Trust Me, There’s a Club for That

By: Cassie

What is the one thing that you remember most about touring colleges? Was it the size of the dorms? Was it the food served in the dining hall? Was it that the school had the program that you really wanted to be accepted to? Well for me it was all summed up into just two simple words, GET INVOLVED. Every college I went to and every tour guide I talked to talked about the advantages of involving yourself in clubs and activities on campus. By the end of my college hunt I felt like I knew every club at every school and I felt like I was the fountain of “get involved” knowledge, so to speak. Well, when I finally got here I didn’t use my so-called “knowledge” like I should have.

There's a club

During my freshman year I told myself that I would put myself out there and get involved in everything I could. I went to the activities fairs and thought I knew what all my options were based on the information from the tours. Then when the time came to sign up for all these clubs, I just simply didn’t join. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint the reason that I wouldn’t push myself to get involved, but I think it was mostly that I made a lot of excuses for myself. Some of these included wanting to do well on my homework, being scared to meet new people, and overall just feeling dorky for joining something I had no previous friends in. The funny thing is, most of the time I just sat and did routine Netflix marathons and didn’t acknowledge my homework during that time. I also didn’t branch out and make new friends, I stuck with my high school friends and really I was kind of miserable. I wasn’t getting all the things that I thought I would be getting out of my freshman year. I saw everyone else with new friends and having the time of their lives, so this year I decided to make a change.

I am currently in my sophomore year, and this year I have involved myself in more ways that I can count. I have really immersed myself in the business school and the clubs that it offers because I think it is so important to get involved in clubs that relate to your major. I am currently in Women in Business, DECA, and the Student Healthcare Management Association. They have all taught me the value of putting yourself out there and getting yourself involved with people in the business field. This doesn’t just apply to business majors either; I cannot emphasize enough how important networking is for EVERY MAJOR. It is also great to get involved with clubs in your major or collegiate unit because you can get together and talk about your fears, struggles, and your future because they are all in the same boat as you and talking is one of the most beneficial things you can do! I also was recently accepted to a study abroad program through the business school and I am so excited to see all of the new opportunities it brings me.

I know I am just highlighting the clubs in the business school, but I promise you that your collegiate unit has a club too. In fact, they most likely have one for your major! If you don’t want to get involved with clubs in your major, there are SO many other clubs and activities that are out there for you to get involved in, you just have to be willing to find what you like! Don’t be like freshman year me and take your opportunities for granted! Though I never thought I would emphasize it this much, there is so much to be gained from GETTING INVOLVED.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash|Jeff Sheldon

As Summer Comes to an End

Summer is just about over. In fact, the freshman class moved onto campus yesterday. Here at Career & Internship Services, we want you to be as prepared as possible when it comes to tackling the next school year.

Start To-do list

Here are a few things to think about and/or do:

Update your resume. Add your internship, study abroad, or summer job. Strengthen your descriptions for the positions you already had listed on your resume. Need help finding room on your already packed resume? Resume drop-ins will start the week of August 31st. Formal resume drop-in sessions happen every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon (2-4pm in SCC 22) while classes are in session. A little known secret is that you can stop by anytime we’re open (M-F, 8-4:30pm) to have a trained Peer Educator take a look at your resume.

Plan out your “extra stuff” for the upcoming year. Work on building your resume. Get involved in a student organization. If you’re already a student org or two, up your level of involvement (help plan events, run for an exec board position, etc.). Find an internship, research opportunity, or volunteer position. These all look great on a resume and help you in figuring out what life after graduation might look like.

If you’re graduating in May, start laying the groundwork now. Figure out what you want your next step to be. You don’t have to have your whole life figured out. Just work towards the next step. We can help you put together a job search plan or apply to grad school. Take a look at our “By Major” reports to see what recent UMD grads with your major have done 6-12 months after graduation. Other resources to help you: events schedule; Pinterest boards with articles; grad school exploration; GoldPASS (the job & internship board for all U of MN students); Twitter (@umdcareers) for office happenings, events, opportunities, and more; LinkedIn group to connect with peers, UMD staff & faculty, alumni, and employers; and our website.

Ultimately, we want you to have a great school year. Embrace your future with confidence.

Photo: Unsplash | Blake Richard Verdoorn

How to Have a Successful Practicum Experience

By: Whitney

As teaching candidates you may have to do a practicum experience as part of your coursework. Going into your first practicum experience can be a little scary. It can be hard to know what to expect, or sometimes even what is expected of you. The following are some tips for you to get the most out of your practicum experience.

Have an open mind.

