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.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tori’s other posts

The Impact of Microaggressions

By: Tony

It’s just a fact of life that you are going to come into contact with people who are different than you. Whether it be at school or in the workplace, you will inevitably end up talking to someone whose background isn’t the same as yours. Naturally, you will want to get to know each other, which is great. However, you may run the risk of committing a microaggression.

The impact of microaggressions

What is a Microaggression?
A microaggression can be described as covert or unintentional discrimination. They are words and actions that marginalize certain groups of people, even if it is unintentional. The main issue with microaggressions is that even though they may be minor offenses, they can add up quickly and seriously damage one’s self-image and make them feel as though they do not belong. Often, microaggressions manifest themselves in seemingly innocent ways whose impacts are not apparent unless their underlying implications are thought about.

Examples of Microaggressions and Implications

  • “Where are you from?” “The Twin Cities” “No, where are you REALLY from?”
    • The implication is that the second person is being identified as a foreigner and not as the group they choose to be identified with. If you are wondering about someone’s ethnic or racial identity, there are better ways of going about that.
  • “Can I touch your hair?”
    • The implication is that the body of the person who’s being asked is exotic and a target of curiosity, which is degrading. I’m sure the awkwardness of the situation outweighs the satisfaction of your curiosity.
  • “Oh, you’re Latino?! Do you know (random person)?!”
    • Not all (Latinx/Black/Asian/Native American/Queer/Muslim/etc.) people know each other. Assuming that they do gives the implication that their group is small and lacks diversity.
  • (When speaking to a person of color) “Say something in (foreign language)”
    • This implies that all people of color know a second language, which is not true. Worse, it implies that POCs are trained animals that will respond to your whims.
  • (When speaking to a POC) “You are so articulate”.
    • This implies that POCs are uneducated and unable to make intelligent conversation.
  • Blatantly using the wrong pronoun
    • Yes, mistakes happen, but if you know someone’s preferred pronouns, please use them. Mis-pronouning someone implies that you do not accept them for who they are, or at best, you do not care to listen to them.
  • Catcalling
    • The implication is that you see women as sex objects that only exist more male enjoyment.
  • “That’s so gay!”
    • The implication is that being gay is a negative characteristic.

How to Avoid Microaggressions
In my opinion, the keys to avoiding microaggressions are recognition and reflection. You must recognize when your words or actions, intentional or not, have a negative effect on others. You must also reflect on how you can improve your behavior and become more inclusive. As a general rule, if you are curious about a certain aspect of someone’s life, such as their racial identity or any conditions they may have, get to know them. If they wish to tell you about themselves, they can do so on their own terms. It may also be helpful to ask yourself why you want to know about that aspect. Is it to get to know the person better? Or, is it based on sheer curiosity?

Ultimately, modifying behavior is a personal act that you must figure out yourself, but I think self-awareness is a good starting point. With this information, you can do your part to make your classroom or workspace more inclusive and welcoming to all people.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tony’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Michal Grosicki

Job Search Tips – Part 2

By: Ellen (Career Counselor & guest blogger)

Here’s part two of the job search tips we sent out during the summer on our Twitter account. I should explain this briefly. We frequently send out job search related content on our Twitter account. This was a concentrated effort (with a hashtag & everything) to share a #JobSearchTip every day that we were sending out content on Twitter. If you haven’t checked out part 1 yet, do so.

Job Search Tips

I thought it would be helpful to have all those tips in one (or two) places. Today, I’m sharing all of the job search tips that we tweeted out during July. Even if it’s not July, these tips can be helpful for whenever you’re conducting a job search.

Bullet Journal Job Search Habit Tracker

There you have it. So many job search tips in one place. Go forth and conquer the job search process!

Of Possible Interest: 

My Internship Story

By: Heidi

After recently finding out and accepting my first internship offer, I thought I would share my story of the whole process. It all starts with how I found out about the company. When I heard about Andersen Corporation for the first time, it was when they came to my organizational behavior management class to talk about the company and internship opportunities for the next summer. I knew with it being junior year, it was time to get down to business with internships. I listened to what the speakers had to say about their experience and enjoyment of the company, and by the end of class, I decided I would go to the table in LSBE (our business school) and talk more with the recruiters about setting up an interview.

"Since I went in with this 'nothing to lose' mentality, I told myself I was going to be the most honest version of myself in this interview, allowing myself the opportunity to make a genuine connection."

I approached the table and spoke with one of the recruiters. I introduced myself with my name and saying I was a student who was in the class they just spoke in. Looking at the interview sign up sheet it was a little intimidating knowing I had a long day ahead of me next. Although I am not much of a morning person, I signed up for the first interview at 8 am the next day.

I went home that night knowing I was going to need to update my resume, scrape up a new cover letter specific to this interview, and do more research on the company. By the time I finished my resume and cover letter it was a little too late in the night to email it to the interviewer in my opinion, so naturally, I printed off three copies of each just in case. I did my research on the company from their website on the variety of information offered, taking notes so I could really get the information in my head. The following morning I woke up early getting dressed in an outfit I had previously laid out the night before to prevent last-minute scrambling, packed a lunch, along with extra clothes for the night because I knew I was going to be on campus until about 8 pm due to sorority recruitment we had going on that week.

Internship Interview Tips

I went into my interview with the mindset that I had “nothing to lose” with this being my first internship interview ever, and also at the beginning of my junior year. Since I went in with this “nothing to lose” mentality, I told myself I was going to be the most honest version of myself in this interview, allowing myself the opportunity to make a genuine connection. At the end of the interview, I asked questions that were important to me such as how she felt being represented as a female in her company as well as her experience being an intern and moving up in the company into a full-time role. The next day I followed up the interview with a personalized email touching on things we talked about in the interview as well as thanking her for her time.

I believe the most important thing when it comes to interviewing is to be your most genuine and authentic self. It allows you to really make a connection with an employer to see if you would both be a good fit for each other. Professionally speaking when it comes to the interview process, my advice would be to always do your research on the company, give it a chance, and set yourself up for success.  

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Usplash | Vincent Versluis & Takemaru Hirai

The Art of Maintaining a Busy Schedule

By: McKenzie

Sometimes maintaining a busy schedule can feel impossible. Many students in college work and are involved in extracurricular activities, in addition to classes, making it incredibly difficult to continue this busy lifestyle. But fear not, as a seasoned pro at accidentally overworking myself I have some tips and tricks that help me keep it all together (and avoid overworking myself).

Tips for Maintaining a Busy Schedule

Get enough sleep
It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. This is something you should definitely avoid slacking on. When I worked overnights I used to schedule when I would get sleep to make sure I was getting enough rest. You can’t perform any task as well as you want if you are falling asleep while doing it.

Keep a calendar
When you’re a busy person it is often hard to keep track of all the things that you’re doing. I have found it best to start a calendar. You gain the skill of time management and it helps you to anticipate how much time you have for the little things like homework or even a nap before class.

Make time for food
Food is fuel! Not only should you be eating enough but you should also be mindful of what you’re eating. While I am an avid lover of pizza rolls I am also sure to be considerate of my portions as well as what I am putting into my body. You will get out of it what you put into it.

Always make time for yourself
The most important time of any day is the time you dedicate to yourself. We all need a little bit of me time and practicing self-care is a really great skill to develop. Any schedule is manageable if you make time to do whatever it is you love to do.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Arends

Handling Physical Disabilities in College & the Workplace

By: Whitney

College students, especially those leaving home for the first time, experience a whole lot of new things—new school, new friends, new interests—and many firsts. Like many students, I felt uncertainty, anxiety, and excitement about these things. One area of uncertainty for me was how to handle my physical disability as an adult. I had additional questions about jobs such as: How physically demanding they would be? Would employers be hesitant to hire me or underestimate me? After some time, I decided I needed to acknowledge my Cerebral Palsy (CP) related uncertainties and find ways to address them. I can’t speak for everyone with a physical disability nor everyone with CP. How I want to address the impact of CP in my adult life is a process I am still figuring out and I wanted to share my journey with you all up to this point.

Overview of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy is really an umbrella term describing a group of conditions that affect balance, movement of the body, and muscle coordination resulting from damage to the brain (specifically motor areas). It is not genetic and is said to be not progressive (United Cerebral Palsy, 2010 as cited in Whidden, 2013). However, as the body changes throughout life, I have also noticed changes in my experiences with CP. Additionally, because the brain is exceedingly complex, and people are unique, everyone with CP experiences it differently, yet some of our experiences may be similar.

I have had CP since birth, a mild form that makes my leg muscles tighter than average. I have a touchy sense of balance and needed the support of a walker to get around until partway through elementary school when I had a surgery to improve my muscle tone. In middle school, I started having muscle spasms in my legs that started to make things more difficult. These get worse with high—levels of stress, nervousness, or if I need to stand still for long periods of time.

