MBA 4+1: Is it Right for You?

By: Rachel

4+1 programs are becoming more popular, as they allow students to earn their graduate degree in less time. This is done by taking classes as an upperclassman that count toward both your undergraduate and graduate degree. During my first year on campus, I was surprised to learn LSBE has a program for a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and started to consider it more seriously.

Let me say from the outset, to work towards my MBA or not was a decision I went back and forth on MANY times. It is a serious decision, and I spent a lot of time thinking about my own educational journey, my hopes for my career, and talking to professors, professionals, and trusted people in my network about their perspectives.

It’s a difficult decision to make when you’re 19 years old, as I was. You’ll hear from others that it’s more standard to work for a while first to gain experience and discern if grad school is something valuable for you to pursue. This is a valid consideration, as grad school takes time, money, and a lot of work on your part. You don’t want to put a bunch of resources into something that may not be essential down the road. But, it’s also important to realize that part of the reason the tradition of working before grad school exists is opportunities like 4+1 programs weren’t nearly as common in the past.

Image: empty lecture hall chairs
Text: MBA 4+1: is it right for you?

It’s no secret that more people are pursuing masters degrees; it’s part of the reality of the job market we live in. Many people I know in the field, ranging from 3 to 30+ years of experience, said they have, wish they had, or are thinking about earning an MBA. Looking more into the 4+1 program at LSBE, it became clear to me this would be the best opportunity to earn my masters. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Not having to take or pay for standard graduate school entrance exams, such as the GMAT or GRE
  • Continuing on with excellent professors I already know and am comfortable with
  • A greatly reduced cost, as you pay undergraduate tuition for the classes you take your senior year, which is much cheaper than graduate-level tuition 
  • High quality education through an AACSB-accredited university
  • A shorter time commitment, as the masters would only take me 12 months after finishing my undergraduate degree

I also needed to evaluate personal factors, such as the value I place on education, the likelihood I would return to school later in life even if my company would reimburse some of my tuition, and career options I could see myself pursuing. It’s hard to predict what the future will bring when you’re young, but knowing myself, working towards my MBA seemed like the right path for me. I applied in the spring and started started taking electives this fall. So far, I have been really liking it. A couple reflections I have so far:

  • The workload is slightly more intense, but manageable for me. I’ve been enjoying being challenged a bit more deeply in classes I’m interested in.
  • Taking initiative, being your own advocate, and working with staff and faculty is necessary to being successful in this program. There are many wonderful people here who want to help you succeed, you just have to reach out and, sometimes, be a little persistent.
  • The program is fairly flexible and customizable to your needs. Again, working with the MBA Director and Director of Advising has been crucial to getting the most out of my studies.

There’s so much more I could say on my experience so far, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to say as I continue through the program. For now, I leave you with the encouragement to consider what path will best take you where you want to go. Maybe for you, it’s the 4+1 MBA program within LSBE. Whatever it may be, it will probably require an understanding of yourself, a bit of work, some outside perspective, and a step of courage.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Graduate/Professional School – all our blog posts on the topic
Grad School: Now or Later? – our Pinterest board filled with articles and resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Nathan Dumlao

CULTURE SHOCK? How To Understand and Embrace It!

By: Gao

First and foremost…
What is culture shock? Culture shock is the array of emotions one feels when being exposed to a different cultural environment or perspective than their own. This can be applied to anyone and everyone in situations that are new to them. For me, it was moving two and a half hours away from home for college. For others, this may include: moving to a different state, starting a new job, going to workshops or conferences, and much more. There is not one way to experience culture shock; it is perceived and rooted differently for individuals because of their unique experiences, modes of processing, and backgrounds. 

The 4 Stages of Culture Shock

  1. Honeymoon Stage — this the first stage in a situation where everything seems to be going great! Life is good, no stress, new beginnings, all hopeful, and exciting expectations for what is to come. 
  2. Crisis — things take a turn and become more seriously rooted. You’re realizing this is completely different than what you expected, or wanted, and now you’re stuck. You don’t know where to go, you’re confused, anxious, or scared even. This is often the most difficult stage to be in. Breathe, it’s going to be okay!
  3. Recovery and Adapt — here, you identify the problem, speak your truth, understand the context, and find what is going to help stabilize you and neutralize the situation. You are finding your grounding and making the effort to battle your crisis. You’ve got your head in the right place, keep going!
  4. Acceptance — in the end, you come to accept it. Move along with your life, onto the next chapter, and let things flow. It is time to begin again and indulge in what you have gained from this experience. 

