Bad Grades Don’t Mean a Bad Employee

By: Heidi

I will be the first to admit I’ve had bad exams and just not great grades in my overall academic career. Receiving a bad grade can be really discouraging as a student. You sometimes may think to yourself “why do I even bother trying harder…I may not be doing my absolute best but at least I’m getting by.”

I’m not here to tell you how to turn around your whole academic career, make the dean’s list, or get the 4.0 you’ve always been dreaming of. Performing well on a project or test is great and it feels good to do good, but grades are only just a small representation of you as a student.

desktop with electronic device and black coffee cup with "hustle" on it; quote: work hard in silence, let your success be your noise. by Frank Ocean

So what is this whole “bad grades doesn’t mean a bad employee” thing? Well, this summer walking into my internship I had an “epiphany” if you will. I was working at a good company. I was producing good work. That doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle along the way at all, but what I did realize is that all the time and energy I spent about worrying what grades I got really meant nothing at the end of the day. I knew I could work hard and my boss acknowledged that. So that is what I believe matters most. Focus on the effort you put in and the results will follow.

At the end of the day, grades are just a small measurement of you as a student. It doesn’t make up entirely who you are and all else that you do. I believe our words are powerful and especially the words we say to ourselves. If you’ve never tried using affirmations, I would highly recommend trying it out as your thoughts become your words, and your words become your actions.

“My grades are important to me but they don’t define me.” Repeating this affirmation to myself when I feel discouraged then instead encourages me to focus on the effort I put in rather than my attachment to the grade I receive. As long as I know I am putting in my best effort, that is all that matters to me.

Of Possible Interest:

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash

Tips For Surviving Junior Year

By: Heidi

For my last blog post of my Junior year of college, I thought a reflection would be fitting to wrap up the year. Junior year has by far been the most challenging year academically and also learning to balance everything as a whole.

I went from taking my lower division courses that weren’t really related to my major sophomore year, to jumping into upper division courses this year. I had no job my sophomore year and spent the majority of this past year working two. I hadn’t had any leadership roles freshman or sophomore year and ended up in three different leadership positions in student organizations and eventually had to close the chapter to one of them.

It has been a year of balance or trying to figure it out, to say the least.

Tips for surviving Junior year

Take care of yourself. Not just self-care every once in awhile, but every day. Self-care comes in different forms for everyone but find what works best for you.

Small chunks consistently. It’s a lot easier to accomplish a task if you work on it in chunks rather than trying to study or work on a project for 8 hours straight. Honestly, within an hour or two you’re going to find yourself distracted and won’t be able to focus to the best of your abilities. It’s not easy to plan ahead but it will save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Snacks!! They will get you through the long days. There are a few vital things I have learned to keep on me throughout the year. My go-to’s have been oven roasted dark chocolate almonds (brain food), green tea (perfect amount of caffeine for a midday pick me up), and a pack of gum (just necessary). No matter what your snack of choice is, it will help keep you fueled so instead of thinking about how hungry you are, you are able to focus and get the job done.

Take advantage of the opportunities campus has to offer. Whether it’s job fairs, on-campus interviews with recruiters, info sessions, or special guest speakers, make an effort to not only attend but be active and engaged in these events. The campus puts on a lot of stuff for students, so use it to your benefit!

Relax. The responsibilities are endless. It’s ok to take breaks, it’s ok to go see that new movie, it’s ok to just hang out with friends and do nothing. There will always be something to do and something you could do. This goes right along with taking care of yourself. One of the benefits I have learned from this is that taking time away from homework allows me to collect my thoughts and come up with new and often better ideas. This goes right into my next point.

Exercise! The idea of it may be grueling, but find some form of fitness or way to get your body moving! We all know there are many benefits to exercising, and some are more important to certain people than others. One of my favorite things I have discovered is that working out really helps me process my thoughts and work through my emotions. I have toyed with exercising in the morning before school but what I have ultimately found is that after school or evening workouts not only work better for my schedule but my well-being as it helps manage minor stresses I may encounter on a day-to-day basis.

Whether you’re graduating, or finishing up your freshman year of college, take some time to reflect on your experience. What went well, where can you make improvements, and how you can implement these skills and ideas into your future. Reflect now and be prepared for the future.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Denys Nevozhai

Using Creativity to Disconnect

By: Heidi

How often do you take the time to disconnect? Like really disconnect away from your phone, computer, constant notifications, and email. In this day and age, we are constantly surrounded by technology as it is how we communicate, used for school, and work. Because of this, we are in constant connection with our friends, social networking notifications, and email. Although this is really beneficial, it can be detrimental to our health as we are always able to be reached nearly 24/7.

Using creativity to disconnect - sketchbook on desk with watercolors

Now that you’re thinking about how often you disconnect, ask yourself, how often do I take the time to slow down. Like really slow down as in the to-do list can wait, the kitchen doesn’t have to be spotless, you didn’t get home as early as you wanted because you stayed after class to catch up with a friend type of slow down.

I wanted to bring this to your attention because I often find myself being in a state of #1 constantly connected to my phone and #2 not always taking the time to slow down.

