Thanksgiving break is easily my least favorite in the fall semester. It comes both at the best and worst time of the semester. All it really does is get hopes up and temporarily make us forget about all of the work that needs to be completed in the short weeks before the semester actually ends.
Thanksgiving break, in my opinion, should be spent relaxing and enjoying time off with family, not stressing about what homework you may have been putting off all semester. For some people it’s an easy thing to do, but for others, myself included, it is almost impossible to forget about the work that needs to get done before the semester comes to an end. If you’re one of the many people that are stressing about schoolwork and finals, here are a couple tips on how to get back on track after Thanksgiving break.
The first one is fairly universal: make a to-do list. Simply writing down what you need to get done is always a good first step when you’re not sure where to start. Once you see everything that needs to be done, break it up into segments and make mini-deadlines for yourself so that you can get everything done instead of pulling a few straight all-nighters before things are due.
My next tip: make time for relaxing. The faster you get started on breaking up workloads, the more time you will have for personal time. The stress of non-stop studying can be extremely frustrating, but sometimes it needs to be done. If at all possible, give yourself an hour here and there for “you” time. Even if it’s just a few minutes while doing laundry, taking breaks will do wonders for managing your stress during these last couple weeks.
Understand when your final exams will take place. In some courses there may not be an exam. In others the exam may fall at a time different than the actual class time. If the professor hasn’t announced the final or if it is not listed in the syllabus, do ask about it. Another resource for final exams is the list of times from the Registrar’s office. For this fall’s final exam schedule see: http://usm.maine.edu/sites/default/files/reg/FALL2014FinalExamSchedule.pdf
Lastly: use the libraries. For me, there’s nothing harder than trying to do homework or study with a roommate or family member causing a distraction. The USM libraries are open later in the weeks leading up to finals week, so grab a pair of headphones and get to grinding out those last few papers and projects.
-Stefano DiDonato ’15
Let’s talk about internships.
Some majors require you to do an internship; in the psychology world, they’re called practicums. Other majors don’t require you to do an internship, and that’s the category most of the business majors fall into (except Sports Management which requires an internship). If it’s not required, you may feel like you don’t need to do one, but here is why you should at least think about it:
- It’s real-life experience. You get to actually see and do what you could be doing in your chosen career.
- It looks great on a resume. Already having experience, even for only a few months, is a good attention grabber when you’re applying for jobs after college. It’s like telling companies they get to spend less time and money on training you to do the job because you already have some of the skills they’re looking for.
- Some internship positions are paid. Note, I say some not all, because there are internships where you don’t get paid for working. But getting lucky and getting a paid internship means you get to save money to pay for college and those pesky, not-so-little, loans.
- You can get credit for it. In a lot of majors, you can get credit for doing an internship. The amount of credit hours it stands for will depend on how many hours you work for the length of the internship and other factors. Check with the program you’re in to know the exact number of hours.
- It’s a great networking opportunity. Doing an internship means you meet professionals in your chosen field. You may even be lucky to be hired on after your internship!
- You aren’t limited. What I mean by this is a couple different things. First: you can pick where you want to apply, and even when there are different places available, you can also look for an internship at a location not on “the list”. Also, internships can be completed during either the Fall or Spring semesters, or you can do one during the Summer, or in multiple semesters. As mentioned above, you can do an internship for credit, but you don’t have to; it can be just for the experience and not for credit if that’s what you want. Another way you’re not limited is that if you find that the field you’re interning in is something you’re actually not interested in doing (it was an academic interest, not professional) you can move. Of course, you’ll have to finish the internship, but you now know an area that you’re not interested in and can adjust your major and classes accordingly.
If I’ve convinced you that you want to do an internship, please keep reading – requirements ahead!
To do an internship for credit, each School has its own criteria. I’m going to use the School of Business’ requirements as my example. Here’s what you need to be able to do an internship:
- A GPA of 2.33 or higher in your major (not counting classes outside of your major, like Core classes). Accounting and Finance majors need a GPA of 2.5 or higher. MBA students need a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- At least 54 earned credit hours (Junior standing) is required for a student in the Bachelor’s program.
- A 3-credit hour internship requires you to complete at least 140 hours over the course of your internship. Sport Management majors do a 6-credit internship, which requires a minimum of 400 hours, and comes out to about 40 hours a week for 10-15 weeks.
- You will need a Faculty Sponsor. Simply put, you need a teacher/faculty member in your major to “sponsor” you. Some places already have a Faculty Sponsor assigned to them; check with the School of Business Internship Coordinator to see who it is.
- You, with some help from your Sponsor and the employer, need to put together a Learning Contract. This outlines what your duties as an intern are, what learning goals you and your faculty sponsor have set, how you plan on reaching your learning goals, and your academic requirements.
- FMI: http://usm.maine.edu/sb/school-business-student-internship-program
Other things to consider as you get ready for your Internship:
- Register on the USM Experience website. This website is a great tool for internships (and jobs). Firms and businesses post internships, what documents to submit, and who to contact for more information.
- Your unofficial transcript. Some places require you to submit this. Your unofficial transcript can be downloaded from your MaineStreet account as a PDF and then uploaded to the Experience website under “Other Documents”.
