Written by Katelyn Regenscheid, St. Olaf intern

Positive psychology introduces the concept of “flow,” also known as the secret to happiness. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s TED talk explains flow as “a state of heightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play and work.” The state of mind called flow is a level of consciousness that we achieve during tasks which deeply engage our minds and/or bodies. After watching this TED talk, I took the chance to reflect on the sources of flow in my own life.

For me, flow comes from a long trail run after weeks of training. It’s found in that moment of awe of and absorption in the natural beauty of my serene world. Sometimes flow even comes to me when I am two hours deep in a literary analysis essay–when I am suddenly so entrenched in the novel that I feel part of it. These flow-producing activities bring my mind and body to a state of positive engagement and contentment.

Finding an activity in which I experience flow is key to my personal happiness. As I move forward in my life, I hope to find more activities and experiences that allow me to achieve flow. Most important to me, I want my vocation to make flow is a common occurrence. Though I know work will not always be a flow-producing experience, I have some hopes of flow in my future.

So, I ask you, what activities produce flow in your life? What are the signs that you are engaging in an activity that will eventually produce flow? Comment below!

Graduation Struggles

Written by Katelyn Regenscheid, St. Olaf intern

As I stand on the edge of the cliff of life, I mentally prepare myself for the leap of faith that comes with college graduation. Entering my senior year of my undergraduate education at St. Olaf College brings with it the pressures of searching for jobs and defining my own, independent future. Despite the enriching nature of a liberal arts education, my degree also leaves me sans career direction.

Work-Life-BalanceWith the world at my feet and student debt beneath my wings, I prepare to take my first, wobbling steps into the “real world.” However, it is with the first stage in this process that I find myself the most stumped: deciding what I want to be when I grow up. Which environment or work-life balance will I prefer when I transition out of the Noon-Midnight college schedule? Will I prefer to work 70 hours/week, making enough money to live comfortable and risk dissatisfaction with my personal life? Perhaps the freelancing world calls my name. Or maybe working in the public sector in a self-proclaimed “rewarding” role will fulfill me.

I take issue with the strict time schedule of the real world. These past years, I have found time to work when the motivation struck me, I was not forced to spend time in a single place if I was not being productive there, yet I still managed to successfully meet every deadline. Obviously, working for an organization is quite the opposite environment. Perhaps this is the difference between paying to be somewhere and getting paid to be there. Or perhaps it is the inherent ‘laziness’ of my generation. I prefer to think it is the former, but who is to say?  I did not live as my parents did, so I cannot speak to it.

If money is such a strong motivating factor in work hierarchy, I ask myself why then don’t I work for myself? As my own boss, I would be able to allow myself tailored opportunities to find meaning and gain work-life flexibility. Established organizations, however, offer great benefits and opportunities. This again is a paradox of a college education: in order to pay for it, I must work somewhere that forces me to spend my time differently. Working independently is a potential goal, but for now I must find an organization where I find meaning and purpose within their constraints. Now the only question is: how do I make that happen?

Do you have career/life suggestions for soon-to-be or recent college graduates? Comment here or on our Facebook page to share your thoughts!



Embracing Business Specialities

northfield sunsetAfter a summer working for the City of Northfield’s Community Development Department, one observes the diversity of Northfield’s economy first-hand. Now many people may not have the opportunity to experience all the Northfield has to offer, which is no fault of their own. Many of the great businesses in town are so incredibly discreet that no one would ever realize that there are a handful of multi-million dollar business in your backyard.

Take All-Flex for example. Many people drive down Highway 3 to Target, Cub or Faribault with the possibility of seeing All Flex’s sign and building. However, there may only be a few people of what they actually do. As a company that creates flexible circuitry, All Flex quietly provides employment, goods, and industry to Northfield.

All Flex is not alone in this style of business. Perkins Transports, Multek, Cardinal Glass, Aurora Pharmaceuticals, and many more attempt to simply add to the world through industrial innovation. Yes, Malt-O-Meal has been a pivotal aspect to the Northfield culture. Nevertheless, there are industrial businesses that can add and enhance the innovational culture that is Northfield. I have been so appreciative of my experiences working with some of the businesses, and my only hope is for these businesses to flourish and attract other innovative people to experience everything the city has to offer and call Northfield their home.

Nate Carlson

Pathway to SPUR



Greetings SPUR members and guests!

My name is Nate Carlson, a senior at St. Olaf College with a major in Economics with an emphasis in Public Policy Analysis. I come to SPUR as an intern through my connections with the Northfield EDA. This summer I had the opportunity to be an intern for the Northfield Community Development Department. Under the direction of Michelle Merxbauer and Chris Hieneman, I spent my summer analyzing the current workforce and business market of Northfield and putting together reports that could assist the EDA and Community Development staff with all things related to economic development.

After a presentation I took part in for the EDA, Megan Tsui approached me with yet another opportunity to enhance myself within the community development sphere. She presented me with the opportunity to be an intern for SPUR/NEC. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to assist Megan and the NEC/SPUR.

I possess skills of web design, data analysis, market research, oral presentation, and summary reporting. With these skills and a strong work ethic, I hope to bring further energy and success to SPUR and the NEC.

Look for new aspects to both the SPUR and NEC websites! I encourage feedback for any additional info for the websites.