a world view from Ukraine to NIU

Maksym at the Grand Canyon  1024x575 a world view from Ukraine to NIU

Editor’s Note:  It’s not every day that you find yourself on the other side of the world.  But that’s the reality for Maksym, an NIU accountancy major and native Ukranian (and pictured above, at the Grand Canyon).  Maksym has lived in the US for the past four years.  He’s an “NIU native,” meaning he entered the university his freshman year.  Now a senior and on the brink of graduating in May, Maksym places his focus not only on his future but equally – and more intensely – on the unfolding crisis between Ukraine and Russia.  Technology serves him more as a lifeline than anything, these days.  He uses it at every opportunity to check news reports, emails, and social channels reporting on the situation in Ukraine.  His parents and siblings still reside there, thankfully in the northern area of the country somewhat removed from current tensions.  Nonetheless, Maksym and his family remain acutely aware of the rapidly changing world around them…from both sides of the planet.  I met Maksym through a chance conversation in the hallways of Barsema Hall.  I happened to be carrying a sweater with embroidery that, I would soon learn, resembled the national flowers and colors of Ukraine.  This prompted Maksym to introduce himself to me and from there a conversation developed about his country, the importance of a global outlook, and his experiences at NIU.  Out of respect to Maksym and his family, the following interview shares Maksym’s views primarily about the significance of a global outlook and his experiences at NIU.

 

Maksym’s Long view from the other side of the Pond

Michelle:   Thank you, Maksym, for going out of your way to introduce yourself to me and for agreeing to share some of your story.  To begin, I’m curious to learn how you landed at NIU – all the way from the other side of the world.

Maksym:  In high school in Ukraine, I began looking at universities – just like most high school kids do.  But my situation was a bit different.  The reason is I played tennis professionally when I was in high school.  This gave me access to a powerful resource.  There are companies in Ukraine and in Russia that help find universities for professional athletes who are also students. Their goal is to match the needs and interests of each athlete-student – both in terms of sports and in terms of academics.  This is how I found out about NIU.

Michelle: What was it like to be a professional athlete in high school…that’s such a young age.  Did you travel?

Maksym:  I traveled all the time.  I played professional tennis in Ukraine and in Europe.  Before I came to the US and NIU, I had traveled to about 15-20 countries.  Travelling is something I became accustomed to.  I began playing tennis at 9.  I started the sport more for fun, but then I became very good at it, and later when I played professionally, I traveled a lot not only to compete but also to practice in different cities for a month at a time.  In Ukraine where I am from there aren’t many places that support professional tennis players – that’s why I spent so much time travelling when I was growing up and also studying at the same time.  Different cities provided practice facilities for tennis, so I had to travel there to practice.  And then I also had to travel to compete.

Michelle: Sounds like a world view comes naturally to you.  Did you find it difficult to fit in at any of these places?  Even at NIU…was it easy or challenging or somewhere in between to fit in here? 

Maksym:  I am very used to being immersed in different cultures, different places, with people from all types of backgrounds.  So, no, it wasn’t hard at all for me to be comfortable in those different cities when I was young and practiced tennis there, or even when I competed in different countries.  The hardest part was missing my family.  My family stayed in Ukraine.  I traveled with the professional tennis team.  Those trips were very focused.  I suppose I grew up fast that way in terms of, you know, having an open perspective about different places and cultures, different people.  With that experience, no, it wasn’t hard at all for me to fit in at NIU.  Plus, I came here knowing what I was doing, what my focus was.  I came here to study accountancy and I came here to play tennis.  I lived in the dorms my first year here.  I had a really good roommate who was also an athlete.  He is majoring in law.  He is from the US but he is very open-minded about different countries and different backgrounds.  He became a good friend who made it easy to fit in because he wasn’t at all judgmental about someone from a different country.

Michelle:  If you had only one recommendation to make – to a new student or anyone, really – about travelling abroad, what would it be?

Maksym:  It’s really beneficial to have the proper mindset.  Being open-minded to other places, other people, other experiences.  It’s so important to realize that there are other ways to do things, to acknowledge that people even think differently and that that’s not always a bad thing.  When you travel abroad, really experience the culture, even the food.  For example, don’t look for a McDonald’s or something that you already know.  Try something new. 

Michelle:You’re about to graduate in May?  Have you been on the NIU tennis team all four years of your time here?

Maksym:  I was on the NIU tennis team for three years and really enjoyed it, but I had an injury and so now I am the manager of the NIU women’s team.  I also want to help the university’s Tennis Club.

Michelle:  I’m sorry to hear about the sports injury, but I’m glad you found a way to stay involved with the sport. So you’ve been on a team and you’re leading a team.  How would you describe good leadership and a good team?

Maksym:  Leaders have to be responsible.  A dictator isn’t a leader…they think they are but they aren’t.  That type of leadership style takes away from others and avoids responsibility.  A good leader is responsible and helps others succeed.  A good leader also stands by their word.   I can tell a strong team by how good the relationships are between the people on the team.  They don’t necessarily have to be friends at all.  But they have to trust each other.  They are honest and respectful with what they say and they back up what they say.  Good team members admit when they can’t do something and they find help.  There is a saying in my country that translates into “You live age and you learn age.”  It basically means you live through a period of time and while you go through life, you are always learning.

Michelle: What’s been your most meaningful experience here at NIU and just in general?

Maksym:  My most memorable experience at NIU is sports-related.  It would definitely be winning the 2012 MAC championship for tennis.  That was so awesome.  (Edtior’s note to readers:  If you’re like me and had no idea NIU got the MAC championship in tennis in 2012, check out the hyperlink to an NIU Today story on it!)

Outside of NIU, it may sound odd, I don’t know, but in January of this year I traveled to Arizona. 

Maksym at the Grand Canyon2 576x1024 a world view from Ukraine to NIUI saw the Grand Canyon and actually stayed at the Grand Canyon overnight.  It was an incredible experience seeing it.  I don’t know if I can put it into words.  But seeing that place changed the way I see the world – in terms of what people value.  I was so engrossed in the moment.  I stared at a clear sunset.  It was perfectly clear.  It all looked so unreal.  I was so engrossed I watched the light changing and the way it reflected in the canyon changing until it was completely dark and it was morning.  The sunset is really almost impossible. 

Maksym visits the Grand Can 1024x768 a world view from Ukraine to NIU

I’ve never seen that image like what I saw at the Grand Canyon anywhere.  It was so quiet, so awe-inspiring that you can’t help but feel yourself removed from the routine of life. 

I know that experience changed me – it’s difficult to phrase clearly how.  How much the impact will be, I don’t know yet.  But I know it will be.  Right now, even though I’m looking for work and hope to pursue a master of accounting science if I get a tennis scholarship or graduate assistant position, I can say the experience changed my perspective.  I see the world differently now.  It really made me realize how incredible things can be and how important it is to pay attention in the moment, no matter where you are. 

 

 

GOOGLED!

 

Lexi GOOGLED!Editor’s Note:  Lexi Wozny, NIU Marketing major and self proclaimed “busy bee” provides this next guest post. Lexi shares her involvement with organizing the Google Search Party event (March 20th) — and as importantly, what she learned from listening to a Googler talk about doing cool things that matter.

At the close of her post, Lexi also shares a bit about herself, along with her contact information.  Lexi is also one of several students in the college’s “Uncommon” video — about student experiences at NIU Business.

(Lexi’s photo to the left is by Jeannie Liautaud Photography.) 

 

 GOOGLED!  by Lexi Wozny

Attending Thursday evening’s “Google Search Party” gave me insight into what it takes to become a Googler at Google.

 GOOGLED!

Demian Caponi, University Outreach representative at Google, Inc., came to the Northern Illinois University College of Business to meet and engage with students about sales opportunities at Google.

 GOOGLED!

A sales position with Google’s SMB (Small-to-Medium Sized Business) team is a consultative role. Successful members of this team are “teachers” to clients who want to expand their businesses online through online advertising. Along with being teachers, successful Googlers are collaborative and transparent. I’ve heard about Google’s corporate culture before, but Demian’s presentation brought it to the main stage in Barsema Hall Auditorium.

 GOOGLED!

Googler Demian Caponi on Google's Values & Culture

Google provides a great culture for its employees because they are changing the world- whether it’s a small “Mom and Pop” shop or a medium size start-up. Google Sales Representatives are always working towards making a difference. When they make a difference with their clients, they make a difference at Google.

 GOOGLED!

Making a Cool Difference that Matters!

After the presentation, it made me think about how much of a difference anyone can make if they set their mind to changing the world around them. Working with the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board and American Marketing Association executive boards we were able to execute a Google campus event and get students in front of the “2014 Best Place to Work For” company.

 GOOGLED!

Googler Demian Caponi (center) with AMA student officers

By applying Google’s values of collaboration and transparency, we gave NIU Business students an invaluable opportunity.

Lastly, some advice for some upcoming and incoming NIU College of Business students:  If you want to make something happen, go for it and utilize the resources around you. You’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish.

 GOOGLED!

NIU Business student Lexi and Googler Demian

 

Cheers!

