Author Archives: Holly Brenza

10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship

It’s pretty obvious that internships have become a crucial part of marketing ourselves, gaining hands-on experience in the real world, and (in my opinion, most importantly) networking. However, simply “doing” an internship isn’t good enough; that isn’t what is important. It’s crucial that we absorb as much as possible by being granted the experience, and in turn, give the internship everything you have. These things in combination will certainly give you the best experience possible, which is, after all, the ultimate goal. If you currently have an internship, or if you plan to apply for some this upcoming year, here are my tips on how to make the most (and get the most out of) your internships:

  1. Get to know everyone you can. Whether you work at a small or large company with a tiny or gigantic team, there are still plenty of people you can interact with and learn from. Whenever I think about what I loved most at my internships, the people I worked with and was surrounded by always comes to mind. It’s so important to get to know your coworkers on a deeper level than knowing when they take their lunch or what their job title is. By building these relationships, you will have people you care about at work who will also care about you. They’ll be much more willing to help you and teach you as much as possible. These relationships can even last beyond your internship. Don’t be a drone at work-half of the fun is learning from and interacting with those around you.
  2. Expand yourself beyond the 9-5. I’m not talking about working on projects after hours. While that may need to happen, what I’m referring to is expanding your availability and acknowledging that you will only be at your internship for a short amount of time. Because of this, come in on your day off if something unique is going on or there is an opportunity to learn. Drive to the corporate office if you’ve been offered the opportunity to sit in on a meeting. Realize that the more time you put into your internship to learn, the more you will get out of it.
  3. Learn as much as possible about the company/organization with which you are interning. What’s the point of working somewhere if you don’t know much about it? How can you fully understand what you are doing if you don’t know your company’s goals or customer base? Learning whatever you can will make you that much more invested and committed. Why does the logo look that way? When was the organization founded, and for what purpose? You’ll even see that the more you know, the more confident you will be in your ability to do your job and represent your company.
  4. Share your ideas with the team. No one likes a silent intern. While we are primarily in our internships to learn, it is vital to show that you are willing to work with your team to develop new ideas. Your coworkers would be thrilled to hear your perspective, as opinions from an originally “outside” party provide them with a different angle. Not to mention the fact that you are young, in college, and have a unique point of view. Never hesitate to let people know what you think.
  5. Volunteer to assist with various tasks. Does someone look like they could use an extra hand with a project? Do you see people working on something you are knowledgeable about or have an interest in? Speak up and volunteer to help. The worst that could happen is that they say no, and how often do people really turn down help? This will show that you are capable of taking initiative and working well on a team, both vital characteristics of a successful and hard-worker, which you definitely want to be!
  6. Don’t complain about something or point out a problem without some sort of solution. If something is going wrong and needs to be addressed immediately, by all means, point it out. What I’m referring to is more of the type of instances where you don’t think a certain filing system or way of doing things isn’t the most organized or efficient. In this case, develop some sort of solution to offer when you do address the issue with someone. Your innovation won’t go unnoticed.
  7. Keep a work calendar for tasks and reminders. Keep this separate from any other calendar or agendas you have. This way, you can see what work-specific obligations you have each week and can continue to add to it as needed. This is a great way to stay organized at work, and I’ll bet you won’t miss a single meeting or deadline!
  8. Get enough sleep at night. Coming in to work early and/or yawning throughout the entire day will make for an unpleasant and long work day. Your brain will be sluggish and will hold you back from being the best intern possible. Follow up a good night’s sleep with a healthy breakfast and enough water to hydrated throughout the day. You’ll be able to see the benefits both at work and off the job.
  9. Make the most of your free time/time off. Get whatever tasks you need to complete done when you are not at work. Do what you like when you’re off. This way, you’ll appreciate your time both at work and home from work much more, and you won’t be angry about going in. This time is also a prime time to get that much needed sleep.
  10. Keep in touch. Don’t lose contact with any of your coworkers or bosses. These people helped you throughout your internship and truly care about you and your future. Thank them as much as you can, and maintain a relationship with them. Your internship would have been completely different and possibly nonexistent without them, so make sure you remain in contact with them.
Think about what you can do so that when you leave your internship, you are as satisfied as possible, you are glad you did your internship and you feel as though you have gained a wealth of experience. Don’t waste a perfectly good opportunity that is right before your eyes.

