The Impact of Microaggressions

By: Tony

It’s just a fact of life that you are going to come into contact with people who are different than you. Whether it be at school or in the workplace, you will inevitably end up talking to someone whose background isn’t the same as yours. Naturally, you will want to get to know each other, which is great. However, you may run the risk of committing a microaggression.

The impact of microaggressions

What is a Microaggression?
A microaggression can be described as covert or unintentional discrimination. They are words and actions that marginalize certain groups of people, even if it is unintentional. The main issue with microaggressions is that even though they may be minor offenses, they can add up quickly and seriously damage one’s self-image and make them feel as though they do not belong. Often, microaggressions manifest themselves in seemingly innocent ways whose impacts are not apparent unless their underlying implications are thought about.

Examples of Microaggressions and Implications

  • “Where are you from?” “The Twin Cities” “No, where are you REALLY from?”
    • The implication is that the second person is being identified as a foreigner and not as the group they choose to be identified with. If you are wondering about someone’s ethnic or racial identity, there are better ways of going about that.
  • “Can I touch your hair?”
    • The implication is that the body of the person who’s being asked is exotic and a target of curiosity, which is degrading. I’m sure the awkwardness of the situation outweighs the satisfaction of your curiosity.
  • “Oh, you’re Latino?! Do you know (random person)?!”
    • Not all (Latinx/Black/Asian/Native American/Queer/Muslim/etc.) people know each other. Assuming that they do gives the implication that their group is small and lacks diversity.
  • (When speaking to a person of color) “Say something in (foreign language)”
    • This implies that all people of color know a second language, which is not true. Worse, it implies that POCs are trained animals that will respond to your whims.
  • (When speaking to a POC) “You are so articulate”.
    • This implies that POCs are uneducated and unable to make intelligent conversation.
  • Blatantly using the wrong pronoun
    • Yes, mistakes happen, but if you know someone’s preferred pronouns, please use them. Mis-pronouning someone implies that you do not accept them for who they are, or at best, you do not care to listen to them.
  • Catcalling
    • The implication is that you see women as sex objects that only exist more male enjoyment.
  • “That’s so gay!”
    • The implication is that being gay is a negative characteristic.

How to Avoid Microaggressions
In my opinion, the keys to avoiding microaggressions are recognition and reflection. You must recognize when your words or actions, intentional or not, have a negative effect on others. You must also reflect on how you can improve your behavior and become more inclusive. As a general rule, if you are curious about a certain aspect of someone’s life, such as their racial identity or any conditions they may have, get to know them. If they wish to tell you about themselves, they can do so on their own terms. It may also be helpful to ask yourself why you want to know about that aspect. Is it to get to know the person better? Or, is it based on sheer curiosity?

Ultimately, modifying behavior is a personal act that you must figure out yourself, but I think self-awareness is a good starting point. With this information, you can do your part to make your classroom or workspace more inclusive and welcoming to all people.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Michal Grosicki

10 Lessons We Learned from The Office

By: Willow

I love The Office. I think it’s hilarious and I have watched it a million times. I think The Office can teach us a lot about how to behave, or not behave in an office setting. The following blog post is to show us the lessons we can learn our favorite characters.

Don’t be an idiot.
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Know how to use technology.powerpoint

Have people you look up to professionally, and try to be more like them.
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Have big dreams.
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Never stop trying.
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Don’t start a fire in your office. We learned this one two different episodes.
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Office Safety is important. Don’t do this:

Know that you’re not perfect. Don’t be full of yourself.
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Always be positive and look ahead to the exciting things in coming up in your life.
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Remember that you spend a lot of time at your office so no matter what happens, make the best of it.
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The Right Time to be a Quitter – How to Quit

By: Willow

A couple of weeks ago, part one of my three-part blog post on how to quit your job was posted, welcome to part two, How to Quit. Last time I talked about things to look for to help you figure out when it might be the time to quit your job. This post, is all about how to quit, as in how to have the meeting where you tell your boss you no longer want to work there.

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I’m sure you know that the big elaborate quitting scenes in movies are not the right way to quit your job, even if they are exciting to watch. Even though quitting that way could be detrimental to your career, it’s a good way to get your anger out, let yourself think about how you would elaborately quit your job. Practice it in the mirror or go over it in your head as much as you need to.  Act it out over and over, get all of your frustrations out, yell it into your pillow, whatever. Get your anger out at home. This is so important because you don’t want to be angry in your meeting. Maybe you’re not angry and can keep your cool, maybe you need to keep imagining you’re flipping the desk quitting scenario a few more times before you go talk to your boss. Once you have done that, you can start to plan your actual process of quitting.

