Some thoughts on Finals Week

You will hear this a million times and maybe one day you might actually do it: study a few weeks in advance for finals.

I definitely made a mistake this semester by not doing that. I allowed myself to get overwhelmed by the homework and projects I had due over thanksgiving break and wasn’t entirely thinking ahead towards finals.

And now I’m suffering.

And just a little bit and that’s mostly due to my finals schedule.

I have four finals this semester: two on Monday morning, one Tuesday, and one Friday.

The two on Monday are back to back at 7:30 am and then at 10am.

In terms of studying strategy, I try to dedicate a day or a good bundle of hours towards one subject, taking a few breaks throughout. If possible—and as one of the last ditch strategies—I try to space out some studying throughout the last week of class and start making study guides for myself. These guides tend to be rewriting some of my notes and paying special attention to some of the key aspects of the information.

Overall, I think there are multiple ways to beat finals and you’ll derive your own method to conquering yours. Just try not to stress too much: continue to try to get a full night’s sleep, eat well, and exercise when you can.

That Group Project (and how to Survive)

You know the one I’m talking about.

The one where somehow you ended up doing the majority of the work and it seems like your fellow group members don’t care.

The type that inspires memes like “I want my group members at my funeral to let me down one last time.”

That group project.

We’ve all been there. But for whatever reason, I was really struck by this one.

In one of my classes this semester we were assigned two group projects over the course of the semester. They would make up the bulk of our grade besides the exams and low weight homework assignments.

If you don’t know it already, Google Drive will be your best friend for any and all group projects. It allows for real time collaboration and should eliminate most of the need to meet with your group out of class.

The first group project was a slight headache. Some members neglected to show up to the meetings and were full of excuses. Not the greatest first impression but things come up in life. Taking that into account, there is still the expectation that your work gets done. Unfairly, I had a hand in completing a majority of this first project. I can’t help that a type A tendency hits me when I participate in a group project: I want timeliness, good work, and overall cooperation. For whatever reason, I was willing to let it slide.

Looking back, I’m starting to think that perhaps that was one of my initial mistakes with this group. It should be noted here that I did remedy my feelings a little bit by talking directly to my group members that similar behavior would not fly with the next project. Additionally I talked to my professor after class the last period before thanksgiving break (and before our second project would be due). I discussed with my group members—and later my professor—that we would try to get the project done earlier (it was, after all, due the Sunday after Thanksgiving and we would shoot to have it completed by the Monday before) and divvy up the parts so everyone only has a small part to do.

The true stomach-dropping-on-a-rollercoaster-feeling didn’t occur until the Sunday after Thanksgiving break about our second group project. I had completed my part by the previous Monday and had urged my peers throughout the week to complete their portions. Come Sunday night, only two other members had completed their portions of the project—leaving a majority of our project undone. If you’re anything like me, you’ll know this is where the sick, nervous feeling starts to set in. I was wildly upset. I sent an email to my professor, explaining the situation and how we would not meet the deadline. I then spent a portion of the night and the next day, working on the missing parts of the project. It wasn’t perfect and might have been had my group members pulled their own weight. But I’m not upset anymore because I learned how to deal with it.

Here are my tips for dealing with bad group members:

  1. Do stay in contact with them. Do the extra nagging to keep them on task. Yes, you’re not anyone’s mom but at least it will serve as your proof that you made an attempt.
  2. Do use google drive. It keeps record of who worked on what and when and can also serve as your proof come peer evaluations.
  3. Do talk to your professor. My professor has been incredibly understanding and helpful in this situation and how to go about rectifying it. In a situation where you may feel powerless, there is someone to help you out.
  4. Do your work: don’t contribute to a lacking group and look out for yourself. Good work ethic is not a hard skill to master and will contribute to life later on.
  5. Rest easy; Karma and peer evaluations are a thing and will help in righting the world.

The Career Fair Isn’t As Intimidating as It Seems

The Career Fair isn’t as intimidating as it seems on paper or the advertisements seen around campus. The Career Fair is held once a semester in the IMU and is where a lot of regional and national companies come and are looking for students to hire. There you can learn about companies and their job or internship opportunities. This past Thursday was my first time attending the fair and it wasn’t that bad.

First, you have to dress appropriately. The suggested dress code is business professional so I wore black dress pants, a green blouse, a black blazer, and black heels. (Pro tip: If you wear heels, stash them in your backpack and change into them once you get there!)

