Using the Career Center, Part I

So here's a topic I haven't discussed on the blog before: jobs.  Real-life, real-world, full-time, jobs.  When I began college, these future “jobs” were abstract notions, but as I come closer and closer to graduation, (May 5!) I have begun to seriously search for post-graduation employment opportunities.  So many students in my graduating class, and, of course, nationally, have turned to the option of graduate school programs, but this is something that I personally have no desire to leap into immediately, if at all.  As someone with little idea what kind of degree I would even be interested in pursuing there, not to mention the hefty price tag that accompanies such an education, I have put that possibility on the far back burner and turned instead to job hunting.  Now, I have some idea of what I very much hope to do for at least a year following my graduation, but in terms of long-term career paths, I am sadly without any sort of direction. Like many of my classmates, I know where my fortes lie, but either do not think I can find a job in a corresponding field of work, or simply do not believe that these strengths are substantial or special enough from which to build a successful career. 

I was recently talking about this dilemma with a friend (see synonyms venting, complaining, and freaking out).  We both expressed feelings of being overwhelmed by the realities of finding employment, and the fact that in general, we just don’t know what we want to do with our lives.  Somewhere in our conversation, we came upon the idea of simply visiting the career center and seeing what the counselors might be able to do to help.  Of course, we knew not to expect them to tell us what kind of jobs to pursue, but wanted to see if they could give us any sort of direction or assistance as we tried to come up with the answers on our own.  I scheduled an appointment, and came back the following week to take two different assessments, the results of which would be used to guide my personal thinking, as well as provide me with a better understanding of my personality and preferences.

At my follow-up appointment, a career counselor went over these results with me and showed me a number of online resources that will be helpful to me as I consider employment options.  The personality test and the preference indicator both showed me aspects of my personality and interests which I have always known, but never truly been 100% conscious of.  Are you curious about the results?  I’ll reveal that I am categorized as an ISFJ, (or that I am an Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging type), with clear preferences for the “artistic” (specifically, writing and mass communication, visual arts and design, teaching and education, and culinary arts).  If you have the opportunity to take these assessments, I’d definitely recommend giving it a try.  Although I know these things about myself, it’s another thing to see them listed out and described in detail. 

The best advice that my career counselor gave me was to use the indicator tests to find a job that suits both my personality and of course my interests.  Although it assumes an ideal world to think that I’m going to be able to find a job that perfectly aligns with the things I like and is compatible with my working and learning preferences, it is nevertheless something strive to find.  After all, if we’re “stuck” with a particular job until we retire, why not do something that makes us happy on some level?  In my previous employment experiences, I’ve met a number of people quite unhappy with what they’re doing, and hoped that I wouldn't fall into their ranks.  Although I’m still uncertain about what the next decade or two has in store, my trip to the Career Center last week has helped me put some of my fears to rest, and, at the very least stop freaking out and face the future with a calm mind and a clear head.

Everyone at the Career Center was so kind and helpful.  Other friends who have utilized their services also have told me that they felt reassured and “heard” when they went, and for graduating seniors, this is something important.  If you’re a UNC Asheville student unsure about what to do with your life, regardless of grade level, the best time to start thinking about it is now.  Use the Career Center!  It’s a great, free, resource, and will certainly help you think about the future in different terms.  If you’re planning on coming here in the future, don’t forget to check out this valuable campus gem—you’ve got to initiate the conversation, but you can be sure that they’re waiting to hear from you!  


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Tea for Two

Due to my misfortune of catching whatever bug has been going around campus these days, I've been a bit under the weather as of late.  Apart from taking hot baths, ingesting "cherry" flavored medicine, snarfing down cough drops, and of course getting a lot of sleep, I have found that drinking hot tea has been helpful in shaking off this sickness.  For my birthday last fall, I received a coupon to Dobra Tea, which is nestled among the Lexington Avenue shops in the heart of downtown Asheville.  Yesterday, I dragged myself out of bed and finally used the gift, hoping that the hot tea would sooth my tender throat.  Now, like many other students, I enjoy visiting Asheville's various coffee shops and cafes to do work or meet friends, so in writing about Dobra Tea, I am not forgetting about these places, all of which offer delicious beverages (including tea) and snacks.  However, to my knowledge, Dobra Tea is the only tea house in Asheville, at least in the downtown area, and is crazy about its tea.  I am writing this post to share one aspect of the Asheville cafe scene that I have recently enjoyed and know that visitors will also find interesting and fun.  
This having been said, I'll briefly describe the experience.  Yes, the tea did help relieve my aching throat and sooth my cough.  The atmosphere inside also helped me relax and feel calm.  I ordered a pot of plum tea, which is a black Chinese tea flavored with some spices and tasting very sweet.  My friend ordered rooibos tea, and we shared a small piece of baklava.  Despite it being a Wednesday night, many of the tables around us were full of people chatting, reading, or doing work, all while enjoying a leisurely cup of tea. What a sweet, tasty way to spend a rainy Wednesday night.  Below are some pictures..enjoy! 

