Louis Zmich – Student Intern Farewell Address

CAUTION: This is a longer piece than normal. I have a hard time saying goodbye. Enjoy!

Here we are, the final weeks of my undergraduate career. It seems like everyone tells you, “These years will fly by so fast” and you think to yourself, “Yeah, whatever.” But five years later, and here we are. I remember walking into the main halls of Elmhurst College, working late hours as a custodian and thinking to myself how the days were dragging along. Fast forward to my first semester here at NIU, walking down the street from the boarding house, which I shared with 12 strangers on Augusta Ave., to the Art Building basement auditorium for Business Calculus.

Does anyone else remember that class? I seriously thought I would never pass, and I started having thoughts of changing my major because, if being a business major was anything like that class, I didn’t think I would make it. But something happened that made me work through it, and I’m not entirely sure what that “something” was.

Once I got my bearings of NIU, I started to feel like I was actually growing as an individual. I began to take more classes at Barsema Hall, classes like OMIS 259 and MGMT 217, soaking up as much of the College of Business as I could. I knew this place was going to be my home, and I wanted to race through my classes in other areas of campus, just to come to Barsema.

A lot of memories have been made here. I remember barely squeaking by in ACCY 206 and 207, literally getting a B by the exact number of points needed, in both classes! Man, I will never forget the moment I calculated my scores, what a rush of relief. Then came UBUS 310, the class that kept me, and many others, up late at night. This was the class that fostered my love for Marketing. From there, it seems like I blinked, and now I’m writing this. I got involved in a lot of different clubs and organizations and tried to volunteer my time whenever I could. The struggles, successes, failures, trips taken, countries visited, and competitions attended, all contributed to who I am today. In a way, the College of Business morphed me to who I now portray to the world. The College of Business helped me identify my personal brand. Wow, I never really thought of that before. I didn’t want to be left out of making a difference, which led me to Social Entrepreneurship, CAUSE, DSAB, DSP and my current internship, for which I am writing this article. These organizations allowed me to do so many things, and get involved in making others’ lives, and the world a better place. All of those organizations are more than just acronyms, they’re an opportunity, a chance to grow, learn, and set yourself up for success.

From sales role-plays to class presentations, every moment seems so small. Every obstacle seems to be a burden, and we tend to race to the finish line to then look around and realize we didn’t enjoy the ride. This last reflection for me as an intern is unique because I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many wonderful people. People, who come from all different walks of life, have different reasons for being at NIU, and most importantly, have different opinions and lessons to share with others. This internship has allowed me to meet the many individuals who have shaped my life. I urge you to press pause on your day and look around. Enjoy your little victories and relish in the beauty around you, what you have, what opportunities you should capitalize on; because if you don’t, you may run too fast and realize you didn’t enjoy how you got there. Or worse, realize you chose the wrong direction to go! Enjoy this journey, you have the opportunity to be whoever you want to be, so embrace yourself and who you are. I promise there will be other people who like the same things as you do. Don’t succumb to a specific agenda, instead, write your own and others will follow. Love the skin you’re in, and people will love you for you, and not a fake representation of you. You do this, and these next few years will be some of the best of your life.

I want this farewell address (wait, he’s not done?) to serve two purposes: to let me say goodbye, for now, to this position and the school I have come to love, but to also say welcome to those students who are new here, traditional or not. Yes, yes, your time will fly by, (insert any other cliche thing to say), but I want to let you know what college is all about. Well, from my perspective anyway, and hope you get something out of this. If nothing else, enjoy it here, don’t let the small things get you down. My biggest piece of advice, if you read nothing past this line, is to step back and ask yourself, “Does this make me a better person?” If the answer is no, don’t sweat over it and walk away. Naturally, you ask, “Well, does Louie’s article make me a better person?” I’m glad we both agree that you should keep reading.

 

Your competitive advantage

In business, we often times talk about competitive advantage, what do you have that separates you from your competition, and your answer cannot be a degree anymore. When you look around at graduation, everyone is on the same playing field, we all have our degree. What separates you are the things you do, what you were involved in, the jobs you held and connections you have made. You have a choice to make, and the only force stopping you is you.

The biggest resource you have as a student is just that, you are a student, not competition. Companies are more than happy to tell you what they know, offer up shadow days, and make connections. You never know when you’ll use those connections down the line. Find the time to contact companies and be proactive on going after new businesses. Once you go on those trips and meet those people, do the unexpected! When was the last time you received a hand-written letter? Or a thank you email, just for sacrificing your time for someone? Those things matter and they seem like common sense, but let me tell you, they are not common practice. Do the extra steps and buy someone lunch, or a drink, and continue to do small kind things for others. I promise it will pay off.

We all are creatures of habit, we get up, go through the motions and then, when it’s too late, realize all of the things we should have done. In funny memory of Shiah Labuff’s “Just do it!” video, he has a point. What is the advantage of sitting around? You never want to look back on your life and say to others that you should have done X, Y or Z. You want to look back on your life with accomplishment, something to hang your hat on, and be a role model for others to come. But I can’t convince you to do those things, you come to school each day, you have the student loans, you know your reasoning as to why you’re here, reading this right now. Battle through, take the time to do things right and do things once.

 

What if I fail?

Do it quickly and keep moving. Learn from your mistakes but don’t let them define you as a person. In fact, embrace failure! That’s the only way you get better. Ever met a perfect person? Me neither, so who cares! Be ready to run for positions and lose, be ready to volunteer an opinion and have it shut down, be ready to submit an assignment and get it torn to pieces! It’s life, and if you’re ready for it, embrace it, who can get you down? No one. Be yourself and embrace who you are, never live your life in the light of which another casts you in. If you’ve been labeled the “Lazy Person” in your friend group, prove them wrong, if your parents have said that education doesn’t match a well-paying job, prove them wrong. Invest in yourself today, so you reap the rewards of a great career down the line. You are laying the building blocks of your life right here and now. You’ll be glad you took the time to do so.

 

Closing Thoughts. 

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to publish work and interact with all of you. This journey has been fantastic and completely turned my life in a new direction and had made the person I am today. There is so much I could tell you about college, but really, it boils down to being yourself, getting involved in as much as your can, and be curious. Ask questions and continue learning, even when you leave college. Keep improving yourself intellectually, and don’t be afraid to stand out. It’s never too late to go after your dreams, and just remember, the only one who will ever stop you from doing great things, is you.

 

Thank you again, and I hope to speak to all of you again, sometime in the future.

~ Louie Zmich (05/01/2017)

Part 4: Students of NIU Business

Editor’s Note (Louie here):  Here’s Part 4 of “Students of NIU Business,” our new and ongoing initiative project modeled after Humans of New York.  Remember if you’re an NIU Business student who wants to be featured in “Students of NIU Business,” send an email to Social Media & Marketing Intern extraordinaire Louie at lzmich1@niu.edu!!

Part 4: Students of NIU Business 

_________________________________________________________________________

untitledMaria is a transferred junior Business Administration major, with a Fashion Merchandising minor. She’s from Palatine, IL, and this is her first semester here!

