Tips for a Successful Virtual Intern Experience

By: Amanda

It’s no secret COVID-19 has impacted everyone across the globe in many ways. This past summer I experienced something I never could have imagined: a completely virtual internship. Over the course of three months, I interned for Land O’Lakes in their Dairy Foods division in a Customer Insights & Analytics role. 

I went into the internship not sure what to expect. Throughout the first week, I attended virtual events hosted by the College Relations team. During these events, I was able to network with 100+ other interns, while also learning about the company. My team was hands-on right away with daily check-ins. Between college relations events, and team meetings, I instantly felt welcomed to the company. Throughout the summer college relations continued to host intern events. 

Text: tips for a successful virtual internship
Image: desk with fake plant, yellow coffee cup, and computer monitor

Set goals. For any internship or job it is important to set goals, but being online makes it increasingly crucial. I went into the internship with a list of goals and action steps on how I planned to achieve them over the summer.

Ask questions. One of my biggest takeaways from the internship is that it is better to ask too many questions than not enough. Any employer would rather you clarify before diving into a task you do not fully understand. Find a few individuals whom you feel comfortable asking lots of questions and establish this open channel of communication early.

Intentionally network. My manager set up “meet and greets” with individuals on my team to learn more about their role and how it correlates with the entire organization. I also set up time with individuals outside of my department. Meeting with people from all across the company helped me to learn more about what I could see myself doing in the future.

Work from a variety of locations (if possible). With my internship being completely virtual, I was able to work from my hometown, my house in Duluth, and multiple cabins. I found that my productivity and energy levels actually increased when I switched up the environment I was working in. Working from a variety of locations kept me engaged and excited about my work. If your employer permits, I would highly recommend switching locations up when working virtually for a long period of time. 

Spruce up your at-home office. Before starting my internship I ordered new stationery. One item I ordered was a butter sticky notepad. I also made sure my desk was positioned by a window so I had sunlight and a beautiful view every day. Put photos or quotes that inspire you around your space. Even simple details can go a long way. Check out my butter notepad below 🙂

notepad in the shape of a stick of butter on a dish

All in all, virtual internships may seem intimidating at first. Setting goals and staying connected are key to making the most out of the experience. Good luck!

Of Possible Interest
• Links here

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Sources: Unsplash | Georgie Cobbs & Amanda

Career Planning for Education Majors

Are you one of the many students on the UMD campus with an education major? If so, yay! Our campus offers an array of educational majors ranging from working with preschool aged children all the way through to students in post-secondary education. We’ve put together a few resources to help you through the career planning process. Included are: what you can do with your major, upcoming job & internship fairs, and general job/intern search information.

We know our education majors have A LOT of in-the-classroom experience already embedding in the coursework (which is great!). We would also encourage you to seek out other opportunities to expand your experience by working with your preferred age group in a variety of settings (think: summer camps, summer school, nannying, personal care attendant, and volunteering with various organizations that work with children). That extra experience will help you stand out from your peers when it comes to the job search.

Image: desk with stack of books & apple on top, colored pencils, and letter blocks
Text: career planning for education majors

What are UMD grads doing?
Check out the By Major reports from our Graduate Follow-up Report to learn about the school districts, geographic locations, and positions, where recent grads are working.

Job & Internship Fairs
The Minnesota Education Job Fair is one of the BEST places to work on your job search. This fair takes place in April each year at the Minneapolis Convention Center and has school districts from all around the United States (& even international!). We’ve had UMD students return from that fair with interviews and even job offers!

We also recommend attending the Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair (each semester either at UMD or UW-Superior) and the UMN Job & Internship Fair (February at the Minneapolis Convention Center). These fairs will often have a few school districts in attendance. What these fairs are really great for is finding the extra opportunities. A number of nonprofit organizations who work with children of various ages will often be in attendance looking for interns and volunteers.

Former Peer Educator Whitney graduated from the Integrated Elementary & Special Education program. While she worked for us, she wrote a number of blog posts related to the Education field you may find helpful.

