Love is in the Air! And so is the question: “Do you have a job yet?”

dating granny

This guest post was written by Heather Carpenter, a Faculty Co-op Coordinator in the College of Engineering.

It was only a few years ago that I myself was on the dating scene. Often the case one of my friends would say, “Do you know [insert name here]. You would love him! Want me to set you up?” Before I would commit I knew I had to Google the guy. What was he all about? Who did we know in common? Why was he single? And most importantly, did he have a job?

Dating is very similar to finding a job or co-op. There have been great books written about the subject (Courting Your Career by Shawn Graham) but people often don’t see the parallel. I hope the following tips will help with your career dating life.

  1. Change your attitude. After being on the dating scene for a while it can start to feel discouraging when dates do not work out, and the same is true for the job search. You may wonder why people aren’t calling you for an interview or why you never get the offer. If this is happening to you, you should definitely ask for some advice. Have someone review your resume and practice an interview with you. If you go into the search with a bad attitude you will get bad results, so re-engage, get re-energized, and re-align your tactics.
  2. Know who you’re going to meet. Anyone who has been on a blind date knows the importance of internet stalking. The same is true for prospective employers, except you’re allowed to say you researched the company without coming off as a creep. Once you find a good company figure out who you know there that might be a good person to meet, and who might be able to introduce you. LinkedIn is a great tool to use to do this, and so is the Career Development Office. Find out when employers will be on-campus and take advantage of this face-to-face time!
  3. Help them get to know you. Chances are they are going to check you out at some point too. Give them something that displays all your accomplishments and hides your faults. Build a great LinkedIn profile and protect or clean up the rest of your online image. Your skills are the most important thing to display, so upload samples of your work or create a professional (and well proofread) portfolio that demonstrates your abilities to do the job.
  4. Ask questions. The best way to have a successful date is to show the person you’re interested in them. This works great with companies too, so be prepared with what you want to know – and asking how much they pay or if they are going to hire you does not cut it! Show you are engaged in their work, and that you have done your research.
  5. Find out about a second date. Career fairs are a great place to meet employers for the first time but are best used as networking tools, not necessarily to find a job that day. Ask for an opportunity to sit down with a recruiter or to meet a manager for an informational interview. This is your chance to really learn about the company in a 20 minute meeting, and potentially also get your foot in the door. This technique can be used to access people within your network as well.
  6. Be ready to give your number. You never know who you are going to meet where, so get a business card to be ready. It should have your name, major, Linkedin profile url, email and phone number on it. It doesn’t need to be pretentious, just professional.
  7. Tell them you had a great time. After you have the business card or the contact information or that first interview – DO SOMETHING! Write a nice thank you email that tells the employer how excited you are about the company, ask for the informational interview, or follow-up in any manner they may have requested of you when you met in person. Don’t drop the ball here or you may never have a chance for a second impression.
photo source: Photograph: ITV / Rex Features

photo source: Photograph: ITV / Rex Features

Dating and finding a job can both be stressful – but imagine the relief when you say yes to that offer and are in a committed relationship for the next couple years. Doing all of the work up front will ensure you find the right match for you so you don’t have to be back on the dating scene anytime soon.

Heather Carpenter is a Faculty Co-op Coordinator in the College of Engineering. In her previous lives she has worked in career services, non-profit, mental health, and criminal justice. She strongly believes in the value of experiential education and is pursuing her EdD to investigate the topic further! Connect with a witty message on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/hmcarpenter.

Reply All? Please Don’t. And Other Email Etiquette Tips

image source: http://elitedaily.com/money/email-etiquette-for-gen-y/

Image Source: http://elitedaily.com/money/email-etiquette-for-gen-y/

This post was written by Emily Brown, a regular contributor to The Works and a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program at Northeastern University. She is also a Career Development Intern

Email is often the principal form of communication in business settings.  As you begin co-op or your first post-grad job, keep in mind that how you present yourself via email can contribute to your overall reputation among coworkers. Keeping in mind some simple email etiquette can help ensure you build a positive reputation at the workplace both in person and online.

