noticed a particularly eager student. When he got to the part of the workshop where he taught the Law of Process, he asked the student to stand up so he could talk to him.

Maxwell states: “I believe in about twenty years, you can be a great leader. I want to encourage you to make yourself a lifelong learner of leadership. Read books, listen to tapes regularly, and keep attending seminars. And whenever you come across a golden nugget of truth or a significant quote, file it away for the future.”

He finishes by emphasizing that in order to be a great leader it won’t happen in a day and you must start paying the price now. Start devoting your days to developing leadership to later experience the effects of the Law of Process.

Phase 5: I Simply Go Because of What I Know
When you reach phase five, your ability to lead almost becomes automatic. In this stage, your instincts will nearly be automatic with an incredible payoff.

What we must remember as students is that leadership is something that is developed daily, not in a day. Leadership is a process which encourages development, matures and changes people. This process requires time, patience, and effort. The Law of Process requires diligence and patience as it is our daily efforts which will develop us as leaders.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Ethan Weil

Getting Involved and Why

By: Tony

One of the most popular pieces of advice you will receive during college is to “get involved”. Of course, there are tons of ways you can get involved, but many are probably not for you. The key to figuring out how to get involved is knowing what you want to get out of it. Do you want to serve others, fight for causes you believe in, or just want to have some fun? Different organizations on campus serve different purposes. I will give examples from my personal experience to demonstrate the wide variety of types of involvement.

Identity-Focused Involvement
My first instance of getting involved on campus was when I joined the Latinx/Chicanx Student Association and began to immerse myself in that community. I come from a very diverse hometown, and coming to Duluth was a bit of a culture shock. That, combined with my heavy involvement with my high school’s Latinx-focused student group, pushed me to become involved with LCSA. Soon after joining, I was elected to the Executive Board as the Freshman Representative, and I was allowed to play a major part in the goings-on of the organization. After a few weeks, the other members of LCSA weren’t just my friends, they were my family away from home. They made me feel like I belonged at UMD when the rest of the campus bogged me down with microaggressions and doubt. Even as a senior, my love for LCSA has never wavered, and I have done everything in my power to make sure that everyone feels as welcome and supported as I have. My involvement with LCSA is deeply rooted in my sense of identity as a Latino, and my experiences with it have made me more secure with that aspect of my identity.

Getting involved on-campus

Campus-Related Involvement
During my freshman year, I became highly-involved with the Multicultural Center. I didn’t get along very well with my roommates, so I would stay in the MC as long as I possibly could every night. As spring semester rolled around, I felt like I knew the MC like the back of my hand, but I wanted to get involved with the rest of campus as well. I was fond of my experience during Welcome Week, so I applied to be RockStar for Welcome Week, and luckily I got in. I suppose I did pretty well because they let me come back two more times. Being a RockStar is incredibly demanding. It requires being flexible, creative, and energetic for five days straight. When I say energetic, I mean it. I’m usually fairly quiet and reserved, but during Welcome Week, I am constantly running around, dancing, and yelling. As draining as it may be, it is also incredibly rewarding. I loved being the freshmen’s first point of contact with the campus. I wanted to ensure that they were as ready for college as they could possibly be. I remember how confusing and intimidating freshman year was, and I wanted to pay forward the great Welcome Week that I had when I was in their position. I wanted to have an impact on the whole campus by ensuring that the student body was well-equipped with the resources they need as soon as possible.

Service-Focused Involvement
Finally, I decided to get involved with campus through direct service to the student body. Which brings me to why I am writing this blog in the first place, as an extension of my position as a Peer Educator. In my position, my job is to provide services and access to resources that my peers need to excel academically and professionally. I want to see everyone I work with land their dream internship or job, and I want to do everything I can to make that dream a reality. All three examples of involvement I have mentioned have degrees of service associated with them, but I feel like my Peer Educator position allows me to directly serve the UMD community on an almost-daily basis.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Danilo Batista

What Employers Want You to Know at the Job Fair

By: McKenzie

Editor’s Note: McKenzie recently attended a C&IS student employee training featuring a panel of employers who regularly recruit UMD students. Here is what she learned.