When you are ready, set up a meeting time with your boss. You don’t want to go in randomly, you want to be able to mentally prepare, and you also don’t want to totally blindside your boss.

Know exactly what you are going to say. This is a big one. Don’t go in and just say “I quit see ya never.” Be prepared to have a conversation with your boss, state your reason, and say you’re resigning. Don’t say the word quitting, say either leaving or resigning, these words are less aggressive and will (hopefully) prevent your boss from getting defensive. Be prepared for some questions they may ask you, and practice answers beforehand.

You don’t owe your boss anything but two weeks notice. It is possible that your boss will try to make you feel bad, or not be satisfied with your reason for leaving. That’s not your problem, you don’t owe your boss anything, you don’t need to apologize. People leave workplaces, it’s a part of life don’t let someone guilt you into doing something that isn’t the best for you.

Don’t engage in petty behavior. We all live in the real world and know that sometimes adults, including bosses, don’t act like adults. Don’t allow yourself to get into an argument, stick to your story. If your boss says something rude and petty that makes you want to yell back, just say something like, “I am leaving because I feel this job is not a good fit for me,” or something along those lines. Don’t cave, when it doubt, repeat what you said the moment you started talking.

Eventually, it’s ok to just leave. If your boss will not stop badgering you, trying to make you feel bad, trying to make you stay, whatever, it is perfectly alright to just say, “thank you for your time, my last day will be next Friday.” You don’t have to spend an hour being yelled it.

As always, the staff at the Career & Internship Services office can help you with your transition, they can help go over what questions your employer might ask you, help you practice what you want to say, and help you get out all things you wish you could say without ruining your career.

Next time, we will cover how to act after you quit. Get excited!

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Geran de Klerk

The Right Time to be a Quitter, Part 1

By: Willow

At Career & Internship Services we strive to help students embrace their futures with confidence. We usually do this by making sure students have the tools they need to get jobs and internships. One important part of a person’s professional life, however, is leaving jobs. We usually don’t talk too much about this, but it is incredibly important and not easy. I recently quit one of my jobs and thought it could be helpful for others hear about my experience. Welcome to the first of three installments in The Right Time to Be a Quitter.

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There are so many reasons to quit a job. Here are just a few:

Moving
Obviously, if you are changing locations you probably won’t be able to keep your job, but it’s better to talk to your boss about it sooner rather than later. There may be options you are unaware of that will help you in your transition.

Health
This one can be hard. Maybe you have a physical job and you get injured. Maybe you have some mental health issues you need to take care of. Your health is so important, once again talk to your boss, they may have health resources you can use. Either way, your health is more import than your job. I know it’s hard to say that because it is not fun to think about not having a job, but if your job is affecting your health you can’t be successful in any part of your life.

Finances
Sometimes you can get more money at a different job. That is awesome, good for you. Remember to weigh all of the pros and cons of a new job including but not limited to money, if it is a good choice, there is nothing wrong with leaving a job to get more money, and there’s nothing wrong with (professionally) telling your boss that’s why you’re leaving.

Unhappy
The final reason I am going to cover is a little more difficult. Leaving because you’re unhappy. This is not easy. I know, because I just did it. It’s hard to know the right reason and right time to leave a job. When I started to think about leaving I went to my resources. The first was my mom, and she gave me some awesome advice: She asked me, “What could change that would make you want to stay?” And when I realized I could see no situation where I wanted to stay, I knew it was time to leave. I know that sounds easy, I was obviously unhappy and nothing was going to make me want to stay. But it wasn’t all bad because there were parts of my job I liked and co-workers and clients I was close with. So I found some other people to talk to.

I went into Career and Internship Services and talked with a couple of counselors there. It wasn’t the first time I had talked to them about my job and how discouraged I was. After talking through options, I once again realized that quitting was the right thing to do. I still had one more person on my list of resources, though, my closest co-worker.