Are you afraid of the dark?

When I was 15 years old, I bought a ticket to a PG-13 movie and snuck into a rated R one with my friends instead. Not that memorable or delinquent of an offense. In fact, I’m nearly positive most other kids act way worse. And considering that’s probably the biggest thing on my conscious from my freshman year of high school, I’m really not that disappointed in myself. If I could go back to that moment now, though, I wouldn’t even walk into the theater. I would’ve stayed and watched Get Smart or whatever the heck we bought tickets for, because thanks to my immature actions, I’ll regret that decision as long as I live.

It was The Strangers. Even seeing those words typed terrifies me. I may have even mentioned to you before that that are few things in life that scares me as much as the characters from this film. The plot is based on true events and the characters and their masks scarred me. The worst part is – I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast, the storyline of a great book I read just last month, or my Facebook password. But for some reason, I can’t get a single part of this movie out of my head. 6 years later.

Not a day goes by that I’m not seeing them around a corner in my house or outside somewhere late at night. When I’m home alone, forget it…

But why does that scare me so much? I’ve only watched it one more time since, when my boyfriend begged me to watch it with him a year after the first time. Even though I spend 99% of the movie blocking my eyes, it doesn’t really make the situation any better. All this time has gone by, and I still expect to see one of the murderers standing in the shadows where I look up.

I really don’t know why this particular thing haunts me so much. I have seen quite a few scary movies and thrillers, and I never like them, but nothing has stuck with me like this one has. It has trumped every other one and remains in the back (and frequently, the front) of my mind to scare me every single day.

So why is it that I’m horrified and actually scarred by a scary movie but fail to be scared by things like the imminent future and other tangible, scary thoughts?

I’m not sure if it’s because I feel like I can handle whatever thing like that is thrown my way, but if one of the strangers appeared (or, God forbid, all three of them) in front of me, I’d just drop to the ground and cower, convulsing. I may not be the strongest, and I am certainly not the bravest, but I do feel comfortable facing many things. The movie characters just aren’t it.

I guess this whole ridiculous fear thing puts life into perspective and provides a life-lesson at the same time. Yes, things are scary, and it seems a little freaky that in less than a year from now, I will have to be a grown-up and will be done with college.

Yes, this story also attests to the fact that I, or any young teenager, for that matter, shouldn’t have been sneaking into a movie theater to see a movie that is too old for them, whether or not their parents approved. I can’t remember if my mom knew ahead of time or if I explained the entire plot of the movie to her the next day. Either way, I don’t think she knows how much it plagues me, and even if she did, she would tell me that I am the one who made the decision to watch. No one told me I had to, and no one held me down and forced me to watch.

So for now, I have to live with this (ridiculous) fear and face the facts that I’m the reason I have these fears. Maybe one day I’ll forget about it…doubtful, but certainly possible. Maybe when I become this long-anticipated “grown up” that everyone always mentions, life will move on and my goofy fears will be left behind. Until then, I’ll keep running back to my bed when I have to run to the bathroom late at night (sorry Mom & Dad), and you should take a look at the movie. Or don’t if that kind of thing would ruin you. If you want to be even more disturbed, check out the book, Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi. Much of The Strangers was based off murders conducted by the Manson clan. I’m gonna go turn off the light and very quickly hide my entire body under the covers until sunlight…………………………..

I’m getting too old for this…

I think everybody has different expectations of friendships, and even more so, they probably have different expectations for each friendship they have. It’s important that both parts of the friendship have equal expectations, though. Otherwise you’re not on the same page, which never seems to lead to anything good.

I don’t really know if there are categories or types of friendships, but if there are, I would definitely say that most of my friendships are very simple and “low-maintenance.” What I mean by that is that we simply enjoy one another’s company and spend time together. There isn’t drama, fighting, or whatever else is often associated with some friendships.