Navigating job fair season can be a nerve-wracking and stressful time. Even seasoned pros get the jitters about all the career-related possibilities a job fair has in store. However, what if there was a way to ease the nerves? Turns out you are in luck because there is, in fact, a way to take on this task.

What employers want you to know at the job fair

Do Your Research
Employers unanimously agree knowing a thing or two about the company is completely awesome. It shows initiative and genuine interest in the company. When recruiters know you have an interest in the company, the conversation becomes more worthwhile and you can get better insight because of the questions you ask.

Ask Questions
If you have done your research then this one is a no-brainer. Trust me, recruiters have been giving the same spiel about their company all day so changing it up a little bit can go a long way. Not only does it help you learn more detailed information about the company, it also allows employers to gauge opportunities which may best fit you.

Recruiters Can’t Always Take Your Resume
This is a big one! I have heard it from recruiters myself. They may not be able to take your resume and this can be really confusing for students. Some recruiters can work with your resume to help you find matching jobs within the company, but even if they take your resume it does not guarantee you a position. Most companies have an online system they use for applications now so it is important to make sure you communicate with recruiters to learn the best ways to apply for opportunities in their company.

Fill Out the Entire Application
Although you may not apply for jobs online at the job fair, it is still important to remember to fill out their application completely. Many applicants do not fill out an online application to its full extent or put information such as, “see resume” and this is a really great way to end up at the bottom of the list of applicants. Be sure to fully answer questions on applications, even if it is the millionth job you have applied for today. Companies will not ask questions if they are not interested in the answer.

Dress For the Job You Want
It’s the age-old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” and it still tends to ring true. If you are attending the job fair to work in a business where you are expected to dress business casual daily then it would be in your best interest to dress for the job. It never hurts to set a good first impression.

Job hunting can feel scary, but it’s not. If you come to the job fair prepared with a plan then you are in for some smooth sailing. Whether it is your first time at fair or your last time, it is better to be there than not. You have already shown your interest by being present so get on it and get out there.

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STEM Major Preps for UMN Job Fair

By: Kirsi

Student talking with employer at job fair

I missed UMD’s E-Fest, UMD’s STEM Fair, and UMN’s College of Science and Engineering Fair. I still want a summer internship. WHAT SHOULD I DO?!

Despite lacking “STEM” in the name, UMN’s Job and Internship Fair is an excellent place to land a technical summer internship.

UMN Job & Internship Fair with Minnesota Map

 1) Excused Absence
I know, Monday, the worst day the Fair could happen. I panicked too with a sinking feeling that I would need to request excused absences from my professors. Here is an example email…

“Hello,
I would like to attend the U of MN Job & Internship Fair in the Twin Cities on Monday, February 26th. This would require missing our mandatory attendance lecture and quiz. Would attendance of this Job Fair qualify for an excused absence? I can either take the quiz before this day or the next during your office hours.
Other students in your classes may be busing down to the Cities too as it is the last major job fair before the summer.
Thanks”

2) Register
Since we all earn UMN diplomas, in the end, all UMN system students are invited to attend the fair. Luckily for us UMD students, there is a free bus that can transport us to the fair (and back if desired). To reserve a place on the bus sign up at Solon Campus Center 22 with a $10 deposit (which gets refunded the day of the fair).

If you pre-register for the fair on GoldPASS you get a free professional photo and a free box lunch!

3) Find Employers
With logistics locked down, time to focus the job fair day game plan. First I found the list of employers who will be recruiting. Use filters to sort what positions are open. Readjust filters if no results are found. Not all employees include which majors/ industries they are looking for.

After reviewing the list of employers, there were obvious tech companies that stood out such as Honeywell and Ziegler CAT. However, there are companies that don’t look high-tech on the outside that are in major need of “STEM-pertise” such as Target Corporation and Hormel Foods. Once you have chosen your top employers get acquainted with them by; looking on their website, connecting with them on LinkedIn, and Google sort for related news stories.