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One of the things that attracts students to UNC Asheville is our close proximity to the downtown area.  Not only are there lots of interesting shops to explore, and great restaurants and coffee shops to enjoy, but the downtown area itself is nice, too.  Although it's winter, the weather has been unseasonably warm in Asheville lately, so I was able to spend some time here a few evenings ago.  When the weather gets a bit warmer, I'll do another post about the downtown area to let you know more about what downtown has to offer.  For now, enjoy some of the photos I snapped around sunset.  Isn't it beautiful? 

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Lost and Found

Last night, I left my keys on the shuttle bus that runs from my apartment to campus.  Riding the last shuttle of the day, I got off and left my keys on the seat.  Of course, when I realized my mistake several hours later, I was in a panic.  I usually try to be careful with my possessions, and this was my first time losing something so important.  I realized that this would be another practical and helpful topic for the blog, so today I’m going to tell you what to do if you lose something on campus.

There are two main places to report something as lost: Highsmith Union and Campus Police.  I first called Highsmith, and was told that because I left my keys on the shuttle (not on campus), I should report the missing item to Campus Police.  I was transferred to Campus Police, who were so helpful and reassuring.  I filed a missing item report, and hung up feeling calm.  Highsmith is also a very good place to look if you’re missing something.  I lost my phone in Highsmith a few years ago, and someone turned it in to the lost and found at the information desk on the main floor.  I mentioned that I had lost it, was asked to describe it, and got it back all on the same day.  A few semesters ago, a friend lost her student card on the way from class to her residence hall.  When someone found the ID card in the woods, he turned it in to the student worker at Highsmith, who contact her and returned the card.    Bottom line, the best places to start looking for lost items are Highsmith Union and Campus Police.

Highsmith Union: 828.251.6990

Campus Police: 828.251.6710 

Now, some of the computer labs on campus have their own lost and found areas.  Because so many students and faculty members filter in and out of these places, particularly Karpen and New Hall, many personal items are often left behind there.  If you believe you’ve lost something in one of the computer labs, the best thing to do is to go there and ask the lab assistant for the lost and found from the day.  My friend left a flash drive in the New Hall computer lab, and found it in the lost and found there.

Finally, I’d like to address the issue of leaving things on the shuttles, something that probably happens to many students, since the shuttles run from 8 to 5, serving a large number of students living in the areas around campus.  Last night, I e-mailed the shuttle service (BARCS) office to notify them of my missing object.  This morning, I called at 7:30 to double-check that my message had been received and my item successfully reported missing.  The person who assisted me in my search was extremely helpful and kind.  He radioed the shuttle drivers and asked them to search their respective shuttles for my missing items.  Luckily, I was able to recover my keys this morning: crisis averted!

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Vantage Point

You may remember the post I wrote last year covering the MMAS 10th Annual Juried Exhibition or the art on display in the library.  When I wrote these posts, I was so excited to see the artistic talent of our student body, and this post is no different.  Our school has a strong art program, and so attracts a lot of talented students eager to share their skills and energy with the UNC Asheville community.  The exhibition currently on display in the Highsmith Gallery is entitled "Vantage Point," and contains a number of awesome pieces, concepts, and ideas.  I know I've said this before, but if you are an Asheville native, I strongly suggest making a trip to campus for a bit of art appreciation.  The exhibition, although small, contains a number of interesting, fun, and well-executed pieces that made me smile and engaged my imagination.  Unfortunately, I missed the opening reception for the exhibition, but I was able to check it out and snap a lot of photos for the blog.  "Vantage Point" will be available for viewing until February 8, so there are still a few weeks left for you to enjoy the vibrant talent of our students.  Can't make it? No sweat.  Your loyal servant, I've included pictures of my favorite pieces, so you can take a virtual tour here.  What do you think? Leave a comment below! 


 This ceramic puzzle was possibly my favorite piece.  Below, I've included photos of the different ways the puzzle may be solved..

