Getting Involved: Part 2 of 6

Nick graduated in Spring 2012 so now we’re lining up more student bloggers who will start in the Fall 2012 semester. Until then, Student Voices is sharing with you the top posts from last semester…the “Getting Involved” series of posts.  Here’s Part 2 of 6.  Whether you have read this particular post or not, we hope you will find it helpful and useful. We’re excited to share it with you again!

 

Getting Involved

This post will be a several part series about involvement on campus. Part one discussed why I got involved, part two discusses 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.

***Spring break gets in the way of the succession of posts but this series will continue when classes resume on March 19. The blog will be quiet for the duration of break.***

Getting Involved; Part 2: Why Not Sooner

I always tell younger students or anyone I run into that I wish I had gotten involved sooner than my last two years here. In retrospect my reasons for holding off for so long seem sort of ridiculous but they were very real concerns at the time. My first thought was what if I join a marketing organization and then realize in my first year or two that I’m not cut out for the College of Business? I’d feel stupid joining only to drop out because I didn’t make it into my major. My next concern was joining without having had any marketing classes. I’d also feel stupid attending meetings and listening to speakers talk about concepts of which I have no prior knowledge.

Having been extremely active for two years now I realized those concerns were very wrong reasons to keep me from involvement. I should have pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Had I looked at it differently I would have realized that joining could provide extra motivation to get into the College of Business. It also would have provided me with extra insight into what I’d really be getting myself into with an education in marketing. I let my concerns inhibit my involvement instead of letting my involvement address my concerns.

Now that I’m nearing graduation I know I’ve made the right educational and career choice and my only regret was not joining sooner. I would love to have that time back to really make the most of the opportunities I missed.

What are some of the things that might be holding you back from getting involved? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Also, please keep an eye out for the next post; the opportunities available through being involved coming on March 19th!

Getting Involved: Part 1 of 6

Nick graduated in Spring 2012, but we’re lining up more student bloggers who will start in the Fall 2012 semester. Until then, Student Voices is sharing with you the top posts from last semester. Whether you have read this particular post or not, we hope you will find it helpful and useful. We’re excited to share it with you again!

Getting Involved

This post will be a several part series about involvement on campus. Part one will discuss why I got involved, part two discusses 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.

Spring break gets in the way of the succession of posts but this series will continue when classes resume after Spring break. The blog will be quiet for the duration of break.

Getting Involved; Part 1: Why I Got Involved

I got involved in student organizations my second to last year in college. A major influence in getting involved in a student organization was of course, my father. He has always been a strong advocate of me being involved in something growing up and it certainly didn’t stop when I came to college. I too realized the need for involvement to have something on my resume to help me stand apart from all the college kids who attend school but who do nothing beyond class work.

When I finally made the decision to join, I also made the decision to become actively involved, not just sit back and relax. After my first American Marketing Association meeting the current board illustrated a need for someone with web maintenance skills (which I had) and I jumped on the opportunity. My first two weeks in AMA I got myself on the executive board. From there I went on to decline presidency and became Vice President for the 2011 – 2012 academic year. After absolutely loving my first semester in AMA, I joined the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board. After learning that the entire board of that organization would be graduating in May 2011 I took strides to become President for the 2011 – 2012 academic year.  Joining and becoming active in both of these organizations has paid of immensely for me in so many ways.

Stay tuned for Part 2; why I didn’t get involved sooner.

The Blog Experiment

Several months ago when I began research to start a blog on behalf of the College of Business I was trying to envision what it would look like, what it would discuss and how many people would be writing for it.

The original idea was to have several student bloggers sharing their experiences on the blog. What I came across (and what I ultimately want this blog to look like) would be Harvard’s student blog or Cornell’s student blog. Those are the idealistic vision of what I want this blog to turn into.

At first it was just me supplying the content but I soon expanded to “Guest Posts” in order to get other opinions or ‘voices’ involved. It is great and I’m certainly a fan of the guest posts. I’d still like to see this blog expand to multiple students which would hopefully represent different areas of the College of Business to bring more diversity and different experiences in various areas or majors.

I’ve gotten great feedback from peers and faculty who read the different posts on this blog. It’s great knowing people out there are actually reading it and that they enjoy it. It’s a bit of a bummer that I’ll soon be leaving and the blog won’t have fresh content for awhile (until the fall semester begins). It also won’t be maintained by me any longer either. On the bright side, it will be someone new, with new thoughts, new feelings and new experiences.It will be a fresh change of pace.