There is a mobile guide for the UMN Job Fair your can download to plan your day.

  1. Download the U of MN App for Apple or Android (it’s free!).
  2. Once downloaded, Search for “job”.
  3. Select “University of Minnesota Job & Internship Fair 2018” and explore!

List of companies recruiting for computers and tech

4) Your Job Fair Equipment
Build a resume. Print plenty of copies. Check for simple spelling and grammar errors.
Pick out an outfit. De-wrinkle your clothes. Smell hygienic.
Practice elevator speech. Seriously. Practice what you’re going to say.
Practice interview questions. Practice technical and coding interviews.

5) Stay Up To Date!
Follow University of Minnesota Job and Internship Fair on…
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Hint…leading up to the Fair you can find Industry graphics, like the Computers & Tech one above, being released each day on the Fair’s social media accounts.

Good luck!

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5 Career Skills Developed in Group Projects

By: Whitney

Oh no! The dreaded two words revered and feared throughout the land of colleges and universities: group projects. I’ve heard many a student complain about group projects, and while we all have probably had our fair share of group project horror stories, these groups are a potential goldmine for developing many soft skills needed to flourish in our future careers. Of the top 10 skills and qualities employers seek in job candidates from National Association of Colleges & Employers, ability to work in a team is ranked number two. Plus, I would say the top five skills on their list can be learned through group work. Call me crazy, but I actually like group projects (provided everyone pulls their weight) and here are some reasons why.

5 Career skills developed in group projects

Combine your Strengths with the Strengths of Others
Chances are on a group project or team you will work with people who have different strengths than you do and will have slightly different perspectives and knowledge bases. This diversity can lead to better solutions to problems and higher quality work than an individual might have been able to accomplish on their own. This is one of the things I like best about working on group projects. For instance, I can be a very detail-oriented person, sometimes I find that I have trouble starting projects because I am hung up on the details. My group members for my psychology research project were able to get us started with basic ideas for our research paper, then I was able to refine it by adding necessary details and rephrasing sentences so ideas were conveyed more clearly.

Improve Understanding
Sometimes at school and work, you just don’t understand something, and collaboration in a group means you have access to knowledge that is outside of yourself. Asking a peer for explanation can be less intimidating, and they also may explain it in a different way you grasp more quickly. I have also found that when you teach something you are better able to understand it yourself. I understood the concepts in my communication class better after discussing it with my group members, talking about them until we came to a satisfactory understanding. This also helps you develop the communication skills needed to collaborate with others.

Break Down Tasks and Delegate Responsibilities
“Many hands make light work” and whatnot. Beyond the obvious potential benefits of dividing up work, the ability to break down tasks and delegate responsibilities are vital skills within organizations. While you may not be interested in taking a leadership position, these skills display a couple of leadership abilities too. I’ve been in groups where we meet and do all the work during meetings. In my most recent series of group projects (accomplished with the same group) we chose to meet, outline what we were going to do (break down tasks), and divide up the work, before a final meeting to pull it all cohesively together.

Practice with Feedback
Feedback is a huge part of the working world, and it is important for us to practice how to receive it professionally (as well as give feedback). In one part of my group project series, I volunteered to take the analysis part of the paper (which is potentially the most important), only to struggle with what to come up with. I met with my group told them of my struggles and they gave me feedback, positive and negative, on what I wrote. Negative feedback is not always easy to hear, but the feedback gave me a jumping off point for us to collaborate and make the paper better.

Conflict Resolution
When you work with others there is always the potential for conflict, which means there is always the potential for creative conflict resolution. In almost every group project you will work with people you have never met before, while I have never been in an academic work group that was fraught with conflict, both conflict resolution and relationship building skills are important for work and for life. You can use these group project experiences and what you learned from them as examples in interviews to answer questions like “tell us about a time when you solved a problem,” “worked with someone different from you?”, or “resolved a conflict?”

