“Hanging” Up the Mantle: Leadership Transitioning

With graduation around the corner, it’s crazy to see so many years go by with a blink of an eye and detach myself from the college environment. It’s a scary, yet exciting thought, and deep down, I know I’ll truly miss college and the opportunities that come with it. One aspect I know I will for sure miss once I leave the college bubble is campus involvement and holding leadership roles. Before giving a preview on today’s post, I just wanted to put this out there that the title is intentional. Since we’re all so familiar with the “taking up the mantle” idiom, I figured I would throw in a twist by titling this post, “hanging up the mantle” which essentially is supposed to represent stepping down as a leader. (Clever, I know!) With that being said, in today’s post, I will be focusing on my experiences of stepping down from leadership roles and what are ways and questions a student can ease the transition of going from super-duper involved on-campus to the “boring, dull” lifestyle in the real-world. Well then, let’s dive in!

Stepping Down from Leadership Positions
From personal experience, I think one of the most difficult aspects of being a leader is not the stress that comes with leading nor is it the backlash and criticism you get from people, but rather the moment when you realize it’s time to step down. The moment when you realize that your dreams, goals, and vision as a leader will diminish is unsettling. (Okay, it’s not that extreme, there are successors for a reason!) On the contrary, I think some individuals may feel differently and fathom the relief that comes with stepping down more than anything, which is understandable too.

From my own experience, this was especially relevant in my active membership with Asian Pacific American Association (APAA). I’m sure by now, you perhaps are aware of APAA from my previous blog posts. As an active member and previous board member, I recall there being moments where I wasn’t ready to let go and still wanted to be involved and contribute to the organization as best I could. Eventually, I realized the importance of letting go and restraining myself and ultimately how important it was to simply believe in the new generation of leaders with their ideas and beliefs in regards to taking care the organization. Granted, I was still involved with the organization, it’s just that getting involved looked a lot different. For any leader, really, it’s difficult when you’ve invested so much time and effort into an organization and literally have attached yourself to it whether it be mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. An important part of stepping down for me, I’ve realized, is that being a leader doesn’t always have to mean that you’re in the front line leading the charge. It can also mean staying behind and helping others rise to positions of leadership. As part of leaving the college bubble and launching into the real world, I know the best thing I can do as a leader with previous experience is to give back to the next generation of leaders. As my time of leading has come to an end, I’ve realized that part of stepping down is inspiring and guiding others to step up.

The Actual Transition
I think any student who is or has been involved on campus and served in a leadership role knows that time flies by all too fast when having to balance, school, work, and extracurricular activities such as leadership positions. Especially for graduating seniors, this creates more issues as finding a job only creates more chaos. But what happens when a person goes from planning, studying, working, organizing, eating, sleeping, job-hunting, and exercising, to simply just working? I think this is a reality that many students face as the fluid nature of college switches to the routine-based lifestyle of working after graduation.

Honestly, I, myself, have not gotten the chance to let the idea of graduation settle in due to the busy nature of college itself. With having conversations with career counselors and peers, I’ve only had the chance to ponder on it slightly, but the thought of going from busy to boring is quite depressing honestly. As I navigate these last few weeks of college before graduation, it’ll be smart for me to prepare the transition from college to the working world. Granted, I’ll still be doing summer research in the Twin Ports area, but I think preparing mentally and emotionally to slowly transition out of college will be a real challenge. Of course, I don’t have all the answers to ease the transition as I am still in the process of doing so, but I think it’s important for any college student to just be aware and mentally/emotionally prepared to leave college.

But hey, there’s hope! Just because college is ending doesn’t necessarily mean that getting involved has to end as well. As young professionals stepping into the real world, the chance to get involved in the community is endless and the opportunity to network is even greater than what the college level has to offer. For instance, there are a number of organizations dedicated to serve and connect young professionals. On a local level, the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce offers a number of opportunities for professionals both young and old. Additionally, if you have certain special interests and causes that you would like to advocate for, there are even more opportunities. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to getting involved with two different organizations after I graduate: Coalition of Asian American Leaders & National Association of Asian American Professionals. Ultimately, I see college as a unique stepping stone for students to get active in their communities. If student leaders are able to translate the work that they’ve put it in at the university level into their communities afterward, just imagine the positive impact and change that can occur in the world.

