Ways in Preparing for Your Career Success, Part II

By: David

From my previous post, “Ways in Preparing for Your Career Success,” I mentioned that I would expand and explain on the tips and advice that I received from a workshop I attended a few weeks back. Though many of these may sound self-explanatory, I will still add minor details to each piece of advice. Well, what are we waiting for, let’s get started!

What Can You Do While Still in School?
As college students, we are privileged in so many ways, yet there is still so much to learn whether it’s in the classroom setting or a taste of the “real” world. So what is it that we can do while still in school to prepare for career success? Wait no further, let us learn more and dive into these 10 tips:

Develop your brand!
From online to offline, it’s important to put yourself out there in the professional world. Whether it’s now or later, branding will always prove to be an essential component in career success. Branding is important because it’s the image that you are portraying to others to see. Check out a past blog post from Abby, one of our alums, on 3 easy steps in starting your brand process.

Clean up your online image
In addition to branding, it’s important to clean up your online image! With the rise of social media, students today are finding ways to keep up to date with the social scene. Though this is very entertaining, it can also prove to be embarrassing as employers today are using social media as a tool to check on candidates more than ever (Source: CareerBuilder).

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Build relationships offline
Okay, I’ll admit it and flat out say that I suck at this myself quite bad. For our generation today, I perfectly understand that building relationships outside of our social circles have become quite the challenge. The anxiety (even for an extrovert myself) of making sure there’s no awkward silence when conversing has been quite the goal for students today. Regardless of communication abilities or the anxiety of awkward silences, it is still important to build relationships in real life.

Build relationships online
On the flipside of the coin, as important as it is to build relationships offline we should put the effort in doing the same online. Whether you recently met an interesting peer at a job fair, had a great discussion with a new colleague at a conference, or simply met a new friend at a party – Continue. To. Grow. That. Relationship! This is important because you’ll never know when you’ll need to keep in touch with that person again and it’s not as if you need to be their best friend or ally, but rather, don’t be a stranger should something come up that involves the two of you.

Tailor your LinkedIn profile
Going off building online relationships and branding, it is important to also tailor your LinkedIn profile! I can’t tell you how many times people have added me without a proper LinkedIn profile (no picture, no description of what you did, no message indicating of how we’re connected, etc.). Aside from my social media pet peeve, I want to emphasize that having a strong LinkedIn profile will attract a lot of recruiters and employers, and in addition, your friends and peers will be quite impressed. 😉 So take the time to tailor your LinkedIn every here and then.

Target your efforts
If you’re anything like me, it may be really hard to narrow things down sometimes (well, it’s hard every time actually). So what does it actually mean to “target your efforts”? In literal terms, it means, well, to focus your energy. A big mistake that I often run into is wanting to do everything! Despite checklists and planners, it can get really hard to focus on one thing, but, as always, just take it one step at a time.

Share your passion(s)
No matter what field or career path you decide on or even if you haven’t decided yet, don’t forget to always bring and share the things that you are passionate about – whether it’s art, social justice, sports, education, or anything else. There will always be opportunities for your to share the things you are passionate about and blend it with the work that you are doing.

Show gratitude
You don’t need a turkey and mashed potatoes to be thankful. Showing a token of appreciation to those who helped you goes a long way. This is especially important in cases of recommendation letters, referral to a position, or even connecting you to a third party. Always show your gratitude.

Follow-up
I’m terrible with this myself, but it’s important to always follow up with connections. This can be with professionals, professors, workshop presenters, staff members, peers from an event, etc. It’s always nice to send a quick reminder of who you are and to touch base with the person. Another thing to keep in mind is to always follow up after an interview. Following up and showing gratitude for the interview itself is nice and proper etiquette, but make sure to follow up as soon as possible!

Give back to your network
We all know that one person (at one point in time in our lives) who just leech and mooches off everyone – take, take, take, take, with nothing to give back. If there’s one thing to take away from this post, it would be this: don’t be that person! Be genuine and authentic towards your network, social groups, and relationships. Yes, there’s a sense of professionalism that needs to be maintained in your career but always be willing to give back to your network to help and assist others.  Don’t be afraid to be the first to “scratch other people’s back,” but do know that there’s a breaking point and that you’re not being taken advantage of. All in all, my guess is that majority of the people out there in the workforce will be willing to give back to their network, so don’t be afraid to do so either.

