Studying Abroad

This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel abroad.  I heard about all of the benefits from friends, professors, family, and colleagues but never really understood the importance of such an experience until I actually went through it myself.  Upon returning, I made it my goal to inspire and educate people to go.  I learned and saw so much in such a short amount of time.  I earned an international perspective, new business knowledge, and a boatload of memories and friends that I will never forget!  I wanted to take a moment to let you all know why I feel it is so important to involve yourself in an international program!

Globalization and cultural diversity in the workplace is here to stay.  The world is all connected, economically, politically, and socially.  Studying abroad gives students the opportunity to view the world in a different context.  It allows them to use all five senses to explore unfamiliar surroundings in the international community.  Not only will participants learn about cultures, but they will typically glean an understanding of the business and academic practices that are in place for the region they explore.  Furthermore, if they ask the right questions and look in the right places, they could earn an understanding of the political climate in their host country as well. Ray and I Euronext1 e1348674599385 291x300 Studying AbroadWhen overseas, you can look beyond the veil of arrogance that often prevents us from seeing the big picture.  As much as some people would like to believe that we are the only country that calls this earth home, we are not.  When abroad, I read international newspapers and watched the foreign media speak about the United States and the world in general.  I had the ability to analyze my culture from a distance. Doing so gave me a lot of insight because it is often difficult to analyze oneself and ones culture unless viewing it from afar.  Studying abroad allows for this process to take place, and in doing so, I believe that students will come back with an awareness and sensitivity to other cultures that simply wouldn’t be possible without the experience of international travel. Mona Lisa e1348673817743 Studying AbroadOne key takeaway I’ve learned over the past few years is that there is no substitute for experience.  You can read about cultures, hear about them from others, and watch programs about them on discovery channel as many times as you’d like, but until you’ve spent time in the environment and interacted with the culture on a personal level, you will never truly understand the nature of it.  Like many Americans, I lived with stereotypes of the world beyond my borders.  The people of the world around us are just as we think they are…until we speak with them and ask questions.  Only then is our mind opened to the possibility that they are not the way we thought they were at all.  The French are NOT rude as many people have told me.  Instead, they are like mirrors, projecting back the attitudes that they receive.  This is just one of many examples that I may save for a future blog but I hope that the point I’m making remains clear.

The College of Business is very supportive of students looking to earn this international perspective.  They partner with companies to help students journey overseas and explore aspects of business, academia, and culture overseas.   http://www.cob.niu.edu/studyabroad/index.asp  The programs run over summer and winter, so you don’t need to worry about missing classes.  Also, scholarship options are highly available; you just have to look in the right places! Happy abroad Studying Abroad

A final point, completely unrelated to academics or business, is the personal touch of it all.  Not only do you meet people from different countries but in many programs, you get to travel with students from different schools from across the United States.  So not only are you experiencing different cultures from other countries, but you are able to exchange ideas and understand lifestyles from different areas of our own country.  Because you experience so much with these folks you really do become like a family.  I feel like I earned brothers and sisters from my trip.  I’ve even visited friends from the program who live as far away as Los Angeles, California.  This is after spending only three weeks with them in Europe.

I urge all of you to look into the opportunities that the College of Business provides.  My only regret is not doing it sooner.  If you are a freshman, sophomore, or even high school student reading this blog, I hope that you will take the plunge early and understand what an amazing and rewarding adventure it is to study abroad! 2.0out

Thoughts: Creativity and Identity

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” -Cyril Connoll

I came across this quote while researching for a project.  It sparked a dichotomy of feelings within me that I feel compelled to share with all of you.

Initially, I fell in love with the quote.  It spoke to me.  It says that in writing or completing tasks, it is better to do it for your own satisfaction than to do those same tasks for the satisfaction of others, and giving up your own identity in the process.  Now bear with me…as ethereal a concept as this is, I hope that you can all see the deeper meaning of the quote and understand the point it is trying to get across.  There was an old story that may convey the message a bit more clearly.

