Foliotek Blog

Promoting Student Leadership

What if we lived in a world where college students were so engaged in their programs and degrees that they encouraged their peers to become successful, professional individuals? Where the stereotype of 'lazy millennials' was completely debunked? Where students become leaders who take control of their education, enhancing their own campus using real-world experiences? Impossible, you say? False. This world does exist: it's the William Isaac and Michael Oxley Center for Business Leadership in the Farmer School of Business at Miami University.

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(Pictured: Mollie, Noah (Qualtrics Survey Team Lead), and Emma)

The Center for Business Leadership (The Center) gives business students (fellows) hands-on leadership experience through a paid internship, financially supported by either The Center or a Sponsor Company. Fellows are called to work on purposeful projects, called initiatives, that are designed to improve The Center and the school as a whole. One of The Center's Co-Directors, Megan Gerhardt, tells us that these initiatives allow the fellows to be involved in meaningful work that relates directly to their business degrees while also contributing to their own professional development.

The Center recognized a need to showcase this work to both the Sponsors and future employers, but also wanted a tool that allowed students to reflect on their growth. This resulted in the Leadership Portfolio Initiative. Several platforms were researched and tested by the fellows to find the right fit. They needed a product that looked professional and created a consistent brand for all students, but was also quick and easy to design. The Center decided that Foliotek struck the appropriate balance. Two students were responsible for implementing the Foliotek Initiative: Mollie Etgen, who served as the team lead, and her co-leader, Emma Ciesick . Mollie, a senior majoring in Management Leadership, has secured a position as an Operations Manager for a Target Distribution Center. Emma is in her junior year, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Business Analytics. She has landed a summer internship with Fifth Third Bank’s Consumer Leadership Program.

"It's the first time I've been in a student organization and I'm actually able to lead something I'm genuinely passionate about" - Mollie

Fellows were instructed to complete a Foliotek ID page and include projects to showcase how they carried out their own initiatives in relation to The Center's values. To facilitate this process, Mollie and Emma created templates that guided fellows with reflective prompts and provided extensive support and resources to ensure student success. As fellows began working in Foliotek, they recognized the benefit of building their personal brand and were excited about the possibilities. Not only can their brand be used to demonstrate the initiatives of The Center, but also as a tool to market themselves to potential employers. Fellows especially liked how easy it was to share their brand with others via mobile access. In addition to the enthusiasm from fellows, the Foliotek initiative has also received positive feedback from the Dean, Dean's staff, and advisory boards.

"The feedback we got from them [the advisory board] was probably the most rewarding part of this. They were really excited about it; they said "Why don't more people have this? It's such a great and modern way to showcase yourself that's better than a resume!" - Emma

With a successful implementation of Foliotek, the Center now has a way to hold fellows accountable for their initiatives. Furthermore, since The Center has to recruit companies to sponsor the fellows, they can also use Foliotek as a powerful marketing tool. Instead of trying to relay information second-hand, recruiters are able to bring these stories directly to companies, donors, and alumni, showcasing exactly what the fellows are accomplishing.

What's next for the Foliotek initiative? This spring, new fellows will be coming into The Center and will be introduced to Foliotek. Mollie and Emma are already planning a few changes to make the initiative even more successful, including streamlining their training resources. Moving forward, Emma will take over the Foliotek Initiative when Mollie graduates. Reflecting on the experience, Mollie shares, " ... it's really awesome that I can help others showcase their leadership development because that's such a crucial part of who you are."


Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt. Yeah, I said it. It's a hot topic. Everyone talks about it. Well, almost everybody. I'd wager that the people who are most impacted by that debt don't talk about it. At least not until it's too late. High school seniors get the magical money and head off to school. Only the magical money doesn't come from Mickey Mouse, it's Uncle Sam.

A few months back, I ran across this ridiculously amazing, and frightening, infographic from www.creditsesame.com. I've seen it pop up on a few blogs over the year and thought it would be good to share here as well.

