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!

 

Letter to Future Self: College Edition

Editor’s Note: Hello! It’s Jacob Ferguson, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. I am happy to declare that the end is near and it is bittersweet. As a senior with graduation and the rest of my life approaching I thought to myself about what advice I might have for my future self. With all the stress and excitement associated with this milestone here is what I came up with. If you would like to learn more about me please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.

Hello Jacob,

So you’ve graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Operations Management & Information Systems and completed your year of service as a City Year Chicago Corps Member, now what’s next? I cannot answer that question for you, but I know what I can do. I can and will provide you with a handful of tips and advice not only to help you succeed, but also to help you stay true to yourself.

  • Family and friends come first. When you are down and feel like you have nowhere left to turn look to the people that you have surrounded yourself with because they are there for a reason.
  • Follow your heart. If there is anything I have learned it is that if you dislike something enough the money will never be worth it.
  • Achieve financial freedom. Having the ability to walk away from any situation without having to think about the financial implications is a power few have, but many want.
  • Find time to disconnect. You don’t always have to be plugged to be social.
  • Just because an opportunity has presented itself does not necessarily mean that it is worth it. Realize that you can’t do everything.
  • Get and stay involved. Find an organization that fits you and that will help you develop both personally and professionally.
  • Focus on your health because you sure didn’t in college. A little bit will go a long away here so start eating better and hitting the gym.
  • Find a way to earn passive income. If you could receive income on a regular basis with little effort, why wouldn’t you?
  • Greet the janitor with the same respect you greet the CEO. You never know how small gestures like this will pay off and if they don’t at least you will feel a lot better about yourself as a result.
  • Remember to stay in touch. Send an email or give a call to those from your past. You don’t have to talk everyday with someone to have a good relationship.
  • Take risks and fail fast. You are at a point in your life where you are young enough to bounce back.
  • As important as you think it is to have the newest phone or the nicest car there are more important things in life that can’t be held in your hand or driven.
  • Be grateful and appreciate what you have because it can be taken from you at any moment.

I said it once and I will say it again, make the most out of these next couple years because you will never be as young as you are right now.  Strive for excellence and don’t forget where you came from. There will be times when life knocks you down, just remember to get back up.

Sincerely,

Jacob Ferguson

 

 

The Start of a New Beginning: My Journey to NIU

Editors Note: Hello everyone, I want to introduce myself before I start this article. My name is Louie Zmich, and I am a transfer student from Harper College, a community college in Palatine, before that I went to Elmhurst College. So this entry is going to be about my journey here to NIU and what it was like in the transition into a bigger school while transferring over credits from two different colleges. If you would like to know more about me you can follow me on all social media @LOUIEZMICH and check out my Beard and Mustache club that’s here at NIU on Facebook to find out what we’re all about, simply search “NIU Beard and Mustache Club.” Enjoy!

(I am the gent on the left.)

Transfer Student Experience - Louis Zmich

Transfer Student Experience - Louis Zmich

What was it like transferring to Northern Illinois University; honestly, I would describe the overall situation as being very smooth and welcoming for the most part. I am a firm believer in the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” That being said, NIU was always one of my top picks for schools, but when I graduated high school my number one priority was going to schools that offered me the opportunity to play golf, and was close to home in order to be close with my family. Elmhurst College fit the bill, as I was not only able to play golf, but I was also able to study Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy at a school that was known for those majors, it was perfect, until everything came to a halt. Elmhurst College was a private school and tuition was a monster to pay for. Not only that, but since it was so expensive, I had to commute an hour round trip everyday just to get to classes. It just didn’t even feel like I was attending a university because at the end of the day I was back in my parent’s house. From Elmhurst College I saved some money at the community college, Harper College, but I quickly realized that even though I was passionate in Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy, my personality was much more suited for the world of Business. I just loved the concept of meeting new people while being professional, and working my way into the corporate world was something that really got the gears turning in my head. It also helped that the majors I listed above were great assets to have to put towards the Business world.

