Undergraduate Reflections

By: Tony

As the last weeks of my time as an undergraduate student at UMD approach, I wish to take this time to reflect on these past four years and talk about my successes and a few of my regrets.

Freshman

My plan coming into UMD was this: I would give it a shot here, and if I didn’t like it, I could easily transfer to the Twin Cities campus and be closer to home. Clearly, that did not happen. Instead, I quickly found myself deeply involved with the Latinx/Chicanx Student Association (Then called Latino/Chicana Student Association) and became fast friends with all of its members. A few weeks later, I ran for the Freshman Representative position on the Executive Board and was elected. That was the beginning of my involvement as a student leader on campus. Like most other freshmen, I had no idea what I was doing, and I got lost more often than I would like to admit. Luckily, by the time spring semester came around, I had a decent knowledge of the layout of UMD, and I knew the basics of how to get through college successfully. That year, I also began texting with a girl who went to school in Mankato with a few of my friends from back home. I also lived on-campus and had a meal plan, and so my immediate expenses were so low that I did not see a need to get a job. In hindsight, I wish I would have had the foresight to work a bit and be able to save up the money.

3 students sitting at table

Tony, Emilie, & Eva in the Career Resource Center

Sophomore

My sophomore year was rather uneventful compared to the previous one. I served as a red RockStar during Bulldog Welcome Week, and that was an amazing experience that resulted in me losing my voice for a few days after yelling for several days straight. Outside of that and a few tours facilitated by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I did not get much experience with being a student leader during my sophomore year. Luckily, that was compensated with better grades than I earned the year before, although that could easily be chalked up to having more experience with college classes in general. I also grew deeper friendships with my peers in LCSA and the Multicultural Center as a whole. Even though I was not an official student leader in the MC, my efforts to benefit marginalized students was recognized, and I was nominated and ultimately selected to serve as the Diversity and Inclusion Director for Student Association (student government) the following year. Additionally, I ran for a position on LCSA’s Executive Board for the following year and I got that position as well. That summer, I moved in with a few of my friends from LCSA to an off-campus house. Although I faced a lot more immediate expenses, with rent and utilities, I am actually paying considerably less out-of-pocket now than I would be paying through scholarships and student loans if I still lived on campus. Plus, having my own room is really nice. Much like the year before, I have regrets of not having the foresight to put myself in a better financial situation. I wish I had searched for a job and applied for scholarships outside of UMD.

Student at job fair

Tony at the UMN Job & Internship Fair

Junior

For the second time, I had the honor of serving as a RockStar during Bulldog Welcome Week. Early on in the semester, I also began dating the girl whom my friends in Mankato introduced to me during freshman year, so my year got off to a very good start. Holding leadership positions within both LCSA and SA were both amazing experiences that allowed me to further my advocacy and leadership skills. During the spring semester, I began working for Career and Internship Services as a Peer Educator. Serving as a Peer Educator has given me the opportunity to serve my fellow students in a new capacity. It has given me the chance to advise them on how to present themselves in the best way possible and how to better understand the qualities they have that will serve them well in their academic and professional lives. One thing I do regret from this year is not putting forward the effort to figure out if I could add a sociology major and still graduate on time. I kept thinking about asking, but I never actually did it.

Team of student presenters

Kyliah, Meg, Joel, Sherrill, & Tony presenting at UMD’s Summit on Equity, Race, & Ethnicity

Senior

For the third and final time, I served as a RockStar during Welcome Week. Naturally, this year has been full of doing things for the final time. A great deal of my time has been spent planning for my future and figuring out what I will do once graduation comes around. In the Fall semester, I studied for and took the GRE, a standardized test very similar to the ACT that most graduate schools want to see the scores from. At the same time, I also began looking at graduate schools back home in the Twin Cities, where I planned on living after graduation. Spring semester has entailed applying to those schools and looking for employment for the summer and more long-term. All of this, in addition to finishing strong with my classes, has been quite stressful over the past few weeks, but the support from my job, family, friends, and especially my girlfriend, has been amazing and is getting me through it. I have enjoyed the past four years here at UMD, and although I have had some regrets along the way, all the positive experiences and great lessons have greatly outweighed them. I’m definitely going to miss it here.

