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.

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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.

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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.

Fast-Trak MBA

My senior year has just begun but it is already time to start buckling down and finding out where ‘future me’ will be once graduation is over.  The opportunities are endless; I just have to look for them.  From jobs to internships and everything in between, there must be a place for a Marketing Major like me.  But what if I’m not ready for a career just yet and want to continue my education instead?  Well, if you are thinking the same thing then today is your lucky day. I’ve already done the research for you and found some amazing opportunities hosted here at NIU!  One in particular caught my eye.  It is called the NIU Fast-Trak MBA and after doing my own basic digging, I took it upon myself to interview the coordinator of the program, Anthony Preston.

 Why are you excited about the Fast-Trak MBA?

  • The most exciting part is we’ve made a lot of enhancements from our original program.  The first part is our insight program.  It consists of four components.
    • The first is participating in workshops.  Students practice speaking in front of large crowds, business writing, etiquette, etc… things companies really look at but we can’t learn in class.  It is very experiential.
    • The second component is that each student will receive a personal career coach.  It’s his job to make sure that you have a job by the time you graduate.”
    • Each student will be given an ementor.  Each mentor is an MBA alum.  Students can ask their ementor, hey what are you doing in your company with all these different topics?
    • Finally, we’re going to bring in very experienced guest speakers.  We also take students to different companies so they can see all the stuff they’re learning being applied.
      bordeaux Fast Trak MBA

      Bordeaux, France

       

 What else does the Fast-Trak MBA have to offer?

  • Students are traveling to a different country spending 6 weeks in Murcia, Spain or Bordeaux, France depending on the semester.  They’re going to learn the curriculum they’re being taught as well as the different culture.  They’ll be with students representing over 40 countries.  They can learn not only what’s going on in Europe but also what’s going on in countries where fellow students are coming from.  This is all going to happen in 12 months; 2 degrees in 12 months.
    Spain Fast Trak MBA
    Murcia, Spain

What does this program give students that other programs can’t?

  • We really pride ourselves on personal attention in the MBA programs.  All the professors will know your name, and it will be a dialogue.  When we can say that there’s 100% placement of our students working in jobs that they want to work in, that’s something that we’re really proud of.  There’s not one MBA program that is doing what we’re doing …you can’t find it anywhere and it’s accredited. In Chicago there are only 7 accredited schools and NIU is one of them.

 Build your network and make life long relationships

Because the class is so small you’re taking every single class with the same group of students for 12 months.  Those students are there to be your support network and ‘extended family’ for the 12 months.  You build an extreme bond and friendship with your teammates.

 Exceptional balance of work and play

Students will have class Monday through Thursday.  On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday they can actually travel.  Last year students went to Rome, Barcelona, Paris, Madrid, and Switzerland.  With the cheap airfare, students are able to see a different country in a weekend and be back and ready for class by Monday.

Rome Fast Trak MBA

Rome, Italy

As a fan of international travel and challenging workloads I feel this program would be a great fit for me if I should decide to continue my education.  If you could see it fitting well with your interests and goals, go ahead and check out the Fast-Trak MBA’s website at http://www.cob.niu.edu/mbaFastTrak/.  Who knows, maybe I’ll see some of you in France or Spain sooner than you think! 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

Studying Abroad

This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel abroad.  I heard about all of the benefits from friends, professors, family, and colleagues but never really understood the importance of such an experience until I actually went through it myself.  Upon returning, I made it my goal to inspire and educate people to go.  I learned and saw so much in such a short amount of time.  I earned an international perspective, new business knowledge, and a boatload of memories and friends that I will never forget!  I wanted to take a moment to let you all know why I feel it is so important to involve yourself in an international program!

