Spring Clean your Life: How to say “No”

It seems like in order to succeed in life, we have to pile stuff upon stuff on ourselves. This stuff includes:

  • Being part of organizations
  • Work goals
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Volunteer work
  • Furthering your education

But when is it enough?

With websites like LinkedIn where potential employers could be searching for someone exactly like you, how do you compare to other people? Those other people may be doing more than you and rocking it like you never will.

First of all:

That’s not true. You rock too.


It may be time to assess your life balance and do some spring cleaning on your life.

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Step 1: Always weight your options

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Indi Samarajiva

Just because adding one more line to your resume looks good, doesn’t mean do it. Ask yourself these questions first:

  • Does this thing benefit my professional goals?
  • Does this thing sound like me? Is it a good match?
  • Is the time and work involved worth what I am benefiting?

It is very possible that you will answer “No” to all these questions.


Step 2: Give yourself some time

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pallina60 Loon

Don’t rush into anything too fast or rush into saying “No” too fast either. Want to know why?

Because there can be room for negotiation.

Step 3: Negotiation

So now you are teeter-toddering on the “no” side of the spectrum. In this case:

  • Is there a way to make this opportunity beneficial in your favor?
  • Is there free food and coffee involved? (This is a partial joke)

Give the opportunity a couple days to sit and absorb into our mind. When you are ready, negotiate.


Step 4: Keep the door open

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Patrik Theander

No matter what your decision is, keep everything friendly and mutual. Sometimes, if you politely decline an opportunity, they will reply with much better terms. These terms can be less hours, less involvement, less money, etc.

If it’s a for sure “No”, still leave the door open for when you may need to stop by when another similar opportunity comes your way. Maybe partially accept the opportunity in order to still be a passive part.


The reason why we wanted to bring this up is because we know college students may be stretching themselves too far. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 34% have felt depressed. Out of those who suffer anxiety, 70% hit their first episode at age 22.

It is time to take a step back and balance your life again.

After taking out some unneeded stress in your life through not taking on too much at one time, wind down by:

  • Hanging out with your friends
  • Go to events that you are interested in (This is a great study break)
  • Watch TV or read a book
  • Take a bath
  • Try out a new exercise

Let’s make life about you again. Why not? Life is too short to experience anxiety all the time.



How to relieve stress by decluttering

The worst thing is to come home and see this:

Credit: pixabay


After a long day at school or work, you just want to relax. But to relax you need a nice, serene place to collect yourself. That place may be at your keyboard.


Credit: Wikimedia

But if there is clutter on the one thing you go to in order to relax, it’s time to de-clutter your living space.

I know, I know. Housework is the last thing on your mind.

You probably have 5 papers to write and 2 presentations to prepare for before next Monday.

However, getting your living space organized helps block the flow of energy that you need to succeed in your day to day tasks.

Here are 5 easy ways to de-clutter your space a little at a time. Perfect for those who just don’t have time for it.

Continue reading How to relieve stress by decluttering

It doesn’t matter what classes you take

Do you struggle with choosing your college courses every quarter?


Do you juggle the questions, “Is this applicable to my future career?” and “Is this worth the money I am paying for this class?


These are the questions that one of our college ambassadors asked herself while registering for Spring classes this week.

Melody goes to the UW Information School. She is going for a Masters of Library and Information Science. This is a two year program.


Here’s what she has to say about college:


“Doing a whole degree in two years is a lot more stressful than the four years I had to explore with during undergrad. Back then, I had time to bounce from chemistry, to anthropology, to music, back to anthropology, and then finally to business.

If I tried to bounce around that much with this degree, I’d be paying so so much money for a hodge podge of classes with no focus. That’s what I told myself at least.

Here were my doubts:

  • What if I didn’t have a strong enough tech background?
  • What if I can’t get a job in what I want to do but I don’t have the skills to go do something else?
  • What if I change my mind halfway?
  • What if the public librarian profession goes away forever? (This will never happen)

I was struggling and struggling; stressing over stressing about classes. I became obsessed with my 2 year plan.

After changing my two year plan countless times I decided to do even more research (I’m trying to be a librarian after all).

I emailed professors of classes that sounded interesting regarding their syllabus and what else goes on in their course. This was a lot more helpful than the 2 sentence descriptions the registration software gives us.

I went to current professors that I liked to talk about my path. These conversations were sometimes great, other times, I came out more confused than when I went in.

I talked to people at my work regarding what they took in school, if it’s applicable, and what skills they wished they got from school. These answers were mixed of course but it was apparent that there were no regrets from anyone.

