“Hanging” Up the Mantle: Leadership Transitioning

With graduation around the corner, it’s crazy to see so many years go by with a blink of an eye and detach myself from the college environment. It’s a scary, yet exciting thought, and deep down, I know I’ll truly miss college and the opportunities that come with it. One aspect I know I will for sure miss once I leave the college bubble is campus involvement and holding leadership roles. Before giving a preview on today’s post, I just wanted to put this out there that the title is intentional. Since we’re all so familiar with the “taking up the mantle” idiom, I figured I would throw in a twist by titling this post, “hanging up the mantle” which essentially is supposed to represent stepping down as a leader. (Clever, I know!) With that being said, in today’s post, I will be focusing on my experiences of stepping down from leadership roles and what are ways and questions a student can ease the transition of going from super-duper involved on-campus to the “boring, dull” lifestyle in the real-world. Well then, let’s dive in!

Stepping Down from Leadership Positions
From personal experience, I think one of the most difficult aspects of being a leader is not the stress that comes with leading nor is it the backlash and criticism you get from people, but rather the moment when you realize it’s time to step down. The moment when you realize that your dreams, goals, and vision as a leader will diminish is unsettling. (Okay, it’s not that extreme, there are successors for a reason!) On the contrary, I think some individuals may feel differently and fathom the relief that comes with stepping down more than anything, which is understandable too.

From my own experience, this was especially relevant in my active membership with Asian Pacific American Association (APAA). I’m sure by now, you perhaps are aware of APAA from my previous blog posts. As an active member and previous board member, I recall there being moments where I wasn’t ready to let go and still wanted to be involved and contribute to the organization as best I could. Eventually, I realized the importance of letting go and restraining myself and ultimately how important it was to simply believe in the new generation of leaders with their ideas and beliefs in regards to taking care the organization. Granted, I was still involved with the organization, it’s just that getting involved looked a lot different. For any leader, really, it’s difficult when you’ve invested so much time and effort into an organization and literally have attached yourself to it whether it be mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. An important part of stepping down for me, I’ve realized, is that being a leader doesn’t always have to mean that you’re in the front line leading the charge. It can also mean staying behind and helping others rise to positions of leadership. As part of leaving the college bubble and launching into the real world, I know the best thing I can do as a leader with previous experience is to give back to the next generation of leaders. As my time of leading has come to an end, I’ve realized that part of stepping down is inspiring and guiding others to step up.

The Actual Transition
I think any student who is or has been involved on campus and served in a leadership role knows that time flies by all too fast when having to balance, school, work, and extracurricular activities such as leadership positions. Especially for graduating seniors, this creates more issues as finding a job only creates more chaos. But what happens when a person goes from planning, studying, working, organizing, eating, sleeping, job-hunting, and exercising, to simply just working? I think this is a reality that many students face as the fluid nature of college switches to the routine-based lifestyle of working after graduation.

Honestly, I, myself, have not gotten the chance to let the idea of graduation settle in due to the busy nature of college itself. With having conversations with career counselors and peers, I’ve only had the chance to ponder on it slightly, but the thought of going from busy to boring is quite depressing honestly. As I navigate these last few weeks of college before graduation, it’ll be smart for me to prepare the transition from college to the working world. Granted, I’ll still be doing summer research in the Twin Ports area, but I think preparing mentally and emotionally to slowly transition out of college will be a real challenge. Of course, I don’t have all the answers to ease the transition as I am still in the process of doing so, but I think it’s important for any college student to just be aware and mentally/emotionally prepared to leave college.

But hey, there’s hope! Just because college is ending doesn’t necessarily mean that getting involved has to end as well. As young professionals stepping into the real world, the chance to get involved in the community is endless and the opportunity to network is even greater than what the college level has to offer. For instance, there are a number of organizations dedicated to serve and connect young professionals. On a local level, the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce offers a number of opportunities for professionals both young and old. Additionally, if you have certain special interests and causes that you would like to advocate for, there are even more opportunities. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to getting involved with two different organizations after I graduate: Coalition of Asian American Leaders & National Association of Asian American Professionals. Ultimately, I see college as a unique stepping stone for students to get active in their communities. If student leaders are able to translate the work that they’ve put it in at the university level into their communities afterward, just imagine the positive impact and change that can occur in the world.

