Friday, November 21, 2014

Seeing my future come into focus


College is nothing like high school, I actually remember being there forever and wanting to leave. If I could, I would stay in college for at least a couple more years (and never get older of course).

High school is as static as it gets, not a whole lot changes. College is very dynamic, you never know what the next day has in store for you. You hear people tell you that time flies, but that doesn’t seem more true than anywhere but college.

This month is going to be full of adventure and opportunities for me. Today, the Career Development Center organized a career fair with a room full of different companies from UPS, Fastenal, and Crayola where you could walk around and network and hand out resumes to. Since I worked at Fastenal as a sales-trainee over the summer, I talked to the district manager about getting some hours over winter break. Not only was he excited for me to come back and work at the Milton location, but he also wanted me to work at the Bloomsburg Fastenal next semester.

This just shows you that you should always work your hardest and even if you need to leave a company for any reason, you should never burn any bridges with anyone. You never know when you might need a job in the future or a few hours to make some extra cash. Students from my Advanced Professional Sales class went to talk to UPS to thank them for funding some of our trip to Orlando, FL to the International Collegiate Sales Competition (ICSC). We talked about careers in sales and how much they love their jobs because they get paid to talk to people and create relationships. They also gave us some advice about interviewing and resume tips.

The ICSC was the most amazing experience I have encountered during my years here at Bloomsburg. The ICSC consisted of two competitions, one was the Tom James role play and the other was a Sales Management Case competition. I competed in the Sales Management Case competition, because soon I will be going to New Jersey for another sales competition.

We arrived in Florida on Thursday and immediately went to the opening ceremony and registration. At 7:30 p.m. that night, my partner and I were given our case where we had 18 hours to creating a presentation. We immediately went back to the hotel and plugged the flash drive that they gave us and stared terrified and immediately stressed at the 12 pages of information.

We were given a scenario of a real company that was fictitiously struggling and we had to come up with an idea to help them get back on their feet and present it to two people from companies that were sponsoring the event and the third person that was from the actual company the case was about. We researched and brainstormed and paced up and down all night and day to finish this presentation. 

We had to hand in our PowerPoint by 1 p.m. Friday. It was getting down to the wire, we were scrambling to get this presentation finished but we did. We had to present our ideas to the judges without any practice. We went in there and nailed it! Luckily, we got to see our judges later that day and talk to them about how they think we did. I got the most encouraging feedback I have ever received in my life. The feedback I got from the judges actually made me 110 percent sure that I was going in the right path for my future. The experience was something that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

A total of six of us (including our professor) went to Orlando for this competition, Jordan Barnett and Amanda Leshko competed in the role play competition and Austin Schwarts was an alternate if anything had happened to any one of us. Even if you were an alternate coming to this competition, the companies that were at the career fair there wanted you. Students aren’t invited to these competitions “just because,” you are invited because you have a passion for sales and you are good at.

Dr. Favia picked a great group to go to the competition this year. Anthony Furjanic and I did not place in the top four out of the 21 schools that competed in the case competition but we definitely made an impression on people from industry. Jordan made it to the second round and also made a good impression on some of the judges. Amanda did an amazing job and made it to round three where she was in the top sixteen out of 84 students. We definitely put a good word out about Bloomsburg University because different companies introduced themselves to Dr. Favia and wanted to make connections with her and our University. Overall the trip was an amazing experience and we couldn’t have done it without Dr. Monica Favia, thank you!

Another opportunity I couldn’t have been able to have without Dr. Favia, is an interview with ADP. She encouraged us to talk to a recruiter from APD about a month and a half ago to get some information about the company to see if we would be interested in working there. After meeting with the recruiter, we emailed her our resumes and gained a brief phone interview and an in-office interview.

At ICSC, when we walked around the job fair, we pretty much had mini interviews with each company that we talked to. Some of them asked me questions that I was prepared for and others asked me some that I wasn’t so that helped me prepare for next week. Another way that helped teach me how to interview, were the Professional U sessions that the University organizes. They are extremely informative and you learn something new every time.

Along with my interview next week, I will be going to another sales competition in New Jersey where I will be participating in the role play competition. At this competition we will have to sell ADP in various scenarios in various rounds. This competition will also have a career fair where I can market myself to potential businesses around the US.

My second to last semester has most definitely flown by with the blink of an eye. The most I can do is to get out as much as possible from my experiences as I can and learn as much as I can before I get thrown out into the real world. My advice to you, is to take advantages of the opportunities that surround you every single day. Don’t put something off or push great opportunities to the side, you never know when you might get them again and when they do, they will be gone in a blink of an eye.

