Prioritizing Isn’t Always Easy

By: PJay

Do you ever find yourself questioning, why there are so many things to do in a day, but you never seem to be able to finish them all? Sometimes when that happens to me, I tend to believe that it’s due to my lack of ability to be productive. But when I really think about it, I realize that I am actually just a very busy person. The answer is not being unproductive, it is time. There is just simply not enough hours in a day for one to accomplish all the task they wish to achieve.

Infinity time. Digital generated

Even though the first semester of my freshman year is already coming to an end, I am still struggling with how to balance out school, clubs, and work in my life. Sometimes there are just so many demands to finish in a day. Many times, I wished time could just go slow down or stop. But let’s face reality. You can’t stop time, therefore, you have to learn how to prioritize.

You may ask, “How do I decide on what to prioritize first?” The answer is simple, learn how to concentrate on one goal first before moving on to another one. The best thing to do is accomplish the goal you will thank yourself for tomorrow when you wake up. Sometimes you will regret not doing something, but take it as a lesson learn and figure out how you will do things differently next time.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I am no expert because I am still grieving over missing last week’s Pre-med club guest speaker meeting due to the infinite stack of homework I had. However, I have developed the mindset to understand that there will always be other opportunities granted to me if I seek for it.

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Bringing the Magic to Life: What Harry Potter Taught Me About Success

By: Katie

In previous posts, I wrote about what Harry Potter taught me about myself and about others. For my last post in this series, I’m going to write about what Harry Potter taught me about success.

Success isn’t simple.
I’m a firm believer that success in one area of your life isn’t worth it if it comes at the cost of another.  It’s easy to develop tunnel vision when it comes to striving to achieve your goals, but it’s important to remember that achieving your goals alone won’t necessarily mean success. Voldemort had power, intimidation, and at face value was very successful in achieving his goal of being in extreme power. However, he was alone. He didn’t have friends, and the only people who stuck close to him did so more out of fear or obsession than anything positive. Voldemort was so committed to becoming all-powerful that he focused on only that, leading a lonely life because of it. Sacrificing meaningful relationships, happiness, health, or your sanity to maintain your 4.0 just isn’t worth it.

HP Success

You’ll fail along the way.
If anyone exemplifies this idea, it is the Harry Potter characters. How many times did the “good guys” try to get rid of Voldemort? How many times did Voldemort try to get rid of them? Countless, practically. However, both sides continued to fight for what mattered to them. One side fought for cruelty while the other fought for peace, but still, they didn’t let failure after failure stop them, and their string of failures eventually led to a final success (well, for one side, anyway).  Failure is an unavoidable byproduct of working toward something important or doing something you care about. Whether it be to defeat an evil lord or get a job you love, you’re not going to get the “happy ending” you want without some unhappy circumstances beforehand.

Sometimes you need to break the rules.
Sometimes authority just needs to be challenged. Sometimes the status quo should be thrown out. And sometimes, the way to succeed is to forget the rules and follow your own. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione broke into Bellatrix’s vault at Gringotts to search for a horcrux, Harry used the imperius curse on a goblin so they could get inside. The imperius curse is one of the unforgivable curses, so named because it is considered so awful that its use is an unforgivable offense and will land you a lifelong prison sentence. However, they may not have gotten to the vault without its use. While this act wasn’t necessarily ethical or moral, arguably, Harry had no choice. Sometimes you can’t get where you want to be from inside the confines of what’s expected, what’s always been done, or what is deemed correct. While I don’t condone breaking laws that exist to protect others, there are times when established systems might not allow for the success you seek. When that happens, consider developing your own system instead.

We have about 1 million words detailing the experience of the Harry Potter characters (I got that number from Yahoo Answers, so it must be right). In those words, we find countless lessons that can guide our decisions, actions, and feelings toward others, ourselves, and success. The situations in your life may not involve defeating a dark lord or manipulating the world with magic, but the story of Harry Potter can still provide with wisdom you can apply to your own muggle life.

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APIA Leadership: Beyond the Boat

By: David

The notion of leadership is one that is highly valued among many individuals. In addition, race and diversity is a topic that is consistently prevalent in our society. When blending the two, the two elements complement one another quite well. Recently in life, there has been many events relating to  the two topics. Within this past month, I have had to plan for Asian Pacific American Association’s (APAA) Annual Culture Show, partake in various student of color panels, and discuss about cross-cultural communication. In addition, the recent events at the University of Missouri and Paris has definitely impacted me as an individual by urging me to reevaluate myself as an Asian Pacific American leader.  Today’s blog post zooms in on the two notions of leadership and culture, Asian Pacific Islander Leadership: Beyond the Boat.

Bamboo Ceiling

Before starting, I want to take some time to talk about the “bamboo ceiling” phenomenon. The term “bamboo ceiling” derives from Jane Hyun’s book Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians. To sum it up, the term refers to the barriers and limitations to Asian Pacific Americans to rise to leadership roles it. In regards to the historical context, before the modern days in Asia many people would built their homes out of straws, mud, and bamboo. Figuratively speaking, the “bamboo ceiling” is what limits Asian Pacific Americans in career success. Once the rooftop is sealed, an individual can only achieve so much, and therefore it often restricts one’s ability to reach their full potential.  

