Reflection – A Student’s View

Editors Note:

My perspective on meditation has completely changed from being a waste of time to being vital to our success as business people. This realization came when I volunteered in Mexico as part of a social entrepreneurship class. We meditated for an hour each morning, forcing us to utilize other senses, connecting our mind and body, reflecting on our past days, while mentally planning for the days ahead. We were required to rid our minds of all the violence, hate, and harm in the world, and instead focus on what we did right, what we did wrong and how we can get better. I encourage you to celebrate the little victories throughout the day and find some time for you. Find some time to relax. I hope you enjoy!

 

We are all busy, there’s no way around it. Work, school, group projects, organizations, family issues, and extracurricular activates. At times, it seems like too much. In reality, it probably is too much. We essentially are required to do more than what is asked of us.  One of the most popular questions beyond the standard interview list is, “What have you done that you are proud of, beyond your school activities?”

“What? More?! More than what I am currently doing?” Is probably what you often ask yourself. But we do it, we press on, pulling all-nighters and run on three cups of coffee and a Red Bull every day just to get by. What I can positively say is, we learned how to manage, squeak by, figure it out. We learn the beauty of balancing everything and make our degree more than a piece of paper, it is now a visual representation of how we managed to juggle so much and still perform well in school. Our degree represents so much more than education, it represents our ability to survive in the adult world, the world of business.

But could you have missed that perfect opportunity? Are you working so hard in school, yet you still don’t see the opportunity in front of you? Job searches are coming up blank, but why? I struggled with the same things. I never found fulfillment in what I was doing. This is why I want to talk about reflection. The power of a personal detox, the ability to step back and think about yourself and the day you just had. The power of meditation is essential in gathering your thoughts and making time for yourself. Sitting down and pressing pause on your life is necessary for determining your goals and the direction your life is heading. We get so busy throughout the day that we forget to think about the opportunities around us, and which align with our priorities and which do not. If you’re blown away at the thought, the possibility of making some time for yourself, please read on.

 

If you read nothing else

If you do not have time to read this entire piece, I want to make some points for you here. Meditation can come in many forms, and really can be anything that puts your mind at ease. I would argue that we often call “me time” is used incorrectly. I used to consider “me time” as the point of the day when I was alone, but that’s not enough. Furthermore, if you are anything like me, you will only justify leisure activities when you feel productive enough, but guess what? You will never be satisfied. You will always find some new assignment or project to tackle. You should take some time to ease your mind. Some good things for me to do is to journal, read, listen to vinyl records, draw, play music or meditate. This allows a few things that I will touch on in more depth soon. But in short, easing your mind will allow you to evaluate what you did well that day and what you fell short at. You gain insight on your life, who’s in it, and evaluate if you like the directions you are heading. Often we never appreciate the journey, we only want the finish line to arrive. But when that time comes, we wish we had more time to soak in the experiences we had along the way. Isn’t that odd? We rush to get things done, but then wish we did things differently. So if you cannot read on, I understand, but do yourself a favor and allow some time for you, just make sure you use that time wisely.

 

Relax Productively

Now the first thing that comes to my mind when I read back over the statements above is, “Well, I can just sleep or zone out, that can be my ‘me time’.” Here is my counter argument to that. In my opinion, we should all have this determination to continuously make ourselves better people. Become better human beings when we go to bed, then we were when we woke up. Our meditation and reflection time should still be productive in that we are detoxing our minds from the clutter from the day and seeing how to tackle tomorrow in a productive manner. There are times and places to relax and have fun, and I completely agree that those activities are healthy as well, but from a student in school’s perspective, evaluating your week, or your day is not only going to destress you, but it will prepare you for the uncertainty that could possibly come your way. In order to grow as a scholar, as an individual, we need to be self-aware of what we do well, and what we can improve upon. Keeping a one-sentence journal, for example, is not only a good way to start journaling, but this allows you to zero-in on one thing, a sentence about your day. Clear out your entire minds worth of thoughts into one sentence. Then, after a month, four months, a year, you can look back and see your previous thoughts blossom into a collection of your journey.

 

Okay great, how?

