What I Love About USM…a second perspective

There are many aspects of a university that can be considered fun, helpful, unique, or just plain awesome. For me, there are quite a few things that I love about USM. The students, the professors, the willingness to help others. All of it creates an environment that makes college a fun experience. So here is what I love about USM.

The first thing I love is the people. I’ve met so many new friends at school, that I would never have thought I’d meet while here. After meeting tons of new faces in my first few semesters, I began seeing more familiar faces in classes as I began my major related courses. Those people made going to class a little more enjoyable, and a heck of a lot less stressful. I have continued those friendships over the past couple years, and have learned a lot from friends I never thought I’d meet.

The faculty are another reason I love USM. Through high school the concept of going to college piled on irrational fears and anxieties about how hard it was going to be. The stereotypical prospect of having a professor who would fail you for the slightest mistake always got to me. Four years later, the professors are some of the most inspiring and intelligent people I’ve ever worked with.

Which brings me to my next aspect; the willingness to find help, and help others. Not only are your friends willing to help you out, but the professors, tutors and other peers are extremely willing to help you with anything. From scheduling appointments with professors and tutors, to just finding ways to gather with classmates, there are many ways to get help or guidance if needed.

USM is a great school with a lot to offer, and there are many more things that could easily make a lengthy list, these are but just a few that stand out to me.

Stefano DiDonato

What I love about USM…

Even with everything going on, I will never regret my choice to come to school here.  Yeah, USM isn’t perfect, but what school is?  So here is my top 5 list, with reasons, of what I truly adore about USM.

  1. Location: Being from a small town in Northern Maine away from everything, I love USM’s location in Portland.  It gives me the opportunity to check out a town already beloved by so many.  I love that I have an art museum (Portland Museum of Art) within reach.  And did you know that with your USM Student ID you can get in free?  I love walking around the Old Port with friends, and have quickly become fond of Gelato Fiasco and Bubble Mania.  I love that New York and Boston are just a bus or train ride away.  Most of all, I love that I’m close to the ocean, because for me, that’s important.
  2. Class Size: Although the classes are larger than what I’m accustomed to from high school, I actually don’t mind them.  When compared with other schools, where class sizes are 50 or more in the higher level of your degree, I enjoy that USM keeps the classes slightly smaller.  This way, I can get to know some of my classmates, and at least recognize others.  Being a super shy person, I also find that talking in front of a group of 30 students much easier than talking in front of 50+.
  3. Honor’s: I love Honor’s (clearly a statement you don’t hear very often).  Our classes are usually smaller than my typical business classes.  I love how I can get together with other Honor’s students and have a discussion about what’s happening in the world; one day, I got into a discussion where we analyzed Disney’s leading ladies, and how Tiana is seriously underrated.  This is not something that I could do with most of my business classes.  I love how in Honor’s, our classes aren’t based on learning information and regurgitating it for a test.  Instead, we read articles and discuss each separate point of view; the view of a biology major and that of a poli-sci major differ from that of a business major.  At the end of the semester, we present ideas to the rest of the class about something in our lives and relate it to the class.  For example, in my science class, my final presentation was on Yoga and how introducing it into schools could help combat ADHD and a child’s natural inattentiveness.  I cannot even begin to explain how Honor’s has opened up my eyes about the world and changed my opinion about things.  I love hanging out in the Honor’s Centre between classes, and being able to do homework, read, or take a nap if I have to, all in a judgment free zone.
  4. Teachers: Of course, you will always have teachers you cannot stand for some reason or another, but for the most part, I’ve had some decent teachers.  I’ve had some truly wonderful teachers where I could go to them if I needed help, and come out feeling like I have a handle on what the problem was.  I’ve had teachers who were amazing at answering their emails and getting back to students, so that you can do your homework in time for the class, have it done correctly, and actually understand what you’ve done.  I’ve had teachers where I truly cannot stand the material but the teacher is just so good, and helps you understand it, and you can’t help but like the class.
  5. The bus: This may sound weird, but I actually enjoy having a bus to take me between the Portland and Gorham campuses.  I like that I don’t have to waste my gas coming to class.  I like how the bus can still get you to class on time, and you don’t usually need to wait too long for t after our class ends.  I like that if I’m tired enough, I can take a nap, and not worry about missing a stop or falling asleep at the wheel.  If I need extra studying time, I can do that on the bus, and trust me it’s happened before.  While I still drive to class on a fairly regular basis, I like knowing that if something ever happens to my car, I have an alternative solution.

~Sam Michaud


Procrastination is one of the most familiar words in my personal dictionary. Throughout high school and my first year or so at USM, it was one of my biggest challenges (and occasionally my greatest achievements as semesters were ending).

I was never one to be found doing homework or studying on a Friday or Saturday. Instead I would be racing against time to finish my work on a Sunday night, sacrificing sleep in order to get it all done. For a while it worked. Homework that could be finished fairly quickly with straightforward and to the point answers, which reduced the amount of time it took to complete.

I soon started to realize I couldn’t pull off the Sunday night scrambles for much longer, as the classes I was eventually taking were much more in depth, and required more work and studying. During my 4th semester (spring 2013), I started to turn things around and find ways to be able to get my work done before Sunday night rolled around.

Knowing what needs to get done was a huge aspect for me. The best thing that helped me was using a day planner. Writing down due dates for all assignments for the semester made it easy for me to look at the day and know exactly what I needed to do.

On top of that, don’t focus on the entire list. Instead focus on one class at a time and complete the work class by class. This gives great opportunities to reward yourself and take a short break when you finish all the work for one or two classes at a time.

Lastly, find a place that you work well in. EVERYTHING in my room becomes incredibly interesting to me when I have work to do. I soon realized that using the libraries was a great way to limit my distractions. Find a friend and make it a regular habit. These are just a few things that helped me get over my procrastination problem, so hopefully they work for you as well!

by: Stefano DiDonato

Thoughts on Summer as we prepare for the great BLIZZARD of 2015

While many use summer for jobs and hanging out with friends and family, another great way to spend your time is by taking classes, in order to gain credits and possibly even graduate early!  Not every single class is offered, but many general business classes, as well as electives and major classes, are available (now in MaineStreet).

Summer is split up into two seven-week sessions (May 11 – June 26, and June 29 – August 24), each offering seven-week, four-week, and online classes.  Classes are held two to three times per week, for about three hours each meeting time.  There is even an International Business study trip to Brazil being offered this year (June 14 – 24).

I can personally attest to the usefulness of summer classes: I’ve taken one for each of the past two summers and it was a great way for me to gain credits, while still having plenty of time to work and be with my friends and family.

To use Financial Aid on Summer classes, you must fill out the FAFSA for the 2015-2016 school year, as summer is the first session of the year.  Student must enroll in a minimum of six credit hours over the course of the summer to be Financial Aid eligible.  To get the most out of your FAFSA, complete and submit it by February 15 (http://usm.maine.edu/fin/financial-aid-process).  You cannot take more than 18 credits (6 3-credit classes) the entire summer.  If this sounds great to you, get ready: registration starts March 2 and is open until a course is filled or begins! For more information, check out http://usm.maine.edu/summer!

How To Get Back On Track After Thanksgiving Break

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

Let’s talk about internships.

Samantha Michaud

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.

Transitioning from college to career…

Approaching Graduation. What’s Next?

Stefano DiDonato 

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.


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