My Personal Reflection on my College Career

 

I finally made it. Last semester of senior year… and yet, time seemed to slip through my fingers even when I thought it was going to take an eternity to pass. Life seems to do that to us, doesn’t it? The old cliché rings in my head, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” As that may be true, I often find that time flies when we’re busy and mindlessly suffocated by our daily routines. There were countless occasions when I didn’t know what the time was once I made it home, simply because when we go class to class, meeting to meeting, we tend to lose track of what’s around us.

That being said, I tried to make more time for myself in this past year, simply because I thought I was going through my daily grind and not really experiencing life. “Experiencing life” can be a bit vague, I’m talking about the little things, like looking around when I walk to and from class, or taking the time to mentally detox in the mornings and evenings. Normally, I would wake up in a rush and then that anxious feeling would continue all throughout the day. I would finally lay down in bed and immediately fall asleep, never having a chance to reflect on my experiences.

So this reflection is more of a piece for those who feel the same way as I, stressed and too busy for our own good. This is for people to take a moment to look back on the years we have spent at NIU, reflect on how we have grown as adults, while also looking forward to the future. I want this to serve as a reminder to everyone, not just seniors, that you do not have to know exactly what you want to do with your life. You don’t have to be a traditional student to be successful. Being honest with yourself and doing what your heart desires instead of what others want you to do, is the best way to your own personal happiness.

So I urge you to please kick back and do a personal reflection on yourself, it may just be what you need to get through your final semester.

 

First/Second Year

When I first came to NIU, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my career. I originally thought I wanted to be an architect when I was in middle school, but that quickly changed to wanting to be an engineer. Unfortunately, I had a pretty nasty physics teacher in high school who changed my opinion on engineering in just one semester. Isn’t it a shame how some teachers in high school can really alter your view on a subject? Oddly enough, it turned out to be okay in the end. Once I graduated high school I thought I wanted to be a Psychologist, so I majored in psychology and philosophy at Elmhurst College (in Elmhurst Illinois) my freshman year. I started to come to terms with the reality that I could not afford Elmhurst College, nor were my majors something I wanted to make into a career.

Sure, the majors were interesting to me, but I didn’t want to take traditional classes on them. I would rather read about Psychology and Philosophy in my free time and make a hobby out of those subjects.

With all of that said, I wanted to go to a school that was close to home, but far enough for me to live on my own. The cost of school, in general, was an issue, so I spent my second year at Harper College (in Palatine, Illinois) where I could save some money, while also finishing my second year of Gen Eds at a community college. It was after taking all of those introductory classes that I decided to use my interest in psychology and bring that into the business world. That’s what lead me to NIU.

 

Third Year

My first year at NIU was spent in classes all around campus, which was fun for me to see the campus in its entirety. At the time, I only was taking one class in Barsema Hall, and I remember myself feeling anxious to finally spend my time there. I actually spent most of my studying in Barsema Hall, even when I had exams for other classes. The building felt like the place where I could build a future, an area that encourages scholarly success. Something about that feeling made the College of Business seem refreshing and inviting.

I have to admit that in high school I thought I needed to get my hands in everything. I played four sports while also being in multiple organizations, so once I got to college I told myself I would only play golf and that was it. Naturally, once I stopped playing golf at Elmhurst College and came to Northern, I thought I would simply go to class and come home to study. Luckily, I snapped out of that way of thinking, because I immediately felt like I had wasted two years by not getting as involved as I should have. I felt like I was at a disadvantage to other students by not being in organizations, but at the same time, I was working until five in the morning at times at the police department on campus. That was the only job that would allow me to work more hours than normal while working at night when my classes were over. Regardless, I thought getting involved would not only bring me around likeminded people but also make friendships, both of which I didn’t have at that point in time.

I knew I wanted to join something, and so in my second semester of my first year at NIU, I choose to join Delta Sigma Pi, the business fraternity. It was through Delta Sigma Pi that I was introduced to my current position, being the Student Intern for the College of Business marketing director. I finally started to feel a connection to the College of Business with this position, and it also allowed me to get a feel for a business oriented job, instead of one in Public Service. After leaving my supervisor role at the Police Department, I started to spend more and more time at the CoB, which was certainly a benefit, becoming acclimated with traditional business culture. The first year I spent here was certainly a wild ride, but it was after that second semester that I really started to call NIU my home.