Conclusion
So where do we go from here with zero motivation to study, “senior slide” kicking in if it hasn’t already, and the struggles of going from college-life to the real world? Well, if I told you I have all the right answers, I would be lying. I think the important piece is to simply reflect on the time in college and enjoy the last few moments before it all ends. Furthermore, ask questions and have conversations with professionals and staff who work with students who go through this transition such as career counselors, advisors, etc. I know for myself, my supervisor, Ellen, has pushed me to seek out opportunities past the college bubble and to consider ways of still getting involved in the working world. For many, a lot of individuals are ready and can’t wait to fly off into the real world, and for the very few like myself, it’ll be a bittersweet ending leaving the college life and the opportunities and activities that came with it. Like I said before, if student leaders were able to make a great impact at the college level, imagine the potential for growth and positive change in the future once this effort is transferred to our communities whether that be on a local, regional, national, or international level. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and change the world (for the better, of course) graduates!

 

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Freshmen: 5 Ways to Overcome the Second Semester Slump

By: McKenzie

First semester went great, or at least as well as it could have gone. Fueled by excitement and ramen you conquered those first few months of college. You may not have gotten the best grades, made the best friends, or done your ultimate best, but at least you made it. However, now you’re stuck. The second semester slump is here and while anyone one who is a sophomore and above has trekked this mountain it’s your first time and you’re not ready. Luckily, we’re here to help you reach the peak of motivation mountain.

Get involved
It may seem counter-intuitive to get up and get out there since rolling out of bed is already hard enough, but it’s time to find the right people and follow your passions. Regardless of the school you attend, there are plenty of clubs, organizations, and student groups. Exploring your interests will keep you up and moving through the semester. Plus, getting involved is great for your resume!

Relax
It’s essential to rest and stop stressing super hard, so this semester you need to find a healthy balance between work and play. Find time during each day to take care of yourself. Self-care is super important and will help keep you moving along through the semester. Find the things that help you relax, but also don’t stray too far from your studies since those are still important.

Mind your habits
First semester may have been tough on your GPA, and more importantly your mental health, so it’s time to pick up some healthy habits. Exercising regularly, eating better, and studying are great habits to develop. You will not only feel better, but you’ll begin solidifying a routine and a routine gives you something to look forward to every day. (our Productivity & Wellness posts)

Meet your professors
During your first semester you probably got by without ever getting to know your professors since in large lectures they don’t often have time to get to know you. However, getting to know your professors will save you from struggling later on. Take advantage of their office hours. Teachers who know you will by nature hold you more accountable, but will also be more open to understanding why you missed their class that one (or four) times.

Temporary dissatisfaction leads to lifelong satisfaction
While your good ol’ buddy Tim may be lots of fun, he may also not be the best influence. There is a time and a place for everything and Tim can wait until the weekend. Use your time during the week to focus on your studies. The more you accomplish throughout the week the less you will have to do on the weekend. This will also help you begin prioritizing tasks which will help you later in your career.

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Navigating Through College as a First-Generation Student, Part II

By: David

From the previous post I had written, I took up on the concept of the experiences of first-generation students (FGS) and decided that I would elaborate on my own experiences as a first-generation student. From the previous post, I mentioned the two ways that helped me through college were: (1) capitalizing on campus resources & opportunities and (2) connecting with staff and faculty. Today, I’ll be exploring on two more ways that really helped me in navigating through college. With that being said, let’s dive in!

Navigating as First Gen 2

Finding a Social Network
For any student entering college, it is crucial to connect with a community or group of individuals who they can socialize and find support within. As an FGS, it becomes especially difficult since there is no prior knowledge of the college environment and thus creates a barrier in finding a social network to connect with. Fortunately, most college campuses give students the opportunity to find social networks to get involved in, whether it’s Greek Life, student organizations, academic opportunities, employment, etc.