Of Possible Interest:
Career Planning, Job Search, Internships – our blog posts on these topics
Planning Your Career
Love Your Major

Photo Source: Unsplash | Element5 Digital

My Recipe for Making Decisions

By: Amanda

During our young adult lives, there are many decisions to be made. It starts with selecting a college, then major, possibly an internship, job/grad school for after graduation, and whether or not to relocate. The list goes on and on, but you get the gist. Yes, this is a sea of opportunity, but it can also be overwhelming. 

Throughout my lifetime I have been notorious for being indecisive. Even a simple decision, such as what to have for dinner is something I toggle with. The larger decisions have historically been even more difficult for me. I believe I dragged my mom with me to 12 different colleges before finally flipping a coin and choosing UMD (yes, it was the best decision ever!). During my time, I have narrowed down a recipe as to how I make decisions. No, it’s not perfect, but here is what I have learned.

Image: Top of multicolored brick building with clouds in the sky
Text: Recipe for making decisions from an indecisive college student

This is the starting point of the process when it is realized that a decision needs to be made. First, start out by taking inventory of the current situation. Where are you at in life and where do you hope to go? Make a pros and cons list. Draft out ideas. Let the creativity and brainstorming flow!

Talk to a few trusted individuals who know you and the situation well. Explain the situation and listen to their advice. They may have an outside perspective. Oftentimes, close friends and family may be able to point out something you may not be able to see. Additionally, they may prompt you with questions that will help to open up to other ideas.

Depending on the nature of your situation, it may also be appropriate to schedule an appointment with us, at UMD Career & Internship Services. I have done this countless times when navigating planning my career path. I am sure I will do it countless more times as I approach graduation and the numerous decisions that come with this stage of life. 

UMD also has free counseling sessions (for students) through Health Services. They often will work with students on decision-making issues. Check it out if you feel it is appropriate for you. 

Image: nature trail in woods with letterboard on ground.
Text on letterboard: The path to your goals might have some curves.

This being said, it is important to trust your gut. At the end of the day, it is your life and your decision to make! Know that the weight of whatever decision is being faced, big or small, is something that can be handled. Take other input like a grain of salt. Take advice and tips that fit YOU, disregard the rest. 

Once I diagnosed this reoccurring struggle in my life, I looked into some resources. Books, podcasts, YouTube videos – you name it, I probably have checked it out. Here are a few of my favorite resources:

At the end of the day – it is crucial to own what is decided. The best advice I have ever gotten is simply to “just make a decision, don’t turn back, and make the most of it along the way”. I think you will find that it is not about the decision made, instead, it is about making the most of whatever you decide to do and not looking back. 

Of Possible Interest:
The Grass Isn’t Always Greener, But You Should Check Anyway
Don’t Overthink It preview on the What Should I Read Next? podcast
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Amanda’s other posts

Tips for Balancing Work and Life

By: Rachel

It’s probably no secret to you by now that life involves a lot of balancing. College is a great example of this: you have schoolwork, keeping up your living space, possibly employment, activities, relationships, health, hobbies…it seems like the list could go on forever! While the areas of your life might change over time, you’ll likely find there will always be multiple, and making time to have a healthy balance of each of them can be tricky. College is a great time to explore what this looks like for you and adopt some practices that will help you balance work (or school) and your personal life.

Keep in mind this will look very different for everyone, and what works for someone else might not work for you. It’s really about finding a balance for yourself, and what that looks like will probably need to change over time. Here are a few tips/suggestions of places to start:

Make the most of your calendar.
Yes, a calendar can be great for keeping track of important dates or deadlines, but it can also be a powerful tool for planning your time. Block off times to finish big projects or when you’ll be working. If it’s helpful, put in the times you plan to exercise or hang out with friends so you aren’t tempted to fill that time with something else.

Image: rock stack with ocean in background
Text: tips for balancing work and life

Write to do lists.
There are tons of ways you can do this — on paper, in a planner, using an app — but I have multiple to do lists for my school projects, work goals, and personal things I need to get done. Lately I’ve been using the app Todoist. You can make different lists for different projects, classes, areas of your life etc., which I love! When I look at what I hope to get done each day, I try to pull a couple items from each list.

