Guest Post: Arnold Adja, UMBC Political Science Student

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Arnold Adja with Senator Cheryl Kagan

On April 10th, the 2017 Maryland Legislative Session ended, traditionally known as Sine Die. Unfortunately, this date also signaled the end of my time with Montgomery County’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations (IGR).

As the first Gene Counihan Legislative Intern, I was chosen to support the County’s IGR office during the annual Legislative Session. The Office of IGR represents the County’s interests at the regional, state, and federal levels. Moreover, the Office prepares the Legislative program and acts as the liaison between the state government, the County’s state delegation, and congressional staff.

This position was advertised through the Career and Internship Services Center (CISC) at The Universities at Shady Grove.  I am indebted to Jennifer Willis-Oliveira, Acting Assistant Director of Employer Relations, who met with me on numerous occasions to help me  improve my resume and cover letter.

Arnold 3I was beyond excited when I found out that I had been selected as Gene Counihan’s Legislative Intern. The anxiety I felt about being the new person quickly faded as the Director (Melanie Wenger), analysts, and staff members (Kathleen Boucher, Sara Morningstar, Amy Samman, Leslie Frey, Verna Price, and Wanda Wells) went above and beyond to make me feel part of the team. I was given important responsibilities and was lucky to witness what goes on behind-the-scenes.

Arnold 5I assisted Delegate Queen (District 14) in receiving a unanimous vote on a bill to extend the eligibility period during which businesses that lease property in the Burtonsville Enterprise Zone may claim both real property tax credit and personal property tax credit. Some of my responsibilities included attending hearings, helping to implement a new county legislative tracking system, analyzing bills, and writing position statements and briefing materials.

Arnold 6In addition to tracking legislation, I attended weekly meetings. On Mondays, the staff would generally meet with the County Council to discuss bills that would be coming on the agenda and asking the Council to take positions on the bills. On Wednesdays, we attended meetings at the Maryland Association of Counties, where representatives from our 24 state counties would try to come to a consensus on the different pieces of legislation. On Fridays, there would usually be Montgomery County House Delegation meetings where the County’s Delegates would discuss and vote on upcoming legislation. Some of the speakers at the Delegation meetings included Senator Ben Cardin and Dr. Jack Smith, Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools.

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Arnold with Gene Counihan

The highlight of my experience was meeting Gene Counihan – the man who my position was named after. Gene has an impressive CV – he spent most his life as an educator for Montgomery County Public Schools, he served in the House of Delegates for over 12 years, he served as a special assistant to Governor Glendening, he was the Maryland Government Relations Officer for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, he was elected Chair of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, and served as the inaugural chair of the Board of Advisors at the Universities at Shady Grove.

He told me to meet him in the Legislator’s Lounge of the historic Calvert Inn in Annapolis. To my surprise, it turned out to be the local hangout spot for, Senators, Delegates, administrative and legislative staff members. There I was having dinner with representatives I saw at committee hearings. Gene made sure to introduce me to everyone who entered the room. I even made the acquaintance of some of the Governor’s closest advisors.

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Governor Larry Hogan

Ultimately, it was an experience that I will never forget. I met some truly amazing people with enormous hearts. I will cherish my time with the Office of IGR for the rest of my life and my only regret is that I will no longer see their faces on a day-to-day basis.

It is fair to say that I have learned the importance of civic duty and I definitely plan on returning for the 2018 Legislative Session.

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Suite News: Graduating Soon? Learn How to Navigate the Job Search Process


Jessica Johnson

Hi, I’m Jessica Johnson, Career Advisor of Graduate Students and Special Populations in the Career & Internship Services Center (CISC) at USG. As a career services professional for the past six years, I’ve seen and heard students’ mix emotions when it comes to the job search — excitement, frustration, procrastination, and more. As many of you approach graduation (congratulations!) and the job search process, I have some tips to share that I hope will help you navigate this process:

