What’s Your CAUSE?


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.


PS. I had to include just a couple more photos from Datta.  Do check out his flickr account (link at the top of the post) for more.  He is just truly amazing, I will be getting lessons from him soon for sure.


Seriously, go check him out. You’ll be glad you did. ~ Louie

Be Better Every Day

Editor’s Note:  We’re delighted yet again to share words about life after graduation from yet another recent NIU Business alumnus:  2013 & 2014 accountancy alumnus Daihee Cho. Thank you, Daihee, for sharing your insights and journey so far with all of us!  We know how busy life is…not only in college but afterwards when your careers begin.  So truly thank you again for taking the time to share where you’ve landed and what you’re doing on the other side of your NIU Business experience!

Quick Career Bio

Upon my graduation from NIU’s College of Business in December 2014, I quickly dove into the public accounting profession, starting in January 2015.

It was my first busy season experience in the public accounting profession, and it was quite an adjustment after being a college student.  It felt like a boot camp!  I was involved with different clients in different industries — it was all a great learning experience.  At the same time that I went through my first busy season experience, I finished the CPA exam.  I passed all parts on my first attempt with the great education that I gained from NIU.

I am an Assurance Experienced Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers and currently, I am participating in a rotation program between the Core Assurance – Financial Services and Risk Assurance practice.

What does success look like to you?

For me, success is when I can help the next generation by encouraging, motivating, and assisting with any resources that I have to further individual dreams – especially those that improve society.  I believe I will be able to accomplish this by doing things that I have a passion for and by becoming a role model to the next generation of talented individuals.  Life is full of fun and excitement.  I would like to do anything that I can to help by sharing the same generosity of spirit with others, much like other people did for me.

What do you want to do with your NIU education?

I want to show and encourage everyone to further seek out their education and face challenges that they may or may not be afraid of.  I came from a different country and received my degrees (undergraduate and master degrees in accountancy) from NIU, where I gained excellent education and faced challenges that were scary to me at first.  NIU’s business education has provided me opportunities to learn, to grow up as a professional, and to expand my horizons in my life, and I want to show others that this is what NIU has to offer for them.

Why did you leave South Korea to come here? 

My dad graduated with an NIU degree but not with a business degree.  When I applied for colleges in high school, NIU was the best option with a highly respected business program and the best return on investment.

Tell us your “Why?”

Each morning when I wake up, I wonder what will happen today.  I always want to see what kind of opportunities are out there for me and what I will learn from them.  There are times when I get overwhelmed and frustrated, but, at the end, I find the challenges interesting and I enjoy them.  I am thankful for being given this amazing life.  This motivates me to keep pushing myself to be a better individual and professional.


Editor’s note:   If you’d like to share your story about your life after graduation — or life in school! — send an email to mdejean@niu.edu with the subject line “Life!” and together we’ll figure out the next steps!  Thanks!

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


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,


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



Goodbye for Now

Editor’s Note: Hello! Or should I be saying goodbye? For those of you who are just tuning in my name is Jacob Ferguson and I am now a proud alumnus of Northern Illinois University where I graduated with a bachelor degree in Operations Management & Information Systems (OM&IS). Before we get started with my final post I would just like to thank all of you who followed my journey at NIU and let you know that the real journey has only just begun. With that being said, you are in for a real treat this year as we welcome a stellar new Marketing and Social Media Intern who has his eyes set on raising the bar. If you would like to stay in touch with me or learn more about me please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jacob-ferguson/49/121/998 or follow me on Twitter: @JacobFerguson53.


Goodbye for Now (…but only for now)

It’s bittersweet. When the discussion of writing my final post for the Student Voices Blog came up I honestly thought that the day would never come. It always seemed so far off but here I sit pressing keys on a keyboard and spilling my thoughts hoping that I can capture everything that has been running through my mind since I was asked what I would say. With that being said, I will do my best to keep it short and sweet.

My time at NIU was invaluable and my experience serving as the Marketing and Social Media Intern for NIU’s College of Business was truly one of a kind. I was fortunate enough to have been blessed with a plethora of opportunities that set me up for success and ultimately help shape me into the person I am today. I am forever grateful for what NIU has done for me and am looking forward to continuing to create my legacy.

You might be asking, what am I up to these days? The answer to that question is that I get to serve as a City Year AmeriCorps Member at John Hope College Preparatory High School in Chicago for the next 10 months where I will serve as a tutor and mentor to freshmen and sophomore students in an effort to increase graduation rates and make an impact in the lives of the students that we serve. City Year, for those who don’t know, aims to bridge the gap between what schools and teachers can provide and what students actually need.

Without further ado, it is my great privilege to introduce the new Marketing and Social Media Intern for the College of Business, Louie Zmich. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with Louie in the past and I know he is up for the challenge. Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled as he will be formally introducing himself in the coming days.

