The Three C’s to Success

By: David

The love doctor once told me that if I wanted to attract potential mates in the world of dating I’d have to acquire the “three C’s”. Now I’m not here today to give dating advice because that would indeed be chaotic, but in today’s blog post I’ll be talking about how the three C’s can benefit you in the workplace, and pretty much any other area, as well. Stick around and read on as I’ll be highlighting what these wonderful “C’s” are!

Confidence

I’m sure you’ve heard numerous people (including me) stress how important confidence may be in the workplace, academics, and life in general. Confidence is one of the big three because you can benefit from it in the workplace whether it be through giving presentations, communicating with coworkers daily, or even just working within the workplace. It is highly beneficial because with confidence you can prove that you’re capable of completing tasks with efficiency and with this your boss/supervisor will feel a lot more comfortable with making the decision of having hired you. Confidence is the most important out of the three because it is key to achieving the remaining two. Be careful though, because too much confidence may prove to be disastrous as well.

Charisma

Now if you’re familiar with the video game, “The Sims”, there are multiple ways to increase your charisma skill within the game, but the most basic and common way to level up your charisma skill is by talking to yourself in the mirror. Now I’m not saying that you should do exactly that, but working on your charisma skill might prove to be extremely beneficial in the long run. Saying the right things during the right time can really benefit your path to success. A good example of this is interviewing. During the interview process, you can really land a job with your charisma by selling yourself to employers. Charisma indeed goes a long way and will get you far, but keep in mind that you can’t please everybody, every time.

Comedy

I was going to start off by telling a joke about “infinity”, but I realize that it would never end. *Ba Dum Tsss. That was a terrible joke, I know, but stay with me. You see, comedy and humor go a long way and is the last piece to the puzzle. When people are able to add a little bit of comedy and humor to their work it gets people laughing, and when people are laughing it eases the environment and brightens everyone’s mood. Humor can positively turn a work atmosphere around because it really does add that additional spark to the workplace. One observation I’ve seen from stand-up comedians is that they are all confident with their jokes and in the end, if no one is laughing at least they themselves are laughing. Being humorous isn’t and shouldn’t be the number one thing to do and learn, but why not take some time to invest in some puns and jokes?

In finale, all of these characteristics are eventually acquired through time and effort. Just like any other skill out there, daily application and a little bit of research help with the developing process. Though there are a zillion other traits that are highly beneficial and can lead you to success. These three are just common characteristics you can always keep in mind. If trouble ever comes knocking at the door just always remember the three C’s of confidence, charisma, and comedy. They’ll get you out of almost any situation, when applied properly. This marks the end of today’s post, hope you all enjoy your break and stay warm folks!

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I Just go to Classes… and…

By: Meg

We talk a lot about how important a resume is, how to set one up, etc. I bet there are a bunch of you behind your computer screens thinking “I’ve done none of this. I don’t have time for an internship. What does this mean for me?”

You really do a lot. As college students, we have a lot on our plate, even when we’re not directly planning for our career. So what are we doing every day that is helping us get to where we’re going?

Classes- major and electives

First of all, you’re studying. That is your number one job. Getting the degree you’ve invested time and money into. A Bachelor’s is showing your future employers that you can commit. The classes you’re taking are teaching you how to think, furthering your knowledge base, and expanding your horizons. Every time you learn something new you are becoming more valuable to your future employer. Don’t think it’s not important.

Jobs– even the part-time, work-study, fast food ones

There are certain skills that every employee needs. You can pick up these transferable skills at almost any job, but employers need to see evidence of them. Working at McDonald’s might not be glamorous, but you can show the skills that you learned and refined working there (like time management). School is a full-time job, adding anything on top of that is impressive and needs to be noted.

Volunteering

Every hour you spend doing volunteer work, whether it’s at a nursing home, a community garden, animal rescue, politics, or whatever else you can dream of, is building your resume. You’re creating relationships and developing your skills and interests. It helps.

Sports

Sports teams may not seem like the most resume-worthy activity, but it’s a lot of commitment. I’ve never heard of a sport that didn’t practice for several hours a week (if not a day), as well as have games. Even in the off season you need to stay in shape. You’re also working on team building (even if it’s not a team sport, you still have your team to keep you working hard), and leadership skills.

Student Organizations

Being a part of a organization on campus may not seem like a lot if you’re not a leader at this point, but your interests are important.  They’ve actually done studies and found that people who are involved in student orgs tend to get better grades and are more likely to get a degree. Don’t worry about being in the major-related clubs either, if you don’t want to. Doing something you like means you’re more likely to stay involved, and eventually get a leadership role.

