11 Reasons Why Everyone Should Have A LinkedIn

All in all, LinkedIn is an essential professional resource and everyone should have a profile.

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Networking is an essential part of wealth.” ~ Armstrong Williams

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on May 29, 2017.

LinkedIn is a networking website which enables millions of companies, employees and those seeking work to connect and mingle professionally. Officially launched in 2003, the website now has more than 500 million members worldwide.Though it seems like this is a professional website only for adults, LinkedIn can be a very useful tool for high school and college students just beginning to weave their web of connections. Here are 11 reasons why everyone should have a LinkedIn account.

1. You can establish a professional brand.

If you are involved in anything on campus, such as any societies or organizations, you can follow those organizations on LinkedIn as well as post on your profile that you are a member. In addition to this, if you are interested in certain companies or establishing a certain kind of professional brand, LinkedIn is the perfect place to begin that – in sharing and liking posts related to your field of study or area of occupation, you can work on finessing that professional brand. The site also makes it easy for users to post their preferred contact email and a website or blog if they have one. It is also recommended that users update their pages at least once or twice a week; even posting an article here or there is enough to let potential employers know you are available and present.

2. It’s a fantastic way to meet people.

Ever since I’ve started networking with both students and alumni of my college, I’ve met so many people. You can also connect with your professors and teachers from high school. By networking with your friends, family, and colleagues, you will inevitably meet others who are connected with those connections. You never know who you’ll run into on LinkedIn or who you’ll become in contact with. These professional connections could help you gain a job later.

3. You will be more motivated to update your resume.

Updating your resume is a tedious job; it can become a chore that you push off and eventually forget to do altogether. However, with a LinkedIn profile, you will be more motivated to update your resume because you know that employers can and will look at your profile daily. Whether you update a real resume or just put your accomplishments, experience and education on your profile, keeping up with your accomplishments are important and LinkedIn will help cultivate the motivation to do so.

4. You can brag about yourself forever.

If there’s one thing people love to do, it’s talking about themselves. Admit it, you love discussing your accomplishments with other people, especially people you’re attempting to impress. Your LinkedIn profile is not only a fantastic way to network; it’s also the most professional way to endlessly brag about yourself.

5. The site is easy to use.

LinkedIn is constantly updating so that its users have the best experiences. There are fantastic perks for both free members and premium members, including a recent messaging system that allows everyone to receive instant messages, depending on their privacy settings of course. Speaking of privacy, you can customize the privacy settings on each of the sections on your profile. You can choose what strangers and connections see and you can even select what is visible to your eyes only. Networking and brand-building has never been easier.

6. You can take online courses with LinkedIn.

With LinkedIn’s new learning center, members are able to enroll in online courses in any area of expertise available. You can set the skills you are interested in and take courses outside of those interests. There are courses about everything; you can take a broader class on something like confidence, or leadership strategies. Or you take more hands-on courses such as learning the Adobe Suite or learning how to code. You can begin with a free-trial that lasts 30 days and after the price is $24.99 a month – infinitely cheaper than college tuition.

7. Internships and available positions are easy to find.

There’s a tab at the top of the screen titled ‘Jobs’ where you are able to search jobs by keyword or title, or search by area – zip code, country, or state. The posted jobs will also tell you if previous alumni from your school have ever been, or are currently employed at that company. You can also browse companies in your network on this page. You can also find internships under this tab or the regular search by specifying that you’re looking for an internship. Often employers lay out exactly what they want from an applicant and all the information you need to get started.

8. Your profile has infinite possibilities.

On your profile, you’re able to post your professional and volunteer experiences, education, skills, accomplishments (which includes relevant courses, honors and awards, languages known, and projects you’ve worked on), and interests. You also have the opportunity to include an objective at the top of your profile. In addition to this, LinkedIn offers the ability to customize everything on your profile.

9. You can showcase your projects.

Under each profile section, LinkedIn gives users the opportunity to upload relevant media – meaning any thing that relates to that section. For example, at my on-campus job, I create and design many fliers and newsletters. I have uploaded both the recent newsletter and a flier I created under that position. Under my Odyssey position, I’ve uploaded articles that showcase a variety of my skills, such as research, organization and ability to garner an audience. If you have a relevant presentation or graphic design you worked on, it could be beneficial to upload these to your profile to exhibit your skills. You also have the ability to upload a resume, portfolio, or link to a personal website that may have either or both of these documents.