NOTE: This is not a set flow of how culture shock may hit YOU. Some people may go straight into the crisis stage, recover, adapt, and then honeymoon. Others, may jump back and forth between stages and that’s okay. 

Image: rock stacks on log on rocky beach shoreline
Text: culture shock: how to understand and embrace it.

Your experiences are valid!
My parents came from camps in Thailand during the Vietnam War as refugees. This makes me a first generation Hmong American womxn and fuels my unique experiences and understanding of life. However, my “adulting” journey and bicultural identity pushes different cultural perceptions and ambitions from those of my parents. Deciding to leave home to further my education instead of marriage, ignited a protest between me and my parents. Thus a crisis is born, and so the stages unravel. 

A few weeks into the semester, I started to find my grounding. I got a job, became close with my roommates, and accepted that my experiences and perceptions were valid. I discovered resources through my roommates, advisor, counselor, and even my job as a peer educator!  It made the reality of leaving my home an opportunity to create my own. Despite the many times I felt alone, confused, and scared I came to find that I wasn’t. There was a whole community here ready to support and help me; the honeymoon stage was finally kicking in.  

How can this apply to you?
As a college student, you are being exposed to a very different world around you. One you may not have ever known or have only dipped your feet in. It is a time where freedom is given, responsibilities run toward you, and motivation and passion begin to ride the highs and lows. And it doesn’t end here! 

The process and stages of culture shock will come and go all throughout your life. In your career, home, life goals, education, and much more. That is OKAY! These four stages will help you understand yourself and push through the many crises you will come across. It is not a program that you graduate from after you have completed the last step, it is an everlasting mechanism that aids you in recognizing the control you have on your life, and future.  

Of Possible Interest:
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic
Diversity in the Workplace – all our blog posts on the topic
Now That You’re On the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Gao’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Markus Spiske

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener, But You Should Check Anyway

By: Kirsi

image: green grass growing
Text: the grass isn't always greener, but you should check anyway

I thought I had my post-college life figured out. This summer I received a verbal job offer, determined a location to work, and established a network of friendly coworkers. For seven internship/Co-Op tours, I got to know this job site and found work there that best fit my interests. Out of nowhere I was contacted by a different center of the same organization. They offered a similar job position in an extremely different environment and work culture. I have made a binding offer acceptance with one of these two jobs! Here is how I worked through my dilemma: 

basket of pens and pencils with one pencil on table beside basket.

This basket of writing utensils is all possible jobs I can pick from. The pencil is the first job offer I received at the place I am most familiar with. The pencil is sturdy, predictable, and perfectly fine. I am so happy with the pencil I found I do not feel the need to try any of the other writing utensils.

Basket of pens and pencils with a pen and pencil on table beside the basket.

Out of the blue, a multicolor retractable pen gets chucked at my face. Unexpectedly, I experienced an “ooh something shiny” moment. This pen is the coolest and I can’t believe I was happy with a pencil. Suddenly the new opportunity seemed to be the best opportunity – but I wasn’t sure why and if that was true.

My Worries

  • Was the appeal of my well known option only more attractive because it was a safe? I was not sure if this was true or not, but I was aware familiarity can be a fallacy while determining what is best.
  • FOMO (fear of missing out) – I wanted to be sure I chose to work where I would be useful and where there were the most projects.
  • Will I enjoy life outside of work at xyz location?
  • Will where I work value me and assign me projects beyond busy work?

How I Explored The Options

  • I talked to trusted advisors and mentors about what my options were and what questions I should ask each job site.
  • I evaluated my values I want to practice at work, in personal life, and hobbies.
  • I imagined in more detail what my day to day would look like at each job.

and most importantly….

  • I interviewed and toured onsite at the new job offer. 

Touring the site of the new job offer was invaluable. Every worry, preconceived notion, rumor, and assumption melted away. I felt I gathered enough information to feel confident about making a decision. I walked around the location, drove around the area, tried food nearby, shopped in a grocery store nearby, and spoke with prospective supervisors and team members.

After a lot of thought, reflection, and advisement I accepted the first job site’s offer. Ultimately, I made this choice because I found the work at the first job site most interesting. I feel self-assured that the decision I made was truly mine and not influenced by anyone or force with bias.

Of Possible Interest
UMD Health Services & Career & Internship Services – chatting with a mental health or career counselor can be a great way to help with the decision-making process
The Basics of Salary Negotiation
How to Turn Down a Job Offer

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Sources: Unsplash | Chang Qing & Kirsi

Benefits of Using a Planner

By: Stephanie

Often times, we find ourselves overwhelmed in the pile of work we’ve accumulated over the day, week, or more! We either have meetings to plan, practices to go to, or exams to prepare for. I am here to give you reasons as to why you should use a planner.

