Procrastination. Why do we do this to Ourselves?

By: Lexi

Finals are quickly approaching and you’re probably feeling extremely stressed about all of the work you have to get done in the next week. Then you think about it more and realize a good chunk of that homework could have been done much earlier, which would have eliminated a lot of your current stress, then you start to stress out more about how stressed out you are. Trust me, you are not alone! Do not fret, procrastination is going to happen when you are in college. Sometimes it is hard to balance your social life with your school life, and probably a job on top of all that! Procrastination is going to happen so here are some suggestions on how to handle it.

Plan ahead. It is kind of hard to do this now since it near the end of the semester, but make it a goal for next semester. Write down your assignments and their due dates right when you find out about them. If you need to, go out and buy yourself a planner. Physically writing down your deadlines may make you realize how soon the deadlines could actually be and then maybe you will start them earlier.

Start with the hardest task. If you start with your hardest task then it will just make it that much easier to keep going on assignments. Plus, if you get the worst task out of the way you will be able to feel relieved and hopefully focus better on the next tasks to come.

Change your study environment. Maybe the reason you are not getting enough done during your study time is because of your environment. Look at where you currently study area; Is it loud? Is it messy? Are your friends present? Is there a tv or other electronics? All of these factors can affect your procrastination. Possibly try hitting the library by yourself instead of your couch while watching tv.

Don’t blow a task out of proportion. Putting off easy tasks will make it seem harder, so first of all, do not do this. But you probably will so try to remember that it really won’t take as long as you are expecting it to. Stop thinking about it and just do it.

Lastly, just do it. This goes along with my last point, but stop thinking about all the work you have to do and just get it done. Instead of saying yes to getting ice cream with a friend to eat your stress away, invite them to get coffee and hit the library. This will help you and your friend. Chances are that once you are at the library and grinding away you won’t feel as stressed.

Even this blog post took me longer than necessary to write (which could be a cause of me procrastinating by scrolling Facebook and finding this hilarious video). Unfortunately, I procrastinate too. So get off of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, turn off Netflix and stop playing bike race and do your work! You do not have much time left before it is too late. But remember to breathe, exercise, laugh, take study breaks and remember these tips. You will make it and if you are graduating, congrats, good luck and remember to not procrastinate your job applications!

Read Lexi’s other posts

Life Lessons Learned from Working in Retail

By: Lexi

When you first read the title of my blog post, you probably laughed, I know I would. Life lessons from working that boring, part-time retail job in high school, really? I did not enjoy my time while working in the retail industry during high school, but at the time it was the only job I could get unless I wanted to work in the food industry, which I thought was worse. But looking back at it now, I realize it taught me so many life lessons that I still use today, seriously!

Communication skills
Communication skills are great for any career! But I learned a lot of my communication skills from my retail job, it was also one of my first jobs. Working in retail made me develop into a people person. You have interactions with people every minute while working, whether it is with customers, co-workers or your boss, you are constantly talking and interacting. You also have to walk up to strangers to check in on them or help them find what they are looking for, this sometimes pushes you out of your comfort zone, but in the long run, it is great for your character.

How to be the bigger person
In retail, you often get angry or upset customers. At my retail job, the store had a lot of coupons, but along with those coupons came brand or clearance exclusions in the fine print on the back. Let me tell you, the customers did not like this, and they did not understand that as just a sales associate, I did not make the rules to the coupons. This was personally the worst part of my job because I had to constantly deal with angry, yelling customers, but I had to stay calm and patient. Overcoming these rude customers helped me learn techniques to be the bigger person. Which can translate to how to deal with anyone acting rude or in stressful situations.

A friendly smile and kindness can get you far
It is true what they say, kindness is contagious. Simply smiling, greeting or thanking someone can get you far not only in retail but anywhere else. It also helps to keep yourself positive at work, which is a great way to put yourself in the right frame of mind for dealing with anyone, especially those rude customers. Do not take this lesson with a grain of salt, because it can help you in any situation, not just work ones.

