Transitioning into The Spring Semester

 

If you are anything like me, the spring semester seems to be the unfavorable one. Sure, you have the summer to look forward to, but that’s six months away! While Valentine’s Day and my birthday in April, for example, are certainly fun events to look forward to, nothing seems to bring as much joy as the holidays in fall. Everything from Halloween to the end of the year festivities, the fall semester seems to go by a lot quicker once the sweaters come on and the leaves start to change. So as a student, how can we start off right, and make the spring semester just as strong as the fall? This is an exceptionally daunting question for students like me, last semester seniors. I mean, the finish line is so close! How can we be expected to learn for another six months? Well, we have to, so here are some tips that are going to help me ace this last semester, so hopefully they help you too.

 

Start Now!

The reason I am posting this a week before school starts is because it is important to get a head start on the semester. Everyone knows how hectic the bookstore can get when students come back into town, so if you are here before move-in day, get your books before everyone else! Make sure you also use online books stores like Chegg and Amazon for rentals if the required books become too expensive. This also means that you should be stocking up on school supplies. Remember when you only had one pencil and pen left after week two? I do, so make sure you stock-up before the rush to Walmart becomes unbearable.

This also means going on the NIU Bookstore website and plugging in your class schedule to see what books are required and what books say to wait until class starts to purchase them. Every professor is different, so take advantage of those who allow you to wait until the first week of classes before you purchase. Some professors may allow students to share books in a group or use the online version, meaning you may not have to bear the full cost after all.

 

Stay Ahead

This is probably the most common sense tip on this entire list, but common sense is not always common practice. If you stay ahead of your work, the entire process seems to move at a manageable, relatively stress-free pace. Here are some things you can do to keep yourself on track:

  • Buy a planner, or better yet, get the free ones they give out at the NIU Bookstore the first week!
  • Take an hour or two and go through the syllabus for each class, marking down when assignments are due and the dates of exams in your planner. Trust me, it is tedious but you will be thanking yourself when you know what is due while others wait until the last few hours to complete that assignment.
  • Check Blackboard at least once a week, maybe make it a Sunday night habit, and get yourself familiar with how that next week is going to pan out.

 

Time Management

How do you organize your time? For me, I personally use the iCalendar app on my phone to organize everything. I have my class schedule on there, along with my meeting times for organizations and clubs, and I also have my work schedule all in one place. This makes it easy for me to schedule my week and gives me some piece of mind that everything is in place. Don’t just use your memory to get you through the semester, you will forget things and that will lead to a negative snowball effect, which could be hard to recover from.

This also means you are going to have to make time for studying but do not forget to make some time for yourself too. Having too much stress on your mind throughout the day will bog you down. To combat this, give some time for yourself. Remember, this is supposed to be a reasonable amount of time. If you do not have three hours to lounge around, then be honest with yourself and get some work done.

A good example is with me, I personally like to set aside an hour or so each night to leisurely read something I am interested in, and I also like to wake up early to make some coffee while reading up on the latest news. I like to take control of my morning and evenings because I know the day in between is normally hectic. So between my normal school day and the time I use to study, I at least know the first and last few hours of each day are spent doing something I enjoy.

 

Find a Mentor

There used to some weird stigma with students who enjoy talking with their teachers to pick their brains on what they know. I am sure everyone has heard of the student who was labeled as the “Teacher’s Pet.” Clearly this is ridiculous, and in college, if you refuse to find yourself a mentor with the plenty of excellent professors within the College of Business, you are certainly missing out on not only a wonderful academic resources, but also someone to turn to when making big decisions, like choosing a job in their particular field or advice on post-graduation plans and ambitions. Long gone are the days of those silly stereotypes, it is called networking, and you should take full advantage of it.

This could be as simple as finding someone in the College of Business who you look up to, and schedule an appointment with them. I have never been to a college (keep in mind I have transferred twice) where the faculty is as willing to help and mentor students as much as they are here at NIU. So take my word and find yourself someone who you can idolize and ask questions to.

