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Outdoor Adventures, Excursions, and Recreation

By Austin Deray

28 October 2016

Morning, y’all! What can I say — midterms are over, and we now have a breathing moment before the haze/horror of finals and term papers begin. Keeping this moment in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to make an exciting announcement for Graduate Student Life.

This year, Graduate Student Life and Mason Recreation have teamed up to bring Outdoor Excursions and Adventures to Mason’s graduate and professional students, tailor-made to your interests and time constraints. This spring will be the pilot semester and we will be offering a few trips: day trips, weekend excursions, and possibly a long-weekend adventure!

I’d like to offer you a chance to participate in the planning process. The following link will take you to a survey that will allow you to tell Mason Grad Life and Rec exactly what you are interested in and how long of an excursion you would like to take. Please click here and complete the survey by Nov. 19, 2016.


With that being said, let’s look at what else Mason Recreation offers graduate students. As I’ve stated in the past, recreational facilities are free for all full-time graduate and professional students; part-time students must pay a fee of $50 for the semester, and let’s be honest, that’s a steal. The SciTech and Arlington campuses have deals with the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center and the Arlington YMCA, respectively, which offer discounts for Mason students.

Make sure you visit Mason’s fitness centers at the Fairfax campus for classes, group sports, and, as already highlighted, outdoor excursions. Fairfax houses the three main recreation facilities: the RACSkyline, and the Aquatic and Fitness Center (AFC). The RAC and Skyline have a number of cardio and weight-lifting machines, as well as gymnasiums and racquetball and squash courts, while the AFC offers two pools, a sauna, and a whirlpool in addition to cardio and weight lifting machines. Skyline is also the home of our new partner, Outdoor Adventure.

Group Exercise/Classes: Mason offers a number of group exercise classes, ranging from cycling to yoga to martial arts. Most classes are free, but some yoga and martial arts classes come with a small fee, so be sure to check the Mason Recreation website for more information.

Intramurals: Mason offers a plethora of intramural sports and teams; and yes, they are open to graduate and professional students! Moreover, participation in intramural teams is free for most sports. Intramural sports offered at Mason include flag football, basketball, soccer, softball, handball, frisbee; for more information and a full list of teams, please click here.

So, go out and join an intramural team; register for a fitness class; and make sure you take the Outdoor Excursion and Adventure Survey, so that next semester we can have some awesome events for graduate and professional students only. I hope you found this helpful; have a great day and week.


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Tips for Internships and Co-ops

Katrina Dunlap

21 October 2016

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” – Anonymous

“If they can conceive it and believe it, they can achieve it. They must know it is not their aptitude but their attitude that will determine their altitude.” – Jesse Jackson

My very first internship experience was for a non-profit organization, based in New York City, called The Humpty Dumpty Institute. Yes…that’s the name, The Humpty Dumpty Institute! This is a non-profit group that partners with U.S. Congress, the United Nations, U.S. Department of State and a host of other non-governmental organizations to remove landmines and improve lives in war-torn, developing nations. In this role, I maintained a database of congressional representatives and staff, and provided content for their website. This was the best unpaid internship I’ve ever had because it gave me a real sense of purpose that I was part of something bigger than myself. Moreover, the experience afforded me the opportunity to demonstrate my research skills and exposed me to international issues and government relations which have seared my careers interests for many years that followed.

In a 2016 Internship & Co-op Survey that collected responses from almost 300 organizations and across 20 industries, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that “employers begin recruiting interns eight months before their start date; for co-ops [cooperative education programs], this window is six months.”[i] It is never too early to start thinking about applying for these opportunities for next summer.

It is never too early to start thinking about applying for these opportunities for next summer.

While you are bogged down with mid-term exams and papers, take time to consider and plan out your approach for landing the right internship (a one-time work or service experience)[ii] or co-op (multiple periods of work experiences)[iii] and make the most of it. Whether paid or unpaid, it has been widely accepted that graduate students have leveraged their experience resulting in acquiring future employment opportunities and expanding their professional and academic networks. Here are six tips to consider before, during and after your internship or co-op:

Choose wisely. The summer months can fly by. Don’t waste time on an internship or co-op that lacks relevance to your career aspirations. Typically, the host company or organization has a listing of past and current interns whom you could connect with and inquire about their experiences. A good recommendation would help you choose the right company or program.

Act accordingly. So it’s your first day on the job. Be mindful that from the moment you walk through the door, you are a being evaluated by your peers and supervisor. Adhere to company policies regarding sick leave, dress code and punctuality. I recall my college advisor at North Carolina Central University saying, “To be late is to be absent. To be on time is to be late. To be early is to be on time.” So make sure you arrive early and ready to contribute to the goal of the organization.

Know how to network. Now that you are in the office space, you have the opportunity to meet senior staff and leadership. Make the first move to introduce yourself to senior executives. A common misperception is that the “higher ups” don’t have time to meet with you. While this might be true in some cases, you would be surprised at how others will take the opportunity to get to know interns and who value the work that you do.

Inquire often. To be inquisitive is to demonstrate that you are thoughtful, engaged and interested in the work of your organization. Learn something new each day by asking questions regarding tasks, expectations and company culture. When employers hire interns, often there is an acknowledgement they are investing in someone who doesn’t know everything but in fact can demonstrate his or her value to the organization through their unique skill sets, ability to learn quickly and be absorbent of information.

Maintain key objectives.  To make the most out of your experience, keep in mind what you intend to get out of it. Perhaps it is a new skill set or a more sophisticated approach to problem-solving. This is where you build your resume. Stay on track with key objectives for your internship or co-op by meeting with an advisor and supervisor on a regular basis.    

Be helpful. When the opportunity presents itself to volunteer to assist or take the lead on a project, take it! You show initiative and that you are a risk-taker when you offer your time to perform a task that might be outside of your comfort zone. Use the opportunity to gain an unanticipated skill set or professional contact that may help you in future endeavors.

Keep in touch. Nowadays, students take for granted the purpose and impact of a thank you note and maintaining communication with former employers. While you are not expected to call or write every day, a casual email from time to time let’s your employer or program director know that your time spent was appreciated. The long-term benefit is that you are not forgotten when companies are seeking permanent hires.

While these tips are important, they are not exhaustive. Talk to your peers, past supervisors and professors for guidance on what internship or co-op experiences might yield the greatest benefit to you and your career aspirations. As Mason students, we have access to many internship and job search tools through University Career Services and through career services offices housed within specific academic units. These offices also maintain resources to help you improve your resume and to help you prepare for a career fair on campus. Take advantage of available resources and watch the many doors that will open before you!

[i] National Association of Colleges and Employers. 2016 Internship and Co-op Survey Report. Bethlehem, PA. Accessed on 12 October 2016. http://www.naceweb.org/uploadedfiles/content/static-assets/downloads/executive-summary/2016-internship-co-op-survey-executive-summary.pdf

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

Edited: Andrew Quillen, 04/11/2018

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Libraries: A Graduate’s Ally

14 October 2016

Happy October, y’all,

This week’s blog is going to continue my theme of academic and professional success while in graduate school. You may ask, what resource is indispensable to your graduate arsenal? The answer is simple: University Libraries! They will be your colleagues/lifelines, from research to dissertation/thesis completion.

During first semester of my Master’s program, I made a great ally and eventual friend in Jewell Anderson, a subject librarian at Armstrong State University. While helping me navigate Notes and Queries, a multi-discipline academic journal that focuses on the different conversations happening in any given field, she helped me realize how important the library is to the graduate experience.

So let’s start with some general information about Mason’s University Libraries. Our library system is composed of 5 libraries: Arlington, Gateway, Fenwick, Law, and Mercer. As Mason students, we all have access to over 1.5 million books and 1.5 million e-books, over 1.2 hundred thousand print and online journals, and over 800 research databases. At each library, there are work spaces and study carrels for all students.

While Gateway and the Law Library are important to the success of students, we are going to be focusing on the three main libraries on each campus: Arlington Library, the main library at the Arlington Campus, Fenwick Library, the university’s main library as well as the primary library for Fairfax Campus, and Mercer Library, the main library on the SciTech Campus.

Arlington Library:

Located on the second floor of Founders Hall, the Arlington Library houses collections and support for the Schar School of Policy and Government, the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and the Master’s programs in Nonprofit Management and Arts Management. It was also designated the European Union (EU) Document Depository in the early 1990s, providing in-house access to non-circulating European Union documents for faculty, students and members of the public.

For graduate use specifically, Arlington Library offers six graduate study spaces in the Dissertation Writers’ Room, as well as study carrels. Arlington also offers “Evening Writing Group,” a program designed for PhD and Masters students seeking group accountability and a quiet space to write. For more information please check out their informational page.

Fenwick Library:

The newly expanded Fenwick Library is Mason’s main research library. Fenwick comprises 2 towers, each housing 5 floors of print book stacks, (printed books, journals, periodicals, and government documents), 5 floors of study spaces and private study rooms, the Special Collections Research Center, 30+ group rooms, Data Services Lab, tutoring space for the Writing Center, and the offices of most of the University Libraries’ subject specialist librarians, and (my personal favorite) the modern Main Reading Room, which seats 75 people and provides a space for quiet reflection and study on the second floor.

Fenwick Library has two specific features for graduate students: Graduate Study Zones and University Dissertation and Thesis Services (UDTS). The Graduate Study Zones are located on the 5th floor and are the home of the Graduate Study Carrels and the Dissertations Writers’ Rooms, which are reservable study spaces. Each semester, graduate students can apply for a carrel or dissertation room. UDTS helps graduate students prepare, format, complete, and submit their theses and dissertations correctly and on time.

While Fenwick offers a plethora of workshops, I would like to take a moment to discuss GRADReCon. GRADReCon (Graduate Student Research Connections Day) is a conference-styled workshop day, where graduate students concentrate on productivity, research, and writing skills through workshops on topics essential to graduate students’ success in their programs. GRADReCon is sponsored by Graduate Student Life and University Libraries; visit our event page  for more information..

I would also like to share a new Graduate Student Life and University Libraries initiative: Grad Night In. Join us at Fenwick Library for a monthly collaborative study date just for Mason grad students! We will provide caffeine and snacks; come with your work and a friend! Grad Night In will be held on Thursday, Oct. 27, 4-10pm, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 4-10pm, and Thursday, Dec. 15, 2-10pm in Fenwick 1014B. Stay for a minute or stay for a while — we hope to see you there!

Mercer Library:

Mercer Library is the main library for the Science and Technology Campus and specializes in Health Sciences, Biodefense, Bioinformatics, Criminology, Gaming, Security, and Computer Science. Like Arlington and Fenwick, Mercer Library also has study space available for reservation.

A main feature for this campus is what’s called “Consult in the Corner.” In “Consult in the Corner,” the library offers sessions each week in support of changing functional and subject literacy.  Reservations for the Consultation Corner can be made by calling the Service desk at (703) 993-8340.

This has been a basic overview of the campus libraries. Go to the University Libraries for more information or if you have questions. I highly suggest going to the libraries and speaking to the librarians, especially the subject librarians; they can help you along with your research and are up-to-date with the best journals, periodicals, and publications in your fields and can offer you tips for finding the most appropriate sources quickly.

As always, I hope y’all have a good week. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at aderay@gmu.edu.



10 Fun Ways to Get Fit for Fall

By Katrina H. Dunlap

If the leaves on trees change their hue, it must be fall. If the sun goes down earlier, it must be fall. If you are back in class brooding over the semester’s course load, it must be fall. While your schedule is filling up with classes, exam dates and term paper deadlines, factor in time to exercise.

Here are 10 helpful tips to incorporate into your daily routine while managing the rigors of academic life as a graduate/professional student and getting fit for fall.

1.       Goodbye Summer Heat. Hello Fall’s Falling Temperatures!

Say “goodbye” to summer’s sweltering heat and say “hello” to autumn’s cool crisp air! Outdoor exercises are more comfortable with lower temperatures. Whether you are in Fairfax, Arlington or Prince William, check out the local parks for camping, tennis and basketball courts and fitness trails and more! Do you prefer biking as a commuter option? BikeArlington has information on more than one hundred miles of multi-use trails, on-street bike lanes, and designated bike routes that make it easy for cyclists to get where they need to go. The Edge at Mason, located on the SciTech campus, offers challenging outdoor courses, trails, and climbing towers aimed to improve communication and build stronger relationships. This is a great opportunity to connect with other Mason students while exercising outdoors.