She was really excited to have the opportunity to go to and transfer from, a community college before deciding on a major. Here is what Maria had to say about her transition to NIU, “When I got out of high school, I thought I was going to go to California, to a high-end fashion school. I decided to switch to business because I felt like fashion wasn’t the best fit for me to grow as quickly as I wanted. I was thinking of going to Minnesota or Indiana, but then I looked at NIU. When I was on the initial tours of the campus, Barsema Hall completely hooked me into the college. I picked Business Administration because it has all the aspects of business, funneled into one degree. I think the College of Business is going to personally fuel my goals by trying to get involved with Women in Business, Delta Sigma Pi, and CAUSE. I want to take the skills I learn and become a CEO of a company some day. My main goal there would be to reduce the carbon footprint the company leaves on the world. I want to be among the many women that have already achieved major success in the business world, I get that passion from my step mother Bobbie. She encourages me to be an empowered woman in business. So that has always been really important to me. My advice to others would be to take the initiative to do something today! Oh yeah, and a fun fact about me, I love cats!”

_________________________________________________________________________

Senior Accountancy Major, Sarahsara-woo Woo! Sarah took the time to share her story on how she came to NIU, and what kind of tips she could offer other students before she graduates.

“What really interested me at NIU was the Accountancy program here. It was always ranked in Business Week’s top Accountancy programs. When I came to visit NIU, I really got the sense that this is a community that helps develop the student body. When you compare universities of comparable competitive standing, professors have a focus solely on research. However, here at NIU, research is certainly important but the development of the students was the highest priority. That was immediately evident, and I was impressed by it.

As far as what I am up to now, I wrapped up my internship with BDO USA, LLP last semester. They asked for me to come back for a second internship during the spring semester and then offered a full-time position upon my graduation. I have accepted that offer, and I couldn’t be more excited to get started! I really commend the Accountancy program, the career fair, and the classes here, as they give me the tools to be able to find these opportunities for growth and success, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

My first internship was in audit, and the second internship will be in tax. The firm was really flexible in offering different accounting opportunities and they ultimately gave me the choice of what my full-time offer will be in, and I am excited to start my career in public accounting with them.

As I leave NIU, I think there are a few things I could say to those who are in or just entering the college. The College of Business offers so many rich opportunities for students to explore. One very important thing to do is to dive on in and get involved. Get involved with the student organizations around you and get to know your peers. These people are going to be your greatest resources and your largest support groups. Also, get to know your professors; you never know who could possibly be your next role model. The professors here really have impressive backgrounds. They all have accomplished really important and great things, and I’ve found they’re all willing to share their experiences. Ask questions, stay curious, and have a positive attitude. If you do that, nothing can stop you.”

_________________________________________________________________________

cordnei-gibsonCordnei is a Sophomore Business Management major and is planning on getting the Sales Certificate. Here is what Cordnei had to say about her life, and how she came to NIU!

“I’m from Canton Michigan, and a lot of people have asked me why I came to NIU, with all of the other universities around my hometown. The cool thing about NIU is, the school reaches out to a lot of students in the US, and the world for that matter, reaching a much greater audience. So, I checked out the website and it was really easy to navigate! The virtual tours and student resources were a huge help for my friend and me, and as a result, we both ended up applying. I called my dad all excited and visited campus 3 times to make sure it was the right decision. I ended up falling in love with the atmosphere here, the campus is gorgeous and the entire time all the advisors talked about internship opportunities at the COB. At NIU, the College of Business gives you hands-on, real-world experience and I couldn’t pass that up. I definitely made the right decision; it’s impossible to fail here. Anyone will be successful here, I’m confident in that.

I honestly feel like I have a leg up on people at other schools, simply because I’m in the College of Business. The opportunities they give us here are phenomenal. The way the COB does orientation is very uncommon, they make their students feel comfortable in all areas. Anyone is willing to sit down with you and go through your career plan. I haven’t seen that with any other college, so early in your college career. I’m only a sophomore, but I feel comfortable with my career choices, moving forward.

In high school, I was really involved, and that’s when my dad explained what project management was to me. He saw the leader inside of me, and how to achieve goals in teams, so I researched it immensely and decided that I should major in Management to fulfill my passion for driving people to achieve their goals. Management is going to allow me to motivate people and get team objectives completed.

After joining PSE, they encouraged me to network with others and gave me opportunities to meet managers and recruiters right away, my freshman year. That opportunity was and still continues to be an amazing experience. It’s always nice to get out and meet business owners and managers, no matter where you are in your professional career.

Here’s a fun fact for everyone: my mom decided to name me Cordnei to match my twin brother’s name, Cordell. We were born on Valentine’s Day, and we are two minutes apart (he is the oldest, and he never lets me forget that). And another fun fact is that we were both born on Valentine’s Day.”

_________________________________________________________________________

kenzie

Kenzie Niestrom is a senior Business Administration major with a minor in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship! Louie had the chance to sit down and discuss all that she has accomplished in her time here at the CoB!

“When I first got out of high school I went to a different college and then transferred to College of DuPage after my first semester, so I could continue working. When I was at COD, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I chose Business to get the most out of my career. NIU has a lot of partnerships with community colleges, including COD, which means if you get your associate degree before transferring to NIU, you don’t need to take your Gen Eds. I really liked the transferability here; other schools were not as accommodating. I only applied to NIU for this reason. It worked out perfectly, I’m from Lisle so it was close, and I liked the accreditation and prestige the College of Business here has.

I choose business administration because it seemed like I could do so much with the degree, and once I got settled in; I realized I could get just about any job with the skills I would be obtaining.

When I got here I joined BASA (Business Administration Student Association). At the time there were about 5 members, 4 of whom were graduating that year. I was the only member left, so there was a lot of motivation to rebuild the organization and give Business Administration a voice. I helped rebuild BASA and now it has a full e-board with 35 members strong. I had to essentially redo everything last fall; I made a new vision and bylaws while working with Brittany Buis (my academic advisor) a lot to get everything finalized. We marketed it and with the help of BA majors being funneled into the same classes, the organization grew. By having all Business Administration students in one area, the organization had a chance to have people strengthening the major and getting to know each other at the same time.

Overall, my time here has been really awesome. I’m in BASA and MBSAB (Management and Business Administration Student Advisory Board). I’m also on DSAB (Dean Student Advisory Board) and Women in Business. Being involved in all of those has helped personalize my experience at NIU. I was able to network with so many people, which can be difficult when you come in as a junior. I love the classes I’m taking and the professors have been so supportive throughout my time here.

As far as my career after college, I am working in the professional development labs at Abbott. That was fostered in the ELC program where I worked for them and then landed an internship. I loved that internship, which ultimately led to my job there.

I’m a Business Administration major who went into IT, and I know of BA majors who went into retail, sales, logistics, distribution and a few who went into IT as well. It’s so cool how we can be marketed to so many different areas of business, simply because we took such a wide variety of classes.

If I had to reach out to students who are not ready to go away to college or do not know what they are going to do, so ultimately you go to a community college first; I would say that it’s okay not to know. College is scary and some people are ready to go away and some are not, it’s okay to not have a concrete plan. It’s okay to figure out what you like and what you don’t like when you take a wide range of classes, now you are better versed and immersed in so much more than you would be if you only had your mind set on one major.”

_________________________________________________________________________

phillip-wilsonPhillip Wilson, om&is major

“Junior operations and information management major Phillip Wilson of Chicago, IL, had a different start to his college career, due to the influence of his mother. Wilson went to work immediately after graduating from high school and was successful in his job, making good money. But even with this success, his mother continued to push him to enroll in college and to pursue the path of a higher education. ‘I thought I’d come out here and be a middle of the road student,’ Wilson said. He hadn’t excelled in high school and had mediocre grades. But things are different for him at NIU. ‘I didn’t think I’d be getting a 3.4-grade point average and joining honor societies.’ He maintains a high-grade point average and is going to be a mentor for incoming freshman through the John Henrik Clarke Honor Society. If it wasn’t for his mother, Wilson admits that he would have probably stayed where he was, doing the job he was working at, for the next 50 years. His mother is happy to point this out to Wilson. ‘She brings it up as much as she can,’ he said. ‘She drops it in every conversation.’”

