Photo credit to Shockoe.com

Real Talk About Internships

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Photo credit to Internships.com

Brooke HornBy Brooke Horn

We’ve heard it before: Internships are a key part of your education. They provide valuable experience, they present networking opportunities, they look good on your resume, they help you transition from academia to the workplace, etc. We get it already. They’re important. What’s lacking in the conversation about internships (at least the ones I’m hearing) is how to really make them work for you. I’ve had three so far, and I’ll be the first to admit I made a few mistakes along the way. Here’s what I learned from them.

Like any relationship, it’s important to know what you want going into one so that both parties are on the same page. I’ve seen internships range from one to six months in length and require anywhere between one and 25-plus hours per week. Before you do anything else, figure out how much time you can realistically devote to interning. I made the mistake of overestimating how much time I had to give, and as a result, I’m writing this blog post at 4am. Sleep is important too, as is scheduling time for things that help you relax and genuinely make you happy.

When you interview, remember that it goes both ways. You should be asking questions and making sure that this internship will be mutually beneficial. Some things to consider: Will this internship provide you with new skills, or do they expect you to already be competent? Do you need to generate work samples for a portfolio, and if so, will this internship help you do that? Are you going to be exposed to networking opportunities? Will you be working on your own or as part of a team? Telecommuting? Not only will you impress your potential employer, but your internship experience will be that much more rewarding because you know what you want out of it.

Finally, no internship discussion is complete without acknowledging the elephant in the room: compensation. The ethics surrounding paid vs. unpaid internships deserve a blog post – or even a book – all their own, but I’ll say this: I’ve had one paid and two unpaid internships, and they ALL were irreplaceable parts of my education. It may seem incredibly unfair to have to pay tuition and fees for seemingly free labor, but you aren’t really working for free. You are gaining otherwise unattainable experience, academic credit, and networking connections. In many cases, you are also helping small businesses stay afloat in a difficult economy. My internship with local independent publisher Hawthorne Books taught me not only about publishing, but how small businesses interact with their communities.

In short, don’t just sign up for an internship to fill a requirement or a line on your resume. Be selective, know what you want and what you have time for, and do your research. Seriously… internships quite literally changed the course of my education. If you’d like to know more, feel free to ask in the comments. I’m out of room here, but I’m always happy to help a fellow student.

If you’re on the hunt, the following resources are super helpful:

  1. PSU’s Career Center
  2. PSU’s Jobs & Internships Database
  3. Career Workshops, Classes, & Events
  4. 10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Internship
  5. Pinterest’s surprisingly good internship advice
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For the Sake of My Sanity, Please Change the PSU Payment Plan!

By: Chelsea WareChelsea 2

I am an out of state student and PSU has offered me many opportunities and experiences that I wouldn’t have if I went to school back home. I have fallen in love with Oregon and don’t plan on leaving when I graduate. That being said, being an out of state student has also been expensive. While loans and help from family make my education possible, it’s hard not to cringe every time my quarterly bill is posted.

The PSU payment plan has given me even more reason to cringe. Implemented fall quarter of 2014, the payment plan allows students to pay their tuition in three installments due on the 6th of each month. If a payment is missed, we are charged a $100 late fee. However, all students, not just those on the payment plan, must have a zero balance on their Banweb account on the 6th of each month. If they do not, they are automatically enrolled in the plan and charged the $100 fee. While I paid my tuition in full at the beginning of the term, I was charged the late fee because I didn’t know that I had a small bill from the student health clinic that had been posted the day before.

College is a privilege, and many students struggle to afford an education so that they can better their future. There are many international, out of state, low income and minority students who have unique funding structures that don’t mesh with PSU’s new plan. Some students I know didn’t get their financial aid before the 6th of the month, which happened to be only a few days into the term this winter. As a result they now have late fees to add to their already growing student debt.

PSU used to structure their payment system like many universities in Oregon do today. A 1-2% interest is added to outstanding payments each billing cycle. Therefore, the late fee is a reasonable amount compared to the student’s outstanding balance. I personally would like to see PSU go back to this system, what do you guys think?

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On Courage and the Humble Compost Pail

By Olivia Clarke

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If I stick my head out of my apartment window, I can see that the ground is littered with discarded food: two whole onions, yellow peppers, decomposing noodles. Someone above me has been tossing this stuff out of the window all year. Each time we notice new scraps, my roommate and I look vaguely upward and shake our fists: “How irresponsible!”

Next to that kitchen window sits my new compost pail. Like many students who live on campus, I returned from a final exam last term to find it sitting on my counter, shiny and expectant. It has a convenient handle, and an eye-catching label with instructions that read, “In: coffee grounds, soiled napkins, veggie scraps. Out: liquids, Styrofoam, all plastics.” The pail is straightforward and easy to use. And the thing is, I know that Food Tosser above me has one too. Yet he or she continues to chuck food into the dirt.

But maybe that’s what makes the compost pail so special. The folks at the Campus Sustainability Office know what they’re up against when they try to encourage change: old habits, laziness, lack of understanding. They know plenty of students think composting is gross, and would much sooner throw their scraps in the garbage – or out the window – and forget about them. Nonetheless, here are these compost pails. Stationed in each housing unit on West Campus, they remind me of brave little soldiers, perpetuating Portland’s relentless environmental spirit in the face of all obstacles.

