How I Figured Out What I Want to be When I Grow Up

By: Eva

Before college, I knew that I wanted to be a therapist. From middle school until junior year of high school this was my dream profession until I began to worry I wouldn’t make enough money. At that time, 16-year-old Eva didn’t understand that success is measured in thousands of ways and depends on who is holding up the ruler. When I started college through PSEO (Postsecondary Enrollment Options) a couple months later, I enrolled in pre-business classes, but one economics course steered the fate of that short-lived decision. In the following years, I would scramble to find the perfect career that would make me rich, successful, and better than “normal.” I felt a lot of pressure to perform and compete against other students for scholarships, grades, and recognition. This mindset might have been the perfect environment for some people to thrive, but for me, it meant that my goals were made with skewed parameters that required unsustainable levels of energy. I think a lot of people have felt the way I did my first few semesters of college.

Before I go on, I have to acknowledge something super relevant to my experience. I am a young white woman from a middle-class family. I think many people in college, whether first-generation or legacy, white or POC, able-bodied or disabled, can feel pressure from their families and communities. My particular brand of pressure is inseparable from ableism and white privilege.

After my brief stint as a business major during PSEO I switched to nursing. I got my CNA license, enrolled in pre-nursing classes at LSC (Lake Superior College), and was given my first pair of super-cute teal scrubs as a high school graduation present. I loved that as a nurse I could help people in such a direct way. However, after three years of caring for elderly people as an aide, caregiver trauma started to seriously impact my mental health. That realization was incredibly difficult but necessary because it helped me understand my limits.

succulent with grey pot; Text: How I figured out what I want to be when I grow up

I explored my options: I was always told that I wrote well, but I was repelled from an English or Writing degree because of the (untrue) stereotype that graduates with liberal arts degrees are unsuccessful. I tried for several months to transfer to UMD for a biology degree but the core science classes at LSC only counted as electives at UMD. I couldn’t afford another five semesters of college and that fact allowed me to ignore that I was still headed in the wrong career direction. Another area I had done well in was laboratory procedures, which sounded like an acceptable route. I signed up for Medical Lab Technician classes at LSC. There were parts of the classes I really liked, such as drawing blood, looking through microscopes, and learning about pathology. Overall, I felt overwhelmed and disappointed with my choice.

By this point I started to realize that I had been shoving myself into a box I didn’t fit in. I had been trying to make my idea-centered brain work with numbers and logic. Not only was this wasting my strengths, but because of the low enrollment cap on the program I might have prevented someone else from succeeding.

When I looked back I realized that whenever I’d talk about being a nurse or lab tech I felt like I was talking about someone else. All of the prerequisites and checklists felt like I was a hamster in a wheel and not someone about to begin the rest of their adult life. Back to the drawing board. My favorite classes had been sociology and anthropology and many of my role models had similar degrees. After a lot of Google research, I decided that anthropology would be a great place to start. After three and a half years of college, I finally figured out my priorities – and was proud of them.

But wait! There’s one more twist to this story. My first full-time semester at UMD I began working as a Peer Educator at Career and Internship Services. I remember talking with the counselors about all the careers I thought I might like, but after years of chasing the wrong degree I knew I still did not feel right. Part of the student employee training involved personality and strengths assessments, all of which hinted (shouted) that I should consider counseling. I liked the sound of it, especially because it allowed me to help people hands-on, but caregiver trauma is a relevant issue for counselors I couldn’t ignore. Then I had a “could have had a V8” moment when the thought occurred to me that I should look into career counseling.

I could help people, have a useful career that took advantage of my strengths, work in a position that aligns with my values, and have a reliable income. I felt like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders, almost literally. The pieces clicked together with an ease I had never experienced before. I know that I might change my mind in the future. At least for now I have a plan, which is more important than the plan actually happening.

