Not the End of the Tunnel

By: Glen

July 1, 2015. It’s been about six weeks since I walked across the stage to signify the end of my undergraduate education at UMD. I am now a proud Bulldog alumnus. In the last six weeks, almost everything about my life has changed.

New house.
New roommates.
New job.
No UMD…

For the past four years, I was on the campus of UMD almost every weekday (minus the three month span in between my first and second years as a student). It wasn’t just for education; I dedicated my life to the school as a student employee, even through the summers. UMD was not just a place for me to work, it was my life.

Tunnel photo

Now I sit here; six weeks removed from the entity I dedicated the last four years of my life to. Suddenly, you realize all these moments from the past are a blur. Everything in life is new again.

My last couple blog posts were about the anxiety facing the unknown abyss that is life after graduation. Now that I am fully submerged, I can confidently inform you that it is not an abyss such as the deepest parts of this earth, but the relatively shallow ocean waters around a great reef. It is not as dark as you would fear, and is not as deep as you would expect. Yet, things are not perfect. The underwater world is still unpredictable enough for anything to happen. If you panic, you could still be in great danger. If you rush, things will go wrong. Actions need to be measured and calculated. When you know the next move, acting with confidence will push you forward.

I am happy to report that I enjoy this new life. There are numerous reasons: I am learning a bunch in my new job. My new roommates keep me incredibly active and are always supportive. I know there are going to be future options to propel me toward my career and life goals. Clocking out legitimately leaves work behind for the rest of the day. There is plenty to like about the graduate life… Right now, anyway.

There is an incredible difference between the life I led as a student, and the one I am already leading as a graduate. I suppose that is the whole point of this tangled web of metaphoric blog post I weft. Yes, there are plenty of unknowns to be afraid of for when you yourself graduate; however, you will find a way to make it to where you want to be if you are patient enough to calculate your post-grad moves in life. Trust your friends. Trust your mentors. Trust yourself.

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Photo source: Unsplash|Modestas Urbonas

The Last Semester: Light at the End of the Tunnel?

By: Glen

My previous blog post was a reflection on some of the stressors that face me as I prepare to exit school, and having nothing solid scheduled for the next year for the first time in my life. It’s a very interesting time in life, as the world is your oyster. The flip side of that is… Well… The WORLD is your oyster. How does one deal with that?

One Brick at a Time

I am not certain why, but for some reason, this song (linked above) was something I listened to repeatedly when I was a child. Although it’s from some musical, (that I never even knew of until I looked it up just now) I had it on some sort of developmental-child-music-cassette-tape-thing. Sadly, I did not realize the important message in the song until my last year of the undergraduate college experience (meaning, I learned this, like, three months ago).

Compartmentalizing tasks. Simple as that. Seriously, every major project that is worked on needs to be taken one step at a time. Or, “One brick at a time, one brick at a time! One single solitary brick!” This lesson goes for life as well! Instead of dealing with the pile of stressors in front of you (which I sometimes affectionately refer to as a pile of dung) being able to shovel things one task at a time is very useful. I was stressing about trying to find a place to live. How did I deal with that? I found people to live with, a place to live in, and signed a lease. It’s done, and now I can move on.

If you haven’t figured out what the takeaway is yet, here you go: Take things one step at a time. It’s how I’ve managed to survive thus far, and it is how I will manage to get everything I need to get done before graduation. That includes getting a job!

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The Last Semester: The Bottomless Abyss that is Life After Graduation

By: Glen

It’s my last semester of school at UMD, and lots of things are changing right before my eyes. So much has changed, that my usual response to “How are you doing?” has switched from something like, “great,” “excellent,” and “fantastic,” to something along the lines of, “ehhhh,” “I’m alive,” or “hanging in there.”

As it turns out, there are certain tasks you have to get done in order to graduate, such as passing classes. Additionally, there are tasks you must complete in the same time frame, such as getting a job, or finding a place to live. Here are a couple of the stressors I am facing as a college senior, for your reading pleasure.

Bottomless abyss

Getting a Job

It’s April now, and some places have already hired college seniors for upcoming jobs. If you end up in this category, you win the game I like to call, “Senior-ing” (you’ve done a great job of being a college senior!).

Other places are in the swing of the hiring process. If you’ve got interviews in place, but no job, it’s a bit stressful. Yet, a solution can appear soon, so keep your chin up!