_________________________________________________________________________

15400918_10154307384293883_656221336830099539_n

Learn what Prajakta Kale is up to after graduating with an MIS degree in 2015 from the Department of OM&IS! Presently, Prajakta is Lead QA Analyst/Business Analyst with Duluth Trading Company, in Belleville, Wisconsin.

“Grad school is far more academically intense than undergraduate study. Whether you’re a recent undergraduate student or a mid-career professional, you’ll need to set aside some of the preconceptions you have about college lifestyle and prepare for the rigorous and rewarding experience of grad school. While my peers and I were going through this life changing experience of grad school, I witnessed that the staff in the OM&IS Department made extra efforts to smooth the transition for students. The faculty were dedicated to helping all the students achieve excellence. I appreciate the way the department designed the curriculum to match industry standards. The knowledge you gain definitely makes you an efficient employee and gives you an extra edge over your colleagues. I am grateful to the OM&IS department — they were always concerned and committed to bringing out the best in every student. In terms of what the experience helped me learn about myself, I would say it brought out my confident side. I learned that if I want something, I shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, raise concerns, and most importantly, realize it is okay to say ‘I don’t know.’ During my OM&IS project seminars, I understood that “the best way to learn something is having to explain it to someone else.” No matter how clear you are on a subject in your head, you always gain a new perspective on it when you try to explain it to a peer/colleague. I also found out that I can be more patient than I ever knew, work excellently and multitask under pressure.”

_________________________________________________________________________

Find the complete list so far of “Students of NIU Business” in posts labeled Part 1,  Part 2, Part 3,” and so on!

If you’re an NIU Business student who wants to be featured, let us know!  We love learning more about each and every participant!  Send an email to Louie at lzmich1@niu.edu!

 

Students of NIU Business – Alumni Edition: Jeff Kamholz

I had trouble thinking of a way to integrate alumni into the posts that we do for students, here on the blog. When reaching out to young alumni, a lot of their stories are rather compelling and, on some level, can relate to a wide variety of students. I thought about doing an interview style of questioning over Skype or Facetime, but that seemed too scripted. I wanted people to simply talk, and I would listen. Then it dawned on me, this is just like the Student of NIU posts! So, we have decided to create the Students of NIU: Alumni Edition and the first entry is a recent alumnus, Jeffrey Kamholz! – Louie Zmich: Student Intern 13686626_1225983507425336_6391579270793294833_n

When I was a senior in high school, I started looking at colleges. I was on my own to pay for school, so I knew a mix of scholarships and work opportunities was a criterion I needed when looking for good business schools. I was also looking for a school relatively close to home that was simultaneously going to allow me a chance to succeed, as well as the opportunity to graduate in the best financial position possible. It was then that I found NIU and learned about the opportunities this university provides. I knew that I wanted a school with a good business program, and the proximity to home and financial opportunities on top of that were simply bonuses for me.

My first week on campus, I joined about 5 clubs. While I certainly didn’t stick with all of them, I found a few that welcomed me in and with which I was hooked. One of these clubs was Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity. That was truly the first step in my professional development. I met many of the people I was closest with through Delta Sigma Pi. Serving in other roles such as an ambassador for the college in the Northern Lights Ambassadors and on the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, I tried to find ways to help the college in any way I could. Even as a freshman and sophomore, the college had given me so much. I got to know former Dean Denise Schoenbachler very well, and she is one of the people who I consider to be my personal mentor.

I was extremely fortunate to have experienced so much during my time as a student. By getting involved in five clubs, working three jobs, experiencing two study abroad programs, and completing a research fellowship, I found myself with quite a few memorable experiences under my belt…and I was only a rising junior in college. I eventually declared marketing as my major with a specialization in sales. I chose marketing initially because I thought it would get me close to advertising, and I was fortunate enough to get to know and work with some of the faculty I originally met as a freshman. Their impact on me was profound enough for me to declare my major as marketing. As I progressed down the marketing career path, sales seemed like the best option in which to start my career; it allowed me the most freedom in a customer-facing role.

“Throughout my senior year, I was fortunate enough to interview with many companies. The sales program not only gave me real-world experience selling products but also taught me how to market myself in order to show the value I bring to companies.”

Throughout my senior year, I was fortunate enough to interview with many companies. The sales program not only gave me real-world experience selling products but also taught me how to market myself in order to show the value I bring to companies. Drs. Ridnour, Peterson, Groza and Professor Howlett all taught with different styles but similar messages. With everything from mock interviews, the sales Corporate Golf Outing, to bringing in dozens of real-world sales professionals to network with, the college’s sales program truly prepares its students for success.13227000_1176521745704846_3470934632335728426_n

I highly recommend that students interview with more than one company; only by speaking to employees of those companies and doing things like shadow days will you be able to realize truly what a ‘day in the life’ is actually like. While it certainly helps to have an idea of the industry you want to get into, it is okay to not know for certain. Interview with a few companies, and figure out where you think you would fit best.

Fast forwarding to present day, I’m in the middle of a year-long sales training program with Bloomberg BNA. Because of the experiences I had during my time in the College of Business at NIU, I was able to stand out enough and put myself into a position to succeed. I have been extremely fortunate to find a company that has been willing to invest so much in me. I chose Bloomberg BNA because of the career development opportunities and the long-term career potential. I felt that the year-long training was unmatched; additionally, the company’s commitment to its employees is rather unheard of at this level of business. I have always looked for that “something more” in a company, and I found it at Bloomberg BNA.

So far, I have directly used skills and techniques that I learned in the sales program. Anyone who has gone through the sales program recently has read both The Challenger Sale, as well as SPIN Selling. I have so far applied the principles of both books in my mock sessions. (Yes, sales students, you should actually read the books!) Learning how to ask the right questions and listening to what the customer says are two of the most important skills that I have developed so far.

“Moving across the country and knowing very few people in a new location was a step I didn’t think I was going to take. Once I thought of it as an investment into my own future, the idea began to grow on me.”

13490589_10206971089097581_8911327828286944050_o

Jeff, third from the left, with all of his colleagues in training.

Bloomberg BNA’s home office is located just outside of Washington DC, which meant I had to relocate for a year for the training program. Even though originally I had not anticipated leaving the greater Chicago area, I chose to accept a position that I felt was going to set me up for long-term success. Moving across the country and knowing very few people in a new location was a step I didn’t think I was going to take. Once I thought of it as an investment into my own future, the idea began to grow on me.

Recognizing the potential in the opportunity, I knew it would be the best decision and the best place to start my career. I view this year not only as an investment in my professional future but also in my personal life. Aside from a few months spent in Europe, I had never been away from Illinois for an extended period. I never thought I would be relocating- until the right opportunity presented itself, and I could see myself at that company.

If I was to give a bit of advice, it would be the following: It is okay to not know what you want to do; once you figure it out, however, be relentless in pursuing it. Overall, this was the best career move for me and for my future. While moving away from home certainly wasn’t easy, I knew that it was something I had to do in order to meet my own definition of success. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone in order to set yourself up for success.”

