Experiential Learning Center – Kicking It Up A Notch

ELC1 Experiential Learning Center – Kicking It Up A Notch

Experiential Learning Center

This article like Bring It! Center – Charge Up and Refuel is part of Jakub’s Corner which is me the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business introducing and informing you on the various resources available on campus. This week we will be highlighting the Experiential Learning Center.

You might be asking yourself, what is the Experiential Learning Center? The NIU College of Business Experiential Learning Center or simply the ELC to those of us who are familiar with it connects teams of the very best students with accomplished executives. Over the course of a 16-week collaboration, NIU students apply their energies and talents to help solve cross-functional business issues. It is a terrific opportunity to apply the knowledge, skills, and theories that you have learned in the classroom to find real business solutions. That is exactly what draws me to the ELC, the idea that it gives you the opportunity to learn in a way that is different from the traditional classroom. You can do all the homework and take all the tests you want but nothing compares to real world experience.

Some highlights of the ELC are that you will earn 3 credit hours for participating, you will be given the opportunity to build your resume and develop a valuable skillset, you will receive professional coaching, and you will also be given exclusive access to cutting-edge lab technology and facilities. That’s right, you are earning credit in exchange for invaluable experience that will set you apart from the crowd. In addition, the ELC has partnered with such companies as McDonald’s, Caterpillar, McKesson Pharmaceutical, Abbott and many more. A handful of students have even received jobs as a result of participating on an ELC Team.

One of my biggest regrets in college thus far has been that I have not done an ELC Project. With that being said, Spring 2015 Projects have been revealed and applications are being accepted on a rolling basis so please don’t miss out on a truly life changing opportunity. Until next time, this is Jakub’s Corner.

Forget the A’s, College is about the B’s

Editor’s Note: Chloe Pooler is a junior Accountancy major with minors in Community Leadership & Civic Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship. She is President of the professional business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, an e-board member of CAUSE, heavily involved in the College of Business, Student Association, and formerly the residence halls as well. Chloe enjoys walks on the beach, the company of witty people, and jamming to good tunes.

Chloe Forget the As, College is about the Bs

Chloe Pooler, Junior Accountancy Major

 Forget the A’s, College is about the B’s

I myself am a very achievement oriented person. I need that grade, certificate, approving email, whatever, that validates my efforts in academics, in extra-curriculars, and professionally. I am very much about the “A’s” of school- literally, “A” grades, “A”wards, “A”chievement. Trust me, these are GREAT to strive for, but aren’t what college is about. College is the place for the “B”s.

Balance

Work hard, rest hard, play medium (enough to make college the best time of your life, not enough to sacrifice the work and rest).

Having near perfect grades and a packed resume are not worth losing your sanity over. It is important to remember to make time for yourself. No, not the for yourself like “I’m joining this sixth organization your my future,” I mean for yourself as in scheduled time to do yoga, run, play basketball, draw, journal- something you actually enjoy doing!

These activities are things you might have to literally schedule into your limited (perhaps non-existent) free time. Make them a priority and don’t sacrifice nonessential activities over your you-time! Constantly being at your wits’ end is not worth the stress that you can alleviate by making time spent on yourself important.

It’s true in the professional world and it’s true in your collegiate career- work/life balance is key. Don’t forget to recharge and periodically give your mind a break from all of the academia and extra-curricular craziness!

Building

You are never in a more perfect place to grow than in college. You are blessed to have so, so many resources at your fingertips, especially here at NIU! Electronic libraries, esteemed professors, successful alumni are all just a click of a mouse and “send” of an email away.

It is important to acknowledge that each of us have room to grow and the ability to build ourselves to be better professionals, leaders, and people. Take advantage of all of the organizations NIU and the College of Business has to offer. Going outside of your comfort zone, taking on a role you might not be entirely sure you can handle, and attending events with the intent to learn from them (not just get the Passport credit) will benefit you in many, many ways. Literally think to yourself, after doing something above and beyond, “how awesome am I going to look when I talk about this in an interview?”

Maybe you read that request to join something and take on a leadership role and yada yada and thought to yourself, “it’s just a point on my resume, I won’t get anything more out of it than that.” *Dwight Shrute voice* FALSE. Guess what else joining clubs gets you? A network of alumni who were in your same shoes however long ago.

College is a great time to build your network and connect with Huskie alum and the professionals/companies the COB brings in. Purposefully design and learn how to maintain your network at this prime time in your life.

Blunders

Blunder is a more fun word for mistake. Make mistakes this school year!! Don’t do so intentionally, but try something new or different and see where it leads you. You might be wrong! Making flashcards the day before a UBUS 310 Exam might not result in as good of a grade as when you actually did practice problems the weekend before. But hey, at least you went for it! Texting that girl from Rosy’s the next morning could end with no reply, or with a “Hey! The funny guy with the blue shirt!” You never know unless you try.

