a world view from Ukraine to NIU

Maksym at the Grand Canyon  1024x575 a world view from Ukraine to NIU

Editor’s Note:  It’s not every day that you find yourself on the other side of the world.  But that’s the reality for Maksym, an NIU accountancy major and native Ukranian (and pictured above, at the Grand Canyon).  Maksym has lived in the US for the past four years.  He’s an “NIU native,” meaning he entered the university his freshman year.  Now a senior and on the brink of graduating in May, Maksym places his focus not only on his future but equally – and more intensely – on the unfolding crisis between Ukraine and Russia.  Technology serves him more as a lifeline than anything, these days.  He uses it at every opportunity to check news reports, emails, and social channels reporting on the situation in Ukraine.  His parents and siblings still reside there, thankfully in the northern area of the country somewhat removed from current tensions.  Nonetheless, Maksym and his family remain acutely aware of the rapidly changing world around them…from both sides of the planet.  I met Maksym through a chance conversation in the hallways of Barsema Hall.  I happened to be carrying a sweater with embroidery that, I would soon learn, resembled the national flowers and colors of Ukraine.  This prompted Maksym to introduce himself to me and from there a conversation developed about his country, the importance of a global outlook, and his experiences at NIU.  Out of respect to Maksym and his family, the following interview shares Maksym’s views primarily about the significance of a global outlook and his experiences at NIU.

 

Maksym’s Long view from the other side of the Pond

Michelle:   Thank you, Maksym, for going out of your way to introduce yourself to me and for agreeing to share some of your story.  To begin, I’m curious to learn how you landed at NIU – all the way from the other side of the world.

Maksym:  In high school in Ukraine, I began looking at universities – just like most high school kids do.  But my situation was a bit different.  The reason is I played tennis professionally when I was in high school.  This gave me access to a powerful resource.  There are companies in Ukraine and in Russia that help find universities for professional athletes who are also students. Their goal is to match the needs and interests of each athlete-student – both in terms of sports and in terms of academics.  This is how I found out about NIU.

Michelle: What was it like to be a professional athlete in high school…that’s such a young age.  Did you travel?

Maksym:  I traveled all the time.  I played professional tennis in Ukraine and in Europe.  Before I came to the US and NIU, I had traveled to about 15-20 countries.  Travelling is something I became accustomed to.  I began playing tennis at 9.  I started the sport more for fun, but then I became very good at it, and later when I played professionally, I traveled a lot not only to compete but also to practice in different cities for a month at a time.  In Ukraine where I am from there aren’t many places that support professional tennis players – that’s why I spent so much time travelling when I was growing up and also studying at the same time.  Different cities provided practice facilities for tennis, so I had to travel there to practice.  And then I also had to travel to compete.

Michelle: Sounds like a world view comes naturally to you.  Did you find it difficult to fit in at any of these places?  Even at NIU…was it easy or challenging or somewhere in between to fit in here? 

Maksym:  I am very used to being immersed in different cultures, different places, with people from all types of backgrounds.  So, no, it wasn’t hard at all for me to be comfortable in those different cities when I was young and practiced tennis there, or even when I competed in different countries.  The hardest part was missing my family.  My family stayed in Ukraine.  I traveled with the professional tennis team.  Those trips were very focused.  I suppose I grew up fast that way in terms of, you know, having an open perspective about different places and cultures, different people.  With that experience, no, it wasn’t hard at all for me to fit in at NIU.  Plus, I came here knowing what I was doing, what my focus was.  I came here to study accountancy and I came here to play tennis.  I lived in the dorms my first year here.  I had a really good roommate who was also an athlete.  He is majoring in law.  He is from the US but he is very open-minded about different countries and different backgrounds.  He became a good friend who made it easy to fit in because he wasn’t at all judgmental about someone from a different country.

Michelle:  If you had only one recommendation to make – to a new student or anyone, really – about travelling abroad, what would it be?

Maksym:  It’s really beneficial to have the proper mindset.  Being open-minded to other places, other people, other experiences.  It’s so important to realize that there are other ways to do things, to acknowledge that people even think differently and that that’s not always a bad thing.  When you travel abroad, really experience the culture, even the food.  For example, don’t look for a McDonald’s or something that you already know.  Try something new. 

Michelle:You’re about to graduate in May?  Have you been on the NIU tennis team all four years of your time here?