Of course, I want each of my friends to know that I am there for them whenever they need me. I feel like this is a given with friendships. By classifying my relationships as simple, I don’t mean to suggest that there is any lack of the things that should happen in a solid relationship.

It’s just that life is exhausting, and having friends helps to keep you sane. There’s no reason to complicate it or make anyone upset.

Am I crazy to just want to be able to spend time with my friends and laugh? To understand one another’s busy schedules and not take it personally? To not have to find any hidden meanings or determine the meaning of a “k”?

It’s times like these that I’m even more appreciate of dog best friends. There’s no drama with Bear. I come home, am loudly greeted and offered a plethora of toys, and when it’s time for bed, we’re cuddling up with a book and a rawhide. No muss, no fuss. I’d say it’s the ideal friendship.

I guess I just want to know why things can’t be simple. Friendship shouldn’t be yet another stressful part of life. Can’t we all just try saying what we mean and meaning what we say? It would make life a lot easier. Really.

The Un-Bucket List

Everyone I know is always making a list of things they want to do before something ends, whether it’s the summer, college, a study abroad program or even life. I have done the same thing, too, even though mine is usually just a giant mental note. But wouldn’t it be just as fun to make a list of things we don’t ever want to do? Like things we hope never happen to us, or things we plan on avoiding at all costs? I definitely thought so…

HOLLY’S UN-BUCKET LIST

  1. Come within 50 miles of a killer whale.
  2. Try calamari again.
  3. Break a bone or need to be hospitalized for an emergency.
  4. Have no pets.
  5. Be fired from a job.
  6. Live far away from my immediate family.
  7. Get in a car accident.
  8. Create roadkill.
  9. Eat dessert that isn’t chocolate.
  10. Have to have another surgery.
  11. Get more cavities.
  12. Watch the White Sox continue to play like the Cubs.
  13. Have no plan.
  14. Have no success finding another internship.
  15. Sleepwalk.
  16. Touch a cactus.
  17. Skydive or bungee jump.
  18. Ride any type of roller coaster.
  19. Get a ticket.
  20. Wake up late on the day of an important event.
  21. Have outfits that don’t have a pair of matching shoes.
  22. Perpetually lose sleep or feel constantly exhausted.
  23. Get another papercut.
  24. Live somewhere where it’s never summer.
  25. Be conflicted about what I want to do with my life.
  26. Get stung by a bee or wasp.
  27. Do my taxes or pay bills.
  28. Get yelled at for no reason.
  29. Develop a severe allergy.
  30. Lose all time for reading.

There’s my list; it’s definitely ever-growing. I’m sure that if you took some time to think about it, there’s probably a lot of things that you never want to do that you are just as passionate about not doing as there are things that you are passionate about doing. It’s kind of nice to think about them this way because it helps lead me on the right path. I can look at this list next time I’m in the desert and remember that I don’t want to touch a cactus….

….But all jokes aside, I don’t see why this isn’t as important to consider as are the things you want to make sure you do. Take some time to think about it. You might come to find you have some irrational fears just like me, or you may read between the lines and see exactly what you want to do!

Meet me in St. Louis

It happened. We survived AND had a great time. And I’m still suffering from post-vacation depression all these days later…pretty sure that’s a sign of a great vacation.

We left for St. Louis Saturday morning at 4:30am, but my trip started much earlier. Around 10:30pm Friday night, I finished packing everything I needed for the trip and headed over to Kevin’s for the night. He, of course, hadn’t even started packing yet…so typical. By about 12:30am, he looked as ready as he ever would and headed to bed. From what I could see, everything was ready to go-directions to every place we planned to go were in order and I didn’t see any room for problems or things that would make me regret agreeing to this so last minute.

