Set Ambitious Goals

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

Quick Career Bio

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

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

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

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

What makes NIU so special?

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

How do you show up in the world every day?

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

Tell us your “Why?”

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

 

Life after Graduation

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

Quick Career Bio

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

How do you define success?

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

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

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

Tell us your “Why?”

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

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

 

Bring It! Center – Charge Up and Refuel

Editor’s Note: This article was written to introduce and inform students on the various resources available to them on campus. This week we are highlighting the Bring It! Center, one of my personal favorite rooms on campus that not many people know about. – Jacob Ferguson, NIU College of Business Marketing and Social Media Intern

Bring It! Center

The Bring It! Center is a place for College of Business students to come together to study, collaborate on group projects and receive service, support and training with technology. In the center you will receive:

  • Help with the Anywhere Lab
  • Help with the Anywhere Printer
  • Help with Wi-Fi
  • Help with Password Resets
  • Help with NIU E-Mail

Location

The Bring It! Center is located near the Atrium in Barsema Hall Room 104.

Policies/Guidelines

  • The Bring It! Center will provide general support for any mobile device.
  • Food and drink are allowed on shared areas and each user is responsible for their own device and to keep the Bring It! Center clean.
  • The Bring It! Center does not provide support for desktops or any hardware repairs.
  • A waiver must be signed by students or faculty members before they can work on your device.
  • Mobile devices are not to be dropped off for repair.
  • No misconduct, including but not limited to arguments among group members, loud talking, loud music or any other distractions that disrupt the other groups or students studying.
  • Please be courteous to your fellow students.

Failures

Last week I began a short two-part series about contributing factors to my success as well as my failures.  This is part two of that series and below I will highlight practices that have resulted in personal failure from my perspective.  I hope you can learn something from my mistakes and maybe take some time to self reflect as well.  Cheers!

Always present yourself in a manner suitable to meet someone new.  I dress slovenly on Mondays because I sit in an office and work on a computer.  However, what happens if a representative of a company I’d like to work for comes in to visit the dean in the office I work at?  It’s happened more than once and I continue to fall back on bad habits.  If only I would’ve taken the extra half hour to clean up before leaving my apartment, who knows how many more connections and opportunities I could have had in my academic career?

Forgetting to leave time for myself.  I used to have hobbies that included running, lifting weights, biking, and swimming. I took on so much in school that I left no time to pursue these activities.  Needless to say, I “let myself go” and caution others to leave time to take care of themselves before caring for the masses.  “When asked “What thing about humanity surprises you the most?”, the Dalai Lama answered:

“Man…. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Falling into a routine.

Spending time on the wrong things.  I spent a lot of my time early on at NIU trying to make other people happy.  I took myself out of my way to offer an extra hand, brain, and set of eyes to people and more often than not, I was left with minimal if any reciprocation.  You have to understand that like in the stock market, there are certain investments you don’t make because there is little to no ROI.  Although you’re not losing your life savings in the stock exchange of life, you’re investing your time in these people and projects.  Time, as I understand it, is the most important thing you can give; unlike money, you can’t get it back.  Make sure you’re spending your time on the right people and projects otherwise you’ll find that frustration, stress, and confusion may find its way into your heart…and believe me, no one needs that.

Being busy.  There’s a friend of mine at the college of business who never refrained from challenging me to be better.  Regardless of the conversation, this individual always made me feel like what I was doing wasn’t good enough and although this sounds depressing, I welcomed the motivation.  If I had a surplus of free time, he’d ask why I wasn’t busy.  If I was busy, he’d tell me that there was a difference between being busy and being productive.  Really think about that for a second……go ahead, take your time.

Being busy vs. Being productive.  How profound and self explanatory.  I’ll leave it at that and let you make of it what you will.

Again, these are just a few points that I can recall from my experience at NIU.  Now we’ll ask you…what has contributed to you failing and what could you do better?  Leave your input in the comments below! 2.0out

 

ITS Helpdesk: Another Hidden Treasure

My computer is getting older, it’s four years old to be exact, and with age comes inevitable problems.  Programs crash, blue report screens  plague my existence, and slow, buggy processes make finishing assignments a massive undertaking.

"Contrary to popular belief, screaming at the computer DOES NOT make it faster"

People have suggested taking my over-sized paperweight to major tech companies or local computer shops but who wants to pay $100 or more to fix a computer when you could buy a decent NEW one for south of $500?!  Unfortunately I can’t justify purchasing either at the moment because I have other priorities.

"Priorities? He must mean Toppers and Keystone." -Nick's dog Baci

I thought my situation was hopeless.  My computer bugged out, I couldn’t get wi-fi in my own apartment for indefinite patches of time, the internet was slow, and moderately sized programs would crash all the time.  I even had problems with Internet Explorer!

"...then again, who doesn't have problems with IE?"

I had used every  “10 ways to fix your computer” article and video that YouTube and Google had to offer.  I was reaching the end of my rope, until a good friend of mine opened my eyes to the NIU Information Technology Services (ITS) Helpdesk.