Second, you need to have copies of your resume. A sponsor of the fair offers free printing on site (which is really nice considering that it costs 15 cents to print in color on campus). If you don’t have a spectacular resume or even a resume at all, it’s okay because with a little bit of prior planning you can get help from the Pomerantz career center. The career center has professional and student peer advisers that will look over your resume with formatting and tips to improve it. Optional: a portfolio to hold copies of your resume and any leaflets, business cards, and miscellaneous materials you pick up. A folder will work just fine.

Third, take a deep breath and help yourself to some cookies and ice water at the hospitality center. Remind yourself that you’ve got this.

Lastly, try to talk to all your target companies. Once you’ve completed that, start talking to some companies that you may not have previously considered. All the companies there are more than willing to talk to you about their business and meet you.

As for my own experience, I did not mind the nerves too much. I wandered around and spoke to a handful of companies and Iowa Law. Unfortunately, if you’re not a business or business-related major there is not much in terms of options at the job fair. I used it as an avenue to practice talking to potential employers and handing out my resume. If you happen to be in the same pool, I still highly recommend that you attend and gain an experience from it.

I Pitched A Business Idea @ IdeaStorm

For my Entrepreneurial Finance course, the second Entrepreneurship class I have taken so far, everyone was required to pitch a business idea and then group projects would form around these ideas and run for a portion/most of the semester. Through these groups we would determine feasibility, develop business plans, and present a final presentation. It’s still the beginning of the semester so we just did pitches last week and my idea was ranked high enough that a group was actually formed from it! In the case that I make a million dollars in the future, I won’t tell you my idea just yet.

My idea had grown enough on me that I was willing to sign up to pitch at IdeaStorm. IdeaStorm is a roughly 2 hour event in which students are pitching their business ideas -under 60 seconds- to a panel of judges. There are monetary prizes. I was revved and ready to go.

Unfortunately, my nerves got the best of me once it was my turn.

I’ve never been an atrocious public speaker. I did bits of theatre in high school and a relative calm tends to settle over me before I present. Not today. Today I blundered all over my pitch and psyched myself out. Naturally, I want to beat myself up about it. And I did a little in the moments following my pitch. However, I plan on taking this as a learning experience and using this experience to better my pitch next time. I look forward to it.

Working Towards

Part of the point of going to college is that we are preparing ourselves for life after college. Our educational plans after our undergrad years. My plan is to go to law school. Where? I currently have no idea and I’m keeping my options open. What do I hope to specialize in? I’m thinking along the lines of civil rights, litigation (criminal), or international law. But in this respect, I am also keeping some options open. With my blog this year, I hope to keep you guys updated on the process I’m going through.

To start we can talk about today. I’m the Chair of Public Relations for Phi Alpha Delta, the pre-law fraternity, on campus. Essentially, I manage all of our social media accounts (check us out @uiowa_pad!). Tonight we had our first meeting of the year and heard from Dean Byrd from Iowa Law. He talked about the law school admissions process and handed out information on Iowa Law. Now you have to understand the format of P.A.D. (in case you ever want to join). In the Fall we hear from various law school admissions counselors from all across the nation and then in the Spring we hear from practicing lawyers and current law school students. I have really enjoyed P.A.D. In my past year of membership, due to it having brought me a leadership opportunity, it connected me to like minded individuals, and has given and continues to give me resources and support I think will be beneficial in what is sure to be a crazy year.

One piece of advice that Dean Byrd gave us that I’d like to share with you all is the concept of the three J’s: Start preparing in January of your Junior year for the June LSAT. It provides you with enough time to prepare for the exam and navigate through your other school obligations.

With that, I hope everyone has a great year, and I can’t wait to share with you all everything that happens to me this year.

The Internship Search: Resources & Success

Much like my student employment search over a year ago, the internship search has certainly been a trip. To start off, the University of Iowa has a number of resources to aid students in a job or internship search. There’s the Pomerantz Career Center and the Job & Internship Fair. The career center will help you with anything from resumes, cover letters, and letters of introduction to interview prep and practice. Not to mention, they are a great resource if you do not know where to start. The Career Center also puts on the Job & Internship Fair which pulls over a 150+ employers and all of the graduate schools from the University of Iowa.