Plus, college is that weird age where you’re 100% responsible for your actions, but also people are forgiving, because you haven’t been in the professional adult world for long. It’s understood that you don’t know every little detail about how to do an audit or have all of the answers to the questions your professors ask, but it’s important to raise your hand and go for it anyway. A little humility can grow a person more than a lot of arrogance.

Realize, too, that everyone makes mistakes! Your peers, professors, and potential employers have all done something just as embarrassing or silly, and you can all laugh about it down the line after you’ve walked across the graduation stage, landed that dream job, and reminisce about the days on campus.

C for Conclusion

College isn’t all about Achievements and Awards and A+’s, though those are great; but so are balance and building and blunders. Striving for those A-things is important and having goals are key, but being sure to balancing work/life and taking time to breathe, building yourself professionally and as a leader and your network, and making mistakes and learning from them are all great things to focus on during your time in the COB.

Why NIU?: Choosing the Right College

Editor’s Note: A little more information about the author… Katie Zoellner is a senior Accountancy major with a double minor in Spanish and Economics.  She is involved in various College of Business organizations such as Delta Sigma Pi, Dean’s Scholars, and Beta Alpha Psi, where she serves as President Elect.  Outside the CoB, Katie is an active member of the Northern Ambassadors where she is proud to serve as one of the Student Coordinators.  In her spare time, she watches Disney movies, writes poetry, and takes naps whenever possible.  This is her first guest blog post, and she would like to thank her mom and sister for their help and feedback while writing it.  Go Huskies!

photo Why NIU?: Choosing the Right College

Katie Zoellner - Senior Accountancy Major at the NIU College of Business

Choosing a college to attend is hard; at least, for me it was.  Along with all the excitement my senior of high school year brought, it also brought the stress of applying to, visiting, and eventually deciding where I was going to spend my next 4+ years.  I applied to 10 (yes, really, 10) schools because I had absolutely no idea what I wanted out of my college experience.  I applied to schools that were big, small, public, private, urban, rural, in state, out of state – basically I tried to hit the whole spectrum, just to cover all my bases.

From the initial list of 10, I began narrowing my choices.  Eventually, I was down to three schools and was debating the pros and cons of all of them.  Northern wasn’t on that list.  I had applied on a whim, and the next day thought to myself “well I don’t want to go there…that was a waste of an application fee.”  Boy was I wrong.

After receiving a generous scholarship package, NIU was right up there on the list.  And I was terrified.  I was afraid NIU made the short list for all the wrong reasons.  I didn’t want to pick a school based purely on money, although it was a strong consideration.  I knew I couldn’t afford my quote on quote “dream school,” but I still had other schools I was thinking about.

After further consideration, I had narrowed my choices even further.  NIU and one other university were all that remained.  I visited campus on an Admitted Students Day, where I had the chance to get a campus tour and meet with representatives from NIU’s College of Business.  That day, I was fortunate enough to connect with an alumni presenter, Ralph Strozza, CEO of Interpro Translation Solutions, who was in the field I (at the time) wanted to pursue – translation.

This is where the scale began to tip in NIU’s favor – it was the right price, the right distance from home, housed fantastic academics, and I already felt valued by the CoB and connected to its alumni.

My mom then said to me something I will never forget:  “If you don’t like it, you can always transfer.”

This, to me, was an epiphany.  I was stuck in the mindset that the choice I made right then, as a high school senior, was going to determine the rest of my life (a bit dramatic, yes, but I was in high school – cut me some slack).  So I took a leap of faith and made the choice to come to NIU.  And that’s where the fun started.

College is an amazing opportunity to explore who you are and discover more about the wonderful world we live in.  Even though I wasn’t initially 100% sold on coming to NIU, I opened myself up to new experiences and gave it a chance.  I tried new things.  I made new friends.  I got involved in campus activities and organizations right away.  I was hooked.  I’m now in my senior year at NIU, with plans to graduate in May and then stick around for a while longer to complete my Master’s degree.  After that, I know I’ll be coming back to visit, because NIU is and forever will be my home.

If I hadn’t made the effort to transform NIU from “where I go to school” to “home,” I can almost guarantee that I would’ve transferred after a year.  And this is where I’ll circle back to the point I made at the beginning of this article:  choosing a school is hard.  There is no easy way to make that decision.

The best advice I can give is to choose a school where you feel that you can excel.  It doesn’t matter if this wasn’t your “dream school,” or if your best friend doesn’t go there too.  What makes or breaks your college experience is being in an environment that allows you to find and chase your passions.  The right school can help you do that.

