There is no “I” in team

Written By: Kristen Nelson, SSHA Career Consultant
Edited By: Dalton Rogers, CCPA Student Assistant
Posted By: Serena Nguyen, CCPA Media Intern

            It used to be that companies evaluated employees by their individual successes alone .Today, companies have moved away from this Western ideology and are looking to the success of the “team” as a measure of an individual’s productivity. This is seen clearly during the interview process. We often are prompted with questions similar to: “tell me about a time when you worked with a team to accomplish a task,” or “encountered a problem with someone.” Employers scour your resume looking for your ability to be a cohesive member of a team. They are interested in how you work with others and if you are compatible with their existing team.

            It might not always be easy to work with others, but it’s clear that many positions today require teamwork. Obtaining a job will be a lot easier if you learn this valuable skill in the workplace. If you aren’t able to work in a team effectively, you may be overshadowed or faced with a lot of conflict on the job.

If balancing assertiveness and a willingness to compromise doesn’t come naturally to you, use these tips to become a better team player:

1. Play to your Strengths

Are you a motivator? Are you really good at organization? It will be easier to find your place in the team if you are contributing something that you do well. Your unique strengths and skills will make you a valuable member of the team.

2. Communication is Key

The importance of communication is not a new topic and is vital to any team effort. Staying quiet while your team discusses a plan that you know has problems is not doing your team a favor. Your knowledge and experiences are just as important as those of your team members. When you offer your ideas to the group in a respectful and positive manner, you prove yourself to be an active member of the team.

3. Sharing is Caring

If you have information or resources that will make your team more effective, pay it forward. Your team members will be motivated to do the same for you.  It can be tempting to hide information for your own use, but this can often create conflict. For example, two people could unknowingly be working on the same task.  Sharing your efforts and information will make the team more efficient and productive.

4. Be Reliable

Your reliability as a team member speaks highly of your integrity as a person. If you say you are going to do something, be dependable and get the job done. It’s understandable if something comes up that keeps you from your work, but make sure it is a good reason. If this situation does happen, communicate with your team members to request more time or to figure out another solution for how the work can be completed.

Advertisements

Finals Week is Almost Here!

Written by Elizabeth O’Kane, Gillian Lopez, Kristen Nelson and Serena Nguyen

Center for Career & Professional Advancement Student Employees

Question: “How are you going to prepare for all of your final exams for the last few weeks of school?

Elizabeth Okane UC Merced Career Center, Media Assistant

Elizabeth O’Kane, Media Assistant

Wing it.  Just kidding.  Final exams are always stressful, but there is never a clear path to study for them.  Even though you supposedly learned the material front to back all semester, this will not help you breakdown and identify the question.  Yes, you need to know the fundamentals as a base, but this alone will not guarantee an A.  Here are some tips to be mindful of when test taking:

1.    Breakdown topics, NOT chapters.

Multiple chapters usually refer to common topics.  Identify these common trends and group them together.  Trust me, it will be easier to remember, because you are creating a cognitive file system.

2.    No flashcards!

I used to always get stuck in the flash card rut.  I would memorize the way I wrote the words or a fold in the flashcards.  This did not help me learn the material, because I was looking for clues instead of reading the content.  Get out of this rut!  Look at a concept and physically write 1-2 paragraphs about it or verbally explain it to someone.  If you can explain it, then you know what you are talking about.

3.    Read every word.

Not every word in the textbook, every word of the exam question.  Have a piece of scratch paper and rewrite the question.  Writing the question out automatically puts you in the mindset for identifying what the question is really asking.  Circle keywords and start writing notes about what you know about the topic.  If it’s multiple choice, go back and start eliminating answers to better your chances.  This does take time so only use this method on questions you are unsure about.

Have faith, get plenty of rest and you put yourself in a confident mindset!