  1. Before you begin the search, take a step back and reflect. Your interests have influenced many choices in your life, including your major and hobbies. Begin assessing your interest areas. Do you wish to analyze and synthesize data? Interact with children? Solve problems? Work with chemicals? Interests hold your attention, motivate you to get out of bed every morning, and lead to personal and professional success.
  2. Understand your values. Values are our guiding principles and informs our decisions. Examples of values include: work/life balance, professional development, upward mobility, working for a prestigious company, financial gain, variety, ability to be creative, and much more. It is important to rank your values from most to least important and identify the top motivators that must match the organization and position.
  3. Develop a strategy and make use of your resources. Now, that you’ve spent time reflecting, let’s discuss the actual job search. Since there are many moving parts (ex. crafting your resume and cover letter, applying to a position, networking, and interviewing), I encourage you to begin early. Here are some considerations and additional resources to help you in your search:
  • Career Connector – As a student at USG, you have access to our internal job and internship database. Employers post opportunities on the platform and are looking to hire YOU! Career Connector is updated weekly with new opportunities, so I encourage you to check often.
  • Your personal network– Identify who is in your circle that you can contact for advice, insight on their career path, or potential job leads.  Feel like you don’t have a network? Believe me, you do! Start with your classmates, professors, family members and friends. Did you intern while in college? Your former internship coworkers and supervisors are part of your professional network too. There are also many networking events in the area that you can attend — this is the perfect opportunity to go and meet professionals in your industry.
  • Develop a target list of organizations– The job search can be overwhelming when applying to every position you find. Having a strategic approach is essential in order to save time and energy. Create a target list of 20-30 organizations you are interested in and review open positions on their website. If you don’t see any opportunities, tap into your alumni network to find individuals who may work for the organization. Once you find an alumnus, request an informational interview (a formal conversation to learn about the professional’s career path and experience working at the company).. Developing a target list allows you to spend time tailoring your resume and cover letter to the position and organization, as well as find companies that match your values.
  • Utilize LinkedIn – Over 90% of recruiters are searching the site for their next talent. Since recruiters are heavily utilizing the platform, you should be an active participant on LinkedIn. Need help getting started on LinkedIn? Read more about how to use Linkedin effectively on one of our previous posts by Lindsey Seaby, Assistant Director for Student Services & Academic Outreach in CISC at USG.

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As you navigate the job search, you should diversify your strategy and employ a combination of all the steps presented here. When I meet with students who have applied to jobs for weeks or months but have not received an interview, we discuss being stalled in their search. In this situation, the student may be spending too much time applying to jobs online and not enough time leveraging their relationships or developing a target list.

Need help fine-tuning your job search strategy? Meet with a career advisor in CISC to discuss your job search strategy in depth. Log-in to Career Connector today to schedule an appointment that can be conducted in-person, over the phone, or via Google Hangouts.

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Suite News: Disable the Label


Kelly Rogan

My name is Kelly Rogan and I am the Coordinator for Disability Support Services at USG (housed in the Center for Academic Success). It is my mission to create an accessible and accepting atmosphere for students, staff, and faculty. I would like to take this opportunity to share some information on the use of inclusive language related to individuals with disabilities.

We most likely have no intention to marginalize or cast judgment on those with disabilities but the use of certain phrases or words can do just that. I am not here to give you the “PC” talk and tell you that everything you have ever said, thought, or wrote is wrong or offensive. My intention is to provide you with some insight to help make our campus community an even more inclusive place.

Here are some tips and examples:

  • Use person first language. When talking about people, we always want to refer to them as people or individuals before we identify them as something else.
    • Write this: USG provides services for individuals with a disability.
    • Not this: USG provides services for disabled individuals.
  • Focus on ability rather than disability.
    • Write this: I have a professor who utilizes a wheelchair.
    • Not this: I have a wheelchair-bound professor.
  • When saying wheelchair-bound it seems like the person lacks particular abilities where as someone who utilizes a wheelchair is less “bound” by the label.
  • Consider how we label the places that people with disabilities use.
    • Write this: Accessible parking is available in the Traville Gateway Garage.
    • Not this: Disabled parking is available in the Traville Gateway Garage.
  • When we use the word disabled with a service or location it sounds like that service or place is “disabled” or broken. What we intend to says is that those areas are most accessible for those needing it.
  • Do not assume someone is suffering. You should avoid stereotyping by using objective language.
    • Write this: The student was diagnosed with chronic depression.
    • Not this: The student suffers from depression.
  • When writing about a particular diagnosis, notice how it reflects the person’s abilities to cope. Being “diagnosed” and “suffering from” (while often used interchangeably) have very different tones.

