Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Setting Priorities!

Hi there!

We've passed the half-way mark of this semester and everything couldn't be in a more awkward position. I am happy and excited to see my academic goals finally reaching an end, but it is frightening to realize that soon the entire world will be open to us. 

Now, what is so scary about having the world open to us? Is it that we are left to the open with no real sense of direction? Or maybe, is it the fact that we will successfully complete our undergrad education just to realize we still don't know what we want to do with our lives? No matter what the case is; the reality is that endless opportunities are at our reach. 

Getting back to my present reality. It has been a crazy semester full of new opportunities and disappointments. I have a full load of classes which does not help when you are trying to secure a job. In addition, the stress of complying with all the other duties is being really playing a role in my overall performance. I feel like I've been trying to give 100% to everything I am suppose to do, that at the end nothing was getting enough attention.

Here is where the lesson of my post relays. As part of my professional development I decided to participate in the Alumni Mentoring Program at Westminster College. The program is center around providing meaningful opportunities for current students as they learned from alumni. We also enjoy monthly meetings where we focus on a given topic. During our October meeting the theme was priorities; I realized how important is to give time and effort to the things that matter the most TODAY. Let me give you a good example of this, over the past 2 months I emphasize in finding a way to score a job interview at a large multinational financial company that happen to have a large operation center in Salt Lake City. Anyway, I invest so much time and effort attending to open houses, receptions, and dinners that my performance in classes really started to decline a bit. At the end I was able to interview for a full time position, but I wish I had pay more attention to my classes and a little less to the company. Simply because the company will take their own decision and I can't do anything more to influence said decision; while my grades and academic performance are completely up to me. 

That was a hard thing for me to learn. I am glad I did learn my lesson, but I wish I didn't have to learn it this way. Now I am chasing myself trying to catch up with my classes and homework assignments. Overall, I believe it has been a great semester; but as mentioned before, as the end of the academic year get closer, the time to move forward with my life does too. 

I wish y'all have a great end of semester! Take it easy during finals and remember to have some healthy fun. There is no need to rush anything!   

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fall 2014 - The Beginning of the End.


Here we are again, three weeks into a new semester and I am already swamped with homework and projects. However, I expect nothing less of my senior year and I can't really say that I regret the level of enthusiasm that can be sense throughout my classes. This kind of energy is the result of the realization of a coming end for so many of us. The end of our college experience (at least for now) marks the begging of a new phase full of threatening opportunities and exciting decisions. 

As far as me concerns, it has been a chaotic time as I try to comply with my school responsibilities while attempting to score internships that will potentially secure a job offer. I realized that the opportunities will eventually come as I continue to build my qualifications now. This has been specially true during this semester, thanks to the classes that I am taking as they provide me with real business tools and skills to become a more competitive candidate in the real business arena. 

For example, on my Investment and Analysis class we are learning about the new and trending methods to generate our own opinion regarding the changes in the market. Also, I've learned that in the finance world there are many ways to calculate the same figures and that I can find out and use my own way to calculate and understand the market behavior. For my Concepts and Applications of Business Finance class we have been required to pass the Bloomberg certification, on my opinion this represents an advantage since most of the top universities and colleges in the US share the same requirement. 

Even though it has been a busy beginning of semester I can't say that it has been all bad. I have had the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends throughout the school. I also have had the opportunity to interview with a few companies and firms that caught my attention as possible employers. And even though the work to be done ahead of me seems to be unconquerable; I believe that if I put in the effort to get it done, the results will come. 

Se there you have it, cheers for a new semester, cheers for the beginning of the end, and overall cheers for all the good times and memories to come. I'll let you guys go with a quote, that I believe define the characteristic mindset of those who will succeed in their endeavors. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's All About the Community!


Summer is almost gone and with Fall semester just around the corner a question remains: what have I done this summer? For the most part I had no really exciting events to report, but I did have some meaningful experiences that I believe are worth even more. 

This summer I completed my internship requirement for graduation. The selection process was not particularly easy; given the number of internship opportunities available to the school, choosing "the" one was kind of hard. I had to chose between staying at my current position and use it as my internship, get a new position with a corporate finance company or work with a non-profit organization. I decided to volunteer with the 9th West Farmers Market, formally known as People's Market. 

Currently, the farmers market is struggling to keep their operations alive and they could not afford the expenses to contract an outside accountant and bookkeeper. I decided to continue with my current position, while working after hours with the farmers market. I am determined to do everything within my reach to help this wonderful group of people attain their goals. The 9th West Farmers Market was found more than 10 years ago, making it one of the first farmers markets available in the area. Ever since their foundation it has experienced some ups and downs, like most businesses they had been force to adapt to changing times and methods of operations. Is the lack or delay of proper adapting changes that created the crisis that the market is facing today. 

