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#1Day4DU Creates Additional Internship Award

Darby Pappas
Incoming Junior Darby Pappas (’18) was studying for finals at the library when she saw a missed call and a voicemail from a campus extension. On the other end, career advisor Rebecca Damas left Darby a message offering her an internship award that had just been funded through One Day For DU efforts on May 18. Damas says that Pappas, who had “accepted her fate” as an alternate recipient, returned the call within 30 seconds.
Each year the University Career Center gives eight $2,500 awards to students who have accepted unpaid internships. While some DU students’ internships are paid, most students still take unpaid internships knowing that the work experience will generate on average $10,000 more in the starting salary at their first post-graduation job. Unfortunately, many students can’t afford to work unpaid in the industry of their choice, such as government, nonprofit, creative arts or start-ups, where paid internships are rare.  Others accept paid internships that are less connected to their career goals. Every year the candidate pool becomes more competitive. This year, Darby Pappas was the number one alternate, a slot that is rarely offered award money.
Thanks to One Day For DU crowdfunding efforts, 56 donors contributed $3,614 to the Internship, Career and Professional Success Fund, creating an additional internship award made available for this summer.
At previous internships, Pappas was paid. She interned for MMI, an ad agency in Houston, before moving to Denver and last summer she worked for the hotel marketing agency Screen Pilot, where she even negotiated a higher pay rate based on her past experience. But Pappas, a creative and entrepreneurial marketing student, wanted to broaden her experience and find something that sparked her passion.
Her family began visiting Colorado years ago, coming about twice a year for skiing and summer vacation. An avid skier and the Director of Apparel for DU’s Delta Gamma sorority, Pappas took note of Lost Girls Tribe hoodies she noticed skiers wearing this year. She started following the company, a media collective for women in action sports, on Instagram. In March, she reached out to the company via their website. Before long she was Facebook messaging with the founder, which led to a FaceTime interview.
Lost Girls Tribe was not actively recruiting interns, but Pappas made a compelling pitch. She created, designed and proposed her own internship at a company whose work, mission and ethos she finds inspiring—and she landed the job. This summer she’ll be handling social media, building their analytics dashboard, redesigning the website and launching an email marketing campaign.
Natalie Oaks, one of Lost Girls Tribe’s three female founders, was excited to have Pappas joining the team this summer, but wished that they could pay her—a predicament many start-ups face. Pappas, though, is no stranger to hard work. In addition to her leadership role at Delta Gamma (she designs all of the sorority’s graphic assets), she leads Eco-Reps (a group of 10 DU students who train first-year students about the University’s sustainability efforts), and she is a host and the Green Captain at the South Glenn location of Snooze A.M. Eatery (owned by DU alum Jon Schlegel and his brother Adam Schlegel).
Before receiving the award her plan was to devote 20 hours per week to Lost Girls Tribe and another 20 hours at Snooze “to make ends meet.” Pappas was stunned when she got the call from Damas. Now, she says she’ll be able to scale back work at Snooze and focus her efforts on Lost Girls Tribe.
When she learned that the award was funded through One Day For DU giving, Pappas was again in awe. Her response: “In the future, I will donate to this fund. I want to give back in the same way that these donors were able to give to me.”

How to Get Job Offer after Graduation

job-offerThe world after graduation isn’t the same as the one before it. I’d go so far as to say that the change is bigger than the one you experienced when you finished high school. Yes, then you moved out of your parent’s home and had to wash your own clothes, but that’s nothing compared to what comes next.
Business isn’t the same as university life. In university the goal is still to make you better. That’s not what happens in the world outside of the ivory tower. There the goal is to use you to make somebody else better off. The focus shifts entirely. And if you’re not ready for that, if you’re not prepared that you will no longer be at the center of anybody’s attention, it’s going to be tough out there.

