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Mo’ Papers, Mo’ Problems

By Valeria Tirado

October 1, 2015

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I consider myself to be a pretty decent writer. Shocking, right?

It’s still pretty early in the semester but I bet some of you are already drowning in a sea of homework, and I can almost guarantee most of that work is writing papers. Well, luckily I’m here to help. I’m going to give you some tips on something that actually matters in your life: writing for college classes.

First things first, format matters. You’re gonna become familiar with a bunch of different formats, namely MLA and APA, throughout your college career and it’s important that you know them well. There are hundreds of online resources for writing in whatever format your professor prefers.

Although some people find sticking to these formats difficult, so long as you keep these resources close at hand, you can always be sure you’re at least close to the mark. Some teachers may be strict about sticking to the script, but more often than not so long as you demonstrate a knowledge of the formats and write a good paper on top of that, they’ll allow you a little wiggle room.

Another important aspect of college writing is one of the ones that can be the most aggravating to adhere to. I’m talking about citations. Citing your work is the most important thing you can do for any paper that involves even a shred of research.

In the interest of keeping this readably short, I’ll highlight the two most important things to remember about citations:

One, Wikipedia is not a reliable source, and even their own citations can be unreliable.

Two, citations should be stringently researched before use. Even if two citations say the same thing, if one doesn’t show its work or is from an unreliable source, you should use the other.

My final piece of advice is simple: keep writing. Even if you have no idea what to write, where to begin or have a clear destination for your writing in mind, that’s fine, just keep writing.

Anything you write can be fixed in the editing stage no matter how bad it ends up being. Brainstorming and rough drafts are your friends in college writing, as they help you get your ideas out onto paper to be refined and corrected on your second go. Stagnation and procrastination are the only real roadblocks to writing anything, but college papers most of all.

You can further your abilities by practicing, reading the works of others in order to improve your own, and by attending tutorship programs provided by most colleges. If none of those appeal to you there are plenty of online writing communities that would happily and anonymously critique your writing abilities. Happy writing!

Valeria Tirado is a senior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics. After graduation, she is interested in working with a non-profit organization like the World Wildlife Fund and eventually wants to go to grad school for Economics. Among the schools she is considering are NYU and Vanderbilt. Valeria can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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Win a Leadership Position in College

By Alina Tang

September 10, 2015

In college, there are a variety of different leadership roles available on campus, whether it’s student government positions or e-board positions in clubs.

Whatever leadership position you hope to land, here are some tips on how to get there and do a good job:

Demonstrate passion for the organization.

It’s easy to tell who genuinely loves a student organization based on how much effort and time they put into it. Even when you are a general member, make sure you show that you are invested in the organization’s cause by attending meetings regularly, signing up for different events, volunteering to help e-boarders, reaching out to other members, and voicing your enthusiasm for the organization.

Make and maintain strong relationships.

The people you connect with in your organization are important. They are the ones who will potentially support you when you do become a leader.

One of my mentors told me it’s much easier to ask for help from a friend than a stranger. This advice is so true and will become very relevant when you realize you can’t do everything alone.

Communicate your goals.

Even if you are not running a formal campaign, it is important to be clear with your vision. People like to put their faith in leaders who know exactly what they want to achieve.

I always make sure that when I explain my goals for a leadership position, that they are simple, realistic, and easy to understand.

Follow through on your promises.

All of your goals and ideas mean nothing if you can’t deliver them. Make sure you focus on one goal at a time or organize the goals in a way that allows you to see them through from start to finish without distractions.

Evaluate progress and seek feedback.

This is perhaps the most important step of becoming an effective leader. You must be able to take a step back and examine everything you’ve done with a critical eye.

It helps to involve others in the process and ask them for suggestions on improvement. Not only does this provide more insight, but it demonstrates to people that they matter.

The common theme in all of these steps is to stay invested throughout the process. You have to truly love what you’re doing and believe in the efforts you are making to improve your organization and help it grow. Only that way, will you inspire others to do the same.

