What’s The Deal With Company Culture?

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downloadWhen looking for a job, most interviewees try desperately hard to impress the interviewer by being marketable and portraying the best version of themselves. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Great interviewees research the position, company, and the individuals they will meet during the interview. Most people spend their time preparing their physical appearance, reviewing mock interview questions, and being agreeable during the entire interview process. But how about the interviewer portraying their best, performing their research on the candidate, and preparing respectable questions? There are many things that candidates can learn and pick up about the company culture during their one hour interview or even before!

One of the things I find most helpful is researching the company. I don’t mean just looking at their objectives and pipeline or the current news on their latest breakthrough. Try and connect with people who are in the company to find out how they enjoy what they do and how their work environment makes their job a welcoming place before the interview. You need to find out if people feel like they’re making a difference in the company and if they’re happy when at work (yes, there is such a thing!)

the-art-of-information-interviews-managing-americans-postHere is a list of some possible questions that you can ask on an informational interview:

  • Can you please describe the kind of work that you do here?
  • Do you feel like you are making an impact at this company?
  • Can you describe the company culture and how that plays a role on work performance?
  • What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

It’s important to get the scoop on how the company works in terms of the work atmosphere and if everyone is being treated with respect. Everyone from the intern to the CEO should feel well respected and that they are succeeding their career goals in their positions.

Back to the interview! I’m not an expert on reading body language, but there are some signs you can pick up on.

  • During the interview, is the interviewer giving you their full attention or checking their phone every 2 minutes?
  • Did you arrive at the interview only to find out that it has been rescheduled without your knowledge?
  • Does the interviewer seem unprepared when explaining the position or asking about key major details they should know are already clearly printed on your resume?
  • Does the staff look happy or at least content during the tour of the workspace?
  • Does the staff seem like they’re friendly and get along with each other?
  • Can you feel tension amongst the employees when you walk into the office?

If you’re in a situation where the company culture is far from ideal, there are small ways that you can make some changes by doing your part in providing a safe work environment where people can grow and learn from one another with a high level of respect. Respect everyone and remember that you’re in a team environment. Sure, mistakes can happen, but how you react to them and help others can make all the difference in the world.

Joviane Bellegarde is a Northeastern Alumna hailing from the Class of 2014. She graduated with a BS in Biochemistry and is working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a Technical Research Assistant. In her free time, she enjoys reading, catching up on her favorite shows, and expressing her inner geek. Email her at bellegarde.j@husky.neu.edu or connect on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jovianebellegarde.

Getting Out Of Your Own Way

“Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

cutest-baby-animals-1Everyone has that one friend who we perceive has it all figured out. For some people, a path to their dream career is paved — they know what they want to do and how they’re going to get there. For others, like myself, the future is muddled and thoughts are murky; I have to keep reminding myself that’s okay.

When I get overwhelmed by the fear I’m going to work at my supposed-to-be-only-temporary retail job forever, I, first, literally tell myself to “shut up” and then I tear myself away from the anxiety about my seemingly already failed future to focus on the present moment. There are so many articles on Mindfulness (TIME magazine even released a wonderful special issue on it) you can find online, but here are some of my go-to methods for grounding myself.

Invest in the Process

You might need to rework how you frame your goals. My favorite TED talk is “Plug Into Your Hard-Wired Happiness” by Srikumar Rao. In those 18 minutes, Rao bestows upon us the wisdom that it is fulfilling to invest in the process of getting somewhere, rather than focusing on the outcome. The “If-Then” model of “if this happens, then I will be happy” is a failing one because if “this” does not happen, you won’t be happy; however, if you pride yourself on every step you take to reach the outcome (which exists only to serve as a guide), you’ll be content to succeed or fail, seeing the latter as the start of a new path that will take you somewhere unexpected yet rewarding.

Put It Out in the Universe

There’s something to be said for verbalization. Declare your intent to the universe! How else will it know what to send your way? I’ve kept a fortune from a fortune cookie in my wallet for years: “Greet the world every morning with curiosity and hope.” One mantra Northeastern career counselor Sabrina Woods suggested to me is, “I allow for my highest possible good.” You can also develop your own.

Get Over Others 

The only person who has the privilege of living your life is you. So why let anybody else decide whether you’re doing something wrong? Stop comparing yourself to others. Why let other people impact that way you perceive yourself? Don’t allow someone else’s successes to be a measure of your own happiness. In order to find happiness, you must realize that you, yourself, are worthy of happiness.

Even though you might not be where you want to, keep the faith that when you invest in the process, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.

