Be Genuine

By: Kirsi

Stories about students fraudulently receiving job offers and college acceptances by lying on resumes and applications frequent news media. Extreme efforts taken to fake qualifications include: forging a high school diploma, cheating on the ACT, lying about work experience, and photo-shopping a picture to make it look like they played sports. Although these attempts are extraordinary and comical, there are more nuanced ways to present yourself un-authentically. These white lies include: pursuing a career path that does not match your interests, insincerely schmoozing to recruiters, and fudging interests to match that of recruiters. The best thing you can do for the highest long-term reward is to be genuine.

Image: brick wall painted white on left side and blue on right side
Text: Be Genuine

What being genuine can look like:

  • Pursuing a career for the right reasons, goals beyond money, other people’s opinions, and chasing fads.
    For example, studying to be a doctor because you are inspired by nonprofits that provide health services to conflict zones. 

  • Declining an otherwise achievable opportunity due to your conscious, ethics, or beliefs.
    For example, you may identify how a recruiter wants you to answer a particular interview question and instead you answer truthfully upholding your honesty and integrity.

  • Avoiding low hanging fruit at networking events.
    For example, picking more unique topics of conversation that reflect your interests (which can still be company and career related). Overused points of conversation include; sports, weather, breaking news about the company, and other trite chat.

  • Researching career opportunities beyond what is cookie cutter for your area of study.
    For example, if you are a STEM major but find film making super interesting, there may be opportunities to marry your skills and interest with a little guidance (talk to a career counselor).

Sometimes being genuine will feel like a short-term loss. Feeling confident that you made decisions based on what is right and what is important to you will be a unmatchable reward in the future.

Of Possible Interest:
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic
Advice From the Real World

Read Kirsi’s other posts

The Basics of Salary Negotiation

By: Heidi

When it comes to accepting your first job, your first salary can often set the pay you earn for the rest of your life. After attending the Start Smart workshop hosted by the American Association of University Women, I learned a lot about your first salary and strategies about how to negotiate that salary. I wanted to share some of the tips I learned for other students and especially women, who often avoid negotiating a salary all around.

The Gender Pay Gap and Why It Matters
In the year 2016, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 20 percent. It’s important to note, this gender pay gap is even worse for women of color. The gender gap tells us that women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and underrepresented in high-wage ones. Women’s work such as health, education, and public administration, is devalued because women do it. And because women are often caregivers, they face lower pay and promotion opportunities because they are assumed to be distracted and unreliable.

Know Your Value
When it comes to asking for a salary you deserve, it is important to have an understanding of what skills you bring to the table, and how to communicate that. Think back on past accomplishments, contributions, skills, and relevant work experiences. Reflect on what positive results from these accomplishments, what role you played. Consider keeping a journal of all your accomplishments throughout the year, no matter how big or small. Use the template below to help articulate your value:

As a result of my effort to do ____________________________ (identify your action) I have achieved _______________________________ (result), which provided the following specific benefits to the company: ____________________ (fill in quantitative result or other positive outcome).

Image: US $1 bill on white background. 
Text: The basics of salary negotiation.

Know Your Strategy And Benefits
It is important to have objective research when it comes to preparing for your negotiation. Follow these six steps when it comes to benchmarking your salary and benefits: Research and identify a comparable job title, find the salary range and establish your target salary, identify your target salary range, create a realistic budget, determine your resistance or “walk-away” point, and determine the value of your benefits.

When it comes to matching a job to a salary, start with Salary.com and identify a job description that matches the job you are researching. Identify a target salary range looking at the 25th to 75th percentile, at, below, or above the median. Use the target salary as the bottom of the range and do not stretch more than 20 percent. You can calculate the take-home pay for the target salary at PaycheckCity.com

As for determining a resistance point, this is the lowest salary you are willing to accept and still reach an agreement. This is a useful tool to prevent you from accepting a salary you might later regret. Offers below your resistance point may signal you to walk away from a job offer.

Creating a budget is also essential in preparing for your negotiation strategy. Your budget doesn’t need to be scary, and is something that can be broken down quite simply. The 50/20/30 rule can help you proportionately break down and create a healthy budget. It is meant to be flexible based on your particular situation and needs. Breaking it down looks like this: 50 percent or less will be made up of essential expenses such as housing, food, transportation, and utilities. 20 percent or more will go towards your financial goals and obligations such as savings and debt. The ending 30 percent is meant to be for flexible spending and personal choices such as shopping, personal care, hobbies, and entertainment.

