Big Buildings to Open Roads: Jonathan Fera’s Journey to Happiness at UW-Whitewater

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Being born and raised in a big city, I became naïve of what was outside the Milwaukee city limits. The city was so fast and so vast that any other area seemed unexciting in comparison. That mindset did not last past the age of eighteen.

I decided to come to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater during my senior year of high school. My advisers informed me of the College of Business and Economics at this institution and it’s positive reputation, so it seemed like the perfect fit. That career path only lasted two days into my time at UW-Whitewater until I switched to a communications major with an emphasis in public relations.

During the fall semester of my freshmen year, a strong depression caused by missing home and wanting to be around my family took over my life. I was socializing with people in my residence hall and in my classes, but it was never enough to be happy.

The city was calling my name to come home. After all, I missed the quick pace environment and diverse culture.

How was I going to spend the next three and a half years here? It was not until I opened my eyes to the amazing opportunities at UW-Whitewater that this attitude changed.

After talking to my Resident Assistant, she mentioned attending the spring involvement fair to look for student organizations to join. I had an interest in political communications after dropping the business major, so I joined the UW-Whitewater College Democrats.

I immediately got involved with the organization and started to make friends outside of my residence hall and classes. It was refreshing to have conversations with like-minded individuals that were passionate about the same things I was.

During my sophomore year, I joined the organization’s executive board as their Communications Director and the next year, was elected President.

Besides the College Democrats, I found the Whitewater Student Government (WSG) and the University Marketing and Media Relations Department.

I started attending Whitewater Common Council meetings because of my role as Intergovernmental Affairs Director for WSG. This allowed me to become more engaged in the community and be able to call Whitewater a new home.

It all happened so fast and I was so overwhelmed by my professional involvement that I began to lose sight of why I got involved in the first place: to be happy.

I was asked to join the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity my junior year from some WSG colleagues. I did not think I was the kind of person to join a Greek organization.

When looking back at that decision, I wouldn’t take it back for the world.

This past semester, I assisted in coordinating the grassroots efforts of the WarhawksVote campaign for the gubernatorial election. This allowed me to have a say in promotional material, strategic messaging and online content through both WSG and University Marketing and Media Relations.

After the election was over, I wanted a new opportunity. I wanted a new project before entering the workforce. After all, this is the last semester to make the most out of what became the best four years of my life.

Fast-forwarding to present day, I am now the Career Social Media Intern for UW-Whitewater Career and Leadership Development. While WSG is a part of the Warhawk Connection Center, I have never worked for the department before.

I am excited by this new opportunity and exciting challenge to better myself and my craft, while helping others gain the skills, motivation and resources to find a job or student organization to join.

After the journey I had to pursue in finding my place at UW-Whitewater, I hope to make that process easier and less stressful for other students.

Career and Leadership Development has the resources and guidance to help students find their place at this institution. To motivate them to succeed and take chances. To help them be happy.

The Road to Productivity: Exploring How Warhawks Persevere and Prevail

“There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes, but with hard work there are no limits!” –Anonymous 

It’s that time of the year again when workloads outweigh energy levels! Winter is quickly approaching and finals are right around the corner for us Warhawks. During this time of year it’s easy to become stressed out, burnt out, or just down right depressed from the amount of work you have to complete.  So in an effort to alleviate some of that stress, here’s what a few fellow Warhawks from Career and Leadership Development had to say about how they stay productive during late semester chaos:

Lisa Helms: PRIDE Intern

“With school it is a little harder for me to stay focused but I usually pull things together at the last minute. However with work, I stay focused by making to do lists when I get into the office. I start by checking my email to see if there’s someone that I need to communicate with right away and I just take it one step at a time.”