So you find yourself in the same boat struggling to disconnect and to slow down and enjoy the moment or day that we have.

I propose to you take to make the time in your day whether it be ten minutes or one hour to explore and pursue your creative outlet. Yup. That’s it. A creative outlet. Why? Because all humans, whether you believe it or not, were meant to create. Creating something can mean so many different things. This can consist of dancing, painting, photography, doodling cartoons, playing a musical instrument, baking, gardening, and more. Whatever it is that you choose, allow yourself to have fun with it, share it with others, and not place an expectation on it that it has to be this perfect thing. For example, have you seen the Netflix show ‘Nailed It?’ These people are on a baking competition show trying to recreate these really intricate cakes done by professionals and the people trying to recreate them bake out of a hobby. The thing is, these cakes turn out laughably bad but that’s the point. It doesn’t matter how bad the cakes turn out, they all had fun (or were stressed by the pressures of reality TV…who knows) during the process.

When you become so engaged in an activity you enter ‘flow mode.’ During this flow mode, you lose track of time and get lost in it allowing the pressures and anxiety of daily life to melt away.

It is unfair to deem ourselves as creative or uncreative. You owe it to yourself to make the time to explore a creative outlet as this will allow you to disconnect and be better for your overall wellbeing.

Of Possible Interest:

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Tim Arterbury

Unplug and Reset

By: Heidi

Coming back from a school break can be a stressful and overwhelming time. You may have just had a week off and were busy traveling or you were enjoying your time relaxing at home. At this point in the semester, a lot of people are referring to it as “crunch time” and things are “getting real.”

With the overwhelming feeling of so many to-do’s, you may be left feeling with no idea where to start.

First, breathe. Second, map out all of the important due dates you have. Once you have an idea of the timeline you’ll be on you can create a day-to-day and week-by-week guide as to how you will be managing your time in the most efficient way.

With all of the assignments, readings, and projects, it feels like you can never be doing enough school.

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. by Anne Lamott

There are many benefits to unplugging and taking a step back from school work. Powering down will allow you time to create rather than consume. If you think about it, the majority of our time is either spent consuming or creating. Allow yourself to take a break to build relationships, create hobbies, or forge a relationship with the community.

Here are some ways to practice taking a break and recalibrate yourself to be the best version of yourself.

  1. Get some fresh air and go for a walk
  2. Free write in your journal
  3. Cook a new recipe you’ve been wanting to try
  4. Sign up for a fitness class you’ve never tried before
  5. Donate clothes you don’t wear anymore
  6. Write down your current short-term and long-term goals

Take these ideas and run with them, or let them inspire you to create new ideas of your own to engage in. Although we are all at school with the common goal to get an education, allowing yourself time to take a break is just as important.

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Oliver Cole

Personal Development: The Laws of Leadership

By: Heidi

Everyone always talks about leadership, what is it, are we born leaders or can we develop into leaders? As someone who feels like I haven’t been born as a natural leader, I was curious to read about what it takes to be a leader. Is there a certain formula you have to follow? Why are some people deemed leaders and others are not? And what does it take to get identified as a leader?

In the beginning of reading the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell, he covers The Law of Process which focuses on how leadership is something that develops daily, not in a day.

He compares leadership to investing. It’s something that will compound over time, and not like investing successfully in the stock market and making a fortune in a day.

What matters most is what you do day by day versus over the long haul. “The secret of our success is found in our daily agenda.” He asks, “What can you see when you look at a person’s daily agenda? Priorities, passion, abilities, relationships, attitude, personal disciplines, vision, and influence. You can see who a person is becoming by looking at what they are doing every day, day after day.

What separates a leader from a follower? Leadership experts Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus made a discovery about the relationship between growth and leadership: “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers.”

To be a successful leader you must first be a learner. The learning process is ongoing, requires self-discipline, and perseverance. You should have the goal each day to get a little better, building progress on each previous day.

Every person’s leadership growth process is different. Whether you possess natural ability to lead or not, there are five phases that can assist you in the process of developing leadership.

Flying V of geese - Leadership is something that is developed daily, not in a day.

The Phases of Leadership Growth

Phase 1: I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know.
As long as a person doesn’t know what he or she doesn’t know, there is no room to grow. Most people fail to recognize the value of leadership and essentially leadership is the ability to influence. In the course of each day, we usually try to influence at least four people. Don’t focus on that fact that “you don’t see yourself as a leader” but instead remain curious with all there is to learn.

Phase 2: I Know That I Need To Know
Ever found yourself in a group project or leadership role only to realize that no one is following you? Being put in charge is not the same as being a leader, we must learn how to lead. Former British prime minister once said, “To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.” We must understand that knowledge is required to go forward.

Phase 3: I Know What I Don’t Know
The moment you realize that leadership is what is going to make you successful in your professional career, you can work to develop the skills necessary to succeed. When having breakfast with a colleague, Maxwell was asked: “what is your plan for personal growth.” Fumbling for an answer, he later admitted that he didn’t have one. From that day on, he made it a practice to read books, listen to tapes, and attend conferences on leadership. Not only will daily practice help you grow in a professional career, but your personal life as well.