For me personally, the most difficult part about finding social networks was actually connecting with other students. Granted, I came to college and roomed with 3 of my friends from high school, but I still had the desire to branch out and network with other students. Finding a social network was not easy and required a lot of trial and error. After my first Student Activities Fair, I was so excited to join the various organizations I had interacted with, but was quite disappointed when attending many of their meetings and events because I simply didn’t feel like I belong. My turning point came when I made the effort to get involved with the Multicultural Center. As a student of color myself, there were a lot of similarities I could identify with and reasons to get involved. It truly helped me find a social network with Asian Pacific American Association (which I have mentioned about numerous times in previous blog posts!). To segway into my next point, what worked best for me in terms of expanding my social networks was to get involved on campus!

Getting Involved!
If you’ve read my previous posts, you know by now that I am a HUGE advocate for getting involved on campus. Ultimately, my college experience has tremendously shaped my ability to navigate through college. Join a student organization, find on-campus employment, participate in events and activities hosted by the university, and conduct or assist with research in your academic department. These are SOME (many more out there) examples of getting involved on campus. So why get involved you ask? From the previous 3 points (capitalizing on opportunities, connecting with staff & faculty, finding social networks) I made in this blog series, getting involved is the best way to tie all of these together. I say this because through getting involved you pretty much cover all three areas and it is something tangible, or an action that anyone can make in terms of navigating through college.

My first year coming into college, I recall seeing a poster (you know, those inspirational quotes with the pretty pictures?) in a staff member’s office that greatly shaped my college philosophy. The poster quoted, “build bridges, not walls” and it had the most mesmerizing picture of a bridge I’ve ever seen. My point is, after reading that quote along with the captivating bridge, my philosophy was (and still is) to connect with as many students, staff, and faculty as I could before graduating. In doing so, I took up as many positions and opportunities as I could to branch out and expand my horizon of knowledge. In truth, this required me having to step outside my comfort zones and it was difficult at first I’ll admit; but as I reflect on my experiences, those moments of insecurity and vulnerability only allowed me to grow at a rapid rate professionally and personally. Being first-generation, it didn’t help that I didn’t have the knowledge or capabilities to interact and connect with others as I had wished, and often times I didn’t know what I needed or wanted to know. Life was rough, I tell ya. Fortunately, direct experience in leadership positions and active involvement really gave me a deep sense of knowledge and skills.

Conclusion
To wrap things up, I want to say that I am aware and sensitive to the fact that these four ways of navigating through college as an FGS might not be for everyone and that there are a lot of other ways to do so. By keeping things broad, I hope it helps push you to find your own way in succeeding throughout college. On a side note, I have come to observe the relationship between first-gen students and the university (campus life programs, academic programs, etc.). My conclusion is that the two have to meet in the middle. Students need to take an active role in securing (or at least attempt) these opportunities and services offered and be willing to step outside their comfort zones. On the flipside, the university needs to actively promote their services so students know what’s available to them and in addition, explicitly state their sensitivity and awareness of first-generation students.

My final tip for other first-generation students in navigating through college is this: be humble and open-minded. As an FGS, I understand that there is, to some degree, a sense of pride in NOT seeking help or assistance when struggling. The source of pride may vary from student to student, but it definitely exists. Furthermore, it is important to be vulnerable and allow room for constructive criticism and learning moments for your growth. This is more of a life tip, but keep your thoughts open to different perspectives to further expand your own and reserve judgement until proven. Stay warm Bulldogs!

Read David’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Richard Tilney-Bassett

Role With It

By: Cassie

Whether we like it or not, almost all of us will have to work for the rest of our lives. You may be dreading this or you may be excited to see what your future has in store, but it’s all about your point of view. If you go into a job and are willing to better yourself, you are going to have a lot better time than if you go into your job every day dreading it. Whether you are in an entry-level position or you are just starting your adult job, one of the best things you can do to enjoy your workplace is to GET INVOLVED.

