Letter to Freshman Me

By: Kimberly

As a Junior now in college there are a handful of things I wish I would have known or been told earlier in my college career. Especially when I didn’t have anyone in my primary family who completed any form of college, I had very limited resources to go to for assistance. So yes, I will admit if there was such a thing as a time machine, this is something that would be on my list to do when I travel back. I would drop this letter off to myself in hopes that it will save me from a few breakdowns and long nights. Now, I’m not saying that I had the worst experience or that it wasn’t the best thing that I went through but I still could’ve used these reminders.

Dear Freshman Me,

It’s future you, now in your junior year almost finished with college. You probably will thank yourself after you finish reading this letter but don’t take all the credit, because you’ll know who to thank once you meet them in your journey. For starters let me just reassure you this,

  1. You don’t always have to have everything figure out months before you get there and that’s completely fine.
  2. You may struggle here and there with a few courses. Not because you aren’t smart, but because sometimes it’s inevitable. It’s just one of those courses that will try to bring you down, but it doesn’t define you.
  3. You’re also going to need to step out of that bubble more often. Try new things and make new connections. It’s not as scary as you think.
  4. Most importantly, this is your learning process where you are supposed to make mistakes, it is fine if you don’t always get things right because you are still growing, learning, and most of it all getting to know who you are. (But that doesn’t mean every mistake has an excuse!)

Now you probably wondering, what in those four points have anything to do with the other people who you will encounter? Let’s just say you’ll have to do a bit more than reading this letter. If you happen to go through the campus “wedge” make sure you pay extra attention to both sides of the hall, or if you just try emailing and reaching out to others they are more than willing to help. Also in the wedge, there’s this office that offers these “assessments” you’ll eventually find out about and take, which will give you some more reassurance. You’ll also be surprised to know that your professors would like it if you go to their office hours. It doesn’t even have to be for help but because you can build good relationships with them. A little birdy even told me they have connections with employers.

So, save the breakdowns. I can’t give away everything to you because, if I did, that wouldn’t be nearly as helpful as letting you learn for yourself too. With this, seek out your resources even if that means having to do a little extra work and know that there is no such thing as a “norm” in college. Everyone has their own path at their own pace.

Sincerely,
You

Of Possible Interest:
Navigating Through College as a First-Generation Student Part 1 & Part 2

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Procrastination. Why do we do this to Ourselves?

By: Lexi

Finals are quickly approaching and you’re probably feeling extremely stressed about all of the work you have to get done in the next week. Then you think about it more and realize a good chunk of that homework could have been done much earlier, which would have eliminated a lot of your current stress, then you start to stress out more about how stressed out you are. Trust me, you are not alone! Do not fret, procrastination is going to happen when you are in college. Sometimes it is hard to balance your social life with your school life, and probably a job on top of all that! Procrastination is going to happen so here are some suggestions on how to handle it.

Plan ahead. It is kind of hard to do this now since it near the end of the semester, but make it a goal for next semester. Write down your assignments and their due dates right when you find out about them. If you need to, go out and buy yourself a planner. Physically writing down your deadlines may make you realize how soon the deadlines could actually be and then maybe you will start them earlier.

Start with the hardest task. If you start with your hardest task then it will just make it that much easier to keep going on assignments. Plus, if you get the worst task out of the way you will be able to feel relieved and hopefully focus better on the next tasks to come.

Change your study environment. Maybe the reason you are not getting enough done during your study time is because of your environment. Look at where you currently study area; Is it loud? Is it messy? Are your friends present? Is there a tv or other electronics? All of these factors can affect your procrastination. Possibly try hitting the library by yourself instead of your couch while watching tv.

Don’t blow a task out of proportion. Putting off easy tasks will make it seem harder, so first of all, do not do this. But you probably will so try to remember that it really won’t take as long as you are expecting it to. Stop thinking about it and just do it.

Lastly, just do it. This goes along with my last point, but stop thinking about all the work you have to do and just get it done. Instead of saying yes to getting ice cream with a friend to eat your stress away, invite them to get coffee and hit the library. This will help you and your friend. Chances are that once you are at the library and grinding away you won’t feel as stressed.

Even this blog post took me longer than necessary to write (which could be a cause of me procrastinating by scrolling Facebook and finding this hilarious video). Unfortunately, I procrastinate too. So get off of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, turn off Netflix and stop playing bike race and do your work! You do not have much time left before it is too late. But remember to breathe, exercise, laugh, take study breaks and remember these tips. You will make it and if you are graduating, congrats, good luck and remember to not procrastinate your job applications!

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“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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You Got a Job Offer! Now What?

By: Logan

We all know how long and grueling the job searching process is. You spend hours rewriting resumes and cover letters, reviewing multiple job posting websites nonstop, sending credentials out to potential employers, and attending interview after interview. But if you do it correctly, you will receive an offer. Congratulations! You better hurry and accept it right away before the offer is revoked, right? Wrong. There are still a few things to keep in mind even after you have been given an offer, and I will discuss these in this post.

After you receive a job offer you are allowed to have a little sigh of relief. It feels good to receive the offer, but there are still some things to consider. You may have gotten the job, but is it the right job for you? Be sure to remember you don’t have to accept the first offer you are given! Also, keep in mind you have been offered the job, but there are still some tests you must complete. These include things like reference checks, background checks, and drug tests. This is where it is crucial that you have reached out to your references and informed them they may receive a call from your potential employer. It will reflect on you poorly if your new employer calls one of your listed references and the person you wrote down is not expecting it at all. If the person is warned in advance they have the chance to think of things to say about you. It is also a common courtesy to inform them so they aren’t blindsided by the call. It would probably be a good idea to do this even before you are offered a job.

You got a job offer! Now what?

So you got the job offer, but is this the right fit? There are quite a few things to consider when deciding on a position. In my experience, I was offered four positions so I was forced to evaluate each job in every single detail. One thing to think about would be location. Do you prefer a large city or a smaller town? Do you want to live close to home or do you want to have some distance? Would you be willing to relocate across the country? These are all things I’m sure were considered while applying for the position, but it is a very important part of your final decision. Right fit can also mean company culture, training provided, and opportunity for advancement.

There are also many things to consider as far as compensation. When I was offered my positions I had an understanding of the salary and how the pay worked, but I knew little to nothing about insurance and benefits. So I decided to have my mom review all of the jobs’ benefits packages and insurance. She then broke it down for me and explained which job had the best overall compensation. This is where it is important to reach out to someone you trust if you don’t know a lot about the subject. If I didn’t ask around I could have made a poor decision based on compensation. If you don’t have a close adult or friend who knows a lot about these policies you can reach out to the UMD’s Career and Internship Services office, or your local career office. The counselors would be happy to review the information for you and provide you with thoughtful, unbiased information.

There are many things to keep in mind while deciding on a position and it is important to put them all into consideration. Be sure to reach out to trusted friends and family for assistance when needed, but overall it is your own decision to make. Review all of your options and go with the position you think you would be the happiest and most successful in.

Of Possible Interest

Read Logan’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Breather

Proper Email Etiquette

By: McKenzie

The official form of communication between students and the University of Minnesota Duluth is email. The emails that you sent in high school to your teachers and peers may not cut it here because in the professional world email etiquette is essential.

Make the subject line clear and concise
Anyone receiving your email is going to judge it by the subject line. A lengthy, cluttered subject line has already lost the attention of the recipient before they have even begun reading your email. Keep it short and sweet.

Address the email recipient
When you directly address the email recipient they will know the email was intended for them. Doing this also engages their attention because they know you expect a response from them personally and prompts them to respond more hastily.

Keep it short
Generally speaking, most people don’t have a lot of time in their days. Keeping emails short allows you to quickly engage them before their mind wanders to the other tasks they need to complete. A lengthy email will likely get skimmed and disregarded.

Proper email etiquette

Appropriate salutations
Always consider your recipient. While your friend may expect you to end the email with your typical, “Peace out,” your employer may expect something more formal. There are very few office environments where you wouldn’t speak to your boss professionally, and even in those environments it may still be best to end the email formally.

Include a signature
At the end of an email you should include your signature. While some prefer to write this out, yours may be too long to write out every time. Luckily through your email provider you can program and save a signature that will automatically appear at the end of an email. Not only will this save you time, but you’ll also keep peace of mind knowing that all your information is correct.

Maintain formality
It never hurts to be too formal. Regardless of who the email recipient is, it is always better to be overly formal instead of informal because the email shapes the way the recipient perceives you. If the recipient responds and tells you that you can be more relaxed that is better than being told that you aren’t taking the conversation seriously.

Bonus tip
Don’t respond to an email while angry. If a situation is upsetting to you, take a few moments (or a day) before you respond. Stepping away from your email allows you to process the situation and formulate a more emotionally even response. Having someone else read your response before you send it can also help you keep emotions in check. Communicating in writing is very different than in-person and we don’t want you to inadvertently burn any bridges.

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Alex Knight

How to Sound as Smart as You Are

By: Willow

Dear Blog Post Reader,

You are an incredibly smart and capable human being. You rock. You can do anything you set your mind to.

Keep calm and remember you are doing a great job.

Even though I know you’re super duper, sometimes it can be hard to make sure other people see that too, especially when they see you though a resume or application, so here are a few tips to help show everyone how wonderful you are.

Never say the word stuff.
Stuff doesn’t sound intelligent. There are so many other far better words that sound better; things, items, inventory, material, etc.

Don’t overuse the word like.
Leave the overuse of like in the, like, 90’s where it, like, belongs, like. Got it?

Use your resources.
There are a lot of good places you can go on campus to help you. Come to Career & Internship Services to make sure your resume highlights how smart you are, and to have a practice interview so you can articulate to employers how qualified you are. Go to the Writer’s Workshop at the Academic Writing & Learning Center and get help with your writing. Strong writing skills are essential to sounding your best. Have your friends or family read though things you write or look at projects you do, it always helps to get a second or third set of eyes on something to help catch mistakes you may have missed. You’re smart but you’re not perfect, you will make mistakes sometimes. Grammarly is a great resource to have installed on your computer and in your internet browser. It helps catch mistakes in email and other places you write.

If you’re going to use cliches or sayings, use them correctly.
People have differing opinions on cliches but personally, I love them if you use them correctly. I was recently having a conversation with a few people, during the approximately three minutes of conversation, one of the people used about five cliches, all incorrectly. It drove me crazy. She could have been telling me about the groundbreaking research she has been doing for years on cancer cells and all I would be able to think about is how she used old cliches incorrectly.

Sometimes it’s ok to not talk.
I struggle with this, I like to talk. But, sometimes it is better to listen, you might learn more and become even smarter.

You don’t have to use big words to sound intelligent.
Although it’s always fun to sprinkle in the occasional ubiquitously stupendous verb into the lexicon, there is no need to overdo it. Keep it simple. If you’re really set on using a big word, I recommend pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, the longest word in the English language, go big or go home my friends. (Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is “a pneumoconiosis caused by inhalation of very fine silicate or quartz dust, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, so if you are going to use it, use it correctly!) But really, only using massive words doesn’t automatically make you sound awesome, and often can make you sound pretentious.

Remember these tips, and be your best self! Good luck out there folks!

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