Farewell UMD: Thanks for the Journey

By: Brittany

Editor’s Note: Over the next few weeks we’ll be saying goodbye to several of our authors as they are graduating from UMD. Please feel free to wish them well on their future endeavors in the comments!

When I was a young girl I was told by numerous adult figures that time flies, and the older you get the faster it goes. I proceeded to nod and smile thinking I would never see the day where I was saying “Boy where does the time go?” Well, I have reached my time. It feels like just yesterday I was a lost, nervous, excited, and inexperienced freshman walking the halls of UMD trying to make it through the first week of a completely new lifestyle. These past four years have brought me experiences of excitement, accomplishments, heart-break, tears, laughter, fear, and joy but I wouldn’t have changed any of them for anything. They have helped build the person I am today, which is completely different than the 18-year-old Brittany who walked into UMD Fall of 2010.

Berkeley Library with quote

There are many things I can take away from this experience, some being life lessons and some being reminders of what to do in similar situations that may be encountered later on down the road. But the main thing I am taking away and carrying with me for the rest of my life (and I hope this is something you find useful to carry with you too) is the fact of never taking anything for granted. Because time is so precious and flies by quickly, it’s very important to live in the moment and cherish everything that’s going on around you right at that moment. Too many of my days were spent focusing on the future (which, don’t get me wrong, that is important as well) and not getting fully engaged in the friendships that were being built, laughter that was being had and the memories that were being created around me. Taking full advantage of my last week with all my fellow graduates and looking back on the years, I realize just how important it is to stay in the moment.

My above statement may come off as if I didn’t do anything right in college, but that is the furthest from the truth. I have many memories of my college career that I am very proud of and will reminisce on forever. And through all those experiences there are a few things I would like to share with you all, as little things to think about as you start out or continue your journey here at UMD.

  1. GET INVOLVED and take advantage of every opportunity you can. It can be scary sometimes to throw yourself in a situation that may be a little out of your comfort zone but you will find that those are the experiences that are the most life changing.
  2. You can’t say yes to everything; it’s okay to say NO. Unfortunately, we’re not superheros so we can’t do everything. This may seem a little contradicting from the last point I made, but it’s important to find where your breaking point is. When it comes to getting involved (and with taking classes), start with taking on the amount you know you can handle; if you feel you can handle a little more then get a little more adventurous. Be sure to put yourself and your needs first, remember it’s the quality that matters not the quantity.
  3. Don’t procrastinate! I know, I know, you’ve heard it before but it’s something to really consider. It may seem easy to hold things off until the last minute, until everything piles up and you have a tremendous amount of work to get done within a week’s time. This doesn’t just apply to homework, don’t wait to build your resume until you really need it, don’t wait to apply for those graduate schools until it’s too late. This is where thinking a little ahead into the future becomes handy.
  4. BALANCE. Learning to balance is probably one of the hardest things you will encounter throughout your college career. We’ve all been in a tug-of-war between staying in and studying for an exam or going out for a night on the town with a group of friends. It’s not that we have to choose; we just need to learn how to balance between them. We need to learn how to get the best of both worlds. And vice versa, we don’t want to fill all our time doing homework and never going out either. It’s hard but I promise it will come!
  5. Have fun and EXPLORE! Duluth is such a beautiful city and it deserves to be explored! Don’t be afraid to have adventures and create memories. Reward yourself for all the hard work you’re doing as a college student!

As I’ve stated before, my four years have been a blessing and an incredible journey. I would like to thank my mentors who have guided me throughout my journey, my friends who have been there with me through it all, and, of course, my family! As I get ready to walk on commencement day, I get nervous for the chapter ahead but I have so many lessons from the chapter that’s closing to help write an unbeatable new chapter.

“Enjoy the journey.” – Tom Isbell

Read Brittany’s other posts

The In’s and Out’s of Graduation Planner

By: Brittany

Having to plan four years of course work as a college student when you’re an incoming freshmen can be a little overwhelming. If you find yourself wondering how to organize your courses after you’ve figured out which courses are required for your major, no need to worry. There is a wonderful tool within the UMD navigation system, known as Graduation Planner, which allows our students to do just that.

Before I dive into the sorts of things that Graduation Planner is useful for, how to use it and where to find it, there is one big important point I would like to make clear. Graduation planner is a ROUGH sketch of what your four years at UMD will look like. A lot of individuals get Graduation Planner and APAS mixed up and sometimes combine them into the same thing. They are not the same thing, as I’ve stated Graduation Planner is a rough sketch of what you need to take at UMD whereas APAS is your official record that tells you what you’ve already completed and what you still need to complete in order to earn your degree. Graduation Planner is, by no means, permanent; the courses you put in there are able to be moved around and changed based on how your registration goes. With that being said, let me explain how graduation planner is useful to you as a UMD student.