— Chelsea Underhill, senior marketing major #HuskyLife

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

3 organizations I wish I would have joined


Bloomsburg has so many opportunities for absolutely anyone on campus with any interest. If there isn’t something for you, it is extremely easy to create your own club! I was lucky enough to discover Program Board and it has most definitely opened an infinite amount of doors for my future, but there a few other organizations on campus that I wish I would have joined.

When I was in high school and looking at colleges, I was planning on being a nurse. I never in my wildest dreams would have predicted that in three years from my senior year, be a senior majoring in the business field, let alone being a marketing major but that is exactly where I am now and I wouldn’t change it for the world. But when I was in high school, there was a club called Phi Beta Lambda, which stands for Future Business Leaders.

If I would have known that I would be where I am today when I was in high school, I would have joined that club in a heartbeat. As a freshmen, I had no idea what I was getting into, how much time I would have on my hands, or any idea what Bloomsburg had to offer. I was very narrow minded and that is one of my biggest regrets.

After my three years here, I wish I would have joined this club for a couple of reasons; it’s a resume booster, it is a national business organization recognized throughout the country, and holds fundraisers, guest speaker events and meet the alumni events. This club would have been great for expanding my network and would have expanded my knowledge about the campus and what Bloomsburg has to offer for after I graduate. If I had the opportunity to meet alumni, I’m sure I would be hearing a lot of the advice I am now giving you.

Another organization that I wish I would have joined is the American Marketing Association (AMA). AMA is a professional association for individuals and organizations teaching and developing marketing knowledge worldwide. This club could have given me a great opportunity to really expand and grow my knowledge of the ever changing marketing world. This club could have given me a leg up on some applicants that I will be competing with for jobs. They say it’s all about who you know in the business world and the more connections you make and the wider your network, the more doors will be open for you in the future.

They also get the opportunity to go to the International Collegiate American Marketing Association Conference where you can take your marketing skills to the next level by learning from and interacting with current marketing professionals from all over the country. At the conference there would be presentations that are given about current market trends, how to get a career in marketing, and the constant change of marketing. This would have been an amazing resume booster and a great opportunity for anyone in marketing.

The past two organizations I talked about were very similar in how they could benefit me and were geared more toward something that would have increased my knowledge in the field of business, but my third organization is a bit different. I would have loved to join the dance ensemble. Now you’re probably thinking, “What in the world does that have to do with your major and can you even dance?”

Good question! No, I have never tried dancing in my entire life, but I love the Step Up movies and wish I could own those skills that they have and dance like no one but yet everyone is watching! *snaps fingers and strikes a sassy pose* Another reason is because a couple of my friends were part of the dance ensemble and I would have loved to have something other than classes that we can all have fun at. Don’t get me wrong, dance is a lot of hard work and takes a lot of time and effort, but it sounds like a lot of fun too!

Okay, okay if you want to hear about the resume side of things and how it can benefit you, then here it is. When you join the dance ensemble, you are joining a team, you need to learn discipline, time management skills, teamwork, reliability, and confidence. I recently had a practice phone interview with a company that I might be working for after I graduate and she explained to me how I should answer the question, “Why do I want to be a sales person?”

She told me to think about the sports that I was in and talk about those abilities that I possessed and whip them out for the kill! She also told me that bringing up any inspiring stories that you may have from doing some sort of sport or activity. Since I have never had a single dance lesson in my life, I’m sure there are plenty of obstacles I could have brought up during an interview that I could have overcame.

All in all, joining any sort of club or organization on campus can expand you knowledge, network, and skills and abilities that can be helpful for the future. Don’t’ be afraid to try new things or meet new people. Remember, college is one of the biggest opportunities you will ever have to try out hundreds of new and exciting things. Like I said before, I had no idea I would be in the position that I am today, the future is always changing, don’t hold back, take a deep breath, and go for it!

— Chelsea Underhill, senior marketing major #HuskyLife

Friday, November 7, 2014

How to survive your last year of grad school

My graduate school experience has had its share of meals on-the-go, motivational self-talks and 16 hour days. Holding two assistantships and advising multiple undergraduate committees and groups, maintaining a full-time class schedule all while preserving some shred of a personal life can be overwhelming at times.

Don’t get me wrong; I feel extremely thankful for the opportunities given to me and I am more driven by my demanding schedule than I have ever felt before.