How to multitask
This is learned so easily because there is always so much to do in retail, especially on a weekend. You are usually assigned many tasks to do during your shift, but you also have to juggle tending to customers and keeping the store neat. You also learn to adapt and manage your time.

Respecting others is a must
Working in retail means you are working with many people at once, especially in a department store. This means you should work as a team and get along. If you don’t respect your coworkers or get along, it will make for a slow and dreadful shift. Respecting co-workers and team members in any work setting is a must.

Read Lexi’s other posts

Importance of Attending Conferences

By: Lexi

There are so many ways to learn and advance your skills, especially with all the online tools these days. You can read a blog post, take an online course, listen to a podcast, watch a webinar or YouTube videos, etc. So why would you want to attend a conference? Do not worry, this is exactly what I thought until I attended one.

In the fall of 2016, I attended the 26th annual MN GIS/LIS Consortium that was held in Duluth, MN (GIS = Geographic Information Science; LIS = Land Information System). It was a 3-day event with a variety of workshops, small and large group presentations, and an exhibitors hall. I was required to attend because of my job, and I was excited to attend my first conference, but I will admit that I was a little hesitant. To be honest, my mindset before the conference was pretty much that I have to wake up early to waste 3 days of my time sitting and listening to boring presentations. But it turned out to be an eye-opening event about all the different areas and companies within my area of study. Now, I am going to take advantage of all of the conferences I can and here’s why!

MN GIS Logo

At conferences, you get a chance to meet and network with professionals and peers you would never have if you did not attend! This could open up so many doors for you as a professional and a student. Face-to-face conversations are great for collaborating ideas or talking about possible jobs or internships. Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to someone, you are both at the same conference so you already have something in common.

Personally, at the MN GIS/LIS Consortium, I was so shy. This was my first conference, I was new to the atmosphere, and I did not know what I was doing. The main push for me to become comfortable introducing myself to others stemmed from having my supervisors, professors, and upper classmates introduce me to their colleagues or acquaintances. Having someone else first introduce you is a great way to meet someone because you then have a mutual acquaintance in common and it might be less uncomfortable than for you to go up to them yourself. So take advantage of this opportunity. It can also help you break out of your comfort zone! This was my favorite part of the conference, especially because I was involved in a mentor program which paired me with a professional who I was able to sit down with, chat, and ask questions.

IMG_0555

Myself and two other UMD students who are also GIS majors or minors at the conference.

Conferences open up opportunities, like I mentioned above briefly. These could be educational or career opportunities. First of all, you get the chance to learn in a new environment that is not the traditional classroom and everyone could use a break from the classroom every once in awhile. You will also take away new ideas and approaches that will help you succeed and be more efficient. You will even probably discover new tools or technology to help you in your studies.

Personally, I learned about so many new GIS tools, research studies, design approaches, and GIS databases at the conference I attended. These opened up many new ways for me to do my studies and research in class. The experience of learning these new ideas and tools will also help me in the future career. This conference also had a student research scholarship competition and a poster competition. I personally did not compete in either of these, but I know some students who did and it is a great way to show off your research and hard work! So attend these workshops or presentations and pick one that you have maybe never heard of before. When else will you get the chance? The opportunities at conferences are endless and hopefully, it will inspire you as well.

IMG_0548

The “Mobile Imagery – Capture the World Around You with Mobile Imaging” lightning round presentation I attended.

Of Possible Interest:

Read Lexi’s other posts

Internship Search: Writing an Internship Resume

By: Lexi

You’ve found an internship to apply to, now you need to polish up your resume and most likely, a cover letter. Writing resumes for internships are hard because you probably do not have a lot of experience, otherwise, you would not be applying for an internship position. But you still have to find a way to make yourself stand out from the other applicants who also do not have a lot of experience. Hopefully, these tips will help you land that internship you’re hoping for!

internship-resume

Make your academics section a focus.
This is not saying experience is not important, but since you do not have as much experience make your academics section stick out. Include courses you’ve taken or big projects you’ve worked on. Only put coursework you think the employer will find relevant, though.