The story went a little something like this:  One day in an elementary school, a teacher gave her class an assignment to draw a tree.  The brown and green crayons ran out quickly and children had to wait their turn to use those colors.  While everyone else was still waiting on their green and brown colors, a little girl stood up and announced that she was finished.  When the teacher walked over, she realized that the tree the little girl had drawn was purple and shades of red.  The teacher corrected the little girl and said “I’m sorry sweetie, but I’ve never seen a purple and red tree before.”  The small child responded only by saying, “That’s too bad.”Purple Tree kid1 200x300 Thoughts: Creativity and Identity

Now as much as I, and perhaps some of you, would love to do exactly as you please in your writing, assignments, and thinking, it is just not a possibility.  A wise woman recited a quote to me written by John Donne; “No man is an island.”  What we do doesn’t only affect ourselves anymore.  Our actions have consequences.  In today’s world, we are expected to assist in work that others need done to complete tasks of their own.  Our employer or our professor will ask for us to “draw a tree” for them multiple times a day and for many different circumstances.  I ask that you all take a moment before beginning your task, not to “fight the power” or “break the chains”, but instead, to reflect on how you would create this tree of yours before quickly snatching for the green and brown crayons. PurpleTree 300x205 Thoughts: Creativity and Identity

I believe that exploration outside of typical constraints can lead to learning, growth, and discovery.  By infusing your creative self into projects you can become more passionate about the task at hand.  This passion leads to a better product and eventually a more rewarding journey.  We need to remain conscious of who we are as people, while at the same time, satisfying the needs of our employers and professors.  Just remember that you must remain mature enough to assess a situation and understand when it is appropriate to think outside of the box.  As challenging as this may be sometimes, I would hope that the creative spark within us all doesn’t dim anytime soon.  Think outside the box, but with certain restrictions, and you will be amazed at the things you can achieve! 2.0out

spreadsheets 300x236 Thoughts: Creativity and Identity

Perhaps being overly creative when compiling data in a spreadsheet can make things a little….awkward.

 

The First Weeks

I am still coming down  from the summer of my dreams.  After having the opportunity to travel to Southern California as well as Europe through the NIU Study Abroad Office, the world seemed like a magnificent place; free of stress and worry.  This past few weeks of school quickly reminded me that life is just not that simple.  A total of five courses, two internships, and three organizations leaves me little time for rest and relaxation without some task on my mind.  If I’m not reading a book, I’m doing an assignment, and even when the homework is done the emails for organizations flow like a raging river.

I would be lying to you all if I told you that I wasn’t a little bit stressed.  Getting shoved into the deep end of a pool almost always causes a brief moment of panic, regardless of how good you are at swimming.  After a few moments of being in the water, you can orient yourself and adjust to the new environment.  Before you know it, you’re splashing around in the pool and enjoying yourself; smiling like a possum eating graham crackers.

What I mean in the above analogy is just give it time!  If you are stressed like I am, do not worry.  Although we just got pushed into the deep end of a freezing pool we will soon find our way and fall into routines that make us successful.  Keep with it and soon you’ll find time to manage the responsibilities of your courses, work, organizations, and relationships.  I also have a few quick tips that have helped me maintain my sanity, perhaps they can help you too!

1) Write lists

Last year was the first year that I really felt overwhelmed in my work.  It got to a point where I had so much on my plate that there was no way I could possibly remember all the tasks I had to complete by the end of the week.  By writing out a list of everything that needs to be done, you can visualize what is at hand and begin to nibble away at it and prioritize your items with corresponding numbers or colors. After all, how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

List2 e1348076685695 The First Weeks

See!? It's easy!

2) ”Live in day tight compartments” –Dale Carnegie

By doing all that you can TODAY you will make yourself an easier tomorrow.  Instead of waiting to finish that assignment that is due next Tuesday, knock it off the list today so you can move through even more of your list tomorrow and make life easier for your future self. Different Mes1 e1348154153600 The First Weeks

3) Surround yourself with motivated individuals

If you surround yourself with people who take classes seriously, you will see a tremendous leap in your own productivity.  Fly with the eagles and don’t let the turkeys get you down.

turkey not e1348074873604 The First Weeks

Don't be fooled.

2.0out

 

The House Cafe: My Hidden Treasure

This next guest post is written by Mike Glassberg, a Marketing Student at the NIU College of Business. Follow him on twitter @mglassberg2. 

mike regs e1347975417580 224x300 The House Cafe: My Hidden Treasure

To preface the post, “hidden treasures” are the opportunities and events at NIU that you have to seek out.  They are the opportunities that aren’t always announced in your classes or sent to your zmail.  They are some of the most rewarding activities you can participate in, but they are often overlooked or unknown to many students.  Below, Mike will describe one of his own hidden treasures that he uncovered in his NIU experience  …

What is your stress reliever? Exercising? Music? Drawing? Video games?

I’ve found out in my 3 years at NIU that if you don’t maintain a mental balance between school life and social life – you will go crazy. My stress relief has always been music – I would get home from a long day of work or class and put on my favorite band and jam out. I’ve been doing this since middle school and thought (until last weekend) that this was the best way for me to relieve stress.

I was wrong.

Last week, I stumbled across an ad on Facebook for a free NIU Jazz Band show at DeKalb’s own “House Cafe.” I convinced a few of my friends to join me and we absolutely loved it.