  • Use an appropriate level of formality – be more formal with higher level professionals, but also mirror others’ email style and address them with the same level (or higher) of formality with which they address you
  • Provide a clear subject line
  • Respond within 24-48 hours
  • Double check that the email is going to the correct person – Autofill isn’t always as helpful as it’s meant to be
  • Acknowledge receipt of emails even if it does not require a response – especially if someone is providing you with information you need
  • Be concise – emails should be short and to the point
  • Number your questions – if you’re asking multiple questions, the person on the receiving end is more likely to read and respond to them all if they’re clearly broken out
  • Include a signature – no one should have to search for your contact information
  • Don’t overuse the high priority function
  • Use “reply all” sparingly and only cc those who need the information
  • If you forward someone an email, include a brief personalized note explaining why
  • Remember, no email is private – once you hit send, you have no control over with whom the email is shared. This is particularly important if you are working for any type of government agency in Massachusetts, in which case email is considered public record.
Image Source: http://www.someecards.com/christmas-cards/email-coworkers-office-holiday-party-work-funny-ecard

Image Source: http://www.someecards.com/christmas-cards/email-coworkers-office-holiday-party-work-funny-ecard

While these are generally good rules of thumb, it is also important to be aware of the company culture. Some companies rely more heavily on email for in-office communication than others. If you see coworkers approaching one another with questions, you should probably do the same. To avoid guessing, ask your supervisor about communication preferences when you start the job. And even an in email culture, it’s probably best to use the phone for last minute schedule changes or cancellations.

Emily Brown is a Career Development intern and a graduate student in Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. She is a lifelong Bostonian interested in the integration of social media into the professional realm.  Contact her at e.brown@neu.edu.

Shawn’s Home Run: Blending Computer Science and His Love for the Sox

clockwise: NU Commencement 2008, me holding the 2013 World Series Trophy, me in the Duckboat on parade day

clockwise: NU Commencement 2008, me holding the 2013 World Series Trophy, me in the Duckboat on parade day

This guest post was written by 2008 alum (I know, 6 years later not 5, but his advice is too good!), Shawn O’Rourke, for the 5 Alums, 5 Years Later series. Shawn graduated with a BS in computer science and is now the Coordinator of Baseball Systems Development for the Boston Red Sox. 

November 2nd, 2013:  Thousands gather in celebration around the city of Boston. On Boylston Street specifically, where just six and a half months earlier, one of the most tragic events of the city’s history took place. The Championship Trophy stood proudly on the Boston Marathon Finish line, draped with the numbers “617” and words “Boston Strong” around it.  I will always remember exactly where I was at that moment: riding in a Duckboat, hand over my heart, singing “God Bless America” in unison with the thousands in attendance.  Remembering the victims and their families and the courageous efforts by the first responders, I couldn’t help but get emotional.  It was one of those moments when you realize how truly fortunate you are. A moment that makes you recognize that you are part of something bigger than yourself. Part of the healing process. One of Boston’s Strong.  My name is Shawn O’Rourke.  I’m a 2008 graduate of Northeastern University and Coordinator of Baseball Systems Development for the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

You may be wondering how a NU Alum with a Computer Science degree finds himself riding in a World Series parade with the likes of David “Big Papi” Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. The answer is simple – networking, patience, passion and hard work. As an undergrad in 2007 I was fortunate enough to be in a class where the then Red Sox Director of IT (also a Northeastern Alum) happened to be a guest speaker. After class, I introduced myself, handed him my resume, and a few weeks later had myself a co-op in the IT department. Throughout my six months running around Fenway Park fixing computers, printers, phones, and a/v equipment I was able to meet people from all different company departments.  These connections would ultimately help me land my dream job after graduation. But it did not happen right away.

I remember driving back home to my parents house the day after my graduation ceremony in May 2008.  College was officially over.  No more classes, no more homework, no more finals.  It felt great, however, I also didn’t have a job and didn’t have any money (aside from graduation gifts).  It was a very scary feeling.  So what do you do as a broke graduate with no job?  You join your friends on a month-long backpacking trip around Western Europe, obviously!  Turned out to be the first great decision of my post-college life.  Remember – you have six months before you have to begin to start paying off those college loans and the rest of your life to work on building your career.  So first piece of advice is, if you have the time and the money to travel – DO IT NOW! Just remember Liam Neeson won’t be there to save you (sorry bad Taken reference).

Two days after returning from my trip, I received a phone call from a connection with the Red Sox with an offer to work as a consultant doing software development.  It wasn’t a full-time position, and it wasn’t exactly my dream job, but I took a leap of faith knowing that, over time, I could network my way to where I wanted to be.  Remember – just because you don’t get your dream job right away does not mean you won’t ever get there.  Patience is truly a virtue.  At the company Christmas party in 2008 I had a conversation with the Director of Baseball Information Services in Baseball Operations – the department that I desperately wanted to work in.  Two months later, I was hired full-time by baseball operations to work exclusively on baseball systems – my dream job! I’ve been there ever since.  My patience, networking, and hard-work had paid off!

Now, maybe you don’t quite know what your dream job is right now – totally fine.  My advice for those who are unsure is to start by finding a place to work that does something you are passionate about – even if your degree or major doesn’t directly apply to it.  My degree was in Computer Science – but my lifelong passion was baseball.  I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that have degrees in subjects that have almost no relevance to what their jobs are today.  The truth, at least in my experience, is if a company can tell that you are a hard-worker who is passionate about what the company does, they can and will teach you the necessary skills as long as you’re willing to learn.

So congratulations, my fellow huskies, on completing this chapter of your lives.  As you prepare to start your next one, just remember that above all else, it is yours to write.

Shawn O’Rourke is the Coordinator of Baseball Systems Development for the Boston Red Sox and proud NU Alum.  Feel free to contact him at sorourke@redsox.com or tweet him at @Shawn_ORourke

Balancing the Ice and Academics

NU Women's Ice Hockey huddle

NU Women’s Ice Hockey huddle

This guest post was written by Heather Mottau, a freshman hockey player on the Women’s Ice Hockey Team at Northeastern University. 

Have you ever gone to bed with four different alarms set on four different devices?  I have.  Days we have practice at six in the morning here at Northeastern, I have alarms set on my watch, iPad, iPhone, and my iHome.

Waking up for hockey practice is not easy.  Every part of your body tells you no.  Sometimes I swear I can hear my teddy bear whispering, “Stay here with me” as the alarm goes off at 6AM.  The only thing that gets me out of that bed of mine is will.  Hockey has taught me not only the power of will but a multitude of other life lessons including, discipline, determination, dedication, commitment, tenacity, responsibility, reliability, devotion and so many others that I plan to keep with me for the rest of my life.

I’ll never forget the day I was taught the importance of punctuality.  I was sitting in the locker room getting ready for practice when I noticed that one of my teammates was not there.  A few other teammates tried calling her but there was no answer; we all continued to get dressed as usual.  Being a freshman, my mind was racing as I laced up my skates.  What would happen to this girl for missing practice?  What would be her excuse?  Would her excuse even matter to the coaches?

About 15 minutes into practice, my she arrived, opened the gate and hopped onto the ice with a look of total panic on her face.  She was the first person of the year to be late to a practice.

The coaches did not say a word to her for being late, which I found so odd.  Practice simply continued as usual until the end when our team came together in a group huddle.  Coach told the latecomer she was going to skate for being late.  He did not ask her why she was late. It did not matter. After practice, one of my teammates informed me that she took a nap and forget to set her alarm. She made an honest mistake but she also made a commitment to our team. Now do you understand why I set 4 alarms anytime I sleep?  In the future, when my teammates and I graduate college, we will have a  strong understanding of what making a commitment really means in whatever occupation we pursue.

Heather handling the puck

Heather handling the puck

Every student athlete at the collegiate level has acquired the skill of time management.  If not, there would be no possible way they would be able to continue being a student athlete. Northeastern’s course load is intellectually challenging with a rigorous schedule along with experiential learning outside the classroom. Student athletes must learn how to manage their time well and balance their sport with their academics.

One must not forget the extra pressures added to a student athletes life.  An athlete represents their school.  They are a symbol of their school and must carry themselves respectably in all areas of their life. It is a privilege to play for your school, and players must understand that this privilege can be taken away very easily.  There are always people waiting for you to fail, and people that would kill to be in your spot at the Division One level.

Being a student athlete, in my opinion, is a job. Just like any job it consists of learning how to handle different kinds of pressure: pressure within their sport, expectations and pressure put on them by coaches, as well as academic pressures. It is a necessity to balance practice time with studying time, plan ahead and know when they will be missing classes because of games.