Experience included can be paid or unpaid.
Think about the significance and relevance of each opportunity you have partaken in. If you put your part-time job working in the food industry on your resume because that is the work experience you have, go for it, but really think about the skills you gained from the job. Use action verbs to describe your experience. For example, you could say: Maintained and balanced friendly customer service in a fast pace environment. This shows that you have the ability to work in a time efficient manner while preserving good service. Jobs, where you were paid, are important experiences to include, but so are unpaid experiences like volunteering and/or leadership positions. Do not forget to include those too, they will help you stand out! Highlighting your on-campus student organization involvement and leadership can also add to your internship resume.

Read the internship description first.
Read what the employers would expect from an intern and first of all, make sure you have the ability or willingness to learn what they would expect from you. The other reason you should read this before writing your resume is because it can give you an idea of the skill set they are looking for and then you can try to tie in those skills to your resume if you have them. This is another good tip for standing out because you will already have what they are looking for and then they might not have to spend as much time training you in.

Good luck on your internship search and hopefully these tips on how to write an internship resume will help you land the one you want! Remember, Career and Internship Services is more than happy to help look it over and give you further tips! Come to our resume drop-ins on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2-4pm in SCC 22.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Lexi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Brandi ReddUnsplash | Brandi Redd

How to Have a Productive Winter Break

By: Lexi

You are finally done with your Fall semester and finals, hooray! It’s now time to relax, but do not forget to stay on top of things and use your time to stay productive. Spring semester will be here before you know it and you do not want to be behind!

Use time for reflection on the semester & set goals for the upcoming semester
Take a little bit of time to think about the semester you just finished. Think about what you did and didn’t do well. Use that information to make some goals and identify priorities for yourself for the next semester.

Build and expand professional networks
Reach out to people or companies you have been wanting to contact, but haven’t yet. Expand your horizons, you never know how it could develop your professional profile. This could be done online through email, LinkedIn, a phone call, or you could even ask if they would like to get coffee. Remember to thank them and ask if they have any suggestions of who else you could reach out to.

productive-winter-break

Conduct informational interviews or job shadow
Informational interviews and job shadows are a great way to see if the profession you are thinking about is the right one for you. Most students do not have time to conduct these during the semester, so now that you are not in classes, take advantage of this time. This could also help you with career advice or confirm important classes that you should plan on taking.

Work more and save up
Rack up the hours at your job, if it’s possible! Winter break is a great time to save up to keep you on budget for the spring semester.

Apply for scholarships and internships for the summer
Many scholarships and internships are posted during this time, so start looking! It is better to start searching for these opportunities earlier rather than later, your chances will most likely be greater. If you need help with this, you can visit Career and Internship Services (we are open during winter break, except Dec 23rd-Jan 2nd).

Get volunteer hours in
Whether you need volunteer hours or you just want to give back to your community, the holiday season is one of the best times to do this! Use your free time to put some smiles on the faces of your fellow city residents.

Create a portfolio, LinkedIn profile, and/or revamp your resume
Now that you finished another semester, you probably have new projects, jobs, skills, and experiences you can add to your portfolio, LinkedIn, and resume. Take the time to update all of these so they are ready for when you start searching for a job or internship, then you will not have to frantically put all of these together at the last minute.

Hopefully, you will take advantage of this time when school is not crazy and do at least one of these suggestions. But do not forget to relax and enjoy your time off during the holidays, drink some hot chocolate, eat some cookies, and enjoy the twinkle lights with your family or friends. Happy Holidays!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Lexi’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash|Aaron Wilson

Did You Have an Internship You Didn’t Like? Part 2

By: Lexi

Since my former internship was not what I was expecting (check out part 1), it made me question myself and frankly, it made me freaked out about my future. Once I realized this, I decided to start focusing even more on the work that my supervisors performed. Their position was a career that I could potentially be doing in the future, so I watched and learned from them. But I quickly found out that being at the bottom of the totem pole was not the only reason I did not enjoy my internship. I recognized that the whole job in this area of work (the local government) is not a profession that I would like to do for the rest of my life.

dont-like-internship

Now I really started to stress out. What was I going to do with my life now? Do I have to completely change my major? Am I going to be in college forever? Should I take more exploration classes? Should I take a semester off? Who should I talk to and where should I go from here? I did not want to be going to school, spending a lot of money and time on a career path that I would not enjoy. All of these questions and more were running through my head, all the time.