Globalization and cultural diversity in the workplace is here to stay.  The world is all connected, economically, politically, and socially.  Studying abroad gives students the opportunity to view the world in a different context.  It allows them to use all five senses to explore unfamiliar surroundings in the international community.  Not only will participants learn about cultures, but they will typically glean an understanding of the business and academic practices that are in place for the region they explore.  Furthermore, if they ask the right questions and look in the right places, they could earn an understanding of the political climate in their host country as well. Ray and I Euronext1 e1348674599385 291x300 Studying AbroadWhen overseas, you can look beyond the veil of arrogance that often prevents us from seeing the big picture.  As much as some people would like to believe that we are the only country that calls this earth home, we are not.  When abroad, I read international newspapers and watched the foreign media speak about the United States and the world in general.  I had the ability to analyze my culture from a distance. Doing so gave me a lot of insight because it is often difficult to analyze oneself and ones culture unless viewing it from afar.  Studying abroad allows for this process to take place, and in doing so, I believe that students will come back with an awareness and sensitivity to other cultures that simply wouldn’t be possible without the experience of international travel. Mona Lisa e1348673817743 Studying AbroadOne key takeaway I’ve learned over the past few years is that there is no substitute for experience.  You can read about cultures, hear about them from others, and watch programs about them on discovery channel as many times as you’d like, but until you’ve spent time in the environment and interacted with the culture on a personal level, you will never truly understand the nature of it.  Like many Americans, I lived with stereotypes of the world beyond my borders.  The people of the world around us are just as we think they are…until we speak with them and ask questions.  Only then is our mind opened to the possibility that they are not the way we thought they were at all.  The French are NOT rude as many people have told me.  Instead, they are like mirrors, projecting back the attitudes that they receive.  This is just one of many examples that I may save for a future blog but I hope that the point I’m making remains clear.

The College of Business is very supportive of students looking to earn this international perspective.  They partner with companies to help students journey overseas and explore aspects of business, academia, and culture overseas.   http://www.cob.niu.edu/studyabroad/index.asp  The programs run over summer and winter, so you don’t need to worry about missing classes.  Also, scholarship options are highly available; you just have to look in the right places! Happy abroad Studying Abroad

A final point, completely unrelated to academics or business, is the personal touch of it all.  Not only do you meet people from different countries but in many programs, you get to travel with students from different schools from across the United States.  So not only are you experiencing different cultures from other countries, but you are able to exchange ideas and understand lifestyles from different areas of our own country.  Because you experience so much with these folks you really do become like a family.  I feel like I earned brothers and sisters from my trip.  I’ve even visited friends from the program who live as far away as Los Angeles, California.  This is after spending only three weeks with them in Europe.

I urge all of you to look into the opportunities that the College of Business provides.  My only regret is not doing it sooner.  If you are a freshman, sophomore, or even high school student reading this blog, I hope that you will take the plunge early and understand what an amazing and rewarding adventure it is to study abroad! 2.0out

Thoughts: Creativity and Identity

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” -Cyril Connoll

I came across this quote while researching for a project.  It sparked a dichotomy of feelings within me that I feel compelled to share with all of you.

Initially, I fell in love with the quote.  It spoke to me.  It says that in writing or completing tasks, it is better to do it for your own satisfaction than to do those same tasks for the satisfaction of others, and giving up your own identity in the process.  Now bear with me…as ethereal a concept as this is, I hope that you can all see the deeper meaning of the quote and understand the point it is trying to get across.  There was an old story that may convey the message a bit more clearly.

The story went a little something like this:  One day in an elementary school, a teacher gave her class an assignment to draw a tree.  The brown and green crayons ran out quickly and children had to wait their turn to use those colors.  While everyone else was still waiting on their green and brown colors, a little girl stood up and announced that she was finished.  When the teacher walked over, she realized that the tree the little girl had drawn was purple and shades of red.  The teacher corrected the little girl and said “I’m sorry sweetie, but I’ve never seen a purple and red tree before.”  The small child responded only by saying, “That’s too bad.”Purple Tree kid1 200x300 Thoughts: Creativity and Identity

