Mentors: Be One; Have One

By: Amanda

One of the most impactful lessons I have learned throughout my college experience so far is the importance of mentorship—both being a mentor and finding one. Finding a mentor, whether it is in a formal or informal setting, is something that can help one learn and push their limits. I have had a variety of formal and informal mentors in my lifetime. When it comes to making big life decisions, it’s vital to have a trusted person to turn to who understands your life goals and visions. 

Image: notebooks and rose gold binder clips on white desktop
Text: Mentors: How to have one and be one

FINDING YOUR MENTOR

Join Student Groups
Mentors can come in many shapes and forms. If you are in a club or student group on campus, perhaps there is an older, more experienced individual who you can learn from. In my sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, I have two alumni I refer to often for professional and personal advice. Ask to grab coffee with someone who you look up to in your organization. You never know where it will lead!

Use Your Collegiate Unit
Another way to find a mentor is through your collegiate unit. Find someone further along than yourself. Use them and their life as guidance. Learn from their highlights and downfalls; ask sensible questions. Additionally, some collegiate units have formal mentorship programs that kick off every fall. Check out the UMD Mentor Program.

Within Professional Work
Finally, mentors can be found through your professional work. During my summer internship experience, I was paired with a mentor who had similar goals and values as me. We sat down bi-monthly to discuss the program, my goals, and any questions I had. Within your next professional job, seek out a mentor who will help you navigate work experiences.

BEING A MENTOR: PAYING IT FORWARD
Although I haven’t been a formal mentor yet, I have found many instances where I am taken a “mentor-like” role. For example, while working at Career and Internship Services, I have found myself helping younger students who work in our office. I was in their shoes just two years ago and love to help them sift through work, life, or school. Additionally, in my sorority, I’m often helping younger women who are in the business school and trying to maneuver through internships, their majors, or what classes to sign up for. 

Through experiences like these, I have discovered the importance of paying it forward and intentionally aiding others as much as possible. I have had profound mentors over the past few years who have significantly changed the course of my life. Being able to give back in some way, even if minuscule, is something I cherish. 

I challenge you to not only find someone to help you with your career goals but also find someone who you can help. When you do this, you will find ultimate fulfillment. 

Of Possible Interest:
Networking; On the Job – all our blog posts on these topics
Key to Networking; Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest boards filled with resources & articles

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | STIL

Getting Involved as a First Year Student

By: Kiara

Going into my freshman year, I was unsure of what activities would be the best fit for me, but after completing my first semester I am thankful for how much I have learned from each activity. Sometimes it can be intimidating or feel overwhelming to try new things, but challenging yourself to do so can help you grow in the long run.

During the start of the first semester I became involved in the figure skating team, the University Honors Program, and started working at Career and Internship Services. Actively participating in these activities throughout the year helped me to build a community, pursue my interests, and develop transferable skills.

Image: colorful pens on white background
Text: Getting involved as a first year student

Build a Community
Being a part of the University Honors Program has given me the opportunity to meet new people and engage with my surrounding community. Through this program, I volunteered at a local assisted living facility in Duluth which made me feel more connected with my new community. I also attended other events within this program that helped me to gain critical thinking skills and learn with an open mind which can be valuable tools for a future career. Immersing yourself in a club or an organization can leave you feeling more integrated within the campus. Creating connections and a community can also give you a stronger sense of purpose or identity. 

Pursue Your Interests
UMD has so many great opportunities for students to get involved in things they are passionate about or interested in exploring such as a variety of clubs, sports, and other organizations. Personally, I joined the intercollegiate and synchronized figure skating teams since I wanted to continue to figure skate. This connected me to others who have a similar passion and taught me the importance of teamwork. I also continued to pursue my individual figure skating tests, which taught me a lot about self-discipline and self-motivation. During setbacks, it can be tempting to quit in the moment, but getting back up and overcoming these challenges are typically worth it in the end. The lessons we learn from pursuing our interests can aid us in our career development since we most likely will encounter adversities such as not getting a job offer, facing rejection, and receiving tough criticism. 

Develop Your Transferable Skills
Joining new clubs and organizations can help you gain essential transferable skills that you can apply to almost any field. Being a member of a club gives you a chance to run for an officer position which can be a valuable leadership experience. Planning events or leading meetings can also strengthen your work ethic and show your dedication to the team. Working as a front desk receptionist at Career and Internship Services has helped me improve my communication, organization, and time management skills. Employment opportunities or activities you are involved in can also enhance your resume and highlight important experiences.

Through managing your time well and working hard, it is possible to balance your academics and be involved in meaningful experiences outside of the classroom. Hopefully participating in extracurricular activities will give you the skills needed to face potential career roadblocks down the path. These are some of my interests and I hope you are able to pursue yours!

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kiara’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Olia Gozha

Getting Involved and Why

By: Tony

One of the most popular pieces of advice you will receive during college is to “get involved”. Of course, there are tons of ways you can get involved, but many are probably not for you. The key to figuring out how to get involved is knowing what you want to get out of it. Do you want to serve others, fight for causes you believe in, or just want to have some fun? Different organizations on campus serve different purposes. I will give examples from my personal experience to demonstrate the wide variety of types of involvement.

