The Basics of Illegal Interviewing

By: McKenzie

Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates from ages 18-48 the average US citizen will hold 11.7 jobs in their lifetime and a trend seen in recent years, as the BLS studies younger candidates, has found there to be an increase in the number of jobs held from 18 onward. This means the average person will likely experience at a minimum of 11 interviews before they retire.

Jar with colored pens and blank notebook open on a desk. Text: The basics of illegal interviewing.

What is illegal interviewing? 
The term illegal interviewing may inspire images of a shady business deal and other ominous activities but in reality, it is actually rather subtle. Illegal interviewing is when employers ask their prospective employee’s questions which they are not legally allowed to in an interview.

What can’t employers ask me?
Employers can’t ask you questions regarding your age, ethnicity/race, gender/sex, country of national origin/birthplace, religion, disability, marital/family state, and pregnancy.

Why is it important I know about illegal interviewing?
Illegal interviewing can be a way to eliminate you as a candidate for a position—whether intentional or not. You should be aware of it because you if you are the most qualified for employment in the position applied for then you shouldn’t be excluded from the opportunity.

Who should I tell?
If you are up to it, you should start by speaking with the person and say, “I am not comfortable with that question,” and explain to them why it is not appropriate. Doing this could help candidates in the future who may not feel comfortable speaking up. If you don’t feel like you can bring it up to the interviewer then you can bring it up to their HR (Human Resources). Some companies will want to follow-up with you about your experience, that would be another time to bring up any inappropriate questions that may have been asked.

Of Possible Interest: 
Job Questions that are Illegal – The Balance Careers
Interviewing – UMD Career Handbook
Key to Interviewing – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Lewis

The Greenery’s Guide to Mindfulness & Self-Care

By: McKenzie

Being a plant-parent can teach you a lot, but it’s not always easy caring for a plant indoors. Whether you were an expert grower back home or beginning as a motivated novice, having plants indoors can be a challenge. It is, however, a challenge you should accept. Plants are great teachers, and they show us how to care for ourselves and the world. If you pay close attention you’ll see them guiding you in your practice of mindfulness and self-care.

Why Be Mindful & Self-Care?
To start off, you might be wondering: “Why should I practice being mindful and care for myself?” As humans, we put a lot on our plate. To flourish in our personal and professional lives it is important to be considerate of our time and our energy. Our work should be mindful. There should be care and consideration put into our projects so we obtain the best result. One way we can ensure we are being mindful, and not simply clocking-in at the bare minimum, is by taking time to care for ourselves. Allowing our mind and body rest gives us the opportunity to perform better and achieve more when we need to apply ourselves. If we never take time to replenish ourselves we’ll get stuck on empty and have to push. Learning to care for plants can help us develop the needed skills to avoid burning out.

Monstera Plant on black background; A plant's lessons on mindfulness and self-care.

A Plant’s Lessons on Mindfulness & Self-care

Make time
Set time aside to care for your plants. Life can be busy, but like any other living organism, they need attention. Indoor plants, in particular, require your assistance to fulfill their needs so they can live in your home. Now think of yourself. Are you scheduling time for you? Make sure you are in a space to thrive and grow just like your plants.

Stay patient
Take your time when caring for your plant. No need to rush. Prune their leaves slowly. Help your plant grow with time. Make sure you don’t over/under water. Now think: Have you been patient with yourself lately?

Be kind
Use good soils, re-pot if necessary, watch for invaders, and be gentle. Check sunlight. Water slowly and gently. Every organism deserves kindness. Treat the world with the same care as your plants.

Bring the attention and care you would give to a plant into your everyday life. Often times we neglect ourselves and that can impact how our life plays out before us. Practicing mindfulness and self-care can help you both personally and professionally–ensuring you are always ready to perform at your best.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Sylvie Tittel

Major Exploration: Cultural Entrepreneurship (CUE)

By: McKenzie

The University of Minnesota Duluth is the home of a very unique major. Nestled in the College of Liberal Arts is a program called Cultural Entrepreneurship (CUE, pronounced like “queue”) which stands proudly within the Department of World Languages and Cultures. However, this still leaves people wondering, what is CUE?

Exploring a major in cultural entrepreneurship

What is Cultural Entrepreneurship?
This is a frequently asked question. Many folks know what “Cultural” means and what “Entrepreneurship” is, however few know what they are when the words come together to become Cultural Entrepreneurship. Cultural Entrepreneurship is much like social entrepreneurship, but what’s the distinction? Social Entrepreneurship disrupts existing systems while Cultural Entrepreneurship disrupts belief systems.

Applying the Design Thinking Model
Design Thinking is a cyclical model used for identifying, understanding, and unraveling problems. The model is used primarily in Cultural Entrepreneurship to develop products and/or services which best alleviate problems faced by the organization’s customers. Students learn to implement the process through practice in their coursework. Each semester they invest their time into projects for the Cultural Entrepreneurship Fair which allows students to have cultivated their problem-solving skills as well as given them the opportunity to produce a tangible product/service for the community.

The Process:

  • Empathize: Get to know your customers. Research what they want and what will benefit them best.
  • Define: Identify your customer’s problems based on your research.
  • Ideate: Conjure up as many ideas as possible, even if they’re outlandish. No idea is a bad idea because any idea could lead to the best one.
  • Prototype: Create representations of your idea.
  • Test: Bring your prototypes to your customers to conduct further research.
  • Implement: Actualize your product/service for your customer

Remember the process is cyclical. Repeating each step more than once isn’t just likely, but ultimately necessary. In order to build the finest product, you must work for your customer and their needs by constantly reevaluating how things could be done better.

circle graphic defining the design thinking model

Building a product/service (CUE Fair)
Cultural Entrepreneurship majors begin developing products and services early on in their college career. Students learn to implement the design thinking model and incorporate it into their process. Each semester, the CUE program hosts the CUE Fair for its students. The fair gives students the opportunity to present their work to business professionals, many of whom are based in the local community, in order to receive feedback and make connections with other entrepreneurs. Furthermore, some students will apply for the UMD Shark Tank, instead of participating in the fair, and selected students compete for money by presenting their project to a panel of professionals.

The CUE Fair event is listed each semester on the Cultural Entrepreneurship Facebook page.

Securing an internship
Internships are an important piece of the Cultural Entrepreneurship major. Many students work with local business, entrepreneurs, and startups to learn integral skills for their post-graduate careers. This work prepares students for their future careers–whether it be building their own business or following a different path.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Sources: Unsplash | Jess Watters; Nielsen Norman Group

Updated: June 2020

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:

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Joshua Sortino

 

Classic Songs That Describe Your College Experience

By: McKenzie

Being an adult is hard, but becoming an adult is harder and “the college experience” is what we label the messy journey to adulthood. As you trek the path to the being a full-fledged adult you will learn there are few things as emotionally relatable as music. Here is your college experience in the form of some of my favorite classic songs.

Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N’ Roses
It’s the first day of your freshman year. You are surrounded by other giant children pretending to know what they’re doing. You’re lost, hungry, and haven’t seen a single face you recognize in hours. You know where you are? You’re in the jungle baby. Welcome to college.

Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
You’ve made it through freshman year and are trudging through the first semester of your sophomore year. You still have no idea what’s going on. Homework is piling up. You mutter, “Every now and then I get a little tired of listening to the sound of my tears,” into your open textbook. You’re only surviving because your love from your friends fuels you to stick around.

Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
You just finished your sophomore year. Woah, [you’re] halfway there [and] woah you’re living on a prayer. You’re not sure how you made it this far, but you must keep going. [You’ll] give it a shot!

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
Here comes your junior year. You did [your] time, took [your] chances. Went the distance, now [your] back on [your] feet. Just a man and his will to survive. This is the toughest year of your life but you’re kickin’ fall semester’s butt.

