The Power of “Rule Yourself” offers Lessons

In 2008 Under Armour, producer of athletic apparel and gear, produced 730 million dollars in sales worldwide. In a market dominated by the Nike, many viewed them as a ‘bargain brand’ with little meaning behind their trademark. In Jeff Beers’ article in the recent addition of Fast Company he describes how the journeys of elite that athletes helped develop an impactful marketing campaign, providing lessons that could aid in the academic and career success of our youth.

Misty Copeland, the first African American female principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, stated “Success is not easy and I think everyone should know that hard work and perseverance and being open to give back are so much more powerful than stepping all over people to get to the top.” Misty, Stephen Curry, and Jordan Speith are noted for their successes in ballet, NBA basketball, and PGA golf are part of Under Armour’s marketing effort. Each of these athletes have one thing in common, they have reached the pinnacle of their success due to daily dedication to their sport.

Our younger generations, millennials and Generation Z, are used to getting what they want immediately. They are fluent in the use of smart phones and communicate using Twitter and Pinterest, all which provide instant information and gratification. Under Armour’s new campaign, “Rule Yourself”, uses the messages of these athletes that doesn’t focus on the trophy earned, but the work ethic and tenacity that it took to prepare to earn those victories. Nike’s motto is Just Do It, focusing on the motivation it takes to begin the effort. Under Armour’s athlete driven message focuses on the journey which involves daily training regiments, overcoming injuries and competitive disappointments, and thoroughly preparing for success.

Stephen Curry reinforces this message when he states “If you take time to realize what your dream is and what you really want in life – no matter what it is, whether it is sports or in other fields – you have to realize that there is always work to do, and you want to the hardest working person in whatever you do, and you put yourself in a position to be successful. And you have to have a passion about what you do.”

Today’s college students change majors 3 times on average before graduating. McCrindle & Wilson suggest that those in the Generation Y will have five careers in their lifetime. Today it is estimated that an adult will spend 4.4 years at a company before moving on to another more interesting or better paying position. This suggests individuals will always be consistently looking for new challenges and ways to apply their talents.

The key to educating our youth is to help them discover their interests and aptitudes early in life. Discovering their passion will set the course of their academic and career journeys and help propel them forward. The “Rule Yourself” marketing message is resonating with youth, illustrated by Under Armour sales climbing to $4 billion in the current year, expected to pass $10 billion by 2020. Success does not always come to the most talented, but more often to the ones with the passion to work to achieve it.

Having fun while learning!

Throughout my life, I’ve been to many museums and exhibits.  I’ve spent hours reading descriptions and plaques about what happened on a certain spot or on a certain date.  My ability to remember these events is enhanced with some sort of visual que or a hands-on exhibit.  When I take my family to a Science Museum or a Children’s museum, I’m usually “that guy” who is taking the time to press every button and try every experiment.  Usually, my kids need to grab me by the hand and drag me out before we get locked in at the end of the day!

The goal with this Fall’s series of Industry Days on Michigan Tech’s campus is to help our students learn what kind of career opportunities they could have.  These experiences will be a combination of hands-on learning and getting viewpoints from a variety of industry personnel.  Throughout the planning and development process, we keep asking the question: “Does that sound like something fun that I would want to do?”

Talking to a complete stranger is a skill that must be learned.  By creating fun, interactive activities, students experience networking by having a shared experience to discuss with recruiters.  The ability to network is one that students find hardest to learn and difficult to practice.

Another, perhaps unintended, benefit of this Fall’s “Industry Days” is giving students a safe place to learn yet another skill for their Career search and their lifelong learning.

Going Back to School to Retire

In 1971 Marty Knowlton filled a backpack full of clothes and began a 4-year walking tour through Europe. Using the youth hostel system of staying in low cost housing, a cheap railroad pass, and his feet, he experienced the informal education experience of a lifetime. When he returned to the states he meet up with David Bianco, who at that time was the director of residential life at the University of New Hampshire, and shared his experience.

David wanted to find a way to use the campus facilities during the summer and Marty wanted to find a way to create low cost, less formal educational experiences for people. In the summer of 1975 over 220 participants descended upon the University of New Hampshire campus and the Elderhostel was born. By 1980, Elderhostel’s had expanded to all 50 states, with over 20,000 participants. Today this systems of informal learning has expanded to 150 countries. These experiences combine travel with education, creating an educational experience driven by the idea learning by doing, we now call experiential learning.