Kristen Nelson Center for Career & Professional Advancement, SSHA Career Consultant

Kristen Nelson, SSHA Career Consultant

My number one rule for the time leading up to finals is to stay balanced. It’s so easy to just shut down during finals week. The end is so close, and yet for some reason I can actually get lazier. Because of this, I try not to break my routine. It helps me stay on task, keep a good work ethic, and also keep the stress at bay. This means the week prior to and also on finals week, I still go to the gym, enjoy some time with friends, and make sure to get enough sleep. The only way I am able to stick to my routine is by making adjustments and managing my time well. So I might go workout for 30 minutes rather than an hour, or I might go home a little earlier from hanging with friends so that I can finish up an assignment. Another thing that helps me through finals week is staying positive. This year my motto for finals time is “Pedal to the Medal!” I am not giving up. I am pushing hard all the way through, because I know by giving my 100% effort I will feel my break is well deserved.  Whatever your way of getting through finals is, positivity can always help. Happy finals Bobcats, and may the curve be ever in your favor!

Gillian Lopez Management Career Consultant Career Services Center

Gillian Lopez, Management Career Consultant

When it comes to studying for final exams I like to do three things; create a study schedule, make time for study breaks, and form study groups.

Creating a study schedule is a great way to stay organized during finals week especially if you are studying for more than one cumulative exam.  For example, my study schedule consists of the chapters I will focus on each day and the amount of time I will dedicate to each subject. Getting organized is an important part of prepping for final exams because it prevents procrastination and late night study crams!

In addition to my study schedule, I also like to include breaks in my day and week. It is not effective or healthy to study for 10 hours straight. In fact it is psychologically proven that your brain can only retain so much information within a given amount of time. I like to study throughout the day, but in between every hour I will take a 15-30 minute break before continuing my studies. This can include taking a walk outside, doing small exercises, watching an episode on Netflix, etc. Exercising is probably the best study break and stress reliever during finals week, not to mention all the positive endorphins that are released throughout the brain that can make you feel even more awake while studying!

Lastly, I like to study with a group. Usually the day before a final I work in a study group to test my knowledge and assist my peers.  During our study groups we would quiz each other or review our class materials.

Studying for finals can be overwhelming at times, but getting organized, taking study breaks, and starting early will help prevent some stress and unnecessary panic!

5acd6-serena

Serena Nguyen, Media Assistant

This might sound crazy but we have less than two weeks of school left for this semester! I am always amazed how time passes by so quickly. It is crazy just to think about it!

I know that many students are already struggling with their classes and overwhelmed from group projects and final exams to study for. Although my mind is filling with many exciting events to do with my besties over winter break, school should always come first. In order to deal with my final week for this semester, I try to pace myself by creating a schedule for the next two weeks. In addition, I always remind myself to leave out the fun for later because after finals week, I will have plenty of time for fun. I know I should not be neglecting my study, because if I do, I will regret it once I receive my final grade at the end of the semester.

Good luck, Bobcats!

Do your best and ace that final with flying colors!

Winter Break Game Plan

Winter break symbolizes a time of completion of the Fall semester. For some this means going back home, relaxing, and enjoying the holidays. Work, class, anything that requires any brain effort might be the last thing you want to do, but the break can be the perfect time to get started on building your professional profile. Work, classes, and involvement in professional organizations can fill a student’s schedule to the brim, and adding another item to the list during the semester can be overload. For graduating seniors, this is especially true, on top of campus and class responsibilities, your goals for the next semester most likely encompass completing graduate school applications or looking for a full time job. And those responsibilities are pretty much full time jobs in themselves. Do yourself a favor and use the break to your advantage.

 

1. Revamp your Resume: Maybe you got a new position over the semester, or were elected to secretary in your organization. Now is the time to reflect and add those experiences to your resume. Also take a look at my last blog post to see how you can strengthen your resume even further.

2. Network: Many times students don’t like the idea of networking, but it is so important! 70% of jobs are made through networking, and the easiest network to tap into is your family. You might not think about it but your mom, dad, aunts, uncles, etc. are all part of an expansive professional network. Talk to them about what your are interested in, or the location you would like to work after college, and they just might know someone or at least have have some great advice for you.

