Being a Learner is Fun

By: Taylor [Achiever|Input|Intelligence|Learner|Strategy]

As defined by CliftonStrengths for Students, those with the Learner strength enjoy the experience of learning. The process of learning is more exciting for them than the end result. They strive for new experiences and information that align with their interests. They do not seek to be the master of all trades but enjoy the process of gathering new information. CliftonStrengths for Students also says, “the genius of the learner talent is that you not only love to learn; you also intuitively know how to learn best.”

List of strengths; Learner in green

The learning strength applies to me in a variety of ways. When coming to college, I had a hard time determining a major – not because I didn’t know what interested me, but instead because I had too many things that inspired me. Each semester I love attending the first classes and getting a taste of a variety of different subjects. However, I get bored with courses quickly. I am constantly trying new things like yoga, golf, and piano lessons. All of these are new found interests of mine and the initial process of learning them is exhilarating. There are also little things I’ve realized about myself once my learner strength was identified. My Twitter feed, for example, is flooded with news channels and professionals in a variety of fields. I enjoy reading nonfiction books and watching documentaries. I also am confident that I want to attend graduate school someday.

If the learner strength applies to you, I recommend looking for careers that will encourage continuous learning. You will be energized by the challenge to keep up. Consider companies that allow you to do short-term projects. Spending short amounts of time learning new things only to be met by new projects and ideas – this idea also applies to the field of consulting. Also, take advantage of any continuing education your company is willing to subsidize whether it be a certification course or earning your master’s degree.

Interestingly, my professors have the Learner strength. If you’re interested in learning more about this strength, ask what they find rewarding in their careers. Also, come down to the Career & Internship Services office if you want to learn about your other strengths!

Read about the 33 other Strengths

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The Space That Works For You

By: Taylor

One of my personal goals this semester is to be more productive. To accomplish my goal I have reviewed my schedule and made it more ‘user-friendly.’ I scheduled time in each day for free time as well as intense study time. I am taking advantage of my mornings while still making sure to get enough sleep. What is the next step? Recently, I realized my scheduled productive time is sometimes filled with distractions and noise. I needed to identify which type of spaces I work well in so that I could truly maximize my productivity. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. The space needs to be visually simple. If there are posters and bright colors all around, it is distracting for me.
  2. I like to have some white noise, but overall quiet should dominate.
  3. Coziness is important for me especially if I will be spending long periods of time doing work.
  4. The table or desk that I am using needs to be cleared off. The only materials I want to see are the ones I am using.
  5. If I am not surrounded by friends I will be less likely to stray off topic.

Apartment Therapy desk

I am an avid Pinterest browser and therefore see creative workspaces each day, but as a college student, I don’t have ample space in my apartment to have an office. However, I do have a desk and that is a great place to start! While addressing my list of workspace needs, I started to reorganize and customize my desk. I used drawer and basket space creatively so I could clear the top off completely except for my lamp. I added a cushion to my chair to make it more comfortable and made a small iPod speaker accessible nearby. It is amazing how small changes can change how I work so drastically! I hope to continually make changes to my workspace as I grow older so that it always caters to my needs and is a place that I look forward to spending time.

Neiman Marcus desk

What is it for you that boosts your productivity? This list not only applies to personal office space but may also help you identify public places that compliment your work style. Make sure to think broadly! For some people, their most productive space may be outdoors (weather permitting) and for others, it may mean sitting/laying on the floor. Other factors that may affect you are the lighting, room temperature, and clutter. Here are a few other creative spaces to get your thoughts rolling.

YHL Chair & Desk

Here are some Pinterest boards with an office theme to inspire you to shape up your workspace:

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Photo Sources: Photo 1: Suzanne via Apartment Therapy; Photo 2: Neiman Marcus desk; Photo 3: Young House Love

Basics to Know About the GRE Exam

By: Taylor

As I’m getting closer to graduating from UMD, I am considering my post-graduation decisions more seriously. As a junior, I am looking into a variety of graduate programs trying to find one that will fit my interests and needs. I quickly realized that for most graduate school options that I am looking into, I will need to take the Graduate Record Examination or the GRE. I personally had no idea what this test entailed, where I would take it or when, so I began to research! Today I will share with you some of my findings.

The GRE is offered 1-3 times per month based on your testing center (there is one located in Duluth). You can take the test as many times as you would like, just not more than once in the same month. There is a fee associated with taking the exam each time. As far as formatting goes, the test is divided into three parts: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. These are chosen because they are skills that are used in a variety of fields and are not career or field specific.

When is the appropriate time to take the exam? There is much ambiguity with this answer. I found out that test scores are valid for approximately five years. So even if you’re looking into taking a break between undergrad and graduate school, you can still take the GRE now. It is wise to plan ahead and talk to admissions counselors at the schools you’d like to attend. They will give you useful advice about scores they want to see, and also when application deadlines are. You can then plan accordingly, to make sure you are finished early enough to have your scores sent in. You can also budget enough time to take the exam a second time in case you aren’t satisfied with your initial scores. Also important to note, not every graduate program requires you to take the GRE. You may have to take a different entrance exam or no exam at all. Check the admissions requirements for each program to know for sure.

There were a lot of sites available that offered advice for the GRE. Some of the reoccurring themes were: make sure to study, memorize math equations, and take practice exams. I also found that there is an abundance of free study materials online. Even the GRE website offers a free software that will give you practice exams, vocabulary words, and much more.

If the GRE is something that is of interest to you, I recommend checking out their website. There is a ton of useful information about submitting your scores after the test and it also goes into great detail about what you can expect to see on the test. Good luck!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Achiever: Getting Things Done

By: Taylor [Achiever|Input|Intelligence|Learner|Strategy]

I have now taken this assessment twice and 4/5 of my top strengths have stayed the same. In each instance, my number one has been the ‘achiever’ strength. Here is how the CliftonStrengths for Students assessment describes this strength:

Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more.

List of Strengths; Achiever in green

For me, the achiever strength does indeed describe my work ethic. Each and every day I create a list of things to do, and often cannot rest until each task is accomplished. I also find the most enjoyment when I am busy and have a full schedule. This is evident by the fact that I have three part-time jobs, am involved in student government, and have a double major while graduating in less than four years. I don’t do it to get ahead of others or for resume builders. It’s because I am happiest when I’m accomplishing something.

Being an achiever does have its downfalls as well. On the weekends I find that I make myself busy even when I don’t really have anything to do! I will clean my apartment or read ahead for my courses. I have counteracted my strength by always making sure to schedule in ‘me’ time and also put silly things on my to-do list. Painting my nails and watching a movie can be added just so that I can still gain the satisfaction of checking it off the list. When you identify your strengths, you can truly use them to your advantage!

If you are an achiever, here are a few action items to follow from the Career Planning chapter in the CliftonStrengths for Students book:

  • Take time to establish clear and relevant goals to guide your efforts.
  • Find roles that challenge you and reward your hard work.
  • Find a place where your productivity, stamina, intensity, and drive for completion will make you a valued team member.
  • Make a list of the steps to take in choosing a career. Having that list and being able to cross items off it as you follow through on each item will give you a sense of direction as well as a deep sense of accomplishment.

If you are interested in finding your top strengths, it only costs $15 (for current UMD students and alumni) to take the CliftonStrengths for Students assessment in our office! You can come in to get the code and take it at your own convenience in the comfort of your own home!

Read about the other 33 Strengths

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Figuring out “Twitterverse”

By: Taylor

Recently I have been on a personal pursuit to figure out more about the so-called “Twitterverse.” I realized that I didn’t know much about how to make my profile stand out.  Like most college students I want to find a job as soon as I graduate, so it is important that I present myself in a professional and appealing way.  Today in my blog post I will pass on some of the great tips I have learned!