Even though I had decided on Business, my decision was still not set on NIU. My gut feeling kept telling me NIU, but all of my friends were going to schools in the city, and loving the city life, so naturally I was pulled to follow my friends. I felt that universities in the city just did not match the needs I wanted. NIU is a big college but professors here do not treat you as just another number, they actually want to sit down with you and help you succeed. Any college can say that, but I experienced it first hand when sitting in on classes and talking to students at universities in Chicago. That reason alone spoke wonders about the staff at NIU, and that goes a long way in my book, after all isn’t that what you’re paying for? Plus, NIU has a wonderful bus system that will honestly take you anywhere you’re looking to go, even to the train station to travel to the city, so it was a win, win. NIU even has an app that is constantly being updated and shows you where the bus is, in real time, you cannot get anymore convenient than that. Right off the bat, the fact that the people on the phone and in the classroom were so accommodating to all my questions, along with transportation to visit my friends, left me excited to find out more about the school. When I came to visit, I was pleasantly surprised.

The DeKalb area felt very welcoming to me, some people do not appreciate these little things but I sure do; the little mom and pop shops, the small farms down the road selling their farm made produce, and all the old homes that have been here for almost a century. That stuff really pulls me in, and I had not even gotten to the school yet, so overall it had a small town feel with a big school atmosphere, everywhere you went, people were supporting the NIU Huskies, I loved that.  After our tour of the school I realized something very important to me, besides the cool places around campus, like comic shops, places to eat, and the old nostalgia the buildings had, to the beautiful new buildings on campus, I realized that NIU really took the time to make sure you got involved and fit In wherever you were coming from. Sure other schools do that too, but everyone I met, professors, and TA’s all gave me their Business card and actually made me feel like I could contact them anytime and ask questions, little things like that really resonate with me, and trust me, I have made connections with professors from contacting them and meeting with them. On top of that, NIU has a wonderful program connected to all the community colleges and Universities in the area, where your credits easily transfer over. I honestly didn’t have any credits get misplaced when transferring in, and as you may know, that is quite stressful not knowing if something will transfer over, NIU made that very easy to achieve.

So, I got accepted and I’m ready to move out, what’s next. Well, I need a job to pay my bills, and more importantly I need a place to live. This was my only gripe through this process, was finding a place to live. Quite frankly the housing on campus is just inconvenient for me, the price tag is just not obtainable for me at all, but I do have to say that I would have met much more people a lot sooner if I had stayed in the dorms, so maybe you’re also paying for the convenience. So, dorm living and apartment living in Northern View, was just not an option for me personally, but I would have loved to stay in the dorms to meet all the cool people and participate in the floor activities. After looking around at the local housing situations, I decided that I was best suited with a private company with a small owner. To me, it fit my needs because I was able to have a relationship with the owner and have a landlord that I knew personally after a while. That is just my style, but it certainly was welcoming to see so many housing options, there is an option for everyone’s living wants and needs. So once I made that realization, I then looked at the private companies around campus, and I could not have made a better decision. I ended up going with D & J Properties, a small company owned by Dan and Joe Sears. Cheap, close to campus, and the brothers live in the neighborhood, so anything that goes wrong, they are around within the hour, it really was a perfect fit, I could walk to campus and still pay for myself to live on my own.

My next objective before even coming to this school was to get involved and find a job. This section right here is what I think NIU strives, there are so many clubs and organizations on campus, you honestly will not be getting the full experience if you do not join something. Seriously, professionalism aside, get off the couch and join a club, you will be happy you did. There are so many choices for jobs and activates, it’s a bit ridiculous, but in a good way. I applied to a lot of jobs on campus, and they were all responsive in a timely manner, but I ended up taking a job at the Police Department on campus being a student patroller. The Chief of Police here honestly has done so much work over the last two years he has been in office. As students, it really feels like the officers are understanding at the fact that you’re going to go out on the weekend, so there are no questioned asked services like walking escorts home, and buss services like Late Night Ride, as long as you’re being safe and getting home safe, you’ll have a way back to your bed at the end of the night. Just for your sake, and the officer’s sake, be respectful and they will respect you. That’s so comforting to me, and I’m sure it’s comforting for your parents to hear as well. Everything is so close to campus as it is, so the walks home aren’t that long anyway, but a warm buss on a DeKalb winter night cannot be passed up, trusts me. The Police Department fit my schedule needed, as the job is overnight work, and it gave me a chance to move up in the company as next year I will be a supervisor on the team for Huskie Patrol, what a great experience.

Lastly I wanted to talk about clubs and organizations, there are seriously too many to choose from. An entire gym full of tables has rows and rows of clubs and organizations to choose from. Sports to hobbies and Greek life, you name it they have it. Well, maybe not everything, so why not start your own? That’s what I did, I wanted to create a club that taught boys how to be functioning men of society, to teach how to dress, speak, and treat women the way our grandparents did. So, I had the idea and ran with it! You only need one other person to back you up and you can start your own club, and boom, the Beard and Mustache Club of NIU was born. Now, it’s more complicated than that to have your club recognized by the school, but you can find that out on your own, you just need faculty members to get involved and most are accommodating. But seriously, join something, no excuses, when you join a club you are going to make friends who instantly have the same interest as you, and that is so valuable, trust me, sometimes it’s about who you know in life and what hands you shook, and you can only do that when you get involved. I personally joined the Ultimate Frisbee club, Bowling Club, and started my own club in a matter of weeks being here. Unfortunately the Ultimate Frisbee and Bowling Team did not really fit my schedule for the semesters, but along with scheduling issues I also decided to try and join the Profession Business Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi, I currently am a pledge and I can say it honestly has been the best time I have had at NIU so far, seriously, again, join something, make friends and just get involved. So many people probably have told you the same thing, but its true, I cannot stress enough how enjoyable my time here has been because of these clubs and organizations. With a little hard work you really can go far here.

So besides the small things I said about the school, I really only scratched the surface, I glanced over the fact that there’s tutors all the time ready to help you, and most of the professors are ready to jump by your side.  The campus is full of tools and just like anything in life, you get out what you put into it, if you come in here just wanting to coast by, you’re going to get an experience that fits the bill. If you try new things, meet new people and really get involved, you never know whom you are going to meet. More importantly, you don’t want to look back on your college experience and realize that you didn’t take advantage of everything this school gives you, from the surrounding town, to finances and activities, I am glad I transferred and switched my major, because the three years I now have here, I know are going to be some of the best years of my life. Good luck on your journey, and hopefully your experience is going to be just like mine, amazing.

Deloitte & United Way Alternative Spring Break

Editor’s Note: Hello! It’s Jacob Ferguson, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. While we were freezing in Illinois, sophomore Jinay Shah was giving back in the warm state of Florida through the Deloitte and United Way Alternative Spring Break Program. Read more about his awesome experience below…

 

by Jinay Shah

Hello everyone! It’s me Jinay again. This Spring Break, I was fortunate enough to be selected by Deloitte for the 2015 Alternative Spring Break Program along side United Way in the beach city of America, Miami, FL. Deloitte is the World’s largest consulting and accounting services firm. One of the goals Deloitte really focuses on is creating and developing a “Maximum Impact”. This is a term Deloitte uses to encourage community service. Maximum Impact is defined as taking financial and intellectual resources and giving back to the community.

Every Spring Deloitte partners with United Way, a large non-profit organization that provides financial, educational and human network support to those in need, and plans two Alternative Spring Break programs for students interested in Deloitte, one in Memphis, Tennessee (Next week for other schools breaks) and the other in Miami, FL. The program in Miami, FL is focused towards assisting students and adults residing in at-risk communities in the city. 48 students were selected out of over 678 applications Deloitte received from all over the country and were split into six groups that would assist various United Way agencies across the city. The programs were set up to assist students of ages 2-5, 6-10 & 11-18 who face financial, mental, and physical or health challenges.

I was placed in an agency called “Cramer EasterSeals Preschool” where I would be responsible for helping out 3-5 year old children in a low-income neighborhood. EasterSeals is a program funded by United Way organization that provides free preschool education to low-income families / Disabled Children in the Miami-Dade County. Our group, also known as “The Chickens” consisted of students from various universities such as University of Mississippi – Ole Miss, Arizona State University, Syracuse University and many others. Every team was assigned one main team leader and a Deloitte professional to stay with the team. Our team leader was Emily Coady (The NIU Deloitte Recruiter) and we also had a new Deloitte Professional on our team from Houston Deloitte office, Nicole. In the picture you can see all of our team!