 

Fourth Year

It was in my fourth year when I finally declared my business major in marketing. It took me a while to finally decide because the decision felt so daunting to me. How are we supposed to decide the rest of our lives at 21 years old? It was crazy to me, but UBUS 310 brought my vision into focus, and marketing was certainly something I could see myself doing in the long run. It just felt right, and I think that’s something important here. Sometimes you don’t necessarily know why you want to pursue or do something, it just feels right, and that’s okay.

Neil deGrasse Tyson said something rather profound on a Podcast I was listening to. He was talking about how our society, rather, our language insists on all of us coming up with words to describe our actions and how we feel. Is it black or is it white? Are you male or are you female? We demand to know exactly what people are feeling, and we don’t accept that sometimes there is not an answer for something, it just feels right. Sometimes words simply cannot describe our feelings, but we are demanded to come up with something to say, so we settle on what to think based on what we can articulate. Instead of limiting your thoughts based on the words you know, people should make decisions based on logic, reasoning, and how you feel about the situation. Of course, we can’t make decisions based only on feelings, but there is something to be said about listening to that feeling in your stomach, telling you if a decision is right or wrong.

Going back to Delta Sigma Pi, the fraternity also lead me to my love for Social Entrepreneurship, the first semester back in my fourth year of school. A brother in DSP was talking to me about my outlook on life and how my ideas matched up really well to Social Entrepreneurship, so I talked to a couple professors and I immediately fell in love, knowing that would be my minor. Social Entrepreneurship lead me to CAUSE, where I was able to pursue my passion of making the world a better place.

That fourth year was wonderful, I was taking classes I loved and making connections with professors that would eventually lead me to bigger and better things. I was working for the college, while also getting really involved with organizations and sitting on boards that were making real decisions for the College of Business. It felt like I finally found the right place to be.

 

Fifth and Final Year

Well, after all this hard work, I’m staying here even longer. I thought all I wanted to do was be in sales and make a living on my own hard work, and don’t get me wrong, I would still love to do that, but not at this current stage of my life. It wasn’t until the first few weeks of this academic year that I came to visit a professor I had a few semesters ago. She sat me down and we talked about my plans for the future. I honestly was feeling a bit uneasy about my future at the time. I really wanted to do something that would make an impact on people, but I simply didn’t know what. She asked me if I had considered teaching in higher education, and that’s when the “lightbulb” went off in my head. Yes, yes I had, but why didn’t I fully think of that before? I guess I never really took the time to think about it clearly. I was always moving so fast through my undergraduate degree that I never really evaluated my true feelings about my future. I never stopped to reclaim my days as mine and reflect on what had happened that week, analyzing what stood out to me. It wasn’t until I had someone else slow down my crazy life, that I began to see the last puzzle piece I was missing. After thinking more about it, teaching would be the perfect career for me. Constantly learning, the opportunity to impact young minds, and continuously being progressive through the power of education. It was then that I decided to stay and be a GA while obtaining my Masters at the College of Business here, the home I have come to love. It couldn’t have worked any better for me.

 

Final Thoughts

So what now? Well, more school. But I was trying to get at the constant change in my career path. I changed my major more times that I ever would have expected, but I think it was my open-mindedness that allowed me to audit so many different majors, and experience such a wide variety of subjects to finally make up my mind.

There seem to be many people who know what they want to do with their lives right out of high school, which is completely fine. However, it’s the student who doesn’t, who may feel a bit behind, like they are missing out by not knowing exactly what they want to do with their future. I’m writing this to tell you, that’s okay. You don’t have to know. Be open with the fact that there may come a time when you figure it out, and then it changes. That’s the beauty of enrolling at a wonderful school like NIU, you get to choose your future.

At the end of the day, I’m happy with the way everything turned out, and if you are too, good luck moving forward. For those of you who are looking deep down inside yourself wondering if your choices so far are really yours or something someone else told you, it’s not too late. Take the extra time to evaluate your life and do what truly makes you happy, because, in the end, it’s not anyone else’s decision but your own. Your way to true happiness and fulfillment is gaining control of your life.

I hope this inspired someone out there, and for those of you graduating this semester, cheers to you and see you in May!

–   Louie

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 

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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!”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.’”

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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.”

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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.”

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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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Career Fair Advice: Stand Out From The Crowd

Editor’s Note: Hello, world! It’s Jacob Ferguson, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. With the NIU Internship/Full-Time Job Fair this week we wanted to provide you with some advice on what to do once the Career Fairs are over.

NIU Career Fair

NIU Career Fair - Students connect with employers to learn more about opportunities available.

I hope you all had an awesome experience at the Career Fairs this week and had the opportunity to network with some individuals that will be able to aid you in developing yourself professionally as well as personally. Now that the Career Fairs are over some of you may be asking yourself, what do I do next? I am here to enlighten you on a few of the things that you could and should be doing.

1)      Initially while the experiences and conversations are still in your mind I suggest taking the time to jot down some notes detailing who you spoke to as well as what you talked about. This will be a great reference point for when you communicate with these individuals later which leads me to my next point.

2)      Do not, I repeat do not forget to follow up with the individuals you met and spoke with at the Career Fairs. Whether it be through email or a hand written note it is important that you follow up and continue to develop those relationships even if nothing comes out of it right away. There is a great chance that someone you met at one of the Career Fairs will be able to aid you in your professional life in the future.

3)      In addition, you may have had the opportunity to sign-up for some interviews with some of the companies you spoke with at the Career Fairs. Take these interviews seriously and attend every one that you signed up for as long as you are willing and able. Even if it is an internship or job that you don’t necessarily want it is great experience and shows the type of individual you are as well as the type of students we have here at NIU.

4)      With all this being said, the search should not begin or end at the NIU Career Fairs. You should be constantly researching companies and applying to jobs that you are interested. I personally have had the most luck seeking opportunities out on my own. There are so many opportunities out there that not everyone know about that you can be taking advantage of.

You’ve pressed your suit, polished your shoes, and now you feel like you are ready to take on the world. Good luck!

Welcome Back: Let The Games Begin!

Editor’s Note: Hello! For those of you who are just tuning in my name is Jacob Ferguson and I am a senior Operations Management and Information Systems (OM&IS) major here at Northern Illinois University in my last semester. Before we get started I would just like to thank all of you who followed my journey thus far and to inform you that you are in for a treat this semester. The goal of this post is to inform you on the direction that we at College of Business plan to take the Student Voices Blog this spring and to help you get a head start. If you would like to learn more about me please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jacob-ferguson/49/121/998 or follow me on Twitter: @JacobFerguson53.

New Year's Eve in New York City - "The Big Apple"

New Year's Eve in New York City - "The Big Apple"

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope you all had the opportunity to spend some quality time with your friends and family as well as take a load off from the ever-demanding fall semester. I myself had the opportunity to do all of that in addition to doing one of my favorite things, traveling. I am lucky to have spent New Year’s Eve with some of my best friends in New York City – “The Big Apple”.

In terms of the Student Voices Blog, similar to last semester we plan to be transparent in our posts and will try to give you a taste of the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to this place that most of us call home for four some odd years. The only difference this semester is that topics were hand selected with students in mind and will focus on providing students with an escape from everyday life.  As always this blog is written for students and by students.

With regards to helping our students get a head start on the semester brace yourselves as we are about to present you with 6 easy ways to get ahead:

1)      Start the sleep cycle – Get into a habit and don’t sleep away the most productive part of the day.

2)      Check internship deadlines – Whether you like it or not, it is never too early to get a jumpstart on your future employment and save yourself a headache later on.

3)      Jumpstart your assignments – Thinking about course materials ahead of time will go a long way in making the grade.

4)      Fill out FAFSA – The deadline might seem far away but filling it out early will only increase your chances of receiving the best financial aid package for you.

5)      Set goals – Take a moment to reflect on your best as well as your worst habits from the previous semester and make a plan.

6)      Get excited – Staying eager and positive is half the battle when heading into a new semester.

Good luck and have fun this semester! Go Huskies!