The House Cafe1 300x225 The House Cafe: My Hidden Treasure

A fun environment that fosters productivity?! Sign me up!

The House Cafe provides an amazing experience:

Good music - The House Cafe features a variety of music – Bluegrass, Funk, Jam, Jazz, Punk, Dance, Rock, Country. You name it, the House Cafe has hosted it.

Off campus - Whenever I get stressed out, all I can think about is school, classes, projects, quizzes, and intangible “points”. I often forget there’s a real world outside of NIU, with real people doing real-life things. The House Cafe provides an amazing escape for students even though it’s less than a mile away from campus.

Atmosphere - Great people. Very non-judge-mental. I’m typing this blog on a brown leather couch in the front of the House Cafe while giving the occasional high-five to friendly people passing by.

I’ve started to, and will continue to use The House Cafe as a study outlet. Last Friday night my friends went out partying. I knew I had entirely too much work to do, so instead of being a hermit and working in my room all night, I decided to come to The House and pay $7 to listen to live music, get productive, and still enjoy a social environment.

The NIU Jazz Band plays on Wednesday nights at the House Cafe (FOR FREE!) I’ll be at The House every Wednesday from now on, sitting at a table with my laptop, enjoying live music while still getting productive. Feel free to come out and do the same, I’d love to share such an awesome experience with other people!

Mike

Hidden Treasures

Figuratively, there are dozens of hidden treasures sprinkled into the NIU experience.  These “hidden treasures” are the opportunities that you have to seek out.  They are the opportunities that aren’t always announced in your classes or sent to your zmail.  They are some of the most rewarding activities you can do, but they are often overlooked or unknown to many students.  I will describe a few of my own “treasures” and welcome all of you to share more of your own.  After all, we’re not just here for the classes are we?!  College is an experience.  Make it one!

All my life I always loved exploring.  Biking, hiking, and venturing off into nature preserves was always my thing.  Unfortunately, I could never really find a place where students like me could get together to do these activities.  It was by sheer luck that one day while working out at the recreation center, I walked out the wrong door.  Unbeknownst to me, this door led straight to the NIU Outdoor Adventures office.  Upon entering the room my eye caught the bulletin boards with listings for rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking trips and more!  Only a few weeks later I was signed up to go backpacking for a week in the Smoky Mountain National Forest in Tennessee.  The trip was a defining point of my college experience, if not my life in general.

Appalachian Trail 300x175 Hidden Treasures

An experience unlike any other.

I highly recommend that students look into the opportunities that the Outdoor Adventures office provides.  http://www.niu.edu/campusrec/outdoor_adventures/index.shtml

Another experience that is more academic in nature was my involvement with the College of Business Experiential Learning Center.  Don’t let the title fool you!  You do not have to be a student of the College of Business to participate.  In fact, during my own ELC project, I worked with students from the visual arts program as well as special education.  What the ELC does is quite special.  Students go through an application process and are handpicked by faculty advisors to work on a team.  This team of students will then be presented with a non mission critical issue for a real world company.  After working for an entire semester, teams will present their findings to their client company where  C-level executives will be present.  Many times students will receive job offers from their client company.  Even without an offer, the ELC provides students with a valuable talking point in interview conversations and more importantly, a taste of the real world.  http://www.cob.niu.edu/elc/index.asp

ELC 300x224 Hidden Treasures

I shared the experience with exceptional students and networked with high level executives of my client company.

What are some “hidden treasures” that you’ve found in your NIU experience? Post to our Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NIUCollegeofBusiness or write a guest post for the Student Voices blog at http://www.cob.niu.edu/studentvoices/index.php/guest-posts/. 2.0out

Hi, I’m the New Guy

the office 225x300 Hi, Im the New Guy

Welcome to my office

It’s finally here!  A new semester bringing with it new faces and new beginnings.  The class of 2012 has vacated the campus and moved on to the real world.  Nick Lo Vetere, past author of this blog, has transitioned from an academic lifestyle to a professional one.  In his place, I will be managing the student blog for the 2012-2013 year.  He said before leaving that his successor would be “someone new, with new thoughts, new feelings and new experiences.  It will be a fresh change of pace.”  I can only hope to continue the excellence that Nick Lo Vetere demonstrated on this site.  I hope that my stories and thoughts resonate with you, my audience, in some way shape or form and give you more insight into what it means to be a student at Northern Illinois University.

