Building Goal Orientation in Undergraduate Student Employees

In the Department of Communication Studies, we rely heavily on undergraduate student employees to assist us in running our department. As an Administrator, I spend a significant amount of time and energy developing the skill of purposeful behavior into these students by connecting their student position with a future career that they would like to have one day. This encourages students to take accountability for their own personal and career development right from the start of their employment and have specific goals that they are working towards. Here are four things that I have found work well in building goal orientation in my student employees:

First, I have each of my students print out a few future positions that they picture themselves working in. Then, I have them list the skills that are being asked for in these positions. What are these employers looking for? We then map out these skills and match them up with tasks and projects that can be assigned to them in our office to build their skill set. For example, if a position lists “superior communication, planning/coordinating and administrative skills” as a qualification, I might have the student employee writing and editing copy, coordinating meetings and planning events.

Secondly, as supervisors we need to be willing to provide undergraduate student workers with more difficult tasks and the autonomy to complete them. While many of us employ students to answer the phone and sort the mail, it is also beneficial to develop student employees to take accountability for challenging assignments. This can be daunting; as a supervisor, we have to be ready to answer questions that they may have, while giving them room to fail and not completing the assignment/task for them.  The student employment experience is a place where this can happen as they are building these skills towards their future goals.

Third, having time for constructive feedback with student employees on their performance is crucial for their development. Feedback isn’t negative; rather, giving balanced feedback with both constructive criticism and positive reinforcement builds trust in your student employee that you are honest and invested in their development. They, in turn, build professional communication skills.

Finally, model goal orientation yourself. Be willing to be open and transparent about how you are achieving your goals everyday and how you are implementing focus and discipline. In our office, we have a shared task-management system that we use to keep track of the work that needs to be completed. I set goals on tasks to be completed for myself and make that known to the rest of my team, including the student employees. I also am vulnerable about my challenges in the workplace and how I navigate them.

Student employees have been a wonderful asset to our department and watching them develop into working professionals is an amazing adventure.

Written By: Angela Brandt

Independence & Interdependence at CEHD America Reads

Submitted By: CEHD America Reads- Megan Pieters

As another school year begins, undergraduate students from across the University of Minnesota are applying to the CEHD America Reads Program. Selected applicants will become literacy mentors (tutors) for Kindergarten – 8th grade students in nearly 20 schools and community centers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Those who are new to the program may not know it, but they will be presented with countless opportunities to practice independence and engage in interdependence throughout the year. They will be called upon to act as individual role-models for young students, while learning to rely on each other for support and problem-solving. They will look to America Reads staff for preparation and training, and they will access site coordinators for on-going guidance and feedback. They will turn to each other for advice, and they will even depend on one another for transportation to and from the tutoring sites!

Literacy mentors are always working in conjunction with site staff, but they must also take initiative to engage with mentees on a regular basis in order to build relationships and ultimately provide academic support. In working with children, they will inevitably face difficult decisions about when to take the lead and when to consult co-workers, site staff, or supervisors for assistance. All of these experiences will lead to a heightened understanding of their self-sufficiency as well as their interconnectedness with everyone they encounter. One literacy mentor said “I used to think America Reads mentors were somewhat detached figures in their tutoring locations, but now I see that we are very involved in each child’s daily life, education, and future. “

Each literacy mentor acts as one part of a greater whole that is the America Reads Program. The sites rely on the literacy mentors to provide additional academic support and role modeling for young students who will one day be navigating their own independence, as unique parts of another whole, the Twin Cities community.

Stress Management, Workshop Recap

SDO: Self Awareness & Resilience, Workshop Facilitator: Catherine Cantieri, Workshop Category: You

Strategies Talked About in Workshop

90/10 Rule: Spend 90% of your time working and the other 10% taking breaks.
Challenging Task: Start your day with the most challenging task, rather than saving it for last
Control vs. Importance: Look at your stresses in two difference ways to help make decisions on how to manage them and which ones to tackle first.
Diet & Exercise: Start out using small goals for diet and exercise in order to stay healthy and decrease stress.
Different Spaces: Using different spaces at work at home for different tasks and projects.
Energize using Strengths: Use your Strengths to uncover what energizes you most when taking breaks and decreasing stress.
Engaging with people: notice how you engage with people that de-stress you, or add to stress
Gratitude: Take time out of your day to show people that you are thankful.
Interruptions: Allowing your phone, e-mail, and other interruptions distract you during work. Recognizing how long and how frequent these interruptions occur.
Intrinsic Motivation: Find projects and areas of work that you are intrinsically motivated to excel in.
Outcome Visualization: Visualize you main goal or priority each day.
Patterns in Triggers: recognize patterns of stress trigger patterns (who, what, when, & where)
Perception: Not all stress is bad stress an important thing to remember about stressors is that they have no meaning until we give them meaning. Stressors actually aren’t stressful, unless we decide that they are.
Role Conflicts: Recognize which roles in your life may be conflicting and why so you can address the problem
Run-Walk-Run Approach: Intervals of worktime and break time; 30 minutes work, 5 minutes of break.
Strengths of Others: Looking at the correlation between the balconies and basements of certain strengths, and focusing on the benefits (balconies) of those strengths that others show.