1378000_553703701367742_1076155035_n

 

Part 3: Students of NIU Business


Editor’s Note (Michelle here):  Here’s Part 3 of  “Students of NIU Business,” our new and ongoing initiative modeled after Humans of New York.  Remember if you’re an NIU Business student who wants to be featured in “Students of NIU Business,” send an email to Social Media & Marketing Intern extraordinaire Louie at lzmich1@niu.edu!!

 

Part 3:  Students of NIU Business

Kayi Lawson jr mktg majorKayi Lawson, marketing major with plans to earn certificates in interactive marketing, professional selling, and information systems

“My two older sisters and my parents were born in Togo, West Africa. My parents did not have it easy when they moved to America and had to work really hard to give us what we have now. My dad received his graduate degree from the NIU COB in Information Systems. Also, my mom obtained her undergraduate degree in Information Systems while pregnant with me and caring for two young children. My father and my mother have always told us that success was not an option, it was mandatory. My oldest sister is now getting her MBA at Standford University, and the other is getting her masters in Molecular Genetics at the University of Birmingham, which is in the United Kingdom. I am a semester ahead and, in my future, I want to also get my MBA. In the end, I will owe my success to my family always pushing me to do more than what is expected.”

 

Dalton Stokes jr accy major and minor in mktgDalton Stokes, accountancy major and marketing minor

“Out of both my parents, I am the first one to go to a university. My real parents got separated when I was a little kid. It was rough not having my real father there for me. My mom has always pushed me to do my best and to always be out there doing well. I held that close to me, and tried to never disappoint her. This is a great opportunity to be in a university. Since I’m here, I can now get to where I want to go, all thanks to my mom. So I push myself to my limits to make her feel like she is accomplished, with my success. It’s a tough road getting there, and I’m happy where I am now. If you have the opportunity to go to college, take it. Big opportunities like this only come once in a life time, so take it and run with it.”

 

Ilsa Chaudhri jr accy major and minor in finance and economics

Ilsa Chaudhri, accountancy major with double-minors in finance and economics

“I think that it’s very important to pass on what you have learned to high schoolers, because we’ve been in their shoes. That was me three years ago. I wish I had more exposure or more insight from people in their transition to college. I want them to know that it’s okay to be out of your comfort zone. It’s okay to not know what you want to major in or what you want to do for the rest of your life. Just jump in and get involved! Get involved with friends, classes, and organizations. Network. Grow as a person, it’s not just about your GPA, it’s about finding out who you are and finding out what you’re passionate about. Everything else will follow.”

 

Jenee Carlson freshman business major with certificate in social entrepreneurshipJenee Carlson, freshman business major with plans to earn a certificate in social entrepreneurship

“Well, I grew up in the small town of Sycamore. I was rather sheltered, and with my dad as the principle that didn’t help much. But all joking aside, growing up my dad was always my role model and emphasized doing the right thing. I had my first job with an after school program that helped a lot with at-risk youth.

So I wanted to be a Social Worker until that job, when I realized that, emotionally, I could not handle it. That being said, I knew from then on out I want to help people in my life. So during my senior year of high school, I was introduced to the Business Leadership Academy which was run through Kish. That organization was managed by Bruce Griffith, and he became my mentor through my senior year. I worked really close with him. He introduced me to the business world, and showed me that its more than just making money. Rather, it’s about ethics and helping people, through business.

After that program, I realized I was going to be a business major, and since NIU has one of the best business schools in the country, it was a no brainer coming here. From there, I had some friends who were in Research Rookies, so I heard about it through them. That’s how I got involved with Research Rookies and the opportunity to work on the research project I’m on now. The research project is “Food Insecurity Among College Students.” We want to know if hunger is a chronic issue on campus here, and that’s what the survey is going to tell us when it goes out on the 22nd.

I really think this is an important issue to confront, as some people might not think about hunger on campus with meal plans and all. But it’s an issue that, I think, if we address it, could help out students significantly. I think it’s important to realize that if you don’t know where your next meal is going to be, it’s rather hard to be expected to perform academically. So having that perspective on this potential issue will really help the student body grow closer together.”

 

Rachel Lapidus jr mgmt major

Rachel Lapidus, management major and Business Passport student advisory board member

“The thing I am most excited about this semester is Passport Palooza week this April because I am helping to plan fun events for the college. In my free time, I like to sing, play guitar (I’m not very good yet though), watching Netflix, and cooking. Also, not a lot of people know this, but I speak Russian! I actually have found a couple people in my OMIS 351 class that do as well, which is really surprising to find in DeKalb I feel. If anyone sees me around Barsema, I basically live here, please say hi!”

 

Megan O'Brien jr accy major and marketing minorMegan O’Brien, accountancy major and marketing minor

“One of the biggest pieces of advice I have for students is to remember to take a little time for yourself every day. I think that we often get so caught up in different organizations and classes that we forget to take time for ourselves and the things that we truly enjoy doing! Whether it’s taking ten minutes to reflect on your day or taking an hour to catch up on Netflix, we all need to make sure we are allocating time for ourselves and taking a break from the stress of everyday life as a student. I wish that I had figured this out sooner in my college career because it makes such a difference in my mindset. We are busy students, but we deserve a break once in awhile too.”

 

Samantha Larson jr accy major

Samantha Larson, accountancy major

“I am always grateful for the opportunity to be studying Accounting at NIU. My parents and sisters are my big motivation. I want to be someone that my sisters can look up to. I would encourage everyone to get involved in college and find something they are passionate about. At the same time, I think students need to make time to enjoy being in college and enjoy themselves.”

 

 

Corey Meredith jr accy major and social entrepreneurship minorCorey Meredith, accountancy major and social entrepreneurship minor

“The biggest adventure of my life so far was when I studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. A year ago I had the opportunity to spend a semester at the University of Economics in Prague. While I was there I took courses on International Business, Marketing, and even an introductory Czech language course. In order to adapt, I had to immerse myself into a foreign environment and culture. This was difficult at times, but the lessons I learned about life and people were priceless. I was able to travel around to 15 different countries during the 4 months I was abroad, and the main lesson I took away was that we are all not so different. People all around the world have similar wants, dreams, and aspirations for their life. This realization has inspired me to look for the best in others, and encourage everyone to follow their dreams. Never take anything for granted because not everyone has the opportunity to do what they love!”

 

Stephanie Aboutar mgmt major and mktg minor

Stephanie Aboutar, management leadership major and marketing minor with a certificate in interactive marketing

“My check-list for success:

– Always conduct yourself in a professional manner and show respect to others.

– Keep your options open and be open minded.

 

– Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you.

– Live in the moment and do not dwell on the past.

– Treat others the way you want to be treated, you do not know their story.

– Follow your heart and dreams and make them a reality.

– Take on stress by changing the way you think about it, or removing yourself from the situation.

– The anchor holds in spite of the storm.”

 

Faith Young

Faith Young, Human Resource Management major.

“I am a big advocate for getting involved in student organizations and in the community! As a transfer student, I came in with the goal of being involved in at least one student organization. I started my first semester at NIU as an executive board member for Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and as a Student Representative for the University Honors Program. I have continued my commitment to student involvement by being selected as Co-President for SHRM, member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, and Event Coordinator for Sigma Iota Epsilon, National Honorary Management Fraternity. In these roles, my main focus is to encourage other students to get involved and be leaders in all that they do! My advice to other students would be to take risks and set goals for yourself; you’ll never know all that you can achieve!”

Find the complete list so far of “Students of NIU Business” in posts labeled Part 1,  Part 2, Part 3,” and so on!