The world doesn’t owe you anything

Now that’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but it’s important that you did. Consider it tough love, because if you haven’t been giving it any thought it’s time that you did. In fact, while we’re ont the topic of tough love, thinking is not enough. You’ve got to take action.
Because the world doesn’t owe you anything and it won’t give you your opportunity on a silver platter. The only way you’re going to get anywhere is if you start making moves to take what you want.
If you’ve still got time then what you need to engage in is a bit of resumeism. This is doing and engaging in activities that will make your resume look good. Get a job, even if you don’t need one. Find some activity that needs you do communicate a lot, like writing a blog or working on a newspaper. Start a business (it doesn’t matter if it fails, as long as you can show you tried hard and you can sum up what you learned).

Write several cover letters and construct several resumes

You cannot send out the same cover letter and CV to every job. That doesn’t mean you have to build a new one for every job you’re applying to, but it does mean that you’re going to need several different templates that you can adjust to better suit the job you’re applying for.
Are you considering both accounting and programming? Obviously, you do not need the same skills in both sectors, so make sure your resumes reflect that. In one, talk about all the programming languages you’ve learned. In other, explain how you did the book-keeping for your father’s business for over five years (I’ll let you figure out which CV you should use for which job).

You are not at the center of anybody else’s world

So don’t assume that if you send your CV and your cover letter somebody will see your greatness and hire you. Instead, realize that your CV and your cover letter will be submitted to the same scrutiny and attention as everybody else’s.
Sometimes that means that somebody will look at every typo and every grammar mistake. At other moments it might mean that they won’t look past the first heading.
Both of these situations need to be anticipated and dealt with. Make certain that there are no grammar and spelling mistakes on your CV or cover letter (get somebody else to look at it just to be sure). Also, be aware that if your first few lines don’t have any punch, most people will not look further. After all, they’ve got hundreds of applications to look at. So make them count!

It’s not what you know but who you know

So make use of your social network shamelessly. Met a business manager in a bar two years ago that might be a way into the industry? Contact them! Dated somebody whose father works somewhere important? Get in touch!
Yes, they might say no. But so what? If they say ‘no’ to this they’d probably have said ‘no’ to some other request as well. And if they do say ‘yes’ then that might give you an opportunity you could never have dreamt about. Isn’t that worth the discomfort of reaching out and potentially getting rejected?
So sit down and scour your memory. Similarly, ask your parents, family friends and anybody else if they can think of anybody – even if it’s a long shot. As long as it’s only a small bit of effort even long shots are worth taking. And besides, weak ties can sometimes get you opportunities that strong ties can’t.

Finding a job is a job

You can’t just do it for half an hour a day. This is something you need to do properly. So send out resumes, check the work boards, reach out to friends from long ago and craft the perfect cover letter for eight hours a day, just like any other job. Yes, that sounds intensely boring.
The truth is, though, the more aggressively you attack the job search, the shorter it will last. Job hunting is a numbers game. Each individual shot doesn’t have a great deal of chance, but that’s balanced out by you taking a huge number of shots. Eventually one will hit. And that’s the great thing about job hunts, it doesn’t matter how often you miss. All that will soon be forgotten and left behind.
What matters is that you hit. Then you can take the job, move on to the new life and leave the horrors of the job search behind you.

Searching for a job is a skill

So don’t worry if initially you’re not very good at it and things go wrong. There are things that you need to learn and aspects that you need to understand. For that reason the most important part of any failed job application is that you try to figure out what you might have done wrong and then move on. That will mean you’re better prepared for the next post you apply to and the chance that you’ll get it will be that much higher.
Keep that up for long enough and keep improving and one day it won’t be you hunting for jobs, but jobs hunting for you. Good luck and go get them!

