How to Have a Productive Winter Break

By: Lexi

You are finally done with your Fall semester and finals, hooray! It’s now time to relax, but do not forget to stay on top of things and use your time to stay productive. Spring semester will be here before you know it and you do not want to be behind!

Use time for reflection on the semester & set goals for the upcoming semester
Take a little bit of time to think about the semester you just finished. Think about what you did and didn’t do well. Use that information to make some goals and identify priorities for yourself for the next semester.

Build and expand professional networks
Reach out to people or companies you have been wanting to contact, but haven’t yet. Expand your horizons, you never know how it could develop your professional profile. This could be done online through email, LinkedIn, a phone call, or you could even ask if they would like to get coffee. Remember to thank them and ask if they have any suggestions of who else you could reach out to.

productive-winter-break

Conduct informational interviews or job shadow
Informational interviews and job shadows are a great way to see if the profession you are thinking about is the right one for you. Most students do not have time to conduct these during the semester, so now that you are not in classes, take advantage of this time. This could also help you with career advice or confirm important classes that you should plan on taking.

Work more and save up
Rack up the hours at your job, if it’s possible! Winter break is a great time to save up to keep you on budget for the spring semester.

Apply for scholarships and internships for the summer
Many scholarships and internships are posted during this time, so start looking! It is better to start searching for these opportunities earlier rather than later, your chances will most likely be greater. If you need help with this, you can visit Career and Internship Services (we are open during winter break, except Dec 23rd-Jan 2nd).

Get volunteer hours in
Whether you need volunteer hours or you just want to give back to your community, the holiday season is one of the best times to do this! Use your free time to put some smiles on the faces of your fellow city residents.

Create a portfolio, LinkedIn profile, and/or revamp your resume
Now that you finished another semester, you probably have new projects, jobs, skills, and experiences you can add to your portfolio, LinkedIn, and resume. Take the time to update all of these so they are ready for when you start searching for a job or internship, then you will not have to frantically put all of these together at the last minute.

Hopefully, you will take advantage of this time when school is not crazy and do at least one of these suggestions. But do not forget to relax and enjoy your time off during the holidays, drink some hot chocolate, eat some cookies, and enjoy the twinkle lights with your family or friends. Happy Holidays!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash|Aaron Wilson

For the December Graduates

By: Meg

Now, the May graduates are finishing up the last classes of their undergrad years. They’ve bought their tassels, turned in their name (as you pronounce it, not write it). They’re looking for jobs, ready to head out into the real world (or not). What about those of us who are left? Who’ve got just a little bit left to go? I think we should take advantage of that last semester.

Internship

Fit in one last internship, either this summer or in the fall. Find something you love, maybe it will lead you into your first post-grad job. You’ll be there soon enough. Round out your undergrad education with something that helps you figure out what you want to do.

Volunteer

If you’ve done your internships, or just don’t have time for the commitment (there’s a reason we’re still here, right?), then find somewhere to volunteer. It can be something related to what you want to do, or you can do something completely different. Go ahead and pet animals at Animal Allies. Plant a garden with community projects. Volunteer at a day camp. You’re not just your career, do something just for you. That doesn’t mean you can’t put it on your resume though. You totally can.

Independent Study/Honors Project

Not every major has some big capstone project. If you haven’t done something that really shows what you can put into your work, do it. Find out what it takes to do an independent study or an honors project. Independent study you usually find an advisor, pick a topic and develop some research on it. It may be combing the archives or making surveys to find answers. Honors projects can be along the same line, but take a little more time to develop and often involve more hands on work.

Classes

If you don’t have a full schedule, take something fun. Be the (super) senior in a first-year class. It’s a good time to reflect on everything that’s happened the past four years. Take something that you’ve been interested in, but didn’t fit any requirements. Take a dance class, or an art class. It doesn’t even have to be at your university. You can find all sorts of fun things to do in the community (bonus: it’ll still be there when you graduate).

Relax

A lot of us have been doing school for 16 years straight. That’s ridiculous, when you think about it. So give yourself a break. I mentioned dance class, right? Find something that lets you breathe, if you haven’t already. Pick up a book! One that isn’t connected to school. Once you’re out “in the real world” you have to be a person again, not just a student. Take this time to get reacquainted with yourself. I think this goes for the May grads, too.

Bottom line, we’re almost through! Make the last few months of your undergrad years count; however you want that to be.