If You Write It, You Won’t Forget It
Many people I talk to, surprisingly, do NOT use a planner. Shocker statement, yes. They’ve told me they have their brain to retain information as well as “remember” these events as they come. However, I know that is absolutely not the case for everyone.

Some of us don’t have the best memory, in fact, “within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of fifty percent of the information you presented” (source). We are so busy with our work, we tend to forget what we just said! However, writing it down will help remind you what tasks you need to have completed before the end of the day. You won’t have to use your brain space to remember these that you need to complete and forgetting might be a big yikes in the future.

Text: Benefits of using a planner
Image: planners stacked on white background

Priorities, priorities, priorities!
Once you’ve viewed all of your tasks, you’re at least not panicking about what you may have forgotten to do! Now you can organize what needs to be done first. Organizing your to-do list will help you with time management and finish your work efficiently. Start with the deadlines. If something is due three weeks from now versus the next day, starting with the closer due date makes much more sense than starting a project that is due later. 

Health Benefits
Having a planner is a stress reliever. When I look at my planner, I know that I feel less stressed because I know exactly what needs to be done. I also use my planner for work because my schedule is not always consistent and meetings are very frequent. Keeping a planner will help you because it is a stress reliever that will keep you mentally healthy.

Procrastinating… I think not!
Most of us have good habits but a bad habit that some of us may have is procrastination. Planners keep you from procrastinating! After looking at your planner, you might have so much to do that, there’s no time to put it off. So, make it a good habit to use your planner and stomp your bad habit of procrastinating. The more work you finish before bed, the more sleep you’ll get!

Develop A Skill
Using a planner can help you develop many helpful skills that are beneficial for you. You will stay more organized and on top of your game from planning what you have to do. Another skill you’ll slowly develop is time management. Because you will be prioritizing your tasks and work that needs to be completed, using your time wisely is very critical. Lastly, you’ll develop strategic planning. Prioritizing your tasks and finishing things when they need to get done will maximize your productivity and help keep you healthy. You will be able to fit more activities in your schedule and even get that exercise that you’ve been putting off since New Year’s!

Links to favorite planners: Bullet Journaling; Planners

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

Read Stephanie’s other posts

Exploring Sales as a Career and a Major

By: Amanda

It is easy to hear the word “sales” and have your mind automatically jump to a stereotypical salesperson: motivated only by money, willing to do anything for commission, and making wildly unrealistic promises to close deals. Those looking to choose a career path often say they would do anything but sales. 

All of this being said, these preconceived notions are far from the truth for most positions. Building relationships, working to solve problems, and helping others are just a few characteristics that make sales roles fulfilling and worthy of considerations. Nearly every job has a sales component. 

Sales is becoming increasingly demanded as a career path, with more than 50% of college graduates’ first job being some type of sales-related position. 

Text: Sales as a career and major
Photo: coffee cup on wood desktop

UMD’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) has a Sales minor, Sales Club, and newly established Sales major, making this the ideal time to pursue a Professional Sales career. 

Through the Professional Sales Program, students are taught analytical skills to meet the customer’s needs, gain experience with data analysis to facilitate buying decisions, and are exposed to customer relationship management systems. While all of these technical skills are great, arguably the largest benefit to students through this program is the real-world exposure and networking it provides. Students in the program are given the opportunity to work on projects for companies, participate in mock presentations at local and national competitions, and interface with industry professionals. 

Personally, I am majoring in both Marketing and Sales. I am excited to be apart of the Professional Sales Program at LSBE and I know it is going to be a perfect fit for me for a variety of reasons. I am passionate about connecting and building relationships with others. I know each person has their own story to tell and I go into conversations curious to connect and learn more. Sales is a perfect way to connect my analytical mindset to my love for working with others. Through a Sales internship position with CUNA Mutual Group this past summer, additional job shadowing opportunities, joining the Sales Club at UMD, and an upcoming Sales internship with Land O’Lakes for summer 2020, I have been able to fully delve into a variety of sales areas. By no means am I close to an expert in sales, but I have learned a few things along the way. Based on what I have learned, if you are considering a career path in sales, think about the following ideas: 

  1. We sell to our coworkers and managers all the time. Whether it be a new idea for the office or a proposed team bonding activity, we are basically selling on a day to day basis in some way. 
  2. Think about how you interact with others. Do people find it easy to talk to you? Maybe you’re good at remembering details about people you just met. 
  3. Consider how you manage your goals. If you are thinking of pursuing a career in sales, it is critical to be driven to succeed. A large piece of this is being able to set goals, break them down into actionable steps, and reach them successfully.
  4. How do you solve problems?  Think about the times in your professional and personal life when you have had an issue come up. In sales, it is often helpful to be able to look at a problem and come up with innovative solutions quickly, while also weighing alternatives. 
  5. Look at your personality. In sales, it is common to hear no, or a negative response, on a regular basis. It is important to be upbeat and be able to power through setbacks. Salespeople are also passionate. Passionate about changing lives, making an impact, growing their careers and the product or service they are working with. 

