Wowza! I cannot believe there is less than a month left of my undergrad here at UMD. It feels like it was just yesterday that I was a freshman moving into Griggs R and trying to find my way around campus. It is so amazing how fast time flies. I’ll be totally honest I wasn’t sure how college was going to go. I didn’t really like high school and feared college would be similar, so when mom left and I was all moved in I was pretty nervous. Sure enough though, I soon made some pretty great friends, knew how to ride the DTA, and landed a sweet job at Career & Internship Services. Do you all remember your tour at UMD before you were an official bulldog? I do and I remember the tour guide telling me the usual, “this is Solon Campus Center otherwise known as the Wedge, and there are some important offices…this one Career Services (before the name change) can help you build a resume and figure out what to do with your major…” at the time I didn’t give it another thought. But really, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had access to some of the resources they have available. In this post I am going to lay out what resources I used each year here as a student and map out my personal journey to figuring out what the heck I wanted to do with my life.
I still remember my first appointment at C&IS, it was a week into the semester and I wanted to know what the heck I could do with a biology major. Not long after my first appointment I actually got a job working in the office at the front desk. As a requirement as a student employee, but also at the suggestion of the counselors, I took all three career assessments offered in the office, the Strong Interest Inventory, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and StrengthsQuest. Once I took the assessments and had the interpretations it was apparent that there was a pattern in my interests, strengths, and personality. At the top of the lists that include careers that match with your interests and personality was the career medical technologist. I had long thought about a career in the medical field but I really didn’t want to go to medical school. I am pretty introverted, meaning working with tons of different people and working weird long hours wasn’t all that appealing, but I did want to help people. Not too long after I had an advising appointment with my freshman advisor and mentioned that I heard about this medical technologist career and was interested and asked her if she knew much about it. She showed me a program at Mayo in Rochester that seemed really appealing. After a little research of my own on the career I looked at the pre-requisites and recommended courses for the program and decided that this was what I wanted.
As my first year of college ended and the second was starting I continued to plan my classes around those needed and preferred for the Mayo Medical Laboratory Science Program. That year specifically I got interested in the idea of having an internship over the summer. I looked into a few on GoldPASS and perused the internet and ended up getting an internship as a graphic designer for Cross Media, LLC in Roseville, MN. The company is an innovative provider of mortgage-lending marketing tools and technology services that help mortgage banks, community banks, mortgage brokers, and credit unions connect to their customers, communicate more efficiently, and more effectively manage their relationships in a highly regulated environment. It wasn’t relevant to my biology major but I learned some very valuable and unique skills that some of my peers may not have. I learned how to use different adobe design programs and gained a lot of customer service experience.
As I entered fifteenth grade, I mean my third year of college I was getting ready to actually apply for my program. I continued to take required courses, kept my GPA up, and fine-tuned my resume adding laboratory skills and relevant course work. I re-took the assessments to see how much had changed, a little anxious to see if medical technologist was still near the top, it was. That summer I took my first ever summer classes and used my networking skills to get myself a position job shadowing each of the departments in the St. Mary’s Pathology Lab (thanks to Joy at the volunteer services department at the hospital) and got to meet people doing what I hoped to be doing in the near future. I was nervous. What if I didn’t like it? What if the environment wasn’t for me? BUT, I felt right at home. I loved it there and was sad to leave at the end of the summer. The director wrote me a glowing recommendation for the application to the Mayo program, which was very much appreciated. Throughout the rest of the summer I worked on my personal essay for the application, making several appointments with the counselors who looked over the essay, checked for grammar, and helped me answer all the questions asked in 500 words or less. The time came in August when I actually had to apply for the program, it was amazing to think about those 3 years in the making and now it was time. After applying I made sure to write thank you cards to all my recommenders and kept my fingers crossed.
So I applied, and I waited, and then I waited some more. Finally in December, 5 months after I applied I found out I got an interview. Immediately I set up several mock interviews to get prepared, I even set up a mock interview with multiple counselors to emulate the panel interview I was going to have to go through. The interview was during finals week so it was extra stressful but everything I learned from C&IS made me ready. Of course I was super nervous, it was my future we we’re talking about. And yes, I am not ashamed to admit that during the entire ride to the Mayo I was hyperventilating while my mom was driving. I sincerely thought I might vomit a little before the interview, but I didn’t, I held it together. The panel interview was a series of behavioral questions that I was allowed to see 15 minutes prior to the interview. The questions were all “describe a time when…”, so I needed to come up with 20 examples of why I am better than another candidate, which isn’t easy when you find it hard to talk about yourself. Luckily I knew my top 5 strengths, I knew my personality type, and knew my resume like the back of my hand. Through using all that knowledge, I weaved what I thought were unique and relevant examples to represent who I am and what I have accomplished. After the 3 hour interview and laboratory tours I was headed back to the Twin Cities and then back to Duluth so I could take my finals. Overall, I thought the interview went really well, and all that was left to do was to wait. In the mean time I sent personalized thank you cards to all the interviewers and started to work on plan B with the counselors, in the event I didn’t get into the program. They helped me find an alternative program, through UMTC, and reminded me that I can always re-apply for my program and work for a year. I looked up jobs in GoldPASS and found a few possibilities. Near the end of February I found out that I didn’t get into the program and that I was at the top of the waitlist. So there was still hope, but I was still devastated. Convinced my dream was slipping through my fingers I readied myself to start applying for jobs post-graduation. About a week or so before Spring Break, I found out that a spot became available and I was indeed in the program!
The people at C&IS haven’t seen or heard the last of me. As soon as my program ends, I know I will be calling them up to help fine-tune my resume and brush up on my interviewing skills. I know I will have questions on salary negotiation and I’ll probably use GoldPASS to search for any job posting available for a medical technologist.
In the end it all seems to be coming together, my career started out as just letters on paper, a mere idea, and now it is becoming a reality. I am Rochester bound and though I am sad to leave Duluth and Lake Superior, I am excited to start the next chapter of my life! This being my last blog post as an undergraduate I would like to leave you all with one of my favorite inspirational quotes. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Gandalf put it quite eloquently and though the journey is your own, I want you all to know that you aren’t alone. College is hard, but don’t make harder than it has to be. My final pieces of advice for everyone are don’t be afraid to ask for help, figure out what you want to do and go for it, and lastly have fun.