As I stated earlier, Graduation Planner allows you to plan out the course work required for your four years within your major. You are able to plan each course into a certain semester to make sure that you have all the requirements for you major accounted for. If you’re not entirely sure what you need, or what you still need after planning a majority of your courses, there is a tool within Graduation Planner that helps you out with this. If you highlight your major and click on “What Do I Need” in the upper right hand corner it will bring up all the other courses (or categories) that you still need to plan. Be careful with this however, be sure to not rely on this to tell you that you’ve met all your requirements for graduation; always check your APAS (“Cover your APAS” –Stacy Crawford).

What Do I need Grad Plan

Okay, I’ve planned my courses now how do I put that information to use? Instead of going into the system and finding which classes you’ve selected are offered at what times for Fall semester, there has been a new gadget added that does that tedious work for you. The schedule builder (placed at the bottom of each semester within graduation planner) allows you to browse all the different scenarios for class times with the classes you have planned for that semester. Once you have found a schedule that works best for you, register with those days and times.

Schedule Builder Grad Plan

After you’ve used Graduation Planner, it becomes pretty second nature very quickly. But here are some helpful tips that will make Graduation Planner a little more of a positive experience, than it already is. First, whenever I registered for a semester, I would go into my Graduation Planner and make sure I have all the classes I actually registered for in the same semester on my Graduation Planner. If there were some courses in that semester I didn’t actually register for, I would replace it with the course I actually registered for and place the other one in the next semester. This just keeps your Graduation Planner up to date and saves you more time in the long run; it helps keep you on track. Second, if you plan a course and a red exclamation point shows up next to it, this means that course is not offered (or usually isn’t offered) within the semester you originally planned to take it (as I mentioned earlier, this is one of the reasons as to why it’s good to use Graduation Planner, it prepares you for knowing which courses are offered in what semesters so you don’t run into those problems while registering). Check the course catalog to double-check that course isn’t offered that semester because sometimes that information changes but doesn’t show up on Graduation Planner right away. Lastly, once you have planned a course you do not have to save it; it will automatically save.

All this information is great but if you’ve never used Graduation Planner before you may not know exactly where to access it. No worries, here is a little step-by-step map on how to find it. Go to the University of Minnesota Duluth Homepage and click on “Academics” at the top of the page. On the new page, under “Academic Assistance” click on “Graduation Planner”. This will bring you to a page that allows you to select your school, choose Duluth. It will then ask you to log in and once you’ve done that you will be in Graduation Planner. If you’re a first time user you will need to create a plan and this is basically stating what your major(s) and minor is and then it will bring you to the page where you can start planning your courses. If you’re a returning student to Graduation Planner, select your already created plan on the homepage and it will bring you to what you’ve already planned.

Find Grad Planner

Making a New Grad Plan

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Grad School Interview! Yes! But Wait, How do I Get Ready? Part II

By: Brittany

In my last blog post I talked about three things you could do to get started on preparing for your interview: setting the date, research and talking points. Now that those are in progress (or collected), let me talk about the last few things you can do to prepare yourself completely for your interview.

Questions for the Interviewer

This, for me, and others, is a challenging part of preparing for the interviewing process. This supports why researching the school and the program is so important. A lot of the questions that you will be asking will be based off of your research. When you think of these questions, be sure to write them down on a note pad and don’t be afraid to bring that in with you to the interview. There are only a few things that I would suggest you ask them: “When you can expect to hear from them either way?” and “How will you hear from them?” (if not answered within the first question). Some other suggestions of questions you could ask if you’re struggling to find something’s to ask them: “What qualities do they look for in applicants?” and “Do they provide assistantships or other employment (or internships) options within the program?” Some questions may also come up within the interview as well.


This may be a silly thing to think about, but it’s important. You will want to dress nicely and present yourself in a professional manner, but also find something that shows off your personality a little bit. You will want to wear something that you’re comfortable in (ladies, wear shoes that you are able to walk around in for a potential tour) and something that is complimentary on you. If you’re having a hard time finding something here are some generic suggestions. Ladies: dress pants and a nice top (with a potential cute suit jacket over it). Skirts are okay as long as they are at an appropriate length. Stay away from low cut shirts. Gentlemen: dress pants, dress shirt and tie (possibility for a suit jacket over it, if you’re comfortable with it) along with dress shoes (don’t forget the black socks).

Last Few Steps

Once all your preparation is done, I highly suggest you schedule a mock interview with a career counselor in Career & Internship Services. The process can be very useful because the counselor can reassure you that you’re ready and may bring up good points that you didn’t think of. There is no particular way these are done: the career counselor may ask you questions similar to what may be asked in the interview, you will answer and they will debrief with you after each question; you can discuss what you’re worried about, how the process usually works, and then brainstorm your talking points; or you can do a full fledged interview and debrief afterwards. Whatever way the mock interview is done, feel free to take notes during the process and review them before your actual interview.