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I'm sharing because I think this image does an excellent job of conveying the problem in visuals. The more ways we can look at the issue, maybe we can find a solution. And since it isn't good to just talk about the problem without offering up a solution, I thought I'd throw out one possible way to attack the problem. It's using an existing system called ... wait for it ... "education."

Wouldn't it be great if every high school college prep senior had to take an eight week course focused on understanding and managing their anticipated college debt (mic drop).

Would it be effective? I have no idea. But I do know that this country can't sustain a debt crisis greater than its current national debt. Something's gotta change. Just check out the graphic for yourself.

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Four Tips for Public Speaking

alt "Nervous about public speaking? Picture the audience in their underwear." I don't know about you, but this little tidbit of information has never helped me calm down before a public speaking event. Why would I want to picture a crowd of people sitting and staring at me ... in their underwear? That does not make me laugh or calm my nerves! Let's talk about a few realistic public speaking tips that can help you rather than making you feel more awkward.

ONE

"Make eye contact with audience members one by one." WHAT? Literally look this crowd of eager and unfamiliar faces in the eye when I'm talking? No way! One of the top TED Talk Presenters, Simon Sinek, told Entrepreneur "If you can, give each person that you intently look at an entire sentence or thought, without breaking your gaze. When you finish a sentence, move on to another person and keep connecting with individual people until you're done speaking." Not only is Simon one of the top-watched presenters, but he's probably one of the most shy. It is mentioned in the article that he would rather not be at a social event, but if he is, he would like to just hide out in the corner. So if Sinek recommends looking people in the eye when you talk, he isn't messing around. Check out his TED Talk below to see how well he does this.

It's like you're having a conversation with your audience ... you're not speaking at them, you're speaking with them - Simon Sinek

TWO

Another tip from Sinek: turn nervousness into excitement. Transform these anxious symptoms into an excited energy instead. Oh, your palms are sweaty? That's because you can't wait to get out on that stage and start talking one-on-one with all these awesome people! Give yourself a pep-talk and rationalize all of your nerves as enthusiastic reactions to being ready for your presentation.

THREE

Believe that people are rooting for you. "They want a great experience. No one likes to see someone bomb. They really do want you to win" says Danielle LaPorte. People don't choose to go to a speaking event hoping to be bored, waste their time, or leave wishing they had seen a different presenter. They genuinely want to be intrigued, learn, and walk away from a speaker who has taught them a little something about themselves.

FOUR

"Know your strengths and weaknesses as a speaker, and accentuate the positive." No one is perfect. Understand how you excel and what you're still working on, and play on those traits as you speak. If you aren't a natural comedian, don't try to be; the audience will pick up on this. Instead, play on your intelligence and genuine care of the subject material. People appreciate true passion just as much as a joke or two. Plus, being true to yourself will make you feel more comfortable and in your element than trying to be someone you're not (especially in front of all those people just sitting around in their underwear).

The next time you're asked to speak or present and you start to get nervous, remember these tips and breathe a little easier knowing that you will present like a pro.

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3 Things to Learn from Your Part-Time Job

"You have to start somewhere." We've all heard that saying and it's true. Most people don't become CEO of a multi-billion dollar company overnight. Just ask Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett; his first job was delivering newspapers. Now look at him!

Some might think delivering papers is a menial job that has no connection to his current position as CEO. But my guess is that Mr. Buffett learned quite a bit from his days as a paperboy.
alt For most of us, our 'starting somewhere' involves a part-time job during high school or college. Maybe it's babysitting, flipping burgers, waiting tables, or making copies. It's easy to see these jobs as insignificant, something to just pay the bills or generate a little fun money. But I think those part-time jobs are more than that. In many cases, it's our first experience working in the real world. We get to see how businesses operate. We'll have good experiences and bad ones. But most of all, it's our opportunity to develop some key employment skills and get a sense of what we might want out of our dream job. So, during your next shift at your part-time gig, be thinking about these three things:

