Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Casting Your Networking Web

 By Marian Li, Toppel Peer Advisor

Networking is both an art and a science. In the business world, college students hear that it’s everything, just as important as internships and experience. But how can you effectively network? The best networking takes place when you don’t know the title or influence of those you are networking with, although if you did a little research beforehand, it doesn’t hurt your chances either. Most people don’t like networking because they don’t feel safe in environments where you’re forced to meet new people – especially those who may serve in roles of greater influence and power. But networking should be a fun and rewarding approach to advancement. How, you might ask? By keeping an open mind and preparing with these simple steps!

Peer Learning While in a networking environment, you can learn a lot from others around you. The power of observation can go a long way. Pretend that you’re conducting a social experiment, the networking event as a focus group. Be aware of what works best for you and what doesn’t. Learn how to improve by observing those around you.

Be Ready – Networking can’t be forced. If you try to force it, it rarely goes anywhere. Engaging in dialogue with new people requires you to be quick on your feet and ready for responses and reactions to the conversations you partake in. If you are caught off guard, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. You are either an active networker or not, there’s nothing in the middle. It’s essential to keep your wits about you so get a good night’s rest before any large networking event!

Take Notes While You Network – Just as when you are being trained for something or preparing for a midterm, retention comes from taking good notes. Gather intelligence about yourself and others. Be diligent and take note of what you are contributing and how you can improve. In my times networking, I’ve noted that employers take notice of individuals scribbling away and it opens more doors for spontaneous conversation.

Ask Non-Traditional Questions – Get people to discover something deeper about what you know by asking them a question they wouldn’t expect. Imagine yourself as the employer; what would make you want to work for said-company?

Hold Yourself Accountable – Follow-up, follow-up, and please, follow-up! Each conversation is an opportunity and only you can gauge it. Think of yourself as a project manager responsible for identifying the new steps, who is responsible for what, and defining the outcomes and desired results. Start with a follow-up email thanking them for their time at the event you met at, maybe throw in a link to an article or update that supported something they expressed interest in. Being accountable will help sustain all the groundwork you had diligently laid down!

Be sure to attend information sessions and industry-specific meet up events Toppel has to offer in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Halfway Point

By Kelly Martin, Toppel Peer Advisor

Last week was week 6 of the semester. Yup, we are now halfway through Fall 2014. As a senior, I very quickly did the math that this means I am now ¼ through my senior year, and that much closer to graduating to the real world. But for students in every grade, this is a time during the semester where it’s easy to lose focus. Fall break is just around the corner, and Thanksgiving break is also looming just a month and a half away; it seems like we’re more just getting by, counting down the days to our freedom, rather than actually focusing on successfully finishing out the fall semester.

Rather than letting mid-semester blues drag you down, take this opportunity to get in the right mindset to finish the semester with a bang. Most classes have probably had one midterm test, paper, or project so far, so it’s time to evaluate where you stand. If you did well, that doesn’t mean it’s time to slack off. That means you must have good study skills for that class, or have a firm grasp on the material, so use that to motivate you to continue to excel through the semester. If you didn’t do so well, that’s fine! One grade isn’t the end of the world and you still have plenty of opportunity to turn things around. Go over your exam and see what mistakes you made. Meet with your professor and talk about what you could be doing to understand the material better, or ask about better ways to prepare for exams.

Many classes also have a big end of semester term paper or project that now seems even closer after getting those first few exams out of the way. While you may feel like turning off the brain for a bit after all those midterm exams, don’t let yourself fall behind! It’s easy to put big projects like that off until the last minute, which will cause you more stress in the end. You won’t regret getting a head start and continuing to work hard now, so you have less work later. Make sure you’re aware of when the rest of your exams for the semester are, so you can plan the best times to study for those imminent exams, and the best time to work on those long term projects.

But finally, maybe most importantly, make sure you don’t overdo it. Yes, you want to finish Fall 2014 strong, but you won’t be able to do that if you sacrifice your health. Getting sick from lack of sleep or overworking yourself is a great way to fall behind, because it’s pretty hard to get work done when you don’t even want to get out of bed. So make sure you plan some personal time to nap, relax, or whatever it is you need to distress and keep healthy and level-headed.

So to sum it up, what are the most important things to do to keep going strong through the end of the semester?

1. Evaluate: where are you now, and where do you want to be? If you’re doing well in your classes so far, keep it up. If you’re struggling, take steps to help yourself improve.

2. Plan: make sure you’ve looked at your syllabus and know when the rest of your exams are, when projects are due, etc. If you have these written down on a calendar or planner ahead of time, you’ll be able to plan out your studying and reduce your stress.

3. Take care of yourself: you don’t want to lose your momentum going into the second half of the semester, but that doesn’t mean you should work yourself to the bone. Yes, stay on top of your work, study hard, but make sure to schedule time for yourself too. Whether its reading a book for personal pleasure, catching up on a Netflix show, or even just taking a nap, make sure you have time for yourself so you stay happy and healthy. You’ll be more productive, and most likely, more successful in all your work!

So working with these tips in mind, go out there and crush the rest of the semester!

Friday, October 10, 2014

What it Takes to be a Leader

By Maura Gergerich, Toppel Peer Advisor


Everybody can think of at least one person in their life that they would consider a natural leader. Little do people know that the qualities that create these good leaders may not be natural at all. You can practice the qualities they possess just as easily as you practice things like sports or music. Although everyone has their own definition of what it takes to be a leader, these are some similarities that they all possess.

1. Delegating
It seems like an easy concept, but giving power and trusting other people to produce results is a challenge for most people. The best leaders acknowledge their own limitations and recognize that they can’t do everything alone. Delegation also lets others feel included in the results produced so they can share in the sense of accomplishment. Giving support and feedback also helps, but keep in mind that there is a huge difference between pointing out flaws and constructive criticism.

2. Share knowledge
Hoarding information for yourself may seem like its giving you an advantage over others. In truth, not sharing your knowledge most likely will end up sabotaging you later. If you are willing to offer over your piece of knowledge to someone else, others will be far more willing to do the same for you if you have some sort of shortcoming. It’s a give and take from which everybody benefits. Keeping people in the dark makes those who aren’t in the know feel excluded, which inhibits productivity greatly.

3. Quick responses
If you receive an email or are asked a question, responding efficiently shows so much respect. This does not mean that you have to make rash decisions in order to provide an answer. Swift responses to simple yes or no questions are no brainers, but even if you need to take a moment to think things through or follow through with a request letting the person know that you have heard them and will respond further when you are able gives everyone a little more patience.

4. Communication
People can’t fix what they’re doing wrong if they don’t know it’s wrong. Likewise, if something new and improving happens, it’s good to know so similar ideas can continue. If you have a vision as to how to achieve the goals you set out for yourself or others the most effective way to accomplish it is being able to explain to others what you’re aiming towards.

5. Hearing ideas
Getting set in your ways is an easy habit to fall into. However, your standard process may not always be the best. Listen when someone else has thoughts and ideas so you have as many options as possible to find the most effective processes. 

6. Saying “thank you”
It’s not always a popularly heard phrase but it makes a world of difference! Remember to not take things for granted and be appreciative of what people do for you or how they help out.
Inspirational Quotes: Do not wait on a leader... look in the mirror, it's you! ~ Katherine Miracle