At the End of it All

By: Taylor

In a blink of an eye, I’ve suddenly found myself at the end of my first year at UMD. This past year I’ve become a tour guide at UMD, began working at the Career & Internship Services office, changed my major to Communication, and next year I’ll find myself as a T.A. for UMD Seminar. It’s been an exciting first year and I couldn’t be more ready for summer break. With my busy schedule, I’ve had opportunity to meet a ton of other students, professors, and UMD staff. Networking and knowing people can sometimes play a big role in our next endeavors. Before we scurry off to our summer plans, here are some tips on not burning those bridges.

Image: bridge with water and cliffs in background
Text: Importance of keeping connections

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is this awesome platform I like to refer to as “professional social media.” I’d recommend students to connect with professors on LinkedIn or friends you met in of which your friendship only revolved around the class, you can even find our career counselors on it too! It’s an awesome strictly-professional way to remain interactive with professional peers.

Instagram
As time creeps up on us, it’s important to keep in mind your social media presence. Some of our friend’s Instagram’s may not be super professional, where I say Instagram could be a great way to keep in moderate connection with other students. You’re sharing important and personal moments of your life for family and friends to enjoy with you.

Email
When I was in middle school, I was convinced when I grew up no one would communicate through email. Today, I think some days I send more emails than Snapchats. Emailing has stuck around and continues to be an important way of communication. I’ve used email to update the teachers who wrote me recommendation letters; a quick message letting them know UMD is great and I’ve been enjoying my time here. This would be another great way to keep in contact with professors or any professionals you’ve been in contact with before.

It’s time for my conclusion, for this blog post as well as this year. As finals close us out, I bid you farewell. Remember to not burn any bridges made and to keep in mind of the bridges that can be made. LinkedIn, Instagram, and email are just a few options as to how to remain connected with people. If possible, meet for a cup of coffee instead and enjoy in-person presence.

Read Taylor’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Cody Hiscox

Senior Design: More Than A Class

By: Kirsi

Kirsi holding the field operator's sensor.
Me holding the field operator’s sensor.
Pointing a stealth camera at a circuit.

I didn’t want to take senior design (SD). I tried to get out of it two times. I have completed plenty of technical paid internships since high school. Why do I have to take SD? What do I possibly have left to learn?

Image: programming code on a computer screen
Text: Skills learned in senior design

With a closed mind opened, I was ecstatic to find SD was exactly what I hoped college would be when I applied six years ago. Our SD team competed in the Air Force Research Lab Design Challenge. We built a two user system that helps first responders navigate Amber Alerts, rubble searches, and active threats. Our system can identify objects of interest through cinder block, drywall, multiple rooms, and car trunks. You can watch a demo video of the system, all built at UMD by students! SD has been a huge opportunity for me to grow my soft and technical skills.

Display screen of the system showing data from four sensors
Display of the system showing data from our four sensors.

What You Will Learn In Senior Design:
A major experience missed by only interning in the professional world is being challenged improve communication techniques. In an internship you learn the ropes of reporting achievements, asking questions, and forming a consistent path of communication. This is more procedure than an art. Management, mentors, and peers who you interface with at internships are usually seasoned leaders and communicators. Student peers? Sometimes, not so much. To no fault of their own. Raw inexperience. This required compensation I did not expect and revealed major communication flaws I have.

Leading
Being a leader means self-drive, delegating tasks to others, and people wrangling. Part of leadership on a SD team simply comes from being there for many hours, being there when things happened, something that couldn’t be scheduled. Because of my time commitment, people asked me details about the project and next steps. Ultimately, I started delegating and prioritizing tasks due to this informal leadership promotion.

Mediating
It was a bit challenging to look past how someone was communicating, shed emotional charge, and focus on what the concern or question was. I had to learn to look past communication styles, meet peers where they were, and come up with a way to move forward. This required me to make sure my concerns or points did not come with any baggage.

Team giving a presenation
Our team presenting at the competition.

Reviewing
What is the point of making something cool if its importance can’t be described? I had to learn how to communicate our accomplishments to operators who may use our equipment in the future. I looked over and presented materials and made sure we were using understandable language.

Designing
The system we were building was for first responders, therefore, we met with law enforcement from the community for design and usability feedback. We met with police officers to attend SWAT training to understand how they would be responding to threats and what their priorities were. Throughout development, we invited first responders to our labs, put our devices in their hands to use, and asked for feedback on how to make things more user friendly. Additionally, I met with a graphic design major to make sure that data was clearly presented to operators.

I am excited to report to that our SD team won the competition bringing the gold home to UMD! I am honored to be a part of this team and thankful to have such a positive experience! I highly recommend making the most of your senior design!