First, let me begin by introducing myself.  My name is Nick Kochetta and I am a Senior Marketing major here at the NIU College of Business.  My one mission since entering NIU was to leave it a better place than when I started.  I’ve involved myself in organizations such as the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board, the Interactive Marketing Board, and the American Marketing Association to help realize this goal and I hope that through this blog I can inspire other young students to take ownership of their NIU experience as well.  I want to see students get excited about attending NIU and I want people to see what the College has to offer.  Furthermore, I want to maintain transparency in my posts so that you will not only see all the great opportunities and experiences, but you will also see the struggles that come with it.

I am a real student with real stories that I can’t wait to share!  I look forward to a great year and hope that you’ll join me on this journey called my senior year.

Please feel free to drop a comment and chat.  I’m more than open to continuing the conversation and I welcome all of your comments and criticisms.  There’s much more to come so keep your eyes peeled! 2.0 out

Getting Involved: Part 3 of 6

Nick graduated in Spring 2012 and within a couple of days, we’ll hand over the reins to our new student bloggers for the Fall 2012 semester. Until then, here’s one of the top posts from last semester.  This is Part 3 of 6 of the “Getting Involved” series of posts.  Whether you’ve read this particular post or not, we hope you will find it helpful and useful. We’re excited to share it with you again!  And be on the look out for a flurry of new posts from our new bloggers!

 

Getting Involved

This is post three of a six part series about involvement on campus. Part one discussed why I got involved, part two explained why I didn’t get involved sooner, part three touches on the opportunities available through being involved, part four talks about leadership experience, part five explains how to go about getting involved and briefly what it takes up front and part six are my thoughts going forward for post graduation involvement.

Getting Involved; Part 3: New Opportunities

The context in which I’m drawing on my experience is in reference to business organizations, versus overall general involvement. Although the principles I’m going to touch upon can be applicable to things such as athletics or fraternities in some instances and not just limited to academic organizations.

Through joining AMA and CSAB it provided me with great opportunities to easily make new friends built on a foundation of common interest. Some of the friendships I’ve developed in these organizations carry on even though lots of my friends graduated in May 2011. I still keep in contact, still see these people in a social setting, and see them in professional settings as well. The connections I’ve developed extend beyond the walls of this college or any graduation date.

Another essential opportunity is one for professional networking. Anyone in business will tell you that networking is extremely important to anyone at any point in their career, especially college students. Aside from networking with your peers you have the opportunity to meet professionals from various industries. You can learn about marketing in the social media realm, the retail sector, the insurance world, etc. With today’s technology it makes it even easier to keep these people as contacts through platforms like LinkedIn. Because of my involvement with these organizations there are recruiters, sales managers, or sales representatives from various companies that now know my face and name. They don’t hesitate to stop me and chat if they see me at College of Business or marketing department functions.

This wouldn’t be possible had I not been involved and networked to the best of my ability with whom I’ve had access to. Down the line you never know if you’ll end up working for this individual, using the people you’ve met as referrals or doing business with them in the future. I’ve learned that people hire or do business with someone they know and like. It sort of pays homage to the saying “It’s not what you know it’s who you know.” Pair great networking abilities/opportunities with the tools and skills learned at the NIU College of Business and you have two huge components in setting yourself up for success down the road.

To conclude this section I’d like to share a story that perfectly illustrates everything I’ve discussed so far. As President of the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board it is one of my responsibilities to meet once a semester with the sales faculty, marketing department chair, occasionally the Dean of the College of Business and anywhere from 20 – 30 representatives from different national and worldwide companies that make up the Sales Advisory Board. The purpose of the Sales Advisory Board is for companies and faculty to collaborate on improving the sales program and making sure the curriculum being taught and certifications earned, are directly applicable in the real world.

I interviewed during the fall with a company that sits on the Sales Advisory Board. Going a step further, I interviewed with the actual representative himself, not of the companies recruiters. Somewhere along the line whether it was my interview or my online personality test results, they decided not to invite me in for a second interview. Nearly a month later, this individual and I are at the Sales Advisory Board meeting and I’m on the agenda to discuss CSAB’s activities as well as providing insight on discussion of where our sales program is headed for the future. After a couple of hours we break for lunch and the individual I previously interviewed with asked me to step outside with him. He then told me that he was extremely impressed with how I handled myself in front of a room full of sales executives and faculty from my school. He then told me that they have people going to final interviews a week or two later and he’d like me to be there. He even arranged (minutes after talking to me) the second interview for me to complete which was clearly just a formality. I interviewed well at their final interview event and a day later he called me himself with my job offer. I can firmly say that had I not been president with the responsibility to represent the students of my program, I would have been just another person viewed as not being a good fit for that company. My involvement directly correlated to me getting a job six months prior to my graduation date.

What opportunities have come your way through being involved?? Share below!

In my next post, part 4, I talk about the leadership experience gained through being involved. Stay tuned!