Read David’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Daria Shevtsova

How to Have a Productive Winter Break

By: Lexi

You are finally done with your Fall semester and finals, hooray! It’s now time to relax, but do not forget to stay on top of things and use your time to stay productive. Spring semester will be here before you know it and you do not want to be behind!

Use time for reflection on the semester & set goals for the upcoming semester
Take a little bit of time to think about the semester you just finished. Think about what you did and didn’t do well. Use that information to make some goals and identify priorities for yourself for the next semester.

Build and expand professional networks
Reach out to people or companies you have been wanting to contact, but haven’t yet. Expand your horizons, you never know how it could develop your professional profile. This could be done online through email, LinkedIn, a phone call, or you could even ask if they would like to get coffee. Remember to thank them and ask if they have any suggestions of who else you could reach out to.

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Conduct informational interviews or job shadow
Informational interviews and job shadows are a great way to see if the profession you are thinking about is the right one for you. Most students do not have time to conduct these during the semester, so now that you are not in classes, take advantage of this time. This could also help you with career advice or confirm important classes that you should plan on taking.

Work more and save up
Rack up the hours at your job, if it’s possible! Winter break is a great time to save up to keep you on budget for the spring semester.

Apply for scholarships and internships for the summer
Many scholarships and internships are posted during this time, so start looking! It is better to start searching for these opportunities earlier rather than later, your chances will most likely be greater. If you need help with this, you can visit Career and Internship Services (we are open during winter break, except Dec 23rd-Jan 2nd).

Get volunteer hours in
Whether you need volunteer hours or you just want to give back to your community, the holiday season is one of the best times to do this! Use your free time to put some smiles on the faces of your fellow city residents.

Create a portfolio, LinkedIn profile, and/or revamp your resume
Now that you finished another semester, you probably have new projects, jobs, skills, and experiences you can add to your portfolio, LinkedIn, and resume. Take the time to update all of these so they are ready for when you start searching for a job or internship, then you will not have to frantically put all of these together at the last minute.

Hopefully, you will take advantage of this time when school is not crazy and do at least one of these suggestions. But do not forget to relax and enjoy your time off during the holidays, drink some hot chocolate, eat some cookies, and enjoy the twinkle lights with your family or friends. Happy Holidays!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash|Aaron Wilson

Ways in Preparing for Your Success

By: David

Several weekends ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Midwest Asian American Students Union Fall Leadership Summit over at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. While at the conference, I attended a workshop related to career success led by Shane Carlin, Founder and President/CEO of Asian Student Achievement. From the workshop, I wanted to highlight two key aspects that I took away from the workshop and list out a few tips and advice that Shane wanted students to grasp while still in school.

Network During Your Time in College
For the icebreaker portion of the workshop, the sixteen of whom signed up were to partake in a networking activity. Essentially, it was a speed meet-and-greet, but the twist in the activity was that the time interval between every encounter was set at different times. For instance, the first encounter was only for 30 seconds, the second for 45 seconds, the third for 15 seconds, and so forth. At the end of the activity, Shane brought up two key points – the first one is, “What about you will people remember about you for the rest of their entire lives?” which we will explore in the next section of the post. The second point, “Network and give out your contact information. Just because ya’ll are college students doesn’t mean you can’t connect with one another.” This was one key takeaway I was able to grasp from the workshop.

To further explain, this really hit me because it made me realize that networking with other students is an important aspect of networking we usually don’t think of because we are so caught up in trying to network with professionals. Additionally, the activity made me realize that students are always networking, but we aren’t using it to our advantage. Yes, we may have these wonderful connections with other undergraduate students, but how will we use those connections to leverage in terms of career success, and at the same time, how can we help others in getting them to where they want to be.

