Category: Work

About jobs and work.

Weeks 0: Ready Set Go

♪♫♪ Alors tu vois, comme tout se mêle / Et du cœur à tes lèvres, je deviens ton casse-tête…

It’s been a long and hectic two weeks. Even though I braced myself for the whirlwind that is campus housing training, it still managed to take a lot out of me. When day 1 ended and I crawled into bed on Monday night, I tiredly worried that just one day had run me ragged. There were still many days to come, posters to make, programs to plan, names to memorize…and of course classes to prepare for. But the rest of training kind of flew on by, and I quickly became closer to my fellow Courtyard staff through the endless icebreakers and teambuilding activities.

When I first moved back to Courtyard, I honestly was missing my nice kitchen and living room in TBH very much. My room this year is considerably smaller than my room last year, but it’s the typical size of a Peer Mentor room in Courtyard so I can’t complain. Last year, I just lucked out and got the biggest PM room, which was in a triple cluster. During second semester, the two girls living with me actually transferred schools and moved out so I actually had an entire cluster to myself! It was strangely large and I actually didn’t even know what to do with all the space. Quite on the contrary, this year, I have a tiny single room in a 8-person cluster, and I feel like I can’t even fit everything I want in my room. It took several tries of arranging and rearranging my bed and desk to figure out how to optimize the space, and even now I’m not sure I’m satisfied with my choice. I’m trying to be as minimalistic and strategic as possible when it comes to arranging my things, and I’m having my parents take some extraneous items home for me. But even though it’s small, I do think it’s quite cozy. I never needed much space anyway – only just enough to live in. I believe I can quickly get used to this and feel at home here – it might just take me a little more time to get used to the general location  on third floor and living with seven other girls in the same cluster.

Housing training was largely the same as I expected from last year. The first afternoon included a teambuilding day at the student rec center, which was fun and quite exhausting. We played games like dodgeball, volleyball, tag, problem-solving activities, and the human knot. By the end of it, I think everyone was tired and ready to call it a night. But in the evenings, we have in-hall staff meeting time, which was also important to hammer out what policies and staff expectations to follow for the whole year. I think the biggest thing that was accomplished from the whole day was the fact that I knew everyone’s name on my staff, which has 28 people total. The majority of the rest of training was listening to lectures about programming, community, conduct, and other important things to recall from last year. I’m glad I have a year’s experience now, because I remember feeling overwhelmed last year from the plethora of information just thrown at me all at once. But it was nice to be able to bond with my staff during the week and slowly get to know individuals one by one. Most people know me as a reserved person because I typically prefer to watch things unfold in group settings rather than directly contribute to them. I’m not shy –  I just don’t prefer to be the center of attention or say something unless I have something relevant to say. This year, I do feel myself stepping it up more as a leader to speak my mind more and offer advice and insight.

Classes haven’t even started yet, and I already feel incredibly busy. I’m worried because it feels like my marathon training has taken a backseat because I’ve been so incredibly exhausted at the end of the day everyday. Training starts at 10 AM every morning and I usually don’t find myself with free time again until after 9 PM, so my only option is to wake up early to go to the gym. This would be fine, but it makes me exhausted for the rest of the day when I really need to be focused and peppy enough to keep up with my staff’s spirit. All of the different residence halls in Campus Housing are competing for a prize called the Golden Sparky, which essentially is a prize for the most spirited staff. We can earn points for positive spirit and behavior (making cheers, showing up early, participating) or lose points for poor behavior (texting during training, sleeping, poor sportmanship). Courtyard actually DID win last year, and we’re trying hard to keep Sparky in Courtyard, so I want to try to be on my best behavior at all times. But sometimes I must admit it’s so difficult to keep my eyes open when we’re going over things I feel like I know and I’m exhausted from running 7 miles in the morning. My hope is that I’ll fit in gym time more easily when I can plan my schedules more, and then I can catch up to the proper mileage for training. I hit 12 miles last week, and the next goal is 14!