The value of lifelong learning, both through social and intellectual engagement, can be found in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease. Today, every 67 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s with over 5.3 million Americans of all ages currently suffering from it. At a cost of $226 billion annually this expense is expected to rise to $1.1 trillion by 2050. Research has shown that a balance of healthy foods, exercise, and living with less stress are key components of preventing the occurrence of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. This same research identifies the high value of consistent brain stimulation through social and intellectual action.

Elderhostel’s were created on a university campus as a way to provide unique hands-on learning experiences for participants of all ages. University campuses, recognizing the needs of our aging baby boomers, are now piloting campus retirement communities. They have set up full functioning villas on campus for retirees. Residents have access to campus facilities such as libraries, fitness facilities, while also getting discounted tickets to sporting events and campus food services. Some campuses are also offering reduced tuition to take courses while others are offering free instruction.

The pioneers of these campus retirement communities are Penn State, University of Florida, and University of Texas at Austin. Others have created unique living experiences adjacent to their campuses such as the University Commons in Ann Arbor, allowing aging adults to have all the services available on campus, yet allowing for a bit more serenity than what you would experience on campus.

Our society places a very high value on knowledge and expertise. Often when individuals retire, they take this acquired knowledge with them, ceasing to share it with others for mutual benefit. Dementia occurs when an individual ceases to stay active intellectually, socially, and physically. Campus retirement communities bring the ideas learned in Elderhostel’s to future generations. Interaction with young students through these adjacent communities is a unique way to pass on this valued acquired knowledge, while still enjoying the activity of the mind and soul in retirement.  

New University-Wide Calendar System

The University campus is a busy place.  When you plan a visit to campus, you want to make maximum use of your time here.  To help you with this, Michigan Technological University implemented a new “university-wide” calendar system this summer.

Check out to see a single source location for a system that combine academic, athletic, and every publicly available calendar on campus into a single source.

With this new system, you can check the date range of possible events to find ways to maximize your time while you are in Houghton.  You will find the ability to search by date range, event types, department, and intended audience.  mtu_event_calendar

Embracing the Unknown

“Strange about learning; the farther I go the more I see that I never knew even existed.” -Daniel Keyes

As I read the current installment of reflection and discussion responses from students who are currently on co-op for the summer, Keyes’ quote is more true than ever, but I am not surprised. Our group of four career advisors here on campus share a lot of sayings, but one of our favorites sounds oddly familiar to Keyes, though far less poetic.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

We are constantly reminding our students of the unknown, because they are struggling to make career-related decisions without really knowing what’s out there. Those on co-ops are learning more about what is out there and some of those things they “never knew even existed.” When these students return to campus, they will come knowing a little more, worrying a little less, and working even harder, because they experienced, they learned, and their path became a little less winding.

If you are on the other side, as a supervisor or co-worker to a co-op student, I will leave you with some of their words. Nearly all of them credited those around them as to why their experiences were so englightening and valuable. While the work was part of their experience, a common theme was their appreciation for how they were treated while on site. Here’s what they said worked:

  • Surround them with people with whom they can trust, especially when asking questions
  • Provide honest feedback, because they want to learn and they want to learn to do it right
  • Make them feel valued – their work, their ideas, and their contributions
  • Take the time to get to know them and their lives outside of the workplace

The students on co-op are very aware of how much they don’t know and use every opportunity to learn something new each and every day, but those of us who have been doing our work for a while may be less observant. As you finish your day, think back and try to identify something new – what did you see that you never knew even existed?  We may be surprised.

Fall Career Fair Detailed Calendar

The weeks leading up to the Fall Career Fair are full of activity on the Michigan Tech campus.

In order to help the companies that recruit our students, Career Services has organized a web page to contain the information.  Please visit: before your visit to campus to help maximize your recruiting efforts.

You will find detailed brochures and complete registration information for the events that require advanced notification for participation.

Taking the plunge!

Too often, it is easy to make the safe choice. In many cases, this is easier and less work. All change requires additional work and some degree of risk.

Why would we change from our existing system for posting job opportunities and put our faith in a startup company?  Isn’t this a highly critical system designed to help our students find jobs?