 

A graduate of Northeastern with a degree in English, Ashley used to be the News Director and a DJ for WRBB 104.9 FM, the university’s student-run radio station. When she’s not working at Apple, she writes for music blogs and builds her marketing portfolio. Informational interviews, cooking and rock & roll are some of her favorite things. Tell her what you’re listening to via Twitter @amjcbs or connect with her on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/amjcbs).

 

 

Twitter! Your Networking Secret Weapon

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The pinnacle of my college networking experiences came in the form of tea in New York City with a writer from my favorite magazine. I slipped away from my final semester for a week to network while I could still use the whole “college student figuring out what I want to do with my life” excuse to ask for people’s time. What my career counselor found to be most miraculous about this particular informational interview was not that I was fortunate enough to have it, it was how. In retrospect, my request was quite long-winded and ridiculous. Journalists, I have found, are a laid-back, friendly bunch, though I was too intimidated at the time and could only muster formalities. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My first ever tweet had something to do with the frozen vegetable medley I made with dinner, complete with a hashtag I can’t remember. While that account no longer exists, I filled it with 140-character bursts of millennial genius while latching onto every word Bret Easton Ellis and Nikki Sixx tweeted, and used it to catch up with my internet friends. Everybody starts somewhere. When I got my own radio show on WRBB, I created a Twitter account to promote it and the local musicians I spun and interviewed on-air. Twitter continued to prove a worthwhile tool during an internship with ‘stache media/RED Distribution when I began using the same account to post content about larger/more well-known music artists, which were subsequently shared by said artists, venues, and record labels. Tweeting mostly about music, I began having some semblance of clout. And then one Friday, I tweeted #FF (for #FollowFriday, where the goal is to call attention to accounts worth paying attention to) and listed every writer I could find from my favorite magazine. Most of them ignored it, two of them favorited it, and one followed me back. After we started engaging with each other’s posts, I felt comfortable enough to ask him for his email address and sent a request to meet up for an informational interview the next time I was in New York. This was a few years ago, and his family and I keep in touch.

I share this now with the intent to provide basic guidelines for how one can create one’s own experiences and foster meaningful connections (that can turn into friendships) through Twitter. Social networks, after all, are called “networks” for a reason.

Understanding Twitter’s True Value

My favorite thing about Twitter is how accessible people are — the writers, the celebrities, the executives, the Forbes 30 Under 30. On LinkedIn, you need to be a certain degree to a person in order to message him/her, but with Twitter, you can reach out to anyone. Not only does Twitter provide an opportunity to engage with people on a more personal level, it allows you to keep up with industry trends and happenings in real time.


building-up-strong-connections-on-twitterFinding Ideal Contacts

Interested in working at a specific company?
Follow everyone you can who lists employment at your dream company in their bio. Engage with them about the professional content they post (taking interest in the personal life of someone you’ve never interacted with is creepy). As with anything, being overzealous isn’t appealing — liking or retweeting every tweet your ideal connection posts isn’t going to make a good impression. Instead, share a link to an article or video this person posted and include his/her handle at the end with “via @username.” If he/she wrote an article, tweet the link, tag the person, and write about the value it gave you.

Trying to break into a specific field? Find out who the influencers are by following industry publications and those who write for them. The more time you spend reading up on an industry, the more informed you are of real world applications, trends, and executives. When you engage with potential contacts, you’ll come across as someone who pays attention.

Establishing Your Voice & Rules of Engagement (Don’t be a sycophant)

  • Notice what your potential contacts tweet and how they do it. Of course, don’t curse or get political (even if they do), but, given your field, emojis can be acceptable here.
  • Be a human, not a robot. People like authenticity, not those who are all business, so don’t be afraid to intersperse personal tidbits in your posts. Big sports fan? Tweet about the game. Went to a concert one night? Share a photo.
  • When sharing content about your field, tag all those involved and always give credit when and where it’s due.
  • If you’re not knowledgeable about something, be resourceful and do some research. If you don’t know where to start, tweet to an influencer: “Not too familiar with this but would love to learn. Who are your favorite writers on the subject? What websites do you recommend I look at?” If you show an interest in learning, people are apt to respond in your favor.
  • Do NOT “troll” people, start arguments, rant about a bad day you’re having, or subtweet (passive-aggressive hints at a problem or frustration without directly mentioning the issue).

Twitter can be a great networking tool if you take advantage of the platform and create opportunities for yourself. Who knows who you’ll click with and where it could lead? Remember, you can’t control whether people respond to you, but you can control your approach.

A graduate of Northeastern with a degree in English, Ashley previously was the News Director and a DJ for WRBB 104.9 FM, the university’s student-run radio station. When she’s not working at Apple, she writes for music blogs and builds her marketing portfolio. Informational interviews, cooking and rock & roll are some of her favorite things. Tell her what you’re listening to via Twitter @amjcbs or connect with her on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/amjcbs).