Summer Session: An Overview

by Tim Pate

College offers a variety of ways for students to ensure their success, and summer school is among those available opportunities. At Colorado State, summer school is offered in three sessions throughout the season, each lasting four weeks. Students have the choice to take classes during all sessions, or to just choose one or two to fit their schedules.

SunflowerHaving never participated in summer school myself, I decided to investigate the benefits and drawbacks of the sessions. The choice of whether or not to enroll in summer classes is highly subjective, so this post aims to serve only as a guide for students who may be considering the option. The following information was gained from asking multiple summer-school participants to share their experiences.

Positives

Summer school sessions, as mentioned earlier, are much briefer than classes taken during the regular school year. However, students in summer sessions have the capability of earning the same amount of credits in a shorter time period. This characteristic is highly beneficial for students who need to catch up on classwork in order to graduate on time. Short summer classes can also simply lessen the course load students need to take, which can decrease stress levels during the normal school year.

Classes during summer sessions are predictably smaller – most with only 20 students or fewer. This means that professors have more capacity to address individual student issues than during the regular school year. Students enrolled in labs have found this feature especially useful, because the hands-on coursework occasionally requires specialized attention.

Depending on how students schedule their courses and which classes they take, summer sessions generally still allow time for students to work. It is not difficult for students to schedule their classes in strategic blocks of time in order for them to still be available for work. While the regular school year and its full load of credits can make work schedules difficult to manage, summer classes can be squeezed together easily, and students can earn money while still attending classes.

Negatives

Some students have had issues with the fast-paced nature of summer classes. Because coursework is all crammed together over a four-week timescale, professors must conduct tests more frequently – usually every week. This means that students have less time to study and must move quickly in order to keep up with the coursework. Depending on your study style, this feature could be a drawback.

Given the brevity of the classes, it is almost inevitable that some content be cut from summer courses. I have heard that math and engineering courses generally provide the same content just at a much quicker pace, but most classes appear to leave bits out. Depending on the depth of understanding a student hopes to glean from a class, this fact should be something to take into consideration.

Finally, one must consider the tradeoff of free time for education. Each individual must analyze whether to devote time to classes or to enjoy the summer months. Sometimes summer classes are necessary, but other times it’s a matter of spreading the college work load over a longer time frame to reduce stress. The decision is truly that of the student.

The consensus from the folks with whom I talked regarding Summer Session at CSU was quite positive. Despite some minor challenges that come with enrolling in summer classes, every student with whom I talked recommended the courses as a way to stay on track for graduation. None of them felt overwhelmed by the course load, but did emphasize that it is a commitment to attend class five days per week. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. Make the choice that best serves your needs; just be sure that you come to a conclusion with all the necessary information.

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10 Grammar Mistakes that Could Cost You a Job

by Tim Pate

As a business student, your focus is supposed to be the raw mechanics of a company – right? You’ll produce the idea, the innovation, and let your copywriters and editors make sure that everything is spelled correctly and follows grammar rules.

Sorry to tell you, but this mentality is guaranteed to get you into trouble when you put it into practice.

Whether you like it or not, having a firm understanding of the English language is essential to your business career. It starts with your resume: a messy, unrefined resume is the fastest way to be dismissed for a job. However, your resume is not the only way employers will evaluate you.

Today, virtually everything you write is fair game for employers to scrutinize and evaluate to determine if you are the right person for a position. If you put together a really great project for a class that you plan to show at an interview, do you actually think you’ll be taken as seriously as you should be if that project is riddled with grammatical and spelling errors? Even the content you post on social media pages reflects upon you as a professional. You must take all these things into careful consideration; after all, your employers will.

Let Google be your friend: if there is something about which you are unsure, type it into the search engine and let the internet correct you. On that note, I have compiled a list of common grammatical mistakes. Remember, this list is not comprehensive, and you should check over all of your work to ensure that it is clean and professional.

1. You’re vs. Your: “You’re” means “you are.” “Your” means “something you possess.”

2. It’s vs. Its: “It’s” means “it is.” Never use “it’s” as pronoun (unless someone’s name is It. In that case, “It’s” would mean that something belongs to It). “Its” is the proper possessive pronoun, as in, “The car isn’t working. Its transmission is shot.”

