a Life Changing motivation

Editor’s Note:  Last but not least, here is the fourth in a four part guest post series from a team of OM&IS students.  They talk about what motivated them to create and manage the Dreamworks Scholarship campaign as part of their project management class (OM&IS 352). 

My name is Tyler Gancarz.  My OMIS 352 team and I decided to start a scholarship for our community project (in OM&IS 352).  All the members of our team have been helped in some way from scholarships and grants — that’s really why we wanted to help other students in the same way others have helped us.

My experience at NIU and the College of Business has been a special one and I would hate for someone to miss out on something so life changing because of financial need.  This scholarship project is a way for us to pay if forward, an opportunity for us to give back to the college and help dedicated students who demonstrate financial need.  The impact this project will have goes way beyond the classroom and could actually change someone’s life in such a positive way.

Visit the Dreamworks website here and give to the cause if you feel strongly about this too.

Current posts in this series:

Giving help, Creating opportunities

Editor’s Note:  In the project management class (OMIS 352), students were challenged to create a project that makes a meaningful impact in the community.   Here’s the third in a four part guest post series on why a team of 4 OMIS students feel so strongly about their project, the Dreamworks Scholarship campaign. 

My name is Mason Bush and I am a senior at the NIU College of Business.  I’m in the first generation of my family to graduate college.

I wanted to do this project because I have personally benefited from these scholarships and would have had a very hard time paying for school without this help. The NIU College of Business is a great place to be and a great opportunity to get ahead in life. The school is relatively affordable, especially considering how good it is and the opportunities available here, but many students still can’t afford to be here. The main reason I want to establish this scholarship is that I want other people to have the ability to get here who may not be able to otherwise. A lot of people need this kind of help. I know I certainly did.

Check out the Dreamworks web page here and if you feel strongly about this too, please help spread the word or donate or both!:

Current posts in this series:

Success

Over the past two years I’ve had my share of experiences.  I’ve had some success and a fair amount of failure as well.  With graduation quickly approaching I wanted to take some time to reflect on what contributed most to not only my successes but my failures as well.  This has been a great form of meditation and I encourage anyone reading this to do it as well!  I’ve learned a little bit more about myself in the process and want to share my thoughts with you in a short series of posts that will highlight my contributing factors to success, which you’ll read below, and my failures will follow in time.  Disclaimer: by no means am I saying that I always do these items below…but when I have, I’ve felt that I’ve achieved success in doing them.  Hope you enjoy!

When something hits your desk it doesn’t matter what level of importance it is.  What matters most is to recognize that if it affects somebody else, do it immediately.  You can wait till the last minute on a 10 page paper if you are solely affected by the grade on the assignment.  However, if somebody needs an email forwarded, help on a team assignment or a favor, do it.  You will be held in high regard if you can exhibit this behavior.  An old saying rings true “You can have everything you want, if you will just help everyone get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

Keep in contact with people.  Send little texts, stay in touch through social media, or send a card once in a while.  Do this whenever you see something that reminds you of them.  Or if that’s too much out of your day just be personable and say hi to people you know (or don’t know) in your daily lives.  Nurture your friendships and keep your network open, one day these people you kept in contact with could hold the keys to open doors that you don’t even know exist yet.

Opportunities present themselves often at NIU, take advantage of them.  You get in-class presentations on the Experiential Learning Center, study abroad programs, student organizations, etc., but many people simply forget what they’ve been exposed to only minutes after it’s shown.  Write those opportunities down and research them further when you have a minute to yourself.  Pursue challenges and you’ll be amazed at how far you’ll go, not only at NIU, but in life itself.

Keep moving.  I learned this on distance bike rides and a backpacking adventure in the Smokey Mountains.  Even trying to ride my bike from my hometown to Wisconsin, every pedal I took, no matter how small, brought me closer to finishing my goal.  When backpacking we spent a few days going uphill for stints of 12 miles or more.  With each step in that cold and wet weather, we were that much closer to reaching camp. For those of you who want to give up and are overwhelmed by work that is seemingly insurmountable, take a second and remember how to eat an elephant…do it one bite at a time.

I encourage you to add your own keys to success in the comments below.  As I said, keep an eye out to read a little bit more about my failures and how can you avoid making the same mistakes I’ve made in my university career. 2.0out

Making Waves with CAUSE

With all the news lately about NIU CAUSE  and their upcoming Social Impact Summit, we took some time to interview Sophomore Rob Willer to figure out what all the fuss is about. 

What is CAUSE?

