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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How to Make Your Life Legen-wait-for-it-DARY!

By: Katie

Oh, How I Met Your Mother. A show for when you’re bored, when you want to veg out for half an hour, or when you need a little pick-me-up at the end of the day. To celebrate HIMYM and all the lovely times it has given us, here are a few lessons I learned from the show on how to make your life legen-wait for it-DARY!

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Don’t be the blitz.
Say yes to new opportunities. You never know what class you’ll actually love, what activity will give you some direction, or what experience might be life-changing. If you don’t say yes and try new things, you might miss out on gaining a valuable experience or being part of an awesome story.

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Think about the front porch.
Front porch-worthy friends are the best friends. If you can see someone being in your life years in the future, work hard to keep that person around. On the flip side, if you don’t want someone in your future, just cut them loose. It’s okay to be picky with your inner circle. Some relationships are toxic, and you don’t need that in your life.

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Just go to bed!
Nothing good happens after 2am – a classic HIMYM lesson. You think you need to pull an all-nighter to study for that “super-important” test tomorrow? You probably don’t. You think it’s a good idea to sleep a grand total of 20 hours throughout the week? It’s not. Getting straight A’s or playing 10 straight hours of League of Legends (I’m looking at you, roommates) isn’t that important. Just go to bed.

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Don’t cling to the past.
The years of starting college, graduating, and moving on to whatever is next are exciting, but also a little frightening (take it from the graduating senior). The unknown is scary, but holding back or pausing your plans to live in the situation you find comfortable or familiar isn’t the answer.

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Wait for it…
Sometimes, you’re just going to have to wait for it. The things you want most often won’t come easily, and if they do, you might need to set higher goals. Keep on working for what you want, and eventually, your waiting will be rewarded.

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Bringing the Magic to Life: What Harry Potter Taught Me About Myself

By: Katie

In a previous post, I talked about the lessons I learned about others from reading and watching Harry Potter. Now, I will look at the wisdom of Harry Potter through what it taught me about myself.

Living in a cupboard isn’t fun.

I mean this literally, but figuratively as well. It’s easy to feel confined by the walls you or others have built around you, but those walls shouldn’t become your prison. It’s easy to hide parts of you or not acknowledge them to others out of fear of rejection, embarrassment, or regret, but no one deserves to live cramped and uncomfortable inside a cupboard with a ceiling that sprinkles dust on them when people walk overhead.  Hiding yourself seems like the easier option at first, but it’s likely going to hurt you as time goes on. Whatever it is you’re hiding, whether it be that you turn into a werewolf at the full moon or something a little less extreme, that thing doesn’t define you, so don’t let it dictate how you live.

HP Quote

Don’t be afraid of your darker parts.

Fun fact: J.K. Rowling created dementors as a metaphor for depression. For her, these haunting figures represented a very real darkness she had experienced in her life. Everyone has experienced darkness, whether that darkness has passed or it follows them around, sucking all the joy out of their world. For many of us, the instinct to ignore or hide from such parts is natural. However, these parts of us are just as important to who we are as the parts we love. Whether it be something you aren’t proud of, a secret you’re holding, or something difficult that has happened to you, these things can build up in precarious piles around the edges of your life until they inevitably fall down on you. Instead of waiting for them to collapse, embrace the darker parts of you and your life. Confronting the cobwebby corners of your mind forces you to acknowledge difficult things, yes, but through the process, you learn that those things have helped make you who you are. Take a note from Rowling and banish your darkness with a patronus charm. Or, you know, a more muggle-like coping mechanism. Whatever works.

Don’t sacrifice your values.

If you’ve ever been in a position which required you to forego your values to meet expectations or requirements, you know it isn’t easy. And if you’re like me, it’s painful. It’s easier to cave in and follow expectations, no doubt, but there are times when obedience isn’t the answer. Consider our favorite magical trio. Harry, Ron, and Hermione chose to begin Dumbledore’s Army to fight against the restrictive and ineffective teaching policies of Hogwarts during the Umbridge days (shudder). If you’ve seen the movies or read the books (and if you haven’t, stop reading this now and go do that), you know this endeavor wasn’t without challenges or consequences. However, the students’ magical training helped keep them alive. While the related situations in your life probably aren’t of life or death importance (and if they are, I would advise you to stop reading this now as well and seek help instead), this same idea applies. It may be easier in the moment to do something you don’t believe in, but the regret that may come later just isn’t worth it.

The challenges, failures, and successes of the Harry Potter characters may be more magical than the ones we face (unfortunately), but they still can provide us with lessons we can apply to our own muggle lives. In my next and last post in this series, I will talk about the lessons the wizarding world taught me about success.

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Bringing the Magic to Life: What Harry Potter Taught Me About Others

By: Katie

I’ve always loved Harry Potter. As a kid, I loved the magic of it, and longed to be a part of that world. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate different parts of the story my younger self couldn’t. Harry Potter is a story about witches and wizards and the cool spells they cast and evil villains they defeat, sure, but it’s much deeper than that. Harry Potter and the magical world he lives in can provide us with valuable lessons about others, ourselves, and our lives.

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To start, I’ll outline a few of the most important lessons Harry Potter taught me about others.

No one is simple.

First impressions are important, and their effects are enduring. Your gut instinct can be a useful tool in discerning “good and bad,” or “right and wrong.” We know these are true, but it’s also true that the impressions and ideas we have of people can be false, or at least oversimplified. Draco Malfoy, when taken at face value, was a cruel bully working for the dark side. This impression, while admittedly not inaccurate, doesn’t reflect the fact that Draco was raised in a family that not only encouraged, but basically forced a cruel and aggressive treatment of others. In order to be “good,” Draco would have had to oppose his family and everything he’d been taught, not to mention He Who Must Not Be Named. Maybe Draco would have been the hero of the story if raised in a different environment, but that’s not the life he was given. While circumstance isn’t enough to justify cruelty, Draco’s story is a perfect example of why we can’t rely on a person’s outward appearance or interaction with others to determine their true character.

People may surprise you.

In the same way that we can’t always rely on our impressions or on a person’s behavior to determine their “goodness,” we can’t always rely on our past experience with them to predict what we will see of them in the future. Kreacher, the house elf that was bound to serve the Black family, didn’t attempt to hide his hatred for Mudbloods (and Hermione, by extension), Harry, and anyone who associated with either, and did whatever was in his power to resist helping them. He was a character who was easy to hate and appeared to be one with no redeeming qualities. However, Kreacher eventually changed his tune, and showed up to fight against Voldemort and the Death Eaters at the Battle of Hogwarts. Based on Kreacher’s past, no one would expect him to fight against the side he had been loyal to throughout his life. Kreacher’s character development shows that if we allow for the opportunity for people to surprise us, they just might end up fighting evil with us (or, you know, a difficult class…same thing).

You need others.

Harry was always a brave and courageous person, willing to fight the battles of the wizarding world all on his own. Bravery, courage, and independence are certainly positive traits to possess, but there comes a time when the desire to do it on your own needs to be suspended and you need to turn to your support system to help you out. Harry couldn’t have accomplished what he did without the support of others, particularly his partners in crime, Ron and Hermione. They never left his side, stuck up for him when others challenged or questioned him, and helped him fight any dementors or death eaters or obnoxious classmates who crossed his path. It is essential to build and maintain a quality support system – a group of people who complement who you are, are stronger where you are weaker, and who are able and willing to do whatever they can to help you succeed.

With the world of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling created a set of rich, complex characters whose stories can provide a guideline of how best to interact with and understand those around us, whether they be friends, enemies, or strangers. In future posts, I will look at more bits of wisdom Harry Potter taught me.

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Finals Week Prep

By: Willow

It’s that time again. Finals are coming, we all see them around the corner. Creeping up on us, ready to make us miserable. So, here is a little meme encouragement, from Bob’s Burgers to you.

You know how it is, the initial realization of how much work you have to do.

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You decide you have to lock yourself in your room, only coming out for class and the occasional bathroom break. You’ve failed at this before… But this time it will work!

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You start thinking about giving up, getting a labor intensive job and leaving this whole school thing behind. But you can do it!

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But then you look over at your friend who has two more exams than you do and they’re both at 8 am!!!!!

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All of that aside, it’s time to get down to business. You can do this. I know you can.

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Make a list and prioritize what you’re going to do first, listen to some pump-up music and make up your mind to get stuff done.

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Work hard, and don’t let anyone interrupt you.

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Alright, it’s time. You are walking into your first exam. Take a deep breath, you can do this.

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Hopefully that first one went great, but if it didn’t keep your head up. You still got this!

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If you’re still feeling low, remember who you are, and that who you are is amazing.

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You’re almost done!

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Finally you’re done! It’s summer! You did it! I knew you could!

Now go relax.

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The Katy Perry Guide to Picking Your Major

By: Willow

If you are anything like me (and for your sake I hope you are because I’m awesome) you have had a lot of trouble picking a major. It’s hard. How do you know what you want to be forever, when you’re 18? I sure don’t and you know who else doesn’t? A lovely little lady by the name of Katy Perry. The following is a guide to picking a major, according to the one and only Katy P.

Katy Perry Choosing Major

First thing to do when you’re thinking about a college major is to consider what you love. Don’t focus on a career, focus on what you love.