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Source: Kirsi & Unsplash | Markus Spiske

3 Tips for Creating Your Freshman Resume

By: Kendra

As a freshman in college, building a resume that would be acceptable in the professional world can be a daunting task. Knowing what to include, what not to include, and even where to begin can be a struggle. You never know when you will have a job opportunity come up or when you might need a resume for a class assignment, so having one available is always a good option. Here are three tips for starting your resume as a freshman:

Start a document.
This might sound obvious, but it truly is the first step in building a resume. We recommend just started with a blank document in Word or Google Docs. Creating a document and putting your personal information at the top is a great start. Information that is important to include is your name, email, and phone number. The rest of the sections of your resume, which typically include an objective, education, experience, and activities, can be difficult to navigate at first. To begin, it might be helpful to brainstorm. Think of all of the activities you are currently involved in, whether it be school, clubs, sports teams, jobs, etc. Make a list of all of these things and then when you feel your list is complete, separate them into the sections of your resume. Information on how to format these sections as well as what other information to include can be found in our Career Handbook.

Image: brown background, looking down on a cup of sharpened pencils
Text: 3 tips for creating your freshman resume. Start a document. Don't forget about high school. Build and update.

Don’t Forget About High School
A common misconception is that once you get to college, all of your high school achievements are irrelevant. When you begin your college career at UMD, you will not have had many opportunities to join clubs or get work experience to put on your resume. This is why including activities you were involved in previously is acceptable. Achievements like being salutatorian, valedictorian, student body president, or involved in clubs and organizations should especially be included. Some even list their high school in the Education section, which is a great idea when you have just started college and don’t yet have a GPA from UMD. Courses you have taken in high school can be included as well, especially College in the Schools (CIS), Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO), and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Jobs you had while you were in high school can be included as well, especially if they are relevant to your objective.

Build and Update
Once you have a resume created, you are not done. As you continue your years here at UMD, you will likely gain experiences that can be added to your resume. Updating your education after you have a GPA from UMD, for example, is one way to update your resume. Getting involved in organizations, clubs, sports, and jobs are other great ways to build your resume. Even courses you take can be included. Once you begin to explore more of these areas, add them to your resume. Remember, though, to remove information from your high school years as it becomes irrelevant (usually during sophomore year of college). If you are unsure how to get involved or need some guidance in building your resume, stop by Career & Internship Services (SCC 22) and a Peer Educator or Career Counselor can help you.

Resumes can be intimidating at first, but once you start working, it’s not so bad. If you need any help at all, check out our website, our Career Handbook, or stop by Solon Campus Center 22. We have students who will review your resume anytime and can also have professional staff review it. You do not need to have a resume completed to come in, either. At any point in the resume process, feel free to come in if you are seeking assistance.

Of Possible Interest:
Resume Examples (especially look at Samir Sophomore)
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts about the things you can do and put them on your resume
Resume & Cover Letter – all our blog posts about the nuts & bolts of these documents
Boosting Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | rawpixel

The Hidden Benefits of Greek Life

By: Amanda

When I came to campus in the fall of 2017, I knew I wanted to join Greek life. The benefits of joining are endless: service and philanthropic events, social events with other organizations, a sisterhood that lasts a lifetime and a home away from home. Although I gained all of these through joining Phi Sigma Sigma, I found that the professional development opportunities nearly outweigh the social ones.

It is believed that there are currently over 9 million Greek members across the nation (source). On top of this, the first female senator and first female astronaut were Greek. And additionally, 85% of Fortune 500 executives belonged to Greek life. It goes without saying that Greek members are making an impact well past their collegiate years. When considering this impact, there are three main hidden benefits of Greek life: professional network development, resume crafting, and a job interview.

Image: desk top with pot with writing utensils, yellow coffee mug, back of computer monitor
Text: Hidden Benefits of Greek Life: professional network development; resume building; examples for job interviews.

Networking naturally occurs through Greek life in college, as all Greek organizations often have social events. Furthermore, individual chapters typically hold alumni events multiple times each year where active members are able to meet with previous ones. Although these are all great starting points, it is important to go beyond this. Consider checking out the LinkedIn profiles of alumni from your org. This is an incredible asset to find alumni who are working in your industry all over the world. A personalized LinkedIn invitation to connect can go a long way and show a lot about your character. One might consider conducting an informational interview with an alum. Oftentimes, Greek members from the same organization share similar values and traditions. This can be something to go off of when sparking up conversation. A few informational interview questions tailored to Greek life include:

  • How did your collegiate Greek life years help you get to where you are today?
  • What would you recommend I do in my time before graduation to expand my network and prepare my resume?
  • Are there any alumni or any other Greek members who you recommend I reach out to?