The first day when we went to the school, I was just amazed by the school because they looked exactly like the private daycare centers, United Way had invested a lot into the preschool to provide excellent education to the underprivileged children at absolutely no cost. We spent 4 days with little kids and all of our group was emotionally touched at the end of the experience. We met the agency directors, teachers and many different support staff members who shared their experience with us. It was extremely difficult to hear the stories of some of the families that lived in the area. A lot of the children at the agency have been victims of domestic violence, parents in prison, and drug abuse. I was really touched emotionally to hear that some kids’ parents were in prison. However, we wanted to make this experience positive for us as well as the kids in the agency and thus we decided to cheer them up by dancing, playing outside and engaging them into learning activities throughout the four days of our service. We participated in activities that would sharpen kids learning skills with letters, numbers, word recognition such as rhyming words, action verbs and other core skills required for them to pass the state examination required by No Child Left Behind Act laws. It was so interesting to see kids pay attention and really enjoy the learning experience and it felt really good because we could experience us making a difference in action throughout the entire week. The Agency made our group a nice Thank You card to remember and always cherish these memories.

After volunteering for the entire day, Deloitte would organize many interesting and fun social and networking events where we had a chance to explore the city while learning more about Deloitte and the opportunities available at Deloitte in Accounting. We visited City of Miami Beach, a Miami Heat game, and much more.Deloitte is also the official “Consulting” sponsor for US Olympics and brings an Olympic athlete at each of their events. I had a chance to meet Cullen Jones from Team USA Swimming who won gold medals and set the world record in 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic Games along with Michael Phelps. He really inspired me by telling us his life struggles and his passion for swimming and his experiences during the Olympics. For those of you planning on applying to the program, I do not want to spoil it for you. It was literally the best thing I have ever done in my life. The interesting thing was that the dress code for the entire week was casual, which helped me open up and communicate effectively with everyone. I feel like I made 47 new friends from across the country. I would highly recommend everyone to apply to the Deloitte Alternative Spring Break 2016, it is all expense paid trip to Miami during our Spring Break! If you have questions or comments feel free to email or tweet me. Thank you very much for reading my blog, please check out my pictures and don’t forget to follow me on twitter and add me on LinkedIn. Have a great rest of the semester! Feel free to visit http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/careers/articles/join-deloitte-alternative-spring-break.html for more information about the program and to apply.


Twitter: @Jinay26Shah
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jinay26

 

 

 

 

 

On Being Uncommon: Your Art. Your Flow.

Editor’s Note: Hello, it’s Jacob Ferguson here and I’m glad to inform you that we have a treat for you. Former NIU student and one of the previous Marketing and Social Media Interns for the College of Business, Nick Kochetta otherwise known as 2.0, recently agreed to write a guest blog post. In the post that follows he discusses what his journey was like after graduating from NIU and most importantly he talks about finding your passion and what is meaningful to you. For some it may be the traditional path and for others the path less traveled. He had plans to enter the business world but chose the latter so far. This is 2.0 checking in.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hey Jacob!  Where do I start?  Well, my name is Nick Kochetta and I graduated from the NIU College of Business with the class of 2013.  I graduated with a degree in Marketing and I earned certificates in both the Interactive marketing and Professional selling disciplines.  Beyond my credentials, I am a man in a committed relationship with adventure.  I live for the thrill of stripping my life down to the bare essentials, putting those items into the frame of a backpack and going where ever the wind will blow me.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

 What was your path like after graduating from Northern Illinois University?

The day after graduating, I drove cross country to begin a contract in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.  I used my skills in sales to sell a wilderness experience to people from all over the world.  With the tools given to me by the sales program, I was consistently a top producer in our office, fetching top revenue honors in my very first week!  It didn’t hurt that I got three days off a week to explore the national park as well as nearby Yellowstone.  It was basically a dream.

The job was seasonal and at its end I took a road trip to my next opportunity; selling for a ski resort in Lake Tahoe.  A friend in my office had worked in Lake Tahoe and the picture she painted of it was akin to a Bob Ross painting.  I couldn’t wait to get started!  On my road trip to Tahoe, I drove from Wyoming to California, stopping to see the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and the edenic  paradise in the desert that is Zion National Park.

Within a day of arriving to Lake Tahoe, my bike and other personal items were stolen from my car.  I was on the opposite side of the country with nothing but the contents of my car, and those were just violated.  I felt ill at the thought of being there for so much as another hour, so I threw a hail mary and called the HR department at Zion National Park (the beautiful park I fell in love with just a week prior).  The HR manager said he had a position and the job was mine on a single condition; I had to be to the park by the next morning.  As you could probably guess, I drove 10 hours overnight to claim the spot.  I had now become a resident of one of the world’s most beautiful and unique landscapes, home to hikes like Angel’s Landing and The world famous Narrows.

