Obtaining a Leadership Position as an Introvert

By: Heidi

Going into my Junior year of college, I was feeling rather content with where I was at starting a new job at Career and Internship Services as well as taking on a leadership role as the Volunteer Coordinator for UMD’s yoga club. During Junior year everything starts to become a little more real and intense. Running for a leadership position in my sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma was not something on the top of my priority list, but it was something that was fun and exciting to consider. As the applications were sent out, I started to think a little more seriously, “what position would I run for?”, and “could I really pull this off?” I personally have never held a high position in an organization let alone an executive board position of a chapter with 100+ women.

obtaining a position in leadership as an introvert

One of the main reasons I was so hesitant to running for a position is because I didn’t feel like I would be a good leader because I am introverted. What I needed to learn is that there is already a misunderstanding that introverts are shy, when actually we are great listeners, which is fitting for leadership roles.

For the longest time, I did not know or understand my own strengths. This is where I used my results from the CliftonStrengths for Students to my advantage. Everybody has their own strengths and in this process, I realized it was about time I stopped doubting myself. Ask yourself “would I be a good fit?” Now change the question to ask “why would I be a good fit?” to understand from a different perspective. The most important thing is to run for a position that aligns with you in which you could passionately contribute to your organization.

If you find yourself wanting to run for a leadership position but feel hesitant, that is natural! What do you have to lose? Take the time to understand what would make you a strong leader because chances are the answers are already there.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Kelli Tungay

Spotlight: Kirby Leadership Institute

By: Whitney

“I don’t really see myself as a leader” I would say to myself. Leaders take charge, head up organizations, and they have the confidence to handle that type of responsibility. Leading flows out of them naturally. One day my friend said to me, “you’re looking at it wrong.”

During my first year at UMD, I experienced a dip in confidence, after all the fun and excitement of a new school and new adventure wore off. What can I do to build up my confidence? Well, I thought, who do I think is confident? Leaders. Next, I found myself sitting in a chair at the CEHSP advising office asking if there were any courses in leadership, even outside of my psychology major. My advisor pointed me in the direction of UMD’s Kirby Leadership Institute (KLI). After asking lots of questions, and being assured that there was no penalty if I ended up not completing the requirements, I joined. I’m so glad I did, and here are my top five reasons to join (in no particular order).

Gain hands-on experience and build skills
KLI is a co-curricular certificate program at UMD and is FREE of charge to ANY UMD undergraduate who wants to participate. Kirby Leadership emphasizes diversity and inclusion, as well as hands-on experience with leadership through service in the community, both at UMD and in Duluth. When asked why volunteering is important to Leadership, Joie Acheson Lee, Associate Director for Leadership Development, and Coordinator for the Kirby Leadership Institute stated, “volunteering helps you practice [your leadership] skills and gain experience” in your field. As a college student who as spent most of my life inside a classroom, sometimes it can be hard to see myself as anything more than a student. Getting outside of the classroom, as a peer mentor, and in other roles, helped me put my learning into practice and helped me expand my view of myself as more than just a student.

"For me, KLI was the push I needed to step outside my comfort zone and take a more active role in the communities I was a part of." - Whitney

Confidence and community involvement
Using your strengths helps you grow and build on them. Talking with Joie, it is very clear that KLI is passionate about empowering students and young adults. Joie says “we want students and young adults [to] have a sense of their own worth.” The fact that we bring unique experiences, skills, and abilities to all our endeavors. For me, KLI was the push I needed to step outside my comfort zone and take a more active role in the communities I was a part of. It opened my eyes to the opportunities out there that fit my interests and I could bring my skill set to. Being more invested in the community helped me meet so many awesome people and become aware of the power I had to impact my community and my life. They also emphasize equity, diversity, and inclusion helping individuals to become more aware of others and more inclusive in how they lead.

Receive recognition for things you already do
One thing I have learned while in KLI is there is not just one way to be “a leader.” Leading is about doing what you can where you are to help others and the community. KLI sees everyone as leaders and believes there are leadership opportunities in every field. KLI provides a way for you to document the leadership activities you are already involved in or will be during college. With its emphasis on community involvement, any unpaid work you do is considered volunteering both on and off campus. This can include practicums, job shadowing, unpaid internships for your major/field, and taking a leadership role within a club or on-campus. Many of us will do one or more of these things as part of our college career and the Leadership Institute wants us to see how valuable these activities are in shaping us as leaders within our fields.

It’s self-driven and 100% tailored to you
KLI is a co-curricular activity and not a minor, which affords it the ability to really tailor your leadership experiences to who you are, what you’re interested in, and the strengths you have and want to build on. When I first thought of leaders, I automatically thought, those are the people who go into things like management. I didn’t think there were many ways someone with a psychology major could exercise leadership. I am interested in helping people, so I have picked opportunities in line with those interests. Also, you have your entire college career to work towards the leadership certificate AND because much of it includes things you already would be doing throughout college regardless, it is achievable!

Top 5 reasons to join Kirby Leadership Institute

The leadership portfolio
Any activities you are involved in throughout college can be a springboard for your future. KLI has crafted the program with that knowledge in mind. After completing the program, they help you create a portfolio of all your leadership experiences while in college. Not only is it cool to look back and realize all you have accomplished, it is something you can leave with potential employers at job interviews. When asked what experience you have or how you have demonstrated leadership, you can only speak for so long. The leadership portfolio is a document that speaks loudly and clearly about your skills and abilities and how you have gained and used them. The leadership portfolio cannot replace a well-crafted resume, it does enhance it though; and as an addition to your resume, it can help you stand out. The leadership portfolio is something unique, created at UMD for UMD students. Employers see thousands of resumes, chances are they haven’t seen a leadership portfolio.

LEADERSHIP—WHAT IS IT ANYWAY?

I 100% guarantee you, you are already leading. Joie’s take on it is that “Leadership is the ability to influence others,” a set of skills that can be learned and not something that is just for the few. If you think about it everyone has influence in someone’s life. Siblings influence each other, friends influence friends, you influence yourself and the choices you make. Leading doesn’t have to look a certain way and leaders don’t have to be alike. “There are as many styles of leadership as there are leaders,” Joie says. I joined KLI simply because I didn’t see myself as a leader. Joining has broadened my understanding of leadership and encouraged me to see it in new ways. It has helped me give myself more credit for the work that I do and increased my confidence by pushing me out of my comfort zone. Whether you are part of KLI or not, I hope you to see the value you bring to everything you’re a part of, and if you don’t see yourself as a leader, I encourage you to look again.

Learn more about the Kirby Leadership Institute and the Leadership Certificate.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Whitney’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Fred Russo & Hope House Press

Go Big or Go Home

By: Willow

I have an exercise for you, close your eyes and think about everything you’ve ever wanted to do in college. Think about the organizations you want to join, the classes you want to take, or if you want to study abroad. Think of all those things. Now make a list of everything you want to do or have ever wanted to do and come back and finish reading this when you’re done.

Are you done?
Ok, good.

Look at your list, you now have a roadmap of all the things you should do.

Make a roadmap for your life

I know it’s not always that simple, you have to have to have time for your classes, your job, occasionally sleeping. But this is a list of all the things you should give an honest try to doing.

I am about to graduate, and I realized there are so many things I wanted to do that I never did. There’s an old Iowa State University commercial that shows how all the little things in your college career can help lead you to where you’re meant to go. I encourage you to check it out.

Basically, what I’m saying is make the very most out of college, and that’s way easier said than done. Go to at least one meeting of every club you’re interested in. Take classes just for fun. Go out with your friends.

If you are already in groups at UMD, make sure you’re making the most of them. I am a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma, the National Service Sorority at UMD. I was in it for a year before I tried for a position, a year and a half before I applied to be a big, and I still am working on getting to know the other members. I used to not be as interested in getting to know everyone in my sorority. I thought there were some nice women, but I already knew which women were my close friends and everyone I just kind of knew who they were but nothing more. I finally started to really get to know as many members as possible and realized, they are wonderful people. If you’re not really putting yourself out there in your groups, you’re not getting as much as you could out of your experience. And honestly, you’re missing out.

I know this post is short, but the message is simple. You only college once (YOCO) so don’t live with regrets. There is a lot of sweet stuff that you really can’t do outside of college, so go live a sweet life.

One last thing, a quote from one of my favorite professors Dr. Cyndie Rugeley, “Do it all now, because you’re never going to be poorer.”

Of Possible Interest:

Read Willow’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | delfi de la Rua

“Hanging” Up the Mantle: Leadership Transitioning

By: David

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!

Read David’s other posts

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: 

Read Tori’s other posts

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: 

Read Cassie’s other posts

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: 

Read Whitney’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Paul Jarvis