Getting Involved as a First Year Student

By: Kiara

Going into my freshman year, I was unsure of what activities would be the best fit for me, but after completing my first semester I am thankful for how much I have learned from each activity. Sometimes it can be intimidating or feel overwhelming to try new things, but challenging yourself to do so can help you grow in the long run.

During the start of the first semester I became involved in the figure skating team, the University Honors Program, and started working at Career and Internship Services. Actively participating in these activities throughout the year helped me to build a community, pursue my interests, and develop transferable skills.

Image: colorful pens on white background
Text: Getting involved as a first year student

Build a Community
Being a part of the University Honors Program has given me the opportunity to meet new people and engage with my surrounding community. Through this program, I volunteered at a local assisted living facility in Duluth which made me feel more connected with my new community. I also attended other events within this program that helped me to gain critical thinking skills and learn with an open mind which can be valuable tools for a future career. Immersing yourself in a club or an organization can leave you feeling more integrated within the campus. Creating connections and a community can also give you a stronger sense of purpose or identity. 

Pursue Your Interests
UMD has so many great opportunities for students to get involved in things they are passionate about or interested in exploring such as a variety of clubs, sports, and other organizations. Personally, I joined the intercollegiate and synchronized figure skating teams since I wanted to continue to figure skate. This connected me to others who have a similar passion and taught me the importance of teamwork. I also continued to pursue my individual figure skating tests, which taught me a lot about self-discipline and self-motivation. During setbacks, it can be tempting to quit in the moment, but getting back up and overcoming these challenges are typically worth it in the end. The lessons we learn from pursuing our interests can aid us in our career development since we most likely will encounter adversities such as not getting a job offer, facing rejection, and receiving tough criticism. 

Develop Your Transferable Skills
Joining new clubs and organizations can help you gain essential transferable skills that you can apply to almost any field. Being a member of a club gives you a chance to run for an officer position which can be a valuable leadership experience. Planning events or leading meetings can also strengthen your work ethic and show your dedication to the team. Working as a front desk receptionist at Career and Internship Services has helped me improve my communication, organization, and time management skills. Employment opportunities or activities you are involved in can also enhance your resume and highlight important experiences.

Through managing your time well and working hard, it is possible to balance your academics and be involved in meaningful experiences outside of the classroom. Hopefully participating in extracurricular activities will give you the skills needed to face potential career roadblocks down the path. These are some of my interests and I hope you are able to pursue yours!

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 Kiara’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Olia Gozha

Learning Without Limits

By: Rachel

Maybe you’ve caught on that our last few posts have been about experiences some of our student employees have had learning outside the classroom, and how we’ve pieced it all together in ways that have advanced not only our professional lives but our personal lives too. Well, I’m here to lend my two cents on the same topic.

I’ve always been a big believer in the value of education, and I think it’s something most of us take for granted. I also believe learning is even more important than education. Lifelong learning is something we’ve talked about before, but in this post, I want to share a bit about how learning can extend beyond the limits of education.

Image: empty road going towards horizon of mountains
Text: learning without limits

When I started college, I was coming off a senior year of high school where I was heavily involved in academics, multiple jobs, my community, extracurriculars, etc. To be honest, I was looking forward to the opportunity to start over and have a break from all the activities. I spent my first few months trying things out and being very conscientious about what I said “yes” to. I was intentional in the things I pursued: I knew I wanted to be involved in a faith community, so I sought that out right away. I took a job at Career & Internship Services because I was very interested in the ways they supported students. I was asked to serve on a few committees within my school and agreed, because I thought I could lend some perspective on what matters to my fellow classmates.

I never could have guessed the outcomes of the things I signed on to be a part of. I’ve learned so much about management and writing, how to craft a resume and how a school stays accredited. More importantly, I’ve learned the stories of a wide variety of people and forged relationships I never expected. I grew closer to professors who exposed me to careers I didn’t know existed. I developed skills that allowed me to land positions I truly enjoy. I’ve taken on challenges I really didn’t think I was capable of facing and surprised myself along the way.  This probably all sounds cliché, but part of the point is I learned who I am through what I was learning.

So, if I could give you a tip or two, here’s what I’d share:

  • Seek out opportunities to learn, no matter where you are. (This might be especially true right now as we all are facing many changes in our daily lives due to the coronavirus.)
  • Be intentional about what you say yes (and no!) to.
  • Search for the meaning and lesson to be learned in every experience.

If I’m being honest, now, three years into college, I’m probably more involved than I was even in high school.  But as I live and learn, I’ve realized busy isn’t always a bad thing when you’re busy with the right things. The experiences you build up during college can help you land an awesome job, but they also offer you the opportunity to learn about and shape the person behind that future professional.

