Thursday, January 29, 2015

Where Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

By Maura Gergerich, Toppel Peer Advisor

As kids we always get asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Although that is important to figure out it seems to slip people’s minds that where you are affects your success and happiness as much as what you do does. A lot of students currently searching for jobs are happy to go anywhere just as long as they have a job. However, the idea of searching across the entire country and possibly world is just a bit daunting. A great place to start is to research which cities have the best opportunities in your field. Some cities, for instance New York, are practically limitless to the types of jobs found there. But this doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect place for everyone. If the crowded city isn’t your scene don’t lose hope! For many industries, the best job markets are actually not where you’d expect. It just takes a bit of research to find it.

It also helps to keep in mind that even in a city that may not have your career’s ideal opportunities a little extra effort searching may be worth it. If you’re a person who can’t stand the idea of going back to the cold after spending so many years in Miami, even if you find out Gnome, Alaska has the most opportunities it may not be worth it. currently has a list of the top ten happiest and least happy cities to work in across the US. And for anyone who has fallen in love with the sunshine and palm trees of Florida, Miami ranks number one with Orlando not far behind at number 4. These opinions may not exactly align with your own but it’s definitely good to keep in mind that where you are is going to impact your life as much if not more than what company you work for.

Monday, January 26, 2015

College Is More Than Your Books

By Marian Li, Toppel Peer Advisor

It’s a new year and a new semester, and possibly, even a new you. Now that you’ve gotten a better hold on the academic pace college has, it’s time to explore your interests and have fun at the same time. There are so many opportunities for you to get involved; you owe it to yourself to get the most out of your four years here at the University of Miami.

Learning New Things – Every experience you have builds on what you already know. You get a chance to put yourself into problem-solving situations or try something “hands on”, lessons learned from projects or working with others stick with us much longer than those theoretical scenarios we learn in class. There are so many ways to get involved and each has something different that it brings to the table. In the university environment, there is a myriad of student organizations that cater to individuals’ interest niche.

Build Your Resume – Your resume is something that should constantly be improved by the diverse things you do in life, hence why we call it your “working resume” here at Toppel. Students have a preconceived notion that only paid positions or internships are allowed in their required Experience section; although work is one way to build the resume, activities or organizations that showcase student leadership can also demonstrate what you have to offer to future employers.

Increase Scholarship Opportunities – Scholarships can play an important part in paying for college. The more prospects you have for scholarships, the higher probability of earning a type of financial aid that you don’t have to pay back. Clubs, organizations, and activities sometimes have scholarships tied into them. If not, activities will be helpful when completing scholarship applications.

Develop Stronger Personal Skills – A person changes and grows with each new experience. Getting involved might provide the chance to take a leadership role in an organization or club. That would be a way for you to learn more about how to lead people and groups. Even if you don’t have a leadership position, you would learn key teamwork strategies seen in your future workplace.

Meet New People – This is one of the most important reasons to get involved, in my opinion. You have the chance to meet so many new people from various cultures and with different perspectives. All the people you encounter in activities and organizations have traits you can learn from. More importantly, it creates a sense of community, especially since college is usually a foreign environment.

Getting involved helps discover new friends with similar interests. Who know, you may meet someone who will be your friend for life. Getting involved has so many benefits. Some you see right away and others that build with time. I know I enjoyed all the activities and clubs I’m involved in so close your books and take a trip to the Student Activities Center (SAC)!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

To Travel or to Work? Maybe We Can Have Both

By Kelly Martin, Toppel Peer Advisor

Four years ago as a senior in high school going through the college application process I heard the same question over and over- where are you going to school next year? Now as a second semester senior in college, I hear a similar question repeated constantly- where are you working after graduation? When I was applying to colleges, at least I could give a list of the schools I had applied to or the schools I was deciding between. But now that the real world is just around the corner in May, I don’t really have a bunch of options I can list off to satisfy people’s questions. While some of my friends are lucky enough to know where they’ll be going post graduation, it seems a large majority of us don’t, and it’s a constant source of stress among us because of course after you graduate, you have to immediately figure out your life and get a job… right?

While studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, I met countless Europeans around my age, who were travelling for a year after graduating from college, or “uni” as they call it. And what struck me about this was that this was apparently completely normal, and they also said that there were always Australian students travelling all over Europe for the year after their graduation. Americans are somewhat notorious for not venturing outside of our borders- only 30% of our population have passports, compared to Canada’s 60% and the UK’s 75%- and that stems from a lot of different things. But this experience abroad really opened my eyes to how different our view of the way we “should” live our life is compared to many other places in the world.

While it’s common, and realistically somewhat encouraged, to travel for a gap year either before or after university in other countries, in the United States it’s often looked down upon. One of my best friends in high school took a gap year before starting college, and she received a lot of skeptical questions and comments about it, but ultimately it was one of the best things she’s ever done. In a world that is unbelievably interconnected and only becoming increasingly so, you’d think we would encourage young people to travel more. Arguably just in my 4.5 months living abroad, I learned more things about myself and life in general than I did in the previous 4 semesters of college. Travelling abroad you learn so many life skills- meeting new people, facing unexpected challenges, adapting to new environments and cultures- all of which are realistically incredibly important life skills, even for the workplace.

So I’m not saying we should all just drop everything and go travel (though I wish I could). But maybe soon to be graduates like myself shouldn’t be putting so much pressure on ourselves to figure everything out before that looming graduation date in May. The rest of the world seems to have figured out that a little bit of exploring can ultimately help you become a more well rounded person, more focused, and ready for a job, so maybe we should follow their example.