We Only Part to Meet Again

By: Cody

The quote by John Gay as my title for this blog says it all. It finally happened, I finally graduated. I was even one of the fortunate ones to do it in four years. You would think with all the homework, tests, presentations and group work that these past four years would have seemed like an eternity. However, it’s quite the opposite.

These past four years have flown by fast. I even catch myself talking to friends about something like it happened just last semester but it actually happened two years ago. It all feels like one big blur and don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of work, but it was the best time of my life. This is why saying goodbye to UMD and Duluth was a bittersweet goodbye. It was where I met many of my best friends and got to work at one of the coolest places ever, Career Services! It was hard to say goodbye to UMD and Duluth but I am excited for the next chapter of my life to see where it brings me. I’m just along for the ride now.

For my last post I thought about telling sentimental stories about college. But then I thought that would make me sound like an old man remembering his glory days and 22 is just too young to be old. So instead I am going to leave you all with tips/tidbits/facts/words of wisdom that I have learned throughout my time at UMD. Hopefully you find some of them useful.

Tips/Tidbits/Facts/Words of Wisdom (in no particular order)

  • Don’t take your liberal education credits too lightly; they help build your GPA more than you think.
  • Live in the dorms for at least one year; it’s an experience that everyone needs
  • Join an intramural sport; curling was always my favorite! Even if you don’t do well, you get to spend time with friends and meet new people.
  • No matter how hard you try to stop your habit of procrastination, it will never go away. There will always be those late nights finishing a project that’s due the next day, it is part of the college experience.
  • Join a student organization.
  • Get an internship; they help you in your job search once you graduate.
  • Go swimming in Lake Superior, it is right there, so why not?
  • Eat at Burrito Union, especially after 9pm they have 2 tacos and a beer for $5!
  • Complaining about homework doesn’t actually get your homework done.
  • “Don’t let you major decide your career” – a piece of advice given to me by the Vice President of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage
  • Graduating in four years can be done!
  • No matter what the school tells you; having a car your freshman year has its benefits.
  • Don’t make teachers mad; they hold the power.
  • Find something you love to do and find a career doing that. Doing something you love makes the job much more enjoyable.
  • Sometimes living with your best friend is not the best idea.
  • Don’t get discouraged when applying to jobs if you keep getting rejected. Keep a positive attitude, something will come along.
  • Finally, visit Career Services! They are a great resource and are there to help!

These are just a few of the hundreds of tips/tidbits/facts/words of wisdom that I learned throughout my time at UMD and in Duluth.

So there it is, my final post. I hope you all have enjoyed my posts and good luck to everyone in their current or future careers!

Goodbye UMD and Duluth, I will be back, and, I have to say it, Go Bulldogs!

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Non-Competes (Employment Agreements)

By: Cody

Many of us seniors who are graduating next week are eager to find a job, including me. Most of us are so eager that we will take the first job that lands in our lap, without any real consideration. For an entry level job this usually is just fine. However, some jobs may require more consideration before accepting them.

A good example of this is when a job has a “non-compete.” A non-compete is an agreement between an employer and an employee. The agreement stops an employee from going to work with the employer’s customers, potential customers and competitors. This helps the employer protect their proprietary information and knowledge from being given to other companies. The non-compete has a specified time period. This time period is generally one year after the date that the employee leaves the company.


If an employee breaks a non-compete agreement, both the employee and their new employer can be sued for breach of contract. This can end up costing thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, so it is definitely something that you want to pay attention to. An employer can also threaten to stop working with your new employer until they fire you. So non-competes are serious business.

Some companies have buyout options for non-competes. This would require you to pay your employer a certain sum of money in order to “buy” your way out of the contract. However, these buyouts are often too expensive to afford or simply aren’t offered by the employer.

Most of you may not feel like an entry level position would require a non-compete. While it is true that most do not, I just so happened to interview with a job last week that would require a non-compete. I am taking this non-compete into great consideration before I make a decision about whether to work there or not (assuming I am offered the job, fingers crossed!). This company has a large market share of my career field. So if I do work for them, I would not be able to work with 60% of the companies in my field, if I decided to change jobs. So I have definitely been taking this into consideration while thinking about making my decision about the company.

This post is meant to get you to ask questions during your interviews to see if the prospective employer requires a non-compete. You can do this by asking if they have non-compete agreements, or employment agreements as they are sometimes called. If they do, make sure to get a copy of it before you accept the job and thoroughly read it and make an educated decision based off that. No one wants to be out of work for a year just because they didn’t review the non-compete before they signed it.

If you have any questions about non-competes stop by our office and talk to Mary. She may have the answer or can point you in the right direction to get your questions answered.

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Photo By: Filipo

Traveling for Work

By: Cody

With school ending in 5 short weeks I feel the pressure to find a job mounting with each passing day. However, I also feel the school work piling on as we move closer to finals week, but I have still been able to use what free time I have to apply for various jobs. One trend I am noticing, at least for the type of job that I am seeking, is that companies are requiring travel for work.

traveling for work

As a person who is eager to find a job, I have thought about and accepted these travel requirements and applied to the jobs. However, I think that most recent graduates do not think long enough about their willingness to travel before they apply and possibly even take a job that requires travel.