Cherish Golden: PRIDE Intern

“ I usually go to the library and sit at a table in a quite area to stay focused on academics. I don’t get on the computers because then I’d be distracted.  At work, when I’m all out of tasks, I just find little stuff to do to stay busy. Even if it’s just fixing the chairs, I have to stay busy and remain on my feet in order to be productive. “

Radaya Ellis: Biology Major

“Well I have a productive playlist that I listen to when its grind time to get me back focused. Artist on my productive play list include artist such as Lil Boosie, to help motivate me, and Kirk Franklin, to uplift me. Listening to artist along those parameters helps keep me motivated both in work and at school. “

Katie Barbour: Involvement Office Graduate Assistant

 “A lot of times around the end of the semester I have a lot of big projects to do. So for me this semester I have two large group papers, as well as projects in two different classes. So at this point, it’s really a matter of working effectively with my group members and trying to be a leader within those two groups to make sure we get things done. Especially since finals are right before graduation and that’s when those things are due, and frankly I don’t want to be overwhelmed with group projects that late in the semester. So I think just being proactive and making sure you get things done ahead of time really helps relieve some of the stress”

Becky Wintringer: Warhawk Connection Center Intern

Becky Wintringer

“To-Do Lists are a big thing for me. I have post-its and color coded notes and stuff all over the place. I use my calendar to color code everything! Blue things are for class, green things are for work, and purple things are for organizations. I just try to stay managed by plotting out certain times of the day for individual things so that I’m not just doing all homework for three hours but individual tasks during individual times.

Anthony Richardson: Seal Entertainment Intern

Anthony Richardson

“In order to stay productive I pretty much just remind myself of why I’m here and I use that as motivation to assure that I persevere throughout the rest of the semester.”

We hope these tips can help you achieve your fullest potential and maximize your productivity during stressful times. Be sure to finish up this semester strong and don’t be afraid to join the dialog. What are some strategies that you live by to manage  stressful times and remain productive? Comment and share your ideas.

Tick Tok: 3 Loose Ends that Need Tying

 

Tik tok, on the clock
But graduation countdown don’t stop
Tonight, I‘mma apply
For the job of a lifetime 

Tik tok, on the clock
But second semester won’t stop
Tonight, I’mma scrape by
Til I reach the finish line

Yes, that was my very own career parody of KE$HA’s “Tik Tok,” please hold your applause. While I hope you found it funny, upcoming graduation is no laughing matter. In just a few short weeks, all of you grads will be walking across that glorious stage and receiving those hard-earned diplomas. But don’t get a severe case of senioritis just yet, because there are A LOT of things you need to get done before that big day (and I’m not talking coursework). Here are the top 3.

1. Job Search

Please, please, please don’t wait until the day after graduation to start looking for your first job. The time is now –  actually it was a month ago, but better late than later. Many people think that they don’t need to look for a job until they are actually available to work, but this is not the case. The hiring process is a long one and it takes a lot of time to find a job, get an interview, negotiate, and get hired.

2. Networking

Now is the time to reach out to your contacts. Let them know you are graduating in a month, and that you’re looking for a job. Connecting with them now is good because they can give you leads on jobs that may not be publically posted. People remember what it was like to be a wide-eyed college grad, and they want to help you! So don’t let your pride get in the way and let them.

3. Letters of Recommendation

A lot of job applications ask for a list of people they can contact for recommendations in addition to actual letters. This is the time to ask your professors and supervisors for those ever-coveted letters. By asking 6 weeks before graduation you give them plenty of time to put a lot of effort into it. You’re also half way through the semester, so they should be pretty familiar with your work ethic, strengths, and capabilities.

 

Best of luck to you wide-eyed hopefuls!

 

To-do List: Acrostic Poem Style

Remember acrostic poems from elementary school? You usually had to make a poem describing yourself using the letters of your first name, tell me I’m not alone here! Regardless, hardly anything makes me more nostalgic than thinking about those wondrous Spring Break vacations my family and I went on throughout my childhood, and thus comes my inspiration for this post! While our younger selves had no responsibility, and certainly no job hunting to be done, us older folk must use this time off school wisely for career gain! Without further ado, here’s a Spring Break to-do list acrostic poem style for us older, more career-focused individuals.

Scrub your resume

Spring cleaning friends! There’s no better time to scrub and polish your resume than when you have a week long break from academics. Update it with career relevant coursework, experiences, and work you’ve completed through the winter. Make sure your resume has only relevant information; for example, it may be time to get rid of your “lifeguard for three summers” bullet point to make room for more relevant jobs/responsibilities.