Maksym:  I was on the NIU tennis team for three years and really enjoyed it, but I had an injury and so now I am the manager of the NIU women’s team.  I also want to help the university’s Tennis Club.

Michelle:  I’m sorry to hear about the sports injury, but I’m glad you found a way to stay involved with the sport. So you’ve been on a team and you’re leading a team.  How would you describe good leadership and a good team?

Maksym:  Leaders have to be responsible.  A dictator isn’t a leader…they think they are but they aren’t.  That type of leadership style takes away from others and avoids responsibility.  A good leader is responsible and helps others succeed.  A good leader also stands by their word.   I can tell a strong team by how good the relationships are between the people on the team.  They don’t necessarily have to be friends at all.  But they have to trust each other.  They are honest and respectful with what they say and they back up what they say.  Good team members admit when they can’t do something and they find help.  There is a saying in my country that translates into “You live age and you learn age.”  It basically means you live through a period of time and while you go through life, you are always learning.

Michelle: What’s been your most meaningful experience here at NIU and just in general?

Maksym:  My most memorable experience at NIU is sports-related.  It would definitely be winning the 2012 MAC championship for tennis.  That was so awesome.  (Edtior’s note to readers:  If you’re like me and had no idea NIU got the MAC championship in tennis in 2012, check out the hyperlink to an NIU Today story on it!)

Outside of NIU, it may sound odd, I don’t know, but in January of this year I traveled to Arizona. 

Maksym at the Grand Canyon2 576x1024 a world view from Ukraine to NIUI saw the Grand Canyon and actually stayed at the Grand Canyon overnight.  It was an incredible experience seeing it.  I don’t know if I can put it into words.  But seeing that place changed the way I see the world – in terms of what people value.  I was so engrossed in the moment.  I stared at a clear sunset.  It was perfectly clear.  It all looked so unreal.  I was so engrossed I watched the light changing and the way it reflected in the canyon changing until it was completely dark and it was morning.  The sunset is really almost impossible. 

Maksym visits the Grand Can 1024x768 a world view from Ukraine to NIU

I’ve never seen that image like what I saw at the Grand Canyon anywhere.  It was so quiet, so awe-inspiring that you can’t help but feel yourself removed from the routine of life. 

I know that experience changed me – it’s difficult to phrase clearly how.  How much the impact will be, I don’t know yet.  But I know it will be.  Right now, even though I’m looking for work and hope to pursue a master of accounting science if I get a tennis scholarship or graduate assistant position, I can say the experience changed my perspective.  I see the world differently now.  It really made me realize how incredible things can be and how important it is to pay attention in the moment, no matter where you are. 

 

 

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

Make Life Easier

Before I made it to NIU life was a little bit simpler to manage.  I could handle all my affairs including homework, a job, and scheduling without much thought or worry.  Now, with 5 classes, 3 student organizations, 2 internships, and social life to juggle I feel like I need my own secretary.  Unfortunately, I do not have the money or the influence to afford such a luxury.  In lieu of my budget and anonymity, I’ve learned to harness technology  to help manage my busy life.  I’m hoping that with this blog I can help you all do the same.  Here are a few applications and technologies that I’ve utilized to make life a little bit easier.

 Make Life Easier

 Google Drive lets you store, access, and share your files anywhere, whether it be on the web, on your hard drive, or on a mobile device.  Here’s how you can start:

  1. Go to Google Drive on the web at drive.google.com.
  2. Install Google Drive on your computer and mobile device (Free for iPhone and Android)
  3. Place files in Google Drive on your computer and boom, it goes straight to your mobile and vice versa!

You can store up to 5 GB of data for free!  Collaborate with others on documents to do group assignments remotely.  I’ve literally completed entire papers and assignments without ever meeting with my teammates.  Another benefit of Drive is that you’ll never have to worry about forgetting an attachment on your computer at home (the second worst excuse next to my dog ate my homework).  With Google Drive, your documents are anywhere you have a computer or mobile device.

 Make Life Easier

Astrid is the personal assistant that I’ve always wanted.  I can use it to make grocery lists, to-do lists that include errands or assignments, and others.  Best of all, its free and I can use the application to schedule all the tasks that I have to complete.  Astrid helps you get your life organized so you will never miss a due date.  Because it offers the ability to add deadlines and priority levels to your tasks that pair with reminders and alarms, you will never forget to follow through with your obligations again!  The lists you create in Astrid go straight to the cloud, so like Google Drive, you can access your lists anywhere you have a computer or mobile device.  Simply log into your account and surprise, all of your grocery lists, book lists, and assignment deadlines are all there!