Now as much as I, and perhaps some of you, would love to do exactly as you please in your writing, assignments, and thinking, it is just not a possibility.  A wise woman recited a quote to me written by John Donne; “No man is an island.”  What we do doesn’t only affect ourselves anymore.  Our actions have consequences.  In today’s world, we are expected to assist in work that others need done to complete tasks of their own.  Our employer or our professor will ask for us to “draw a tree” for them multiple times a day and for many different circumstances.  I ask that you all take a moment before beginning your task, not to “fight the power” or “break the chains”, but instead, to reflect on how you would create this tree of yours before quickly snatching for the green and brown crayons. PurpleTree 300x205 Thoughts: Creativity and Identity

I believe that exploration outside of typical constraints can lead to learning, growth, and discovery.  By infusing your creative self into projects you can become more passionate about the task at hand.  This passion leads to a better product and eventually a more rewarding journey.  We need to remain conscious of who we are as people, while at the same time, satisfying the needs of our employers and professors.  Just remember that you must remain mature enough to assess a situation and understand when it is appropriate to think outside of the box.  As challenging as this may be sometimes, I would hope that the creative spark within us all doesn’t dim anytime soon.  Think outside the box, but with certain restrictions, and you will be amazed at the things you can achieve! 2.0out

spreadsheets 300x236 Thoughts: Creativity and Identity

Perhaps being overly creative when compiling data in a spreadsheet can make things a little….awkward.

 

The First Weeks

I am still coming down  from the summer of my dreams.  After having the opportunity to travel to Southern California as well as Europe through the NIU Study Abroad Office, the world seemed like a magnificent place; free of stress and worry.  This past few weeks of school quickly reminded me that life is just not that simple.  A total of five courses, two internships, and three organizations leaves me little time for rest and relaxation without some task on my mind.  If I’m not reading a book, I’m doing an assignment, and even when the homework is done the emails for organizations flow like a raging river.

I would be lying to you all if I told you that I wasn’t a little bit stressed.  Getting shoved into the deep end of a pool almost always causes a brief moment of panic, regardless of how good you are at swimming.  After a few moments of being in the water, you can orient yourself and adjust to the new environment.  Before you know it, you’re splashing around in the pool and enjoying yourself; smiling like a possum eating graham crackers.

What I mean in the above analogy is just give it time!  If you are stressed like I am, do not worry.  Although we just got pushed into the deep end of a freezing pool we will soon find our way and fall into routines that make us successful.  Keep with it and soon you’ll find time to manage the responsibilities of your courses, work, organizations, and relationships.  I also have a few quick tips that have helped me maintain my sanity, perhaps they can help you too!

1) Write lists

Last year was the first year that I really felt overwhelmed in my work.  It got to a point where I had so much on my plate that there was no way I could possibly remember all the tasks I had to complete by the end of the week.  By writing out a list of everything that needs to be done, you can visualize what is at hand and begin to nibble away at it and prioritize your items with corresponding numbers or colors. After all, how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

List2 e1348076685695 The First Weeks

See!? It's easy!

2) ”Live in day tight compartments” –Dale Carnegie

By doing all that you can TODAY you will make yourself an easier tomorrow.  Instead of waiting to finish that assignment that is due next Tuesday, knock it off the list today so you can move through even more of your list tomorrow and make life easier for your future self. Different Mes1 e1348154153600 The First Weeks

3) Surround yourself with motivated individuals

If you surround yourself with people who take classes seriously, you will see a tremendous leap in your own productivity.  Fly with the eagles and don’t let the turkeys get you down.

turkey not e1348074873604 The First Weeks

Don't be fooled.

2.0out

 

The House Cafe: My Hidden Treasure

This next guest post is written by Mike Glassberg, a Marketing Student at the NIU College of Business. Follow him on twitter @mglassberg2. 

mike regs e1347975417580 224x300 The House Cafe: My Hidden Treasure

To preface the post, “hidden treasures” are the opportunities and events at NIU that you have to seek out.  They are the opportunities that aren’t always announced in your classes or sent to your zmail.  They are some of the most rewarding activities you can participate in, but they are often overlooked or unknown to many students.  Below, Mike will describe one of his own hidden treasures that he uncovered in his NIU experience  …

What is your stress reliever? Exercising? Music? Drawing? Video games?