10 Study Tips for Final Exams

With Thanksgiving Break coming quickly and finals week right around the corner all of us here at the Northern Illinois University College of Business thought it would be wise to provide all of you with some study tips for final exams. Don’t fear because we are about to present you with 10 basic keys to success.

NIU College of Business students working hard.

NIU College of Business students working hard.

 

1) Always prepare for tomorrow in an effort to make the most efficient use of your time.

2) Create study groups! Technology has made it extremely easy to do this at anytime from anywhere.

3) Establish a routine by setting aside specific time for school work and focus.

4) Find a quiet space where you can separate yourself from distractions.

5) Have a backup plan. Be sure to save that final paper on an external drive in addition to your computer in case things go wrong.

6) Maintain a master calendar to stay on top of assignments and not fall behind.

7) Stay organized by using folders both on your computer and for any printed materials as well.

8) Stay positive and remember why earning your degree is worth all the hard work.

9) Take a break and come back refocused.

10) Use checklists to ensure you are completing assignments on time and feel the satisfaction of checking each assignment from the list.

For additional academic support resources which range from tutoring and assistance services to academic opportunities and programs check out the link below or contact the Office of Student Academic Success.

http://www.niu.edu/osas/resources/Academic.shtml

For more study tips that we have shared on this blog check out the links below.

http://www.cob.niu.edu/studentvoices/index.php/dont-panic-top-15-tips-for-finals/

http://www.cob.niu.edu/studentvoices/index.php/4-ways-to-study-smarter/

http://www.cob.niu.edu/studentvoices/index.php/how-to-succeed-in-school/

 

 

 

Whooaaaaaa! We’re half way there!

Jacob Ferguson - Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business

Jacob Ferguson - Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business

Hello! It’s Jacob Ferguson here the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the Northern Illinois University College of Business. With the semester quickly coming to an end and with finals just around the corner I wanted to share with all of you my experience throughout my first semester in this role.

As I entered the semester I was excited to broaden my knowledge of the marketing field and develop myself professionally. Little did I know that the opportunity at hand would do so much more for me. Within the first couple of weeks I was thrown into a few projects that forced me to get out of my comfort zone but allowed me personal freedom and the opportunity to add my own touch. One of these projects was the Northern Star Ads for the College of Business which reminds me that the last photo shoot is this Friday and that we are still looking for 2-3 individuals to help out with the ad which focuses on finishing the semester strong. If you’re interested please feel free to reach out to me at jacobiferguson@yahoo.com. This project was unique in that I had to work out logistics with a handful of individuals and create designs from start to finish all while conveying a message that applied to the classroom and the gridiron.

Most of the work I did throughout the semester focused primary on our social media platforms and the Student Voices Blog. At the College of Business we focus most of our efforts on Twitter and Facebook. This semester we used Twitter to welcome guests of the College of Business as well as convey a summarized message of what we post on Facebook. On the other hand, we used Facebook for a handful of things such as advertising upcoming events and the Student Voices Blog, informing students on resources that are available to them within the College of Business and on campus, and for trivia to both enlighten and reward students.

My next big initiative will be structuring and facilitating a focus group of students. When I first got this internship the focus group and the Student Voices Blog were the two things that I was most excited about getting involved with. A few goals that I have for myself going into next semester will be to outlines ideas for the blog in advance and ultimately blog more as well as better utilize our social media platforms. In addition, I hope discover new and unique ways to market the College of Business and all that we have to offer.

As a result of this internship I have learned a lot of about myself. I’ve learned through talking with others that the typical path is not for me. To chase my dreams no matter how big or small they may be. That the best time to act is now and most of all that sometimes you just need to dance.

Overall, I am very much looking forward to another semester in this role and am excited for the unknown opportunities that I know will arise. I hope that at the end of the year I will have left an impact on my faculty and peers the way those that came before me had. Be on the lookout for a post later on this week that will detail resources on campus and study tips as we head in the home stretch.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/NIUCollegeofBusiness
Twitter – @NIUBusiness

Forget the A’s, College is about the B’s

Editor’s Note: Chloe Pooler is a junior Accountancy major with minors in Community Leadership & Civic Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship. She is President of the professional business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, an e-board member of CAUSE, heavily involved in the College of Business, Student Association, and formerly the residence halls as well. Chloe enjoys walks on the beach, the company of witty people, and jamming to good tunes.