Of Possible Interest:
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Eva’s other posts 

Photo Source: Unsplash | Scott Webb

Advantages of Being a Peer Educator

By: Kirsi

We're hiring! Multicultural Outreach Assistant and Peer Educator. Apply via UMD HR by April 2nd.

Peer Educators, Fall 2017

When I saw the job posting for Peer Educator position I figured it would be a great way to make a few bucks reviewing resumes. What I did not expect was the extra benefits of being a Peer Educator, in addition to the extra Taco Bell money.

Master Job Applications
Sometimes submitting job applications feels like discarding hopes and dreams into a black hole. Depending on the job, hiring managers may never give applicants feedback. Peer Educators complete training that unveils the mystery of job applications, what hiring managers want to, and strategies to display qualifications. Peer Educators complete comprehensive training before being trusted to review fellow student’s resumes and LinkedIn profiles. This training is much like a crash course in hire-ability. Newly recruited Peer Educators must familiarize themselves with the Career Handbook, “perfect” resume reviews, attend diversity training, and learn about resources the office offers such as InterviewStreamCareer Assessments, and GoldPASS. Career Handbook familiarization is especially important because its resume and cover letter examples follow expectations of hiring managers around the region.

Transform Passions into Professions
Helping a fellow Bulldog land an internship makes the training and attention to detail worthwhile! Equipped with experience, interviewing confidence, and a resume that clearly communicates your qualifications you too can transform your passion into a profession. I enjoy demystifying the job application process. Even the most seemingly unattainable career can be reached with the support of Career Counselors, Peer Educators, relevant experience, and grit. Peer Educators are a bridge of communication between the office and students. Peer Educators reach out to students about the office’s services on Facebook and occasionally on Instagram stories.

Student working at job fair

Kirsi working at the UMN Job & Internship Fair, Feb 2018

Make Unlikely Connections
As an Engineering and Computer Science double major I rarely interacted with students outside of Swenson College of Science and Engineering until becoming a Peer Educator. The Peer Educator team is comprised of students from all of UMD’s colleges, by coincidence! I have a newfound respect for majors outside of the STEM realm due to connections I have made with my coworkers. Peer Educators often work in pairs and complete training together. I help edit resumes and review LinkedIn profiles of students of every major. A project I worked on in addition to reviewing resumes includes small web development tasks. I updated the following Career & Internship Services webpages: “Graduate Follow-Up Report“, “Graduate Follow-Up By Major“, and “Graduate Follow-up Report Archive.” During these projects, I learned about careers graduates from each major acquired. During the summer of 2017, I helped with the office “Love Your Major” campaign helping students choose, change or embrace their major.

The Peer Educator position is regularly recruiting for new students every spring (usually after Spring Break). Take a look in the UMD HR system for openings.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Source: UMD Career & Internship Services

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.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tony’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Danilo Batista

The Benefit of On-Campus Jobs

By: Cassie

Jobs are such an important thing to have in college. They allow you to meet people with similar interests, they allow you to network, they teach you the value of work, and they pay you. These are all super important things for every college student. As you probably know, there are a million types of jobs out there, but I’m going to tell you why working on-campus is so beneficial to me.

I currently hold two jobs on campus in the Career and Internship Services office and at the Kirby Welcome Desk. Both of my jobs are front desk jobs so it is essential for me to be able to communicate, provide excellent customer service, and really know what’s going on around campus. I am super busy all the time but I love both of my on-campus positions and here is why!

Cassie at CIS Front Desk

The People
Working on campus has allowed me to meet so many people. These are people with similar goals, similar work ethics, and they are there to talk to for whatever I might need. These people are also a huge resource when it comes to things like advice, networking help, or just picking you up on a bad day. It is also helpful to have these people for things like clubs and getting involved in events on-campus.

The Environment
Working on campus is a great way to stay involved in campus life. I really know the ins and outs of what is going on most of the time. I also have been able to take advantage of the many resources campus has to offer because I am involved in most of them. I know so much more about my campus and show so much more pride in my school because I am so involved in it.

