Lessons Learned from Transferring to UMD

By: Eva

Hello, my name is Eva. I started college in 2013, and at this point in time, I have credits from four different colleges and universities. Right now I am working on a Bachelors in Anthropology, but I was enrolled at various points throughout college for Business, Nursing, Biology, English, and Medical Lab Technician. Although it’s meant graduating later than most people my age I am honestly very grateful for the experiences I have accumulated. Here are a few pieces of advice for transfer students…

Keep the paper syllabus!
We all know that the first class of the semester is usually a waste of time, but if anything, go just for the hard copy of the syllabus. Many instructors do have their syllabi online, but if the link is broken, the syllabus has changed since you took the class, or if the instructor or class is no longer at the institution, it will be WAY more difficult to find.

Be ready to defend your education.
I almost had an American History class not transfer to UMD. I talked with the professor at UMD, the History Department head, and the CLA office. I filled out two petitions and sent well over two dozen emails and rang about five different phones. I was super duper polite and considerate the entire time, which worked to my benefit later. I almost think I got so annoying they wanted to get rid of me and allowed the class to count towards my minor. Although it took a lot of time it was worth the time and money in the long run.

Lessons learned from transferring to UMD. Book stack.

Recognize if you’re chasing the wrong career.
Before I transferred to UMD for Anthropology I tried to transfer for a Biology BA. All the biology, chemistry, and anatomy classes I had taken as core classes at LSC only counted as elective credits at UMD. It would take another three years to graduate if I stuck with biology and I was already burned out from trying to make my brain work with numbers and formulas instead of words and ideas. My utter despair at the idea of spending six more semesters in laboratories and blinking through dry biology textbooks helped me realize that what I wanted was not what I was good at.

Double and triple check the classes you’re taking will transfer.
Although it all worked out, I was pretty peeved when my LSC biology courses weren’t considered equivalent to UMD’s. I had been told that they would transfer just fine and that they would be protected because they were part of the MNTC and my Associate’s degree. Just because an advisor says the credits transfer does not mean the system will allow them to transfer. Talk with the other institution to make sure you’re putting your time and money in the right place before you sign up for classes. Make sure to get your answers in writing with an official signature or email.

Ask for help.
I’ve cried in three different staff offices at UMD as I asked what are my options during the transfer process. I cry at the drop of a hat, but all of the staff were incredibly kind and offered me many tissues as I apologized for my overactive tear glands. When we’re in stressful situations we often tend to clam up and protect ourselves. It can be scary to reach out to people in unfamiliar settings but I learned pretty quick that the staff at UMD are there because they want to help students succeed. Even if I talked to the wrong person for my question, that person usually knew someone else with a better answer.

I had one main person who I would email and call on a regular basis. Because she was familiar with my situation she was able to connect me with the people and resources I needed, and I knew I could trust her to help me out.

All in all, even the process of transferring was part of my education. I learned a lot of life lessons by running into obstacles, replotting my educational career, and navigating large and small university systems. I hope that these tips are useful for transfer students, whether you are coming or leaving UMD.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Eva’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Sharon McCutcheon

Life Lessons in Anthropology

By: Eva

When I tell people I am an Anthropology major their first comment is always “Oh, so you learn about dinosaurs?”

Not that dinosaurs aren’t cool, but anthropologists learn a lot more than just how to identify fossils. We learn a lot about ourselves, too.

My emotions are valid.
Anthropology has several different fields, and I focus on cultural anthropology. This means I study what people say, what people do, and what people say they do. To understand all of this involves a lot of talking and interacting with people and recording all of it, and this includes my personal reaction. In a way, anthropologists have to study their own emotions when they’re in the field with just as much care they would give to the people they are working with. In-depth self-reflection has become very important for anthropologists in the last few decades to make sure that the safety and well-being of every participant is looked after. I think this self-study, combined with gentleness and patience, is important for everyone.

