Ways in Preparing for Your Success

By: David

Several weekends ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Midwest Asian American Students Union Fall Leadership Summit over at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. While at the conference, I attended a workshop related to career success led by Shane Carlin, Founder and President/CEO of Asian Student Achievement. From the workshop, I wanted to highlight two key aspects that I took away from the workshop and list out a few tips and advice that Shane wanted students to grasp while still in school.

Network During Your Time in College
For the icebreaker portion of the workshop, the sixteen of whom signed up were to partake in a networking activity. Essentially, it was a speed meet-and-greet, but the twist in the activity was that the time interval between every encounter was set at different times. For instance, the first encounter was only for 30 seconds, the second for 45 seconds, the third for 15 seconds, and so forth. At the end of the activity, Shane brought up two key points – the first one is, “What about you will people remember about you for the rest of their entire lives?” which we will explore in the next section of the post. The second point, “Network and give out your contact information. Just because ya’ll are college students doesn’t mean you can’t connect with one another.” This was one key takeaway I was able to grasp from the workshop.

To further explain, this really hit me because it made me realize that networking with other students is an important aspect of networking we usually don’t think of because we are so caught up in trying to network with professionals. Additionally, the activity made me realize that students are always networking, but we aren’t using it to our advantage. Yes, we may have these wonderful connections with other undergraduate students, but how will we use those connections to leverage in terms of career success, and at the same time, how can we help others in getting them to where they want to be.

Tell Me a Little Bit About Yourself?
Every single interview that I have been through all had the golden question, “Tell me/us about yourself.” (Just to clarify, this section of the post will not be directed at how to tackle the question step by step, rather on some ideas to consider when asked the question or when networking in general). Back to the takeaway mentioned earlier, “What about you will people remember about you for the rest of their entire lives?” This is truly a deep question and Shane suggested that we all begin by asking those close to us in what makes us unique.

To further expand on this, there are some key aspects to making people remember you for the rest of their entire lives (okay, maybe not entire lives). First off, it’s important to make sure that whatever it is you are talking about that it’s positive and unique. The example given in the workshop was that you wouldn’t want people to know that you had 60 romantic partners in the course of a month. Instead, you could talk about how you were able to overcome some form of adversity and leverage it to your advantage. This key point then typically co-exists hand in hand with the second point, don’t talk about an achievement that everyone else already has! The example that Shane mentioned was a time when he worked with a student and this student happened to be a founder of a non-profit organization targeted towards helping cancer patients. The reasoning behind the student’s motive was that they, themselves were a survivor of cancer. This story, as Shane mentions, is what gets people moving (emotionally) and therefore will make people remember you for a lifetime. The last piece to all of this then is delivering the message. Talking about one’s passion, ability to overcome adversity, or personal achievements are great things, but what’s more important is the way in which you deliver the content. For instance, consider the student who started their own non-profit, if asked in an interview think of how much of a difference it would make if they either (a) talked about the experience as if it were another achievement, or (b) enthusiastically talk about the energy and effort dedicated to starting this organization because of personal experiences. I’ll let you be the judge of that. All in all, coming up with a story or aspect about yourself that people can remember for a lifetime will be a very difficult and time-consuming process, but hopefully, these three points will help guide you in “peering into your career” on a deeper level.

Final Pieces of Advice and Tips
In closing, these are some bits and pieces of advice that I jotted down during the workshop presentation to consider and think about. Though many of these seem common sense already, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves every once in awhile in what needs to be done in terms of career success.

What can you do while still in school?

  • Develop your brand!
  • Clean up your online image
  • Build relationships offline
  • Build relationships online
  • Tailor your LinkedIn profile

Professional Tips

  • Listen first!
  • If you don’t know, ask!
  • Follow the ethical path
  • Incorporate feedback into work
  • Keep track of your accomplishments
  • Have respect and courtesy for ALL staff despite their positions

Stay tuned for my next blog post as I will be following up on these tips to further expand and explain them and why they’re important!

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A Summer Sip of Reality

By: David

Three Takeaways about the “Real” World

With autumn dawning upon us and classes shifting into gear, it’s a bit nostalgic to rewind back and recall my entire summer (don’t get me wrong, Fall is my favorite season!). During this past summer, I had the opportunity to intern with two different non-profit organizations – New Sector Alliance & Volunteers of America MN/WI and explore the realm of NPOs, which was great as I learned a lot! More importantly though, it gave me a sense of what the real world was like and what it meant to be an “adult”. So here are some random things that occurred to me as I had my “summer sip” of the real world.

A photo by Thomas Lefebvre. unsplash.com/photos/V63oM8OPJSo

Prior to my internship, one thing I prepared immensely for was commuting. Early on, I decided that I would be gas-efficient and commute via bus to and from my host site. Little did I know, a one-way trip to my host site was about an hour and a half! This wasn’t entirely bad as it gave me time to read books or process my work before and after my shift, but again, this took three hours out of my day!

Anyway, if there was one thing that I took away from this commuting experience, it’s to always plan out your commute (unless you’re an expert traveler already). I recall the anxiety I had taking the bus the first day of my internship despite planning my trip. Unlike commuting to campus everyday via the DTA in a small town like Duluth, I was extremely overwhelmed when it came to taking the city bus throughout the Twin Cities area, especially downtown Minneapolis. But regardless of what city you’ll be in when you enter the real world, just be wary of your commute whether it’s knowing your bus stop/bus number, parking/parking prices, roads (one-ways, intersections, etc.), and most importantly, an estimate of time to get to your destination.

Work Environment
As the person I am, I’ve always known that I could never work in a cubicle setting and my summer experience firmly confirmed that for me. To add on, I recognized after my internship that a cubicle wasn’t the only setting I didn’t like, but there were other aspects of a work environment that did and did not mesh well for me. For instance, with Positivity as number one for my Strength, I’m a type of person who constantly needs positivity in the workplace otherwise I feel like I am not meeting my full potential. The environment has a huge impact on me and this can range from the nature of the work, the people (whom were all lovely by the way) at the workplace, work setting, etc. All in all, a lot of the work and environment that I was immersed in was geared towards social service, which isn’t entirely bad, but did not mesh well with my strength to work in an environment with positive energy.  This experience truly opened my eyes and gave me a sense of what type of work to look for in the future and how to mesh my strengths and personality with my work. If there’s one thing I’d like you readers to take away from this, it would be to recognize the type of work, work environment, and people that connect well with your needs, strengths, and personality.

Network! Network! Network!

As the old saying goes, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. Throughout my summer, I was able to connect and network with various people ranging from leaders in nonprofits, colleagues from my cohort, supervisors & mentors from my two organizations, and professionals in the nonprofit field. It was a summer that definitely opened my eyes to all sorts of new perspectives as I expanded my network. Recognizing the importance of networking and how it is emphasized in college it was great to see networking and the benefits of networking in action this summer.

A prime example of networking was my supervisor from New Sector Alliance, who is the Program Manager for the Twin Cities branch for New Sector. Part of his work was to bring in guest presenters to lead various trainings for the entire cohort. It was amazing to see individuals from various companies and organizations come in to lead the trainings, which was always interesting. One key aspect that my colleagues and I underwent was getting paired up with a professional mentor. Again, through the power of networking, my supervisor was able to match all of us in the cohort with a professional mentor that met our preferences (we filled out a survey indicating our preferences in a mentor and got matched from there). To conclude, as a college student the concept of networking has always been drilled into me, but I didn’t realize the power behind it until seeing it in action. So again, network, network, network! Whether it’s now or later, keep on networking and expand those social circles. Read all of our networking posts.

Altogether, my summer internship taught me a lot and I’m truly thankful for the experience. The knowledge acquired makes me a lot more confident when I do take my first step into the real world. From professional tips from my supervisors to random life-lessons in the working world, I’m glad I had a taste of the real world. But in all honesty, it sure does feel good to be back on a college campus!

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Photo source: Unsplash | Thomas Lefebvre

Always Be Networking

By: Willow

A common joke in my family is a quote from my one of my sister’s professors: “Network, network, network. Always be networking, unless you’re drunk, or you smell bad.” As ridiculous as this quote is, it’s 100% true. Constant networking is one of the best ways to find jobs or other opportunities that may lead to jobs. Networking is defined by: [to] interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.

So what does that really mean? And how does one become a master networker? For me, I got lucky. I love talking to people and hearing what they do. Making connections is my thing. For others, I know it doesn’t come so easy, and that is why I created this simple guide to constant networking. Enjoy!


Networking Meme

The first step to networking is simply being friendly. I used to work with a young man who thought being rude was a good way to get people to remember him, then after they knew who he was he would rebuild his image into being a smart hard working person you would want to hire. WRONG! Honestly, that might be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. You never want to make a first impression of being rude, mean, or conceited, it might make someone remember you but you you do not want to be remembered as a jerk.

Step two is more important than you might think, learn names. It’s so easy to see someone you knew from class, a former professor, or random acquaintance and give them a nod and a little smile. Saying “Hi Leah, how are you?” helps build a relationship a whole lot better than a simple “Hey.” You will be amazed how much striking up what starts as a small talk conversation might amount to.

Step three, say thank you. In some situations this could be as simple as making sure you thank people for small acts of kindness. It can also be writing thank you notes after job interviews, career fairs, and internships or jobs. Think outside the box when you’re finding people to write thank you’s to. Write them to other interns, people you only met a few times, or just people who influenced you. It is never a bad idea to make someone’s day, so spend a little time saying thank you to anyone and everyone who helped you along the way.

Step four, use social media to network. This one is important. We all are children of the internet and that is a part of our world we can’t get away from, so be careful about what you post. If you are under 21 do not post photos of you drinking, come on, that’s common sense. If you are 21 it is obviously legal for you to drink, but remember to be classy. A photo of your Thanksgiving dinner with a glass of wine, classy. A photo of you doing a keg stand at a frat party, not so classy. Social media can be an amazing way to connect with people and network yourself, but it can also be a way to ruin opportunities with easily avoidable mistakes. Social media is an amazing way to post positive things about your life, awards, work you do, scholarships, those are all positive things to post on social media that can help you have a positive reputation.

Step five is the most important, when thinking about business relationships focus on the relationship, not the business. People can tell if you’re being fake, so be real, be kind, and make relationships that count. Talk to people, and honestly care about what they say, know that everyone you have ever met knows something you don’t, so learn from them.

I know this is not a complete and perfect guide to be the best networker in the world, but it’s a good start. I realize that this is a somewhat abstract guide and not a concrete plan, so the most concrete thing I can say is get out and talk to people. That can be face to face, through email, facebook, or thank you notes, it all works as long as there is positive communication. Keep these things in mind in your college years and beyond, and have a great network.

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U of M Guidebook and Career Fairs

By: Logan

In our age of technology, our University is finding more advanced ways of providing services to its students. In a previous post last spring, I introduced the University of Minnesota Guidebook app. I talked a little about what you can do with it and how you can get it, but that just scratched the surface of what this app can all do for students. In this post I will go deeper into the app and talk about how you can use it to help yourself prepare for the job fair season. I will explain how to navigate the app and how to use all of the services it provides.

It is now September, and we all know what that means. It is career fair season! During this time we have multiple career fairs students can attend to meet with potential employers and make business connections. Our two largest career fairs are the E-Fest Career Fair (on September 16th) for Science, Computer Science, & Engineering students and Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair (which is on October 8th). Our office works hard to get the word out about these fairs and we encourage as many people to go to them as possible. But simply going to the career fair isn’t enough, students need to know how to act at the fair, what to do to prepare, and what to do after the fair. This is where the University of Minnesota Guidebook app comes in handy. In this app you can search through the different career fairs that are happening soon. You can simply search “Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair” and you will find the guide. If you are having trouble finding it, you can come into the Career & Internship Services Office (SCC 22) and scan the code on our posters and it will automatically download the guide for you. Once you have downloaded the guide for the fair you can begin to do some research.


Before going to any career fair you will want to do a bit of background research. You should know who will be at the fair, who you plan on talking to, and what you will say. The U of M Guidebook app can help you will all of these. The app lists all of the employers who will be attending the fair.


If you click on one of the companies you can see all sorts of information on the company. It gives the company website; a small description of what they do and who they are; lists of positions available, majors and degrees they are looking for, position types, and even if they  are interviewing on-campus.


While looking at companies you can add notes. This can be helpful because you can write down any questions you might have for them and/or information you don’t want to forget after you’ve talked to them at the fair. You can also add employers to a “to-do” list (See the above photo where “Add to To-do” is listed at the bottom). This will populate the “Employers to Visit” portion of the app. Then you’ll have a list of the 10 companies you actually want to visit out of the 90 who are at the career fair.


This app will supply you with all the information you will ever need on any of the companies. This is helpful because you can read a bit about what they do and what they are looking for. This way when you meet the recruiters at the career fair you can display you knowledge of the company and you can already have questions ready for them.

This app has many other great features that can help you out during your next career fair. You can go under the “Connect” section and see who has checked in at the fair. You can also find out when information sessions and on-campus interviews are happening. My favorite part about this app is if you go to the “Prepare for the Fair” section it has pages of tips and tricks for you at the job fair. It has notes on what to do before the fair, arriving at the fair, approaching the employer, talking with the employer, following up, and more!


This app help you organize your experience and can even give you tips on how to be more professional. I think all students can benefit from this app, even if they are not attending the fair. And the best part about the app: It’s 100% free! So use this revolutionary tool the next time you are thinking about attending a fair!

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The Importance of Doing More: Before, During, and After College

By: Michael

Editor’s Note: We’re welcoming Michael back for a guest post! Check out all of his previous work on the blog from when he was a student.

As a recent graduate, I’ve spent some time thinking about what else I want to be involved in either apart from or in conjunction with my career. Since beginning high school I’ve always been what some would consider an ‘over-achiever,’ but I like to take the negative spin off of myself and reduce it to just ‘achiever’ (see StrengthsQuest). Achiever has always been to me the most fitting aspect of my personality as well as what I consider a valuable trait that employers strongly consider when looking for new employees. I’ve mentioned before how important these ‘extra-curricular’ activities are and how they look good on a resume, but there’s more to it that I want to address for you today.

Now think to yourself, what are the benefits of being involved in more than just school and work? Being an active participant in volunteer work, community programs, sports, and student organizations are all beneficial activities anyone can find an interest in if they find the right group or cause. Below are my top reasons for becoming more involved:

You develop applied skills in a way you just can’t get sitting at a desk

From my experience, being involved in political organizations and leadership roles both early on in high school and during college helped me develop communication and public speaking skills better than I ever could have developed from the one public speaking class I was required to take my freshman year of college. I used to be the kind of person who was deeply terrified of speaking in front of a crowd. My junior year of college I wound up giving policy recommendation and testimony to a congressional audience in Washington D.C. during an internship that required a combination of public speaking and research skills that I primarily got from being involved in extra-curricular activities such as MPIRG (Minnesota Public Interest Research Group) and SLC (Student Legislative Coalition).

Doing More

You have unique opportunities to network and connect with others in your field of interest

During my last year at UMD, I became (and am still presently) involved with the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce College Connect program. This program matched me to a mentor in my field or area of interest who I meet with on a regular basis and attend the college connect events which involve activities such as volunteer work, networking, and professional skill development. I would strongly recommend to anyone approaching their graduation to consider joining this organization or something similar. The program and my mentor have given me some of the most direct and applicable advice and tips for post-graduation than anywhere else. This is a program that transcended my completion of my student career at UMD and has also sparked my interest in becoming a member of the Chamber in the near future to be more involved in my community.

The work is fulfilling and can (and often does) involve helping others

One of the things that first attracted me to certain extra-curricular activities was the opportunity to volunteer and do charitable work that helps others. Before graduating high school I was awarded a medal for volunteering 130 hours of my time to volunteer work my senior year of high school. I continued through college working in programs that raised money to help the homeless and raise awareness for other social issues such as LGBT rights and issues relating to foster youth and adopted youth. The most fulfilling part is getting to meet the people you help and hearing their stories. I learned during my time in D.C. how strong people can be and how meaningful it is to be a part of the bigger picture.

You can better develop and understand your own interests

I discovered I wanted to be an accountant because of my busy-minded nature, knack for number crunching, and interest in the business/economic side of life in general. I came to this conclusion based on an amalgamation of experiences all developed through extra-curricular activities that I have been a part of for years. I’ve mentioned before the importance of knowing yourself when presenting yourself during an interview and here, in this blog post, are the best tips I can give on how to get there.

Still not convinced? It’s not surprising. Most people grow up to where you’re at today being told countless times the importance of school and good grades, but sometimes people forget to talk about doing more than just that. Maybe it’s because when it comes to work, many people don’t like to think of doing ‘more,’ but it is that precise reason why doing more is such an indication of ambition and drive that employers rank it one of their top reasons for offering an interview to a candidate. Doing more is an intriguing quality that anyone has the capability of achieving. Think about how easy that interview will go when you have all that experience added to your background to talk about! This strategy has helped me and countless others I know and have worked with at some point in time. With that in mind, also know that doing more doesn’t have to end in college. Transitioning into your career or into post-graduation provides so much more opportunity at a much broader level so why not start now while you can still get your feet wet?

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Benefits of Job Shadowing

By: Ashley

You hear so much about internships, part-time jobs, and volunteering as ways to learn the skills you need to further yourself in the world of full-time employment after graduation. A less talked about option is that of the job shadow. You might be thinking that job shadowing is like bring your child to work day stuff, but it is so much more. Job shadowing helps provide the answers to the big questions like “can I see myself doing this as my career?” or “what does it really take to make it in this field?” It helps give a realistic view into all the things involved in the job you’re shadowing. You can observe the job characteristics, responsibilities, and environment and see how they match up with your personality and your ideals. You get to learn firsthand what it takes to make it in the field from the people who know it best, working professionals. I chose to write about this topic because I had the wonderful opportunity this past summer to job shadow in the St. Mary’s Pathology Lab. I gained insight and learned so much that I thought I would share my process of getting my position. My situation started out as a want to volunteer and grew into something so much better.

job shadowing

As many students know, you can volunteer at St. Mary’s Medical Center to get some hands-on experience. This is why I went to their volunteer services and sat down with Joy Miller to discuss where in the hospital would be the most beneficial for me to volunteer. It became apparent, to Joy, early on in our discussion I wanted to work in a lab and that volunteering in the lab would be the best fit; unfortunately they didn’t have volunteer positions in the laboratory. I told Joy I would be content volunteering anywhere in the hospital but I expressed how amazing it would be to see the inner workings of the lab at St. Mary’s. Seeing how invaluable it would be to get experience in the lab Joy went out of her way to set up a meeting with the lab director and before I knew it I was job shadowing in each department of the lab over the course of the summer. I gained insight into the environment of the lab and I also got to experience the types of test that are run. I got to see the process of how the sample goes from patient to lab to doctor. It really enforced my dream of becoming a medical laboratory scientist. I also met and connected with some wonderful professionals in the healthcare field and even acquired a recommendation out of it that I think was essential to my acceptance into my post-certificate program at Mayo.

As you can see, job shadowing has many perks alongside gaining experience. So now you may be wondering how you too can get involved in job shadowing. I think a key step in the job shadowing process is conducting an informational interview with the employer, like what I did with Joy. I think the informational interview is essential because it allows you to get to know the employers in a low stress atmosphere and build on your ever growing network of contacts who could help you get a job in the future. Of course in order to arrange an informational interview with a contact you need contacts and that is where networking comes into play. Ask your fellow peers about places where they have shadowed and networking events they’ve attended. If you are interested in finding and setting up a job shadowing position I suggest setting up an appointment with a career counselor to discuss and explore your options and to look at our career handbook where there are helpful sections on both networking and informational interviews.

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Finding a Networking Style by Expanding Possibilities

By: Sherrill (Career Counselor/Guest Poster)

Often when people think of networking they picture an evening event with 200 or so students and professionals mingling in business attire while balancing plates of intriguing looking hors d’oeuvres. This is one approach, and there are a variety of options for students to expand their network, learn about interests, and seek out new experiences. We are here to help you prepare for large scale and smaller scale networking opportunities!

Networking Possibilities

Here are just some networking suggestions, and you are encouraged to find ways to network that make you feel comfortable and boost your confidence.

Attend a speaker presentation or information session on campus. Introduce yourself to the people seated around you. Introduce yourself to the speaker afterwards and ask a relevant question.

Get to know your classmates. Fellow students may hear of opportunities that are not a fit for them, and they are more than happy to share the information. Do the same for others when you hear of opportunities.  

Take advantage of professors’ office hours. This is a time to get to know professors outside of the classroom. Professors may be more inclined to write letters of recommendation for you down the road if they know you outside of the classroom.

Build an effective LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn Drop-In hours (every Thursday, 2-4pm, in SCC 22) are available for assistance in developing a LinkedIn presence. Create a positive, consistent social media presence across several platforms.

Complete informational interviews. Students repeatedly report that these are helpful. Informational interviews allow a student to sit down with a professional in a field of interest and learn more about the career path prior to seeking out internships or jobs.

Attend job & internship fairs early. Attending job & internship fairs as a freshman or sophomore has advantages. Employers remember students who express interest in a company multiple times.

Invite a connection or potential connection out for coffee. Learn about their career path and share your career interests. This can be a casual yet still professional way to develop connections.  

Networking is more genuine and productive if it takes place before the individual actually needs something. Words of advice: start early!

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