Prioritize

Spring break means you can do anything! Sleep til noon, binge watch a Netflix series, or explore a new city. While all of the aforementioned activities are super fun, they aren’t very productive; especially in regards to your job search. Instead of sleeping til noon, prioritize your responsibilities and take this free time to put a real dent in your career search. Research companies, make connections, and improve your LinkedIn profile.

Regulate your social outlets

When I say regulate, I mean control. And when I’m talking about control, I’m talking about your social media. Spring Break isn’t known for its….ermm… classiness. Make sure you aren’t posting statuses/pictures/comments on your social media platforms that you wouldn’t want a recruiter to see.

Informational Interview

Spring break gives you a lot of free time! Yay! Use this free time to connect with people in your network, and ask for an informational interview. Check out how to score and informational interview from here.

*disclaimer: the article suggests you ask your contact to meet you for coffee and chat about the job, but recruiters have told me they prefer candidates let the employee choose whatever is easiest for them (e.g. coffee vs. e-mail vs. phone conversation).

Network

Spring Break means being social right?! So while you’re out having a good time, and acting classy make some quality contacts! You never know who you might meet, so make sure you carry some business cards with you at all times. You can get inexpensive business cards from vista print.

Go get ‘em

Now go get ‘em you rockstar, you! You’ve done your homework, made connections, and beefed up your resume, now’s the time to start applying and interviewing for that amazing job/internship.

 

Ring Ring, Your Dream Job is Calling

Our generation is almost a stranger to the art of talking on the phone. If I hear my phone ring I automatically think there’s been some major catastrophe. While we’ve moved away from social communication via telephone calls, professional communication still heavily relies on good ol’ fashioned phone calls. Specifically, recruiters like to use phone interviews instead of making their candidates come in, so it’s important to master the art of phone talk. Here are 5 ways you can be a rockstar on the phone.

1. Smile

I know they can’t see you but recruiters can tell if you’re smiling by the sound of your voice. Make sure you sound pleasant, because you are being judged solely on the the audio you provide.

2. Create a cheat sheet

While phone interviews aren’t ideal because you can’t respond to the body language of the interviewer, they do offer a few perks. Because the recruiter can’t see you, they also can’t see your very handy cheat sheet! Have your resume in front of you as well as information about the company, skills you want to touch on, and questions you have that you might otherwise forget.

3. Take notes (listen)

One of the hardest parts of talking on the phone is staying focused! It’s so easy to let your mind wander and completely zone out. AVOID THIS AT ALL COSTS. Take notes while the recruiter is giving you specific details about the position, this way you stay focused and have specific details you can refer back to when you ask questions at the end of the interview.

4. Location, location, location

Make sure you get good reception wherever you decide to take your interview phone call. Cell phones don’t provide the connection security landlines once did. For this reason, you need to make sure you find a quiet place with good reception before your interview.

5. Thank You/Follow Up

Even though phone interviews may not seem like a big deal, they are! Make sure you take the appropriate follow-up steps and send a thank you note within 24 hours of your interview (an e-mail is sufficient for telephone interviews). Your thank you note should not only thank the recruiter for their time, but also highlight reasons why you would be a perfect addition to their team. This is also a good time to sneak in anything about yourself you didn’t get to talk about during the interview.

 

*ring**ring* Better pick up, you never know when you’re dream job will call you.

Colliding Worlds: Student & Professional

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You’ve been a student your entire life! The daily ritual of getting up, going to class, and doing homework has become nothing short of a habit for you. But unlike Peter Pan, you have to grow up and become a professional with a career. Here are three easy ways to act like a professional while you’re still technically a student.

1. Polish your image

You’ve slowly created a public image of yourself over the years. Whether it’s your voice mail, e-mail address, or social media presence, they all speak about who you are. For this reason, it’s important as a professional to polish your professional image. Change your voice mail to a simple one that a recruiter will understand and respect. Make sure you create an e-mail address that is professionally appropriate, no more “h0tbAbe545@aol.com.” Instead, opt for an e-mail address that includes some variation of your first and last name. Lastly, make sure your profile pictures across all media are appropriate. While you can make these accounts private, people can usually still see your profile picture.

