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

ITS Helpdesk: Another Hidden Treasure

My computer is getting older, it’s four years old to be exact, and with age comes inevitable problems.  Programs crash, blue report screens  plague my existence, and slow, buggy processes make finishing assignments a massive undertaking.

slowcomputer ITS Helpdesk: Another Hidden Treasure

"Contrary to popular belief, screaming at the computer DOES NOT make it faster"

People have suggested taking my over-sized paperweight to major tech companies or local computer shops but who wants to pay $100 or more to fix a computer when you could buy a decent NEW one for south of $500?!  Unfortunately I can’t justify purchasing either at the moment because I have other priorities.

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"Priorities? He must mean Toppers and Keystone." -Nick's dog Baci

I thought my situation was hopeless.  My computer bugged out, I couldn’t get wi-fi in my own apartment for indefinite patches of time, the internet was slow, and moderately sized programs would crash all the time.  I even had problems with Internet Explorer!

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"...then again, who doesn't have problems with IE?"

I had used every  “10 ways to fix your computer” article and video that YouTube and Google had to offer.  I was reaching the end of my rope, until a good friend of mine opened my eyes to the NIU Information Technology Services (ITS) Helpdesk.

What’s the ITS Helpdesk you ask?!  Well I’ll tell you.  It’s a magical place where students like you can bring your computers and phones to get them worked on and optimized.   Oh, and did I mention that it’s free!  What the literal…?! O.o  Why did nobody tell me about this earlier!  As soon as I learned about the Helpdesk I brought my computer in the same day.  I dropped it off, got a ticket, and went on my merry way.  It took no more than a day before one of the workers called me back and told me the “operation” was done.  They cleaned it up, added some software, and even uploaded an intranet package so I could access my work emails from home!  So many headaches from the past year and a half could’ve been avoided if only I knew.  So many paper rewrites, system restores, and file backups could be erased from my memory.

the truth about men in black 3 ITS Helpdesk: Another Hidden Treasure

"Now if only I could erase MIB II from memory too"

So now I’m sharing this knowledge with you.  This hidden treasure on NIU’s campus should be shouted from the rooftops because if it can revive my computer, who knows what they can do for you.  Check them out at http://www.its.niu.edu/its/helpdesk/index.shtml and don’t let your computer problems stand between you and a good grade again!  2.0out

Life Lessons Abroad

The following is written by Mike Cahill, an Accounting Graduate Student at the NIU College of Business.

The Social Entrepreneurship Program at NIU is the perfect fit for any business student with aspirations to help make the world a better place. The mission of the Program is to show students how they can apply their business skillset to solve the world’s problems. Participating in the Social Entrepreneurship Program was one of the best choices I made as an Undergraduate in the College of Business because it really helped broaden my horizons. Learning from real world examples is what I like most about the classes in the Program

This past November I enrolled in MGMT 411 – Microfinance as part of the Social Entrepreneurship Program.  The class was very unique in that it was a small group (only about 10 students) and very discussion based. In class we were assigned case studies to develop our knowledge of the topic, and at the end of the semester we participated in a 4 day microfinance study abroad trip to Punta Mita, Mexico.

The trip to Mexico, led by NIU College of Business Instructor Dennis Barsema, was a tremendous experience. As a class, we met over a dozen micro entrepreneurs who were clients of a local Microfinance Institution (MFI) in Punta Mita. An MFI provides loans and other financial services (loans) to the poor, or people who would not otherwise have any access to such services. The loans enable micro entrepreneurs to start businesses in their villages, and the earnings from these businesses allow the entrepreneur to earn a sustainable wage. The experiences interacting with the MFI clients allowed us (the class) to see first-hand the powerful impact that access to capital can have on improving the lives of the poor.

Overall, the trip really brought the class to life. It was inspirational to hear the unique stories of each of the micro entrepreneurs. Every so often I stop to think about the micro entrepreneurs that I met, and about all of the hardships that they face on an everyday basis. It is really humbling and makes me thankful for all of the opportunities I am blessed with as an American. In the future, I hope to use what I have learned in my Social Entrepreneurship classes to help make the world a better place.

 

 

Hidden Treasures: Starved Rock

A lot of you have heard about a nice state park called Starved Rock but many people don’t know a lot of the hidden joys that the park or the surrounding area has to offer.  Starved Rock is mainly a summer hangout for people to visit.  There are miles of trails to hike, numerous canyons to discover and a atmosphere to think, picnic, and to enjoy the company of friends or a significant other in.  You could even take a day for yourself to melt into the colors, sounds and serene landscapes, away from the rush of college.

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"Yeah, kinda like that..."