Set boundaries.
You might find the areas of your life blend together, and sometimes this is a good thing, but it can be helpful to have some separation. An example: a lot of people who work from home find it’s hard to feel like they’re ever really away from work. Setting boundaries can help you enjoy each part of your life. Maybe this means having a space solely dedicated to work or vowing not to do homework in your bedroom. Maybe you set boundaries with your time, such as “I won’t do work after 10 pm”, or “before 10 am”, or “after 4 pm on Friday”, whatever that looks like for you. The point is setting a boundary, and most importantly, holding yourself to it.

Have some barrier activities.
You might find it helpful to have an activity that breaks up the different parts of your life. Some people like to exercise, take a shower, or change their outfit at the end of their work day. Having a ritual can help your body and mind transition into your personal time.

Learn to rest.
I’ve found at some points, the most productive thing you can actually do is rest. Sometimes this is exactly what you need to be able to approach whatever you’re doing next as your best self, whether that’s a clear head to crank out a paper or the emotional reset to be the best friend you can be. Rest can look like calling it a night and finishing something the next morning or taking a 20-minute nap. I’ve had to learn what real rest looks like though. It’s tempting to scroll through social media or watch an episode of a show when “taking a break”, but we all know how easy it is to get sucked into spending more time than we’d like on that, not to mention it usually doesn’t help you feel more rested. Take a couple minutes and truly take a break by relaxing, closing your eyes, going for a walk, stretching, etc.

In order to have balance between the different areas of your life, there are two things I’ve found to be essential: intentionality and discipline. Make the most of the time you spend working so you don’t find it eating its way into your hobbies and personal time. Avoid distractions when doing your schoolwork so you can get it done and truly enjoy the breaks you take with your friends. This goes for your personal life too. We all have to spend some time doing things we’d rather not, but strive to fill your life with things you find fulfilling. For all this to work, you have to be disciplined. You can make a schedule of how you’ll spend your time, but if you don’t actually stick to it, you won’t experience the benefits. Make adjustments as needed, but try to to meet the goals and keep the boundaries you’ve set for yourself. I think you’ll find this leads you to a fuller life you’re happier living.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on this topic
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jeremy Thomas

Finishing a Chapter of my Life & Writing the Next

By: Paying

Throughout my high school years, I was lost and scared for life afterwards. I was given the label “First Generation College Student” and felt like I couldn’t reach out for help because I was different from my peers whose parents and relatives were able to guide them throughout college preparation. I dreaded going to school because I felt like a disadvantaged follower; someone who couldn’t seem to catch up and be on the same level as everyone else. I felt embarrassed to voice that I had no clue what I wanted to do in life and soon, these insecurities along with doubts about myself led me to lose sight of who I was. 

The one place I felt I could express myself was in my English class, the one place I felt I could soar and excel. It was in that very class where I first heard of the program Upward Bound. A TRiO program that provides opportunities for high school students from low-income families; and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. This is the help and guidance I’ve been looking for; I felt hopeful as if I can succeed. Finally

Young Asian woman sitting at table with resource materials.
Paying tabling for the office

I remember thinking there’s no other way for me to excel and be a first generation college student that my family could be proud of. Although I was scared to be assessed and interviewed, I gave 110% and prayed I would be accepted. When I heard back “no” from the program, I was devastated. What I felt like was my last chance at success was gone but for some reason, that hope remained; hoping for that little ray of light shining in a storm to guide me. Ironically enough, the rejection that gave me hope is what changed my life. A month later I was contacted if I would be interested in joining the program.

Throughout the rest of high school, I began to find my own voice and make decisions for myself. One of those decisions was made because of a summer day of 2015: the day I visited Duluth for the first time and toured the University of Minnesota Duluth. I remember walking down the local shops to the lakewalk and up to the lighthouse where I took a photo to remember this moment. I didn’t know it at the time, but in a way that lighthouse was the light I had been looking for. 

Young Asian women talking to a recruiter at a job fair
Paying talking to a recruiter

With an undecided major and no career plans, I moved into my dorm on the UMD campus in August 2016 and made a promise to myself: if I looked back on the years of my college life, I just wanted to say I had fun regardless of what else happens in life. I’ve had people question and doubt my decisions, people who wondered if my mindset would be my downfall. Through it all, I made sacrifices in order to for once in my life, do what I want for the future I dream of for myself. Four years later in April 2020, I’m proud to say I didn’t just have fun, but I had the adventure of a lifetime. 

