5 Things I Learned “Off the Beaten Path”

By: Whitney

“Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed”
Misty Copeland

“What’s your major?” “What do you want to do with that?” “What year in school are you?” The age-old college questions asked by everyone. And if you are not tired of them yet, you might be by the end of your college career. Then there is the typical college advice about getting involved and resume builders. Even with all that, it can still be tough deciding what to do for majors/careers. During my senior year of high school I decided to scrap my life plan, which was to be an elementary school teacher. This threw me into serious uncertainty about seemingly everything. What was I going to do now, and how did I know it was a good decision? After I ran out of generals to take I still wasn’t sure. I ended up taking time off before transferring to UMD, as a psychology/communication double major. Recently, I read a 2014 post from Business Insider titled, “The Best Advice College Students Never Hear”, written by Maggie Zhang and it got me thinking about some of the more “obscure” things I’ve learned so far during college and the unconventional path I took.

Path in Forest

If you are interested in a gazillion things like me this may be a tougher one. But if you are interested in something you do not need to put off learning about it. One of my roommates is a chemistry major with a theater minor. That may seem like a ‘weird’ combination to the outside observer, but they are both things she enjoys.

This idea also applies to decisions outside of choosing a major to choosing jobs and activities; in her post, Zhang also talks about building you, not your resume. I look at it like this, it’s important to build your resume (and get help constructing it), but a resume is also a document about you as a person. Are YOU excited to talk about what is on your resume? Gaining experience JUST because it looks good on a resume may not pay off in the end. Employers can tell when you are enthusiastic about what you have done and that speaks volumes in an interview.

Making the most of where you are at does not mean having to “do it all”. Like all seasons of life, college is a unique experience. By taking time off, I realized that college may be one of the last times traditional undergrads may be around people their age frequently. Zhang’s advice was to spend more time on your relationships than on your studies. While I do not know if I agree with that, I do agree that studies are equally as important as having quality relationships and experiences with friends. While this is a continual process, now is a great time to start figuring out a work-life balance that you can be satisfied with.

This is one of the most important ones. Ask questions. Ask for help. If you don’t know something, say you don’t. There are so many resources available to us on a college campus to meet many diverse needs, why not use them. Don’t know what you want to major in? Talk to a career counselor, take a career and major exploration class. Unsure about entering the workforce? Get help writing your resume and/or practice interviewing. Advocating for yourself is a great skill to have at any part of life, and it’s a skill that can be built now. My best friend’s mom told me to ask myself “who has the information I need?” and go talk to them. If you are not sure, start with the best place you know to start.

This applies to so many areas of life. The first time I remember realizing I didn’t know myself very well, was when I took an art class my senior year of high school. I was like a fish out of water and only would have considered myself an artist if drawing stick figures counted. By the end of the semester I discovered I was good at drawing and watercolor painting! So try new things even if you are not sure how it will go. One of the things I wish I would have done more is taken a range of diverse classes when completing my generals instead of sticking just to what I felt comfortable with.

At the outset, I had never planned on studying psychology or communication. I hadn’t planned on interning for Career and Internship Services. I thought I wanted to work with kids all day every day. But I knew I enjoyed psychology and communication, and then I got the opportunity to peer mentor for transfer students, where I found I really liked helping students figure college out—now I’m the C&IS intern. In college and out, life unfolds from a series of smaller decisions. You don’t have to know everything to make a good decision. You know enough and it’s probably more than you think.

Above all:
know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed
– Misty Copeland

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash | Paul Jarvis

Summer Job Searching, Had Me a Blast

By: Cassie

Okay, so I know it’s only March, but if you take a minute to think about it you realize that we only have April and then the first week of May and then BOOM summer is going to be here before you know it! When I think of summer I think of lying on a sandy beach and being able to relax. WELL, I am here to remind you (and myself) that you should probably start looking for a summer job. I know, it sounds like the last thing you actually want to do, BUT you have to realize that if you don’t start looking now, your options may be very limited! But not to worry, I am here to tell you all the great options for finding something to do this summer!