3. Reflect on the Semester: Have you noticed anything missing in your professional profile? Lacking presentation or customer service skills? Make a commitment to strengthen these skills. For example, if you want to go to graduate school for psychology, often times they like to see you participate in undergraduate research. If you aren’t involved yet, find out how you can.  Four years goes by quickly (take it from a senior who knows) so make sure you utilize your time here. Think about what you want get involved in for the next semester and then actively look for opportunities to make them happen.

4. Volunteer, Intern, or work: In my opinion, it’s very important to relax during the break, but I also feel that if your class load is too hectic to work during the semester, then using the winter and summer break is when you need to acquire those professional experiences. Find volunteer or internship opportunities using Cat Link on theCcareer center website hire.ucmerced.edu, to find opportunities close to home.  College is now less about the degree you receive at the end of your four years, and more about what you do along the way to earning it.  Make sure that by the time you graduate your resume has meaningful experiences for you to tell future employers.

 

Renovating Your Resume

By: Kristen Nelson

r-COLLEGE-STUDENT-large570

Resumes are a hot topic when it comes to being a Career Consultant. Since I have been working with resumes for over a year, I value what I have learned about what it takes to write a great one. Writing the resume isn’t the hard part. Making yours stand out against the one right beside it is what the real challenge is. I love working with students to share the following simple tips that put the “wow factor” back into that wordy piece of paper.

1. Deliberate Descriptions: It’s important to utilize key words from the job description, but remember that employers only have so much time to review your resume, so make it worth their while. Based on the job description and what the company is looking for, put your bullet points in order of most importance. It’s a simple tool that makes sure employers find what they are looking for and fast!

2. “Eye” Like What I See: You may think that content is more important than formatting, but making your resume pleasing to the eye is what entices an employer to give it the time of day. Make your resume stand out by playing with the format. It must be professional, but employers see hundreds of resumes with similar styles, so making your resume stand out is the name of the game.

3. http://www.insertname.com: Technology is utilized more and more today to validate potential employees’ credentials. What better way to go the extra mile than to create a professional website for yourself and add the link on your resume? Make sure it’s not just a repeat of your resume by adding links and photos of projects you have been working on.

4. One, Two, Buckle my Shoe: One of the best ways to strengthen your resume is to add numbers and quantities. Ask yourself questions like these to help you:

  • How many customers did I greet/work with daily? Weekly?
  • How many workshops did I present every month? Every semester?
  • How much money did I raise working with a professional organization?

Escaping my Comfort Zone

Written by: Kristen Nelson

Center for Career & Professional Advancement, SSHA Career Consultant 

In the past month, many students I have met with have talked about their worries for after graduation. Mainly these students are seniors who are conflicted about where they plan to be after graduation. I certainly know the feeling very well and I hope that my story gives others self-assurance as they being thinking about post-graduation. Serious contemplation of my post-graduation plans happened during my last semester of junior year, and it came down to two decisions: job experience or straight to graduate school. A little insight into my goals, one of my biggest aspirations for my education since high school has been to receive my master’s degree. My only problem was, and still is, is that I didn’t know what I want that degree to be in.

Thinking about it more, I knew that If I wasn’t confident and passionate about what I chose for a master’s program that I would find myself wasting my time and money. Seemed like a logical and realistic decision, but for some reason, I couldn’t help but shake this feeling of inadequacy.

As college students, we are so used to this idea of accomplishment through education and for over 16 years have been trained to see the value in academic success. It was no wonder I was feeling that way. I have been primed to think this way since 7 years old. I realized that I found myself wanting graduate school because school is something I have known for so long, it was effortless for me to see myself in graduate school. I knew in the future I would be working full time, but that’s in the future, right? Like when I am older. News flash! I am 22 years old, so that time has caught up with me.