If you’re an NIU Business student who wants to be featured, let us know!  We love learning more about each and every participant!  Send an email to Louie at lzmich1@niu.edu!

It’s Time To Register For The 2016 Social Impact Summit Hosted By CAUSE

CAUSE Logo

Register Now For The 2016 Social Impact Summit!

The founder and director of Global Orphan Prevention will be among the featured guests Friday, April 8, at the Social Impact Summit, located in the Barsema Alumni and Visitor Center starting at 8:30am!

REGISTER NOW! REGISTRATION CLOSES APRIL 1ST!

The event, hosted by the NIU-based Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs, is intended to educate students (and others) about social entrepreneurialism, to inspire them to increase their societal and environmental impacts and to create a forum where individuals passionate about changing the world can network.

Tickets are $5 for NIU students and $20 for all others. Registration is available Social Impactonline. The event is sponsored by Product Development Technologies (PDT).

The event will include presentations by social entrepreneurs, including Katie Hilborn as the keynote speaker. Katie is the founder and director of Global Orphan Prevention, an international nonprofit dedicated to keeping mothers and children together through social entrepreneurship, education, and a clean birthing program.

Katie HilbornKatie grew up in St. Charles, Illinois and spent most of her adult life in the Colorado ski town of Breckenridge. Because she lived in a seasonal environment, she had the opportunity to leave the country during the off-seasons. Since beginning to travel the globe in 2006 after she graduated from university, she always incorporated a volunteer project. Now twenty-seven countries and six continents later, she has seen first-hand how the developing world lives and has made it her mission to change that.

Currently, she is working on a social entrepreneurship program to help eradicate child trafficking in Nepal. By investing in cash crops (chili and cardamom farming), her hope is that these income generating activities will help empower the marginalized indigenous populations.

For more information, check out her website, here.

This year, CAUSE will have a similar schedule with a few changes:

  1. 8:30 – 9:15am: Coffee and Pastries with opening remarks from CAUSE
  2. 9:15 – 10:00am: Keynote Speaker, Katie Hilborn
  3. 10:05 – 10:45am: Breakout Sessions #1
  4. 10:50 – 11:30am: Breakout Session #2
  5. 11:30 – 12:00pm: Lunch and Networking
  6. 12:00 – 1:15pm: Pitch With a CAUSE Competition
  7. Closing Remarks from CAUSESave The Date

There will be two rounds of breakout sessions, and guests can choose which panel to sit in on each round. Panels to choose from during the day will include:

Impact Investing Panel:

  • Somya Munjal, is a CPA, MBA, MAS and is the Chief Youth Servant at Youthful Savings.
  • Eric Wasowicz is an Investor and Advisor with Channel Clarity LLC.
  • Joe Parisi is a Co-founder of Guard Lama.
  • Greg Lernihan, is the Co-founder of Convergint Technologies.

Working In Developing Countries:

  • Katie Hilborn is the founder and director of Global Orphan Prevention.
  • Rich Johnson is the Cofounder and CEO of Spark Ventures.
  • Kurt Thurmaier is a professor and researcher at Northern Illinois University.
  • Nancy Economou is the founder and president of Watts of Love.

Technology:

  • Moira Hardek is the President and CEO of Galvanize Labs, Inc.
  • Abby Ross is the co-founder and COO of ThinkCERCA.
  • Mark Schwartz is the CEO at PDT.

Pitch With a CAUSE Competition:

  • Pitch With a CAUSE is a competition for anyone who has an idea for a business that makes a positive social or environmental impact. The competition is open to anyone who’s interested in making a submission- high schoolers, undergrads, grad students, non-students, retirees, kindergarteners, etc. Everyone is welcome. A panel of expert investors and social entrepreneurs will select the top 5 submissions to present at the Social Impact Summit on Friday, April 8th. Each group will have 5 minutes to pitch their idea followed up with 5 minutes of Q and A from the audience and panel of judges. The team selected as the winner at the 2016 Social Impact Summit will take home the $1,500 grand prize! Second place wins $1,000 and third place wins $500!

For more information on the Social Impact Summit or CAUSE in general, please email the CAUSE President, Ilsa, at ilsaachaudhri@gmail.com.

How Students Of NIU Gave Me A More Open Mind

As some of you may know, I have been interviewing different students around NIU. Mainly in the College of Business. This is a new operation that we put into effect at the beginning of this spring semester, and what started as a small simple project, has turned into an eye-opening experience that really has changed my view on life, in the most positive way possible. These are the Students of NIU.

When you take time out of someone else’s day, you’re starting to step into uncharted territory. Time is one of the most valuable things we have. It’s one of the only things in our lives that is certain, time will keep moving. That being said, seeing how people use their time, and what they have done in their time so far, is simply amazing. From students being the only person in their family to get an education to moving to the United States literally weeks ago. Everyone has a unique story to tell, and I love listening.

This project has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I’m no longer interviewing people, I’m learning about my fellow students and forming new friends. We live in a society where everything moves so fast, and if you don’t stop to talk to your peers, you may never meet anyone beyond your class schedule. Isn’t that a scary thought? Seven billion people and counting in this world, and we only talk to the people that we have to. People’s lives are so amazing when you think about it. Some people have been to different parts of the world, learned new languages, and ventured off into uncharted territory that we happen to call home. To me, that’s incredible. It’s also incredible that someone could go their whole lives not interacting with one another, and not getting to tell their story, simply because no one asked.

At times, I thought to myself, “These people don’t want to talk to some stranger. Even if they did, they’re too busy.” I was wrong, and I’m glad I was wrong. Talking to people could seem like such an easy and mundane task, but in reality, it’s a way to relieve stress, take a step back from your own life, and reflect. I don’t think anyone is perfect in anything they do. There is always room to grow and to learn something new from someone else. I truly believe that the only way to get better and work our way to being “perfect,” is to learn a little piece from each person you meet, on what they do well. Not only did each of you highlight something in life that you did well, but you also made yourselves better by gaining knowledge from one another. But don’t worry about being perfect; it can’t be that fun when you think about it. Once you consider yourself all knowing, that’s the moment you’ll stop learning.

We take so much time to form relationships with people and then we’re so quick to get comfortable, never branching out to meet new people. It’s interesting how hard it is for people to talk about themselves when I ask. Try it right now, what can you tell me about yourself? Isn’t hard it? But once I start, “peeling back the layers” of these scholars, is when I really start to see why everyone we live around is so special and unique. Everyone has unique outlooks on life, and special mottos they live by. So what’s your story? What drives you? What gets you out of bed in the morning? Is it as simple as, “well, because I have to.” I just don’t buy that anymore. I think people are deep, unique, and inspired creatures waiting to express their story. Every one of us has the opportunity to uncover that treasure of a new friend, right now. Take the time to talk to someone new sometime soon. You really would be surprised how alike we all are, and what we can learn from each other is endless really.