I’ve laid the foundation of this blog for the future students who contribute to it. I’ll have to check in from time to time to read the new stories and watch its growth going forward.

2012 Ethics Case Competition

Last week on Friday I participated in an Ethics Case Competition sponsored by the student organization LEAD. The fictional case we were given was about a salesman who was sent overseas in someone’s place in order to win a $50 million contract. The client then told the salesman to bring $6,000 – $7,000 worth of whiskey to the contract signing. The salesman knew there was a company gifting policy and guidelines on what constitutes bribery. However, he could not remember what the guidelines were, nor could he get hold of anyone from his company. It was up to us to do an analysis of the situation and make a recommendation in a ten minute presentation to a panel of judges.

I’m a competitive person just like my competition partner, Abbey Vanderwoude. That’s what drove us to spend a ton of time doing research, preparing our analysis, arguments and presentation. (Don’t be fooled, it requires a lot of effort to deliver a worthy presentation in this competition. You should devote quite a bit of time and energy to it).

Even though we ultimately fell short of victory it was still a good experience to participate in. Sure it was a fictional case, but in listening to Dennis Barsema‘s keynote that day and in talking with my father who also is in sales, situations like this occur in the real world.

It is no surprise that the NIU College of Business truly prepares you for ethical dilemmas and how to best approach them. The College of Business truly stands by its brand statement of “Where the Classroom Meets the Business World” and its philosophy of “Thinking & Doing.” Even though it isn’t really possible to teach someone how to be ethical; this college does do its share in teaching the concept of ethics and provides tools for people to take steps in the right direction. This college is after all, recognized for how it incorporates ethics in its curriculum (ranked 3rd in the nation in 2011 according to Businessweek).

Through an experience such as this and listening to other people’s experiences you can learn to guide yourself in the proper direction. In Mr. Barsema’s words, you need to understand yourself and your values to let your moral compass lead you down the right path in deciding between “doing things right and doing the right thing.”

I encourage everyone to participate in the Ethics Case next year if you have the opportunity to do it. It truly is a wonderful experience.

Getting Involved: Part 6 of 6

Getting Involved

This is the last post of the series about involvement on campus. Part one discussed why I got involved, part two explained why I didn’t get involved sooner, part three touched on the opportunities available through being involved, part four talked about leadership experience, part five elaborated on how to get involved, and part six are my thoughts going forward for post graduation involvement.

Getting Involved; Part 6: Involvement After Graduation

As graduation comes closer to me I’ve been challenged to think about getting involved after graduation. Being in a professional organization or two will benefit me in my career as it will give me opportunities to network and potentially meet new clients or referrals through these connections.

I’m going to practice exactly what I preach in these past several posts and I’m going to go about it the same way I would if I were in school. I’ll use the resources I have now to figure out what I need to do down the road. Professors in the College of Business all had a career before coming here to teach. They’ve got real world knowledge and experience, so they’ll know organizations I can get involved with professionally or at the very least, know the direction in which to send me.

AMA will be easy to continue involvement with since I’m a collegiate member. When they send my form via email and in the mail I just need to renew and upgrade my status. Simple.

AMA had a meeting dedicated to an individual from the Young Professionals Network which is focused on allowing young professionals the ability to network with others and give back to the College of Business. The Young Professionals Network also has a partnership with the NIU Executive Club. Both of which keep you connected to College of Business alumni of all business backgrounds while still giving back to the NIU community and its students.

My dad having had a long career in sales told me a lot of people will get involved in their local community whether it is a Lion’s club, a park district or some other volunteer work. My dad said when I was playing hockey he would network with all the other parents from not just my team, but within the whole hockey club.

I’ve experienced how getting involved as a student can pay off. In a few months it will be time to shift gears, become newly involved in other things, and see how that investment of my time will pay off in furthering my career as well as others lives.

What do you think about getting involved after school? How will you go about it?

Getting Involved: Part 5 of 6

Getting Involved

This is post five 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 touched on the opportunities available through being involved, part four talked 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 5: How to Join

If you are curious how to get involved on campus just know that it’s easy as long as you take proper initiative.