I’ve found out in my 3 years at NIU that if you don’t maintain a mental balance between school life and social life – you will go crazy. My stress relief has always been music – I would get home from a long day of work or class and put on my favorite band and jam out. I’ve been doing this since middle school and thought (until last weekend) that this was the best way for me to relieve stress.

I was wrong.

Last week, I stumbled across an ad on Facebook for a free NIU Jazz Band show at DeKalb’s own “House Cafe.” I convinced a few of my friends to join me and we absolutely loved it.

The House Cafe1 300x225 The House Cafe: My Hidden Treasure

A fun environment that fosters productivity?! Sign me up!

The House Cafe provides an amazing experience:

Good music - The House Cafe features a variety of music – Bluegrass, Funk, Jam, Jazz, Punk, Dance, Rock, Country. You name it, the House Cafe has hosted it.

Off campus - Whenever I get stressed out, all I can think about is school, classes, projects, quizzes, and intangible “points”. I often forget there’s a real world outside of NIU, with real people doing real-life things. The House Cafe provides an amazing escape for students even though it’s less than a mile away from campus.

Atmosphere - Great people. Very non-judge-mental. I’m typing this blog on a brown leather couch in the front of the House Cafe while giving the occasional high-five to friendly people passing by.

I’ve started to, and will continue to use The House Cafe as a study outlet. Last Friday night my friends went out partying. I knew I had entirely too much work to do, so instead of being a hermit and working in my room all night, I decided to come to The House and pay $7 to listen to live music, get productive, and still enjoy a social environment.

The NIU Jazz Band plays on Wednesday nights at the House Cafe (FOR FREE!) I’ll be at The House every Wednesday from now on, sitting at a table with my laptop, enjoying live music while still getting productive. Feel free to come out and do the same, I’d love to share such an awesome experience with other people!

Mike

Hi, I’m the New Guy

the office 225x300 Hi, Im the New Guy

Welcome to my office

It’s finally here!  A new semester bringing with it new faces and new beginnings.  The class of 2012 has vacated the campus and moved on to the real world.  Nick Lo Vetere, past author of this blog, has transitioned from an academic lifestyle to a professional one.  In his place, I will be managing the student blog for the 2012-2013 year.  He said before leaving that his successor would be “someone new, with new thoughts, new feelings and new experiences.  It will be a fresh change of pace.”  I can only hope to continue the excellence that Nick Lo Vetere demonstrated on this site.  I hope that my stories and thoughts resonate with you, my audience, in some way shape or form and give you more insight into what it means to be a student at Northern Illinois University.

First, let me begin by introducing myself.  My name is Nick Kochetta and I am a Senior Marketing major here at the NIU College of Business.  My one mission since entering NIU was to leave it a better place than when I started.  I’ve involved myself in organizations such as the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board, the Interactive Marketing Board, and the American Marketing Association to help realize this goal and I hope that through this blog I can inspire other young students to take ownership of their NIU experience as well.  I want to see students get excited about attending NIU and I want people to see what the College has to offer.  Furthermore, I want to maintain transparency in my posts so that you will not only see all the great opportunities and experiences, but you will also see the struggles that come with it.

I am a real student with real stories that I can’t wait to share!  I look forward to a great year and hope that you’ll join me on this journey called my senior year.

Please feel free to drop a comment and chat.  I’m more than open to continuing the conversation and I welcome all of your comments and criticisms.  There’s much more to come so keep your eyes peeled! 2.0 out

Words of Advice

Last week I did a question and answer session with a College of Business (CoB) student named Rod. He is a very active individual in the CoB. He is a senior finance major and currently the VP of Community Service for his business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi (DSP).