Resume building is the next advantage of Greek life. Think about starting an ongoing list of accomplishments you have had through your organization, both individually and as a group. Whether it be philanthropy, volunteer work, leadership, teamwork, or event planning, there are skills being developed every day that go unrecognized. An example for a leadership position on your resume could be as follows:

Public Relations Chair, Phi Sigma Sigma, Duluth, MN, Jan 2018 – Jan 2019

  • Wrote blog posts regarding informational and promotional events
  • Take photographs and post on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
  • Managed chapter website on the platform, Weebly, and ensured content was up to date
  • Designed graphics to be posted on social media and in print for events and fundraisers

The final way Greek life can aid in professional expansion is through a job interview. Answers to questions can often be pulled from leadership and learning experiences in Greek life. Here are a few examples of questions that could be applied to Greek experiences:

  • Tell me about a time that you had to work on a team
  • Tell me about a time you have had to use your time management skills
  • Tell me about the type of leader you are

Clearly, the benefits of being a Greek life member, go far beyond service and socials. Professional development can be found in all aspects of Greek life and it is time to start taking advantage of it today!

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Obtaining a Leadership Position as an Introvert
Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Georgie Cobbs

Planning for Summer

By: Rachel

It’s getting to that point in the semester where you might be starting to think about what you’ll be doing this summer, if you don’t have plans already. For some who are graduating in May, you’re searching for your first full-time job, while others may be hoping for an internship or co-op to gain experience. Maybe you have plans to study abroad or do some traveling of your own.  

Summer can be a great season of growth, but there can also be great pressure on students to nail down the perfect plan. Some students dream of crossing adventures off their bucket list and seizing the break from school as a chance to take time for their personal life. Others are hoping to develop professionally through some career-related experience or an internship. For some, summer is also a time to get back on track financially and develop new skills or take some classes towards their major.

The first step to nailing down your summer plans is to know yourself and what you want/need to get out of this summer. While I don’t mean to stress you out (right now let’s just make it through the semester!), some plans won’t come together overnight. Putting in a little work now to the extent you are able can really save you a lot of stress down the road. For this post, I’m going to be addressing those who are looking for a job or internship and providing just a few tips I have to help ease the burden of what can be an overwhelming task.

One of the earliest things you need to do is determine your priorities. These will look different for everyone, so consider what type of field you’re aiming for, the amount of hours you’d like to work, and the geographic area you’d like to live in. Also reflect on which factors hold the most importance to you. Maybe you’re considering multiple fields but you are limited to a small geographic area. Or perhaps you are open to how many hours you work and whether or not the experience is paid but you are set on a specific field. Setting these priorities will help limit and guide your search.

Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start looking; the question is where? There are countless options for discovering job opportunities, but I want to highlight a few you might not have thought of.

The first option I like to recommend is GoldPASS powered by Handshake. This is a vetted job board available to University of Minnesota students. Other general online job boards might not provide the kind of postings you’re looking for if you’re searching for a very specific field or location.  

Image: black sunglasses on beach sand with water in background
Text: Planning for Summer

A few other options to consider:

  • This nonprofit job board provided by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits includes full time, part time, paid and unpaid internship, and volunteer positions across the state.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your network to see if they know of any opportunities. It can be a little nerve-wracking—I know this is something that makes me feel a little hesitant—but after all, this is the point of having a network. Contact past employers, family members, mentors, peers, etc.  You might be surprised by which connection leads to a position. This can be done in person, via email, through LinkedIn, or over other platforms; it’s just essential you communicate appropriately and respectfully. One benefit of finding opportunities through your network is your contact will be able to give you a better idea of company culture, environment, and your fit within the organization than a simple Internet search.
  • If job posting sites aren’t yielding the results you’d hoped for, do some research on your own of companies you think you’d like to work for.  Dig a little deeper and see if there are any career opportunities posted through their website. You will likely find a contact you could reach out to as to whether or not they’d be willing to take you on.  This calls for a letter of inquiry; if you need guidance crafting one, look here.
  • Contact people within your major or department of interest. There might even be an employer relations or internship coordinator within your program who is connected with numerous organizations looking to hire students. Maybe there’s a professor who conducts research in an area you’re particularly interested in. Initiate a conversation, because chances are, this professor has some connections in the industry. Another option might be working for a professor directly, which can open the door to many fruitful contacts in the future.

