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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Do AWESOME Stuff

Zach with NIU Business Dean Denise Schoenbachler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a guest post (a student profile really) of a conversation I had with freshly-minted NIU business alumnus Zach Fiegel, pictured with NIU Business Dean Denise Schoenbachler. This story reflects Zach’s NIU experiences as he described them to me just prior to his graduation on May 10, 2014.  It’s important to mention that Zach wanted this article to reflect the accomplishments of a wide range of fellow students-friends who Zach collaborated with during his time at NIU. I hope my writing reflects this. Congratulations, Zach, on the start of your next series of adventures! Thank you for the great conversation as always and for not hesitating to sit down with me when I approached you — even at the 11th hour in the semester!

 

Do AWESOME Stuff … live a BOLD life

“Every experience can be life changing. It really can.  It’s up to each of us to approach things that way,” NIU Business senior Zach Fiegel says, echoing the perspective of a visionary or an entrepreneur.

It’s not a stretch for Fiegel and his friends who are fellow students in social entrepreneurship to have a sense of those waters.  They immerse themselves in an entrepreneurial mindset – in the idea of changing the world, transforming themselves and others for the better – as a matter of course, and they do it as a team.

NIU's Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs changing the world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Case in point:  as members of the student organization NIU CAUSE, with Fiegel its president, the group put everything they had behind a colleague’s idea to provide other students with financial help.  They raised $2,500 this semester and created a $1,000 annual NIU CAUSE student scholarship, while donating the remaining $1,500 to three different NGOs.  Earlier in 2013, Fiegel and another team of students in a social venture class won $10,000 seed money for their business concept and then shortly afterwards invested those funds in a social venture located in Nigeria.

It’s in that spirit of boldness that Fiegel applied blindly for a summer internship with the NBA, an organization whose interns and new hires tend to hail from Ivy League schools.  Fiegel disrupted that pattern by landing a spot in the program.  Then after the internship, he applied for and was accepted into their New York-based associates program, which serves as entrée to an NBA management career.  Fiegel begins the associates program this summer after he graduates in May with an NIU degree in marketing.  He hopes one of his professional rotations includes NBA Cares, the unit that manages the social responsibilities of the league and the league’s efforts in high schools.

Zach with fellow NBA interns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was on the eve of his next series of bold adventures that Zach and I caught up for a student profile.  In our conversation, I asked Zach to share his reflections on his NIU experiences overall, as well as what he’s learned both in and out of the classroom.

NIU CAUSE students donate to the Northern Food Bank after making and selling 41 pizzas in one day in November 2013

“I’ve met so many awesome people,” Fiegel says, holding direct eye contact when he speaks.  His good nature invites dialogue.  His warm tone inspires confidence.   He values individuals and each person’s uniqueness – he states this explicitly and demonstrates it consistently.   “I’ve developed so many great friendships and relationships…had such great times doing important things.  Things I care deeply about and things others care deeply about.”

NIU CAUSE student created Social Impact Summit in its first year, which realized more than 170 attendees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of those things includes a team effort to conceptualize a life-changing for-profit venture, then developing a full business plan around the idea and presenting the concept to angel investors in spring 2013.

To get there, Fiegel collaborated with individuals from across the university (business, engineering, community & civic engagement), each of them students in the social venture class in the Department of Management.  The course explores commerce in a different way and serves more as a business incubator than a traditional class.  Answers aren’t found at the end of the book, for example, and in truth, textbooks aren’t the focus.  Instead, the creative ideas of students are.  Students arrive in the course first by way of an interview process and then by invitation only before they dive into workshops and conversations of discovery with their fellow students, professors, and outside experts.  The context for all of this is to positively impact each component of a more complete business metric known as the triple bottom line or 3Ps:  People, Planet, Profit.

At its essence, the social venture class is about “breakthrough ideation” … a perfect environment for the likes of Fiegel and many other NIU students whose hearts and minds align with doing something meaningful.

