Thursday, November 17, 2016

Time to graduate, am I ready?

A few years ago, I was a freshman and now I am a senior. Time feels like it blew by so fast …

I literally cannot believe this is my last year of college and will be graduating next semester.

Before I know it I will be ready to enter the workforce or graduate school. Some of my friends that graduate in the spring have already started looking for jobs and had interviews. I haven’t started looking for jobs yet, but I have been building my resume, cover letter and LinkedIn account.

By senior year it is important to have these things done so you can start your job search right away.
My freshman and sophomore year, I was not worried about resume building, cover letters or personal portfolios. I thought college was all about having fun and partying, but as I got older I learned how important it is to use the resources that Bloomsburg University offer to the students.

The Center for Professional Development and Career Experience can help with cover letters, resumes, professional attire for events, and LinkedIn. They also hold several workshops for these topics. I recently attended a workshop at the Center for Professional Development in the Student Service Center where they looked over my resume and gave me pointers. I also talked with them briefly about graduate school and their thoughts of the MBA program at Bloom.

The Center for Professional Development and Career Experience also does mock interviews. I didn’t get a chance to do a mock interview, but I know it will be very helpful and can help build my interview skills and become more familiar with the type of questions they HR mangers ask.

As an upperclassman speaking, I wish I would have taken advantage of these opportunities when I was a freshman.

— Khalil Daniel, senior communication studies major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A sign of good things to come

I knew it was going to be challenging, but I did it anyway. I had confidence in myself … and in the academic support available to me here at Bloomsburg University.

The second semester of my junior year, I took American Sign Language to fulfill one of my general education requirements. I knew ASL would be an intense course, because one of my roommates took it the semester before and failed. However, it was interesting to me to learn how people used nonverbal methods to communicate.

The first day of class the professor advised everyone to get a tutor, admitting this was not going to be an easy course. She said students who normally use tutorial services on campus earn a higher grade than those who don’t.

I wanted to get my feet wet in the course before I went in and got a tutor, in case I didn’t need one. I did poor on the first test and was falling behind on the course schedule, which made me realize I needed help.

After speaking with my professor, she gave me a list of names of people who were tutors and ASL majors. When I went to the tutorial services office to fill out the form everyone was welcoming and helpful, which made me feel good about coming there for help.

Within a week I received an email with my tutor name and contact information. The tutor was an ASL major and a junior just like me. She worked around my class and work schedule. I was able to practice my presentations with her and vocab for exams! She was also able to give me pointers and advice that made ASL easier to remember, which was a big help. She was also patient and a good listener. My final grade was an A-, and I never would have gotten that without my tutor.

Tutors work around your schedule and are only here to help students succeed. It is important to remember tutors are students too, and that you should come prepared to the meetings ready to learn.
Utilizing the tutorial services can be good for students even if you are doing exceptional in all of your classes. You may think you do not need help, but a tutor can push you to the next level and give insight on better ways to improve study habits.

— Khalil Daniel, senior communication studies major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Taking control before it's out of control

As I began my senior year, stress is at an all time high. I know a lot of you are wondering why because it’s only been one month.

Well, I am going to allow you to take a step into my life. I am currently enrolled as a full-time student, working two jobs, a board governor scholar, and I have one internship. I know, I know, it sounds very exhausting … This is an example of why it is important to have mental strength and to be in control while in college.

What is being in control? Being in control is having a routine that you desire and making time for things that make you happy daily. Of course homework and studying comes first but it is important that we make time for our self and what makes us happy at Bloomsburg University.

This could be going to the gym, going for a jog, going out with friends, playing Frisbee on the quad, or going to events at the Kehr Union. I have been working at the Kehr Union for the last past two years, and there's plenty of events that go on every day that students do not know about. Such as, movie night, poetry slams, trivia, and etc. You can find these events on posters inside the Kehr Union.

Being in control of your fun time is important but being in control of your school work is much more important. At the start of a new semester make a good impression on your professor and have a good start to the semester by completing all of your assignments and doing extra credit, because it can determine the way the rest of your semester may turn out.

Nobody wants to play catch up. Being in control of your schoolwork is being organized! Make a planner, know your deadlines, and when assignment have to be done. Also, a strategy I have been using since a freshman is studying before class. That 15 minutes before class can be valuable and can help you retain information.

