Tips for Balancing Work and Life

By: Rachel

It’s probably no secret to you by now that life involves a lot of balancing. College is a great example of this: you have schoolwork, keeping up your living space, possibly employment, activities, relationships, health, hobbies…it seems like the list could go on forever! While the areas of your life might change over time, you’ll likely find there will always be multiple, and making time to have a healthy balance of each of them can be tricky. College is a great time to explore what this looks like for you and adopt some practices that will help you balance work (or school) and your personal life.

Keep in mind this will look very different for everyone, and what works for someone else might not work for you. It’s really about finding a balance for yourself, and what that looks like will probably need to change over time. Here are a few tips/suggestions of places to start:

Make the most of your calendar.
Yes, a calendar can be great for keeping track of important dates or deadlines, but it can also be a powerful tool for planning your time. Block off times to finish big projects or when you’ll be working. If it’s helpful, put in the times you plan to exercise or hang out with friends so you aren’t tempted to fill that time with something else.

Image: rock stack with ocean in background
Text: tips for balancing work and life

Write to do lists.
There are tons of ways you can do this — on paper, in a planner, using an app — but I have multiple to do lists for my school projects, work goals, and personal things I need to get done. Lately I’ve been using the app Todoist. You can make different lists for different projects, classes, areas of your life etc., which I love! When I look at what I hope to get done each day, I try to pull a couple items from each list.

Set boundaries.
You might find the areas of your life blend together, and sometimes this is a good thing, but it can be helpful to have some separation. An example: a lot of people who work from home find it’s hard to feel like they’re ever really away from work. Setting boundaries can help you enjoy each part of your life. Maybe this means having a space solely dedicated to work or vowing not to do homework in your bedroom. Maybe you set boundaries with your time, such as “I won’t do work after 10 pm”, or “before 10 am”, or “after 4 pm on Friday”, whatever that looks like for you. The point is setting a boundary, and most importantly, holding yourself to it.

Have some barrier activities.
You might find it helpful to have an activity that breaks up the different parts of your life. Some people like to exercise, take a shower, or change their outfit at the end of their work day. Having a ritual can help your body and mind transition into your personal time.

Learn to rest.
I’ve found at some points, the most productive thing you can actually do is rest. Sometimes this is exactly what you need to be able to approach whatever you’re doing next as your best self, whether that’s a clear head to crank out a paper or the emotional reset to be the best friend you can be. Rest can look like calling it a night and finishing something the next morning or taking a 20-minute nap. I’ve had to learn what real rest looks like though. It’s tempting to scroll through social media or watch an episode of a show when “taking a break”, but we all know how easy it is to get sucked into spending more time than we’d like on that, not to mention it usually doesn’t help you feel more rested. Take a couple minutes and truly take a break by relaxing, closing your eyes, going for a walk, stretching, etc.

In order to have balance between the different areas of your life, there are two things I’ve found to be essential: intentionality and discipline. Make the most of the time you spend working so you don’t find it eating its way into your hobbies and personal time. Avoid distractions when doing your schoolwork so you can get it done and truly enjoy the breaks you take with your friends. This goes for your personal life too. We all have to spend some time doing things we’d rather not, but strive to fill your life with things you find fulfilling. For all this to work, you have to be disciplined. You can make a schedule of how you’ll spend your time, but if you don’t actually stick to it, you won’t experience the benefits. Make adjustments as needed, but try to to meet the goals and keep the boundaries you’ve set for yourself. I think you’ll find this leads you to a fuller life you’re happier living.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on this topic
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jeremy Thomas

Tips for Interning & Working Remotely

By: Rachel

At the end of my summer internship, I was asked if I’d be interested in continuing to work remotely once I returned to school in Duluth. As I quickly found out, working remotely can be an awesome opportunity, but it does bring some unique challenges. Whether you find yourself working remotely temporarily or more permanently, here are some tips I’ve learned in the past year to make the most of your experience:

Establish a routine. Among all the people I’ve talked to about working remotely, the most successful ones are those who stick to a routine. One of the biggest things many people enjoy about working remotely is the flexibility, and you can definitely take advantage of this, but try to set aside intentional times for work, meals, school, and personal interests. You’ll find this allows you maximize both the productivity and quality of whatever you’re focusing on.

In order to establish a routine that works for you, you’ll need to understand how you’re most productive. Do you work best in the morning or at night? Do you find your best time to exercise is the afternoon? Find what works for you and build your daily routine accordingly, recognizing it might change from day to day or over time.

Image: laptop computer sitting open on wood desktop
Text: Tips for interning and working remotely

Prepare for success. Take the time to set up a workspace and make sure you have all the equipment you’ll need. I’ve found it’s helpful to have one area dedicated to my work. Keeping this place organized and free of distractions helps me enter into the mindset to do my best work. Preparation can also be a daily practice of taking the time to get ready each day and having a morning routine before diving into work.