10. Connections can endorse and recommend you.

If it wasn’t enough that you were already bragging about yourself – others can brag about you too! As a connection, you have the ability to ‘endorse’ another user’s skills. By endorsing someone, you confirm that the user is efficient in that skill. Users also have the ability to recommend a colleague, by clicking on the three dots located in the right hand corner of that person’s profile. By having recommendations and endorsements, you are likely to stand out to employers based on what people say about you.

11. You could get a job or you could help others get a job.

This is the most obvious one – LinkedIn is a professional networking website – of course you could gain either a present or future position with either a connection or a complete stranger. In recommending and endorsing others, you’re also given the opportunity to help your colleagues and connections gain employment, too. All in all, LinkedIn is an essential professional resource and everyone should have a profile.

What I’ve Learned Creating With Odyssey

There is something for everyone on Odyssey and we welcome anyone interested in joining our platform.

Odyssey has taught me so many meaningful things in the year I’ve spent creating with them.

This post was originally published with The Odyssey on May 22, 2017. 

In May 2016, I took a risk and applied to create content with a platform I’d never heard of before. As an English major, I had little to no experience with any format different from MLA and had never published articles online before. When I joined the community with my best friend, I worried that I wouldn’t be good enough to write with this new and successful platform; I spent at least three days revising my writing sample. In the end, joining The Odyssey became one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. It’s May of 2017 now and I’m celebrating my one year anniversary with Odyssey. Here’s what I’ve learned from creating with my team for a whole year.

Your voice matters. Odyssey is a millennial-based platform that is home to thousands of creators across the country. Despite being in a sea of articles, your voice does and always will matter. People all over the world have the opportunity to read your work the minute it is published on the web. Creating content about not only current events but also trending opinions is essential in not only finding your voice but also establishing it. With Odyssey, I found my voice and I am so grateful for the opportunities they have afforded me in the past year.

Content is everywhere. Your inspiration is often right around the corner from your current position. With Odyssey, creators have the opportunity to write about a plethora of ideas and concepts – there are no boundaries. Whether it resides in your local community, your college community, or in the news, content is everywhere you look. Writer’s block is a temporary problem; content is always waiting patiently at your fingertips, just waiting to be discovered.

Gaining an audience is possible. In the beginning of my creative career with Odyssey, I feared that no one would read my content. I soon found that this fear was misplaced; gaining an audience is a simple and easily completed task. By sharing your work on social media, tagging friends and family who may relate, and posting in groups and group chats, your articles will have the potential to garner readers all over the world. After working with Odyssey for a year, I’ve earned over 47,000 views and over 3,000 social engagements just from the content I’ve posted in the past year.

Teamwork makes the dream work. Home is where the Odyssey community is. Without strong writers, strong editors could not prevail. Together, those who continuously create in the community and attentive editors help establish a meaningful and mature voice that will inevitably impact readers worldwide. Teamwork and team building are extremely valuable skills in the professional world and creators at Odyssey work extra hard to achieve a cohesive and transparent environment for all their staff.

Creating a professional brand is essential. Sharing your articles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn assist creators in gaining engagements and views monumentally. Having published web content is an honor and should be showcased as an accomplishment on your professional pages. This can also be an effective way to garner social media followers. In addition to sharing the articles, retweeting and or posting other articles and news related to your professional identity can also be helpful when establishing or building your brand.

Odyssey enables creators to branch out. Odyssey may appear to be a platform that supports opinions shared in college communities, but it is so much more than that. The platform also enables creators to engage in photography and art, whether it be via a personal method or encouraging them to seek local artists’ work. In addition this, creators learn the importance of citations and crediting authors and artists for their works, ensuring no one is plagiarized. Finally, Odyssey is a fantastic learning tool for those who are either interested in getting their feet wet with journalism or those ready to dive headfirst into the world of web journalism.

There is something for everyone on Odyssey and we welcome anyone interested in joining our platform. If you have any questions about Odyssey, what it means to be in a community or how to join, feel free to comment on this article! Shippensburg, PA is currently recruiting new creators and we’d love to have you on board!