Due to my own blunders, I have not been able to attend the Job and Internship Fair during my semesters here. It is held once a semester, always on a Wednesday, and usually from 11AM-4PM.

And I always have class.

The fair is one of the more traditional ways of finding an internship. Being a political science major and being subscribed to student organization emails, the UDemocrats presented an interesting opportunity: Congressman Dave Loebsack’s Iowa City office was still searching for another intern. It had a minimal time requirement (~10 hours), unpaid, and purely made to gain experience.

While the unpaid part may sound disappointing, it’s the experience part that is key. There are thousands of stories of college graduates who have never held a job and are struggling to find work because employers want experience. The internship sounded more than okay to me: it hit my interest in politics, my desire to gain experience working within a political office, and it was something I could put on my resume if given the job. So I applied. All I had to do was send in my resume and wait.

Luckily, I received a reply from their staff within a day. They wanted an interview and offered up some potential dates and times.

I dressed in my best business casual and went out to meet a member of their staff for the interview. It was rather open ended. They wanted to know why I wanted the internship, what my relevant experience was (thankfully, I had volunteered to canvass neighborhoods for the Hillary Clinton campaign prior to to the caucus), and any details about myself or experiences that would make me a beneficial intern. Between my experiences of canvassing and my involvement with No Labels, I had plenty to talk about and use to sell myself. And I did it successfully. By the end of the interview, I was offered the position as an intern. Now, within my first week, I’ve done a little bit of work for them and I’m excited to see where this experience takes me.

The Not So Definite Rankings of Academic Breaks

Academic Break–noun/adjective– the glorious two word label for “school is not in session”

Before I start, there are a lot of hurdles in your way before getting to an academic break. And there are four big ones during the school year: Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, Spring Break, and Summer Break.

Getting to an academic break is by no means an easy task. We’ll start with thanksgiving break: a solid second place after winter break in terms of 1) greatness and 2) relaxation. Thanksgiving break is like the teaser trailer to a highly anticipated movie (read: winter break). It promises the chance to go home, get stuffed with great food, see some of your hometown friends, and spend time with your family. I call it a teaser because once break is done, you’ll be filled with motivation to see it again. However, the road from August to November is a hard fought one. By the time that Thanksgiving break comes along, you’ll have gone through at least two rounds of  midterms, probably have written a paper or two, and might have suffered through your first college breakdown (I’m sorry to say that it may not be your last (but I promise you’ll make it through)). All of this makes Thanksgiving so much more rewarding.

Moving on to Spring Break. Spring break is like the cousin you’re on the fence about. They can be cool sometimes but other times you might want to hole up in your room when you see them. I’ll place them as third on the list. Spring break is the time for a vacation or kicking it back at home for a week. It doesn’t usually involve a food -induced coma like Thanksgiving but it can still be alright. Like Thanksgiving, it usually involves a round or two of midterms before the collective sigh that is Spring Break.

On to Winter Break! Winter Break is by far one of my favorites and my number 1. Winter Break means you 1) survived the gruesome, pitiful hole that is Finals Week and 2) you completed a semester! 1 more for your student record on the Iowa Student Information System. Getting to winter break is hard: you have the weight of the entire semester riding on your shoulders as you gallop into the last three weeks of the semester after Thanksgiving. I tend to lose a bit of my determination and will to study after Thanksgiving but you CANNOT-I repeat-CANNOT lose motivation. You’ve made it this far and you’re so close to the holy grail. Churn out those last assignments, make it to the last few class sessions, and make sure you study hard. Try your best to end the semester on a good note and make Winter Break that much more rewarding.

And finally, Summer Break. It could be argued that Summer Break should not be ranked last because you don’t have to do school work for three whole months. But hear me out. After spending nine months in Iowa City and living your life here, it’s a little hard to go back to your hometown and be a little less void of academic responsibilities. With every day and night making friends and memories in the residence halls, classes, and clubs, you fall in love with Iowa City and the University of Iowa a little more every day. I promise that during those three months, you’ll be wishing it was August to do it all over again.

How To: Time Management

Pinterest and social media are full of funny little infographics on how college is a triangle and you can only pick two out of social life, good grades, and sleep.

And it’s true.

Kind of.

Now for starters, I am no way an expert in Time Management. It is a skill that I have learned and am still finding my way around as each new semester has its new challenges.

I can however give you some tips on how to manage your time and be on the path for being a successful student at Iowa.

  1. Get an agenda/planner/notebook

    Monthly Calendar View
    Monthly Calendar View

You can choose whatever method you like in order to keep track of dates, deadlines, and appointments. There are also other popular methods like google calendar (which you can sync to your smart phone).

  1. You’re going to use your agenda to write down all club meetings, exam dates, work schedules, and whatever else is going to take up your time.
  2. Follow your agenda and prep accordingly.

On a day to day basis, I like to write in my agenda about what I need to do to be prepared for classes, work, and club meeting for the next day. On the weekends, I put a sticky note in my agenda and write down all the things I want to accomplish in order to be prepared for the following week.

  1. Reap the rewards!

Last week, I was so on top of things due to this method that I had all of my homework done for the week by Tuesday night and was able to relax Wednesday. This also allowed for having the time to care for myself but also have the time to do any assignments that were assigned during the week and due soon after.

 

A New Semester

Hello everyone!

After a very study-heavy spring semester and a summer full of working, it’s time for the Fall 2015 semester! The first week, otherwise known as syllabus week, has already passed and it was nothing but easy. Syllabus week is supposed to be easy and bring about the introduction to your new classes and some of your classmates but the joke was on me. By Friday morning, after my last class for the week, I had assignments in at least every class ranging from reading to full blown ICON discussions and short essays due for next week. Needless to say, it will be the last time I let my roommate choose a class that will satisfy GEN-EDs that we’re both missing. I’ll pick next time if given the chance.

Besides classes, this new semester has brought me a bundle of new opportunities. I started off sophomore year by volunteering to do Move In Crew on the East Side dorms (minus Mayflower) with my roommate and some other friends. With Move in Crew, we got to move into the dorms a few days earlier with the promise that we’d assist with moving in freshmen over a three-day span. We got to select our preferred five shifts throughout the three days and would spend the whole time attached to a bucket bin or bellhop cart and assisting new students find their rooms, get situated, and start their new chapters at Iowa. It was a fun experience as we experienced, rain, sunshine, and a bit of a numbing cold throughout our three day commitment. I met a lot of new students and having a volunteer help them gave students and their parents the chance to get answers from current students. It was a fun opportunity and if you ever get the chance to do move in crew, it won’t hurt to give it a try.

Another opportunity that has come my way is continuing to be President of No Labels, a new-ish student organization on campus. We started last spring and are hoping to continue to grow this semester and the rest of the school year. No Labels is a non-partisan political organization that seeks to have politicians want to be “problem-solvers”. Pretty much, we ask/lobby politicians to become problem-solvers, and once in office start going towards legislation to support a National Strategic agenda. The National Strategic Agenda is a set of goals that would better America as a whole. By becoming a problem-solver, politicians are agreeing to focus more on goals that will better and further America then just the goals of their political party. Additionally, we’re mostly about working together, despite your political beliefs. Catch us on campus with our super cool “Party Responsibly” stickers!

And lastly, the latest opportunity, is working at the Burge front desk. I applied over the summer and was given the chance to work at the front desk this school year. Feel free to visit me (:

Fall, Homecoming, Midterms, Oh My!

President Sally Mason @ Homecoming Parade

These past few weeks have literally flew by. But that’s how I feel every week; because before you know it, the weekend is here and there’s a ton of activities to do in and around campus. Earlier this month, UI celebrated another wonderful homecoming with a big win against Indiana! But that was all after the homecoming parade and the building of the corn monument. Homecoming week had been full of spirit with events like Iowa Shout–Greek Life here put on little dance numbers that went along with this years theme: Take it Back. I attended Iowa Shout due to my roommate and some other girls in my hall being a part of Greek Life, and to support them and their sororities. It was a really entertaining night spent on the Pentacrest and I got to see some snazzy dance moves. Homecoming week also brought some delicious food to Burge Marketplace. And before I knew it, the game was won and I was back to studying for midterms.

Tree from the Pentacrest
View from the Pentacrest

And I felt like midterms kinda kicked my butt. I came out of it with a better idea of how my study habits affected my performance and what I needed to do better or not change at all. All I will tell you is this: find a place where you can really study. My favorite place to study is the lounges on my floor. Lounges are designated rooms in each residence hall for either studying or just hanging out. (Hint: Like laundry rooms, they are more likely to be empty on Friday nights and various times on the weekends.)