13 Things I Have Learned After Becoming A Content Marketer

content-marketerI’ve been in online marketing for four years now, and I believe I’ve collected enough knowledge to share with people who are in the same position as I was at the beginning. Entering a new profession is hard, especially if you are a fresh graduate. At the same time, you begin to explore the new word which is also very exciting. I chose online marketing because it is never boring (if you like it, of course). There are so many things to do, to check, to analyze and to come up with during a day – I rarely get bored.
It was difficult from the start, though. I wish someone could have explained some things to me so that I wouldn’t have had to spend so much time learning about them myself. Now I want to make a post revealing some of those things in the hope that they can help some of you young online marketers.

People enjoy some personal touch

During these four years, I’ve come to the conclusion that people like personal approach when it comes to marketing. You can use that in email marketing, in advertising, in social networks, etc.

Be flexible

What’s hot today can be entirely outdated tomorrow. You need to be able to give easily up some techniques that you’ve been using for a long time just to try new trendy things. Marketing specialists cannot but be adaptive.

You shouldn’t expect the results right away

Starting a marketing career, I was eager to see the immediate results of my work. The truth is you have to wait. Quality online marketing is a long-term process that demands patience and persistence. Of course, you will see some improvements in the situation (or worsening, if you are not very good yet), but the general picture will start changing only after some time.

No theory is good without practice

At the day I started my first marketing job, I had quite a lot of knowledge. I had finished a marketing school and knew quite a bit. I was very confident; it is even quite embarrassing to remember right now. When I got to the actual work, I was astonished about how few practical skills I had and how many I needed to learn.

People around should be your inspiration

With my job, I have learned to notice what people think about this or that service or product and to use it to my benefit. One time I came up with a brilliant marketing idea after spending an evening with a bunch of young women sharing their opinions on different things. People are inspiring. Listen to them and notice what they want. Then use it in your work.

Pay a lot of attention to content

Content is as important as never before. People want to be entertained and informed with the content of the highest quality. Don’t offer them so-so material. Even if your copywriters are in the writer’s block phase and don’t produce anything good – don’t send people whatever; better wait until you have something great.

Don’t be upset about failures

One important thing that I’ve learned at my job is that you shouldn’t worry about failures but learn lessons from them. If an internet marketer never fails, it usually means that he is either a real genius (a very rare occasion), or he never tries anything new, which is unforgivable for this profession. If you start an unconventional campaign, and it fails, don’t worry! You have an experience now that will bring you to starting something brilliant next time.

Pay a lot of attention to social media

Social networks turned out to be a great place for marketing. I did quite well promote my products there, and I think that no business and no marketing specialist should neglect this fantastic opportunity.

Even the greatest content needs promotion

There are not so many sites that can publish a post, relax and wait for people to adore it and to share it everywhere they can. The majority of us have to promote it, to spread the word and to spend some time getting people to notice it.

You should know how to analyze

As a marketing specialist, you will need to collect a lot of data. You will need to check how much traffic comes to your site and from what sources, what people do on your site and how long they stay there, what your competitors’ situation is, etc. The most important thing though is not to collect the data, but to know what to do with it. It is important to make conclusions and to act.

The connections are crucial

At one marketing conference, I met this very cool blogger. I hadn’t heard of him before, but he turned out to be very popular. I told him about my project at that time, and he said he would mention it on his blog. I didn’t expect much from it, but in a couple of days, I noticed that the traffic to the site increased a great deal. It was after my new friend mentioned the service in his new blog post. That is just one example of how connections can help in online marketing.

You should never stop learning

Well, it actually concerns every profession and life in general. However, online marketing is such a changing thing that you may need to acquire new things very often, not mentioning learning about some basics such as marketing theory or the psychology of consumer behavior.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the product

Good marketers should be able to promote and sell about anything. However, if you have a chance, I suggest you are choosing a product you really believe in. I’ve had three big and several small projects over these four years, and I got the best results with the service that I personally really like. It is much easier to tell people it’s good when you think so.
Concluding the whole thing, I want to wish young marketing specialists a lot of inspiration and creativity. Learn something new every day, work hard and acquire new skills and you will go very far.

