“Living the Dream”

                As I enter the midway point of my first semester as a junior, thought I would take a look back at what has gotten me to this point. A simple phrase (as mentioned above) “Living the Dream” has been something I have said over this past year. What exactly is living the dream you make ask? Well in short terms for a while I wasn’t as willing to experience things in the sense of doing different things. I would find something that would interest me and only participate in that said thing. Without giving the idea of branching out to meet new people any thought.  For some odd reason during my sophomore year here at Northern Illinois, it all was about to change. Sitting in my EPFE 201 class with Dr. Cisneros I met two people who started the change for me at Northern Illinois University: Ben Clark and Jake Ferguson.

As we venture back into the days of NIU Cause (a social entrepreneurship student organization) days, I saw myself take on leadership positions and more opportunities with-in CAUSE such as social media, fundraising, and even physically making the pizzas every Thursday.  My next opportunity that was presented to me was club tennis. Now as you may already know from my first post here at Student Voices, I played tennis for four years in high school. Tennis has been an adventure for the last year as it has taught me many things in terms of recruitment, membership, finances and even community service over the course of a school year. One of my better friends at NIU became my vice-president of club tennis. It was a great opportunity for us to tour the Midwest with the rest of our club. We played in nine tournaments across four states and made lasting friendships with many club tennis teams. Now if that wasn’t enough it was time to get involved in the business world. The next few things on my plate were to attend guest speaker events such as Ralph de la Vega the CEO of AT&T or Elly Rohrer of Investours Mexico. The knowledge one can obtain from these guest speakers is priceless and is absolutely rewarding when it comes to real world experience.  The differences between each speaker make them unique in their own ways.  Rohrer is 25 years old but has seen so much of the world whether it be Colombia, Mexico and Latin America. She has experienced some of the most drastic changes in developed, developing or under-developing countries.

To sum up my experience here at Northern Illinois University it’s been everything I thought it would be and a lot more surprisingly. When I stepped into the College of Business four years ago for an open house I told myself that I was going to do an ELC project. The idea of gaining real world experience with top companies and professors is one of the best opportunities NIU offers.  When there is a multitude of student organizations that encompass all six majors here at the College of Business there is no excuse for not getting involved. It’s the best four years of your life and you’ll learn the most about yourself as you plan to make your way into the real world. I’m still not exactly sure what “Living the Dream” entails but I’m excited for what the future holds and grateful of all the memories I have had so far.

“Big Dreams, Little Wallets”

Editor’s Note: This blog post will be part of a four part series introducing the four OMIS 352 students behind the project to organize a $10,000 scholarship for College of Business Students. For any readers who don’t know what OMIS 352 is it’s referred to as Managing Projects in Business. These four students took the time to organize this project all on their own by picking this focus of establishing a scholarship fund for College of Business students.  To start us off we give you Gabriella Lopez, she gives her take on why this scholarship is important to her on many levels.

My name is Gabriella Lopez and I am a first generation college student here at the College of Business.  I have been helped tremendously by scholarships from both NIU and private organizations. They have allowed me to not only begin and continue my education, but do so with the peace of mind that I will be able to make ends meet as the semester comes to a close. I work multiple jobs while on break from school, and even still, I don’t think my education here would be possible without this help. I am passionate about establishing this scholarship not only because I know how helpful it is to students with big dreams and little wallets, but because I want these students to be able to reach those dreams, despite whatever their financial situation may be, and let them know that we believe in them, and that they can get there.

Here is the link to the donations page for the $5000 scholarship.

http://www.youcaring.com/tuition-fundraiser/dreamworks-scholarship/91552

Also if you can’t donate directly to the page or want to help out even more come to the Dreamworks Scholarship Culver’s Night!

https://www.facebook.com/events/229417650549425/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

Making the Decision: Where to attend college?

Editor’s note: Our first guest post of the semester is from Luis Martinez. Luis as mentioned below is a Finance Major here at Northern Illinois University. He is also involved in Investment Association, Omega Delta Fraternity and is a math tutor here at Northern.