Finally, I will leave with a quote that stuck with me throughout college as I hope you will find some meaning and inspiration in the same way that I did.

“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.” – George Bernard Shaw

I wish you all the best of luck this year. Go Huskies!

Set Ambitious Goals

Editor’s Note:  We’re delighted to share words about life after graduation from yet another recent NIU Business alumnus:  2013 finance grad Jordan Near.  What…we’re just at the threshold of the fall 2015 semester you say?  True, true but remember that even if your graduation is a few or more weeks away, it can still be enlightening to see how life is shaping up for those who graduated before you.  So before the rush of the Fall 2015 semester begins, check out Jordan’s path after graduation so far.  And *thank you, Jordan* for sharing your story with us!

Quick Career Bio

I am a Consultant at Ryan, a tax consulting firm. I’ve been with Ryan since June 2013, and I was actually an intern for Ryan in the Chicago office during the summers while I was at NIU. With Ryan, I work on a team with other consultants and our manager on issues related to sales and use tax audits for large corporations. Our team specializes in the healthcare industry, specifically healthcare providers in Texas and Georgia. We work on behalf of our clients during the audit process to try to limit their tax assessments and maximize their refunds to get them to a net refund position. It’s allowed me to learn about the healthcare system, and also helped me to get to know about all the different medical items and crazy technological advances that are being used to treat patients. I also work on a few manufacturing projects for clients with operations in Arkansas. Our team is considered the subject matter expert on sales and use tax regulations in that state. I’ve been lucky enough to work for a manager who shared his knowledge and that has allowed us to work on numerous Arkansas audits. We usually get the first offer on these projects, which is nice because you always want to be known for your work product and your ability to deliver.  I think our niche allows our team to stand out.

What are three things you want to do in your life?

This is a great question, because it makes you put pen to paper (or in this case keys on a laptop) and force you to be real with what you want out of life.  This list is in no particular order:

  1. Travel. I am lucky enough to travel for work, but it’s hardly to exotic locations.  I usually go to Arkansas, Georgia, or Texas. I’d like to go to a lot of different places and experience new cultures. It really can change your perspective on things and give you a new adventure. I would really love to see every Major League baseball stadium because baseball was one of my family’s biggest connections. We all loved baseball and loved going to games together.
  2. Own my own business. I am a big proponent of creating your own path and future. I think owning your own business allows you to provide jobs for others and value to society. I also think it’s the single best way to create wealth for you and your family, which for me is a huge part of my drive every day.
  3. Write a book. As long as I can remember, I have been a voracious reader. Novels, business books, biographies, you name it. I have no idea what I would write about, but it seems like a daunting challenge that is worth pursuing.

What makes NIU so special?

NIU is definitely a special place for my family due to the fact that my two older brothers also attended NIU.  I have been an NIU fan since I was 10, because in 2001, my oldest brother started at NIU. I also think it’s a great combination of return on investment and education. However, the thing that makes NIU the most special is the people. I met many lifelong friends in DeKalb and had so many great interactions with awesome people who have helped me personally and professionally.

How do you show up in the world every day?

I try to be known for my work ethic. One thing I learned growing up was that whatever you do, you better give 100% or you’re letting people down. I grew up wrestling and if you wanted to be successful in wrestling, you had to practice at home and put in extra effort day in and day out. I try to bring that mentality to my daily life even though I’m no longer an athlete. If you can show people that you will fight on even with a difficult task, you will earn their trust and respect. I want to be known for giving 100% and for being a person you can count on.

Tell us your “Why?”

My “Why” comes back to two things: making my family proud and trying to set lofty goals. My first “Why” — making my family proud — comes from the fact that I have a close family and I am extremely grateful for everything my parents provided for me. Not many things are more satisfying than hearing your family say they are proud.  My second “Why” keeps me motivated.  If you set ambitious targets, it’s likely you will not achieve 100% of them.  Which only means that each day you have a reason to go out and try to hit the target you haven’t hit yet. Once you define your own success and you realize some sort of failure is eminent, it kind of clears your thinking.  It allows you to strive for more.  And it helps you realize that when you do hit a target, you have done something worth celebrating. I heard this quote from the movie the Trouble with the Curve that sums it up pretty well for me.  Justin Timberlake’s character says “As you know, to hit the magical .300, you fail seven out of ten times.” A friend did point out to me that with advanced baseball metrics “.300” isn’t the best any more, but batting average still is important. The point is that if you continue to try to get a hit in every at-bat, you won’t see those seven outs as failure.  Because you will have persevered, learned and grown.