I encourage you to keep these in mind as you interact with others on the USG campus, as well as in the general community. Whether you are planning an event, creating signage, or meeting one-on-one, these tips will help you to create an accepting and inclusive environment. Remember – not all disabilities are observable, so consistent use of inclusive language is important, as there are individuals who may never disclose to you that they have a disability; doing so establishes that you are a safe and accepting part of our campus community.

For questions about our Disability Support Services on campus or assistance in creating accessible materials or events please reach out to the Center for Academic Success at


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Suite News: You May Not Know It, But You’re a Recruiter, Too

Jen headshot

Jen Cohen

Are you familiar with the Universities at Shady Grove?

Over the last four years, I’ve asked that exact question at countless transfer fairs, college nights, presentations, and Open Houses. As a reader of this blog, you may be tempted to answer “yes,” but just how familiar are you? Do you know how we work? If so, could you explain how we work to others? Could you explain why someone would want to attend USG instead of anywhere else?

I’m Jen Cohen, and I work as the Senior Recruitment Coordinator in the Center for Recruitment and Transfer Access (CRTA), a somewhat hidden component of SAS. I say hidden because unlike the Center for Academic Success, Career and Internship Services Center, Center for Counseling and Consultation, and Office of Student Services, our most pertinent work is largely done off-campus. We help prospective students and community members to become familiar with USG – to understand both how and why it works – and hopefully to attend (or encourage others to attend) a program offered here in the process.


USG Student Ambassadors are integral in helping to promote USG

You may not know it, but you’re a recruiter, too.  If you’re a current student, when a friend or family member asks you where you attend school, you have an opportunity. If you’re an employee who works at or with USG, when you are asked about your job, you have an opportunity. If you’re a community member, when a neighbor or colleague asks you what those buildings near Giant are, you have an opportunity. An opportunity to spread the word about this hidden gem in Montgomery County that affords so many local residents with an easier path towards becoming a college graduate. But in order to do this, you will need to be armed with some tools. You will need to surpass “familiar” with USG and make it a point to truly understand how it all works. Today, I invite you to get to know USG:

  • USG offers select graduate and undergraduate degrees from nine different Maryland universities all on our one campus in Rockville.
  • Students apply directly to the university offering their chosen major, but on the application, they select Shady Grove as their preferred campus.
  • Students take all their classes and access all services/student life here, but their professors, curriculum, and most importantly, diploma, come from the university offering their program. It does NOT say The Universities at Shady Grove on the diploma.
  • Compared to the home universities’ campuses, USG offers smaller class sizes, more personalized services, reduced fees, and additional scholarship opportunities.
  • At the undergrad level, all students are transfer students, starting at the junior level. This creates a greater sense of community, but also necessitates that students complete their first two years elsewhere.
  • USG was founded as a way to keep talented students in the county beyond their associate’s degree. All programs offered by the nine universities at USG  have direct ties to the needs of the workforce in this specific region, making students much more likely to find local employment as well.

Students from all nine universities celebrate together at the annual USGFest

By sharing these simple bullet points with friends, family, and colleagues, you have the chance to provide them with an “aha” moment – that moment when USG transforms from a simple group of buildings into a place that allows them to achieve their educational dreams.

Invite others (and come yourself) to learn more about USG at our upcoming Undergraduate Open House on Saturday, April 22nd. As newly minted recruiters, I’m counting on you to help me spread the word!

CRTA Staff

Representatives from all nine universities will be present at the Open House, along with CRTA staff, pictured here

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Suite News: USG Appreciates Graduate and Professional Students!

shelby photo 11-14-16Hi there! My name is Shelby Speer, and I am the Graduate Student Services Coordinator in the Office of Student Services at Shady Grove. My job is to improve and enhance the experiences of graduate and professional students via events, programs, and services.

It is true that graduate and professional students are not often in the spotlight on college campuses, but at USG we want to make sure that they feel welcome and appreciated. If you are a graduate student who is reading this blog post, perhaps you have had a Student and Academic Services representative from one of our centers swing by one of your classes and deliver goody bags? Maybe you have relayed your suggestions to a member of our Graduate Student Advisory Committee? Or you have attended an event run by a graduate student organization? These are just a few of the ways that we recognize and value graduate students on the USG campus.