What helped the most was talking to someone who graduated a few years ago with the same career path as me. They knew some of the professors I was thinking of taking. They knew how stressful it is to choose classes. They had great career advice. Basically everything I was stressing about, she stressed about it too.

But deep down, I still had my doubts about my choices.

It wasn’t until I reflected upon what a great librarian said to me in a Facebook post last week.

“A degree makes you a professional, the experience makes you a librarian”

I realized:

Why am I stressing so much?

This two year degree isn’t the end of my learning. It honestly is, just my beginning. No matter what classes I choose, as long as I fulfill my credit requirements to graduate, I will be fine. I will focus on what I enjoy and choose my classes accordingly. Not worrying about what everyone else is doing and how I need to find ways to better market myself than them. When I graduate, I will still have opportunities to learn.

I will have (more) mentors

I will go to conferences to hear about innovative changes in the library world

I will learn on the job

AND I will always be (though I already am) a lifelong learner.”


Stressing about classes is normal. But stressing about stressing about classes is not. Let loose a little and realize that this degree isn’t the end. You will learn more things throughout your career either through your job or your own initiative.

Here at ArcZap, we are all lifelong learners like Melody. All of us still do college classes just to stay ahead of the game when it comes to programming and business.

So when you register next time, do your research but don’t think of it as the only set of skills you will have for the rest of your life.

Top 10 Interview Tips

It’s that time of the year! Employers are starting to interview for summer internships and jobs. Are you ready to walk in a room and strut your stuff?

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Don’t worry, everyone is nervous during an interview. Even those who have had experience in interviewing get nervous. With our team’s combined decades of interviewing, here are the top 10 tips we want to share with you.

1) Research the company

It is important to deeply understand the mission of the company and their current news. You can do this by setting up a Google Alert or check their website and blog a few times the week before your interview. Try to think about what you can contribute to their mission and how their mission fits with your experience and background

Depending on the company, you can go as far as researching the people interviewing you. When you get called in for an interview, as the receptionist the names of those who will be interviewing you. Sometimes knowing their faces beforehand eases your nerves and eliminates the nightmares you may have of faceless interviewers.

2) Make a list of all the things you want to learn

Especially for those who are in college or coming out of college, employers want to see that they want to learn. Show that you have a passion for life-long learning and a passion for their company. Even though you may not have the experience, interviewers will take note that you are confident and inspired to work for them. In many cases, this gets you a job over someone who has more experience.

3) Prepare for the hard questions

Here are some top questions that stump new interviewees.

  • What is your weakness?

For this one, don’t make something up. Make it a genuine answer. If you are not a public speaker, tell them. But add that you constantly come out of your comfort zone by volunteering to speak while presenting for group projects. Show that you know your weaknesses and that you are facing them head on.

  • What do you currently like about your job?

There may be nothing that you like about the job. But dig deeper. Do you like your coworkers? What about the work you do? This is also a great opportunity to look at the bigger picture and share that you are a small part of a bigger mission. Letting them know that you have a great work ethic and outstanding outlook on jobs that are not top priority speaks highly about you.

  • What do you currently dislike about your job?

This is a hard one. If you are looking for a promotion, you definitely don’t want to offend the company. If you are at a new one, you also don’t want to offend the company. You can always default to explaining that there is little opportunity to grow and use what you learned in school. Maybe there is little training for your entry level position. Explain that you want to make a bigger impact on the company’s mission and give examples of the type of impact you want to make.

3) Craft a story

There are many questions where they want to hear what you have done with your professional life already and what results came out of them. These questions help employers see who you already are and how you handled situations before. This is called behavioral interviewing.

This type of interviewing is great to practice because it is truly the hardest.

The steps are divided up with the acronym STAR:

  • Situation/Task
  • Action
  • Result

Look for the most impact you have ever made in a class assignment or a work project. Tell them about the project, tell them your role, what you did, and what was the result.

4) Practice

Especially for those story interview questions, practice practice practice. Have a friend listen to you. Make notes on situations that you may want to share and use. Make it sound relaxed and natural. Focus on the questions and try not to wander too far from them.

5) Dress for success

Dress like you already belong in the organization and position. Let them imagine you working there from the first step you take towards them. This makes you look serious about the job and subconsciously gives you a leg up.

6) Look prepared

Bring copies of your resumes and references. Bring a notepad to jot notes down and even bring your own notes with permission.

7) Body language

Body language is key to a successful interview. To make it easier, smiling and greet everyone from the moment you step out of the car. This gets you in the mood of being optimistic and cheerful. Then right before, go to a quiet, private area like the restroom to breathe and powerpose. You can even do some standing yoga in there to get the blood flowing. You don’t have to but at least get your arms above your head and feel taller and more powerful.

8) Ask questions

With your handy-dandy notebook, jot questions that come up during the interview. Show them that you are a curious person who wants to know all the details before taking a job. These questions can be as simple as asking about the growth opportunities within the company or just details about the job itself.

9) Be bold

This will make you stand out of the crowd. Be confident. You got called back for an interview for a reason. This means that you are qualified and look great on paper. Whatever is on the paper is already who you are. So show them who you are! Add a special piece to your wardrobe that is characteristic of you. This way, you feel comfortable in your interview outfit and maybe you’ll be complemented on it. It may even start a bonding conversation.

If you are feeling really bold, then there is a question you can ask at the end of the interview that may get you the job. This question has been circling around the internet and shown to work.

“Have I said anything in this interview or given you any other reason to doubt that I am a good fit for the role?

This question allows you to fix any mistakes that the interviewers saw in your interview and allows you the opening to correct them. Nothing is more bold than this.

10) Thank your interviewers

Your interviewers took time out of their day to sit and listen to you talk. Give them a thank you note, an email, or even a mailed letter to show that you acknowledged their time. This shows that you are courteous and polite, something they may not expect out of a young student. Write this and get it in their possession within 48 hours. Show them that you are fit for the job.

Good luck! Are there any other tips you have encountered that have landed you the job or internship? Share with everyone!


10 Songs to help you ride through Winter Break (Add your own!)

It’s a new year and the start of a new quarter (or semester). This is also the time of the Post-holiday Blues. None of us want to get out of bed, let alone study.


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Winter quarter is the worst. You just finished a 3 week break full of festivities and family time. Before that, you had a break to eat a huge meal while assimilating with your family again.

Thanksgiving table

Now, you are bombarded with assignments and projects with no breaks for approximately the next 10 weeks.


At least there is coffee.

AND music!

Here is a list of 10 songs that will boost your mood and help you ride out Winter Quarter.

Yes, everyone has a different taste in songs. You may like some, you may like none. That’s why there is a comment section below! Share songs that you listen to while you are studying or taking a break from studying.

The River Flows in You – Yiruma

This song is too good. It’s perfect for those bus rides to class and for a self-reflection study break where you ponder if college is worth it. Usually you will decide it is while you listen to this.

Chasing the Sun – Hilary Duff

Yes. You may remember her as Lizzie Mcguire. But now she is 28, a mother, and singing/acting again. Many of us may relate to her daydream video since we may not see the sun for another 3 months. At least there is hope 🙂

Never Gonna Give You Up –Rick Astley

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

It’s Queen. No explanation necessary.

Crystallize – Lindsey Stirling

Any of her original songs. You can’t go wrong.

Rey’s Theme – John Williams

Movie soundtracks can really help while writing long papers. And who’s better to think about than Rey? This one isn’t leaving our work playlist anytime soon.

I’m not Afraid -Eminem

For a laugh, check out Eminem’s My Salsa song. You’ll never look at him the same again.


Survivor – Destiny’s Child

We all need a voice to tell us we will make it through. This song does it for some of us and who else wants to hang out at this beautiful beach?

It’s My Life – Bon Jovi

This song is especially awesome when you choose a major that your parents don’t agree with.

Here Comes the Sun – Beatles

Once Spring comes a bit closer, this song will be even more relevant. It will be come sooner than you know it.

Want songs specifically to help you focus? Check out this list from Bustle.com. or this list from Odyssey Online.

And don’t forget to add some of your own picks in the comments below!

Happy Zapping and Studying!


How to be Lazy Productive Over Break

Teachers say: “Have a great break!”

Classmates say: “I’m going to be productive this winter break”

You say: “I’m just going to sleep in and eat cookies while watching TV all day”

You are not alone. The gloomy weather and time of the year makes it super hard to be motivated.

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What other time in the year can you catch up on your favorite shows?

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Or read all those books you put on order at the library?


Here are 5 ways to be lazy and productive before school starts again.

1) Set an alarm and do a free Youtube workout every morning.

This may seem daunting at first but doing this will give you energy for the rest of the day. Our favorite right now is the channel fitnessblender.

Start out slow with a 15 or 20 minute workout (kickboxing!!!!) then move on to the 30 or 40 minute workouts. If you are feeling extra motivated after a few days, try the 5 day workout challenge. You won’t regret it!


2) Download a learning app

Were you one of those classmates that bragged that they were going to learn something this winter break? Well, why not do it for real?

Want to learn to code? There’s an app for that. Learn HTML is a good start. The Hour of Code is another fun one to get started.

Want to learn a new language? There’s an app for that. Libraries subscribe to Mango Languages so that you don’t have to. Why not get those tax dollars to work?

Want to just exercise your mind? There’s an app for that. Lumosity is a popular one. It’s free and created by neuroscientists. What’s not to trust? Coursera or Khan Academy for educational lectures or TED for inspirational TED talks are awesome as well.

If you haven’t figured it out already (but we’re sure you did), there’s an app for anything. Just search for something you are interested, download it, try it out, and brag about your productivity to your friends!


3) Learn to cook!

Nothings worse than gaining the Freshman 15 or just the holiday gut. It means that cooking healthy during college is a necessity.

Watch TV and learn how to cook. There’s a huge variety of cooking shows on Netflix. After each entertainment TV show, watch a cooking show to say you are learning how to cook. Why not?

If that doesn’t work, there are amazing apps that teach you each step to cooking your new favorite meal. Nom Nom Paleo is a delicious choice.

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4) Get an audiobook

Do you have to take the bus to work or to school? Maybe to that temporary holiday retail job that you just started? Well, make the commute worthwhile through audio ebooks! Buy them or get them at your local library.

Feeling a bit depressed? Get free therapy through listening to biographies of people who had to struggle to succeed. Mindy Kaling’s books are hilarious! Other popular ones are Amy Poehler’s Yes Please or B.J. Novak’s books.


5) Find a creative outlet

Better yet, use your creative outlet to create gifts for your friends and family. Learn to knit, crochet, sew, or just color! Coloring is a great way to decrease stress and have fun. Have you seen this awesome coloring book yet?

Color it, frame it, and give it away. What a better way to start off 2016.



Are you ready to be lazy productive now?

We certainly are!



New Features: Mobile and More

Have you logged in lately? There have been many new changes to ArcZap! But here are the major changes and new features:

1) Look and feel

We went with a friendlier interface this time with a softer color scheme and friendlier fonts. The event calendar is easy to navigate and the side menus have been consolidated.

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2) Navigation bar

Groups, Events, and Messages  now share the side navigation bar with easy access from the top

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3) Mobile friendly

Look for events on the go and upload photos right away! We want to make searching for your next party fast and easy.


4) Goodbye to “spam” emails

Emails are no longer sent immediately but instead come in a single daily summary email.

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However, you can choose to receive event invites and reminders immediately.

Emailing your group alias will stay normal but comments, updates, and messages will be sent in a summary email once a day.

5) Event Reminders Revamped

Event Reminders are individualized and you can have it text you, email you or both.



6) Event editor

If you own a community or a group, there is now an event editor that can tell you when there are errors in events to be corrected. Tutorials for this will be given to those who curate events.

7) Are you sponsored by a community?

Groups who have a sponsor community, can see the community events amongst your group events. This reduces your need to check both places.



Now… screenshots can only show you so much. So, try out some of these features for yourself!



Looking for Winter Break Events?

Some of you are already on Winter Break!


But some of us still have a few days to wait…


So after a few days of Netflix binge-watching and eating everything in sight, what is there to do? (Besides see Star Wars)


Continue reading Looking for Winter Break Events?

Thinking about buying a hoverboard to cruise around campus?

You may want to think again. Or settle for what’s out there.

Everyone, including each one of us, wants to be like Marty Mcfly, but is the future here yet?

Sure, there are the hoverboards on two wheels that face the front. But those are so disappointing. They don’t hover, they are balancing on two wheels. Other names for them are Swagway or Skywalker. We’re going to call them “two wheel thingies” for now.

Also, those two-wheel thingies could explode if charged too long. We don’t want to read tragic news reports about students getting exploded by hoverboards.

Continue reading Thinking about buying a hoverboard to cruise around campus?

5 Free Online Tools Everyone in College Should Be Using

Oh college. We all have a love/hate relationship with it. Group projects, research papers, and studying until your brain hurts.


But on the flip side. College is where you build meaningful relationships and your professional network. It’s not something to take for granted. The knowledge you gain will be worth it in the long run.


Here’s 5 tools that every college student should be using to ease the pain of going to college.

Continue reading 5 Free Online Tools Everyone in College Should Be Using