Bad Grades Doesn’t Mean a Bad Employee

By: Heidi

I will be the first to admit I’ve had bad exams and just not great grades in my overall academic career. Receiving a bad grade can be really discouraging as a student. You sometimes may think to yourself “why do I even bother trying harder…I may not be doing my absolute best but at least I’m getting by.”

I’m not here to tell you how to turn around your whole academic career, make the dean’s list, or get the 4.0 you’ve always been dreaming of. Performing well on a project or test is great and it feels good to do good, but grades are only just a small representation of you as a student.

desktop with electronic device and black coffee cup with "hustle" on it; quote: work hard in silence, let your success be your noise. by Frank Ocean

So what is this whole “bad grades doesn’t mean a bad employee” thing? Well, this summer walking into my internship I had an “epiphany” if you will. I was working at a good company. I was producing good work. That doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle along the way at all, but what I did realize is that all the time and energy I spent about worrying what grades I got really meant nothing at the end of the day. I knew I could work hard and my boss acknowledged that. So that is what I believe matters most. Focus on the effort you put in and the results will follow.

At the end of the day, grades are just a small measurement of you as a student. It doesn’t make up entirely who you are and all else that you do. I believe our words are powerful and especially the words we say to ourselves. If you’ve never tried using affirmations, I would highly recommend trying it out as your thoughts become your words, and your words become your actions.

“My grades are important to me but they don’t define me.” Repeating this affirmation to myself when I feel discouraged then instead encourages me to focus on the effort I put in rather than my attachment to the grade I receive. As long as I know I am putting in my best effort, that is all that matters to me.

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Photo Source: Unsplash

Removing, Rebooting, and Relocating

By: Tori

Moving away from your ‘normal’ for the past 4 years is harder than you’d think it would be. When I accepted my offer to join the Leadership Development Rotational Program with Allstate Insurance, I was equally nervous and excited. I was ready for a fresh start but I continued to be reminded of the things I would miss out on, the people I wouldn’t see, and the difficult transition that was ahead of me.

For my final blog post as a Peer Educator, I decided to share a few lessons I have gained while learning how to remove myself from ‘normal’, reboot my attitude to optimism, and relocate to a new city!

Removing Rebooting Relocating Lessons for tackling life after graduation

The first lesson I have learned is that I am very blessed. UMD has provided me a platform for growing and expanding beyond my comfort zones, as well as opportunities to make new friends, connections, and gain more wisdom during this one phase of my life than I thought possible. From sporting events, study abroad, on-campus jobs, internships, hilarious roommates, Bulldog hockey, etc. Due to these experiences and people, I have more confidence that Chicago will hold similar blessings. It may just take some time.

The second lesson I have learned is that I’ve done this before, so I can do it again. It’s not that I hate change, it’s more that transitions are hard. They are exciting and offer new adventures, but they also are overwhelming, and often times lonely. I remember experiencing this after coming back from summer break freshman year. I was excited to be back in Duluth and conquer year 2 of my undergrad, but also missed the normal, the familiarity, and the comfort I had at home. This continued to happen to me as I would transition from living at home and working, to living in Duluth and learning. But the thing is, I ALWAYS moved past that transition phase and got right back into the swing of things. At times it seemed too much to handle, but then I reminded myself “you’ve done it before, so you can do it again’.

The final lesson I have learned is that if you prepare, you will feel more capable. In the midst of my senior year ending, my time has been consumed with final papers, projects, ‘the lasts of the lasts’, and meeting up with friends before we go our separate ways. However, I also have taken time to journal, process, and plan how to prepare myself best for this new move. Thinking through and having an idea in mind of places to hang out, get coffee, and attend church have helped me begin to form my life in Chicago before I’ve even left! Taking the time to think through these things has helped me remind myself I am capable of change and this time in my life will be one I won’t ever forget!

I hope these lessons help you as you begin your transition into the summer, your new job, or your new location!

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Jan Senderek

Career Advice for College Graduates

By: McKenzie

How exciting! You’ve made it through your college education and while you may be continuing into a graduate program you are still wondering, “what should I do now?” Here is some simple advice for navigating the waters of entering your career field.

Stay Positive
Entering the workforce can be a very intimidating experience and if you aren’t finding jobs right off the bat that’s okay! Many students struggle to enter a job within their chosen career path when they first start looking. It may not be easy entering this next stage in life so maintaining a positive outlook can help carry you through the mucky experience.

Know What You Want
Graduating college can be a very stressful experience for anyone who is unsure what they are looking for in a job. During interviews and at job fairs potential employers are looking for candidates with an idea of their direction in their field. Think to yourself, “where would I like to be in 5 years?” and start looking for work that will get you there.

Career Advice for College Graduates

Reach Out
Now is a great time to start contacting people within your networks and seeing what opportunities are available. If you do not know anyone within your field, then it’s time to do some research. There are a lot of professionals who are willing to talk about themselves, so try reaching out and asking if they would be interested in an informational interview. Your connections can take you far.

Get Involved & Stay Involved
Were you involved in college? Keep that going! If you were not, then now is a great time to start. Our passions can help show employers there is more to us than meets the eye. Being involved is a great resume and network booster! You never know who could be your next reference.

Research Before Interviews
Companies like candidates who are interested in them. Often times applicants lose themselves in the process of applying for a job and they are not prepared for their interviews. If you do not know anything about a company hiring you then how would you know they are the right fit? The company may not align with your values. You also might not be ready when they ask you a question you could have known the answer to with quick Google search.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Joshua Sortino

 

“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!

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Senior Year: Anything Can Happen

By: Logan

So you have three years of college under your belt. You had somewhat of an idea of what you wanted to do upon graduation, but now you are not exactly sure of what you want to do. Back when you were a freshman or sophomore you used to think to yourself, “Well, I still have some time before I graduate!” This thought continued to persist until one day you woke up and realized, “Oh wow. It’s time to decide.” This may be an exciting time or a scary time for you. In a few months you will find yourself out of college and in the real world. This is the point in many students’ college careers where they think that everything is coming to an end and decisions have to be made quickly.

I have pondered this a lot lately, being that I will graduate in the spring and I am also unsure of what the future will hold. Many people will see this as being unprepared or unorganized, but I see it as an opportunity. We need to realize that it is okay to not have our entire futures planned out! Some people thrive from making a specific plan and following it, but for others (including me) this is a great time to explore the possibilities of what we can do.

sr-year-leap

It is common for college students to compare ourselves to classmates around themselves. For those of us who do not have an exact plan it is hard for us to not compare ourselves to that student who has their entire life mapped out. We all know this type of student, the one who knows exactly where they will be working, where they will be living, and seems to have their whole career in line. Kudos to this type of student, I have admiration for people like this, but not everyone has the same mentality.

There are many advantages to not having your future all planned out. This leaves room for more experimentation and potentially more opportunities. Those who do not have an exact picture of what they want to do will look at a larger variety of options post graduation. This allows for the student to develop multiple paths and backup plans in case certain options fall through. For students who have a very narrow idea for a career path it could be catastrophic to them if their career plan does not work out the way they want it to. Imagine having your entire life planned out to follow one specific path, and then one day it all comes crashing down because you did not get your desired job or internship. This is why it is important to have a few ideas and plans of what you would be interested in doing, so you always have something to fall back on.

Don’t get me wrong, it is important to have a general idea of an area you would be interested in, but it is important to not be too narrow minded. Also keep in mind that we have a variety of resources here at UMD that can help with these questions you may have. The counselors at Career and Internship Services are exceptionally helpful with brainstorming ideas, assisting with plans, and getting you ready for these opportunities. Take advantage of these resources and it will definitely help you in the long run.

The real world can be a scary place, but it is okay! Not having an exact idea of what you want to do leaves more doors open for potential opportunities. So continue your research on different areas that you are interested in and don’t limit yourself on what you can do. With the resources available to us at UMD and the excellent education we have earned, we will figure it out eventually. Until then, enjoy the ride!

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Cam Adams

Let Us Know What You’re Doing

Calling all 2015-2016 UMD Grads (undergrad & masters)! Let us know where you’re working or continuing your education. We use this information to showcase the success of our graduates and to help current UMD students see what all they could do with their majors. And no, we don’t ask you for money…just a few minutes of your time. You can see published Graduate Follow-up Reports in action on our website. Click to graphic below to take you to filling out the quick survey.

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The Truth About Career Success

By: Ellen (Career Counselor & guest author)

A few weeks ago I was thinking about my own career success and how I’ve defined that since graduating from college 10.5 years ago. “Career success” at 22 probably revolved around getting a full-time job of some sort in order to pass time before I was ready for grad school. “Career success” now, at 33, looks very different. It’s about using both of my degrees to own and grow in my current role, while doing some strategic planning for whatever may come next. Using both of my degrees (Communication/Business for undergrad and Counseling for grad) wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of my mind when job searching for my first post-grad school position. However, that concept has now become incredibly important to defining career success for me because I’ve experienced how great it is for me to use both of my degrees in my current job.

Truth About Career Success

Here’s the truth about defining career success…it looks different for everyone. Some people have it figured out when they graduate from college, but a lot of people don’t. Figuring out your career and career success takes time, it’s messy, and make look different depending on your stage in life.

In addition to sharing my own experience about figuring out “career success,” I did what everyone does when they’re looking for advice…I turned to Facebook. Here are some pieces of wisdom about career success from people who are in various stages of their careers and in various industries.

  • Even though you have a degree, you still have to work hard to succeed.
  • Be patient and open to opportunities given to you. You never know, it might sound horrible, but turn out to be something you’re really passionate about.
  • You won’t use all your qualifications in all your jobs. Being (or believing you are) overqualified doesn’t mean the job you got hired to do doesn’t still have to get done by you.
  • Talking about problems without suggesting solutions doesn’t really help anyone, especially not your reputation.
  • Everything you get, you have to earn. You may have taken leadership courses and been the top of your class and done everything you were supposed to in college, but chances are good that you are going to start on the bottom and have to work hard to move up.
  • You will not get the same kind of do-overs that you got in college. You don’t get to pick what your tasks are, you don’t get to decide you don’t feel like doing _____ today.

So how do you define career success?

Photo source: Unsplash | Jeff Sheldon