 

Start Looking for Internships

If you haven’t started looking for internships yet, getting a jump on it will benefit you immensely. Companies are now requiring more than your degree, they want you to have experience right out of college and one of the best ways to do that is with an internship. Maybe you know someone who can get you an intern spot, but if that is not the case, Huskies Get Hired is an excellence resource. That is personally how I got my summer internship at Apex Energy Solutions and I absolutely loved it. If you choose to wait until the Internship/Job Fair, that is fine, but getting a head start on that will be beneficial for you.

Internships are no longer fetching coffee and organizing papers, they are high paying outlets for students to gain real-world experience while getting a great look into an industry you might be interested in. Plus, with an internship, you do not have the risk of it hurting your resume if you choose not to stay afterward. Consider it like a trial run at an industry you may have your eyes on. On the other hand, if you do love the internship and that company fits with your personal values, most companies will make you an offer at the end of your time. Think about it like this, they basically trained you already, and you got acclimated with their work culture, why would they not want to hire someone who already fits in? This should certainly be something you do this semester, it can only benefit you.

 

Finally, Have Fun Learning!

Think about it, we are lucky to be in a position where such a wonderful schooling system is assessable to us. The power of knowledge is never going to be negative to your career. The more you know and the more you continue to learn, the more doors are going to open for you. If you graduate this year and you still don’t know what you want to do, there is no need to worry! If you don’t find a job right away, consider doing the Masters program at NIU. That is what I am doing!

Uncertainty is completely normal, but not wanting to continuously learn, is not acceptable. You should be constantly hungry for knowledge. Remember, your learning should not stop once you leave college, you should constantly be surrounding yourself with people who want you to succeed while you all learn from each other.

By going into this semester with an open mind, you will be guaranteed to learn something new, and that is what makes all of this fun! You have an open invitation to be smarter by the end of this semester, but the only thing stopping you is you! Open up a bit and meet some new people, you never know what kind of connections you will end up making.

 

So hang in there everyone, this semester is going to be a fun ride for all of us. Stay positive and be sure to keep up with your work so it does not sneak up on you! If you follow these tips, you should be just fine!

Have any other suggestions? Feel free to send me an email and I can add it to the list! I am looking forward to talking with you all at lzmich1@niu.edu!

See you around,

– Louie

Impact Beyond DeKalb

Forward

The Social Entrepreneurship program at NIU is one of the most innovative, progressive, value-added sets of classes I have taken in my collegiate career. As part of my Global Social Venture Consulting class with Dr. Christine Mooney, we received a fully immersive education, unmatched to what you can learn through a textbook.

The class is divided into three teams who are assigned a company with a social mission of some kind. “Social Mission” being that the company has a double or triple bottom line consisting of profit, but coupled with people or planet. For example, TOMS Shoes has a double bottom line of profit and people. That company then gives a few business issues for the teams to research, ask questions about, and ultimately provide recommendations for the client to enact at some point in time if they so choose.

The class also includes an international trip to one of the companies, and this year’s client was Entreamigos, who operates in San Pancho, Mexico. This article is about what I learned from this trip and the lessons learned with the underlying psychological realizations uncovered from my experiences.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this article and at the very minimum, choose to think about Social Entrepreneurship a little more than you did when you started reading. After all, this world is one that we all share, and problems that we may not be effected by initially, certainly are worth acting on. For our actions today can work towards giving everyone the same opportunities to succeed, that some of us take advantage of every day.

Thank you, and enjoy – Student Intern: Louis Zmich

Louie on the beach of San Pancho, Mexico

Louie on the beach of San Pancho, Mexico

A Whole New Outlook

It’s incredibly easy to overlook the problems that affect today’s world. Our lives are increasingly busy; we have so many ways to become distracted from what is going on around us. Too many times are we rushing to class, hurrying to a meeting and studying profusely for an exam, it’s completely understandable that social issues are overlooked. (“Social Issues” Include, Poverty, Hunger, Climate Change, etc.). Why wouldn’t they be? People simply do not have time to read deeply into an issue as broad and complex as poverty, hunger or education. Media today portrays these issues in such a brash and intimidating light, it’s much easier to swipe past the negativity, instead of accepting it and making changes. So, if these issues are broken down into digestible, daily changes to our everyday lives, we can slowly start improving the broader picture. This is why Social Entrepreneurship is so important.