The biggest tip I’d like to leave you with is keep your mind open. You might follow along these steps: reflecting on your goals, determining your priorities, and conducting your search, and it may seem like all you run into are closed doors. If and when that happens, I encourage you to widen your perspective a bit. While it’s important to know your limits, it can be healthy to take on a position that didn’t seem perfect at first. Sometimes those positions are the ones that help you grow and provide the most guidance for your future career. Wherever you end up, give it your best effort and be open to the lessons that are sure to follow.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Do More with your Summer
Internships; Boost Your Career in College; Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest boards filled with resources & articles

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Ethan Robertson

Making It (This Far)

By: Taylor

My freshman year is coming to an end and it’s unbelievable. When I was younger my older family members would tell me to cherish the time I had while I was young (not that I’m old now) because it was going to fly by. Like the sassy seventh grader I was I’d reply, “If it’s going to go so fast, why am I still in seventh grade?” Now, I’m writing a blog post for my college job and after this am going back to my dorm to take a nap (it’s five in the evening currently).

Coming to UMD was and has been one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made on my own. I am the fourth of six children but am the first to have moved out and away from home for college. The decision wasn’t easy, telling my parents wasn’t easy, and having all this pressure on me wasn’t easy either. I want to create this new path my two younger siblings could walk on too, and going to a big university rather than community college first and do well, nonetheless survive, is just that. College can be a rollercoaster with its highs and lows, and all I can truly give you are some pieces of advice for your first-year or for the rest of your years in college to come.

Image: Looking down on a glass jar of colored pencils on a white background.
Text: Tips for Freshman Year

Have a core friend group
I’ve met various people who wished they came to UMD knowing some people and others who were ecstatic to get a chance at a new beginning (not knowing anyone). Despite one’s preferences, making new friends or having old ones, it’s important to have close friends who you can lean on, confide in, and to establish Duluth as a new home with. I found it was heartwarming to have friends by my side I could trust and spend most of my time with.

Don’t be afraid to socialize
Whether you consider yourself an introvert or extravert, ultimately everyone else in college is hoping to make new and more friends. My first semester I closed myself off to being as open as my extravert-self could truly be and lost a lot of great opportunities to network. Realizing my faults, I’m now a Tour Guide at UMD and will be a T.A. for UMD Seminar next fall. It’s a good feeling to walk down a hall and wave to someone you know. Kirby Program Board is always hosting events on campus from movies in Bohannon 90 to the Grocery Grab Bingo, get out and be open to meeting new people!

This is your dream too
One of the things I often find myself and many other first-generation college students battling with is this idea that they’re only at college to succeed and make their parents proud. While that could be a reason to push yourself further, it’s important to remind yourself that achieving a higher education is also for yourself. We are all currently working towards a future we are going to live ourselves.

The tips listed are just a few I found helped me make the best of my first-year at UMD. While my advice has been based on my own experience and everyone’s first-year is different, I do hope you take into consideration the tips I’ve given.

Of Possible Interest:
• Navigating Through College as a First-Generation Student: Part 1 & Part 2
The Benefits of On-Campus Jobs
Getting Involved and Why

Read Taylor’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Debby Hudson

Find Your Fit

By: Kirsi

If you ask a career counselor how to pick the right major, internship, or career path you will likely be directed to assessments. These are quizzes that help you determine your strengths, values, and interests. Career & Internship Services offers online reading about how to seek your fit. But what does it look like once you have found your fit?

Image: Birds sitting on powerlines, one bird flying around
Text: Find your fit

Looks Like
Signs that you have found your fit include that you…

  • lose track of time being absorbed in a project for the class in your major or task at work.
  • experience positive or productive dreams about working on that project or related to your classes or work.
  • follow news and social media about the field you study or work in.
  • feel engaged in your classes or work.
  • imagine yourself in possible roles in your future career.

Doesn’t Look Like
Signs that you have not found your fit include that you…

  • are challenged with starting homework or tasks in your field.
  • dread going to work or classes.
  • wouldn’t consider working on a project or participate in an activity in your field during your free time.
  • find tasks you complete for class or work to be unfulfilling. 
  • avoid thinking about the field you study or work in.

Misconceptions  

  • Finding your fit doesn’t mean you love everything about your classes, work, and field all the time.
  • The potential of the fulfillment your field offers may not be apparent until taking higher level courses, after settling into work, or following further research.
  • Changing your trajectory does not make you a failure! It highlights flexibility and honesty with yourself.

If you ever need help finding your fit, stop by 22 Solon Campus Center and schedule an appointment with a career counselor.

Good Luck! 

Of Possible Interest:
Choosing a Major, Career Planning – all our blog posts on these topics
Boost Your Career in College, Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Danielle MacInnes