When the alarm went off just 3 hours later, I felt like it was the school year all over again. I’ve been getting much more sleep this summer, so the 3 hour “nap” was a bit of a nightmare. Regardless, I got up, got dressed and got myself not only ready for the 5-hour car ride we faced, but also for the first day of vacation, as we planned to immediately head off to a destination upon arrival in St. Louis. I was ready to go at 4:00am, as I’d planned for, and when Kevin couldn’t get up until 3:50am, I knew we were in trouble. 40 minutes, a ripped contact and a meltdown later, we were loading up the car and trying not to murder one another before the trip even began. Things definitely started to look up as we were the only car driving through town and stopped at McDonalds for my absolute favorite breakfast burritos and coffee. We were then on the way.

The ride to St. Louis was nice and uneventful. We saw lots of cows and horses, which was totally hilarious. Kevin hated finding out that all of his radio stations didn’t travel with us and were instead replaced by countless country stations. At 9am, we were driving past St. Louis and got our first glimpse at the Arch and our hotel, which was so close it was almost kissing the Arch. We arrived at our first stop, Grant’s Farm, at just about 9:30am.

This place was awesome. I loved every minute of it and honestly wish I was there right now. It was so funny and so totally like nothing you would ever experience in Illinois. To get to the farm, everyone has to ride on a tram with open sides. It doesn’t just drive you to the farm, though-it takes you through miles of expansive land with crazy animals on it…

We were almost charged by a bison who apparently didn’t like us on his lawn, elk were inches away from my skull, and other animals I’ve only ever seen on t.v. wandered around so close to us that we couldn’t believe it. When it was time to get off the tram, we  arrived in an even funnier and stranger place. Grant’s Farm was complete with a baby goat petting zoo where you could feed them milk from bottles, acres for the Clydesdales (coolest thing ever!) an elephant show, a crazy kangaroo that stood on its tail,a camel that caught food people would throw in its mouth, and free samples of Anheuser-Busch alcohol. It was definitely something we’d never experienced before, but everything was so cool. It was a really great way to start off the vacation. From there, we wandered across the street to check out Ulysses Grant’s house and farm (hence the whole Grant’s Farm thing on the property…)

After this, we headed back to the heart of the city to check into our hotel and figure out where we were going to watch the Blackhawks game. After a horrible time trying to figure out how to use the parking tower (and trying to figure out how we would remember that our car was parked 6 floors underground…[what the heck, St. Louis]) we checked in and enjoyed the fantastic view of the Arch and the Mississippi River from out hotel room. We went for a walk around the city and were lucky enough to find out that one of the many, MANY restaurants in our hotel was a sports bar with a million t.v.s We were fortunate enough to get a waitress who was more than willing to put the game on for us. Despite the fact that the Cardinals were playing the Reds, eventually everyone at the restaurant had their eyes on our t.v. and were cheering for the Hawks. The next thing we knew, the Hawks were on every channel, and these potentially Blues fans were cheering. I couldn’t believe it! Definitely earned them all some serious brownie points in my book. 

The next day, we were off to Purina Farms. Not to be confused with Grant’s Farm…totally different things, but both really awesome. This place was massive, and we got to see two different dog shows. The dogs did tons of awesome tricks and were really talented. We were also lucky enough to come on a weekend where people from all over the country had brought their dogs for agility course competitions as well as obedience training and speed races. There was also a barn with even more animals to pet! I was in heaven for a second day in a row.

We finished at Purina Farms much earlier than we did at Grant’s Farm the day before, so we headed back to our hotel to explore. Of course, we needed to stop at Jack in the Box, since it’s my dad’s favorite fast food place and we don’t have any around home, so we needed to try it and, of course, send my dad pictures. After our delicious stop, we headed back to St. Louis and our awesome hotel.

We sort of planned to go to the Arch on our final day (Monday) before we checked out of the hotel at noon, but we thought we’d go give it a try, since it was about 4:00pm. We waited for nearly half an hour in an outdoor line that led you through security to enter the underground area of the Arch. Here, you can buy tickets for the various things offered about the Arch, go through a museum, shop at multiple gift shops, watch historical informational films, or board the pod to go up to the Arch. We got in line right away to buy our tickets, but our trip wasn’t scheduled until 6:50p.m. We went and looked through the museum, read everything, and wandered through one of the gift shops before it was our turn to get in line. We waited another 45 minutes in line after 6:50…luckily we had already eaten and didn’t have any plans for the night. When it was finally our turn to head up, we were put into this horribly claustrophobic “pod”, which was no taller than 4 feet and could comfortably carry 1 person on their 4-minute journey up to the top; however, they put 4 people into the pod. The journey felt much more like a ferris wheel than an elevator or anything else…it rocked and swayed side to side, all the while traveling up 630 feet. I was having some sort of anxiety attack, but I kept quiet and calm for the sake of the poor strangers who were loaded into the pod with us. I couldn’t wait to get out and be at the top; little did I know, it wasn’t much better at there.