Chloe Pooler, Junior Accountancy Major

Chloe Pooler, Junior Accountancy Major

 Forget the A’s, College is about the B’s

I myself am a very achievement oriented person. I need that grade, certificate, approving email, whatever, that validates my efforts in academics, in extra-curriculars, and professionally. I am very much about the “A’s” of school- literally, “A” grades, “A”wards, “A”chievement. Trust me, these are GREAT to strive for, but aren’t what college is about. College is the place for the “B”s.

Balance

Work hard, rest hard, play medium (enough to make college the best time of your life, not enough to sacrifice the work and rest).

Having near perfect grades and a packed resume are not worth losing your sanity over. It is important to remember to make time for yourself. No, not the for yourself like “I’m joining this sixth organization your my future,” I mean for yourself as in scheduled time to do yoga, run, play basketball, draw, journal- something you actually enjoy doing!

These activities are things you might have to literally schedule into your limited (perhaps non-existent) free time. Make them a priority and don’t sacrifice nonessential activities over your you-time! Constantly being at your wits’ end is not worth the stress that you can alleviate by making time spent on yourself important.

It’s true in the professional world and it’s true in your collegiate career- work/life balance is key. Don’t forget to recharge and periodically give your mind a break from all of the academia and extra-curricular craziness!

Building

You are never in a more perfect place to grow than in college. You are blessed to have so, so many resources at your fingertips, especially here at NIU! Electronic libraries, esteemed professors, successful alumni are all just a click of a mouse and “send” of an email away.

It is important to acknowledge that each of us have room to grow and the ability to build ourselves to be better professionals, leaders, and people. Take advantage of all of the organizations NIU and the College of Business has to offer. Going outside of your comfort zone, taking on a role you might not be entirely sure you can handle, and attending events with the intent to learn from them (not just get the Passport credit) will benefit you in many, many ways. Literally think to yourself, after doing something above and beyond, “how awesome am I going to look when I talk about this in an interview?”

Maybe you read that request to join something and take on a leadership role and yada yada and thought to yourself, “it’s just a point on my resume, I won’t get anything more out of it than that.” *Dwight Shrute voice* FALSE. Guess what else joining clubs gets you? A network of alumni who were in your same shoes however long ago.

College is a great time to build your network and connect with Huskie alum and the professionals/companies the COB brings in. Purposefully design and learn how to maintain your network at this prime time in your life.

Blunders

Blunder is a more fun word for mistake. Make mistakes this school year!! Don’t do so intentionally, but try something new or different and see where it leads you. You might be wrong! Making flashcards the day before a UBUS 310 Exam might not result in as good of a grade as when you actually did practice problems the weekend before. But hey, at least you went for it! Texting that girl from Rosy’s the next morning could end with no reply, or with a “Hey! The funny guy with the blue shirt!” You never know unless you try.

Plus, college is that weird age where you’re 100% responsible for your actions, but also people are forgiving, because you haven’t been in the professional adult world for long. It’s understood that you don’t know every little detail about how to do an audit or have all of the answers to the questions your professors ask, but it’s important to raise your hand and go for it anyway. A little humility can grow a person more than a lot of arrogance.

Realize, too, that everyone makes mistakes! Your peers, professors, and potential employers have all done something just as embarrassing or silly, and you can all laugh about it down the line after you’ve walked across the graduation stage, landed that dream job, and reminisce about the days on campus.

C for Conclusion

College isn’t all about Achievements and Awards and A+’s, though those are great; but so are balance and building and blunders. Striving for those A-things is important and having goals are key, but being sure to balancing work/life and taking time to breathe, building yourself professionally and as a leader and your network, and making mistakes and learning from them are all great things to focus on during your time in the COB.