“It was an incredible experience and not without challenge,” Fiegel laughs quietly before he continues to explain.  “We worked from a blank slate to come up with a for-profit social enterprise.  We brainstormed so many times… we had a lot of false starts, a lot of ideas we couldn’t fully corral.  The most challenging part was coming up with the ideas at all, then picking them apart, defending them, rethinking them, really holding them up and testing them.  The key metric we used – it may sound corny – but it really was this:  does the idea hold the promise to be life changing.  The idea had to literally change lives or we weren’t interested.  What came out of all that effort was a venture we called ‘Vitalert.’  Vitalert uses the cell phone as an instrument for change by alerting users to nearby danger.  It’s basically an app that combines features along the lines of Twitter and Google Maps.  We thought Nigeria would be the best market for its launch because Nigeria has an extremely high usage of cell phones and is also one of the most violent places in the world.  Nigerians typically learn about violence by turning the corner and walking right into it only because they don’t have timely information about existing danger around them or about bad situations that may be developing around them in that very moment.”

Even 525,600 moments – or a full year – later, Fiegel still speaks passionately about the concept.  He riffs off interesting stats like how more mobile phones exist in the world than bank accounts and emphasizes the group’s “a-ha” moment when they began to view the phone in a completely different way:  from a device for selfies to a life-changing, potentially life-saving instrument.  From his enthusiasm alone, it’s not difficult to imagine how the entire team won the angel investors over.  And in fact, that’s precisely what happened.  Four teams of four students presented their social venture concepts last May, each challenged to explain and defend the soundness of their ideas, business plans, marketing plans, and revenue models as well as the impact on the three pillars of People, Planet, Profits.    And in the end – after all the “really great presentations” and all the “really cool ideas, really cool stuff” – Vitalert landed the first place prize and a check for $10,000 in angel funding at NIU’s second annual Social Venture Competition.

the Vitalert team and concept winning angel funding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m really competitive … all of us are,” Fiegel says, “but it’s interesting how rapidly every team came to support each other’s ideas.  We all listened to each other’s presentations.  After Vitalert won, our team received tremendous support from the other teams.  Somehow we were all competing but really in the end we were all collaborating.  That seems to be the way it is in the social spaces.  Everyone works really hard on a great idea.  All of us were inspired by the brilliant people involved in the social entrepreneurship sector because their ideas really do reach the breakthrough level.  And yet at the same time everyone is genuinely supportive of each other.”

The Vitalert story would be compelling enough right there, but it’s what his team classmates and Zach decided to do with the $10,000 seed money that draws you in even more.

“After we won the Social Venture Competition, we took a hard look at ourselves.  Two of the members – Mike and Addison – were graduate students with jobs already lined up.  I was still in school.  I had another year to finish and so did Kaitlin.  I just really didn’t know if we could put enough into starting up a venture while completing school.  We all wanted to do justice to the $10,000 seed money.  So we talked about it as a team and voted and decided to invest the $10,000 in a worthy non-profit,” Zach shares.

Imagine it’s the beginning of May.  Classes are finished:  finals taken, grades reported, and barbeques begin to fire up.  But instead of kicking back entirely or travelling to a beach for a couple of weeks, you and your team members decide to develop a Request for Proposals.  Fiegel describes how he, Mike, Addison, and Kaitlin switched perspectives and roles in what seemed like the blink of an eye:  from pitching an idea for angel investor funding to evaluating a multitude of ideas as angel investors themselves.

“We created the RFP after looking at examples online.  None of us knew how to do this.  We listed the criteria we wanted the applicants to document for us.  Things like measures for social impact, sustainability, revenue models.  Then we researched and selected a group of finalists and sent the RFP to them.  So we’re reading through all these proposals – all really good, really excellent – and it made it difficult to identify a short-list of finalists, but eventually we selected 7-8 finalists.  Ultimately, the one that won was the Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) in Nigeria.   YTF brings together education and technology to help provide opportunities for young people – basically kids – who find themselves in families at the bottom of the economic pyramid.  YTF appealed to the interests of our team because the venture has a focus in Nigeria, and we couldn’t imagine anything more impactful than helping kids to transform their lives so they can lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty.”

Zach pauses briefly as if in thought, then adds, “Plus YTF describes itself as a place of ‘impatient optimists.’  That really resonated.  All my friends and I rally around the idea of being unreasonable enough to move past the status quo.  We feel a kindred spirit with Impatient Optimists.”

Indeed, Zach and his peers describe themselves as Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs who view the world in a vastly new way.  In a different enough way, in fact, that within days they somehow connected with an organization of Impatient Optimists located half-way around the world.  As he describes how this virtual meeting of the minds and hearts came about, Fiegel illustrates perfectly what the connected economy and the connected Millennials know all so well:  how very small, hopeful and very personal a very, very big world has become.

“I learned about YTF because one night I was particularly distracted by my twitter feed and came across a tweet from the various individuals and organizations I follow in the social space.  I clicked on a link in a tweet and read this article about a Microsoft executive who gave up a highly successful position to work with the Youth for Technology Foundation in Nigeria.  I was so fascinated by the article and the foundation that I researched the name of the former executive and sent her an email with our team’s RFP.  We stayed in contact ever since that first email.  Then when YTF’s proposal won, she was ecstatic; really thrilled that YTF had won the $10,000 funding.”

Sounds easy enough, right?  Like so many of his colleagues, Fiegel’s manner remains outwardly relaxed, yet conveys laser focus and a collaborative spirit that’s spiced with a massive dash of “why not?” Embracing transformation is simply who they naturally are even if there’s nothing simple about it.  Still, this young man from Chicago’s northwest suburbs lives, breathes, and walks the talk of “why not?”  He and his friends willingly roll up their sleeves to do the unbelievably challenging work of breaking through the status quo, and they do it for the sole purpose of manifesting something powerfully uplifting and powerfully important.

CAUSE students making life-changing pizza as part of the group's fundraising efforts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why not? … to be sure.  And equally to be sure, an open and willing heart-mind connection provides a great deal of help, truth be told, is an outright prerequisite for anyone intent upon making a positive impact.

Only don’t ask Fiegel or his friends if this is the case for them.  Zach will tell you they’re all just regular people.  The thing is…Zach really is very down to earth.  His twitter bio includes this intention:  “My goal is to increase genuine smiles globally.”  He’s truly an unassuming guy who also happens to be caring enough, passionate enough, wise enough, and aware enough to know how life speaks to his heart and to be committed enough to blaze that trail in fellowship with friends the world over.  Plus, he and his friends have paid very close attention to those they count as the many trailblazers leading the way.  They range from his immediate family to a wide circle of close friends, professors and those individuals from a variety of countries and cultures who unapologetically and bravely live into their dreams no matter how large or many the obstacles.

In fact, Zach had visited with several of them just weeks ago.

Microfinance class gathers in Barsema Hall en route to Mexico

 

Over spring break, Fiegel – along with his social venture classmates and professor Christine Mooney – travelled to Mexico, where they met several social entrepreneurs located in the more poverty-stricken area of that country.  To paint the picture of the impact this had on him, Zach uses broad brushstrokes.  He describes at length how eye-opening the experience was in terms of really understanding how big and very different the world is from what he originally thought.  When he shares why his perspective so dramatically shifted, you almost sense his memories of the trip revealing themselves right there in living color as if streaming in the air from YouTube.   He speaks about realizing how incomplete it is to think that life moves only in a straight line.  The idea of only two options – straight ahead or falling backward – pales in comparison now for him, now that he has seen a vastly more complex, vastly more dimensional world – almost, as Fiegel muses, “a “Rubik’s-cube” of incredible people of all kinds and incredible life experiences of all varieties.

Microfinance students with social entrepreneurs in Mexico

“I’ve changed alot and I’m aware of it,” Fiegel admits as the conversation pivots slightly when he answers a question specific to his own personal transformation. “I may not know all of how I’m going to change – that’s what life is about, right?  But, I do know the world’s a big place with a lot of different people and situations, and I do know I don’t know everything and never will.  I’m lucky to also know I’m building from a strong foundation.  My family provided me with a solid base.  My mom and my dad are my heroes.  They were young when I was born, and they sacrificed so much so that I could have opportunities.  Dennis Barsema is a great role model, another amazing person who I aspire to be like and someone who is also very important to me…someone I now also consider to be a great friend.  My high school football coach, my high school basketball coach, my high school English teacher – all so important to me.  Really, there are so very many people I’ve learned from, who took the time and interest in me to help me grow.  The number one thing I take away from all of what they taught me is how important it is to help others.  One of my goals is to be a good role model to my brothers and sister.  My parents did everything they could so I could have more opportunities.  I’m so grateful to them and to everyone.  I think it’s important that I pay that forward to my younger brothers and sister.  That I pay it forward in everything I do.”