Now, you’re probably not doing everything on this list. That’s a lot. But you’re probably doing more than you realize. So don’t worry so much about having the perfect “resume” activities. Spend some time developing yourself, too. Don’t forget to stop in to our Drop-In hours to figure out how to put all the stuff you’re doing on your resume!

Of possible interest: 

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Confessions of a Former English Major, Part 1

By: Katie

“So you’re going to be a teacher?”
“You’re going to live in a cardboard box when you’re done.”
“Sooo… you want to be poor?”

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for English majors. It’s a tough world out there for the language and lit lovers.

My first semester of college, I declared a major in English, focus in Literature, Language, and Culture – the “super major,” as my adviser called it. I was set on the idea of being a writer or an editor, but after picking up a second major in Professional Writing and getting an internship in the field, I realized it just wasn’t for me. I changed my major and minor (now Psychology and Art) and completely switched paths for myself.

While I’ve abandoned the world of allegories, metaphors, and literary analyses, I will always have a little English major inside of me – a person who has heard too many people say there’s nothing a person can do with an English degree (besides teach) and that it is useless. What many people don’t know is that English majors are all over the place in the working world and not living in cardboard boxes lamenting their poor choice in a degree.

Skills You Gain as an English Major
Increasingly, employers are beginning to say they love hiring English majors. In a world so focused on science, engineering, and business, having employees with the skills that English majors acquire is invaluable. As an English major, it is important to recognize the skills you have so you can learn how to showcase your experience and represent your value.

English Major Confessions 1

English Majors Know How to Write (shocker)
The writing internship that made me change my mind about being a writer was something that I initially thought would be useless to me after changing my major. I want to go into counseling, not writing. What I realized by speaking to different counselors and advisers is that writing skills are valuable no matter where you go. Given the large amount of writing required in English classes, it’s obvious that English majors acquire incredible skills in writing. English majors are taught how to write in different styles, for different purposes, and to different audiences, giving them the ability to effectively persuade or inform others.

English Majors Know How to Communicate
Whether it be on paper, one-on-one, or to a group, English majors can communicate. English majors spend their time critiquing other students’ work as well as accepting criticism. They discuss ideas and learn how to articulate their opinions or thoughts to others. English majors know how to construct and present an argument effectively, something they learn in classes and out of necessity. When you have to defend your choice in major on a regular basis, trust me, you learn how to argue a point and win a debate (while using advanced vocab words and impeccable grammar along the way, I might add).

English Majors Know How to Think
Thinking creatively, analytically, critically, and individually – English majors can do it all. They are trained to look at a problem or an idea and analyze it, dissecting it and considering different perspectives. They are taught to look at the obvious answer, and then question it. Most importantly, they are taught to come up with their own ideas and ways of thinking and solving problems.

English Majors Know How to Manage Their Time
While I’ve taken a wide variety of classes during my time here that have all required plenty of work, the English classes I’ve taken here remain some of the most time- and work-intensive of them all. One English class alone could require 50-100 pages of reading every week, and trust me, reading 50 pages of Moby Dick is no simple task. English majors hone the ability to schedule their assignments, manage their time, and work under deadlines. For one research paper I did in an English class, I had to check out more books from the library than my backpack could hold. Literally. It unzipped itself and the books fell out as I was walking toward my dorm. Think working through that material in a timely manner is easy? It’s not.

English Majors Know How to Relate
The ability to understand, relate to, and connect with others is a skill that may not immediately present as useful in non-human services fields, but it is one that employers in all different areas are citing as a valuable trait they look for in employees. Reading works of fiction, something English majors do regularly, has been shown to encourage and build empathy and understanding. English majors study works that represent and explain different aspects of the “human condition,” including different cultures, time periods, and social issues, to name a few. They learn to think outside of their own experiences and consider those of others, something that gives them the ability to work effectively with all kinds of people.

English majors may not learn how to test for statistical significance or explain the function of different neurotransmitters, but they have skills that are just as important. As a student working toward an English degree who is looking to get a job, get an internship, or further your education, being able to recognize and talk about your skills is essential.

Part 2 of “Confessions of a Former English Major” will look at how you can connect your skills to a career and show those people who tell you your degree is worthless that you aren’t, in fact, doomed to reside in a cardboard box for the rest of your life.

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Sell Well in Presentations: Tips from a Tour Guide

By: Glen

I stumbled upon an article on The Daily Muse which discussed one method to improve any of your presentations: Comedy. As a tour guide the last two summers, I can tell you that this is completely true. Whether you are giving a presentation at work, school, or a conference, there is something all of those speeches have in common: You are a salesman (or woman). For most of us, our presentations will try to get our audience to learn a lesson or to buy into an idea. Either way, you have to be riveting and convincing. I am going to focus on the former. Be riveting!