So what have I done for them and why? From the get go I notice that all their finances had not been carefully followed, so a new accounting information systems was implemented to create some order among their in and out cash flows. This was a crucial step for the market since it opened the discussion on the future of the market as a non-profit in Utah based on the limited resources available to them at the moment. Additionally, I realized that the board of directors was constituted by passionate vendors who, unfortunately lack expertise on management and marketing. However, the lack of expertise is not the biggest of the issues among the board members but the inconstancy on the share vision and mission for the market. I wrote my proposal on what I believe should be the market's mission statement and values, in hopes to unify the board's efforts.

During this whole process I learned many valuable lessons that, I believe I wouldn't been able to get any where else. For example, I have never work for an organization where increasing revenue while decreasing expenses were not priority number one. My work the farmers market proved to be of great significance because success is not being measured in a dollar amount but in the quality of contribution that we can offer to our community. Another example was the opportunity to work with an organization facing dissolution; it has been an amazing learning experience since all the work that we do can literally be the difference between keep running the market or seeing it disappear. All in all it has been a great experience, and although the fate of the market still unclear, I am still determined to do as much as I can to see it successfully contribute to our community. 

As result of my summer internship and the previous Delta Mu Delta Board Match event I decided to take a position in the board as the Treasurer. I hope that I can benefit the 9th West Farmers Market in any way possible. Whether the market continues to offer our community a place where local farmers and artisans can freely and securely sell their goods or the board decide it is not viable to keep the market running for future years. Even if the market's fate determines that closure is needed, I don't regret my decision to help an organization that has brought service to the Greater Salt Lake Area for so many years.

Thank for checking in, I hope you had a great summer and you are ready to start Fall semester. Make it the best you can!  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Oh Mexico!


Today I've decided to write about my recent trip to my home country and the wonderful experience I had while traveling through the roads of Mexico. Although, I felt somehow out of place while visiting Mexico, due to the fact that I have spent most of my adult life in the US, I cannot deny my pride and love for my cultural heritage. 

For those of you out there who think Mexico is only a field full of drug dealers and unspeakable violence I have bad news; Mexico overflows with ancient traditions and cultures while offering breathtaking scenery and magical places to visit. That is why I decided to show some of the hidden Mexico that has yet to be recognized by the overwhelming international media. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Before we can start you should know that Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (official name of the country) has a total of 32 different states and a federal district (Mexico City.) Each state possess its unique culture(s) and distinctive traditions, attires and foods. In addition to Spanish the Mexican government officially recognizes 68 different indigenous dialects (but many others are spoken among smaller populations) 

Lets get started with my home town: Mexico City. the first picture is from the Palacio de Bellas Artes (the Palace of the Beautiful Arts) where you can enjoy worldwide known classical concerts and art expositions. The next picture is a night shoot at an iconic building in the heart of Mexico City: La Torre Panamericana. The last picture is another iconic feature of Mexico city; el Angel de la Indepedencia (the Independence Angel) and the place where I celebrated Mexico's classification to the next round in the soccer world cup ; )

Next one of my favorite states in the country; Chiapas. First is the Canon del Sumidero, followed by Cascadas de Agua Azul and finally some of the most beautiful Mayan ruins: Palenque. 

Now some people may say that the following pictures were taken in Holland, Russia or Spain; well ladies and gentlemen this is Mexico! The first picture is Monclova in the state of Coahuila. The next picture is from the state of Chihuahua and lastly the Cathedral in San Miguel de Allende in the beautiful state of Guanajuato. 

I hope you guys can see by now that Mexico has lots to offer to the world, and that these amazing places deserve a little more attention. The following pictures are more examples of the natural beauty that Mexico offers. The first picture is from Tlalmanalco in the state of Mexico. Followed by the bay at the state of Tampico. Finally the picture of Hierve el Agua in the State of Oaxaca, where I spent most of my vacation, this picture shows petrified waterfalls.  

After 3 years since my last visit, I had the chance to visit Mexico and experience some of its beauty. Although, I am really proud of my roots and I actively try to preserve them I couldn't help to feel like a stranger in my country. As mentioned before I have spend most of my adult life in the US and I believe it is safe to say that I am use to the quiet and peaceful life that Utah offers me. As soon as I reached Mexico city with its 20 Million people trying to coexist in the same space I felt overwhelmed. After some traveling around I found myself in the State of Oaxaca and the bays of Huatulco. 

Even though the heat was extremely humid, Huatulco was undoubtedly the most relaxing part of my trip with my young family. We enjoy a beautiful place full with beautiful and kind people who enjoyed showing us around and let us know the best hidden secrets that the small town of Santa Maria Huatulco had to offer; from the best best food to the most wonderful virgin-areas where we had the chance to enjoy pristine nature. Here are some of the pictures we took while in Huatulco, Oaxaca (BTW I would recommend this place to anybody.)