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Quick Tips for Writing Your Resume

By: Tony

Now is the time of year when we all start quietly (or not so quietly) start panicking. Projects and papers are becoming due, final exams are on the horizon, and all the stress is starting to pile on. You know there’s something else you’re forgetting, but you’re not exactly sure what it is… Oh yeah, you still need to get a job/internship lined up! Just what you need, even more stress! Hopefully, these tips on improving your resume will make the job hunting process to a little more smoothly.

What is a resume?
A resume is a document stating your qualifications for a certain position.  If your application is a request for employment, then your resume is a crucial part of your support for why you should be employed. You want the resume to be comprehensive, but concise.

Quick tips for writing your resume

Content

  • Bare bones of a resume
    • Name, Contact Information, Objective, Education, Experience
  • Objective
    • Each iteration of your resume should reflect the exact purpose that it is for, whether it be for a job fair or an application. It can be a quick statement of the purpose of the resume (ex. A full-time position at [Organization] as a(n) [position title]).
  • Education
    • Name of school, where is it, degree name, year of graduation, major, minor, and GPA if greater than 3.0/4.0.
    • Once you have entered your junior year of undergrad, you will want to remove your high school information from your resume.
    • Education-related sections you can also include: Relevant Coursework, Honors, Research.
  • Experience
    • Like the education section, everything should be listed in reverse chronological order.
    • Include experiences that are relevant to the purpose.
      • The less applicable they are to the purpose, the more likely they should be removed or only take a minimal amount of space on the resume.
    • Volunteering experience is just as valuable as paid and academic experience. It matters what you did, not if you got paid for it or not.
    • Categorize your experience based on the purpose (Computer Science Experience, Engineering Experience, Healthcare Experience, etc.).
    • Each position should include 3-5 bullet points detailing what you did in that position.
      • Each bullet point should talk about a single aspect of your position.
      • Each bullet point should demonstrate how you already have the skills and qualities necessary for what you are seeking.
      • Each bullet point should start with an active verb.
  • Additional Sections
    • You do not need to include a statement saying that you have references available upon request.
    • Clubs and activities are nice if they are relevant or you need to fill the page.

Formatting

  • Page Layout
    • 1” margins on the side; 0.5-1” margins on the top and bottom
    • 10-12 point font; name should be about 2 points larger than the rest of the text.
    • Section headings can be bold and all-caps.
    • No lines. They can be confused as page breaks by some scanners and tracking systems. Use lines of white space instead to separate sections.
    • Stay away from templates. Adjusting the formatting can be troublesome in the long run. Plus, if we can spot a template from a mile away, imagine how easy it is for an employer.
    • Sections should flow from most important to least important.
      • The objective is always first, and education almost always follows.
  • Education
    • Schools should be listed in reverse chronological order, with the school you currently attend or have most recently graduated from being first.
    • Name of degree, major, minor, and GPA all in bold.
  • Experience
    • Like the education section, everything should be listed in reverse chronological order.
    • Name of position, organization/company, location, timespan you were there. 

Still need help?
If you still need clarification on anything related to your resume, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. Career & Internship Services is located in the Wedge (SCC 22) and is open 8:00-4:30 Monday through Friday. During those hours, there is always at least one Peer Educator, such as myself, who would be more than happy to answer your questions.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Kelly Sikkema

First Time at a Career Fair: A Guide for First-Generation Students

By: Tony

A couple weeks ago, I attended the UMN Job and Internship Fair for the first time. To be completely honest, I was overwhelmed and terrified. I had been to other career fairs in the past, but the sheer size of this particular fair caught me off-guard. Unfortunately, the preparation I did beforehand was not enough to make me completely ready. Being a first-generation college student (neither of my parents have received a degree from a four-year university), I do not have many of the resources my peers do, and I have not always been aware of the resources available to me. If you’re also a first-generation student, you may be in the same boat as I was, and even if you aren’t a first-generation student, career fairs are likely still intimidating. After self-reflection and re-acquainting myself with the resources offered by Career and Internship Services, I have come up with a quick guide that will prepare you for what to expect at a career fair and inform you how to put yourself in the best position possible.

