Five New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Your LBS Experience

Ah, the New Year’s Resolution. It is that time of year when optimism and good intentions reign supreme. Most people try to take stock of what went right and what went wrong over the last year, what dreams went unfilled and what shortcomings need addressing. Usually, your significant other can help you with that last one. Goals are then set and promises made, but actions started are rarely completed.

Most people who study this sort of thing, tell us that the key to successful resolutions is to think small, to develop concrete action steps and to remember to take things out of your life to make room for your new activities. Focus also helps. Don’t have ten new goals. Concentrate on the two or three actions that are going to get you to the goals that matter to you most. If you execute your focused plan, small changes can generate really big results.

If you are an LBS student looking to improve your college experience, here is a list of five simple New Year’s resolutions you can adopt for 2012. If some of these activities are things you don’t do, commit to doing one or two:

1. Ask for Help: College is not for the bashful. The biggest mistake most students make is that they are afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help from time to time. You (and your family) are investing a lot of time and money in your education. You deserve to get your questions answered. So ask. If you find yourself hesitating, cowboy up: check your shyness at the door, approach someone you think can help you and ask them. If they fail to help you, ask someone else. UNLV is filled with people who are paid to help you. Make them earn their pay. Commit to asking for help at least once a week, after a short while, it will become easy.
2. Engage: Sitting idly by waiting to be “discovered” only works in the movies. If you want people to recognize your greatness, you need to get out and show it to them: not on Facebook or Youtube, but in person. Join a student club and be active at meetings. Run for a leadership position. Become a student ambassador. Speak out in class. Or find Dr. Janet Runge and learn how you can compete in the Governor’s Cup business plan competition. These are just examples. There are lots of ways to engage and enrich your college experience. Pick one and make it happen.
3. Study an hour more a week: Remember the blog post where I mentioned the results from the National Survey of Student Engagement that showed that the average business student studies fourteen hours a week? For the typical student, studying just one more hour per week represents a 7% increase. In the competition for better grades, this is a big difference. If you are serious with this extra time investment, it should payoff big. If someone told you grades don’t matter after you graduate, they lied. No employer you want to work for is looking to hire C- students.
4. Create a deliverable you can show a prospective employer to highlight your talents: Employers want to know what you can do with the knowledge you learned in school. Create a portfolio of relevant examples of your best work that illustrate your skill set. Maybe it is a business plan you did for a course, or an excel spreadsheet that performs a particular analysis, or a video of some creative material you put together for the student organization you lead. Just like actors and models have portfolios you should build one to bring along on interviews that contains a concise sampling of your best work.
5. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: College is about expanding your horizons and finding out where your passions and talents intersect. Self-discovery requires that you try new things. And you need to do them with people who are not like you. So pick one thing that will get you out of your comfort zone and commit to carrying it out for the whole semester. Maybe it is getting to know a professor you think is doing interesting work, or an international student from a country you would like to know more about. Maybe it is teaming with some engineering students to create and market a new product as part of their senior design competition. Or maybe it is working with Dr. Schibrowsky’s AMA team or Dr. Sullivan’s student investment fund. Doing things that get you out of your comfort zone also shows employers you are adaptable and it may just end up taking your career in an unexpected direction.

After you have figured out which of these activities you are going to do, stop and think about what you are going to do less of in the new year. We are all busy people. To fit in something new, we are going to have to get rid of something. What low value activities can you resolve to reduce or eliminate? Watching T.V.? Sleeping in late? Surfing the net? If you are honest with yourself, these will be pretty evident.

So here is to 2012 and the start of a new semester at LBS. Let’s all resolve to make it the start of something big.

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One thought on “Five New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Your LBS Experience

  1. The whole post is excellent advice but I’d like to focus on the first one–Ask for help.
    When I was in undergraduate computer science class prof Gerald Owens told us something and he said it was important. I didn’t get it so I asked the guy to my left–he didn’t get it; so I asked Rosalie P to my right–she didn’t get it either. So I got the courage to raise my hand and ask “Gerald, we don’t get it!” About a third of the class nodded and agreed and I lambasted them afterwards, “Someone is paying good money for this education and the teacher said it was important. If you didn’t get it, why didn’t you ask?”

    There ever after, I try to dispense with my natural shyness, my impression management and my social desirability concerns and after doing my due diligence, I ask.

    Richard Hofler in Econometrics class essentially said the same–ask questions because if you don’t understand it is likely that others do not either. Sometimes it’s difficult to even articulate what it is that you don’t understand. It can take hours to ask an intelligent question. So much so that one of my classmates Gerry, thought I was trying to intimidate her!

    In the real world, I was privileged to jumpseat when I worked for FedEx and was impressed with a grizzled male FedEx pilot briefing the first officer to his right, a young female and told her that if there was something he did that she needed clarification or that she thought was wrong, she should let him know. I admire him for his formally opening up the channel of communication that invited inquiry.

    At the executive level, I admired the man who lived at 1600 Pennsylvania who was willing to ask for help from a man who was older, wiser and many considered should have been at the top of the ticket. [Bush-Cheney].

    Possibly Steve Jobs would still be with us if he had asked for help from physicians who could have operated on him.

    Barbara Walters did her last official interview with a young female married teacher who had managed to get herself inappropriately entangled with a student. One of the lessons she shared was, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help!”

    Sometimes we strive for independence so much that we are reluctant to depend on others. Sometimes the trick is knowing when to ask for help and how. Sometimes I preface questions with, “I know I should know this but…can you remind me how….” Or I even beg the question, “Is this something I should bother knowing?” not all trains of thought lead us to where we want to go. Sometimes I ask, “What questions should I be asking?”

    Johnny Carson and other comedians test their jokes on staff. I sometimes test my questions and requests for help on my colleagues and peers. May be they know the answer and we can resolve the issue at a lower level and not tap precious resources unnecessarily–even if they’re paid.

    The other points you make are also excellent but I’ll refrain from reacting to those as we have finite time, space and cognitive capacity!

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