Navigating the Curveballs

By: Amanda

Sometimes life throws you curveballs. As a student or a working professional, whether it is through illness, injury, or essentially anytime you need to take time off, it is crucial to know what your options are in both school and work life. Here are a few areas to look into:

Meet with your Academic Advisor
Academic Advisors are a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into. They can help to understand options when going through sticky situations. Their job is literally to aid in keeping students on path towards graduation. Take advantage of your assigned advisor, after all it is a free resource built in to your tuition. 🙂 No matter what the situation, you can count on your advisor to have the answer to your question, or be able to direct you to where you can find the answer. Depending upon the situation, they may suggest a medical withdrawal. As daunting as this process may seem, open communication with your academic advisor will help all run seamlessly.

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Text: Navigating life's curveballs

Medical Withdrawal
With proper approval, a medical withdrawal on a student transcript is not something that will make or break a student’s academic career. There are three main steps that go into a medical withdrawal. First, a petition must be made. Through a petition on the OneStop website you can cancel all classes or individual classes, depending on the situation. Keep in mind, that if only one class is canceled, there should be a brief explanation why one class is being canceled and not others. On the last page, you can have your advisor recommended the withdrawal. Second, there must be a medical supplement form submitted. This is simply a form filled out by a Medical Professional with specific dates and information. Finally, keep in mind a tuition refund. Adjusting credit load can alter tuition, as well as financial aid. This is the most complex part of the process and if not done right could potentially make a student owe money. Make sure to set up an appointment with OneStop to work out the fine details.

Family and Medical Leave Act
FMLA requires employers to provide job secured unpaid leave for all excusable medical and family reasons. In order to be eligible for FMLA the employee must be at the business for at least 12 months and work at a company that employs 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius. As college students who will be soon entering the workforce, it is important to have knowledge in this area and be fully versed in all rights.

Counseling Sessions
Remember that through UMD each semester you get 10 FREE counseling sessions with your tuition. This is almost one counseling session per week. No matter what you are going through, know that you are not alone and there is always someone here to talk. Once you’re out working, your company may also have an Employee Assistance Program the provides consultation and referral services in counseling and a number of other areas. Here’s what is available to UMD employees, as an example.

Life throws difficult curveballs and situations our way often and it is important to know how to deal with them. These resources are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to resources offered. The first step is to meet with an advisor or your supervisor and see what is available for you!

Of Possible Interest:
Disabilities in the Workplace – all our blog posts on the topic
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Lewis

Changing Your Mindset

By: Rachel

Sooner or later, it seems like we all reach that point where we’re ready to be done with the semester, and we don’t care who knows it. It’s all we seem to talk about, and sometimes it’s even reflected in our work. The reality is, you’re going to face seasons like this throughout your life. Perhaps you’re just sticking out your job for two weeks until you can move on to the next one, or you’re just gliding through the last few days before your week-long vacation. Maybe right now you’ve got your eye on that diploma regardless of the GPA attached, or you’ve determined these last few weeks are just an inconvenience (albeit busy!) that must be endured, because your mind is already preoccupied with summer.

In my opinion, one of the biggest contributors to living a successful life is finding joy in the present moment. So many of us get caught up in what’s less than ideal about our current lives, and we believe things were so much better in the past or they will be in the future. Often times, we were complaining just as much then and we will just as much in the days to come, unless we change our mindset.

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Text: Change your Mindset

I’d like to offer you a few practices that might help you change your mindset to help you make the best of every situation you find yourself in. It’s important to recognize that not every aspect of life is ideal or healthy. There are times where enduring feelings of negativity might be a sign to take a different path, change majors, or find a different job. But, even the path of your dreams will have a few rocks in it; the key is not to let them trip you up.

  • One of my favorite ways to find joy in where I’m at in life right now is to ask myself what I’ll miss about it years from now. Sure, college can be a struggle, but when I look at my calendar and get stressed about the jam-packed days that never look the same as the next, I picture myself as a 50-year-old pining for the days that were filled with variety, and it makes me appreciate my current life a little more. I’m sure we all got sick of eating every meal in the Dining Center at some point, but I knew the day would come where I’d run out of fun meal ideas and dread washing the dishes, so I made the most of it.
  • I’ve found it extremely helpful to have close relationships with people of a wide variety of ages. These people can lend you perspective, and while the problems in your life right now might loom bigger than any others you’ve ever experienced, people with more life experience can usually assure you that what seems like the end of the world actually isn’t. It’s like that insurance commercial, they know a thing or two, because they’ve seen a thing or two. They might not always know best, but having friends who have already survived college or their first years in a full-time job can tell you what things are not worth working yourself up over and other things that are worth pouring your energy into.
  • Practice gratitude. Many of you have probably heard of the 21 Day Gratitude Challenge, where you write down 3 things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days. Scientists say this is long enough to form a new habit. The point is, regularly recognizing the aspects of your life you can be thankful for means you’ll be more likely to embrace even the trying times with gratitude.
  • Taking a step back and reminding yourself of the reasons why you’re on the journey you are can be a great way to recenter your mindset. Maybe you really struggle with school, and you can’t wait to be a counselor holding appointments where you’re able to help people. Well, you know you’re probably going to need a degree to do that, so focus on the end goal, and try to make the most of each step along the way. Perhaps you don’t love the types of job positions you find yourself in now, but you know you have to put in your time to earn the kind of position you really want. Give your best to that role, and try to focus on the aspects you enjoy.