When that fourth alarm goes off in the morning I know the only thing that gets me out of bed is my will and love of the game.  I made a commitment to my team.  I admit some days are hard.  I’ll be sore and tired but I know I have to push through.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Northeastern Women’s ice hockey team and for the opportunity to represent my school.  What I’ve learned thus far from this experience could never fit in a single blog post.

A student athlete boils down to two simple concepts: you have to do well in school and well in your sport, but it all starts with the will to do so.

Heather Mottau is a freshman who is #26 on the Women’s Ice Hockey team here at Northeastern. She attended boarding school at the ripe age 14 in the cold state of Minnesota to pursue her hockey dreams (and as a result picked up a slight Midwestern accent after living there for four years). She loves hockey, writing, and sitting in Starbucks pondering life.  

Why Excel Spreadsheets Are Your Best Friend During a Job Hunt

picture and original article http://moreawesomerblog.com/2014/04/08/excel-best-friend-job-search/ - check it out!

Image and original article on Lindsey’s blog: http://moreawesomerblog.com/2014/04/08/excel-best-friend-job-search/ – check it out!

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works.

“Excel spreadsheets” and “job hunting”–your two least favorite phrases. While sitting down to crank out a spreadsheet doesn’t make you want to jump out of bed in the morning, keeping yourself organized during the dreaded task can make your life so much easier.

And why spend the time to create a huge Excel spreadsheet just for your job hunt?

It’s the best tool to keep you organized: When setting yourself up for a job hunt, the easier you can make your life, the better. The priority is doing research and making sure you are prepared for interviews, not trying to remember whether the hiring manager’s name is Frank or Tim. In Excel, all of your information is in one place–so you can focus on the things that really matter in your job search.

You can reference it later: Even if you’re happy with your job now, you might be in the market a few years down the line. It’s important to have a place to start when that happens. By keeping all of your professional resources in one place (contacts, leads, etc), you can make your life much easier in the future. Also, if your super-capable friend starts looking around for new opportunities, you can give her a couple of tips to get the ball rolling.

Compiling information helps to rank positions: If you have all of the information about each job in one spreadsheet, you can easily take a look and sort through potential jobs. For example, make sure you note in your spreadsheet some details that you might forget–salary, length of the commute, etc. This will help you make a well-informed decision when the time comes to accept a job.

So how do you get started on creating a master job hunting spreadsheet?

Keep all of your network contacts in one “Contacts” tab: During your job search, you can compile a list of everyone and anyone who could possibly help you in your job search. Think old employers, that person you met at a conference last year, a previous colleague who just moved to a new company. Everyone.

Research jobs: Reach out to your network about any openings you might not be aware of. Look at industry sites and scour the career pages of your dream companies. Make a list of every job you want to apply to under a “Job Progress” tab in your spreadsheet. With each company in a different row, add a column for your job progress, columns for “Application Sent Date,” “Interview Date,” and other important dates in the job search.

Take copious notes: Add columns for notes including “Company Contacts,” “Follow-Up Materials,” and “Interview Notes.” You should also keep track of the name/email of the person who interviewed you in this spreadsheet, which can come in handy for future reference, too. Take notes on the information you want to be able to reference, such as location, expected salary, distance to nearest Starbucks–whatever is important to you.

Once you have built your spreadsheet, Excel will prove itself as an extremely useful tool for tying every piece of the job search together. You’ll be able to make an easy decision regarding your career in no time.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here and tweet her @lindseygsampson.

 

New Series: 5 Alums, 5 Years Later

It’s insane to think that this time, five years ago, I was preparing for graduation from Northeastern University. A communications major with a duel concentration in public communication and organizational communication (back when it was still the College of Arts and Sciences), I was ready to tackle the uncertain world in front of me. Unfortunately for the class of 2009, as well as for those after, the economy had just taken a major turn for the worse, and the “Great Recession” was officially in full gear.

Clockwise: 2009 Commencement, Conference/visit to NU Seattle 2014, Red Sox playoff series game with my FIRST co-op supervisor 2014 (the perks of keeping in touch)

Clockwise: Northeastern University Commencement 2009, Conference/visit to NU Seattle 2014, Red Sox playoff series game with my FIRST co-op supervisor 2014 (the perks of keeping in touch)

If somebody were to tell me in 2009 that in 2014 I would be Assistant Director of NU Career Development and Social Media, I would have sarcastically chuckled and then reminded said person that “I was done with this place and didn’t plan on coming back any time soon”. Well, I certainly ate my words. I was officially re-enrolled as a student, yet again (yay double husky), within two years of earning my bachelors degree to work towards a master of science (which I swore I would NEVER do throughout college) in college student development and counseling. To top it all off, I now work here full time, serving students similar to myself, five years ago. My my, how the tables have turned.

A lot can happen in five years’ time, and there are lots of things I wish I had worried more about (cough-loans-cough) and others I wish I hadn’t harped on so much (I could have gone without that cut-off Abercrombie jean skirt). In the coming series, “5 Alums, 5 Years Later”, over the next five Mondays, you’ll meet five 2009 alums, all of which completed co-ops and who are working in very different industries. Hopefully their stories and words of wisdom inspire you to celebrate (even more so) what you are close to accomplishing, and embrace the sometimes, unpredictable world.

Some advice I can share, is to be flexible and open to new experiences (cliche, I know), take calculated risks, and know that it’s OK to change your mind about what you want to do. That said, be ready to do the work to make things happen. Unfortunately, there is no NEUCool for real life (so annoying right?) so work hard to establish and keep relationships with colleagues throughout your career and don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help- it pays off in the long run (trust me on this one).

Also, know that Career Development is available for you to use for the rest of your life- no joke. So if five years down the road (or one year, whatever) you’re interested in transitioning to something else, Northeastern is here to support you. Hopefully these fellow huskies inspire you to hit the ground running come May 2nd. Congrats!

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at NU Career Development. A proud Gen Y and husky alum, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and social media. She also oversees The Works.

Blending Art and Business: A New Dual Major Opportunity

image source: www.fastweb.com

image source: www.fastweb.com

This guest post was written by Sam Carkin, a sophomore studying Marketing and Interactive Media.

I was going to be an architect major. I had visited architecture firms all over the area, toured fourteen campuses for the major, and was dead set on pursuing this profession. Then, like most 18-year-olds, I changed my mind less than a month before applications were due. I felt my creativity was going to be limited to just structures, so I looked for other ways I could channel this desire for a creative profession and came across marketing.

Marketing allowed me to be creative in problem solving, content-creation, strategy, and many other areas, and I realized I had found my future. However, there was one school that stood out as being able to provide me with a cutting-edge education in this industry, and that school was Northeastern, thanks to its dual major of Business Administration-Marketing and Interactive Media that was still in development at the time. Well this dual major is now official, and the number of students enrolled in it is growing every semester. It brings together the art school and business school to create future professionals that can “speak both languages” and become highly effective in the worlds of marketing and advertising.

Since class sign-ups are just around the corner, I highly recommend that interested students check out the list of required courses for the dual major. I also encourage making an appointment with someone in the advising office of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business so they can further assist in planning course schedules going forward. I am excited to see this awesome program continue to grow in the years to come!

Sam Carkin is currently in his sophomore year at Northeastern University. He is a dual major of Business Administration-Marketing and Interactive Media and will be going on his first co-op in July. Feel free to contact him at carkin.s@husky.neu.edu with any questions related to the blog post or his experiences.

Landed a job, now what? Advice from the Pros

image source: http://www.rottenecards.com/card/224333/first-day-on-new-jobwhos-go

image source: http://www.rottenecards.com/card/224333/first-day-on-new-jobwhos-go

This post was written by Emily Brown, a regular contributor to The Works and a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program at Northeastern University. She is also a Career Development Intern.

Starting a new job or co-op can be nerve-wracking.  It takes time to get a feel for the company culture and to figure out daily operations. As much as you want to find your place in a new company, you also want to make a good impression with new coworkers. I adapted some advice from LinkedIn’s “Best Advice” series and reached out to professionals for their tips on what will make someone a desired employee. While some might seem obvious, they are a good reminder that everything we do at work contributes to the reputation we build.

  • Everything you do and say reflects on the company.
  • Being positive, upbeat and responsive at all times reflects well on both the employee and the employer.
  • In a competitive work environment, going the extra mile, making the extra effort means all the difference in winning new work or retaining old clients.
  • Don’t rely so much on e-mail for communication especially if it is sensitive material.
  • Don’t text or e-mail in meetings – put your phone on silent mode and put it away.
  • Be prompt – show up on time (to work and to meetings).
  • Always make deadlines.
  • Don’t underestimate how important good writing skills are – it is a lost art!
  • Always proofread what you produce and/or ask a colleague with good grammar skills to look at it (especially if it is going to be widely circulated).
  • Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know – but also say you will find the answer.
  • Always follow through- even if it’s just to say you don’t have the answer yet.
  • Use proper grammar and speak correctly and clearly on the phone.
  • When adjourning from meetings, make sure you have a clear idea about what action items you are responsible for and what the deadlines associated with those items are.
  • Whatever you do, do it the best you can, even if it’s getting coffee.
  • Always bring a notepad when you meet with someone.
  • Make sure you communicate effectively about projects that are your responsibility. Be honest about what you have time to do.
  • Don’t leave the printer/copier jammed!
  • You can never redo a first impression.  First impressions include any time you work with someone for the first time even if you’ve been at that company for a while.
  • Listen twice as much as you speak.

After just a few weeks on the job, you’ll likely have your own tips to add to this list! When you become the pro, remember how it felt to be new and keep in mind that sharing little tips (especially on how to unjam that finicky copy machine) with new hires will be appreciated.

Emily Brown is a Career Development intern and a graduate student in Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. She is a lifelong Bostonian interested in the integration of social media into the professional realm.  Contact her at e.brown@neu.edu.

A Shy Kid’s Guide to Networking

image source: http://www.spectra-events.com/2011/02/networking-tips-for-introverts/

image source: http://www.spectra-events.com/2011/02/networking-tips-for-introverts/

 

This guest post was written by Lana Cook, a PhD candidate in the English department at Northeastern University

I have always been on the shy side, an introvert in today’s parlance.  I grew up with my nose in a book.  Though I played with the neighborhood kids and joined team sports, I savored those solitary afternoons reading Anne of Green Gables for the twelfth time.  No small wonder that I went into an English Ph.D. program. So when this bookish introvert hears that ‘networking is the key to success,’ my first reaction is to cringe.  Palms begin to sweat, nightmarish visions of spilling my drink on a distinguished guest, fears of interrupting a conversation or appearing stupid cloud my mind with self-doubt.   But, then I remember what networking is at its basis:  the exchange of ideas with like-minded people.

Keeping that premise in mind, my confidence has grown as I now see the tangible benefits of meeting new people to circulate ideas, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities.  The risks are minimal, but the rewards can be potentially life changing.  Here are my tips for networking, even as an introvert:

Go To Events

This should be no-brainer, but it took me a while before I felt comfortable attending events alone. Be on the lookout for conferences, symposiums, workshops, speakers and panels to attend. Leave an impression by making an effort to speak to a few people. Sometimes I will make goals to meet a set number of people.  At first it may be forced, but eventually striking up conversations with strangers becomes natural.  People are attending these events for often the same reasons: to connect with others, build communities, and exchange ideas.

Stay For the Reception

Post-event receptions are a great time to network.  People are more relaxed and willing to meet new people over a few nibbles and beverages.  Don’t feel like you have to stay until the bitter end, and be careful not to overindulge on alcoholic drinks. You want to make an impression while you are there, but keep that impression positive and professional.

Be Yourself

This advice is a bit cliché, but is often repeated because it’s true.  Though sometimes we have to channel our inner confidence by ‘faking it until you make it,’ make sure that performance still rings true to who you are.  Posturing as someone you are not will not only feel disingenuous to others, but can also lead you astray of your own values.

Get Your “About You” Down

Though you should act naturally, it is also a good idea to have a basic script to share when people ask you about yourself.  Many recommend having an elevator speech, a quick five minute summary about yourself and your work. For myself, that’s a few sentences describing my educational background, current research project and career goals. This summary should not be robotic; think about it as a customizable personal statement that reflects your individual personality and makes you stand out from the sea of people in the room.  When speaking to people outside your field, avoid using disciplinary jargon and try to appeal to overlapping interests and shared goals.

image source: http://www.blogging4jobs.com/work/work-place-drama-gossip-problems/

image source: blogging4jobs.com

Watch the Gossip

It is easy to get caught up in office gossip, and some experts say that a little gossip can help us strengthen networks. But, when meeting new people, avoid talking negatively about others, your department or company.  It is a small world and word can travel quickly through our interconnected communities.  Negativity will reflect back on you. You want to be remembered for your positive energy, intelligence and ideas, not as the person who spreads malice or rumors.

Follow Up On New Contacts

After meeting new people, follow up by adding them on LinkedIn accompanied by a short personalized message.  If you meet them again in person, do not be discouraged if they do not remember your name or even face.  Reintroduce yourself and graciously refresh their memory about your last meeting. For example, if you met them at a conference recently, ask them what they thought about the keynote speaker or how their research is progressing.

Keep an Open Mind

I have learned that networking is a lifelong process with its own ebbs and flows of activity.  An open mind allows you to take in the flow of that experience rather than predetermining events and closing yourself off to others.  So, take a deep breath, put on a smile, and get your fabulous professional self out there.

Join me the first Thursday of the month here on The Works as I countdown to graduation.  My final post will reflect on my graduate school experience and the value of finishing up one chapter of your life before beginning another.

Lana Cook is a PhD candidate in the English department at Northeastern University. Her dissertation traces the development of the psychedelic aesthetic in mid-twentieth century American literature and film. Lana is a 2013-2014 graduate fellow at the Humanities Center.  She received her bachelors of arts at University of New Hampshire.  You can follow her on Twitter @lanacook or Linkedin. You can view her portfolio at LanaCook.net.

4 Professional Skills You Can Gain By Blogging

Check out my own blog if you're into that kind of thing, http://moreawesomerblog.com/.

Check out my own blog if you’re into that kind of thing, http://moreawesomerblog.com/.

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works.

When you tell someone you have a blog, the conversation can go down a lot of different paths:

“Oh, so you spill your guts on the Internet and I should run far away from you?” Nope.

“Oh, so you get a bunch of free stuff?” Not really. I mean, sometimes. But usually not.

“Oh… that’s nice.”

Opinions on blogging run the gamut, but over the past few years, blogging has established itself as an effective tool for engaging in public conversations. People in every industry use it to communicate ideas, and young professionals can establish valuable career skills by taking on some WordPress time.

Establishing (And Keeping) A Strong Network: As a blogger, some of your greatest collaborators are other bloggers. Having these connections can be mutually beneficial for support, advice, and everyday inspiration. Keeping up with a network can be a challenge, so this skill will serve you well in the professional world.

Hint: Keep a contacts spreadsheet of other professionals in your space. Make sure you have their name, email address, blog URL, twitter handle, (and a few notes about them if you tend to forget things) so you can send out some support or an article they might find interesting.

Supporting Peers: In the professional world, you rarely go it alone. There are always people along the way to support you, and you can foster those relationships by supporting. The blogging world is no different, and bloggers are involved in that on a micro level by sharing content from other bloggers. It benefits your readers by providing them with interesting content, and it allows you to provide some love to other bloggers.

Hint: Every day or every other day, share content written by other professionals in your industry on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Marketing: Even if you have the best stories in the world, or the most creative DIY projects known to man, it’s not going to make an impact if no one can see it. Learning to market effectively and appropriately is crucial for bloggers. Bloggers can use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+ like champs without breaking a sweat, a useful skill for establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

Hint: Hootsuite – it’s a big deal. Using the free version, you can post to all of your social media channels at once, schedule future posts, and save yourself lots of time.

Listening & Reacting: Being hooked up to the Internet makes you realize that people stop caring about things quickly. Really quickly. No one wants to talk about Pharrell’s hat at the Grammy’s anymore (even though we should never stop talking about that). As a blogger it’s important to listen to the Internet – what’s trending on Twitter, what people are sharing on Facebook. Being receptive to new trends is a great skill for the workplace, ensuring that your ideas are always timely and innovative.

Hint: Set up a Google Alert for your niche. If you are a travel blogger focused on luxury trips with a low price tag, set up a Google Alert for “cheap travel” or “traveling on a budget.”  If you are a marketing professional focused on fashion brands, set up a Google Alert for “social media fashion brands.” At the end of every week (or every day, depending on your preference), Google will send you an up-to-date list of what influencers in your niche are talking about. This keeps your content relevant and helps you avoid stale topics.

Blogging allows you to create a network of people who can challenge you creatively and intellectually by sharing ideas online. This exchange can keep you sharp and in-tune with current events, and can boost your skills in the workplace.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here and tweet her @lindseygsampson.