How can one possibly learn to unwind when we are literally wound-up all day long? My recommendation is to take an hour of your day and dedicate that to you. For example, I wake up at 6 am every morning. I am a morning person, I know, gross. But the morning is wonderful for me. I seem to get more done when the world is asleep. Anyway, I use my mornings to go for a run, make breakfast and lunch for the day, and read/listen to the news that happened the previous day/early morning. My morning routine is about 2 hours, and those hours are strictly dedicated to my thoughts on the previous day and the hours ahead. By forming this routine, I have developed more awareness in my day-to-day activities, and I also have found that my competence in and out of class has increased. I feel like I have removed the junk from my head, and made space for useful information. Not a morning person? You’re not alone, but find at least an hour in your schedule to do something for you and relax. Even an evening walk down the block can be enough to go through the decisions you are making/going to be making in the future, and realign them with your values and priorities at that point in time.

I’ll give you another example. It wasn’t until my final semester of my senior year that I decided to change career paths. My whole life I never thought about going into education, but this semester I dedicated every morning to me and my thoughts. Through those morning routines and the mentors I have formed around me, I decided that the path I was headed down was not going to allow my dreams to come true. I realized that I had all of these resources and opportunities in front of me, that I never capitalized on. It wasn’t until I took some time to take a deep breath and think, that I saw the opportunity in front of me.

 

Lastly, make it a habit.

Okay, you’re feeling good and looking forward to starting your morning meditation routine. How do you keep it up? That rush of a new habit is going to fade and you will be at the crossroads of continuation and abandonment. I remember all of those broken New Year’s resolutions… dang. You must choose if this is a short-term or long-term goal. If this is for the long-run, I strongly encourage you to form your routine into a habit. Repetition is the only way to form such a tight bond. You should be dedicated enough to push through those slacking days. Eventually, you will get into a path that can’t be broken, because you are seeing results. Habits are hard to form, and good habits are even harder to maintain, but learning to build time into your day for yourself, will produce dividends in the form of sanity, happiness, and productivity.

 

Oh, one more thing. 

All I can offer you is an insight into my day, but what I can tell you is to trust the power of your mind. We are complicated, wonderful, complex beings and our mind can be the catalyst to your success, but it can also bog us down, limiting our productivity. We get into this GO! Mentality, and forget about resetting. Our bodies need to recharge, rest and recover. Our mind is no different. Think about all the possibilities you could have in your life if you simply find some time to relax. Don’t go through life wondering what you could have done differently. Instead, take the initiative into your own hands and make a change you think is right. Make a change to be a better you.

Student of NIU Business – Student Intern Louie Zmich

 

As some of you may know, it has been my job for the past two years to find, interview, and write articles on the various students of NIU Business. I thought it would be a wonderful idea to find students who really embody the meaning of scholarly education, and have them voice their stories, with the goal to inspire others to keep making themselves, and the world, a better place. So far, I personally think our efforts have been quite successful.

Naturally, given the scope of the project, I was avoiding doing an article on myself. However, I have decided that the first Student of NIU post of the semester would be of myself given the demand for such piece, and the fleeting time I have left in this position. Below is a summary of my advice for those who are currently or will soon enroll at the College of Business for class. This is simply my opinion, but advice non-the-less. I look forward to producing my last semester of content to those who will read, and I wish the best of luck to all of you in the New Year.

 

Louis Zmich
Marking major
Social Entrepreneurship minor
CoB Marketing and Social Media Student Intern

“I think that everyone should pave their own personal path through life, confronting the difficult times in order to make way for new, innovative, and personalized experiences. That’s what’s great about living in today’s world; we have incredible resources at our disposal that so many of us get to take advantage of every day. Some people have taken these opportunities and vastly succeeded, but some of us simply don’t have access to said resources. With that in mind, I find it imperative to soak up every last bit of knowledge we can, because it truly is a gift.

You know, I’ve heard a lot of quotes that have really stuck with me over the past five years of college, one of which was said by Warren Buffett, “We only truly learn from mistakes, but those mistakes do not have to be our own.”

How profound is that, right? Collaborating and pooling your networks with other like-minded people, is the perfect way to continuously learn without facing the sometimes-harsh misfortunes life can bring. One of my biggest recommendations is, find a mentor and surround yourself with good people. But be honest with yourself. Do a personal inventory and really evaluate whom you associate with. Sometimes we make excuses for those around us who bring us down, but your life is too valuable for that. Make the most out of it by reading the words of those who you admire, and surround yourself with people who will help you grow and support you when you fall.

The next bit I could offer is to take every day as a new opportunity for growth. Make yourself a better person when you go to bed, than you were when you woke up. Set the building blocks today, so you have confidence in yourself when adversity comes your way. I think a lot of us lean on others to find happiness, which is great, but I believe that true happiness comes from within. If we can all be happy within ourselves, then finding others who provide positivity is the right path to pure joy. Continuously try to be the best version of yourself, each day. If you can achieve that, you no longer will be comparing yourself to others, you will start to only see you for who you are, and love yourself in the process. Too much time can be wasted worrying about what others are doing. As a result, we never stop to see who we really are.

In The Book of Joy, The Dali Lama explains how human beings only know how to be humans, by other humans. We simply cannot survive in this world without each other. He goes further into the explanation with an example. Without the help of outside elements, a flower could never be a beautiful piece for all to see. Without proper, constructive human interaction, we could never thrive either. So make sure the interactions you have are the proper ones.

And lastly, I leave you with this. Do yourself a favor, and stop worrying about things you cannot control. Now, worry and anxiety are simply emotions triggered by the fact that you care about what is currently or has happened in the past. If you didn’t feel a sense of worry, you probably didn’t care much about what was going on. So, look at those feelings as a token of your appreciation for what is happening. We worry about failing that exam because we care about our potential grade in the class, but what sense is worrying when the exam is over? Are our worries going to fix the situation? Unfortunately, no, as I’ve found out often enough, unnecessary stress is certainly not an ingredient to success. If we worry less, we will think clearly and get angry less often. Only worry about what is truly worth your time, control your emotions and make the right decisions in order to keep moving towards a prosperous future.”

Of course, this is easier said than done, but I think we all have things to learn from each other. Which is why I am excited to continue to meet other fascinating people throughout this semester. I hope this can relate to some of you out there, and until next time, have a wonderful start to your 2017!

– Louie

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

Students of NIU Business – Alumni Edition: Jeff Kamholz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13490589_10206971089097581_8911327828286944050_o

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

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

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

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

1378000_553703701367742_1076155035_n

 

a world view from Ukraine to NIU

Editor’s Note:  It’s not every day that you find yourself on the other side of the world.  But that’s the reality for Maksym, an NIU accountancy major and native Ukranian (and pictured above, at the Grand Canyon).  Maksym has lived in the US for the past four years.  He’s an “NIU native,” meaning he entered the university his freshman year.  Now a senior and on the brink of graduating in May, Maksym places his focus not only on his future but equally – and more intensely – on the unfolding crisis between Ukraine and Russia.  Technology serves him more as a lifeline than anything, these days.  He uses it at every opportunity to check news reports, emails, and social channels reporting on the situation in Ukraine.  His parents and siblings still reside there, thankfully in the northern area of the country somewhat removed from current tensions.  Nonetheless, Maksym and his family remain acutely aware of the rapidly changing world around them…from both sides of the planet.  I met Maksym through a chance conversation in the hallways of Barsema Hall.  I happened to be carrying a sweater with embroidery that, I would soon learn, resembled the national flowers and colors of Ukraine.  This prompted Maksym to introduce himself to me and from there a conversation developed about his country, the importance of a global outlook, and his experiences at NIU.  Out of respect to Maksym and his family, the following interview shares Maksym’s views primarily about the significance of a global outlook and his experiences at NIU.

 

Maksym’s Long view from the other side of the Pond

Michelle:   Thank you, Maksym, for going out of your way to introduce yourself to me and for agreeing to share some of your story.  To begin, I’m curious to learn how you landed at NIU – all the way from the other side of the world.

Maksym:  In high school in Ukraine, I began looking at universities – just like most high school kids do.  But my situation was a bit different.  The reason is I played tennis professionally when I was in high school.  This gave me access to a powerful resource.  There are companies in Ukraine and in Russia that help find universities for professional athletes who are also students. Their goal is to match the needs and interests of each athlete-student – both in terms of sports and in terms of academics.  This is how I found out about NIU.

Michelle: What was it like to be a professional athlete in high school…that’s such a young age.  Did you travel?

Maksym:  I traveled all the time.  I played professional tennis in Ukraine and in Europe.  Before I came to the US and NIU, I had traveled to about 15-20 countries.  Travelling is something I became accustomed to.  I began playing tennis at 9.  I started the sport more for fun, but then I became very good at it, and later when I played professionally, I traveled a lot not only to compete but also to practice in different cities for a month at a time.  In Ukraine where I am from there aren’t many places that support professional tennis players – that’s why I spent so much time travelling when I was growing up and also studying at the same time.  Different cities provided practice facilities for tennis, so I had to travel there to practice.  And then I also had to travel to compete.

Michelle: Sounds like a world view comes naturally to you.  Did you find it difficult to fit in at any of these places?  Even at NIU…was it easy or challenging or somewhere in between to fit in here? 

Maksym:  I am very used to being immersed in different cultures, different places, with people from all types of backgrounds.  So, no, it wasn’t hard at all for me to be comfortable in those different cities when I was young and practiced tennis there, or even when I competed in different countries.  The hardest part was missing my family.  My family stayed in Ukraine.  I traveled with the professional tennis team.  Those trips were very focused.  I suppose I grew up fast that way in terms of, you know, having an open perspective about different places and cultures, different people.  With that experience, no, it wasn’t hard at all for me to fit in at NIU.  Plus, I came here knowing what I was doing, what my focus was.  I came here to study accountancy and I came here to play tennis.  I lived in the dorms my first year here.  I had a really good roommate who was also an athlete.  He is majoring in law.  He is from the US but he is very open-minded about different countries and different backgrounds.  He became a good friend who made it easy to fit in because he wasn’t at all judgmental about someone from a different country.

Michelle:  If you had only one recommendation to make – to a new student or anyone, really – about travelling abroad, what would it be?

Maksym:  It’s really beneficial to have the proper mindset.  Being open-minded to other places, other people, other experiences.  It’s so important to realize that there are other ways to do things, to acknowledge that people even think differently and that that’s not always a bad thing.  When you travel abroad, really experience the culture, even the food.  For example, don’t look for a McDonald’s or something that you already know.  Try something new. 

Michelle:You’re about to graduate in May?  Have you been on the NIU tennis team all four years of your time here?

Maksym:  I was on the NIU tennis team for three years and really enjoyed it, but I had an injury and so now I am the manager of the NIU women’s team.  I also want to help the university’s Tennis Club.

Michelle:  I’m sorry to hear about the sports injury, but I’m glad you found a way to stay involved with the sport. So you’ve been on a team and you’re leading a team.  How would you describe good leadership and a good team?

Maksym:  Leaders have to be responsible.  A dictator isn’t a leader…they think they are but they aren’t.  That type of leadership style takes away from others and avoids responsibility.  A good leader is responsible and helps others succeed.  A good leader also stands by their word.   I can tell a strong team by how good the relationships are between the people on the team.  They don’t necessarily have to be friends at all.  But they have to trust each other.  They are honest and respectful with what they say and they back up what they say.  Good team members admit when they can’t do something and they find help.  There is a saying in my country that translates into “You live age and you learn age.”  It basically means you live through a period of time and while you go through life, you are always learning.

Michelle: What’s been your most meaningful experience here at NIU and just in general?

Maksym:  My most memorable experience at NIU is sports-related.  It would definitely be winning the 2012 MAC championship for tennis.  That was so awesome.  (Edtior’s note to readers:  If you’re like me and had no idea NIU got the MAC championship in tennis in 2012, check out the hyperlink to an NIU Today story on it!)

Outside of NIU, it may sound odd, I don’t know, but in January of this year I traveled to Arizona. 

I saw the Grand Canyon and actually stayed at the Grand Canyon overnight.  It was an incredible experience seeing it.  I don’t know if I can put it into words.  But seeing that place changed the way I see the world – in terms of what people value.  I was so engrossed in the moment.  I stared at a clear sunset.  It was perfectly clear.  It all looked so unreal.  I was so engrossed I watched the light changing and the way it reflected in the canyon changing until it was completely dark and it was morning.  The sunset is really almost impossible. 

I’ve never seen that image like what I saw at the Grand Canyon anywhere.  It was so quiet, so awe-inspiring that you can’t help but feel yourself removed from the routine of life. 