Conclusion
So where do we go from here with zero motivation to study, “senior slide” kicking in if it hasn’t already, and the struggles of going from college-life to the real world? Well, if I told you I have all the right answers, I would be lying. I think the important piece is to simply reflect on the time in college and enjoy the last few moments before it all ends. Furthermore, ask questions and have conversations with professionals and staff who work with students who go through this transition such as career counselors, advisors, etc. I know for myself, my supervisor, Ellen, has pushed me to seek out opportunities past the college bubble and to consider ways of still getting involved in the working world. For many, a lot of individuals are ready and can’t wait to fly off into the real world, and for the very few like myself, it’ll be a bittersweet ending leaving the college life and the opportunities and activities that came with it. Like I said before, if student leaders were able to make a great impact at the college level, imagine the potential for growth and positive change in the future once this effort is transferred to our communities whether that be on a local, regional, national, or international level. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and change the world (for the better, of course) graduates!

 

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How to Say NO.

By: Tori

I tend to say yes to a lot of things.

“Tori will you…?”
“Tori can you….?”
“Tori want to come…?”

And even when I know I should be saying no, I find myself saying yes. This happens every day, at school, at work, and even at home.

Throughout these past 3 years of independence and self-reliance, I’ve learned I don’t know my “limits” until it’s too late to say “no” and then I’m overwhelmed with the list of things I said “yes” to.

With the ‘end of semester stress’ suffocating many of us, I figured it would be useful to learn how to say no and understand the reasons behind why it is SO hard to do this sometimes.

Below are helpful tools you can use to say no.

Acknowledge that you can’t do everything.

  • This is a hard statement to take in, but it is true. You cannot do everything, I cannot do everything, No one can do everything. This means that sometimes you HAVE to say no. Understanding the limits of what you can and cannot do is important.
  • It is even more important to know when to say no because you don’t have time to always say yes. Time management is everything.

Understand you aren’t being selfish

  • Know you are not being selfish when you say no, you are allowed to say no to certain requests and situations if it is better for you.

Know you can’t please everyone

  • We are people pleasers at our core; we desire for everyone we meet to like us, but this is unrealistic.
  • We cannot do things because we want others to like us, or because we want the reputation of “being the best” coworker, student, daughter/son/child, or friend.
  • Saying yes just to gain recognition by others is putting value in something that will not satisfy and your work will not live up to your expectations.

Be direct; Say “No, I can’t” or “No, I don’t want to”

  • Remember that it is better to say no now than be resentful later.
  • Don’t say “I’ll think about it” if you don’t want to do it. This will just prolong the situation and make you feel even more stressed.

Give a brief explanation
You don’t have to lie or make up excuses to say no, just simply be honest. If you have a reason for not wanting or being able to do something, give them a brief explanation. Below are a few examples:

  • “I don’t think I can take on another project, as I am already working on…..”
  • “I can’t go out to eat because I need to save money.”
  • “I can’t go to the party because I need a night to relax by myself.”

Suggest alternatives
When it comes to wanting to say yes, but not being able to, suggest an alternative plan or action. This may look something like:

  • “I can’t go to the party because I need a night to relax. If you want, you can come watch movies with me.”
  • I don’t think I can take another project, but maybe Sarah would be good for this one, she has a lot of interest in this area.”

I hope this helps you reflect and have confidence in saying no the next time you feel yes at the tip of your tongue. As life gets busier, it is necessary to know your own limits!

Of Possible Interest: 

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The Benefit of On-Campus Jobs

By: Cassie

Jobs are such an important thing to have in college. They allow you to meet people with similar interests, they allow you to network, they teach you the value of work, and they pay you. These are all super important things for every college student. As you probably know, there are a million types of jobs out there, but I’m going to tell you why working on-campus is so beneficial to me.

I currently hold two jobs on campus in the Career and Internship Services office and at the Kirby Welcome Desk. Both of my jobs are front desk jobs so it is essential for me to be able to communicate, provide excellent customer service, and really know what’s going on around campus. I am super busy all the time but I love both of my on-campus positions and here is why!