On the first day of your practicum you don’t really know what to expect and I think this is a good thing. Even if you have had some phone or email conversations with your cooperating teacher, it is so important to keep an open mind about your placement. I have been very fortunate with all of my placements and have seen a lot of great teaching at work, but some of my peers haven’t been as lucky. If you get placed with a teacher who has different teaching styles or methods than yourself, embrace it as an opportunity to learn. Some placements will show you methods that you want to try in your classroom someday, while other placements will show you methods that you absolutely don’t want to use in your classroom, and this is okay! If you get placed in the second type of setting in order to get through it, it is so important you make sure you keep an open mind and look at it as a valuable learning experience rather than a placement that is teaching you nothing.

Know what you need to do for coursework in the field.

It is very important to know exactly what you have to complete for your courses the first time you step foot in the classroom. I know that this can be sometimes hard information to get because the syllabus isn’t quite clear on what you exactly you are supposed to be doing, but even if you don’t know the specifics of the assignment, it is important to know it exists. The amount of coursework that you need to do while in the field can sometimes seem overwhelming from time to time. The best way to ease some of the stress is to start early. I recommend making a checklist for yourself and your cooperating teacher before your first day in the field with all of the assignments you need to complete. This will make it easy to stay organized and stay on track (and will likely impress your cooperating teacher). When you complete an assignment it is also very important to type up your lesson plans and reflect on the lesson as soon as possible. Otherwise it is easy to forget specific details that will help you in the future. If you put off typing lesson plans, you will be very overwhelmed when you come back to school. For instance, this semester I would have about 20 lesson plans to type and this is not always a short and easy step even if you have already taught the lesson.

Collaborate with others at the same site or in the same grade.

In my past placements I have not had any other teaching block students in my school in the same grade level. It was kind of lonely, but I got through it. There were students in my block who were in the same grade, but at a different school or in the same grade at my school but in a different block, but I did not take advantage of this. This semester, however, I have two fellow block students in the same grade at the same school. We have done a lot of collaborating and lesson planning together and it is amazing what a difference it has made! This semester I have felt so much more confident in my lessons and happier in my placement. Being able to bounce ideas and suggestions off of one another has been the most amazing and helpful part of this experience. This is something you will have to do with grade level teachers once you are in the field. By collaborating with your peers in a similar situation you are gaining experience as well as keeping yourself sane throughout the semester! If you don’t have peers to bounce ideas off of, your cooperating teacher is also an amazing resource. They are there to mentor and guide you, so don’t be afraid to show them a lesson or bounce ideas around with them for lessons. Ask them as many questions as you want, and need, because that is the best way to learn.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect.

The practicum experience is part of the program so you can learn and grow as a teacher. It is okay if a lesson flops; now you know for next time. You can reflect and see how to change it so when you try it again it is successful. Having a lesson not go as planned happens even to veteran teachers. You will get more out of your experience if you take a risk to try something new or innovative than you will by just playing it safe so that it goes smoothly. Now is the time to try something you really want to try because if it doesn’t go as planned you have someone experienced to give you feedback for the next time you try the lesson

I hope that these four tips will help you to have a successful practicum experience and to get the most out of your practicum experience. The most important tip is to have fun and learn as much as possible! It can be stressful, but your experiences are where you will learn the most about teaching in a classroom and everyday is preparing you to be a better teacher!

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3 Tips to Finding a Volunteer Experience to Benefit Your Major

Consider why you want to volunteer:

People volunteer for all sorts of reasons. Some are required to do it for a class, some may volunteer to use as a resume builder, and some may just want to get more involved in their community and help make positive changes. It might be a combination of all of these things. No matter if you’re aspiring to end world hunger, or just volunteering to get a good grade in class, you’ll be doing good and doing it for a reason that is right for you.

Choose an organization meaningful to you:

In my mind, why would you want to waste your time doing something that doesn’t mean anything to you? Think about issues you feel strongly about and build off of that. For example, if you think education and literacy is important, find volunteer opportunities that revolve around tutoring. Do some research and find an organization in your community whose mission is in line with your own values. There are a million different organizations with different purposes, so if spending your time at a soup kitchen doesn’t sound appealing, try an animal shelter, hospital, city park, or nursing home. My advice is don’t ever settle. Take your time finding something you enjoy rather than just agreeing to the first thing that comes along.

Seek out an organization to suit your skills and interests:

When I started seeking out place to volunteer, I was overwhelmed with the amount of places available. One thing that helped me narrow down my decision was looking at organizations that seemed interesting to me. I tried to find something that seemed do-able with the skills I already have, something in tune with my field of education, and somewhere that seemed fun. The key here is finding something compatible with your interests and skill set. For example, if you’re outgoing, and consider yourself a “people person,” you might not have very much fun doing something like sitting in an office and filing papers. Ask yourself basic questions such as: Do I like to work with people? With children? Animals? or Do you prefer to work by yourself? If you aren’t really sure what you like or dislike, volunteering is a great way to find these things out. Volunteering is like sampling dishes at the deli, it lets you dabble in a little bit of everything until you find what you like.