 Make Life Easier

Right Inbox is free extension for Chrome and Firefox that works with your Gmail account to schedule emails for sending later.  The add-on places a "Send Later" button in your Gmail account with options to schedule the email at any time and date you please!   You can use it to send yourself reminders or send emails to others at just the right time.  I’ve used right inbox to send time sensitive emails that can only be sent between certain hours of certain days (shout out to Mktg 450 students).  Many recruiters for companies have their email on their phones and I’d hate to leave a bad impression and wake them at 2 AM in the morning (when I do most of my work).  So instead, I’ll write the email at 2 AM but I’ll schedule the email for 4 hours later using Right Inbox!  It’s a win-win!  They get to sleep and I get to look like a stud for supposedly being a productive member of society at 6 in the morning (or so the email says).

Use these applications and plug ins and I’m sure they can add a few months, a few more hours to your beauty sleep, and a few less stress induced wrinkles!  2.0out

Do you have any suggestions for apps that have made your life easier?  Share in the comments below!

 

The 2-2-2 Rule

This next guest post is written by Mike Glassberg, an Interactive Marketing Student at the NIU College of Business. Follow him on twitter @cubswin716.

 The 2 2 2 Rule

For most of my college life, I’ve prided myself on the relentless perseverance to reach any and all of my goals and to never give up. This also meant giving 110% in all activities. Giving anything less felt like a failure, something I refused to let happen.

And at the beginning of my first Senior semester, that’s what I did: gave 110% in every activity, project, or assignment that was handed to me – or at least I tried. But it was overwhelming being a leader in two organizations, working for the university, being a Junior Consultant in the Experiential Learning Center (ELC), all on top of my regular class schedule.

 

In college, and in life, you need to understand what’s important to you and prioritize accordingly. Over the last few months, I’ve implemented a new rule into my life: the 2 weeks, 2 months, and 2 years rule.

What will this matter to me in 2 weeks? 2 months? 2 years?

My most memorable use of the “2-2-2″ rule was from a few weeks ago; I had 10+ page midterm due the next morning. My friend had called me that night as I was typing away, and explained to me a serious personal problem she was going through. I value our friendship very much, and want it to last well over two years. So instead of telling her I was busy with a big paper, I used the 2-2-2 rule and decided that I’d get over the poor grade of my midterm paper in two months, but it would  hopefully mean a lot more to her in two months that I was there for her, especially when I was at my busiest.

This rule of thumb has turned me from a bag of hammers to, well let’s say a few hammers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still stressed, but its focused in the right places and allows me to be excellent in the areas I care most about.

I strongly urge you to use the rule of 2, immediately. Today. Use it in class when you get an answer wrong and are feeling down. Use it when your best friend can’t make your big party. Use it when you have a dilemma and can’t decide between two alternatives.

I hope this helps you in relieving stress and choosing between alternatives as much as it has helped me!

Go Huskies!

-Mike

Business Careers House

One of the most difficult things about going to college or trying something new is figuring out how to fit in.  Hundreds of students each year flock to NIU and have to begin their academic careers anew.  As a business major, what are the best ways to fit in and flourish in your new environment?  I’ve heard this question many times and one of the best answers I can give is the Business Careers House.  I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Maria Ziebinska, a Community Advisor from the Business Careers House, to learn a little bit more about what they have to offer.

The Business Careers House is a residence hall that serves as a living learning community.  In this community, business majors can go and get help in anything business oriented.  Whatever students have questions about they can either come to me (a Community Advisor) or they can talk to the House Leader Chris.  Students constantly have questions about which classes to take and homework help. Since the residents are business students, I put up a bulletin board about class registration.  We include information like what number to call to set up an advising appointment, a sheet containing the Gen. Ed. requirements (specifically the ten core classes to get into the upper level courses), and tips with staying on a four year track.

As Community Advisor for the 10th floor, my job is to help my residents connect at NIU and be successful. I let them know what is going on in the residence halls and around campus. If they have specific interests that they wish to pursue, I help them get in contact with someone that knows where to go to pursue those interests.  Basically, whenever students have anything they need to talk about they can come to me.

Business Careers House 1024x768 Business Careers House

Our Community Advisors are Here to Help!