Four Areas I’ve Worked On

Self-advocation
In my journey to learn how to handle concerns related to my disability in the workplace, one of the best tools I have is self-advocation. The best way to learn how to self-advocate is to do it. Sometimes I wouldn’t go after opportunities that appealed to me because I was uncertain about if I would be physically able to handle them. I have learned that uncertainty is part of it. For me, self-advocation means question asking. When I feel uncertainty, I pinpoint the specific reasons I feel uncertain and find out what information I can related to those issues by asking questions. After getting more information, I can then evaluate an opportunity more accurately. If it still interests me after that, then I go for it, asking for accommodations if necessary. The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability has useful tips about self-advocacy.

Self-advocation, while empowering, can also be tiring. One important thing to note is that being a self-advocate doesn’t mean handling things alone. It’s helpful to have people around to help too! Which brings me to my next point.

Handling physical disabilities in the college and the workplace

Community
In most situations, I am the only person I know who has CP. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like the I’m only one dealing with these concerns. Finding a community of trustworthy people, who are dealing with similar things has been helpful for me, and can be found in many ways. On campus, getting involved with Disability Resources is one way. I have found community by joining Facebook groups specifically related to CP. People of many ages and many experiences with CP are part of these groups and I have gotten to read posts about some of their experiences in life and in the workplace and some CP related questions they have.

In relation to the workforce, community can also mean seeking out stories of individuals with any disability in the workforce and learning about what jobs they are doing and how they handled entry into and daily activities of the workforce. This summer I got to hear a little bit about an elementary school teacher who was also blind and her approach to her job. To hear of other individuals living with disabilities doing work in a human services job (a field related closely to my interests) was encouraging. It reminded me that there are multiple great ways to do a job and be effective.

Accommodation
Figuring out reasonable accommodations and having conversations about them is an area I’m still trying to figure out. Frankly, sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to need, especially before I’ve started the work. Sometimes I know that something presents a problem for me but am not sure how to solve it. Sometimes I am hesitant at asking for accommodation because I’m afraid of being underestimated. I have recently discovered JAN (the Job Accommodation Network). Which lists possible workplace accommodations for many different disabilities (physical and otherwise) as well as questions employers could ask to help pinpoint what accommodations may be helpful (I think they are questions I could ask myself as well). One of the suggestions for CP was a sit stand stool a lightweight foldable stool I could carry around with me for when I need to sit. Something I hadn’t considered using in the workplace before but could be extremely helpful for me.

Self-disclosure
For some people, the disability they live with is readily apparent to others and for some, it’s not. I’m in a grey area where people can see something different about me but don’t necessarily know straight away about the disability. Self-disclosure then becomes a question. If I want to self-disclose and when to do it. My self-disclosure choices have changed throughout the years. I have always remained very open about disability and my life but choose to self-disclose significantly less often these days than I did when I was in middle school and high school. In college, I have re-evaluated when I want to self-disclose and chose not to tell people about it unless they respectfully asked. In job situations, I have also only disclosed when I came across something I thought I would need accommodation for. I have sometimes disclosed in applications, during interviews, on the job, and for some positions, I haven’t disclosed at all.

Current Thoughts
Everyone has so many unique skills and perspectives to offer in life, including the workforce. My experiences with CP have given me many opportunities for creative problem solving, finding a new way to accomplish tasks, and practice adaptability. Disability is one aspect of my life and making decisions about how I want to approach this part of my life has given me more confidence. These decisions are not set in stone and can always be revisited as my needs and ideas change.

For all my uncertainties about having these conversations within the workplace or during college, all the people I have ever talked to have been respectful and willing to help me.

Of Possible Interest:

Read Whitney’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Felix Plakolb

Self-Care Follow-up

By: Alissa (Disability Specialist & Guest Blogger)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post continues the collaboration we are doing with the Disability Resources office on the UMD Campus.

Adding on to our last post on self-care, I would like to share this list (source) I stumbled upon called 10 self-care ideas to inspire your process:

Pause and listen. Set a timer if you need to, but pause every hour or so and listen to your mental body, physical body, and emotional body. At a minimum, pause and listen once a day. I consider the 3 level check in step number one in our self-care practice.

