AdvanSix Co-Op

Earlier this semester I went to the Engineering Spring Career Fair (in East Hall). It was required for me to go for my Professional Development class. We needed to print out our resumes and talk to employers. I wasn’t looking forward to talking to employers, they were all dressed up and very professional (I was afraid I’d mess up). I talked to three companies, one of which was AdvanSix. AdvanSix is an engineering company that produces a wide range of products (plastics, nylon, and even fertilizer). I’ve heard good things about this company, and I even have a friend that works there. I handed them my resume and talked a bit more about their company.

I received an email back around a week after the fair from AdvanSix asking for a Skype interview, this came to a surprise to me since usually freshman don’t get this opportunity. I was tempted to just ignore the email, I was scared and haven’t had a professional interview. I decided to accept the interview invite. I was going into the interview with the mindset of a learning opportunity, so if I did mess up I wouldn’t beat myself up about it. It’s ok to slip up as long as you learn from that bad experience and change it up next time.

The interview was kind of shaky at first, we couldn’t get Skype to connect, so we switched to a phone interview. Afterwards, I felt okay about how it went, but also not assured I had presented myself the best way I could. I brushed off my mistakes and used it as a learning lesson. I learned how professional interviews go and what questions you should be prepared to answer.

About a week or two later I opened up my laptop to do homework, then checked my emails. AdvanSix had offered me a Co-Op for Summer 2019! This news was so shocking, I had to close my computer and the work I was doing to stand up and do something. I was so nervous, confused, but mostly happy & excited. Why had they chosen me, a freshmen, with very little experience in engineering? I still don’t understand.

The Co-Op is very close and I’ll be able to stay at home & commute to work. Overall, I’m just so overwhelmed & blessed to have this opportunity. I couldn’t be more thankful to God :), He had a plan for me even when I couldn’t see it at first. I went into the interview with no expectations of getting a position, I learned that you never know what opportunity can open another door.

These Beautiful Spring Days :D

Weather is a topic everyone can fall back on in a conversation. Especially in Virginia with all of its crazy weather. With all the rain we’ve gotten in the past year it’s made it difficult to enjoy Richmond. We’ve had to avoid massive puddles and awkwardly bumping umbrellas with someone. Then the awful wind that flips your umbrella inside out, making the walk even more awkward.

I have absolutely LOVED the nice weather, it honestly lifts my mood so much. I love running in the spring, and Richmond, although running may seem difficult with all the torn up sidewalks, there are so many places to run to! I’ve traveled between Maymont, Belle Isle, and Browns Island within this week (and some multiple times).  Running in this weather brings me so much joy, especially in the mornings (to begin the day).

Biking is also a hobby I’d love to get into, as a commuter I’m not sure if I could fit my bike in my small Honda Fit. Honestly though, that car actually has a lot more room than expected so I may try fitting it anyways or investing in a bike rack for the back. I always loved riding bikes, it gives off that flying feeling, soaring down the path ahead.

Eno hammocks are also great! I don’t have one, but many of my friends do & I’m so grateful to them sharing it with me. They’re very accessible and relaxing, it’s great on a semi-windy warm day when it slowly rocks you with the shade from the tree that also supports you. There’re so many advantages to investing in a hammock, it gives you a place to read, work on homework, or even take a nice nap with calming music.

I am so grateful and excited for the weather to continue to get warmer (hopefully) to enjoy the beautiful nature of Richmond. There’re many more places to explore throughout Richmond, I am so ready for spring/summer to experience new places!!

Not Afraid

As I’ve said in previous blogs I have a fear of public speaking. A fear I’ve had for a while and recently been trying to push myself outside of. I’ve also talked about a Christian group on campus called InterVarsity, where we meet up every Friday night and worship/learn more about God & His plans for us.