The first step you need to take is deciding what interests you, will benefit you, and/or help you along your career path. Once that decision is made there are various methods for finding further information. One resource is the university’s Student Association. Most universities have one or something like it that lists all the organizations, programs and services your school offers. NIU’s Student Association, for example, even has a “How to get Involved” link on their page. If you pick an organization out of the full university listing it generally gives you the contact information for the top officers as well as academic advisors for that organization. You then can reach out to those individuals for more information or follow a direct link to the organizations website.

Another way to obtain information specifically for something that aligns with your major is by talking to your academic advisor. They know what is going on in your college and major as it is their job to help students with these things. For example, there was someone a few weeks ago who was looking to join the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board and she had stopped in to talk to the marketing advisor on how to join CSAB. What she then proceeded to do was walk the student over to the dean’s office (where I’m working when I’m not in class) and brought the student directly to me to answer any questions she had. Point of the story is your academic advisor can help you and if there is information they don’t have they certainly know the person to point you to.

Another option is to speak to professors. Professors are always part of professional organizations on a national level but are well aware of the collegiate chapters within their own departments. Management professors will know a bit about the management student organizations just like marketing professors and the marketing organizations and so on.

The last (and in my opinion least effective way) is flyers or notices posted around campus. Not every organization has the manpower to reach every part of campus so you may not see something that would pertain to you. All the previously mentioned methods are more likely to get you involved in something that’s meant for you.

After speaking with people and gathering information the last step is to actually join. Generally there will be some sort of application or application process, dues to be paid, and sometimes some sort of rush or initiation. Some organizations also have policies in place to maintain “active” status which goes beyond simply paying dues, but requires you to be part of so many activities or events. All those factors depend upon the organization and are different for each one. Time commitment needed for organization also ranges depending on the organization but it also depends upon the individual as well. Generally you will only get out of it what you put into it. In other words, the more you get involved and active; you’ll take away a lot more and have a much better experience.

In my final installment of the ‘Getting Involved’ series I will share my thoughts on involvement in organizations after graduation in part six.

Getting Involved: Part 4 of 6

Getting Involved

This is post four 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 touched 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 4: Leadership Experience

The final factor of importance that I want to stress about getting involved is leadership. The leadership experience gained through organizations is invaluable. Not only does it give you a learning opportunity of what it’s like to organize, plan and pull everything together for an organization to operate but it also illustrates a ton of skills to prospective employers. When you develop your leadership skills you learn various styles of leadership such as coaching, directing and delegating. You learn when to explicitly lay out instruction or put your faith in someone and empower them to let their skills develop in accomplishing tasks.

Going a little deeper, holding a leadership position obviously forces you to become efficient at working with others on a hierarchical level and also as members of an equal team unit. You improve your organizational skills, communication skills as well as time management skills when you run an organization and balance school at the same time.

Now you may be thinking, “You’re talking about being at the top of the ladder. I won’t be starting there or I may not even get there!” That is true, the opportunity and the fit has to be just right, sometimes accompanied by a stroke of luck on timing. Not all those top positions will necessarily be available during your tenure in an organization (which means you should join early!) However, any position on the executive board of an organization will hone the aforementioned skills of good communication, time management, teamwork, and to an extent, some of those leadership skills if you have tasks that require you to assemble a team for to help you complete those objectives.

Not every company looks to hire someone from college and place them straight into a management role but sometimes that is the absolutely the case. However, when companies look to invest in their future by investing in you, it makes you that much more valuable to their company by possessing those skills and experiences.

In part five of this series I elaborate on how to get involved with organizations on campus.

World Collegiate Sales Open: Part 2

Part 2: Thoughts Afterward

(This part was written around 1 p.m. on Monday, February 27, 2012. The Monday following the competition.)

The World Collegiate Sales Open is finally over and I feel as though a weight has been lifted and that I have all sorts of free time that is no longer dedicated to preparation! My friend Corey placed third overall giving the NIU College of Business its only podium spot in the competition. Akron won first, Michigan State second and UW-Whitewater took fourth.

Once the competition started all the nerves I had going in were not there the rest of the weekend. I felt good, I felt confident and I had a phenomenal performance. It was fun going through an entire sales cycle all in two days. While I didn’t place amongst the final four, I’m still considered one of the best in the world (somewhere in the top 10 according to my results in each category of competition). The competition began with 192 students from 7 different countries that got trimmed down to 20 students from the United States, Austria and United Kingdom. While it is disappointing I went in looking to take first and ultimately fell short, I certainly learned a lot through it all. I received great pointers and advice from judges or buyers throughout the weekend, and I also met a lot of great people.

