When Good Things Have to End

By: Kirsi

Way back in January 2016 I started my work study position as a Peer Educator in UMD’s Career and Internship Services (C&IS). The semester before, I was looking for a work study position that would give me a break from my technical work and saw a Tweet about the Peer Educator position. Seven semesters, four years, and 2000+ resumes later, I am wrapping up my time as a Peer this semester. I have completed a lot, learned a lot, and shaped my future while working in C&IS.

Kirsi & Ellen filming for Love Your Major.

What I Did
One of my greatest weaknesses is making assumptions. I assumed that all I would do as a Peer Educator is review resumes and do homework when there was no resumes to review. Reality check, there is almost always resumes to be reviewed; dropped off, submitted on GoldPASS, collected from classes, or brought by students during drop-ins. If there was not a resume to review, C&IS puts Peers to work on projects – to advance the office’s mission, to grow your strengths, and match your interests. 

My favorite project I worked on as a Peer was implementing, “Love Your Major,” a retention initiative made possible by a grant from Strategic Enrollment Management. I challenged fellow students with the question, “Should I choose, change, or embrace your major?” The goal of Love Your Major was to encourage students to think about their major over the summer, so they could hit the ground running in the fall. The target audience was all returning students who would start their sophomore year fall 2017. Students received information about how to choose, change or embrace their major by mail, email, and social media. I hosted weekly interactive Facebook Live events. I interviewed fellow peer educators on how they choose their majors, described how Career & Internship Services can help students pick their major, hosted Q&As with career counselors, and gave an office tour of Career & Internship Services. It was extremely fun to mix web design with social media, with career outreach.

C&IS carefully collects data on where UMD alumni work six months to a year after graduation. I have edited, modified, and updated almost every webpage related to that data to insure that the public has the most accurate information. Learning about where alumni from each major go after graduating was interesting and I encourage everyone to take a look at that data.

letterboard down on table with letters everywhere
Sometimes, things have to get knocked down & put back together.

What I Learned
During my first year as a STEM major, I held a toxic elitist view on what majors are and are not meaningful. After working with Peers of other majors, learning about what alumni from other majors do after graduating, and hearing goals from students of other majors my mind was opened and changed. It was fascinating to learn the goals of each collegiate unit on campus, learn about each major, and hear about students’ career aspirations during resume reviews. I am thankful for how fun, cool, and supportive all of the fellow Peers I have worked with are! Enjoyment in office and extracurricularly. 

I had a morale break down one semester not far from graduation. I wanted to drop one of my majors, petition out of engineering senior design, overload a semester with classes, move to Arizona, and work at Taco Bell. I am not exaggerating, this is simply what I wanted, and I was serious about it. Fortunately, the C&IS work environment of being submerged in a sea of counselors snuffs out crises quickly. I am completing both majors (in less than three weeks), staying in Duluth until I do, and had an extremely positive senior design experience. I am thankful for C&IS’ supportive senior staff!

2019 calendar on wall
Counting down to graduation.

What I’m Doing Next
Early this winter I will be working full-time at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. This has been a multi-year long journey and still feels unreal. Our Peer supervisor suggests that working at NASA will feel real once I have been their longer than my longest Co-Op stint. In the far future I can see myself continuing my career in space exploration, becoming a K-5 teacher, and/or intentionally working at Taco Bell. I am confident about my future because of all of the love and support C&IS has shared with me.

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Photo source: Kirsi

Tips For Surviving Junior Year

By: Heidi

For my last blog post of my Junior year of college, I thought a reflection would be fitting to wrap up the year. Junior year has by far been the most challenging year academically and also learning to balance everything as a whole.

I went from taking my lower division courses that weren’t really related to my major sophomore year, to jumping into upper division courses this year. I had no job my sophomore year and spent the majority of this past year working two. I hadn’t had any leadership roles freshman or sophomore year and ended up in three different leadership positions in student organizations and eventually had to close the chapter to one of them.

It has been a year of balance or trying to figure it out, to say the least.

Tips for surviving Junior year

Take care of yourself. Not just self-care every once in awhile, but every day. Self-care comes in different forms for everyone but find what works best for you.