Know Your Strategy
Negotiating your salary will differ depending on whether you are looking for a new job or preparing to ask for a raise or promotion. When it comes to a new job, deflection strategies are key to avoid discussing or negotiating your salary until AFTER you have received a job offer. Here are a few different ideas you can use in an interview can look like:

  • “I’d rather talk about that after I’ve received a job offer.”
  • “I’d like to learn more about the role before I set my salary expectations. As we move forward in the interview process, I would hope and expect that my salary would line up with market rates for similar positions in this area.”
  • “What is the salary range for this position or similar positions with this workload in the organization?”

If you receive an offer below your resistance point, then you should attempt to negotiate upwards. Having your notes to reference, you can counteroffer in several ways:

  • “Do you think you have any flexibility on the salary number?”
  • “Thank you for the offer. Based on my research with comparable roles in this area, I was thinking of something in the range of (your target salary range.)”
  • “Based on my prior experience and familiarity with this role, I believe that an additional $_____ would be fair.”

Practice, Practice Practice
Your negotiation skills will not improve without practice. With each time you practice, you can not only improve your ability to be objective, persuasive, and strategic, but confident in your capabilities of negotiating your worth!

Using your notes from your research, sit down with a roommate or a friend and go through a role-play scenario. The more you practice, the more feedback they can provide you with to improve your verbal and body language.

Though this is a lot of information, it’s important to be informed when negotiating your first salary as it sets the benchmark for the rest of your career when it comes to raises and bonuses. Take this information and use it to set yourself up for success so you don’t end up leaving any extra money on the table.

*Tips taken from the AAUW Start Smart Workbook

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | NeONBRAND

4 Tips for When You Realize You’re in Over Your Head

By: Amanda

This past Fall I went into my sophomore year full of energy and anticipation like I was lining up to hit a home run at the plate. Freshman year I dipped my toe in the water with my classes, but now this was it, sophomore year was my time to dive in head first and get involved on campus. I attended the activities fair and put my name down on every sheet I could get my hands on. Yes, this all was very fun and of course, it was a good way to meet new people, but about halfway through the semester when my classes started to get difficult I began to see signs that I was simply spreading myself too thin. When I would be in one place, I was constantly thinking about my mile-long to-do list or what I had to do afterward. Although I had everything planned on Google Calendar, I was always paranoid, wondering if I was potentially missing a meeting I should be at. On top of all of this, I felt I was missing the essentials in life: quality time spent with friends and family, and time spent alone with myself. After discussing my issue with a few co-workers, I began to realize this type of situation is happening to students all the time. There are four key actions to take when you realize you are in over your head.

colorful square tile background. Text: 4 tips for when you realize you're in over your head - cordially back out of commitments, plan it all out, enlist help of others, know you're not alone.

CORDIALLY BACK OUT.
Backing out is something that everyone hates doing, it might make you feel like a flakey person, and could even be comparable to a break-up. First and foremost, it is absolutely crucial to end on good terms. If at all possible, talk to the group/person face-to-face and explain to the situation. Open communication is key. Be honest about what is going on, admit your own wrongdoings and apologize if needed. Ending on a favorable note makes it easier in the future if you have to work with the group/person again.

PLAN IT ALL.
Whether it be an old-fashioned planner, Google Calendar, or Microsoft Outlook, find a method of planning that works best for you and stick to it. Sometimes seeing everything laid out can help you to figure out what is realistic to accomplish.

ENLIST HELP.
Take a step back and reevaluate your tasks. Yes, I am sure some of them need to be done by you and only you, but is there a possibility you could get a co-worker or roommate to help you with the others? By even delegating one task from your to-do list, a slight weight may be taken off your shoulders.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  
At the University of Minnesota Duluth, we are given twelve free counseling sessions per semester. Take advantage of these. Talking with an external source can be an aid in finding clarity. Additionally, pinpoint the type of stress that you are having. Is it career stress? Drop in and see us at the Career and Internship Services office. Financial Stress? Go see what the OneStop can do for you. Trouble taking tests? Disability Resources is waiting to help you.

Although my sophomore year Fall semester may not have gone as planned (well, when do things ever go exactly as planned??), I was able to learn key life lessons. Know that it is possible to be fully involved on-campus, work, do well in classes, and have time for yourself when you plan accordingly and learn how to say no. It’s time for you to stop overworking yourself and a get a grip on your life.

Of Possible Interest:
How to Say NO
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic
Self-Care 101
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Andrew Ridley

Midterm Madness Mental Health Tips

By: Heidi

Editor’s note: in our office we see mental health as a critical component of your overall career path. While these tips are directed toward college students, they’d be helpful for people who are no longer in college. 