My name is Luis Martinez; I am a junior Finance major. I am here to share about my experience here at the College of Business, at Northern Illinois University. It all started when I was a senior in high school, they had taken us on many trips to various Universities. I was always good at math, so I knew I would either be a math major or in some type of Business field. The two schools that stood out to me were, Marquette University and Northern Illinois University. These schools both have a great Business program, so it was up to me to decide where to take my talents. I came to the conclusion that I needed to visit these schools once more, so I did.

As I arrived to Milwaukee I started feeling out of place. This school was not where I belonged, I told myself. There was something missing, I didn’t feel like I was at home for some reason. This was like a spidey sense.  Therefore, I decided to visit NIU one last time to see if that’s where I belonged. Indeed, I felt like I was at home and the College of Business atmosphere gave me a rush of intensity, as if I were playing in the fourth quarter of a close game. I had made up my mind. I took my talents to NIU.

The staff and students here at the College of Business are just so motivated and filled with a joy like no other. Barsema Hall, in general is a beautiful building. The atmosphere reminded me of my high school, everyone was helpful, happy and here for business. The high school I had attended was Cristo Rey Jesuit High school. They taught me to be intellectually competent and to be a man for others; NIU has taught me to be an innovator, a doer and a leader. Furthermore, you can see that I love being here at the College of Business. Great program + Great Football team = The complete package. Go Huskies, and for you College of Business Students, do not let Failure overtake you, let it be your success.

Luis’ LinkedIn’s page: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/luis-martinez/5b/2a2/144

 

 

Time Management

            Time Management is an interesting topic for students and I felt I should share some of my personal experiences in the matter. Over my first two years as a Northern Illinois Business Student I have learned some strategies to help with time management. My freshman year like most students was an adjusting period from the likes of no finals and AP classes in high school to 250 person lecture halls and an array of general education courses.  The idea of balancing work and fun has always been a tough one for me personally. Over my first semester I felt that I had to focus solely on school which is still very true but I felt I was missing out on exploring other avenues on campus. This became evident where I saw my friends get involved in student organizations, athletics, and social fraternities/sororities.

            The key for most students is to find the balance between studies and getting involved throughout campus. There are some instances where students get way to involved in the sense where they don’t have time for their studies or even just to get a good night of sleep. In reality as a student this is an unhealthy lifestyle due to certain key aspects of your life that you’re neglecting such as studies, regularly eating and even sleep. Personally my first organization/club I joined was club tennis which is offered as a sports club through the recreation center on campus. At first, I was very timid since I wasn’t sure how much time I would be able to commit to the club each week. As the first week went on I saw two categories of people throughout the tennis club. There was the person that was very devoted to the club and was a regular at practice and notified the club if they were going to be late or unable to make it. In addition, there was the person that only studies and doesn’t join organizations or enjoy certain aspects of college such as athletics, homecoming, networking with alumni.

As I entered my sophomore year I started to find that balance when I took over the NIU Tennis Club here at Northern. It gave me the chance to make something my own and the ability to reshape the club for future success. There were many challenges along the way in terms of funding, reliability among members and lack of players but overall a great experience. It will play an important role as I develop even more skills for future job interviews and internships.  It gave me the opportunity to take a leadership role here as a sophomore and paved the way for success in such roles as I continued my education. At some points throughout the year it did become an issue when it came to time. One week I might have three tests and a few projects the next nothing at all. The key for this situation was to somehow balance all of my school work and time devoted to tennis. I then joined organizations NIU Cause and Lambda Sigma which created a nice balance of the honors program, athletics and something with in the College of Business.

Now as you can see I didn’t really start to get involved on campus until Sophomore Year. What I recommend for freshman to do once they are on campus. The most important event to attend as a freshman is the Involvement Fair during the first weekend on campus.  The fair gives every student organization on campus a voice and the opportunity to tell incoming freshman what they do and when they meet. The idea that there are over 300 student organizations on campus is unbelievable it’s something you can’t get at a community college or just any college. There are fraternities and sororities that are social and classified as business professional. There are over 30 sports club here at Northern Illinois all the way from Bass Fishing to Roller Hockey. Just in the College of Business alone there are 28 student organizations across the six majors in the college. My message to all students is to get involved it’s been one of the most rewarding things I have done here at Northern Illinois University. At first it doesn’t have to be a big commitment it can resemble my story where I picked up my tennis racket and showed up to tennis club. Our student leaders and members of these student organizations on campus are all great people and have shown great leadership skills for taking on the roles they hold. There are only four years here at NIU and believe me they go very quick. In the fall of 2011 I was in all of your shoes as I have mentioned above a freshman looking to get involved with student organizations. In my mind there is no harm checking out these student organizations. They can only benefit you as time move forwards with the network you build for future job interviews and lasting friendships that should last a lifetime.