When I was going in for my mock interview I asked the question of wearing my interview outfit to the mock interview. You don’t have to but it wouldn’t hurt; it gets you in the mindset and you can also get feedback on how it looks. I recommend getting the mock interview in a week or so before your actual interview so you have time to digest what was discussed in the mock interview.

Last, but certainly not least, allow yourself time to relax and congratulate yourself in the fact that you’ve been offered an interview. These are big steps that are taken and should only be positively recognized!

Read Brittany’s other posts

Grad School Interview! But Wait, How do I Get Ready? Part 1

By: Brittany

The grueling process of applying to grad school is over! You’ve come to the conclusion that grad school is the next best step for you and you’ve decided which one(s) you want to attend and you’ve taken care of the long and tedious applications. And now, you’ve landed the interview leading you to excitement along with a lot of questions stirring up inside of you. Having been through the process (that turned into acceptance) myself, I want to share some tips and things to think about while prepping for the interview that will hopefully lead to success for you.
There are very few basic things that I would like to touch on before digging deep into the interview prepping process. First and foremost, not all grad schools require an interview process but the majority of them do. I would suggest that while applying assume that interviews are apart of the process (unless you are told otherwise). Also, interviews can be very terrifying because this is something you are passionate about and want to succeed in. I’m giving you these tips in hopes of bringing down the nervousness of the interview process so more of you can shine through.

Grad School interview pt 1

Setting the Date
You are notified about your invitation for an interview with the school through either and email and/or a phone call. They will supply you with dates they are holding interviews and they will ask you for a response on which date would work best for you. Try to get within one of those dates, they do understand, however, that there may be some traveling issues and will acknowledge that. When you have finished the email or phone call, be sure to thank them for taking the time to review your material and call you in for further consideration. Now that you have set the date, the fun really beings!

Information Preparation
Just how professors advise for your class work, don’t procrastinate when it comes to preparing for interviews. It may not seem like it now but there is so much to know and learn before the interview day actually rolls around. You want to be able to sit with that information for a good amount of time so that when you’re being asked questions, you are confident and it comes naturally to you. You want to feel as ready as possible and the sooner you start the more comfortable and prepared you’re going to be.
Information preparation consists of researching the school and the program in depth. Some of the main things you will want to look at: the history of the program you’re applying to, things they offer throughout your years there within that program, information on the individual who will be interviewing you, and courses (read through and get a gist for how the program works). Chances are they aren’t going to ask you any questions related to the history of the school or anything like that but it’s good to be knowledgeable of the school; just like researching for a job interview, you want to know your stuff.

Talking Points
Talking points are things that you want to make sure you touch upon in the interview. For instance, I had an interview for a Marriage and Family Therapy program so I wanted to make sure that I talked about my personal experiences that I went through that helped me decide the career path I’ve chosen. I also had connections to individuals associated with the university so I made a point to get in contact with them and stay in contact with them. I also discussed my strengths and weaknesses (which is always a good thing to discuss and chances are they will ask you this question) and with my weaknesses I gave examples of things I’m already doing to strengthen those weaknesses. Lastly, I also left them with a strong thing to think about that I thought would set me apart from the other applicants. Long story short, talking points are anything that you want to make sure you tell them because you feel that they will set you apart from other applicants.

Start with these few pointers, which should give you a good base to start with, and stay tuned for Part II of preparing for a grad school interview.

Of possible interest:

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Meet Brittany

By: Brittany

My name is Brittany and I am a senior at the University of Minnesota Duluth studying Theatre (with an emphasis in Acting) and Psychology. As an intern, this is my first, and unfortunately, only semester here with Career & Internship Services. Duluth is without a doubt a beautiful city but I have a few specific places in Duluth that I would spend all of my time if I could, the first one being Enger Tower, or anywhere that lets me overlook the city. Being able to look over the entire city is absolutely breathtaking and somewhat relaxing. Up there, nothing else matters. The second place being the Duluth Rose Garden, the atmosphere, the smell, and the view is just lovely; it’s very refreshing.

The question of “What’s your favorite book/movie/musical artist?” is always a difficult one for me because I love so many different kinds of things depending on what mood I’m in. I will say that Michael Buble and Rascal Flatts are two artists that are very close to my heart; you can never go wrong with listening to these two artists. As for books and movies, there are just too many good ones to choose from. I do quote Bridesmaids a lot (I’m a big fan of easily quotable movies) but I also greatly appreciate the wonderful, well thought out work of movies such as inception.

The best career advice that has been given to me, even though it may be a little harsh, is “It’s not what you know, it’s whom you know.” As hard as that may be to hear, it’s very true. Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t get an education but it just goes to show you that networking is so important and having acquaintances is only going to be beneficial to you. With that being said, a piece of career advice I would have is don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. It may be nerve racking to throw yourself in a new situation but getting your name out there and showing others how you work and what skills you have is going to be beneficial in so many aspects of your life.