I think as students we can all agree we’re at the point in the semester where projects are piling up, the assignments are never-ending, and trying to finish your to-do list feels like being on a hamster wheel. I’m all about trying to see the best in a situation so I found some great mental health tips that therapists give their patients in times of stress.

Now more than ever as a student is it important to work hard towards school but also take the time for yourself and your mental health. Here are some tips to take on to get through these next few weeks.

Small orange flowers with sky in the background; Text: Tips for managing mental health

Try writing your thoughts down
Take 5 minutes or so a day to write down your thoughts, feelings, or ideas. This can help you process emotions you encounter throughout the day and destress from it all.

When you’re super stressed and overwhelmed, see if there’s any way to put a positive spin on it
With so many deadlines as a student, think about how the stress of it is actually helping push you to get it done.

Counter negative thoughts with positive ones
If you’re feeling like you can’t finish everything on your plate, recognize your hard work and all that you’ve accomplished that day. For times when you’re feeling you’ll never be able to make it happen, remind yourself with a positive thought that you always finish what you start.

Have a self-care arsenal
Everyone has certain things or coping mechanisms that give them a boost when they’re feeling crappy whether it’s taking a bath, watching a YouTube clip, or putting on your favorite pair of sweatpants. These may be small tips, but it will give yourself something to look forward to after a long day.

Ask yourself “and then what?” when you’re stuck on an anxious thought
Push your thought process forward by forcing yourself to think ahead. For example, if you keep worrying about receiving a bad grade on an exam, ask yourself what are you going to do to prevent it or what will you do to boost your grade after the exam.

Even though the end of the semester can be a stressful time for us all, keep in mind that all of your work will get done, focus on one thing at a time, and take a little bit of time each day for yourself.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Masaaki Komori

Brutal Honesty

By: Kirsi

Calling someone out for not contributing during a group project is exceedingly easier than owning up to your own shortcomings. Professors have twisted humor to subject students to group projects, especially when group members are picked at random. “As if I will ever be drop-kicked into a situation involving a group of strangers working to meet a common goal and a lofty deadline?!” WRONG. (Maybe some wisdom was acquired when they earned that Ph.D.) In the work force, there is life after college, you may find yourself in a group project type scenario again. Get comfortable with the uneasiness of cat herding, negotiating, and communicating because it’s not getting any easier.

View of earth from space

I have participated in a handful of internships, co-ops, and summer jobs during my time at UMD. At the conclusion of each experience, I have a false sense of accomplishment that, “I cannot possibly learn more than I already have this summer!” Without failure, every summer, I am steamrolled by a new life lesson. Fall 2017 I learned about adaptability when my co-op was delayed by Hurricane Harvey and how to do more than your assigned project summer of 2016. This past summer I was assigned to a sort of group project, but a group project with so many people that some of the participants weren’t even stationed on Earth. While Co-Oping with the International Space Station‘s Mission Control this summer I learned about communication, more specifically brutal honesty. Embarrassingly, I learned how to be the shameful sap who owns up for not getting their work done in a group project.

People sitting at big desks with many computer screens

Sitting console in International Space Station Mission Control.

Operating a space station requires trusting a lot of people to contribute their parts. Space travel, humanity’s greatest group project. When someone doesn’t contribute to a college group project your group’s grade suffers, or at least the slacker’s grade does. When someone doesn’t contribute to flying the Space Station worse things happen; maybe a light bulb isn’t replaced, maybe something gets thrown away that shouldn’t, or maybe the station deorbits? Mission Control has a reliable way of reassigning responsibilities if someone is unable to get the job done it is handed off to someone else. The key to reassigning work is letting your flight team lead know you can’t complete the work.

This summer I failed to communicate that I could not get one of my tasks done. Fortunately, it was not a task involved with real-time space operations. Yet, it was a task assigned to me that my mentors expected me to complete. Although my reasons for not getting it done were very valid, fearing to admit the brutal honesty that I could not get it done prevented my mentors from receiving the information they needed. If I had owned up to not being able to complete a project sooner it could have been assigned to a different intern. Unfortunately, the task simply didn’t get done at all.

At the conclusion of my Mission Control Co-Op I asked, “what more is there to learn?” At least I am equipped with the confidence that brutal honesty is better than hiding a failure. Don’t be THAT PERSON in your group projects of life.

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Sources: Unsplash | NASA; Kirsi

 

Using Creativity to Disconnect

By: Heidi

How often do you take the time to disconnect? Like really disconnect away from your phone, computer, constant notifications, and email. In this day and age, we are constantly surrounded by technology as it is how we communicate, used for school, and work. Because of this, we are in constant connection with our friends, social networking notifications, and email. Although this is really beneficial, it can be detrimental to our health as we are always able to be reached nearly 24/7.