I am very excited about our upcoming inaugural Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week, which is April 3-8 in multiple locations and at various times across campus. The week will feature mini-workshops on a variety of topics, multiple opportunities for free food and beverages, and even “swag bags” just for graduate students! Get the complete event schedule on our website, and/or swing by one of our information tables this week (located in the lobbies of all three buildings).

Grad Student Appreciation Week flyer

If you are a graduate or professional student who is looking for ways to get more involved in our campus community, please contact me and I would be glad to discuss options with you. I’d also be happy to hear any suggestions for improving your experience here. Finally, please be sure to check out our Graduate Student Resources webpage, which is frequently updated with events and announcements just for you.

Let’s work together to make this place even more vibrant and welcoming for graduate students. See you at Appreciation Week! And for those of you who are graduating this academic year, I look forward to celebrating with you at our inaugural graduate and professional student Graduation Gala  on May 12th as well!

grad resources flyer

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Suite News: Tips to get a Better Night’s Sleep – Starting Tonight!

Mandi Mader

Mandi Mader

Hi, my name is Mandi Mader and I work as a Counselor in USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC) located inside of the Priddy Library. I have over 20 years of experience working with adolescents, young adults, couples and families with a variety of concerns related to ADHD management, relationship problems, parenting skills, and insomnia. But today, I would like to focus on an area that is so common to college students, and that is lack of sleep.

Sleep deficiency can cause problems with learning, focusing, and reacting. You may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, remembering things, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. You may take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes. Sleep deprivation is also linked to a greater risk for anxiety and depression.

A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep with no negative effects. However, research shows that getting enough quality sleep at the right times is crucial for mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

Other medical conditions that are also linked to sleep disorders are heart diseaseobesity, diabetes, high blood pressurestroke, depression, and ADHD.

Student not sleeping

Ok, now that I have your attention, here are some important tips for getting better sleep:

  1. Increase your physical exercise! Even a small increase can help.
  2. Do not go to bed until you are sleepy (more than tired). Ideally, you should fall asleep within 20 minutes of turning the light out. This may mean staying up later.
  3. Use your bed only for sleeping in.
  4. If you find yourself tossing and turning for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed until you are sleepy – not just tired. While you are up, do a quiet, non-electronic activity. The key is to associate your bed with relaxation and sleep, not with frustration and being awake.
  5. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Use a sleep mask or ear plugs if necessary.
  6. Induce the relaxation response. There are many ways to do this, including apps like Calm, or
  7. Go to bed within a ½ hour of the same time, and get up within ½ an hour of the same time, every day — even weekends.
  8. Aim for 7 to 8 Hours, no cheating.
  9. Thirty minutes before sleep, turn off all devices—laptop, iPad, smartphone. Escort your devices out of your bedroom. Download f.lux. This is a gradual screen dimming software. Blue light from our electronics mimics daylight and can delay the release of melatonin.
  10. Create a relaxing ritual.
  11. Change into something comfortable.
  12. Read something non-work related, and not on a screen.
  13. If you start thinking of things you need to remember, or to do, write them down on a piece of paper.
  14. No caffeine after 2 or 3pm. No alcohol after 7pm.
  15. Expose yourself to bright light, ideally sunlight, first thing in the morning and begin to dim lights in the evening.

Remember, we do not need to try to sleep. Our body is designed to sleep. If we increase exercise, keep a schedule, and learn to relax, great sleep is possible. Only YOU can prioritize your health and remember — the only thing that replaces sleep is SLEEP.

If you have trouble a) staying asleep, b) falling asleep, or c) repeatedly waking up too early, three or more times a week for more than one month, you might have insomnia. If you are not sure, and you do not get relief from the above tips, I encourage you to make an appointment at the USG Center for Counseling and Consultation for a free insomnia assessment. To set-up an appointment call 301-738-6273.

Sweet dreams,

Mandi Mader, LCSW-C


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Suite News: LINKEDIN, the Social Media Tool You Should Be Using

Lindsey headshot

Lindsey Seaby

Throughout the day, most of you will snap, tweet, post, tag, filter and share a lot of information. It is estimated that over 90% of young adults use social media. However, for the majority of you, none of these casual ways of sharing content is going to help you land your dream job.