My first bulletin board of the year! - Hunger Game theme

Last week and this week might be Weeks 0, but I’m feeling busier than ever. But my bulletin board (Hunger Games theme!) is up, my Mockingjay-personalized door decs are all over my hallway (I have a 60 residents this year!!), and it’s time for New Student Days events.

This is going to be a good year.

Et malgré ça , il m’aime encore et moi je t’aime un peu plus fort / Mais il m’aime encore, et moi je t’aime un peu plus fort ♪♫♪

(Comme des enfants - Coeur de Pirate)

How to get involved in the res halls

While I and the rest of the student staff members have been moved into our room for a couple of weeks now, freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior residents are starting to move in. I don’t have any of my own residents this year, but I am living on the same floor as I did my last year. Five of my residents from last year are living in their same rooms again, too, which is really awesome. While I most likely will never know whether or not I had an impact on those residents’ decision to return to campus housing, I do know that I always tried to let all of my residents know about the many, many ways to get involved on campus, especially in campus housing. There are a lot of options, and they can truly change your college experience. If I had never gotten involved with all of the things I did here at UIC, I would be pretty unhappy person and would feel really lonely and unattached to the university. But because I joined as much as I could, I feel very committed to UIC, I enjoy what I’m doing every step of the way, and I have made some incredible friends.

Although every resident’s RA or Peer Mentor will urge them to get involved and truly become a part of campus housing, I am not necessarily saying this as a resident assistant this time, but as a resident- get involved! Now is the time and certainly the place. What better way to get the most out of college? Here are my tips to get involved within UIC Campus Housing:

1. Attend the New Student Days Events. This events are a great way to get oriented with the city of Chicago. You get to experience some really cool things at a discounted price. Other freshmen attend, providing you with an opportunity to get to know others, and the chaperones (RAs/PMs/supervisors) know all about how you can get even more involved. If the ticketed events are already signed up for, there are a ton of free ones you can check out. I don’t recommend missing these.

2. Get to know your clustermates/roommate/floormates. You’re going to be living with these people for the entire year. It’s ridiculous to ignore them or never get to know them, and think about how fantastic it would be if you became friends. Make a point to introduce yourself to them and to get to know them as well. Try inviting them to lunch in the cafeteria or to a Target run. They could wind up being your first friends here.

3. Go to programs. There are actually about 3 million programs planned for you in the first few weeks. Ok, not actually, but the point is there is a lot to do, and all of it is for you! Take advantage of this and attend everything that even remotely interests you…especially because once the school year starts, you won’t be able to go to as many programs because of homework and responsibilities. This is another great way to make friends, have a good time, and hear from staff members about other things you can do to get more involved.

4. Go to RHA. The Residence Hall Association is a great way to be a part of Campus Housing and your residence hall. If you live in housing, you are automatically considered to be a general assembly member. The meetings are every Wednesday at 7pm, and the first one is the first Wednesday of the school year. There are always awesome raffles and, frequently, discounted student tickets to events like Broadway plays or sports. Their meetings usually have a useful topic/guest speaker/program. Plus, you’ll get the latest updates before residents who don’t come to the meetings!

5. Look at posters on the walls & check your email. Pay attention to signage, whether its papers on the walls, emails in your inbox, or postings on social media. Either way, there is a lot of great stuff going on around housing, and you don’t want to become poster blind (stop seeing them and get acclimated to their presence) or one of those people who immediately deletes emails before checking their contents. All of these things are a way of contacting you and getting your attention to notify you of something that may potentially interest you. Get into and stay in the habit of looking at these things and knowing what is going on.

6. Join an executive board. There is a lot going on in housing, and thanks to hall councils (sort of like student councils for college and specifically pertaining to the residence halls), you are able to apply to be on an executive board almost immediately after you move in. This causes instant-friendships, a strong knowledge of how things work in housing, and experience for any other positions you may care to take on in the future.