11 Pennsylvania State Universities As Characters From “Stranger Things”

Which Stranger Things character does your college resonate with?

Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?!

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on May 8, 2017.

If there’s one thing the Pennsylvania State System schools are good at, it’s sticking together when things go south. Like last fall, when the union and the state system were fighting, we all had to come together to fight for our faculty just as if they would if it was us on the line. The cast of Stranger Things is no different; they all banded together when it was most important. Here are 11 of the Pennsylvania State schools as Stranger Things characters.

1. Bloomsburg – Hopper

 Bloom and Hopper both seem like people who drink a little too much at first, but all in all, they give back to the community. They’re also incredibly investigative and are the best at finding out what they need to. Their intelligence lies elsewhere, but it’s okay because it still ends up saving everyone.

2. Lock Haven – Mike Wheeler

Like Lock Haven, Mike Wheeler is not only loyal to the things he cares about, but he’s always willing to go the extra mile. He may lose sight of the bigger picture sometimes, but his heart is in the right place.

3. Millersville – Will Byers

Just like Will Byers, Millersville is also in the middle of nowhere, it’s just not quite as creepy and scary as the Upside Down. Also, Millersville is a pretty fantastic friend and always loyal to their MU family.

4. Shippensburg – Nancy

Just like Shippensburg, Nancy is still learning the ropes of independence. She doesn’t always make the best decisions and often suffers the consequences from it, like leaving Barb to die. However, both are severely loyal, resourceful, and will fight to get what they want.

5. Slippery Rock – Barb

Slippery Rock is smart and underrated, just like Barb. We don’t hear too much about them from other schools, besides the rare conference being hosted there, but we’d still care about them if something happened.

6. West Chester – Joyce Byers

On the outside, West Chester and Joyce Byers look like normal people, just trying to get by. But on the inside, they’re both a little crazy, but in the best way. Both are loyal, impulsive, and determined to achieve what they set their mind to.

7. IUP – Jonathan

Just like Jonathan, not a lot of people know IUP exists, but they’re smart, and they’re trying their best. They have a deep appreciation for the arts and student activities. Like Jonathan does for his photography, and also monster-hunting. That’s a student activity, right?

8. Edinboro – Dustin

There are little to no chain restaurants in the town surrounding Edinboro, and it’s students really dig that. It’s the perfect, quaint, and original town to surround such a small and quiet university. Dustin is a unique friend; he’s always thinking outside the box to get his friends out of trouble. There could never be another Dustin, just like there could never be another Edinboro.

9. California – Steve

Steve and California of PA have a lot of in common; they both rely on their environment to thrive, they’re well-known, and they’re close to something much greater than they realize. Without the college, the town of California wouldn’t last, just like without Steve’s mean friends, he wouldn’t survive. Both are popular for their personalities, and while California of PA is close to Pittsburgh, Steve is close to being a good boyfriend toward the end of Season 1.

10. Clarion – Eleven

Just like the students at Clarion, Eleven really loves hanging out in the woods. Also, just like the badly planned layout of Clarion, Eleven doesn’t make the best decisions. However, both Eleven and Clarion are willing to put themselves before their peers and protect what’s important to them.

11. Kutztown – Lucas

Lucas and Kutztown are the most alike because they’re unique and loyal to their families, whether that family is blood or friendship. Due to their loyal and original personalities, they’re not too sure about opening up to or teaming up with new people. They are the most cautious person in group projects because they know they’ve got the best idea.

11 Things We Wish We Could Change About Shippensburg University

I’m not saying these things make Shippensburg University a less desirable school to go to, but if we had the chance to implement some change, the next 11 things would definitely make that list.

Where is the suggestion box for campus updates?

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on April 24, 2017.

Everyone has a million great things to say about their college because if you don’t love it, why are you here? However, there’s always room for improvement. I’m not saying these things make Shippensburg University a less desirable school to go to, but if we had the chance to implement some change, the next 11 things would definitely make that list.

1. The heavy doors.

Even the doors in the elementary school on campus weigh a ton! Also, what’s with the library doors? How come they’re like a foot wide and only open halfway?