Next steps are to identify stresses you can control and stresses you cannot control and determine their importance.



Leading Across Differences–Workshop Recap

SDO: Appreciation of Differences, Workshop Facilitator: Abdul Omari, Workshop Category: Others

Participants partake in an activity where they are forced to choose one and only one identity. After small and large groups discussions participants begin to add on more of their identities. The session is guided by activities and discussions that force us to think about how our identities grant or take away privilege.

In the end we should also be thinking about other people’s identities how best we can lead people from different backgrounds.
Next steps: Continue to tease out our own identities. How does context play a role in our privilege? How does context play a role in our comfort levels with our own identities?

New Faces and Different Thinking Spaces

SDO: Appreciation of Differences

Blog Author: Sophie Johnson, Sophomore Psychology Major, College of Liberal Arts. Student employee in College of Education & Human Development.

Throughout job interviews and applications, you will see that appreciation of differences and knowledge about diversity is an important aspect for any position. From Walgreens to the big leagues, your employers are looking for people who can effectively communicate differences and refrain from creating conflict for their own amusement. We’ve all experienced these questions, and being able to talk about experiences where you overcame personal differences can make or break that interview.


A way to increase opportunities where you interact with different types of people is leaving your “comfort zone.” In many cases your first few days, weeks, even months on campus can be a completely different zone in and of itself. You first arrive and meet many new people, but you can often fall into a group and have them be the only people you interact with. Activities like student employment can help, but even then you have often fallen into a comfort zone. I’m talking about those evenings where you’re chilling in bed, and you know you should attend a club meeting, or an event you’re interested in, but you’re struggling to find the motivation.

It’s hard after a long day, but I encourage you to go attend that meeting. Take an opportunity that’s presented to you but you’re nervous to attend because your friends refuse to go because they’re “busy” a.k.a. it’s Netflix time. Take that chance to meet new people and be forced into a situation where you have to sit next to someone new. Allow yourself to be open to challenges that may frighten and intimidate you.

I think there’s been a lot of conversation about creating dialogue and understanding between different groups of people lately. Be it gender, religion, race, ethnicity, or sexuality, college is a time to open yourself up to new thought processes, ideas, and ideals. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you think in a different way, but more importantly, take the time to listen intently and whole-heartedly to what others are saying. Take their opinions into consideration; continue to speak with them and others about topics you may be passionate about, or topics you’re interested in. Read articles and talk about them, in class or research meetings or just hanging out, enjoy the chances the university provides you with. Apply to attend the Social Justice Leadership Retreat over winter break, take a class about social justice, or a class about different cultures, religions and sexualities. Attend a multi-cultural event or holiday celebration, challenge yourself to see the University in a different way.

I know I spend a lot of time just trying to keep up with the friends I’ve made so far, but I find myself reflecting back on situations where I took a risk the most. Alone or with a friend, make the effort to get to know people with different values and beliefs by being understanding and respectful. Take that leap while you have the chance, enjoy the opportunities, and gain new stories to tell.

SELP Help: What is Networking, and How do I do it?

What is Networking, and How do I do it?

Written By: Katy Hinz, Office for Student Engagement

Networking is one of those intimating words, but really what it means is connecting to people to build professional relationships. Does that sound less scary? I hope so. As CLA Career Services puts it, “When you meet new people and discuss mutual interests or goals, you’re networking spontaneously. You’ve probably been networking for years without realizing it.”

So, why network? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking.

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How do you find people to network with?

GoldPASS: GoldPASS, a free database for U of M students of jobs & internships, now offers a professional networking database. Using keywords or your major you can find professionals that work in the fields most relevant to you. On Goldpass there is also an “employer directory” where you can find a lot of contacts at companies you may be interested in.

Linkedin: Linkedin is the world’s largest online professional networking website, and since networking is so essential to professional success, we’ve made creating a profile one of SELP’s requirements. To best utilize Linkedin for networking, start by connecting with people you already know: your work supervisor, professors, co-workers, friends, family members, advisors, coaches, former supervisors, neighbors. Even if the people you know aren’t in fields or jobs you are interested in, they are still valuable to connect with as you never know who they are connected to and how they could help you.

Next, Join groups, such as your college’s group, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, SELP, and groups related to your field of interest. Once you are in a group go to the members tab and use the search function, you can search any term you’d like, such as by company name or job title to find individuals to connect with.

Tip: when you request to connect with someone on Linkedin write a personal message and explain why you want to connect, especially if it is someone you don’t know. For example write, ‘I see that you graduated from the U of M, I am a current student there and am really interested in nonprofit management too. I was hoping we could connect on Linkedin, thank you for considering.’

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Career Fairs and Events: There are several career fairs hosted throughout the year, including the U of M Job & Internship Fair taking place on Feb 20, 2015 where you have the opportunity to meet with a lot of employers during a short period of time. There are also career panels and company information sessions hosted quite often, go to the events page of GoldPASS to stay informed of these opportunities.

Student Groups & Professional Organizations: Joining a student group related to your professional interest is a great way to network, not only will you meet other students with a shared interest but often these groups offer networking events and bring in guest speakers. You can find student groups that match your interests here. Also, chances are that your field of interest has one or more professional organizations and these groups often have student (discounted) memberships and offer mentoring and professional development opportunities. Find professional organizations here.

Mentor Programs: Many colleges have alumni mentor programs that you can get involved with, find out if your college has a program and how to get involved here. These programs offer a structured way to get connected to professionals.

Informational Interviewing

Once you have contacts one of the best ways to build your professional network is to conduct informational interviews. Basically an informational interview is having a conversation with someone in a field or organization that is of interest to you. It may be nerve-racking to ask someone to do an informational interview, but most of the time people love to talk about their work and are eager to help. Think about it this way, if someone from your high school contacted you and wanted to ask you some questions about the U of M wouldn’t you say yes?


How do you set up an informational interview?

Contact the person you are interested in meeting with via phone, email, or Linkedin. Be sure to state how you got their information. Introduce yourself, such as: your major, year in school, and professional interests. Ask them if they would be willing to do an informational interview with you and include what it is you would like to discuss, such as: their career path, their current job, advice they have for getting experience in the field, etc.

What to do at the informational interview

  • Dress business casual (dress shirt & dress pants) and arrive 10 minutes early to your appointment. click here and here for examples of professional dress.
  • Come prepared with some questions based on the research you did on them and their organization, such as: what are the rewards and challenges of this field, how would you describe this organization’s structure, what is a recent project you have worked on. Always ask if there is anyone else they would recommend you could talk to, this is how your network really starts to build! Click here for more question examples.
  • Bring a copy of your resume—your resume will help them get to know you a little better and you may have the opportunity to ask for their feedback.


What to do after the informational interview

  • Send a thank you note that states what was helpful from the meeting.
  • Contact the people they refer you to and keep in touch with them.
  • Reflect on what you have learned and how you can best use the information.
  • Stay in touch! Send occasional updates, ask them further questions, send articles that you think they might be interested in.

LinkedIn Beginner Workshop Recap

Workshop Category: Professional Practice

Workshop Student Development Outcomes: Goal Orientation

Workshop Facilitators: Catherine Cantieri, Office for Student Engagement

In this day and age, with more and more of the hiring process being transferred to online processes, it has become very important that you create, update, and maintain a LinkedIn profile.  Linkedin is used by employers as both a screening tool as well as a verification of skills and accomplishments.

With that being said, don’t look at LinkedIn as this big scary thing on your to-do list. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to market your skills and accomplishments to the world. With over 60 million members in more than 200 countries and territories around the world; there isn’t a better way to market yourself to a multitude of companies/organizations at one time than by creating a LinkedIn profile.

The true beauty behind LinkedIn is that it gives you access to CEOs, recruiters and other employees at almost any company you would like to work for. There are members of every fortune 500 company on LinkedIn and many of them love to see young people reach out to them and ask questions. You’d be amazed how a simple message about someone’s experience working at your favorite company can turn into landing you a job at that company. Just be sure to keep your profile updated and looking professional as you are reaching out.

A few things to do when building your profile:

  • Put on a nice shirt (ladies) button-up (men), fix your hair and make sure you are looking your best. Then have someone take a nice head shot photo of you for you.
  • Get your resume critiqued by career services. This is a SELP requirement!
  • Once your resume is ready, transfer the information from it directly to your profile.
  • Have someone help you write an objective for your resume and then put that into the summary box on your LinkedIn page.
  • Add all experience (work and volunteer), skills, the degree you are obtaining, and any other relevant information/accomplishments that makes you stand out.
  • Add connections, join groups, ask for recommendations and be active on your profile.
  • If you are completing the SELP program be sure you meet all the Linkedin requirements outlined here.

For more helpful tips, connect to the Student Employment Leadership Program on LinkedIn! Also, please feel free to reach out to us and ask more questions about LinkedIn or the professional world in general.