I think the hardest part about your post graduate decisions is that most often no one is telling you what to do. If you grew up in a household similar to mine, there was a road map that was expected of you: do well in school, high school, college, and then it gets blurry. What’s next? Why haven’t I been given the answer to the next step in my life? For the first time, I had to be the one to fill in the blank and make a decision for the next part of my journey.

Disclaimer: For students that are going to graduate school after graduation: First there is absolutely nothing wrong with this decision. Your journey is your own. And second, wow! How exciting! I cannot wait to be where you are, interested and passionate about a program. It has taken some time to get used to my decision, but I know it is the right one for me. I have done my best to prepare and professional develop while in college. It is finally time to get out of my comfort zone. I don’t have a fear of not going back to graduate school because I have given myself a timeline of 2-3 years to explore and then return. If that is something you fear, I definitely recommend making a commitment to yourself with a plan and deadline. Ultimately, find security in that if you truly want to accomplish something, you will!

Sometimes you might find yourself feeling somewhat bipolar, I do. One day I am super excited and the next I question whether I am ready to make this decision. That is normal and part of the process. If you aren’t a little scared, you aren’t challenging yourself.

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.” – Alan Alda

A Note to the “Too Busy” College Student

By: Kristen Nelson

Center for Career & Professional Advancement, SSHA Career Consultant

It’s exciting to be back for my first semester of my senior year. It is hard to believe that this is my final year at UC Merced. Amongst all the commotion of figuring out what I will be doing after graduation, going to class, career consulting, and recently becoming a research assistant, one thing I have been thinking about is finding time for me. These few weeks have been a crazy whirlwind, and it has been hard to find time to do the things I enjoy. When I feel I am taking on a lot of work, but at the cost of my own peace of mind, I start to rethink things. The biggest lesson for success I have learned in the past three plus years is how important it is to stay balanced and keep your mental and physical health a priority

I don’t mean that all these responsibilities aren’t somehow a part of me or my goals, but everyone has to consider when they are allowing themselves the time to step away, besides just for sleep. For example, when is the last time that you sat down to eat your lunch not in a classroom? How about not while finishing up an assignment? Or checking your emails? It seems that it has become increasingly harder to do just one thing at once. I know that this problem isn’t just relevant to me but for many college students that find themselves involved heavily on and off campus. Often times these students are involved in a plethora of organizations, professional fraternities, positions on campus, on top of being an actual student trying to complete their degree.

College students are constantly reminded that we must stay competitive and be involved in many things. (Note: Thank you to all those people in our life that enjoy adding extra pressure to this already stressful and transitional time in our lives) So I can understand how when opportunity comes knocking, it can be hard not to open the door. But how many doors are we going to simultaneously open before we see a diminishing return to our quality of life and happiness.

So with that thought, I leave you with a few tips to distress and put some balance into that busy schedule.

1. Take that mid-day break. – Even if it only means 15 minutes, do it! Put the phone down. Go for a walk or run. You will feel better and when you get back to work you will work smarter, not harder. Your body will thank you and so will your brain.

2. Learn to say “No, Thank you.” – When you have multiple responsibilities and you have been asked to accept yet another responsibility, only to compromise your grades or your work ethic, it’s a good idea to take a minute to prioritize. This might be declining that second job offer, or not running for that higher position in your organization. Stay genuine to yourself, only you know how much you can handle.

3. Try to get 8 hours of rest- Sleep can make all the difference. We have been told over and over to get enough rest, but it is all with good intentions. Enough sleep means increasing our work performance like problem solving skills, decreasing our stress levels, and is associated with decreasing the risk for health risks like cancer and heart disease. Get those Zzz’s bobcats!

 

What is Your Dream Job?

Kristen Nelson
Center for Career & Professional Advancement

Is this a question you have asked yourself? Maybe you are still asking, and searching for the answer. In my opinion, this is a pretty big question and one I don’t quite yet have a definitive answer for. I have had to recently think a lot about this question because this past week I was invited to hold the first part of a workshop on “Dream Jobs.” Continue reading