I know that experience changed me – it’s difficult to phrase clearly how.  How much the impact will be, I don’t know yet.  But I know it will be.  Right now, even though I’m looking for work and hope to pursue a master of accounting science if I get a tennis scholarship or graduate assistant position, I can say the experience changed my perspective.  I see the world differently now.  It really made me realize how incredible things can be and how important it is to pay attention in the moment, no matter where you are. 

 

 

Success

Over the past two years I’ve had my share of experiences.  I’ve had some success and a fair amount of failure as well.  With graduation quickly approaching I wanted to take some time to reflect on what contributed most to not only my successes but my failures as well.  This has been a great form of meditation and I encourage anyone reading this to do it as well!  I’ve learned a little bit more about myself in the process and want to share my thoughts with you in a short series of posts that will highlight my contributing factors to success, which you’ll read below, and my failures will follow in time.  Disclaimer: by no means am I saying that I always do these items below…but when I have, I’ve felt that I’ve achieved success in doing them.  Hope you enjoy!

When something hits your desk it doesn’t matter what level of importance it is.  What matters most is to recognize that if it affects somebody else, do it immediately.  You can wait till the last minute on a 10 page paper if you are solely affected by the grade on the assignment.  However, if somebody needs an email forwarded, help on a team assignment or a favor, do it.  You will be held in high regard if you can exhibit this behavior.  An old saying rings true “You can have everything you want, if you will just help everyone get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

Keep in contact with people.  Send little texts, stay in touch through social media, or send a card once in a while.  Do this whenever you see something that reminds you of them.  Or if that’s too much out of your day just be personable and say hi to people you know (or don’t know) in your daily lives.  Nurture your friendships and keep your network open, one day these people you kept in contact with could hold the keys to open doors that you don’t even know exist yet.

Opportunities present themselves often at NIU, take advantage of them.  You get in-class presentations on the Experiential Learning Center, study abroad programs, student organizations, etc., but many people simply forget what they’ve been exposed to only minutes after it’s shown.  Write those opportunities down and research them further when you have a minute to yourself.  Pursue challenges and you’ll be amazed at how far you’ll go, not only at NIU, but in life itself.

Keep moving.  I learned this on distance bike rides and a backpacking adventure in the Smokey Mountains.  Even trying to ride my bike from my hometown to Wisconsin, every pedal I took, no matter how small, brought me closer to finishing my goal.  When backpacking we spent a few days going uphill for stints of 12 miles or more.  With each step in that cold and wet weather, we were that much closer to reaching camp. For those of you who want to give up and are overwhelmed by work that is seemingly insurmountable, take a second and remember how to eat an elephant…do it one bite at a time.

I encourage you to add your own keys to success in the comments below.  As I said, keep an eye out to read a little bit more about my failures and how can you avoid making the same mistakes I’ve made in my university career. 2.0out

Make Life Easier

Before I made it to NIU life was a little bit simpler to manage.  I could handle all my affairs including homework, a job, and scheduling without much thought or worry.  Now, with 5 classes, 3 student organizations, 2 internships, and social life to juggle I feel like I need my own secretary.  Unfortunately, I do not have the money or the influence to afford such a luxury.  In lieu of my budget and anonymity, I’ve learned to harness technology  to help manage my busy life.  I’m hoping that with this blog I can help you all do the same.  Here are a few applications and technologies that I’ve utilized to make life a little bit easier.

 Google Drive lets you store, access, and share your files anywhere, whether it be on the web, on your hard drive, or on a mobile device.  Here’s how you can start:

  1. Go to Google Drive on the web at drive.google.com.
  2. Install Google Drive on your computer and mobile device (Free for iPhone and Android)
  3. Place files in Google Drive on your computer and boom, it goes straight to your mobile and vice versa!

You can store up to 5 GB of data for free!  Collaborate with others on documents to do group assignments remotely.  I’ve literally completed entire papers and assignments without ever meeting with my teammates.  Another benefit of Drive is that you’ll never have to worry about forgetting an attachment on your computer at home (the second worst excuse next to my dog ate my homework).  With Google Drive, your documents are anywhere you have a computer or mobile device.