Beyond the Boat

As part of the title, I decided to include the phrase “Beyond the Boat.” Though there are numerous interpretations to this phrase, this is one concrete way of defining it:
“The concept of ‘Beyond the Boat’ was taken from the phrase, ‘Fresh off the Boat.’  The term ‘FOB’ often limits immigrants and Asian Americans, a way of making generalizations.  ‘Beyond the Boat’ was used to seek out the ways APIs were complex and rich in history, especially through activism, solidarity, and social change.” – Verna Wong

The term “fresh off the boat” is an older term for immigrants who are new to the United States who are freshly arriving off the boat (this was before air travel was a possibility). Altogether, we have the phrase, “fresh off the boat.” One thing to be aware of is that with race and culture there also comes many generalizations and stereotyping. The phrase “Beyond the Boat” is a way for individuals or a culture group to break these stereotypes and generalizations to overcome such judgements and expectations.

Relating back to the topic of leadership, the image of Asian Pacific Americans in leadership roles is one that is barely visible. According to LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics), “less than 3% of the leadership of the nation’s top for-profit and non-profit groups are Asian Pacific Americans.”  With such a low percentage of role models, it’s difficult as an Asian Pacific American student to see a future past the “bamboo ceiling.” As an Asian American in today’s society, there is a lot of  concern as to what leadership opportunities are available for myself and others in the future. To go “beyond the boat” requires me to constantly step outside my comfort zone and always having to put in the extra effort to be acknowledged. Furthermore, this phrase inspires me to break the stereotypes and generalizations revolving around Asian Pacific Americans and also to increase the 3% of APIAs in leadership roles.


To conclude, the duty of being a leader is never an easy task to do. From any standpoint, there will always be some form of systematic oppression despite circumstances. As a student leader for APAA, I find it most difficult promoting such events and activities relating to the Asian Pacific culture and showing the common interest for those who may not identify with the culture itself. Furthermore, I find it difficult to motivate my fellow peers to embrace the trait of being a leader to increase the 3% due to the lack of APIA role models in society. As many millennials begin to enter leadership roles after college, it will be interesting to see how the percentage of leaders with a different ethnic background evolve throughout the years.

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The Big “I” Word

By: Willow

If there is one thing that all employers love it’s initiative. Initiative is ability to assess a situation and decide what needs to be done independently from the direction of others. That does not mean that you do things despite what other people say, it means that you do productive things without explicitly being told to do so.

Why is this so important you may ask? The more you do without being asked to the better it makes you look, and the easier it makes everyone else’s lives. A lot of things you do will go unnoticed, if you see the toilet paper is low in the office bathroom and you refill it, chances are no one will come up and thank you, but people will be a lot happier.


There are far bigger things you can do without being asked too. Once you know more about the company and you figure out routines, then you should have a good idea what needs to be done. If you work at a food establishment you know that the tables need to be wiped down after someone uses them. You don’t have to be told to do that. In any job setting there are tons of things that happen regularly that employees just don’t do until they’re asked. Be better, don’t be lazy. So what do you do if you’re not sure that’s what your boss wants? Simple, just ask, “Hey Janet, do you want me to type up that report?” if they say yes, go do it, if they say no, lucky you.

This blog post is a short one because I think this topic is simple. Do your job, do it well, and do it without being asked. That’s how you become a great employee.

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Photo Source: Unsplash|Negative Space

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing, but I Know I’m Doing it Really, Really Well

By: Cassie

I will be the first to admit I don’t really have it all together. Don’t get me wrong there are occasional moments when I feel like I might pull it together, and yet another curveball is thrown at me. Life as a college student is stressful, and I’ve accepted that it’s okay to feel like your world is falling apart. We all have exams, papers, and hours of homework and reading to do (pro tip: yes, when a professor assigns readings you are actually supposed to do them). On top of all of that we balance social lives, jobs, internships, clubs, sports, and let’s not forget to add in time to eat and sleep. But fear not, because I am here to tell you that it is okay to not be okay all the time.

Sometimes, doing things the hard way is the best way to do them. That’s not saying it doesn’t stink when you make a mistake, because it really does, but sometimes learning lessons the hard way might be the most effective way to get them across. As an example, say you stayed in bed all day and watched a whole season of your favorite show on Netflix instead of studying for your midterm. You probably didn’t do so well on the exam and you now know that in order to succeed you have to be willing to put in the work. It’s okay that those mistakes happen now because then you’ll know you can’t do that when you get out into the real world. Believe it or not, when we get out into the real world our lives will get even more chaotic. The more lessons we learn now, the more we will be prepared for our future.

The future is scary and you might not know what your future will hold. The thing you have to remember is that you don’t always have to know exactly what you’re doing. Now is the time to try new things, get involved, and find out what you really like to do. It is better to find out you don’t like something now, rather than later. If you have any questions about careers, absolutely come see our counselors at Career and Internship Services. They can help you take the first steps to find where you want to go, or get you going towards your goals. They can also help you talk through any issues you might have or that may come up in the process. Taking the first step is the best thing you can do to figure out what you want to do. I know that talking about the future is scary and that it might just scare you away if you are already dealing with all of the other stuff in your life, but I can’t emphasize enough about having a plan for yourself. You don’t have to follow the plan exactly, but having some sort of structure will help you navigate whatever comes your way.