Cover Letter Tips: 9 Ways to Stand Out (

Here is a great article shared on LinkedIn by Career Coach, Donna Shannon. cover letters can be daunting – there’s so much to say and so little room. Yet saying too much is, well, too much. Read on for some great tips about writing great cover letters that will surely make you stand out from the rest of the applicant pool. This article was originally published on

Today’s Question: We know that cover letters are important – but they also happen to be one of the hardest aspects of the job hunt to master. What tips and insights do you have that can help job seekers write the best cover letters possible?

Dianna1. Summarize Your Key Qualifications
Summarize your key qualifications as they apply to the specific position. Aim for no more than one or two clear sentences about the contributions you can make to the employer based on your experience, skills, education, or expertise. Your opening summary is the hook that entices employers to read more.
— Dianna Booher, Booher Research Institute 
Kristen 2. Be Wary of Templates
Use cover letter templates with extreme caution. Make sure your final version has enough of you in it to not sound like you just pulled a random template from Google in a three-minute search!
— Kristen Steele, Bookmasters 
Sam3. Don’t Make It Too Long
Cover letters are short and sweet. Read it yourself. If it takes more than a minute or two, it’s too long.
— Sam Cameron, 
Donna4. Focus on the Employer, Not Yourself
The best cover letters focus on the needs of the employer. If you can prove to them that you can save them money, make them money, or solve problems, they will definitely be more interested in you. Plus, you only need to prove one of the three to make an impact. Not sure how to do this? Research the company ahead of time to see how you fit in.
— Donna Shannon, Personal Touch Career Services 
Ryan5. Write It ‘Pyramid Style’
Include the most important information toward the top. The employer probably has several applications to look at, so if the they only read part of your cover letter, ensure that they at least read the best part.
— Ryan Naylor, 
Mary Beth6. Address It to a Person
Gone are the days when “Dear Sir or Madam” was acceptable. Do your research. Look up the hiring manager or recruiter on LinkedIn and do you best to decipher who your application is going to so you can address them by name.
— Mary Beth Ferrante, Mary Beth Ferrante Coaching 
Lynda7. Customize Your Cover Letters
Do not use the same cover letter for every application. Make sure you customize each one separately for each job you are applying for. That is all the employer wants to read about: How you will be of value to their company and this position.
— Lynda McKay, Bagnall 
Brandon8. Incorporate Hard Data
In my experience receiving hundreds of cover letters, I appreciate those that truly distinguish the candidate by using a mix of creativity and intelligence. It’s so easy to tell when someone is using a form letter that they grabbed off the Internet. When job seekers take the time to think about what is relevant to me as an employer, I notice. I don’t want to see
a bunch of random facts that aren’t relevant to my company. I want a concise description that shows me some skills that are directly related to the job. If you throw in a few statistics or hard numbers that you can back up, even better. This shows me that you can provide real solutions to real problems.
— Brandon Schroth, seoWorks
Brittany9. Don’t Repeat Your Resume
An important tip that I share with my career coaching clients is to not regurgitate the information that is on your resume in your cover letter. Cover letters serve as an introduction to you as a candidate and are often read prior to glancing at your resume. Because of this, it’s important to make your cover letter intriguing and distinctly different from the information you include on a resume.
I always say resumes are for skills and cover letters are for showcasing and storytelling. On a resume, you highlight the skills that you have that make you a viable candidate for a position. However, in a cover letter, you are showcasing how those skills have equipped you to carry out the functions of the job you are applying for. Storytelling on a cover letter is a great way to paint a picture in the hiring manager’s mind of why you are the best candidate for the job.

What Pokémon Go Can Teach You about the Job Search

Has your lifePokemon Go DU become consumed with Pikachu, Squirtle, and your phone’s battery life? In the past days, I have been amazed watching the Pokémon Go  cultural phenomenon take off. As I watch people play around town, I am instantly struck by how the very things people love about this game relate perfectly to a successful job or internship search.
You have to leave the house to succeed.
Sitting on the couch with your phone will not get you very far in Pokémon Go. Similarly, sitting on a computer looking at online job boards is not the best strategy for finding jobs or internships. Get out and talk to friends, family, faculty members, career advisors or professionals in your field to learn about job leads and get advice.
Leave the house. It helps.
Meeting Strangers Can Be Fun!
Connecting with other “Trainers” is one of the most surprisingly fun parts of this game for many players. Sharing tips, having a common interest, and working together with new people has led to instant friendships and connection.
Do you enjoy those unexpected interactions? Then you will probably like networking more than you realize! Request informational meetings to get advice from professionals and alumni – you will really enjoy those brief connections with friendly people who have similar career interests and helpful tips.
Some Stops are Worth the Extra Time
Making the extra effort to get to a PokeStop is worth it! You will be rewarded with Poke Balls, Pokémon Eggs, and other tools that help you take your game to the next level.
Career Services is the PokeStop of your job search. Take the time to visit one of our office to get the job search tools you need for success. Resume reviews, job search tips, and interview coaching can help get you to the next level of your professional life.
So, gamers, how else does Pokémon Go relate to your job search? I’d love to hear your thoughts

Two Ways to Search for Jobs: Proactive and Reactive

Have you ever been searching for a job or internship and feel like you’re spinning your wheels?  Don’t worry, that’s normal!  The entire process can be very overwhelming and time consuming.
Here are some tips to make the most of a proactive and reactive job search (you need both approaches). Make sure you schedule an appointment with your career advisor (call 303.871.2150) who can help you map out a strategy!
Plan to build time into your schedule to conduct your job and internship search. Block time in your calendar as if it were a class!  The best jobs and internships are found through research and networking. These both take more time than blindly applying for jobs and internships.
Reactive Job Search
Build a list of potential job or internship titles that interest you and search various databases for postings that meet your interests and qualifications.  Apply for these jobs and follow up with a contact at that organization.  A few of these databases include:
Proactive Job Search
Build a list of target companies
  • Research companies of interest and become an expert on the ones that really interest you
  • Identify companies whose cultures seem to align with your needs and preferences
  • Check their company website for job openings and apply to ones that fit your interests and qualifications
Go beyond postings
  • Connect with local industry groups and professional organizations. Consider young professional organizations if you are still in school or at the start of your career. This is a great way to build a network of peers.
  • Reach out to personal contacts and professors in the fields or positions of your interest
  • Network with employees at your target companies through LinkedIn and try scheduling some informational interviews
Propose a Job or Internship
Have a company on your target list, but they don’t currently have an opening that is a good fit for you?  Connect with someone at that organization anyway!  Have a conversation about your passion for the company and promote your skills and strengths.  Inquire about ways you could possibly help with a project as an intern or how you could get involved to get your foot in the door.