7. Ask your RA/PM for other ideas on how to get involved. Beyond everything I’ve mentioned, there are even more ways to get involved and feel at home. Your RA/PM have a wealth of knowledge of things you can do and ways in which you can do it. Go ahead and ask them-they would love to have that conversation and get you linked up to the right people/place/etc. It’s one of the things they are here for!

Don’t waste this precious time you have in college-try to fill it with as much as possible that would still keep you sane. Find what you enjoy and run with it. There’s at least one thing here for everyone…it’s just a matter of figuring out what that thing or those things are for you on an individual level. Good luck!

Being Happy

I haven’t always been one of those kids who always knew what they wanted to do when they “grew up.” At least, I have changed my mind a handful (or two) of times. There is now a month before my senior year starts, and I’m wondering if I’ve done enough.

It perplexes me that we are supposed to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives at such a young age. There’s totally a stigma about changing majors or career paths, but I wish there wasn’t. It’s so bad sometimes that it keeps people from switching. Even the slightest change in the plan can set someone into a panic.

I remember early on in life (and for a pretty long time throughout) wanting to be a teacher. Then, at some point along the way, I decided I wanted to be a college professor and not teach anyone younger. Despite the fact that I had never witnessed a professor in action, I was nearly positive this was what I wanted.

Sitting at the now-gone family desktop computer, I filled out the UIC application. That was one thing I was sure about-I only wanted to go to UIC and was absolutely dead set on it. So much so that it took me months after filling out the application to begin freaking out and wondering what would happen if I wasn’t accepted. Eventually, I filled out a second college application, this one to Bradley…after I had a moment of panic in the high school counselor’s office asking whether or not they thought I would get in to UIC.

At any rate, on the application, I looked through the majors and colleges that were available. I distinctly remember calling my mom and sister in and talking about what I would study. It’s crazy to think that that moment defined so much in my life. We talked about it all, and the next thing I knew, I was applying for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as an English major.

Freshman year, I analyzed my teachers’ every moves, considering their teaching style and telling myself whether or not they enjoyed their jobs. I considered classes an opportunity to witness firsthand what it truly means to be a college professor. Some days I wondered what else was out there for me. It took me until sophomore year to decide that being a professor wasn’t my ultimate goal.

Honestly, I have no idea where the concept of getting into public relations came from (especially since UIC doesn’t have a specific PR track or major), but suddenly I was diving into this area head first. From this point on, I hardly considered becoming a teacher. I was also really set on avoiding any additional educational requirements outside of the many needed for a bachelor’s degree.

I can’t believe how things have changed. Never in a million years would I have thought that my horizons would be expanding so much. Others may not see it this way….that is truly the plight of the English major. People still constantly ask my major and then proceed to ask what I want to teach. The degree certainly doesn’t limit one to teaching. In fact, my time in public relations has helped me realize that is exactly what I want to do, and I become more interested in the business side of it all each and every day.

I have picked up two minors since starting college-Managerial Studies & Communication. I hope the three specialties (and my experience!) help me secure an entry-level position while I (can’t believe it…) get things sorted out for graduate school. I now 100% realize that I need to go to school and constantly improve myself. I never would have imagined myself ready to enter my senior year of college with two minors nearly completed, multiple internships under my belt, graduate schools in mind, and a clear concept of what I want to do come May 2015 (well, actually now, but that isn’t allowed).

If you know what you want to do the moment you apply for college and always have, that’s great. If you’re 60 years old and still saying that you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up (my mom’s frequent statement), that’s fine, too. To some people, a career and getting the perfect job is everything. To others, like me, it isn’t nearly everything.

Ask me what I want to be when I’m older, and I’ll most likely give the cheesy answer of “happy.” Yes, I am very determined to make the right career choices and have the right amount of schooling to have a great job that I’ll enjoy, but that’s just a part of it. I want to be happy with the rest of my life as well, and that can be so much more important sometimes.

I never threw the thought of becoming a professor away, by the way. I’m not discrediting anyone’s majors or career goals or anything for that matter. In fact, if I could just do every job ever for a week or so at a time, I’d be great. But since that isn’t exactly an option, I’d like to get a job, potentially be a professor at the same time, oh, and not to mention, write books or something interesting.