The ceiling was still so low in the Arch itself, and with 12 tiny windows on each side-12 facing St. Louis, 12 facing the Mississippi River- I wasn’t any less claustrophobic. I couldn’t wait to get down, but I was also terrified of riding the pods back down. After countless pictures and enough time to justify getting the heck out of there, we boarded another pod and made the journey back down. I have never been happier to be back on solid ground. It was a good thing we didn’t save the Arch until Monday, because we wound up spending a grand total of 6 hours on that…It was very beautiful at the top, though…

After finishing exploring around the Arch, we headed back for our car to explore even more by vehicle, and to do so while eating Imo’s pizza. We heard this was a very big part of St. Louis culture, and we couldn’t miss out on trying it. It was really good, but absolutely nothing like Chicago style pizza. Cute try, though, STL….

Bacon, sausage, green peppers, onion...Kevin's dream come true!

We had a really nice anniversary (Sunday). On Monday, our last day, we packed up, headed out, checked out the beautiful and historical capital building and stopped at a drive-thru zoo to check out even more bison, elk and deer. We didn’t see too many, but we did come across a giant herd of elk sitting in the parking lot. It made for a really interesting final stop.
Our ride home was complete with a torrential downpour…I guess that was Illinois’ way of welcoming us back. We got home after 7pm on Monday, just in time to watch the Blackhawks lose…and I slept like a baby until I had to wake up at 6:30a.m. for work. That wasn’t easy…

I have yet to unpack, but I wish instead that I was just packing for another vacation. It only took 7 years, but we went on a vacation together and had a great time. I can’t wait for the next one. It’s kind of addicting…

Arch you surprised I’m not freaking out?!

Is it just me, or did fortune cookies become absolutely terrible? I mean the fortune, not the cookie; that much seems to still be on par, although I don’t really like the cookie part anyways…just a personal dislike. At any rate, for the last few years, my fortunes haven’t seemed so much of fortunes but more statements telling me what kind of person or some life lesson. Every time I open one, I get excited to see what it’s going to say, but then I’m immediately disappointed because it’s either a repeat fortune I’ve gotten before or something that doesn’t at all seem to suggest anything about my future. Is it that fortune cookie texts have changed, or have I become obsessed with knowing what’s coming in my near future?

I’ve always liked to plan out what’s going on in my life for both the immediate future as well as the not-so-near future. I feel like it calms me, keeps me on track and gives me something to strive for. While I always have very distinct and specific plans and expectations, the means to which I’ve gone about determining that they are the correct choice haven’t always been traditional; my share of fortune cookie, Magic 8 ball and “signs” have helped me along the way. I’ve looked to these measures to decide whether or not I should do something or what to focus on.

Sometimes, especially during the school year, I tediously begin writing down what I will be doing for the week, hour-by-hour. This is absolutely outrageous, and I’m fully aware of that. I also realize that more than 99% of the time, I don’t wind up following the schedule by any means. Something will come up or I will realize the impossibility of completing all of the tasks I have left myself to complete in a given amount of time and I wind up straying away from the schedule. I’ll also make general lists of things I’d like to accomplish in a day or week, or both. It can get scary how many different lists I may need to feel less anxious about something. The moment I feel ideas running through my mind, I have to start writing them down for fear I will lose even just one of them.

In the grand scheme of things, I know I need to stop looking to my fortune to help me decide what to do, especially when one of my sister’s last fortune cookies told her that “a tub and a rub will make our day.” I don’t know that I need to slow down on planning my future because that has really only brought about positive things to my life. But I do think there is a step I can take in the right direction; I need to learn how to be more spontaneous.

I do not like not being prepared for something, like feeling like I don’t have the right outfit on to be somewhere. That’s just an example, but I honestly don’t enjoy going somewhere that I haven’t had enough time to sufficiently mentally prepare for, or something to that nature. I’m certainly not introverted, and this has nothing to do with social interactions. Instead, I just like to get pumped up for doing something, even if it’s just going to the grocery store. I want to know at least some hours before that I am going. If I wind up going somewhere without having a little bit of time to think about it, I feel slightly off. I don’t mean to sound crazy, but maybe I am. Maybe the lack of spontaneity and the incessant need to plan, organize and prioritize has gone to my head. I’m working on it, I swear.

My first step in the strides to spontaneity is more like a leap or lunge for me, really. I have officially agreed to travel to St. Louis with my boyfriend for our 7 year anniversary this weekend. We’ve never gone on a vacation alone, and the fact that we were planning it two days in advance is so incredibly stressful to me. We managed to reserve a hotel room and have picked out what we will be doing each day, but I’m not going to be like those people in the movies (or on Duck Dynasty) who make an itinerary and everyone on the trip wants to destroy them and their schedule. I’m just going to make sure we’re prepared with directions and whatever else we may need. The rest is up in the air. The trip itself sprung up on me, and I’m trying to step out of my comfort zone and have fun. The less stress, the better. It is supposed to be a vacation, after all. And a celebratory one at that.

Hopefully from now on I can be ever so slightly more spontaneous and less judgmental of fortune cookies. Who am I kidding, I’ll probably go ask a cootie catcher if we picked the right hotel…

Finally, a break…sort of

Everything may not have a place and I certainly haven’t finished finding a home for all of my clothes, but I am moved home for the summer! I’m so excited for the next few months. It seriously began to feel as if this year was never going to end, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever make it home in one piece. Somehow, the year came to a close, and an absolute miracle occurred-everything fit into the house!

I’ve already started reading and walking my dog. In just a few days, I will be back at my internship at the hospital that I was at last summer. I’m excited to start back up, but I have enjoyed the week back to myself. I had a chance to do a lot of cooking and relaxing.

I can’t say that things are more exciting than they were at school, but I think I like it that way. I needed a break from the hecticness that is school and many jobs and executive board positions and internships. I’m definitely going to make the most of my time home!

So far, things have been pretty exciting..Here’s why:

Grades are in, and I got all A’s and B’s. I did want straight A’s to boost my GPA, but I’ll take that for sure. Next semester, I am really going to try to get those A’s.

Vacation plans for 2014 are being made! Kevin & I are planning a weekend trip away to celebrate our 7 year anniversary, my sister wants to take a trip to Nashville, and for Mother’s Day, we let my mom know that we’ll be going to Disney World in November! I can’t wait for each trip!

I bought a bike, and I’m so excited to ride it! Of course, the week I buy it, temperatures are in the 40′s and 50′s, but I’m banking on some warm weather soon so I can ride everywhere. I’m really excited to bring it back with me to UIC and ride everywhere…except maybe not to class, since I live so close (it would probably take more time to lock the bike up than to walk to class.)

The Blackhawks advancing in the playoffs has been crazy exciting and brings back so many memories from previous years. Can’t wait to see what happens…hopefully the journey continues!

What’s next on the agenda:

I’ve been invited to 4 graduation parties in the next 3 weeks. I also plan on visiting friends in the upcoming weeks…it already feels like so long since I’ve seen everyone!

It’s time to start baking some things! I really need to take advantage of the cold(er) weather to turn on the oven and bake…I really won’t want that on in the heat of the summer.

I need to get organized for my internship and ready to go to make the most out of my time back there.

Talk to you soon! Keep enjoying time off!