I think I will leave you all with a quote that I have written in the front of my journal. This quote comes from Tim Augustine, and I wrote it down at a conference in Schaumburg for Delta Sigma Pi:

“The motto that has made me successful, but also has kept me humble throughout my career is to always be the least knowledgeable person in the room at all times, but be smart enough to get by. What I mean by this is surround yourself with people who are more intelligent and better at specific things, than you. That way, you’ll never stop learning, and, more importantly, you’ll never run out of things to talk about.” – Tim Augustine

Remember to keep being awesome everyone,

Louie

The Birth of The House Press – How Joe Dzwonnik is Living His Dream

Joe Dzwonnik

Editors note: I first had met Joe when I had the idea of a Beard and Mustache club here at NIU. After much consideration and other obligations, the club has taken a back seat for the moment, but regardless, Joe was one of the firsts to jump on board. From there I have always been in touch with Joe on some level, and once he launched his company here in DeKalb I knew it was a great opportunity to sit down with the young entrepreneur and pick his brain on the secrets of starting your own successful company. As you’re about to see, Joe has what it takes to get off the ground, and quickly make success. As always you can follow me on all social media @LOUIEZMICH and on Instagram @louie_zmich. From there give the NIUBusiness Instagram page a like as well! Let’s dive into Joe’s interview, enjoy!

As the title says, Joe Dzwonnik started his dream of owning his own custom clothing company on September 5th of this year right in downtown DeKalb. From there, his company really has never looked back. Starting with his roommate’s business making shirts in their basement, to then moving into The House Cafe. Joe started to make partnerships and acquaintances from all over town which really gave him an incredible advantage over others in the marketplace. Joe simply realized that there was a need for quality and good customer service in the custom clothing business and really took the opportunity head on. As we take a look at some of the questions I had for Joe, we will see just how much NIU helped him move forward professionally, and how being a Marketing graduate really helped with how he battled, and continues to avoid, challenges while overcoming them.

Everyone should take a chance to check out Joe’s incredible work on his Facebook page, and even reach out to him for anything custom printed that you need. As his motto states, he certainly delivers on quality at the best prices in town. I can say that those statements are accurate as many clubs on campus have already purchased t-shirts, banners, and sweats from Joe. I speak for everyone at CAUSE by saying the overall experience was fantastic. Now to the interview!

What was some of the history leading up to your business? How did you choose this path, and what inspired the name, “The House Press”?

This process came together through my parent’s intuition and my roommate, Jake Cronins’ own printing business. I had received mentoring from my mother who was an art and graphic design major, along with my father who was well versed in computer programming and website design. Those three really pushed me forward, and gave me the tools I needed to succeed. They really paved the road well for me. Brian, the owner of The House Cafe started to take and interest in me, as I had always come there to play shows or do stand up, and we eventually developed a professional relationship. From there, I started to become Brian’s promoter and marketing guy for bands and other shows that come in through The House Cafe. I actually put in a lot of work, and most of it was for free to really establish that I cared about his business. That ended up serving as an asset later in my career because when I brought up starting my own business, Brian offered me space in his basement in return for the marketing I had done for him in the past, and the current marketing and promoting I am doing for The House Cafe right now. The name, “The House Press” was really the least I could do when I was working underneath the Cafe. The name just made sense, and it didn’t cause people to misunderstand where I was located. My plan from here is to reintroduce The House Cafe as more of a music hub, and have The House Press be the promoter and supplier for all the gear that the bands usually provide themselves. From there we could be the provider of video editing, bookings, promotions, and live events. The first step of all that was the production of “The House Cafe Live.” It’s good to give yourself room to grow, and having future goals is something I feel will really take my business to the next level.

What made you decide to dive in head first into this business?

It really was a collection of the right opportunities at the right time to be honest. Kind of like the perfect storm if you will. I really wasn’t able to, “dip my toes in.” I had to either make the decision or not, and that really put the dog on my heels to keep running to my goals. I knew that if I just applied myself 100% that there was no way anything was going to stop me. I organized deals with a bunch of people to get the tools that I needed to push the business forward instead of going out and being in debt to others. I was able to trade my skills for the tools that I needed to run my business, it was as simple as that. With this model I was able to use the marketing knowledge that I had, to self promote the business on social media and really form connections and a clientele that knew who I was and everything that I brought to the table. I wanted to be as transparent as possible, and never let people think that the door was closed for them, everyone knew The House Press as Joe, and not some phony person.

How does someone start from ground zero like you did? How do you build a business from the ground up?

In my opinion you always have to be finishing one thing as you’re starting another. This way you’re never board of one project and the ideas are always fresh. When you start from zero, the door just gets swung wide open and you can choose how you enter. If I didn’t jump through that door, then I knew it was going to close in my face and I would be back to square one in an office, and that wasn’t something I wanted to do. I realized the opportunities I had, and I took them, simple as that. After moving on from the printing division in NIU’s design department, I knew that the thrill of being a business person was something that I had to do. I had a taste of what it was like to be an entrepreneur, and that feeling was something I could never give up. That feeling is what keeps me going, the same feeling that keeps me up until 3am then waking up at 7am to keep printing and making excellent products for people. It’s that entrepreneurial drive that you have to have to succeed. In my opinion everyone can be a business person, but you just need to find what you are good at and find ways to improve people’s lives with that skill. From there you’re not working, you’re using your passion to make people smile. That sounds so cheesy doesn’t it? But it’s true, you won’t work a day in your life if you’re just living your dream, this is my dream. The biggest piece of advice I can give here though, is to maximize your time to better yourself and your business. Your business is like a child that you created and need to tend to at all times. Everyday when you wake up, you’re continuing to bring your business to life. Anything and everything you do is making your brand, your company, and ultimately your career. Everything you say is a reflection on you, so make the best impression possible on people and you cannot fail.

What are some the challenges you have ran into with your business? How did you combat these problems?

Everything that is common in business, people already know how to do. Most of it is common sense in some regard, but the biggest issue is your mind. My biggest challenge is keeping myself in one place at one time. I have my fingers in so many pies right now and it gets overwhelming sometimes. I just have to realize I have my self on my side, and that everything that I have ever really wanted to happen had happened. I just need to keep my head in the game and keep on trucking.

What did you learn from the College of Business that you use in your business today?

Well I think that the competitiveness in the College of Business is fantastic. Competition breeds success, there’s no other way to put it. When your back is up against the wall and you’re always trying to be your best, how can that not produce successful, smart people? The college really set me up with a skill set to branch out and be anything in the business world. I never thought I would mention this one, but looking back, UBUS 310 was really something special. Every decision I make in a given day involves; marketing, management,operations and finance. No kidding, I have to think about all four of those categories every single day. It’s insane! How much will it cost me to market my new design this way. Once I market the design, how am I going to manage my time to complete this operational task? It really gave me an aspect that I literally could not get anywhere else, and I’m grateful for that, no doubt. You’re going to have five different people coming to you in different angles all the time. The class was as close to small business as you can get without having your own small business. The last thing I will touch on, because I can go on for hours, is the marketing department at NIU. Literally every resource they offer, you should take advantage of. There was so many tools that really helped me market my company today. It taught me how to carry myself, act professional, and reach as many people as possible. My time here really was the best return on any investment I have made.

Joe’s story is really something that can relate to just about everyone. I think most people, some time or another, have dreamt about owning their own business. As you saw in this interview if you have the drive to move forward, you too can be your own boss and make all the decisions someday. It’s interesting to see how much drive a person can have when they REALLY want something. Drive and determination is what gets you up in the morning, and what makes you succeed. Joe, just like many other NIU alumni, had that ambition to push forward and make their dream a reality. I thank you Joe for your time with me and I wish you the best of luck in everything that you’re doing! I look forward to seeing The House Press logo all over campus eventually. Take the time to go check Joe out on Facebook and Instagram, and support his awesome cause!

Thank you everyone and as always, don’t forget to be awesome!

Louie

What’s Your CAUSE?