If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you know about my recent struggle in the world of internships. If you would like an internship I would recommend looking now! The summer is a great time to do an internship! A great way to find internships is through networking and personal connections. If you can’t find an internship this way there are resources on the C&IS website like Glassdoor or GoldPASS and there is even a list of resources specifically for interning! Some of these include the best places to intern or summer research opportunities for graduates!


If you are looking for experience in your field, but aren’t quite ready or don’t fully want to commit to an internship, then volunteering is a great option for you! Volunteering allows you to gain experience and it also gives you the flexibility to figure out what you really want from an internship experience. It also can be really eye opening in terms of deciding whether your field is the right field for you. There are so many places you can volunteer. For example, I have volunteered at a hospital and you wouldn’t believe how many different areas you can volunteer in. If you look on our website there are links to multiple volunteer sites. Even if you aren’t interested at volunteering with any of those organizations, it might spark some ideas about where you can really start looking for a volunteering position. Another resource to help in your search for volunteering is VolunteerMatch. The great thing about volunteering is that you can volunteer as much or as little as you want with as many organizations as you want, even if you have another job or commitments.

Summer Jobs

If you aren’t ready to commit to an internship or if you don’t really think you want to volunteer, then a regular summer job is a great too! There are so many seasonal, part-time, and even full-time jobs you can get during the summer. You can find a job where you can work outside; examples of these are working at a golf course or being a nanny. You can also take the route of working in a nice air-conditioned place, like an office as a secretary or in a retail store at the mall. There are a lot of options out there, but I recommend you start looking now! Most places are willing to be flexible with interviews with college students if you want to live at home during the summer. Another option is staying in the campus area and finding a job around here for this summer. There are so many options out there and you just need to find out what the best fit is for you!

Good luck on finding something to do for this summer, and if you need help, or aren’t exactly sure what you want to do, you are always welcome in C&IS and we can help you find the best option for you! Also remember that it is never too early to start looking! So maybe before buying that swimsuit you desperately want off of your favorite store’s website, tune up your resume first so you can get that summer dream job!

Of Possible Interest: 

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The Dark Side of Leadership

By: Katie

There are many positive things about being in a leadership role, and it’s something I would encourage anyone to do. While being a leader is a great experience, there are also negative things a person has to deal with as a leader. This side of leadership – the dark side – is one we don’t often discuss. However, I think it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into when you sign on to be a leader. Therefore, here are a few things I have noticed about the dark side of leadership.

Dark Side of Leadership

Other people telling you how to lead.

One of the most frustrating parts of being a leader (in my opinion) is when others disagree with how you lead or try to tell you to do something differently. There are many different ways to lead and different kinds of leaders, and none is more correct than another. Still, there will be those who will tell you you’re doing it wrong or who give you unsolicited advice. It’s best to ignore them and trust your abilities and instincts.

When something goes wrong, it’s your fault.

Whenever something doesn’t go quite as planned – and there is always something – the fault is yours. Or at least that’s how others view it. This is particularly the case when you are the primary leader in a situation. The frustration, confusion, and anger of everyone you’re working with will be directed at you, whether or not it’s deserved. But hey, at least your capacity for patience will improve!

Dealing with the little details.

You don’t realize how much planning and organization goes into events until you’ve been in the position to plan them. There are so many minor tasks to complete for everything, and while none of them are too difficult or time-consuming, they definitely add up. Keeping track of all the little things is a necessary evil as a leader. For this, lists are your friend.

Busy. SO. BUSY.

Being in a leadership role takes a ton of work, and often no one really realizes just how much you do. It will take up large amounts of time and energy, and the work will continue to pile up even when you’re already feeling swamped with that and everything else going on in your life. Here is when it’s helpful to learn the difficult ability of saying no or delegating tasks to others.

When you don’t have the answers.

One of the worst parts for me is when others turn to me for answers I don’t have. As a leader, sometimes you’ll really just have no idea what you’re doing. When that happens, you don’t have the luxury of stepping back and letting others handle it. No – you’re the one in charge, and you need to find a way to lead others even when you feel lost. In my experience, it’s best to act confident even when you may feel like running away and crying in a corner.