CAUSE stands for the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs.  The organization is a bit complex and for the sake of brevity I’ll provide this link to their about page rather than reciting all their motives, goals, and projects ( http://niucause.com/about-niu-cause).

How did you get involved?

Well there’s a few reasons.  My old CA (Zach Fiegel)  is the current president of Cause.  He had talked to me about the organization a few times before but one day in class I was talking to a few students who were in the honors program.  They mentioned the Cause meeting that night and they invited me to come.  I wanted to get involved in the actual business program and I thought this was my chance.  Zach pointed to me in a meeting and asked if I had any thoughts on a certain topic and I thought that was really cool.  Since then  I took over the role of Social Media, then treasurer and now I help wherever I can.

So what exactly is your title/duty in the organization?

Treasurer, pizza maker, pizza seller, promoter, social media…you name it.

We’ve been hearing a lot about the upcoming Social Impact Summit.  What’s that all about?

A lot of organizations have been putting on these conferences lately and they involve schools and businesses around their area. We thought, all of these other schools and groups are doing it, why can’t we?  We really want this to be an opportunity to students and businesses to network as well as promote awareness of a socially responsible mindset.

The website states that there are three goals in mind.  To Educate students and social practitioners about the applications of social entrepreneurship, to Inspire students and social practitioners to find ways to enlarge their societal and environmental impacts or just plain get started in the social space, and to facilitate Networking among students and social practitioners who are passionate about making a difference and changing the world.

Who is coming out?

We have two keynote speakers, Chuck Templeton and Megan Kashner along with numerous other companies and social incubators.  Over 130 students are coming out as well and you can still register at NIUCause.com and click Register Today!

1st annual implies that it will be a recurring event….any details on next year’s summit?

One step at a time…we’re putting the final touches on this year’s event but we hope that in this next month once we’re done reflecting and taking a breath, then maybe next year we can hope to get some new businesses/speakers and reach our goal of 250 participants.

Was orchestrating this event more work than you thought?

Definitely, but it’s been very rewarding!  It’s been nice to interact with a bunch of these companies online as social media guy for NIU Cause and get them all together in the same place.  I see lots of the companies that are participating tweeting about how excited they are.  It really feels great that there are  people out there that are as excited as we are.

What skills did you develop from this?  What lessons did you learn?

Teamwork: at first there was just four of us going out to find sponsors for the event.  Then we started dividing the responsibilities out to more members to get more people involved.  You get a little overwhelmed at the beginning because you see all these people so involved but it’s actually pretty easy to find a place, just ask questions during meetings and jump in where you can!

How can students get involved?

Come out to one of our weekly meetings on Tuesdays from  5-6 pm in BH 227.  There’s no application… just show up.  Students can also follow us on twitter @NIUCAUSE  or on facebook for more updates!  http://www.facebook.com/NIUCAUSE

Rob also writes for CLNS radio and the Northern Star.  Keep an eye out for his articles online and in print as the baseball season gets underway!

Experiential Learning Center

When I was a prospective student I went from website to website and toured many colleges.  When I took my tour of the NIU College of Business I saw the campus, I saw Barsema Hall, and I spoke with faculty but the thing that stood out most to me was undoubtedly the Experiential Learning Center.  As defined by the college, the Experiential Learning Center connects teams of NIU students with organizations to tackle real-world business issues. From software evaluation to emerging market analysis projects, students serve as consultants addressing non-mission critical, cross functional business issues.  The program is also competitive entry, which was highly attractive to me as well.  When they say they only take the best of the best students from the undergraduate and graduate level, that is a program that I definitely want to involved with.

Each project lasts 16 weeks and spans across an entire semester.  Students are given the chance to apply for projects of their choice and they may apply for as many projects as they are interested in, there is no limit!  Once they’ve submitted their applications, the faculty coaches will select who they want to interview for their respective projects.  If all goes well and the student is a fit for the project, they will be invited to join an Experiential Learning Center Team.

I applied for every single project in the fall of 2011.  I was so anxious and wanted nothing more than the opportunity to get involved.  I interviewed with 5 of the 8 project leaders and thankfully, after a few days of nail biting, I was selected to join a project for spring 2012.

I got so much out of my experience.  Over the 16 week period I earned real world experience.  I felt as though I was an employee of my client company and I communicated on almost a daily basis with executives at said company which was the 15th largest private U.S. company at the time.  Every week I would manage conference calls with my client by making agendas, working through action items and project planning schedules.  I created a professional survey from scratch with the assistance of faculty advisors and marketed the survey to earn intelligible data for our final recommendations.  I learned how to be a leader since we were asked to lead student meetings in a rotation.  With over 15 hours of work going into the project each week, I was forced to manage my time and learn how to delegate and prioritize to meet deadlines.  At the close of our project, we compiled a final report which led to the eventual acceptance and implementation of our 7 step recommendation.  I learned how to control and leverage time in a meeting, and I learned more about business communications than I did in some classes!  I honed my presentation skills and built confidence after presenting to countless VP’s, Presidents, and other C-level executives at our final client meeting.