We might not always know what we want, what we need, or how to get where we’re going. That doesn’t mean you are a mess. There are so many people who are willing to help you and so many lessons you can learn in the process. Yeah, growing up is scary, but if you want to get the most out of your college experience I think that it is important that I emphasize how okay it is to not be okay. You can be a mess and still have it together. Even if you don’t have it all together just remember that even if you don’t know what you’re doing, make sure that you are doing it really, really well.

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What I Wish I Had Known

By: Logan

Everyone learns a lot during their first few years of college. It is a time of exploration and gaining new experiences. Being a Junior, I sometimes look back at my Freshman self and wonder if things could have been different. I wonder what my college career would look like if I knew all of the things I know now. I’m not saying I made a lot of bad choices as a freshman, but I know that if I had the knowledge I have now, I could have improved my professional development and made college more enjoyable overall. As a part of my role as a peer educator, I want people to hear some things that I wish I knew when I first came into college.

Person & Night Sky

One of the biggest mistakes I made coming into college was the decision to decide on a major right away before actually researching it and making sure it was what I wanted to do. I was unsure of what I wanted to do when I first came to college, but I thought that I had to choose a major right away. I decided to follow in my brother’s footsteps and study Exercise Science. I quickly learned you should never decide on a major because of what your siblings or parents did. Everyone is different, and we all have different interests and skills. I quickly realized where I had made my mistake. I didn’t feel right in the classes, and I was struggling to keep up with the material because I had no interest in it. If you are a Freshman and are undecided on a major, do not rush. You have plenty of time to figure out what interests you and where your skills lie. If you try to quickly declare a major for the wrong reasons, you will be disappointed. If you are having trouble finding a major that interests you, try coming to Career and Internship Services. You can set up a 1 on 1 meeting with one of our counselors and discuss different options that would suit you. You can also take different career assessments, such as the Strong Interest Inventory, StrengthsQuest, or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which can help you identify your individual interests, strengths, and personality.

As a freshman I was constantly told, “Get Involved!” This could mean joining clubs or organizations, getting an on-campus job, or simply being more active on-campus. As a freshman I only joined one organization, which was a fraternity. I got out of it exactly what I wanted: new friends, volunteering and leadership experience, and a large network of other students and faculty. Looking back at it now, I gained so much from joining this one organization, and sometimes I wonder how much more I could have gotten if I had joined more than one organization. Being involved not only looks good on your resume, but it is a great way to meet people who have similar interests as you. If you are having trouble meeting new people, then joining a club or organization could be the best way to overcome this issue. Another benefit to getting involved is that you may be exposed to different leadership positions within the organization. This could mean being the Treasurer, Secretary, or even President of any particular club. Taking on these leadership roles looks great on your resume, and they can help you learn new skills to help you continue your professional development.

The last piece of advice I would give to anyone who is coming into college would be to try and make as many new friends as you can your Freshman year. Many people meet a friend on their first day of college and tend to stick with that person because they do not know anyone else. I recommend you try to meet as many people as you can because you never know who you might meet. And it makes the campus feel a lot smaller when you can walk through the halls and recognize a few faces. So don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone in your class, or introduce yourself to everyone on your dorm floor.

There are a lot of things that I wish I had known when I was a freshman, and I would have benefitted greatly if I had been able to read this blog post when I was first coming into college. Your freshman year is a time to try new things and meet new people, so do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and gain some new experiences. I promise that you will thank yourself when you reach your senior year and you have no regrets about your freshman year.

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Photo source: Unsplash|Greg Rakozy

Meet PJay

PJay F15 Web Version

Hello there!

My name is PJay. I am a freshmen here at UMD. Currently, I am majoring in Biology with a possible minor in Deaf Studies. I just got hired at the UMD Career & Internship Services this fall, and I’m so excited to be working here with a wonderful team of amazing staff members and fellow peers! My favorite place in Duluth would have to be Chester Park. I love the feeling of being outdoors and exploring nature. When I have the time, I enjoy traveling very much! I love seeing new places and meeting new people.

The best career advice that I’ve received from someone that I hold dearly to my heart is, “You can’t always go all the way through at first, but you have to try before you can quit.” This quote definitely helped me to get pass my first couple weeks of college because I did horribly on my first Chemistry exam. I felt miserable and just wanted to switch my major since I needed that class for my major and career. I tried convincing myself that there were other career options for me, but I was still very unhappy. After I spoke to someone and when they gave me that advice, I realized that there were three more exams before the semester was going to end. I still had time to try harder, study, and focus more on the work for the class and eventually I ended up doing so much better on my second exam.

My best piece of career advice to give to someone is, there will always be people who will doubt that you can’t pursue a career. But, sometimes, people just put others down because they fear your success and potential. So don’t let anyone tell you that it’s impossible, because it’s up to you to work for it and to believe in yourself that you can do it!