- A resume. A couple notes on the resume: there are different types, make sure all the information is correct, and make an appointment with the Internship Coordinator to go over your resume and make it better. Then you can save it as a PDF and upload it to the Experience website.
- A cover letter. Not all places require this, but it never hurts to have one. All a cover letter does is list a summary of your qualifications in letter form. It’s a way to show off your writing skills, and introduce your skills, education, and experience to prospective employers. The cover letter is good for pointing out qualifications that the place is specifically looking for in a candidate and if you have them. A cover letter is also good for pointing out qualifications you think makes you different from other possible candidates. You can save each cover letter as a PDF and upload them to the Experience website.
- A reference sheet. Ask your teacher(s) and your boss(es) if they would be willing to be a professional reference. All you need, other than their permission to be used as a reference, is their name, title and employer name, and a phone number they can be reached at; an address and email is also nice to have if you can get it. Try aiming for three professional references. This list of references should be brought with you to an interview unless otherwise stated.
- A suit. This goes for both men and women. If you want the part, you need to be dressed for it. Think of it as an investment for your future.
- A portfolio folder. When going into interviews, always have a pen, a copy of your resume printed out on resume paper, and a reference sheet printed out on resume paper in your portfolio.
Approaching Graduation. What’s Next?
As the spring semester approaches, the more I realize how close I actually am to graduating. Assuming everything goes according to plan, I will be graduating at the end of this upcoming spring semester in May. I have been asked countless times, “so what are you thinking of doing after college?” and the answer has always been the same: “I’m not really sure, I haven’t thought about it too much.” The scary part is I’m only a few months away from graduating and heading out into the “real world.” I know quite a few people who are in a similar situation, where they too are unsure of what they would like to do after graduation. This has recently been something I’ve been trying to think about more and more, and I’ve found that there are resources that USM offers that are EXTREMELY helpful in sharing many opportunities with students.
One of these resources is USM’s Experience website. This is a great tool that allows students to really “sell” themselves to potential employers that are looking to hire students for jobs and internships. You can provide information such as your current GPA, what degree you are pursuing, and general skills and interests. You can also upload a copy of your resume directly to the experience website, which allows potential employers to view your past work experience, education goals and accomplishments, and general skills and achievements.
Experience not only allows you to build a profile, you can also apply directly to jobs and internship opportunities. The job search tool allows you to narrow down opportunities based on location, job title or industry, job concentration and function, and whether it is full-time, part-time or seasonal. This will help you find an opportunity that will best suit the field or experience you’re looking for.
So, how are these cuts affecting the School of Business? From what I’ve seen, read, and heard, Business isn’t really being affected. Of course if they do cuts in Theatre and Economics, it may slightly affect our non-business core, but I don’t foresee any intense problems. If you read the emails sent out a couple weeks ago, there is also talk of merging Econ into Business. Again, this doesn’t really seem to pose any problems for Business.
What can you do about it? There are different people you can talk to. You can always set up an appointment with your advisor if you’re really concerned and want to talk to a professional. You can always talk to a member of Student Senate and air out any concerns you have, either by stopping by the Student Government Office (in Woodbury, next to the male bathrooms), or by going to a Student Senate meeting; meetings are Friday afternoons, and switch between the Portland and Gorham campuses.
Personally, I’m kind of ignoring everything. While I follow some different groups on Facebook that keep me somewhat up-to-date with what’s going on, and I listen and take part in conversations discussing the cuts, I feel as though we do not have enough information to really make an informed opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are cuts going on (and being bilingual in French means I’m not exactly chill with that cut), and clearly I have opinions, I would just like to have more information to better understand what exactly is going to happen.
1. Wish lists and course registration information.
Looking back on my first year, I wish I had known more about making wish lists and searching for classes on MaineStreet. During my first semester I had received emails from my advisor telling me to set up an appointment to meet and start thinking about courses for next semester. My initial thoughts were, “spring semester is still a few months away, I’ll have plenty of time to figure out what I need to take.” I ended up meeting with my advisor before the fall semester ended, and little did I know, I was a little late to the registration party. A lot of the classes I needed to take as prerequisites for classes in upcoming semesters had already been filled. Entering my fourth year here, I am fully aware of how important registration dates and deadlines are, and always have a wish list ready to go when course registration for upcoming semesters opens up. For instructions on MaineStreet wishlist and registration see: http://www2.maine.edu/pdf/EnrollingViaWishList.pdf
2. You will have to use this stuff again in life.
I don’t remember how many times I’ve said the phrase: “why am I learning this? I am never going to use this again in my life” or “I just need to get through this semester and I’ll never have to deal with this again.” In some cases it’s true that you won’t specifically be using each thing you learn in college in your everyday life outside of school. Unless I become a geologist, I don’t know of any situation where I will need to know the difference between igneous and sedimentary rocks, but at least I will know it if that opportunity arises! Learning each topic individually may lead you to believe that the classes you’re in are pointless and that you only need them as prerequisites for courses down the road, but everything I’ve learned since day one is being applied in my courses now. And now that I’m nearing graduation, it is much easier to see that those courses have so many real world applications in business. Nearly all of them have aspects that I can see businesses use on a daily basis, and I now know that I will definitely be using this stuff again in my life.
~Stefano Didonato, Peer Advisor, USM School of Business
Hi! My name is Sam Michaud! I’m a junior double major in Accounting and General Management and a Peer Advisor in the School of Business! I’m currently involved in Accounting Society, the Secretary for USM’s chapter of the Golden Key Honor Society, and this year’s lead for the Alternative Spring Break group. I’m a Peer Mentor for the Honors’ Program, which I’m also a part of. I’m originally from Canada, but moved to a northern Maine town called Van Buren when I was really little. I speak French and English fluently, and have a tendency to drop French in my daily speech. In my free time, I love to read, listen to music, watch movies, and hang out with my friends!
What I Wish I Knew Coming Into College:
Get Involved! It took me almost an entire year before I finally started getting involved and now I love it! I’ve made some awesome friends outside of my classes. It’s fun being able to get together and talk about things that are important to everyone there. And you can get great contacts from the outside (read: non-college) world!
It’s Okay to Change Majors! I feel like I’m that rare student who just knew what she wanted and went into the right program for myself. I have friends who have changed majors multiple time and it’s fine. College is about finding out what you love and what you can do with it. So go ahead, take that random class that sounds awesome to you, and find your path in life!
There Are a Million Resources! Maybe I’m exaggerating, maybe I’m not, but it certainly seems like it. No matter what you need help with, what you need information for, there is something on campus that can give you it or knows where you can get it. I usually search on USM’s website or ask my friends. Someone, somewhere knows. And feel free to use those resources; they’re there for a reason!
Get to Know Your Advisor! I feel like this is a no-brainer. Your advisor one of the few people you will have constant contact with throughout your collegiate career. Get to know them, and let them get to know you. They can prove to be an invaluable resource during the school year, and a great reference when you’re going for an internship or job. This also goes for your teachers; they can be a great help when you don’t understand something discussed in class or simply want more information. [Faculty have regular office hours; check your syllabus or ask. If you don’t know who your advisor is, check your MaineStreet Student Center or the department your major is housed within.]
Get Used to the Annoying People in Class! There will always be annoying people in life, whether it’s the girl who doesn’t seem to understand anything, or the guy who can’t stop talking. There’s not really anything you can do, and complaining doesn’t help. Have a nice rage-session with your roommates/friends and move on; there are more important things in life to worry about.
Deadlines are Important! Learn when everything is due, from your homework, projects, anything for internships and graduation, tests, priority registration for next semester, and whatever else comes with a date attached to it. Get a planner, specify a marker board for homework, or fill your room with organized sticky notes; being organized and knowing when things are due will save your grade in class.
Take a Breather! Yes, there are enough things going on in your life to make you want to panic and run for the hills. Learn what your limit is and schedule breaks. You won’t be useful to anyone, let alone yourself, if you’re constantly on the go and about to fall apart. Schedule a night out with friends or a take a break by staying in. Refocus by taking a break when you don’t understand a homework problem. Make sure you’re sleeping enough; turn that alarm off on weekends and let your body catch up. You can get more done efficiently if you’re not always feeling rushed.
Learn Your Study Method! Some people can cram study an hour before a test and others need to study for weeks. Learn what makes you retain the most information. Try new ways of taking notes, sit in a different part of the classroom, or find a new study location. Google search for study tips. No one studies the exact same way so learn yours!
Above All Else: Have Fun! Meet new people, learn about different things, and check out the area. The School of Arts have student theatre performances and musicians. Different groups throw on different events throughout the year. The first Friday of every month is the Art Walk in Portland. With your student ID, you can get into the Portland Museum of Art for free. If you’re interested in volunteering, the Office of Engaged Learning has connections for you. Welcome to college, have fun with it! –
Hello! My name is Stefano DiDonato. I am currently a senior at USM pursuing a double major in general business management and marketing. I have lived in Maine my entire life and currently live in Gorham, where I graduated high school in 2011. I am also a new peer advisor interested in spreading what knowledge and insights I have learned in my past few years here to fellow students.
College can be tough, and even more so when trying to graduate all on your own. In my first couple years at USM there were countless questions I had about certain things that I just didn’t know where to go to get answered. I knew advisors were a great resource for information, but came to find that in certain situations a peer advisor was great! For instance, if I had a question about a certain class, a peer advisor who had taken the same course could answer that question better because they understand the situation on a more personal level.
Having the ability to give students the option to walk in and get questions answered in my mind would be a great resource for students to use. Some questions that students have might not seem like significant or important questions. Those questions tend to be the ones that go unanswered because people may not feel those questions deserve an entire meeting with their advisor in order to get them answered. Being able to walk in and ask questions on your own accord seems like an easy way to get the answers you’re looking for, no matter the importance.
Looking back on my past few years here, my biggest regret was easily not asking questions because I didn’t feel they were important enough to warrant an advising session or meeting. This is one of the major reasons I decided to become a peer advisor. Had I gotten answers to a lot of my questions I would most likely have gotten more involved on campus, and might have improved my overall experience.