As expected, Twitter upholds many of the same rules as other social networking avenues. You always want to keep professionalism in mind. Recruiters could be looking at your page at any time. Make sure your pictures are appropriate and your posts should follow suit. Avoid posting photographs of the parties, alcohol, and other personal ventures you may choose to pursue. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; what do you want those words to express about you? Your tweets should also avoid messages with this type of content. In your bio, you could post links to your other online profiles such as a blog or your LinkedIn account. This will encourage others to find out more about your experiences and could also lead to them finding a resume!

So what should you tweet about? Professionals are not seeking students that only post about their favorite beverage, nor are they seeking students who only post about their dog. The key is a balance. When you read a great article or hear a great quote it is a great idea to post it. Talk about the field that you are hoping to work in someday – offer your opinion on something relevant, a favorite class you’re taking, or your career goals. If employers are your target audience, prove your legitimacy by posting appealing tweets.

Twitter is not just for following your favorite celebrities but can be a great networking opportunity. Furthermore, there are various pages that post job openings and tweet about career advice. Try following a company if you are interested in working for them in the future as it will help you learn more about their business. Through the recruitment and interview process it will show that you are interested in and knowledgeable about their business. Interact with a prominent figure at your company by retweeting things you find interesting that they post or offer your perspective.

I encourage each of you to consider your Twitter account seriously. By performing very basic researching, I have realized that it is a great resource for up and coming professionals. From branding yourself by making your experiences stand out to learning about employment opportunities, Twitter has the potential to be taken as seriously as other professional social networking sites. Good luck!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Services for Veterans

By: Taylor

The Career & Internship Services office is so proud of the troops who serve our country. More specifically, we are thankful for our students, staff, and faculty who are veterans or currently serving in the armed forces. Today in our blog post, we will emphasize some of the services we offer and talk about other resources available to these outstanding citizens.

As a veteran student, it may be hard to pinpoint where your interests lie as far as majors or careers.  In our office, we conduct student assessments such as the CliftonStrengths for Students and Strong Interest Inventory. These assessments will help you realize more about yourself, what type of careers may suit you, and your personality. After, you will meet with a career counselor to go over the results. Furthermore, if there is a subject or career you are already interested in, we have an abundance of reading materials that pertain to career environments, job outlook, salaries, and much more.

When receiving a resume, employers want a snapshot view of what your experiences have been and what you have to offer them. As a veteran, your experiences and skill sets are vast and it is important to market yourself in such a way. We can help you translate the skills you’ve obtained while in the military and put them onto paper. Make sure to highlight the great things you have learned such as teamwork, leadership, discipline, communication, dedication, and more!

Networking as a veteran can take you far. You have one of the largest networks out there and it’s all about who you know! Career & Internship Services can connect you with employers and also help prepare you for job fairs and other networking events. From deciding what to wear to knowing the proper dining etiquette, we will make sure you are ready for any type of event. There are also many organizations just for veterans that will aid in creating even more connections for you and your future career.

Stop on into Career & Internship Services (SCC 22 – just down the hall from the Veteran’s Center) and we will help you to develop your career goals and execute them.  And again, we are so grateful!

Of Possible Interest:

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Highlight Your Skills

By: Taylor

Most would agree that the first step to getting a job is submitting a resume. Simply put, a resume is your chance to say to an employer, “I’m awesome.” It is a very important opportunity to exemplify what you do best and make clear why you are the best choice for a job.

Students may not have many career-related experiences to put on their resume. More likely, as an undergraduate student, they have spent their time in part-time jobs, balancing schoolwork, and taking part in extra-curricular activities. On the bright side, one thing that every student has that employers are looking for are skills. As published by the National Association of College and Employers Research in 2011, here is a list of the top skills employers are looking for today:

Because I am a student myself, I feel confident in saying that most undergraduates have at least a few of these skills. Editor’s note (2017): the NACE Top Skills & Qualities that Employers Seek list has not changed much from when this post was originally published. Each Fall, NACE publishes the Job Outlook, which has an updated list.