The season ended in November and I knew that an Appalachian Trail Thru Hike (6 month, 2,185 mile hike from Georgia to Maine) was in my sights for the Spring.  The problem was, I had a 4 month window that needed to be filled.  As luck would have it, I met a lovely girl in Vegas who told me how inexpensive and amazing a of a place Southeast Asia was.  Her stories captured my imagination and I bought a plane ticket to Bangkok that was set to depart in only 2 weeks.  I had no plans beyond a return flight 2 months down the road.  I spent months exploring the beautiful culture of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.  I saw everything from grand palaces to giant waterfalls, ate amazing local food, and found time to play with tigers and elephants in between.

Upon  my return, I packed a bag and left to begin hiking the Appalachian Trail.  When Mid October came, I stood atop Mt. Katahdin, the end of the 2,185 mile trail, and have since moved in with my hiking family in Nashville, Tennessee.

What made you decide to take the untraditional route?

Before graduation, my life was on a totally different path.  I was presented with a mountain of opportunities thanks to the college’s sales program but I wanted something more.  After studying abroad with the business program in Europe, my eyes were opened to the fact that the world is a huge, beautiful, and easily accessible place.  So while most students decided to work hard for financial comfort and advancement in a company, I decided to check the big ticket items off my bucket list by maintaining freedom from heavy obligations.  I knew that my wonder, curiosity, bad knees, and ability to sleep in tight quarters probably wouldn’t last much longer than my early 20′s so I applied for a job in the national parks and haven’t looked back since. 

Can you talk about following your dreams and finding your passion?

I think ultimately, the dream everyone should strive for is happiness and in my studies of happiness, I find a recurring theme of “finding flow.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWcapC-kriY  This guy didn’t come up with it up but he explains the concepts very well.  Check it out!

http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?language=en#t-344931 A little drier but definitely worth the watch.

Your life will be infinitely easier if you find what you are passionate about and work in an environment that 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.

Some of you will find your happiness in starting a business or creating an app.  Some of you strive to be at the top of your field in accounting, and some of you yearn to experience culture and inspire others.  Each person has that spark inside of them.  Take some honest time to find what that thing is; you might not find it in your upper level business courses.

Now more than ever, you have an amazing opportunity to explore yourself while you’re young.  Look inward and you may be surprised at what you find.

What are you up to now and what does the future have in store for you?

I literally just walked in the door from a road trip that took me show shoeing through the Rocky Mountains and Hiking in Arches and Canyon lands National Parks.  My roommates are now telling me to pack for a weekend trip to the Smoky Mountains, so I guess that’s a thing!  It’s shaping up to be an amazing week full of awesome places and friends new and old.

Beyond the immediate happenings, I’m saving for a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016 and may even land a job in Glacier National Park for summer, but that’s yet to be decided.  As you may have guessed, I’m pretty flexible.

If you had one piece of advice for students about to graduate what would it be?

There’s going to be a lot of temptation to grow deep roots in your life via car payments, long term leases, mortgages, significant others or job commitments.  Maintain some freedom from obligations and don’t restrict yourself from unique experiences in your young lives.  You don’t NEED the newest car that comes with a high payment.  You don’t NEED the high end apartment with the big lease.  By living simply and cutting out the fat, you have the ability to pivot quickly and take opportunities that appear when you least expect them.  I can pack all my belongings into the backseat of a car and be on the road at a moment’s notice.  To me, that’s a liberating feeling that allows me to say yes more than no.

Don’t be afraid to take time off.  So much of the industrialized world supports gap years among their students and travel amongst their working class.  I lost count of the Australians and Germans I’ve met who are more cultured, happy, and fulfilled for having done it.

Save money!  Pizza, taco bell, and beer were hard staples in my diet and looking back on it, I could’ve saved thousands had I avoided them.  I could’ve used it on another trip or on a musical instrument.  You could just as easily use it towards your business. Your art. Your flow.

Apply for Scholarships!!!  I don’t think I can add enough exclamation points to this…

Once again, your life will be infinitely easier if you do what you are passionate about.  If you believe in what you are doing, in what you’re selling, etc., it’s easier to get behind it and feel fulfillment and flow.

Finally, read the Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.  I read it on a beach in Cambodia and it changed my life.

Thanks for your time Jacob. :) Best of luck to you and the rest of the class of 2015!  Go Huskies!

To any and all that muscled through this blog…DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT ME.  I mean that sincerely.  If you have questions, email me at nickkochetta@gmail.com.  Check out some of my pictures on Instagram @gopaddlefaster and read my old blog at gopaddlefaster.wordpress.com.

2.0 out

Sleep, Good Grades, and a Social Life – Which Two Will You Choose?

Editor’s Note: Allyson Slovak is a senior accountancy student with background education in the fine arts and musical arts. Being a violinist of 12 years, she is heavily involved in music, including composition and teaching. She is a member of the Gamma Pi chapter of Beta Alpha Psi and volunteers with animal shelters and animal rescue groups. In her free time, she likes to run, go on long hikes, and do yoga.

Law of Three - Allyson Slovak

Law of Three - Allyson Slovak

The average student abides by the law of three: sleep, good grades, and a social life. It’s said that you can only have two of these in your life and have to kiss the other one goodbye. For those who want to have a good job after they graduate, sleep and good grades seem like the two most important options. However, when it comes to business, one should not underestimate the importance of a social life.

When first coming to NIU, I assumed that the smartest thing for me to do was get good grades and keep up my health by getting the recommended amount of sleep every night. I planned to study diligently during the week and reward myself with a fun Friday and Saturday night, probably with friends from home since I’d be working so much during the week.

However, I found myself slipping with my plans. It started out at Meet the Firm Night, a professional event held every semester by the NIU Department of Accountancy where a plethora of accounting firms come to NIU to recruit accountancy students. I ended up having a lengthy conversation about football with an old NIU student who was visiting with his firm. Then there came the girl I met during interviews; she ended up being in my classes and I’d spend a lot of atrium study time chatting with her. Instead of only studying during my free time at my temporary position at a well-known firm, I’d find myself wandering over to my co-workers’ cubes and asking them how their weekends had been.

Now it’s almost two years later, and I realize how silly my plans for NIU were. That old student I talked to at Meet the Firm Night had the recruiter at my most desired firm contact me and schedule an interview for me that led to an internship and then full-time position. The girl I talked to after class in the atrium ended up interning at the same firm and introducing me to many people from a group I was interested in at the firm. As for the co-workers at my job, I established a network there that ended with a full-time job offer, an open door, and many expressing their interest in my joining their groups if I ever decided to come back.

The friendships I have made at school and work are not only a positive impact on my life, a laugh between classes/meetings, and help when I don’t understand something, but I owe my whole career to the relationships I have established. I obviously would not have been considered for my offers had I not had a decent resume, but I surpassed those with a better resume due to my relationships.

My point is not to focus explicitly on your social life and obtain the most friends imaginable so you can use them to get you somewhere. Nobody likes a forced friendship, and people see through fake friendliness. Instead, recognize that the relationships you make in life are very important in many ways.

So don’t worry about getting exactly 8 hours of sleep a night and getting 100% on every exam, quiz, and homework assignment. Stop and get to know the people around you. Recognize that life is a balancing act, and it’s not impossible to get all three aspects of the law of three. You might fall asleep on your bowl of pasta here or there, but hey, at least you’ll have somebody to laugh about it with the next day.

Letter to Present Self: College Edition

Editor’s Note: Hello! It’s Jacob Ferguson again, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. I hope you all are surviving midterms and looking forward to Spring Break just as much as I am. Just a few days from now and I’ll be cruising along the Western Caribbean with some of my best friends. The goal of this Student Voices post is primarily to reflect on the present as well as share some of the advice that I would give my present self. I’ve already written to my past self so I thought it would be fun to write a letter to myself in the now. If you would like to learn more about me please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.