Tell Me a Little Bit About Yourself?
Every single interview that I have been through all had the golden question, “Tell me/us about yourself.” (Just to clarify, this section of the post will not be directed at how to tackle the question step by step, rather on some ideas to consider when asked the question or when networking in general). Back to the takeaway mentioned earlier, “What about you will people remember about you for the rest of their entire lives?” This is truly a deep question and Shane suggested that we all begin by asking those close to us in what makes us unique.

To further expand on this, there are some key aspects to making people remember you for the rest of their entire lives (okay, maybe not entire lives). First off, it’s important to make sure that whatever it is you are talking about that it’s positive and unique. The example given in the workshop was that you wouldn’t want people to know that you had 60 romantic partners in the course of a month. Instead, you could talk about how you were able to overcome some form of adversity and leverage it to your advantage. This key point then typically co-exists hand in hand with the second point, don’t talk about an achievement that everyone else already has! The example that Shane mentioned was a time when he worked with a student and this student happened to be a founder of a non-profit organization targeted towards helping cancer patients. The reasoning behind the student’s motive was that they, themselves were a survivor of cancer. This story, as Shane mentions, is what gets people moving (emotionally) and therefore will make people remember you for a lifetime. The last piece to all of this then is delivering the message. Talking about one’s passion, ability to overcome adversity, or personal achievements are great things, but what’s more important is the way in which you deliver the content. For instance, consider the student who started their own non-profit, if asked in an interview think of how much of a difference it would make if they either (a) talked about the experience as if it were another achievement, or (b) enthusiastically talk about the energy and effort dedicated to starting this organization because of personal experiences. I’ll let you be the judge of that. All in all, coming up with a story or aspect about yourself that people can remember for a lifetime will be a very difficult and time-consuming process, but hopefully, these three points will help guide you in “peering into your career” on a deeper level.

Final Pieces of Advice and Tips
In closing, these are some bits and pieces of advice that I jotted down during the workshop presentation to consider and think about. Though many of these seem common sense already, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves every once in awhile in what needs to be done in terms of career success.

What can you do while still in school?

  • Develop your brand!
  • Clean up your online image
  • Build relationships offline
  • Build relationships online
  • Tailor your LinkedIn profile

Professional Tips

  • Listen first!
  • If you don’t know, ask!
  • Follow the ethical path
  • Incorporate feedback into work
  • Keep track of your accomplishments
  • Have respect and courtesy for ALL staff despite their positions

Stay tuned for my next blog post as I will be following up on these tips to further expand and explain them and why they’re important!

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Peering Into the Crystal Ball, Part 2

By: David

Hey folks! We’re back at it again from my previous post in “Peering into the Crystal Ball.” As I mentioned in the last post, these experiences are experiences I wanted to reflect on throughout my undergraduate experience and with that I will also follow up with what I plan to do moving forward.

On vs. Off Campus Housing
For college students, housing is always one important aspect to the college experience. From the dorms to the on-campus apartments to off-campus housing and simply living off campus. A person’s experience may vary depending on their housing options. Coming in as a first year student, I chose to room with my high school friends and we all ended up living in Oakland Apartments. Following my first year, I decided to live off-campus and have been in the same apartment ever since (until I graduate). Now if I had the chance to redo my housing options, I would have enjoyed trying the other housing options for the college experience. For instance, I’ll never get the experience to live in a college dorm in my entire life again (but then again I don’t know if I would necessarily want to) nor will I get the experience in living in a house with roommates.

Moving forward, hope is not entirely lost as I still have my graduate experience to look forward to, though the two experiences are vastly different. With my current housing experience consisting of mainly commuting from an off-campus apartment, I look forward to on-campus housing options when looking into graduate school. It’s an experience I would like to have again as campuses are never the same and graduate housing is typically different than undergraduate housing.

Studying Abroad
It’s safe to say that traveling is an experience that every student wishes to have eventually in their life time, and the opportunity to travel as a student makes it even more special. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t had the experience nor will I get the chance to study abroad through my undergraduate career which is one of my biggest regrets as a graduating senior. If given the chance, I would have enjoyed studying abroad anywhere for an entire academic year. If anything, to simply be away from home and get a taste of other parts of the world.

International traveling is an opportunity that can be done any time, and I look forward in taking advantage of future opportunities. For instance, one position that I have seriously been considering is teaching English as a foreign language abroad. 

