Digital Portfolios Aren’t Just For Artists

Technically speaking, I’m an arts student. Technically. I’m a Communication Studies student in the College of Arts, Media & Design. Most of my time at my co-ops and internships has been dedicated to writing press releases, marketing materials, and a hodge podge of other things that fall somewhere in between. I don’t paint or make movies, and while I do take a mean Instagram picture, why would I ever need a digital portfolio?

Digital portfolios are great for displaying any and all work that you’ve done. Showcase reports you’ve written, case studies you’ve conducted, or include a few press releases you’ve authored. The misconception is that these online spaces for showcasing work can only be used by the visual grabbing works of photographers and graphic designers. Yet, I can tell you that if you have a PDF of a document you created highlighting a skill or a workplace accomplishment, then you have a use for a digital portfolio.

Need another reason? This world is going digital — there’s no doubt about it. You won’t always have the opportunity to get into the same room as a potential employer and you might not always be able to cart your portfolio in with you. Having one URL to direct people to your work is vital. Most everyone uses LlinkedIn, so I even have a link to my digital portfolio right there under my picture.

So what sites should you use? I recommend (and use) Carbonmade. Their quirky and colorful homepage may throw you off, but it is user friendly, intuitive, and quick to create. Plus, the outcome is stunning. Another great option is Behance, an offshoot of the Adobe brand.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 6.12.22 AM

My personal digital portfolio on Carbonmade.

Tatum Hartwig is a 4th year Communication Studies major with minors in Business Administration and Media & Screen Studies. Tatum brings experience and knowledge in the world of marketing and public relations from her two co-ops at Wayfair and New Balance. Her passion revolves around growing businesses via social media, brand development, and innovation. You can connect with Tatum on Twitter @tatumrosy and LinkedIn.

Start Early and Set Yourself Apart: An Interview With an NU Alum

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.

5 Questions to Prepare for Career Fair

image source:

I had the opportunity to speak with Neil Brennan of Meltwater recently about campus recruiting and career fairs. In five quick questions, he nailed down the best (and worst) things you can do at a career fair.

Without further ado, here they are…

1. What types of skills and qualifications do you look for in new graduates?

Well, we’re not really looking for specific degree discipline. We’re looking for people who have graduated top of their class. They typically are also active and involved in other things besides just their studies. Our graduates who come on board have some leadership experience as well. Whether it was a captain of their team or in charge of their sorority.

2. If you had one piece of advice for a student navigating the fair- what would it be?

I think that if a student is attending a career fair, they should want to make an impression when they talk to an employer. There are those who go there to extract information and those who go there to make a strong impression. If I could give advice, it would be to go there and do both. They should really be aware of the fact that they should leave the employer with the strongest impression of themselves

3. What is a Career Fair “no-no”?

If you want to work at a company where you would wear a suit to work everyday, go to the career fair wearing a suit. We are looking for students to dress to impress

4. What do you recommend students bring to the career fair?

Definitely recommend bringing a cover letter if possible as well. We’ll accept resumes, cover letters. For strong candidates we use those later on if they reach out to apply for a position.

Bring a level of research with you. When you do approach and have a conversation with the employer, it’s very obvious you know about the company even if you may have questions still. That will go a long way to make you stand out.

Bring a general level of interest. One mistake is a candidate can make is standing there and expecting the employer to impress them. Bring energy, enthusiasm, and questions.

5. How does a student stand out from the crowd?

One simple piece of advice, obviously almost like a cliche, but first impressions do count. Go up there, make an impression, say hello, shake their hand firmly, and start a discussion rather than hanging back and waiting for the employer to approach you.

3 Things to Bring to a Career Fair

With the spring semester getting started and many seniors diving head first into job searches, career fairs can be an excellent resource for feedback and networking. Preparing for a day of talking to recruiters and professionals can boil down to what to bring with you on the Big Day.