After a nice summer rain, you will be fortunate enough to catch the water careening off the cliffs from above and your ears will be treated to the sounds of the bubbling brew below.  Once the summer months pass and the cold sets in, people tend to stray away from outdoor activity but some real beautiful scenes occur at the park once the deep freeze comes.  The waterfall becomes a living painting, a powerful rush of water frozen in time against the quiet backdrop of winter.  You may even catch a glimpse of climbers scaling the frozen waterfalls during your early year visit.

 Hidden Treasures: Starved Rock

"I have no words"

For  those that enjoy wildlife viewing as much as I do, Eagles are a common sight from the overlooks at Starved Rock. The bald eagles winter here because even when the river is encased in ice, the churn from the dam leaves a small portal open to the water below.  It is the only place for miles where they can catch a fish.  Because of that, you can see more eagles than you’ve seen in a lifetime in a single day with the right set of binoculars, some really warm clothes, and some good old fashioned patience.

 Hidden Treasures: Starved Rock

"You don't have to plan a road trip to see natural beauty, it's right in our backyard!"

The town adjacent to the park is Ottawa and it can be just as fun to discover as Starved Rock.  History buffs can relive the Lincoln-Douglas debates which occurred there some 9 score and 5 years ago while adrenaline junkies can get their fix with Sky Diving companies that operate just outside of town.

 Hidden Treasures: Starved Rock

"Or you can get two birds with one stone"

There’s lots of quaint shops as well if you’re going with the family.  You can pawn off your mother and grandparents to the local antique shops while you and the siblings hike through canyons and jump out of planes.  Whatever you do, if you haven’t gone I urge you to make it out to starved rock.  Even if you have been, explore it in a different season and surprise yourself.  It’s incredible to see how vastly different the same place can be at different times of the year.  Make it a day trip, camp out near the park, or shack up in a cozy cabin, either way I hope you will make it a point to give this hidden treasure so close to NIU a visit. 2.0out

Beat the Winter Blues

It’s the middle of Winter at Northern Illinois University and unless you’re Canadian you’re probably holed up in apartments and dorms, waiting for the warmth of spring to wake you from a grizzly bear like coma.  Like many of you, I subscribe to that hibernation approach.  I stick my head in my comfy bedsheets and wait for the cold to lift so I can properly enjoy the outdoors I love so dearly.  The winter blues, or cabin fever, is a common term used to describe the moderate to emo feelings that people might get during this cold season  known as winter.  Although I don’t usually talk about it, I’ve known for a long time that I suffer the effects of Season Affective Disorder and it’s always around this time that I get somewhat depressed.  I’ve taken some proactive measures this year to try to side step those feelings and I’m happy to say that these steps have been fairly successful!  So for those of you who are feeling the effects of winter but are hesitant to talk about your state of mind with others, I thought I’d share some tips on how to get well from someone who’s going through it with you.

Step 1: Get a Natural Daylight Lamp

220511071 Beat the Winter Blues

"It's sort of like the Pixar lamp, only this one won't stomp on you"

Much of the negative feelings attached with winter, come as a result of sunlight deprivation.  There are lamps out there designed to mimic the natural rays from the sun.  People often treat themselves with these lights for periods of a half hour or more to help trick their minds into thinking it’s sunny!  That little placebo effect can go a long way!  This is one of the better investments that you could make to help get you out of the funk.  I don’t use the word “investment” lightly either.  These lights, depending on which model you get, can get very expensive.  So please frame this purchase in your mind as “an investment in your well-being and happiness” rather than a quick buy.    I recently purchased one myself and I turn it on when I get home from classes and work (bear in mind by the time I get out at 5 PM the sun is already setting over the horizon).  After exposure to the light, I’ve noticed marked improvement in my productivity and mood.  Maybe it is all mental, but if that’s enough to take your mind off winter, I’d say go ahead and do it!

Step 2: Take Vitamins

So we’ve talked about the placebo effect that the sun can have on your mood but what about the actual physical effects?  When we expose ourselves to the sunlight we unknowingly absorb a number of vitamins from the suns rays.  In winter, when the sun is not as prevalent, the lack of vitamins can literally lead to a minor deficiency which actually messes with your mood!  Who knew!?  So after I came across this research, I took it upon myself to purchase the recommended Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12 tablets.  I’ve found that taking one each day provides a profound pick me up!  Just last week I was sitting around in the afternoon feeling kind of down; I couldn’t figure out why.  When I looked back on the events of that day I remembered that I forgot to take the vitamins.  Perhaps that was just my mind playing tricks on me, but either way I should probably take some daily vitamins anyway.