So there it is. Who cares if you want to change majors or colleges or career paths? As long as you’re making your choice for the right reasons, it doesn’t matter what you do. Make choices that will make you happy both now and in the long run. Because that’s what I’d assume we all want to be.

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.

And the job hunt begins…

It’s crazy to think that I have a little less than two months until I graduate! After coming to the realization of the approaching date, I have now begun the job hunt.

I think that this is an ideal amount of time to begin looking for jobs. It’s not too early so that being a candidate for a job would impair me due to some jobs needing to hire ASAP., and it’s not too late that I will be off their radar. Now is the right time to get serious in looking for a place to start my post-graduate career.

Of course, it’s not going to be easy at all. I still have classes and homework, an internship, and student government to focus on, amongst other life activities. Finding the time to research the abundance of companies out there hiring will not be easy. Fortunately, I have a good idea about what I want to do – public relations, media marketing, or social media. Also, I have my resume all ready to go for applications. But if finding and applying for jobs is anything like applying for internships, then I’m in for a lengthy process!

I am grateful that UIC offers plenty of opportunities for graduates. The Office of Career Services offers so many great services for students: career fairs, resume reviews, moc-interviews, and plenty plenty more! I have participated in most of these and I can assure you they do help.

Despite being freaked out at first thought about job applications, I take a deep breath and think about all of my assets: plenty of internship experiences, great extra-curricular experiences, and a good academic standing. With all of this mind, I just have to focus, be confident, and rock the job hunt NOW!

Until next time…

Mike

That’s what it’s all about

I was having dinner with a few of my coworkers earlier this week. After a couple minutes of conversation, one of my coworkers pointed out that the only things I had spoken about were in regards to work (being an RA). Even after he pointed this out, it happened a handful more times during that same meal until I had to leave. While it he was joking around, it really stuck out to me.

So what does it mean if you talk or think about something constantly? That’s not a difficult question to answer- obviously, you are very invested in the subject, or you spend much of your time on the topic, or you have strong emotions about it. For me, all of those statements apply when thinking about how I feel about being an RA.

Everyone has their own reason for being an RA. When new RA interviews roll around, we hear a lot of the same answer when that very question is posed: “I just want to help people.” One of the professional staff members told an applicant who had said this that that statement was the most cliche response possible and to dig deeper to answer the question.

I know exactly why I am doing this job, and the desire to help people is certainly a huge factor, but it’s even more specific. In my nearly 2 years as an RA, I have discovered how amazing it feels to know you have made a significant difference in the lives of residents. During my first year, I was incredibly discouraged because I came in expecting every one of my 60 residents to want to interact with me and come to me for anything. I quickly learned just how unrealistic this was, but I was still disappointed. I came into my second year with the same goal in mind, and while I feel so much closer to this accomplishment than I did last year (I only have less than 30 residents now), I also feel a sense of peace. By building the intentional relationships that I have with my current residents, they know they can come to me when they need me (or when they don’t NEED me) and that I will be there for them no matter what. Granted, there are still individuals who prefer to talk things out with their friends, family, or someone else, I would say that I notice a much greater relationship with my floor this year.

So when someone asks me why I choose to be an RA and live in a mostly freshman building as a junior going on senior, I have the most truthful response possible; at the end of the day, when all is said and done, if I feel like I have given someone hope, a push in the right direction, or a shoulder to cry on, then I’ve done what I set out to do and can feel no greater form of happiness. My passion for residents goes beyond a need to satisfy the urge to help people, because it is more than just helping people. It’s about facilitating growth as leaders. It’s about making residents’ time at UIC and in Campus Housing the best possible experience. It’s about forming relationships that last beyond this year. It’s about making an impact. And it’s about doing these things on a frequent basis, not once.

I received two great forms of good news in coordination with being an RA. This weekend, I will join a few of my coworkers and head to Illinois State University for a leadership conference attended solely by other RAs. Even more exciting to me is the fact that I was given a Senior RA position for the upcoming academic year- something I have wanted to do since I started as an RA. In this role, I will not only get to continue to better the building as well as the lives of the residents, but I will have an official role in acting as a source of information and assistance to the other RAs.

And that’s why my job was the only thing I was talking about during dinner. Because I love my job, I love helping my staff, I love changing the attitudes and lives of residents, I love working to better the residence halls, and I love telling you about why I love it. Next year will be a huge change for me, but I am eagerly awaiting the change. Until then, I will spend my last few months as an RA attempting to strengthen the relationships with my residents and create unforgettable memories with them.

Looking ahead for Campus Housing

♪♫♪ I love losing myself, talking to myself in the dark / When my body starts to work like a machine, I can feel the pulse of my heavy metal heart…

After being on Campus Housing staff as a Peer Mentor for Courtyard for just over a semester now, I got the chance to be involved in the rehire process. It’s a little strange for me to think that just a year ago, I was applying myself without really knowing what I was getting myself into. Of course I had some conception of what it meant to be a RA or PM from watching my own, but it was very different once I had settled into training and realized all that the job entailed. I have little hesitation about returning again next year, as this by far the most fun job I’ve had. Being on staff makes it so easy to socialize and get to know anyone in the building or on campus, and there’s never a dearth of programs or activities to attend.

I was a little nervous for my own rehire interview at first, but it went very well (just as the older staff had assured me). Once I started talking about my programs, my residents, and thing I had learned throughout the year, it was much easier to relax and just have a conversation about my experiences. I surprised myself by becoming more introspective than reflective during the actual interview than I was when trying to make my rehire portfolio! Creating the portfolio actually turned out to be the more difficult part, as I kept changing my mind between writing a thoughtful paper or making a Powerpoint. I ended up making a Powerpoint in the end, which was just as good because I was able to run through my presentation and talk about my programs, community, and leadership on each slide.

And now comes the waiting! I am so excited to see my assignments for next year – it feels a little like I’m back in high school waiting for my schedule to come out. When I was asked during my interview about which residence hall I might prefer, I realized that I could be happy in any of them. I would love to return to Courtyard, where I live now, because then I would feel like I gathered some  experience this year in how to build community in the cluster-style living. I also love the huge staff that Courtyard has!

Since I lived in Commons West as a freshman, I came in this year not too certain of how living in Courtyard would feel like; but now I would be happy to be assigned in either one. I loved Commons West as a freshman because everyone kept their doors open and it was so effortless to get to know people. My best friends here come from the people met inside the halls of Commons West, and it’s amazing to actually see in action how all the community-building we learn about during staff training lasts well beyond a mere academic year. I would love to return to Commons West for that open-door environment – I might also just be biased because I always think of it as my first home on campus! There’s also a good chance that I might be switched to south campus at JST, which would be wonderful as well since I have never heard a bad word about JST from anyone who lives there! It would take a while to become accustomed to the 10-15 minute walk to east campus for classes (to someone who fears cold like me, that seems like a lot) but I think it wouldn’t be too hard with all the buses and shuttles that run. Beside the nice, new amenities, I would also be able to be in cluster-style living again. Finding out is still about a month away, and I can’t wait! It’ll be wonderful to finally see the list of staff members that I’ll be making memories with next year.

I also got to contribute to the new applicant interviews. I finally had the chance to see from the other persepctive of how the group interview looks. Residents who apply to be a RA or PM go through two stages of interviews which includes a group interview and an individual interview. I was able to be one of the “judges” for the group interview, in which I gave a group of about 8-10 applicants a task to complete and they needed to collaborate to come up with a solution through discussion and dialogue. It was very interesting for me to watch, because I imagine that my interview last year must have looked and sounded very similar. For the most part, everyone was very respectful to each other and listened to all ideas. Sometimes, though, there will be an applicant who tries a little to hard to stand out and talks over other people without saying anything with real substance…definitely not a wise thing to do in group interviews! I was surprised that the housing supervisor even asked my opinion on which applicants stood out to me. I realized that I was potentially picking my own co-workers and staff for next year, and it really made me think about just what I would look for in a RA or PM to work with. I only saw three groups out of many of the groups of applicants, but a few of them really stood out to me. In any case, I wish the best of luck to everyone! It’s always exciting for me to envision my near future, so I keep wondering what my staff might look like next year.