Using creativity to disconnect - sketchbook on desk with watercolors

Now that you’re thinking about how often you disconnect, ask yourself, how often do I take the time to slow down. Like really slow down as in the to-do list can wait, the kitchen doesn’t have to be spotless, you didn’t get home as early as you wanted because you stayed after class to catch up with a friend type of slow down.

I wanted to bring this to your attention because I often find myself being in a state of #1 constantly connected to my phone and #2 not always taking the time to slow down.

So you find yourself in the same boat struggling to disconnect and to slow down and enjoy the moment or day that we have.

I propose to you take to make the time in your day whether it be ten minutes or one hour to explore and pursue your creative outlet. Yup. That’s it. A creative outlet. Why? Because all humans, whether you believe it or not, were meant to create. Creating something can mean so many different things. This can consist of dancing, painting, photography, doodling cartoons, playing a musical instrument, baking, gardening, and more. Whatever it is that you choose, allow yourself to have fun with it, share it with others, and not place an expectation on it that it has to be this perfect thing. For example, have you seen the Netflix show ‘Nailed It?’ These people are on a baking competition show trying to recreate these really intricate cakes done by professionals and the people trying to recreate them bake out of a hobby. The thing is, these cakes turn out laughably bad but that’s the point. It doesn’t matter how bad the cakes turn out, they all had fun (or were stressed by the pressures of reality TV…who knows) during the process.

When you become so engaged in an activity you enter ‘flow mode.’ During this flow mode, you lose track of time and get lost in it allowing the pressures and anxiety of daily life to melt away.

It is unfair to deem ourselves as creative or uncreative. You owe it to yourself to make the time to explore a creative outlet as this will allow you to disconnect and be better for your overall wellbeing.

Of Possible Interest:

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Tim Arterbury

How to Rock at Being in the Minority (Emerging Majority)

By: PJay

I’m sure at some point in our life we have all dealt with the feeling of being a minority. I am not just talking about the color of our skin, but being a minority can simply exist in the lifestyle we personally choose to pursue. Some examples are choosing to be a vegetarian/vegan, our gender and sexual orientation, or even our political views. I’m sure you can stir up a whole list of all the different ways you can be considered a minority.

Now for some of us, we might feel good or special to be a part of the minority, or as one of my best friends would call it, “the emerging majority.” And for others, it can be just a little scary. Whichever feeling you are getting though, I am hoping you can make use out of the tips I have listed below. These are just based off of my personal experiences at school that I believe can help guide you to be the embracive individual you were meant to be at work, school, or even in your friend group.

How to rock at being in the minority

Reach out!
There is always more to learn about something than you would think you already knew about. Join a club or an organization that has the same beliefs, values, and experiences as you. Choose one that has welcoming members, and one you believe will teach and help you grow the most. Having a great support system is seriously one of the best tools that is going to assist you to surpass obstacles and people who degrade you.

Keep in mind: time will mend everything together.
I cannot emphasize this one enough! Time is really all we need to grow more mature and become more accepting. Whether that is accepting your own imperfections or the way others see you. Time plays a role in both! Because the more we are exposed to something over time, the more it changes our viewpoints.

Accept the fact that not everyone is going to agree with you.
This is one of the most challenging things to do, but honestly, it is fine to have disagreements. We are raised in different environments, thus creating different experiences for us to behave a certain way. And if you want someone to become more knowledgeable about your circumstances, you also have to keep an open mind towards them. Relationships are based on balance and respect.

Teach, tell, and not expect.
Humans are not robots or mind readers, so you can’t expect someone to know or be aware of something without a bit of guidance. You are now the teacher. Just simply tell what’s on your mind or in your heart. It will be frustrating at first, but like I said before, allow them to take the time they need to process where you stand as a minority. It is hard to tell someone the experiences you are going through, but it’s truly the effort they put in to get to know you that counts.

Believe in yourself.
This sounds so cliche, but it’s true! No one is willing to push you to work harder than yourself. In addition, when you accept yourself and portray confidence, you become a standing stone in the eye of others. They won’t even try to push you down anymore because they know they can’t. Do what makes you happy because it is your life.

Differences are truly the things that make us unique and give us the ability to teach others about ourselves. Don’t avoid the things that make you a minority. These features about you are truly what make you special, just like the things we want the most in life are the rarest. I hope you found some wisdom in these tips to use in your everyday life. Take care and good luck!

Read PJay’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Sharon McCutcheon