When thinking about travel requirements you must think about the amount of time that you are willing to spend away from your home. Most companies will list 50% travel, 75% travel, etc. This will give you a good idea of what percentage they require you to travel. However, in an interview it is also good to ask again and get some clarification. Ask such questions as: Is this travel overnight? How does the travel work? Am I gone every other week, or a few days each week? Where will I be traveling? How will I be traveling, car, plane, company car? Does the company reimburse me for the travel?

Asking these questions will help you get a sense of what the travel will be like. Once you have a good feel for what the travel is like you can determine if you are willing to do it. It may be something you might like but only for a few years and so you may need to see if you are able to advance in the company and stay in one location.

Another thing to consider besides the amount of time you will spend traveling is your family. You have to consider any family obligations or even pet obligations that might hinder you from traveling overnight or for long periods of time. It is better to think about these now, rather than when you are out on the job and unable to come home to care for your dog, who happens to be enjoying your shoes as a nice meal while you are gone for a few days.

The important thing is to make a decision before you are hired and preferably before you are interviewed about your feelings on travel. This way you will know what you want and won’t waste your or the companies time. You also won’t end up in a job that you end up hating and wanting to quit.

While travel may be good for some, it may be bad for others so weigh your decision carefully and make the right decision for yourself.

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Dressing Up for Phone Interviews

By: Cody

With graduation just around the corner I have begun to start to apply for various jobs. It’s a lot of work but so far I am enjoying the process. One thing that I am finding is that companies prefer to do phone interviews first as an initial screen of applicants before bringing them in for real interviews. It helps save them time and money by doing this “pre-screen” first.

I applied to a job last week and they want me to take an aptitude test and if I score high enough they want to do a phone interview, which could lead to an onsite interview. I am very excited about this opportunity. However, the more I thought about the phone interview, the more I felt like it would be very easy to sound too causal and unprofessional. This is why I plan to dress in a suit and tie for the phone interview (if I get it).

Dressing in a suit and tie makes you look very professional, but what does that matter in a phone interview?

men's suit

Well, it all boils down to confidence and a professional manner. Whenever you put on a suit and tie, or something similar for the ladies, you automatically start to act more professional. You feel the need to be professional because normally whenever you are in a suit, you are required to be professional and act as such. A suit also gives you that feeling of confidence that makes you think you are well prepared and can do whatever you set your mind to. Suits just tend to have that empowering feel, at least for me. By wearing a suit you increase your confidence and act in a professional manner, which is something you definitely want in a phone interview. You want to sound like you know what you are doing and are a well suited candidate for the position you are applying for. A suit will help you be more prepared mentally, than say wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt for a phone interview. Sweatpants and sweatshirts will make you more relaxed and you will talk to the person on the phone like they are your friend and you won’t be professional, something you don’t want in an interview. No one wants to answer a phone interview call with “Sup bro?” This is why you should be like me and choose to wear a suit and tie for all interviews, including phone interviews.

Ladies dress outfit

By choosing to wear a suit for a phone interview you set yourself up to be more confident and professional, which will help you land that dream job you have always wanted. It may sound weird, but try it, it just might work!

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Photo sources: men’s & women’s

How To: Negotiate Your Salary

By: Cody

If you are like me, you might assume that most entry-level positions have a set pay for the job, and that’s what you will receive. This is probably true for most companies, however through my job search, I have found more and more companies that don’t have a set pay. Instead, they are open for discussion to decide on a fair pay. This is especially true in the business field, as I have noticed more and more entry level positions in the field are turning from hourly to salaried pay. With this change comes the increased need to know how to negotiate a salary, something very few college students know how to do.


The first thing to do with salary negotiations is PREPARE! There is nothing worse than answering, “What salary would be acceptable to you?” with “Umm”. This is why it is important to be prepared when negotiating a salary. You must have a salary goal in mind, but it is also a good idea to find the market value for the position and area you are applying too. One of the easiest ways to do this is by doing some research online at a website like Salary.com. Or, if you want specific salary information regarding UMD students, visit our Graduate Follow-Up Report. This will give you a basic understanding of what the current pay scale is like for people in this position. It will also help you to not over- or underestimate your salary, which will make you look unprepared. When answering salary questions, it is important to state what you feel would be an acceptable salary, but you must also remain flexible. Without flexibility, an employer may move on to another candidate who is more open to working with the employer to find a reasonable salary for both parties. Finally, it is also good to prepare a list of reasons of why you deserve the salary you are asking for. These reasons can be based on a combination of the research you have done as well as your skills and qualities that you can bring to the position.

The next thing to do with salary negotiations in PRACTICE! Practice with a friend, family member, or even a Career Counselor. This will help you work out the best ways of asking for your salary and defending the price you have named. It will also help you get rid of those dreaded “umms” and “ahhs”. This will make you sound much more confident in what you are saying.

