Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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?

Well-Being: Workshop Recap

Well-Being Recap

In our Well-Being Workshop we used a Well-Being Framework to guide out discussion. The Framework highlights Strengths as a way to view your Hope and Engagement, and how these two things will drive your Well-Being and Academic success.

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The workshop focused on Well-Being, had a discussion about Engagement and briefly touched on how Strengths can play into feeding these two areas. Your Well-Being can be measured as either Thriving, Struggling or Suffering.

There are 5 areas of Well-Being:

Career– What you do with your time (i.e. job or major if full time student)

Physical– Eating right (avoid high fat meals), getting enough sleep (7-9 hours) and exercising (even if it’s just 20 minutes a day)

Social– Do you have strong, comforting relationships in your life (spend ~6 hours each day socializing)

Financial– Do your finances actively cause you stress?

Community– Do you feel valued, engaged and safe with the communities you identify with?

Each area intertwines with the others. Sometimes we find our Well-Being suffering because we make decisions that satisfy our short-term desires instead of our long-term goals. To be successful find strategic ways to align these two things.

SELP Help Question: How Do I Gain Experience?

There was once a day when a strong GPA was enough to land that dream job. That day has come and gone. With that being said, if you want to work in your desired field upon graduation, then you need solid experience along with a strong GPA. Most employers agree that they would rather take someone that was heavily involved on campus with only a 3.0 GPA over someone with a 4.0 but no involvement or experience. The purpose being that, experience makes you well rounded and thus more reputable for various companies and organizations.

So now the big question is how do I get involved, right? Well I’ll tell you. Start by utilizing the engage search tool on engage.umn.edu. Here you will be able to search for groups, internships and other involvement opportunities that interest you. If this still isn’t doing it for you, then go to the involvement fair that is held at the beginning of the semester in or around Coffman. There are a number of clubs and organizations present and there is bound to be one that interests you. Also if you have an idea for a group that you would like to start then gather five friends and $25 and begin the process.

Another way to gain experience is to volunteer. Habitat for Humanity, among other organizations, is always looking for volunteers and it is great experience as well. A lot of companies pride themselves on their community involvement so if you are able to highlight some volunteer experience on your resume, this will definitely set you apart.

The great thing is that since you are a student employee you already have a wonderful experience that will set you apart when you are applying for jobs. You are learning so many transferable skills that you can use in your career, so kudos to you!

It doesn’t matter what you decide to get involved in, just make sure that you do something. A degree makes you eligible to apply, but it isn’t what gets you called in for the interview. Being involved is fun and creates a better overall college experience while also making you more marketable. Now get out there and do something!

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Recognizing the Value of Diversity

Blog Writer: Claire Karsting, Parking & Transportation Services. Student in Inter-College Program, College of Continuing Education, Health and Wellness focus.

March SDO: Appreciation of Differences

The University prides itself on fostering encounters with the unknown: pushing students and faculty out of their comfort zones is an essential element of the discovery to which we are all driven. Even on a campus as populous and diverse as ours, it can be easy to settle into a rut, interacting with people who look, think, and behave as we do.  This can make interactions with people different from us seem intimidating. The key element in appreciating differences in the workplace is to distinguish between differences in people and differences in ideas.

Working effectively with others in spite of personal differences is a critical skill in our global workplaces.  Personal differences are the product of our biological and environmental histories, and they make our classes, campuses, and cities vibrant. Because we recognize the importance of cultural, religious, and philosophical differences; we refrain from asking personal questions.  In a safe, respectful context, learning about our coworkers’ differ from us can improve workplace morale and productivity, as well as an appreciation for others’ backgrounds—and our own!

Like differences in people, differences in ideas are the result of personal history and experience.  Unlike people, however, ideas do not have rights based on their existence.  Ideas can (and should!) be challenged and explored in a respectful, productive way.  Challenging our coworkers’ ideas gives us insight into our own, and fielding questions about our own perspectives drives originality and learning.  For exchanges to be productive, they must be respectful: are you giving the person with whom you’re speaking an opportunity to ask questions? Are you processing the other person’s ideas and allowing them to influence your own?  Successful interaction stems from conversations in which the speakers find a way to combine their unique talents and ideas to solve problems!

The key to capitalizing on differences between people and ideas is to recognize the value of diversity.  Forming teams of people with different backgrounds creates an opportunity for novel solutions to flourish in the workplace and in the classroom.  Get out there and discover!

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Awards & SELPies Event

SELP Graduates

All students who complete the SELP requirements, and their supervisors, will be invited to the Student Employment Recognition Event (the SELPies) taking place on April 23, 2014. At this event SELP graduates will receive a certification and leadership award to recognize the completion of the program. SELP participants must complete all requirements of the program by April 1.

Outstanding Student Employee Award

This award is presented to the top 10% of undergraduate student employees on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Campus. Click hereto learn more about this award and the nomination process. All students who are nominated for this award, and their supervisors, will be invited to the Student Employment Recognition Event (the SELPies) taking place on April 23, 2014. Nominations must be received by March 26.

Supervisor of the Year

This award is presented to two supervisors of undergraduate student employees on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Campus. Click here to learn more about this award and the nomination process. All supervisors who are nominated for this award, and their nominators, will be invited to the Student Employment Recognition Event (the SELPies) taking place on April 23, 2014.  Nominations must be received  by March 26.

Goldy Gopher’s Golden Student Team of the Year

This award is presented to two undergraduate student employee teams on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Campus.  Click here to learn more about this award and the nomination process. All student teams will be invited to the Student Employment Recognition Event (the SELPies) taking place on April 23, 2014.  Nominations must be received by March 26.