Optimize your work time. Some people find it’s helpful to set timers for work and break times. Personally, I try to be aware of where I keep my phone while working. When I need to focus, I’ll set it in a different room and only check it on breaks. Working remotely often requires a higher level of personal responsibility as you’re on your own, and I find lists to be really helpful in keeping track of everything I need to get done.

Connect with colleagues. You’ll probably find you need to adjust the way you communicate and collaborate with coworkers. This depends a lot on the nature of your role, but keep in mind the schedule you’ve created for yourself doesn’t necessarily align with the people you’re working with. Familiarize yourself with their routines so you know the best times to reach them. Keep in touch by checking in periodically whether that’s through an email, text, or conference call. While it can be more difficult when you aren’t there, it’s still important to stay updated on what’s happening within the company.

Make the experience fun! Motivate yourself by making your work time something you enjoy. To the extent your company allows, find some awesome playlists to listen to, create a workspace you’re excited to come to, wear what makes you happy and productive, and keep your favorite snacks on hand.

One of the biggest challenges with working remotely is maintaining work-life balance, so stay tuned for a blog post on tips for managing that to come!

Best, 
Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Internships, On the Job, Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topics
Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Photo Source: Unsplash | Kari Shea

Learning Without Limits

By: Rachel

Maybe you’ve caught on that our last few posts have been about experiences some of our student employees have had learning outside the classroom, and how we’ve pieced it all together in ways that have advanced not only our professional lives but our personal lives too. Well, I’m here to lend my two cents on the same topic.

I’ve always been a big believer in the value of education, and I think it’s something most of us take for granted. I also believe learning is even more important than education. Lifelong learning is something we’ve talked about before, but in this post, I want to share a bit about how learning can extend beyond the limits of education.

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Text: learning without limits

When I started college, I was coming off a senior year of high school where I was heavily involved in academics, multiple jobs, my community, extracurriculars, etc. To be honest, I was looking forward to the opportunity to start over and have a break from all the activities. I spent my first few months trying things out and being very conscientious about what I said “yes” to. I was intentional in the things I pursued: I knew I wanted to be involved in a faith community, so I sought that out right away. I took a job at Career & Internship Services because I was very interested in the ways they supported students. I was asked to serve on a few committees within my school and agreed, because I thought I could lend some perspective on what matters to my fellow classmates.

I never could have guessed the outcomes of the things I signed on to be a part of. I’ve learned so much about management and writing, how to craft a resume and how a school stays accredited. More importantly, I’ve learned the stories of a wide variety of people and forged relationships I never expected. I grew closer to professors who exposed me to careers I didn’t know existed. I developed skills that allowed me to land positions I truly enjoy. I’ve taken on challenges I really didn’t think I was capable of facing and surprised myself along the way.  This probably all sounds cliché, but part of the point is I learned who I am through what I was learning.

So, if I could give you a tip or two, here’s what I’d share:

  • Seek out opportunities to learn, no matter where you are. (This might be especially true right now as we all are facing many changes in our daily lives due to the coronavirus.)
  • Be intentional about what you say yes (and no!) to.
  • Search for the meaning and lesson to be learned in every experience.

If I’m being honest, now, three years into college, I’m probably more involved than I was even in high school.  But as I live and learn, I’ve realized busy isn’t always a bad thing when you’re busy with the right things. The experiences you build up during college can help you land an awesome job, but they also offer you the opportunity to learn about and shape the person behind that future professional.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles and resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Matteo Paganelli

How to Navigate Job Fair “Dead Ends”

By: Rachel

You’ve polished up your resume, put on a professional outfit, and braved a job fair. You did your research, asked a few questions, and had what you thought was a good conversation. Sometimes a recruiter will say something that makes it seem you’ve run into a dead end.  In this post, we’ll talk about some of the most common ones, and how you can navigate them.

They won’t accept your resume.
Sometimes you’ll hear an employer say they won’t or can’t take your resume. This might make you feel like they aren’t interested in you as an applicant, or you’re already weeded out of a future applicant pool. It’s important to recognize just because an employer can’t take your resume doesn’t mean they don’t want to. Many companies aren’t able to accept resumes; this might be because of government funding agreements, HR processes, or security reasons. So if an employer says they can’t take a resume, don’t feel offended or disappointed! They might direct you to apply for a position online, and be sure to ask if you can take a business card so you can stay in touch. Following up by connecting with the employer on LinkedIn or sending an email can be a great way to continue the relationship.