However, I am not a complete robot and even I still have those moments when anxiety gets the best of me and my inner child just wants to crawl into a pillow fort, where my responsibilities cease to exist, and color pictures of unicorns for a few hours.

I’m not an expert, but I feel as if giving into these fleeting breakdowns once in a while is not only inevitable, but necessary to retaining our humanity as grad students.

Here is my to-do list if you’re interested in keeping your sanity throughout grad school:
  • Keep your schedule in your phone. If you’re anything like me, your phone is constantly within an arm’s reach. After experimenting with several different planners and scheduling methods, the most practical form has been my iPhone calendar. Add your daily/weekly schedule first (classes, office hours, etc.) then as soon as you find out something is happening, put it in your phone, set an alert, and free up some space in your brain!
  • Stop procrastinating. If you’re someone who is always waiting until the last minute to get things done, now is the time to break that habit. If you don’t already, you’ll soon learn what it’s like for something to come up an hour before a deadline and have to explain why the assignment was late. Your professors and supervisors will accept the “something came up” excuse once or twice, but anyone in Higher Education most likely has a similar schedule and, therefore, squandering sympathy for your lack of ability to plan for unforeseen circumstances.
  • Schedule free time. Self-care is different for everyone, but extremely important. If you’re waiting for free time to magically appear, good luck. Figure out how much time you can reasonably set aside for yourself without falling behind in your other responsibilities. If family, friends or gym time is important to you, schedule it. If it’s already in your calendar, when someone asks when you can add a meeting, you’ll be less likely to take away the only hour you have to yourself.
  • Sleep. Eat. Study. You are a human first and a student second. Everything else will come with time. Adding everything at once will only be detrimental to your health, grades and duties.
  • When things get overwhelming, re-evaluate. Grad school is a perfect time to learn how to balance time and experiment with how much you can take on and still give 100%. When that percentage starts to drop, your balancing act might need reassessment. If you find yourself completely booked with no time to sleep study or eat, it’s time to rework your current plan. Maybe it means taking a few hours away from one position and adding them somewhere else. Maybe a conversation with an advisor or supervisor can add some clarity and take away some pressure. It might also mean dropping one responsibility completely, and that’s ok sometimes. You can always add more responsibilities again after you get a better grip on things.
  • Don’t panic. Grad school is the perfect place to make mistakes. You’re probably surrounded by helping professionals who want nothing more than to see you succeed! If everything hasn’t fallen into place quite yet, don’t worry too much. It will.

— Alyssa Meyers is obtaining a graduate degree in Counseling and College Student Affairs (CSA) at Bloomsburg University, where she holds a graduate assistantship in the Student Activities Office. There, she assists in overseeing Bloomsburg's Program Board, Concert Committee and other groups and committees related to campus-wide event and activity planning.

Alyssa also holds a part-time position at Penn State University's Hazleton campus, where she is the Assistant Coordinator in the Office of Residence Life. In this position, she oversees a 10-person student Resident Assistant staff, works with the full-time residence life staff and participates in on-call or "Duty" responsibilities.

Prior to starting her career in student affairs, worked as a caseworked at Columbia County Children and Youth Services. She gained experience in crisis management, community health, and strength-based intervention strategies. Last summer, Alyssa moved to the Los Angeles area and worked with the Student Life and Engagement staff at Marymount California University. The focal point of her summer was designing an LGBT Safe Zone training manual and additional programming for the upcoming academic year.



Monday, October 27, 2014

Why I Love Nicholas Sparks


Finding time to read while I am at college is one of the hardest time management problems to figure out. Between class work, work work, and any other activities, I barely have enough time to sleep, never mind read.

Professors always say reading helps you in the long run… ok then give me less homework so I have time to read.

When I finally find the time to snuggle up into bed and read a good book it’s always a Nicholas Sparks book. For some reason I just gravitate to his readings. All of them are love sappy stories that have a guys and a girl and they fall in love and live happily ever after.

For instance; The Notebook, The Wedding, The Lucky One, Safe Haven, Dear John, The Last Song, and many more. But isn’t that what every girl wants, happily ever after. No girl wants to read a book where everyone dies at the end and then its over.

When I read a book I picture the story in my head. Making every little detail seem as real as it can get, and for that period of time I am reading I am taken into another place, into the place of the story, feeling what the characters feel, seeing what is written on the page, and for a moment you forget about the life you live.

Your boring life has turned into a fantasy where you are now in the 1960’s and you are in love with Noah, and he writes you letters for 365 days and climbs a Ferris wheel to sit ask you on a date. To the point where you are so wrapped up into the story you are rooting for fictional characters to kiss.

Nicholas Sparks is not just an author of many well-written books, but he is a storyteller that makes people believe in fantasies again. Taking people out of their day-to-day life and in a life they always wanted to live.

All books do the same thing. Just find a book you like, pick it up and start reading. It’s as simple as that!

— Samantha Gross, sophomore telecommunications major #HuskyUnleashed

Going over "board" for campus entertainment


Being a part of Program Board has opened so many doors and opportunities for me. I’ve met so many amazing people and have learned so much about our school and the people in it.

Program Board has given me skills and abilities that I will be able to take with me to future jobs and life in the future. Program Board has helped me grow as a person and will be one college experience I will never forget. We recently got to take our programming to the next level. Normally we have to rely on the Internet or word of mouth to find the talent and entertainment that we are looking for, but we recently got to sort through our options from watching live performances.

This weekend we went to the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) where talent from all over the country gets to show us what they are made of and why we should bring them to our school.

NACA was full of events and activities, there was never a dull moment. The event started on Thursday around 2 p.m., but I didn’t go until Friday due to midterms. When the other half of us came on Friday we went immediately to an education session.

Education sessions are session where students that are on programming committees from different schools create a presentation about anything from general member retention, late night events, and how they keep themselves organized and engaged.

These sessions are great to share ideas and insights with students from all different schools. One session was called, Class, Power, Privilege and How It Affects Your Leadership Role. Here we defined class, power, and privilege and talk about how important it is to know these terms no matter what organization you are a part of.

We also did an exercise where half the room was friendly and engaging and the other half of the room was very closed off and uninviting. This showed us how important it is to be engaging and kind to everyone that you encounter whether it’s with general members or any student on campus. The way you act might determine if they become a general member or even attend the events that we organize.

Another session I went to talked about how they quadrupled their attendance to events when they moved them one hour earlier. They only do events late at night on a Friday and Saturday but they have over 300 people coming to them. We learned their students like events where there isn’t just one thing they can do in a room, they like to be able to move around and participate in different things if they get bored.

We also learned that students love to do things that they will be able to take home with them (free stuff). So you might see some arts and crafts events starting next semester. Time to get my Pinterest on!

After the morning education session on Friday, we had lunch. During lunch we had an inspirational speaker who was 16 years old and had turrets. His story was inspiring and encouraged everyone to never judge someone before you get to know them and to treat people the way you want to be treated. This speech not only helped you on a personal level, but also helped all program boards around the mid-Atlantic with possible general member retention and recruitment.

After lunch we had a mixture of showcases and CAMPs throughout the day and into the late night. A showcase is where about eight performers and one MC performed a fifteen minute snapshot of what they had to offer. The MC would do a short five to ten minute act and then announce who the next performer would be. There were acts from comedians, hypnotists, magicians, musicians, slam poets, acrobatics, step teams, musical comedy, and more.

There was a lot of new talent compared to last year and it looked like we might be booking a few of them to come next semester. One of the MC’s called “Dakaboom” was my favorite and we hope to be bringing them here soon. And here, they do 50 theme songs in under five minutes!

Another one of my favorite acts which we had at our school a few years back was the comedian Eric O’Shae. He’s an older comedian but leaves you with a pain in your side from laughing so hard.

After the showcases we would go to what is called CAMP, which stands for Campus Activities Market Place where performers and agencies set up their booths to talk to students about what they have to offer and do small demonstrations.

 There were booths for showing films to students, inflatables, massage chairs (one of my favorites), stuff your own animal, spray paint, make your own goo, and pretty much anything you can think of that would be a cool activity to do.

My absolute favorite section of CAMP was where three main booths were set up next to each other and included Eric Mina (a hypnotist we brought last semester), Spidey (who did a mental show during orientation this semester), and a new magician that we are bringing next semester named Joel Meyers.

As I talked to them for a few hours, they showed me a bunch of magic tricks and a little bit of mentalism. This was a huge opportunity for me to network and broaden my horizons and open possible job opportunities. Since I made friends with these people that I keep in touch with on a personal level I have an open door to possibly help some performers on the marketing and advertising side of things.

All in all, this entire weekend was an amazing experience and it never would have happened if I didn’t go to a Program Board general meeting my sophomore year. If Program Board wasn’t part of my college experience, I have no idea where I would be today. I don’t think I would have had the confidence that I have today to accomplish the things that I have and continue to accomplish.