Astrid is the personal assistant that I’ve always wanted.  I can use it to make grocery lists, to-do lists that include errands or assignments, and others.  Best of all, its free and I can use the application to schedule all the tasks that I have to complete.  Astrid helps you get your life organized so you will never miss a due date.  Because it offers the ability to add deadlines and priority levels to your tasks that pair with reminders and alarms, you will never forget to follow through with your obligations again!  The lists you create in Astrid go straight to the cloud, so like Google Drive, you can access your lists anywhere you have a computer or mobile device.  Simply log into your account and surprise, all of your grocery lists, book lists, and assignment deadlines are all there!

Right Inbox is free extension for Chrome and Firefox that works with your Gmail account to schedule emails for sending later.  The add-on places a “Send Later” button in your Gmail account with options to schedule the email at any time and date you please!   You can use it to send yourself reminders or send emails to others at just the right time.  I’ve used right inbox to send time sensitive emails that can only be sent between certain hours of certain days (shout out to Mktg 450 students).  Many recruiters for companies have their email on their phones and I’d hate to leave a bad impression and wake them at 2 AM in the morning (when I do most of my work).  So instead, I’ll write the email at 2 AM but I’ll schedule the email for 4 hours later using Right Inbox!  It’s a win-win!  They get to sleep and I get to look like a stud for supposedly being a productive member of society at 6 in the morning (or so the email says).

Use these applications and plug ins and I’m sure they can add a few months, a few more hours to your beauty sleep, and a few less stress induced wrinkles!  2.0out

Do you have any suggestions for apps that have made your life easier?  Share in the comments below!

 

The 2-2-2 Rule

This next guest post is written by Mike Glassberg, an Interactive Marketing Student at the NIU College of Business. Follow him on twitter @cubswin716.

For most of my college life, I’ve prided myself on the relentless perseverance to reach any and all of my goals and to never give up. This also meant giving 110% in all activities. Giving anything less felt like a failure, something I refused to let happen.

And at the beginning of my first Senior semester, that’s what I did: gave 110% in every activity, project, or assignment that was handed to me – or at least I tried. But it was overwhelming being a leader in two organizations, working for the university, being a Junior Consultant in the Experiential Learning Center (ELC), all on top of my regular class schedule.

 

In college, and in life, you need to understand what’s important to you and prioritize accordingly. Over the last few months, I’ve implemented a new rule into my life: the 2 weeks, 2 months, and 2 years rule.

What will this matter to me in 2 weeks? 2 months? 2 years?

My most memorable use of the “2-2-2” rule was from a few weeks ago; I had 10+ page midterm due the next morning. My friend had called me that night as I was typing away, and explained to me a serious personal problem she was going through. I value our friendship very much, and want it to last well over two years. So instead of telling her I was busy with a big paper, I used the 2-2-2 rule and decided that I’d get over the poor grade of my midterm paper in two months, but it would  hopefully mean a lot more to her in two months that I was there for her, especially when I was at my busiest.

This rule of thumb has turned me from a bag of hammers to, well let’s say a few hammers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still stressed, but its focused in the right places and allows me to be excellent in the areas I care most about.

I strongly urge you to use the rule of 2, immediately. Today. Use it in class when you get an answer wrong and are feeling down. Use it when your best friend can’t make your big party. Use it when you have a dilemma and can’t decide between two alternatives.

I hope this helps you in relieving stress and choosing between alternatives as much as it has helped me!

Go Huskies!

-Mike

Business Careers House

One of the most difficult things about going to college or trying something new is figuring out how to fit in.  Hundreds of students each year flock to NIU and have to begin their academic careers anew.  As a business major, what are the best ways to fit in and flourish in your new environment?  I’ve heard this question many times and one of the best answers I can give is the Business Careers House.  I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Maria Ziebinska, a Community Advisor from the Business Careers House, to learn a little bit more about what they have to offer.

The Business Careers House is a residence hall that serves as a living learning community.  In this community, business majors can go and get help in anything business oriented.  Whatever students have questions about they can either come to me (a Community Advisor) or they can talk to the House Leader Chris.  Students constantly have questions about which classes to take and homework help. Since the residents are business students, I put up a bulletin board about class registration.  We include information like what number to call to set up an advising appointment, a sheet containing the Gen. Ed. requirements (specifically the ten core classes to get into the upper level courses), and tips with staying on a four year track.