Life lessons learned through Anthropology; water surface

Everyone has biases.
Anthropology is a science, but it’s not the kind where you can throw all the data into an algorithm and have it figured out. There is simply too much “humanness” for that to work. Before I switched to Anthropology from Biology I associated bias with weakness. After all, how can you have bias when balancing a chemistry formula? My Anth classes have strongly emphasized the fact that we all have biases and that it is important to acknowledge them, and that bias is not inherently bad. When you do this, you can see how you may have influenced a situation or why you may have reacted in a certain way. This opened my eyes to better understand myself and the people around me and helped me gain more empathy.

Everyone is interesting.
Everyone has cool stories. They just need to be asked. We tend to think that we’re not that interesting because we don’t have a 4.0, don’t have plans to become the next Malala or Obama, or aren’t going into a career that will make millions. But to be honest, that’s most people, including myself. Anthropology has taught me to celebrate the everyday experiences of everyday people. If most people know what it’s like to feel a certain way or experience a certain thing, then those ordinary stories also have the answers for a lot of the worlds’ problems. It just takes someone who wants to listen and find out what those answers are.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Eva’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Tyler Yarbrough

Meet Eva

Eva headshot

Name: Eva
Major: Anthropology
Minor: History
Year in school: Senior
When I  started working at UMD Career & Internship Services: August 2017
Favorite place in Duluth: Lester Park and Amity Creek. There are dozens of trails and waterfalls
Favorite hobby: Reading books and figuring out how to use a DSLR camera

Best career advice I’ve received: Life is a continual process of challenge, growth, and accomplishment. “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness.

Piece of career advice you have for other students: Try to not get too worried about making the perfect decision the first time around. It’s the general trajectory of your decisions that matter more than just one moment!

Be the Awesome Intern

You have an internship? Fantastic! We’ve put together a handy list of tips so you can be an AWESOME intern.

How to be the awesome intern; wood desk top

  • Set goals with your supervisor about what will be accomplished throughout & by the end of the internship.
  • Keep track of what you do each day at your internship. This will help when meeting w/your supervisor & updating your resume at the end.
  • Find ways to go above and beyond what is expected of you. If you finish a task ahead of schedule, ask where else you can assist.
  • Be punctual. If you start at 8am, be at your desk/station ready to work at that time versus walking in the door.
  • If you don’t know (and you’ve tried multiple ways to the solve the issue yourself), ask. Asking questions is a good thing.
  • Do you commute to your internship? Maximize your time by reading the news, listening to podcasts, or keeping up with the trends in your field.

Tori with Bacon sign at Hormel

Peer Educator Tori at her internship with Hormel Foods

  • From one of our fave recruiters: “We look at it [the internship] as a long interview. Kill it, learn/grow and you might have a job before it ends.”
  • Meet with people from throughout the organization. Learn about what they do and advice they may have for you.
  • Attend events the company has designed for the interns. Be a joiner!
  • Ask for constructive criticism/feedback. It’ll help you be a better intern and professional.
  • Take your internship seriously and be eager to learn.
  • Learn your organization’s company culture (mission, values, org structure, clients, attire, etc).
  • If you have fellow interns, connect with them. You’re all going through the internship experience together.
  • Don’t like your internship? Figure out if it’s the work, the people, or the company rather than an overall negative experience.
  • Managing your time as an intern is different than when you’re a student. Find what works best for you.
  • How to be the best summer intern in your office. Via: The Prepary

Kirsi doing Astronaut user testing at NASA co-op

Peer Educator Kirsi at her co-op with NASA Johnson Space Center

  • Check in with yourself halfway through the internship and reflect on how it has been going so far. Tweak as needed.
  • Talk to people in a variety of departments and work functions to see the bigger picture of your organization.
  • How to handle a competitive work environment.
  • Check in with your supervisor on a regular basis to see how your internship is going. Ask questions. Get feedback.
  • Interested in having your Internship transition to Full-time? Explore company benefits: retirement, insurance, continuing education, etc.
  • Environment is huge. Take notes about your internship and what works (or doesn’t) for you: nature of the work, people, and work setting to help with your next search. 
  • What have you been learning about your industry during your internship? How will you bring that back to your classes?
  • Details matter. Proofread everything, because you don’t want to be remembered as the person with the typo problem.
  • Research how your company invests in its people. Training, help with furthering education, personal growth, benefits, and more.
  • Be thinking about who at your internship you want to ask to be references for you. Ask before your last day.