Best, Rachel

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

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Matteo Paganelli

Weaving Together a Variety of Experiences

By: Paying

Coming into college in 2016, I knew I wanted to be involved but I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. If there was an organization or anything related to editing, I would’ve signed up right away. Throughout the next four years of college, I gained a lot of different experiences here at UMD: Secretary of Hmong Living in Unity and Balance, Peer Educator at Career and Internship Services, International Student Services Orientation Leader, Student Intern at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and an editor and reporter for The Bark. Outside of UMD, I also completed a summer internship as the Hmong Outreach Intern at The Arc Minnesota. 

With these six experiences that are very different from not only each other but also a career in editing, I struggled to put them all onto one resume and sell myself during an interview for an Editorial Assistant internship. Spoiler alert: I eventually succeeded and was offered the position.

Image: weaving loom with colorful yarn.
Text: weaving together a variety of experiences

In this blog post, I will be sharing my tips on how I weaved together my various experiences to benefit me in a field that didn’t directly relate.

My supervisors, and those I worked with, helped me to shape my experiences so I could have similar responsibilities to editing (editing resumes, editing translations, editing articles, etc). Having a talk with them one on one allowed me to still complete my usual tasks while also picking up extra things around the office.

Another very helpful tip I learned was to focus on the tasks and qualifications on the job posting. That way, you know what you should focus more on and which you can risk leaving out on your resume, either for an individual experience or the tasks you’ve had done. Since you only have a few bullet points you can use to describe what you’ve done, this tip will help filter out would be most valuable to the company and its mission. 

In order to know what to showcase, you need to know what you can showcase. 

Although it might be more work, having a master resume is one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself. On your master resume, you have every possible piece of information that could go on a resume: experiences, bullet point descriptions, projects/researches, skills, activities, etc. This way, when you know what the employer is looking for, you can search through your master resume for those that apply.

Not all employers will be the same and not all resumes will be the same. With these tips, hopefully you can start weaving together your own resume and find the puzzle pieces that fit to make it the best it can be for different employers and for you!

Of Possible Interest:
Resume & Cover Letter – all our blog posts on the topic
Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Sergio Gonzalez

Experience: The Easiest Thing to Gain…Sometimes

By: Paying

With graduation right around the corner in six months, I’ve continuously reflected on my time in college and all the changes that came along with it. What I’ve lost and what I’ve gained were common thoughts that ran across my mind. As a Peer Educator, one of our main pieces of advice we give to students is to gain experience and get those skills to showcase. While I sit here writing a resume and cover letter for job applications, I realized how many experiences and skills I’ve developed throughout the years, however, it was not as easy as it sounds. Along the way, I also experienced all sorts of losses. 

When I first started my college life, all I had time for was fun and games, and, of course, classes. I would rest in between classes because of how exhausting everything was. Looking back, I was not the best student. I would stay up late to have fun, skip class, and repeat. The only things I did that were beneficial were joining all sorts of organizations and intramural sports; some of the few activities that I began adding onto my resume. 

My second year soon came along, I picked up one more activity: secretary of an on-campus organization, Hmong Living in Unity and Balance. This was the year where I had to learn what prioritizing meant; I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted anymore because I had other obligations besides school. Instead of going out everyday to see friends, I spent countless hours in meetings to plan for events and provide UMD students a sense of a home away from home. Although I lost time to have fun and relax, I was able to gain one more experience to add onto my resume.

Image: colored pencils next to each other on white background
text: "It's all about realizing what you need for your future and what you can let go of to make that happen."

Going into my third year, I was offered a job at the Career and Internship Services office as a Peer Educator! Not only did I perform duties for my position, but I also assisted other supervisors in presentations. For one of the presentations, I was one of only three student speakers in an event filled with adults. Ten hours out of the week was spent strictly in the office during the breaks between classes which meant no more naps; something that was hard for me to get used to. With no naps, each day ended earlier for me as I stayed in to rest and sleep earlier rather than go out like I used to, but I knew that everything would be worth it.

Now in my senior year, I decided to pick up one more on-campus job which meant I could only work during the day for both and that led me to register for night classes. Not only did I pick up another job but I also became an editor and writer for The Bark! There would be days I would work seven hours straight and then go to a three hour class right after. Other nights were a bit less hectic but included two hours at the gym with plenty of hours to finish projects, not just for class, but work also. At one point, I overworked myself which led to me catching the flu and having occasional bloody noses. Through trial and error, I was able to balance my professional life from my personal life. 

There are so many opportunities laid out but it’s up to us to work for them. It will definitely not be easy and there are moments where you will want to give up, but nothing in life comes for free. As you go on day by day, you start to realize that it’s actually not that bad. It’s all about realizing what you need for your future and what you can let go of to make that happen. I remember four years ago, I struggled with finding enough experiences to add onto my resume. Now I struggle with choosing which experiences I should leave in and which to take out because I realized that developing skills happens everyday in everything you do. Experience can easily be found, but the work put into it will be tough. We can’t get to where we want to be right now, but we can make it happen.

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 Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Philip Veater

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