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411 on Financial Aid: Refund Checks

When I first started writing this blog, I thought about the kinds of things I would want to know as a prospective, or even current student enrolled at UNC Asheville.  These things, I imagined, might include what campus life is like, what Asheville and its surrounding areas look like, and what kinds of things there are to do around here.  Looking back on previous posts, I think I've done a pretty good job of these things, touching on some scholarly, recreational, and cultural topics related to our community here.  However, there are some more technical topics I've been wanting to write about for a while. One of these has to do with how to use financial aid (either in the form of federal aid or private scholarships) to live off campus.  The 2011-2012 school year is my first living alone off campus, and so is my first time experiencing paying for my own housing and grocery expenses.  At first, I was pretty concerned about how the financial aid I am receiving would be applied towards my expenses, but when I got the low down from our financial aid office, things became, in an instant, clear and straightforward.  I know that for transfer students, finding on-campus housing is a bit difficult (although we're adding a new dorm--post to come), so this post should be useful to you all as you consider how you're going to make ends meet.
Here's what you need to know: When you receive financial aid, it is actually made payable to the university itself. I, for example, am receiving scholarship money from Lowe's.  When Lowe's writes a check for the money (once in the fall and once in the spring), it is made out to UNC Asheville.  The same holds true for federal aid awards.  At the beginning of each semester, the financial aid money students receive, are processed by the university's cashier's office and paid to the university, typically covering the cost of tuition and/or housing and miscellaneous expenses.  For those of us living off campus, and therefore not making payments for room and board, there will be a deficit (you may also have leftover money if the amount of your award is greater than the cost of attendance, although you can adjust the amount of federal aid you are receiving to prevent this from happening).  This leftover money is then administered in the form of "refund checks" written to the particular student in question.  The money is then able to be deposited into one's bank account and used to cover the cost of that individual's housing and grocery needs for the semester.  The university writes these refund checks at the very beginning of each semester and sends out an e-mail notification when these checks are available to be picked up.  

I got my refund check on Tuesday and realized that this, although a routine part of student life, was something with which new students might not be familiar.  Have any questions about related topics?  Leave them in the comments below.  Hope this helps everyone! 

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Welcome Back 2012

Hello, everyone!  For those readers who have either begun the spring semester, or are about to go back to school, how was your winter break?  Did you visit friends and family or take any exciting trips?  As your loyal blogger/Asheville native, I stayed true to form and spent my break in the Asheville area.  However, just because I stayed home does not mean that I had difficulty finding things to do; on the contrary, this was one of the most eventful winter breaks I think I've ever experienced.  I floated between my apartment near campus and my family's home north of Asheville, working, spending a little time with my family, meeting friends, and even travelling a bit.  As promised, here's a quick recap of what I was up to over break...
My first experience skiing was when I was about 12 years old.  Although I enjoyed the day-long foray into the crazy world of winter sports, it not until last month that I again felt compelled to strap a pair of skis to my feet and hurtle down a mountain at dangerous speeds.  Regardless of the fact that I am, even after a full day of skiing, pretty bad at the sport, I had an awesome time.  The weather was warm, so only a few runs were open (luckily, one of these runs was a beginner's slope), but as evening fell, it began to get cold and rain a little bit.  I ended my second ski experience with a lot of good memories (and bruises).  I had such a good time that I think I'll do another post about where to ski in Western North Carolina.   
If you've read some of my previous posts on this blog, you may not be surprised when I say that I really enjoy eating Korean food.  So, I was extremely happy to discover that a Korean restaurant has been opened in Asheville.  I've often thought that, given the profusion of Thai, Chinese, and Japanese restaurants around town, the only thing missing was a Korean eatery, and now we have one.  Its name, Stone Bowl, comes from the hot stone bowl that is used to serve many Korean dishes like bibimbap ("mixed rice," 비빔밥) and jjigae ("stew," 찌개).  I ordered some bibimbap, and enjoyed the numerous side dishes, or banchan (반찬), that came with the meal.  Although I ended up eating a bit too much, I left feeling full and warm, and will definitely be returning sometime in the near future.  If you like Korean food, or are interested in exploring a new kind of cuisine, I suggest giving it a try!

Finally, over the break, I was able to spend some time travelling.  My friend invited me to St. Augustine to visit with her family for a few days, so I was able to take a small road trip and enjoy the even warmer weather of Florida.  The trip wasn't necessarily the most eventful of vacations (we basically hung out at the house and the beach), but it was wonderful to be able to dig my toes into the sand, get some reading done, and just rest a bit.  We enjoyed snacks and conversation on New Year's Eve, a quiet and enjoyable way to usher in the experiences and journeys that 2012 has in store.  In the end, the weather and scenery was so beautiful and the company so fun, that when the time came to leave, I could hardly stand to tear myself away.    
Thanks, 2011, for the experiences and friendships we were able to enjoy.  Welcome, 2012; may we all find happiness in the new semester and the new year.

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