The goal of a Social Entrepreneur is to innovate and exploit these issues in a cohesive and friendly matter, where the busy person can stop and learn something new, continue with her day and then when shopping for her daily items that night, make decisions that are socially responsible and end up helping those in need at the same time. That, in my opinion, is what progression is, not changing the status-quo entirely overnight, but showing people that small tweaks in our daily habits can eventually make tremendous headway on the issues that lurk overhead.

That being said, we are all busy in our own endeavors, we have to take classes in order to graduate, or check another thing off our mental to-do list. So, if this is a requirement for our graduation and ultimate career success, why not take a class that provides the credit we need, but also makes an impact at the same time? That’s where Global Venture Consulting comes into the mix. This Fall, myself and 9 other classmates were split up into teams and are continuing to help consult and provide recommendations to their business issues. Consulting is inherently a face-to-face interaction, thus part of this class involved going to Entreamigos in San Pancho Mexico to speak directly with Nicole Swedlow, CEO, and Founder, on these issues, while she showed us the reasons why we need to think more intensively on the issues that are at hand.

One of the first beautiful mural walls you see when entering San Pancho, Mexico.

One of the first beautiful mural walls you see when entering San Pancho, Mexico.

 

The Destruction of Tourism

When you have a community, rich in heritage and tradition and close to the water, you inherently attract tourism. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but it often leads to communal destruction. When anyone foreign settles in a place like San Pancho, they immediately fall in love with the culture and the people. This love will naturally cause people to want to buy property, and they can do so for a very reasonable amount, something you could never do in the United States for example. But this could end up being toxic to the social structure. The way the social structure works in these small towns is started with your great ancestors who first move there, and the cycle is as follows:

  • You buy land when you first enter the town, or when the town is first established.
  • As you have children, the land you own is distributed equally amongst your children.
  • The children then use that land as a source of income; farming, fishing etc.
  • When they have children, that land is split up in the same fashion previously mentioned.
Diego, standing in front of the recycling center at Entreamigos.

Diego, standing in front of the recycling center at Entreamigos.

This continues, all the while skills are being passed down from generation to generation. That is the form of income and education that has made these small towns thrive for so long.

This cycle will continue and as someone’s business continues to grow they will buy up more land and so on. As previously mentioned, the importance of education stretches only as necessary for your job. Sure, there are people who are educated, but it’s in their own profession, which is fine until they give up their land.

When a tourist comes in and offers more money than some of these people have ever seen, for their land, these people rightfully so, jump on that opportunity and are left with a lot of money and no way of making anymore. When education is lacking and you sell off your only asset, it’s hard to find another job because all of what you knew was rutted in your property. This has led to people in these towns thinking that anyone who is a foreigner and is making money in their village, must be corrupt and must be taking advantage of the locals. When looking at it in this light, it’s easy to see why people who travel to these villages are looked down upon.

Entreamigos

“Everyone has something to learn, and everyone has something to teach.” This is the motto and notion behind Entreamigos. Here in the United States, education is engrained in our culture. What people are doing after high school is most likely something that has to do with more education. Beauty School, Trade School, Community College, Universities, it’s all the same premise, continuous education. In a town like San Pancho, what measures success is owning a local business or being a successful fisherman and this model works, but only as long as the town stays a secret to everyone else. As explained before, when tourism hits towns like San Pancho, business like Entreamigos can’t be trusted by the locals.

Main entrance to Entreamigos

Main entrance to Entreamigos

Thankfully, Entreamigos was able to break through this stereotype and over the past decade and has built nothing short of a communal movement. Everyone we talked to in this town, simply loved Entreamigos. Besides Nicole, everyone who works there and studies there are all locals.

Everyone has a gift, so why not teach others what you know? People who come and tour the facility, instantly want to help in some form, teaching the staff about leadership, or teaching children a new useful skill. This model brings the town together, and everyone feels invested in each other. It works, and I got to see it firsthand. I was even able to teach some children English while I was there, and in return, they taught me Spanish. Skills we both know fairly well but never have the chance to teach in our home countries, it was truly an opportunity for growth, and one I will never forget.

Morgan, in the black t-shirt on the right, is laughing along with the children at Entreamigos.

Morgan, in the black t-shirt on the right, is laughing along with the children at Entreamigos.

 

Changing Lives Through Education

Entreamigos goes one step further and offers opportunities for people anywhere to sponsor a child in Entreamigos. The sponsorship allows children to receive a proper education in the public schools and universities surrounding these villages. We had a chance to meet the man who was sponsored by Dennis and Stacy Barsema, while we were in San Pancho. Christian was a phenomenal person, and after receiving his education, he came back to Entreamigos to give back to his community and continue the circle of education for the younger generations in his town. The opportunity to talk and spend time with someone who had benefited directly from another person two-thousand plus miles away was not only touching but inspirational too. The role-models that we have in class, are the same people making a change in the world,

Mural drawn by local artists, in the courtyard of Entreamigos.

Mural drawn by local artists, in the courtyard of Entreamigos.

 

Closing Thoughts

One of the biggest takeaways I brought back with me was the concept of happiness. It certainly is subjective, but we all have different standards of it. As a whole, technology Is intended to bring people together, separate the distance between us and constantly keep everyone up-to-date, but it may seem that these luxuries actually push us apart. The people in San Pancho were so happy, eager to help and never complained about the things they didn’t have. Instead, they cherished what they do have, a roof over their head, food on the table and a healthy family surrounding them. That’s happiness, and it was emotional to think that success and happiness to some, is judged internally by the amount of money we make, or the title associated with our names.

Everyone has their own definition of happiness, but I think there is something to be said about appreciating the big things in life and not sweating the small stuff. We get so bogged down with the things we don’t have, and continuously compare ourselves to everyone around us, never stopping to self-reflect and look in the mirror. We seem to be so focused on impressing others that we actually forget to love and understand ourselves and those who matter the most to us. I often, on this trip, stopped and wondered what life would be like if we all took some time every morning to self-evaluate and be thankful for what we have. Unplug for just a moment, and connect with our inner-most thoughts. Maybe, if we took the time to connect internally, our connections externally will become exponentially stronger, more genuine, and last longer.

Overall, San Pancho completely changed the way I look at, not only my life but the lives of others. Doing the right thing isn’t often the easy choice, but making steps to impact the lives of others is something we all should have at the forefront of our conscious decisions. When it comes down to it, being born in a developed country is not only luck, but it’s statistically improbable. So I think the important statement is one said by Warren Buffet when talking about humanity and our quest to help others, “If you’re in the luckiest 1 percent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 percent.”

Photo on site of the location the entire class got to stay.

A photo on-site of the location the entire class got to stay.

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.”

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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.”

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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

Let’s Talk About How Beautiful You Are.

Photo by: Datta Prakash

Editor’s note:

Lately my articles have been light hearted and promoting, everything from organizations to wonderful people in our community. Today is going to be a bit different. The topic is a tough one. But it’s important…especially when life moves as fast as it does. The subject is depression and emotional instability. I had a chance to sit down with Erica Wade, LCPC Staff Counselor/Outreach Coordinator for the Counseling & Consultation Services in the Campus Life building, room 200. I thought it would be great to share what I learned from Erica. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and even sharing it. Life is hectic and who knows, by sharing this, it might reach someone who needs a little help to turn their life around. As always feel free to reach out to me on all social media @LOUIEZMICH. I would be more than happy to talk with you anytime, anyplace. Thanks everyone, please enjoy.