Where is My Mind? – Pixies
It’s spring semester of your junior year. Time is a social construct and you aren’t sure you actually exist anymore. You’ll keep asking yourself, “Where is my mind? Where is my mind?” At this point, you aren’t sure you can actually survive another year.

Fight For Your Right – Beastie Boys
You wake up late for school, man you don’t want to go. You might still go, but you actually won’t because on a scale from 1-10 your level of care is zero. The senior slide is real. You joke that you gotta fight for your right to party, however, everyone knows you’re too old to go out and are probably in bed by 10 PM.

School’s Out – Alice Cooper
It’s done. It’s over. School’s out for summer, School’s out forever (unless you’re headed to grad school, then good luck).

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Professional Clothes on a Budget

By: McKenzie

Shopping for professional attire can be daunting when you can count how much money is in your bank account using the digits on your hands. When it comes to being job fair season it can become an even bigger stress because this is your first impression to your prospective employers. Luckily there is a cheaper way to find clothing.

Professional Dress on a Budget

Champ’s Closet
Champ’s Closet is for UMD students who need professional clothing. It was created so students in any situation could have access to clothing for jobs and internships. Students are able to make up to one outfit per semester from clothing donated by staff/faculty, maurices, and Main Stream Fashions for Men.

Thrift Stores
Duluth houses many thrift stores such as Goodwill and Savers. These stores provide shoppers with gently used clothing, which was donated by those who no longer had a need for it. Stores like these often feel like you are digging through piles, however, it is like a mini treasure hunt. You never know what you will find.

Consignment Shops
Consignment shops are a great place to get clothing. Shops like these tend to be for those who are either very fashionable or have a unique taste. While some shops can be expensive there are still plenty of them that are affordable. Be sure to not disregard the more expensive ones right away either. There can be hidden gems (especially in the clearance sections).

Secondhand Shops
Secondhand shops like Plato’s Closet are a bit different from thrift stores because instead of donations people sell their clothes to these shops. If you are short on money it might be a good idea to sell your clothing here. Secondhand shops also only accept brand name clothing so if you are stuck on a certain brand then this is your best bet.

Of Possible Interest: 

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What Employers Want You to Know at the Job Fair

By: McKenzie

Editor’s Note: McKenzie recently attended a C&IS student employee training featuring a panel of employers who regularly recruit UMD students. Here is what she learned.

Navigating job fair season can be a nerve-wracking and stressful time. Even seasoned pros get the jitters about all the career-related possibilities a job fair has in store. However, what if there was a way to ease the nerves? Turns out you are in luck because there is, in fact, a way to take on this task.

What employers want you to know at the job fair

Do Your Research
Employers unanimously agree knowing a thing or two about the company is completely awesome. It shows initiative and genuine interest in the company. When recruiters know you have an interest in the company, the conversation becomes more worthwhile and you can get better insight because of the questions you ask.

Ask Questions
If you have done your research then this one is a no-brainer. Trust me, recruiters have been giving the same spiel about their company all day so changing it up a little bit can go a long way. Not only does it help you learn more detailed information about the company, it also allows employers to gauge opportunities which may best fit you.

Recruiters Can’t Always Take Your Resume
This is a big one! I have heard it from recruiters myself. They may not be able to take your resume and this can be really confusing for students. Some recruiters can work with your resume to help you find matching jobs within the company, but even if they take your resume it does not guarantee you a position. Most companies have an online system they use for applications now so it is important to make sure you communicate with recruiters to learn the best ways to apply for opportunities in their company.

Fill Out the Entire Application
Although you may not apply for jobs online at the job fair, it is still important to remember to fill out their application completely. Many applicants do not fill out an online application to its full extent or put information such as, “see resume” and this is a really great way to end up at the bottom of the list of applicants. Be sure to fully answer questions on applications, even if it is the millionth job you have applied for today. Companies will not ask questions if they are not interested in the answer.

