Self-Guidance: The Key to Success

By: Paying

All our lives, we have been constantly guided either by our parents, teachers, and/or society. It seems as though a good ⅕ of our lives were following what others have told us to do. As little five-year-olds, we have already started to be shaped to become successful and live a future with purpose. The question now is: what does it mean to actually be “successful” and how do we achieve that? 

When I first started my education in a head start program until the end of my 8th grade year, school was just a part of life and you don’t question it. When high school hit, the struggle of not knowing my strengths and interests complicated the vision that had been engraved in my head: graduate high school, attend college, finish in four years, and spend the rest of my life loving my career. I didn’t want to drop out of high school and disappoint my parents, I didn’t want to take a gap year after high school to figure life out, and I didn’t want to go into college not knowing what I’m there for. 

To answer my questions, I sought guidance from my Upward Bound advisors who emphasized the advantages of college. They reassured me that it’s okay to not know everything and that it was completely normal to feel the way I did. We researched colleges that could offer me what I would be interested in and would enjoy attending. Soon after, I officially declared that I would become a Bulldog at UMD in 2016. 

Image: Colored pencils in cup
Text: Every path you can take has its pros and cons, which varies person to person. The key is to believe in yourself and put in the effort to achieve your success.

After two years of my college life, I knew I had made the right choice to come in unsure because soon I realized how passionate I was in English related courses and declared as an English major. However, I didn’t know where to start because no one around me had a similar path of becoming an editor and once again I was lost. 

The career counselors at Career and Internship Services, along with my alumni friends, guided me through it as they provided stories of their own or others who have been in the same spot and the different paths they’ve taken. Although I was afraid to share my struggles of uncertainty, it definitely cleared my head and made me more confident in my future decisions and to this day I continue striving with the same confidence.

As my last year of education is wrapping up, I realized that soon I won’t have education to keep me busy anymore. Now I have to go out into the “real world” and make my own decisions for my own life, which is a very scary, yet exciting, thought. Throughout my life, I had asked for guidance from my family, my peers, and my academic mentors but now I’ve come to realize that I have started to guide myself. From asking for internships even if there aren’t any listed and becoming the interviewer rather than the interviewee to learn more about the career and/or organization. I am finally guiding myself to live the life I will enjoy and want.

I may have chosen to go through college but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to become successful. Some who never completed high school also reached success and same with those who decided college was not meant for them. A close friend of mine who I could not make it this far without once told me, “Success can’t be measured, it’s not an endpoint. It’s felt by both you and those affected around you.” Every path you can take has its pros and cons, which varies person to person. The key is to believe in yourself and put in the effort to achieve your success. 

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Crawford Jolly

Senior Year as Coffee Drinks

By: Heidi

Senior year is full of change when it comes to thinking about the future and where you hope to end up. The job search process can be full of ups and downs, while still finishing up classes, making time for friends, and all the fun events that can take place. And what are these late nights and early mornings fueled by? Your favorite cup of coffee full of its own unique blends and flavors. Here are my thoughts on what it feels like to be a graduating senior and all of the emotions that come alongside it.

What the job search process really feels like: Red Eye
When you order this coffee, you’re confident in the blend you ordered after a little research you did on the coffee shop’s website. Unfortunately, they were out of the coffee you wanted to order and once you placed your order, the barista poured you the wrong kind. Not what you were expecting, but you respect the process of what it takes in order for a good cup of joe.

Notes of: Excitement, Fear, Disappointment, Relief

Image: looking down on 3 coffee cups on wood table surface
Text: Senior year as coffee drinks

Senior slide: Americano
The deadlines have surpassed you, yet for some reason your work seems to still be incomplete. You know exactly what you need to do to get the job done, but the action just isn’t quite there. This cup of java is exactly what you need to get the job done and finish strong my fellow seniors.

Notes of: Procrastination, Regret, Early Mornings, Late Nights

Crossing things off your bucket list: Cold Brew
Those road trips you’ve always wanted to do but left until senior year or a last spring break trip with your friends aren’t going to happen if you’re not fueled properly. Those early mornings and late night adventures could use a little kick, so why not treat yourself in the process.

Notes of: Excitement, Indulgence, Spontaneity

All of the Goodbyes: Flavored Latte
Whether it’s wrapping up clubs you’ve been involved in for the past four years, saying goodbye to your younger friends who will still be around for a few more years, or to the friends who you will be soon parting ways with. A comforting latte with your favorite flavor shot is exactly what is needed for this situation, and ideally shared with a friend.

Notes of: Bittersweet, Nostalgia, Gratitude

Next Chapter: Macchiato
You’re on the horizon of change whether it’s a big move, grad school, a gap year, or a challenging career. Rather than going into it with fear, the best we can do is embrace this new chapter with a positive attitude ready to take on whatever comes your way. You’ve conquered these past four years, who says you’re not ready for what’s next? Let this next chapter be fueled by your passion and confidence knowing you have important contributions to give to the world. This cup of coffee is whatever you choose to make it be.