Now you’re probably thinking that I’m crazy. Why would you want to take on more responsibility? Well, I’m here to tell you that at work, you get out what you put in. By this I mean the more you get involved, the more results and rewards you get out of it. I mean, who doesn’t like getting told that they’re doing a good job, right?!

It’s pretty easy to take on new roles at your workplace. You can find out what else is going on in your office besides what you’re currently doing. Some examples of this would be getting involved in the social media, taking on leadership roles, adopting projects, and maybe even taking an extra position to get some extra hours. A lot of these things don’t require a lot of extra work and the added bonus is that by taking on additional roles you also are building onto your resume. By being multifaceted in your workplace you learn a lot about your place of work and you have a better sense of belonging.

If you still are skeptical about what I’m telling you, I will tell you my own personal story. I started out as an alumni caller at C&IS in February 2015. I then went on to pursue a front desk position in September 2015. I currently still hold both of these positions. I like to table for events to promote the many benefits our office offers and I also write for this blog. These have all been huge learning opportunities for me and there have been so many benefits! Some of the benefits I have experienced are getting closer to my coworkers, learning more about the office, and being able to be creative and come up with new ideas. Yes, it is a lot of work, but now I am really starting to get so much more out of coming to work. I am actually having fun!

So now that you know all the benefits of taking on additional roles, I want to tell you ways you can find out about these extra jobs. Ask your boss about what they need help with around the office, I’m sure they will be thrilled to take something off of their plate. Look into the social media and see if there is anything you can do to promote or enhance it. Look around your place of work to see if there are any new or creative ideas that you have that may help out the work place. The list is endless and these are just a few examples!

So get out there and start to help your work place and yourself!

Of Possible Interest: 

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The Dark Side of Leadership

By: Katie

There are many positive things about being in a leadership role, and it’s something I would encourage anyone to do. While being a leader is a great experience, there are also negative things a person has to deal with as a leader. This side of leadership – the dark side – is one we don’t often discuss. However, I think it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into when you sign on to be a leader. Therefore, here are a few things I have noticed about the dark side of leadership.

Dark Side of Leadership

Other people telling you how to lead.

One of the most frustrating parts of being a leader (in my opinion) is when others disagree with how you lead or try to tell you to do something differently. There are many different ways to lead and different kinds of leaders, and none is more correct than another. Still, there will be those who will tell you you’re doing it wrong or who give you unsolicited advice. It’s best to ignore them and trust your abilities and instincts.

When something goes wrong, it’s your fault.

Whenever something doesn’t go quite as planned – and there is always something – the fault is yours. Or at least that’s how others view it. This is particularly the case when you are the primary leader in a situation. The frustration, confusion, and anger of everyone you’re working with will be directed at you, whether or not it’s deserved. But hey, at least your capacity for patience will improve!

Dealing with the little details.

You don’t realize how much planning and organization goes into events until you’ve been in the position to plan them. There are so many minor tasks to complete for everything, and while none of them are too difficult or time-consuming, they definitely add up. Keeping track of all the little things is a necessary evil as a leader. For this, lists are your friend.

Busy. SO. BUSY.

Being in a leadership role takes a ton of work, and often no one really realizes just how much you do. It will take up large amounts of time and energy, and the work will continue to pile up even when you’re already feeling swamped with that and everything else going on in your life. Here is when it’s helpful to learn the difficult ability of saying no or delegating tasks to others.

When you don’t have the answers.

One of the worst parts for me is when others turn to me for answers I don’t have. As a leader, sometimes you’ll really just have no idea what you’re doing. When that happens, you don’t have the luxury of stepping back and letting others handle it. No – you’re the one in charge, and you need to find a way to lead others even when you feel lost. In my experience, it’s best to act confident even when you may feel like running away and crying in a corner.

Being a leader isn’t always wonderful, and there are times when it certainly won’t be fun. However, the stress, frustration, and confusion are all far outweighed by the benefits of leadership experience.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Katie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Craig Garner

Trust Me, There’s a Club for That

By: Cassie

What is the one thing that you remember most about touring colleges? Was it the size of the dorms? Was it the food served in the dining hall? Was it that the school had the program that you really wanted to be accepted to? Well for me it was all summed up into just two simple words, GET INVOLVED. Every college I went to and every tour guide I talked to talked about the advantages of involving yourself in clubs and activities on campus. By the end of my college hunt I felt like I knew every club at every school and I felt like I was the fountain of “get involved” knowledge, so to speak. Well, when I finally got here I didn’t use my so-called “knowledge” like I should have.