Cassie at CIS Front Desk

The People
Working on campus has allowed me to meet so many people. These are people with similar goals, similar work ethics, and they are there to talk to for whatever I might need. These people are also a huge resource when it comes to things like advice, networking help, or just picking you up on a bad day. It is also helpful to have these people for things like clubs and getting involved in events on-campus.

The Environment
Working on campus is a great way to stay involved in campus life. I really know the ins and outs of what is going on most of the time. I also have been able to take advantage of the many resources campus has to offer because I am involved in most of them. I know so much more about my campus and show so much more pride in my school because I am so involved in it.

The Experience
Working on-campus has opened so many doors for me. It has taught me about who I really am and what my strengths are. It also has taught me the value of hard work and of taking pride in what you do. On top of these, it has also brought about so many networking opportunities and of course, I have great things to put on my resume.

What I’m trying to say is, take a look at working on-campus. You may think that you don’t qualify or that you won’t get the job but that isn’t always true. Take a shot and apply for some on-campus positions, because trust me they are so worth your time!

Of Possible Interest: 

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5 Things I Learned “Off the Beaten Path”

By: Whitney

“Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed”
Misty Copeland

“What’s your major?” “What do you want to do with that?” “What year in school are you?” The age-old college questions asked by everyone. And if you are not tired of them yet, you might be by the end of your college career. Then there is the typical college advice about getting involved and resume builders. Even with all that, it can still be tough deciding what to do for majors/careers. During my senior year of high school I decided to scrap my life plan, which was to be an elementary school teacher. This threw me into serious uncertainty about seemingly everything. What was I going to do now, and how did I know it was a good decision? After I ran out of generals to take I still wasn’t sure. I ended up taking time off before transferring to UMD, as a psychology/communication double major. Recently, I read a 2014 post from Business Insider titled, “The Best Advice College Students Never Hear”, written by Maggie Zhang and it got me thinking about some of the more “obscure” things I’ve learned so far during college and the unconventional path I took.

Path in Forest

FOLLOW WHAT YOU’RE INTERESTED IN
If you are interested in a gazillion things like me this may be a tougher one. But if you are interested in something you do not need to put off learning about it. One of my roommates is a chemistry major with a theater minor. That may seem like a ‘weird’ combination to the outside observer, but they are both things she enjoys.

This idea also applies to decisions outside of choosing a major to choosing jobs and activities; in her post, Zhang also talks about building you, not your resume. I look at it like this, it’s important to build your resume (and get help constructing it), but a resume is also a document about you as a person. Are YOU excited to talk about what is on your resume? Gaining experience JUST because it looks good on a resume may not pay off in the end. Employers can tell when you are enthusiastic about what you have done and that speaks volumes in an interview.

MAKE THE MOST OF WHERE YOU ARE AT
Making the most of where you are at does not mean having to “do it all”. Like all seasons of life, college is a unique experience. By taking time off, I realized that college may be one of the last times traditional undergrads may be around people their age frequently. Zhang’s advice was to spend more time on your relationships than on your studies. While I do not know if I agree with that, I do agree that studies are equally as important as having quality relationships and experiences with friends. While this is a continual process, now is a great time to start figuring out a work-life balance that you can be satisfied with.

USE YOUR RESOURCES
This is one of the most important ones. Ask questions. Ask for help. If you don’t know something, say you don’t. There are so many resources available to us on a college campus to meet many diverse needs, why not use them. Don’t know what you want to major in? Talk to a career counselor, take a career and major exploration class. Unsure about entering the workforce? Get help writing your resume and/or practice interviewing. Advocating for yourself is a great skill to have at any part of life, and it’s a skill that can be built now. My best friend’s mom told me to ask myself “who has the information I need?” and go talk to them. If you are not sure, start with the best place you know to start.

