Photo credit to hercampus.com http://www.hercampus.com/career/career-how-tos/5-ways-fight-senioritis-land-job-after-graduation

The Graduation Blues

Brooke HornBy Brooke Horn

I have a countdown app installed on my cell phone. It has three events on it: Portfolio Due, Thesis Defense, and Commencement, each with their own countdown timer. It tells me that I have six days left to finish my portfolio, thirty-six days left to panic about my thesis, and fifty-nine days until I will (with any luck) walk across the stage at the Moda Center, beaming, having earned a Master’s degree in Writing and Book Publishing.

That day feels both terrifyingly close and impossibly far away. There is so much to do before then, so much that could go wrong. And yet, even though it feels like my two-year degree program started yesterday, I feel confident. My education and experiences have equipped me with both a unique range of skills and, perhaps more importantly, the confidence to go forth into the mysterious beyond of post-graduation adulthood.

Never mind that I still waited until the last possible minute to file my taxes this year, or that I opt for pizza and Netflix instead of cooking a real meal more than I’d like to admit.

Over the past two years, I’ve juggled a full graduate course load, 2-3 jobs and internships each term, a serious relationship, and a leadership position on campus. Both of my parents were hospitalized due to medical conditions within the last few months too. To be frank, I’ve been a walking bundle of stress.

Keep-Calm-and-GraduateIf I could pass along one piece of advice to my fellow students, it would be this: learn how to manage your stress. Because you will, inevitably, face a point in your life when everything seems to come crashing down. Knowing how to relax, how to let go and take care of yourself – these are things that I never learned until I really needed them, and looking back, I wish I had learned them sooner. Now I know better: I recognize my limitations, and I listen to my body when it tells me to slow down, go for a walk, or pour a bubble bath.

But thankfully, both of my parents are recovering, my portfolio is coming along nicely, and my friends have been both patient and supportive. I bounced back. I’ve made lasting relationships – both professional and otherwise – and worked with some truly talented authors, students, and educators in my program. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I look forward to the future waiting on the other side of that stage.

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Why I Left the Vanguard

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By Shezad Khan

  • I didn’t get paid the first three months I worked for the Vanguard. The director lost my paperwork which included some sensitive information. It was later found after I was asked to fill all the forms out a second time.
  • One of my articles was attributed to someone else. This one really upset me. How can you take the time, work, and effort of a writer and put someone else’s name on it? I only heard from the chief editor once via a short email. Nothing was done to correct the problem. I was told the following issue would offer clarification. It didn’t. It was a stupid error for the Vanguard to make, and the way they handled the problem was nothing but a slap in the face.
  • They cut our pay by 33% (the least of my worries). For months I was making $45 per article if my articles were over a certain word count. After a new managing editor and a new editor for my section arrived, however, our pay was dropped to $30 dollars. Why? Because apparently the last managing editor had been mistaken about our pay. So it didn’t matter how long of an article we wrote, the pay would be the same. Did they bother to tell me that before I wrote articles nearing or reaching a thousand words? Of course not.
  • They changed the title of my article – twice. When this happened with the new editor, I was told that these things happen all the time. This would be the deciding factor in my choice to leave the Vanguard. I wrote an email asking why they would change the title without telling the writer, or why they wouldn’t give the writer the chance to come up with a new title if they didn’t think the original title was sufficient. The answer I received was that it would simply be a waste of time for the Vanguard to consider the writer’s thoughts. It doesn’t matter to me if publications feel they “have the right” to do this, I still think it’s wrong.
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Tuition increases, this is really happening right now…

By: Sharon Nellist

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The PSU Board of Trustees will meet tomorrow, March 12, to vote on the proposed tuition increase for the 2015-16 academic year.

The potential 5% increase will leave resident undergraduate and graduate students paying around $330 more each year. Non-resident students will have to pick up the tab with $500 more each year.*

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Students are affected by tuition increases: fewer enroll, they graduate later based on the course load they can afford, work longer hours at demanding jobs that interfere with academic performance, and drop out because they do not have enough money and cannot get more!

PSU’s Board of Trustees claims that the potential increase is due to flat enrollment, decreased state support, increase in costs, and the previously negotiated salary increases.*

Higher education is an important part of our country’s economic advancement. Free higher education, as in other developed countries, would ultimately save money with a $15-$30 billion investment. The staggering 70% of Americans who start college and do not graduate is evidence to the billions of dollars currently wasted. The more people there are in college, because they can actually afford it, the less unemployed people there would be seeking government assistance. College graduates without debt would stimulate the economy with the money they do have. Also, an educated society reports a higher level of health and happiness. (Bob Samuels Huffington Post)

I kept my tuition loans low by attending a community college before transferring to Portland State; however, with the consistent increases, I am seriously worried that I will be unable to get the funding for graduate school.

Our Student Body President Eric Noll is raising a rallying cry against the increase to put pressure on the board. Students are encouraged to gather in front of the Millar Library from noon to 1 p.m. this Thursday. #NOSTUDENTVOICEPDX

What do you say? Hope to see you there!

*Proposed agenda for the PSU Board of Trustees Meeting March 12, 2015

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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Slow ride, Take it easy

By: Sharon Nellist

I admire and sympathize at the same time with those who take more than the recommended full-time classes and are involved in every other school organization and club in hopes to save a bit of money and graduate sooner than expected. Because I once was that student – and it is certainly not for everyone.

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Perhaps it is that I am a returning full-time student, in my late twenties, married, making a car payment, working several outside jobs in order to pay rent, and I’m not opposed to starting a family while trying to have the most quintessential young college experience.

What I have realized is that it is possible for everyone to have this experience, even me, but you need to know how to balance these things and maintain your sanity.

  • For me I know I need 12 credit hours, no more or less, for optimal learning
  • That suggests that I have 24 hours total of study time
  • I save money by bringing food instead of eating at delicious food carts – allows for some creativity, or lack thereof
  • My job as a nanny gives me the flexibility around my school schedule, as it is my priority
  • I budget using a spreadsheet, they are not just for old people – I can cut back on my student loans this year!
  • I am part of PSU Crew (campus rowing team), yes at 5:30 a.m. every morning, and I work for the student blog – minimal commitment allows me to focus on my involvement
  • And then, there is a whole day allotted for spending time with my husband or friends – we frequent the Saturday Market on campus

My degree may take an extra term or two to complete, but I most likely will not have a mental breakdown, my personal life will be unharmed, and I will succeed well enough to go on to Grad school and still have my perfect college experience.

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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.

Sharon 6

Relating to a ’60s radical

By: Sharon Nellist

I was merely ONE among a sold-out crowd listening to the lovely Angela Davis speak her words of great wisdom in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Portland State University on Jan. 21, 2015.

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A year ago when I came to PSU, I never would have thought to attend such an event, simply because I never have before. I also have never thought of myself as a very accurate representative of diversity – I am a white female, how would I make a difference?

Angela Davis told me otherwise.

She spoke about changing the way we see the world by thinking beyond our assumptions – having a broader consciousness because what happens to an individual has worldly reverberations.

She helped me to realize that diversity is not the separation of identity but the coming together of every unique individual.

We are privileged at Portland State University to have an abundance of diverse resources and events to expose ourselves to in our campus community.

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Lives matter. And the only way to ensure that they matter is to educate yourself, to have a passion and a voice, and people will hear you. As Angela Davis spoke these words, she reminded me that it is my responsibility, our responsibility, simply because we are a member of humanity.

We have to act as if it were possible to change the world – Angela Davis

#PSUdiversity  – to see what people said about Angela Davis’ keynote address at PSU