As he stands in the Rubik’s cube of life’s pathways and peers into the immediate future, the past, the highs, the lows, and the many unknowns to come,  Zach’s one recommendation – if he had only one to make – to a new student or really to anyone boils down to this:

NIU CAUSE students in a selfie with NIU President Baker at the 2014 Social Impact Summit, which realized more than 225 attendees

“Here’s what my friends and I always say:  do AWESOME stuff … with capital letters in the word ‘AWESOME.’  Don’t sit around.  Be proactive.  Take that first step.  Explore.  Whatever you put your interest or time into, put your best into it.  Sometimes the hardest thing is showing up.”

Fiegel pauses briefly, then smiles as if in appreciation to a whole lot of people and for a whole lot of experiences; as if with tangible excitement for the positively unreasonably bold things to come. Then, with an energy likened to quiet confidence and with all his friends right there with him in his mind’s eye to speak in one voice, he urges:

“Make yourself show up.”

 

HOW FIEGEL & FRIENDS SHOW UP IN THE WORLD

  • Budding Social Entrepreneurs & Angel Investors who, along with his student teammates, envisioned a for-profit, social venture called Vitalert.  Their business idea took first place in NIU’s 2013 Social Venture Competition along with seeding of $10,000 to bring their idea into reality.  The team then created an RFP, evaluated proposals, and invested the $10,000 in a social venture in Nigeria.
  • Co-founder, President (see next item) and co-member of NIU CAUSE, a university-wide student organization focused in the social entrepreneurship space that grew organically from 7 to 35 members in one year’s time.
  • President of NIU CAUSE for two years and humbly taking on the formal title even though Zach prefers to describe himself as “collaborator and friend.”  Zach explains:  “I worry about titles taking over the culture, spirit, and focus.  I had to be convinced titles were necessary.  Eventually, I came to recognize how they can help with structure.  But I don’t place my focus on them.  Trust, respect, and open-mindedness are what matter to me.”
  • Budding Sales Professionals and Pizza Pros, who brought life to a student idea that a really good pizza can change lives.  After a series of cold calls, the efforts of the CAUSE students resulted in a long-standing relationship with Arty, the owner of Pizza Pros restaurant in DeKalb, who opened early every week so Zach and his CAUSE colleagues could use the facilities to bake 20 homemade pizzas and deliver and sell them to their NIU customer base (selling them completely out each time, in fact).  “Arty has been truly amazing.  We’re so grateful to him for helping what must have looked to him like crazy kids,” Zach shares.
  • Budding Angel Investors who with all his CAUSE colleagues invested CAUSE pizza sale profits in 2013 in a social entrepreneur located in Mexico.  In 2014, they invested additional CAUSE profits in three other NGOs.
  • Budding Named Scholarship Investors who together with the CAUSE gang raised enough funds in 2014 to establish an annual $1,000 CAUSE scholarship for NIU students, thereby bringing to life an idea championed by one of Zach’s fellow CAUSE colleagues.
  • Activists all, these CAUSE friends, sold, baked, and delivered more than 41 pizzas in one day (and in between their classes) during NIU’s food drive and then donated the proceeds to the Northern Illinois Food Bank, raising enough funds to provide more than 3,000 meals to those in need.
  • Visionary CAUSE Tribe that co-founded and co-led from start to finish the university’s first-ever day-long Social Impact Summit (including lining up the keynotes, all nationally regarded in the field of social entrepreneurship, and marketing the event).  More than 170 individuals attended the first Social Impact Summit in 2013, and more than 225 attended the second annual summit in 2014.
  • Highly Engaged Students, Advisory Board members, co-ed Business Fraternity members, Club Sports members, Huskies Superfans…
  • All around regular people…

 

 

 

GOOGLED!

 

Editor’s Note:  Lexi Wozny, NIU Marketing major and self proclaimed “busy bee” provides this next guest post. Lexi shares her involvement with organizing the Google Search Party event (March 20th) — and as importantly, what she learned from listening to a Googler talk about doing cool things that matter.

At the close of her post, Lexi also shares a bit about herself, along with her contact information.  Lexi is also one of several students in the college’s “Uncommon” video — about student experiences at NIU Business.

(Lexi’s photo to the left is by Jeannie Liautaud Photography.) 

 

 GOOGLED!  by Lexi Wozny

Attending Thursday evening’s “Google Search Party” gave me insight into what it takes to become a Googler at Google.

Demian Caponi, University Outreach representative at Google, Inc., came to the Northern Illinois University College of Business to meet and engage with students about sales opportunities at Google.