Conclusion
The Harvard Business Review collected data which shows “over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more” (Cross, Rebele, Grant, 2016 as cited in Duhigg, 2016). So love ‘em or hate ‘em, it looks like we aren’t getting out of group projects any time soon. Group projects are valid experiences, that have the potential to hone your soft skills. If you’re interested, you can check out a more extensive list of benefits of group projects. And if you’re a nerd about people and human behavior, like me, or simply a fan of Google, you can check out an awesome New York Times article about their “quest to build the ‘perfect’ team”.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Kelli Tungay

You Shared WHAT!?

By: McKenzie

Social media is a huge part of our lives. We have reached a technological point where almost everyone is advertising themselves on one online platform or another. Whether you accept it or not, your online platforms are marketing who you are to anyone who comes across your profile. This includes, but is not limited to, friends, family, peers, coworkers, and employers. While technically your social media is not something employers should not be looking at it does not mean they cannot see it. For example, I recently learned in an HR course that more and more companies are using social media to engage employees. One of the companies I work for uses a Facebook group so supervisors and employees can offer and see other shift openings all across the different company locations. This is incredibly useful, but it means that every coworker and supervisor in my company can easily access a direct link to my Facebook. I personally am not concerned since I monitor my platforms for inappropriate comments, posts, etc. I, however, have seen plenty of people who should be concerned about the content of their social media.

Social media, mobile Facebook app on phone

I will admit I am a curious person and would argue that most people are too. Having worked with many staff at one of the companies I work for, I was very curious when their profiles were being suggested as “friends” to me. It is very hard, if not impossible, to not click on a coworker’s Facebook. I have seen the all the profiles of those who I work with directly (including supervisors) as well as other staff who work at varying locations. I was amazed at what people were willing to post publicly. I felt that I gained a lot of knowledge of the people around me. Not all the information I came across was pleasant so I was shocked that it was also public. If you have learned anything from what I have just told you then I hope it is this: you should assume anything you post online is now public information. You ARE advertising yourself. Post everything you do with the mental note that anyone could see it.

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Photo by: Unsplash | William Iven

What to do with Morocco?

By: Tori

Read all about Tori’s experience in Morocco

Now what? I’ve lived independently abroad, taken a deep-dive into an ocean of unfamiliar culture, and gone through a few challenges that have shaped my world-view. So, now what? What can I do to highlight this experience? HOW do I highlight this experience?

It may seem like an impossible feat to narrow your study abroad experience down into a tangible, easy to comprehend package, but it actually isn’t that hard!

The first step is the hardest – and takes the most time, but is necessary in order to process your thoughts, feelings, etc.

You need to REFLECT on your experience.

Some questions that may be useful to help you reflect are:

  • What are the top three lessons you learned while abroad?
  • What surprised you most while abroad?
  • What was your favorite memory?
  • What was something that was hard, different, or challenging?

Once you have reflected on your overall experience, consider how study abroad grew your skills, leadership, and career-related attributes.

Consider specific examples from your time abroad in which you expanded upon these skills:

  • Assertiveness, adaptability, critical thinking skills, flexibility, independence or self-reliance, patience, open-mindedness, problem-solving, self-confidence, initiative, perseverance, and time management

Once you’ve done this, it’s easy to narrow down your experience by putting it on your resume. This is a great way to highlight your abroad experience in a quick, accessible way. For example, you can list the institution where you studied and a few courses or projects you worked on underneath your education section:

Study Abroad in Resume Education Section Example

The final step is to connect the dots by directly applying your study abroad experience to your potential career opportunities during an interview.

Q: What experience do you have working with people from backgrounds different than your own, and how do you think those experiences relate to the workplace?

Q: Can you tell me about a time you took a risk and it paid off?

These are two common questions individuals are asked during an interview that can relate to your study abroad experience. Make sure you find a way to talk about your study abroad and highlight it for others to see. Not only does this help you stand out as an applicant but it also helps others understand people and places who are different.

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