Do Your Homework
Most career fairs will at least give a list of the employers that will be tabling at the career fair on their website. If you’re lucky, the organizers will also be able to provide a brief overview of what each employer is looking for in terms of majors, career field, and type of position, whether it be an internship, part-time, or full-time. Regardless, you should look through the list of employers and select a few that look interesting to you. Once you have your list, familiarize yourself with each employer. What do they produce or what services do they provide? How big are they? What recent developments have they made? Their website will be your best friend, as you can gather a lot of information on them just by browsing what they have on their site. The purpose of this is to both get an idea of what working for them may be like, as well as building up knowledge that you can impress them with later. I would also recommend formulating a question or two about each company or organization to ask the employers.

Spruce Up Your Resume
Your resume is key. Not all employers may be able to take your resume due to their human resources policies, but they are multifunctional. I’ve used my resume and seen others use theirs to inform employers about themselves and their accomplishments. I have also seen employers use resumes to explain how the attendee would fit into their company or organization, given their knowledge, experience, and interests. One time, an employer even took my resume and said that he would look at it later and send me applications for job openings in his organization that I may be interested in.

Each version of your resume should be specifically tailored to the reason why you are making it, and job fairs are no different. In the typical job fair resume, the focus will be broader than it would be for a job or internship application resume. In this case, your objective will only be as specific as the industries or fields that you wish to work within. The rest of your resume will then demonstrate why you’re qualified to work in that industry or field.

Success at the career fair, a first-generation student's guide

Work On Your Elevator Speech
An elevator speech is a quick 30-second to one-minute pitch of you. You want the employer to get a good idea of who you are as a person and potential employee. You should talk about your:

  • Name
  • Grade level
  • Major/minor
  • Strengths
  • Relevant interests

I recommend practicing your elevator speech in front of a mirror or a partner. It will likely be part of the employer’s first impression of you, and you want to make sure it’s as smooth and natural as possible

Dress Appropriately
Today’s the day. Today might be your first time interacting with your future employer after you earn your degree, no pressure. But the question on your mind is, what should I wear? Although the specific dress code and work culture will vary from employer to employer, the safe bet is to dress business professional. What does that mean exactly? Here’s a resource with some good basic information. 

Travel in a Wolf Pack
Job fairs can be intimidating when going alone, so try to go with a group to ease the tension. Of course, you should generally interact with employers one-on-one, but the shared experience of a group can reduce stress and anxiety. Personally, I like when my girlfriend comes with me for moral support. She’s always great at it, and I highly recommend having the moral support of your own if you can.

The Approach
Here it is. Everything has come down to this. Now it’s time to put together all the pieces of the puzzle and knock it out of the park. When engaging with the employer, make sure to make eye contact and give a firm handshake. Introduce yourself with your elevator speech and express interest in learning more. After the employer has given more information, pose the question(s) you have prepared. Throughout the conversation, make sure to make eye-contact, be aware of your body language, and give non-verbal cues like nodding and smiling to show that you’re paying attention and interested in what they are saying. If they are accepting resumes, give one to them, and take business cards if they have them available. Also, make sure to take note of the names of the representatives there as that is information you can mention later in a cover letter. As you depart, say nice it was to meet them and give another firm handshake. There you go, you’re done! That wasn’t too bad, right? Now go do it some more.

On-site Research
What if you see an employer that you are interested in, but are unprepared to talk with them? Fear not, you can still do some quick research on your phone so you don’t have to talk to them with little to say. Usually, there will be a student lounge where you can do this research (and relax) away from the employers.

Networking, Networking, Networking
A major component of career fairs outside of talking to employers is to talk with your peers. Networking sounds complicated, but all it entails is getting to know others and talking about your interests and goals. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” The bigger your network, the better your chances are a getting more resources and professional opportunities.

Hopefully, this advice will help you become better prepared for job fairs other career development events. I wish you the best of luck, and never hesitate to ask for assistance if you need it.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash | RawPixel

Getting Involved and Why

By: Tony

One of the most popular pieces of advice you will receive during college is to “get involved”. Of course, there are tons of ways you can get involved, but many are probably not for you. The key to figuring out how to get involved is knowing what you want to get out of it. Do you want to serve others, fight for causes you believe in, or just want to have some fun? Different organizations on campus serve different purposes. I will give examples from my personal experience to demonstrate the wide variety of types of involvement.