Step 3: Eat and Drink Fruits

Nothing can bring back thoughts of warm climates and good times like a good fruit shake, a citrus fruit, or a banana.

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"Remember that one time it wasn't -20 degrees?!"

Not only are you receiving tons of vitamins in each serving but you literally have to try not to smile when drinking or eating one!  Go ahead.  Try it!  I dare you!

Step 4: Exercise

Exercise does a number of things to make you feel better.  It increases circulation, increases hormone production such as endorphins and adrenaline, and is a proven stress reliever.  The recreation center is free for students so why not go lift some weights, walk on a treadmill, or shoot a basketball?

south korea winter military exercise 2010 1 8 3 10 51 Beat the Winter Blues

"Because shirtless outdoor plyometrics just isn't my style..."

I can speak from experience and say that these small steps have gone a long way in helping me break through the fog of winter.  As long as this article helps one person smile I feel that I’ve done my job.  Thanks for reading and if you have any other suggestions or tips, please feel free to add to the conversation in the comments section!  2.0out

Tom Kneifel: Student Turned Author

The following post was written by Senior Marketing Major Tom Kneifel.  

Listening to all of my friends talk about being seniors and what they plan on doing after college really made me reflect on what I have done in the past few years. Every now and then I would reminisce with my roommates about all of the great ideas we had or adventures we went on while at NIU. After a while I realized how much we had done together and I had one of those “I should write a book” moments. Eventually it became an e-book entitled “40 Ways to Have More Fun and Freedom in College”.

I began the project by researching how to become self-published by selling an e-book. I knew I wanted to sell it electronically because of several reasons. The first reason is that in order to publish a book online it costs almost nothing besides the time to write the book. Also, I knew that my target market was a younger crowd who is very technologically savvy. The book needed to be easy to access from anywhere and e-books allow that.

The hardest part about writing the book was choosing the subject. After that I was surprised on how easy it was to become self-published. I downloaded an e-book from amazon.com which gave me step by step instructions on how to format a word document and upload it to their site. I then had someone make me a cover photo and that was it.

While I was looking all over amazon.com all I could find were books on how to study better or how to get into college. I chose to write a guide with ideas that a college student would want to know.  Things like putting a refrigerator in your bathroom or how to become a super-fan aren’t going to be found in the average college guide. If anything I wanted to inspire students to spice up their day to day lives and do something fun.

It took me a while to get enough courage to actually submit the book to amazon.com. I went through so many drafts in order to get the formatting correct. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Luckily I had a great group of people help me proofread and give me feedback. Sitting there staring at the computer screen I realized that I just had to go for it. What a rush it was to see something that I created on a website that can be seen by millions of people across the nation. I knew it was real when I got my first five star review. Someone took the time to buy my product, read it, and actually enjoyed it. That was an amazing feeling.

Marketing my book has been one of the on-going challenges for me. I get to apply the skills I learned in my sales classes to a real life scenario. I have to earn every sale by advertising on social networking sites and word of mouth. I am not looking to get rich off of this small e-book but I am definitely learning many things along this journey.

Check out Tom’s new e-book “40 Ways to Have More Fun and Freedom in College” on Amazon.com.  If you’re feeling extra generous, write a review and let him know what you think!

Diamonds In The Rough

It was at about this time last year that I was just rising up from the trenches of UBUS 310.  Like the Chilean miners from a few years back, I triumphantly reached up to the surface and was immediately blinded by the light.

Rescued Chilean Miners Emerge Wearing 450 Oakley Sunglasses PHOTO 600 400 Diamonds In The Rough

"Until I put on my designer Oakley Sunglasses"

Until that point I was lurking in the shadows of group work, presentations, and study sessions and now I could finally see the world in plain view.  There was so much opportunity surrounding me that I simply couldn’t see before.  Student organizations were recruiting just as they are now and although I had given them a half-hearted shot the semester before, I decided it was time to finally invest my time and money in something other than taco bell.

Taco Bell Diamonds In The Rough

"Yeah, kinda like that..."

I got involved with a number of different organizations, 5 to be exact, and I threw myself at the prospect of doing something worthwhile for my university.  As time went on I found my niche and appropriately cut off the organizations that I did not see myself succeeding in.  By the end of the semester I had made connections in the remaining organizations, I had become highly involved and I got to know the faculty advisors.  I wanted to push further and knew that I wanted to do more in the following semesters.  It is at that point that I applied for positions with not one, but two executive boards.  I didn’t even really care which position, if any, I got.  I went in with an approach reminiscent of former Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader; hoping for the best but not expecting much of a result.  I just wanted the opportunity to stand out.  With a little bit of skills and some luck I landed positions in both the organizations I applied to.