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Three Tips for Staying Organized

Brooke HornBy Brooke Horn

As a graduate student, I’ve learned the hard way that time management and organization can be your best friends when used properly — and your bitterest enemies when not. The modern student isn’t JUST a student anymore: most of us juggle jobs, internships, volunteering, creative projects, and relationships too. As the term really gets underway, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. On the bright side, there are a lot of useful tools and tricks out there to help you stay on top of things. Here are a few that have really made a difference for me:

  1. Trello. This is my go-to app whenever I work on a collaborative project. You can create virtual assignment cards, which are organized within themed boards. You can also assign tasks, add due dates, create checklists, upload files, and color-code to your heart’s content.
  2. Wunderlist. This app is your standard to-do list on steroids. Similar to Trello, you can share task lists with others as well as set up due dates and reminders. I use this app for my personal lists because of its simplicity. I keep one for homework assignments, one for events I want to go to, and one for groceries.
  3. Labeling in Gmail. Seriously, this is a game-changer if you receive a high volume of mail. I use labels such as “reply,” “education,” and “finances.” You can even create sub-labels, assign colors, and adjust your settings so that your mail is automatically labeled and sorted.

What tools and tricks help you stay organized?

Marilynn

How to rent a $160 textbook for $47

By: Marilynn Sandoval

At last, summer term classes are almost wrapping up. One thing that has always bothered me, and I’m sure other students as well, is the price of college textbooks,  especially when summer classes are extremely short and we use these books for only a few weeks.

This summer I have a required textbook that costs about $160 to buy new and about $87 to rent. As you can see, this is quite an expensive book. Looking through Amazon, Chegg, and other miscellaneous websites can sometimes be helpful in finding a cheaper book, but that requires waiting for the textbook to arrive to your home.

Here’s a neat money-saving trick I found: Portland State Bookstore, owned by Neebo Inc., has a best price promise guarantee. In other words, if we show the bookstore a lower price frobooksssm either a local bookstore or online accredited retailer, they pledge to beat the price by 10 percent. I did this and was able to rent  my $160 book for $47, and I didn’t have to wait for my copy in the mail.

I completely suggest this method if you want to save some cash! Do you guys have any other ways to save money on books that you would like to share?

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Permanent change from temporary work

By: Sharon Jackson

Anxiously awaiting to embark on my grand excursion to England in a few weeks, I have taken up a few temp jobs this summer. What I absolutely love about temp work is that you could call it a “paid internship.” Temp jobs are a fantastic opportunity to work, gain valuable skills, and begin potentially beneficial relationships at various businesses, non-profits, etc. in the Portland metro area – and believe me, they pay decently too. Nonetheless, there are the occasional experiences that can change your perspective of the world.

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I recently spent a week at Neighborhood House, a non-profit that helps families facing hunger and homelessness by providing food, shelter, distributing grants toward rent or energy bills, and school programs for underprivileged children. It is nothing less than despairing to be enduring times like these. I know as I once lived out of my car for eight months with little work and hardly enough money for food. The people seeking assistance at the Neighborhood House should be frustrated, and rightly so. However, most people had their electricity shut off and others were there for food, but everyone held onto their hope and had a sense of humanity. These people were giving up their chairs for one another, listening for others numbers to be called for their appointments, and when they were given food or enough money to turn their electricity back on, they were extremely grateful and thanked us profusely.

What I love about temp jobs such as this one is the joy I feel for helping people in need, and the joy I feel seeing hope alive in humanity. The money is a delightful bonus, as any college student can comprehend, but it is the experiences that weigh-in the most.

Eat like a caveman, become lean like caveman?

paleo dietBy Mario Quintana

The definition of a diet, according to Merriam-Webster, means food and drink regularly provided or consumed, habitual nourishment, or the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason. And for many, that special reason is to lose weight for a specific occasion or for their health. Some will try numerous diets and various exercise regimens to accomplish said goal. A few months ago, I jumped on the bandwagon and started the paleo diet in order to lean out.

Simply described, the paleo diet uses the logic that our ancestors only had access to meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fats from some of these these sources. Therefore, it excludes agricultural productions such as grains, dairy, legumes, refined salt, refined sugar, potatoes, and processed oils from one’s diet. At first glance, the paleo diet makes sense and even more so here in Portland. One month into the diet, I noticed a change in weight. However, I soon began to continuously feel lethargic, exhausted, and weak.

The paleo diet reasons that by consuming little to no carbohydrates, the body will naturally use up all the stored fat one has for energy. You lose weight and become lean like our ancestors were. However, there is no substantial evidence to support that our ancestors followed this diet. Up to 60% of the paleo diet heavily focuses on eating meat and fats. That percentage is simply too high for the average sedentary person, even for those who exercise, and even for world-class athletes. As for the weight that I lost, and much to my dismay, most of it turned out to be mostly muscle.

Eating healthy and exercising daily may be hard to start for many, but perhaps what’s even worse is doing both based on fads or what’s popular. In other words, one needs to research scientifically peer reviewed information on nutrition and kinesiology to understand the human body to successfully change it and maintain it. For those interested, I suggest reading Dr. T. Colin Campbell ‘s research.