Nick LoVetere, our previous student blogger wrote the following in one of his final posts from the spring 2012 semester.

“If I had even just one more year in college there are some things I would do that I wasn’t able. I was recruited to be part of the Experiential Learning Center but due to scheduling and the academic path I chose, far too many people said it was too much work to handle (and I’m the kind of person who takes on everything, so it says a lot when you’re told more than once not to do it). One more year, and I would be the first to apply and tell every faculty coach why I should be on their consulting project.”

Don’t miss this opportunity!  The deadline to apply is only days away!  You may browse projects at http://www.cob.niu.edu/elc/projects.asp and once you’re ready to dive in and take the plunge visit https://applyelc.niu.edu/login/?next=/menu/ to apply.

Keys to Success: Defined by Students

A few weeks ago I got to thinking about what makes someone successful at the NIU College of Business.  I wanted to seek out someone to ask how they achieved their success.  Then it dawned on me…no one person alone can answer this question because there are so many unique experiences that can be had here at the college of business.  Instead of asking one person, I decided to take my question to the streets of Facebook.  I asked fans of the NIU College of Business for their input and requested that they complete the following sentence: I’ve achieved success by_______.

I want to thank students who shared their input.  You may view their responses by following this link http://on.fb.me/ZKSyXO.  Take a moment to reflect on the meaning of their answers, although they are brief there really is a lot of insight when you look a little deeper!

Suiting up

Getting “suited-up” has numbered benefits.  For one, it clearly and immediately communicates to an audience the goals, mindset, and personality of the the person that’s dressed to impress.  Annika Shelly, writer, stylist, and lecturer at the Wall Street Journal adds, “It’s about trust and credibility. The reptilian part of our brain tells us to trust what we see more than any other sense. And trust what the person is wearing.”  It also proves a personal level of respect for the occasion.  Taking extra steps to dress up for your date or cleaning up nice before going to work will show others that you’re taking your role seriously.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/85broads/2011/04/13/dressing-the-part-job-personal-branding/

Indeed, dressing the part can absolutely make you not only look more professional but it can boost your confidence as well.  Heavy influencers in the corporate world agree.  Take Neil Patel for example.  By the age of 21 he was named one of the top influencers on the web according to the Wall Street Journal.  In a reflective blog post he states, “A friend of mine kindly suggested that I spend a bit more money on my wardrobe, pay more than 10 bucks for a haircut, and get a decent pair of shoes…With my new clothes, a somewhat decent haircut, and nice pair of black shoes I made a break through. At first I noticed that people were more willing to talk to me when I went to conferences. I also noticed that during my business meetings people took me more serious.

http://www.quicksprout.com/2011/09/12/why-you-should-dress-to-impress-%E2%80%93-the-roi-of-fashion/

Not missing a single day of class

It may seem silly to remind you to go to class. But it won’t be quite so obvious as you settle into college life.  Although it may seem difficult at times to forego your beauty sleep for academic discussion, you must realize that you have access to some of the most accomplished experts in their field, and moreover, you are paying a large amount of money to have their attention and support. Don’t waste it.

By not taking shortcuts

Put in the hours, it will pay dividends down the road.  Actually learn your material.  Realize that you need to invest yourself fully in your education.  One respondent to our poll even said that they studied on Friday nights!  Now that’s dedication!

By getting involved in organizations

Becoming a part of the community is of the utmost importance.  It is important not only to your mental and social health, but it also helps you achieve academic and career related success. Your relationships add value to you and can help you get your homework done, they can help you in developing team skills.  You could even step up to lead a group project, and activities in organizations give you something to focus on even if other academic stresses get you discouraged.  Best of all, joining organizations can help you earn valuable skills that you’ll need in your future career.

By asking the right questions

Heck, they don’t even have to be the right ones.  Each question that is asked is relative to the person asking the question so how can you identify which question is “right” and which one is “wrong” anyway?  For example, if you are a marketing major like I am, you may have a question if a problem involving physics is given.  Others with that background may find the questions I ask to be silly or unnecessary but because I have yet to earn that knowledge, the question I asked was justified.  So going along with what this student mentioned, simply reach out to someone for help and advice, especially as a student.  Professors, professionals and others are often times more than willing to lend you a hand or offer wisdom from their own experiences and knowledge banks.