Next comes Execution and Evaluation. Execution is when you are actually negotiating your salary with the employer. Remember your research, be confident in your skills and abilities, and be flexible. Then comes evaluation; this is when you evaluate how well your negotiation went. This is a crucial part because it shows you the areas that worked and, more importantly, shows you the areas that you need to improve on. Knowing what you need to improve on can help you work on those skills so that the next time you need to negotiate your salary, you can hopefully get the salary you want.

Salary negotiation is an important skill that not many students are taught. This is intended to be a very basic outline of how to negotiate a salary, and if you want more help, stop by Career Services and we would be more than willing to help you!

Remember: Prepare, Practice, Execute, and Evaluate!

Of Possible Interest:

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Photo source: Cooperweb

How to Find Your References

By: Cody

It’s that time of year again when everyone starts to look for summer jobs and internships. Or, if you are like me, you have to start looking for a ‘real world’ job. An important step in this job or internship search is to find good references. When looking for references you must do two basic things; find the right people to be your references and then ask them.

Business people

Finding the Right References
When looking for references it is important to keep in mind you should have at least three different references. It is also important to have a variety of references. You don’t want to have three references from the same job or internship, try to shake it up a little bit.

Now on to the important part, where do you look for references? The best place to start looking is at any jobs or internships you have had. Your managers from these jobs can provide a good reference of you and your work ethic. If you have never had a job before, or even if you have, you can also ask academic professors to be a reference for you. Professors can provide testament to your work ethic and academic ability. Employers will enjoy hearing from professors because they can see your ability to learn new things. Past jobs, internships, and professors are the main three places most college students look for references. However, you can also look for references from: volunteer opportunities you have been involved in, advisors, coaches, colleagues, customers, clients, and any number of people who can attest to either your professional or personal attributes.

One last thing to mention about finding the right person; make sure they will give you a positive reference! You don’t want to ask someone to be a reference if you know they could give you a negative review. Instead, find someone else to ask who will be able to give you a positive review. If you must put down someone who will give you a negative review, be honest with the employer and tell them. Explain to them that the review might not be great and give reasons why the review might not be stellar. This will help to alleviate the shock of the negative review for the employer.

Asking for References
After you find the right references you must remember to ask them to be your references. This is an important step, ASK! There is nothing worse than putting someone down as a reference and they don’t know they have been listed as a reference. When the employer calls that person the conversation will be awkward and it can possibly turn the employer and your reference off. So remember to ask your reference first.

When asking someone to be your reference it is best to do it in person. This is more personal and you receive your answer right away. If asking them in person isn’t an option try to call them or email them to get permission. When you ask for a reference remember to be direct and thankful. Even if they don’t agree to be your reference, remember to thank them for their time. If they do agree it may also be helpful to explain the job you are applying for and the skills or qualities they are looking for. By doing this your reference can tailor their review to those specific skills and qualities. Also, ask the person if they need anything from you in order to be a reference (such as a copy of your resume).

Need Help?
These are the very basics of asking for references. If you need more help on where to go or how to ask for a reference visit our handbook on our website or stop in SCC 22 to talk to a career counselor.

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Photo source: Victor1558

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

By: Cody

The other day I was in class doing an activity where we reviewed the resumes of our partners. My partner looked at my resume and noticed a ‘Research’ section, under which I had my Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) project listed. My partner then said, “What is this? You don’t need this on here.” For those of you, like my partner, who do not know what a UROP is, it is a program through University of Minnesota system that awards grants to students to perform research projects with the guidance of a professor. And for those of you, like my partner, who think this is not something you want to put on your resume, you may want to think again.


A UROP project is a great addition to your resume as it shows you have a number of different skills including: grant proposal writing skills, research skills, and analytical skills.

Grant proposal writing skills will mostly be beneficial for people who are looking for jobs in research labs or companies. However, even if you are not going into research, having this skill shows you are a superior writer and have the skills to effectively communicate your ideas to others.

Research skills are very broad and can encompass many things such as: writing surveys, conducting interviews, facilitating focus groups, planning a project, meeting deadlines, and countless other skills. The important thing with research skills is to highlight the individual skills you used either in a cover letter or during your interview so the employer knows what you actually did. It is especially important to highlight the skills the employer is seeking. For example, if an employer is seeking an employee with good communication skills you may want to highlight the interviewing or writing skills you gained from completing your UROP.

By doing a UROP you will also gain analytical skills by analyzing the information you collect from your project and making sense of it all. In almost every field, employers are looking for people who are able to analyze problems and come up with solutions to solve those problems. I am a business major and have been looking for a job. I haven’t come across a job listing yet that doesn’t have ‘analytical skills’ listed as a qualification. Having a UROP shows a prospective employer you practice finding problems and analyzing the data around you to come up with a solution or have proposed a solution for the problem.

A UROP will also provide you with a final paper or project. You can bring this along to your interviews and show it to prospective companies as an example of your work. Most people only bring a resume, cover letter, and possibly a few letters of recommendation to an interview. Having this final project as an example of your work will make you more memorable in the eyes of the interviewer and hopefully will land you that job or internship.

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