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3 Tips to Finding a Volunteer Experience to Benefit Your Major

Consider why you want to volunteer:

People volunteer for all sorts of reasons. Some are required to do it for a class, some may volunteer to use as a resume builder, and some may just want to get more involved in their community and help make positive changes. It might be a combination of all of these things. No matter if you’re aspiring to end world hunger, or just volunteering to get a good grade in class, you’ll be doing good and doing it for a reason that is right for you.

Choose an organization meaningful to you:

In my mind, why would you want to waste your time doing something that doesn’t mean anything to you? Think about issues you feel strongly about and build off of that. For example, if you think education and literacy is important, find volunteer opportunities that revolve around tutoring. Do some research and find an organization in your community whose mission is in line with your own values. There are a million different organizations with different purposes, so if spending your time at a soup kitchen doesn’t sound appealing, try an animal shelter, hospital, city park, or nursing home. My advice is don’t ever settle. Take your time finding something you enjoy rather than just agreeing to the first thing that comes along.

Seek out an organization to suit your skills and interests:

When I started seeking out place to volunteer, I was overwhelmed with the amount of places available. One thing that helped me narrow down my decision was looking at organizations that seemed interesting to me. I tried to find something that seemed do-able with the skills I already have, something in tune with my field of education, and somewhere that seemed fun. The key here is finding something compatible with your interests and skill set. For example, if you’re outgoing, and consider yourself a “people person,” you might not have very much fun doing something like sitting in an office and filing papers. Ask yourself basic questions such as: Do I like to work with people? With children? Animals? or Do you prefer to work by yourself? If you aren’t really sure what you like or dislike, volunteering is a great way to find these things out. Volunteering is like sampling dishes at the deli, it lets you dabble in a little bit of everything until you find what you like.

Getting Started:

Volunteer Opportunities:

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Boost Your Resume by Volunteering

By: Meg

There are obviously all sorts of things you can do to make your resume super impressive, and I’m sure you’re already doing a lot of them! Working, student groups, class projects, and keeping up your GPA all help to make your resume fantastic and diverse. One thing people often forget when trying to find resume-building activities is Volunteering! You don’t have to get paid to put something on your resume. You can volunteer in so many ways, and no matter what you’re doing, it will help you on your way to a great resume.

Volunteering

Community Service

There are all sorts of things you can do to help your community. Help with a Community garden to make your neighborhood even more beautiful. You can donate your time to local retirement homes, food banks, or homeless shelters. Anything you do to help others will show potential employers that you care and are willing to put in some effort to change the world around you.

Causes

If you have a cause you care about, don’t be afraid to volunteer your time to it! There are lots of special interest organizations that would love to make use of students that are passionate about their cause. There are environmental groups, domestic violence organizations, health education campaigns, political campaigns and so much more. Duluth is a forerunner in many anti-violence campaigns, take advantage of that! Even if it has nothing to do with your chosen career path, it will stand out and be a talking point on your resume. If it is related to your field, it can be a very useful networking tool.

Related Services

You may not be qualified for a job or internship in your field that fits with your availability. That does not mean you can’t be involved. Go ahead and find a volunteer position. These are often a lot more flexible and you can make your own schedule a lot of the time. Those of you going into the health-care field know that it takes a lot of dedication to even be eligible for an internship. Volunteering may be a way to gain references and knowledge that would make you more appealing as a candidate for those hard-earned positions. Find out what you can do with your knowledge base and volunteer your time.

There are many ways to go about finding a volunteer position. If you know somebody who does or has done volunteering with an organization you would like to work with, just ask them! Talk to your professors, classmates, and advisors about what they know about. Make use of your network! It’ll be good practice for when you need to find a paid position. UMD student group SERVE has lists of organizations and events that they have volunteered with in the past. United Way of Greater Duluth sends out a Weekly Service Scoop on things you can do in our community.

Of Possible Interest:

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Photo by: v1ctor

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

Working with Nonprofit Organizations

By: Emily

Have you ever considered working for a nonprofit organization? Although students interested in human service professions gravitate towards nonprofits, there are prospects for a variety of majors and skill sets. Seeking an internship or volunteering with a nonprofit organization is an excellent way to gain some experience and explore what is also known as the 3rd sector. I am currently taking an Internship Prep class and am enthusiastic about seeking a formal internship this semester. While searching for possible sites, it became clear to me that I didn’t know enough about nonprofits and how they function.

So, I did some research and here’s what I learned:

What are nonprofits?