A sales position with Google’s SMB (Small-to-Medium Sized Business) team is a consultative role. Successful members of this team are “teachers” to clients who want to expand their businesses online through online advertising. Along with being teachers, successful Googlers are collaborative and transparent. I’ve heard about Google’s corporate culture before, but Demian’s presentation brought it to the main stage in Barsema Hall Auditorium.

Googler Demian Caponi on Google's Values & Culture

Google provides a great culture for its employees because they are changing the world- whether it’s a small “Mom and Pop” shop or a medium size start-up. Google Sales Representatives are always working towards making a difference. When they make a difference with their clients, they make a difference at Google.

Making a Cool Difference that Matters!

After the presentation, it made me think about how much of a difference anyone can make if they set their mind to changing the world around them. Working with the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board and American Marketing Association executive boards we were able to execute a Google campus event and get students in front of the “2014 Best Place to Work For” company.

Googler Demian Caponi (center) with AMA student officers

By applying Google’s values of collaboration and transparency, we gave NIU Business students an invaluable opportunity.

Lastly, some advice for some upcoming and incoming NIU College of Business students:  If you want to make something happen, go for it and utilize the resources around you. You’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish.

NIU Business student Lexi and Googler Demian

 

Cheers!

Lexi Wozny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Lexy Wozny

Lexi is a full-time senior, NIU marketing major graduating this May. Lexi is pursuing certificates in Professional Sales and Interactive Marketing. She is involved in Pi Sigma Epsilon as the Vice President of Human Resources, the Vice President of the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board, Twitter representative for the Marketing Student Advisory Board, and the Social Media Coordinator for the NIU Professional Sales Program. She has been an active student in the Experiential Learning Center as a junior consultant (Spring 2013) and Assistant Coach (Spring 2014). When Lexi is not being a busy-bee around the NIU College of Business, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, watching her guilty pleasure TV shows, and singing karaoke. Lexi is entering her sales career and hoping to relocate after graduation.
Lexi can be contacted directly at lexi.wozny@gmail.com or follow & tweet her at @lexxhope. 

 

 

The World at your Fingertips!

Social Media:  In one word it’s been revolutionary for the way we communicate in today’s world. The idea of Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram were unheard of 15 years ago for ways to communicate our lives to one another. These social media outlets have allowed for out of the box thinking and innovation. The ability to network and meet people are probably two of the most powerful things gained from these social media outlets. It’s created a need for companies to hire social media interns and strategists to help better their online presence. People do use direct mail still in an effective way.  The difference is that now direct mail needs to be used much more strategically and in a highly-targeted way.   A perfect example is what I do here as the social media and marketing intern for the College of Business.  Throughout the first semester, our mission was to help make things more accessible to students on our social media outlets. Examples of this practice were bringing attention to guest speakers, athletics results, etc. We also run contests about the college to help reinforce school pride in the students, and to help them learn how they benefit from their education here. This helps reinforce the core values of the College of Business and helps out our students with studying for tests. Some other examples of our blog posts include first-hand accounts and tips for succeeding in classes such as UBUS 310, a nine-credit business course required for all business students.

One social media outlet I want to bring up that stands out to me personally the most is LinkedIn as it provides the most value to the students here at NIU. As a freshman business major, your first impression of the college is the name Dennis Barsema because the college is in Barsema Hall.  But then very soon you learn more about Mr. Barsema.  Mr. Barsema is an alumnus of NIU as well as an instructor in the Social Entrepreneurship field. In my own personal experience when connecting with him it’s like being connected to over 500+ professionals and students. This in turn has many benefits for potential jobs and connecting with recruiters. I also use LinkedIn as a way to know my resume by completing all necessary requirements of obtaining an all-star profile. This helped me a great deal.  Recently at the Internship Fair on campus, I felt very confident about my resume and talked comfortably with employers. I’m constantly looking for more ways to improve and seeing how others highlight things on their profile gives me great feedback to better set myself apart from the fold. The opportunity to make connections with people here at NIU, alums and professionals in the industry is something we didn’t have 10 years ago. I’m grateful to Mr. Barsema for showing me the ways of LinkedIn and others along the way…I feel I’m ready to mentor others on how to use this great tool of networking.

As a start, here are two things you can do right away:

1. Talk with your favorite professor or advisor about tips for creating a LinkedIn account.  2.  Contact me directly at (robwiller@comcast.net) to learn more about how I created my account.