2. Invest in business cards

Business cards are a great way to make sure your new connections have a way to contact you. I know it sounds a little weird to have business cards as a student, but they are the easiest way a person can retain your contact information. You can buy relatively inexpensive business cards, some sights, like vista print, even offer free business card options. As a student, consider putting your school name, major, and expected graduation date on your new cards. Be sure to include your full name, e-mail, and phone number. Bonus: if you have a LinkedIn Account, then include your URL.

3. Become an industry expert

Whether you’re a media major or a finance major, you need to know the industry. Make sure you’re up to date on trends and hot topics within your industry. Nothing is more worse than not being able to answer an industry related question in an interview. Here are some relevant trade publications for advertising, book publishing, business, finance, media, nonprofit, science/health, technology!

 

*Some of these tips are from Lindsey Pollak’s book Getting from College to Career. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it!*

Put the “Work” in Networking

Hibiscus Sports Complex gym

“It’s all about who you know.” As much as you might not want to believe it, there is nothing truer than that statement. For this reason, it’s crucial to network in order to ensure your future career’s livelihood. Having a connection can make the difference between landing your dream job and staying unemployed (sad but true). In order for your connections to work, you have to be actively reaching out to them. It’s time to put the work in networking.

Step 1: Create a network

Even if you haven’t started your professional career you still have a network. Your network can include friends, family, classmates, and professors. Anyone you have a connection with is a part of your network, so make sure you maintain good relationships with everyone around you. Creating a network is not a task you can complete; it’s an enduring process that will continue throughout your professional life.

Step 2: Reach out to YOUR contact(s)

Just because you know person X, Y, and Z at a company doesn’t mean they’re going to be looking for a job for you; that’s on your shoulders. If you’re starting your job search make sure to send out a quick e-mail to your contacts asking them for advice on whom to contact at the company. They’ll likely have their own network at the company and will help you get your foot in the door. Make sure you always attach a current resume to these e-mails so they have something to pass along to HR or whoever their inside contact is.

Step 3: Reach out to THEIR contact(s)

After you reach out to your contact, they are likely to give you additional contacts at the company to reach out to for more information. When you are contacting this person make sure your e-mail is strictly professional. When you send them an e-mail make sure you (a) mention who your mutual contact is and how you know them, (b) attach a current resume, and (c) treat the e-mail like a cover letter and format accordingly.

From there it’s a waiting game. Hopefully this contact will pass your resume to the person who is in charge of hiring. Remember to be appreciative and professional, these people are doing you a favor and it’s important they know how thankful you are.

 Happy networking!

To-Do List: Winter Break Edition

happy holidays!

Hip, hip, hooray! Finals are done, you’re headed home for a month-long break, and you have nothing to do but binge watch Netflix… Wrong.

This is the perfect time to be productive in your job search. Don’t get me wrong, you will still have plenty of time to rest, relax, and eat a lot of delicious food, but it’s important to take the time you have off from school to be proactive in your job/internship search. Here are a few tasks you should accomplish over your winter break.

1. Revamp your resume

Winter break is a great time to update your resume. Did you join a club, get promoted, or hold a new leadership position over fall semester? Don’t forget to add these accomplishments to your resume. This is also the perfect time to update your address, GPA, major, minor, and any scholarship awards that may have changed over the last four months.

2. Start the job hunt

This is the time when companies start posting summer internship applications. Make sure you are actively looking for job opportunities while on break. If you find any, take the time and apply for the positions you find. Capitalize on your free time now while you aren’t busy with papers, projects, and readings for your classes.

3. Network

You know all those awesome holiday parties you’re going to?! Use them to your advantage and network with your friends and family. Connect with people and let them know that you are looking for possible career opportunities in the ___ industry. You never know if a friend or family member has a possible contact that can help you land your dream job. Remember: it’s all about who you know.

 

Photo Credit: Melissa Brawner