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!

Mentoring … how important is it?

Throughout my time here it has been an interesting experience with mentors. It’s something I have greatly been touched by others here in the College of Business. It’s definitely a hard transition into Barsema Hall as a freshman not knowing anyone and only having two business classes throughout your entire freshman year. Two mentors that have stuck out to me over the past two years have been Zach Fiegel and Jacob Ferguson. Jake and Zach are students here at Northern Illinois University and have proven they are both leaders of the college and the university. Both Jake, Zach, and I have participated in multiple organizations, internships, consulting projects and even study abroad.

It’s the idea of being pushed to go outside your comfort zone…it’s something that not many people make you do. These two were great advocates in that I remember one day after my EPFE 201(Honors Literature) class, Jake asked me to stop by NIU CAUSE (a Social Entrepreneurship student organization) on that Tuesday night. After a few meetings I felt it was time to get involved so I started by joining the fundraising committee where I would go out and look for sponsors for our organization, ranging anywhere from Vietnamese restaurants to pizza places. I thank Jake to this day for helping me transition throughout CAUSE as well as Zach as the experience has made me who I am today.

Organizations for me relate directly to the workplace because you’re working in groups of people who come together from different backgrounds, all trying to solve a problem or reach one goal. Another example of this has been through Delta Sigma Pi where all of us are various business majors throughout the college. Our members range from freshman all the way to seniors. This becomes invaluable when our members give young members advice on classes, teachers and even certain internship contacts for summer internships. I feel this would be very useful for the freshman and sophomores who aren’t involved in student organizations as it greatly helps with study groups, advice on electives to take and even just when to take these classes.

In closing, with great mentoring we become great leaders and exemplify the college as a whole. Something to think about the next time you’re in the Barsema Atrium.

 

 

“Getting outside your comfort zone.”

Over the course of my 2.5 years here at NIU I have had been faced with challenges. One of these challenges happened my freshman year. As I arrived on campus I feared that school would be too much to handle and I wasn’t going to enjoy my time here at NIU. Over the course of my first semester I gained valuable insight throughout my classes and eventually made some great friends here at NIU. As the next semester hit I began to step outside my comfort zone by joining my first student organization. This student organization is called Lambda Sigma Sophomore Honors Society which is an honors society composed of sophomores that spend a year together by meeting bi-weekly.  This organization is a great avenue for freshman as it gives you the chance to interview for acceptance into the organization. When I say it’s a great avenue I really mean it because it prepares you for a real life interview. Throughout my time in the organization I had the opportunity to make lifelong friends, helped the community through service events and even got to take a leadership role my junior year as a Junior Advisor. This in turn changed me from the shy person who is closed minded to the person who I am today. It’s not a question anymore of “who is going to be there” but instead it is “I’ll see you there.”

Getting involved has always been a challenge for me but once I found something I was able to join the rest is history. My main message I want to convey with this topic is don’t be afraid to jump outside your comfort zone. It’s an interesting idea to think about how that one organization can change you as a person but for me it really did. After Lambda Sigma I transitioned into my next organization NIU Club Tennis. This organization had its own challenges to start off with mainly being an actual club. Over the course of the year I was faced with a few issues involving committed members, not having a budget and lack of knowledge on how to run a club. It not only was a great learning experience but it gave me the chance to overcome challenges and help better run our club.

 

Walk the Circuit: Northern Illinois Internship Style

After two weeks of constant resume changing and reviewing companies’ websites I finally made it to the internship fair. On a brisk Tuesday morning filled many snowflakes and suits the Internship Fair was upon us. My journey started with a tour by career services with ten other students that had various majors. Our tour encompassed the fair as a whole and the process of approaching companies and what to do to when following up with companies. As a marketing major here at NIU, I have two distinct fields to go into when graduating which are professional sales or interactive marketing. The sales side had always interested me and with over 40+ companies looking for a marketing majors (Sales or interactive) it was going to be a long day. Beforehand I consulted with a few students and a couple of alumni on tips to improve my resume. Some of things I accomplished when building my resume were to limit my work history to only relevant work history within in my major. Another great attribute I added was a skills section which shows employers my talents.

After my resume was complete I moved on to the initial research of the 40+ companies. This started out by focusing on my top companies that interested me. The 7 companies that stood out to me the most included Robert Bosch and Tool Corp, Liberty Mutual, Leapfrog Online, Graybar, True Value, Arthur L Gallagher and Co, and Anderson Pest Solutions. Things that stuck out to me between these seven companies were the quality of their internship programs and the ability to gain valuable experience that was relevant to my major. During the fair I employed a strategy used by some students where you start with a few companies you’re not interested in first. This strategy gives the student practice and the ability to improve their pitch to the companies they’re interested in. Across the fair I gained experience in my elevator speech as well as knowing my resume when talking to employers. Subsequently, I followed up with each employer with a thank you letter which included thanking them for their time, an attached resume and including a piece of information we talked about at the fair. To conclude, it was a great experience for my first time at the fair and I definitely recommend all majors and ages to attend as it’s a great way to practice for interviews and to gain valuable experience in the real world.

“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.

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.