The Experience
Working on-campus has opened so many doors for me. It has taught me about who I really am and what my strengths are. It also has taught me the value of hard work and of taking pride in what you do. On top of these, it has also brought about so many networking opportunities and of course, I have great things to put on my resume.

What I’m trying to say is, take a look at working on-campus. You may think that you don’t qualify or that you won’t get the job but that isn’t always true. Take a shot and apply for some on-campus positions, because trust me they are so worth your time!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Cassie’s other posts

Pros & Cons of On and Off-Campus Jobs (Part 1)

By: Whitney

Before college, I had little direct experience with the working world. Sure, I babysat for neighbors and my little brothers’ friends, but college is really where I jumped in. The process was daunting at first, but I knew I wanted (and needed) to work. Coming into college, I was against the idea of me working an on-campus job. I thought it would be weird to work where I went to school and I liked having my life compartmentalized. I had an off-campus job at a daycare/afterschool program working five days a week, over the same block of time during my freshman year. Since then I have also had a couple on-campus jobs (including my internship with Career and Internship Services). Drawing on these experiences I have listed a few pros and cons of on-campus jobs.

On-campus Jobs

PROS OF ON-CAMPUS JOBS

  1. Greater flexibility around your schedule
    College basically is a full-time job. We work very hard even if it is not a paying job. Getting our degree is a priority and on-campus jobs understand the weird schedules that go along with being a student.
  2. Chances are you get breaks when the school goes on break
    Got a fabulous spring break trip planned? Want to go home for the entirety of winter break and visit family? That’s awesome! And you know you won’t have to fight anyone for the time off.
  3. Transportation takes less time/costs less
    Unless you live off campus, you could walk to work, which would save you the hassle of finding reliable transportation, paying for gas, and/or figuring out bus schedules. Logistically, you will also have to go through the job search process that, with on-campus jobs, won’t require transportation.

CONS OF ON-CAMPUS JOBS

  1. Wages might not be as high as some off-campus jobs
    This can vary from job to job of course, but the chances for more than minimum wage are higher with off-campus jobs. Both types are good for having some spending money to buy groceries and go out with friends on weekends, but off-campus jobs may provide more to your bank account.
  2. Might not be as many opportunities for a job related to your field of interest
    While I wouldn’t discount the many opportunities that may be related to your field of interest on your college campus (research assistantships, TA positions…), AND the number of great transferable skills any job offers…depending on what you’re interested in, you may find more directly related opportunities by looking for work off campus.

CONCLUSION
Turns out on-campus jobs are not as weird as I imagined as a freshman. I’ve met really awesome people through my jobs on-campus and gotten more connected to campus. I have also met really awesome people through my jobs off-campus as well, and in my next post I will be discussing some pros and cons of off-campus jobs.

Read Whitney’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Crew

What I Have Learned as a Peer Educator This Year

By: Logan

Over this past year I have learned a lot from my job working as a Peer Educator in Career and Internship Services. The amount of new information I have learned is immense and covers more than just resumes. I have learned so much about cover letters, job interviews, and career topics in general.  Even after I completed my first semester of training, I continued to learn new things and develop my career skills. This job has taught me more than I ever expected and I am very thankful that I got the opportunity to have this experience.

When I first started working as a Peer Educator I knew little to nothing about career skills, resumes, cover letters, and things of that nature. When I first began my training it was all a big shock to me. I had no idea that resumes had such specific rules. I struggled with the rules such as: You must bold this, but you can’t bold that, etc. But I tried very hard to learn all of the rules that must be applied to resumes. After a while I began to get the hang of it. More and more I would improve and I would successfully correct a resume. The more I did it, the better I became at it. I was very happy with my progress, but I had not had the chance to try it with a real student.

