Category: Carlos Benito

“The Necessity of Risk in Personal Development” by Carlos Benito

As any UD student can attest to, risk is an everyday part of our lives. The vast majority of us risked 4 years at this university in the hope to be rewarded by a stable, well paying job that brings us some amount of happiness. However, it is essential that we use these 4 years to take risks that we are not be able to in the future. At no other point in our lifetime will we have as dense of a concentration of resources as we do now, and it would be a great personal loss if we didn’t capitalize on them.

This university provides a vast amount of opportunities — from academic opportunities to opportunities to improve your health and so many more. Although some of these opportunities entail a financial risk, most only require a time commitment. I would argue that these opportunities are the highest risk opportunities because they all ask for a piece of our most valuable resource: time. Time, or our frequent lack of it, drives many of our daily decisions and prevents us from developing into our best selves. Every moment we commit to a new activity risks losing time that we can never get back.

However, our generation has a unique relationship with risk that jeopardizes our personal development. Most of us were around 7-11 years old when the 2008 recession hit, and that single event changed us all forever. We all watched our parents get laid off or take second jobs in order to make ends meet and heard their lectures about getting a good job. Now, more than anything else, our generation strives for job security, a foundation to a happy middle class lifestyle. We all saw the emotional toll job insecurity had on our parents and we all still fear a similar fate. In order to overcome this fear we first have to accept a very terrifying reality: job security is a myth. Job security was a given when our parents were growing up, but now it’s impossible to spend a whole career in one company, and no company wants to invest in the training and development of their workforce. So, we are left to train ourselves for a position that we may not be in for very long. We have to risk our own time and money for job training, yet we do not know whether it will be worthwhile. 

That is what we are all doing at the moment, risking our time and money in the hopes that it will pay off. No can say for sure if it will, but what we can say is if you already took this kind of risk, there is no reason to be afraid of taking a few much smaller ones. Take a gym class you have never seen, minor in something that will give you a unique skill, or even start a club or business. We all have taken a huge risk, but by taking a few smaller chances, no matter how our big gamble is, we will have the knowledge and experience to figure it out.

“Dealing with the Inevitable: Poor Performance” by Carlos Benito

As smart as we may be, as hard as we may work, and as much as we may try, we will inevitably face academic failure. As much as we try to avoid it, at some point all of us sit alone, staring down a low grade that will keep us up at night. So, as dedicated UD students working towards a successful future, what can we do about it?

The first priority is to try and prevent this scenario from ever happening in the first place. Studying every week day, going to office hours or emailing questions to professors and TA’s when something is not understood are your sure fire ways of trying to prevent this from happening. However, sometimes your classes throw that complete curveball. The exam almost exclusively covered topics that were not stressed in class or were not even covered. The exam is way too long for the time given or questions are not worded clearly. These are things that we, as students, cannot control. However, as humans, we can adapt to these sorts of hectic settings as best we can. After the first exam, we all start to get a sense of how the class is run, the wording style of the professor and what their priorities are. These intuitions are your first defense against a bad grade, however they are just that, patterns that could be broken anytime the professor wishes and therefore cannot be fully relied on.

However, lets say that all of these strategies were implemented and still lead to failure. My best advice: talk to the professor. This will not be a fun talk, but it is one you need to have. You need to go over question by question, line by line, everything you did wrong on that exam with them to understand why you got it wrong and more importantly how you can avoid the same mistakes in the future. From experience, I can tell you the conversation will go something like this…

You meet with the professor, pull out the exam and they take a deep breath. They dislike this conversation just as much as you do. You start explaining your logic for answering the problem and then you come to the spot where it all went wrong, the professor hesitantly identifies this spot as where the bomb dropped and then explains what you should have done. Either that or the professor responds in a demeaning tone that is going to make this process a whole lot more painful. Either way, you push through and finally turn over that last page. You thank the professor for meeting with you and walk out feeling accomplished because you know you did the right thing, even if the professor did not.

It’s a difficult thing to do, but if we are going to call ourselves professionals we have to get used to asking superiors where we went wrong, even if we think we never did. Whether it was in our study methods, note taking methods or somewhere else – just taking the time to have this conversation will pay major dividends in the future. So if you are staring at that exam right now, put it down, shoot an email to your professor and prepare to take a step towards becoming a professional.

“The Path to a Dorm: The Path to Success” by Carlos Benito

I think at UD it is easy to underestimate how many resources every student has. While everyone has an array of advisors and professors, people often don’t realize the power of themselves and their peers. It is easy to forget that the students around you will become the successful people of tomorrow. I know at least in the business program, the idea of networking has been hammered into to most people, and at this point goes in one ear and out another. It is understandable, as meeting new people is often not enjoyable. I know most people I meet I don’t like, and being around them seems like a chore. However, understanding the value of relationships is essential to becoming successful and the best relationships are the ones you already have.

For example, most freshmen live in a dorm, and see many of their dorm-mates on a daily basis. It is easy to say a passing word or a smile, but those relationships you have with what I would consider acquaintances are the easiest to strengthen into something meaningful. The chance is you live around a variety of people with varied skill sets. These are the people who are the easiest to call upon when you have a problem or better yet when you want to learn a new skill. It is best practice to try and learn something new every week. It is hard for someone without developed people skills to just strike up a conversation, so trying to meet with them for a specific purpose or event may be easier. While literature on the subject often recommends articles and current events, in my personal experience that tends to be very awkward. After all, these are your friends you are meeting with, not solely coworkers. Usually, I always read something then try and do something with it in order to show my commitment to the skill and to show that I am not the master here. It puts the guest in a mentor/teacher mindset that eliminates a lot of the awkwardness since roles are firmly established.

I also try to meet with people to talk about their non-academic skills. Everyone has a hobby, and showing interest in it always puts a look of excitement on someone’s face. For example, I know one person who taught me to pick locks, another about electric skateboards, and another about personal fitness. Every person has their “thing” and appealing to that thing is mutually beneficial. Most of all, these kinds of meetings show that you value the people around you and often give a boost of self-confidence to whomever you meet with. It is a step forward for a more productive future relationship, you learn something new in the process, and hopefully strengthened a friendship.

People are the most valuable commodity that we will ever know, and having a large pool of skilled people to call upon has helped me time and time again. In these digital times forging relationships is so much more valuable. A phone call or physical meeting is so much more impactful these days because few people take the time and effort to set one up when a text could do. Relationships are hard to maintain and harder to create, but learning how to mold and manage them is a skill that provides limitless opportunities.

My Greatest Lesson: Navigating Ambiguity by Carlos Benito

College presents us with the greatest density of resources that we will ever know. Experts in any field reside here and the university is brimming with advisors and support staff whose sole purpose is to help us succeed. There lies the greatest enigma that no one can help answer, what is success? How do we define it now and how will our definition change in a time where every dawn brings a new disaster? No one can answer that for you, but I believe everyone faces at least one common obstacle on their quest for success – ambiguity.

Ambiguity is that fog of uncertainty that clouds the path to success. If any of us hope to find success, we must learn to chart our way through this fog. As noble as it may seem to storm in, suffer then finally succeed, there is an easier way. Ambiguity, despite its inherent nature, is always composed of the same few components. If you can anticipate these components and come ready with your response you will find success with less strife.

Component 1: Chaos

The universe is defined by entropy, and our lives within it are no different. We know our lives are most commonly filled with a specific flavor of chaos: disorganization. If we know we will encounter disorganization we must preemptively prepare a response. For us at UD, that response comes in the form or advisement. Everyone at UD has unique and useful knowledge, from a student’s review of a professor to an advisor’s wisdom in course selection, no one’s experiences can be disregarded as “worthless”.  Talk to students who have taken the course you wish to take and ask them what they thought of the professor. If you understand how the professor runs his/her class you can format your actions accordingly.

Component 2: Human Error

We all know people are not perfect but few actually take that into consideration before taking action. When a class is composed of a professors, TAs, preceptors, lab coordinators, and other staff, you can anticipate having at least some errors or inconsistencies due to miscommunication. If you know that will happen, prepare for it. I combat this by meeting with each staff member separately to understand what they value academically and emotionally as well as how they communicate with the other members of the staff. If I know how one person grades or one person is consistently out of step I can anticipate problems and clean up issues before they arise. This does not make any specific person’s knowledge, time, or opinion any less valuable. All it means is that it will take extra effort on your part to understand their thoughts and more often than not you will benefit from that extra effort.

Component 3: Failure

This is by far the hardest component of ambiguity to come to terms with. The failure we face can be caused by many factors, but I choose to look at failure on my terms. It can be easy to say failure came from human error or disorganization on the part of others but in the end it doesn’t affect them nearly as much as it affects you. With that in mind, you have to look at every failure as a consequence of your actions. It doesn’t matter whether it was or not, but you only have control over your emotions and your actions so anger towards anyone else is not useful. Sometimes failure is truly a consequence of your actions. When that times comes – and it will – you have to be ready. That preparation comes in the form of building a reputation of dedication, hard work, and responsibility. If everyone understand the values you stand for, even in your darkest moments they will still stand behind you. Then it relies on you to modify your plan to better prepare for a similar scenario in the future.

It is my belief that every person’s success is determined by their actions. With that in mind, you must make it your duty to make use of your support and sail forth towards ambiguity and towards your idea of of success. Safe sailing my friends.

The University Experience: A Test of Individuality by Carlos Benito

From Joe Biden to Tom Carper to Chris Christie, the University of Delaware is known as the nurturing ground for successful individuals. It is this drive toward success that brings us together to receive an education filled with diversity of thought, interest, culture, and opportunity. In a campus so densely packed with new things it is easy to forget what brought all these people together: you. Your academics, goals, drive, and interests brought you here to pursue your passions and your experience is UD’s most valuable resource. It is your passion that spreads and intertwines with others to create new, unique knowledge. While this blend of passions is UD’s defining characteristic, you must remember that it isn’t yours.

Our forefathers fought to create a country of individuals, not generic citizens. In realizing the unique qualities of every person, they created a country where every individual could embrace themselves and prosper. We cannot forget their sentiment, especially now. As college students we are awash in new ideas and openly embrace many of them, often becoming a product of our environment. We must not forget our defining factors in this flood of contemporary thought. It is our individual actions that brought us here, no one else’s. Now, when we are inundated with the liberating feeling that comes with a major life change, we must keep our heads above water. While each of us contributes to UD’s environment, we are all masters of ourselves and must act accordingly. It would be a shame if you spent four years “finding yourself” to be left more confused than when you started. We are all in a period of rapid change and we must guide that change or risk straying further and further from our goals.

In addition to managing our own lives, we must work around others that attempt the same. UD cherishes our sense of community, but this begs the question, where does an individual fall within a community? Our nation has grappled with this question from the day of its conception. Some claim the individual must be active within the community and others say the community exists on a different plane. Regardless of your answer, we all exist nestled between shining seas. We all share the privileges and burdens that come with a lifestyle tailored differently to every American. In the fine print of our citizenship, is outlined our most important and most overlooked privilege: our right to the ballot box.

We are nearly a month away from midterm elections that may plot our nation’s course for years to come – an election deep within one of the most politically polarizing periods in our history. If we ever want to rise out of the rift that divides us, we have to pull ourselves out. It’s fitting that the fate of a nation of individuals depends on the actions of every individual. It is our duty as Americans, UD students, and individuals to cast a vote on November 6th. University of Delaware’s noteworthy individuals understand their privileges and responsibilities, we must do the same.

 

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