Use Your Love

After you figure out what you love, figure out who you love. Maybe you love teaching, but hate people under the age of 12, then you’ll probably want to go into secondary education rather than elementary ed. I think too often we think only about what we want to do and not who we want to do it with. Both are important.

Who Am I Living For?

Try everything you’re interested in. Maybe you think you want to be a geologist but that one class in Native American Studies made you decide otherwise. You’ll never know if something is right for you until you try. It’s far better to take an extra class than spend your whole life wondering if you would have been better off as a professional actress.

The One That Got Away

Remember no one has the right to judge you on what you like. If you want to create your own super specific major that no one else understands, do it. Don’t let anyone make you feel like a plastic bag, if you only knew what your future holds, after a hurricane comes a rainbow. You’ll figure it all out, I promise, don’t listen to the people who tell you not to do what you love.

Firework

I think it’s very true when people say if you find something you truly love you never work a day in your life. Find that. Find what you love unconditionally, and never let it go.

Unconditionally

It’s really ok to change your mind, there is no harm in it at all. This may be during your undergrad years, or later in your career. My mom has a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and now works in Human Resources. My dad has a PhD in Palynology (the study of pollen) and now owns a poultry farm.

Hot N Cold

Of Possible Interest:

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Career Lessons from Lord of the Rings

By: Ashley

About a year ago I wrote a blog post on the lessons learned from Disney movies, this time around I thought I would write about lessons learned from something more near and dear to my heart, the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. A few of the lessons that correlate with Tolkien’s novels that I have learned over the course of my time here at UMD as an undergrad are:

LOTR Lessons

Say yes to adventure

I think the most obviously benefit for Bilbo Baggins on saying yes to his adventure was that he ended up making off with a large sum of treasure but he also found friendship with many dwarves and elves of Rivendell. I think college is a once in a lifetime experience, these 4 or 5 years are years where we discover who we are and who we want to be and I think we often get caught up in the stress of it all and forget that now is the time to take chances and go on adventures. If you have the chance to study abroad do it, I didn’t and I think it could have been a blast even if it might have ended up adding on an extra semester, who knows maybe it wouldn’t have but what could hurt from going to the International Education Office (IEO) and inquiring about opportunities overseas? Go out and find an internship or volunteer, even if it doesn’t relate to your major, maybe you will find a new passion you didn’t even know you had.

It pays to have friends

Throughout The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy Frodo and Bilbo were helped out of troubling situations by their friends. Many times Gandalf saved the day, and without Samwise, Frodo would have never gotten the One Ring to Mount Doom. If I had not met my wonderful friends I would have probably ended up never exploring the city of Duluth the way I have and would have never made the memories I have over the years without them. Stay true to your friends and keep them close because you never know when you will need them or they will need you.

Never lose hope and never give up

Even though you might not get the first job, internship, or grad program you apply for that doesn’t mean you should cut your losses and give up. In The Return of the King at The Battle of the Black Gate Sauron’s army was defeated and the battle was won, but victory seemed hopeless and by the means of the destruction of the One Ring by Frodo, Middle-Earth was saved. The Fellowship never gave up and in the end they succeeded, but not without shedding a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Figuring out what you want to do with your life and finding the right workplace for you isn’t meant to be a walk in the park, it takes perseverance, hard-work, and it means not being afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Learn how to defend yourself

Just like Legolas had his bow and arrow, Gimli had his axe, and Bilbo and Frodo both had Sting, you too need to learn how to defend yourself. I don’t mean to say you need to learn karate or go buy a sword; what I mean to say is that as an undergrad entering the work force the best weapon you have at your disposal is your resume. Being able to present your skills and experiences helps demonstrate to future employers what you have to offer. Making sure your resume is up to date before applying for jobs is just as import as checking your chainmail before you head off to battle.

To experience great things, you have to leave your comfort zone

Just like Bilbo and Frodo both left their comfortable lifestyles at Bag End, we made a choice to leave our hometowns to come to Duluth and have the college experience. By choosing to go on their adventures both Bilbo and Frodo got to meet amazing people and do amazing things and in the end they got to sail to the beautiful Undying Lands with the elves. Even though we may not be meeting dwarves or saving Middle-Earth, we get to discover who we want to be, what we want to do with our lives, and get to make wonderful and lifelong friends. In order to make these friends, to gain insight into potential jobs by volunteering or interning, and to get to know the wonderful city that has, for me, become a second home, you have to step away from the familiar and safe and take risks. Like Bilbo says in The Fellowship of the Ring “it’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

These are just a few of the lessons I learned from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels that apply to my life as a college undergrad and soon to be college graduate. I hope this post was as inspiring as it was entertaining, I hope everyone is making new friends, defending themselves, and setting out on new adventures because that is what college is all about!

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