I truly hope you’re able to use these tips to embrace the last few weeks of the semester (and your life as a whole) by appreciating the present moment. Sometimes all it takes is a little change in your mindset.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic
Slowing Down During Spring Semester
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Chris Barbalis

CliftonStrengths: Restorative

By: Taylor

Before coming to UMD, I had absolutely no idea what the CliftonStrengths were. All I was aware of was that I needed to take it for class (UMD Seminar) and that we’d be discussing it in class. In all honesty, the test instructions say it takes about 30-45 minutes to finish it, and well…I finished it 15 minutes before class was going to start. My top five strengths ended up being restorative, woo, input, learner, and consistency. Restorative is a strength I never realized I had and have only began to see more in myself.

Restorative defined by Gallup, “People strong in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.” Before taking the CliftonStrengths for Students assessment I never considered myself a good problem-solver, but after I realized a lot of situations in my life revolve around having it as a strength. Often times in any given situation, if a problem arises I am quick to find the solution and move onto the next issue.

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Text: Strength in Restorative

I’ve found that often times this strength can have its downsides when used socially. Sometimes the speed in which you solve a problem can be seen as lack of sincerity or empathy towards the situation. It’s important to your peers to understand you’re trying to lend a helping hand, and remembering to be patient with others who don’t necessarily have restorative as a strength. Having restorative as a strength, you could also find yourself constantly figuring out your peers’ problems. Remember, sometimes they’ve got to do it themselves.

When it comes to the workplace and determining someone’s career path, being a restorative you’re frequently looking for a new challenge to solve, lean towards a job that will do just that. Some examples CliftonStrengths give on their website are jobs in medicine, consulting, computer programming, or customer service (just a few of many). Despite the frustration that follows with dealing with customers, I’ve unintentionally chosen a major (Communication) that will require a lot of human and customer interaction following plenty of problems to solve.

If you’ve find yourself without restorative as one of your top five Strengths, it doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at problem-solving. All career paths are still open to anyone with any specific strength, with that we’re able to combine strengths with others to create a dream team. Finding and using your strengths are important in understanding yourself; knowing some of the awesome characteristics you have and knowing what you lack as well.

Of Possible Interest:
Incorporating Strengths Into Your Resume
CliftonStrengths for Students – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Taylor’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Amador Loureiro

Resume Tips & Tricks, Part 2

By: Paying

In my last post, I shared several tips and tricks to help you with the formatting of your resume. Today, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks related to the content of your resume.

Section Titles & Objective
In my other blog post, FAQ’s: Resumes, I briefly mentioned how you can separate experiences. Experience doesn’t just have to be from work or volunteer, it can be anything such as student organizations, leadership positions, and more. If your activity experiences are more relevant than work and volunteer experiences, put more emphasis on those instead! Section titles can be anything from: related, sales, leadership, writing, general, additional, and more! Your resume is yours, so customize it to work in your favor.

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Text: Resume tips and tricks

Related Verbiage
Go read my previous blog post where I went in depth with this tip to help you all understand and see how this is done!

Academics
If you went through and added all relevant experiences but still don’t have enough to showcase your interest and skills in that objective/field, think about the work you have done for school. This can be upper division courses, projects, and research papers. Remember, resumes aren’t just about work (although it is important), it’s about you! Don’t leave things out because you weren’t paid for them.

Hopefully through all these tips and tricks you were able to learn more on how to refine and customize your resume to your liking as well as the employers. Feel free to stop in (SCC 22) to chat with the peer educators or pro staff about any of this or other related questions. Good luck!

Of Possible Interest:
3 Tips for Creating Your Freshman Resume
Resume & Cover Letter – all our blog posts on the topic
Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Plush Design Studio

How to Deal with Difficult People

By: Sophia

At some point in our lives, we deal with people who get on our nerves. They can be people at school, work, or even at home. These are the types of people who can bring the entire mood of a room down the minute they walk in. This may affect everyone or just you. I have dealt with people like this before at work and at home. I have had roommates in my college career which we have not gotten along with each other and it was a very tense and toxic environment. I have also had to deal with situations with coworkers and customers who have not gotten along as well.