Conclusion
In ending, as I reflect on my experiences throughout my time here as a student, I can truly say that I am quite content despite wishing to have the chance to redo or achieve certain opportunities in college such as studying abroad, specific housing options, academics, or selecting a different major. For every graduating student who is about to leave the undergraduate life, it’s a bit scary and sad to be leaving behind a time that has consisted of so much. It’s easy to reflect and regret on certain experiences that we did or didn’t do, and the important thing to recognize is that it happened. College is such a unique experience filled with numerous opportunities and a time for us to learn about ourselves, others, and the world and whether or not we were able to take up on those opportunities, we all turned out to be different individuals than we were when entering college. All in all, despite having certain holes in my undergraduate experience I’m truly happy with the things that did happen from leadership positions, coursework, social interaction, etc. My undergraduate career will be a time that I will never forget as I look forward into the future scope of things.

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Not a Typical Internship

By: Kirsi

The word “Internship” may invoke an image of a flustered undergrad fetching coffee and copying documents with the goal to endure an unpaid summer stint. In reality internships and other career building opportunities come in all shapes and sizes – and are often paid. Continue reading for enlightenment about alternative career building opportunities.

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Full Year Internships
In my previous post I compared internships and Co-Ops describing an internship as a single semester opportunity. However, there are, in fact, year-long renewable internships out there! For example, some private companies contracted by NASA Johnson work all year long. These year-round interns work full time in the summer, and part time during school. Some full year interns have the same benefits as Co-ops, but with an opportunity work part time during school. On the government side, year long opportunities are currently being offered by NASA for 2017. October is not to early to apply for full year position at your desired company or organization.

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Built by UMD Senior in Electrical Engineering.

UROP
The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) is a unique way to get a taste of academia, conduct research in a team and  work on projects related to your major. Often these opportunities are funded so you will have money for materials and a paycheck. University of Minnesota Duluth has a collection of unique UROP opportunities and world class research projects. One effort in particular that stands out is Dr. Desineni Subbaram Naidu and his research team’s robotic prosthetic arm. Undergraduates, master students, and PhD candidates have all worked on the prosthetic arm team, there is even a TEDx Minneapolis talk about the research. Each semester there is a window open when students can propose an idea for a UROP for funding or join an existing UROP group.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Nick Karvounis

Job Shadowing
If you are not yet prepared for an internship or not certain about your major, job shadowing can be a good tool for building confidence in you career choices. Asking a desired organization about job shadowing is a low risk way to quickly find out if you are interested in a discipline of work. Before confirming I wanted to study computer science I job shadowed at Park Nicollet for a day to see how information technology applied to the healthcare realm. I thought the challenges of personal information security, big data, and merging of databases was interesting and kept my major. When approaching an organization about job shadowing they may suggest you take a tour of the company building instead which may expose you to jobs of many disciplines. While job shadowing and touring are not paid they may open doors to paid career opportunities.

Do not fret if you do not fit the summer internship mold, there are plenty of alternative career building opportunities that fit with your lifestyle and life goals.

Of Possible Interest

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Peering Into the Crystal Ball, Part 1

By: David

As I finish up my final year of undergrad, there are many things that I wish I could have done differently. Though I do not regret a thing, if I had the opportunity to redo parts of my undergraduate experience, I definitely would.  So come hither thy crystal ball and peek into my moments (excuse my random instant of Old English). Anyways, with each experience that I relive I will also follow up with ideas on moving forward so that these instances don’t become long-lived regrets (hopefully!). Also, in shortening the post I have decided to split this topic into two different posts. Enjoy!

Academics  

Like many students that I’ve interacted with or know, the biggest thing I wish I could redo are my academics. Rewinding back to my younger years I had an abundance of fun indeed, but now as a senior looking into graduate school I wish would have at least tried a little harder. Granted, my academics aren’t in the hole, but of course, they can always be better. Whether it’s studying a little harder for an exam, putting the extra work for extra credit, taking less naps in between papers, or skipping out on hangouts with friends to work on an assignment, I do look back and wish I would have made productive decisions to benefit me now.