Of Possible Interest: 

  • Internships – all of our blog posts about the topic
  • Internships – our Pinterest board filled with articles and resources

Photo Sources: Unsplash; Tori; Kirsi

Managing Mental Health

By: PJay

Editor’s note: In our office, we view mental health as a strong component of overall confidence and success in your future career path. Use PJay’s experience, described below, as inspiration for taking care of your own mental health. 

As the end of the semester was approaching I found myself losing a lot of motivation and constantly feeling stressed. It seemed as if a lot of my acquaintances were also feeling the same way as me when we were discussing mental illness in the Asian community. Whether you are Asian or not, I’m sure you’ve experienced the feeling of being considered “crazy”, “lazy”, or “ungrateful” when you mentioned the feeling of having depression or anxiety. It’s a big problem I want to address it in this post. Being a person who is Hmong American and has been told by doctors that I have anxiety, I want you to know that you are definitely not those stereotypes mentioned above.

Managing mental health

First I would like to share my experience of learning how I came to be aware of my anxiety. I grew up in a very supportive family but mental illness was never addressed as something that needed to be taken care of. I think this actually goes for a lot of Asian households. My sophomore year was the time when my anxiety got really bad. My panic attacks would make my breathing irregular and I would lose control of my body. There would be so much tingling and numbness from my head to toes that I would end up falling over or passing out. For some reason at the time, I thought I had asthma and after several panic attacks, I finally decided to schedule a doctor’s appointment. When meeting with my primary doctor in Saint Paul, we went in depth about my symptoms. It turned out I didn’t have asthma, and she concluded I had anxiety. I was so shocked at the time and I thought the doctor was wrong because I was unaware of mental illness. I was in such disbelief I decided to schedule another appointment at UMD’s Health Services instead. But guess what? The doctor there told me the exact same thing. At first, I was obviously upset because growing up, all I knew was that anxiety meant you were crazy and I didn’t want people to think I was CRAZY, so I only told very close friends about my situation. Thankfully, all of them were very understanding.

Moving on, I knew I couldn’t run away from it because it was something uncontrollable in my mind, therefore the only thing to do was to make it better. I began to learn more about how to take care of myself through online research and being around people who understood and experienced the same things as me. In addition, I attended APAA’s Mental Illness in the Asian Community lead by Julie Kim from Health Services, which gave me more insight about how I wasn’t the only who felt “crazy” with my mental illness. It also made me realize there are a lot of people who needed my guidance and my support. This is how I stopped shying away from accepting the fact I do have anxiety and it is OK.

I want anyone who has, or maybe doesn’t have, depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues to know they should never treat themselves or others differently. Be aware that it can be a sensitive topic and don’t assume it’s “not real”. Someone may look normal on the outside but inside they could be experiencing something psychologically and these are considered non-visible disorders. Next time you hear about someone experiencing this, be kind and offer help. UMD’s Health Services offers free counseling for all register UMD students for various reasons. There are also very supportive groups on campus such as the Disability Resource Center and Access for All. Your mental health plays a bigger role in your life than you make think. Remember to take care of yourself.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read PJay’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Faye Cornish

Removing, Rebooting, and Relocating

By: Tori

Moving away from your ‘normal’ for the past 4 years is harder than you’d think it would be. When I accepted my offer to join the Leadership Development Rotational Program with Allstate Insurance, I was equally nervous and excited. I was ready for a fresh start but I continued to be reminded of the things I would miss out on, the people I wouldn’t see, and the difficult transition that was ahead of me.

For my final blog post as a Peer Educator, I decided to share a few lessons I have gained while learning how to remove myself from ‘normal’, reboot my attitude to optimism, and relocate to a new city!

Removing Rebooting Relocating Lessons for tackling life after graduation

The first lesson I have learned is that I am very blessed. UMD has provided me a platform for growing and expanding beyond my comfort zones, as well as opportunities to make new friends, connections, and gain more wisdom during this one phase of my life than I thought possible. From sporting events, study abroad, on-campus jobs, internships, hilarious roommates, Bulldog hockey, etc. Due to these experiences and people, I have more confidence that Chicago will hold similar blessings. It may just take some time.