Hopefully, these ideas have helped you figure out whether a career in sales could be the right fit for you. Here at Career & Internship Services, we understand choosing a major, minor, or career path is not an easy decision. We are here to help you through every step of the way. Stop by Solon Campus Center 22 to chat and make a plan today. 

Of Possible Interest:
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major into a Career; Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources
• Check out Amanda’s Instagram takeover from her summer internship at CUNA Mutual.

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Garrhet Sampson

Tips for Time Management

By: Kendra

In starting my second year here at UMD, I have found myself having to make some changes from how I lived out my first two semesters here. Specifically, I have had to put more thought and effort into managing my time. During my first year at UMD, I took only 15 credits per semester and I took them all in-person. Also, I worked only about 10 hours per week. I was involved in intramurals, psychology club, and dedicated to working out, which has all remained. This year, though, I am taking 18 credits, 12 of which are online, and working 20-25 hours per week. Because of this increase in coursework and time spent working, I needed to add and change some of my previous habits in order to better manage my time. I’m sharing my tips with you for how I make sure I get everything done when it is supposed to be done: 

Prioritize Sleep
If you’re anything like me, getting enough sleep is CRUCIAL. I cannot function productively on less than eight hours of sleep each night and I strive to get nine. Of course, I want to stay up late watching movies, spending time with my friends, or catching up on my favorite Netflix series, but I know that if I don’t get enough sleep, my productivity the next day will plummet. So how do I do it? I give myself a bedtime. If I know I need to be awake tomorrow morning at 8 AM, I make sure I am in bed with my phone and computer powered off by 11 PM the night before. I am the type of person who needs a while to unwind before falling asleep, so I try to be in bed even earlier so I can watch a show or read for awhile and still get my 9 hours of sleep. This helps me wake up and feel energized to tackle my day.

Text: Tips for Time Management
Image: hour glass with blue sand on a rock beach

Use a Planner
By now, I am sure everyone has heard someone tell them they should really use a planner. I know it sounds cheesy, but believe me, it is so necessary. At the beginning of this semester, I spent hours looking through my class syllabi and writing due dates in my planner. I write every single assignment, project, quiz, and exam due date in my planner, which really helps me plan out my weeks. Then, on Sunday nights, I look at the assignments I have due during the upcoming week and make to-do lists for each day of the week. I like to make a list for each day of the week because it helps me balance the amount of schoolwork I do each day. I find that when I don’t do this, I procrastinate and push tasks to the next day and then I grow frustrated and stressed because I have more to do. I use Post-It notes for my to-dos and then I just stick them in my planner. When I finish an assignment, I cross it off on my to-do list as well as in my actual planner. Let me tell you — this is the best feeling ever. 

Use Google Calendar
Another resource I use when it comes to planning is Google Calendar. I have found that this is pretty hit or miss — some students use it and rely on it completely and others have never even opened it. Because Google is what our campus uses to communicate, I highly suggest using Google Calendar. If you need to meet with a professor, all you need to do is type in their name and you can see when they are busy. This can be done with students, advisors, and anyone on campus, too. For me, Google Calendar helps me plan my days. I have two calendars I use — one visible for everyone and one only I can see. I use my visible calendar for things I don’t mind people seeing such as my work schedule, class schedules, and when I have meetings and such. My other calendar, though, is what I use for my personal life. I schedule when I am going to the gym, time with friends, and really anything I am doing outside of school. What is amazing about Google Calendar is that I can have my work/class schedule visible to everyone and my personal schedule private, but one of my professors will still see everything I have going on if he or she were to look at my calendar. This is because Google just writes ‘Busy’ on time slots that are scheduled privately. Each week, when I am making my to-do lists, I check my calendar to see what I have going on each day, which helps me make realistic to-do lists for each day. 