Alina Tang will graduate from USC in 2016. She is majoring in business administration and plans to work in the Management Development Program at Mondelez International and gain more experience in global marketing.

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Turn to Service for the Summer

By Grace Chow

September 9, 2015

Imagine it’s January and it seems as if all your friends have already started applying for summer internships. All around you names of prestigious companies and renowned institutions are being rattled out.

Now it’s April and you are still unsure of your plans. Do you get a job, lounge around at home, or join the bandwagon?

What many students fail to realize is that experience can be acquired from other means. For me, I turned to service for the summer and it was as fulfilling and rewarding of an experience as any paid internship or job. For the past few months, I volunteered at Loaves and Fishes and was brought on as an intern helping the impoverished and homeless community in the Sacramento area.

While on the job, I was mentored and given the chance to work in all the divisions of the nonprofit organization. I handled and logged data, inventoried, advertised, but notably, I honed my soft skills through interactions with the guests who frequented Friendship Park, the division where I was mostly stationed.

Every day, I spoke with eight hundred to one thousand people and in the process, I saw improvement in my customer service abilities. I acquired an ease with which I was able to strike up a conversation with new people. I was learning, I was growing, but in a plethora of ways. 

In the business field, it is imperative to know how to converse with others on the job and how to convey your ideas in a concise and eloquent manner. Working at Loaves and Fishes was no different: the park was the career fair, the guests the recruiters, and the floor was mine for the taking, to mold and feel as the practice rink before recruiting season. I am ready. 

So, take that summer service opportunity because it may not be the impressive internship that every college student hopes for, but you will learn so much more about yourself and others in the process.

When I left Loaves and Fishes, I left with new stories, bonds, viewpoints, knowledge, friendships, but most importantly, I left as a new me—a version of myself that was more competent, confident, and conditioned. 

Grace Chow is majoring in finance and sociology at the University of Notre Dame. After she graduates in 2018, Grace plans to go into investment banking. She dreams of starting a non profit someday. Grace will graduate in 2018.

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10 Tips For College Freshmen

By Suchi Sundaram

September 9, 2015

My fourth year at UT Austin has officially begun. I cannot believe four years have passed by (but they have according to my gracious social media reminders). Today, when I see the freshmen walking around, I feel nostalgic, reminiscing about my freshman year self.

I feel nostalgic remembering my mental state, always wondering the answers to questions I had and the people to ask to answer these questions. As I look back today armed with four years of wisdom, I have found many answers to the questions I had and wished to share these ten tips with the incoming class of 2019.

1. Focus on grades. I know it is cliché, but your grades are highly important for your GPA. Your lower-division classes will be slightly easier than your upper-division classes, and you will have the time to focus freshman year. Take advantage of this time, and start strong.

2. Join an organization where you like the people. At a fair, it can be overwhelming to find an organization that fits you. Join an organization where you can imagine hanging out with the majority of its members. The people will make you passionate about the organization and look for future leadership positions. Sometimes the organizations you would never have thought joining would be the best fits for you.

3. Try to ask as many questions as you can. You’re a freshman. Take advantage of the stereotype, and learn as much as you can, wherever you go. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Only when you ask can you get the answer. Some of the best advice I received was through the questions I asked to professors or peers. 

4. Be friendly and always introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you. One of my good friends in college was a girl I sat next to in Microeconomics. Always introduce yourself with a smile because you never know how important that person might be to your life. At the worst, he/she might be curt. At the best, he/she might be a lifelong friend. Besides, it helps you practice and succeed for the working world. 

5. Find a mentor. I have always been inspired to succeed by learning from people I admire. My mentor freshman year was my cousin. She helped me navigate my personal and professional life, and I cannot thank her enough for making me who I am today.

Find someone or some people you admire (through university blogs or mutual friends), and ask to talk to them. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, so do not be afraid to reach out. Learning about they navigated college and pursuing their passions might provide clarity for how you can do the same.

6. Learn about other majors and career paths. I have switched my major at least 5-6 times in college because my interests have changed. When I entered college, I was interested in diplomacy. Now, I am looking into investment banking. And that is completely okay. Even if you might not be interested in a company or career path, go to the info session and get the free pizza. Having the flexibility and openness to look into other career paths will help you find the area you’re most passionate about.

7. Be healthy. Although this might sound obvious, take time to take care of yourself. Take care of your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Take advantage of the free gyms, and create a regimen for yourself. Your eighty year old self will thank you later.

8. Focus on building a network. College is great for building a network of peers, friends, and mentors. Everyday you are forced to sit in a lecture hall, and meet your friends. College is one of the few times in life, where you can hang out with your friends 24/7. Take advantage of this opportunity. These friends might very well become people helping you switch jobs or cheering at your wedding. As my father told me my first day, college friends are friends for life.

9. Take one risk every day. My mantra in college was, “I will never get this opportunity again, so I will go for it.” This credo helped me become President of an organization, go on a micro-finance brigade to Ghana, and pursue my passions. Do not be afraid of taking risks. Higher risk = higher reward. The risk can be as small as going to the gym or as big as skydiving. College is a training environment, so be encouraged to take one risk (however big or small) every day.

10. Find what makes you happy. I do not wish to make this blog into a Hallmark card, but college is truly about finding yourself. College is about taking risks, pursuing your passions, and, ultimately, finding out what makes you happy. Do not be too focused on what everyone else wants to do. Focus on what you like because you do not have the time or liberty to waste. Four years go by fast. If you learn what makes you happy now, you can avoid future potential life crises in the future.

Good luck 2019—I am sure you will do great things!

Suchi Sundaram will graduate in 2017 from The University of Texas at Austin studying the Business Honors Program, Finance, and International Relations & Global Studies. Her dream job is an Investment Banking Analyst at Bulge Bracket. She is a daredevil enthusiast and a books and news obsessed feminist.

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How to Keep Up Business Relationships Once Your Summer Internship Ends

By Stephanie Watkins

September 8, 2015

You did it! You landed the perfect internship, gained valuable experience, and formed great connections with your coworkers and managers. So… now what?

After the summer ends and school starts again, it’s easy for students to get caught up in their academic and personal lives. Swamped with papers, group projects, and meetings, it gets easier and easier to push keeping in touch with your former colleagues to the bottom of your “To-Do” list.

So how do you keep up these relationships after the summer is over? And more importantly, do you even need to keep up with your former colleagues regularly?

The answer to the latter is most definitely, yes! Keeping up with your former colleagues is something that every woman should make a priority. Building a strong network is an asset that will become more and more valuable as time goes on. Having former coworkers and managers that know your work ethic and have kept up with you throughout your career can lead to opportunities and information that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

One of the easiest ways to keep up with a former colleague or manager is by connecting with them on LinkedIn. Make sure that your profile is updated and proofread before you send them an invitation. Send a personalized message once you’re ready to connect, and make an effort to log on and check your news feed every so often. If you’re active either within groups or by sharing content, your colleagues will be able to see. Likewise, you can keep up with your colleagues and managers’ professional interests and accomplishments, all while proving you’re social media savvy!

Sending a “catch up” email every few months is a nice way to keep your colleagues and managers updated on your academic and professional goals. You can use these emails as an opportunity to share more in depth how your classes are going, what activities or clubs you’re participating in, and what your professional goals are for the future. Be sure to ask questions about their lives as well to make your email more of a conversation- your connection will be stronger if there is a mutual interest and dialogue.

You can really stand out by making an effort to meet in person with your former colleagues and mangers every once and a while. Good old face-to-face interaction can’t be beat! While LinkedIn and email are great ways to keep in touch, meeting in person for a quick coffee or lunch will help your bond continue to grow stronger. Often times, meeting in person allows for more casual conversation, and you may feel more comfortable asking questions or for advice when you’re sitting face-to-face.