The second lesson I have learned is that I’ve done this before, so I can do it again. It’s not that I hate change, it’s more that transitions are hard. They are exciting and offer new adventures, but they also are overwhelming, and often times lonely. I remember experiencing this after coming back from summer break freshman year. I was excited to be back in Duluth and conquer year 2 of my undergrad, but also missed the normal, the familiarity, and the comfort I had at home. This continued to happen to me as I would transition from living at home and working, to living in Duluth and learning. But the thing is, I ALWAYS moved past that transition phase and got right back into the swing of things. At times it seemed too much to handle, but then I reminded myself “you’ve done it before, so you can do it again’.

The final lesson I have learned is that if you prepare, you will feel more capable. In the midst of my senior year ending, my time has been consumed with final papers, projects, ‘the lasts of the lasts’, and meeting up with friends before we go our separate ways. However, I also have taken time to journal, process, and plan how to prepare myself best for this new move. Thinking through and having an idea in mind of places to hang out, get coffee, and attend church have helped me begin to form my life in Chicago before I’ve even left! Taking the time to think through these things has helped me remind myself I am capable of change and this time in my life will be one I won’t ever forget!

I hope these lessons help you as you begin your transition into the summer, your new job, or your new location!

Of Possible Interest:

Read Tori’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jan Senderek

Tips For Surviving Junior Year

By: Heidi

For my last blog post of my Junior year of college, I thought a reflection would be fitting to wrap up the year. Junior year has by far been the most challenging year academically and also learning to balance everything as a whole.

I went from taking my lower division courses that weren’t really related to my major sophomore year, to jumping into upper division courses this year. I had no job my sophomore year and spent the majority of this past year working two. I hadn’t had any leadership roles freshman or sophomore year and ended up in three different leadership positions in student organizations and eventually had to close the chapter to one of them.

It has been a year of balance or trying to figure it out, to say the least.

Tips for surviving Junior year

Take care of yourself. Not just self-care every once in awhile, but every day. Self-care comes in different forms for everyone but find what works best for you.

Small chunks consistently. It’s a lot easier to accomplish a task if you work on it in chunks rather than trying to study or work on a project for 8 hours straight. Honestly, within an hour or two you’re going to find yourself distracted and won’t be able to focus to the best of your abilities. It’s not easy to plan ahead but it will save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Snacks!! They will get you through the long days. There are a few vital things I have learned to keep on me throughout the year. My go-to’s have been oven roasted dark chocolate almonds (brain food), green tea (perfect amount of caffeine for a midday pick me up), and a pack of gum (just necessary). No matter what your snack of choice is, it will help keep you fueled so instead of thinking about how hungry you are, you are able to focus and get the job done.

Take advantage of the opportunities campus has to offer. Whether it’s job fairs, on-campus interviews with recruiters, info sessions, or special guest speakers, make an effort to not only attend but be active and engaged in these events. The campus puts on a lot of stuff for students, so use it to your benefit!

Relax. The responsibilities are endless. It’s ok to take breaks, it’s ok to go see that new movie, it’s ok to just hang out with friends and do nothing. There will always be something to do and something you could do. This goes right along with taking care of yourself. One of the benefits I have learned from this is that taking time away from homework allows me to collect my thoughts and come up with new and often better ideas. This goes right into my next point.

Exercise! The idea of it may be grueling, but find some form of fitness or way to get your body moving! We all know there are many benefits to exercising, and some are more important to certain people than others. One of my favorite things I have discovered is that working out really helps me process my thoughts and work through my emotions. I have toyed with exercising in the morning before school but what I have ultimately found is that after school or evening workouts not only work better for my schedule but my well-being as it helps manage minor stresses I may encounter on a day-to-day basis.

Whether you’re graduating, or finishing up your freshman year of college, take some time to reflect on your experience. What went well, where can you make improvements, and how you can implement these skills and ideas into your future. Reflect now and be prepared for the future.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Denys Nevozhai