As Community Advisor for the 10th floor, my job is to help my residents connect at NIU and be successful. I let them know what is going on in the residence halls and around campus. If they have specific interests that they wish to pursue, I help them get in contact with someone that knows where to go to pursue those interests.  Basically, whenever students have anything they need to talk about they can come to me.

Our Community Advisors are Here to Help!

The BCH is located in Grant C and spans five floors from the 8th to the 12th.  The floors are designated to business majors.  We all have common interests and we all hang out and it’s nice to be on the same level with everyone. Since everyone is in the business program many of the residents have similar classes.  Because of this, we set up designated study hours where we meet in the study lounge on our floor and do homework.  If a student does have questions about an assignment, people are there to help!  It definitely feels like a family! 

It’s open to all classes, not just underclassman.  I’m Upper-class and I have two residents that are taking UBUS 310 right now with me.  Transfer students also enjoy the House and have found a great support system here as well.  The support is all the same. We cater to residents needs, so if someone speaks up with specific questions as a transfer, freshman, returning students, even upperclassman, it is our job to help.We work hard to point students in the right direction.  A few events we have already done with the BCH are Dinner with the Dean, Time Management Tips from the BCH Leaders, and Bowling in the Huskie Den.  Dinner with the Dean gave residents a chance to meet the Dean, and she gave tips on how to be successful in the College of Business. Time Management Tips were to give students tips on how to manage their time as they transition from high school to college. Bowling was a chance for all the floors in the BCH to come together and bond.

One of my residents, he was one of the students that didn’t really know what path to go down, so the House Leader and I helped him write up a resume and we took him to the internship fair.  We showed him how to network and how to find out more information about the different career paths he enjoyed.  Like I said before, we’re all there to help each other out!

To learn more about the Business Careers House and all it has to offer, visit their website at http://www.cob.niu.edu/businesscareershouse/index.asp  2.0out

Creating Your Own Path

This next post is written by Marek Swierczewski, a Senior Marketing Major at the NIU College of Business.

When I first came into NIU I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. On one hand my whole life I’ve spent obsessing about cars and racing which led me to believe engineering was the right course of action.  On the other, I’ve already taken business and economics classes in High School and was set to go into management or marketing in college. I chose to go into marketing, but I had another dilemma on my hands; how to get involved? There are a lot of great organizations in the marketing department, like the American Marketing Association or the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board, but none really seemed to fit me. It so happened that my dilemma was solved by my brother attending Cornfest at the DeKalb airport my freshman year.

While at Cornfest my brother ran across the NIU Motorsports Formula team. The team designs, creates, and races a formula style car every year. Well, my brother told me about them and I attended the informational meeting where I found out that a big portion of the competition is a marketing presentation, I was hooked instantly. This was a way for me to take part in both of my passions simultaneously.

"I was hooked instantly"

It so happened that the team never had a dedicated marketing person on their team, they’ve never even had a business major on the team; I was the first. After some time I realized that there’s a huge business portion to the team that most members don’t even pay attention to. Biggest of all is the sponsorships, the team runs completely with money from sponsors so it is imperative that all members learn how to deal with potential sponsors. I have focused a lot of my time on teaching each member how to deal with potential sponsors and how to properly approach a sponsor. But the biggest part of my job is selling the car and the whole organization to a panel of potential investors in a mock selling scenario at competition at the end of the year. I’ve had to learn all about marketing plans, selling, finance, even production plant layout to be able to market our team as the best investment against over 100 different universities from around the world.

I am on my fourth year with the team right now, I am the head of the marketing department and am currently in charge of recruitment for the team, and I enjoy it more now than ever. The team has given me a way to practice my skills in marketing in an automotive environment which has lead me to realize the perfect career path for me. I am dedicated to join the racing industry as a sponsor relationship manager, and it is because of my four years on the team actually going out and doing what I am learning in my marketing and sales classes that I have been able to truly find my perfect career. If there is one thing that my experiences with the team have taught me is that there are many different ways to put what you learn in a classroom to work. Don’t limit yourself to just taking classes, go out, find what you are truly passionate about, and get involved, it is by far the best way to spend your years in college.