2.      Fall = Festivals

If it’s fall, you can expect to see many local festivals with a holiday theme. Enjoy a Halloween run or horseback riding with friends and family while burning some calories. Organize a weekend trip to the Graves’ Mountain Apple Harvest Festival to pick your own apples or check out other local festivals here. These fun-filled outdoor activities are sure to get your heart rate pumping!

3.      A.M. Exercise

A morning or daytime workout will guarantee that exercise happens, while allowing time in the afternoons and evenings for classes and social events. With the time changing and the sun setting earlier, it can feel as though it’s later in the day than it really is. This can make you more tired than usual. Try to eliminate any excuse you may have for skipping a morning workout by planning the night before. Have your gym bag packed or prepare your bike for a morning ride. Visit the RAC on Patriot Circle in Fairfax, the Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center on SciTech’s campus, or Arlington’s YMCA.

4.      Dress for the Season

Cooler weather is known to be a deterrent for people to exercise outdoors. Proper attire such as a wind-breaker, gloves and dressing in layers allows for warmth and a comfortable outdoor fitness experience. Dress warm!

5.      Stay Hydrated

Stay hydrated even when the temperature cools down. People often feel less thirsty when it is not hot outside, but staying hydrated is just as important in the fall as it is when the sun is blazing. Don’t take any chances with your health. Pick up your Mason water bottle at one of our campus bookstores before your workout.

6.      Limit the Sweets

Just say ‘No’ to those Halloween and holiday sweets. Chances are you are too old to trick-or-treat. Alternatively, try healthy snacks such as granola or energy bars to curb your appetite. Pack lunch, rather than eating out. You will save more money and keep those calories at bay.

7.      Clean House = Calorie Burn

If you are going to stay home, make the most out of cleaning. According to FitDay.com, you can burn 143 calories over 30 minutes of washing your vehicle or 125 calories by wiping down those dusty windows for the same amount of time. Find your favorite calorie-burning chore and make it count!

8.      Who’s Walking Wednesdays

Who’s Walking Wednesdays is a weekly free event for all Mason students, staff, and faculty. Join your Mason colleagues for a 30-minute campus walk every Wednesday at noon in Fairfax, Arlington, and SciTech. Become part of Mason’s Well-Being University initiative and exercise your leadership by volunteering to lead a walk!

9.      Namaste

According to the American Osteopathic Association, there are many physical benefits of yoga to include more flexibility, muscle strength and tone, improvement in respiration, energy and vitality, and protection from injury. If you are on the Arlington campus, take advantage of Yoga Tuesdays offered this fall in the Metropolitan Building, 5th floor, Room 5183 on Dec. 6th. For more information or to be added to the mailing list, contact Arlington Operations. If you are on the Fairfax campus, there are several opportunities to join a class. Drop in for yoga or Pilates classes at the RAC, the Johnson Center’s dance studio on the lower level, or Piedmont’s multi-purpose room. Check out the group fitness class schedule at SciTech’s Freedom Center.

10.   Eat your Fruits and Veggies

Incorporating vegetables into your diet helps to manage a healthy weight, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Additionally, proper diet and physical activity can reduce the risk of disease. So the next time you are out grocery shopping, stop by the produce section for carrots, asparagus and broccoli. Your body depends on it!

Many studies have shown a direct correlation between academic success and fitness levels,[i][ii] so continue to keep up with your workout routine and take note of higher scores on exams. Consider these 10 tips to get fit for fall as a starting point and find what works best for you and your academic schedule. If you are interested in sharing your personal experience or success, please contact Katrina Dunlap, kdunlap5@gmu.edu, or Austin Deray, aderay@gmu.edu, to become a guest writer for the Mason Grad Insider.  We look forward to hearing from you!

[i] Coral Torrijos-Niño, Vicente Martínez-Vizcaíno, María Jesús Pardo-Guijarro, Jorge Cañete García-Prieto, Natalia María Arias-Palencia, Mairena Sánchez-López, “Physical Fitness, Obesity, and Academic Achievement in Schoolchildren,” The Journal of Pediatrics, 165, 1, 104-109, July 2014. ISSN 0022-3476, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.02.041.

[ii] Chomitz V, Slining M, McGowan R, Mitchell S, Dawson G, Hacker K. “Is There a Relationship Between Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement? Positive Results From Public School Children in the Northeastern United States,” Journal Of School Health, 79: 30–37. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2008.00371.x

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