GET TO KNOW YOURSELF
This applies to so many areas of life. The first time I remember realizing I didn’t know myself very well, was when I took an art class my senior year of high school. I was like a fish out of water and only would have considered myself an artist if drawing stick figures counted. By the end of the semester I discovered I was good at drawing and watercolor painting! So try new things even if you are not sure how it will go. One of the things I wish I would have done more is taken a range of diverse classes when completing my generals instead of sticking just to what I felt comfortable with.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT TO MOVE FORWARD
At the outset, I had never planned on studying psychology or communication. I hadn’t planned on interning for Career and Internship Services. I thought I wanted to work with kids all day every day. But I knew I enjoyed psychology and communication, and then I got the opportunity to peer mentor for transfer students, where I found I really liked helping students figure college out—now I’m the C&IS intern. In college and out, life unfolds from a series of smaller decisions. You don’t have to know everything to make a good decision. You know enough and it’s probably more than you think.

Above all:
know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed
– Misty Copeland

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash | Paul Jarvis

Life Lessons Learned from Working in Retail

By: Lexi

When you first read the title of my blog post, you probably laughed, I know I would. Life lessons from working that boring, part-time retail job in high school, really? I did not enjoy my time while working in the retail industry during high school, but at the time it was the only job I could get unless I wanted to work in the food industry, which I thought was worse. But looking back at it now, I realize it taught me so many life lessons that I still use today, seriously!

Communication skills
Communication skills are great for any career! But I learned a lot of my communication skills from my retail job, it was also one of my first jobs. Working in retail made me develop into a people person. You have interactions with people every minute while working, whether it is with customers, co-workers or your boss, you are constantly talking and interacting. You also have to walk up to strangers to check in on them or help them find what they are looking for, this sometimes pushes you out of your comfort zone, but in the long run, it is great for your character.

How to be the bigger person
In retail, you often get angry or upset customers. At my retail job, the store had a lot of coupons, but along with those coupons came brand or clearance exclusions in the fine print on the back. Let me tell you, the customers did not like this, and they did not understand that as just a sales associate, I did not make the rules to the coupons. This was personally the worst part of my job because I had to constantly deal with angry, yelling customers, but I had to stay calm and patient. Overcoming these rude customers helped me learn techniques to be the bigger person. Which can translate to how to deal with anyone acting rude or in stressful situations.

A friendly smile and kindness can get you far
It is true what they say, kindness is contagious. Simply smiling, greeting or thanking someone can get you far not only in retail but anywhere else. It also helps to keep yourself positive at work, which is a great way to put yourself in the right frame of mind for dealing with anyone, especially those rude customers. Do not take this lesson with a grain of salt, because it can help you in any situation, not just work ones.

How to multitask
This is learned so easily because there is always so much to do in retail, especially on a weekend. You are usually assigned many tasks to do during your shift, but you also have to juggle tending to customers and keeping the store neat. You also learn to adapt and manage your time.

Respecting others is a must
Working in retail means you are working with many people at once, especially in a department store. This means you should work as a team and get along. If you don’t respect your coworkers or get along, it will make for a slow and dreadful shift. Respecting co-workers and team members in any work setting is a must.

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Freshmen: 5 Ways to Overcome the Second Semester Slump

By: McKenzie

First semester went great, or at least as well as it could have gone. Fueled by excitement and ramen you conquered those first few months of college. You may not have gotten the best grades, made the best friends, or done your ultimate best, but at least you made it. However, now you’re stuck. The second semester slump is here and while anyone one who is a sophomore and above has trekked this mountain it’s your first time and you’re not ready. Luckily, we’re here to help you reach the peak of motivation mountain.

Get involved
It may seem counter-intuitive to get up and get out there since rolling out of bed is already hard enough, but it’s time to find the right people and follow your passions. Regardless of the school you attend, there are plenty of clubs, organizations, and student groups. Exploring your interests will keep you up and moving through the semester. Plus, getting involved is great for your resume!

Relax
It’s essential to rest and stop stressing super hard, so this semester you need to find a healthy balance between work and play. Find time during each day to take care of yourself. Self-care is super important and will help keep you moving along through the semester. Find the things that help you relax, but also don’t stray too far from your studies since those are still important.

Mind your habits
First semester may have been tough on your GPA, and more importantly your mental health, so it’s time to pick up some healthy habits. Exercising regularly, eating better, and studying are great habits to develop. You will not only feel better, but you’ll begin solidifying a routine and a routine gives you something to look forward to every day. (our Productivity & Wellness posts)

Meet your professors
During your first semester you probably got by without ever getting to know your professors since in large lectures they don’t often have time to get to know you. However, getting to know your professors will save you from struggling later on. Take advantage of their office hours. Teachers who know you will by nature hold you more accountable, but will also be more open to understanding why you missed their class that one (or four) times.

