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)

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

Joe Dzwonnik

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Louie

What’s Your CAUSE?

CCQiDGUVIAAxA6T.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you everyone,

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

~ Louie

Time Management

            Time Management is an interesting topic for students and I felt I should share some of my personal experiences in the matter. Over my first two years as a Northern Illinois Business Student I have learned some strategies to help with time management. My freshman year like most students was an adjusting period from the likes of no finals and AP classes in high school to 250 person lecture halls and an array of general education courses.  The idea of balancing work and fun has always been a tough one for me personally. Over my first semester I felt that I had to focus solely on school which is still very true but I felt I was missing out on exploring other avenues on campus. This became evident where I saw my friends get involved in student organizations, athletics, and social fraternities/sororities.

            The key for most students is to find the balance between studies and getting involved throughout campus. There are some instances where students get way to involved in the sense where they don’t have time for their studies or even just to get a good night of sleep. In reality as a student this is an unhealthy lifestyle due to certain key aspects of your life that you’re neglecting such as studies, regularly eating and even sleep. Personally my first organization/club I joined was club tennis which is offered as a sports club through the recreation center on campus. At first, I was very timid since I wasn’t sure how much time I would be able to commit to the club each week. As the first week went on I saw two categories of people throughout the tennis club. There was the person that was very devoted to the club and was a regular at practice and notified the club if they were going to be late or unable to make it. In addition, there was the person that only studies and doesn’t join organizations or enjoy certain aspects of college such as athletics, homecoming, networking with alumni.

As I entered my sophomore year I started to find that balance when I took over the NIU Tennis Club here at Northern. It gave me the chance to make something my own and the ability to reshape the club for future success. There were many challenges along the way in terms of funding, reliability among members and lack of players but overall a great experience. It will play an important role as I develop even more skills for future job interviews and internships.  It gave me the opportunity to take a leadership role here as a sophomore and paved the way for success in such roles as I continued my education. At some points throughout the year it did become an issue when it came to time. One week I might have three tests and a few projects the next nothing at all. The key for this situation was to somehow balance all of my school work and time devoted to tennis. I then joined organizations NIU Cause and Lambda Sigma which created a nice balance of the honors program, athletics and something with in the College of Business.

Now as you can see I didn’t really start to get involved on campus until Sophomore Year. What I recommend for freshman to do once they are on campus. The most important event to attend as a freshman is the Involvement Fair during the first weekend on campus.  The fair gives every student organization on campus a voice and the opportunity to tell incoming freshman what they do and when they meet. The idea that there are over 300 student organizations on campus is unbelievable it’s something you can’t get at a community college or just any college. There are fraternities and sororities that are social and classified as business professional. There are over 30 sports club here at Northern Illinois all the way from Bass Fishing to Roller Hockey. Just in the College of Business alone there are 28 student organizations across the six majors in the college. My message to all students is to get involved it’s been one of the most rewarding things I have done here at Northern Illinois University. At first it doesn’t have to be a big commitment it can resemble my story where I picked up my tennis racket and showed up to tennis club. Our student leaders and members of these student organizations on campus are all great people and have shown great leadership skills for taking on the roles they hold. There are only four years here at NIU and believe me they go very quick. In the fall of 2011 I was in all of your shoes as I have mentioned above a freshman looking to get involved with student organizations. In my mind there is no harm checking out these student organizations. They can only benefit you as time move forwards with the network you build for future job interviews and lasting friendships that should last a lifetime.

Stay Tuned: for a Guest Post by Rachel McBride a Graduate Student here at Northern Illinois University. She will be taking a look back on her time spent in Tanzania over the summer and what she has learned about the culture and lifestyle.

Getting Involved: Part 6 of 6

Getting Involved

This is the last post of the series about involvement on campus. Part one discussed why I got involved, part two explained why I didn’t get involved sooner, part three touched on the opportunities available through being involved, part four talked about leadership experience, part five elaborated on how to get involved, and part six are my thoughts going forward for post graduation involvement.

Getting Involved; Part 6: Involvement After Graduation

As graduation comes closer to me I’ve been challenged to think about getting involved after graduation. Being in a professional organization or two will benefit me in my career as it will give me opportunities to network and potentially meet new clients or referrals through these connections.

I’m going to practice exactly what I preach in these past several posts and I’m going to go about it the same way I would if I were in school. I’ll use the resources I have now to figure out what I need to do down the road. Professors in the College of Business all had a career before coming here to teach. They’ve got real world knowledge and experience, so they’ll know organizations I can get involved with professionally or at the very least, know the direction in which to send me.

AMA will be easy to continue involvement with since I’m a collegiate member. When they send my form via email and in the mail I just need to renew and upgrade my status. Simple.

AMA had a meeting dedicated to an individual from the Young Professionals Network which is focused on allowing young professionals the ability to network with others and give back to the College of Business. The Young Professionals Network also has a partnership with the NIU Executive Club. Both of which keep you connected to College of Business alumni of all business backgrounds while still giving back to the NIU community and its students.

My dad having had a long career in sales told me a lot of people will get involved in their local community whether it is a Lion’s club, a park district or some other volunteer work. My dad said when I was playing hockey he would network with all the other parents from not just my team, but within the whole hockey club.

I’ve experienced how getting involved as a student can pay off. In a few months it will be time to shift gears, become newly involved in other things, and see how that investment of my time will pay off in furthering my career as well as others lives.

What do you think about getting involved after school? How will you go about it?