Why NIU?: Choosing the Right College

Editor’s Note: A little more information about the author… Katie Zoellner is a senior Accountancy major with a double minor in Spanish and Economics.  She is involved in various College of Business organizations such as Delta Sigma Pi, Dean’s Scholars, and Beta Alpha Psi, where she serves as President Elect.  Outside the CoB, Katie is an active member of the Northern Ambassadors where she is proud to serve as one of the Student Coordinators.  In her spare time, she watches Disney movies, writes poetry, and takes naps whenever possible.  This is her first guest blog post, and she would like to thank her mom and sister for their help and feedback while writing it.  Go Huskies!

Katie Zoellner

Katie Zoellner - Senior Accountancy Major at the NIU College of Business

Choosing a college to attend is hard; at least, for me it was.  Along with all the excitement my senior of high school year brought, it also brought the stress of applying to, visiting, and eventually deciding where I was going to spend my next 4+ years.  I applied to 10 (yes, really, 10) schools because I had absolutely no idea what I wanted out of my college experience.  I applied to schools that were big, small, public, private, urban, rural, in state, out of state – basically I tried to hit the whole spectrum, just to cover all my bases.

From the initial list of 10, I began narrowing my choices.  Eventually, I was down to three schools and was debating the pros and cons of all of them.  Northern wasn’t on that list.  I had applied on a whim, and the next day thought to myself “well I don’t want to go there…that was a waste of an application fee.”  Boy was I wrong.

After receiving a generous scholarship package, NIU was right up there on the list.  And I was terrified.  I was afraid NIU made the short list for all the wrong reasons.  I didn’t want to pick a school based purely on money, although it was a strong consideration.  I knew I couldn’t afford my quote on quote “dream school,” but I still had other schools I was thinking about.

After further consideration, I had narrowed my choices even further.  NIU and one other university were all that remained.  I visited campus on an Admitted Students Day, where I had the chance to get a campus tour and meet with representatives from NIU’s College of Business.  That day, I was fortunate enough to connect with an alumni presenter, Ralph Strozza, CEO of Interpro Translation Solutions, who was in the field I (at the time) wanted to pursue – translation.

This is where the scale began to tip in NIU’s favor – it was the right price, the right distance from home, housed fantastic academics, and I already felt valued by the CoB and connected to its alumni.

My mom then said to me something I will never forget:  “If you don’t like it, you can always transfer.”

This, to me, was an epiphany.  I was stuck in the mindset that the choice I made right then, as a high school senior, was going to determine the rest of my life (a bit dramatic, yes, but I was in high school – cut me some slack).  So I took a leap of faith and made the choice to come to NIU.  And that’s where the fun started.

College is an amazing opportunity to explore who you are and discover more about the wonderful world we live in.  Even though I wasn’t initially 100% sold on coming to NIU, I opened myself up to new experiences and gave it a chance.  I tried new things.  I made new friends.  I got involved in campus activities and organizations right away.  I was hooked.  I’m now in my senior year at NIU, with plans to graduate in May and then stick around for a while longer to complete my Master’s degree.  After that, I know I’ll be coming back to visit, because NIU is and forever will be my home.

If I hadn’t made the effort to transform NIU from “where I go to school” to “home,” I can almost guarantee that I would’ve transferred after a year.  And this is where I’ll circle back to the point I made at the beginning of this article:  choosing a school is hard.  There is no easy way to make that decision.

The best advice I can give is to choose a school where you feel that you can excel.  It doesn’t matter if this wasn’t your “dream school,” or if your best friend doesn’t go there too.  What makes or breaks your college experience is being in an environment that allows you to find and chase your passions.  The right school can help you do that.

Throughout my college career, I’ve learned that if you don’t like something, CHANGE IT.  This applies to life in general, but as far as college goes, if you’re unhappy at your school, look into other options.  Not every school is the right fit for every student.  But before you go and transfer, make sure you’re giving college a chance.  Try new things, meet new people, and if you’re not happy – move on.  Keep going until you find something you love.  Don’t remain stagnant.  Don’t wait for happy to come to you.  Go forth, find it, and refuse to settle for less.

The support I have felt from my Huskie family – my friends, my professors, and my fellow students – has helped me to grow both personally and professionally.  I’ve gone from a timid freshman to a confident senior who has a much clearer idea of what I want from my future.  NIU has helped me create my personal definition of happiness, and who knows?  It could help you do the same.

 

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.