Image: two female college students talking with employers at job fair table
Text: Navigating job fair "dead ends"

They just direct you to apply online.
It can be frustrating to some fairgoers when employers all seem to direct you to apply online for positions. Part of the point of the job fair is to make an impression on the recruiters, but if they don’t take your resume and make you apply online, how will they remember you out of all the applicants? First off, don’t underestimate the impact of putting a face to the name for an employer. Recruiters are paying money to be present at this event, so when it comes time to evaluate the applicant pool, they are going to be looking for those who have made a positive impression. Again, this is where continuing the relationship with a connection through LinkedIn or email can be helpful. When you do apply online, you can reference the event and the specific recruiter you talked to in your cover letter.

The employer doesn’t have any positions I can apply for at this time.
You might run into this for a variety of reasons. Maybe you don’t currently meet their requirements, the timing doesn’t line up, or there aren’t current opportunities that align with your major.  When you run into these situations, keep in mind connections are never wasted. Don’t overlook the opportunity to forge a relationship that could bring a lot of value in the future. Try your best to share information of where you’re at in terms of major, timing, etc., as well as expressing your interest and the skills you have to make an impression on the representative. Also gather as much information as possible about positions that might open up in the future, skills to develop that would make you a stronger candidate, timelines to be aware of, and if there are any other colleagues you should contact for more information. Keeping in touch with the company is especially key if you run into this situation. Maintain relationships, and eventually the right time to join the organization might come along!

Hopefully this addresses some of the challenges you might encounter at a job fair. Keep in mind that what may seem like a dead end is usually an opportunity in disguise. When you’ve put in the work to prepare for a job fair, take advantage of all it has to offer!

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Job Fairs – all our blog posts on the topic
Mastering the Career Fair – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: UMD Career & Internship Services

MBA 4+1: Is it Right for You?

By: Rachel

4+1 programs are becoming more popular, as they allow students to earn their graduate degree in less time. This is done by taking classes as an upperclassman that count toward both your undergraduate and graduate degree. During my first year on campus, I was surprised to learn LSBE has a program for a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and started to consider it more seriously.

Let me say from the outset, to work towards my MBA or not was a decision I went back and forth on MANY times. It is a serious decision, and I spent a lot of time thinking about my own educational journey, my hopes for my career, and talking to professors, professionals, and trusted people in my network about their perspectives.

It’s a difficult decision to make when you’re 19 years old, as I was. You’ll hear from others that it’s more standard to work for a while first to gain experience and discern if grad school is something valuable for you to pursue. This is a valid consideration, as grad school takes time, money, and a lot of work on your part. You don’t want to put a bunch of resources into something that may not be essential down the road. But, it’s also important to realize that part of the reason the tradition of working before grad school exists is opportunities like 4+1 programs weren’t nearly as common in the past.

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Text: MBA 4+1: is it right for you?

It’s no secret that more people are pursuing masters degrees; it’s part of the reality of the job market we live in. Many people I know in the field, ranging from 3 to 30+ years of experience, said they have, wish they had, or are thinking about earning an MBA. Looking more into the 4+1 program at LSBE, it became clear to me this would be the best opportunity to earn my masters. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Not having to take or pay for standard graduate school entrance exams, such as the GMAT or GRE
  • Continuing on with excellent professors I already know and am comfortable with
  • A greatly reduced cost, as you pay undergraduate tuition for the classes you take your senior year, which is much cheaper than graduate-level tuition 
  • High quality education through an AACSB-accredited university
  • A shorter time commitment, as the masters would only take me 12 months after finishing my undergraduate degree

I also needed to evaluate personal factors, such as the value I place on education, the likelihood I would return to school later in life even if my company would reimburse some of my tuition, and career options I could see myself pursuing. It’s hard to predict what the future will bring when you’re young, but knowing myself, working towards my MBA seemed like the right path for me. I applied in the spring and started started taking electives this fall. So far, I have been really liking it. A couple reflections I have so far:

  • The workload is slightly more intense, but manageable for me. I’ve been enjoying being challenged a bit more deeply in classes I’m interested in.
  • Taking initiative, being your own advocate, and working with staff and faculty is necessary to being successful in this program. There are many wonderful people here who want to help you succeed, you just have to reach out and, sometimes, be a little persistent.
  • The program is fairly flexible and customizable to your needs. Again, working with the MBA Director and Director of Advising has been crucial to getting the most out of my studies.

There’s so much more I could say on my experience so far, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to say as I continue through the program. For now, I leave you with the encouragement to consider what path will best take you where you want to go. Maybe for you, it’s the 4+1 MBA program within LSBE. Whatever it may be, it will probably require an understanding of yourself, a bit of work, some outside perspective, and a step of courage.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Graduate/Professional School – all our blog posts on the topic
Grad School: Now or Later? – our Pinterest board filled with articles and resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Nathan Dumlao

Ideas for Lifelong Learning

In the past year, we had a regular series on our Instagram Stories titled either Monday Musing or Wednesday Wisdom (depending on the semester). These topics sprung from conversations our student employees (Eva & Rachel) were having, then they wanted to share them with a wider audience. We’ve decided to group together the topics into overarching ideas and share them here on the blog. Today we’re talking about ideas around pursuing lifelong learning.

Lifelong Learning
We tend to think of our education as a means to an end, but learning from the world around us never has to stop. Choosing to tap into the wealth of knowledge around us can be intimidating, especially once we leave the classroom. Keeping a learner’s mindset can help us grow as individuals, connect with our communities, and engage in life on a deeper level.

Here’s a list of places to start: audiobooks (try your local library for a no cost option) and podcasts; community education classes, reading a book of different genre than usual, taking lessons from someone in your community, watch documentaries, YouTube tutorials, community cultural events, town hall meetings, and the list could keep going.

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Text: Ideas for lifelong learning

Reflecting on the Word “Learn”
Sometimes we get so caught up in college that we lose sight of what it is we’re doing here and how we’ll use it outside the classroom.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far? These could be deep or light. How to be a better friend. Take lip balm out of your pocket before doing laundry.

How can you apply what you’re learning now? You do your homework and take your tests, but what are you really learning? Push yourself to consider how you can use it in your own life now or down the road. Maybe you hate that writing class, but you’ll use the skills to craft a cover letter. Time value of money might seem irrelevant, but you might use it to calculate student loans.

What’s one thing you hope to LEARN in the next year? Maybe it’s school or career related, or it’s a new skill. A part history or the world you’ve always wanted to know about? Use your resources!

Knowledge is power, and learning is a process that never ends.

Photo Source: Unsplash | Susan Yin

Tips for Growing Outside Your Comfort Zone

In the past year, we had a regular series on our Instagram Stories titled either Monday Musings or Wednesday Wisdom (depending on the semester). These topics sprung from conversations our student employees (Eva & Rachel) were having, then they wanted to share them with a wider audience. We’ve decided to group together the topics into overarching ideas and share them here on the blog. Today we’re talking about different ways you can stretch and grow outside your comfort zone.

Being a Work in Progress
We often get so focused on the end goals that we lose track of the present moment. Keep taking steps in the direction you want to go and don’t force the outcomes. Your big goals will fall into place as a result of all those mindful small steps, even if those goals aren’t the same as what you had in the beginning.

Taking Risks
In college, you’re faced with many choices & opportunities: What major? Take an out-of-state internship? Study abroad? Double major? Attend a job fair?

Economics taught me there’s always an opportunity cost. We always give up something in pursuit of another. It could be your time, money, or sense of comfort. But rather than avoid risks, I think we’d do well to learn how to leverage it.

Abraham Maslow said, “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” There will be times when the best choice is to take a moment in safety. But there are also times that growing requires a lot of courage.

Risks are going to exist either way, so don’t let them stop you from you’re meant to do.

Image: large leafed green plant on white background
Text: Tips for growing outside your comfort zone

Embracing Growth Opportunities
It isn’t always easy to admit there are areas we need to grow in. But these areas don’t make us inadequate; they’re simply opportunities for us to improve. 

You’ll have many chances in your life to attend speakers, conferences, etc. They may pop up through school, your job, or other activities. Some of these opportunities may call you out of your comfort zone, and not every one will be right for you. Remember, true growth never comes from a place of comfort. 

When deciding whether or not to pursue something, it’s helpful to first know yourself: your strengths, your weaknesses, and where you want to improve. In what ways will (or won’t) this opportunity help you grow in the right direction? Also, realize a professional event can benefit your personal life, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about an area you want to improve in, and take a brave step towards making it happen!

It’s all about becoming a better person than you were yesterday.

Not Settling
There are many areas we might settle for less than the best: final projects we turn in, majors we pursue, jobs we accept, and people we hang around. There are lots of reasons why we might do this. We “don’t have enough time.” It’s the easy option. We fear we can’t do better.

The truth is, you’re going to be the one living the life you’ve built. You’re only going to live the life of your dreams to the degree that you pursue them. There’s a time and place where done is enough, where having a job that pays the bill is necessary. But, the majority of your life will be a result of the choices you make. So make the ones that take you where you want to go!

Turn in the work and take the paths that excite you and build your confidence in the direction you’re headed. And do so boldly.

“Our problem is not that we aim too high, but that we aim too low and hit.” – Aristotle

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College; Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Photo Source: Unsplash | Josh Calabrese