3. There vs. They’re vs. Their: “There” is an adverb describing something’s location: “The ball is there.” “They’re” is a contraction meaning “they are.” “Their” is a possessive pronoun, meaning that more than one person possesses something: “That is their house.”

4. More than vs. Over: When describing the quantity of something, use more than: “He has more than five cars.” When describing a physical location in relation to something else, use over: “They flew over the Rocky Mountains.”

5. Affect vs. Effect: “Affect” means “to influence or impact,” as in, “The decision affected the entire company.” The result of being affected is the effect: “The effect was that everyone took a pay cut.”

6. Loose vs. Lose: Something that is loose is not tight: “Pull that rope harder; the knot is loose.” “Lose” means to misplace an object or to not win a competition: “Don’t lose your head or you might lose the game.”

7. Irregardless: Don’t use this word. “Irregardless” is not a real word. The proper term is “regardless,” and adding “ir-” to the front does not make the word any stronger.

8. Who vs. Whom: “Who” is the subject of a sentence, or the person doing something: “Who is playing basketball?” “Whom” is the object of a sentence, or the person being affected (not effected): “He passed the ball to whom?” If the word follows a preposition (e.g. to, around, of, in, before, with, under, etc.), always use “whom.” If a sentence you write sounds awkward, it is okay to rewrite the sentence completely.

9. Could of/Should of/Would of: The proper use is “could’ve/should’ve/would’ve,” because these words are meant to be contractions of “could have/should have/would have.” Never replace “-‘ve” with “of.”

10. Literally vs. Figuratively: If you use the adverb “literally,” it means that whatever follows is actually true. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to say, “I am literally dying of boredom,” unless your body is actually shutting down as a result of being bored, which is unlikely. In that case, it is accurate to say, “I am figuratively dying of boredom.” Every time I see this mistake I figuratively lose my mind.

The Beatles and Business (Happy Birthday, Paul McCartney)

by Tim Pate

BeatlesToday is the 70th birthday of Sir Paul McCartney. Though his days with the Beatles only lasted a decade, the success of the British band is unrivaled even today. To date, the Beatles have sold a staggering 2,303,500,000 albums. When the Beatles catalogue became available on iTunes in 2010 – 30 years after the band broke up – users downloaded 2 million Beatles songs and 450,000 Beatles albums.

How could any business person ignore these results?

George Cassidy and Richard Courtney, authors of Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles  (Turner Publishing, 2011), think that there is much to be learned from the success of the Beatles. In a guest blog post the pair wrote for CNBC, we get a quick taste of the types of business lessons the Beatles taught us.

Cassidy and Courtney’s advice from the blog included such tidbits as:

  • Dream big, and articulate those goals.
  • Build a strong team that can help you strive.
  • Find challenges and conquer them.
  • Establish a location where opportunity is available.
  • Create a business plan to help you navigate your way to success.
  • Understand that sometimes things go wrong, and learn from your failures.

At the College of Business, we have a couple items to add to this list. Whether you’re selling a product for a business or trying to demonstrate why you are the best candidate to a potential employer, the Beatles can teach everyone a thing or two about best business practices.

  • Word of mouth is essential – and sometimes works better than the best advertising. When the Beatles came to the United States from England, sparking the famous “British invasion,” they were all young people could talk about. Friends shared Beatles albums and went to concerts together, and the popularity of the Beatles expanded to the point of bursting. Know how to get an intriguing conversation going about whatever you’re trying to sell.
  • Give the customer a reason to come back for more. In the 1960s, the Beatles were a virtual album mill, pumping out record after record. Although the band was producing music at an alarming rate, the fans knew they could expect something new and exciting every time. From the more poppy A Hard Day’s Night to the deep and complex Abbey Road, the Beatles displayed a vast array of musical capabilities that kept the fans wanting more.
  • Think outside of the box. It’s an old saying, but it is still monumentally important in attracting new customers. The Beatles defied the musical standard with strange and bizarre lyrics to unique compositions to vibrant, mysterious album artwork. They weren’t afraid to be different, and their new style changed the music industry forever.

The Beatles can teach us all something about success. Whether you enjoy their music or not, the fact that we are still talking about them today is a testament to their undeniable innovation and ability to captivate audiences of all types.

How to Make the Best of Your Interview

by Tim Pate

In light of the popularity of our post, Interview Attire: Dos and Don’ts, we have decided to follow up with more interview advice. In this post, we will discuss the actual interview process and highlight a few things an interviewee should do as well as some things to avoid.

Before the Interview

Do some background research on the company for which you are interviewing. Make sure you know enough about the company that you can ask intelligent questions during the interview. Furthermore, go online and research some common interview questionsDon’t show up unprepared and hope to spontaneously generate informed answers to interviewer questions.

Do ask your interviewers what is the proper dress attire for the interview. Play it safe and assume that business formal is expected, but be aware that some companies aim for a more casual atmosphere and may ask that you don’t dress up.

Do give yourself extra time to arrive at the interview; be punctual. Anticipate delays and detours that could slow your route to the interview location. However, when you arrive early, don’t interrupt the person or people who will be interviewing you. Wait patiently for your scheduled interview time.

During the Interview

Do know the key points about yourself that you think best demonstrate why you should get the position. Use the interviewer’s questions as a springboard for giving examples of your competency and credentials. Make sure you don’t ramble or get too chatty, but be prepared with a few stories of yourself that you can relate to interviewer questions. Furthermore, don’t wait for interviewers to draw you out. Elaborate on points to prove that you are informed and deserving of the job.

Do pay attention to body language. The way you present yourself will say a lot about your personality to your potential employers. Be polite and professional, but don’t forget to smile and show that you’re excited about the position. Remember to also sit up straight and to be reasonably expressive with hand gestures.

Do ask insightful questions. Show that you are genuinely interested in the position with questions such as, “How will my role impact your position or the company as a whole?” or “What is the atmosphere around the office?” Pay attention to the answers and interact accordingly with interviewers.

After the Interview

HandshakeDo thank interviewers for their time and consideration. Give a firm handshake and tell interviewers that you look forward to hearing from them.

Always do a follow-up. Many employers appreciate a hand-written letter thanking them for the chance to interview, but at the very least send interviewers a thank-you email to show your appreciation. Even if you have decided that the position is one in which you are not overly interested, still send a thank-you note. You never know – you may one day still work alongside that person. Don’t burn bridges just because you aren’t interested in the position.

Networking: A Necessity

by Tim Pate

As I’ve progressed through college, I’ve slowly caught on to just how important the connections I make here will be for my future. In high school, it was all about grades and extracurricular activities – a solid application and essay were enough to gain admittance to the desired university. Now approaching life in the real world, I know that my resume won’t carry me very far without people to vouch for my competency, no matter how beautifully crafted that resume is.

When I entered college, making those connections wasn’t the first thing on my mind. I was concerned with other things –  surviving all of my first year classes, trying to make new friends at a university with more than 26,000 students, and enjoying my new-found freedom. I did well in classes and I joined a club here and there, but I viewed these ventures as means for self-betterment rather than actual resources that I could utilize later in life.

What really alerted me to the need for a support system was the means by which I landed my first internship. I had worked in college, but only at tedious, minimum-wage jobs that allowed me to buy groceries once in a while. I had thought about trying to find an internship, but I knew that the job market among college students was competitive, and I honestly didn’t know where to begin or how to highlight myself as the person for the job.

Then one day, a classmate with whom I had taken multiple classes and worked on a number of projects, told the class that his employer was  looking to hire an intern. Intrigued, I contacted my classmate and he put me in touch with his bosses. The job was not posted in any public forum where I could have come by it accidentally; the only reason I was given the chance to apply was because I knew someone on the inside. My friend was able to testify to the work I had put forth in class, and soon enough I was working at my first internship.

Now, classmates are not the only people who can prove to be useful connections to the career or internship of your choice. Since I realized how important these relationships can be, I have consciously made an effort to establish deeper connections with people I meet through classes, organizations, and work – especially those people who have any association with the field I want to pursue upon graduation. When I go to a conference or a meeting for a club, I bring business cards and I collect as many as I can. More importantly, I follow up on those connections with a simple email. I find these people on social media networks and make sure that I stay connected. You’d be surprised how many people are excited and eager to help you follow your dreams. It doesn’t take much effort to let someone know that you were excited to meet them and that you hope to remain in touch.

As my base of connections continues to grow, I feel as though I am standing on much more solid ground as I begin my career search. When I see an opportunity, I find a contact that may be able to offer expertise or another connection closer to the field, and I follow that path where it leads me. Having this support system, be it formal or informal, makes the process of finding your niche much easier than doing it alone.