Depending on if you traveled or relocated for your summer internship, meeting in person may not always be possible. Great free alternatives would be Skype or a Google Hangout session so you still get that “in-person” feel. Simply making the effort to talk will show that you value the relationship and want to continue developing it.

You worked hard to make an impact during your summer internship, so don’t let these relationships go to waste! If you make time to periodically reach out, your managers and colleagues will continue to keep up with your academic and professional career. Set a reminder on your phone, put it in your planner, schedule it in Google Calendar—whatever you have to do to remind yourself to keep in touch! If you start developing and cultivating these relationships early on, you will have a strong network you can tap in to and use in the future.

Stephanie Watkins recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her dream job is to be a marketing and social media consultant which allows her to travel all over the world. Stephanie’s spirit animal is Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec and you can find her on Twitter at @StephanieWatki5.

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Kick Start Your School Year

By Alina Tang

September 8, 2015

If you are going back to school, hopefully you didn’t relax too much during the summer and forget how to be productive. Like most college students, you probably worked or interned a few weeks, spent time with family and friends, and enjoyed some beautiful sunshine.

Regardless of what you did, you deserved that well-needed break from school, but now it’s time to get back in the swing of things!

Here are some tips to kick start your school year.

Gather school supplies and settle in early.

This was actually the first year I flew down to LA more than a week before school started and it made a HUGE difference. I was able to move into my new apartment very smoothly, without having to buy last minute furniture or get stressed about setting up electricity, internet, and other utilities. By the time USC started, I was ready to go!

Preview classes and look over your textbooks.

For this one, I suggest looking through your professors’ syllabi (if possible) online, so you can start reading material and scouting for textbooks. I find it very helpful to just skim through some lectures, so I have an idea of what study methods I should use for this class—notebooks, flashcards, peer study groups, office hours, etc.

It’s also ideal if you’re able to find online e-books or free PDF versions of your textbooks, so you can save money!

Make a Google calendar of your schedule.

You don’t have to use a Google calendar, but I like having an online resource that consolidates all of my upcoming commitments and activities. It’s the perfect way to familiarize yourself with your schedule before school starts and keep up to date with everything as the semester goes on.

You can also continue adding events to the calendar, and even make them “rolling” events so they show up every week.

Check out student organizations and start applications.

If it’s a new academic semester, chances are you might be looking to join new organizations on campus. I find it overwhelming to go to the Involvement fair and get inundated with dozens of flyers, so I like to look up different clubs through my college website and check the ones I’m interested in, so I can look out for them at the Involvement Fair or even get a head start on their applications.

Get into a healthy lifestyle routine.

Finally, the most important step in my opinion, is to get into school mode by developing a healthy routine. That means practicing sleeping early, getting up early, eating healthy, and exercising regularly. Once you embed these into your daily routine, it’ll be easier to maintain them once school starts!

Good luck!

Alina Tang will graduate from USC in 2016. She is majoring in business administration and plans to work in the Management Development Program at Mondelez International and gain more experience in global marketing.



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Becoming a College Leader

By Valeria Tirado

September 4, 2015

Being a leader is a big responsibility. Becoming elected as leader is an even more daunting task as you must not only have all the qualities that make a leader great, but be able to convince people you have more of these qualities than any possible opponent. Here are some tips and tricks necessary to not only become a capable, competent leader, but to discover who or what you wish to lead in the first place.

The beginning to becoming a leader in college: deciding who or what you want to lead, and most importantly, why you wish to lead them.

Do you desire to change things for the better, to improve the world in some way through the actions of your club? Do you simply want to create fun and enjoyment on campus? Do you have a particular skill set or knowledge base you wish to pass on to the future? Or do you simply revel in the position of head honcho and wish to lead others?

By answering those questions you can determine just what type of club you wish to run for or, if the club does not exist yet, found. I can’t answer these questions for you, but I can give you one more piece of advice in relation to this choice; be honest with yourself. College won’t last forever and there is no point in pursuing something you aren’t interested in. Make the most of your time.

Now for the real meat of my advice; becoming the best leader you can. First and foremost, know your goals. Every club has a set goal it wishes to accomplish, whether to change the world or appreciate a certain niche.

Step one to being a good leader of a college group or organization is to know these goals and do everything you can to work towards them. If you are in charge of a charity club, you’d best be doing everything you can to organize charity events, food drives, or even just spreading awareness of other charities. Likewise, if you find yourself leading a hobby or interest group your main goal is to organize meetups and events that further the expression of that interest.

The worst enemy of a college club is a lack of interest in club activities, as that causes membership to drop off rapidly. By having clear goals and working towards them, you can avoid that and demonstrate your great leadership ability.

Step two to being a good leader is to listen to your subordinates. This is important for anyone in a leadership position, but for a college leader I feel that since you are leading a group of peers (people otherwise on the same level as yourself) it becomes even more vital.

Knowing your goals and sticking to them is incredibly important, but being flexible enough to change those goals or the methods to reach those goals based on the input of those you lead can be just as important. Sometimes it can be even more important to leadership that what goals you work toward as it shows both a willingness to listen to advice and a respect for those who follow you.

Step three to being a good leader is one that many have trouble with—being organized. The above traits mean nothing to a leader if they aren’t organized enough to keep things going.

College leaders are handicapped by the fact that they have other responsibilities at the forefront of their attention—especially doing well in college. Despite this, however, a great leader must remain organized and diligent, able to keep on top of the many problems and opportunities that being in charge of a club provides.

This last quality is one that will take the most work to cultivate, but is also one that will serve you well in your college life, and well beyond.

Valeria Tirado is a junior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics and an Anthropology minor. She plans to get a Master’s from Rutgers in Food and Business Economics and attend NYU Stern for Economics after graduation. Valeria is the captain of her intramural volleyball team and can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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Why Study During the Summer?

By Valeria Tirado

May 28, 2015

While summertime is a time for fun, many of us are going to be taking summer classes. Obviously studying is going to be very important to us, but what about the people who are lucky enough to not be taking summer classes?

Well I’ve got news for you; even if you’re not taking summer classes, studying throughout the summer may be a smart thing to do. Study what, you ask? And how?

So you probably already made your schedule by now so you know what classes you’re taking next semester. Lucky you! (If you haven’t then you should really get on that.)

It’s no doubt these classes are gonna be work so why not get a head start? If you’re taking a political science class, brush up on some political science. The same can be said for any other class. Many professors let you know in advance what textbooks you’ll need so you can get those ahead of time and see what you’re in for.

If you think a particular class will be especially challenging, wouldn’t it be smart to review it a little so you can be ahead of the game? Your professor will certainly be impressed!

Honestly, if you really don’t want to do anything in the previous paragraph because you think that summer is for relaxing then fine. You’re technically right.

I’ve always thought the best vacations were ones where you could learn something too, though. Even if you’re not learning about school subjects, make the effort to learn something new this summer. It can be reading a new book or learning about a new culture.

Make this summer the most productive by learning something new. I promise you won’t regret it. The greatest part is that you can choose anything you want so take advantage!

Studying doesn’t necessarily mean burying your head in a book and getting ready for an exam. Studying can be also be reviewing and improving something you already know or practicing something new.

If you don’t want to learn about a topic, try something more hands-on by learning or improving a new skill. It can be anything from practicing your drawing skills to perfecting your goalkeeping skills. This kind of learning is especially fun since you get the direct payoff from it.

Go ahead, pick something new to focus on this summer and plan to be a master at it by the time you go back to school!

With these things in mind, I hope you all have an enjoyable summer vacation, and for those of you returning to school next semester; I hope you have a productive and studious summer as well!

Valeria Tirado is a junior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics and an Anthropology minor. She plans to get a Master’s from Rutgers in Food and Business Economics and attend NYU Stern for Economics after graduation. Valeria is the captain of her intramural volleyball team and can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.

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