Stay Tuned: for a Guest Post by Rachel McBride a Graduate Student here at Northern Illinois University. She will be taking a look back on her time spent in Tanzania over the summer and what she has learned about the culture and lifestyle.

One step in the right direction.

As a student here at Northern Illinois University I was intrigued by the possibility of joining a business organization. During my freshman year I had already solidified the opportunity to participate in an honors society where they only selected 44 members of the sophomore class. It was a great way to meet people who were as motivated as I in bettering my education. In my mind the journey had just begun in terms of getting involved on campus. As I attended my first Honors course of my sophomore year I was looking for something new to take my ideas and passion towards. Jacob Ferguson and Ben Clark have become two of my better friends over the past year and were the first to introduce me to NIU Cause.

One afternoon I chose to follow them after class to a meeting where I then began to understand what I was going to invest my time in. NIU Cause is a social entrepreneurship organization and it’s unique because of how we solve real life problems using business principles. We work with real life organizations that help actual entrepreneurs who live in third world countries. During my first couple weeks at the NIU Cause meetings I wasn’t very willing to speak up or get involved. Not sure why at the time I guess it was just a little intimidating at first. It all started to change one weekend when the President Zach Fiegel my former Community Advisor noticed my coverage of the baseball winter meetings. Along with all my other activities, I also write for three sports blogs CLNSRadio.com, FishStripes.com which is featured on SBNation.com as well as Viewfromthebleachers.com which is on the ESPN Sweet spot Network. He brought it up at the meeting and asked the group if I could take over the social media for Cause. What happened next is history. Over the next several months I not only improved my communication skills but made lifelong friends along the way.

After doing the social media for a few weeks I was introduced to a new role on the NIU Cause fundraising committee. This was definitely out of my comfort zone as I participated with three other members narrowing down restaurants and stores to look for donations. As time passed one of our members Chris Leifel introduced the idea of doing a weekly pizza sale. Four members became the pizza makers of NIU Cause Pizza: Laine Smid, Rachel McBride, Chris Leifel and I. As the first semester came to a close we began a pizza sale on Thursdays where we would go to Pizza Pros’ located in DeKalb to make pizzas. In my mind I was thinking there was no way I could accomplish this as my skills in the kitchen were very limited. To this day I’m glad I took that leap of faith and went with them that Thursday morning. These were skills that yes might not be transferable to business classes but definitely earn me some points someday by calculating costs or using teamwork skills in making the pizzas. Rough estimates on our sales last year included making 200 plus pizzas. In addition, due to the sales and money we raised through other avenues we were able to donate 350 dollars for the Nyegina Library and Community Resource Center in Tanzania. We also contributed $500 to Rebecca Clark one of our members who with other college of business students collectively raised over $2500 for Mari Chuy. The campaign was started by the NIU Micro Finance Class where they wanted to help Mari Chuy achieve her dream of building a family restaurant in Bucerias, Mexico.

I have attached a video that better explains Mari Chuy’s restaurant project. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qGn8jWdtiU

Overall it was an amazing experience just in those five months something I’ll remember for a lifetime and will always treasure. Excited for what the future holds within this great organization and can’t wait to see it grow.

The Journey Begins

My name is Rob Willer and I’m a junior here at Northern Illinois University a marketing major and Spanish minor. With this post I wanted to provide some background on my life as well as some of my experience throughout these first two years. As a high school senior in 2011 at Plainfield North High School I was faced with a decision most students face and that is: Where are you attending next fall? Surprisingly to me that choice was Northern Illinois University right in the heart of DeKalb, Illinois. After visiting and researching many schools, Northern was the fit for me. Throughout my high school career, I participated in many things ranging from Golf, Bowling, Tennis and Cross Country as well as National Honor Society. Most students during these years take active approaches similar to mine but in reality almost all of those activities began my senior year of high school. This in my mind began what I like to call “the busy approach” where I’m just one of those people that constantly has to stay busy. What I’m about to say next probably emulates a lot of college freshman’s paths from high school.

The transition from high school to college is definitely an eye opener and took me some time to adjust. As a freshman here at NIU, most of my friends were going away to college just like me and it was weird to see each of us attend different schools that fall. During the fall semester of 2011 I made a set of goals by the time I graduated.  A few of these goals were to achieve higher than a 3.5 gpa my first semester here and in the simplest possible terms get involved which I’ll address later on in the post. The transition of course load in my mind wasn’t as bad as everyone made it seem. Over my senior year in high school I took a steady course load which included four years of Spanish, three AP classes and even a college equivalent class Rhetoric. Over those first two semesters I did fairly well with classes achieving my first goal of a 3.5 semester. After I received the notice for my final grades that semester and honors society approached me saying that I was selected to participate in their society.

In a sense this began my way of getting involved at Northern Illinois University.  Over the past year I have been involved in eight organizations which my role in each organization varied. Some of the organizations I’m apart of currently are NIU Cause (Social Entrepreneur Organization/Vice President of Communication), Sports Club Council (Oversee 30 Sports Clubs/Secretary), Lambda Sigma (Honors Society/Junior Advisor),  Northern Star (Cubs Blogger), College of Business (Marketing Intern), NIU Club Tennis (Advisor/Past President). GET INVOLVED! Change the world. College goes by fast and we have to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to us. Stay Tuned for some more Rob experiences over the course of this year.

 

On being Unreasonable


This is a guest post on how NIU students are changing the world through the college’s social entrepreneurship program in the Department of Management.

CAUSE On being Unreasonable

NIU CAUSE, a social entrepreneurship student organization

…a CAUSE to Live Into

Every generation has its moniker:  from the Boomers, Hippies to the 20-somethings of today.   But what’s really in a name?  Just ask a closely-knit group of current NIU students who in early April pulled off their first university-wide Social Impact Summit.  The event brought together more than 170 industry experts, students, and faculty for a day-long conversation on social entrepreneurship.  And while the students surpassed their goal of 150 attendees, they didn’t rest on their laurels.  After the event, they returned to their studies, which included refining the business plans they had been developing in their Social Entrepreneurship class.  Because in early May, these students will put their ideas to the test yet again.  During the 2nd Annual NIU Social Venture Competition, each of their business ventures will be judged by a “shark tank” of angel capitalists who will evaluate how their proposed new ventures intentionally add value to the Triple Bottom Line:  people, profit, and planet.

So when you ask this particular group of students to explain how they’re typically typecast, they’ll tell you their swagger has nothing to do with the label “entitled.”  Instead they’ll describe deeply rooted expectations.

They expect to change the world for the better.   Plain and simple.  If that sounds unreasonable, well, they’ll admit they have every cause to be.  Consider this:

  • 50% of the world’s population lives below the poverty line.
  • Over 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • Around 1 billion people do not have access to clean water.
  • An estimated 14 billion pounds of garbage is dumped into the ocean each year.
  • The world’s population is outstripping the planet’s natural ability to replenish its own resources.

These sobering stats and more were presented by national experts in social entrepreneurship during NIU’s April 5th Social Impact Summit.  In spite of the magnitude of the challenges, somehow the attendees remained not only hopeful but energized.  Junior NIU College of Business student Zach Fiegel explains:  “There are so many incredibly intelligent, amazing individuals in the world.  If we focus together on these issues, imagine what we can accomplish.  And why not?  One of the motivations behind the Social Impact Summit and our student organization is an idea that was originally expressed by George Bernard Shaw.  He said:  ‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.’”

For Fiegel, that’s a philosophy that resonates.  Fiegel is currently president of NIU CAUSE:  the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs.  In fact, as a sophomore Fiegel helped found the organization.  Just one year after its formation, NIU CAUSE has grown from a group of 7 students who were inspired by an idea – being unreasonable enough to change the world – to a full-fledged student organization that focuses its mindshare on that purpose.  More than 30 participants attend their weekly gatherings.  The group is overrun with enthusiasm, achieved the old-fashioned way.

