Five Ways to Stay Sharp Over Summer Vacation

By: Annie Burnham

Summer always seems to pass too quickly. I’m in total shock that it’s almost July. I’ve been working on campus all summer, but I still feel like I’ve gotten so out of school mode that it will be something akin to culture shock in the fall when classes start.

So how do you stay sharp over the summer? Here are five suggestions for keeping your wits over the break:

  1. Read! You don’t have to read textbooks to keep your mind engaged. One thing I look forward to most about the summer is that I can read for fun again.  Fiction is my preference for the summer. During the school year, I’m too busy doing schoolwork to read fiction, so it’s a nice treat over summer. I’m trying to take advantage of my iPad as well and use the iBooks app to find the free books. You can also check out Good Reads for suggestions. Nonfiction is an area I’m slowly coming to appreciate. Biographies of some of the great figures in history are appearing on my to-read list. Just go walk around the WP_20130625_003 nonfiction section of one of the local libraries – you might be surprised at what you find. Maybe you like current events. If so, you should check out Tim’s blog from two weeks ago. He goes into the benefits of keeping up-to-date on news. No matter what your preference is, reading is a great way to stay sharp over the summer.
  2. Volunteer. Donate your time to a cause that you love. I volunteer most weekends with All Aboard Animal Rescue, a non-profit in Fort Collins that saves dogs from high-kill shelters around the West. Whatever cause or organization you choose to volunteer for, be sure to ask questions, try new things, and enjoy it. Not only will you be doing something good for others, but you will also have the chance to make some great connections. Sometimes volunteer work allows you to gain experience that will one day be invaluable when you enter the professional world. To find out more ways to volunteer, visit United Way.
  3. Exercise. This summer I’ve made it my goal to hit the gym five mornings a week. For the most part, I’ve stuck to that and I can tell throughout the work day my energy level is better. Exercise reduces stress and helps you feel better overall, whether you are working behind a desk or completing a high-energy internship. Maybe you are feeling adventurous. If you are around Fort Collins, you should take advantage of how bike friendly this community is. Or drive west a few miles and explore some of the hiking trails. I really want to try to hike the A by Hughes Stadium at least once before school starts in August. Or maybe for you, being adventurous is trying out that Zumba or kickboxing class. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you enjoy.
  4. Rest. Most of the time, I feel like I’m running 90 miles an hour in 10 different directions. As a culture, I feel we’ve lost the ability to just sit down and relax. Rest doesn’t have to mean sleeping. Most days, some of us from the CoB office will get up and walk over to the Lory Student Center and grab a soda. Taking a break from the computer helps me focus better when we get back. Even sitting down to relax for a half-hour break will improve your ability to concentrate on other tasks throughout your day. Make sure to lounge and sleep enough, even if you are working or interning.
  5. Set Goals. This might be the most important of all five tips. For me, this is what is driving my productivity this summer. I set a few goals back in May that I’ll share:
    1. Read at least 5 books for fun over the summer
    2. Workout five times a week
    3. Complete the first draft of a novel
    4. Write out and stick to a budget

Whatever your goal is, make sure you find someone to hold you accountable. This will increase your chances of success. Giving yourself a few benchmarks to meet throughout the summertime also will increase your productivity and keep you sharp for the fall semester.

As we reach the halfway point in summer break, take time to sit back and evaluate the last month and a half. What have you done? Make sure you are taking time for yourself, resting and being proactive with your health. Set goals to achieve this summer – maybe the goal is to get eight hours of sleep each night or to read ten new books by the end of summer vacation. Whether you are taking summer classes, working full time, or at home relaxing, remember that you can apply these tips anywhere.

What do you do to stay sharp during the summer? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments below.


Q&A with a Recruiter

employment stock photo

by Tim Pate

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the person who may or may not hire you is looking for? I thought so as well; that’s why I contacted Mandy Dicker, national sales recruiter for Total Quality Logistics and friend of the College of Business. I asked Dicker exactly what makes her notice a potential hire – and what puts resumes on the fast track to the trash.

Read our conversation below to learn how you can capture the attention of a recruiter and land your next job.

Q: Generally speaking, what characteristics do you look for in the ideal candidate? 

A: Confident, hardworking (worked while in college, played sports or involved with organizations/clubs), energetic, and positive.

Q: What in a cover letter grabs your attention? 

A: Short, concise, and directed specifically at the position and industry.

Q: What is the most common mistake applicants make on their resumes? 

A: Applicants don’t align their objective statement to the position they are applying to. I would recommend removing the objective statement if applicants are applying to too many positions to keep track of.

Q: Many jobs have hundreds of applicants. What makes individuals stand out above the crowd? 

A: Tailoring the resume to align with the specific position they are applying to. If they are given a chance to interview, it’s important to be conversational and make themselves memorable during the interview.

Q: What is the most common mistake applicants make in interviews? 

A: Applicants don’t prepare for the interview with any research about the company or position. As a result, they don’t have any questions for the interviewer which shows an overall lack of interest.

Q: What would you say to job seekers who are feeling discouraged? 

A: Keep trying, try to get as much feedback as possible, and learn from this feedback.

Are you a recruiter? If so, what makes a candidate memorable? If you are not a recruiter, what have you done to make your cover letter, resume, or interview one that sticks in the mind of the recruiter? 

Become a Consumer of News

By Tim Pate

GlobeNothing is isolated any more.  Last semester I took my business minor capstone class, Contemporary Business Topics – International Business, taught by Asad Aziz, a lecturer in the Department of Management. At the beginning of each class session, Aziz started by running through a list of what he considered to be the 10 most important news items of the day. Often these headlines didn’t appear to have any connection to the business world, but Aziz asked us why they might be important for a business person to know. What Aziz taught me was that being aware of news from around the world is essential making informed decisions, and I’d like to expand on that idea in this post.

The world is growing ever more connected, and what happens across the globe has increasing potential to affect you at home. As U.S. businesses develop in markets outside of the States, they must diligently pay attention to world events. However, the ripple created by these events extends beyond international businesses. A technology invented in India could change your daily routine. The United States’ relationship with a European nation could impact how you vote. The political climate of a country you’ve never visited could change your investment decisions.

You know that T.Rowe Price commercial that says, “…we understand the connections of a complex, global economy”? Well, it’s important that you do, too. Maybe you don’t need to have the same depth of knowledge as an investing firm, but at least being aware of what’s happening in the world is sure to serve you in your decision-making process.

The best part is that this information is readily available to you. The news doesn’t only come to you in the morning in the form of a paper on your doorstep – it’s everywhere. This also means that it doesn’t take extraordinary effort on your part to gather the information. Follow a few news sources on social media, read blogs, tune into news channel every now and then – these are all easy ways to gain this critical information, even if only by osmosis.

It’s important to follow news that goes beyond your field of interest, as I discussed in regard to Aziz’s class. Certainly stay up-to-date with trends in your industry, but also make sure that you know about the big happenings that could potentially affect your business in an indirect or unexpected way. News aggregating sources such as Feedly, Pulse, and Flipboard make browsing all kinds of news easy, and I highly recommend utilizing these resources.

As business students and professionals, being informed is paramount. What sets many business leaders apart from the crowd is that they can see the relationship between seemingly disconnected events and apply that knowledge to the decisions they make. If you make a habit of building your database of knowledge, you’ll just be one step closer to achieving that success.

Business students and alumni: What do you do to stay informed? How has it helped in your business or personal decision-making process? Share your thoughts in the comments below.