CCQiDGUVIAAxA6T.jpg

Editors note: It seems like when you start to join organizations, a snowball effect starts to form and you simply cannot stop joining and making a difference. It’s so true though, the feeling you get when contributing to something bigger than yourself is truly amazing. As everyone knows, when you start to get very busy, you can only pick one or two of the best organizations to be part of.  CAUSE is the staple of all organizations in that it is fit for everyone, so taking a look at what these people do for the school and the community, was a no brainer. As always, if you like what I do, feel free to follow me on social media @LOUIEZMICH. Hope you all enjoy!

 CAUSE, we see it everywhere, you smell it on Thursdays and join us on events such as the Social Impact Summit, but what is CAUSE? (And what is the Social Impact Summit, you say?) CAUSE is the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs…I hear the typing right now, “Why Unreasonable?” Well, Gerorge Shaw, said it best…in fact it’s his quote: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” This is the foundation of CAUSE, and this student run organization is anything but reasonable when it comes to establishing itself as  the top dog in fundraising and community contribution.

Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Dropbox:Camera Uploads:2015-09-10 10.16.33.jpg

 Who are those people selling glorious pizza on Thursdays? CAUSE, the idea was simple, CAUSE wanted to offer pizza to students, that seemed to be the only thing that student count not manage to receive when studying in Barsema. This was the idea that sparked the prestigious phenomenon that fills the atrium with hungry people and smells that intoxicate. The students at CAUSE hand make the Pizza Pros’ pizzas on Thursday mornings at 9:45am sharp and literally top, spread, and bake all the ingredients by hand and personally deliver the pizzas to Barsema Hall to sell them promptly at 11am. Only challenge? Staying in stock! The weekly fundraiser is from 11am-1pm, and the organization almost never makes it past 12:30pm, as the demand is just too high. CAUSE has even maxed out Pizza Pros’ ovens at 24 pizzas, and we still cannot keep enough on hand. Sounds like people need to order up right when they can. Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:photo2-e1406646253633.jpg

Besides having long lines for their fantastic pizzas, CAUSE goes way beyond fundraising. CAUSE is most definitely leading the charge in donations around the world. This year, CAUSE has decided to do donations a little bit differently  by donating 50% of profits from pizza sales each month to a helpful organization of the student body’s choice from around the world. This month, CAUSE is donating their proceeds to Nicole Swedlow and Entreamigos! (Pictured below). CAUSE is also doing something amazing, and offering a scholarship to qualified NIU students at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Simply a testament of how powerful and large this organization is becoming.

The truth is, CAUSE is about sharing and increasing the impact in the community. Going beyond NIU is simply another facet of being unreasonably bold. It’s like a pond ripple effect and CAUSE is making a big splash. Expanding out to other Universities and schools over time, just feel like the only way to move forward that would fully satisfy everyone’s hunger in this organization. It really is amazing to think that something that literally started as pizza sales in the atrium has blossomed so much that the thought of expansion is now a legitimate idea being discussed. Who knows, maybe down the line, high schools and universities across the country could have their very own CAUSE!

Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:Selling+CAUSE+Pizza.jpgCAUSE has become, over time, it’s own Social Entrepreneurial business. The meetings are run like a business, finances are conducted like a business. When said plan becomes a hit, the only thing an unreasonable person would think, would we be to go and get more people around the world to care and help out with others. The leading factor in the outreach is by far the success of the Social Impact summit.

The Social Impact Summit was started in 2013 and had the goal in mind of combining students, professionals, and professors with expertise in the social space into one large summit where networking, startups and entrepreneurs could thrive. This is the big time, this is what the entire team works for through the year. The Summit is held every April in the Barsema Alumni Visitor’s Center and consists of a full day of keynote speakers combined with breakout panels and a networking lunch giving opportunities to students just like you who want to make a difference. The entire event is funded by the pizza sales and companies willing to donate. This is amazing, companies are willing to sponsor a completely student run event because that’s the kind of people they want! Innovators, risk takers, and people who just simply get things done. Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:Social+Impact+Summit.png

The Social Impact Summit also goes a step further and conducts their annual “Pitch With A CAUSE” competition. This is a competition for anyone who has an idea for a business that makes a positive social or environmental impact. It basically is Shark Tank but for NIU, literally. There is a panel of professionals in this field, who work together to ask questions and pick a winner for the grand prize of $1,500! People from around the world come to pitch their cause. No joke, a group from Hungary came last year, simply wonderful! The day is full of wonderful things for everyone, good food, and great organizations to network with and sometimes purchase goodies from, not to mention the keynote speakers who will most definitely catch your interest. April should be your go to month to really jump start your career in a fantastic direction.

Innovate. Impact. Be unreasonable, that has always been the model for CAUSE and never straying away from that model has brought ample success. When asking a CAUSE member, “What does CAUSE do?” you will never get the same answer, simply put, we do so much. CAUSE never puts down a new idea and not only has become its own pizza business, but has also become a networking powerhouse and central hub for innovation and excellence from speakers to donations.

Thank you all for letting me try to express exactly what CAUSE does, and maybe this sparks your interest in something else to join. If you’re interesting in joining, feel free to stop by Barsema Hall Room 219 on Wednesday’s from 5-6pm and don’t forget to go to http://www.niucause.com for all the updates on what is going on in the CAUSE world, and as always, hope to see you on Thursday’s for pizza!

As for now, as always this is Louie telling you to stay awesome and do something to change the world!

Thank you everyone,

  Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:logo.jpg

~ Louie

A Picture Perfect Adventure: Datta Prakash

Editor’s Note: Before I got a chance to sit down with Datta I was first introduced to him through his Flickr page, and his photography. That’s him in the photo above, and in fact he took every photo in this post.  His images are truly organic and really breathtaking, which made me want to learn more. When we met, the conversation ran the gamut from his interest in photography, business to college life. I decided to turn this into a full document instead of an interview transcript, just to make it more fluid, but let’s dive into the conversation!

Go check Datta out on Flickr: flickr.com/dattaprakash

Please welcome in Datta, and enjoy!

Datta Prakash – a master of information systems (MIS) student – has an incredible knack for the arts along with a passion for business (coupled with an undergraduate focus in enigineering).  But before we go any further with this story, check out another one of Datta’s photos (all the images in this post are his photography).  This one (below) is Datta’s capture of a magnificent lion:

Wow, right?  And what a reminder of how important it is to not take for granted the variety of beauty that is around us. Scenery and nature really paint a beautiful picture of where we are.  For most of us at NIU, the majority of us have lived our whole lives in the U.S.  Not so for Datta, who was born and raised in India.

As he ventured to the United States for the first time, he brought along his undergraduate engineering degree and his camera and embarked on a new adventure he most likely will never forget.  This was only one month ago.  I’m fortunate to have had a chance to sit down with him and find out how his transition to NIU has been so far.  And also to welcome him to the U.S. and into the Huskie family.

You can imagine the first question in my mind:  how did he even know about NIU all the way in India? I have to admit that what Datta shared about NIU’s reputation in India was really cool to hear.

“In India, the NIU degree is well known and sought after,” Datta said.  “Also, employers back home know that when a student completes a master degree in the USA, they really have someone special.”

And getting that confirmed by a friend doesn’t hurt either.

“I have a friend who is enrolled in master coursework here.  We stayed in touch while I was in India.  So I’ve heard a lot of good things from him about what he has experienced firsthand at NIU.”

That feedback was enough to convince Datta.  That, and a review of the college website and a comparison against a couple of other schools just to verify that NIU’s curriculum and classes were much better suited to his interests.  And they are. 