“CAUSE has grown organically, through relationships and conversations with friends and friends of friends,” Fiegel shares.  “The students represent a variety of NIU majors – business, geology, anthropology, health sciences, engineering to name a few.  Our members include international as well as non-traditional students.  We’re a diverse group with different backgrounds and perspectives.  The thing that unites us is that we’re all individuals converging around this one idea:  to make the world a stronger, better place.”

You have to wonder why individuals so young possess this particular focus.  There’s a tangible wisdom in their commitment.  You sense it and feel it in their energy.  And then when you engage in conversation with them, you come to realize that many of them lived through the effects of a parent being laid off.  Others felt the impact of financial disruption around their dinner table.  All of them continue to witness the world’s challenges on a real time basis through social media channels.  When one of the Social Impact Summit keynoters asked attendees if they ever lived at or below the poverty level, nearly half of those present – many of them current students – raised their hands.

These are old souls in young bodies who identify with the radical idea of creating hope in a sometimes cynical world.

Fiegel describes the rationale.  “Social entrepreneurship in itself is an idea that people can rally around.  Plus, there’s the benefit of knowing that people who join a new organization like NIU CAUSE join for the right reason.  They get to build something the way they want to see it built.  They get to make an impact and they get to know that they do.”

Indeed, Fiegel and his fellow change makers have a great deal of latitude to shape NIU CAUSE.  Still, they don’t fly solo nor do they want to.  Their entire culture – their tribe, if you will – is about marshalling forces to effect real change.  They are guided by two NIU Business faculty members who advise them.  As members in the NIU CAUSE tribe, these professors foster a faculty-student relationship that is more a collaboration than anything else…where everyone stands to contribute and to learn, even the professors.

“The students came up with the idea for the Social Impact Summit,” NIU CAUSE faculty advisor Christine Mooney says.  “They wanted to do it from start to finish:  creating the theme, dealing with the logistics, finding the keynote presenters, securing event sponsors, getting the word out and running the entire Summit.  None of them ever created an event before.  I am so amazed by their commitment and creativity.”

An NIU professor in the Department of Management with background in strategic leadership, Christine Mooney recently received the Bill and Paula LeRoy Professorship in Social Entrepreneurship.  Mooney works with her NIU Business colleague Dennis Barsema, who is no stranger to making a difference.  Both the NIU College of Business facility and the university’s Alumni & Visitors Center bear the Barsema name.

Like the LeRoys, Barsema is a member of the NIU alumni base, having earned his degree in the department in which he now teaches.  And like the LeRoys, Dennis and his wife Stacey are passionate about making a genuine difference in the lives of others.  Along with giving back to his alma mater and developing the social entrepreneurship program, Dennis Barsema is currently on the Board of Directors for five for-profit and non-profit organizations including Oportunidad Microfinanzas, Mexico of Opportunity International.

Denise Schoenbachler, Dean of the NIU College of Business states,”I am so grateful to Dennis and Stacey for getting the NIU College of Business involved and vested in social entrepreneurship.  They’ve ignited passion in the students, faculty like Christine, the administration, and other alumni like the LeRoys.  This is only the beginning.  With Dennis and Christine at the helm, they are part of a group of national leaders focused on the important work of applying business expertise to some of the world’s most pressing problems.”

Since its inception, NIU’s social entrepreneurship program has garnered media attention from the Chicago Tribune to the Boston Globe (which described a short-list of three college level programs in this field and included NIU in the group, along with Harvard and MIT).  What makes NIU’s approach distinctive is its range and popularity over such a short period of time.  NIU’s program includes courses in social entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, a certificate program in social entrepreneurship, and a newly created social entrepreneurship minor.  The program capstone is the Social Venture Competition, where students pitch their business ideas to social venture investors.  The competition transforms the winning ideas into reality and in its first year, helped launch social business “Light Up Africa.”  Shortly after its formation, “Light Up Africa” went on to be named a semi-finalist in Dell’s Social Innovation Challenge and won a coveted spot in the 2012 inaugural class of Impact Engine, a social business accelerator in Chicago.

“The Social Venture Competition is testimony to the character and resolve of the NIU student,” shares Dennis Barsema.   “This is a generation that has volunteered more than any generation since the Great Depression.  They have a passion and concern for the social issues of our world.  And, they have the courage to follow their passion.  Our job, as educators and business people, is to give them the tools, guidance, and mentoring to do something positive with that energy.”