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This article will cover the following topics:

  • NIU Career Counseling:  what it does and the services they provide
  • Self-awareness:  what to watch out for in yourself, and your own emotions
  • Awareness of Others:  what to watch out for in a friend and their emotions
  • Coping Strategies:  how to cope and and deal with issues you discover
  • Ways to Help:  what to do if you feel your friend is affected
  • Campus Resources:  resources NIU provides
  • Upcoming Events:  what is “How the Health are you, NIU?” & Chai Chat
  • Immediate Actions:  things you can do right now to become mentally healthier

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Before you start reading I want to make it clear that this article was meant to almost be a PDF that you would save and print out to reference whenever you needed. A good amount of research and interviewing went into this, so it is lengthy. That being said, if you do not have time right now to read this PLEASE TAKE AWAY THIS:

Go to, “How the Health are you, NIU”

  • This will be in the Holmes Student Center on Thursday October 8th from 2:00 – 7:15pm.

And/Or attend Chai Chat

  • In the Campus Life Building in room 100 on Wednesday October 7th from 4:30 – 6:00pm

Both of these are a great way to relax and make new friends while also receiving help from professionals who know exactly what you or someone you know could be going through. Again, I appreciate the time you’re taking to read about this pressing subject.

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What does NIU’s counseling center do for students?

The university counseling center has a wide range of things to provide for the students of NIU. The services are broken down into sub-groups of Advocacy and Consultation. Both are staffed by fully trained APA accredited and multi-disciplinary/psychologically licensed psychologists, counselors and social workers:

Advocacy Services- Provides services for individuals who have been impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. The service is provided to help students feel safe and offer support.  Students will also be given the opportunity to work with another office outside of the counseling center to address concerns from a legal standpoint.

Consultation Services- This service is provided for students and/or Faculty to assist  someone who may need counseling services.  This service is available to everyone on campus and also includes same-day walk-ins.   Walk-in participants fill out simple paper work and then sit down with a staff member. Once you’re done meeting with a counselor, you can join a women’s group, men’s group, a transpire group (for people who identify as transgender), and even a general process group (for anyone).

There is also a relaxation/meditation group that meets every Monday at noon. With this group, people can come in and do some relaxation strategies: like working on your breathing, imagery meditation, and lessons on slowing down and relaxing.

The second Monday of each month also brings therapy dogs into Stevenson from 6-7:15pm, can you think of a better way to spend your Monday night?!

Additionally, this service provides 24/7 over the phone crisis support, which means services are available in a crisis situation.  A student would need to call the NIU’s non emergency number (815) 753-1212) and then ask to be directed to a counselor. From there, an on-call licensed counselor will talk with you for as little or as much as you need in order to feel comfortable and safe.

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What are some signs to look for in yourself or in a friend?

The points I am about to list are something that can be for you or for a friend. Being aware of how you’re feeling is important, but it also is important to question how your friends and family are acting, because these could be clues that those people are reaching out to you for help. The more aware you are, the better off everyone, including yourself, is. Remember, college is about transition and self-exploration. It is okay to feel like you’re not fitting with a specific group, but just know your exploration is normal. You can never explore too much to find out who you are. Things to look out for in your everyday routine are as follows.

  1. Look at sleep patterns, are you sleeping enough? Maybe you need to try to go to bed earlier so you can be fully rested. Also, are you not sleeping because there is a problem? Or are you just very busy.
  2. If you start to not sleep as much but then wake up and have little to no interest in anything that you should be doing, you may want to talk that out with someone.
  3. You sense yourself/friend beginning to isolate from others. Are you especially isolating yourself from close friends and family?
  4. You start to see shifts in your mood
  5. Your academic performance is suffering, and you never want to go to class anymore
  6. Having thoughts of just ending it all, and having ideas of “what if I just did __” and that blank resulted in harm to others or yourself.
  7. You’re more irritable, and your irritability lasts much longer than normal
  8. You find yourself filling a missing piece in your psyche with substances. You feel the need to fill the “hole in your heart” with substances that only worsen the damage.

If any of these become an issue you may want to follow up with that person, or yourself, and seek someone to talk with about your thoughts, you’re never ever alone in this world and no matter how isolated you feel, someone is always willing to help you. That said, you can definitely help out others if you sense someone having issues.