You make my heavy metal heart beat, beat / My heavy metal heart ♪♫♪

(Heavy Metal Heart – Sky Ferreira)

What am I doing?!

12 hours.

That’s it. That’s how many credit hours I took this semester.

So why do I feel just as (if not more) stressed out as last semester?

That is by far the least amount of credit hours I have taken on my 6 semesters here. The first semester of my freshman year, I took 14 credit hours and didn’t have many other responsibilities besides academics.

12 credits leaves me with three classes each Tuesday & Thursday. I am hoping to start my internship within the next couple of weeks, so I will be there Mondays and Wednesdays (so excited!)

Regardless of the large amount of time spent not in class, I am still desperate for a break to relax. You’d think I’d have a lot of it, but I feel like I’m always on the go.

I’ve been trying to figure out what is eating up all of my time, or at least what is so time consuming RIGHT NOW………………

…………….I think the biggest thing is currently my returner portfolio. As a resident assistant, peer mentor, or any other Campus Housing student staff member who wishes to return to their position for the following year, we have to put together a portfolio of some sort. This showcases your efforts and successes during the year as well as features your ideas on what you would do differently next year. Having already made a scrapbook portfolio my first year applying to return, I wanted to do something different, so I made a movie. It’s been quite the challenge, but I’m really happy with the “finished” project. I turned it in earlier today and am impatiently awaiting my returner interview where I will show my video.

I’ve also been really busy with just overall more difficult classes than I am used to. I’m taking two 400-level courses, which is the highest I’ve ever had, and they’re pretty tough. It’s nice to be in such challenging classes, but it can, of course, be a little intimidating from time to time. I’m also starting to learn to code (in the absolute simplest form) for my Communications class. This is completely new to me, and I’m really hoping I can keep up with the assignments.

I’ve also been working really hard for my position on the executive board of NRHH- the National Residence Hall Honorary. We are a chapter comprised to the top 1% of student leaders, and the four pillars that we are held up by are leadership, service, recognition, and academics. I take care of the recognition aspect of the chapter, and I have been trying to take on a lot of new initiatives for the position. This can be a lot to do while being an RA, but I really love the chapter and working on the executive board.

NRHH E-board, along with their sister organization, RHA, are hosting a leadership retreat this weekend where we work to further develop younger student leaders’ skills. I will be giving the presentation that I did at CASCHA at this retreat, only with some changes made to fit the Disney theme (my favorite!).

Immediately after the conference (seriously-a half hour later) we are all heading over to the Flames basketball game to watch them play Valpo. I have word that the NRHH e-board as well as the RHA e-board are taking part (maybe even competing) in some sort of game during halftime.

The night before all of this craziness is my grandma’s surprise 90th birthday party. I’m really excited to see her reaction to all of her friends and family in one place for her big day. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’ll leave you with a picture of me and the new pooch:

Now, about that break…………………………

Happy haunting!

Halloween is rapidly approaching — are you ready? I know my floor has been getting ready to celebrate the holiday! I am a Resident Assistant in Courtyard, one of campus housing’s awesome residence halls. This past Wednesday, I put on a floor decorating program in hopes that my residents would be willing to take time out of their night to beautify our public space. At 9 p.m. sharp, I nervously grabbed all of the supplies from my room and headed out to the hallway. Slowly but surely, my residents started coming into the hallway and asking how they could help decorate. I was thrilled to see so many of them meeting each other and coming up with really unique ways to decorate.