Identity-Focused Involvement
My first instance of getting involved on campus was when I joined the Latinx/Chicanx Student Association and began to immerse myself in that community. I come from a very diverse hometown, and coming to Duluth was a bit of a culture shock. That, combined with my heavy involvement with my high school’s Latinx-focused student group, pushed me to become involved with LCSA. Soon after joining, I was elected to the Executive Board as the Freshman Representative, and I was allowed to play a major part in the goings-on of the organization. After a few weeks, the other members of LCSA weren’t just my friends, they were my family away from home. They made me feel like I belonged at UMD when the rest of the campus bogged me down with microaggressions and doubt. Even as a senior, my love for LCSA has never wavered, and I have done everything in my power to make sure that everyone feels as welcome and supported as I have. My involvement with LCSA is deeply rooted in my sense of identity as a Latino, and my experiences with it have made me more secure with that aspect of my identity.

Getting involved on-campus

Campus-Related Involvement
During my freshman year, I became highly-involved with the Multicultural Center. I didn’t get along very well with my roommates, so I would stay in the MC as long as I possibly could every night. As spring semester rolled around, I felt like I knew the MC like the back of my hand, but I wanted to get involved with the rest of campus as well. I was fond of my experience during Welcome Week, so I applied to be RockStar for Welcome Week, and luckily I got in. I suppose I did pretty well because they let me come back two more times. Being a RockStar is incredibly demanding. It requires being flexible, creative, and energetic for five days straight. When I say energetic, I mean it. I’m usually fairly quiet and reserved, but during Welcome Week, I am constantly running around, dancing, and yelling. As draining as it may be, it is also incredibly rewarding. I loved being the freshmen’s first point of contact with the campus. I wanted to ensure that they were as ready for college as they could possibly be. I remember how confusing and intimidating freshman year was, and I wanted to pay forward the great Welcome Week that I had when I was in their position. I wanted to have an impact on the whole campus by ensuring that the student body was well-equipped with the resources they need as soon as possible.

Service-Focused Involvement
Finally, I decided to get involved with campus through direct service to the student body. Which brings me to why I am writing this blog in the first place, as an extension of my position as a Peer Educator. In my position, my job is to provide services and access to resources that my peers need to excel academically and professionally. I want to see everyone I work with land their dream internship or job, and I want to do everything I can to make that dream a reality. All three examples of involvement I have mentioned have degrees of service associated with them, but I feel like my Peer Educator position allows me to directly serve the UMD community on an almost-daily basis.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tony’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Danilo Batista

The Art of Maintaining a Busy Schedule

By: McKenzie

Sometimes maintaining a busy schedule can feel impossible. Many students in college work and are involved in extracurricular activities, in addition to classes, making it incredibly difficult to continue this busy lifestyle. But fear not, as a seasoned pro at accidentally overworking myself I have some tips and tricks that help me keep it all together (and avoid overworking myself).

Tips for Maintaining a Busy Schedule

Get enough sleep
It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. This is something you should definitely avoid slacking on. When I worked overnights I used to schedule when I would get sleep to make sure I was getting enough rest. You can’t perform any task as well as you want if you are falling asleep while doing it.

Keep a calendar
When you’re a busy person it is often hard to keep track of all the things that you’re doing. I have found it best to start a calendar. You gain the skill of time management and it helps you to anticipate how much time you have for the little things like homework or even a nap before class.

Make time for food
Food is fuel! Not only should you be eating enough but you should also be mindful of what you’re eating. While I am an avid lover of pizza rolls I am also sure to be considerate of my portions as well as what I am putting into my body. You will get out of it what you put into it.

Always make time for yourself
The most important time of any day is the time you dedicate to yourself. We all need a little bit of me time and practicing self-care is a really great skill to develop. Any schedule is manageable if you make time to do whatever it is you love to do.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Arends

Go Big or Go Home

By: Willow

I have an exercise for you, close your eyes and think about everything you’ve ever wanted to do in college. Think about the organizations you want to join, the classes you want to take, or if you want to study abroad. Think of all those things. Now make a list of everything you want to do or have ever wanted to do and come back and finish reading this when you’re done.

Are you done?
Ok, good.

Look at your list, you now have a roadmap of all the things you should do.

Make a roadmap for your life

I know it’s not always that simple, you have to have to have time for your classes, your job, occasionally sleeping. But this is a list of all the things you should give an honest try to doing.

I am about to graduate, and I realized there are so many things I wanted to do that I never did. There’s an old Iowa State University commercial that shows how all the little things in your college career can help lead you to where you’re meant to go. I encourage you to check it out.

Basically, what I’m saying is make the very most out of college, and that’s way easier said than done. Go to at least one meeting of every club you’re interested in. Take classes just for fun. Go out with your friends.

If you are already in groups at UMD, make sure you’re making the most of them. I am a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma, the National Service Sorority at UMD. I was in it for a year before I tried for a position, a year and a half before I applied to be a big, and I still am working on getting to know the other members. I used to not be as interested in getting to know everyone in my sorority. I thought there were some nice women, but I already knew which women were my close friends and everyone I just kind of knew who they were but nothing more. I finally started to really get to know as many members as possible and realized, they are wonderful people. If you’re not really putting yourself out there in your groups, you’re not getting as much as you could out of your experience. And honestly, you’re missing out.

I know this post is short, but the message is simple. You only college once (YOCO) so don’t live with regrets. There is a lot of sweet stuff that you really can’t do outside of college, so go live a sweet life.

One last thing, a quote from one of my favorite professors Dr. Cyndie Rugeley, “Do it all now, because you’re never going to be poorer.”

Of Possible Interest:

Read Willow’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | delfi de la Rua

“Hanging” Up the Mantle: Leadership Transitioning

By: David

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!

Read David’s other posts

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.

Read McKenzie’s other posts