2. The weird stairs by Shippen.

Implement a ramp. Last year, they played an April Fool’s joke on us and said they were going to replace the ridiculously wide stairs with a moving sidewalk, and we were all seriously bummed that they were kidding.

3. That class that could be from 3:30-4:45 p.m.

The 3:30 slot is when professors have meetings, clubs have socials, and no one wants to be in class. Eradicate this class time.

4. Kriner’s limited hours.

If we wanted to eat at Reisner, we would choose Reisner. Kriner can’t really be the finer diner if they’re closed on weekends.

5. The random-roommate system.

We fill out those preferences on the housing portal, but where do they go? Random-roommate has seriously ruined some people’s living situations. It wouldn’t take much effort to create a more refined system. Make us fill out a survey or something!

6. “No string lights in the suites.”

The key to the ultimate dorm room is string lights. Listen, I know it’s a fire hazard, but I’ve never had to evacuate a building due to string lights. It’s most microwave and smoking-related incidents. Let us have the lights!

7. Desire to Learn or Brightspace or whatever it’s called now.

First of all, when I go to d2l.ship.edu, why does it ask if I want to log into Ship or Millersville? I’m at a Shippensburg web address. Second, d2l mobile is the worst application to have ever existed. Finally, when it crashes, professors and students lose everything; it’s time to switch up the program.

8. The fact that you need a key to access the elevator in DHC.

The floors aren’t even equal! Hiking up to the third floor is a sin. We should have an open elevator like Grove does.

9. Limited food options in the CUB.

Not that we don’t totally love the fast food thing in the CUB food court, but some more options would be cool. More snacks, like soft pretzels or churros, anything small that we could meal, would be much appreciated.

10. The fact that we can’t meal chips or bottled soft drinks.

If you can make a deal to meal Papa John’s…why can’t you make a deal with Pepsi to help bundle some of that stuff?

11. The inconsistency of room numbers in Old Main.

Look, if we have to go anywhere in Old Main, you better hope we don’t get lost while we’re there for official business. Why can’t we keep all the evens and odds on the same sides?

Replacing Apologies With Gratitude

Often, people don’t know how to tell you things aren’t your fault. They don’t understand where the toxic roots come from, and they don’t understand how to comfort you when you feel the way that you do.

“Thank You” is the new “I’m Sorry.”

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on April 4, 2017.

When I was younger, I was a sounding board for many of my friends who felt they didn’t have anyone else to talk to. I heard stories of depression, anxiety, suicide and anything else you can imagine teenagers between the ages of fourteen and sixteen have to say. It was a really demanding and heavy job; I often felt that I had no where to release my own feelings and began to absorb others’ on top of my own. Soon, I found myself in a toxic environment where I was doing everything wrong and so I began apologizing for everything, even when there was nothing to apologize for.

Being in a toxic environment is like suffocating; being surrounded by several toxic people at once is like drowning. It’s heavy, it’s debilitating and you always feel guilty and shameful. Toxic relationships have a way of bringing you down, as if you were shackled to a wall inside a tornado. Manipulative people take your fears and insecurities and their own insecurities and demons, and your life becomes a whirlwind of darkness. You feel as if everything is your fault, because they make it seem like you’re to blame. You’re not, and sometimes you know you’re not, and that’s what makes everything harder.

Leaving a toxic relationship of any kind is stressful and scary; you’re never quite sure if you’ll make it out alive. The first few steps of freedom are light and airy, and you wish you had done it earlier, if only you had known you were being manipulated. The bad times don’t stop there though. After leaving a relationship like that, sometimes you take those habits with you long after the fact.

Always feeling as though things are your fault is a common habit that follows you and weaves its way into your other relationships. The roots a toxic person digs into you are so deep, even when you thought you had severed the last of them, there are still seeds hiding underneath your memories.

Often, people don’t know how to tell you things aren’t your fault. They don’t understand where the toxic roots come from, and they don’t understand how to comfort you when you feel the way that you do. They often say something like, “Oh my god! Stop apologizing!” or “It’s not your fault.” Well, we all know it’s not your fault, but it’s become a habit to feel like it’s your fault, so you speak that feeling.