The BCH is located in Grant C and spans five floors from the 8th to the 12th.  The floors are designated to business majors.  We all have common interests and we all hang out and it’s nice to be on the same level with everyone. Since everyone is in the business program many of the residents have similar classes.  Because of this, we set up designated study hours where we meet in the study lounge on our floor and do homework.  If a student does have questions about an assignment, people are there to help!  It definitely feels like a family! 

It’s open to all classes, not just underclassman.  I’m Upper-class and I have two residents that are taking UBUS 310 right now with me.  Transfer students also enjoy the House and have found a great support system here as well.  The support is all the same. We cater to residents needs, so if someone speaks up with specific questions as a transfer, freshman, returning students, even upperclassman, it is our job to help.Business Careers House 2 Business Careers HouseWe work hard to point students in the right direction.  A few events we have already done with the BCH are Dinner with the Dean, Time Management Tips from the BCH Leaders, and Bowling in the Huskie Den.  Dinner with the Dean gave residents a chance to meet the Dean, and she gave tips on how to be successful in the College of Business. Time Management Tips were to give students tips on how to manage their time as they transition from high school to college. Bowling was a chance for all the floors in the BCH to come together and bond.

One of my residents, he was one of the students that didn’t really know what path to go down, so the House Leader and I helped him write up a resume and we took him to the internship fair.  We showed him how to network and how to find out more information about the different career paths he enjoyed.  Like I said before, we’re all there to help each other out!

To learn more about the Business Careers House and all it has to offer, visit their website at http://www.cob.niu.edu/businesscareershouse/index.asp  2.0out

Creating Your Own Path

This next post is written by Marek Swierczewski, a Senior Marketing Major at the NIU College of Business.Marek 224x300 Creating Your Own Path

When I first came into NIU I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. On one hand my whole life I’ve spent obsessing about cars and racing which led me to believe engineering was the right course of action.  On the other, I’ve already taken business and economics classes in High School and was set to go into management or marketing in college. I chose to go into marketing, but I had another dilemma on my hands; how to get involved? There are a lot of great organizations in the marketing department, like the American Marketing Association or the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board, but none really seemed to fit me. It so happened that my dilemma was solved by my brother attending Cornfest at the DeKalb airport my freshman year.

While at Cornfest my brother ran across the NIU Motorsports Formula team. The team designs, creates, and races a formula style car every year. Well, my brother told me about them and I attended the informational meeting where I found out that a big portion of the competition is a marketing presentation, I was hooked instantly. This was a way for me to take part in both of my passions simultaneously.

Engineering Car 1024x768 Creating Your Own Path

"I was hooked instantly"

It so happened that the team never had a dedicated marketing person on their team, they’ve never even had a business major on the team; I was the first. After some time I realized that there’s a huge business portion to the team that most members don’t even pay attention to. Biggest of all is the sponsorships, the team runs completely with money from sponsors so it is imperative that all members learn how to deal with potential sponsors. I have focused a lot of my time on teaching each member how to deal with potential sponsors and how to properly approach a sponsor. But the biggest part of my job is selling the car and the whole organization to a panel of potential investors in a mock selling scenario at competition at the end of the year. I’ve had to learn all about marketing plans, selling, finance, even production plant layout to be able to market our team as the best investment against over 100 different universities from around the world.

I am on my fourth year with the team right now, I am the head of the marketing department and am currently in charge of recruitment for the team, and I enjoy it more now than ever. The team has given me a way to practice my skills in marketing in an automotive environment which has lead me to realize the perfect career path for me. I am dedicated to join the racing industry as a sponsor relationship manager, and it is because of my four years on the team actually going out and doing what I am learning in my marketing and sales classes that I have been able to truly find my perfect career. If there is one thing that my experiences with the team have taught me is that there are many different ways to put what you learn in a classroom to work. Don’t limit yourself to just taking classes, go out, find what you are truly passionate about, and get involved, it is by far the best way to spend your years in college.

Women in Business Event

This next guest post is written by Elyse Jares, an Accounting Student at the NIU College of Business.elyse Women in Business Event

There are 21% of women in senior management around the world. When I saw this statistic it did not surprise me, especially in the business world. Men still dominate in this field. There are usually only a handful of women in leadership roles. That is why I was thankful to have the opportunity to attend the annual Crocker Program for Emerging Business Leaders at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Cindy Crocker, 1980 Marketing Alumna, served as Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications for Equity Group Investments, one of the nation’s leading real estate companies.