Comedy Opens an Audience

When you are giving a presentation, you will be throwing fact after fact at your audience. If I had to take a guess, the large majority of us would rather attend a presentation or lecture that was given by someone who could make the material enjoyable. If you can make an audience laugh, you will lower their defenses in a way that makes them more likely to listen and absorb the information you are giving them.

In addition, I have noticed during my tours that if you want to interact with your audience, getting them to laugh will make them more agreeable toward you. There is nothing worse than a tour group that looks like it is suffering.

Now, this does not mean your presentations should make an audience laugh at every moment. Again, as a presenter, you are selling something. The Daily Muse article mentioned a sweet spot of 4-5 jokes in each of your presentations. With my tour guiding experience, I would personally say 4-5 jokes is good number for a 45-50 minute presentation. If you are going an hour to an hour and a half, 6-8 would probably be a better range.

Tips from Tour guide

All of this discussion about jokes begs a tough question: How do I make the audience laugh?

Joke Creation 101

The best jokes come from (or seem to come from) personal experience. If you are giving a presentation on a subject in which you do not have a funny personal experience, that is fine! There are some basic elements to good jokes that can be created using almost any material. Here are two methods to create some good humor in your presentations.

Personal Stories

One of my favorite teachers here at the University of Minnesota Duluth teaches some complicated upper-level psychology courses dealing with brain chemistry. For a lot of people, this can be dry material. This teacher uses personal stories to spice up the lectures.

  1. Start out broad. The set up to your story should be relatable or easily imagined. My teacher would usually start out stories describing to us some kind of lab, and having us imagine we are researchers.
  2. Get to your specific story. My teacher would usually explain some odd case that he or his colleagues were working on in the lab.
  3. Deliver the unexpected. One example of how a joke would end is, “… that filter is actually made out of a specific brand of women’s pantyhose. Who knew that pantyhose would be better than lab equipment?”

The Random Method

If you delve into the anatomy of a joke such as what is described above, you can actually see that the funny part is the unexpected. From my tour guide experience, I have learned to tell jokes about random things within the subject matter I deal with. If you do not have a personal experience in your presentation subject, this is a great method to create humor.

Here is an example of a joke I tell on most of my tours: When exiting a specific room, we have to exit the same way we entered the room. There is another exit, but it is a fire escape, so I use that to make a small joke, “Alright, we are going to turn around and go back the way we came! Unless you want to set off the fire alarms, but that was not in my list of things to do today.”

It might not be comedy gold, but some kind of unexpected one-liner should be able to get a couple of chuckles, opening up your audience a bit. When you have to present ANYTHING, whether it is in class or at work, impress your audience with your ability to both entertain and educate. With this skill, your teachers and supervisors will respect the way you can handle the pressure of a room filled with people.

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3 Skills Undergraduate Research Can Improve

By: Glen

I recently posted a piece extrapolating on how to get involved in research as an undergraduate, but what is the fuss about undergraduate research? Is that not what graduate school is designed for, practical experiences to fully certify the student? This may be true, but research at the undergraduate level can give you much needed experience earlier in your career. Here are some skills that (in my experience) undergraduate research can improve.

Critical Thinking Skills

Here is a truth that conducting undergraduate research has driven home: If you are going to make a claim, you need to be able to back it up. Research experience can teach you how to ask questions about the world, and search for good answers to those questions.

For example, the internet is filled with posts filled with information that may or may not be true. When you find yourself reading some of these reports, your research experience will have taught you the correct way of being skeptical. You will find yourself asking instinctive questions such as: who conducted the research, what methods were used to make this judgment, can I see the actual data? Heck, maybe you are reading this post right now, and asking questions like: why should I listen to you, what are your qualifications, what proof of these claims do you have? All I can say is this is my personal experience, but I digress. Point is researchers are trained in the importance of hard facts. This is a great skill to have in the workplace.

3 Skills Research

Creative Problem Solving

I have found that the development of my critical thinking skills has led to an increased ability of solving problems in the work place. In the past, I was someone who could solve problems that I had faced before with ease, yet I would struggle with new problems I encountered. I am finding that pattern to be changing as I become more educated. If I were to point toward a cause of this growth, I would point toward my experience conducting research and time spent in my research-oriented classes. Discussing the methodological construction of research studies has opened my eyes to the many ways questions can be answered. Do NOT underestimate this skill.