— Chelsea Underhill, senior marketing major #HuskyLife

Welcome to the Smith Olympics



It may have just been another beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon to everyone else but to me and my staff it was a big day!

We planned for this day for weeks and finally our first big program was about to happen, the “Smith Olympics.” The residence hall I oversee — of over 250 first year students — is called Smith hall which is located right next to a nice big grassy lawn.

My staff and I came up with having a day, just like the Olympics, of games for the residents and a prize at the end for the wining team! The games that we led included:
  • volleyball
  • tug of war
  • Frisbee
  • and a relay race
My RAs prepared wonderfully and also had music speakers set up so everyone was able to listen to music throughout the day.

The residents along with my staff were able to bond and get to know one another while having fun and jamming out to music. I was very proud to have such a successful event take place all because my RAs made it happen. To see the students smiling and getting along was great.

We hope that the “Smith Olympics,” can become a tradition at Susquehanna University and continue on for the years to come. I am just thankful that I was able to be a part of it and make a positive impact on this campus.

— Kami Skoloda, a Lancaster native, is a second year student in the Counseling and College Student Affairs (CSA) program. She received her bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal Communications from Bloomsburg University (BU) in 2013. Her senior year she interned in the ACT 101 office at working with academic probation students. As an intern, Kami worked alongside several CSA graduate students suggested she consider a career in college student affairs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My life in a nutshell: Hard at Play


I am currently a full time graduate student in the Student Affairs program at Bloomsburg University, a half-time (20 hours per week) graduate assistant in Bloomsburg’s Student Activities office and a part-time staff member (20 hours per week + overnight/weekend “duty”) at Penn State Hazelton’s Office of Residence Life.

A typical day begins around 8 a.m. and ends when I return home between 10 and 11 p.m. My weekends often consist of late-night student activities and weekend day trips and/or weekend duty responsibilities. Just so you have the whole picture, I also commute to and from Hazleton, about 30 minutes each way, usually 5-6 days per week to accommodate my various commitments.

When I explain my life and schedule, the response I usually receive is “When do you sleep?!” The way I choose to see it, I have been blessed with a very high energy level and a love of my work, so I don’t mind my 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. days, I actually thrive on them.

This thriving is the point of my post. When people respond to my schedule negatively, I always come back with a smile. Each time I explain my schedule to others, I use it as an opportunity to remind myself how very blessed I am to be in these positions! One of my learning points is that I have a difficult time staying on-task if my schedule is not laid out and stacked.

Instead of letting myself waste “down” time, I am making the conscious decision to take full advantage of my high energy level, my freedom as a single young professional and the unique opportunities provided to me through the College Student Affairs program and career path. I am choosing to stack my days (and my resume!) with awesome experiences.

Each day, I grow more thankful for the knowledge I am gaining, not only in College Student Affairs, but in schedule management, relationship building, leadership (on several levels), prioritizing and much more.

For the record, I DO sleep; 8 hours, every night (unless I get distracted by Pinterest, of course). As a footnote to my life-in-a-nutshell, I’d like to say that self-care is EXTREMELY important and a schedule like mine is definitely not for everyone! I take advantage of the few hours per week that I have to do things for myself (visit with family and friends, hike, run, travel, etc.).

I am a firm believer in the idea that, when someone is truly passionate about what they do, they never work a day in their life. This is why, when people question my decision to take on so many responsibilities at once, I am able to respond by saying I’m not overworked, I’m simply Hard at Play.

— Alyssa Meyers is obtaining a graduate degree in Counseling and College Student Affairs (CSA) at Bloomsburg University, where she holds a graduate assistantship in the Student Activities Office. There, she assists in overseeing Bloomsburg's Program Board, Concert Committee and other groups and committees related to campus-wide event and activity planning.

Alyssa also holds a part-time position at Penn State University's Hazleton campus, where she is the Assistant Coordinator in the Office of Residence Life. In this position, she oversees a 10-person student Resident Assistant staff, works with the full-time residence life staff and participates in on-call or "Duty" responsibilities.

Prior to starting her career in student affairs, worked as a caseworked at Columbia County Children and Youth Services. She gained experience in crisis management, community health, and strength-based intervention strategies. Last summer, Alyssa moved to the Los Angeles area and worked with the Student Life and Engagement staff at Marymount California University. The focal point of her summer was designing an LGBT Safe Zone training manual and additional programming for the upcoming academic year.