Indeed, NIU’s social entrepreneurship program is distinctive in large measure because of the way Mooney and Barsema teach the topic.  Their approach is as much in the doing as it is in the thinking.  Supporting Zach Fiegel and his cohort’s idea for the Social Impact Summit and putting all the students’ business ventures on the line for angel funding…those are just two examples out of a multitude.

Perhaps one of the most impactful ways is when the students travel with their professors to witness social entrepreneurship firsthand through short-term study abroad trips.  The most recent occurred a week ago, with a visit to entrepreneur Dona Alejandra in Mexico City.  Dona Alejandra is a client of the microfinance institution Aspire.  Aspire provides lending to the “missing middle:”  those individuals who require loans larger than the $500 loans provided by a traditional microfinance institution but smaller than the $10,000 loans provided by a  commercial bank.  The meeting between Dona Alejandra and the students was made possible through the help of Elly Rohrer, Executive Director of Investours, a non-profit in the microfinance space.  Here’s Dona Alejandra’s story:

image001 11 On being Unreasonable

Dona Alejandra

Doña Alejandra is a third generation baker from Mexico City. As one of 13 siblings growing up in a situation of extreme poverty, Doña Alejandra developed a love for the bread she learned to make in her father’s bakery: it symbolized sustenance. With one kilo of flour, she could provide food for her siblings and make product to sell.

Doña Alejandra’s mentality about bread has not changed, though she is now in her 50s, lives on the Pacific coast, and has a family of her own. She built a wood-burning oven and took out a micro-loan to establish her own small bakery. As the primary (and often only) income owner in a house-hold of four, Doña Alejandra works long hours to bake and sell hundreds of breads and pastries a week. An entrepreneurial woman, Doña Alejandra is always proud to share her story.

“Meeting all the amazing entrepreneurs in Mexico, including Dona Alejandra, was extraordinary because you see the transformation of their lives and families on so many levels,” Barsema says.  “The students were able to see how a small loan could lead these small business owners to a life of dignity, opportunity and hope for themselves and their families, and make tremendous improvements in their local community.  Without a doubt, they are great examples of perseverance and drive.”

Plus, at a very intrinsic level, the students also see their own professors walk the talk.

“The fact that someone like that takes an interest in other people and with this level of commitment…it amazes me,” Fiegel says.  “Mr. Barsema has achieved so much success in business.  He’s been an executive – including President and CEO – in five major corporations.  He could relax and not be involved with finding and supporting new business models to help others lift themselves out of desperate situations.  But he cares so much.  He’s so humble and generous.  He’s someone I hope to emulate one day.”

By all accounts, Zach and his fellow students are well on their way.  Operating funds for NIU CAUSE started at zero.  But after weekly sales of homemade pizza  (yes, the students make them from scratch and their Barsema Hall customer base declares the foodstuff to be “life changing”) as well as from revenues generated at the Social Impact Summit, NIU CAUSE has raised enough money to sustain its operations and then some.  True to form, the students intend to invest a portion of those dollars in a social entrepreneur.

And if that’s not enough on May 2nd at 6 p.m. in NIU’s Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center, the social entrepreneurship students will unveil what are certain to be business plans as ingenious as Light Up Africa…originally an NIU student generated business idea – now a viable business – that brings a renewable light source to a part of the world without access to the electrical grid.

All of which for these students makes for an impressive and uncommon journey, one where their expectations to change the world are emboldened even more.  But it really goes much deeper still.  This is a generation that cut its teeth on an age of disruption.  Now, as they stand at the threshold of life after college, they carry a different worldview.  Instead of getting blown over, they lean forward into action in the face of change.  They’re not lulled by a false sense of security.  They know how complex life is, even if it morphs faster than most can really assimilate or even trust.  But echoing the advice Steve Jobs gave to Stanford grads, they’re wise enough to know that:  “you have to trust in something.”

Where better to place your trust than in your own desire to change the world?  If that level of commitment earns those of this amazing ilk the label Unreasonable, that’s more than fine with them.   …and more than fine for the world.