We have been stuck in a classic “chicken or the egg” paradigm with both companies and students frustrated with each other for not being more active participants in the process. This has lead to continuing decline in system utilization as the spiral continued.

After years of listening to our students and employers tell us that our system was difficult to use and impossible to access from mobile devices, we decided to switch to a system designed from the “ground up” for today’s student. With intelligent prompts, suggestions for occasional users, and heavy integration with the social media that students use today, Handshake is much simpler to use.

That is only part of the issue. To make the system fulfill its potential, our launch events in the fall are designed to get students actively participating in the new system and actively thinking about their careers.

When our students return to campus in the Fall, they will have a chance to search for jobs, interact with employers, and chart their career path — all from the palm of their hand!  We are excited to provide our students with the latest in job search technology by converting to Handshake.



India – the Movement from Skills to Competency

India is a country of roughly 1.2 billion people, 600 million below the age of 25. Its K-12 educational programming is called a 10+2+3 system. The first 10 years is divided into 5 years of primary education, next 3 years is upper primary, and the final 2 years are high school. The “+2” stage is called the higher secondary stage which leads to “+3”, their University system. Today India has over 460+ central and state Universities, 190+ private universities, and 34,000+ colleges, of which 1,800+ serve women only.

The education system in India is now facing the challenge of moving from producing graduates with skills in each field of study to producing young professionals who are competent, or possess the ability to immediately apply those skills in industry. This challenge is coming from industry in India that has been expanding on average between 6% – 10% annually (the U.S. has been 3% or less since 2008). They need talent that can contribute immediately, the day they are hired. Currently, they have training programs lasting 12 to 18 months to get new graduates up to speed and productive.

The Indian education system is one that relies on testing of basic knowledge to advance academically. Like many education systems it focuses on memorizing academic content. Testing measures the level which this base knowledge is attained. The measurement is not on the ability to apply this knowledge to solve real world problems. India’s challenge; alter the system to produce young graduates that not only possess the knowledge (skill) but also ones that can easily and broadly apply that knowledge in a job situation (competence).

How can this be done? The educational system in India believes the approach to addressing this is broad based. First, there must be more interaction between industry and their educational institutions in the areas of research and student based problem solving of industry problems while they are still students. Second, alter the curriculum to include more project-based learning involving immediate application of the skills or knowledge they are acquiring.

Next is more internship experiences in industry as they are fulfilling their course work. Again, allowing students to apply their knowledge in a real world setting. Industry leaders in India such as Honeywell, Thermax, and Tata Consulting Services all continue to advance extensive internship programs to support the development of competent students who they expect to convert to full-time employees when they graduate.

A change that will be slower to transition is altering the established culture of testing which is strictly focused on the skills. There has been much controversy internationally on how to measure acquisition of skills and competencies in a way that can be both time-efficient and cost-effective. Those that find the answer will be closer to the goal of mass production of competent talent.

Intellectual talent is the most valuable renewable resource on earth. Industry sees this value and rewards talent with high salaries, while aggressively recruiting at the educational institutions that can produce competent students. In today’s global marketplace, we must ensure our educational efforts exceed our not-so-distant neighbors, allowing us to produce competent graduates that will attract both industry and valued careers.

Learn From Your Interns

Providing meaningful projects to your Interns and Co-ops is important.  Students can learn a lot about their professional development, your company, and their career development based on the workplace challenges your provide them.

Have you ever taken the time to consider the things you can learn from your interns?

Interns are an excellent source of information about themselves and their peers.  Once the orientation is over and they are starting to settle into the routine of your office – take some time out of your busy schedule to ask them some questions:

  • What kinds of recruiting activities have you seen other companies do that have impressed you?
  • What is the most off-putting thing you have seen a recruiter do?
  • How much did you know about our industry before you started working here?
  • Do you have any friends that you could recommend that I meet?
  • What did you think of your orientation?  Did it prepare you for the challenges of working here?
  • Is there too much hands-on?  Too much desk work?
  • Do you have a good understanding of our office culture?

By acknowledging this student as an expert about their life experiences, you will gain  business intelligence for yourself, but also gain the confidence, trust, and respect of a young student by simply listening.


Summer Hours

Starting Monday, May 4, the University shifts to its summer schedule. The general hours of operation will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Regular office hours resume on Monday, August 17.