What’s the ITS Helpdesk you ask?!  Well I’ll tell you.  It’s a magical place where students like you can bring your computers and phones to get them worked on and optimized.   Oh, and did I mention that it’s free!  What the literal…?! O.o  Why did nobody tell me about this earlier!  As soon as I learned about the Helpdesk I brought my computer in the same day.  I dropped it off, got a ticket, and went on my merry way.  It took no more than a day before one of the workers called me back and told me the “operation” was done.  They cleaned it up, added some software, and even uploaded an intranet package so I could access my work emails from home!  So many headaches from the past year and a half could’ve been avoided if only I knew.  So many paper rewrites, system restores, and file backups could be erased from my memory.

"Now if only I could erase MIB II from memory too"

So now I’m sharing this knowledge with you.  This hidden treasure on NIU’s campus should be shouted from the rooftops because if it can revive my computer, who knows what they can do for you.  Check them out at http://www.its.niu.edu/its/helpdesk/index.shtml and don’t let your computer problems stand between you and a good grade again!  2.0out

Hidden Treasures: Starved Rock

A lot of you have heard about a nice state park called Starved Rock but many people don’t know a lot of the hidden joys that the park or the surrounding area has to offer.  Starved Rock is mainly a summer hangout for people to visit.  There are miles of trails to hike, numerous canyons to discover and a atmosphere to think, picnic, and to enjoy the company of friends or a significant other in.  You could even take a day for yourself to melt into the colors, sounds and serene landscapes, away from the rush of college.

"Yeah, kinda like that..."

After a nice summer rain, you will be fortunate enough to catch the water careening off the cliffs from above and your ears will be treated to the sounds of the bubbling brew below.  Once the summer months pass and the cold sets in, people tend to stray away from outdoor activity but some real beautiful scenes occur at the park once the deep freeze comes.  The waterfall becomes a living painting, a powerful rush of water frozen in time against the quiet backdrop of winter.  You may even catch a glimpse of climbers scaling the frozen waterfalls during your early year visit.

"I have no words"

For  those that enjoy wildlife viewing as much as I do, Eagles are a common sight from the overlooks at Starved Rock. The bald eagles winter here because even when the river is encased in ice, the churn from the dam leaves a small portal open to the water below.  It is the only place for miles where they can catch a fish.  Because of that, you can see more eagles than you’ve seen in a lifetime in a single day with the right set of binoculars, some really warm clothes, and some good old fashioned patience.

"You don't have to plan a road trip to see natural beauty, it's right in our backyard!"

The town adjacent to the park is Ottawa and it can be just as fun to discover as Starved Rock.  History buffs can relive the Lincoln-Douglas debates which occurred there some 9 score and 5 years ago while adrenaline junkies can get their fix with Sky Diving companies that operate just outside of town.

"Or you can get two birds with one stone"

There’s lots of quaint shops as well if you’re going with the family.  You can pawn off your mother and grandparents to the local antique shops while you and the siblings hike through canyons and jump out of planes.  Whatever you do, if you haven’t gone I urge you to make it out to starved rock.  Even if you have been, explore it in a different season and surprise yourself.  It’s incredible to see how vastly different the same place can be at different times of the year.  Make it a day trip, camp out near the park, or shack up in a cozy cabin, either way I hope you will make it a point to give this hidden treasure so close to NIU a visit. 2.0out

Diamonds In The Rough

It was at about this time last year that I was just rising up from the trenches of UBUS 310.  Like the Chilean miners from a few years back, I triumphantly reached up to the surface and was immediately blinded by the light.

"Until I put on my designer Oakley Sunglasses"

Until that point I was lurking in the shadows of group work, presentations, and study sessions and now I could finally see the world in plain view.  There was so much opportunity surrounding me that I simply couldn’t see before.  Student organizations were recruiting just as they are now and although I had given them a half-hearted shot the semester before, I decided it was time to finally invest my time and money in something other than taco bell.

"Yeah, kinda like that..."

I got involved with a number of different organizations, 5 to be exact, and I threw myself at the prospect of doing something worthwhile for my university.  As time went on I found my niche and appropriately cut off the organizations that I did not see myself succeeding in.  By the end of the semester I had made connections in the remaining organizations, I had become highly involved and I got to know the faculty advisors.  I wanted to push further and knew that I wanted to do more in the following semesters.  It is at that point that I applied for positions with not one, but two executive boards.  I didn’t even really care which position, if any, I got.  I went in with an approach reminiscent of former Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader; hoping for the best but not expecting much of a result.  I just wanted the opportunity to stand out.  With a little bit of skills and some luck I landed positions in both the organizations I applied to.

"This is our year!" said Nader in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004....you get the idea.

There are people at this very moment beginning the same journey I just spoke about. These diamonds in the rough will begin to slowly float to the top and let their colors truly shine!  I can’t wait to see who the new class of hard workers is.  It’s odd, I don’t remember speaking on a casual level to the presidents of any student organizations until my spring semester was almost over.  These organizational leaders didn’t know me from a hole in the wall and now I am helping to manage the organizations they once spearheaded.  It just goes to show that you never really know who’s out there.  Will you be the next person to step up to a similar role?  Will you take the initiative to do something for your university and to do something that’s bigger than yourself?  I anxiously wait to see who rises to the occasion and what great ideas and vision they’ll bring to the next generation of NIU College of Business students!  Until then I’ll keep looking in the shadows.  2.0out