I grew from being a timid, and careful human to a proud, carefree woman. I became someone who others could look up to for guidance and leadership through my newfound families: the Asian Pacific American Association and the Hmong Living in Unity and Balance organizations. I found new lifelong supporters in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion as well as the Career and Internship Services office. I found who I am and who I want to be with the help of Duluth and everyone who has been a part of the city. 

3 young women showcasing professional dress
Paying, Rachel, & Stephanie at Dress For Success 2020

This journey has not been easy by no means, but how can you truly experience success without fighting for it? Thank you to those who have mentored me, guided me, and allowed me a chance (& maybe even a second chance!). During this time of chaos in the world, Duluth remains my lighthouse and has guided me through the darkest and roughest part of my life and will remain to be my home. 

Thank you to everyone who came along this journey through my blog posts in finding myself and in hopes that it helped you also. Remember that no matter what happens and whatever others may say, choose for you. It may not be the right way or the best way, but it could be the way that works FOR YOU. Keep fighting for your successful future and I believe you have everything it takes to reach your dreams.

Until next time everyone!

There is nothing more beautiful than finding your course as you believe you bob aimlessly in the current. Wouldn’t you know that your path was there all along, waiting for you to knock, waiting for you to become. This path does not belong to your parents, your teachers, your leaders, or your lovers. Your path is your character defining itself more and more everyday like a photograph coming into focus.” —Jodie Foster

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo sources: UMD Career & Internship Services

The Importance of Mentors While in College

By: Kiara

As a college student, it can be beneficial to have a mentor when you find yourself struggling to make a decision or are in need of encouragement. Even though I haven’t had a formal mentor in college yet, I have often asked older students in my workplace and in my extracurricular activities for advice. This has greatly helped me throughout my first year of college to stay motivated and achieve my goals. I think anyone can be a mentor since there is always something new to learn from each person you meet. Being able to talk to someone you trust who has experienced similar things as you can help you gain valuable advice, learn new perspectives, and advance your career. 

Image: book shelves at an angle with lit lightbulbs dangling from ceiling
Text: The importance of mentors while in college.

Gain Valuable Advice
In any unfamiliar situation whether it’s a new job, class, or club it’s important to reach out to others and ask for advice. An official or an unofficial mentor can answer your questions and clarify any confusion. For example, when I started my job at Career & Internship Services more experienced staff members helped me learn the office procedures and expectations. Mentors who share their stories with you can help you figure out your own life and you can also learn from their experiences. Asking upperclassmen about what classes to take, what clubs to join, or any type of assistance in general can aid you in navigating these new situations. It can be comforting to know that someone else has been in your place and understands your challenges. It’s also reassuring to have someone who listens to your academic difficulties or personal problems and can help you plan for your future. 

Learn New Perspectives
Having a mentor can open up new perspectives in the process of sharing ideas and asking questions. Mentors may have qualities in common with yourself and may also have qualities you would like to develop. Qualities I aspire to have from some of the people I look up to include being more outgoing, patient, and a better listener. Mentors can also challenge you to consider different points of view to help you see the bigger picture. This can give you the opportunity to see the positive side of an adverse situation. Additionally, having an outside perspective can shed light on potential difficulties or bring up other valid points to consider when making an important decision.

Advance Your Career
A mentor can advance your career by growing your network of contacts.  Specifically, mentors can connect you to opportunities they have had in the past such as rewarding internships or jobs. Students who are pursuing the same career path or major as you can give you great insight about what their experiences have been like and what they have learned. I have learned that a mentor can also help you identify your own strengths and weaknesses and can aid you in improving upon those qualities.  Having someone you can turn to for career advice can assist you in choosing your major and deciding your career path. For instance, talking to someone with more experience can teach you about careers you didn’t know even existed or inspire you to stay focused on your current career track. Learning from others taught me the importance of being open to advice and suggestions which can help us avoid drawbacks and make better decisions. 

Building a network of mentors can not only help you in college, but can also provide you with support and guidance later in life. I am thankful for the advice I have received from my unofficial mentors since they have helped me learn from my mistakes and prepared me for the future. Overall, formal or informal mentors can assist you in accomplishing your goals within your personal and professional life.