It is amazing how much we, sometimes, take for granted the style of life we can enjoy here in the US. I feel thankful for the many blessings we receive. I don't only mean 60" flat screens in our homes or a nice car to drive to school/work; I mean the possibility to afford such things, the fact that we can have clean water and good food at our tables. This trip helped me to realize how fortunate I am to be in a country where freedom is for everyone and not something only a few can truly enjoy. A country where freedom means we are free to build ourselves to be the best version of us. 

It was a great time but now is time to get back and focus on getting ready for my Fall semester and my senior year. I hope you guys are having a blast this summer be safe out there! 

*The credit to some of the pictures goes to the internet (really to those who shoot them) since in some cases I didn't have a decent enough picture of my own.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer Here We Come!


During the past year I heard tons of comments about what Westminster College call "the May term", let me explain it a little. As you know most schools will have Fall, Spring and Summer terms; well at Westminster there is an extra mini-term that takes place in the month of May (right after Spring and before Summer semesters) where non-traditional classes are taught. 

I have pointed out that, in my opinion, Westminster is really all about the opportunities they can offer you in order to excel your college experience as a whole. The May term is another example of how this is true to many students here; the classes are worth 2 credits and are applicable towards your total credit hours needed for graduation. During this mini-term you get to choose between taking classes in a traditional classroom or travel abroad to amazing locations and study while enjoying the trip. Either way the classes taught are not a traditional serious class but a more creative and entertaining version of it. From learning to brew your beer to travel to Germany and study the psychology behind the Nazi movement, you are sure to find a class/trip that appeal to your interests. 

Anyway, I decided to take a class this May term and see for myself. I needed a finance elective and I wanted it to be meaningful to my professional career; so I took a class on raising money for new businesses, it was not so much on the funny or creative side but it was definitely worth the time and effort.  It was really nice, I have the opportunity to develop the early stages of a business that I would like to  create and not only that; I know now the different venues I can use to raise the capital to see it happening. It was truly an experience that allow me to realized my potential to be an entrepreneur.

In essence we were encourage to identify a problem or a need and then to design what we believe would be a good solution. I believe that you are more likely to succeed if you have a passion for your cause because that passion will drive your actions. As I was thinking about a business that I would like to create, I knew I wanted to be a business with a purpose beyond making a profit and reducing my costs; I wanted to matter for me and for the community that I live in. That is how The Perky Tails Project came to be. 

Last year alone 12,000 dogs and cats were killed in the state of Utah alone. In so many cases these animals were killed because they were not able be place in a permanent home, and in most cases this was simply due to lack of proper training. That is why I decided to work on Perky Tails - Training for Life; a dog training business dedicated to train dog owners to properly adapt to every change a dog will experience as it matures. In addition my ideal business will work with local shelters to provide free corrective training for dogs that have been adopted  and returned  to the shelter in hopes to avoid unnecessary deaths. We would also offer affordable dog grooming to the public and free grooming to the shelters in hope to raise the number of dogs that are saved every year. 

Today I had the opportunity to present my business pitch to my class (as if I were to present to possible investors), it was truly amazing how a simple idea got to be a solid business projection. During my time presenting I was able to foresee what could be an actual business in my future. I put a lot of work into the financial projections to make it accurate and doable but also realistic. It was during this stage that I realized the potential that this venture possess. I believe it is worth the risk to see where can I take my project now!

I don't have much to share but here is my proposed logo.

After an amazing time in this class, I am getting ready to properly receive summer. I can't wait to travel to my home country and enjoy: the company of my family, breathtaking views of the beaches and the feel of the white sand on my feet!

I just ended an amazing academic year and I look forward to the next Fall semester where I will be starting my senior year! I hope you all have a great summer too, and stay safe out there!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Another Semester is Gone!


This semester was a crazy one but it was full of valuable lessons and now - that all my finals, projects, assignments, presentation and papers are over - I can sit and acknowledge my personal development thought these lessons. 

Westminster has proven to be an amazing source of great opportunities for me as a student who is constantly seeking professional development and career advancing. It is incredible how many different things happened in only four months, and it is even more incredible how many things will happen in the near future just because of these past four months. I am sure this is true for all my fellow students who are facing a time of changes and personal growth as they continue their education.