  1. Your Resume — Bring several copies of your resume on nice, heavy-weight paper. And by several copies, I mean somewhere close to 10. You won’t hand your resume to every person you meet, but having them readily available for the companies you click with can get the ball rolling on potential employment. Before you go and hit print, make sure you’ve double-checked your resume to include the most up-to-date information and reviewed our resume writing guide.
  2. Note Pad and Pen — I’m a note taker. Everywhere I go, I’m jotting something down. At a career fair, you’ll find yourself in situations when you need to take down contact information or create a list of the companies you liked and why you liked them. Making lists of employers that interest you as well as why can help you after the career fair when you sit down to start researching and applying to positions.
  3. A Game Plan — Alright, I’m serious about this one. Before you even think about putting on your tie or heels, research the companies attending the event. Take that note pad and pen from above and make yourself a list of the companies you definitely want to talk to at the event along with a list of questions to ask each. When you head into the career fair, go from the bottom to the top of that list, that way you can shake off the jitters before stepping up to the booth of your top three employers!

Your best bet for keeping these items organized is a folio. Have it all set to go the night before in one convenient place can keep a lot of the stress and hassle to a minimum.

Looking for the next career fair or employer networking event? This Friday, January 27th come out to the Senior Career Conference. The Spring Career Fair will be held on Thursday, February 5th. See you there!

(Here’s a look at what the Fall 2014 Career Fair looked like!)

 

Make the Most of Your Last Semester

image

I don’t know where the term “funemployed” came from, but it’s not a thing. Graduating, then realizing a month later that you can’t pay rent because, “having free time” translates loosely into, “I don’t have a job and I’m super unemployed” is not cute. Here are a few ways to make the most of your last semester of college:

  1. Make a target list: At the beginning of your last semester, make a master list of all of the companies you are interested in working for. Don’t get bogged down in curating the perfect list – just make a list of all of the companies that you heard good things about, that create products you like, or that have the company culture you’re looking for. This list might start off larger than you feel comfortable with – that’s okay. Just keep brainstorming.
  2. Narrow it down: Make a list of your top 5 to 10 companies. These are the targets for the next couple of months. Check their website for any openings. Make a note of these openings on your list.
  3. Start LinkedIn stalking: It’s time to start the networking leg work. Look for people in your network who work at your target companies. If you have a contact who already works at one of the companies you love, take them out for coffee. Don’t ask for a job – that’s tacky. Have a meaningful conversation, and send a quick follow-up thank you. If you talk to your contacts early and express interest in the company they work for, you will probably be at the front of their minds if a position opens up in the next couple of months.
  4. Talk to everyone: Talk to your professors. They can’t help you if they don’t know your goals. So go chat after class – go to office hours and talk about the industry and about their career trajectory. You will learn about your industry and make meaningful connections.
  5. Go to career fairs and conferences: If your university hosts a career fair or career events, GO. Just go. Do it. Talk to every company that interests you, get used to talking about yourself and your goals, and learn everything you can before you leave. All experience is good experience when it comes to getting a job.

Northeastern is hosting their annual Senior Career Conference on Friday, January 23rd from 12-5PM in the Curry Student Center. Don’t miss out!

On average, it takes a college grad at least 3 months to land a job. Don’t wait until May to have a post-grad unemployment freakout. Start early and get as much experience as you can before graduation.

Email Etiquette For The Reply All-Prone Employee

email etiquette

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. It was originally published on April 23rd, 2014.

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

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 Counselor at UMass Lowell and a graduate of Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. Contact her at emily_brown@uml.edu.

Liberty Mutual Talks: Standing Out at a Career Fair

Spring 2014 Career FairThis guest post was written by Lee Ann Chan, an Undergraduate Campus Recruiter for Liberty Mutual Insurance.