Being a leader isn’t always wonderful, and there are times when it certainly won’t be fun. However, the stress, frustration, and confusion are all far outweighed by the benefits of leadership experience.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Craig Garner

How to Continue to Build Your Resume

By: Logan

There comes a time in your collegiate career where you may be unsure of what to do next. You may be in the awkward stage where you have your major declared, you are taking classes, and you are on your way to graduating. But you may wonder to yourself, is this enough? You may be in the time period where Internships are not available, and you are not sure of how to continue to build your resume. This is the place I am at right now in my college career. Once Junior year hits sometimes you may feel like you are not doing enough, but I am going to give you tips on how to continue your growth and development during this time period.

If you are like me, you may be in the time period where you are not yet ready for an internship. I am thinking on finding an internship for the summer or taking an internship prep class during my senior year. But what am I supposed to do now in the meantime? There are multiple options for someone trying to continue to build their resume. The most obvious would be to join any clubs or organizations at UMD or in the surrounding community. An example for me was when I joined the Student Life Change Team, which tries to increase diversity and inclusivity on our campus. Activities like this are great for building leadership skills and filling out your resume more. Other activities, such as clubs, are a great way to get involved as well. Most of the clubs at UMD are small enough that it is very possible to obtain a leadership role if you desire to. This would help you to build your resume by talking about the skills you gained from this experience.

If there are no clubs or organizations you are really interested in, there are other options. You could get involved in research, either Independent or with a professor. This is a great way to not only gain research skills and build your resume, but you will be making a strong connection with a professor at the university. This can be helpful when you need a letter of recommendation or references. If you are interested in research, try contacting a professor in the area of your choice and ask them for more information.

If you are not interested in research or there are not many research opportunities available, becoming a teacher’s assistant could be a great experience for you. TAs gain valuable skills in leadership and organization, as well as a strong connection with the professor they work with. Similar to research, this would give you the opportunity to become close with a professor and to have them as a reference in the future. It is also a great resume builder because you can talk about the different organization skills and other skills you used.

If you are at a standstill in your collegiate career, don’t panic! There are many other ways you can continue to build your resume, even if you don’t have a job or internship. The first step is getting out of your comfort zone and engaging yourself in activities you do not usually get involved in. all of these experiences will not only help you build your resume, but gain valuable skills for life.

Of Possible Interest: 

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The Work of Creativity

By: Emily

Emily's poem

Sometimes creativity comes in exciting spurts, with long in-betweens of staring at a blank canvas or sleeping on our computer keyboard. Moments of inspiration are exhilarating, but the creative process can be wrought with anxiety and therefore takes bravery and endurance. Everyone has the capacity to think creatively. If we are a sum of our life experiences that have shaped us from birth, our perspective is unique. If this is the case, then you have something to share that no one else can offer. Art can be a way to share these viewpoints. Art can also help us see life through a variety of different lenses and wrestle with multiple truths that are sometimes conflicting.

If you are currently an undergraduate artist, actress, designer, director, dancer, choreographer, writer, musician, graphic designer, or photographer you are probably working on mastering your craft as well as building your portfolio. As I have taken classes in digital, applied, and performing arts, I’ve been collecting mantras that have changed how I viewed the creative process. These gems of advice from other artists sum up my four years as an SFA student as well as include some recent advice given by speaker Jonah Lehrer at the Sieur Du Luht Creativity Conference.

Work begets work Learn by doing. Do. Experiment. Play. Be messy. Break the rules. As you create, ideas will come more easily. Remember that moments of creative lucidity or “aha” moments can be few and far between. The work is difficult and scary, but when you start, it might take you in a direction you did not expect.

Don’t cheat yourself out of realizing your full potential. Many of us have been trained to cut corners in school. We do only what is absolutely necessary to get by, but by not taking time to do the best work you can do, you are only letting yourself down. There is no way to unlock your potential if you do not push yourself. At the end of the day, you are going to want a portfolio of work you are proud of. And it will matter much more than a good grade.

Take advantage of opportunities to collaborate. Collaboration can stimulate truly fantastic work. Teaming up with others can reveal blind spots that you were unaware of in your own work. Problems that you were having difficulty solving on your own, can suddenly work themselves out of a tangle. As new voices with a unified sense of purpose and aesthetic are added to the mix, the work can become richer- like overtones in a piece of choral music.

Expose yourself to new experiences & learn everything that interests you. You put out what you take in. The more you take in, the more you have to draw from. Learn from your predecessors and masters of your craft. You have more artistic freedom than many of the greats, more freedom than Michelangelo and Raphael. You also have more artistic freedom in this country than many other places in the world. And in a university setting, you are protected from certain pressures and criticism that exists in the “real world”. These are the perfect conditions to see how far you can fly, so don’t hold back now.

And at the end of the day, get back up. Sometimes you have an image in your mind, but when it comes to implementation, nothing you do can quite reach your ideals. You take a risk and make your art and some people criticize what feels like an extension of yourself. You compete for a grant, or try to get published, or pitch a show to a producer, or submit a film to a festival and you get rejected. Van Gogh was rejected countless times and never sold a painting in his life. So you take the fall, you feel vulnerable and injured. And you get back up, because failing isn’t actually failing in the arts. It’s an integral part of the creative process.

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Do More with Your Summer

By: Whitney

Summer is a time for getting out and enjoying sunshine, fresh air, and a break from schoolwork. It is always great to refresh and recuperate after a long semester of classes, tests, and finals. Have you ever thought of what else you can do with your summer to try and either jump-start your career or just get ahead in classes?

Do more with your summer

Many college students get a job to try and save up a little cash for the upcoming year. This is a great idea especially since it allows most students to be able to work less during the school year or possibly not at all so they can focus on course work. The best way to choose a job is by trying to find something that relates to your chosen field of study. For instance, I am going to school to be an elementary teacher. Summer would be a great time for me to try and find a job working with younger students. A job pertaining to your major or career path will be a great resume builder and provide experience that employers are looking for.

Internships are also great opportunities! Think it’s too late? Think again! Although ideally you would want to have an internship by now, there are still employers who are hiring interns for the summer! Check out sites like GoldPASS to see what is still available for you!

As I stated in a previous blog post, volunteering can do wonders for your resume! If you can’t find a job or an internship in your field, there are many places that are always looking for volunteers. Even if it is volunteer work that seems simple, it’s still rich with opportunities and experiences. Employers are not looking for just paid experience. They will take as much experience as they can get, paid or unpaid.

I know that as school is wrapping up, more school is the last thing that you want to do, but summer is a great time to get a few credits out of the way! There are many courses that are offered during the summer that can help you get back on track if you changed your major, help you get ahead so you have an easier load in the future or graduate early, or maybe retake a class that you were not happy with your grade. Most colleges offer online classes if you are not staying in the area which are easy to make work with your work schedule because you can do them whenever you have time.

Summer is also a great time to work on updating your social media sites and your resume! These are both necessities that tend to be pushed to the side because of schoolwork and other outside of class activities, but you tend to have a lot more time in the summer to give them the attention that they need. Updating your resume or documenting what your summer job entails on your running document are both great ideas so that you do not struggle to remember what you did or how many people you worked with when the time comes to submit your resume. Resumes are not the only things that need to be updated, however. Students should also be working to update their LinkedIn profiles as well. Summer is a great time to really sit down and develop your profile and make connections with a lot of different people, and do a little research on different companies you are interested in.

Summer is a great time for fun and games and should be relaxing, but it is also important that you are making the most of your time! You wouldn’t waste 3 months while in school so don’t waste your summer either! You don’t need to do everything on this list, but pick one or two things and start there. These things will make you more marketable and help you get ahead in your career.

Does anyone have plans for this summer? Please share what you plan to do to do more with your summer!

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Photo by: Courtney Kinnander

Bucket List for a Well-Rounded Undergrad

By: Emily

Time flies….my graduation date is looming like a dark cloud in the distance….and I’m having a mid-undergrad crisis moment. Have you ever had one of those? It’s similar to a midlife crisis, except this level of anxiety is reserved specifically for undergraduates. There is simply too much to learn and accomplish in such a short period of time! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to leave UMD with any regrets. With only a year left to grow and expand as a college student, I compiled a bucket list for myself so I can prioritize what I want to give the most energy to. Here are some ideas if you want to make an Undergraduate Bucket List too!