 Diamonds In The Rough

"This is our year!" said Nader in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004....you get the idea.

There are people at this very moment beginning the same journey I just spoke about. These diamonds in the rough will begin to slowly float to the top and let their colors truly shine!  I can’t wait to see who the new class of hard workers is.  It’s odd, I don’t remember speaking on a casual level to the presidents of any student organizations until my spring semester was almost over.  These organizational leaders didn’t know me from a hole in the wall and now I am helping to manage the organizations they once spearheaded.  It just goes to show that you never really know who’s out there.  Will you be the next person to step up to a similar role?  Will you take the initiative to do something for your university and to do something that’s bigger than yourself?  I anxiously wait to see who rises to the occasion and what great ideas and vision they’ll bring to the next generation of NIU College of Business students!  Until then I’ll keep looking in the shadows.  2.0out

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

 

Keeping Cool When Changing Schools

This next post is written by my dear friend and brother, Zack Kochetta, from the perspective of an undecided transfer student.

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It is nuts, absolutely insane, how comfort sets in the moment I have to reconfigure my life completely. It’s terrific, no sarcasm or anything (said Zack Kochetta sarcastically)!  I’m learning quickly to just never get comfortable, purely out of superstition. But yeah, aside from irrationalities, that time has come again where one chapter is wrapping up and another one unraveling. I am an upcoming, incoming transfer student, and it’s got me feeling the pressure, similar to countless other transfer students, to whom I extend my deepest compassion. Hopefully I am speaking for a good handful of them as I express the hopes and anxieties of the whole process, so here goes nothing.

I would be lying (or a stinkin’ bum) if I said that the uncertainties of the future were not a concern of mine. In my education, I just need to receive the tools necessary to put my fears to rest, or else my text books will make for good bonfire fuel and I will do to my laptop what Michael Bolton and Peter Gibbons did to the Initech printer (please catch the reference). The scariest thing to me is the possibility of walking away from school without something to show for it. I don’t want to grab my degree, cap and gown on, and return to my seat at graduation feeling like I had been knocked out and in a cryogenic sleep for the past two years. That’d suck! It would make my final two years of school seem entirely pointless. To have a better handle on the concerns of the future is the main goal at hand, and if I feel that I haven’t gotten that….oy vey, will I be a wreck!

Another scary thing is the 180 degree lifestyle change. People say all the time that you can get that “college” experience while attending a community college, but I also learned during a psychology seminar held at my community college, of all places, that people lie all the time!  Go figure. The school I attend now is great and all, but there is no independence. I go to school, go to a couple clubs a week, and then basically come home at the end of each day. During the time I have attended community college, I have visited my brother (honorably known as 2.0) at NIU MULTIPLE times, and let me tell you, there’s a striking difference. I realize now that I am basically attending High School 102 and what I am preparing to transfer into is Basic Real World Survival 100. It’s freaky; it’s a big jump from a cushy near-blow-off class to a crash course.

Change Management where to go Keeping Cool When Changing Schools

And then there’s the thought of where the heck to go. There are so many school options that deciding on the perfect one is really tolling. However, I must say that Northern Illinois University is a school that plays as a true contender for me. They have a solid business program, a chill campus and surrounding activities, and some really fun “social gatherings” among peers and classmates for some good clean fun.  Essentially, NIU is quite appealing to me (I say this without promotional compensation from the school). Sincerely, it’s a great place and I would feel privileged to finish my degree there. Zack Kochetta approved! But to everyone who is still searching, the perfect place will be found, don’t worry.

It’s funny, because as I look at my list of concerns, I begin to realize that they are actually hopes. I don’t want to miss out on opportunities.  I long for the freedom and independence, and I look forward to finding a school to call home. So I really have nothing to fear and plenty to hope for, and that really puts things in a positive perspective.

I just want to grab this bull by the horns and ultimately tame it. I have the world at my fingertips and I just need to stretch a little further so I can wrap them around it and make it mine (not in a wacked out Dr. Evil kinda way, but instead, an inspiring one). And although I am a little fearful of what to expect in the coming years, I realize that my hopes will not be diminished, I will make the most of this experience and not end it feeling cheated. In the work I do within my field I will put forth my all, and when I get the chance I’ll live it up a bit; no time or opportunities to do something great will be wasted!

In summation, there is a lot to consider. It is overwhelming to say the least. But I know I, as well all other transfer students, can make it through this tough process. We have to know what we want, learn where we will best achieve that, and watch it all unfold into something great that will pave the way for the rest of our lives. To all other transfer students, good luck and god speed. Zack 1.0out!

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.