Internship Blues

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

My journey of internship applications began fall term. I never kept track of how many I applied for, but it was an absurd amount. I ended up interviewing for 10 positions, and it was absolutely exhausting. 

Time after time, I was not selected and my confidence really took a hit. The worst case was when I got a call from an employer explaining it had come down to the wire between me and another candidate, and I just barely got edged out by this other person. My entire interpretation of the conversation was, “You were great, but there was just someone better.” Essentially, they called to make sure I could be the back-up plan if the chosen intern backed out down the road. The feeling that there would always be someone better persisted to eat  away at me despite the validation I’d received of being a strong candidate.

From then on, my motivation plummeted even though I kept interviewing. My heart never felt in it because I’d stopped believing in my own potential. Eventually—probably because a person can only be turned down so many times—I was offered positions from two different internships. Finally, it felt like the long slog of applications and interviews had paid off. However, I went from feeling extremely hopeful and excited to completely out of luck; I was forced to decline both due to start date issues and inadequate pay.

Now, it’s spring term and I’m still internship-less. I never believed the stories of how hard it is to land an internship, but I understand now having gone through the process myself. It required so much time, energy, optimism, and commitment. But in the famous words of Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” and so my search for an internship continues.

Academic Burnout

 

   By: Adair Bingham

The world of academia is almost entirely composed of never-ending stress, purposeful procrastination, and the always present fear of failure. Grades have, for many years of my life, been a huge indicator self-worth. For me, and most likely many others, grades are a means to measure not only self-worth, but also intelligence and one’s ability to succeed in the real world.

Only recently, especially since being in college, have I realized that there is a extremely unhealthy push for students to earn grades over 90 percent, particularly among those who were raised believing they were special or gifted. Among my peers, I have often heard complaints and lengthy rants about how Bs are considered to be subpar and signify that the student didn’t try hard enough. Not only is this an deleterious mindset, but it is especially harmful to one’s sense of motivation and ability to feel as if they can succeed.

If one feels as if they cannot properly succeed in school with class assignments and tests, and is then made to feel as if a B of all things is something to be upset about, then it really showcases the issues with modern academia.

The term “academic burnout” is thrown around quite a bit and often goes hand-in-hand with the feeling of grades determining self-worth. From all of my years in school, I can confidently report that academic burnout is a serious and often neglected problem. It’s important to be honest and upfront about this issue when it comes to freshman students, returning students, and even school faculty.

With Spring Term just beginning, I believe it’s important to acknowledge that college is supposed to be a place of learning. Students are going to make mistakes and that’s not only perfectly acceptable, but also expected, and should always be used as a learning opportunity, not as a setback.

As clichéd as it may sound, I believe it’s important for students to realize that, in the long run, it truly isn’t going to matter what grade you received, only that you graduated. One thing that has helped me overcome the hurdles associated with “good” and “bad” grades has been thinking more about the situation in the future, rather than the present. For example, in four short months, just how much is one grade you got on an assignment actually going to matter? Often-times, you’ll discover that answer is very little or none at all, and that, overall, your grades do not dictate your future happiness or success in the real world.

Think engineering students are smart, awkward nerds? Think again

By Wiwin Hartini

I still remember my first day at PSU as an electrical engineering transfer student from Clark Community College. I was excited and shocked. I was used to classes of about 20 and suddenly there were 100 students. I remember asking myself, “am I ready for this?” or “Is this how the program was set up?”

The truth is, as you take higher level courses, the class size gets smaller. But I didn’t think about that at the time. Also, as I have taken more engineering classes, I have learned more than just the subject. I’ve learned some “realities” of studying engineering. Here are a few:

You are more than smart.

Stop by PSU engineering building in the evening—7-8 p.m. is okay during weeks 8-10 of the term—and don’t be surprised to find a lot of other students. I’ve heard that some students stay overnight since most labs are available 24/7! And don’t worry, some of the food carts across from the engineering building are open in the evening, and if you need parts for your projects, there are vending machines! The point is, engineering students work very hard. It’s not just about being smart. It’s more about persistence.

Can you fix this?

I’d say that what we learn in an undergraduate engineering program is actually the fundamentals of applied physics. I took Electronics II, where we learned how to design a simple mini operational amplifier. We touch on many fields such as power, computers, signal processing, microelectronics, etc. It’s hard to be good at all of them, but engineering focuses on problem-solving methods. So, yes! Given reasonable time and resources, we can fix things.

Do we lack social and communication skills?

It’s a typical stereotype to say that engineers do not know how to start a conversation and prefer to work alone. I’ve learned that engineering requires a lot of “teamwork.” Can one person build a bridge? I spend my days in the basement of the Engineering Building working with students from many other countries, including U.S. students who’ve had work experience. We’ve had to learn to understand different perspectives and communicate creatively to get our projects done.

Portland area winter hikes part 2: Angel’s Rest

By Josh McCarroll

For my second winter hike I wanted to make a day trip out of it and get out of the city. I also wanted a place that was easy to find, and safely accessible for PSU students in the case of snow. I tried out Angel’s rest.

Angel’s Rest was one of the many previously closed Columbia River Gorge hikes that reopened at the end of November. The scars from the eagle creek fire remain, but this hike still boasts a beautiful view of the gorge for much of the hike.

If you are equipped with only a pair of rugged tennis shoes as I was, I would suggest going on a cold, dry day rather than a rainy day to avoid the mud. I went on a rainy Sunday and found this hike to be surprisingly crowded. Slippery, muddy stretches are broken up by rocky stretches like in the photo above and many hikers I saw on the trail braved puddles and mud with waterproof boots and hiking poles.

A friend in a moment of mild frustration with the mud and crowds

That said, in the end the hike pays off. The top of Angel’s rest is a wide open space with plenty of flat rocky sitting areas. Even on a crowded Sunday, I felt there was enough space on top that I could zone out and appreciate the view of the Gorge without feeling cramped or in anyone’s way.

A view of Rooster Rock State Park and Sand Island near the top of the hike.

If you want a less crowded journey to the top, I would suggest going early on a weekday. There is no day pass or parking payment required. The hike is just a 30 minute drive east on the I-84. Take exit # 28/Bridal Veil. Follow Bridal Veil road until a stop sign where you will turn right onto the Historic Columbia River Hwy. The parking lot for the trailhead is immediately on the right.

PSU Accreditation Scare, Not So Scary

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

The PSU Vanguard recently published an article about PSU’s accreditation status. As of January 2019, PSU has two years to improve how it defines and assesses student learning outcomes. Less than half of PSU’s programs have sufficient plans to assess student learning, and accreditation requires that number to increase above 50% by 2021. If PSU fails to comply with these standards, the university risks probation and after that loss of accreditation. Losing accreditation is a big deal, as it means the loss of federal funding. 

Upon first reading this article and talking about it amongst my peers, we were all under the impression that PSU was already on probation when it is not. In this mix of misunderstanding, I’d started researching what a diploma from an unaccredited university meant for job and graduate school opportunities. All of my upperclassmen friends were thanking their lucky stars that they’d be graduating within a year regardless. In reality, we had no idea what the accreditation process and continuing verification looked like for a university. One thing that the PSU Vanguard article didn’t mention was that accreditation status is evaluated and reaffirmed in a seven-year cycle. PSU was last evaluated in 2015, and the next evaluation is in 2022. Additionally, the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities, which governs the accreditation of regional universities, does not have a defined time period for probation. So while PSU has two years to fix the current student learning assessment problem, it could actually amount to several more years.

All in all, I know this article caused a level of fear amongst my peers. I know that I had never even considered what it would mean for a university to lose accreditation and what that would mean for myself and the entire student body. However, looking at the accreditation process as a whole puts everything in perspective. PSU has a lot of time to fix the current issue, and remains accredited at least until 2022—and hopefully for many years to come. 

Homesick? Here’s what I do

By Wiwin Hartini

It’s almost been three years since the last time I saw my family at home in Indonesia. I often think that it’s not that long ago until I suddenly miss home badly. I miss speaking my native language, eating cheap local food, being with my family and friends and enjoying the tropical weather.

It feels funny and lonely sometimes when the people around you speak a totally different language, have hair and skin that are different from yours and find things humorous that  I need to think about sometimes. Is this real? All I want at that time is to be home watching my family’s favorite movie chosen by my younger brothers. It’s good to feel this way to some extent because it makes me appreciate the time I get to spend with people here in the U.S., which will not be forever.

Recognizing this feeling is also hard when you’re trying to look like you’re fine all the time. But I think it is important to be aware of it because it can happen to anyone at any time.

Here are a  few things that I found work for me when I feel like I just want to go back home.

Get busy with activities you enjoy

Getting involved in clubs, organizations or working on campus can shift our thoughts. Working on campus has been a good tool for me because I have to think about getting my work done and learn new job skills.

Try those food carts around PSU

I would say this is my favorite activity when I am thinking about food at home. At least, I get to try different types of food at the carts across Fourth Avenue from the Engineering building. My favorite is Pho, and yes, the first time I tried it was actually in the U.S.

Less social media

It gets frustrating sometimes when you look at your friends’ social media and they seem so happy without you, isn’t it? Well, I’m happy when they’re happy, but I feel like I’m missing something. This feeling can trigger homesickness too. So, use social media wisely; such as actually to communicate instead of looking at people’s posts only.

The U.S. is big, travel if you can!

It doesn’t have to be expensive; small trips with friends can be fun. The idea is to create activities we can look forward to. My friend from China and I are planning to visit San Francisco this spring break. The fun part so far is trying to figure out the places that are worth visiting.

Remember the reason we’re here

Why am I here? Answering this question helps me during difficult times.

There are more to share, but I hope whoever is experiencing homesickness doesn’t feel alone anymore.

The Unspoken Truth Of College

 

adbi2 By: Adair Bingham

Before I moved from home to live in in my own dormitory in September of 2017, my head was filled with false narratives and elaborate ideas about what college life is like. I was always led to believe that it was an endless hustle and bustle: wild parties left and right, new romantic partners at every turn and reckless decisions made just for the fun of it.

I’m in my second year of university, and I haven’t experienced any of these things. What I have undergone isn’t cruel or unusual. It’s simply the strange truths of college life which many students like to sweep under the rug.

After I graduated from high school, I was playing my faux “cool guy” persona, trying to fool myself into believing that I was prepared to live on my own.  If I had the power to turn back time and let myself know what college life is truly like, I think that I’d be both relieved and horribly confused.

One thing that definitely seems to be a disregarded problem is laundry. Everyone is well aware of the fact that college isn’t cheap, and if you’re living in the dorms, this fact hits even harder. College students want to save as much money as they possibly can, leaving some people to skimp out on weekly laundry hauls. Nobody ever told me to prepare for the fact that you may have to wear the same outfit for two or three weeks on end. Granted, nobody is going to say anything (hopefully), but you’ll definitely feel like you perpetually stink.

Another thing people conventionally forget in their college stories is what can only be described as the gladiator battle for seating in classes. One thing that I have discovered (and seems to be a universal experience amongst my peers) is that if someone happens to sit in your typical seat, your entire day is thrown off balance.

In the same vein, one key piece of advice that I would give to upcoming college students is to always scope out your classes prior to the first day. I cannot even begin to describe the primal sense of fear that surges through your body when you cannot find a class. It is one of the worst things to experience.

Another thing that many neglect to tell you is that literally nobody is going to pass judgement onto you for what you wear, what your interests are, or anything of that superficial nature. I came into college fearing disdain from my peers, but no one has batted an eye at me for any of my interests, tastes, or anything of the sort.

If I could go back in time to tell myself one thing, it would be to not be afraid of the people, the atmosphere, or living on my own. You’ll encounter bumps in the road and minor hiccups along the way, but you are prepared to be in college and you’ll be just fine, despite your doubts.