Despite not being happy with my grades in my early years of undergrad, I still have some time to make up for it. Moving forward, I am committed as ever to bring my GPA up for grad school purposes. Two semesters does not seem like a lot of room, but in the end it’s better to finish with a bang and leave UMD satisfied. And that’s what I intend to do through precise prioritizing and time management (which have never been my greatest strengths). In the long-run, this will be something that I will come back to should I restart on my academics (graduate school).

Declaring A Different Major  

Reflecting back, if I could declare my second major I would do so differently. Currently, I am a double major in Communication and Psychology, but if I could, I would have declared in Communication and Sociology. By all means, I appreciate and still love my Psych degree, but through my experiences being a student leader I have grown a lot in being politically and socially aware of topics and issues facing our society. It wasn’t until my senior year where I became invested in topics related to social justice, equality, and equity. I believe I would have gotten to the point where I wanted to be mentally and intellectually (which is now) a lot sooner had I taken more courses related to race, society, and identity.

Moving forward, though I didn’t get the chance to educate myself more on social topics and issues in the classroom I know there will always be opportunities to do this: reading books, attending conferences/workshops, undergo training, etc. Ultimately, whatever career path I take I would like to incorporate these aspects into my career.

Conclusion

This sums up the first half of my insights and reflection of what I wish I could have done differently throughout my undergrad. Come back and check out the second half of my “crystal ball” moments soon in the future. Until then, stay warm, stay safe, and stay gold!

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Summer Job Searching, Had Me a Blast

By: Cassie

Okay, so I know it’s only March, but if you take a minute to think about it you realize that we only have April and then the first week of May and then BOOM summer is going to be here before you know it! When I think of summer I think of lying on a sandy beach and being able to relax. WELL, I am here to remind you (and myself) that you should probably start looking for a summer job. I know, it sounds like the last thing you actually want to do, BUT you have to realize that if you don’t start looking now, your options may be very limited! But not to worry, I am here to tell you all the great options for finding something to do this summer!

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Internships

If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you know about my recent struggle in the world of internships. If you would like an internship I would recommend looking now! The summer is a great time to do an internship! A great way to find internships is through networking and personal connections. If you can’t find an internship this way there are resources on the C&IS website like Glassdoor or GoldPASS and there is even a list of resources specifically for interning! Some of these include the best places to intern or summer research opportunities for graduates!

Volunteering

If you are looking for experience in your field, but aren’t quite ready or don’t fully want to commit to an internship, then volunteering is a great option for you! Volunteering allows you to gain experience and it also gives you the flexibility to figure out what you really want from an internship experience. It also can be really eye opening in terms of deciding whether your field is the right field for you. There are so many places you can volunteer. For example, I have volunteered at a hospital and you wouldn’t believe how many different areas you can volunteer in. If you look on our website there are links to multiple volunteer sites. Even if you aren’t interested at volunteering with any of those organizations, it might spark some ideas about where you can really start looking for a volunteering position. Another resource to help in your search for volunteering is VolunteerMatch. The great thing about volunteering is that you can volunteer as much or as little as you want with as many organizations as you want, even if you have another job or commitments.

Summer Jobs

If you aren’t ready to commit to an internship or if you don’t really think you want to volunteer, then a regular summer job is a great too! There are so many seasonal, part-time, and even full-time jobs you can get during the summer. You can find a job where you can work outside; examples of these are working at a golf course or being a nanny. You can also take the route of working in a nice air-conditioned place, like an office as a secretary or in a retail store at the mall. There are a lot of options out there, but I recommend you start looking now! Most places are willing to be flexible with interviews with college students if you want to live at home during the summer. Another option is staying in the campus area and finding a job around here for this summer. There are so many options out there and you just need to find out what the best fit is for you!

Good luck on finding something to do for this summer, and if you need help, or aren’t exactly sure what you want to do, you are always welcome in C&IS and we can help you find the best option for you! Also remember that it is never too early to start looking! So maybe before buying that swimsuit you desperately want off of your favorite store’s website, tune up your resume first so you can get that summer dream job!

Of Possible Interest: 

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