Now fast-forward to a month ago – only ONE month ago – when Datta traveled half way around the world to a country where he knew only one other person.

“It was a little intimidating,” Datta admitted, when asked what it was like to travel alone half-way around the world to a place where he didn’t know many people.  “But my friend who was already here helped me to meet other people.  Everyone has been very nice.  I quickly broadened my circle of friends.”

And he quickly found an apartment near campus, allowing him to rest easy about housing worries so he could concentrate on the boatload of information systems classes he signed up for. Talk about a whirlwind right? It’s hard to put myself in those shoes.  Not knowing some of the people at a new school is one thing, but going to a whole new country and then starting your master degree on top of it must have been a huge challenge.

If that was true for Datta, you wouldn’t know it.  Right off the bat Datta jumped into university life.  His long list of things to do includes going to Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time and representing NIU’s cricket club in the upcoming American College Cricket Tournament.  Right away he’s utilizing the Cricketing skills he honed in India when he was Captain of his Methodist College team there.

Datta also plans to get back to his roots, back to his instinct to photograph life.  He’s entirely self-taught in this art and instinctively seeks out the world to capture what it reveals.

His travel plans here include visiting many states (and definitely the Grand Canyon!) and taking in as much of the country as he can … much like his approach in India (the location for the vast majority of his photos so far).  His favorite mode of transportation when it comes to sightseeing?  Hikes or long walks.  Some of his journeys in India were so long in fact that his family would force him to come home otherwise risk losing him to the wilderness and his camera. 

Speaking of which, you sense from his images that Datta has seen a lot, including a variety of different cultures.

This led me to ask about the differences he may have noticed now that he has settled into the United States.  I find it fascinating to see the country I have always lived in through someone else’s eyes who has only been here a month.

It was intriguing to hear that the social interactions here  – things like people in Barsema Hall saying hello and good morning – happen much more frequently than they do in India.  Particularly because our society is always “plugged in” and distracted by so many different devices.

“The United States is much more organized – even if there are many devices and distractions, as you say – than what I’ve seen in other places.  The roads, the traffic, the way people do things.  It’s much more orderly.  People are polite to each other,” Datta elaborated.  In terms of university life, he shared the same observation.  “Clubs and teams and diversity centers…there’s just so much more to get involved with here.  All of it is organized so clearly.  And Greek Life…well, that’s something I’ve never seen before.”

There was one surprising thing that Datta was very familiar with before he arrived in the U.S. He’s well broken into the music space, specifically hard rock and heavy metal.  Metallica, Pantera and Iron Maiden are his favorite bands that he listens to all the time. We had a very nice moment where music really brought us together.  In an instant we both related to the same bands and the same interests. Seems like a world away, but really when we take the time to discover it, there’s a lot we all share in common.

Moving from somewhere nice and comforting to facing a whole new world by yourself is something that I admire, I think that courage along with his innovation 

and passion for new ideas really stands him apart.

I think it’s only fitting to leave you with more from Datta himself when asked how tough it was to go 100% on his own to a place he had never been:

“Change in life is something that makes you grow. I’ve been an introvert most of my years so far but I always had that interest to explore new places, travel alone and learn to adapt myself to different environments. I faced the same problems just like a typical foreign student would face initially, but life’s getting easier because I am learning to get adapted to this new country by being more expressive and interactive than I used to be. I still do miss my home country’s food though (smiles).”  (Datta explained that his hometown of Hyderabad is known for having the best food in India.  Here’s hoping that maybe DeKalb will continue to offer more diverse food as time goes on!)

Thank you all for joining me on this great interview, and I hope you found it as interesting as I did.

Thank you again, and as always, doesn’t forget to be awesome today.

Louie

PS. I had to include just a couple more photos from Datta.  Do check out his flickr account (link at the top of the post) for more.  He is just truly amazing, I will be getting lessons from him soon for sure.

 

Seriously, go check him out. You’ll be glad you did. ~ Louie

Whoa, whoa…who is this Lou guy?

Red Rock Cannon – Las Vegas, Nevada

Editors note: As you probably have already read from Mr. Ferguson, my name is Louie Zmich and I am filling the deep shoes left for me from Jake as the new Social Media and Marketing Intern here at NIU. This post is just to introduce myself and let everyone know who I am and what I’m all about. This will also be a good opportunity to say my vision for the blog posts and the direction I would like to take everything. As always you can fine me on all social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn(LouisZmich)) @LouieZmich. Let’s get to it!

 

So who am I? Well, to put it simply: I am a laid back, Type A, extroverted, outdoorsmen with a spiritually grounded earthy side to him, who’s role model is Theodore Roosevelt. Sounds like a huge contradiction right, my role model is a powerful well rounded enforcer, (President in 1901 – 1909, and accomplished more than I can ever type), but I also like to connect with people on a spiritual basis, how can this be?! Well, I pride myself on that to be honest. I am the type of person to embrace every hobby thrown my way; life is too amazing and wonderful to put people down for anything they love in my opinion. That being said, I also live my life by the attitude of, “Do things everyday that make you the best version of yourself.” What I mean by this, Is to do things in your everyday life that allow you to grow as a better version of yourself when you go to bed, than when you woke up. This can range from a simple task to complex life long goals, the bottom line is that you’re becoming a better person to make the world a better place, and that is what I’m all about.

 

But, I’m also a realist, and I know that sometimes when life gets in the way things become very stressful. So, to relieve unnecessary stress I love being outdoors (As pictured above in the Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas), and being active with sports and loving my family and friends. Board game nights, philosophy and cooking sessions along with camping, football and bike rides are not out of the ordinary for me what so ever.

 

A little bit about my background is that I have changed my major so many times. When I was a young little Italian boy I thought I wanted to be an Architect, simply because I liked math and I was a creative drawer (The logic of a seven year old). That changed into engineering as I grew into my high school years because I loved learning how the world worked. From there I changed from learning how the world works to learning how the mind works, and I majored in Psychology and Philosophy while I played golf at Elmhurst College. Business started to spark my interest because of being on the golf course and dealing with businessmen all the time at country clubs and what have you. So I tried to find something that not only involved the secrets of the mind, but also the study of business as well. Thus, NIU was my choice and Marketing was my career path. Funny how things work out isn’t it? After just typing that, and seeing it on my screen, it really makes a mental map in my head that’s rather logical; the transitions you make in life as person are just so fascinating to me. Everything truly happens for a reason and until you take a step back and look at your life road map, you would think it never made sense. But anyway, I am a junior this year, (major changes pushed me back a year) and loving every second at NIU. But enough about me, let’s move onto my vision of this blog.

 

Okay, so I lied this is about me, but only my thoughts! Everything else is content for you, the viewer, I promise. So my goal is to produce one article a week on a range of topics. Some will be things that I think the student body would be interested in, and other topics may be something happening around campus that needs to have the word spread about. Regardless, I really enjoy making these posts and I hope that I can reach out to some people with my thoughts and ideas! I also want to make guest posts as frequent as possible and not just have me blabbering all the time about who knows what. I am always on social media throughout the day so feel free to reach out to me, always looking to chat about life and crazy topics with people and just make new friends. I will also be updating all the College of Business social media pages, so be sure to keep up with those as well.

 

Well everyone, I again thank you for you sticking with me with this article and I hope you gathered a little more insight on who I am and what to expect from me in the future. Hopefully together we can make NIU a better place than when we came in, and hopefully we leave better people than when we woke up this morning.

 

Until next time, take care, and don’t forget to be awesome.

 

Louie Zmich