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=147764262&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Taking Initiative in College

As we transition into the week before Spring Break I wanted to take the time to discuss leadership roles. A leader is classified as a person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. No matter the project or organization, I encourage you to take on a leadership role at least once before you graduate college. It’s one of the most rewarding things you will do as an undergraduate and it’s something you will learn so much about yourself.

To relate this back to here at NIU we are given certain opportunities to take on leadership roles. Some examples that come to mind are group projects throughout the Upper Level of Business Courses, student organizations, internships and even jobs on campus. It’s something that you can’t really describe. It’s a moment of control yet you can see others grow with you. A perfect example is certain organizations here on campus where they just start off with a few members and then grow to 20 members. We always talk about boosting our resumes with these positions but the idea of running your organization is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. In my personal experience I ran our Tennis Club here at Northern Illinois University and I learned so much about myself by dealing with conflicts and hardships. The idea of playing a sport in high school and being able to follow my dreams of playing in college was one of the reasons I took on the role. Some of things involved with this role were taking meeting minutes, having everyone register for USTA, booking hotels and holding practices. I am so grateful for this role because it got me involved in other organizations and even farther along with the Sports Club Council. Now after last year being the President of Tennis, I have been elected to serve on a board of seven members where we distribute budgets for 30 clubs. One leadership role makes your life so much more entertaining and gives you that sense of urgency you need in the business world. Leadership Roles do show employers that you can manage multiple things besides academics but also help you build your own skills in communication and leadership.

Now my boss has asked me to lead a focus group – from identifying the participants, creating the framework, facilitating it to preparing a written and verbal report.  This is new ground for me…but I look forward to taking on the challenge!

Mentoring … how important is it?

Throughout my time here it has been an interesting experience with mentors. It’s something I have greatly been touched by others here in the College of Business. It’s definitely a hard transition into Barsema Hall as a freshman not knowing anyone and only having two business classes throughout your entire freshman year. Two mentors that have stuck out to me over the past two years have been Zach Fiegel and Jacob Ferguson. Jake and Zach are students here at Northern Illinois University and have proven they are both leaders of the college and the university. Both Jake, Zach, and I have participated in multiple organizations, internships, consulting projects and even study abroad.

It’s the idea of being pushed to go outside your comfort zone…it’s something that not many people make you do. These two were great advocates in that I remember one day after my EPFE 201(Honors Literature) class, Jake asked me to stop by NIU CAUSE (a Social Entrepreneurship student organization) on that Tuesday night. After a few meetings I felt it was time to get involved so I started by joining the fundraising committee where I would go out and look for sponsors for our organization, ranging anywhere from Vietnamese restaurants to pizza places. I thank Jake to this day for helping me transition throughout CAUSE as well as Zach as the experience has made me who I am today.

Organizations for me relate directly to the workplace because you’re working in groups of people who come together from different backgrounds, all trying to solve a problem or reach one goal. Another example of this has been through Delta Sigma Pi where all of us are various business majors throughout the college. Our members range from freshman all the way to seniors. This becomes invaluable when our members give young members advice on classes, teachers and even certain internship contacts for summer internships. I feel this would be very useful for the freshman and sophomores who aren’t involved in student organizations as it greatly helps with study groups, advice on electives to take and even just when to take these classes.

In closing, with great mentoring we become great leaders and exemplify the college as a whole. Something to think about the next time you’re in the Barsema Atrium.

 

 

Ladies who lunch: NIU alumnus-CEO sits down with NIU students

Editor’s Note:  NIU Business freshman Crystal Higgins (pictured left) provides this next guest post. Crystal shares her experience meeting and talking with NIU alumnus and CEO Janet Pucino, who spoke about the glass ceiling in the corporate world.  …an incredibly timely topic given GM’s appointment of its first woman CEO.  

At the end of her post, Crystal also shares a bit about herself, along with her contact information.  

 

 

Bias Against Women in Corporate- A Book Discussion with NIU alum Janet Pucino by Crystal D. Higgins

I had the privilege of meeting Janet Pucino over a luncheon and book discussion, through my organization Women in Business Professions, back in October. This NIU alum has been the COO, CIO CTO and VP of some very high profiled companies, and is currently the CEO and founder of her own company Deep Canyon Media.