The best way for both parties to decrease the amount of apologizing and animosity toward the constant apologizing is this: simply replace the word ‘sorry’ with ‘thank you’.

When someone is speaking to you about something that is bothering them, do not apologize. Instead try saying, “Thank you for confiding in me.” When someone is apologizing for something that isn’t their fault, try saying, “Thank you for listening to me.” or “Thank you for your concern.”

The thank-you-replacement can go for other situations, too.

Instead of apologizing for being late, try saying, “Thank you for waiting for me.” Instead of apologizing for speaking your mind, or expressing your feelings, try, “Thank you for understanding and comforting me.”

Stop apologizing for everything. It’s easier said than done, of course, but it’s pretty simple to replace an apology with an expression of gratitude. You will begin to feel less heavy with guilt, and the roots of that toxic relationship will eventually dissolve as you become more thankful for your surroundings.

When I was a junior in high school, and I found myself surrounded by toxicity, I found the clearest way out of the situation and rode the solo wave for a while. It was difficult to repel the signs of red flags I saw in other people; I was always on my guard so that I wouldn’t be in a similar situation again. I was so scared of being sucked back into the darkness that I didn’t know how to immerse myself in meaningful relationships again.

When I began replacing my apologies with gratitude, it was like I had opened an entirely new door to my future. There is so much beauty in the world, and we take advantage of it every day. Expressing gratitude for my friendships, my family and myself became something I would try to build on in the future, and attempt to gain more of as I grew older. The remnants of guilt and heaviness from my previous toxic experiences soon faded away and dissolved into my past.

I am still triggered by some things relating to those relationships today, but I no longer let them weight me down long term. I remember to thank my lucky stars for what I have in present time, and what those toxic relationships have provided me with since. Gratitude in place of apology has opened my eyes up to the little things, the little bits of beauty we forget to remember.

I am thankful for the light I have discovered outside of the toxic relationships I once had. There was a time when I thought I’d never see the beauty I have. Getting away from toxicity is difficult, but it is not impossible. Know that gratitude will always be waiting for you to embrace it, even when you think there is nothing to be thankful for. There will always be something to be grateful for, and unlike guilt, gratitude is never apologetic.

You Are Alive For A Reason

We help one another to realize their passions, ambitions, and reasons for fighting. We are a machine that cannot work without all of the parts acting in unison.

Just because you haven’t found it yet, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on March 20, 2017.

You are here for a reason. Plain and simple. That’s why you’re alive. That’s why you must continue to live, and that’s why you must fight for your life. Your reason may not be obvious to you; it may not be something you inherently know from the start. You may not discover your reason until much later in life. It may even become clear that you have several reasons for being alive. It’s okay to make up your own reasons, too.

Your reason(s) may or may not be simple; they could be to serve a purpose, a person, and that person could be yourself. It’s OK if that person is yourself. That’s not to say that I’m encouraging you to be selfish, but rather self-serving. Putting your own happiness and interests first isn’t vile or rude; it’s human nature. If, perhaps, your happiness is reflective off of others’ happiness, then being self-serving really isn’t a crime at all.

If you find that your reason for being here is to serve some sort of purpose, know that it’s okay to change that purpose. If, for example, your parents had you so they could have an extra hand on the farm, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t leave and become successful elsewhere. Though everyone has a purpose in life, you are never limited to that purpose, and therefore, you can always change your reasons for being alive, and your reasons for living.

We were all placed here on Earth to change something. We are destined to fulfill the reasons we are here even if they change. Everyone can change the world even if the world we change belongs to just one person. The population thrives on progression, and all of us are a team. We help one another to realize their passions, ambitions, and reasons for fighting. We are a machine that cannot work without all of the parts acting in unison.

If you ever feel lost or alone, know that you are not either of those things. Life is full of twists and turns that will shake you up. Know that when you fall down, it is one hundred percent OK to rest on the ground before you attempt to get back up.

It is so incredibly easy to become bogged down by the pressures and demons of everyday life. It is easy to think that there is nothing out there for you especially when you let the darkness consume you. No matter how many demons drag you down, know that there will be twice as many hands to pull you back up. If you don’t see any hands, look elsewhere.

Don’t give up because you are unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Do not give up because you cannot see success in your future. Stand tall, stand strong, and never stop asking for help. Your light is there. Your future is there, and you will find your success where you least expect to.