Getting Started:

Volunteer Opportunities:

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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!

Photo Source

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Blogception: A Blog Post About Blogging

By: Michael

Are you wondering about how you can do more to stand out at your current place of employment? Maybe you’re thinking about starting or managing a business and you want to know of a way to put your company in a good light. Let me introduce you to blogging! Now I know the two of you have met seeing as you’re reading this post right now, but let me tell you this; blogging is a wonderful tool that many businesses and organizations are using to develop a creative and cost-effective way to improve marketing and public relations. If you are looking for a way to stand out or increase your scope of work duties, why not inquire about writing for your company blog? Chances are, a blog does exist for your company or organization and there is also a good chance that it’s not very good due to lack of writers, neglect, or what have you.

Blogging

During my junior year, I had to do a market research plan for a company or industry of my choice and I had happened to select a relatively new, local brewery and began researching every aspect of their marketing strategy including their advertisements, website, and blog presence. What I noticed is that they did not have a consistent blog, oftentimes going a week or more without posting anything. It takes a lot of work to keep a blog updated on a daily basis and the more writers who contribute to it the easier it is for those who manage it. Blogs allow you to communicate to others some of the finer details of your organization that might pique the interests of your readers or create positive branding. For example, writing blog posts about different aspects of the brewing process was a wonderful topic for the brewery’s blog that led to lots of views.

As most of you know, we have a lot of different contributors to our Peer Into Your Career Blog, ranging from current students to recent grads, career counselors, and some work professionals. Each blog post presents a different perspective that supports and works alongside our office’s broader focus of providing excellent career advice to our peers. What better way to do that than to get everyone who has been involved in the office to contribute their personal experiences in all things career-related?

In addition to providing benefit to your organization, blog writing is also an opportunity to stretch your creativity muscles and add variety to your workday. If your company doesn’t have a blog, take the initiative and start one, there are a number of ways to do this:

  1. Go to a third party site such as Blogger or WordPress
  2. Include it on your company or organization’s website
  3. Write op ed pieces for your school’s newspaper (I did this a number of times during my work with extra-curricular student organizations)

Still not convinced? Check out this article about 15 reasons why you should blog. If that’s not enough to gear you towards writing a blog, I don’t know what will. Happy writing!

Of Possible Interest:

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10 Reasons Why Being a Camp Counselor is the Best Summer Job in the World

By: Willow

I have had the extreme pleasure of spending my last two summers at Girl Scout Camp Tanglefoot. Here is a list of why everyone should spend a summer at camp.

Willow 1

The camp I work at is in Clear Lake, Iowa. It is lovely. Being on the lake makes TONS of activities possible; canoeing, pontooning, swimming, kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding. Sometimes, we even let the kids drive the boat!

Willow 2

Face Painting! How many jobs are out there where this is an acceptable way to look? The best is when you tell one kid what your favorite animal is, and you end up with countless giraffes on your body.

Willow 3

At camp we have a motto “Camp is for the campers” so that means you have to make some sacrifices. In this photo you are seeing the aftermath of group of girls who were very shy and quiet at dinner. What is the best way to get shy kids to have fun? Pizza sauce facial hair!
Beware, it kind of burns…

Willow 4

Two words: MUD PIT

Willow 5

Another amazing thing about Girl Scout Camp Tanglefoot is the singing! Campfire songs, fun songs, and action songs all are a huge part of camp!

Willow 6

Being a counselor means you constantly get to wear Chacos. Like, always.

Willow 7

We have a ropes course! Challenge courses are a staple of a lot of camps. I am a ropes course facilitator and I love it! It is so amazing to see girls who really think they can’t reach the top of the “leap of faith” overcome their fears and do what they thought they couldn’t.

Willow 8

Sometimes at camp we have party nights. And sometimes, we have PROM party night! Who doesn’t want to spend a summer evening dancing in a meadow?

Willow 9

At camp we have final camp fire at the end of every week. We dress up, sing songs, and all share a wonderful campfire. Camp is full of amazing traditions and final campfire is one of my personal favorites.

Willow 10

The last, and best, thing about being a camp counselor is the relationships you make with your fellow staff. Some of my best friends are former co-workers, as well as my greatest role models. If you want a 100% unforgettable summer, find a camp.

Photo source: Willow

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