Lab Skills

This might seem pretty obvious. “You gained lab skills by doing research? No way!” The important fact is that gaining lab skills as an undergraduate can look fantastic on your resume. I am very glad to have my own research experience, because if I decide to go to graduate school, I will be prepared! A number of my professors have told us students stories from former students explaining how grateful they were to have research experience. Apparently, the students with lab practice were much more comfortable with their graduate programs, due to training with statistics and methodological design.

In conclusion, I figure research experience just makes for better people and better employees. Having technical experience looks good, and will make you a more efficient thinker. Now, this is not to say that every person needs to have research experience, but if the opportunity arises, try it out. Perhaps your career path is taking you in a different direction. Maybe you feel like you would be better served with on the job training, internships, or some similar method of gaining experience. Even then, I would highly encourage any student to conduct research if they have the opportunity. It will diversify your skillset, and that looks mighty impressive.

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Public Speaking: Are You Fearful?

By: Ashlee FB

I was in a presentation recently and was told that in the list of “top ten fears,” public speaking comes in second (behind the fear of dying). I had to look this statistic up, as this seemed outrageous to me. What I found, however, was that in some polls the fear of public speaking actually came in as the biggest human fear in the world for most people. Check out this link to IBM’s website if you don’t believe me.

This made me curious as to what exactly are people afraid of when it comes to public speaking. What I found makes perfect sense and I’m sure many of you are able to relate to this! The following is a short synopsis on my research as to why people are so afraid of public speaking, as well as a few ways to overcome this fear.

First, we are human, and none of us are perfect. Yet, when it comes to public speaking, some of us tend to kick ourselves over every mistake we make. These mistakes, in fact, are usually much less noticeable to the audience being presented to and we tend to magnify our imperfections, while ignoring all of the things we’ve done well. The truth is, even the best, most experienced speakers make mistakes. When they do, they recover gracefully, and this makes their mistake a little less noticeable. This is one of the keys to public speaking success: to keep going gracefully. The audience will never know most of your mistakes, unless you halt your speech, break down, and confess them. Carry on with poise. Give yourself permission not to be perfect.

Second, there’s something about standing in front of an audience, with all eyes on that person makes the presenter so nervous; this is understandable. From my research, psychologists suggest that public speaking phobia (glossophobia) is “often associated with the fear of rejection at a primal level. The fear of being rejected is so strong because we are not only afraid of being ashamed, or judged; we are afraid of being excluded from the social group, abandoned and left to protect ourselves all on our own.” (source)

Lastly, sometimes it is only human nature to get nervous about our own nervousness. Public speaking, among other things, is almost considered to be a self-fulfilling prophecy when feeling like you might make a mistake. Nervousness is a form of energy, and really is just our adrenaline flowing. Speakers that find themselves to be successful know how to make this energy work for them, and turn that nervousness into enthusiasm and engagement.  The take away from this point is that it is okay to be nervous, as again, we are only human.  What is important is to try to take the nervous energy you might have and make it work for you!

What are some of your tips when it comes to public speaking?

Related Reading: 4 Reasons to Learn How to Speak in Public

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Importance of Multi-Skill Development

By: Michael

In recent posts, I’ve talked about how I chose my major as well as why you should be an accounting major. Today, I’m going to tell you the benefits of having an additional major/minor (even one that may seem unrelated to your field). If you’ve taken the time to read my bio, you know that I’m an Accounting and Philosophy double major with a minor in English. Now, it is arguable that Philosophy and English is the best option for a pre-law track and there is a surprising amount of overlap between Accounting and Pre-Law. It’s funny because I didn’t realize the cross-over until after selecting them. There’s also a reason that your university requires you to take generals or liberal education requirements; to develop a broad understanding of different skills and fields. Many students don’t realize that by gridlocking themselves into a single major or area of study can put you at a disadvantage when you begin your job search.

There are all kinds of supplemental studies you can do to make your education qualifications stand out more. A study in applied ethics can directly support a degree in business, social sciences, and even medicine! Also, a minor in English can help your writing skills and a minor in communications can help in any field. At UMD, I have been a writing tutor for the past two semesters which seems to be both unusual and intriguing to both my peers and interviewers. Often times people are surprised that an accounting major tutors writing as if I’m out of my realm, but the truth is, you’re going to be using writing no matter what field you go into and that’s just a fact. It’s too often that I get students from the other colleges that need help with writing because either their major didn’t provide enough training or they didn’t put forth the initiative to develop their skills. Try not to be the person who makes up the excuse that your major is too time consuming to add a minor or do additional course work, that’s old news and there are plenty of students who can attest to the possibility of doing a double major in two different fields and still graduate in four years. Don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons, the more you’re open to expanding your knowledge the better it will be in the long run.

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