Nonprofits are focused on a mission or purpose rather than making a profit. If recognized as “public charities” they are often not required to pay taxes, but still face the challenge of sustaining themselves financially by fundraising and securing grants. If the organization makes a surplus, that profit goes into providing more services or improving the services already provided. They often work in collaboration with governmental and for-profit organizations.

How is working with a nonprofit different than working with a for-profit organization?

There are a few pros and cons to consider if you are considering seeking employment with a nonprofit:

Pros:

  • The knowledge that your work makes a difference in the lives of others.
  • Working alongside people who are passionate and enthusiastic.
  • Lack of a hierarchy: the work environment of these organizations can be more team orientated. Coworkers may feel more like family.
  • New ideas are often welcomed because flexible and creative problem solving is required for daily challenges (such as raising funds to sustain the organization).

Cons:

  • Nonprofits may lack in resources and materials.
  • May have loosely defined or ambiguous job responsibilities.
  • Can be understaffed, which can lead to burn out.
  • May pay less than a for-profit organization.

Nonprofit hints

If you’re interested in the 3rd sector, how do you get started?

Whether you’re looking for an internship, a volunteering opportunity or a job here are some helpful hints:

1. Do your research and see what’s out there. There are many qualities, which can make you attractive to nonprofit employers. Number one? Being passionate about their mission. Although internships look nice on a resume, I wouldn’t recommend pursuing one for that purpose alone. Really think about the setting and the population of people you’d like to work with. There are many resources available to you!  If you are a student at UMD come and visit us at Career & Internship Services in Solon Campus Center (the Wedge)! There are plenty of great books dedicated to this subject and provide information about a variety of nonprofits and their mission statements. You can also chat with a career counselor about your interest in working with nonprofits. The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits is also a great resource to learn more about the nonprofit sector specifically in Minnesota.

2. Volunteer at an organization who has a mission you are invested in personally. Volunteers are critical to the day-to-day operation of most of these organizations. Volunteering can provide a chance to network and determine whether or not you’d like to seek internship or employment opportunities in the future. If you are a full-time student, you may be a little wary of committing too much of your time and energy into volunteering, but don’t worry! By doing a little research in advance, you can find the right amount of commitment without overloading your schedule.

3. Be persistent in your pursuit. Unless it’s an organization like the American Red Cross or YMCA, 74% of these nonprofits are small organizations and often don’t have employees assigned to Human Resources. That means, the person who is looking over your resume or volunteer application probably has lots of other stuff to do and it is easy for you to get lost in the shuffle. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t immediately get a reply. Take initiative. Call. Visit. Inquire.

Be bold and your efforts will be rewarded!

Of Possible Interest: 

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What Can Volunteering do for You?

By: Whitney

Volunteering can do way more than just good for the community. Unfortunately, we live in a world where all too often we look at a project or volunteer opportunity and wonder what we can get out of it. If you are the type of person who looks at volunteering in this way, think of what it can do for you when considering a career or just trying to get a job in a certain field.

Volunteering provides you with hands-on experiences. Whether the project you are working on is directly related to your job field or not it provides you with opportunities that could be hard to find elsewhere. Volunteering not only helps the community, it also builds your teamwork skills and shows you can work in a team-structured environment. This is one of the top skills that employers look for. By showing you can work in a group environment you are making yourself more marketable. It is also important that employers know you care and are committed to the field in which they work because then they know you will put forth your best effort and totally commit to the job, which they are asking you to do.

If you do not have experience in your field such as a previous job or internship, volunteering is a great way to get the experience you need to land that job. This type of experience is very valuable and you can’t get it anywhere else. Since you are likely working closely with someone, they are an excellent resource when you are looking for references. They can give you a reference that relates directly to the job you are trying to secure.

Are you unsure of a career pathway? Volunteer in the field you’re thinking about pursuing. By volunteering in that field you can see all of the ins and outs of day-to-day work. You can really get a feel for the work environment and the type of work you would be doing. The best part, if you don’t like it you don’t have to keep doing it! You can change your mind and really make an informed decision about what field you would be happy working in. If you are happy doing the job for no pay, think of how happy you will be when you are doing something you love and actually getting paid for it!

Who knows, maybe one day you will be able to get a job at the place you are volunteering at! While you are volunteering there if a job is posted, you would likely be the first to know. You can also make a connection and ask them to give you a call if anything opens up. Since you have already volunteered there you would know how their system works and they would likely have to spend a little less time training you. They can also provide great resources for jobs that are open not only in their business or cooperation but also in other locations or businesses that work with the same types of people or areas.

“No one cares what you know, unless they know that you care.” – Unknown

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