Lucky for you there happens to be a social media platform that can help you network your way to career bliss. Did you know an estimated 85% of jobs today are found through networking? And while LinkedIn may not have all the addicting filters and features of SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook, it is the single most important social media tool you should be using as a college student. It is time to stop ignoring that blue and white logo, and give some long overdue attention to the more professional and polished side of social media.

Hi, my name is Lindsey Seaby, and I’m the Assistant Director for Student Services and Academic Outreach in The Career and Internship Center CISC) here at Shady Grove. Before coming to USG, I was a recruiting manager for a large marketing company where it was my job to select, interview and hire over 200 entry-level positions each year, and my company relied heavily on LinkedIn for finding qualified candidates. So I strongly encourage you to use LinkedIn as a tool and an advantage for your career. Here are three simple ways LinkedIn can help you network your way to your dream job or internship:

1. Make it easy for recruiters to find you

You can’t find something that doesn’t exist.

A recent survey from Jobvite found that 93% of job recruiters tap into LinkedIn to find qualified candidates, up from 87% last year. Simply put, recruiters and HR Professionals live on LinkedIn. As a former Recruiting Manager, one of the first things I did when reviewing applications was to review the candidate’s LinkedIn profile. When I was searching for student intern candidates, I looked at the student’s profile as well.  Some recruiters even prefer to build their talent pipelines exclusively through using LinkedIn to find both passive and active job seekers to reach out to about job opportunities.

So, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, how will a recruiter find you? It is certainly going to make getting on their radar more difficult and consider your competition – the 40 million other students and young graduates out there. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out directly to a recruiter on LinkedIn. One strategy is to first apply to a position you want and then send a well-written, professional message to the recruiter who posted the opportunity. Many recruiters have to interview a certain number of candidates per job posting, so why not do them a favor and proactively engage them? LinkedIn provides you with a unique opportunity to be the one to reach out and request a phone call to discuss why you think you are qualified. Think smarter, not harder!

Linkedin image

2. Connect with alumni that can help you reach your career goals

Turn relationships into opportunities.

One easy way to find people who you will immediately have something in common with is using the alumni finder. The alumni finder will search LinkedIn for anyone who has attended the same university you have listed on your profile. You can then use LinkedIn’s visual tools to narrow it down to alumni who are working in specific locations and occupations. Even if you have no LinkedIn connections to them, you will probably find their e-mail address. Reach out to them! The worst thing that can happen is they don’t reply, in which case, find someone else to reach out to. I cannot stress enough that this is the EASIEST way to connect with working professionals. You have a go-to starter for conversation — your school experiences! People are very nostalgic about their time spent in college. Tap into that. Talk about all the exciting things going on at Shady Grove or on your home campus. Connect and engage with them, ask for advice and if you ask the right questions and prove to be a hardworking and eager to learn, you may even land yourself a mentor!

3. Find industry experts and leaders in your field to give you advice

Find the person that has the job that you want to have 10-15 years from now.

Everyone has a dream job. LinkedIn provides the platform for you to engage with the professionals that work at your dream company. As a student, even senior level professionals are very receptive to you reaching out and asking for advice on how to get ahead in your field. By connecting with the industry leaders, groups and companies that are leading the way, you will gain insight into how you can best prepare yourself now to be the most competitive candidate possible once graduation approaches. This past week, one of my students had a great experience through a LinkedIn informational interview assignment and I asked him to share his thoughts on this networking exercise:

“Networking to find a job can prove to be difficult. Through working with a career coach, as a part of a networking exercise, I reached out to professionals in my field on LinkedIn. Since my dream is to work at Nintendo, the place to start was reaching out to employees currently working there. I checked on LinkedIn, and connected with an employee at Nintendo. We scheduled a Skype interview, and he provided me with incredibly valuable information. He told me what steps I can take to get a job at Nintendo. That alone was a great start – I can now plan out the steps I will take to end up where he is someday.” – Joel Landry, Junior, University of Baltimore, Digital Entertainment & Simulation

Students can make individual appointments with the USG Career & Internship Services Center to review their LinkedIn Profile and discuss their digital networking strategy.

Mark your calendars! USG’s CISC will be hosting “LinkedIn Day” on Wednesday, April 5th where recruiters and industry experts will lead workshops on LinkedIn best practices and there will be a professional photographer on-site to take free professional headshots for your LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn Lab-for PDs

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