12 Crocker 10 4 GT 059 lower res 1024x681 Women in Business Event

Women in Business panelists (left to right): NIU Business Dean Denise Schoenbachler, Ventas CEO Debra Cafaro, Program Founder & Host Cindy Crocker

She uses her knowledge and success in the business world to inspire NIU College of Business students. The Crocker Program for Emerging Business Leaders gave 50 NIU business students the opportunity to network with NIU College of Business alumni business leaders and the extremely successful Debra Cafaro. The women shared their insights on networking, leadership, their careers, and balancing between work and their personal lives.

When I first got to the event I felt a little out of place and intimidated. I had never been to a networking event or a hotel that nice before. I found myself diving into the appetizers and felt awkward when I had to introduce myself with no free hands. I didn’t know if I should start introducing myself right away or let everyone eat for a while. Once everyone sat down and each business leader introduced herself, everything seemed more relaxed. The keynote speaker was Debra Cafaro who is the CEO of Ventas, Inc., an S&P company with an enterprise value of $27 billion. Debra Cafaro was selected as one of the Top 50 Women in World Business by the Financial Times. She is happily married with two kids. A major concern many women have and society expects is balancing between work and family. Being able to see several successful business leaders who have juggled a family was very inspiring. They made me realize that you won’t always have a balance between a career and family but you can have both as long as you put enough time and passion into each. It was also informative to hear some networking tips like writing down names right after you meet someone and keeping up to date with the sports highlights.

12 Crocker 10 4 GT 053 lower res 1024x681 Women in Business Event

Refining our networking skills

It is true when people say it is all about who you know. This event was helpful in the way that it showed us what a real networking event is like. Being able to make a lasting impression on someone involves confidence, assertiveness, and putting yourself out there. This event gave all of us the opportunity to practice these things in a safe and comforting environment. Many of these women were in our shoes and graduated with a degree from NIU. Seeing the possibilities of where our lives could be in 10, 20, or 30 years from now was truly motivational. I am so fortunate to have these types of opportunities through the College of Business and especially events tailored to women in business professions.

Carpe Diem

A wise man once told me that you get three options in College: social life, good grades, and sleep.  The catch is you only get to pick two.  This year, I’ve chosen social life and good grades so you may have seen me sleepy on more than one occasion in Barsema.  This same wise man tells me that food shares a very similar formula: Hot, ready, or delicious.  Again, you only get to pick two (think about it, you can’t have all three. Trust me, I’ve tried!).  I think he’s put some real thought into this stuff!  Anyways, as a senior in college, I want to leave no regrets on the table upon graduation.  I will forsake the time that normal people dedicate to sleep to do school work or to go out with friends and make memories that will last longer than any ride on the struggle bus.Struggle e1349968039215 300x122 Carpe Diem

Sure, sometimes I will take a weekend to myself and hang around my apartment or at home; I just try my best not to make it a habit.  People consistently tell me from their own experiences to live college life to the fullest.  Just last week I was scrolling through our student voices blog and that philosophy was reinforced by a post from previous blogger, Nick Lo Vetere.

In his post he states, “The fall semester felt like it was over as soon as it began and the spring semester feels almost as if everything over the past several months happened in a matter of a week.”

He goes on to state that he would take advantage of every opportunity from going out with friends to forming new relationships.   His parting quote from the post reads, “I can only hope that if incoming college students stumble across this post that they go to school with the notion that it will go by quick and they need to take advantage of everything as early as possible.”

I feel that I have waited too long to really begin my own experience especially after being stuck at a community college for the first half.  Now I feel like I am trying to play catch up and I’m jamming four years worth of experiences into a two year timeline here at NIU.  I feel that I have done a fair job but there is only so much time left where you’ll have a month off in winter, a week off every spring, and three months off for summer.  Please heed our advice when we say that College moves very quickly.  As Ben Franklin, one of our nation’s founding fathers used to say, “Lost time is never found”.frankling 300x167 Carpe Diem

Plan out your time early and often and make your college years memorable.  Go on a road trip or see someplace foreign.  Go out to apple orchards in the fall or kayak down a river in summer.  Do whatever you want; just do something!  Go out of your comfort zone and do something remarkable (I’m thinking skydiving for me).  Don’t leave college saying I should have done THAT because who knows when the next opportunity to do THAT will be. 2.0out

 

Reflections on Barsema Hall

So here I am, sitting in the atrium enjoying a midday hotdog and I can’t help but feel like I’m a part of something much bigger than myself.  The atrium feels energetic and full of life.  It is the proverbial heartbeat of the college and it is such an interesting and diverse place to be in.  Not only is it a place where students take a moment to relax and socialize with their peers but it doubles as a study area where they can complete assignments and other tasks.  This work and play atmosphere provides an interesting dynamic to the feel of the space.