You were put on this earth for a reason. Just because you haven’t found it yet doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Just because you feel as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders, does not mean that people will not help. All you have to do is ask.

13 Questions English Majors Are Tired Of Hearing

We’re not our major’s stereotype.

Encourage your children to choose a major they’ll be happy with, not just one they’ll become rich with.

This post was originally published for The Odyssey on March 14, 2017.

Have any of you ever received any flack from your parents and family for choosing the major that you did? Choosing something in the liberal arts field is especially dangerous because you better be ready to answer all the spit-fire questions coming your way. In the English major, those questions can become offensive, annoying, and exhausting real fast. If you’re an English major, you’ve definitely heard these 13 questions at least once.

1. “What are you going to do with that?”

Generally, this question is asked within the first two years of college, and usually, you don’t know what you’re going to do with the degree until later. Even if you have an inkling, you may change that later. Truth is, English majors can take a variety of jobs in the workplace due to their ability to think critically and analyze any situation. Plus, our writing and grammar skills can place us in just about any field as well. Many times, people don’t ask other majors what they’ll do with their major, so stop asking English majors.

2. “So, are you going to teach?”

Look, just because we’re English majors doesn’t mean we’re all going to teach. Like I said, there are a variety of fields people can enter into that aren’t teaching. No matter if your student is looking to teach or not, do not judge them. Even if your student doesn’t know what they’re doing, they’ll figure it out.

3. “You know you can’t pay the bills with writing, right?”

If I had a dime for every time my advisor said this to me in school, I could probably pay off a semester’s tuition. If your student is planning on being an author of books, they will work whatever jobs they need to in order to support themselves while writing. Also, there are loads of other types of writing, like technical writing, which could absolutely pay the bills. Keep an open mind with your major, please.

4. “Why don’t you pick a more practical major?”

There’s nothing impractical about learning to write and read critically through different types of literature. Why would I choose another major that I’d be miserable in, when I know I’ll be happy finding a career through English?

5. “Why would I pick a major where you just read all the time?”

Yes, we read a lot of articles and books. We also spend a lot of our time writing. Don’t act like you don’t read equally as much in Biology, Math, or Political Science.

6. “Why aren’t you going to teach?”

Not everyone wants to or feels like they can be a role model in a classroom. Maybe I want to go into publishing, editing, writing, technical writing, business, law, or literally anything else.

7. “What’s it like having an easy major?”

Please, kindly carry my backpack and read these three novels by Wednesday. Write these two 10-page-papers, learn all the lenses of theory and then check yourself before you wreck yourself.

8. “How can you be such a grammar nazi?”

Stop putting the word ‘nazi’ next to things you don’t like. It’s not politically correct, and it’s rude. Also, you’re in college and you should know the difference between basic words like ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ and ‘their’, ‘they’re’, and ‘they’re’. This is basic English that you will need no matter which field you go into. Get a grip and know when to use ‘no’ and ‘know’.

9. “Could you write my essays for me?”

Plagiarism isn’t just a myth your professors warn you about. Write your own one-to-two-page essay about your general education course. Read ‘A Doll’s House’, it might do you some good.

10. “So what are you going to do for money?”

Well, after graduation, eight of us are going to get a studio apartment for one in New York and we’ll just see where it goes from there! What about you?

11. “Do you think you’re going to regret your major later?”

Do you think you’re going to regret your major later? No? If you won’t, then why would I? Like everyone else who leaves college, English majors will figure it out, and they will maneuver the professional world with their elevated grammar skills and critical thinking. English majors will end up where they’re supposed to be, just like you. Also, worry about your own damn future.

12. “Why do you need to major in English? You know the language well enough, don’t you?”

My friend, let me dispel the myth for you that English classes aren’t just about language. In fact, they are rarely about the English language, but instead how to utilize and apply it. Maybe you should take an English class and learn a few things before you start judging me.

13. “Oh. You’re an English major?”

Yes, I am, and I’m proud of it. I’m well-versed in all the questions you have to ask me, and instead of looking down at me for what I’ve chosen to do with my life, how about you get to know me instead? We’re not our major’s stereotype.