From there, I started with two people for advice, my mother and Career and Internship Services (two of the best places for career advice, in my opinion). Career and Internship Services suggested that I talk to professors in my areas of study and also conduct informational interviews with professionals in areas that I am thinking about. This was the biggest advice I took into consideration. I started with my professors, they helped me stay calm about my studies and reassured me that I was not wasting my time. I then moved on to seeking out professionals in areas I was interested in. I even went to the job fair, just to ask employers if I could conduct informational interviews or job shadow with their employees. From following these steps and being open to new opportunities and change, I got a job out of it! I actually get to be in the field that I am strongly considering, to work along with professionals who could potentially be me one day.

From talking to all of these professors and professionals, it helped me change my attitude around from wanting to give up, to having hope that I was not wasting my time. From here on out, I am going to keep exploring these different careers and next semester I will take the last liberal education requirements that I need to. I did this so I am not taking all of my specific major classes, in case I do end up changing it. In the end, I did bounce back from my bad internship experience that made me question my major, it helped me learn so much and grow as a professional. I am still not completely sure what I will do in the future, but I will get there and if you are going through the same thing, you will too!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Lexi’s other posts

Photo by: Unsplash | Amanda Sandlin

Did You Have an Internship You Didn’t Like? Part 1

By: Lexi

This past summer I was lucky enough to land an internship in my field of Urban and Regional Studies, receive credits to graduate, and an extra bonus, I got paid too! I was so excited to be in a professional setting to see what my career would be like after graduation, but it turned out to not be what I was anticipating or hoping for. Although I did take away a lot of new knowledge and skills, it is also making me question myself…Is this really the right field of study for me? Now what do I do?

dont-like-internship

The reason my summer internship was not everything I was hoping for was because I did not enjoy the work I was doing; it’s hard to maintain motivation when you feel like the work you’re doing is simply busy work. I also felt as if I had a lot of free time because they were not giving me enough busy work, imagine that! This pushed me a little out of my comfort zone because I was constantly asking all of the supervisors for work or if they needed help with anything. Sure, I ended up just copying or stapling pamphlets a lot of the time, but it was better than staring at a computer screen driving myself to have a crazy headache. This also showed my superiors that I was a proactive worker, well I would like to think it did at least. As an intern, you have to realize that you are at the bottom of the totem pole, yet it stinks being at the bottom because the work can be boring. But remember, you have to start at the bottom to work your way to the top.

The other part that was difficult about the work was that I was given a lot of actual work, but I was not given direction. Of course it is nice to have room to be creative and add your own touch, but it is also scary because you really do not know if it is what your supervisor is looking for, and if it is not, they will not hesitate to keep sending it back to you until it is. Specifically, for my internship, one of the main reasons that the work I performed was not the most enjoyable was that I was not with the company long enough to see the end result. For example, the majority of the work I did was with new plans to improve cities. These plans would take at least a year to implement, but I only had my internship for four months. This was not rewarding because I never got to see my work actually being carried out or fulfilled.

So if you ever have an internship, co-op, or even a job that you do not enjoy, just stick it out. This is not your job for the rest of your life, and I know that you will take at the least one valuable skill away from your experience. Turn your attitude into a positive one and try to make the most out of it. What helped me get through my internship was to realize that the overall lessons I will take away will actually help me succeed in the working world. I now know how to better communicate with coworkers, manage difficult personalities, deal with stress, prioritize my workload, and work in a team environment. Now the big question for myself was what am I going to do with my career life now since I did not find what I thought I wanted to do pleasurable? If you want to know how I went forward with this big question, stay tuned for part 2.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Lexi’s other posts

Photo by: Unsplash | Amanda Sandlin