Summer Suggestions

Whether you’re taking summer classes, working at an internship or part-time job, or have the entire summer off with minimal obligations, the 3 months is going to go by incredibly fast. Before you know it, we’ll be back in classes and buying books. Between now and then, there’s a good amount of time of which to make the most. Here are some ideas on what you can do to improve your summer and enjoy the time off:

1. Go places for the day. This is my favorite part of the summer. If you don’t have a vacation planned, this is an especially good idea because it always feels like a mini-vacation. Look up places to visit and plan a day out of it. I’ll share my favorite places to go in the coming weeks. This gives you something to look forward to and makes the summer a whole lot more fun. For years, my boyfriend and I have been going somewhere every Friday but now that he has a full-time internship, that has to end. I don’t think we’ll stop going places this summer, but we definitely have to change days. This is especially great if you look up places at the beginning of the summer and make a list of them. Each time you want to go somewhere, you can choose the one that works best for that day based on the weather and whatever other conditions.

2. Stay on a normal sleep schedule. Just like all of the other breaks, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of staying up into the latest hours of the night (or potentially the early hours of the morning) and then sleeping in until 12, 3, 5, or even later. Don’t become nocturnal this summer! There’s a lot that you’ll miss out on. I’m not saying not to have some late nights enjoying yourself, but don’t make it a constant habit. Try to get to bed within the same time frame each night. You’ll wake up around the same time, too, and as a fall back, you can set an alarm. Sleeping is great, and this is absolutely a time to catch up on all of those lost Z’s from the year, but do so wisely and in a way that you won’t regret later.

3. If you don’t already know, learn how to do laundry. Learn to cook and/or bake! Learning important life skills is important, especially depending on your living situation. While a lot of people are proficient in the kitchen and laundry room, there is still a fair amount of individuals who don’t know how to do one of these things. There is no excuse- everyone can do laundry or cook if they take the time to understand the process and learn. At this point, you have 3 months to figure things out, and there is most likely someone who can help you learn. Take time out to discover the art of making something other than ramen, and learn how to separate laundry so that you get the longest wear possible out of your clothes. Eventually, you’re going to have to take this step that is part of growing up, but it’s easy to push off. Don’t do that! Learn now so you can put those skills to work during the year.

4. Put your phone/computer/etc. down. Everyone has been talking about and sharing the Youtube video about the importance of looking up from your phone. Our cell phones have, sadly, become our best friends and our biggest support system. Believe it or not, there was a time we were able to function without them. Try walking away from your phone. I’m not saying to go out of the house or run to the store and leave it behind; that is why we got cell phones, after all…to be able to contact someone in case of emergency or if we needed to talk to them quickly. But why do you need to be checking Twitter at the beach? Or Snapchatting at the movies? Keep your phone in your pocket or purse and try living life through your own eyes with the people present in the moment. At home, put your phone in your room and don’t check it all day. You’ll feel incredibly liberated, and there’s a good chance you may see something you’ve never seen before because you were too busy on your phone.

5. Find somewhere to volunteer your time. It can be really difficult to find time to give during the school year, with the combination of school, work, friends, etc. Summer seems to always give us a fair amount of free time, whether or not you are working or in school. Think about what you’re interested and passionate about, and make a point to set up a volunteering schedule. Even if it is once a week or month, this will make you feel a lot better and will give you something to look forward to. There are a million options for volunteering. It’s just a matter of finding what is the best fit for you. If you don’t want to go it alone, get friends or family involved. That way you’ll all be held accountable to go volunteer, and it can be really fun doing this with them. This will no doubt be the most rewarding part of your summer!

6. Spend time with your friends. Living at school makes it hard for me to see my friends from home as often as I’d like to. It’s easy to start living a double life and separating the two. Reconnect with your friends and start making plans. There is a million things to do in the summer, and no reason not to spend time with them. Make sure you maintain your friendships- you don’t want to lose them simply because you’d rather lay around or be alone.

7. Meet up with your UIC friends. People at school are from so many different towns and states. If you’re able to, set up times or weekends where you can visit each other. This is one of the things I’m looking forward to the most. Three months is a long time to go without seeing the people you spend so much time with during the school year. If there is absolutely no way for you to visit one another, talk on the phone or video chat; don’t spend the whole summer just texting each other.