Notes of: Pride, Bliss, Elation

Of Possible Interest:
Job Search – all our blog posts on the topic
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic to help you thrive in the phase of life.

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Nathan Dumlao

Removing, Rebooting, and Relocating

By: Tori

Moving away from your ‘normal’ for the past 4 years is harder than you’d think it would be. When I accepted my offer to join the Leadership Development Rotational Program with Allstate Insurance, I was equally nervous and excited. I was ready for a fresh start but I continued to be reminded of the things I would miss out on, the people I wouldn’t see, and the difficult transition that was ahead of me.

For my final blog post as a Peer Educator, I decided to share a few lessons I have gained while learning how to remove myself from ‘normal’, reboot my attitude to optimism, and relocate to a new city!

Removing Rebooting Relocating Lessons for tackling life after graduation

The first lesson I have learned is that I am very blessed. UMD has provided me a platform for growing and expanding beyond my comfort zones, as well as opportunities to make new friends, connections, and gain more wisdom during this one phase of my life than I thought possible. From sporting events, study abroad, on-campus jobs, internships, hilarious roommates, Bulldog hockey, etc. Due to these experiences and people, I have more confidence that Chicago will hold similar blessings. It may just take some time.

The second lesson I have learned is that I’ve done this before, so I can do it again. It’s not that I hate change, it’s more that transitions are hard. They are exciting and offer new adventures, but they also are overwhelming, and often times lonely. I remember experiencing this after coming back from summer break freshman year. I was excited to be back in Duluth and conquer year 2 of my undergrad, but also missed the normal, the familiarity, and the comfort I had at home. This continued to happen to me as I would transition from living at home and working, to living in Duluth and learning. But the thing is, I ALWAYS moved past that transition phase and got right back into the swing of things. At times it seemed too much to handle, but then I reminded myself “you’ve done it before, so you can do it again’.

The final lesson I have learned is that if you prepare, you will feel more capable. In the midst of my senior year ending, my time has been consumed with final papers, projects, ‘the lasts of the lasts’, and meeting up with friends before we go our separate ways. However, I also have taken time to journal, process, and plan how to prepare myself best for this new move. Thinking through and having an idea in mind of places to hang out, get coffee, and attend church have helped me begin to form my life in Chicago before I’ve even left! Taking the time to think through these things has helped me remind myself I am capable of change and this time in my life will be one I won’t ever forget!

I hope these lessons help you as you begin your transition into the summer, your new job, or your new location!

Of Possible Interest:

Read Tori’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jan Senderek

Career Advice for College Graduates

By: McKenzie

How exciting! You’ve made it through your college education and while you may be continuing into a graduate program you are still wondering, “what should I do now?” Here is some simple advice for navigating the waters of entering your career field.

Stay Positive
Entering the workforce can be a very intimidating experience and if you aren’t finding jobs right off the bat that’s okay! Many students struggle to enter a job within their chosen career path when they first start looking. It may not be easy entering this next stage in life so maintaining a positive outlook can help carry you through the mucky experience.

Know What You Want
Graduating college can be a very stressful experience for anyone who is unsure what they are looking for in a job. During interviews and at job fairs potential employers are looking for candidates with an idea of their direction in their field. Think to yourself, “where would I like to be in 5 years?” and start looking for work that will get you there.

Career Advice for College Graduates

Reach Out
Now is a great time to start contacting people within your networks and seeing what opportunities are available. If you do not know anyone within your field, then it’s time to do some research. There are a lot of professionals who are willing to talk about themselves, so try reaching out and asking if they would be interested in an informational interview. Your connections can take you far.

Get Involved & Stay Involved
Were you involved in college? Keep that going! If you were not, then now is a great time to start. Our passions can help show employers there is more to us than meets the eye. Being involved is a great resume and network booster! You never know who could be your next reference.

Research Before Interviews
Companies like candidates who are interested in them. Often times applicants lose themselves in the process of applying for a job and they are not prepared for their interviews. If you do not know anything about a company hiring you then how would you know they are the right fit? The company may not align with your values. You also might not be ready when they ask you a question you could have known the answer to with quick Google search.

Of Possible Interest:

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Joshua Sortino

 

The Truth About Career Success

By: Ellen (Career Counselor & guest author)

A few weeks ago I was thinking about my own career success and how I’ve defined that since graduating from college 10.5 years ago. “Career success” at 22 probably revolved around getting a full-time job of some sort in order to pass time before I was ready for grad school. “Career success” now, at 33, looks very different. It’s about using both of my degrees to own and grow in my current role, while doing some strategic planning for whatever may come next. Using both of my degrees (Communication/Business for undergrad and Counseling for grad) wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of my mind when job searching for my first post-grad school position. However, that concept has now become incredibly important to defining career success for me because I’ve experienced how great it is for me to use both of my degrees in my current job.

Truth About Career Success

Here’s the truth about defining career success…it looks different for everyone. Some people have it figured out when they graduate from college, but a lot of people don’t. Figuring out your career and career success takes time, it’s messy, and make look different depending on your stage in life.