Life after Graduation

Editor’s note:  We’re a bit quiet on Student Voices during the summer semester.  Jacob graduated in May (congratulations again Jacob!) and so we’re currently in between Social Media and Marketing interns.  But have no fear!  A new Social Media and Marketing intern is lined up to take over the helm of this blog.  We won’t steal his thunder by introducing him now.  Just stay tuned for his introduction in the upcoming weeks.  Until then, we caught up with some freshly-minted NIU Business graduates to learn how they are showing up in the world…starting with Zach Fiegel  (2014 NIU marketing alumnus) who landed a job with the NBA organization (that’s right, the National Basketball Association’s management team in New York City).  (Thank you, Zach, for working with me on this and for sharing your story!)

Quick Career Bio

In my first year after graduation, I did four rotations in the NBA’s management associate program:  Global Media Distribution — International Business Operations; NBA Development League — Business Operations & Marketing; Global Marketing Partnerships — Business Development area, and; Global Merchandising Group — Licensing.  Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to work for and with some incredible people, make trips to some really cool places (Berlin, Santa Cruz), and show the Big Apple a little bit of that Huskie pride!

How do you define success?

I honestly think there are seven billion+ ways to define it.  It’s up to each individual to decide what success means in his or her mind, and that can change at different stages of life.  I like to set shorter term (1-3 month) goals that I measure myself against, but for me, it really comes down to evaluating myself daily on “the little things.”  Above all, I aim to bring a positive attitude and a work ethic to whatever I’m doing every day.  I know those are two things that I can control no matter what.  Those two items branch out to things like “Did I do things to make the days of the people around me better?”, “Did I give the groups I worked with my full attention and energy?”, “Did I add some smiles to the world?”, etc.  For the Bulls fans out there, I think a Stacey King (Bulls color analyst) mantra sums it up best:  Did I bring the “HeartHustleN’Muscle” today?

What’s your best memory of your years an an NIU Business student?

I had an incredible experience at NIU — one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  In reality, the answer to this question is a 600 way tie.  This answer embodies a lot of memories, but I’ll say everything we built in the NIU student group CAUSE (Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs).  Because of the efforts of a lot of great people, all of whom happen to be my friends, we pulled off some really cool stuff.  Through it all, we exposed a lot of people to a different way of thinking, raised a ton of money, and were able to make some significant contributions to some great organizations.

Tell us your “Why?”

Fantastic question.  If you happen to read this, head to YouTube and type in “What’s your Why?”   It’s one of my favorite videos.  I have alot of “Why’s,” but the most deep-rooted ones come back to my family.  I won’t dive deep into my story, but my mom and dad, despite their differences, made some pretty incredible sacrifices to give me opportunities that they never had.  Thinking about that gives me a kick in the rear to be better on a daily basis, but even more than that, I’d say my four younger siblings are my “Why?”  They inspire me and motivate me more than they’ll ever know.  I want to be a positive figure and a rock in their lives, while helping them surpass any level of “success” that I’m able to hit.

Editor’s note:   If you want to share your story about your life after graduation, send an email to mdejean@niu.edu with the subject line “Life after graduation” and together we’ll figure out the next steps!


Huzzah, Class of 2015!

Editor’s note:  Happy Graduation, Class of 2015!  You did it!!  We’re so happy for each and every one of you on what is a significant achievement.  Before you cross the stage during Commencement to receive your diploma, we wanted to share some words of wisdom with you.  These thoughts were shared from the heart by NIU Business alumni, guest speakers, and professors, all of whom have inspired so many of us.  Just as all of you have inspired all of us with your work ethic, commitment, heart, and focus.  Stay in touch.  Seriously…we mean that!.  We miss you already and are cheering you on!  From now until our paths cross yet again, and even beyond future meetings, keep seizing the day!


Some thoughts to the NIU Business Class of 2015

It’s cliché but be the good you wish to see in the world. Put your words into action and don’t be afraid to educate and inspire. All it takes is a little bit of courage to change the world.  ~ Jacob Ferguson, OM&IS alumnus, and NIU Business Marketing & Social Media Intern for the academic year FA ’14-SP ’15.  Connect with Jacob on twitter


Build your friends and keep them close.  You need people who you love, people who you trust.  Know that you have enough already to get started on your dream.  Don’t give up too much of yourself – remember that saying ‘no’ is often saying ‘yes’ to yourself.  See as many sides as possible:  collaborate, cooperate, self-protect, take risks.  See what is missing in a project and identify what you can bring to the project better than anyone else.  ~ Stacy Ratner, Founder of Open Books, Keynoter at the Spring 2015 NIU Social Impact Summit


Your life will be infinitely easier if you find what you are passionate about and work in an environment where your skills and motivations align.  If you deeply believe that what you’re doing is worthwhile, that what you’re selling is important, and you find intrinsic value in it, your output will be of a higher quality and you won’t have to worry about searching for meaning and happiness; you’ve already found it. ~ Nick Kochetta, Marketing alumnus and Adventurer.  Learn more about Nick’s journey after graduation in the guest post On Being Uncommon:  Your Art.  Your Flow.  Connect with Nick on Instagram