8. Start an exercise routine. What better time to get in shape? Take advantage of the weather and set up a routine, and actually follow it. So many workout plans fail just because people give up on them because they don’t see immediate results or for any other reason. Don’t be one of those people;it’s a lot harder to start something up again a million times than it is to continue it. While you’re at it, change your eating habits if they aren’t the best. I’m not saying don’t check out all the ice cream places. What I am saying is to grab the fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Summer is a great time to get healthy. What excuse do you really have not to?

9. Try out restaurants and bakeries you’ve never been to. I love finding different places to try out over the summer, especially when places open up their outdoor seating for the season. See what your neighborhood or the surrounding ones have to offer. Head out with friends or family and check out new places, or those places you’ve always seen but never gone to. You might find a hidden gem or a new favorite place.

10. Take time to think. I always recommend this, but for a good reason. Life moves too fast, especially when you’re distracted by tests, quizzes, and online assignments. Summer is the time to revisit your thoughts and determine if you are on track with school and happy with your life. If you are, this will make you feel organized and prepared. If not, summer is a perfect opportunity to set up advising appointments or change up your schedule. Don’t just ignore the real world during summer-make a point to be prepared. It’s important to know whether or not you are happy.

It’s Over!

We did it! We made it through the year! Congratulations on conquering finals and making it out all in one piece. It’s an absolute miracle that we made it through this winter, let alone this entire school year! I hope you’re satisfied with the work that you put in and are looking forward to the future, whether it means more school or the real world!

Take a day or two to relax- we’ve all put in a lot of work this year, but it was worth it!

Instead of just talking very generally about the last 9 months, I made a video for you to incorporate the entirety of my junior year. I hope you enjoy it!

IAMUIC – Junior Year

Just days away

It’s late. It’s raining. I’m looking out of the window at the same sights I have been looking out at for about 3 years now.

We are days away from finals week and from closing another chapter of our time at UIC. For many, this year is the final chapter to the college experience. For others, it was just the beginning. But for me, the end of this year means I am precariously balanced between the very end of the road and one last go around.

When I finish my last presentation, check out my final resident, and load my car with 300 pounds of clothes, it’ll be the end to more than just my junior year to me. My last presentation marks the final semester of difficult classes and challenging courseloads; from here on out, I only have 12 credit hours and hope to spend at least 6 of them on an internship. Saying goodbye to the last remaining resident means I will no longer have residents…I will be done being a resident assistant, something that truly engulfed me for the past two years. The past two times that classes wrapped up for summer and I moved back home, I felt at peace, ready for a summer off to recharge for the following year. I was doing everything I wanted to each year and really felt like I was accomplishing all of the goals I’d hoped I would from the start. At this point, my plans for next year are finalized, and things are really going to change.

That isn’t to say I’m not incredibly excited for the year ahead. I can’t wait to take on every role I have worked for years to get to. That’s not what this is about.

The end of my junior year means I have one year left. One last try to do everything I’ve been putting off because it felt like four years would never end and that I would have plenty of time to accomplish it all. I’m shocked and incredibly anxious when I contemplate the fact that in mere months I will be a senior in college, millimeters away from the dreaded real world. It’s absolutely insane how quickly time goes by.

As I spend my last weeks here, I am trying very hard to take it all in and enjoy every second. Things are happening whether or not I am prepared. When I come back here in August, I will walk the same hallways I did as the freshman hall council president as the building’s senior resident assistant. I started out trying to figure out just what I wanted to do while here, and now I’m scrambling to make sure I can walk away feeling like I did it all. That view out of my bedroom window stayed consistent year by year while everything else constantly changed-for better or for worse. And I’m perfectly fine with that.

There’s a bird singing outside. At 3am, a bird is chirping nonstop. It’s funny, but at the same time, it helps me. Listening to a bird, no matter where or what time of day, links me to so much of the past and helps me stay on track. No matter how fast life moves or where it takes me, I’ll still hear birds chirping. And if they’re as happy as let on from their chirping about the changing of the seasons, I can embrace every change that comes my way and prepare for my last time around.

Here’s to the end of the year and big moves.

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