Phase 4: I Know and Grow, and it Starts to Show
Once you have recognized your lack of skill in the previous steps and begin the daily discipline of personal growth, alignments will begin to take place. When teaching a leadership workshop, Maxwell noticed a particularly eager student. When he got to the part of the workshop where he taught the Law of Process, he asked the student to stand up so he could talk to him.

Maxwell states: “I believe in about twenty years, you can be a great leader. I want to encourage you to make yourself a lifelong learner of leadership. Read books, listen to tapes regularly, and keep attending seminars. And whenever you come across a golden nugget of truth or a significant quote, file it away for the future.”

He finishes by emphasizing that in order to be a great leader it won’t happen in a day and you must start paying the price now. Start devoting your days to developing leadership to later experience the effects of the Law of Process.

Phase 5: I Simply Go Because of What I Know
When you reach phase five, your ability to lead almost becomes automatic. In this stage, your instincts will nearly be automatic with an incredible payoff.

What we must remember as students is that leadership is something that is developed daily, not in a day. Leadership is a process which encourages development, matures and changes people. This process requires time, patience, and effort. The Law of Process requires diligence and patience as it is our daily efforts which will develop us as leaders.

Of Possible Interest:

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Ethan Weil

My Internship Story

By: Heidi

After recently finding out and accepting my first internship offer, I thought I would share my story of the whole process. It all starts with how I found out about the company. When I heard about Andersen Corporation for the first time, it was when they came to my organizational behavior management class to talk about the company and internship opportunities for the next summer. I knew with it being junior year, it was time to get down to business with internships. I listened to what the speakers had to say about their experience and enjoyment of the company, and by the end of class, I decided I would go to the table in LSBE (our business school) and talk more with the recruiters about setting up an interview.

"Since I went in with this 'nothing to lose' mentality, I told myself I was going to be the most honest version of myself in this interview, allowing myself the opportunity to make a genuine connection."

I approached the table and spoke with one of the recruiters. I introduced myself with my name and saying I was a student who was in the class they just spoke in. Looking at the interview sign up sheet it was a little intimidating knowing I had a long day ahead of me next. Although I am not much of a morning person, I signed up for the first interview at 8 am the next day.

I went home that night knowing I was going to need to update my resume, scrape up a new cover letter specific to this interview, and do more research on the company. By the time I finished my resume and cover letter it was a little too late in the night to email it to the interviewer in my opinion, so naturally, I printed off three copies of each just in case. I did my research on the company from their website on the variety of information offered, taking notes so I could really get the information in my head. The following morning I woke up early getting dressed in an outfit I had previously laid out the night before to prevent last-minute scrambling, packed a lunch, along with extra clothes for the night because I knew I was going to be on campus until about 8 pm due to sorority recruitment we had going on that week.

Internship Interview Tips

I went into my interview with the mindset that I had “nothing to lose” with this being my first internship interview ever, and also at the beginning of my junior year. Since I went in with this “nothing to lose” mentality, I told myself I was going to be the most honest version of myself in this interview, allowing myself the opportunity to make a genuine connection. At the end of the interview, I asked questions that were important to me such as how she felt being represented as a female in her company as well as her experience being an intern and moving up in the company into a full-time role. The next day I followed up the interview with a personalized email touching on things we talked about in the interview as well as thanking her for her time.

I believe the most important thing when it comes to interviewing is to be your most genuine and authentic self. It allows you to really make a connection with an employer to see if you would both be a good fit for each other. Professionally speaking when it comes to the interview process, my advice would be to always do your research on the company, give it a chance, and set yourself up for success.  

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Usplash | Vincent Versluis & Takemaru Hirai

Obtaining a Leadership Position as an Introvert

By: Heidi

Going into my Junior year of college, I was feeling rather content with where I was at starting a new job at Career and Internship Services as well as taking on a leadership role as the Volunteer Coordinator for UMD’s yoga club. During Junior year everything starts to become a little more real and intense. Running for a leadership position in my sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma was not something on the top of my priority list, but it was something that was fun and exciting to consider. As the applications were sent out, I started to think a little more seriously, “what position would I run for?”, and “could I really pull this off?” I personally have never held a high position in an organization let alone an executive board position of a chapter with 100+ women.

obtaining a position in leadership as an introvert

One of the main reasons I was so hesitant to running for a position is because I didn’t feel like I would be a good leader because I am introverted. What I needed to learn is that there is already a misunderstanding that introverts are shy, when actually we are great listeners, which is fitting for leadership roles.

For the longest time, I did not know or understand my own strengths. This is where I used my results from the CliftonStrengths for Students to my advantage. Everybody has their own strengths and in this process, I realized it was about time I stopped doubting myself. Ask yourself “would I be a good fit?” Now change the question to ask “why would I be a good fit?” to understand from a different perspective. The most important thing is to run for a position that aligns with you in which you could passionately contribute to your organization.

If you find yourself wanting to run for a leadership position but feel hesitant, that is natural! What do you have to lose? Take the time to understand what would make you a strong leader because chances are the answers are already there.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Kelli Tungay