WORK ETHIC

Your work ethic is part of your personal brand. In fact, one of my colleagues wrote a blog post that explains how everything you do affects your personal brand. Therefore, you shouldn't take it lightly ... especially since a strong work ethic is a trait that employers will look for when hiring a new employee. Your part-time job provides the opportunity for you to build this characteristic: don't cut corners, do everything to the best of your ability, meet deadlines, look for things that need to be done and do them (even if they're not in your job description) and go above and beyond to surpass expectations. Remember that your current boss could be a great reference when interviewing for your next position, so make a lasting impact.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Chances are, your part-time job requires you to communicate with other people either verbally or in writing. This is great news because communication is one of the top skills wanted by employers!
alt Utilize this opportunity to develop your communication skills (which includes listening). Do some research, read this article, pay close attention in your COMM classes and apply what you learn in the workplace. If you learn how to speak and write professionally, you'll be one step closer to your dream job.

WORK ENVIRONMENT

Be aware of your surroundings and how you respond to them. Are you energized after a busy lunch rush at the burger joint or are you drained? Do you enjoy working inside or outside? Working with others or alone? What about management style? Are you a self-starter or do you prefer instruction from others? Noticing how you react to these aspects of your work environment can help you choose a career path that is the perfect fit. Make a pros and cons list for your current work environment, identify your must-haves and look for them when searching for your dream job. A fun quiz like this one can also help you think about what work environment is ideal for you.

No matter what part-time job you have, whether it relates to your major or not, there is something to learn. And when you learn it, share it. When you have experiences that develop your skills (gracefully dealing with a difficult customer, juggling a variety of tasks, writing professional emails), create a Foliotek project and put it on your ID page or ePortfolio. When you're ready to start your career, these are the stories you should share with potential employers.

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Self-Reflection Tips

Whether it’s for a resume, an eportfolio, or a job interview, knowing how to present ourselves to an audience is hard. We’ve all stared at a blank computer screen for an extended period of time, not knowing where to start. How can we summarize our life story into one page? Where do you even start?

Self-Reflection Defined: “Self-Reflection is mediation and serious thoughts about one’s character, actions, or motives.”

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Before jumping to conclusions that Self-Reflection is just as hard as presenting to your audience, take a moment to consider these steps from Sandburg. It’s very similar to exercising. It sounds really hard at first, but once you get in the rhythm, it all starts making sense. You will be happy you got started!

“It is necessary … for man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” – Carl Sandburg

Step 1: Who am I?

From a career standpoint, an individual can be good at something and not enjoy it. Let’s be honest, lacking motivation and heart for your career will eventually give. So for this first step, focus on writing down the things you both enjoy and are good at. For example, maybe you are good at solving problems and you enjoy helping people. Make note of these areas and look for consistencies. Write down all the things that fire you up and that you are naturally motivated to do. Ultimately, these intrinsic motivators are what shape who you are.

Step 2: Where have I been?

This is where the reflection on past experiences will take place. Really look at what career decisions you have made and whether they turned out well or not. Learn from your mistakes, but also learn from the work environments you have enjoyed. If you haven’t had a lot of job experiences yet, write down what type of courses you really enjoyed and the learning environments where you work best. Perhaps you really liked round-table discussions or hands-on experiences. Again, apply the motivation aspect, but now specifically to your past career experiences. If you have some work experience, what positions did you like and how did you excel? Which ones were a challenge? By answering these questions now, you will be ready to really present your true passions and gifts.

Step 3: Where am I going?

After the first two steps, you should start noticing some consistencies in what career paths are a good fit for you. Consider what you can already offer to an employer with the education and the training that you’ve already received. It’s alright if you don’t have all the answers, but having a better understanding of where your strengths and passions are is a huge step in itself. Knowing the career paths you don’t want to take is also a huge victory.

These questions can help you reflect on who you are and where you want to be in life. Reflecting on this information can help you while preparing your resume, piecing together important artifacts for a portfolio, and speaking intelligently about your experiences in an interview. Even if you aren't preparing for any of the above, these tips will help you appreciate the work you've put in to get where you are today.

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