At the End of it All

By: Taylor

In a blink of an eye, I’ve suddenly found myself at the end of my first year at UMD. This past year I’ve become a tour guide at UMD, began working at the Career & Internship Services office, changed my major to Communication, and next year I’ll find myself as a T.A. for UMD Seminar. It’s been an exciting first year and I couldn’t be more ready for summer break. With my busy schedule, I’ve had opportunity to meet a ton of other students, professors, and UMD staff. Networking and knowing people can sometimes play a big role in our next endeavors. Before we scurry off to our summer plans, here are some tips on not burning those bridges.

Image: bridge with water and cliffs in background
Text: Importance of keeping connections

LinkedIn is this awesome platform I like to refer to as “professional social media.” I’d recommend students to connect with professors on LinkedIn or friends you met in of which your friendship only revolved around the class, you can even find our career counselors on it too! It’s an awesome strictly-professional way to remain interactive with professional peers.

As time creeps up on us, it’s important to keep in mind your social media presence. Some of our friend’s Instagram’s may not be super professional, where I say Instagram could be a great way to keep in moderate connection with other students. You’re sharing important and personal moments of your life for family and friends to enjoy with you.

When I was in middle school, I was convinced when I grew up no one would communicate through email. Today, I think some days I send more emails than Snapchats. Emailing has stuck around and continues to be an important way of communication. I’ve used email to update the teachers who wrote me recommendation letters; a quick message letting them know UMD is great and I’ve been enjoying my time here. This would be another great way to keep in contact with professors or any professionals you’ve been in contact with before.

It’s time for my conclusion, for this blog post as well as this year. As finals close us out, I bid you farewell. Remember to not burn any bridges made and to keep in mind of the bridges that can be made. LinkedIn, Instagram, and email are just a few options as to how to remain connected with people. If possible, meet for a cup of coffee instead and enjoy in-person presence.

Read Taylor’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Cody Hiscox

CliftonStrengths: Restorative

By: Taylor

Before coming to UMD, I had absolutely no idea what the CliftonStrengths were. All I was aware of was that I needed to take it for class (UMD Seminar) and that we’d be discussing it in class. In all honesty, the test instructions say it takes about 30-45 minutes to finish it, and well…I finished it 15 minutes before class was going to start. My top five strengths ended up being restorative, woo, input, learner, and consistency. Restorative is a strength I never realized I had and have only began to see more in myself.

Restorative defined by Gallup, “People strong in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.” Before taking the CliftonStrengths for Students assessment I never considered myself a good problem-solver, but after I realized a lot of situations in my life revolve around having it as a strength. Often times in any given situation, if a problem arises I am quick to find the solution and move onto the next issue.

Image: block letters
Text: Strength in Restorative

I’ve found that often times this strength can have its downsides when used socially. Sometimes the speed in which you solve a problem can be seen as lack of sincerity or empathy towards the situation. It’s important to your peers to understand you’re trying to lend a helping hand, and remembering to be patient with others who don’t necessarily have restorative as a strength. Having restorative as a strength, you could also find yourself constantly figuring out your peers’ problems. Remember, sometimes they’ve got to do it themselves.

When it comes to the workplace and determining someone’s career path, being a restorative you’re frequently looking for a new challenge to solve, lean towards a job that will do just that. Some examples CliftonStrengths give on their website are jobs in medicine, consulting, computer programming, or customer service (just a few of many). Despite the frustration that follows with dealing with customers, I’ve unintentionally chosen a major (Communication) that will require a lot of human and customer interaction following plenty of problems to solve.

If you’ve find yourself without restorative as one of your top five Strengths, it doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at problem-solving. All career paths are still open to anyone with any specific strength, with that we’re able to combine strengths with others to create a dream team. Finding and using your strengths are important in understanding yourself; knowing some of the awesome characteristics you have and knowing what you lack as well.

Of Possible Interest:
Incorporating Strengths Into Your Resume
CliftonStrengths for Students – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Taylor’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Amador Loureiro

Becoming Comfortable with Uncomfortable

By: Taylor

As a Minnesota born Hmong-American, it’s never been uncommon to find myself in a situation in which I am almost entirely the only person of color (P.O.C.) in the room. While I encourage everyone to communicate with people of different backgrounds, it happens almost without thinking to interact and group together with people you find yourself more in common with. Those commonalities often times are found in how you were raised, food you do or don’t enjoy, sense of humor, and other things that are heavily influenced by culture.

Image: looking at the blue sky up the side of colorful building 
Text: being comfortable with uncomfortable

Despite the uncomfortability anyone could experience when in a room full of people you assume you don’t have many commonalities with, whether in a classroom or at your workplace, is inevitable and will happen more than once in your life. Here’s a few notes and tips I’ve jotted down from my encounters.

Be open. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Another thing humans do when meeting new people is to automatically go to our schemas or stereotypes we have about certain people in our brain. It’s important to remind and train yourself to not always assume the stereotypes we have in mind are correct. Have an open mindset; be open to learning new cultures, new traditions, and new and different stories.