As I looked back I feel humble to realize everything that took place; here is why I think this semester rocked:

  1. I was able to designed my own B.S. degree -  after realizing that I will not be able to utilize all the accounting classes and that by taking such classes I would be adding a whole semester I looked into the possibility of designed my own degree by taking the best of the accounting and finance majors. I never knew this was a possibility and I have never heard of anything like it anywhere else, but I am certainly thankful with my advisors as they help me to outline what is best for my future goals while using the available academic curricula to help me get there!
  2. I participated on the "Take a griffin to lunch" program - this program matches current students with successful Westminster's alumni providing an opportunity for us, students, to talk with somebody who is currently working in the same (of familiar) field the student is planning to build a career. I was matched with a young alumni who has develop a professional path in finance and we became friends (Networking!!!)
  3. Scored two of the best advisors ever -  during my junior year I was required to formally declare my major and I discovered that I could decide who would serve as my advisor. After talking with some different professors I got Dara Hoffa as my accounting advisor and Lauren Lo Re as my finance advisor and I couldn't be happier with them. They have been attentive and supportive to me personal goals and objectives, I can really say that for them it is all about me! 
  4. Participated on the Delta Mu Delta Board Match event -  this year the Gore School of Business and the Delta Mu Delta organization got together to provide an opportunity for local non-profit organizations to search and possibly select board members from the student body at Westminster College. I knew I wanted to get involved and I knew I wanted to utilize my learned skills in finance and accounting, so I interviewed with a couple of non-profits who were looking for board members within these areas. I was offered to become the treasurer for the 9th West Farmer's Market. 
  5. After my participation in the "Take a griffin to lunch" program I learned about the "Alumni Mentoring Program"; which is basically the same idea of connecting current students with successful alumni but at a bigger scale. After interviewing with the selection committee I was selected to participate in this program. As mention before this program evolves at a bigger scale, where the Alumni or mentor develops a professional relationship with the student throughout the Fall and Spring semester. I can wait to start!
  6. Last but certainly not least I had the opportunity to develop more friendships with students around campus, this semester I had the opportunity to participate in two intramural sport events. I play volleyball with some friends from the indoor volleyball club during a 4 week tournament open to anybody who likes to play volleyball. We won first place! Then I participated in the beach volleyball tournament and although my partner and me were eliminated in our second game it was a good experience that allowed me get involve deeper into the campus life. 
In my opinion this semester was full of great opportunities and it was a huge continuous learning experience. I strongly believe that academic knowledge is not everything I am supposed to take from my time in college. It is "a" college - and everything that it encircles - experience after all. I can wait to start my senior year and face the new opportunities that it will bring to my life. I hope y'all have a great summer and be safe out there!  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Creating a Campus Community!

Hello there!

It has been a while since the last time I had a chance to stop by and write about what is going on here at Westminster College. 

A couple weeks back I receive an invitation to participate on a little marketing research to determine the college's strengths that should be the focus of the advertisement campaigns. Anyway, among many different discussed topics we talked about how inclusive is our campus and the sense of community that can be found across the college. At first I was hesitant to say that I felt like we were an inclusive community. However, after careful evaluation of my current situation and acknowledging the many good relationships that I have developed on these two semesters, I have to say: I have found my place in our community. 

Now, why is this important to the marketing company? and even more why should this be important to all of us? Well, everybody is looking to belong somewhere; that is the very reason why we chose friends, activities and relationships. We need to feel like we belong! This couldn't be more important, in a completely primary level the sense of community is one of our basic needs as human beings and a major factor in determining our attitudes and personal trials as we evolve and mature. 

During our time as students we are expected to prepare ourselves to provide society with the best of our service in whatever area we chose to develop. I believe it is not possible to achieve this goal if we do not enjoy our time making mistakes and killing ourselves trying to fix these mistakes. I believe that being part of a close community is a great part of enjoying our time as students. Think about it in this way, no matter our choices today (good or not as good) they are OUR decisions, and no matter what we will never have the chance to take the same decision on the exact same situation and time ever again. We don't know what will happen in 10, 5 or 1 year from now, even more we don't even know what will happen 15 minutes from now. So we might as well be with the people we like, in the place we belong while not knowing what the future will bring to us!

This open the discussion to two dilemmas; first, how do I find my place on this large community? And second, how do I make sure everyone else feels like they can belong if they choose to? Finding our place in a larger community is not as complicated, it all comes down to determine who we are and what we like to do. For me I am a transfer student who really love to play volleyball. I've played VB for years and when I transfer here I learned about the indoor VB club. I decided I would gave it a try and soon enough I was part or a community of people who share the love for the game as much as I do; eventually I developed good relationships with some of the students who attend to the games. I would say this; being part of a community begins with you. 

Finally, I believe we are responsible to ensure everybody has the chance to find their place in our community. It is true that we can't force anybody to enjoy the things that we like; however I believe it is our duty to ensure that everyone is free to express what they like in hopes to find mind-like people to develop friendships and build communities. That is our responsibility, and as long as we continue to do that we can see our large community evolve and grow while new smaller communities are built and create. 

I hope we can all relate and keep in mind our first times on campus while we tried to find our place. I hope we all had people who were willing and open to accept who we were. And I hope we become the people who accepts and invites new comers to open themselves to this amazing campus community!