Throughout my college career, I’ve learned that if you don’t like something, CHANGE IT.  This applies to life in general, but as far as college goes, if you’re unhappy at your school, look into other options.  Not every school is the right fit for every student.  But before you go and transfer, make sure you’re giving college a chance.  Try new things, meet new people, and if you’re not happy – move on.  Keep going until you find something you love.  Don’t remain stagnant.  Don’t wait for happy to come to you.  Go forth, find it, and refuse to settle for less.

The support I have felt from my Huskie family – my friends, my professors, and my fellow students – has helped me to grow both personally and professionally.  I’ve gone from a timid freshman to a confident senior who has a much clearer idea of what I want from my future.  NIU has helped me create my personal definition of happiness, and who knows?  It could help you do the same.

 

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Beautiful.

Editor’s Note: We asked students and staff alike, “If you encountered a new or returning student in a casual setting and began to talk about university life and NIU, what advice or encouragement would you give them?” One student decided to go above and beyond. Rachel McBride is a second year graduate student in the Masters of Nutrition and Dietetic Internship at NIU. She is currently a graduate research assistant for the Northern Illinois Food Bank and active CAUSE member. This is how she responded…

Rachel McBride 283x300 Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Beautiful.

Rachel McBride and NIU Alumnus Chris Leifel making pizzas for CAUSE.

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Beautiful.

These are words of inspiration from my high school science teacher that have molded many of the decisions I have made in my collegiate career here at NIU.

Be Bold. Those of us in CAUSE might call this unreasonable. Don’t be afraid to stand out and stand up for what you believe in. The only way things change is when someone challenges the status quo. Find something to get involved in at NIU that will leave a lasting legacy. One way to do this is to be an active leader on campus through a student organization, as a CA, or in the Student Association. A leadership position will equip you with opportunities to be bold and inspire other students to make positive impacts at NIU.

Be Brave. Try new things! Even things that sound crazy weird and outside of your comfort zone. Who knows who you will meet and what adventures you could have. NIU has a lot to offer. For example, I am a nutrition student who took the Honors Microfinance Series offered by Mr. Barsema my junior year at NIU. I had no idea what microfinance was at the time (sounded pretty boring to me!), but this step into the unknown has changed my worldview and has inspired me to use the resources and skills I have been blessed with to help others who are less fortunate.

Be Beautiful. Your time at NIU will be a whirlwind of excitement with lots of awesome opportunities and stressful moments as finals approach. Remember to take some time to focus on you. You’ll spend a lot of time doing homework, working part-time jobs, and hanging out with friends. It is important to take time to relax, reflect, and decompress. Having a balance of work and play will help you enjoy your time at NIU and to be successful.

I hope you find these words as an encouragement to stand out, do some unreasonable things, and exude confidence while you are paving your way at NIU.

Summer Internship Experience: For-Profit Edition

Editor’s Note: With the summer just finishing up and the NIU Internship/Full-time Job Fair just around the corner we wanted to highlight students and their internship experiences. In this two part series we will highlight two students, one who interned with a for-profit company and another who interned with a nonprofit company. By highlighting these two sectors we hope to give students different perspectives so that when it comes time for them to make the decision of their own they’re better prepared.

Hello! My name is Luis Sandoval and I am a senior double majoring in Management Information Systems and Applied Mathematics.  I am also double minoring in Marketing and Computer Science.  I was originally an accounting student but quickly found out that I really didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life.  It did not seem interesting to me but rather static. In addition, I also felt that there wasn’t much room for personal innovation and that did not align with what I envisioned for my future.

I have had the great opportunity to intern with AbbVie, a biopharmaceutical company, for the past two summers. The summer of 2013, I took on the role of a Business Systems Analyst and worked with the company on enhancing the overall performance and user experience of an international financial planning tool. At the end of my internship I had the opportunity to present my results in front of the project steering committee. This past summer, I took on the role of a developer and built an interface that allowed for the communication of an external and internal systems. During both summers I worked within a team, that’s just how the business world is.

Over the past two summers, I really developed my leadership, communication, teamwork and professional skills. I learned to put myself out there by simply putting myself out there. It may have been uncomfortable but I managed to overcome that. I was able to put myself in situations (networking, pitches, one-on-ones with directors and management, etc.) until it became more familiar to me rather than uncomfortable. That naturally allowed me to develop the skills listed above. I ultimately learned to put myself out there and I got used to being comfortable in uncomfortable and new situations.

I definitely did not have a good grasp on everything all the time. However, I asked tons of questions and did many hours of personal research outside of work. I feel that’s what everyone should do. You can’t just wait and expect for things to come to you. I am grateful to say that I will be starting full time with AbbVie in their IT Development Program in January.