Considering this was the championship round for a world competition, everyone I met from all around the world were great people. There were only four people from overseas in the top 20, three from Austria’s University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt and one from the University of Portsmouth in the UK, as well as schools from east to west in the United States to round out the rest of the 20 finalists. Everyone was nice and friendly despite being there competing with each other. I can certainly say I made some new friends.

So much time, energy and effort was put into this weekend but it was definitely a blast. I told the College of Business’ Dean, Dr. Denise Schoenbachler, this morning that I wish I could come back and compete one more time because I loved every minute of it. Her suggestion was that I come back and participate as a judge. I absolutely plan on trying to come back next year and be involved on the other end of the competition.

I’m excited to start building the NIU Sales team for next year’s competition. There are certainly a lot of talented individuals that are in the early stages of our program. The important thing is, the talent is there and the NIU College of Business will continue to be amongst the best in the world with its sales program. I can certainly say I’m proud to have represented NIU and hope that all future NIU College of Business competitors bring that same pride and passion next year.

WCSO 2011 2012 384 300x200 World Collegiate Sales Open: Part 2

World Collegiate Sales Open: Part 1

Part 1: Thoughts Beforehand

(This part was written around 4 p.m. Thursday, February 23, 2012, the day before competition started. I just had a delay in posting it.)

It is the evening before the competition and I am extremely stressed. My nerves are running wild and I’m struggling to keep it under control. The NIU sales team has been told numerous times that this is the most intense sales competition there is, not just because it is a worldwide competition but because of the amount of events there are and having to complete them all back to back.

Additionally, the competition is hosted at the NIU College of Business and was founded by the head of our sales program. I feel like this adds more pressure because we want to excel in the name of our school and our program. At this point anything short of winning will feel like failure.

Professors, teachers, co-workers, friends and family all know how I’m feeling. Several of them have said no matter what happens, the marketing department is fully behind us and is proud of all we’ve accomplished in just making it to the finals. Another teacher, as well as my dad, said this should be a no pressure situation for me since I’ve already secured a job and my career isn’t riding on this competition. While the job aspect is true, I can’t shake the self-pressure. I know I shouldn’t be nervous, but the drive to do extraordinary in competition is what’s causing it.

Hopefully when the competition starts the jitters will go away and I can go into each event calm and relaxed like I need to be.

My final thought is how much I appreciate the support from all my professors and friends. I appreciate the recognition we’ve been given in the classroom this week, the wishes of luck thrown our way anytime we see someone, as well as any other words of advice and encouragement I’ve received. It’s very rewarding by itself seeing the pride others have in us as we go forward representing NIU in this international sales competition.

 

 

 

Coasting Through a Hurricane

Senior year… there are far too many thoughts in my head about it. A lot of people coast through senior year and I anticipated being one of them. Unfortunately that isn’t anywhere near accurate.

I only have four courses, two of which are capstone courses but the work load is moderate to semi-high. Hurray. The next factor is adding in my job in the Office of the Dean, responsibilities as VP and President of a marketing organization and sales organization respectively, and being a finalist in the world’s largest sales competition. Luckily I’m not scheduled to work that many NIU athletic events this semester, phew.

I feel the pressure building because I need to be practicing all my material for the World Collegiate Sales Open so I represent NIU to the best of my abilities but it is tough to make this my top priority when I have homework, projects, quizzes, upcoming exams, board meetings and chapter meetings taking up time.

In the past two weeks I’ve capitalized on one of the perks of my job; free coffee. I still won’t classify myself as a coffee drinker (hate the taste) but it’s a cost effective way for me to get my caffeine fix so professors aren’t staring at my eye lids in class. I’m not trying to convey that I don’t like my classes, they are very interesting and I enjoy the material. But let’s face it, when you don’t have a whole lot of time to sleep the most interesting material in the world won’t keep you awake. Not this guy anyway.  I have several friends who are under just as much pressure with activities and feeling similarly overwhelmed, so I know I’m not alone.  It’s been more than worth it being as active and involved as I am and even though it’s tough, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

A former professor of mine tells us, “work hard; play hard.” I think it’s a fair mentality to have, working hard all week and having great times on the weekend with your friends. I don’t even care at this point how much sleep I’m getting or am not getting. I take a new direction in life three months from now so I have to squeeze every last drop out of college life while I can.