With so many employers at a Career Fair, it is extremely important to plan your strategy and make sure you leave a great impression.  How can you accomplish that and stand out from other candidates?  Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Do your research. Choose your top 5-10 companies that you would like to speak with and understand what their mission is and what they are looking for.  Additional information to research would include: products/services, competition, history/vision, size, office locations, industry trends, job opportunities.  You can find most of the information on the company’s website, Career Services, newspaper articles, Monster, GlassDoor, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Review your resume. Make sure your resume is updated, and if you know of a specific job that you wish to apply to, adapt your resume to that position, if possible.  Use keywords mentioned in job descriptions to tailor your resume.  Bring at least ten copies of your resume because you never know how many people you would be speaking with.
  • Prepare your elevator pitch. You have limited time to talk to employers so make the most of it and include the following in your pitch: full name, year, major; example of a skill or accomplishment you have related to the position you are seeking; reason(s) why you are interested in the company/position/industry and what you would like to learn; and questions you may have about the company or job that could not be answered in your research.
  • Be respectful. If there is a line behind you while you are speaking to an employer, make sure to keep the conversation to five minutes or less.  This will also give the employer sufficient time to meet with other candidates, and you can follow up afterwards with a thank you note, reiterating the conversation you had with the employer so that s/he remembers you from the Career Fair.

Remember, this is your time to shine so focus on your strengths and be enthusiastic about approaching the employers.  Best of luck!

Lee Ann Chan is an Undergraduate Campus Recruiter at Liberty Mutual Insurance recruiting for Corporate Programs.  She previously served as a Campus Recruiter with the government and is currently the Co-Director of Collegiate Relations with the National Association of Asian American Professionals.  Her hobbies include career coaching, baking, hiking, and singing.

5 Things to Know As an International Student Attending the Career Fair (And Maybe As a Domestic Student Too)

The Fall Northeastern Career Fair on October 2 is a new experience for many international students (and for domestic students as well).  For some people, the concept of “new” is exciting. For others, “new” is intimidating and can feel uncomfortable.  It’s important to note that being uncomfortable is okay– it’s an indication that you are probably encountering a situation that will contribute to your personal growth. A great way to eliminate some pre-career fair jitters is to prepare as much as possible.  Here are the five things that you should know as an international student attending the Career Fair:

Northeastern Career Fair

Northeastern Career Fair

1.) General Logistics—The Career Fair this year will have over 250 employers with companies like Microsoft , Mathworks, and Akamai Technologies in attendance and will take place from 12-4PM in the Cabot Cage and Solomon Court. Furthermore, there were over 2500 students in attendance last year, and we’re expecting the same attendance for this year.  This means that the career fair will be CROWDED! And lines, especially for very popular companies like Microsoft, will be many people long.  What does this mean for you? Come to the career fair sooner rather than later and come prepared with a list of companies that you want to speak with.  If you don’t, you may be shut out from speaking with an employer or you may feel too overwhelmed to speak to anyone.

2.) Do Your Research on Companies Open to Hiring International Students-The list of organizations attending the career fair is here. Also make sure to download the 2014 Career Fair brochure–there will be no hard copies of the brochure at the fair.  The brochure includes a map of the employer table numbers and where they’re located, and also includes a list of employers who have indicated that they are open to hiring international students.  Be sure to become familiar with that list!  Also do some general research on the company.  The company website, Hoovers, Glassdoor, and Linkedin are all great resources to use when researching.

3.) Prepare Your Pitch— When I was an undergraduate student, I did not go to any of the career fairs my university held (ironic, right?). This was because I was uncomfortable with what to say to an employer and I didn’t know what to do when I got there.  Make sure you practice your pitch, or your thirty second commercial about yourself.  This “pitch” would be an appropriate answer to the nebulous “Tell me about yourself” question, or can give the employer a general understanding of your background and what caused you to be interested in their company.  Appropriate information for the pitch would be your name, major, skills, background, and interest in either the company/position.  To make a great impression, be sure to let them know that you’ve done research on their company by asking intelligent questions. The key here is to be able to ask them other questions besides “What does your company do?”.  That’s not going to impress anyone!  And don’t forget to practice, practice, practice!