Of Possible Interest:
Mentors: Be One; Have One
• NetworkingOn the Job – all our blog posts on these topics
• Key to NetworkingNow that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest boards filled with resources & articles

Read Kiara’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Janko Ferlic

Finish Strong

By: Kendra

Editor’s Note: even if you’re not a current college student, these tips can still be applied to major projects or deadlines you have in your work.

Here’s some crazy news: we only have two weeks of class before finals week. As we all know the end of the semester is always a busy, stressful, and overwhelming time. This semester is a bit different as we are all learning remotely, so I wanted to provide you with some tips that can help make it more manageable. 

Start Early 
Starting several weeks in advance, begin looking at what you have for finals in each of your classes. Because everything is due within one week, it can often be overwhelming. By starting early, you are able to get a head start on your papers, projects, and studying, so it doesn’t feel so stressful during actual finals week. I also like to work ahead as much as I can several weeks before finals so I don’t have to worry about other assignments when it is time to start studying for finals exams and writing final papers. 

Image: desktop with open paper planner, coffee cup, and dish of paperclips
Text: Finish strong

Know Your Expectations
Every class and every professor is different. Take some time to read through your syllabi for each class to know the expectations your professor has in place for your final. If you are having a final exam, you should know if it is cumulative or not. If it isn’t, know which chapters the exam will be focusing on so you know what to prepare for. It is also helpful to know what type of exams you will be taking — multiple choice, short answer, etc. — as this will also guide your studying. For projects and papers, it is important that you understand the expectations that your professor has. This will help you avoid losing points for not meeting the finals’ requirements. Also, by doing all of this in advance, you will be able to contact your professor if you have any questions. 

Know Your Deadlines
Be sure that you know the dates and times of each of your exams, as well as due dates for projects and papers. Write these down in a planner or add them to your Google Calendar to be sure you don’t forget. There is nothing worse than missing a deadline! 

Break Up Big Tasks  
An additional tip I have is to break up projects or papers into smaller tasks. Here’s an example: If you have a large research paper due at the end of the semester, set yourself a due date for the outline, then split up your writing by sections/topics and give yourself due dates for each of them. Then, add these dates to your planner or Google Calendar to keep track of them. This will help you stay on top of your projects and not have it all come crashing down on you the day before it is due.

Take Breaks
During this time in the semester, it is important to avoid becoming burnt out. To do this, remember to take breaks. Whether you are studying for exams, writing a paper, or working on a project, giving yourself some time to be active, get a snack, or just let your brain rest is crucial. Try to work for an hour and then take 15-20 minutes to let yourself relax. I have gotten really good at remembering to take breaks and it definitely helps me be more productive! 

Prepare for Technical Difficulties
Because we are all learning remotely this semester, I am sure we’ve each experienced some technical difficulties. Be sure you know what to do in these different scenarios and prepare for them. If you have to use a new system or browser to take an exam, practice using it before the actual exam to avoid issues. Know how to contact your professor, too, so that you will be able to quickly get a hold of him or her if something were to go wrong. 

The end of the semester is always bittersweet because it’s exciting to have a break, but then you remember that you have to make it through finals week first. I hope that these tips help you feel as little stress as possible the next few weeks. Good luck on your finals!

Of Possible Interest:
Productivity & Wellness; On the Job – all our blog posts on these topics
Now That You’re on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Northfolk

Tips for Interning & Working Remotely

By: Rachel

At the end of my summer internship, I was asked if I’d be interested in continuing to work remotely once I returned to school in Duluth. As I quickly found out, working remotely can be an awesome opportunity, but it does bring some unique challenges. Whether you find yourself working remotely temporarily or more permanently, here are some tips I’ve learned in the past year to make the most of your experience:

Establish a routine. Among all the people I’ve talked to about working remotely, the most successful ones are those who stick to a routine. One of the biggest things many people enjoy about working remotely is the flexibility, and you can definitely take advantage of this, but try to set aside intentional times for work, meals, school, and personal interests. You’ll find this allows you maximize both the productivity and quality of whatever you’re focusing on.