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How to cope when you have issues or you see someone with issues:

  1. Always encourage seeking professional support. These people are professionals for a reason, they are willing to work around your schedule and will help you out immensely in full disclosure.
  2. Reach out to your family and friends. Sometimes it’s the people who know you the best who can help you the best.
  3. Exercise! By exercising you release chemicals into your system that will make you feel invigorated and happy!
  4. Being connected and constantly moving with groups and activities around campus. When you are part of something that is bigger than yourself, you get the feeling of accomplishment and can use that busy time to forget about what’s bothering you, sometimes that’s all you need to get over that psychological hurdle.

Sometimes when something is hitting you close to home, you feel the need to act and help out. We all have been in this situation and it is not fun, but we all should be prepared to act when we sense someone close to us feeling extremely down.

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How should you behave when you sense someone is in danger?

  • It’s always an uncomfortable situation, but you need to know that it is possible that you are the only escape your friend/family member has. If you’re strong, they will in turn be strong in the long run.
  • You can say something along the lines of:
    • “I’ve noticed you’re not happy/ have been disconnected lately.”
    • “Maybe you and I should go for a walk.” From there the situation will be much more friendly for talking. Take a walk past the Campus Life Building and encourage a stop into NIU Counseling together.
  • Encouraging to go together makes the experience much less stressful. You can also say that you’re going for yourself too, as a way to not isolate your friend.
  • The Counseling Center has a lot of leverage on your side, you can almost use these tools as a way to get people happily in the door:
    • Massage Chair
    • Therapy dogs
    • Talk sessions

Now that you have experienced a little about how to go about a situation and what to look out for, it is also important to know all of the resources available to you as a student.

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What resources are available on campus?

There are three other counseling centers, these are through the academic programs in:

  • Community Counseling Training Center– Counselors of Education in Graham Hall (master and doctoral students)
  • Psychological Service Center – Department of Psychology in the Psychology Building (master level and doctoral students)
  • Couple Family Therapy Clinic – Marriage and Family Therapy Program (in Wirtz Hall) (master level students)

All the counseling centers outside of the center in the Campus Life Building will see everyone, including people in the community, just in case you want to refer a friend or family member who is not a current NIU student. The other centers that I listed above will also do evening hours as well. All of these are free except for the Family Clinic. The center in the Campus Life Building is for NIU students only.

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What events are coming up to help students?

  • Thursday Oct. 8th from 2:00 – 7:15pm in the Holmes Student Center:

How the Health are you, NIU?  This is fun and active way to come and have a relaxed time and receive help if you believe that is what will make you feel as best as you can.  This is change from the names of the previous “depression screenings” as a name change does not have that stigma that the word “depression” carries.

People think that just because they feel depressed that there is something wrong with them. The truth is, nothing’s wrong with you, you may just simply need someone to talk to as the stresses of the world can become too much for everyone. It’s always okay to talk about how your feel, and it is also always okay to feel the way you feel.

  • Other centers on campus also agree with the cause and are collaborating to put on this event.
    • Campus Rec
    • Health Services
    • Wellness Promotion
    • Living Right
  1. There will also be depression screening available for everyone, along with a workshop filled with student activities like:
    • A coloring area to express your emotions on paper
    • Board games and icebreakers
    • Wheel to ask questions and win some prizes
    • Posters about expressing your positivity
    • Power points with inspirational and positive messages to warm your heart
  2. Extras to release negative energy:
    • Poetic Asylum, to express your feelings in the art of poetry. Relate with others using your emotions in “the spoken word.” (Personal storytelling, and wordplay).
    • Dances from: Nimbus, Zumba dance classes
    • Therapy Dogs, because who doesn’t love dogs?! (Besides some cat lovers of course).
    • NIU SnapChat photo frames
  3. Prizes to win!
    • Chipotle, Buy One Get One Free,  coupons
    • Northern Rehab gift cards
    • Pita Pete’s gift cards
    • Huddle gift cards

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What can you do right now without going public?

So, what can you do right now, before you go to someone and open up information that you maybe don’t want to disclose? That’s understandable, and also why self-rehab may be the key first step to take. The list that follows contains examples of what you can do:

1. Write and draw your mind

    • Express what you’re thinking and get things on paper
    • Just simply find time to pause and write down everything, mind dump on the paper to realize what you have actually been thinking
    • Sometimes you don’t even realize what exactly is bothering you, until you get it onto paper. It’s a healthy way to tell your story to yourself for reflection

2. Make sure you get out and get some sun

    • Going for a walk and exposing yourself to the sun is great for your mind and spirit

3. Find a hobby and dive into it

    • When you devote yourself to a hobby you become focused in that and relax yourself from what could be bothering you
    • Cooking is something that you can do everyday and serves as a double purpose in becoming healthier as well!

4. Simple call to a friend or family member

5. Pay attention to everything that you’re putting into your system

    • Look as what is around your house, and remove any negative imagery, books, anything that can put a negative aura in your line of sight
    • Media and food and fast paced actions through your day really put negative stressors on your body, and reflect how you’re feeling

6. Comedy and laughter are some of the best things for you

    • It warms your up, and shifts your muscles around in your mouth and face to stretch out your whole body
    • Find a comedian you like TODAY and start watching bits.  Some clean and funny comedians are:
      • Jim Gaffigan
      • John Mullaney
      • Demetri Martin
      • Brian Regan
      • Russell Peters
      • Kathy Griffin

7. Yoga is a very good way to relax your body and mind

8. Creative therapeutics

    • Office that provides people the opportunity to do yoga and physical therapy
    • In DeKalb on Hillcrest

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I really tried to make this article as informational as possible, between research and interviews I hope that some of this knowledge related to someone. If any of this even helped one person, the article did its job. Remember again, everyone on this earth is beautiful, inside and out, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Someone who criticises you is only doing that to cover up something they have been hiding from the world. Not to mention that since we all are human beings, none of us is perfect, we all have been through tough times we never thought we would get out of. But here we are, enjoying life and being the beautiful people we were meant to be. That also brings me to my last point, we all have a story to tell, and memories to share. That said, we all have had the tough times too, so if you’re feeling down, speak up, because I promise you someone will be willing to listen.

Thank you all for your time, and as always, don’t forget to be awesome.

~ Louie

 

What’s Your CAUSE?

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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.

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 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,

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~ 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

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Beautiful.

Editor’s Note: We asked students and staff alike, “If you encountered a new or returning student in a casual setting and began to talk about university life and NIU, what advice or encouragement would you give them?” One student decided to go above and beyond. Rachel McBride is a second year graduate student in the Masters of Nutrition and Dietetic Internship at NIU. She is currently a graduate research assistant for the Northern Illinois Food Bank and active CAUSE member. This is how she responded…

Rachel McBride

Rachel McBride and NIU Alumnus Chris Leifel making pizzas for CAUSE.

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Beautiful.

These are words of inspiration from my high school science teacher that have molded many of the decisions I have made in my collegiate career here at NIU.

Be Bold. Those of us in CAUSE might call this unreasonable. Don’t be afraid to stand out and stand up for what you believe in. The only way things change is when someone challenges the status quo. Find something to get involved in at NIU that will leave a lasting legacy. One way to do this is to be an active leader on campus through a student organization, as a CA, or in the Student Association. A leadership position will equip you with opportunities to be bold and inspire other students to make positive impacts at NIU.

Be Brave. Try new things! Even things that sound crazy weird and outside of your comfort zone. Who knows who you will meet and what adventures you could have. NIU has a lot to offer. For example, I am a nutrition student who took the Honors Microfinance Series offered by Mr. Barsema my junior year at NIU. I had no idea what microfinance was at the time (sounded pretty boring to me!), but this step into the unknown has changed my worldview and has inspired me to use the resources and skills I have been blessed with to help others who are less fortunate.

Be Beautiful. Your time at NIU will be a whirlwind of excitement with lots of awesome opportunities and stressful moments as finals approach. Remember to take some time to focus on you. You’ll spend a lot of time doing homework, working part-time jobs, and hanging out with friends. It is important to take time to relax, reflect, and decompress. Having a balance of work and play will help you enjoy your time at NIU and to be successful.

I hope you find these words as an encouragement to stand out, do some unreasonable things, and exude confidence while you are paving your way at NIU.