In order to appeal to your future boss, I would recommend showing off those skills! Here are a few examples that may apply to your specific situation.

Scenario 1: I am very active in intramural sports; I have been a captain of a basketball team for two years.

On your résumé:

  • initiate team practices on a weekly basis
  • facilitate plays during the game according to unique circumstances
  • communicate with a team of 15 people in order to relay information about game times and locations

Skills shown: leadership, initiative, and communication

Scenario 2: I have not had an internship but in class I do a lot of projects related to my major.

On your résumé:

  • present to a class of 45 students using Microsoft Office PowerPoint
  • organize group meeting times for six people outside of class time
  • assign roles to group members
  • create a written portfolio that includes an essay, spreadsheet, and graphs for readability

Skills shown: oral communication skills, leadership skills, and written communication skills

As you can see, no matter what experiences you have, related to your career choice or not, there is still a way to market yourself to employers on a resume. Not having relevant experience does not make you unqualified, especially for entry-level positions. If you learn how to showcase your skills you will be in great shape! Think creatively about the things you have done and be honest about what you have taken away from them. Good luck!

Want to have your resume reviewed? Stop by the Career & Internship Services office (SCC 22) for Resume Drop-ins, Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 2-4pm.

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What Should I Do With My Life?

By: Taylor

As more of my friends came to the realization that I work in an office titled Career & Internship Services, they suddenly became more apt to ask me the daunting question, ‘What should I do with my life?’. Although it is quite flattering that they were comfortable leaving their fate to my next words, it’s also unnerving. Leaving no room for mistakes, I always recommend they come in and talk to a counselor to find out more about majors, their personalities, and opportunities available to them. As I pondered the question more, I realized that there are simpler answers and steps. First of all, ask easier questions!

For any blog readers out there wondering what they should do with their life, I would recommend focusing on the now without being naïve about the future. Here are a few steps to take early on in college:

1. Take advantage of your liberal education! Not only are we required to take a variety of perfectly categorized courses in college, but we could learn more than the subject matter from them as well. Focus on classes that appeal to your academic interests. Upon finishing your first and second year, you should have a good idea of which subjects you liked more than others and this is a great indicator of which field you might like to end up in.

2.  Be mindful of you. By taking assessments like the Strong Interest Inventory and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator you may not learn something new about yourself, but rather come to some sort of self-awareness. You could receive information that will help you realize what careers people are doing with the same personality types as yourself, what type of work environment you excel in, and much more.

3. Get involved. As a student on a college campus, you have more opportunities surrounding you than you have ever had before. There are student organizations for almost anything – from the Ricky Martin Appreciation Club to the Accounting Club. Doing things outside of the classroom can help with many things like networking, time management, and stress-relief. Likewise, in the future when you are applying for internships and full-time employment you will have an opportunity to expand on things that are of significance to you and the skills that you learned from being a part of a group. (If you didn’t know, communication skills are a must for employers!)

Yes, I have side-skipped the original question and yes, it was intentional. For those of you pondering what the future may hold, I’m sure you’ve realized there is not a simple answer to the question, “what should I do with my life?” Thankfully, there are small steps you can take now that will carry you far in deciding your career.

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Meet Taylor

Taylor formal photo

Name: Taylor
Majors: Finance and Political Science
Minor: Economics
Year in School: Junior
Length of time worked in UMD Career & Internship Services: 6 months
Favorite Place in the Duluth Area: Gooseberry Falls
Favorite Book: Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
Favorite Movie: The Descendants
Favorite Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Best Career Advice: Start early! Resumes, online profiles, and interests change and evolve over time. However, if you begin the career planning process early enough, you will be prepared for any bends in the river. You will be aware of the types of work environments you perform best in as well as how to showcase yourself in prime light to future employers. The earlier you start the career planning process, the better off you will be when the time comes for internships and job searching.