Lexi Wozny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Lexy Wozny

Lexi is a full-time senior, NIU marketing major graduating this May. Lexi is pursuing certificates in Professional Sales and Interactive Marketing. She is involved in Pi Sigma Epsilon as the Vice President of Human Resources, the Vice President of the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board, Twitter representative for the Marketing Student Advisory Board, and the Social Media Coordinator for the NIU Professional Sales Program. She has been an active student in the Experiential Learning Center as a junior consultant (Spring 2013) and Assistant Coach (Spring 2014). When Lexi is not being a busy-bee around the NIU College of Business, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, watching her guilty pleasure TV shows, and singing karaoke. Lexi is entering her sales career and hoping to relocate after graduation.
Lexi can be contacted directly at lexi.wozny@gmail.com or follow & tweet her at @lexxhope. 

 

 

The World at your Fingertips!

Social Media:  In one word it’s been revolutionary for the way we communicate in today’s world. The idea of Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram were unheard of 15 years ago for ways to communicate our lives to one another. These social media outlets have allowed for out of the box thinking and innovation. The ability to network and meet people are probably two of the most powerful things gained from these social media outlets. It’s created a need for companies to hire social media interns and strategists to help better their online presence. People do use direct mail still in an effective way.  The difference is that now direct mail needs to be used much more strategically and in a highly-targeted way.   A perfect example is what I do here as the social media and marketing intern for the College of Business.  Throughout the first semester, our mission was to help make things more accessible to students on our social media outlets. Examples of this practice were bringing attention to guest speakers, athletics results, etc. We also run contests about the college to help reinforce school pride in the students, and to help them learn how they benefit from their education here. This helps reinforce the core values of the College of Business and helps out our students with studying for tests. Some other examples of our blog posts include first-hand accounts and tips for succeeding in classes such as UBUS 310, a nine-credit business course required for all business students.

One social media outlet I want to bring up that stands out to me personally the most is LinkedIn as it provides the most value to the students here at NIU. As a freshman business major, your first impression of the college is the name Dennis Barsema because the college is in Barsema Hall.  But then very soon you learn more about Mr. Barsema.  Mr. Barsema is an alumnus of NIU as well as an instructor in the Social Entrepreneurship field. In my own personal experience when connecting with him it’s like being connected to over 500+ professionals and students. This in turn has many benefits for potential jobs and connecting with recruiters. I also use LinkedIn as a way to know my resume by completing all necessary requirements of obtaining an all-star profile. This helped me a great deal.  Recently at the Internship Fair on campus, I felt very confident about my resume and talked comfortably with employers. I’m constantly looking for more ways to improve and seeing how others highlight things on their profile gives me great feedback to better set myself apart from the fold. The opportunity to make connections with people here at NIU, alums and professionals in the industry is something we didn’t have 10 years ago. I’m grateful to Mr. Barsema for showing me the ways of LinkedIn and others along the way…I feel I’m ready to mentor others on how to use this great tool of networking.

As a start, here are two things you can do right away:

1. Talk with your favorite professor or advisor about tips for creating a LinkedIn account.  2.  Contact me directly at (robwiller@comcast.net) to learn more about how I created my account.

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=147764262&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Taking Initiative in College

As we transition into the week before Spring Break I wanted to take the time to discuss leadership roles. A leader is classified as a person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. No matter the project or organization, I encourage you to take on a leadership role at least once before you graduate college. It’s one of the most rewarding things you will do as an undergraduate and it’s something you will learn so much about yourself.

To relate this back to here at NIU we are given certain opportunities to take on leadership roles. Some examples that come to mind are group projects throughout the Upper Level of Business Courses, student organizations, internships and even jobs on campus. It’s something that you can’t really describe. It’s a moment of control yet you can see others grow with you. A perfect example is certain organizations here on campus where they just start off with a few members and then grow to 20 members. We always talk about boosting our resumes with these positions but the idea of running your organization is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. In my personal experience I ran our Tennis Club here at Northern Illinois University and I learned so much about myself by dealing with conflicts and hardships. The idea of playing a sport in high school and being able to follow my dreams of playing in college was one of the reasons I took on the role. Some of things involved with this role were taking meeting minutes, having everyone register for USTA, booking hotels and holding practices. I am so grateful for this role because it got me involved in other organizations and even farther along with the Sports Club Council. Now after last year being the President of Tennis, I have been elected to serve on a board of seven members where we distribute budgets for 30 clubs. One leadership role makes your life so much more entertaining and gives you that sense of urgency you need in the business world. Leadership Roles do show employers that you can manage multiple things besides academics but also help you build your own skills in communication and leadership.

Now my boss has asked me to lead a focus group – from identifying the participants, creating the framework, facilitating it to preparing a written and verbal report.  This is new ground for me…but I look forward to taking on the challenge!