Small chunks consistently. It’s a lot easier to accomplish a task if you work on it in chunks rather than trying to study or work on a project for 8 hours straight. Honestly, within an hour or two you’re going to find yourself distracted and won’t be able to focus to the best of your abilities. It’s not easy to plan ahead but it will save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Snacks!! They will get you through the long days. There are a few vital things I have learned to keep on me throughout the year. My go-to’s have been oven roasted dark chocolate almonds (brain food), green tea (perfect amount of caffeine for a midday pick me up), and a pack of gum (just necessary). No matter what your snack of choice is, it will help keep you fueled so instead of thinking about how hungry you are, you are able to focus and get the job done.

Take advantage of the opportunities campus has to offer. Whether it’s job fairs, on-campus interviews with recruiters, info sessions, or special guest speakers, make an effort to not only attend but be active and engaged in these events. The campus puts on a lot of stuff for students, so use it to your benefit!

Relax. The responsibilities are endless. It’s ok to take breaks, it’s ok to go see that new movie, it’s ok to just hang out with friends and do nothing. There will always be something to do and something you could do. This goes right along with taking care of yourself. One of the benefits I have learned from this is that taking time away from homework allows me to collect my thoughts and come up with new and often better ideas. This goes right into my next point.

Exercise! The idea of it may be grueling, but find some form of fitness or way to get your body moving! We all know there are many benefits to exercising, and some are more important to certain people than others. One of my favorite things I have discovered is that working out really helps me process my thoughts and work through my emotions. I have toyed with exercising in the morning before school but what I have ultimately found is that after school or evening workouts not only work better for my schedule but my well-being as it helps manage minor stresses I may encounter on a day-to-day basis.

Whether you’re graduating, or finishing up your freshman year of college, take some time to reflect on your experience. What went well, where can you make improvements, and how you can implement these skills and ideas into your future. Reflect now and be prepared for the future.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash | Denys Nevozhai

Undergraduate Reflections

By: Tony

As the last weeks of my time as an undergraduate student at UMD approach, I wish to take this time to reflect on these past four years and talk about my successes and a few of my regrets.

Freshman

My plan coming into UMD was this: I would give it a shot here, and if I didn’t like it, I could easily transfer to the Twin Cities campus and be closer to home. Clearly, that did not happen. Instead, I quickly found myself deeply involved with the Latinx/Chicanx Student Association (Then called Latino/Chicana Student Association) and became fast friends with all of its members. A few weeks later, I ran for the Freshman Representative position on the Executive Board and was elected. That was the beginning of my involvement as a student leader on campus. Like most other freshmen, I had no idea what I was doing, and I got lost more often than I would like to admit. Luckily, by the time spring semester came around, I had a decent knowledge of the layout of UMD, and I knew the basics of how to get through college successfully. That year, I also began texting with a girl who went to school in Mankato with a few of my friends from back home. I also lived on-campus and had a meal plan, and so my immediate expenses were so low that I did not see a need to get a job. In hindsight, I wish I would have had the foresight to work a bit and be able to save up the money.

3 students sitting at table

Tony, Emilie, & Eva in the Career Resource Center

Sophomore

My sophomore year was rather uneventful compared to the previous one. I served as a red RockStar during Bulldog Welcome Week, and that was an amazing experience that resulted in me losing my voice for a few days after yelling for several days straight. Outside of that and a few tours facilitated by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I did not get much experience with being a student leader during my sophomore year. Luckily, that was compensated with better grades than I earned the year before, although that could easily be chalked up to having more experience with college classes in general. I also grew deeper friendships with my peers in LCSA and the Multicultural Center as a whole. Even though I was not an official student leader in the MC, my efforts to benefit marginalized students was recognized, and I was nominated and ultimately selected to serve as the Diversity and Inclusion Director for Student Association (student government) the following year. Additionally, I ran for a position on LCSA’s Executive Board for the following year and I got that position as well. That summer, I moved in with a few of my friends from LCSA to an off-campus house. Although I faced a lot more immediate expenses, with rent and utilities, I am actually paying considerably less out-of-pocket now than I would be paying through scholarships and student loans if I still lived on campus. Plus, having my own room is really nice. Much like the year before, I have regrets of not having the foresight to put myself in a better financial situation. I wish I had searched for a job and applied for scholarships outside of UMD.