Identity-Focused Involvement
My first instance of getting involved on campus was when I joined the Latinx/Chicanx Student Association and began to immerse myself in that community. I come from a very diverse hometown, and coming to Duluth was a bit of a culture shock. That, combined with my heavy involvement with my high school’s Latinx-focused student group, pushed me to become involved with LCSA. Soon after joining, I was elected to the Executive Board as the Freshman Representative, and I was allowed to play a major part in the goings-on of the organization. After a few weeks, the other members of LCSA weren’t just my friends, they were my family away from home. They made me feel like I belonged at UMD when the rest of the campus bogged me down with microaggressions and doubt. Even as a senior, my love for LCSA has never wavered, and I have done everything in my power to make sure that everyone feels as welcome and supported as I have. My involvement with LCSA is deeply rooted in my sense of identity as a Latino, and my experiences with it have made me more secure with that aspect of my identity.

Getting involved on-campus

Campus-Related Involvement
During my freshman year, I became highly-involved with the Multicultural Center. I didn’t get along very well with my roommates, so I would stay in the MC as long as I possibly could every night. As spring semester rolled around, I felt like I knew the MC like the back of my hand, but I wanted to get involved with the rest of campus as well. I was fond of my experience during Welcome Week, so I applied to be RockStar for Welcome Week, and luckily I got in. I suppose I did pretty well because they let me come back two more times. Being a RockStar is incredibly demanding. It requires being flexible, creative, and energetic for five days straight. When I say energetic, I mean it. I’m usually fairly quiet and reserved, but during Welcome Week, I am constantly running around, dancing, and yelling. As draining as it may be, it is also incredibly rewarding. I loved being the freshmen’s first point of contact with the campus. I wanted to ensure that they were as ready for college as they could possibly be. I remember how confusing and intimidating freshman year was, and I wanted to pay forward the great Welcome Week that I had when I was in their position. I wanted to have an impact on the whole campus by ensuring that the student body was well-equipped with the resources they need as soon as possible.

Service-Focused Involvement
Finally, I decided to get involved with campus through direct service to the student body. Which brings me to why I am writing this blog in the first place, as an extension of my position as a Peer Educator. In my position, my job is to provide services and access to resources that my peers need to excel academically and professionally. I want to see everyone I work with land their dream internship or job, and I want to do everything I can to make that dream a reality. All three examples of involvement I have mentioned have degrees of service associated with them, but I feel like my Peer Educator position allows me to directly serve the UMD community on an almost-daily basis.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Danilo Batista

The Impact of Microaggressions

By: Tony

It’s just a fact of life that you are going to come into contact with people who are different than you. Whether it be at school or in the workplace, you will inevitably end up talking to someone whose background isn’t the same as yours. Naturally, you will want to get to know each other, which is great. However, you may run the risk of committing a microaggression.

The impact of microaggressions

What is a Microaggression?
A microaggression can be described as covert or unintentional discrimination. They are words and actions that marginalize certain groups of people, even if it is unintentional. The main issue with microaggressions is that even though they may be minor offenses, they can add up quickly and seriously damage one’s self-image and make them feel as though they do not belong. Often, microaggressions manifest themselves in seemingly innocent ways whose impacts are not apparent unless their underlying implications are thought about.

Examples of Microaggressions and Implications

  • “Where are you from?” “The Twin Cities” “No, where are you REALLY from?”
    • The implication is that the second person is being identified as a foreigner and not as the group they choose to be identified with. If you are wondering about someone’s ethnic or racial identity, there are better ways of going about that.
  • “Can I touch your hair?”
    • The implication is that the body of the person who’s being asked is exotic and a target of curiosity, which is degrading. I’m sure the awkwardness of the situation outweighs the satisfaction of your curiosity.
  • “Oh, you’re Latino?! Do you know (random person)?!”
    • Not all (Latinx/Black/Asian/Native American/Queer/Muslim/etc.) people know each other. Assuming that they do gives the implication that their group is small and lacks diversity.
  • (When speaking to a person of color) “Say something in (foreign language)”
    • This implies that all people of color know a second language, which is not true. Worse, it implies that POCs are trained animals that will respond to your whims.
  • (When speaking to a POC) “You are so articulate”.
    • This implies that POCs are uneducated and unable to make intelligent conversation.
  • Blatantly using the wrong pronoun
    • Yes, mistakes happen, but if you know someone’s preferred pronouns, please use them. Mis-pronouning someone implies that you do not accept them for who they are, or at best, you do not care to listen to them.
  • Catcalling
    • The implication is that you see women as sex objects that only exist more male enjoyment.
  • “That’s so gay!”
    • The implication is that being gay is a negative characteristic.

How to Avoid Microaggressions
In my opinion, the keys to avoiding microaggressions are recognition and reflection. You must recognize when your words or actions, intentional or not, have a negative effect on others. You must also reflect on how you can improve your behavior and become more inclusive. As a general rule, if you are curious about a certain aspect of someone’s life, such as their racial identity or any conditions they may have, get to know them. If they wish to tell you about themselves, they can do so on their own terms. It may also be helpful to ask yourself why you want to know about that aspect. Is it to get to know the person better? Or, is it based on sheer curiosity?

Ultimately, modifying behavior is a personal act that you must figure out yourself, but I think self-awareness is a good starting point. With this information, you can do your part to make your classroom or workspace more inclusive and welcoming to all people.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Michal Grosicki

How I Chose My Major, and a Minor I Wish Was Another Major

By: Tony

I’ve always been good at social studies. Growing up, it was always my favorite part of the school day, and my academics reflected that. I earned A’s in social studies and English, but that trend didn’t always extend to math. As my mom likes to put it, I’m good at words, not numbers. In high school, this pattern continued, and I began to really think about it. I knew that I wanted to attend college, but I wasn’t sure what I would study. This was a few years into the huge STEM surge that we are still going through, and those studies were being pushed heavily at my school. I knew that numbers aren’t really my thing, and I began to worry that I had no idea what I wanted to study. At the same time, I was excelling in my history, economics, and civics classes, and I was also really into reading dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World. I was wary of wanting to pursue these studies in college because I was well aware of the jokes surrounding the liberal arts, and all my friends were planning on studying STEM fields like computer science and engineering. Luckily, this hesitation ceased in the fall of my senior year of high school.

The class that changed everything was my 4th period political science class. I’ve heard of poli sci prior to this class, but I didn’t really know what it was. In case you’re not sure of what it is either, political science is the study of power, specifically what power is, how it’s distributed, and how it should be distributed. In essence, it looks at how society is run and maintained, and possibilities of how those operations can be done better. I absolutely loved that class, we talked about theory, current events, our own opinions, justice, and a whole lot more. After I took that class, I had my mind made up, I was going to study political science in college. During my senior year, I also took a sociology course, which I also loved, but I had my mind set on political science.

The minute you choose to do what you really want to do, it's a different kind of life. - R. Buckminster Fuller

Fast-forward to junior year at UMD. I was a happy poli sci major with a sociology minor. I didn’t really pay too much attention to my progress in sociology beyond making sure that I was on track to complete the minor. While applying for Spring semester classes I decided to look at what it would take to complete a sociology major as well. As it turned out, I was much closer to that reality than I thought, but there were still a few obstacles in the way. I would need to complete a branch of required courses related to completing an internship, and it didn’t seem that I would be able to complete everything and graduate on time. The first course in the branch seemed to be similar to one that I completed for my political science major, and so I reached out to my academic advisor to see if I could get that course waived. I got the paperwork for the request, but life got in the way and I forgot to submit it. I still regret not at least submitting it and seeing what happened. Maybe I would be a double major now.

I care a lot about sociology, just as much as, if not more than, political science. If you’re wondering, sociology is essentially the scientific version of people-watching at the mall. The goal of sociology is to better understand how society functions and how people interact with each other. It allows me to better comprehend the world around me and the potentials for improvement. In fact, I am applying to attend grad school for sociology because I want to continue learning and figure out how I can connect those lessons to a career.

So that is the story of how I chose my major, and a minor that I wish I had picked up as a major. Even though I came into UMD with an idea of what to study, I still regret my hesitation in figuring out what additional opportunities I had. Hopefully, my experience will encourage you to take those extra steps if you are in the same spot that I was.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Steve Halama

Meet Tony

Tony headshot

Name: Tony
Major: Political Science
Minor: Sociology
Year in school: Senior
When I  started working at UMD Career & Internship Services: February 2017
Favorite place in Duluth: Enger Tower
Favorite hobby: Reading by the lake

Best career advice I’ve received: There’s no comfort in the Growth Zone and no growth in the Comfort Zone

Piece of career advice you have for other students: There’s very little that you have to do alone in life, ask for help if you need it.