Janet Pucino has worked in many different areas of corporate but has found one common thread in the climb to the executive board. Pucino has written Not in The Club: An Executive Woman’s Journey Through the Business World and mentioned that the common thread in the executive level had this sort of “boys club,” which is very exclusive especially with its practice of excluding women. Now I know this may sound like a clique or some high school cliché, but it is the unfortunate reality of corporate. The men in this exclusive club help one another succeed, and continue to stay at the top. For example, Pucino mentions in her book, that there are zero women on Apple Inc.’s, senior executive team, and only one woman is on their board. This is truly disheartening to know that even today, women are still not equal. Pucino was not only informative but enlightening into the unknown underbelly of the corporate executive world. She mentioned the difficulty that women have climbing up the corporate ladder, and wrote about the reality of a woman’s battle through corporate. Pucino’s novel didn’t male bash, but simply gave facts and helpful advice and tips on how to deal with the bias within a company or an organization.

During the book discussion I wrote down some of the many tips and advice that she had for currently employed women and for women that will be employed in the near future. So to my fellow women who are out there working hard, here are ten helpful tips to help you out in your career.

  1. Women have to be more qualified than their male counterparts if they’re competing for the same job; plain and simple that is the world we live in.
  2. When it comes to your career, keep your options open and keep your ideas about your career path open as well.
  3. “What gets measured, gets done.” That is one of Pucino’s utmost important factors, when it comes to showing how successful a person is or can be.
  4. In order to stay current in your field, subscribe and read the best articles and websites that are relevant to you.
  5. Involve yourself in the company you work for, but be picky about what organizations you join, and really invest your time.
  6. Do your best every day, regardless of the setbacks or circumstances.
  7. Don’t take a position in a company just because of the company itself. Make sure it’s what you want to do or it’s where you’d like to go.
  8. A lot of people that hire are looking for people who strive to progress, so try to update and improve your knowledge on the subject in which you’re working on or involved in. Also, stay up to date on what the company is doing too, by reading their newsletter.
  9. When things get aggressive or uncomfortable in a meeting between you and a male peer, leave the situation. Suggest to pick the topic back up at another time, and calmly remove yourself from the area.
  10. Many women are afraid to mention their desire to be promoted. They aren’t sure how to go about it, or when they should let their boss know. The best time to do so is during your performance review with your boss. Let him or her know that within a certain amount of time, you’d like to be in a management position.

These ten tips were just a taste of what is inside of Janet Pucino’s book. I encourage both women and men, to read it, so that you can be more informed about the nature of the executive world. Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t easy, but Not in The Club: A Woman’s Journey Through the Biased World of Business, gives much needed insight into the corporate atmosphere. Janet Pucino’s book is a must read. I can guarantee that you’ll learn something to help further your success in the future.

About Crystal D. Higgins:

Currently a freshman at NIU, Crystal is involved in various activities on campus. She is on the Passport Advisory Board for NIU’s College of Business, the secretary of Women in Business Professions, and a member of CAB (Campus Activities Board). Originally a business management major, Crystal is considering a marketing major instead, and would like to study abroad in the UK in the near future. She would love to have a career in the media/entertainment field and wants to move to NY, LA, Atlanta, Houston, or downtown Chicago in pursuit of her career. For fun, Crystal likes to travel, watch movies, learn about other cultures and traditions, and spend time with family and friends. She also avidly listens to music, and thinks it would be a really cool experience to learn how to DJ! Although she has only just begun her college career, she is optimistic for what the future entails.

Crystal can be contacted at higginsdcrystal@gmail.com

 

a Life Changing motivation

Editor’s Note:  Last but not least, here is the fourth in a four part guest post series from a team of OM&IS students.  They talk about what motivated them to create and manage the Dreamworks Scholarship campaign as part of their project management class (OM&IS 352). 

My name is Tyler Gancarz.  My OMIS 352 team and I decided to start a scholarship for our community project (in OM&IS 352).  All the members of our team have been helped in some way from scholarships and grants — that’s really why we wanted to help other students in the same way others have helped us.

My experience at NIU and the College of Business has been a special one and I would hate for someone to miss out on something so life changing because of financial need.  This scholarship project is a way for us to pay if forward, an opportunity for us to give back to the college and help dedicated students who demonstrate financial need.  The impact this project will have goes way beyond the classroom and could actually change someone’s life in such a positive way.

Visit the Dreamworks website here and give to the cause if you feel strongly about this too.

Current posts in this series: