5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Charles Leach

Class of 2010_Charles Leach

I am one of those people whose life is dictated by a well-organized calendar, complete with color codes and a series of notifications – if only I was the one maintaining the calendar.  I was the last class to graduate from the College of Criminal Justice August 2010. Shortly thereafter, I commissioned as a Marine Corps Officer, got engaged, and went off on a 4 year life changing adventure in the Marine Corps.  My intention was to depart the military, utilizing my co-op connections and proud service and apply for a position in a federal agency.  But my calendar notifications said otherwise.  With a child on the way, I was done moving around, working weekends, being away all week, or far away for 8 months at a time. I decided to depart the Marine Corps, move back home (North Shore area) and began a soul searching endeavor for a job – no, a profession, in which I could obtain the same emotional gratification that comes with service to one’s country.  As a lifelong people-person, I discovered I have a passion for sales, and have found a profession I love at a leading cybersecurity company. I also have decided to stay in the USMC Reserve to balance out the moral scale. If you have graduation in your sights, keep this in mind:

Have a plan and tenaciously pursue it – then change the plan when necessary. You can’t fake passion. You can get by having a work ethic, trying really hard, showing up early, staying late because it’s the right thing to do, but if you aren’t passionate about what you find yourself doing, move on.  It’s like a bad relationship. If you’re at the suitor stage, and you’re not going to marry this person, why waste each other’s time?

Short-term, mid-term, and long term goals are no joke, write them down – a recent manager of mine would refer to these as dreams and not goals.  Dream and keep dreaming because success stories are built upon people’s crazy ideas.

Be mindful of how you appear on social media and the interwebs – the old adage don’t put it online if you wouldn’t want it on the front page of the Boston Globe holds true.

Spend money and live life like your grandparents (if they were thrifty) – if you pack a lunch and make your own coffee in the morning and then go out on the weekend and blow a hundred bucks on 8 dollar beers, well that just doesn’t make sense – stop doing that.

I will close with a valuable lesson that has continually been reinforced for me recently.  You know better what’s for you than anyone else.  The idea of needing an adult’s opinion; well that’s you now.  No one really knows the magic formula and if they say they do, they are just pretending to know all the answers. Just google it and come up with your own way. If you don’t like what you are doing in life, just change it.

And remember, if you don’t like the job you’ll get soon, you can always go back to Northeastern for a Masters!

Charles Leach currently works at Bit9 + Carbon Black in Waltham, MA and lives with his family in the North Shore. He is open to and would welcome any networking conversation or casual chat.  Feel free to reach out to him via Linkedin or leach.charles@gmail.com.

5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Elizabeth Tashash

Class of 2010_Elizabeth Tashash

While it’s hard for me to believe that almost a decade has passed since I moved into my freshman-year dorm room in Speare Hall, these past ten years have flown by because they have been full. I’m not sure whether my eighteen-year-old self would have believed me if I told her that she would be an attorney in just ten short years, but I am sure that my five-year journey as a Husky laid the foundation for my current career path. I have had the pleasure, and the pain, of five years of personal and professional growth since graduating from Northeastern, during which several lessons have come into focus. They have helped me navigate the often-tricky and ever-changing process of becoming a professional, and I share them here with the hope that they help you, the newly graduated or soon-to-be graduated Husky.

Be patient with yourself. It’s ok to not have everything precisely figured out on graduation day (or five years later, for that matter). Active investigation into and investment in figuring out your professional persona may take trial and error, it may take more time than you thought, and it may take you down an unanticipated path, but it will make your professional life more rewarding. While my classroom and co-op experiences directed me toward the law, I took time after graduation to work in the field. That time proved to be invaluable because it gave me the space to gain perspective on my prospective career path, to synthesize the lessons I learned in my undergraduate courses with my new life beyond college, and to contextualize the lessons I was about to learn during law school. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time you need to examine and vet your proposed next steps after graduation.