Earlier in the week, I asked Paul (the worship leader) if I could sing, play (guitar), and talk a little about a song that has meant a lot to me. The song “Not Afraid” by Redrocks Worship talks about the confidence we have through God’s faithfulness.  I also shared a verse in the Bible (before playing the song), John 14:27. In John 14, Jesus was speaking about the promise He gives us through the Holy Spirit. Then in verse 27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”. Similar to the song, it shows me how God will give me His peace, which is far greater than my own, where I don’t have to be afraid of simple fears. The more I jump out of my comfort zone the easier it becomes and the more I thank God for calming my nerves enough to share with others in that way.

 

“Not My Week”

Many of us have been told that we need to fail to succeed. That something good will come out of what you’ve lost to. Even though it’s SO much easier to feel defeated. The past few weeks have been pretty challenging, trying to stay in a positive mindset when so many negative things happened around me. I kept telling myself, “alright, this isn’t my week, next one will be better”, but each week began to throw new challenges at me.  My grades were dropping & I couldn’t identify what I was doing wrong. This brought me back into bad habits from last semester, staying up late and waking up very early for my 8ams.  It led to me getting sick with a cold and feeling worn down (mentally & physically). Although it wasn’t great in the moment, I find that in this struggling time is where I learn/grow the most.

Sometimes I learn new tricks, but most of the time I remember. I remember how to motivate myself, to pick myself back up from defeat, and to identify where I fell short, so I can improve next time. Sure, these were hard to see in the moment, but now that I have more time, I can reflect on what I’ve experienced.

Success for me comes through trials I have. I’ve never been the student with straight A’s or the student that understands the concept the first time (congrats to those who do have that skill though, that’s a great skill to have!), but if you struggle like me, know that grades don’t define you. If you are putting forth an effort and reaching out to the resources provided, you will find growth in that, even if the outcome wasn’t what you were hoping for. Just don’t knock yourself down. Your worst enemy is yourself, it is SO easy to push yourself down. Use this energy, except in a positive way! Build yourself up, one day at a time, so when life really throws a curveball at you, you’ll be able to get back up stronger than last time.

Many of my blogs are for myself, these words are for me to remember, writing out the good that comes from the bad is what helps me continue forward and what motivates me. Find what motivates you & go for it, find the positive out of the negative, and don’t give up after small failures.

Working in the Pharmacy

I’ve worked at Kroger pharmacy as a pharmacy technician for about 8-9 months. My dad also worked in the pharmacy in college and suggested it was a good job to have on a resume. I took the position knowing I’d only be able to work 1-2 days a week during school, and thankfully it’s provided me enough money to make monthly car payments and a little money left over for myself.

As a pharmacy tech, we’re responsible for entering prescriptions into the computer, counting prescriptions, releasing them to the patient, and many other small jobs. From working at Kroger, I’ve learned to be patient, to listen, and to understand.

Working at Kroger has helped my memorizing skills. I’m a person you have to tell twice before I really remember something, so it was difficult for me at first to really listening to what the patient was asking me. Some patients it’s hard to understand them, whether their voice is damaged from smoking or if English is their second language. Working in this atmosphere has helped me listen and communicate better.

Constantly people ask us where other items are in the store, but since that isn’t our department we really don’t know where anything else is. If we had more time it would be ideal if we familiarized ourselves with the store, but in the pharmacy, it’s usually nonstop. We also come across many rude customers, some people don’t understand the stress that is put on us. We stress over time, recently Kroger has cut our hours, which leaves us with fewer technicians and more impatient customers. We want to be fast at what we do, while also making sure we efficiently count prescriptions without error; some customers don’t understand, they’ll complain about the time, but we’re doing the best we can do.  For me, it’s very easy to take it personally, but I know I’m doing everything I can to make sure the customer is happy.

I’ve learned you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. Maybe you’re in a rush, but you never know what others around you are dealing with. Some patients come to the pharmacy straight from the doctor, or they’re going out of town (where they need to pick up their medications earlier); it’s best to be more aware of the situations around you and be more compassionate of what others are going through. By looking at a different perspective, I’ve seen a lot of growth in myself.

What Do You Treasure?

Recently I was asked the question (a question I’ve heard before many times) “If your house was on fire what three things would you grab”. This time I really thought about the question, my three things would be my memory box, motivation board, and guitar. Most of my other stuff in my room are replaceable, but those three items could never be replaced.

