Louis Zmich – Student Intern Farewell Address

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Your competitive advantage

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

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

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

 

What if I fail?

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

 

Closing Thoughts. 

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

 

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

~ Louie Zmich (05/01/2017)

Why Come To Work Sick?

Editors Note: Just a quick post here, more of a thought than anything, on what went through my mind the other week when I caught the flu. I hope you enjoy! – Louie 

Did you get the bug that was going around? That seems like the phrase people use at least twice a year. Usually when the seasons change, right? So what happens when you do get sick? Maybe you go to school anyway and get your peers sick. Or, maybe you still go to school and are less productive than usual, as a result. Maybe you’re like me, and when you get sick you don’t want to do anything, so you don’t, but then you mentally beat yourself up because you feel unproductive. So, naturally, you try to get work done, but you’re not productive so you continue to be sick and get zero work done. If nothing else, this is a journal entry for myself. I faced this recently, and it took me about a day to realize that I should have just stayed home and rested instead of being unproductive for a whole week. Let’s explore this one a little further.

 

If you read nothing else

According to a Harvard Business Review article in 2004, the United States loses an estimate of $150 billion each year from employees taking off work for illnesses like heartburn, headaches, and fevers. This also seems to take into account the people who are unproductive because of their illness. It’s ironic, right? You come to work to not do work. But that’s the society we live in. We feel bad for taking time off to better our health. Instead of being unproductive for five days, wouldn’t it be better to take off a full day and get some rest? Apparently, some recent research is agreeing with that statement, as local public health doctors, according to The Guardian, are reporting that you should stay home with a fever for at least 24 hours. If you can afford to stay home for two days, you reduce your chances of spreading your sickness by 40%. Oh, and one more thing, wash your hands! More reports are saying that warm, soapy water rinses for at least 20 seconds are what will minimize your chances of getting sick in the first place. So, in short, you should try and stay home when you are sick, seriously, think about it. You get sick, you come to work and get three other people sick. Now four people are unproductive instead of one. I think most bosses in America would agree that you should take time off, especially if it means only one person is out instead of more. 

 

Why is this even a question?

Working on a weekend, holiday, when ill, are all norms for us at this point. We literally are working ourselves to death! The BBC has pulled some studies of their own and reported that people tend to go into work when they are sick as sort of a “Show and Tell”. We’re essentially showing people that we truly are sick, justifying to ourselves the need to take off the following day. “Look how sick I am people, you should now have no reason to think my day off tomorrow is unjustified” is what we say to ourselves. Whether it’s having a strict payroll team breathing down your back, or the constant build-up of group projects, homework, and group activities, sometimes it seems like staying home from work and school is more work than it’s worth. I mean, who likes to come back to school with more to do than when you got sick? No one.

 

How can you combat this?

In all honesty, this is going to be up to your own judgment. It’s often tricky because you are the only one who truly knows how you feel. You have to be the one to decide what you should do. Sometimes, you are just too sick to go to class and pay attention for long periods of time, but you can still work from home. Working from the comfort of your own home can do you wonders and still keep you productive, but if you choose to stay home, make sure you get work done. We all know the day, we choose to stay home, and we eat, sleep, and lounge around. All of a sudden our roommate comes home from class and we look at the clock to realize it’s 6:00 pm and we’ve done nothing! Working from home can keep your colleagues healthy, and also get work done in your pajamas, but let’s all vow to actually work if we feel up to it. Deal? Deal. 

 

Lastly, if you just feel awful, get some rest and eat some soup! You would much rather prefer to rest one day and then be productive the next, instead of being unproductive for a whole week. We all know that point where we’ve had enough, but we also know that point where we can work and just feel a bit crummy, but you have to make that decision! In the end, don’t feel bad if you have to take time off, after all, we’re all human, just make sure you keep killing it when you’re healthy! 

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

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!

 

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.

Part 3: Students of NIU Business


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

 

Part 3:  Students of NIU Business

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

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

 

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

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

 

Ilsa Chaudhri jr accy major and minor in finance and economics

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Rachel Lapidus jr mgmt major

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

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

 

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

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

 

Samantha Larson jr accy major

Samantha Larson, accountancy major

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

 

 

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

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

 

Stephanie Aboutar mgmt major and mktg minor

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

“My check-list for success:

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

– Keep your options open and be open minded.

 

– Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you.

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

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

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

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

– The anchor holds in spite of the storm.”

 

Faith Young

Faith Young, Human Resource Management major.

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

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

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

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

Mastering the art of note taking

Editors note: Hello everyone, Louie again. I figured the beginning of the year would be a great time to talk about the power of taking good notes in class. The quality of your notes greatly reflects on how well you do in class, and with classes getting more and more difficult as you get closer to graduation, there’s no better time than to brush up on your note taking skills. After taking a whole seminar over the summer on note taking, (I know, riveting). I wanted to share some information I had learned. As always, I hope you enjoy, and feel free to reach out to me @LOUIEZMICH on all social media.