Summer Internship Experience: Nonprofit Edition

Editor’s Note: With the summer just finishing up and the NIU Internship/Full-time Job Fair just around the corner we wanted to highlight students and their internship experiences. In this two part series we will highlight two students, one who interned with a for-profit company and another who interned with a nonprofit company. By highlighting these two sectors we hope to give students different perspectives so that when it comes time for them to make the decision of their own they’re better prepared.

Entrepreneurs 2 300x270 Summer Internship Experience: Nonprofit Edition

NIU Business Student Kerrian Miller and Co-Founder and Director at Human Connections Elly Rohrer posing for a picture with a local artisan.

Hello! My name is Kerrian Miller, I am a sophomore Marketing and Social Entrepreneurship student in the College of Business. This past summer I was fortunate enough to intern as the Marketing and Media NGO intern in Bucerías, Nayarit, Mexico. Three of the goals I set for myself when coming to NIU were to always challenge myself, enjoy what I’m doing, and gain real-world experience. While interning at Human Connections I was able to reach these goals and accomplish much more.

I interned at Human Connections, a non-profit organization that works with low-income artisans and tradespeople in the beautiful town of Bucerías, Nayarit, Mexico. They offer tours showcasing the artisan’s to locals and tourists. The tourists are able to gain a better perspective on the culture and appreciate the hard work that goes into sustaining a small business. The profits from the tour and donations are used to compensate the artisans shown on the tour and provide community classes for clients and their communities.

I had an amazing experience working at Human Connections. I learned so much in the short six weeks I was there. It was great to gain experience in consulting, marketing, and non-profit organizational leadership. This internship helped me to gain a better understanding of non-profits, immerse myself in a different culture, and it exposed me to people with such different stories. I was continuously learning, taking on new tasks, and being a positive contributor.

While interning for Human Connections, I helped create the strategic marketing plan. I loved offering creative and innovative ideas toward marketing material that would help us reach as many people as possible. Working on the website content and layout was very interesting. I had the opportunity to act as a marketing and financial consultant with many artisans and working with them was a very humbling experience. They were always very welcoming and appreciative. Towards the end of my internship I was creating marketing material for a client named Francisco. I know that he was grateful to have a new way to market his products and make tourist understand the work that goes into his craft. I left Mexico knowing that what I did made a difference in the lives of our clients.

Overall, being an intern this past summer has taught me to really think about where I want my career to go and to work diligently towards it. I now think about working internationally or for a non-profit organization. My interest in non-profits, social enterprises, and entrepreneurship has really grown. It was an amazing learning opportunity. I had such a great time working with students from universities from all over the country. Being an intern has made me realize how much I’m capable of. There was never a moment where I felt like I wasn’t doing something worthwhile. Human Connections is so invested in the artisans, tradespeople, and small business owners we work with. I have so much respect and appreciation for the team and work done at Human Connections. I know that having that experience will lead me towards more new and exciting opportunities.

We’ve Got Talent

Monday, February 6 was Talent Acquisition Night for marketing and sales students. (This event is the equivalent of other department’s Meet the Firm night.) This was my first experience at a school sanctioned internship/career event. Interestingly enough I along with everyone else in my Advanced Professional Selling class last semester were responsible for selling tables to companies for this event.

There were over 150 students that attended and nearly 50 companies. I thought it was a great turnout for a departmental event and it truly was set up quite nice. I’ve been to a professional sports career fair twice and the amount of people there forces you to wait in line for a large amount of time depending on the teams you want to talk to. The marketing departments Talent Acquisition Night was nothing like that. If you waited in “line” you were just waiting for a rep to free up. It didn’t take 10 – 20 minutes to speak with someone.  One thing in common though, there are lots of sales jobs out there. You could tell the companies in attendance last night are big supporters of NIU either coming from the Sales Advisory Board, the Interactive Advisory Board or they are just companies that attend all the job and internship fairs here on campus. It’s great to see that all these companies have such a vested interest in the students here.

I’m usually really excited for events like this but I was severely lacking enthusiasm for Talent Acquisition Night because I have a job lined up after I graduate already. I’ve been telling myself I keep looking and keep applying but the motivation is no longer there. I figured it can’t hurt to go to TAN to at least network with companies there whether I was interested in a lot of them or not. It turned out to be a great goal to just network since I wasn’t in need of a job. I also got some great insight about career paths and following passions from some of the recruiters there. Over all I certainly recommend to anyone whether you’re looking for a job or not, it’s great to go for the networking, the practice and the tips you can receive.  It is totally beneficial and worthwhile to attend and make those connections.