Today is a Good Day To…

By: Gao

Talk about careers. It’s getting to that point in the semester where life is hurling self-discovery and crises (peep my last blog post) right at you. You are into your first, second, third, fourth, or maybe even fifth year of college and you don’t know if what you are doing is really leading you down the path you initially hoped for. Maybe you’re not doing so well in a class, contemplating your life choices, feeling the heat of the real world getting hotter and hotter, or worrying about your orange cat, Garfield, who is in the hospital. It seems that life is just crumbling at your fingertips and you don’t know what to do. That happens to most of us, especially when we least expect it. But it’s okay because we pick ourselves up and move along one step at a time. Right? 

Well for some of us, it’s not that easy. You might be wondering, in the midst of all this mess, “Where do I even start to pick up?”. Well, Career & Internship Services is right here waiting for you! You are NOT ALONE. 

Where to begin… 
Despite everything that is going on, you have to start somewhere! Even when it feels like you are losing control of your life right now, don’t let that consume you. Here are a few things I think you should try. It doesn’t have to be in any particular order; just do what works for you. As much work or stressful as it might seem, it will all pay off in the end. 

TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Take an interest, personality, and/or strengths assessment to see where and how well your intended career fits you.
  2. Do you know what you’re doing with your life? If no, COME SEE US and we can help you confirm a major, plan a career path, and search for jobs/internships/grad schools.
  3. Create and review an elevator speech! If you had 1 minute to describe yourself, what would you say?
  4. Career Handbook has all sorts of examples and tips on how to perfect your resume/cover letter/personal statement, find it on the Career & Internship Services webpage.
  5. View the Graduate Follow-Up Report Archives on the C&IS website for career ideas. See what recent grads are doing with your major!

I have to admit, these few suggestions have definitely helped me. I, myself, am going through this crisis of whether or not my decided major is fit for me. There are so many things I want to dip my feet into, but I only have so many limbs! I can’t swim if every piece of me is in a different body of water. And I think we can all definitely relate to this. 

If you want more suggestions/tips, look for our interactive bulletin board in the hallway of the Solon Campus Center! 

Bulletin board with career tips

Reflect
Once you have taken the time to follow through some of these suggestions, REFLECT. Ask yourself: 

  • How do these results resonate with me? What do they make me feel? Is it true to me?
  • What are my options?
  • Where do I see myself in the next 2, 4, or 6 years given these results?
  • How am I going to apply these results to my current understanding of my situation?
  • What is my end goal?

Take a moment to lay out all your options, considerations, and interpretations on the table. Talk it out with a career counselor, advisor, friends, or even family if need be. Weigh your options and even make a pros and cons list. Your questions, concerns, and understanding of everything may not be solved, and that’s okay. Taking these small steps will lead you to the answers you seek. It all begins with you, and the initiative you take to control what you can, instead of worrying about what you can’t. 

Of Possible Interest:
• Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College; Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Gao’s other posts

Photo source: UMD Career & Internship Services

CULTURE SHOCK? How To Understand and Embrace It!

By: Gao

First and foremost…
What is culture shock? Culture shock is the array of emotions one feels when being exposed to a different cultural environment or perspective than their own. This can be applied to anyone and everyone in situations that are new to them. For me, it was moving two and a half hours away from home for college. For others, this may include: moving to a different state, starting a new job, going to workshops or conferences, and much more. There is not one way to experience culture shock; it is perceived and rooted differently for individuals because of their unique experiences, modes of processing, and backgrounds. 

The 4 Stages of Culture Shock

  1. Honeymoon Stage — this the first stage in a situation where everything seems to be going great! Life is good, no stress, new beginnings, all hopeful, and exciting expectations for what is to come. 
  2. Crisis — things take a turn and become more seriously rooted. You’re realizing this is completely different than what you expected, or wanted, and now you’re stuck. You don’t know where to go, you’re confused, anxious, or scared even. This is often the most difficult stage to be in. Breathe, it’s going to be okay!
  3. Recovery and Adapt — here, you identify the problem, speak your truth, understand the context, and find what is going to help stabilize you and neutralize the situation. You are finding your grounding and making the effort to battle your crisis. You’ve got your head in the right place, keep going!
  4. Acceptance — in the end, you come to accept it. Move along with your life, onto the next chapter, and let things flow. It is time to begin again and indulge in what you have gained from this experience. 

NOTE: This is not a set flow of how culture shock may hit YOU. Some people may go straight into the crisis stage, recover, adapt, and then honeymoon. Others, may jump back and forth between stages and that’s okay. 

Image: rock stacks on log on rocky beach shoreline
Text: culture shock: how to understand and embrace it.

Your experiences are valid!
My parents came from camps in Thailand during the Vietnam War as refugees. This makes me a first generation Hmong American womxn and fuels my unique experiences and understanding of life. However, my “adulting” journey and bicultural identity pushes different cultural perceptions and ambitions from those of my parents. Deciding to leave home to further my education instead of marriage, ignited a protest between me and my parents. Thus a crisis is born, and so the stages unravel. 

A few weeks into the semester, I started to find my grounding. I got a job, became close with my roommates, and accepted that my experiences and perceptions were valid. I discovered resources through my roommates, advisor, counselor, and even my job as a peer educator!  It made the reality of leaving my home an opportunity to create my own. Despite the many times I felt alone, confused, and scared I came to find that I wasn’t. There was a whole community here ready to support and help me; the honeymoon stage was finally kicking in.  

How can this apply to you?
As a college student, you are being exposed to a very different world around you. One you may not have ever known or have only dipped your feet in. It is a time where freedom is given, responsibilities run toward you, and motivation and passion begin to ride the highs and lows. And it doesn’t end here! 

The process and stages of culture shock will come and go all throughout your life. In your career, home, life goals, education, and much more. That is OKAY! These four stages will help you understand yourself and push through the many crises you will come across. It is not a program that you graduate from after you have completed the last step, it is an everlasting mechanism that aids you in recognizing the control you have on your life, and future.  

Of Possible Interest:
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic
Diversity in the Workplace – all our blog posts on the topic
Now That You’re On the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Gao’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Markus Spiske

Meet Gao

Gao headshot

Name: Gao
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Major(s): Exercise Science and Communication Sciences and Disorders
Minor: Early Childhood Studies
Year in school: 3rd
When I  started working at UMD Career & Internship Services: September 2019
Favorite place in Duluth: Enger Park
Favorite hobby: Reading horror/thriller books and watching documentaries. 

Best career advice I’ve received: 
The best career advice I have been given is simply to invest. Invest your time and energy in researching and understanding what you want to do for the rest of your life. You have so much time and ability to do whatever comes your way, make use of the resources and support systems at your hand. Sometimes you will have to fight for the things that you want, but you may not know where to go or how to do it, so take the time to find where your foundation is and invest in that firm structure to build for your future goals and careers. Apply for that internship, scholarship, part-time job, and continuously seek what you have been looking for. 

Piece of career advice you have for other students:
ASK QUESTIONS! When you are stuck or don’t know where to go, how to fix a problem, or how to make it to your next goal, ask! Don’t let the problem simmer or your foundation crumble. You are in school, you have the opportunity to learn more about what your future might hold, so utilize the people and the resources that are there for you. Especially in college. Students pay thousands of dollars to go to college, USE IT. You pay for these resources and supplemental aspects of success, don’t forget about those little things. As much as the “big things” are important, so are the little steps in stepping towards your bigger goals.