Networking

College is probably one of the most diverse populations of people that you will live and work with during your entire life.  There are countless majors, backgrounds, and creeds that attend our beautiful college and to not make connections with them and keep in touch would simply be foolish.  Not only do you have access to a vast number of students but we are also granted access to numerous professionals through networking events, class visits, and recruiting fairs.  Actively seek out people to build your network.  Whether it be fellow students, or professionals, the people you know should be treated as valuable assets in the professional world.

 

Career & Internship Fair Advice

The Internship and Job fairs have reached their end.  The stress of getting your suit pressed and polishing your shoes till you can eat off of them are gone.  You can finally rest because the hard part is finally behind you…..or is it?

You may think that now is a time to breathe easy but the time following these fairs is where the real leg work begins.  If you were well prepared, had a good pitch, and dressed the part, you should be seeing a steady stream of emails and calls starting to flow through your inbox from the employers you spoke with.  Other times, they may be waiting on you to initiate the first contact …sort of like that girl you met at the bar last weekend.

 Career & Internship Fair Advice

"The three day rule doesn’t apply in business"

This brings us to our first point.

Follow Up: It is important to follow up with any company you speak with.  Get representatives business cards!  Those little pieces of paper are your golden ticket.  You no longer have to throw arrows in the dark to move on in the application/interview process because you have a living, breathing person to guide you through it!  Write a handwritten thank you card or email thanking them for their time at the fairs.  It sounds like something my mother used to nag me about but I’ve heard this advice validated time and time again from recruiters.  Remember also to concisely restate your pitch in this note and close by asking what the next step in the process is.  Your attention to detail IS what grabs their attention and it really is the “little things” like this that can make a difference.

Stay Focused:  Don’t throw your suit in a pile on your bedroom floor just because the fairs are over.  Many companies have reserved time on campus for interviews that can take place just weeks after the fairs.  Stay in the mindset you had before/during the fairs and keep that momentum moving you forward.  Take advantage of these opportunities that are given to you.  Even if you’re uncertain of your future with a certain company use your time with them as an opportunity to learn more about the positions they have to offer.  Who knows, that company may have your dream job that you didn’t even know existed yet.  Even if nothing comes of your interview with a certain company, the practice you’ll receive along the way is priceless!

Prepare:  When you begin to schedule interviews with various companies, dig deeper on your research for each one.  They already like what you have to offer but now they want to see if you match their unique brand.  Look into their company culture as well as the descriptions of the positions they offer.  Understand how your skills  match those parameters then prepare and show the employer why YOU ARE the right fit for the job!

Use the STAR approach to sell why you are the best person.  The STAR approach is described in further detail below:

  • Situation- think of a situation that you were faced with that will be relevant in your interview.  An issue at work/school or a project.
  • Task- what did you have to do to find a solution to the situation?  Did you have to work with a team or step into a new role?
  • Action- What things did you personally do to achieve success?  Did you take a leadership role in that team or did you overcome a challenging obstacle?
  • Result- Are there any metrics related to your success?  What good came from you overcoming the situation?  Did your team meet its goals?  Do you have numbers to quantify your result? 2.0out

The World Collegiate Sales Open

The following guest post is written by Senior Marketing Major Abbey Vanderwoude. 

Nicole and Abbey prepping 300x198 The World Collegiate Sales OpenLast weekend was the culmination of a 9-month long sales competition, the World Collegiate Sales Open.  The WCSO was designed by the legendary Dr. Dan Weilbaker himself, and is unlike any other sales competition. Nick Kochetta, Nicole Weldon, and I were deemed finalists who joined the other 17 students from around the world for the final series of events: a voicemail, appointment call, two role plays, two elevator pitches, and reverse job fair.  I have competed in other sales competitions in the past, but the WCSO was an entirely new experience. I was pushed way past my comfort zone with unusual events like the elevator pitch and the reverse job fair. The competition was also unique because it incorporated a series of curve balls to keep us on our toes. While these curve balls made the events more difficult, the effect was that the combined events added up to a realistic portrayal of the sales professional’s journey to earn an account’s business.

