QUEST, Mother Earth Week, and other end-of-semester musings…

The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man. -Euripides

 

Hi readers,

The end of the semester is almost upon us, and yet I’ve felt its ominous presence since day one. This has by far been the busiest three and a half months of my life, and I’d like to tell you about it.

My previous three semesters here at Oswego I feel had been building up to this one. Those were practice, this is the real deal – vice president of a student organization, pulling it up from the ashes (with the help of 5 great friends!), 5 upper division courses, 3 QUEST presentations, and one vendetta to make a real change in school policy later, it’s almost over. I’ve made more Prezi’s and pushed more code to Github in this one semester than I have in my entire life before it. And through all of this work, I’ve seen an alternative perspective, the other side of the coin on an important life issue: balance.

It all started at the end of last semester, when Students for Global Change was in shambles. The officers had stopped coming to meetings, and worse, had entirely given up on the organization without telling anyone. I had been sitting at the club table that semester (since no one else wanted to), promoting my policy proposal for a change in how we handle public art on campus. All of a sudden, I was asked to help get the club organized and back on track. This was no easy task, but I managed to gather a ragtag group of friends to help me out and act as my officers. Since then, I (along with them) have been working nonstop to bring this club back to life. It exists for a good reason, and we showed that to a lot of people on campus this semester. We worked really hard with absolutely no budget to put on a weeklong series of events for Mother Earth Week, culminating in what was possibly the most anticlimactic tree planting ceremony ever put on for Arbor Day. But, what is important is that the tree was planted. It was difficult, but we got it done.

The week previous was QUEST week. Many students are unaware of exactly what QUEST is, which is a shame; thankfully, however, just as many not only are aware, but are active participants in that day-long celebration of knowledge that we share with our community every year. This year, I presented two class projects and my own public art project, and in between presentations I manned a table at the sustainability fair, which was also happening that day.

In between my long nights working on classwork this semester, I spent my days making connections and pushing for a real change in the way this institution treats the visual arts. After lobbying Student Association all last semester, I focused my efforts this time around on the faculty and the administration, asking them to think about making a change. And while significant progress has been made, the lesson I’ve learned is that I am only one person, and I can’t do everything – as much as I would like to. I quickly realized that I do have limits to my energy and ability, and I quickly became overwhelmed and exhausted for the first time since arriving at Oswego after being here for almost two years.

Before coming to Oswego, I believed my problem was that I didn’t want to work enough. Now I find myself a workaholic, and am stressed out in the same way, just for a different reason. I was one way before, and now I am on the opposite side of the spectrum. An interesting side effect is that by having experienced both ways of life now, I can more clearly see the center that I need to be at. So, my friends, if I can give you one piece of parting advice this semester, it would be this: find your own personal balance. Find a way to do some things that interest you, and do them well. If you focus your efforts, you will find a new kind of freedom that is better than any other: a mental freedom from yourself.

Thanks for reading, and may you find something insightful or meaningful from this post and from your studies at SUNY Oswego.

Good luck on finals, and have a great summer break everyone!

-Mark

5 tips on how to land your dream job with LinkedIn

As a soon-to-be college graduate, all I can seem to think about is how to start a career after graduation. I’ve asked several alumni and other professionals the best way of going about landing that dream job and everyone has the same answer: networking. It’s all about who you know. And the majority of these people agree that one of the best new ways to connect is LinkedIn. It’s where recruiters and employers are searching for you, not the other way around. It is where people can look at who you are professionally without the need for physical contact or a resume.  As a college student, a LinkedIn account is crucial and every student should have one. This may sound like a generalization but in today’s digitally social world, almost every profession has HR or recruiters on LinkedIn that are waiting to help you land that dream job.

Make sure your profile is complete. The more you put in your profile, the more an employer is likely to find you. LinkedIn uses keywords so that when someone searches for a specific skill, education or previous experience, people with more applicable information will be at the top of the list. List as many special skills as possible that apply to you. Be descriptive in your previous work experiences section. When LinkedIn prompts you to complete a section at the top of your profile, do it until you get the All-Star profile rating.

Update your information frequently. Think of your profile as an active resume. Every time you do something worthy of a resume, or maybe something that doesn’t quite make the cut for an extensive resume but is something employers might want to know, add it. Make your skills and experience marketable. In college, you will get the opportunity to have a lot of resume-building experiences. Take advantage of them and let employers know what you did.

Get solid recommendations. You don’t want to have a recommendation from someone down the hall that thinks you are a good guy. This is a professional digital document. But if you had a job or volunteered, ask the most credible person to write you a recommendation or endorse your skills. At SUNY Oswego, you have the chance to work with professors that have done some amazing things and even the chance to work with extremely successful alumni. Take advantage of them! Most would be more than happy to write on your behalf. The same goes for your boss at an internship. Don’t be afraid to ask if it will help you get to where you want to be after graduation.

Branch out. Some people argue that you should make as many connections as possible. Some people say to connect with only people you know. I think it should be a combination of the two. Connect with as many people with value as you can. Connect to reputable people that you would not be afraid to talk to in person. LinkedIn has a feature where your connections can “introduce” you to their connections. If you can connect with someone that knows a lot of people in your field, make sure you take advantage of that and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

Put your LinkedIn profile link on your resume. This is a chance for employers to get an even better idea of who you are. It will lead them to those great recommendations and all the information you want them to see that you can’t fit into your resume or elevator pitch.

Ice Effects Interview with Brittany Hoffmann

When I was told that the Oswego State Ice Effects team went to Nationals this year, my first reaction was apparently on-point with the rest of the student bodies': “What team is that?”

“Most people have no idea that we have a skating team,” said Hoffmann, as I let out a collective sigh of relief knowing that I wasn’t alone on the subject. “You and probably everyone else in this room.”

The thing is, even though I had no idea about anything related to skating or the Ice Effects team, I walked away from this interview thoroughly impressed with everything that I had heard. Read on to learn more about Brittany, the Ice Effects team and the Disney Program here at SUNY Oswego… Continue reading

Award-winning Equestrian Club

My last blog post was about trying something new or something you love when you get to college, so for the rest of the semester I plan on writing about new and interesting clubs and activities every student should try or at least know about. One thing I’ve noticed from several incoming students is an interest in equestrian, or for those unfamiliar with the sport, horseback riding. SUNY Oswego happens to have an equestrian club that gives students of all skill levels the chance to take lesson and compete. I had the chance to sit down with the Equestrian Club’s treasurer Elena Sanchez Freeman to talk about all the great things the Equestrian team has been up to and how to get involved.

What awards have you won recently?

As a team, we were regional champions against Cazenovia, Syracuse, Geneseo for Western riding. And then regionals, we had team makers also make it individually. In semifinals our team got third place, and the top three teams make it nationals. So as a team we made it to nationals!

I know there are two different kinds of riding. What are they?

There’s Western and English. Western, to put it simply, is with what most people call a cowboy saddle with the horn in front. English is the one with the jockey saddle. And so, there’s different terminology for each one. English is for when you’re doing flat competition, or just like a walk, jog, or canter (trot).

How much experience do you need to join?

You don’t need any experience. We’ve had beginners that have never sat on a horse before who have made it all the nationals individually. We will work with anyone. It’s not gender specific either. There are boys on the team too.

What’s the format for practices and lessons?

The lessons are paid per semester. It’s how much you pay for and you can take as many or as few lessons as you want. They normally cost about $25 a lesson and are anywhere from a half hour to an hour which is a really good deal considering how much lessons normally cost. It’s cheaper because we are a club funded through S.A. You normally have to block off two hours of your day to make it to the barn and we carpool so you don’t have to worry about getting to the barn and back. The barn is in Scriba so it’s about a ten minute drive off campus. We do offer jumping for the English and reigning for Western if you are at that level.

Any cool places you go to?

Oh yeah.  One of the big trips at the beginning of the fall semester is Congress, which is one of the biggest horse shows in the country that’s in Ohio. We carpooled down there as a team. If you help fundraise you barely have to pay for anything. A lot of people didn’t have to pay for anything except meals when we got down there. We have a formal at the end of second semester, we’ve gone laser tagging and everyone is welcome to come to the shows even if they aren’t riding. We always need the help.

Anything else?

It’s a lot of fun and we’re growing. And for anyone who doesn’t want to compete, you don’t have to show if you don’t want to. Some people just want to ride. A lot of people ride at home and miss it so they just come to take lessons and are part of the club. We’re a big family.

 

For anyone interested in joining the Equestrian Club or for more information, feel free to contact Elena at esanchez@oswego.edu.

Study Tips: A Guide to Getting That A!!!!

Studying for a quiz or test can be extremely stressful. In order to get a good grade, it is necessary that you have the proper work ethic, and that you know how to study properly without stressing yourself out. First of all, you need to know that different study techniques work for different people, and that it is not guaranteed that these tips will work for you. It is very possible that these methods may improve your particular study habits, however. This blog post is focused on providing you with various methods of studying that may help you to get good grades on future exams.  Below are study tips that may help you out:

 

  • Reviewing the material you have learned right after class may be beneficial. Since the material is fresh in your head from class, if you review it the same day, the chance that you will retain the information increases.
  • Do NOT put off studying. Try and review the material that will be on the exam throughout the week before the test itself. Cramming will only stress you out and may decrease the chance that you will actually retain the information that you are studying.
  • Utilize every study resource that you have. This includes text books, lecture notes, powerpoints, and any other handouts made available to you by your professor.
  • Comfy, quiet environments are essential to your ability to effectively study. They make it easier for your brain to capture the information that you are memorizing and to access it at the time of the exam.
  • Study the most important information first! Find the things that you think will definitely be on the exam and rigorously study them.
  • Don’t study right before bed; this will only result in you becoming tired. Instead, study in the afternoon, or whenever you have free time. Studying while you’re wide awake will help you retain the information that you are trying to remember.
  • Keep relaxing music playing while you study. If it is kept at a relatively low volume, this music will help you to focus and retain the information that you are studying.
  • Either test yourself or have a friend test you on the material that is going to be on the exam. Verbally practicing questions that could possibly be on the exam will help you to remember certain material.
  • Make sure you understand material that will be on the test. Simply memorizing things will not help you get a better grade.
  • Frequently take short breaks while you study. Long study sessions may stress you out and tire out your brain.
  • TAKE NOTES!!!! Writing down information will help you remember what you have learned.
  • Read through the material provided by your professor multiple times. Only reading through it once will not help you to remember what will be on the test.

 

I hope these tips helped you. If you have any questions or concerns, leave a comment on this post and I will try to reply as quickly as possible.

A Final Four To Remember

Hi Readers!

Whether you are a fan of Syracuse basketball or not, it’s hard to deny the appeal of watching them play in one of the biggest annual  sports events in the nation. Many of you here in Oswego will be throwing Final Four parties for your groups of friends, and I hope to make the planning a little bit easier with a few suggestions for a great Saturday evening!

 

1. Local Pizza or Make-Your-Own

The obvious party food just got a little more obvious-er. Instead of ordering from the big chains, support the local guys or make your own pizza with fresh ingredients from the grocery store. If you can’t make the trip to the grocer, try out one of these pizzerias in town:

The Pies Guys – http://www.piesguys.net/contact-the-pies-guys-oswego-ny.htm

Cam’s NY Pizzeria – http://www.camspizzeria.com/locations/oswego.html

 

2. Potluck

Ask each person/group attending to bring one snack or appetizer. Share the workload, and share in the fun; it’s a win-win!

 

3. Party games!

Have some games themed around basketball or the tournament to keep the party going during the time-outs. Have each guest make a prediction including the winning team and the final scores, with the closest to the final outcome winning a small prize, such as a piece of NCAA or SU memorabilia.

Don’t forget to keep a deck of playing cards on hand! People will find a way to have fun with them, but here’s a cool game suggestion just in case: http://www.pagat.com/invented/10cardbasketball.html

 

4. Save the environment!

For just a little more dough, you’ll be doing Mother Earth a solid by using recycled and compostable party supplies. Here’s a great source for such items: http://www.sustyparty.com/

Even if you can’t get your hands on these materials, it is good to know what is and isn’t compostable, so that you can designate separate disposal locations at your place of residence. Here are some tips for the uninitiated: http://www.wikihow.com/Compost

 

5. Be Safe

Don’t forget to designate drivers for those who are planning on consuming alcohol!

 

Above all, have a fun time this weekend and enjoy the games. If you think there are any essential party tips I might have missed, be sure to comment below!

H2T: Auto-mobility

Hello there!

I’m typing this from my phone on my way back to Oswego after a long (indulgent) weekend at home. Unfortunately I had to leave my beloved Fawnda (my car) at home so she could get a little tune up.

While it does sting to not have the convenience of my car, I have found the silver lining! The weather has started to change for the better, so I plan to walk to campus everyday (weather permitting!).

I’m excited to get a little extra movement in my day. Plus, I’m bound to be more alert in class and at work after 20 bonus minutes of fresh air.

I hope you’re all taking advantage of the changes ahead!