There's a club

During my freshman year, I told myself that I would put myself out there and get involved in everything I could. I went to the activities fairs and thought I knew what all my options were based on the information from the tours. Then when the time came to sign up for all these clubs, I just simply didn’t join. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint the reason that I wouldn’t push myself to get involved, but I think it was mostly that I made a lot of excuses for myself. Some of these included wanting to do well on my homework, being scared to meet new people, and overall just feeling dorky for joining something I had no previous friends in. The funny thing is, most of the time I just sat and did routine Netflix marathons and didn’t acknowledge my homework during that time. I also didn’t branch out and make new friends, I stuck with my high school friends and really I was kind of miserable. I wasn’t getting all the things that I thought I would be getting out of my freshman year. I saw everyone else with new friends and having the time of their lives, so this year I decided to make a change.

I am currently in my sophomore year, and this year I have involved myself in more ways than I can count. I have really immersed myself in the business school and the clubs that it offers because I think it is so important to get involved in clubs that relate to your major. I am currently in Women in Business and the Student Healthcare Management Association. They have taught me the value of putting yourself out there and getting yourself involved with people in the business field. This doesn’t just apply to business majors either; I cannot emphasize enough how important networking is for EVERY MAJOR. It is also great to get involved with clubs in your major or collegiate unit because you can get together and talk about your fears, struggles, and your future because they are all in the same boat as you and talking is one of the most beneficial things you can do! I also was recently accepted into a study abroad program through the business school and I am so excited to see all of the new opportunities it brings me.

I know I am just highlighting the clubs in the business school, but I promise you that your collegiate unit has a club too. In fact, they most likely have one for your major! If you don’t want to get involved with clubs in your major, there are SO many other clubs and activities that are out there for you to get involved in, you just have to be willing to find what you like! Don’t be like freshman year me and take your opportunities for granted! Though I never thought I would emphasize it this much, there is so much to be gained from GETTING INVOLVED.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Cassie’s other posts
Photo source: Unsplash|Jeff Sheldon

As Summer Comes to an End

Summer is just about over. In fact, the freshman class moved onto campus yesterday. Here at Career & Internship Services, we want you to be as prepared as possible when it comes to tackling the next school year.

Start To-do list

Here are a few things to think about and/or do:

Update your resume. Add your internship, study abroad, or summer job. Strengthen your descriptions for the positions you already had listed on your resume. Need help finding room on your already packed resume? Resume drop-ins will start the week of August 31st. Formal resume drop-in sessions happen every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon (2-4pm in SCC 22) while classes are in session. A little known secret is that you can stop by anytime we’re open (M-F, 8-4:30pm) to have a trained Peer Educator take a look at your resume.

Plan out your “extra stuff” for the upcoming year. Work on building your resume. Get involved in a student organization. If you’re already a student org or two, up your level of involvement (help plan events, run for an exec board position, etc.). Find an internship, research opportunity, or volunteer position. These all look great on a resume and help you in figuring out what life after graduation might look like.

If you’re graduating in May, start laying the groundwork now. Figure out what you want your next step to be. You don’t have to have your whole life figured out. Just work towards the next step. We can help you put together a job search plan or apply to grad school. Take a look at our “By Major” reports to see what recent UMD grads with your major have done 6-12 months after graduation. Other resources to help you: events schedule; Pinterest boards with articles; grad school exploration; GoldPASS (the job & internship board for all U of MN students); Twitter (@umdcareers) for office happenings, events, opportunities, and more; LinkedIn group to connect with peers, UMD staff & faculty, alumni, and employers; and our website.

Ultimately, we want you to have a great school year. Embrace your future with confidence.

Photo: Unsplash | Blake Richard Verdoorn