Abbey Groza Jerry 300x198 The World Collegiate Sales OpenAmidst the competitions events, we had the chance to mingle with the other contestants and learn about other sales programs around the world. The students each brought their own perspective to sales, and I know I learned a lot from them. When I walked out of my Final Four Role Play, I was down on myself for not “controlling the meeting,” and not running the call the way I planned. I spoke to another finalist at the Awards Banquet, who, interestingly enough, happened to be an accounting major, and his response was this: “It wasn’t your meeting.” He was absolutely right, and I am so glad to have learned that perspective from him. In addition to networking with other contestants, I really enjoyed networking with the competition sponsors and judges. Companies including White Lodging, ADP, McKesson, Bosch, Adobe, and Sure Payroll generously sponsored the WCSO, and all were eager to get to know the students.

Barsema Hall 300x198 The World Collegiate Sales OpenOne of my main takeaways from last weekend is that the NIU Professional Selling Program prepares its students extremely well for sales careers.  Although we were sitting in a room with students from the top sales programs around the world, our skills as NIU students stood out.  Our team was extremely grateful to be coached by the best, Dr. Peterson, and we know we would not have made it to the finals round without his guidance. From our experience in Marketing 350 and Marketing 450, we were able to overcome the curve balls thrown our way and, as Dr. Peterson would say, not let “the wheels come off.” It was an absolute honor to be a part of such an esteemed competition, but even more of an honor to represent the NIU Sales Program and make our peers proud.

Prizes 300x195 The World Collegiate Sales Open

 

Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

Who do you want to see speak at NIU? Google? McDonalds? The Chicago Bears? Anything is truly possible in this day and age and I’ll show you a step-by-step process of how you can use LinkedIn to bring in your dream guest speaker.

But first a few LinkedIn basics I try to follow:

  1. Don’t over-connect with everyone

The reason I don’t connect with everyone who requests to connect is because you want to be comfortable asking favors on LinkedIn. As you’ll see below, I ask my connections to introduce me to a specific person in the Chicago Blackhawks. A good rule of thumb is to connect with someone you’d be comfortable giving your phone number to.

2.  Get a profile picture!

Even if it’s a close-up of you in your “going out shirt” temporarily until you get a professional picture taken (which are always going on in Barsema), get a darn picture! When I see someone I know on LinkedIn with no picture I immediately think they are inactive and therefore don’t respond to them. Get a picture. Now.

3.  Recommend and get recommended

But only from people you have worked with! Trading recommendations with friends not only is a rookie mistake, but also looks really poor when hiring managers see it, and trust me, they do. However, if you’ve worked with peers, in a meaningful way (semester long project, ELC, organization, competition, internship) then by all means, recommend your fellow Huskies and colleagues. Please don’t be the one requesting a recommendation with the same custom template LinkedIn gives you. If you can’t take the time to actually personalize your request, I don’t have the time to write you one.

Okay, now to bring in your dream speaker.

  • Hover over the “people” tab, click and scroll down to select “companies.”

 Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

  • Type in the company you want to bring in (think BIG – Google, Apple, Nike, P&G, etc.)

 Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

  • Click the company’s profile.
  • Under the “How you’re connected” section, select “see all.

 Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

  • Look for 2nd degree connections. These are the people you want to invite! (Make sure they still work at desired company.)
  • Hover over the list icon on the right side of the “connect” logo. Select “Get introduced.”

 Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

  • Select a connection to introduce you and be sure to customize your message.
  • Prosper! Good luck!

By using these 8 steps, I was able to bring in the Senior Director of New Media and Creative Services from the Chicago Blackhawks to speak for the Interactive Marketing Board and the American Marketing Association! If you’re interested in coming out to see Adam Kempenaar speak about social media strategies, branding, media techniques used, you can REGISTER for the April 3rd event for free here.

Cheers!

Mike

Winter Break

As most of you know, winter break has finally begun.  It’s a magical time where students across campus can take a deep breath, spend time with their loved ones and catch up on reading their textbooks…..okay, maybe that last one is a stretch. By now, they’re probably bought back or being used for bonfires.

img 1 Winter Break

"O' the fire is so delightful"

Anyways, I will not be posting to this blog until I return to classes the week of January 14th.  Look forward to another great semester for Student Voices and hopefully some great guest articles as well!  Now is the time to write them!  Check out our ‘Guest Posts’ page for more information.

Before I go, I want to thank everyone for a great first semester.  It’s been quite a learning experience for me and hopefully it’s been as enjoyable for you all to read as it has been for me to manage.  I hope that you continue to read, make suggestions, comment and contribute in 2013.

1437334EE597737498BF33AF8E2927 Winter Break

I told my parents that you can't spell success without C's. They didn't like that very much.

As I’ve said before, I take this blog very seriously…sometimes more seriously than my classes (my report card doesn’t look too good this semester) but knowing that you’re all out there reading and playing along makes this position worthwhile and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  Until next semester…2.0out