Bucket List

1. Travel: Study / Intern / Volunteer Abroad

If you ever had any desire to go abroad, then you should do it. You can go for a few weeks out of the year on a winter break or May term trip, or go for an entire year or just a single semester. Try to keep an open mind, and don’t get dissuaded from travel just because of money. There are scholarships and financial aid you can apply for and programs vary in price, you just have to be willing to ask for guidance. Visit the UMD International Education Office website to look at different programs and make an appointment with an advisor to discuss possible options. Don’t feel like you have to commit to anything right away, just explore your options. If you are interested in working or finding an internship abroad, counselors at Career Services can help you get started with your search. GoingGlobal is a great way to view job listing and research different cultures and countries.

Note: Check out Ashley’s great post on GoingGlobal and follow the posts of our peer educator, Zach- he’s currently studying abroad in London!

2. Obtain an On-Campus Leadership Role

Refine your leadership skills and build up your resume! Trying on some different hats! Here are some ideas:

  • Teacher’s Assistant
  • Rock Star
  • Student Advisor / Peer Advisor
  • On Campus Job
  • Tutor
  • Tour Guide
  • Instructor of a RSOP fitness class
  • Captain of an intramural sport
  • President / Vice president / Secretary / Treasurer / Active team member of a club

3. Undergraduate Research Opportunity (UROP)

So you’re not going to believe me, but there is a way to research anything that your creative spirit yearns to know and actually get paid for it. For the artistically inclined, you can propose a creative project (write a play, create a film, or choreograph a dance) and get paid. Yes. This is actually a real thing that exists. The first step is to find a mentor, come up with an idea, and then write up a proposal. This is a competitive process, so make sure your proposal is well crafted. The deadlines for UROPs can be tricky because applying for the next semester happens during the middle of the current semester.

Note: Cody wrote a more in-depth post about the UROP, so if you’re interested, check it out!

4. Internship / Shadowing /Volunteer

Get some experience underneath your belt by finding an opportunity to be an intern, a volunteer or to shadow someone in a profession you’re interested in. Paid or unpaid, experience is experience, and it’s a wonderful resume builder. GoldPASS is good place to start if you are searching for internships  (http://goldpass.umn.edu/). Career Service provides regular workshops on how to find internship opportunities, so keep an eye on our events calendar! If you are interested in volunteering, the Office of Civic Engagement would be a fantastic resource for you.

Note: Cody wrote a great blog post about unpaid internships!

5. Work for The Basement and/or The Statesman

Whether you consider yourself a journalist or not, practicing your communication skills by getting involved in The Basement on KUMD or The Statesman could be a good move. You don’t have to participate as a DJ or be a writer to be involved. I have friends that take pictures for the newspaper, or participate by sorting through music for The Basement. There are multiple ways to contribute!

6. Join A Club / Intramural Sport

When will you have the chance to try slack lining or maple syruping or cosmic bouldering or scuba diving? It’s likely that this will be your only chance! Use it as a unique networking opportunity and meet people that are involved in different disciplines and areas of study.

Recreational Sports Outdoor Program (RSOP) – Intramurals

Student Organizations

Other Ideas for Undergraduate Students at UMD:

  • Be Civically Engaged by connecting with the Civic Engagement Center
  • Attend a play and dance concert
  • Listen to music in the Webber Music Hall
  • Visit the Multicultural Center
  • Go into the Tweed Museum
  • Take an RSOP class

Creating a bucket list prioritizes your time and helps you make career moves that expand you as an individual. Allow yourself to experience new things so you don’t miss out on the discovery of your real passion. Although joining a club and interacting with strangers can be a little uncomfortable, the more you practice, the easier it will become. Being able to communicate and work with people of different backgrounds and personalities is an invaluable skill out in the “real world.” By creating goals and making the most of your time here, you’ll become a well-rounded candidate with a wide assortment of skills that employers will find impossible to ignore.

Read Emily’s other posts