As I finish my hotdog, I step outside where I overlook Dad’s Pond from the terrace.  This is my place to reflect.  In between classes you will often find me here pondering my next move.  It’s as though I’m playing a game of chess with life and my responsibilities are the pieces.  The benches along the walkway provide me with a moment of clarity and the breeze that passes by comes with almost a rhythmic frequency (*contented sigh*).  Just before I get too relaxed, I head back inside to move to my next task. BarsemaSunrise 1024x681 Reflections on Barsema Hall

The thing I enjoy most when I step back inside is the fact that I really feel like a young professional when I enter Barsema Hall.  I am surrounded by the future which is kept in the hearts and minds of my peers and in the walls of the institution.  The future is born from our motivation and our dreams and I get the opportunity everyday to see other students working hard to live out their own!

For the amount of time that I spend in this building I could almost call it home (I’d rather not call it that because then they’d start charging me rent).  The faculty make me feel at home and not a day goes by where I don’t speak with my professors outside of class.  A majority of the time, the conversations never have anything to do with classes or related projects.  Students will walk by and say hi and it all feels like I have an extended family here.  These people have grown with me professionally and worked beside me for the past year.  Going through that process really seems to strengthen the ties between students here at the College of Business.

When I was younger I thought that I’d just become another number in College…how much further could I have been from the truth.hot dog 300x225 Reflections on Barsema Hall

These thoughts I catalogued above came to me courtesy of a few minutes between class and a hot dog.  Imagine that.  Anyways, thanks so much to Dennis and Stacey Barsema for providing this amazing building and thank you to the faculty and students that breathe life into the NIU College of Business.  Give yourselves a pat on the back.  Together, we’ve made a population of students into a community of students! 2.0out

Behind the Music: UBUS 310

With Halloween coming up soon I wanted to talk about a scary story that people often hear before ever setting foot in Barsema Hall.  The story I’m referring to is the story folks tell about UBUS 310.

Long nights, endless cram sessions, and the Starbuck’s employee getting to know you on a first name basis are the typical tales passed down by 310 alumni.  We weave the course to be some sort of monster when in hindsight, I don’t really believe the course should have been that difficult at all.  In many cases it is us, the students, who simply aren’t adequately prepared for such an intense course.  I am not trying to pass the blame down and say that someone else is responsible for our shortcomings.  In the end, it is YOU who ultimately decides your grade.  The point I’m trying to make is that students coming in from community colleges or rising up through the general education courses at NIU can give students a false sense of security in their study habits, leading inevitably to struggles in such a detail oriented class like UBUS 310.

Some students are naturally gifted and have not had to study a day in their lives to get the grade.  I am telling you right now that if you are one of those students, you MUST study for UBUS 310.  I was one of these students and made it through high school and community college with no problem.  However, 310 provided me a swift kick to the rear in terms of my study habits.  For the first few weeks I struggled and didn’t know why! I had always earned A’s with minimal effort in community college…why wasn’t it the same here?  I beat myself up over the matter, thinking I didn’t get the material or wasn’t “cut out” for business until I met with another student and began studying the course material on almost a daily basis.

I see UBUS 310 not as a “weedout” class, but instead, as a great equalizer.  I feel that intelligence, GPA, and IQ have nothing to do with success in the class. Don’t write yourself off if you don’t have “numbers” telling you that you’re smart.  Instead, work smart!  Study daily to retain the most information.  Take good notes to look back on and find a group of friends to discuss the material with.  Furthermore, speak with your instructors.  They are there to help!  I never took full advantage of my professors but now I honestly don’t go a day without speaking with them outside of class.  Make the introductions early and watch your grades and network grow!

Success is not out of reach for young UBUS 310 students.  Keep at it, work hard, work smart, and stay positive.  Learn to adapt and respond to this challenging situation and you will be far better off in your courses and your careers.  A quote from American writer and futurist, Alvin Toffler, holds true.  It reads, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”  2.0 out