Tutorial services and the writing center can also be a good tools to use on campus. When I first came to Bloomsburg University I was placed in Writing 2, which is one level behind the college level. So my freshman year I spent a lot of time at The Writing Center for papers. Now, I am completing my third internship and am a communication major, which means I write papers all the time.

So don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Last but not least mental strength... Mental strength can come from a variety of different places. I tend to talk to family and friends when I am feeling uneasy about something. Sometimes we might need to talk to someone other than family and friends. On campus has several different resources such as, assistant dean of students, mentors, and counseling that you can talk to and keep information confidential. They can also help with your mental strength and give you that boost of confidence you may need.

— Khalil Daniel, senior communication studies major #HuskyLife

Monday, August 1, 2016

Prepping for a Career in College Student Affairs

Hello everyone! In this blog, I’ll update you on where I am now… busy. Ha! But first, a quick overview of Lycoming College Prep, or LycoPrep.

LycomingPrep is a two-week learning opportunity for low-income, first-generation rising high school senior students. They attend Lycoming College to learn what a liberal arts college is like. During these two weeks, they live on campus with roommates, attend two non-credit courses Monday through Friday (Chemistry and Political Science), attend workshops led by faculty and staff, and participate in fun field trips to local hot spots. My role is to serve as a residential supervisor. I lead the three student leaders, Lycoming College Peer Facilitators (LCPF)who serve as mentors to the 20 LycoPrep students. I also drive the vans between campus and our field trip locations.

Last Wednesday, I moved onto the Lycoming College campus. I have not lived on a college campus in four years so I was nervous to live with students full-time. For the first three days, I participated in training along with my three LCPFs. Together, we focused on teamwork, personality traits, first-aid training, expectations, while we prepared door decorations (to welcome the students), bulletin boards, snacks, and games for the students to enjoy. The College Student Affairs graduate program at Bloomsburg has aided me with detailed leadership courses that provided me with a clear idea of how I can most effectively lead my team. Last semester, I completed “Introduction of Educational Leadership” which focused a lot on how to manage teams. This semester, I am enrolled in “Organizational Behavior” and spending a lot of time assessing my leadership qualities and weaknesses. BU has given a strong foundation to grow; every day I am practicing my leadership knowledge and skills.

Last Saturday, 20 first-generation high school rising seniors arrived on campus. These 20 students come from seven different states including California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. This is a very diverse group where they can discuss and learn from each other the different cultures and values each of us have.

 So far, our field trips have consisted of a trip on the Hiawatha Paddleboat along the Susquehanna River, the Little League Museum, the Lycoming County Prison, Williamsport City Hall, Williamsport downtown art galleries, local dining, Rite-Aid shopping trips, and a Walmart shopping trip. Today, we are scheduled to go kayaking! Over the next week we are schedule for a trip to Knoebel’s Amusement Park, digging at Canfield Island, hiking at Rider Park, watching a movie at the nearby drive-in theatre, a Crosscutters AAA baseball game, pool party at the home of the Vice President for Student Affairs, and T & D Cats of the World animal refuge!

This is an intensive experience for the high school students . . . and also for me. I attend all meals with the students, all field trips, participate in late night activities such as watching movies, playing board games, playing cards, etc. and I even attend some of their workshop sessions. I have formed great connections with these 20 students. They are a very curious group! They ask a lot of thoughtful questions at tour sites, workshops sessions, and during class. They focus on their homework and enjoy learning from each other—I am so excited to see how much they are learning about attending college. This two-week experience is a life-changing opportunity.

The College Student Affairs program has also provided me with a solid understanding of how to address change, which has been very beneficial to me this summer because this program has evolved even during our two weeks. As Professor Roesch would say, “Change is inevitable.” As student affairs educators, we must be open to change and embrace it. During just the first week at Lycoming, we have had to switch discussions, cancel trips due to rain, find an alternative, and make it all work out. Those moments can be hectic, but through open communication and creativity, we have continued to provide an organized alternative. I’ve learned that these students are having the time of their lives. They are going to be happy with any decision we make that allows them to form strong relationships and create important memories.

— Felicia Garcia-Wedemeyer, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

Friday, July 15, 2016

Traveling in China

Two weeks ago I traveled to Dalian to visit a friend. Felicia was a visiting scholar at Bloomsburg University last fall semester and when she found out I am in China she invited me to visit her. To get there I took a 6-hour high speed train. The train was very comfortable but a little too cold for me. During the summer in most of the places in China we pray for an air conditioner, but on that train I was freezing the whole time.

Once I arrived in Dalian Felicia and her husband were waiting for me at the exit. When we got to their apartment Felicia gave me a little care package with towels, pajamas, sleepers and even a toothbrush. The next day we drove all over Dalian to Felicia’s favorite places and took lots of pictures. She introduced me to her friend’s daughter, Shellmy.

During that weekend Shellmy and I became good friends and planned to travel to Qufu, hometown of Confucius, the last weekend of July. In Dalian we visited a place called Little Venice. There are multiple canals around the downtown of Dalian where anybody can go on a boat ride. Felicia also took me to meet her sister that lives right by the beach.

When we went to the beach, even though it was really hot, I didn’t see too many people tanning. Most of the women in China don’t like to tan. There is even a saying for women “bai fu mei” which means white, reach and beautiful and for men it’s “gao fu shuai”, tall, reach and handsome.

Dalian cuisine specializes in seafood. Just in two short days I tried a variety of fish dishes such as boiled muscles in a sea shell and pumpkin fried crabs. If I ever come to China again I will definitely visit Dalian.

Just last weekend our whole program traveled to Xian for four days. One of my favorite parts about the trip was a 13-hour overnight train ride. Since we came as a big group, it was really fun to just play card games and talk. After we arrived and settled at a hotel, our tour guide took us on a City Wall tour. The City Wall used to be used for protection against enemies, but now it’s an important historical monument of Xian. Then instead of walking the 9-mile City Wall we rented out bikes and rode around the whole City Wall.

It was really fun and mesmerizing but it was really exhausting to ride the bikes in near 100-degree heat. When we had free time, we went to a market street. There they sold all types of souvenirs and foods. Xian is famous for “rou jia mo” which is meat sandwich and for their noodles. There were people stretching super long noodles right outside of the restaurants to attract more customers.

The next day we went to see the terracotta warriors. The site is divided into 3 pits with over 10,000 warriors. The 1st pit has 6,500 warrior statues and is the biggest one out of the 3.

Each one of the warrior statue is different from the others because it was sculpted by a real terracotta warrior. Our next stop was the Giant Goose pagoda. Right next to it there are multiple Buddhist shrines which are open to the public. In the evening many people gather on the square in front of the Giant Goose pagoda for group activities.

Every park in China has activities mainly for retired people, such as dancing, card games, martial arts, etc. When we went to the square at night we were welcomed to dance the traditional Jiao Yi Wu dance with the locals. So far everywhere where I have traveled, the foreigners are always welcomed.

Right now I am a little sad because I only have two weeks left in China, but at least every single remaining day is planned so I will not waste a minute of my time here. This Saturday we will be taking the HSK 4 test, which is a standardized Chinese language knowledge test. I really hope that I can pass so that I can apply for internships in China. My last weekend in China I will spend traveling to Qufu with my friend Shellmy and my roommate. Ethan, one of the Chinese students in Bloomsburg, is also there for the summer and he will be able to show us around Qufu.

— Anastasia Timofeeva, junior engineering and Chinese major #HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU

Timofeeva is studying abroad at the Beijing Foreign Studies University this summer, courtesy of several scholarships earned this past year. She received a Professional Experience grant from Professional U, a grant designed for students seeking to get involved in their career path or learn more about the world. Timofeeva also received an International Faculty Association scholarship dedicated to students with interest in fostering globalism and internationalism. Moreover, she received College of Liberal Arts study abroad scholarship and a scholarship for good academic standing from the university.

Getting the experience!

For was long as I can remember, I have had trouble getting jobs due to lack of experience.

I cannot explain the level of upsetedness I feel when I see “3-5 years of experience” as a position requirement. I’ll find the perfect position at an amazing location. Then after I spend a good amount of time reading the description and envisioning my future life, there it is…3 years of experience required.

And my immediate response is “how do you expect me to GET experience if no one will hire me without having experience?!”