During the summer and winter break, I work at retail store where there are daily interactions with people of different backgrounds. These are both with coworkers and customers. Every other week, there was a woman who would come into the store that would attempt to return items that were not purchased at my retailer and would get frustrated and blame the cashier (including me one time) for not being able to get her money back. There was also a woman who would come in and try to steal hundreds of dollars worth of inventory at various stores throughout the district. She got caught and banned from each store that it happened at, but she came into my store the most and kept trying. I applaud her determination, but it caused extra work for the employees when it came time to do inventory. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much we could do in these situations except call over a manager when the situation was getting tense. The one positive thing about dealing with these people was that they helped me learn a lot of important skills on how to deal with these situations when they arrive.

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Text: how to deal with difficult people

Whether it is a roommate, coworker/boss, or customer, these are some tips on how to handle difficult people in difficult situations:

Create a roommate agreement.
This one really only applies to roommates, but it can be a really helpful thing to do. Create a contract that goes over the mutually agreed upon rules such as chores, how long guests can stay over, and quiet times. If you absolutely can’t come to a compromise, get an RA involved or a neutral friend to help mediate. Your work group, department, or workplace may do something similar to make people accountable for how they are acting in the setting and treating others.

Talk things out.
Sometimes problems can go away through talking. There might have been a misunderstanding that caused the problem in the first place. Find a private area and have a respectful conversation using “I” statements to express how you feel. Give positive feedback and use active listening skills to show the person you are paying attention and care about what they have to say. NEVER have a conversation when you are angry or try to one-up the person.

Talk to a boss/RA.
If you have tried talking things out and the situation still isn’t getting better, it is ok to ask for help in either mediating the situation or having a private conversation about what is going on.

Be the bigger person.
Through personal experience, this is one of the best things to do when dealing with a difficult person. Treating them with kindness and respect can help dissolve a situation because it shows the other person that what they are trying to do to you doesn’t affect you. It often leads to the other person leaving you alone in the end.

I hope these tips help you handle your difficult situation.

Of Possible Interest:
Brutal Honesty
The Impact of Microaggressions
Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Sophia’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Thomas Verbruggen

The Ins and Outs of LinkedIn as a Student

By: Heidi

As a business student who is in the stage of actively job seeking, using LinkedIn seems like an everyday occurrence for me at this point. After having conversations with friends and colleagues about how I use the website as a student, I wanted to share some of my personal favorite tips I have acquired over the years.

When to connect with people
There are several occasions when it would be beneficial to connect with someone on LinkedIn. Different examples consist of after a Job Fair, after meeting at a Tabling Event, post Informational Interview, as well as connecting with your Professors. When you do connect with someone who either has a professional career or is a Professor of yours, I challenge you to send a personalized note when connecting with them, which can only be done when sending an invitation on your computer.

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Text: The ins and outs of LinkedIn as a student.

What type of message to send
When sending a message on LinkedIn, the type of message you send depends on if you’re currently connected or if its a new connection you’re adding. If you’re sending a message to someone you want to connect with, it’s important to note that you’re limited on the number of characters you can send. Typically, when I send out a message to recruiters after a job fair or someone to conduct an informational interview the message starts out like this:

Message after a Job Fair:

Hi Candace,

It was so nice to meet a fellow Bulldog at the job fair on Friday. I loved getting to learn more about the position and how you have the capability of working on your own projects and meet with clients of fortune 500 companies. Thank you so much for answering all of the questions I had. Looking forward to keeping in touch.

Thanks, Heidi

And because of the character limit it typically gets cut down to something like this:

Hi Jordan,

It was so nice to meet a fellow Bulldog at the job fair on Friday. Thank you for answering all of the questions I had. Looking forward to keeping in touch!

Thanks, Heidi

Message to a Recruiter for a position you’re interested in:

Hi Olivia,

My name is Heidi and I’m currently a senior studying at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I’m interested in relocating to Nashville once I graduate in May and I’m extremely interested in working for The Creative Group. I was hoping I could learn more from you or point me in the right direction of who I could talk with for an internal position.

Best, Heidi

After Revision:

Hi Olivia,

My name is Heidi and I’m currently a senior at UMD. I’m extremely interested in working for The Creative Group in Nashville. I was hoping I could learn more from you or if you could point me in the right direction of whom to speak with about an internal position.

Best, Heidi

Perks of LinkedIn Premium
Having a Premium account isn’t essentially necessary to have if you’re not actively seeking employment. I personally chose to save my free month of premium until second semester of my Senior year when I knew I was ready to get serious about applying to jobs. Different perks I have learned about after having my Premium account are:

Having access to insights for a job you’re looking to apply to. As long as there are 10 applicants, you can see how your skills compare against other candidates, the seniority level of different applicants, as well as different companies and schools they’ve hired from.

If there is a recruiter attached to the job you’re applying to, after hitting the bottom to “apply” through LinkedIn, your profile gets shared with that recruiter which is a great way to get a set of eyes on your profile fast!

To follow that, when you apply to a position through LinkedIn, you get notified when you application was viewed and when it was last seen. This can be a helpful tool when deciding if you need to reach out to recruiters if you’re concerned about not hearing back.

Use Your Connection’s Connections
Before you think you’d be creepy for doing this, remember the purpose of LinkedIn is to network! You can go to a Professor’s page or previous colleague and view their connections. It’s helpful too to narrow it down if you’re looking for a job at a certain company or a city you’re interested in relocating to. There is a LinkedIn feature where you can request that your connection introduces you or you can reach out over email and explain your situation.  

Of Possible Interest:
Social Media & Digital Identity – all our blog posts on the topic
The Student Job Hunting Handbook series on LinkedIn
Social Media & Digital Identity – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Alexander Mils

Resume Tips & Tricks, Part 1

By: Paying

As a Peer Educator, I see many different types of resume styles written by all kinds of students with various majors. In my short time in the office so far, I’ve learned some tips and tricks while training and also working with others that apply to many students. Today, I’m starting with a few simple formatting changes that will help give your resume a clean and professional look!

COMBINE DESCRIPTIONS
There are many job description lines I’ve seen that could be combined. Here is an example:

Original Example:
Sales Associate, Walgreens, Duluth, MN October 2018 – January 2019
• Picked up phone calls
• Helped ring up customers
• Walked on the floor to answer questions if asked

Updated Example:
Sales Associate, Walgreens, Duluth, MN October 2018 – January 2019
• Assisted many customers through phone calls, checkout, and on floor assistance

As you can see, you saved up 2 lines already without having to delete anything! If you went through and combined more descriptions, you could have more space for other information that you feel is more relevant to the positions you’re applying to.

CONSISTENT AND SMALLER SPACING
For this section, there are three things that should be at the top of your list to consider tweaking in order to save space: margins/bullet points, font size, and unrelated information. There isn’t much to explain for this besides actually showing you all how it’s done.

Margins/Bullet Points
The top and bottom margins can be between 0.5” to 1.0” while the left and right should remain at 1.0” due to printing reasonings. That can be done through using the margins on Microsoft Word or the page setup on Google Doc.

Examples from Google Doc and Microsoft Word to find margins

Another thing related to the margins is the spacing between paragraphs. When using the spacing settings, always make sure to “Remove Spacing After Paragraphs.” If you don’t see that option, make sure the “Spacing After & Before Paragraphs” is set to “ZERO (0).”

How to do custom line spacing in Google Doc.
How to do custom line spacing in Microsoft Word

Similar to the margins, the bullet point spacing allows you to save a bit of space without removing information. After you create your whole resume, you can use the “Ruler” to move it around. If you don’t have a ruler, here is how you could find it in Word:

Where to find the ruler in Microsoft Word
Click “View” and click on “Ruler”
Screenshot of resume in Microsoft Word
Screenshot of resume in Microsoft Word

In the above images, the little arrow marks can be moved around to what you want and change how the bullets will look. The top arrow moves just the bullet point, the bottom arrow moves just the text, and the rectangle under the bottom arrow moves the text and bullet point together. You won’t see a dramatic change but it could help you save a few lines if a word rolls over and takes up its own line.

Font Size
This is something very simple! Your name can be from 12-14 pt font and you can have the rest of your resume be anywhere from 10-12 pt font so always double check it!

Unrelated Information
Unrelated information can be anywhere from old high school information to skills. You might think, “Aren’t those all relevant?” In a sense, yes, but only to a certain extent.

If you are a junior or higher, remove high school information and add in more recent and relevant activities.

Soft skills (ex: Positivity, leadership, adaptability, etc) could be shown through your job description lines and doesn’t need its own section.

Using the Whole Page
“Using the whole page” is another way of balancing your content throughout the whole space: top to bottom, left to the center to the right. It’s not necessarily a bad way of formatting, but if you want to save space, example two would be your go-to. Here are examples of the same content that uses the space differently:

Resume Example with most content centered
Resume example with most content starting on left side of page

These two examples have the same content, nothing is changed at all besides the way it is formatted. Look at how much space you could save!

Stay tuned for more resume tips and tricks related to content!

Of Possible Interest:
Resume & Cover Letter, Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topics
Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts