DON’T Lose Yourself – Managing Presentation Anxiety

Presentation and public speaking anxiety are things many college students know all too well. Speaking in front of a group of people is an incredibly daunting task, especially when it comes to subjects that you might not know a ton about or be very interested in. I have dealt with a severe anxiety disorder for the majority of my school years and have dealt with every terrible presentation outcome you can possibly imagine. I’ve completely blacked out, had panic attacks, spilled water on my notes, and even panicked and began to speak about something that was completely unrelated to my designated topic. If you’re anything like me, when you get in front of a class you might start to feel like those first few lines in “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, and maybe even a little bit of vomit on your sweater already. If that sounds familiar, these tips are for you.

  1. BREATHE – SERIOUSLY. Easier said than done, I know. As you make the treacherous journey to the front of the room, try to take a few deep breaths. Inhale, hold for three to five seconds, and exhale the same way. As someone with severe anxiety, I can assure taking the time to focus on your breathing for a few seconds will make a massive difference. You will feel much worse about the delivery of your presentation if you pass out as soon as you get up there, so we want to avoid that at all costs.
  1. STAY HYDRATED. Say it with me now: Hydration is the expectation when doing a presentation. Drink plenty of water before you present, and if circumstances allow it, always bring a water bottle up with you. Dry mouth is no joke! It’s not easy to speak loudly and clearly when your lips are sticking to your teeth, so don’t feel bad if you have to pause for a second and take a drink. Not only will it help a dry mouth, but it will give you another second or two to calm down and pace yourself.
  1. SLOW DOWN! Chances are you will zoom through your presentation in record time once that adrenaline hits you. When you practice your speech, speak as slowly as you can. You will definitely speed up once you find yourself in front of an audience but practicing slowly will help make the nervous timing difference less obvious to those watching.
  1. FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. Practicing confident body language is a must. When we get anxious or scared, we tend to do things that make us appear smaller and closed up – slouching, holding your arms, looking down, etc. That makes it incredibly obvious to everyone how nervous you are. It has always helped me to practice speeches in front of a mirror and correct myself when I’m not standing up straight or fidgeting with my hands too much. Straighten up, move your hands and arms around as you speak, make eye contact, smile! Just like Slim Shady himself said – “he’s nervous but on the surface he looks calm and ready.” If you can manage to “act” confident even though you might be a nervous wreck on the inside, I guarantee no one will have any idea. A little acting goes a long way.

There are many ways to feel more confident when presenting or giving a speech in a class, but these are a few of my favorites and the ones I have utilized the most throughout my four years in college. It takes a lot of practice to get better at public speaking, but if you’re willing to put the work in it’s 100% worth it. Good luck!

Written by Brynn Miller

Studying at Delaware Valley University: Winter Edition!

As our semester ends and the temperatures outside continue to drop, it is essential to find a cozy and consistent place to study on campus! If you’re struggling to find a spot that’s just right for you, here’s a quick guide to the best spots with pros and cons all listed out!

As finals season approaches, do your best to keep your body warm, and your grades and spirits high! Good luck!

Produced by: Dustin Childs

Full Plate: Stress vs. Burnout

Completing internships as a full-time student or while working can be hard. Some college students may not realize how stressful it can be to juggle work and school and often take on too much.

Our mental health fluctuates on a daily basis depending on what we have going on. Sometimes students experience a period where they start to feel something beyond stress. Before I knew the term myself, I didn’t know how to describe what I was feeling, but I knew it went deeper than everyday stress. A “burnout” is a physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress and it can look different depending on the situation. In a school environment we may chalk it up to stress, but it is important to always keep a close eye on our mental health through the process. Burnouts are recognizable by their symptoms and are different or sometimes more extreme than with stress.

Here are a few tell-tale signs that you may be or about to be experiencing a burnout:

  • Assignments and tasks that usually seem easy are more time consuming and/or become mentally exhausting.
  • You might be a little extra tired, replace quality work time with naps, and choose rest more often than usual.
  • You might start accepting lesser grades or lower quality work.
  • You might allow more cracks in your self-confidence.
  • Stress can sometimes make doing work harder but may not always lead to a full mental collapse.

Burnouts can be avoided by learning how to better manage school, work, and any other responsibilities while also managing your mental health. Sometimes when we focus on multiple things at once it can be hard to center ourselves and prioritize where we need to. For example, if you have multiple assignments due over the course of three days while but also have to go to work for two of those three and soccer practice at the end of each day, it might be helpful to better organize your thoughts and responsibilities before those next few days get started.

Making lists, mapping out your busy days on a calendar, and even journaling are ways to manage and organize your thoughts and prioritize your responsibilities. Other important ways to manage your mental health and avoid burnouts include:

  • Saving time to get good sleep.
  • Eating healthy and making sure to eat multiple meals per day to maintain energy.
  • Learning to say “no” when you know you’ve taken on too much.
  • Taking time for yourself to do nothing, relax, and unwind.

By prioritizing yourself and making sure to organize your thoughts and responsibilities you can be more aware of burnouts. Keeping an eye out for some of the symptoms, or just paying attention to yourself and your mental health can be the best way to prevent a full mental shutdown and keep you going strong through a rough time.

Written by: Hannah Seltzer

Student Spotlight: Jamie Specca

Class of 2022 member Jamie Specca is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education at Delaware Valley University. She’s a member of the Floral Society, the previous RA for the third floor of Ulman Hall, and New Jersey state FFA (Future Farmers of America) president. Not only does she juggle a ton of extracurricular activities, but Jamie is also a star student with an impressive list of Experience360 program activities and great advice for incoming students or fellow Aggies that haven’t met their E360 requirements yet.

E360 requirements are generally the same for every major: a certain number of hours working in an internship or a career exploration opportunity will grant you the equivalence in eligible credits. If you’re unsure about the E360 requirements for your major, check out this page! Unlike the majority of other majors, education majors are required to complete a set number of hours of student teaching and field experience, so their requirements are a bit different. According to Jamie, the requirements for education majors include 20 hours of field experience for each semester that students are in education courses. Any situation in which a student gives a lesson or observes someone who is teaching counts as field experience. During their final semester at DelVal, education majors get to begin student teaching. These students get the awesome opportunity to be set up with a teacher in a local school for the entire semester. They have sat in on and observed many classroom settings at this point, so student teaching gives them a chance to put everything they have learned into practice and gain real teaching experience. 

“For student teaching, you work with your co-op teacher to write lesson plans and deliver the lessons – you are basically the teacher for a semester with the guidance of someone who has been doing it for quite a few years,” Jamie explained.

The other major difference between education majors and other majors is that the field experience and student teaching that education majors participate in meets their Experience360 program participation. For Secondary Education majors, these requirements for Pennsylvania teaching certification serve as the alternative to the reflective internship and career exploration coursework required of other majors.

For her E360 experience, Jamie worked as an assistant teacher at a local pre-school. RA’s have a few restrictions when it comes to working off-campus jobs during the week in order to make sure they are able to fully support their designated floors as much as possible. They are not permitted to work more than 10 hours per week off-campus and she had to manage her schoolwork on top of being an RA and an employee, so Jamie worked a few hours in the afternoons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well as Fridays. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, she worked in the afternoon after her classes – helping the pre-school teachers set up the classroom for later in the afternoon when the children wake up from their nap time. This included things like getting snacks ready and playing with the children when they go outside if it’s nice out. On Friday,s she worked mornings and had the opportunity to see more of the education side of the pre-school. She read the days of the week with the children, they learned the months of the year, did crafts, sign language, as well many other things.

Sometimes keeping up with so many extracurricular activities can be difficult. Jamie mentioned that she scheduled everything around her classes so there weren’t any conflicts with work and school. One helpful thing that came out of the recent pandemic is the ability for students to take more online classes as opposed to only in-person instruction. Though online classes may not be helpful for everyone, they can be when you’re pursuing an internship or career exploration.

“With classes being online, I have a lot of work I can get done on my own time rather than having to attend physical classes. It’s a lot easier,” Jamie stated last semester, when classes were still hybrid due to COVID-19.

In many cases, professors and other faculty members will help students find their internships, but since she wasn’t required to partake in any, Jamie took it upon herself to seek them out on her own. Jamie mentioned that she used the CSPD (Center for Student Professional Development) website to find all of her internships. The CSPD is an incredible tool for DelVal students when it comes to working on reaching their career goals. You can find out more about the CSPD and how they can assist you in finding jobs post-graduation and check out E360 requirements here.

Students may have a difficult time finding internships that best suit them. It can be an intimidating process but rest assured knowing DelVal has all of the tools you could ever need to get where you would like to be in your career. Some students who have completed E360 requirements may advise you to choose an internship or career exploration that you will genuinely enjoy. But you should not be afraid to take a position in an area you’re not sure about, since it can help close skill gaps and show you opportunities that you may not have otherwise considered.

Jamie’s future career goals are to become an agriculture teacher – specifically, to teach plant science or floral design. Jamie is incredibly passionate about teaching others about where their food and products they use on a daily basis come from. She will begin student teaching high school students in the Spring semester and she’s extremely excited to start. Jamie’s goal is to share her passion with others and inspire them to want to learn more about agriculture and the industry. She mentioned that DelVal did a great job preparing her for this by allowing her to be in a wide variety of not only education but also agriculture courses. Jamie has already inspired so many people (including me!) with her kindness and unending knowledge about the things she loves. Because of this and the experience she has gained through E360, she has all the necessary tools to become an amazing teacher someday.

By: Brynn Miller

Feed the Goat

For those of you who are getting prepared to start an internship or your first “real” job soon, I have some helpful advice I was recently given that you absolutely need to hear before doing so.  No matter what field you plan to be in, or what position you start at, you will most certainly be given responsibilities that may seem annoying at first or, perhaps, “beneath you”.   I would like to share with you a story I was told recently when interviewing a popular radio host and blogger named Dave Ryan. Hopefully his story will change your perspective about what to expect when starting out in a new job.  

You Want Me to Do What?!

Dave’s first job was as an intern at a radio station and his goal was to work his way up and become a radio star in no time.  He was looking forward to learning all the concepts a radio host/producer gets to do.  On his first day, Dave’s boss began showing him around the station and then led him outside the station near the giant radio antenna.  As Dave tells it, “My boss, Mr. Boles, explained to me that one of my duties as an intern at the station would be to feed Rita”.  Rita was a goat that the radio station used to keep the grass trimmed around all the high voltage equipment that sat at the foot of the antenna (this radio station was in the Midwest, as you may have guessed by the fact that there was a goat there).  Dave said to me that he remembered thinking, “There is no way in hell a radio star like me is going to feed a goat.   I went home that night and told my dad in disgust about how I was asked to take care of a barnyard animal as part of my glamorous new radio job.”

Some Perspective, Please

  To his surprise, his dad told Dave plain and simple, “Well, if you don’t do it they’ll find someone else who will.  And since you have been asked to do it, and if you really want to keep this job, then you might as well learn to like it.”  After Dave took some time to think about it, he said, “I came to the realization that feeding a goat was a small price to pay for getting my first real break in radio and a chance at my dream job.”  So, he fed the goat.  Dave said he never complained or had a bad attitude about feeding Rita, and finally got used to it and actually didn’t mind doing it. 

 Six months later, when a better radio job opened up, Mr. Boles recommended Dave for it and he landed the new job.   Doing what was expected of him as an employee without complaining did not go unnoticed, and actually paid off for him in the end.    

That’s really the main piece of advice he gave me and that I can give to you: Do what is asked of you no matter how you feel about it.  No one is irreplaceable, especially an intern or someone just beginning a new job.  As I said earlier, no matter what level you start at, you might be tasked with assignments you may see as demeaning or irrelevant.  But the ultimate takeaway here is that you should see the bigger picture.  As Dave told me, “You might not ever be asked to feed a goat in your career, but that goat will appear in some form or another.  You may be asked to wash the company van or work on a holiday.  You can complain and have an attitude about it, or you can just do it and hope that the right people take notice.”  In short, just feed the goat.

By: Brian Saglimben

It’s All in a Season

Gaining real-world experience is a concept that Delaware Valley University prides itself on. As an undergraduate student, you have some choices for how you want to complete the Experience 360 Program requirements depending on your major. For this post, the credit-bearing opportunities of internships and academic career exploration experience activities will be discussed. According to E360 Advisor Emmaline Armstrong, there are “10 terms a year” in which students can complete their E360 experiences. What some students may not know is, that it is not mandatory to do your E360 requirements during the “typical” school year, AKA, the fall and spring semesters. 

Semester Thought

Imagine this… you are a sophomore at Delaware Valley University. By the end of freshman year, you have already completed DelVal Experience I and II (required courses before taking on any other E360-related coursework). You have decided that you want to pursue either an internship or academic career exploration experience. However, you are already taking 15+ credits which is causing you a large amount of stress as it is. Is it completely worth it to do your E360 at that time? 

That was the exact question I had to think about for myself when considering if I wanted to take on any extra work in addition to the credit load I was taking. Luckily for me, I found out that I had the opportunity to do my academic career exploration experience over summer break. By completing the class and opportunity over the summer, I was able to have a not-so-stressful summer and stay on top of all of the work that was assigned by my instructor for the E360 online course and my boss, in addition to still having a social life. 

Terms and Cost:

Pros and Cons for Fall and Spring Terms

Fall and Spring semesters are the time that you are completing classwork, attending classes and keeping your social life afloat. To be a full-time student on campus, a student must take at least 12 credits minimum and a maximum of 19 (before having to pay extra per credit). If you are taking a large credit load and wanting to do a three-credit E360 experience, it may be best to hold off and take on those credits during an off-time for a couple of reasons. 

  • You will have to pay for extra credits if you go above 19. 
  • You will need to be able to balance out school and your experience. 

However, there are some benefits for choosing to take on any credit-bearing E360 opportunity during your usual time at Delaware Valley University. 

  • Taking on the course can help you to get more credits if you are in need (going from part-time status to full-time if you were at nine credits).
  • If you can add the class and are under 19 credits, you wouldn’t have to pay an additional price.

Pros and Cons of Winter and Summer Terms

Thinking about being on break is something that many students to look forward to. If that is the case, then why should you consider an E360 class or experience be considered during those times? There are both positives and negatives of choosing to do a credit-bearing E360 opportunity during the winter or summer terms. Some factors that you should consider are: 

  • You will have to pay for credits individually. 
  • You will have to do your experience and the required E360 class over your break.

Just like the Fall/Spring section, there are benefits to taking an E360 course over the Winter/Summer sessions.

  • You will get a discount on the credit prices. For winter 2022 and summer (the three terms) 2022 each credit is worth $280, which is mentioned on the Bursar Undergraduate Tuition page online. 
  • Over the break, you will have something to do and feel productive while earning credits.

Make it Count

Whether you decide to take your E360 credits during the summer, fall, winter, or spring, as long as you complete your required credits you will be one step closer to graduation. With multiple term options, students will have any opportunity to accomplish all of their necessary experiences within a designated amount of time. Plus, Armstrong shared that once a student satisfies all E360 requirements, they can use more experiences to fulfill  “elective credit”.  

By: Brooke Farber

Student Spotlight: Billie-Jo Dowling

Billie-Jo Dowling

As a Media and Communication major, I have interviewed a lot of people inside the community of Delaware Valley University. Some of the interviews have been very interesting, some have been life-changing, but this particular interview was very new to me. Last semester, I had the pleasure of interviewing Billie-Jo Dowling, a recent DelVal graduate, who majored in Small Animal Science. Billie-Jo said a big draw for her coming to DelVal was the Experience 360 Program, which prepares students to solve problems by integrating classroom knowledge with real world experience. This program helps you explore your interests to figure out the best career path for you.

During the interview, I asked Billie-Jo how E360 benefited her. She said the program has changed her for the better and she gained so many new experiences while working. She learned a lot of new skills and was able to improve the skills she already had. The beauty of this program is that it helps students to enhance their skills before they even start their career. By challenging students to try different things in E360, they get better insight on their goals and interests.

While interviewing Billie-Jo, we got personal about how working with animals has impacted her life. She said that animals have always been a part of her life and that she has loved them since she was a little kid. Billie-Jo said that the biggest challenge she has dealt with is the unpredictable nature of each animal, though that adds a lot of fun to it because you get to learn new things about what animals don’t like. Sometimes it can be frustrating when working with animals that don’t want to cooperate or are being aggressive but that’s something you must learn to adapt to. Animals behave differently for different people so you have to remain calm and patient so you can earn the animals’ trust.

When I asked what the best experience E360 program was, she said if she had to choose one it would be giving a baby opossum a bath after feeding it.

“They just wrap their little paws around your thumbs and don’t mind the water hitting on them,” she said. “It’s probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Cute animals aside, Billie-Jo said going through the E360 process was overwhelming at times, but once everything was set and she started her internships she was super excited to learn and gain additional experience.

***Career update: Billie-Jo was just hired by Charles River Laboratories where she will be a Research Technician beginning in mid-October. She also continues to volunteer at the Barn Nature Center where she completed her E360 experience!

Written By: Tom Godwin