In order to establish a routine that works for you, you’ll need to understand how you’re most productive. Do you work best in the morning or at night? Do you find your best time to exercise is the afternoon? Find what works for you and build your daily routine accordingly, recognizing it might change from day to day or over time.

Image: laptop computer sitting open on wood desktop
Text: Tips for interning and working remotely

Prepare for success. Take the time to set up a workspace and make sure you have all the equipment you’ll need. I’ve found it’s helpful to have one area dedicated to my work. Keeping this place organized and free of distractions helps me enter into the mindset to do my best work. Preparation can also be a daily practice of taking the time to get ready each day and having a morning routine before diving into work.

Optimize your work time. Some people find it’s helpful to set timers for work and break times. Personally, I try to be aware of where I keep my phone while working. When I need to focus, I’ll set it in a different room and only check it on breaks. Working remotely often requires a higher level of personal responsibility as you’re on your own, and I find lists to be really helpful in keeping track of everything I need to get done.

Connect with colleagues. You’ll probably find you need to adjust the way you communicate and collaborate with coworkers. This depends a lot on the nature of your role, but keep in mind the schedule you’ve created for yourself doesn’t necessarily align with the people you’re working with. Familiarize yourself with their routines so you know the best times to reach them. Keep in touch by checking in periodically whether that’s through an email, text, or conference call. While it can be more difficult when you aren’t there, it’s still important to stay updated on what’s happening within the company.

Make the experience fun! Motivate yourself by making your work time something you enjoy. To the extent your company allows, find some awesome playlists to listen to, create a workspace you’re excited to come to, wear what makes you happy and productive, and keep your favorite snacks on hand.

One of the biggest challenges with working remotely is maintaining work-life balance, so stay tuned for a blog post on tips for managing that to come!


Of Possible Interest:
Internships, On the Job, Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topics
Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Photo Source: Unsplash | Kari Shea

Mentors: Be One; Have One

By: Amanda

One of the most impactful lessons I have learned throughout my college experience so far is the importance of mentorship—both being a mentor and finding one. Finding a mentor, whether it is in a formal or informal setting, is something that can help one learn and push their limits. I have had a variety of formal and informal mentors in my lifetime. When it comes to making big life decisions, it’s vital to have a trusted person to turn to who understands your life goals and visions. 

Image: notebooks and rose gold binder clips on white desktop
Text: Mentors: How to have one and be one


Join Student Groups
Mentors can come in many shapes and forms. If you are in a club or student group on campus, perhaps there is an older, more experienced individual who you can learn from. In my sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, I have two alumni I refer to often for professional and personal advice. Ask to grab coffee with someone who you look up to in your organization. You never know where it will lead!

Use Your Collegiate Unit
Another way to find a mentor is through your collegiate unit. Find someone further along than yourself. Use them and their life as guidance. Learn from their highlights and downfalls; ask sensible questions. Additionally, some collegiate units have formal mentorship programs that kick off every fall. Check out the UMD Mentor Program.

Within Professional Work
Finally, mentors can be found through your professional work. During my summer internship experience, I was paired with a mentor who had similar goals and values as me. We sat down bi-monthly to discuss the program, my goals, and any questions I had. Within your next professional job, seek out a mentor who will help you navigate work experiences.

Although I haven’t been a formal mentor yet, I have found many instances where I am taken a “mentor-like” role. For example, while working at Career and Internship Services, I have found myself helping younger students who work in our office. I was in their shoes just two years ago and love to help them sift through work, life, or school. Additionally, in my sorority, I’m often helping younger women who are in the business school and trying to maneuver through internships, their majors, or what classes to sign up for. 

Through experiences like these, I have discovered the importance of paying it forward and intentionally aiding others as much as possible. I have had profound mentors over the past few years who have significantly changed the course of my life. Being able to give back in some way, even if minuscule, is something I cherish. 

I challenge you to not only find someone to help you with your career goals but also find someone who you can help. When you do this, you will find ultimate fulfillment. 

Of Possible Interest:
Networking; On the Job – all our blog posts on these topics
Key to Networking; Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest boards filled with resources & articles

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | STIL

Use Your Time Wisely

By: Kendra

Typically, us college students are extremely busy with classes, working, being involved, and schoolwork that it seems like we don’t have any spare time. In adjusting to our new ‘normal’, I have found myself having free time that I just don’t know how to fill. I am sure many others are feeling this way, too, so I decided to come up with a few tasks you can do to productively spend your free time. 

Complete your profile in GoldPASS powered by Handshake.
If you are unfamiliar, GoldPASS is the University of Minnesota system’s online platform for connecting students and employers. Students are able to search for jobs and internships, connect with employers and other students, as well as learn more about recruiting events going on across the system in GoldPASS. Having your profile updated and complete is important because it allows employers to find and reach out to you. See “The Three Must-Haves on Your Handshake Profile” to learn more about completing your profile. Additionally, I have written a two-part guide to using GoldPASS powered by Handshake (Part 1 & Part 2). Our Employer Relations team would be more than happy to help you with any GoldPASS related questions and can be reached via email at

image: notebooks laid out on white background
Text: Use your time wisely. Complete profile on GoldPASS powered by Handshake. Research companies. Practice interview skills. Update resume.

Use this time to get ahead on researching companies.
This will help guide you in your future searches for an internship and/or a job after graduation. There are a few different resources that can help you research companies: 

  • GoldPASS powered by Handshake: Once your profile is complete, use GoldPASS powered by Handshake to see companies that have recruited at UMD in the past. In GoldPASS, you are able to see employers who have attended career fairs in the past by including past fairs in an event search. You can also search for jobs and internships on this platform. If you see a position that interests you, look further into that company to learn more about it. 
  • Internship Data: Many students at UMD participate in internships each year. We have compiled data from the past two years that shows where students of certain majors interned. Here is the 2017-2018 academic year internship data, and here is the data for the 2018-2019 academic year. Research these companies to learn more about the work that they do to see if it seems interesting to you. 
  • Graduate Follow-Up Report: The Graduate Follow-Up Report is an annual document our office creates to show where our students end up after graduation. It includes information on where students were employed after graduation, where students continued their education, and more. This information is so valuable! 
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a platform that allows you to create a professional network, search for positions, and showcase yourself. By first creating your profile and completing it, you will be able to connect with professionals to begin networking. You will be able to connect with other students at UMD, as well as alumni, to see where they are currently employed. 
  • Google: While the remainder of the resources I listed were ways to see where other UMD students landed positions, don’t feel limited to only those companies. Conducting a Google search can be quite overwhelming, which is why I think it is best to start out by using some of the resources I listed previously. Take what you have learned from that research to Google to find even more companies that might interest you. 

For example, say I, an accounting major, am researching the companies where previous accounting majors have interned. I am learning more about those organizations and find that the ones that most interest me are all public accounting firms. I take this knowledge to Google to find more public accounting firms, as well as to learn more about them in general. This method of learning more about companies and their industries can be applied to any major, too, not just accounting. 

You can take your research to the next level, too. If you find a company you are really excited about, find a contact and reach out to them! Scheduling an informational interview, or just a time to chat with a representative of a company can be extremely beneficial in learning about the company, as well as opportunities within it. If you are looking for advice on how to contact companies, what to say, etc., our Career Handbook has some excellent information. Additionally, our career counselors would be more than happy to help. You can get in touch with them by emailing or calling 218-726-7985 to schedule an appointment.

Practice your interview skills.
As a student at UMD, you have access to InterviewStream, which is a wonderful resource that allows you to do this. InterviewStream is a website that allows you to conduct practice interviews, record them, and watch them later. You are able to customize your interview by selecting questions that relate to the type of interview you want to practice. You can also record your practice interviews to watch later, which will help your future performance in interviews. This is an excellent way for you to practice interviewing without anything being on the line, so I highly recommend taking advantage of it. 

Update your resume.
Using our Career Handbook, you can refine your resume or create one if you haven’t already. In our handbook, you will find a guide for creating resumes, example resumes, and more that will help you create your document. Once you’ve updated your resume, upload it to GoldPASS so that employers can view it. If you would like to have your resume reviewed, just following the submission instructions on our website

I hope this inspires you and gives you a few ideas of how to fill your time. As always, the staff in Career & Internship Services is always available to answer any questions you might have, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Of Possible Interest:
Internships; Job Search – all our blog posts on the topic
Ace the Job Search; Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Kendra’s other posts

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