Dress For the Job You Want
It’s the age-old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” and it still tends to ring true. If you are attending the job fair to work in a business where you are expected to dress business casual daily then it would be in your best interest to dress for the job. It never hurts to set a good first impression.

Job hunting can feel scary, but it’s not. If you come to the job fair prepared with a plan then you are in for some smooth sailing. Whether it is your first time at fair or your last time, it is better to be there than not. You have already shown your interest by being present so get on it and get out there.

Of Possible Interest: 

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You Shared WHAT!?

By: McKenzie

Social media is a huge part of our lives. We have reached a technological point where almost everyone is advertising themselves on one online platform or another. Whether you accept it or not, your online platforms are marketing who you are to anyone who comes across your profile. This includes, but is not limited to, friends, family, peers, coworkers, and employers. While technically your social media is not something employers should not be looking at it does not mean they cannot see it. For example, I recently learned in an HR course that more and more companies are using social media to engage employees. One of the companies I work for uses a Facebook group so supervisors and employees can offer and see other shift openings all across the different company locations. This is incredibly useful, but it means that every coworker and supervisor in my company can easily access a direct link to my Facebook. I personally am not concerned since I monitor my platforms for inappropriate comments, posts, etc. I, however, have seen plenty of people who should be concerned about the content of their social media.

Social media, mobile Facebook app on phone

I will admit I am a curious person and would argue that most people are too. Having worked with many staff at one of the companies I work for, I was very curious when their profiles were being suggested as “friends” to me. It is very hard, if not impossible, to not click on a coworker’s Facebook. I have seen the all the profiles of those who I work with directly (including supervisors) as well as other staff who work at varying locations. I was amazed at what people were willing to post publicly. I felt that I gained a lot of knowledge of the people around me. Not all the information I came across was pleasant so I was shocked that it was also public. If you have learned anything from what I have just told you then I hope it is this: you should assume anything you post online is now public information. You ARE advertising yourself. Post everything you do with the mental note that anyone could see it.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo by: Unsplash | William Iven

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: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Arends

Informational Interviewing Got Me an Internship

By: McKenzie

About a year ago I came across a subject that I had never heard of before. It’s called Informational Interviewing. When I first encountered discussion around this topic I was rightly skeptical. I thought to myself, “Who would want to talk to me (a stranger) about themselves,” and funny enough the answer is: a lot of people. And so I began my journey. I’ve always been a pretty curious person. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know about people and the lives they lead. Turns out Informational interviewing is PERFECT for me.

Benefits of informational interviewing

Here’s why you should try it too:

You learn for FREE
Getting out there and talking to people is a free, interactive way to gain knowledge. You can gain insights into how people pursue their careers, in what ways they gained experience, and suggestions for how you can be a marketable candidate for a similar position.

It’s practice
You may not think it at first, but informational interviewing will help you practice for interviews in the future. For starters, you learn what it’s like to be on the other side of the table. You realize that the person interviewing might just be as nervous as you and it can be helpful to empathize with the fact that we’re all human. Secondly, informational interviews have a tendency to open a space for you to talk about yourself as well which can bring about other opportunities.

Connections are made
The interview often turns into a conversation between two professionals which can have its perks. You develop a more professional connection with the person. For example, when I conducted an informational interview the interviewee had seen my LinkedIn profile since that’s how I reached out to her. At the end of the interview, she began to ask me questions about my aspirations and career plans. After communicating my goals with her she knew of an internship position that was within my interests and suggested that I apply.

Finding a possible mentor
The biggest thing that I have gained from informational interviewing was not the internship I obtained following the interview. Although the internship was one of the best experiences I could have asked for, it was still a temporary experience. My supervisor and informational interviewee became my mentor and she continues to guide me in my professional pursuits. This is something that has continued to benefit me even though the internship has ended.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash | Carolina Bonito