I can honestly say that Wednesday night was the happiest I’ve ever felt in my two years as an RA. I felt like what I was doing mattered, and I am confident my residents are building meaningful relationships through the activities we’ve done. It’s crazy to see how so many different people from all over the midwest (and sometimes even the country) can come together within the residence halls and become a makeshift family. These interactions are so much more important in the long run than they seem in the immediate moment. Sure, they may be stringing streamers across the floor together one night, but years down the line, they may be the best man at one another’s weddings. I’m confident in things like that.

 

 

Through all of the cheesiness, what I am trying to say is that your time here at UIC is not to be wasted; get involved in one way or another, whether it’s helping your floormates bring Halloween cheer to your floor or joining a student organization on campus. There are too many opportunities at your fingertips to simply go to class and go back to your room and hop on the train and head home. If Halloween brings you together with other students, so be it. If something else does, run with that. It’s your UIC experience, and it’s all about how you make it.

When it was all said and done, our floor was looking incredibly festive. I was so happy to see the dedication my residents showed to better our floor.

Peer Mentor Chuck & Resident Tom posing in front of their hard work.

If you’re struggling with finding ways to get involved, visit the Campus Programs website. If you live on campus, talk to your RA about getting involved.

 

 

MCAT in one month

I’ve been searching for a calendar script to upload to the Campus Housing website that doesn’t use Perl/CGI (because that’s annoying) and when I finally came across an awesome code I began to upload and test it out. We’re trying to get a calendar up so that the students taking courses for Summer College have a place to find fun events in Chicago and some campus housing-oriented ones, too! Anyway, as I was mingling with that I noticed I only had one month to study for the MCAT before I take the real thing.

As you may or may not know already, I had to postpone the exam two times because I didn’t feel prepared enough. The first date was March 23, which was two weeks after my Kaplan course ended (they say it is good to take it within a few weeks of taking the course)…but that was a bad time because I was really focused on preparing my Health Activism Committee members to Clemente High School and also studying for lots of exams in my science classes! So, I figured moving it to May 11, the day after my last final, would be a good choice. HA. I ended up following my fellow biochemistry friends to the library and stayed up all night to study for that Friday final. I am so glad I moved that MCAT because I don’t think I was able to fix my sleeping schedule until a week after!

Right now I’m doing the free Kaplan retake but I’m enrolled in the Advanced class (need a 27 or higher to be able to register for the class) instead of the Advantage class. It’s really awesome but super intense because we meet every TWR from 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. and have extra materials to cover on top of the regular stuff I was doing this past semester in the on-site class. I kept up really well during the semester and was able to finish everything and read everything, but doing it again I’m totally not motivated to reread that material (since I already read it and know it) so I’m a little confused on how I should go about targeting my weaknesses.

Hands down, physics is my weak spot, but luckily all those semesters of taking chemistry courses helps out with the physical sciences and biological sciences score! Verbal is a butt-kicker. I really need to improve my vocabulary because apparently “pictures” is the same as “film” in certain cases. Confusing.

The main reason I have been struggling to keep up with everything is because I am doing research in the morning, working at graphics/web for campus housing in the afternoon, then going straight to class. By the time it is 8:30 p.m. (we go over sometimes and it ends at 9 p.m.), I’m pooped! But I still stay up to at least do the topical tests that need to be done within 24 hours of the class for the best results (looks great on everything except for physics, haha). I haven’t taken physics since high school! That was four years ago…time sure flies.

I’m also busy working on my medical school application and thinking about what classes to take in the fall. I’ve recently added human anatomy and physiology (KN 251) so I’m really excited about that! But, after adding the class, I was at 17 credit hours and I’m worried I won’t be able to dedicate time into research/work/other jobs so that I can pay for tuition. I hope my financial aid package got better this year! Otherwise, I better keep on applying for more scholarships at UIC. More scholarships = more time for school and less time for work!

To those of you who work while in school, KUDOS TO YOU! Seriously. It is something to be recognized for and don’t forget to give yourself a break! Think about your goals and never lose sight of them. (:

I hope everyone is having a great summer so far! I’m having fun vibrating mice and PCR-ing…coding and such. Hehe.

Oh, and studying for the MCAT. T-T

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