Setbacks and discomfort are ok; in fact, if you’re growing, they’re inevitable. These past five years have taught me a lot about how I deal with my imperfections, with negative feedback, and with situations where I felt uncomfortable and inadequate. Setbacks and uncomfortable situations highlight our insecurities, are often unexpected, and are almost always painful; however, they also go hand-in-hand with change, growth, and self-awareness. Setbacks have stretched me to become a better practitioner, professional, and person because they highlighted the skills I needed to gain and hone, and they gave me insight into how my profession functions. Likewise, throwing myself into situations where I had no idea what I was doing revealed that I am capable of more than I expect and showed me that measured risk-taking reduces regret, regardless of the outcome, and paves the way for future successes.

Maintain relationships with your mentors. I have had the great fortune of having several mentors who have generously given their advice and invested their time for the benefit of my career. They have met me for coffee, have written letters of recommendation on my behalf, and have believed in my abilities. These relationships have not only helped me get that first job, but they have helped me get subsequent—and unexpected—jobs down the road. Find someone who does what you want to do, does something that interests you, or is willing to help you assess your professional skills and goals. Then, maintain that relationship. Mentor relationships can help bridge the gap between your undergraduate life and your professional life, and it’s a great feeling to have someone in your corner.

Congratulations on reaching this milestone, and good luck with the many milestones to come!


Liz Tashash graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Arts in 2010 and graduated from Suffolk University Law School with a Juris Doctor in 2014. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar and is currently working as a judicial law clerk for the Connecticut Superior Court. Prior to beginning her clerkship, she taught for a semester as an adjunct professor in the Communication Studies Department with the help of her mentor, Dr. Greg Goodale, Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs and Associate Professor. She thanks Greg for his long-standing mentorship. Liz can be reached at e.tashash@gmail.com.

5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Mary Ann Georgantopoulos

Class of 2010 (1)

It wasn’t until I was asked to write this post that I really reflected on my time since graduating Northeastern in 2010. I can’t help but smile when thinking back to life on Huntington Avenue – long nights at The Huntington News newsroom, early mornings at my Boston Globe co-op, and countless trivia nights at The Squealing Pig. As you prepare to leave Northeastern, hold on and cherish the amazing memories you’ve made because time flies after college and looking back, I realize a lot can happen in five years.

I set out to write this post hoping to avoid all possible clichés such as “the world is your oyster” and referring to post-college life as “the real world,” but they’re expressions for a reason so I’ll use them – I can picture my journalism professors cringing at this.

Go the extra mile. The world is your oyster but you have to work hard to reach your goals. Your first job might not be your dream job – mine certainly wasn’t – but don’t let that deter you. It took me four and a half years after Northeastern and a Masters degree to get to BuzzFeed, a job I wake up every morning happy to go to. So be patient and know results and accomplishments take time.

Comparison is the death of joy: Most of my friends from Northeastern – and even now, five years later – are fellow journalists. It’s so wonderful to have friends that share the same profession but for the sake if your own sanity, don’t compare yourself to others. Your friends might get jobs, promotions and raises before you do and that’s okay. Don’t compare any life goals or achievements to others – we’re all on separate paths.

This is not goodbye: I have very fond memories from Northeastern. I made so many wonderful friends, worked for the Huntington News and learned from the best in the business. Keep in touch with your classmates, professors, mentors, co-op supervisors and anyone that helped shape your education and your career. Many of you will leave Boston and won’t be able to swing by campus to say ‘hi’ to your favorite professor. The journalism department was quite small and I luckily was able to get to know my professors. Two years after graduating Northeastern, I felt comfortable enough to ask some of them for recommendation letters for graduate school. I am so thankful they wrote them. To this day, I still keep in touch with professors and it makes me feel closer connected to NU.

Let your hair down: The next few years are integral in shaping who you are as a person – you will grow so much in a short period of time, but don’t forget to have fun in the process. Northeastern teaches hard work and professionalism, but at the end of the day you’re in your early 20s, so enjoy it and don’t take yourself too seriously. Yes, set up at retirement fund, but you should also take that trip to Europe with your friends.

The “real” world can be intimidating and uncertain, but trust me it’s also a lot of fun. Class of 2015: Congratulations. I’m sure you will all do great things.

Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a news reporter at BuzzFeed. She majored in journalism and was on staff at The Huntington News. You can reach her at maryann.g@buzzfeed.com and on Twitter @marygeorgant.