 It seems simple enough, but taking notes that are efficient and effective is not a simple task. If you’re anything like me, professors talk so fast and everything seems so important, you end up writing so much down but never getting it all because your hand can’t write that fast. Note taking doesn’t just begin when you sit down in the classroom; it actually begins before you even go to class.

1. Read beforehand.

Unfortunately, you heard me correctly; you will have to read the book before you go to class. The reason for this, simply put, is your brain cannot function and comprehend brand new material when you’re being lectured simultaneously. Think about it, how many times have you been extremely focused in class and never had your mind wonder at all? Odds are, not many, so when you’re in class you want to have some idea of what is next to come.  This way you can write down topics that clear up what you didn’t understand before you came into class, and not write down concepts you already understood while reading before hand.

Now, before you go to class you do not have to read the entire chapter word for word, but what you should do is the following.

  • Read the first and last sentence of every paragraph, and make headers for each new topic in your notes.
  • Read and understand every bolded word.
  • Read the entire summary at the end of each chapter.
  • Make note of concepts and words you didn’t understand before the lecture.

See, that’s not too hard to do, but it is exponentially important before you go to class to have this mental mindset in place. You will never be caught off guard if you follow those steps because you will know what is coming, and have an idea of what is being talked about before you listen in on the lecture. This is also helpful because if you do doze off, or your mind wanders, you will know right where your place was in class as marked by your notes.

2. 24 Hour “Shot Clock.”

Now that you did all this preparation before class, it is crucial that you get into a routine (foreshadowing for the next post) of reviewing your notes no more than 24 hours after lecture. This is very important if your goal is to learn and comprehend the information. Unless you’re trying to memorize something to then forget it later, you what to actually learn the material from class. By going back and re-reading your notes, you still have a mental image of the lecture in your mind. Research published in the Teaching of Psychology Journal in the ’80s concluded that students were messing up on their tests not because they’d taken bad notes, but because they weren’t re-reading them before the exams. If you have the opportunity, and choose to record your lectures, make sure you follow along in your notes as you re-watch the lecture. This act of visiting your notes within 24 hours of your lecture is a great way to remember what you were thinking as you were writing in class. Make sure you ingrain that information in your head while it’s still fresh, that way the next time you have class, you will have already reviewed the material. By the time of the exam you will be able to recite your notes without looking at them. Which means no more cramming either.

3.   Be OCD with your notes, and be creative. 

You want your notes to be as professional and organized as possible. It will not benefit you at all if your notes are all over the place. You need to be able to sit down again and again and know exactly what you wrote down and when. Simple things like headings, dates, and titles are perfect with keeping on task with your notes. Your notes should have a variation for your own style, but should look slightly organized like this:

How to become a better person                             09/02/2015

  • Read good blog posts.
    • Louie Zmich has great ideas
  • Go to a great college
    • Northern Illinois University has great degree programs

Why becoming a better person is crucial in life

  • Better people have more friends
    • Studies show, this is because people will like you
  • Better people, are healthier people
    • You wont be stressed about how people don’t like you

Summary:

In order to become a better, healthier, and more popular person, you must be enrolled with NIU and read Louie’s blog posts.

With notes like these, all joking aside, you will be more organized and know right where your thoughts were on every topic. You also want to include pictures in your notes as well. Drawing releases a lot of your creative side and inspires your mind to capture the thought better when something is drawn out. Make an image on paper to enhance the idea that you are trying to capture in your notes.

 4. Take Breaks.

The typical meeting format of continuous talking and     simultaneous scribbling might not be ideal for optimum note taking. It turns out that everyone might not listen and write well when trying to do both at the same time. The Journal of Educational Psychology researched lecture structures and found that incorporating periodic short breaks greatly improved the quality of notes taken. One way to approach this would be to have little moments of quiet writing reflection in between meeting agenda items. Wouldn’t that be pleasant?

I think it’s time for everyone to stop cramming before exams and to start being prepared before the exam date comes around and sneaks up on you. Even though that is a loaded statement, hopefully if you follow these tips you will eventually be a master note taker. Everyone has had that feeling of accomplishment when walking out of a lecture actually understanding what went on. You feel secure and ready for the exam, and that was just after one lecture. Imagine having that feeling all the time because you were ready before, during and after the lecture by being prepared and great at marking down your lectures.

I hope this has been some help to you, and hopefully this year has been made a bit less stressful by the power of note taking.

As always, thank you and don’t forget to be awesome today,

Louie

Whoa, whoa…who is this Lou guy?

Red Rock Cannon – Las Vegas, Nevada

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Louie Zmich