How can we know what we need if we aren’t cultivating a relationship with our mental, emotional, and physical bodies? They each have different needs and it’s vital that we know what they each need for daily nourishment. Listen up! Need a reminder about the 3 level check-in?

Self-Care Journal. Keep a “self-care journal” and record the steps you are taking each day to care for yourself. Record your 3 level check-ins in your journal and any steps you’ve taken each day to care for yourself. This can include movement, creativity, food choices, rest and meditation, using healthy boundaries, breath awareness, and your 3 level check-ins, plus anything else that you are using to intentionally and radically care for yourself. This journal can be that thread throughout your self-care practice of what’s working and not working for you.

What do you do a lot of? What are you neglecting? Here are some questions to consider:

How have I supported and cared for myself today? What actions expressed my commitment to self-care today? What steps am I committed to for my own well being this week? What boundaries are nourishing me or where might I need to re-commit to them? Where might I need to make some adjustments in my self-care practices? What am I learning?

Ten self-care ideas for your mental, physical, and emotional health

Nourish From the Inside Out. Eat simply, eat at regular mealtimes, and eat slowly in a quiet setting if possible. Nourish yourself from the inside out with delicious and wholesome meals.

Get Embodied. Move your body and get embodied. Whether it’s walking, running, a ride on your bike, or a stroll through the woods. Move your body. Dance, stretch and do yoga. Move around and stay energized

Beyond the Body. Caring for your physical body in terms of self-care is essential. Just remember that self-care goes beyond the physical body and also must include the emotional body and mental body as well. Are you tending to your emotional body needs and your mental body needs in your self-care regimen? Are you addressing healthy boundaries in your self-care practices? Have you been re-evaluating your mental body messages? Are you working directly with the emotional body and the felt senses? Make sure your approach to self-care is well rounded.

You may need help with these pieces so check in with a coach, therapist or counselor if you need extra support.

Healthy Boundaries. Pay close attention to your boundaries. Listen to how you feel when you are with others. What sensations arrive physically, mentally, and emotionally? What feelings and thoughts arrive? Be aware of how your relationships affect you. Do they nourish? Overstimulate? Exhaust or support you? What relationships are worthy of your time and energy- which ones should be restructured or let go?

Healthy boundaries are a basic step in getting your needs met and getting the nourishment you need in your life. Use them as a vital self-care tool.

Ask for Support and Express Your Needs. Are you piling your plate too high? Are you feeling burdened and heavy with responsibilities and general overwhelm? Remember to seek support, guidance, and ask for assistance.

Don’t self-isolate and don’t keep your needs to yourself. Who and what are the trustworthy support systems in your life? Call upon them, invite them in, anchor with them. Seek the abundance of support available to you and your life, but don’t go at things alone and martyr yourself. If you don’t feel like you have the support that you need, it may be time to call in a new team of resources. Find a trustworthy therapist, coach, counselor or mentor to get the process started. Seek answers and solutions.

Get Inspired and Go for the Joy! Do something new that inspires you. Try a new class, try a new cafe or recipe, or simply take a different hiking trail today. Be curious and explore while getting out of old ruts and patterns that might be less than fulfilling.

Remember that this can be simple and doesn’t have to be a move to a new state or an exotic vacation in paradise! Do activities that bring you joy, recharge your batteries and inspire you – but do it daily if possible. Walk in the woods, write poetry, dance, draw, journal, play with your animal companions, cook nourishing foods, do yoga.

Reflect and give gratitude. Openly express your gratitude to yourself and others. This can be an essential ritual for experiencing more nourishment in your life. What are you grateful for about yourself? What qualities are you proud of in yourself and in your life? What can you applaud yourself for accomplishing each day that serves your well being?

Celebrate yourself! And celebrate others! Expressing truthful gratitude to others can be a balm for their hearts as well as your own. Speak honestly and kindly to others and remind them why they are so special. I consider this an essential ingredient for life and love.

Work it like a job! Consider self-care to be your part-time job—or full-time job! Nourish yourself daily and always be moving towards greater nourishment for yourself and your life. Take baby steps or leaps, but remember that what you do today will provide sustainable nourishment and well being for your future days. Your steps really add up!

Above all, do what you love, and love what you do, your life depends on it!

As you continue your self-care journey, remember to pause periodically and ask yourself how your self-care practices are working for you and if there are any holes in how you are caring for yourself. Make the necessary adjustments along the way and remember this is a process. Enjoy!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read other posts Alissa has written

Photo Source: Unsplash | Billy Williams