So when I was accepted into Bloomsburg’s College Student Affairs program I knew I needed to secure a graduate assistantship to gain an ample amount of experience in two brief years. I applied to every available opportunity, and was lucky enough to be offered a position with the Living and Learning Communities. Wanting a position in fraternity and sorority life (FSL) upon completion of my M.Ed., I was worried that I would have insufficient direct Greek Life experience (post undergrad) to get hired in the FSL area.

I carried this thinking around for a really long time. I started to volunteer with my national sorority by assisting chapters across the U.S. and, wherever possible, built my course assignments around Greek Life topics. However, I still did not feel like this was enough to remain relevant or marketable to prospective employers.

It wasn’t until my second year in the CSA program, while working with the Compass LLC, that I shared my worry with my supervisor, Jennifer Hunsinger. She advised me to research open FSL positions and find specific experiences that were desired. I made a list of responsibilities that I had not had experience in and areas that I thought I still needed to improve on. From that list, Jennifer and I CREATED the experiences that I needed to get my desired job!

Soon, I was on the university’s formal hearing board, facilitating classroom workshops, building programs, creating outcome assessments, writing reports, and so much more! Having my volunteer work with my national organization and getting really involved with student affairs at BU, I still felt like I needed that direct FSL experience. So I picked up the phone and called Matthew Richardson, Coordinator of FSL at the University of Pittsburgh.

Thankfully, he was able to meet with me three days later and offered me an internship! In January of 2016, I moved to Pittsburgh and spent over 350 hours (100 hours over the requirement for the field experience course) working with the FSL community.

I am sharing this to remind your to concentrate on the things you can control when you’re stressing out about finding your first professional job and to be proactive about them. The amount of worrying I was doing about not having experience was not helping me get experience. I sought out and created the experiences needed to be marketable for a job after my time at Bloomsburg came to an end. The entire job search was still overwhelming.

However, with the support of the student affairs professional staff, I was confident that I did everything over the two years of the College Student Affairs program to gain the experiences needed. Creating my experiences certainly paid off: I just hit my one-month mark of my first professional position within fraternity and sorority life!

— Jill Franklin, M.Ed., college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New Things, New Place, New Home

I am one week into my first full-time College Student Affairs position and I am starting to realize that this is AWESOME! However, I absolutely did not feel awesome every step of the way.

Day one was filled with nervous smiles and confusion. Parents, students, and professionals asked me questions I did not know the answers to, which really hurt my confidence. Even though everyone was extremely polite when I told them it was my first day, I felt like I was in way over my head and couldn’t swim to the surface. As quiet and reserved as I acted, I did my best to observe my environment, attempting to learn the culture of my new home. This is not the first time I have put myself in the situation of learning a new place, but that does not make it any easier to overcome the uncomfortable feeling of being a newcomer.

Luckily, I had a three-day weekend and great pep talks from my peers to get ready for the next week. Yet, I still had mixed feelings about returning to work on Monday. After a long and non-eventful weekend, I was extremely scared that the week would be just like my first day, filled with confusion, awkward moments, and a lot of silence.

 Certainly, it was. I watched people and listened to conversations feeling as if they were speaking a different language (so many acronyms!). Then, on day four I finally made it to the surface! I met a students I will be working closely with for the rest of the year.

Finally, a conversation with someone speaking my same language, Greek! I was so relieved that I could show someone that I can do this, I know what I am taking about, and I am capable of contributing! Looking at that moment, I realized that the only person I needed to prove anything to was myself.

I have had many conversations about the importance of learning institutional culture through my educational leadership classes. On day five, after I decorated my office and unpacked the books from those classes, I was reminded to reflect on those conversations and readings about culture and institutional fit. I remembered that I have been complimented on my ability to adjust to new environments, to observe new cultures without over-stepping boundaries, and to ask questions when I am not understanding.

That moment of reflection was enough to boost my confidence because right now I’m supposed to be learning and observing. I think I have the highest expectations for myself, so when I started off quiet and reserved it made me more nervous to think that I would not overcome the initial transition. The truth is that if I want to shatter those expectations, then, first, I need to have a firm understanding of the culture I have immersed myself in.

— Jill Franklin, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU