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Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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    Roommate Rules: Communication paves the way for a positive roommate experience

    Sydney Fredette
    (This the first post in our Roommate Rules series. Be sure to check out the second and third posts, too, for more great advice for a successful roommate relationship!)

    Roommate relationships vary from person to person, but it is safe to say that your relationship with your roommate often shapes your college experience in one way or another. Whether you and your roommate are best friends, constantly tied at the hip, or you barely speak to one another, these interactions (or lack thereof) can have a lasting impact on your happiness and success during college and beyond. When it comes to roommates, my experiences have taught me a lot about myself – both the good and the not-so-good. Finding out your roommate stays up all night, and sleeps during the day is crazy; conversations about that pile of dirty dishes in the sink can be tricky. However, everyone aims to live in harmony in one way or another, and with these quick tips and tricks and a little bit of communication, you can make your living situation feel like heaven. 

    Set rules and expectations first!

    To prevent any major complications down the road, it is important to set some boundaries. This starts on move-in day. Make sure you discuss who gets what bed, closet, towel hooks, drawers, etc., so that the distribution of different amenities is equal. The worst thing you can do is to claim something as yours without talking to your roommate first. Having an open discussion about what your preferences are and what you would be willing to compromise on will give you a great start to your year.

    Depending on whether you have multiple roommates or just one, you can go about this differently. With one roommate, an open conversation about expectations can help you get on the same page concerning things such as chores, guests, quiet hours, and cleanliness. Creating a roommate contract is perfect for setting rules and sticking to them. Editing and revising the contract each semester can be useful in updating and adapting to each of your expectations. A fun way to set expectations with multiple roommates is to have each roommate write down their own ideas and then compare lists. Recognize which you have in common and add them to your roommate contract! 

    You don’t have to be best friends

    Becoming instant best friends with your roommate feels great in the moment, but in my experience it prevented me from going out of my comfort zone and meeting different types of people. I spent so much time with my roommate that I missed out expanding my own social circle. Break out on your own a few times a week; you’ll find new interests and passions. This is especially true during your first year of college or when you move to a new city; you’ll want to make time to explore different places and groups of people. I’m not saying that you can’t be best friends with your roommate – just remember to make time for other friends and activities.

    Create a connection

    Even if you don’t end up as best friends, or even “kinda friends” with your roommate, everyone should feel comfortable in their own home! Having a fun tradition with your roommates can bring you all together and create a cozy environment. Activities such as Sunday morning coffee, baking cookies on Friday night, or a specified cleaning & music day can help you all stay connected. Last year, my roommates and I got together every night at 9:45 PM to dance to our favorite song and relieve some stress from our day. It really helped us connect with each other, talk about anything that had been bugging us that day, and end the day on a good note.

    Keep it clean and constructive

    Find some fun ways to spice up chore assignments. My roommates and I used a classic chore chart matrix rotating who did what chore every week. “Saturday Morning Cleaning Concerts” were also very popular in our apartment. Every other Saturday morning, my roommates and I would wake up to deep-clean our kitchen and common area of the apartment while listening to our favorite songs and dancing!

    Living with 3 other people can get frustrating at times, and in order to prevent arguments and unhealthy conflict, we set up a jar in our living room to write out anonymous requests and constructive criticism. This way, we could discuss the issues that may be bothering one or more members of the apartment.

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    Navigating an Internship from Start to Finish

    Sydney Fredette

    Interning has been one of the most valuable experiences I have gained during college. I was even fortunate enough to get an internship abroad. No matter what your ideal internship setting is, the most essential steps in seeking an internship include: searching, preparing, performing, and following-up. Navigate your internship from start to finish by adhering to these steps.

    Searching for internship opportunities

    You may feel a bit overwhelmed when you first begin the search for an internship and that is totally normal! I remember calling my mom in a frenzy, completely convinced that I was behind everyone else in my internship experience. She reminded me that everyone is on their own path, and the search for a job is not as important as the search for experience. 

    Before beginning your search for the “perfect” internship, it is important to define what “perfect” is to you. Brainstorm what you would like to gain from this experience, and what skills you will bring to the table. 

    Next, examine your personal network. Think of anyone in your life who could give insight into the field you’re interested in or could point you in the right direction for a valuable experience. As they say, “It’s about who you know.” If you do not have connections with anyone in the field you’re interested in, don’t freak out. Websites such as WayUp, Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn are valuable resources to utilize in your search for an internship – just make sure you’re continuously checking and updating your accounts! 

    When you get an interview, think back to what you’d like to gain and what skills you could bring to the internship. Understanding your own motivations will help you articulate your goals to a potential employer. For more information about interviewing skills, check out this link.

    Preparing for your internship role

    Once you’ve secured a position with a company, revisit your thoughts on what you wanted to gain from an internship experience. Sharpening your focus before you arrive on your first day will prepare you to answer the common questions of “Why are you here?” and “What do you want to gain out of this?” that many of your curious co-workers and superiors may ask. I was very surprised that people were so interested in why I wanted to be there and was relieved that I had reflected deeply on this question before showing up on the first day!

    Following the news and tracking the stock of the company that you will be working for is an effective way to learn the current trends and developments of the company. The more you know, the better you will be able to articulate your questions and ideas. The News App, Google Alerts, and Yahoo! Finance are among reliable and useful sources to gather information beforehand. 

    Performing on the job

    Whew! You made it. You’re finally starting the first day of your internship after searching, waiting, interviewing, waiting some more, and preparing. But wait – you still have to actually work. Searching for and preparing for this day was only half the battle. Now it’s time to show what you’re made of!

    Every task in a company is important. No matter what position you have or tasks you are asked to do, it is important to utilize the word “yes.” Take every opportunity you can to complete every task, even if it doesn’t fall within your job description. Who knows? You may find joy in something you would have never thought that you’d like. Any opportunity is a good opportunity to learn and grow as a person, and making yourself available to different teams shows your enthusiasm and openness to work.

    Weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your immediate supervisor are an important way to receive feedback, clarify and adapt your goals, and voice your thoughts.

    Following up after your internship

    As your internship comes to an end, it is important to show your gratitude and express what you learned while working at the company during an exit meeting. If no meeting is scheduled, ask your supervisor to meet with you to give you constructive criticism and feedback, and recap your experience working for them.

    If you haven’t already, request to connect on LinkedIn with those co-workers you think would be valuable to have in your network. Include a short message telling them what you enjoyed about working with them, and let them know that you’re excited to connect with them.

    Lastly, handwritten thank-you notes are a personal and thoughtful gesture to further express your appreciation for those you’ve worked closely with. In these notes, you should include what you took away from the experience, bringing up specific and personal examples from your time with the recipient. Close with a statement of salutations and action such as “Thank you for your time and effort to mentor me, and I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.”

    During my own internship experience abroad I learned about not only a business, but also about the role that their culture had on their work. Whether you have an internship in America or internationally, I challenge you jump in wholeheartedly and have the best time doing so! 


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    My Internship Experience - Abroad!

    Sydney Fredette

    This past summer, I had the opportunity to intern abroad in Krakow, Poland. Now, I know what you’re thinking- why in the world would I travel thousands of miles for a summer internship? I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone by challenging myself to gain a more global view of business. My corporate experience had strictly been based in America before I had the opportunity to go abroad. Working with skilled professionals at the IBM Client Innovation Center in Poland gave me a chance to appreciate the importance of cultural understanding and diversity.

    My Experience

    As a leadership development intern at IBM, I was quickly immersed in the culture of the company. I participated in client visits, boot camps, seminars, and discussions of a variety of topics with IBM’s specialists. One of the most enlightening aspects of working for IBM was meeting for lunch with “IBMers” from functional divisions of the company. Not only did I hear firsthand about the role that their culture and background had on their work, but also how they each managed their work-life balance. 

    In Poland, I noticed that people are much more practical and straightforward than those I have worked for in the United States, where we often have bells and whistles that are not necessary to complete tasks. I noticed these cultural differences in the workplace and also in my homestay.

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    It's all Greek to me!

    Sydney Fredette