Top 5 + Career Fair = Winning

Here we are again. It’s mid-February, it’s cold, classes are well under way, and we’re all beginning to gear up for one of the biggest days of the year – The U of M Job and Internship Fair. This fair, which comes but once a year, plays host to more than 300 employers representing every imaginable industry.

To some, this might sound like fun. To others, not so much. Fairs like this can often be overwhelming for students, and here at the Office for Student Engagement, we are hoping to put some of your worriers to rest. How do we plan on doing this? Strengths of course!

If you think about it, your Strengths are the one thing that matters tomorrow. Show the employers what you are capable of and what comes naturally to you, and you shouldn’t have any problem getting callbacks. So, without further ado, here are our Top 5 tips for utilizing your Top 5 at tomorrow’s big event:

  1. Consider using your Strengths on your resume. It’s a great conversation piece when talking with a recruiter, and if you know your Top 5 well, you will have no problem articulating why you would be a good fit for the job.
  2. Read the “Student Action Items” for each of your strengths, especially the tips found under “career.” You can find these action items in the StrengthsQuest book or at: Log in and click on the “apply tab.”
  3. Take the time beforehand to read over your Strengths Insight Report so that you can speak with confidence about your Top 5 to potential employers.
  4. “What are your strengths?” is one of the most commonly asked interview questions. At the career fair, beat employers to the punch! Incorporate your Strengths into your elevator pitch, and be sure to talk to each employer about the specific Strengths you have that would be most beneficial to their company and the role you want. Be sure to provide past examples of how you’ve used your Strengths to be successful.
  5. Make Strengths part of your Personal Brand! Your strengths are part of your personal brand which is what sets you apart from others. Incorporate strengths into your conversations. Not everyone has taken StrengthsFinder or is familiar with the names of the 34 talent themes, so practice describing your strengths without using strengths lingo. For example, instead of saying, “I’m a Woo!” you could say something like, “I’m comfortable asking questions to learn about someone I’ve just met which has been helpful in building relationships with new co-workers.”

So there you have it, our Top 5 for your Top 5! Still have more questions? Still not sure how to use your Strengths? No worries! We will have a booth set up at the fair tomorrow, so feel free to swing by at any point to brush up on your Strengths knowledge.

For more Strengths + Career resources click here.

Good luck and see you at the fair!

Top 10 Reasons to get an Internship

1. Exhibit Your Initiative – Future employers love to see that you didn’t waste time in college twiddling your thumbs. Get out there and impress people with your ambition.


2. Test Drive a Career – Maybe you still don’t know what you want to do when you grow up, but that’s OK! Interning is a great way to feel-out a career before committing the rest of your life to it.


3. Boost Your Resume – It’s pretty simple, with most students these days graduating with at least 1-2 internships on their resumes, it’s become a pretty necessary part of your application.


4. Learn How to Pursue a Job – As they say, “practice makes perfect,” and though that may not be entirely true, it does sum up the job search process relatively well. The more applications and interviews you work through, the better you get, and hopefully the less stress you incur.


5. Gain Confidence in Your Ability to Succeed – Remember how great you felt when you got accepted to college? Landing an internship is like that, accept this time you get to make money instead of spend it.


6. Improve your communication skills – Remember the last time you did NOT see “excellent written and verbal communications” on a job application? Me neither. Prove to future employers that you have the skills by putting them to practice.


7. Prove Yourself in the “Real-World” – Internships are as close to the real world as you can get while still in school. The below picture pretty much says the rest.


8. Expand Your Network – According to an ABC News report, it’s thought that about 80% of today’s jobs are found through networking. In other words, it’s not what you know, but who you know. You have heard it before, but it’s time you start believing it.


9. Help You Collect Professional References - I believe you when you say you’re an excellent worker, but you might have a harder time convincing future employers without a few references.


10. Learn How a Business REALLY Operates - Movies and TV shows do a great job of giving us preconceived notions about the work world, but until you jump in, you can never know for sure.


Top 10 Reasons to Get a Job on Campus

1. Money, Money, Money - It’s really quite simple, you are a broke college student, but money helps make you less broke.

2. Connections – Ever heard of networking? Getting a job on campus is an easy way to start connecting with professionals with real-world experience.

3. Work Experience - Whether it is graphic design, event planning, budgeting, cooking, landscaping, or anything in-between, on campus jobs teach you to harness the skills you have, and constantly seek to gain new ones.

4. Flexibility - When you have a job and you are student, classes always have to come first. Trust me when I say that NO ONE knows and supports this more than staff and faculty.

5. Commute - Ya…I think the term “on-campus” pretty much sums this one up.

6. Time management – Many students struggle to properly manage their time in college, but having a job can help bring structure and consistency to your schedule.

7. Professional Development - University employers place a HUGE emphasis on developing your talents and skills to prep for the real world. After all, that is what a university is for, is it not?

8. Resume Booster - It’s hard to fill out the “work experience” section if you don’t have any.

9. Friends - Most of your coworkers are likely to be fellow students, so making new amigos at work is usually pretty easy.

10. Get to know the U - When working on campus, it is easy to keep your ear to the ground and stay on top of all fun activities, events, and offerings. You won’t know EVERYTHING about the university…just most things.

Search for on campus jobs here

Mission OpEx

The University of Minnesota is a top-notch establishment, no doubt about it. That being said, if you ask anyone working for the U, I can almost guarantee they’ll say there is always room for improvement. That’s a good thing! After all, Forbes did not rank us #1 rising school in the nation because we are satisfied with where we are at. On the contrary, history has always rewarded those with an uncompromising dedication to seeking improvement. For this reason, Co-Lab is sponsoring an event this year which ensures the forward progress of this fine institution.

Enter: Mission OpEx. This campus wide initiative encourages students of all backgrounds and interest to participate in improving our University by implementing a campaign which will save the U some big dollars. Anything come to mind? I sure hope so, because there is a $1,500 reward for the winning campaign!

To find out more or about OpEx or to submit an idea, visit:

2015 Orientation Leaders!

Dear Student,

Are you looking for a growth opportunity that will set you apart in terms of leadership and interpersonal skills? Do you want to develop as a leader and get paid for it? Orientation & First-Year Programs is now recruiting students to be 2015 Orientation Leaders!

As a part of this valuable internship experience, you will:
• Lead and facilitate groups of 15-25 students during Orientation
• Train and supervise a group of 12-20 Welcome Week Leaders
• Develop your leadership style through collaboration, flexibility and real life experiences
• Work in a dynamic, fast paced, engaging environment
• Make $3,500 compensation along with room and board during Freshman Orientation

“I worked with such an amazing group of people and had the opportunity to make a positive impact on the first-year students. I couldn’t have asked for anything more and it was honestly one of the best summer’s of my life.” Keighly—former Orientation Leader

Time Commitments:
• Spring Semester meetings every Wednesday from 3:30-7:30 p.m.
• Freshman Orientation: May 26-July 17, August 26-September 1 (subject to change)
• Welcome Week: September 2-7

To apply:
• Apply online at: and due Monday, November 10
• Learn more about the position by attending an Info Session and grab a snack! Presentations run every 15 minutes!
o Monday, October 20th
 3:00-5:00pm CMU 323
o Wednesday, October 22nd
 11:00-1:00pm St. Paul Student Center 108
o Friday, October 24th
 12:00-2:00pm CMU 324
o Monday, October 27th
 10:00am-12:00pm CMU 323
o Wednesday, October 29th
 5:00-7:00pm Appleby Hall 127

Don’t pass up this opportunity – apply today. For more information about the position please give us a call at (612) 624-1979 or at


Amy Bartos (
Michael Dixon (
Kelsey Neigebauer (
Drew Wandschneider (

Student Program Coordinators
Orientation & First-Year Programs

First Year Leadership Institute

Welcome back reader! It has been a while since we have last chatted, so I will spare you the usual wordy rhetoric and jump right into this weeks featured engagement opportunity. The First Year Leadership Institute (otherwise known as FYLI) is now accepting applications for another year of superb leadership development!

“What is FYLI?” you may ask. Well, as its name suggests, FYLI is a leadership program tailored specifically for first year students. To directly quote their website, FYLI is “designed to enhance leadership skills, foster intrapersonal, interpersonal, ethical and moral development, and connect first-year students to the University of Minnesota and the surrounding communities.” Hurray first year students! This 8 week program kicks off with a weekend retreat at a YMCA camp, then transitions into weekly meetings, projects, and a mentorship program.

Earlier this week I sat down with Ryan Nugent, a co-coordinator in the program, in order to gain a better understanding of what FYLI has to offer. Ryan’s message was simple. He wants everyone involved to “have fun, and create a safe place to for discussions you wouldn’t usually have in a classroom.” He went on to explain what a great influence the program had in shaping him to be the leader he is today, and even noted that he is still close friends with several people from his group.

So, if you are looking to become a better leader, or simply looking to get more engaged on campus, I urge you to apply. Oh, and sorry about the last minute heads up, but the deadline is THIS FRIDAY! No worries though, you still have plenty of time to submit a rock-star of an application and become one of the special few admitted to this great program. Bueno suerte!

Student Engagement?…I told you it was great!

Hey there readers! You know how I’m always rambling on about how great it is to immerse yourself in engagement activities and opportunities while you are a student? Well, this week you are in for a real treat! Instead of me babbling on like usual, today I am turning the floor over to Amanda, a UMN student who participated in the HECUA program last year, and wanted to assure all of you that this whole “student engagement thing” really is worth the time and energy. Here is what she had to say:

HECUA was where I learned my place in our Twin Cities community.

In spring 2013 I participated in the HECUA: Arts & Social Change semester program. We were a wonderfully small group of only six students, led by Bill Reichard, HECUA instructor and poet. Through our meetings twice a week, we developed a close and trusting circle. Together we were creative artists, interested citizens, and talented students.

The HECUA classroom was different than anything we had ever experienced before. It served us with a base to ask questions that had no single, right answer. There we formulated opinions about how art can be used to transform a community. We learned tools in combating the injustices of stereotypes, inequity, and marginalized voices. Beyond this, we created and realized a set of identities–who our community was, who we were within it, and who we were as an artist.


The program was split into three, simultaneous sections: Reading Seminar, Field Seminar, and Internship.


Within the reading seminar, we focused our attention to books written by controversial and community-focused artists, activist authors of nonfiction, introspective poets, stereotype-combating playwrights, and thought-probing writers of fiction. For each class session, we prepared a set of three “framing questions” based upon our readings. These questions were meant to be open-ended and not prepared to find one answer. They were used to guide conversation and help us to think in-depth on other perspectives and opinions.


In the field seminar, we had a chance to move beyond our books and see what was happening in our community. We visited ground-level, Twin City native, community organizations like Wing Young Huie’s Third Place Gallery, Springboard for the Arts, Works Progress, Lowertown’s Bedlam Theatre, among others. In these places, we met and spoke with the directors and learnt how they established themselves and their ways of actively participating in their community. We also visited renowned museums like the Walker Art Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Minnesota History Museum, and discussed their thought-stimulating exhibits. Local theatre performances were attended by us often as well.


The internship was where we had the opportunity to apply all of our theoretical knowledge we had learned, and gain practical experience. I interned at Central Touring Theatre–a social justice, high school theatre company from Central High School, Saint Paul, that performs original works each year to an audience of over 10,000. It was there that I witnessed the impact young students can have on their community when they gather their voices and speak-out together. I visited CTT two to three times a week throughout the semester, helping to facilitate theatre activities, providing photo documentation, and developing a book that outlined the entirety of their season’s work.



The lesson within my HECUA experience that I most appreciate learning was how I can engage my community with art and how to use that engagement to make an impact.


To be a HECUA student, you must be ready to open yourself up to new ideas and beliefs, have the ability to break down buried stereotypes, and expect to uncover the power in your voice. I recommend the HECUA experience to any student desiring to find their identity within themselves, and within their larger community.

For info, visit: