Jay Lu received his BSBA in Accounting and Marketing in May 2014 and MS in Accounting this past August, 2014. During his time at NU, he held numerous positions both on and off campus and internationally. Jay successfully completed three separate co-ops at large multinational companies with experience in audit and assurance, tax and operations. Jay recently completed the CPA exam and his currently working in audit and assurance at a CPA firm. In his spare time, he enjoys volunteering, reading and sports. To learn more about his professional background- check out his LinkedIn profile.
When did you first come to the Career Development office?
It was for the Career Fair, freshmen year.
Why go to a career fair? Most freshmen would wait until later for this.
I had no risk. I didn’t feel pressured. I didn’t need anything out of it. I wanted the practice of the experience. It’s kind of like a festival, with everyone dressed up. It can be a fun event when there isn’t pressure. I didn’t have a suit back then. But I went in and just talked with a couple of recruiters. At this point I didn’t have a resume. But later on I learned how to create a resume, and how to make a good impression.
What else did you do early on?
Early on I went for an appointment about career direction. I wasn’t sure how to explore my options. Through my career counselor I learned about informational interviews. In fact I even did one for an RA position. Ended up getting the job because I was more prepared and had someone recommending me from the info interview. I also got into LinkedIn early on.
From these early experiences, what do you recommend that students do in their 1st or 2nd year?
Don’t think that just because it’s your first year that you have all the time in the world. You’ll be graduating in a flash. When you start early, you’ll be ahead for when you need it. When there is less pressure, when you don’t need a job yet, get advice then.
How can students have an impact on potential employers?
A lot of employers want to know if you want them. It’s not just about your skills. To stand out, make a good impression early on with them. Be genuinely interested in the field, which should be a natural feeling if you chose a major you are passionate about. Have people warm up to you, and your personal brand early on, even if you might not be fully certain what that is yet. The idea here is to build your network before you need it. Things get a lot more competitive, when you are a senior. Everyone is going after these connections. By starting early you can set yourself apart. They will be impressed that you are being so proactive. Another point is that there is more leeway if you mess up, employers will more likely overlook this when you are younger.
How can students make more employer connections?
Go to career services and alumni events. Do these while you are still on campus. Once you graduate, it’s harder to fit these in. Also, the further along you get in college, there are more expectations put on you (from recruiters, parents, peers), compared with when you are in your 1st or 2nd year.
What can you gain from this early networking?
When you chat with recruiters, they might open you up to other career paths that you didn’t know about or hadn’t thought of. The more exposure and more conversations, the better. You can never know what you’re going to do, exactly, but you can learn more early on to help. It’s great if you can find out sooner what you might value in a career, while you can still make changes to your academic or co-op path. You might save yourself time and heartache. The more people you talk to, the more confident you’ll be with your choices. You want to find those people that are in your potential career path, since they’ve already been there and you can learn from them. Would you want to be in their shoes? Talking to them gives you a chance to find out.
During your senior year, how did you approach your job search?
I didn’t have too much trouble. I had already been to 3 or 4 career fairs, and I already had quite a few connections from co-ops and various other events. If you have done everything early on, at this point it should be a relaxing year. At my last career fair, I received an interview call in less than an hour after the fair ended.
How do you maintain your network?
Always follow up after any professional encounter. Send a thank-you note after meeting someone at a campus event or any professional encounter. For example, after attending the Global Careers Forum I sent an email to one of the guest speakers saying thank you. I didn’t ask for anything in that moment. It might come later. Northeastern makes sending thank-you letters after co-op interviews almost religious, I try to use this same mindset. I always like to think of the story of one interviewee’s thank-you letter being a PowerPoint that showed how he would tackle a current problem facing the company. Now that’s hitting the ground running!
Is there anything you wished you’d known sooner?
Don’t take your professors for granted. They can be some of the best resources. They are there for you, and they want to help you. I made a habit of seeing my professors every semester, even just to chat with them (while you are in the course and sometimes even after). One professor sent me details about an internship that had been sent in by an alum. I was given the details about this opportunity because the professor knew me well, and he had confidence in me. In addition, if I had more time, I would’ve joined more organizations that were related to my major.
Anyone you stay in touch with?
One of my accounting professors I went to see a lot. He had great industry advice about how to get started, he recommended good organizations, and even suggested events to attend. I sent follow up messages to thank him and to let him know I attended the events he had mentioned, I also shared some information that I thought would be useful for his current students. It’s important to let people know that you followed their advice, and if you have something you can share, then include it.
What’s your finally advice to students, especially when it comes to networking?
Start early and don’t stop.