Talking to a co-worker is tricky, it can be setting yourself up for failure. The last thing you want in a job setting is that your venting to your co-worker to get back to your boss, or even worse your boss hearing you want to quit from you co-worker before hearing it from you. I went to this co-worker because we were close, and I knew she would be a trustworthy confidant in this situation. If you have even an eyelash of a doubt that your co-worker might not keep your conversation between the two of you, don’t do it. It’s not worth it. I found it extremely helpful to get an opinion from someone in my situation, but be very cautious with what and how you say things to co-workers.

These were my resources, but yours may be different. No matter what, don’t quit on a whim. It is a big decision that takes planning. Fun fact, you can use Career and Internship Services for your entire life as a UMD alumni. So if you are ever thinking of quitting, you can call our office and talk to a counselor about it. It is important to remember everyone has bad days, once in a while you will come home from work crying, it’s just a fact of life. No job should make you miserable all the time, that’s the difference.

This ends the first installment of The Right Time to be a Quitter, tune in next time to learn about how to quit without, for lack of a better term, being a huge jerk and ruining your life.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Geran de Klerk

#BulldogOnTheJob: Jacob

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Jacob Froelich
Majors: Organizational Management BBA & Theater BA
Minor: Marketing
Grad Date: May 2015

Organization, title, and a brief synopsis of what you do
As of July 5, 2016, I work for City Girl Coffee Co. (a division of Alakef Coffee Roasters.) I am our Brand Development Coordinator based in the Twin Cities. Brand Development at City Girl means a lot of different things depending on the day, but generally it involves building our brand and presence in the Twin Cities through various different methods. This summer I was tasked with creating and running a Demo program, to make it easier for customers to sample our coffee before buying. I took on the responsibility of recruiting, hiring, and training brand ambassadors on our story and how to interact with customers in a grocery store setting. It was super fun! That is still my main responsibility heading into the busy holiday season, however side projects for me included conducting market research on new markets for City Girl as well as getting trained in on our sales techniques and process. More to come in the future I’m sure!

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What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role? 
While it’s hard to pick any one single experience that let me to my current position, the most direct connection with my current job would have been my internship experience I completed I completed during my Junior year at UMD. My business major and marketing minor made me a perfect fit for a Social Media Marketing internship and my time spent networking with the folks in the Career and Internship Services office was well spent when I was approached about interviewing for the position by Mary Gallet who worked in the Career and Internship Services office at the time. Mary arranged my interview and the rest is history. I interned for the company I work for now, specifically my internship was created and I reported to my current boss. While the company didn’t immediately have an opening for me when I graduated, I was approached about joining the team full-time this past spring and jumped on board without hardly any hesitation. The experiences that led me to the internship in the first place were varied. I would say it helped that I had previously visited Career and Internship Services quite a bit, had my resume up to date, and was actively seeking out an opportunity like the one I found. I believe my Marketing minor helped to demonstrate knowledge in the area the company was looking to bring someone in and I believe my Theater major helped with being personable and communicative during my interview. At the end of the day though, it wasn’t just me, job hunting really is a community effort. I’m glad I had people willing to help me. I would recommend to anyone looking for their next opportunity in a job, or otherwise, that a great first place to start, would be reaching out to your network and seeing what’s already sitting there just waiting for you.

What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
Don’t be afraid of failure. It seems that many people get caught up (and quite worried) about having everything right the first time around. I’ve found it’s much more productive to direct your energy into a choice you make and go with, rather than wasting time worrying and not making a decision. As David J. Schwartz, author of the Magic of Thinking Big once said “Action cures fear.” Take a step in the direction you want to go, even if you’re scared or nervous, take the first step scared or nervous.

As many people will readily recognize it’s not always what you know, but who you know. Smarts and experience are ultimately very important, but it’s always a good idea to take action to expand your personal and professional network whenever possible. Joining clubs and organizations and going to those sponsored lectures and lunches is actually super beneficial! You never know who you will meet and where, keep a resume on hand, or at least be willing to talk about your skills and interests at any time with a potential employer. I’d recommend taking the Myers-Briggs and StrengthsQuest career assessments, if you haven’t already, to be more in touch with your skills and interests.

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What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
Hmmm. It’s probably something I was told 50 times while in college but it seems some things you just have to go out and learn the hard way. That being, make sure to find something you actually care about. I started out of college at a technology company that by all means had the makings of a perfect career starter for young people. Great culture, good(ish) pay, and a fun team of people to work with. It checked a lot of boxes on my list and so without really investigating my other options, I jumped at the opportunity. 6 months in, and while I enjoyed going to work with my friends every day, it wasn’t enough to quench my thirst for something more meaningful to me. I feel lucky to have come into the opportunity I have at City Girl now, but definitely take your time job hunting. It will take time!!!! Start early, and make sure the places your interview at, reflect your true passions, or at least provide a path to them.