Temporary dissatisfaction leads to lifelong satisfaction
While your good ol’ buddy Tim may be lots of fun, he may also not be the best influence. There is a time and a place for everything and Tim can wait until the weekend. Use your time during the week to focus on your studies. The more you accomplish throughout the week the less you will have to do on the weekend. This will also help you begin prioritizing tasks which will help you later in your career.

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The Pros & Cons of On and Off-Campus Jobs (Part 2)

By: Whitney

Throughout my time in college I have experienced the unique aspects, triumphs and challenges, of both on and off-campus jobs. Previously, I covered a few pros and cons of on-campus jobs, and as I love sharing my learning experiences, I have also compiled a list of a few pros and cons of off-campus jobs for round two.

Off-campus jobs

PROS OF OFF-CAMPUS JOBS

  1. Wages could potentially be higher than on-campus jobs
    Again, this varies from job to job, but chances are greater that an off-campus job will pay more than minimum wage.
  2. Gets you off campus
    I LOVE my campus! But let’s be honest, when you haven’t left it for a while you can start to get a little cabin feverish. People from back home ask you what things are like in your college’s surrounding city and you wonder if you even know anymore. Working off-campus is one way to get you out and about in the surrounding community. Also, any job is great for networking, but off-campus jobs provide an excellent way to network with people in the surrounding community.
  3. There could be more opportunities for a job related to your field of interest
    If you find a job related to your field, it is a great way to see if this is really the field for you. Working in an afterschool program/daycare I got A LOT of unexpected and great hands on experience with child and school psychology work. I would not trade what I learned there for anything, but I also found out that working with kids daily can be draining, and it helped me decide if I wanted to do that kind of work as a career. Jobs can solidify your choices, give you more to think about, and if you decide you want to go in a different direction that is invaluable knowledge as well.

CONS OF OFF-CAMPUS JOBS

  1. Scheduling could be more difficult
    Off-campus jobs do not automatically take time off for school breaks, and you might be competing for time off with other co-workers during these times or high-stress weeks like finals week. I recommend asking for time off well in advance when possible. Although each job has varying levels of flexibility. My job in retail was more flexible with scheduling than my daycare job, which was scheduled five days a week for the same block of time each day.
  2. Transportation
    With an off-campus job you are going to need reliable transportation, whether it be by car or by bus. Commute times might be longer, which also takes time out of your day. My commute to my off-campus job was 20 minutes one way. Which adds up to a little over three hours a week. I did not mind it, but I could have also used that time to study, be part of a club, or hang out with friends throughout freshman year. Also, my freshman year I got in a car accident that totaled my car. I had to find rides to my off-campus job for a few weeks until I could get a new car. Needless to say, the ordeal was a hassle, and there were a few times I had to call in saying I couldn’t come in simply because I couldn’t find a ride that day. (I hope this never happens to you, but it was an eye-opening experience of just how important reliable transportation truly is in daily life).
  3. Shifts will probably be longer
    Because on-campus jobs are generally more flexible and close, you could potentially fit the same number of hours in in-between classes over shorter shifts than with an off-campus job. Shifts for work off-campus will probably be in four or eight hour blocks of time, which mean that your time management may need to be tighter.

WHAT NOW?
All things considered, working during school, whether on-campus or off, can be a beneficial experience. Both give you great knowledge and skills, build your resume, and teach time management. Of the two, one is not inherently “better” than the other. One may just fit your needs better than the other. Each person has their own amount of activities they can put on their plate without being overly stressed. So, look at what you need. Maybe you need the greater flexibility afforded by an on-campus job because you are involved in campus clubs and organizations too, or you want more time to study and still have time to sleep and hang out with friends. Maybe you really want to get involved in the surrounding community, so you go for an off-campus job. You are also going to want to consider the job itself.

Your needs/wants may also change down the line and you can always change what you are doing. The most important thing is that you enjoy the job you are doing and are still able to have the work-life balance you want.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Breather