I wanted him to share his thoughts and give words of advice to younger students/incoming students. The only thing I want to add is that I share the same opinions as Rod and think that what he has to offer in this Q&A is very helpful and valuable.

Nick: What lead you to be involved on campus?

Rod: One of the biggest things growing up is to give back to the community. Growing up in impoverished neighborhood I appreciated people coming in to tutor or give time to help someone else develop.

Nick: As a senior; why are you still staying actively involved even though graduation is three weeks away?

Rod: I have a passion to stay involved. Seeing the look on someone’s face when you help them and the big difference it makes to someone to spend a little bit of your time with them. It isn’t a right but an obligation or a duty to give back to our communities. It’s like sucking up crops without fertilizing the ground anymore for the future. I want to build on the legacy for others to further build upon in the future.

Nick: What makes you want to leave the College of Business better when you leave versus when you started here?

Rod: For us to continually be ranked atop the nation, we need to bring in better teachers and better resources for students to be the best that they can be. Personally, for people to become better people you must reinvest time in them.  We need to show people how to be a better person so they can do it on their own, similar to movie Paying It Forward.

Nick: What would you have done differently with your time here?

Rod: Academically, I no regrets, I leveraged every opportunity that came. I networked in events, and through my business fraternity (Delta Sigma Pi). The biggest downfall of underclassman is that they do not utilize all the resources around them. An unseen downfall is that they try to become members of so many things and they don’t focus on a handful and become over stretched. You can’t exert your full potential in any one organization. You don’t just join an organization to say you are part of it; you need to be able to devote time and resources in it to make it a great organization. Personally, as VP of Community Service for DSP I wouldn’t be able to hold the position because time would be pulled into other areas.

Nick: What advice can you give to current students and prospective students?

Rod: One of the Biggest pieces of advice I can give without touching on prior information, and is something I give to family friends and my girlfriend is this; step outside your comfort zone, put yourself in uncomfortable situations. It is the only way you can grow. Don’t be afraid to fail because through failure you learn from your mistakes and you become better at what you do. My Mother told me ‘if you’re going to fall, fall fast, so you can get up quick.’ You can apply the same principle for life not just academics. Go in full force and don’t be timid. If you try something and don’t like it, at least you know it’s not for you. But you won’t know until you try.

A big question prospective students get asked is what’s your major, what are you going to be? It is essential to know what you DON’T want to be. If you know what you don’t want to do you know not to go down that path and you can venture down other paths you haven’t been before to explore, grow and find what fits you.

I was an accounting intern at Deloitte for three summers and realized I don’t want to spend all this time out of my life per week for this particular career path. That’s how I ended up going into finance which is similar to accounting. It was a tough choice to switch paths and walk away from great earning potential in an accounting career. But it ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Nick: Any final thoughts?

Rod: Meeting new people has been a big breakthrough in college/academic career. A Lot of people generally tend to stay grounded in their high school niche of friends. You never grow if you stay stagnant. I went from predominantly black grammar school to very diverse high school. I learned quickly to adapt to different cultures and ethnicities. When you go into work force you won’t be working strictly with one nationality or ethnicity. Meeting a variety of people in different settings enables you to learn to identify with each culture and what makes each one uniqueme 293x300 Words of Advice and different from its own.

One of the key take aways: Get out, meet new people, have fun, and take a chance. Like I said earlier don’t be afraid to try new things, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Take a risk; be it a calculated risk, but take one. Big gains come from big risk. If you see cute girl in the hall way, can’t get a date if you don’t talk to her! Take rejection as a form of constructive criticism; a checklist of what you need to work on to be a better person.

The final piece of advice: No matter what, stay true to who you are and your values. I walk to the beat of my own drum but I still get along with everyone. Be comfortable in your own skin and with who you are. If you don’t like it, do something about it. Never settle for a situation you aren’t comfortable with. Don’t fit in the box, make the box fit around you.