Cooking Up Job Satisfaction

tyler grillAs a college student, especially those close to graduation there is a lot of pressure on you to get a job. People are always asking, “Have you found a job?”, “What are you doing after graduation?” or “How is the job search?” Due to this pressure, many new graduates will accept the first job offer they receive, but may not be a wise choice. Why you ask? The job may not be the right fit.  You might not enjoy this job, and within 6 months to 1 year you are already trying to search for a new role. I think having an idea of what will keep you happy at a job is just as important as finding a job. Job satisfaction will make you a better employee and allow you to have a better life, and that’s what we all want right?
So today I have created the recipe for job satisfaction.
Ingredient List and Directions
  • 1 or 2 degrees from a top institution in the country
  • Stir in your skills, interests, values – Find a role where your skills will shine, and you are excited to be there.
  • 1 Cup ideal work environment – This can change per person. Think about what will satisfy you every day. Do you want to work individually or with teams? What does the physical office, structure, lab, etc look like? What are your co-workers like? Do you want people who share the same interests and lifestyle, or are you looking to broaden your horizon by engaging in an entirely new culture?
  • A dash of humor – Who doesn’t want to laugh at work?
  • 3 ping-pong tournaments – Are perks like this something you desire? Many companies now have similar incentives. Free snacks, yoga classes, bringing your dog to work, or a coffee bar.
  • 20 DU Alumni – Recently the Career Center staff visited Denver based Four Winds Interactive, this innovative company has 20+ DU alumni who have created an alumni chapter at work. They even hold social events after work. Find a place where you feel like you belong.
  • Add $$$ – What is the right salary for you? Ideally we will all get paid more than we need but accepting the first job that comes along may not allow you to live within your means. Do some research on the city you are living in, how much will you need? $40,000 in San Francisco, CA is not the same as $40,000 in Columbus, OH.
  • Mix in a great leader – What does leadership mean to you? Do you value autonomy and ownership over your work? Do you need to feel like you are making an impact?
  • Sprinkle some desire – Do you believe in this organization? Are you a “company woman/man”? Can you stand behind your work and be excited to share what you do?
  • Cook for 20+ years at 40 hours a week
I hope this helps you grasp what it means to be satisfied at work, and allows you to begin thinking about what you want out of a career and what will keep you engaged and satisfied every day!
Tyler Till is a Career Advisor in the Career Center and serves as the liaison to undergraduate students in the Daniels College of Business and Department of Economics, as well as to international students. Till graduated with his master of education in College Student Affairs from the University of West Georgia (UWG). During his time at UWG he served as a graduate assistant in their Career Services office. Till received his Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Auburn University.
*Actual photo of grill master Tyler Till during his time at Auburn University.

Student Hones Life and Professional Skills While Working Outside the Classroom

Shem Kikamaze came to DU to pursue the education and know-how that would help his country address its power problems. Courtesy photo
Shem Kikamaze came to DU to pursue the education and know-how that would help his country address its power problems. Courtesy photo
For Shem Kikamaze, the light bulb clicked on when the electricity went off.
As a high school student in his hometown of Kampala, Uganda, where outages are a recurring problem, Kikamaze came to value every jolt of power. “It is always going on and off,” he says of the electricity. “It affects a lot of people. Students can’t study [at night] except by candlelight.” And consider, he adds, the problems an unreliable power grid pose for hospitals, where life-saving and disease-diagnosing machinery relies on a steady current.
So Kikamaze, a self-described math, science and technology geek, had an idea: He’d pursue the education and know-how that would help his country address its power problems.
Kikamaze didn’t know then just which professions might best tackle the job, so he Googled his way to an answer and began compiling a list of universities with solid electrical engineering programs. He was interested in U.S. schools partly because of the country’s much-touted emphasis on efficiency. “The U.S. is famous for that,” he explains.
When the University of Denver offered him the four-year, full-tuition Fraiberg Scholarship, established to help students from war-torn nations, Kikamaze packed his bag, arriving on campus just as the institution was preparing to host the first 2012 presidential debate. It was an exciting time at DU, and Kikamaze was delighted to witness events that were attracting the world’s attention.
Four years and countless kilowatts of brainpower later, Kikamaze collected his degree alongside the other members of the Class of 2016. His time on campus was characterized by aha moments and door-opening opportunities — some serendipitous, some of his own creation. It was also marked by a smattering of lows and a host of highs.

Among the aha moments:

Before coming to Denver, Kikamaze’s experience of winter was solely vicarious, acquired mainly through magazine articles and television programs. Uganda straddles the equator, so he had no need there for parkas and gloves. And based on photos of tourists frolicking in the snow, he thought winter couldn’t possibly bite.
When he told his friends he was bound for Colorado, they expressed concern about how he’d handle the cold. Don’t worry, he rashly told them, “‘There is no place that can be as cold as my fridge.”
If cold weather and snow took him by surprise, he was just as astonished by what he learned in the classroom. Classes in finance and economics gave him plenty of information and insight that he expects to use in his career and that offered him insight into his country’s challenges. But valuable as these courses were, it was a computer science class that captivated his imagination.
“I didn’t know how to code or anything, and I went to this class and it was so exciting,” he recalls. “At one point, I wanted to switch [majors] to computer science because it was so exciting for me.”
He ended up minoring in computer science and expects that his programming and coding skills will be useful whether he starts his own energy-related business or joins an established firm.
 Among the opportunities:
From a series of campus jobs patched together for spending money, Kikamaze honed life and professional skills. At one point, he says, he worked as many as three jobs.
“It was hard, but I did learn something from each job. For example, from the bookstore, [I learned] I wasn’t assertive in my communication skills, my business communication skills.” With help from staff, he discovered how to break the ice with customers and ask them about their needs.
Other jobs offered similar chances for growth and paved the way for the opportunity he considers the best of his college career: a 20-hour-a-week internship with Xcel Energy.
Kikamaze started that internship midway through his sophomore year and wrapped it up right before graduation. At the utility company, he joined a team of four full-time engineers and another intern to address equipment failures at 100 substations across the state.
“Since there was so much work, it was great for me because I was learning as much as I could,” he says. In fact, his internship helped him gain admittance to Virginia Tech, where, en route to his career goals, he’ll enroll this fall in a graduate electrical engineering program.
The work experience alone made the internship worthwhile, but he also earned enough money to pay his younger brother’s tuition at Uganda’s Makerere University. That done, there was cash left over to build his mother, who had worked 80-hour weeks to make a better life for her sons, a house of her own.
“College has provided so many opportunities to me,” he says. “I felt like I could not have all this and have my family not having anything.”
 Among the lows:
In the land of rugged individualism, Kikamaze learned that he had to work hard to retain his sense of individuality.
“Back home, I was an individual. I was Shem, and Shem was different from Joe, and Joe was different from Paul. I lost that when I came here,” he says.
Instead, he found that Americans were quick to generalize about Africa and Africans, failing to realize that Nigeria was not Rwanda and Sudan was not Uganda. “Being an international student from Africa,” he says, “I would talk to someone and they already had an expectation — a preconceived idea — of me.”
Kikamaze came to feel that he symbolized the entire continent and that his behavior reflected upon all Africans. That became particularly stressful during the winter break of his sophomore year. As an international student, he didn’t have any place to go once the University residence halls had closed at Thanksgiving. In anticipation, he had saved money for short-term accommodations but discovered, too late, that in Denver’s tight rental market, it was nearly impossible to rent an apartment for just six weeks.
And, as he saw it, it was just as impossible to ask for help. To his mind, he had failed to solve a problem, to achieve self-reliance. And that made him a failure — and worse, his “failure” might jeopardize opportunities for other Ugandans.
“For some reason, I didn’t expect my peers to understand. … [And] I didn’t contact the school or anything. If I told [anyone] I failed, how would that affect future admissions,” he asked himself.
Rather than risk compromising prospects for all other Ugandans, Kikamaze spent the break working at the DU Bookstore, showering on campus and, at night, occupying a sleeping bag in a storeroom at an apartment building occupied by the friend of a friend.
Today, looking back on the experience, he urges campus administrators to remember that first-generation and international college students may need help negotiating challenges that other students know how to handle. While he learned a lot from his six weeks of homelessness, it isn’t something he wishes on others.
 Among the highs:
After four years of hard work, Kikamaze was delighted to don cap and gown at the University’s Commencement ceremony. But that experience pales in comparison to the moment when he learned that DU had recognized his high school achievements with a significant scholarship. He was only the second African to receive the Fraiberg Scholarship, which typically has gone to students from the Middle East.
“My parents could not afford college, so I put all my effort into high school. I tried to get some of the best grades, which I did. And I applied to so many schools and scholarships.
“When I think about what is the most exciting part of my life — between getting that scholarship and graduating — I think getting that scholarship is more exciting than graduating,” he says. “That was the best moment of my life.”

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