Jacob Ferguson - College of Business Marketing and Social Media Intern

Jacob Ferguson - College of Business Marketing and Social Media Intern

Hello Jacob,

I hope all is well and that you are making the most of your last semester of college. The end is near, so do not give up. I know that you think you know it all but I am here to tell you that you don’t and that is perfectly okay. I am writing you to share with you some advice that might make it a little easier. Keep what I tell you in mind but remember to make your own mistakes because that is the only way you will learn. Here goes nothing…

  • Senioritis does exist and you will catch a mild case of it. It is important that you keep focused and don’t lose sight of the reasons why you are here.
  • I may regret this one later but if an opportunity comes up that you cannot pass up than don’t.
  • Don’t be the senior that falls off the face of the earth and can’t be found his last semester of college, remain involved and don’t burn bridges.
  • Don’t forget to call. You may be heading back home in a couple of months but it is still important to stay in touch with those individuals who have always been there for you.
  • Continue to take advantage of every opportunity thrown at you especially those you get to travel.
  • Go out more! As long as the work gets done it is more than alright to go out on a weekday and let loose.
  • Don’t forget to exercise! As you’ve gotten busier this has become less and less of a priority. It is important that you take care of yourself.
  • Be honest and own your flaws. It is okay to admit that you are overwhelmed at times and it is better that you communicate that to those individuals you are working with than wasting their time.
  • Don’t forget to smile…and dance! Trust me, the more that you do these two things the happier you will be.
  • Do what you are passionate about and don’t let the financial aspects of life keep you from doing the things you want to do.
  • It’s cliché but be the good you wish to see in the world. Put your words into to action and don’t be afraid to educate and inspire. All it takes is a little bit of courage to change the world.

Make the most of these next couple months because you will never be as young as you are right now. Leave your legacy and don’t be average. Keep on keeping on!

Sincerely,

Jacob Ferguson

 

NIU Hidden Gems: Food Edition

Editor’s Note: Hello! It’s Jacob Ferguson again, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. If you’re like me and are always looking to try new things then this is the post for you. The goal of this post is to share with you some of the hidden food gems that I’ve found in my four years here. If you would like to learn more about me please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jacob-ferguson/49/121/998 or follow me on Twitter: @JacobFerguson53.

Who doesn't love waffles?
Who doesn’t love waffles?

Whenever I travel somewhere new the first thing I do is pull out my smartphone and find out what is around me. I am not looking to see where the nearest Chipotle or McDonalds is but where I can find the nearest local diner or family owned restaurant. The same goes for attractions and things I would like to experience. I strive to be different and hope to continue to add to what I hope is an endless list of adventures.

With all this being said, I have come across some hidden and not so hidden food gems in or near DeKalb that I aim to share with you. The hidden gems include: Fatty’s Pub and Grille, The Junction Eating Place, Sweet Dream Desserts & Catering, Yen Ching Restaurant and Ollie’s Frozen Custard.

Fatty’s Pub and Grille: The Official Pre and Post Game Headquarters of NIU Athletics and Home of the World Famous Cajun Fried Potato Salad – Fatty’s Pub and Grille truly is a must have experience that is unique to DeKalb. If you’re hankering for a burger get yourself over there and don’t forget to try the potato salad.

http://www.fattysniu.com/

The Junction Eating Place: The Junction Eating Place, simply known as The Junction, is hands-down my favorite place to go in DeKalb. The food is delicious (I personally enjoy their breakfast), the environment is warm and cozy, and the staff is really what sets this place a part from the rest. Whether you are looking to recover from the night before or just looking for a great place to eat, The Junction is your place to go!

http://www.junctioneatingplace.com/

Sweet Dream Desserts & Catering: Sweet Dream Desserts is a family-owned bake shop and café located in Sycamore that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. They have everything from scones and sweet breads to homemade cookies and cheesecake. Everything is baked fresh and stocked each morning so it’s key to get your sweets and treats before they run out. There is also a mean breakfast buffet on the weekends if you are a fan of breakfast food.

http://sweetdreamdesserts.com/

Yen Ching Restaurant: I can guarantee that Yen Ching Restaurant is the most fun you will have at a restaurant in DeKalb. The two ladies who work there are extremely friendly and funny always leaving you with a smile on your face. The food is also as good as any which makes it an easy choice whenever I want Chinese.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/yen-ching-dekalb

Ollie’s Frozen Custard: It may be cold and snowy out but that shouldn’t stop you from trying this hidden gem. Ollie’s Frozen Custard has the best frozen custard based concoctions in all of DeKalb and luckily for us they just opened for the season this week.

http://www.olliessycamore.com/   

My challenge to you is to try them all before you graduate. There may even be a prize involved for anyone who takes a selfie at each one of these restaurants.