Stay on Campus
This is definitely something that is much different than last year, as I was always on campus. Now that I live off campus, I have learned that in order to be as productive as possible, I need to stay on campus as much as I can. When I go home, I find myself getting cozy and then not wanting to come back to campus or getting anything done at home. This also requires planning, though. If you have breaks in your days, try your best to stay on campus so you can get some work done. Packing a lunch is also a great way to make sure you are not tempted to go back home throughout your day. Want to get a workout in? Either pack the things you need for the gym and go when your day is done or consider getting a locker in the locker room so you can leave your gym essentials on campus. By staying on campus as much as possible, I find myself accomplishing more and being more productive. It also makes going home at the end of the day super awesome because I typically am done for the day when I get home. 

Take Breaks
This is my final tip for being productive and managing your time. Taking breaks while you are studying or working on assignments is extremely important. Whether it be watching a short Youtube video, getting up and walking around, or just spending a few minutes on your phone, taking breaks will help you be even more efficient because it will keep you from burning out. I like to work for 45 minutes and then take 10-15 minutes to let my brain relax. Sometimes, though, I will take a little break after I finish an assignment to regroup before moving on to the next task. For me, this pushes me to work hard on homework because I know I can rest once I finish or once the time is up. It also helps keep me awake because I don’t allow myself to just sit and work for hours and hours on end. 

The life of a college student is busy — there’s no getting around that. That’s why it is so important to manage your time and make sure you are using it wisely. I had to alter my time management skills from last year to better accommodate to my life this semester. Ultimately, it is up to you to find time management strategies that work for you, but hopefully some of my tips are helpful. 

Best, Kendra 

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

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Aron Visuals

Applying For and Having an Internship

By: Paying

In my past blog posts, I’ve written about how I personally have been moving through the career planning process. First I assessed myself and then I went on to explore my options, which was almost a whole year ago! So much has happened since then and now. In this post, I’ll be talking about how I’ve actually been working on the next two steps of the process: developing my skills and marketing myself.

Text: Applying for and having an internship.
Image: white desk with a small potted plant, cell phone, notebook, and pen.

Unlike some other majors, an internship is not required for an English degree. Although it may be optional, I personally believe that many careers related to CLA put a big emphasis on experiences and skills which could be gained through internships.

Being a part of the College of Liberal Arts as an English major has helped me become more independent when it comes to internships and my career path–mainly because it’s difficult to find resources when you’re the only one in your social group that is going towards the editing field. Instead of asking around for internships, I started to look up multiple opportunities on my own that related to not just my career goal as an editor, but also to my interests. And what better place to start than GoldPASS?

Since I kept my profile up-to-date, some jobs were already recommended for me which is what I scrolled through to find anything that interested me. One of them was the Hmong Outreach Intern for The Arc Minnesota, a non-profit organization that promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Although it wasn’t directly related to editing, I felt that it was something I could see myself going towards as a career path since I have been interested in working with the Hmong community and at one point had considered majoring in Special Education.

Many, if not all, internships require a resume and a cover letter along with the application. Both provide you with a chance to market yourself in different ways. On my resume I listed off my skills and some of the most relatable duties I’ve done. While in my cover letter, I was able to explain more of why I want the position and how I could benefit the company rather than repeating my skills. I soon received an interview offer where I further explained both in more detail. Always make sure to relate your skills and experiences back to the company’s duties and mission.

I eventually got offered the position and got to experience what a career in and out of the office would be like. I’ve always imagined that an internship would provide me that breakthrough into the full-time work force and answer all the questions I had because I’ve always heard of how amazing internships were. Although my supervisor helped cater the internship to assist me in my editing career, I felt closed off from the organization itself. 

Charts in Hmong and English
Project sample from Paying’s internship that she shared during her Instagram takeover during the summer.

There were so many working parts that created one well-working organization, however my roles did not coincide with theirs. Instead, I only interacted with other interns in my room or my supervisor for the whole internship. I never really had an answer for when others asked what I learned from the internship because I didn’t know what to say. However reflecting back on it, I realized how beneficial it actually was.

I was able to figure out for myself which types of work environments I enjoyed and didn’t. I also gained skills working with supervisors and what I can do to better the experience and help benefit everyone in the best possible way. I realized that not every experience and/or opportunity will be exactly as you hope, but that doesn’t mean you should just get it done and over with. Gain those skills you need, make those connections, and use everything to your advantage. 

Now that I have another experience under my belt, as well as more ways to market myself, I am slowly beginning manage my career plan. Remember, just because you have reached another obstacle or are going down a detour, don’t give up! This opportunity could be the eye opener you need to better plan your career and future.

Of Possible Interest:
Planning Your Career
• Did You Have an Internship You Didn’t Like? Part 1; Part 2
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
• Confessions of a Former English Major Part 1; Part 2

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Dose Media; @umdcareers Instagram