Event Information

  • May 2nd The 2nd Annual NIU Social Venture Competition, 6 p.m., NIU Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center, DeKalb, Illinois.
  • April 5th NIU Social Impact Summit keynoters:   Megan Kashner, TEDx speaker and Founder-CEO of Benevolent.Net, a digital facilitation site that offers a secure and transparent means for those with the ability to donate funds and help another when it matters most; Amanda Britt, Founder-CEO of Panzanzee, Chicago’s social enterprise incubator, co-working space and continuous community that provides discovery, resources, trust and traction for entrepreneurs and professionals pursuing sustainable financial and social impact; NIU alumnus Alan Hurt, Founder of Light Up Africa, a student-generated idea launched into an actual social business with a distribution strategy that encourages an entrepreneurial spirit in its customers; and Chuck Templeton, Managing Director of Impact Engine, a Chicago-based 12-week accelerator program supporting for-profit businesses working to address today’s societal or environmental issues.

Story by Michelle De Jean, Director of Marketing, NIU College of Business

Diamonds In The Rough

It was at about this time last year that I was just rising up from the trenches of UBUS 310.  Like the Chilean miners from a few years back, I triumphantly reached up to the surface and was immediately blinded by the light.

Rescued Chilean Miners Emerge Wearing 450 Oakley Sunglasses PHOTO 600 400 Diamonds In The Rough

"Until I put on my designer Oakley Sunglasses"

Until that point I was lurking in the shadows of group work, presentations, and study sessions and now I could finally see the world in plain view.  There was so much opportunity surrounding me that I simply couldn’t see before.  Student organizations were recruiting just as they are now and although I had given them a half-hearted shot the semester before, I decided it was time to finally invest my time and money in something other than taco bell.

Taco Bell Diamonds In The Rough

"Yeah, kinda like that..."

I got involved with a number of different organizations, 5 to be exact, and I threw myself at the prospect of doing something worthwhile for my university.  As time went on I found my niche and appropriately cut off the organizations that I did not see myself succeeding in.  By the end of the semester I had made connections in the remaining organizations, I had become highly involved and I got to know the faculty advisors.  I wanted to push further and knew that I wanted to do more in the following semesters.  It is at that point that I applied for positions with not one, but two executive boards.  I didn’t even really care which position, if any, I got.  I went in with an approach reminiscent of former Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader; hoping for the best but not expecting much of a result.  I just wanted the opportunity to stand out.  With a little bit of skills and some luck I landed positions in both the organizations I applied to.

 Diamonds In The Rough

"This is our year!" said Nader in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004....you get the idea.

There are people at this very moment beginning the same journey I just spoke about. These diamonds in the rough will begin to slowly float to the top and let their colors truly shine!  I can’t wait to see who the new class of hard workers is.  It’s odd, I don’t remember speaking on a casual level to the presidents of any student organizations until my spring semester was almost over.  These organizational leaders didn’t know me from a hole in the wall and now I am helping to manage the organizations they once spearheaded.  It just goes to show that you never really know who’s out there.  Will you be the next person to step up to a similar role?  Will you take the initiative to do something for your university and to do something that’s bigger than yourself?  I anxiously wait to see who rises to the occasion and what great ideas and vision they’ll bring to the next generation of NIU College of Business students!  Until then I’ll keep looking in the shadows.  2.0out

Business Careers House

One of the most difficult things about going to college or trying something new is figuring out how to fit in.  Hundreds of students each year flock to NIU and have to begin their academic careers anew.  As a business major, what are the best ways to fit in and flourish in your new environment?  I’ve heard this question many times and one of the best answers I can give is the Business Careers House.  I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Maria Ziebinska, a Community Advisor from the Business Careers House, to learn a little bit more about what they have to offer.

The Business Careers House is a residence hall that serves as a living learning community.  In this community, business majors can go and get help in anything business oriented.  Whatever students have questions about they can either come to me (a Community Advisor) or they can talk to the House Leader Chris.  Students constantly have questions about which classes to take and homework help. Since the residents are business students, I put up a bulletin board about class registration.  We include information like what number to call to set up an advising appointment, a sheet containing the Gen. Ed. requirements (specifically the ten core classes to get into the upper level courses), and tips with staying on a four year track.

As Community Advisor for the 10th floor, my job is to help my residents connect at NIU and be successful. I let them know what is going on in the residence halls and around campus. If they have specific interests that they wish to pursue, I help them get in contact with someone that knows where to go to pursue those interests.  Basically, whenever students have anything they need to talk about they can come to me.

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Our Community Advisors are Here to Help!

The BCH is located in Grant C and spans five floors from the 8th to the 12th.  The floors are designated to business majors.  We all have common interests and we all hang out and it’s nice to be on the same level with everyone. Since everyone is in the business program many of the residents have similar classes.  Because of this, we set up designated study hours where we meet in the study lounge on our floor and do homework.  If a student does have questions about an assignment, people are there to help!  It definitely feels like a family! 

It’s open to all classes, not just underclassman.  I’m Upper-class and I have two residents that are taking UBUS 310 right now with me.  Transfer students also enjoy the House and have found a great support system here as well.  The support is all the same. We cater to residents needs, so if someone speaks up with specific questions as a transfer, freshman, returning students, even upperclassman, it is our job to help.Business Careers House 2 Business Careers HouseWe work hard to point students in the right direction.  A few events we have already done with the BCH are Dinner with the Dean, Time Management Tips from the BCH Leaders, and Bowling in the Huskie Den.  Dinner with the Dean gave residents a chance to meet the Dean, and she gave tips on how to be successful in the College of Business. Time Management Tips were to give students tips on how to manage their time as they transition from high school to college. Bowling was a chance for all the floors in the BCH to come together and bond.

One of my residents, he was one of the students that didn’t really know what path to go down, so the House Leader and I helped him write up a resume and we took him to the internship fair.  We showed him how to network and how to find out more information about the different career paths he enjoyed.  Like I said before, we’re all there to help each other out!

To learn more about the Business Careers House and all it has to offer, visit their website at http://www.cob.niu.edu/businesscareershouse/index.asp  2.0out

Creating Your Own Path

This next post is written by Marek Swierczewski, a Senior Marketing Major at the NIU College of Business.Marek 224x300 Creating Your Own Path

When I first came into NIU I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. On one hand my whole life I’ve spent obsessing about cars and racing which led me to believe engineering was the right course of action.  On the other, I’ve already taken business and economics classes in High School and was set to go into management or marketing in college. I chose to go into marketing, but I had another dilemma on my hands; how to get involved? There are a lot of great organizations in the marketing department, like the American Marketing Association or the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board, but none really seemed to fit me. It so happened that my dilemma was solved by my brother attending Cornfest at the DeKalb airport my freshman year.

While at Cornfest my brother ran across the NIU Motorsports Formula team. The team designs, creates, and races a formula style car every year. Well, my brother told me about them and I attended the informational meeting where I found out that a big portion of the competition is a marketing presentation, I was hooked instantly. This was a way for me to take part in both of my passions simultaneously.

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"I was hooked instantly"

It so happened that the team never had a dedicated marketing person on their team, they’ve never even had a business major on the team; I was the first. After some time I realized that there’s a huge business portion to the team that most members don’t even pay attention to. Biggest of all is the sponsorships, the team runs completely with money from sponsors so it is imperative that all members learn how to deal with potential sponsors. I have focused a lot of my time on teaching each member how to deal with potential sponsors and how to properly approach a sponsor. But the biggest part of my job is selling the car and the whole organization to a panel of potential investors in a mock selling scenario at competition at the end of the year. I’ve had to learn all about marketing plans, selling, finance, even production plant layout to be able to market our team as the best investment against over 100 different universities from around the world.

I am on my fourth year with the team right now, I am the head of the marketing department and am currently in charge of recruitment for the team, and I enjoy it more now than ever. The team has given me a way to practice my skills in marketing in an automotive environment which has lead me to realize the perfect career path for me. I am dedicated to join the racing industry as a sponsor relationship manager, and it is because of my four years on the team actually going out and doing what I am learning in my marketing and sales classes that I have been able to truly find my perfect career. If there is one thing that my experiences with the team have taught me is that there are many different ways to put what you learn in a classroom to work. Don’t limit yourself to just taking classes, go out, find what you are truly passionate about, and get involved, it is by far the best way to spend your years in college.