Ever since I was little, I treasured small things people I cared about gave to me and I kept them in various boxes year after year. Although they’re small they have a handful of memories.  My extended family is talented with several different musical instruments and decided to make an album of them singing & playing their instruments together. They made copies of the CD to pass down through our family. Sometime In the future I’d love to make a similar album with them again with more of the younger generation added to it also. Family means a lot to me and living far away from my extended family is hard for me; especially when the holidays come around. Making another CD would be a great way to bring us all together, and will continue the tradition.

Similar to my box of memories my motivation board has letters and quotes from my cross-country team in high school. The girls on our team had a tradition called “Secret Sister”. We would each have a person on the team without them knowing and we’d write the person notes, give them food, or even pack fun socks for them. This tradition really brought us together as a team to know that we each had each other through good times and bad.

Although I have two acoustic guitars and two ukuleles, my first guitar is by far my favorite. I started playing guitar when I was 14 and have spent hours attempting to perfect songs and traveling to various places to play it. My guitar has accompanied me to several churches, where I have played with various church youth groups worshiping the Lord with the talents He’s given us. Now I am blessed to have found a group on Christian group on campus called InterVarsity, where this semester I stepped on the worship leadership team. This experience has opened up so many doors and opportunities: it has brought me joy and inspired me to continue learning guitar.

What is something you treasure in life?

Career Fair

This Wednesday was the engineering career fair. Where employers came to consider students for Internships,  Co-ops, and/or future jobs. It also gave students an opportunity to learn more about different companies and what skills employers look for in their industries. We have a fair each semester so if you happened to miss the one you could attend the other. As an assignment for my Professional Development class we had to attend the fair and also prepare for it. Having this as an assignment was really beneficial to me and prepared me more than if I had gone on my own. Before we went to the fair it was relevant for us to have our Handshake & LinkedIn profiles, resume, and cover letters completed so we had the basic/beginner requirements.

For me this was my first career fair to attend. Beforehand I researched a good about of information about some companies I was interested in. Aerotek, AdvanSix, and WestRock were a few of the companies I looked into. AdvanSix was one company that interested me the most but was only hiring sophomores and older. What I found fascinating about this company was that they are the leading producer of Nylon 6. It’s a bit hard to process that someday in the future I could be working for a big/well-known company, but it is exciting to see how far I’ve come, even with only one semester done. Classes that are coming up do intimidate me, but I’ll take it day by day and not try to think about the future too much.

After leaving the fair I could’ve definitely prepared more. I passed out all the resumes I brought and was surprised of how many employers took my resume as a freshman; I definitely will print out more for the next fair. Researching more companies and asking specific questions about their industry will also help more in the future. Over summer break I plan to look into where my interests are in companies and what line of work I’d like to go into, to narrow the search for employment.

It was a great learning experience, and I’m glad I went out of my way to talk to more employers to gain more experience with talking professionally. I even had a few employers tell me how relevant it was to start off early as a freshman and being proactive; to keep goals and success in mind to accomplish what may seem unachievable at find.

A Weekend to Remember

I’m involved with a Christian group on campus called InterVarsity (IV). Many people mistake it as a sports team, but our Mission is to love God and make Him known (on campus & wherever we go).  Last weekend many of us packed up and went to Hampton, Virginia (along with other schools in the area). The event held there was called, Eastern Virginia Conference (EVA), where we listened to the speaker, Ram Sridharan (pronounced Rom). Ram has a diverse background after living in many countries and growing up in a Muslim home. At EVA, Ram spoke in depth over Joshua 1-3 and having courage in the “in-between” places in our life. An “in-between” place differs with each person, whether you feel stuck in a relationship, having family troubles, or even adjusting to college life. For Ram, his “in-between” place was respecting his families religion, but also following his own.  In my case, it’s public speaking, I lack confidence in myself and dread any assignment that involves me speaking in front of a class. However over the weekend, I was reminded how it’s God courage, which gives us that courage to conquer our fears. Of course it’s easier said than done, but it’s a great, calming reminder for me.

