“Living the Dream”

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

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

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

“Big Dreams, Little Wallets”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making the Decision: Where to attend college?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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.

 

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

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

Regional Sales Competition

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a sales competition for the AMA regional conference in Whitewater, Wisconsin.  I learned a lot about myself and my education in the process and feel compelled to share it with you all by way of this post.  But first, I should preface that with some information about the conference!

AMA Conference2 Regional Sales Competition

NIU students take a quick pic at the AMA Regional Conference

The conference played host to phenomenal guest speakers and numerous networking opportunities.  What I really went for, however, was the sales competition.The competition had two rounds.  The first was an appointment call where we played the role of a sales rep for College Pro Painters (the sponsor of the competition).  On our call we were to speak with the owner of an event planning company who had submitted an estimate request online.

My call went very well and my judges gave excellent feedback.  My approach on the call felt so fluid.  I worked through objections, built solid rapport, and made the appointment to meet face to face with my prospect.   I had a quiet confidence about me in the role play and my judges reinforced this in their comments following my call.  It was very odd to hear such positive feedback, however, because up to this point my experiences in sales usually come up short of a “win”; especially in the NIU sales program.  I am bruised and bloodied in the sales track here but my goodness I’m proud to take the hits if this level of performance is the outcome.

I saw people from other schools walk out of the role play rooms complaining how the objections they received didn’t match the ones they expected based on their preparation.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  I have been groomed to expect the unexpected and with only an hour or so worth of preparation I was able to field any and all objections that were thrown at me.  I have been trained to think outside the box and understand the needs of the customer.  I know to listen before I speak and I understand that if a buyer has a problem that you NEED be the solution in order to make the sale.

Preparation Regional Sales Competition

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success. -Alexander Graham Bell

Most people that know me well understand that I maintain an extreme and sometimes unhealthy level of modesty.  I must deviate from that on this post to help you understand how incredible our sales program is.  When it came time for results to be posted from round 1, I didn’t even feel the need to look.  I already knew I moved on.  I walked out of that room knowing that I nailed the call.  The only reason I even went to see the results sheet that they posted in the hall was to see what time my second round face to face appointment with the prospect was.  It was scheduled a few hours away and I needed to begin preparing.

I prepared until my scheduled time and walked into the room with confidence.  In this final round, I was meeting face to face with the business owner to close a deal to paint his business.  I used tools I had learned from professors here at NIU and I credit them alone to how well my entire experience at this regional conference went.  I felt like a sales “monster” in that final role play.  Not a single thing went wrong.  My judges were spellbound and had nothing to say when I invited them to give any constructive criticism.  They looked to each other and simply shook their heads.  They said they loved my process.  They said it was clean, consistent, and focused on the needs of the customer.  I believe that the judges thought the same about our other students who participated because the NIU AMA chapter ended up taking home two runner up prizes and one first place (which I’m proud to have accepted on behalf of our NIU chapter and the NIU College of Business).

AMA prizes Regional Sales Competition

Three of Six top prizes claimed by the NIU American Marketing Society!

I’ve gone through so much rejection, had so many missteps in MKTG 450 (the highest level sales course at NIU) but all the mistakes have been worth something.  It finally hit me at the competition, just how much I’ve learned in the past nine weeks.  The value of participating in MKTG 450 is undeniable.  It is no wonder why I hear recruiters consistently say that 450 alum are a cut above.  Up to this point I haven’t had anything to validate these claims and the competition really just opened my eyes.  When a single school takes home half of the cash prizes (each winner was a MKTG 450 student), there is something to be said about that schools program and its attention to detail.  I am sure that I’m not alone in my thinking and other 450 students and alum can attest to the growth they’ve seen in themselves;  both personally and professionally based on their experience in Advanced Professional Sales.

Weilbaker D Regional Sales CompetitionI feel that it is appropriate within the context of this blog post to take a moment to thank Dr. Weilbaker, the founder of our sales track here at NIU, for his exceptional work in making this program the powerhouse it is today.  I am certainly not alone in saying that I appreciate what he’s done.  Thank you for your years of service to this institution.  We wish you nothing but the best when this semester reaches its end.  2.0out