Do not be afraid to fail. What I’ve learned in the past year is that living with the fear of failing is miserable and holds you back from potential career advancement. Instead of living in fear, live fearlessly and strive to give everything your best shot. ~ Lexi Wozny, Marketing alumnus, Retail Leadership Development Program at Verizon Wireless.  Connect with Lexi on LinkedIn


Find your passion; set lofty goals; do a little bit each day to learn and grow ~ Amanda Ferguson, Assistant Professor of Management


There have been many things I have learned about playing in the NFL and owning my own multi level marketing company.  I have been fired four times and have had to fire one of my dearest friends who was my agent.  However, these experiences have helped mold me into the man I am today.  The key thing I have learned in the business world is you have to be relate-able to people.  There is more than one way to do this.  For example:  finding common ground on which you can communicate, being genuine and transparent in the way you communicate, treating those around you with the utmost respect (doesn’t matter what their level of income or status is), never burning a bridge, looking people in the eye, having a great smile and then finally, truly caring about those you come in contact with. If you can do a majority of those things, you will find success in whatever industry you are looking to get into. I am a believer that good things happen to good people.  I feel as if I am a walking example of this and wouldn’t know about these ideals if it hadn’t been for my time at NIU and the College of Business.  ~ All the best, Management alumnus Chandler Harnish, Independent Associate, USANA Health Sciences.  Connect with Chandler on LinkedIn


My advice is to work hard, enjoy what you do and remember if you don’t promote yourself no one else will!  ~ NIU Business alumnus Audrey Southard, Retired Vice President, Instructor


Don’t allow your career to overshadow your friends and family.  If you have a career setback, you will overcome it. Slighting those that care about you can do irreparable damage.  Do everything in life like you will never have the opportunity to do it again.  Take on challenges before you think you are ready, and you will stretch into them.  Be honest in all you do.  If you don’t know something, say so.  If you make promises and people rely on you, make sure you deliver.  Each day is a precious gift.  Treat it as such. Surround yourself with people who bring you up.  Avoid those that (intentionally or not) pull you down.  Remember those who have helped you get to where you are and go out of your way to thank them–it will cost you nothing and pay big (and non-taxable) dividends.  ~ James M. Johnson, Presidential Teaching Professor, NIU Department of Finance


Doing what you love doesn’t need to be complicated.  Challenging?  Yes.  Perfect?  No.  The key is to articulate YOUR purpose.  Find out what’s meaningful to you, what speaks to you.  Actively seek out character building situations.  In other words, learn about the world.  Step out of your comfort zone.  Make sure you Live a Life…not a resume.  ~ Elly Rohrer, Founder of Human Connections, closing presenter at NIU’s 2015 Social Impact Summit.

Discover the Greatness Within

Editor’s Note: Hello! It’s Jacob Ferguson, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. Do you ever wonder what you were put on this world to do? Do you ever ask yourself if you are living your life to its fullest potential? What I intend to provide you with in this post is aid in helping you better answer and understand those questions. What this post will not provide you with is the answers. If you would like to learn more about me please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.

What makes you great?

What makes you great?

Most of us wander through life wondering what it is we were put on this world to do. Some figure it out sooner than others and some never figure it out at all. What follows are some thought provoking ideas that will make you think about who you are and who you want to be. Here goes nothing…

Accept yourself for who you are. You can’t begin living until you have fully accept yourself and all your insecurities. You are who you are and there are some things that can simply not be changed. The sooner that you realize that the better off you will be.

Being perfect is a sham. The idea of being perfect is unrealistic and quite frankly quite humorous. It’s something that one can strive for their whole life and never achieve, much like a dog chasing its tail. Focus on being the best you that you can be.

Ride with the tide and go with the flow. Embrace everything that happens to you whether good or bad and more importantly find the lesson in everything you do. Work tirelessly to change the things you can but don’t be discouraged by the things you can’t.

Find your balance. Discover what energizes you, what makes you happy, and how you connect to yourself. If you do this you will never work a day in your life.

Use those around you as a mirror. Surround yourself with people that you have things in common with and would like to be like. Chances are if you are around a person enough you will pick up on certain things that they do and adapt them as your own.

Connect to your core. Find harmony between who you are and what you do. Take what you’ve already learned about yourself and transform your life.

Strive for greatness and never settle. When you’ve fall down, pick yourself back up. Don’t be average, but most importantly be yourself.

If this post did nothing more than make you think about and reflect upon yourself than I would deem it a success. As the end of the year approaches and the number of blog posts I have left dwindles down, I will do my best to write about what I am thinking about as a student because I can only assume that a lot of you are thinking about the same things and going through the same changes as I am. Until next time!