At the conference we sang many worship songs, but one particular song we sang was called “Somlandela”. This song originated in South Africa that was originally sung in Zulu. I loved what Ram said about this, he explained the importance of worshipping together in other languages, how it embraces the cultures around us and brings us together with praises.

Another topic Ram went over was relationships. With friends, family, or a significant other relationships are mostly two-sided to work where both sides have to work together. Where unlike these, having a relationship with Jesus is one-sided. As Christians, we believe that Jesus died for all the wrongdoing in the world and if we believe in Him, we are forgiven; because He died He carries both sides of the relationship for forgiving us.

It was a wonderful weekend filled with great experiences, memories to remember, and reminders of the love of God. This InterVarsity community of Christians has impacted me greatly, where I’ve seen growth in myself. I’m truly blessed to have a loving safe place with people who have similar beliefs as mine, and worship together in fellowship.

 

A New Schedule

For some people staying up till 2-3am finishing a homework assignment works for them, but last year it caused me more stress/worry than good. I decided to change up my sleep schedule because 2-3am nights didn’t work for me and left me exhausted & miserable the next day. Over break I watched a few YouTube videos explaining how to change up your sleep schedule the right way. The trick is going to bed your normal time and waking up the time you want to change it to; don’t take any naps in-between and when you’re ready to fall back asleep wait till the time that’ll give you 8 hours of sleep and wake up your desired time. This took me a few nights during break to get it right but I did. Training myself to a different sleep time over break wasn’t ideal, but I knew if I waited for classes to start I would’ve fallen into the same bad habits. I’ve been trying going to bed around 10 (or sooner), then waking up 5 for a good 7 hours of sleep. Never have I been a morning person! It’s crazy waking up at 5, but I actually find it very peaceful in the morning; where it feels like I’m up before the world’s awake and I’ve got a head start on my day.

Having a routine helps me accomplish what needs to get done and keeps me on top of my work. After waking up, I make my bed; pretty simple thing to do, but to me it means more. It became a habit of mine not to make my bed in the morning because I felt lazy in the morning and it felt like I ‘didn’t have time’. Then I heard a talk once about making your bed; it talked about making your bed and how it prepares you for your day; it’s your first accomplishment of the day. Then when you have a bad day, where you feel unproductive and lazy, you’ll come home to your one accomplishment; your nicely made bed.

Eating breakfast is something I would also skip during high school & last semester. Many people have told me time and time again how important a good breakfast is but I didn’t listen. I’ve eaten breakfast every day this semester and I’ve had so much more energy and motivation for my day.

Last semester didn’t go great with these unhealthy lifestyles I had. I was constantly tired and unmotivated to complete assignments. Coming into this semester, not because of New Years, but because my academic grades weren’t where I wanted them to be. I knew I needed to change my system and know when to prioritize certain assignments. Not to say you should change up your system, but this is what works for me. You should though find an area in your life you feel could improve on and find a routine that works for you.

 

What I Learned

Last semester I began my Chemical Engineering Major; they threw a crazy amount of information at me, which was very overwhelming and seemed unachievable. Even though the experience had many uncertainties it has helped so much and prepared me for the semesters to come.

I learned the importance of being proactive. Whether that be through volunteering, community, or working hard. Surrounding yourself with positive influences has helped so much with my stress & school anxiety. Many clubs and organizations (relating to your major) are available to help with being uncertain. I’m involved with an engineering mentoring program, where we partnered up with upperclassmen to help with any questions you have about the program/ classes I need to take. These programs not only help you experience new ideas, but they also look great on resumes; it helps let your future employer know you were actively involved in the community and that you’d be useful to their company.

This year I’m not as worried about the future and have made it an effort to continually learn more about my major. In years past I’ve found it difficult to see how some schoolwork is relevant for my future career. Currently I’m enrolled with an Introduction to Programming class. We’re learning Excel and this is the first time I can actually see myself working on this after I graduate.