Learned as Peer

Eventually the time came. I was equipped with all of the tools and information that I needed to correct a student’s resume for them. I was very nervous for my first interaction. Once I became more comfortable with the position, I developed a sort of script that I would follow when I would help students. But when I tried my first time I did not have a predetermined script, and the interaction with the student was not as smooth as it was with the more experienced Peer Educators. Overall, I was satisfied with my first resume review because when I was done the student told me that I was very helpful and that they appreciated the help. That was when I realized how rewarding the job actually is. It is an amazing feeling to have another college student (sometimes much older than you) thank you and tell you how helpful you were. I have even had students that I had helped in the past come back to the office and tell me about a job or internship that they acquired because of the resume and cover letter help. For me, that is the most rewarding part of the job.

As time went on I found myself getting more and more comfortable interacting with students. I began to get to know the student and ask them questions about themselves so I can find out more about who they are, and then I can use that information to make their resume as good as it can be. I learned tips of how to deal with difficult customers (and yes, there are difficult customers in this line of work!) and I feel like those tips can help me in other areas of life as well. To this day I continue to develop my career skills by reading new blogs on career advice, and by listening and talking to our amazing career counselors we have in our office. All of our counselors are highly trained and have always given me great advice. If you are unsure of what you would like to do, I recommend setting up an appointment with one of the counselors. They have helped countless students with all of their career questions and concerns.

Overall I have learned a lot from my job as a peer educator. I have learned many important career skills and customer service skills I will carry with me throughout my professional career. I recommend everyone to go to Career and Internship Services and take advantage of the great services that are offered there. Get your resume reviewed, set up your LinkedIn account, have a meeting with a career counselor, all of these things will be very helpful to you in the future.

Looking forward to working in the office next year. Hope you all have a great summer!

Read Logan’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash/Jeff Sheldon

How to Get the Most Out of College-Type Jobs

By: Meg

Having a job is an integral part of the college experience. Whether it’s helping out with Freshman registration or working fast-food, the college job is something that is often forgotten about when writing a resume. After all, what employer cares that you worked for McDonald’s for 6 years? A lot.

You can get a lot out of any job, regardless of how it fits in with what you want to do post-college. The first step is to stop thinking of it as a dead-end job. There are plenty of people who start out as cashiers and end up moving into management. You may just fall into something you really like to do! Even if you know you’re never going to end up in that field, you have the experience of working. You can build a lot of skills through working almost any job and those skills can apply to other jobs you’ll have in the future. These skills are called transferable skills.

College job skills

There are ways to get more out of a part-time job than those skills too. You could find a job that is related to either what you want to do, or what you like to do. There are stories all over the place about cashiers who have become big people in the companies they worked for (such as starting out in a Target Store and then moving up to work at Target Corporate). So if you know where you want to be, try to find a starter job there. Alternatively, integrate your hobby. If you like to knit, get a job at a fabric store. You’ll like it more and want to get more involved.

Check out this post that Taylor wrote about highlighting your skills on your resume.

Speaking of getting more involved:

Ask for more! Take on tasks that aren’t a part of your everyday job, but you notice need to get done. Ask for more responsibility. Even if your job is very defined, nobody says you can’t do the very best at what you are assigned, even if none of your coworkers do. And get along with your coworkers and supervisors. They can be good references, or useful for networking. It also makes working so much easier if you enjoy the people you’re working with.

Don’t forget to play up the skills and experiences you’re making on the job. When you get to an interview for your first big-kid job after school (or an internship while you’re here), don’t stumble over your 4 years as a waiter or cashier. Mention the skills you’ve gained on your resume and bring them up in the interview. When your interviewer asks you to name a time when you’ve “solved a problem” or “worked in a group,” answer it! Use your time working to give you those anecdotes that make you feel so much better about your answers, and help you stand out in an interview. Even just having it on your resume can help. You were working and going to school. That takes a lot of effort and dedication.

Lastly, be proud! Enjoy what you’re doing as much as you can, and don’t let yourself be embarrassed. It’s an important step, and doing it while in school takes a lot of, well, work.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read other posts by Meg