What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
Know thyself. While in college, try as many different things as you can! Find out what you love, find out what you don’t and look for those things in your future career. And if after college you feel just as lost as when you entered, know that it’s okay. Start somewhere, just go for it, life is not a race and don’t compare yourself to those around you. Compare yourself only to your previous self and take pride in your accomplishments. Love yourself, because that energy is contagious. Read the book You are a Badass by Jen Sincero if you don’t know how. And ask for help when you need it. It’s not a race and you’re not alone.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
It’s good to say yes, and it’s good to say no. If you come to an opportunity at least be open minded enough to investigate it. Jobs and careers can come from the least likely of places. And if you have an idea for a business or lifestyle, TRY IT while still in college. It’s the easiest time to try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try again.

Read other #BulldogOnTheJob stories!

Interested in City Girl Coffee? Check out their employment page.

Photo sources: Jacob & Unsplash|Drew Coffman

What I Learned as a Recruiter’s Assistant: Part 2

By: Logan

Read Part I

One of the most valuable experiences I’ve gained in my professional life, so far, was my experience as a Recruiter’s Assistant with a staffing agency. We have all been in the job seeker position and we know what it’s like. You try to get all of your professional documents perfected, you send in multiple applications in person and online, and you try to make yourself stand out from the hundreds of other applicants in the pool. I have been in both positions, the person looking for a job and the person looking to fill a position. I think the information I acquired from the other side of the spectrum has helped me gain a new perspective on job seeking.

Before I had my position as a Recruiter’s Assistant I was not sure how to make myself get noticed from all of the other potential candidates. Once I was on the other side I found it very interesting to look at what impressed me about the candidates applying for the positions we were staffing for. There were obvious big pieces that impressed the recruiters, such as presenting a well-formatted resume and having the required experience, but I found there were many small things candidates could do to make them stand out, even slightly, from all of the other candidates with the same experience.

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First of all, I learned you are already being evaluated as soon as you apply for a position. Once you hit the send button, the game begins. From the beginning you need to be sure to complete all tasks on time and as efficiently as possible. In my experience after the candidates applied online we would conduct a phone screen. I would ask the candidate questions about their experience and answer their questions about the position they applied for. Most candidates had to complete general office testing for our positions, so as soon as we finished with the phone screen we would tell them we needed them to complete the testing before our in person interview (if they were given an interview). Completing these tests on time was a very important piece. For those who did not complete it as requested it reflected poorly on them as a candidate. This is a very important piece to remember during your job search, finish any tests or additional applications they ask you to, and do it as soon as possible. The earlier the better, people who completed the testing right after their phone screen were viewed more positively than those who completed it an hour or two before our scheduled interview.

There were many other pieces that impressed me during this job. One of them being when applicants would call in to ask about the status of a job. Personally, I always hated doing this during my own job searches. I felt like I was annoying the person if I kept calling them but this is very incorrect. As a recruiter it was very reassuring when the candidate would call back. Don’t overdo it, but one call a week lets the recruiter know you are still interested and still available. One thing that always impressed me was when candidates would be slightly over prepared for the interview. We would usually just ask for a resume, but if the person came with a resume, cover letter, references, and other credentials I was immediately impressed they went above and beyond what we asked for. Another piece I found very assuring was the thank you email. There were many great interviewees who added the “cherry on top” by sending a well thought out thank you note. This always left me with a positive impression of the candidate.

There are many things you can do to help yourself stand out from other candidates. For me it was a mixture of being prompt and punctual, as well as presenting yourself as professionally as possible. Personal interactions between me and the candidates was also a big factor for me, so it is important to follow up and send thank you notes when necessary. I hope this post can help job seekers out there who are wondering why they are not receiving a call back. Use these tips, get your resume critiqued, and visit our office for a mock interview and you will be shocked at the difference it makes in the job seeking process.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Jordan Whitfield

Make the Most Out of Your Summer Career Experience

By: Kirsi

Summer Career Exp

Photo source: Unsplash | Vladimir Kudinov

From internship to summer job to Co-Op there are ways you can get more out of your experience with just a little extra effort.

Do Research

Before diving into your summer career opportunity it is wise to do some research on the company you will be working with an the position. For example, if you scored a position as a Design Intern at the new maurices headquarters downtown read into what some of maurices’ corporate goals and what a designer does. Using LinkedIn, you can connect with past and current employees with the same position. While guided imagery may seems cheesy simply visualizing yourself working in your new position can help get your prepared.

Prior to starting a internship or Co-Op it is common to get in touch with your designated mentor (if you have one). You can talk about what projects you will be working on over the summer and how you can be ready the first day. Your mentor may have suggestions on reading, training, or project-prep you can do ahead of time. If you are not assigned a mentor before your first day find one once you start! Mentors can give you feedback on your work, answer questions you may have about professionalism, and introduce you to other employees working on similar things.

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Sitting with PLUTO (Plug-in Port Utilization Officer) in Mission Control logging Extra Vehicular Activity tasks. Photo by NASA.

Set Goals

There are goals to be reached beyond getting discipline related experience and a project done over the summer.

Likely you are surrounded by professionals working on things related to what you are interested in for a future career. Make it a goal to interview folks around the organization. Ask about how they got started, why they are interested in their work, and a rewarding challenge they have tackled in their career. Don’t be afraid to ask management about their work or to shadow them for a day. While Co-Oping at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control I was challenged to meet and shadow with four or more people in Mission Operations. I learned about what it takes to send a device to space, watched astronauts receive training, and even sat in Mission Control.

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Uh oh, I was wearing khakis during an exit presentation! I didn’t know better back then.
Giving an exit pitch about work on a Solar Array Regulator circuit at NASA Glenn Research Center Summer 2013.

Another good goal is to make a meaningful contribution to the organization and share it with your mentors. The project or job pre-established before your first day may already contribute to the organization meaningfully. If you feel your first assigned task is monotonous it may simply be a test of trust, your work ethic, and if you can keep a positive attitude. It’s your job to communicate either through an exit pitch or presentation established by you how your work has been meaningful. A past Google Intern, Jon Youshaei, wrote a TIME article “10 Ways to Maximize Your Summer Internship” listing unique ways to connect with management. Youshaei suggests sending weekly recap emails to your manager, asking senior executives about having a “roundtable chat” or “lunch and learn”, and pitching new project ideas.

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Journal entries from my internship experiences.

Keep a blog or journal about your career experience! Never thought you would go back to your diary writing days? Actually, writing about your work day is a good way to digest everything that has happened, be thankful about all the good, and ruminate about ways you can improve. I have kept written journals and an online blog accounting internship, Co-Op, and tech related experiences. It was really helpful to look back to what I worked on when putting together my exit presentation!

Make it a goal to grow during your experience. Ask for and be accepting of feedback. Ask for feedback weekly or as you get things accomplished. Then apply the feedback in visible ways. Ways you can ask for feedback include; “How are ways I can improve my XXXX project?”, “How are ways I can become more professional?, or simply “How do you think I am doing?” Your organization may already have a student performance evaluation system where your work is reviewed throughout the summer.

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Photo source Olu Eletu | Unsplash

Establish Good Habits

A summer career opportunity is much like a summer long interview for a possible full time position therefore creating good habits is key to a good impression. CNBC shared “10 tips for your summer internship” that suggested interns find ways to go above and beyond, honor your word and your work, and maintain a strong work ethic. Below are some additional goals to consider.

  • Dress For Success – In the world of engineering I see a lot of folks in khakis. While that is accepted in the work place I make it my goal to dress as nice as my team lead or manager. How you dress shows how serious you are about your work. Be careful to dress work appropriate, like closed toed shoes in a lab or layers if the temperature fluctuates. This doesn’t mean that a tux or pearls is necessary but looking sharp does not hurt.
  • Arrive Punctually – Be on time! Think you can sneak in at 8:10 am? Nope, people are watching and judging. Consistently arriving on time, dressed, fed, and ready to go at the start of your work day or even a few minutes early shows that you are prepared for the work day. Carrying this habit for on time arrival at meetings is key too.
  • Be Thankful – Your level of professionalism can be measured in your respect for others and how you show thanks. If a mentor or peer has helped you out send a quick thanks email. At the end of your summer experience leaving a hand written thank you can mean a lot.

Good luck your summer career experience, learn lots and have fun!

Of Possible Interest: 

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