The 3 “Ships” That’ll Make College Smooth Sailing

It’s been four years since I graduated from GVSU with my degree in Business. I spent my first two years of school living in the Honors College and I always look back on my time very fondly. In fact, that time went by way too quickly and there are a few things that I think are especially important for current students to reflect on while in this stage of life.

Internships. I cannot stress enough how important it is to complete at least one internship while you are in college – whether during the summer or the school year, paid or unpaid. Most programs even offer credit for internships, so don’t miss out on that opportunity! Internships are critical because they provide you with precious real-world experience that almost every employer requires, even for entry level positions. Working part-time in your desired field and/or for an organization you’re interested in is a great learning opportunity. For some, it solidifies they are heading down the right path, but for others, it’s a heads up that you might need to pivot – something that is better done before you graduate if you can help it. Plus, if you perform well, you might just get a job offer! I interned at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan during my senior year and was lucky enough to secure a full-time spot after graduation, which provided much-needed stability for the next chapter of my life. Schedule a meeting with the Honors College advisors and let them help find the right internship for you!

Mentorships. Forming a relationship with a mentor figure in college is something I think is highly underrated. Often students believe this is an experience better saved for later in life, when you’re actively headed down your career path. However, now that I mentor a college student, I can clearly see the benefits and how such a relationship can positively shape your future. I have had the pleasure of guiding a GVSU senior along in his endeavors – everything from his class schedule to resume to job offers – he actually calls me his “life coach”. This mentorship has been of great value to him because he doesn’t have to navigate this tricky time on his own and can rely on some of my knowledge and experiences. Think about the people you interact with who are further down your desired career path and those you consider wise – maybe you work with them, volunteer with them, or you are both part of the same social or professional organization. You can explain that you’re looking for a mentor or you can just start asking them questions to learn more about how they got where they are now. Either way, just soak up what you can!

Friendships. This one may seem obvious, but it’s definitely worth including. Chances are that you are making some incredible friends right now and are having the time of your life. After all, college is the only time where your responsibilities and freedom are perfectly balanced – you are out of the house, but you don’t have the full weight of employment and bills piled on top of you. What you are experiencing now and those you are experiencing it with will make a lasting impression. However, what you may not realize is that after graduation, people’s lives start going in many different directions. Your friend whose hometown is on the other side of the state might return there; another friend might get a job offer across the country; or maybe you’re the one moving away from the people you used to see every single day. I met three amazing people my freshman year in the Honors College and we are still close, but unfortunately do not get to talk or see each other nearly as often as we’d like. Change happens and that’s okay, but cherish the time you have with your friends now because the college experience will be gone before you know it.

College can be some of the most fun and influential years of your life to date! Capitalize on this time by getting a head start on your career, absorbing some great advice, and appreciating your friends. After you graduate, you’ll be glad you did!

 

Kalset Bartlett

 

Kelsey Bartlett is a GVSU Honors College alum and will complete her Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications degree from Eastern Michigan University this year. She works at Indiana University Health and manages internal communications for their two flagship hospitals.

 

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Alumni Post: What does Honors have to offer?

As a recent (and extremely proud) GVSU Honors College graduate, I vividly recall some of the fears and anxieties that crept through my head as I neared graduation. During my last semester in Allendale, I knew that I would be enrolling in a master’s program in higher education administration/student affairs upon graduation, but I did not know where that would take me or what sort of work that would involve. Now, having successfully conquered year one of my graduate studies, I would like to offer some practical advice to those Honors students or alumni who may be considering an advanced degree (or two) to further their careers and personal ambitions.

Although my master’s program is easily built upon everything that I was engaged with as a Laker, I cannot emphasize enough that the wide range of high-quality opportunities that GVSU offers is remarkable. To prepare for graduate school and separate one’s self from the pack, the resources around campus can really set a student up phenomenally well for future success. Whether that’s studying a language abroad, completing an internship with any of the major companies in the Grand Rapids area, volunteering in poverty-stricken areas over spring break across the country, or combining all three of those outlets, GVSU is poised to give you experiences that can be tailored to shape your graduate school career before you even consider applying. In a particular way, Honors is stacked with resources and connections waiting to propel you confidently forward into the graduate school arena. In just over a year since leaving Allendale, I have had the opportunity to listen to other highly-involved students from across the country and have worked at a range of higher education institutions, and I can safely endorse GVSU as an unusually exceptional university in fostering so many superb life and career-altering possibilities.

Until I was interviewed by dozens of potential employers at multiple universities across the Midwest last spring, I don’t think that I realized the enormous importance of the graduate student’s relationship with their supervisor and academic unit. Searching for and cultivating a high caliber of connection with these two groups can indelibly influence one’s graduate school trajectory, as well as a student’s drive for producing excellent work. Gratefully, I can say that I have found an enriching work environment in my graduate assistantship. However, I would not have been able to identify the potential lying beneath the surface of that solitary interview last year without having thrived under the phenomenal support of the GVSU Honors College. I want to implore Honors students who are considering graduate school to search for professional programs with professors, administrators, and supervisors like those that characterize the hallways and offices of Niemeyer. You may not find another academic environment that has so many finely tuned components (there is only one Holy Grail, after all), but the importance of searching for such a setting may be an undervalued aspect of selecting a graduate school.

To say that I am extremely thankful for the Honors College, both personally and professionally, is a massive understatement. My four years were engaging and formative, and have strongly influenced what I aspire to in my graduate degree (an internship with my current institution’s Honors College is on tap for the fall!) and future career, and I hope that they are similarly foundational for other Honors students considering graduate school.

Finally, I would like to take a moment to publicly thank Dr. J for his incredible leadership at GVSU for the past 10 years. He and many of his administrative staff members (particularly Amanda Cuevas and Janaan Decker) have demonstrated what it means to build an exemplar student-centered academic culture, which has tremendously influenced my career path. I can only pray to make the same sort of personal impact on students that he and the Honors College had on me.

Brad Mueller

Brad Mueller (’16) is halfway through his master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel at Kent State University in Ohio. His graduate assistantship is ​with the Office of International Programs and Education Abroad in the College of Arts and Sciences, where he has the opportunity to engage with a wide range of internationalization and education abroad efforts. Brad has been fortunate to build on his experiences and studies at GVSU through his various internships at a number of Midwestern universities. In his spare time, Brad enjoys running, reading, and exploring northeast Ohio.

 

Student Post: A Career on the Breakfast Table

I never thought the Trix Rabbit would help me get a job.

After all, “Trix are for kids,” not college-educated adults, right? But it’s a lifelong love of whimsical breakfast mascots and their commercial escapades that has made me what I am today: an Advertising & Public Relations major at Grand Valley State University at the outset of his fourth and final year.

I won’t bore you with the fully fortified story, but I have many fond childhood memories of bonding with friends and family over the wacky ads we saw on TV. From Lucky Charms’ purple horseshoes and Heinz purple ketchup to NERF guns and Nintendo games, these 30-second glimpses into imaginatively advertised worlds were as enchanting to me as the Saturday morning cartoons they were sandwiched between.

When I finished high school with no clear career goal and a penchant for writing, I knew one thing for certain: I wanted to re-create these memories for a new generation of kids, and maybe even redeem the often disparaged field of advertising through wholesome nostalgia.

But how could I do it? As an Economics major? A Marketing major? The answer seemed unclear, until I went to a student-to-student Q&A session during my overnight Honors College orientation—at this point, the Honors College had already won me over on its promise of independent learning and its progressive, general education-replacing first-year curriculum—where the wonderful (and recently graduated) Jaclyn Ermoyan told us she was an Advertising & Public Relations major.

I had no idea GVSU offered a full major on just advertising, and after making an eager internal promise to investigate the program, the rest was history. Here I am, 3 years later: president of Grand Valley’s Advertising Club and proud member of the university’s winning National Student Advertising Competition team, with a second major in Writing (to evolve my copywriting), a Gold ADDY Award to my name and a name made for myself in the professional West Michigan advertising community.

So while I quite literally have that night in the Honors College Multipurpose Room to thank for my success and professional satisfaction, that’s far from the only way the school’s innovative educational approach has helped me thrive. During my freshman sequence, Social Product Innovation—still the most challenging (in a good way) course I’ve taken at GVSU—I was taught to tackle socially beneficial entrepreneurship from the ground up. The course showed me the design thinking process, gave me the chance to write an enlightening paper about McDonald’s innovative marketing, and encouraged me to become a self-starter—by crafting a pair of fair trade, fish leather mittens.

How did I use this self-starting stimulus? I created my own cereal blog, a passion project that has brought together hundred of thousands of breakfast lovers across the globe, made me lasting friends, and given me a unique conversation-starter with advertising pros nationwide, who love to hear how someone with a niche interest built a brand for himself from the ground up and learned valuable digital marketing skills in the process.

The takeaway? Take your passion and make it happen. You’ll be surprised by how many doors are opened by demonstrated drive alone—whether you’re writing about Cocoa Puffs, Coney Islands, or carnivorous cryptids.

And while I love GVSU’s Advertising & Public Relations program, I also have my Honors junior seminar to thank for polishing the copywriting skills I’m forever honing. Despite having a different academic focus, Professor Stillerman’s Sociology of Consumption looked at consumerism through the lens of the receiver, helping me better understand how to meaningfully speak to consumer pain points and craft compelling narrative myths through “Cultural Strategy.”

The takeaway here? Look at your field of work from a different angle. An interdisciplinary perspective can help you see the two faces, so to speak, when all you saw before was a face.

I still have a year of university life left, but thanks to the Honors College’s professional environment and refreshingly “non-academic” approach to self-inspired learning, as well as the countless extracurricular engagement opportunities presented through the entire School of Communications, I already feel readily equipped to enter the working world.

So while I don’t know exactly where I see myself in five years, I can see the limitless potential afforded to those who grow communities instead of just going to class. Oh, and I can definitely see why kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Dan GoubertDan Goubert is an incoming senior, set to graduate in Spring 2018 with a B.S. in both Advertising & Public Relations and Writing. Dan has a passion for combining his two areas of study and has recently started his third advertising internship in agency copywriting. When he’s not strategizing for Grand Valley Advertising Club or writing academically, Dan can be found geeking out online about the newest Oreo cookie variety or obscurest ’90s Pop-Tart flavor.