Some places have not yet even posted the job openings yet. I’ll tell you what: There is nothing worse than knowing there is(are) job(s) you want to apply for, knowing it’s April, and they haven’t been able to post the openings yet. You just want to know where you will need to live; you want to know how much money you are making; and you want to stop searching for jobs! I would be lying if I told you I was in a different situation than this one. It just so happens that this leads to the next big stressor of college seniors (as experienced by Glen).

Finding a Living Location (Sometimes referred to as a “House” or an “Apartment”)

Alright, do you want to live with anyone? Where do you want to live? How will you pay for said living space? At first, I was among many people I knew that wanted to move to a different place, maybe with some friends of mine, with a brand-new sparkly job. If I get completely blown away by an offer, I might relocate. However, I am really leaning heavily toward finding a location that I am comfortable in, with people I am excited to live with.

“Why? This is the time of your life to keep moving on and upward with your life!” I’ve thought about that, but I have also reflected a bit on my own life values. Reflecting on my senior year so far, I haven’t done many “exciting” things. I am okay with that, but I also felt a sense of impending doom all year because of the large numbers of projects I have to complete. Right now, I am okay with scoring a job, and taking a year to myself to gear up for what is next in life. I would advise taking time to find what is comfortable for you after graduation. Are you okay with making a plan on where to live and sticking to it? Do you have the opportunity to sit back and get things figured out before you determine a living space? Where do you really want to live? Who do you want to live with?

So, yes, there are a lot of things to think about, and it is stressful when things do not work out perfectly right away. My hope is for you to be able to read these events in my own life, and be able to ask yourself the same questions about life after graduation. It’s extremely stress inducing, but if you take the time to think things through regularly, you can save yourself some stress later. “No pain, no gain!”

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Lou Levit

The Interview: What do They Want to Know?

By: Glen

I had my first interview for a full-time position during spring break of my last semester of college. I had read pro tips for interviewing, had a mock interview, and had a previous internship interview at a large company. My best friend had given me his big takeaways from his 9 month circuit of interviews before landing his first job. I thought I had all the knowledge I needed to perform in an interview situation.

I was wrong.

There are a few different types of interview: the unstructured interview, the semi-structured interview, and the structured interview. You will almost always see a semi-structured or structured interview. In these interviews, the interviewer will have a specific set of questions prepared, and will generally not stray from those questions. Whether or not they do is the difference between a structured interview and a semi-structured interview.

Why is it important to know how an interview is structured? The reason it is preferred to have structure to the interview is because each question is designed to answer certain questions about the potential employee. The employer wants to find (or reaffirm) that a potential hire has specific qualities, skills, and work styles that fit with the position.

Before my first interview, I had taken a personality/work style assessment for the employer I wished to work for. My set of scores got me an interview, and some of the questions they asked me were specifically related to the scores I received. However, I was unaware of this until the last piece of the interview.

Luckily for me, I had a trained interviewer working with me, who was willing to be direct when my answers to their initial questions did not quite answer their questions. It was then that I learned I could have done much better in the interview if I understood what answers they were trying to get from me with the questions they asked.

Here is my challenge to you: before you interview, understand what qualifications they are looking for that might not be possible to address in your resume. Things like teamwork, handling problems, making decisions, and leadership are just a few of the possibilities. Use your resources! The recruiter, and the job posting are good starts. You will feel much more prepared if you have an idea of what is coming up.

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Two Biggest Tips for Attending a Large Job Fair: Learned First Hand!

By: Glen

In February of each year, the University of Minnesota hosts its largest job fair. With approximately 300 employers present, it is a sight to behold. Students and recent alumni from each U of M campus are welcome. As someone who was attending this event for the first time, I was sure to have a learning experience. Below you will find my two biggest takeaways from the day.

UM Job Fair

Manage Your Time

When the UMD bus arrived at the fair, we were given about 3.5 hours to meet with employers. I figured this was going to be plenty of time to meet with the 11 employers I planned to approach. By the end of the first hour and a half, I realized I was wrong. I had two hours to eat lunch and meet with the second half companies on my list. I was not lolly-gagging, so what was going on? Since the fair was so large, most companies had a line of people talking with them. Even if it was a small line, it took the length of a discussion with each person in front of me to arrive at the front of the line.

Enjoy Yourself

When I arrived to the front of the line, I took my time with each employer. Do not be in a hurry, as the recruiter will probably notice this demeanor and be unappreciative. Even on a time crunch, I dedicated myself to each and every conversation, not only telling the recruiters what I was interested in, but contributed to wherever the conversation took us. I left every single conversation feeling very confident because I legitimately had fun talking to people about future opportunities.

There are plenty of other good job fair tips out there. I wanted to focus more on the lessons I learned from my experience at the U of M Job & Internship Fair in February of 2015. If you are looking for advice for preparing for the job fair, making conversation at the job fair, what recruiters think about resumes at the job fair, or even what to wear at the job fair, check out the other job fair themed blog posts written by our peers by clicking here!

Photo source

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Tips for Getting into Medical School: Not the “Cookie cutter” Model

By: Glen

Emma Sieling is a student attending the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Medical School. I asked her to sit down and talk about the path to where she is today, and any advice she would give to students looking to go to medical school. Many people would be very surprised to hear what she said.

Pursue Your Passion

In a world of graduate programs looking for students with research experience, Emma was accepted to UMD’s program for something much more unique: her passion for helping the community. As an undergrad, Emma spent her time volunteering and involved in leadership activities. Despite heavy involvement, keeping life as a college student “balanced” was extremely important to Emma. Her school life was balanced with volunteering her time in the community, pursuing cultural knowledge via her Spanish minor and spending time with friends from the student organizations she was involved in. Every single one of those things Emma participated in were fun for her, not a chore. If you are not enjoying your life activities, she would advise you reevaluate.

Know Your Options

When looking at medical schools to apply to, one of the biggest questions one should ask is, “Would I fit in as a student there?” By the time application time rolls around, one should have some ideas for career options. When Emma applied to the Med School at UMD, she was aware that the program specified in family and rural medicine. To her, UMD “could not have been more perfect.”

Support Your Convictions

Emma was an early admit to UMD’s Medical School through the Biomedical Sciences program. This opportunity is available to students who have completed all of their Liberal Education requirements, be on track to graduate in 4 years (with 3 years completed), taken the MCAT, and have grown up in a town with less than 25,000 residents. The number one question she was asked in her interview for admission was, “Why are you rushing into medical school?” This question is the quintessential example of the type of inquiries graduate student admissions panels will ask prospective students. Emma did not waver in her interview. She was fully dedicated to her goal, and could explain with ease why she should be a student at UMD’s Medical School. Knowing your answer to those types of questions will really help your med school applications.

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3 Big Reasons Not to Use a Resume Template

By: Glen

For many, especially for those just starting out, creating a resume is not the easiest task. Maybe a resume was needed in a pinch, so the use of a website or software to make a resume quickly was appealing. To test out the viability of using resume templates, I used a few different options and compared them to my own, free wrote resume. Simple as the idea of employing a template seems at the time, I am here to try and dissuade you from taking that route.

Spacing

My biggest pet peeve from resumes built from a template is seeing all of the white space wasted on… being white space. There is a good number of things that never seem to be spaced well. The header with your name and contact info might be too large. There might be an awkward half space between your separate pieces of info within one job experience. The section headings can take up an inordinate amount of space. All of the information could be using the right two-thirds of the page, while the left third of the page is blank, or vice versa. Overall, the unclean look of the spacing is an easy tell that a template was used.

Decoration

Templates often include different font sizes, lines, and italics. Where some of these touches can look pleasing to the eye, there are reasons why they should be avoided. Different font sizes can look alright, but they makes the resume look busy. Having a single font size throughout creates uniformity. The only time I find different font sizes to be reasonable is for the name at the top and maybe section headings (if you do not wish to use all caps or small caps, section headings can be made 1pt. larger.) Lines are used to separate sections; however, a line is not recommend, because it takes up unneeded space. The section headings should clarify where sections are without a line. Italics can look good if done right, but you never know when a version will not. Italics have very little spacing between letters that can be unclear if printed with a low quality printer. In addition, if your resume is scanned by an employer, the italics might not register as a word in word recognition software.

Information Structure

With different ways for information to be formatted, templates often do not relay the details well. Templates might display the details of experiences in big, chunky, paragraphs. While the needed information is present, it is not visually pleasing to be confronted with a block of text in the resume. Breaking details down into bulleted lists or easily separated sentences will make for an easier read.

As mentioned before, I tested a few different templates. When I entered all of the information I have on my current, one-page resume into templates, the document turned into a two page disaster; every time. This was true even when templates did not use all of my information! The point is, take the time to create a free-hand resume draft. Keep it up to date by checking details a couple times a month. Have a master copy with all of your experience that you can cut information from to make a quick, one-page document. In the end, the time spent keeping prepared will be worth the effort.

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