Be aware. Humble yourself.
Often times it’s hard for anyone to admit they don’t understand or know something. Microaggressions are defined by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).” Be aware of your comments to others. Humble yourself to the person or people you don’t have many commonalities with by letting them know you aren’t culturally aware and are genuinely interested in learning more from them.

Be yourself. Enjoy the awkward process!
Meeting and putting yourself out there isn’t always the most comfortable and ideal environment, even for people who consider themselves an extravert. In doing so, that uncomfortableness is heightened when you have no idea what to talk about when you don’t think you have many things in common. Remember to be yourself whether that’s talking about activities or clubs you’re apart of or are interested in, to a funny-cringey story about middle school (I’m convinced it was an awkward and weird time for everyone).

Meeting and being open to people of different backgrounds builds your cultural competence; the ability to comfortably communicate and interact with people who have a different culture than your own. In a workplace, it’s important that you, your coworkers, and anyone coming in and out are being respected and treated equally. Here at UMD you can build it by meeting new people in the Multicultural Center, home to our Office of Diversity and Inclusion (O.D.I.). In any and all careers we will all meet people we’ve never met from cultures we may have little-to-no knowledge about.

Attending UMD has provided us with some of those resources to assist us in becoming comfortable with uncomfortable. Now only you can begin the journey of building our cultural competence, and preparing yourself to be that cool-coworker-who-gets-along-with-everyone in the career and workforce you decide to be apart of.

Of Possible Interest:
The Impact of Microaggressions
Cultural Competency & Professionalism
Embracing My Self-Identity in the Workplace
Diversity – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Taylor’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Scott Webb

Making It (This Far)

By: Taylor

My freshman year is coming to an end and it’s unbelievable. When I was younger my older family members would tell me to cherish the time I had while I was young (not that I’m old now) because it was going to fly by. Like the sassy seventh grader I was I’d reply, “If it’s going to go so fast, why am I still in seventh grade?” Now, I’m writing a blog post for my college job and after this am going back to my dorm to take a nap (it’s five in the evening currently).

Coming to UMD was and has been one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made on my own. I am the fourth of six children but am the first to have moved out and away from home for college. The decision wasn’t easy, telling my parents wasn’t easy, and having all this pressure on me wasn’t easy either. I want to create this new path my two younger siblings could walk on too, and going to a big university rather than community college first and do well, nonetheless survive, is just that. College can be a rollercoaster with its highs and lows, and all I can truly give you are some pieces of advice for your first-year or for the rest of your years in college to come.

Image: Looking down on a glass jar of colored pencils on a white background.
Text: Tips for Freshman Year

Have a core friend group
I’ve met various people who wished they came to UMD knowing some people and others who were ecstatic to get a chance at a new beginning (not knowing anyone). Despite one’s preferences, making new friends or having old ones, it’s important to have close friends who you can lean on, confide in, and to establish Duluth as a new home with. I found it was heartwarming to have friends by my side I could trust and spend most of my time with.

Don’t be afraid to socialize
Whether you consider yourself an introvert or extravert, ultimately everyone else in college is hoping to make new and more friends. My first semester I closed myself off to being as open as my extravert-self could truly be and lost a lot of great opportunities to network. Realizing my faults, I’m now a Tour Guide at UMD and will be a T.A. for UMD Seminar next fall. It’s a good feeling to walk down a hall and wave to someone you know. Kirby Program Board is always hosting events on campus from movies in Bohannon 90 to the Grocery Grab Bingo, get out and be open to meeting new people!

This is your dream too
One of the things I often find myself and many other first-generation college students battling with is this idea that they’re only at college to succeed and make their parents proud. While that could be a reason to push yourself further, it’s important to remind yourself that achieving a higher education is also for yourself. We are all currently working towards a future we are going to live ourselves.

The tips listed are just a few I found helped me make the best of my first-year at UMD. While my advice has been based on my own experience and everyone’s first-year is different, I do hope you take into consideration the tips I’ve given.

Of Possible Interest:
• Navigating Through College as a First-Generation Student: Part 1 & Part 2
The Benefits of On-Campus Jobs
Getting Involved and Why

Read Taylor’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Debby Hudson

Meet Taylor

Taylor headshot

Name: Taylor
Major: Communication
Minor: Marketing
Year in school: Freshman
When I started working at C&IS: September 2018

Favorite place in Duluth: While my time at UMD has been short-lived, my favorite place I’ve visited so far is Leif Erikson Park. I first visited during Duluth’s autumn when the leaves were changing colors, it wasn’t too chilly or too hot, and the sky was bright blue. It’s a great place for a walk, see the Aerial Lift Bridge from afar, Lake Superior, and is a hotspot for PokemonGo.

Favorite hobby: When I’m not working or doing homework, I find much of my time is spent belly-achingly laughing with my friends, bingeing T.V. shows and documentaries, leisurely reading books, and going to the gym.

Best career advice I’ve received: “Good things don’t come easy, you’ve gotta work hard for bigger and better things. Don’t be a quitter!” -My mom

Piece of career advice I have for other students: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It can be a little nerve-wracking and hard to admit, but sometimes all you need is a little guidance from someone experienced.