In addition to sharing my own experience about figuring out “career success,” I did what everyone does when they’re looking for advice…I turned to Facebook. Here are some pieces of wisdom about career success from people who are in various stages of their careers and in various industries.

  • Even though you have a degree, you still have to work hard to succeed.
  • Be patient and open to opportunities given to you. You never know, it might sound horrible, but turn out to be something you’re really passionate about.
  • You won’t use all your qualifications in all your jobs. Being (or believing you are) overqualified doesn’t mean the job you got hired to do doesn’t still have to get done by you.
  • Talking about problems without suggesting solutions doesn’t really help anyone, especially not your reputation.
  • Everything you get, you have to earn. You may have taken leadership courses and been the top of your class and done everything you were supposed to in college, but chances are good that you are going to start on the bottom and have to work hard to move up.
  • You will not get the same kind of do-overs that you got in college. You don’t get to pick what your tasks are, you don’t get to decide you don’t feel like doing _____ today.

So how do you define career success?

Photo source: Unsplash | Jeff Sheldon

My Potential Plans After Graduation: AmeriCorps

By: David

As some or none of you may know, I will be graduating from college in about three semesters. As a current senior, I have yet to make future plans as to what opportunities and steps to take for life after graduation. Some days it scares me, other days it excites me, and some other days where I’m very, “Graduation? Meh.” Lately, I have been having instances of  zoning out about my plans for the future. Coming into the semester, I had a clear cut plan for post-graduation, but throughout the semester my life experiences has open my perspective to other possibilities and doors. To keep it brief, one opportunity that I have always considered is volunteering as an AmeriCorps member. After doing some research, I was able to uncover some interesting facts about AmeriCorps.

Branches of AmeriCorps

Within the AmeriCorps program, there are various branches that AmeriCorps breaks up into, but for the purpose of this blog post I will be mentioning three main branches: AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps State & National.

AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC)
To start off, the AmeriCorps NCCC branch focuses more so on strengthening communities through community service. Certain projects could range to helping local and national parks with conservation of wildlife to infrastructure improvement. Within this branch, there are two possible paths for members, the Traditional and FEMA Corps. The Traditional Corps would focus more so on hands-on projects in certain field settings to accomplish the NCCC’s mission which is to help better communities. On the other hand, the FEMA Corps focuses more so on responding to disasters. To better understand this, the acronyms FEMA stands for, Federal Emergency Management Agency. Members in this branch would travel to strengthen communities across the nation.

AmeriCorps Volunteers In Service To America  (VISTA)
To shift gears, the AmeriCorps VISTA’s goal is to “fight poverty in America” according to the website. Members of this branch typically live and serve in low-income areas of the nation, and many of the projects are designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Some of examples may range from organizing shelter and job opportunities to assisting victims of disaster to recruiting mentors for children with an absence of support.  

AmeriCorps State & National (SN)
Lastly, the AmeriCorps State & National is by far the broadest branch because it offers a wide-range of opportunities to engage in critical community needs such as education, public safety, health, and environmental. Projects within this range may vastly range from community outreach and financial education to collaborating with Girl/Boy Scouts.

Areas

In the program, there are multiple areas and fields that members can dive into. Depending on what your interests are, they can filter out specific programs for you for the AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps SN. Due to the breadth of content, feel free to explore the website some more to better grasp an understanding of the various areas that they offer, “AmeriCorps Focus Areas.”  

AmeriCorps VISTA

AmeriCorps VISTA

AmeriCorps SN

AmeriCorps SN

Benefits

Though the wage may not be the most captivating, there are definitely benefits to being an AmeriCorps member. For college graduates, the most appealing benefit would be the Segal Education Award. In a nutshell, the education award allows you to pay off any previous student loans, current or future educational expenses in higher education or training programs, or can be transferred to any child or grandchild under certain circumstances. Here is a chart indicating the various sum amount of the award:

Segal Education Award

In addition to the education award, other benefits as an AmeriCorps member may include training, limited health care, relocation expenses, student-loan forbearance or deferment, and non-competitive eligibility for a federal government position.

To conclude, I want to personally emphasize on a key component. Though the wage may be discouraging but the benefits appealing, it seems that the main purpose of the AmeriCorps program is to assist and help other individuals and communities to flourish to success. I understand that it is very cliche to say that the best benefit to the experience is making the world a better place, but in reality it actually is. Throughout the years, I have seen myself and others stray away from the concept of collectivism and towards individualism. Not to say that one is better than the other, but sometimes in order for us, as individuals to become better than yesterday we have to help ourselves and also those around us to efficiently flourish as one.  For some like myself, the end goal is not money, but happiness within yourself and others. I’d like to leave off with a quote I came across earlier this week that has inspired me to continue helping others, “Money is nothing but numbers, and numbers never end. If money is what it takes for someone to be happy, then the search for happiness will never end.” Enjoy the holidays, stay safe, warm, and as always, stay gold!

Read David’s other posts

Not the End of the Tunnel

By: Glen

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

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

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

Tunnel photo

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

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

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

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

Read Glen’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash|Modestas Urbonas