Student at job fair

Tony at the UMN Job & Internship Fair

Junior

For the second time, I had the honor of serving as a RockStar during Bulldog Welcome Week. Early on in the semester, I also began dating the girl whom my friends in Mankato introduced to me during freshman year, so my year got off to a very good start. Holding leadership positions within both LCSA and SA were both amazing experiences that allowed me to further my advocacy and leadership skills. During the spring semester, I began working for Career and Internship Services as a Peer Educator. Serving as a Peer Educator has given me the opportunity to serve my fellow students in a new capacity. It has given me the chance to advise them on how to present themselves in the best way possible and how to better understand the qualities they have that will serve them well in their academic and professional lives. One thing I do regret from this year is not putting forward the effort to figure out if I could add a sociology major and still graduate on time. I kept thinking about asking, but I never actually did it.

Team of student presenters

Kyliah, Meg, Joel, Sherrill, & Tony presenting at UMD’s Summit on Equity, Race, & Ethnicity

Senior

For the third and final time, I served as a RockStar during Welcome Week. Naturally, this year has been full of doing things for the final time. A great deal of my time has been spent planning for my future and figuring out what I will do once graduation comes around. In the Fall semester, I studied for and took the GRE, a standardized test very similar to the ACT that most graduate schools want to see the scores from. At the same time, I also began looking at graduate schools back home in the Twin Cities, where I planned on living after graduation. Spring semester has entailed applying to those schools and looking for employment for the summer and more long-term. All of this, in addition to finishing strong with my classes, has been quite stressful over the past few weeks, but the support from my job, family, friends, and especially my girlfriend, has been amazing and is getting me through it. I have enjoyed the past four years here at UMD, and although I have had some regrets along the way, all the positive experiences and great lessons have greatly outweighed them. I’m definitely going to miss it here.

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Looking Towards Senior Year

By: Logan

For my final blog post of the semester I decided to reflect on my junior year here at UMD and what I have learned. This past year has been a great learning experience and I am very excited for my senior year. Although I’m excited, it is also bittersweet. I’m excited to get into my most applied classes, but having to face the reality of the real world can be intimidating. I know no matter what I do, I will try to make the most out of my years here at UMD and I will try to make as many memories as possible.

My Junior year has been an interesting year so far. I have involved myself in new organizations, made new connections, and took the most credits I have taken in my collegiate career. One thing I have learned this year is that it is important to involve yourself in as much as possible early on, this way you will have plenty of connections once you reach junior and senior year. If you wait until late in your college career it will be more difficult to find these experiences and make these connections. I can assure you once you are an upperclassman you will thank yourself for being involved early on. If you involve yourself early you will make yourself more available to leadership positions, as well as potentially make new friends and connections. Another great piece of advice would be to try and become close with your professors. By doing this early on you can expose yourself to new experiences, such as research opportunities. Also, you may need a professor to write you a letter of recommendation for a job or graduate school. And I mean, it never hurts to be close with your professors. This will make it easier for you to approach them with questions or concerns you may have about your academics.

Logan Sr Yr

Junior year is a very important time in your collegiate career. It is the time where you are not yet applying for full-time jobs and you can really figure out what you want to do after you graduate. Many people use this time for an internship, which is smart. If you get an internship in your junior year and realize you do not want to pursue that exact career you still have time to get another internship or change your career path. I am using this time to develop my skills and review all of my potential options for when I graduate. I am applying for different summer internships to gain new experience and see if I would enjoy certain types of work. The most important thing is to remember to be proactive. You do not want to come into your senior year with no experience, no skills, and nothing to put on your resume. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to get a related job or internship. You can join clubs or organizations that can give some related experience or leadership positions. I think junior year is a great time for self-reflection. You should identify where you are at in your career, and where you want to be within the next few years.

My senior year will be a very important time. I am going to take an internship preparation course my first semester, and then an internship my spring semester. I am very excited for this because even if I do not get an internship this summer I will be able to complete an internship during the school year. I am also excited to take my most upper division and most applied coursework. I have thoroughly enjoy my courses so far and I am excited to learn more and complete my education. But even in my senior year I will need to remember to stay proactive and take any opportunities presented to me. I am considering becoming a Teacher’s Assistant for one semester as well. Like I said earlier, involving yourself in things will never hurt you, but not involving yourself may come back to haunt you. My most important piece of advice would be to make the most out of your college career. You are a student in an amazing University, take advantage of the opportunities presented to you!

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Patrick Tomasso