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Meeting My New Year’s Resolutions with Tech

As the ball drops and the clock strikes midnight, we enter a new year of experiences and opportunities. But it wouldn’t be the New Year without resolutions. Many people around the world make New Year’s resolutions, only to completely forget about them a week into January. But there are many apps, websites, and online services that can help you actually keep your resolutions. Here are my 2023 New Year’s resolutions and the technology that will help me stick to them.

Learn a New Language

Maybe you plan to travel or study abroad and want to interact with local people in their native language. Or maybe you want to talk to a relative who speaks another language, or get a job with an international firm. The reasons for wanting to learn a new language are endless and, luckily, so are the ways you can do that.

Not all of us have the privilege of studying a language through Pitt classes, but using apps like Duolingo can help you begin learning a new language, starting at the most basic statements and working up to complex, in-depth conversations. Duolingo is totally free (besides some optional in-app purchases), and you can get daily notifications when it’s time for your language study. Just by practicing a few minutes each day, you’re on your way to learning a new language and challenging your mind in ways you haven’t before! Personally, I’ve been working on my French using Duolingo, and I can confidently say, ça va bien!

Once you develop new language skills, be sure to add them to your resume and LinkedIn profile, as this is a highly prized skill for many employers!

Become More Organized

As a chronically disorganized person, this has become more of a weekly goal of mine. I’m hoping that setting it as a New Year’s resolution will really go that extra step. I’ve found a couple tech tools that really help me accomplish this goal.

First, I’ve started using the Canvas app as a class organization tool, instead of just checking it occasionally to see a grade or turn something in. The calendar lists all scheduled assignments, tests/quizzes, and events. It’s color-coded, which helps you to quickly see what’s coming up for each class. You can also create your own events and to-do items, which is super helpful for adding things that aren’t a formal assignment (for example, meeting with a study group or when a first draft should be done). You can also add the Canvas calendar to your Google or Outlook calendar, so you can see what’s happening all in one place. Plus, when you submit an assignment through Canvas, it gets crossed off on the calendar, which is pretty satisfying.

Another thing I want to use is Microsoft OneNote to take class notes. I am a laptop notetaker, rather than a written notetaker (which I know is a hotly debated topic). It’s pretty easy to have these documents get lost in random folders all over my laptop. Even when I do organize the files, it’s hard to remember which file specific information is saved in.

Since OneNote is a Microsoft product, it looks a lot like Word, which is what I currently use, so same buttons and familiar layout. (Because who wants to learn a whole new interface in a new system?!) Using OneNote, you can organize your notes based on class, create pages within each class section, and use titles that stand out, so you know exactly what notes you’re looking at. They’re all in the same place when you need to refer back to them, and you can search a Notebook and it will find it no matter which page it’s on. It will hopefully make studying for exams that much easier. (Don’t see OneNote when you first log into the Microsoft 365 portal? Click the three dots below the list of app icons on the left, and it will appear as an option.)

Update my Personal Portfolio

On the surface, this seems like a pretty mundane task, but in reality, it’s going to help a lot with preparing for the future, whether that be looking for a job or preparing for graduate school. (I’m planning to go to law school in Fall 2023). So I’m resolving to update my personal portfolio, resume, cover letter, etc. as I go, rather than updating it from memory when I need it. Staying current helps you to easily prepare for an interview, especially questions like “Tell me about yourself” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

My portfolio, as it stands now, is in Wix, a service that builds a personal portfolio website for you (pretty meta, I know). Using Wix, I’ve set up a site that not only tells people who I am, but shows them. I have a lot of examples of my own work, my resume, and a biography about my goals and aspirations. It’s a polished, visually striking way to present myself, and I can put my Wix URL right ono my resume or online profiles.

As part of my resolution, I also want to build a really comprehensive LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the premiere networking app and it’s important to have a good profile. While Wix is more oriented to showing examples of your work and presenting your personal style, LinkedIn presents your unique professional brand, helps you build networking and mentoring relationships, and lets you assess and summarize your strengths and skills. You can direct people from LinkedIn to your Wix site, but people can search for and find you on LinkedIn. So I want to have both.

Choose the Right Resolutions, Then Find the Tech to Help

Resolutions aren’t supposed to be stressful. They’re supposed to help guide you for the upcoming year. So, ask yourself: Where do you want to end up? What are some concrete goals you can set for yourself? Then incorporate helpful tech into the equation and see how easy making and keeping these resolutions becomes.

-- By Claudia Huggins, Pitt IT Student Blogger