4.) Dress Appropriately- Many people feel unsure about what to wear for the fair. A black, grey, brown (neutral) suit and tie is appropriate for males and a skirt suit or pants suit with sensible heels is appropriate for females.  Be sure to not wear too much cologne or perfume, or to wear any flashy jewelry or makeup.  You want them to be listening to what you SAY, not what you look or smell like.

5.) Conduct Yourself Professionally at the Career Fair—This means respecting employers and their time by keeping discussions brief and not keeping them after 4PM. No one leaves the Career Fair with a job, so your main goal is to make an impression and receive a business card to follow-up with them later.  Also, do not bring food/drinks into the Career Fair–they are not permitted and it makes it difficult to shake hands with employers.  Lastly, don’t go “shopping” at the fair.  I know many employers come with cool little gadgets, but don’t make those freebies your main focus for attending the career fair!

Remember, the more prepared you are for the fair, the better you equip yourself to navigate it successfully.  Also, don’t forget to check out our Career Fair Success Tips Panel on September 30th. Representatives from Gorton’s, Liberty Mutual, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Constant Contact will tell you exactly what they like to see from students at Career Fairs.  Remember, no matter what happens, the career fair is a great experience that can prepare you for the job search process and networking after graduation. Enjoy it!

Ashley LoBue is an Assistant Director at Northeastern Career Development.  A Boston College graduate, Ashley has over 4 years of experience working in higher education and is a proponent for international and experiential education.  Ashley also enjoys binge-watching HGTV and aspires to be like the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan, as a possible secondary career. 

Career Fair Tips from Angela (the bio major)

Career FairThis post was written by Angela Vallillo, senior biology major on the pre-medical track.

Hi all! My name is Angela and I am a senior graduating this year with a degree in biology! I’m graduating early, which is scary and exciting at the same time. It leads me to the issue of finding a job and figuring out what to do with my life in a pretty short amount of time. That being said, a great resource for everyone looking for a job or seeing what’s out there is the Spring Career Fair held by career services on Thursday, February 6th in Cabot Cage from 12PM-4PM. There will be over 150 employers looking for people like you and LinkedIn photo ops!

I hold a work-study job at Career Development (formally Career Services) and have helped organize and run the past two career fairs. That being said, I have a few tips for students planning on attending:

  1. The most important piece of information that I can give you is to research the company before the fair! I repeat: Do your research! Some companies are offering positions for people like you and you might not even know it. A company, such as Liberty Mutual has a stigma of being only for finance and insurance majors, however there are positions open that allow one to market for the company or to manage (I will mention this more later). Also, it essential that your resume stands out to employers. What will make you stand out to the employer representatives is that you know what position you are interested in and can tell them why you’re interested in the position. They receive so many resumes from your peers, that making yourself stand out is essential!
  2. If you’ve been to the career fair before, its no secret that the jobs that many of the employers are looking offering are for engineers, computer scientists, and businessmen/businesswomen. You may be saying to yourself that you don’t fit that criteria, myself included. However, there are a lot of employers that list that they are looking for all majors. As I mentioned before, some companies have a reputation for offering one type of job, however they are looking for other majors for their company. This brings me to my third piece of advice…
  3. What you choose to do for after graduation does not dictate what you will do for the rest of your career! This is a big piece of advice that sometimes I don’t even think about. I eventually want to attend medical school and if I do a job in a different industry that interests me, that will only strengthen my resume more to make me a well rounded individual.

I hope that you find my advice helpful! I also hope to see you at the career fair. Remember to wear your nice suits and ties!

Angela Vallillo is senior biology major on the pre-medical track. Follow her NU admissions blog to read more from Angela.

10 Things not to do at the Northeastern Career Fair on October 3 (in no particular order)

  • Go up to an employer and ask them what they do – The list of companies

    Don’t be this guy – image from encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com

    participating in the career fair can be found on our website http://www.northeastern.edu/careers/jobs-internships/career-fairs/. You should research companies in advance so you can be prepared when you approach them. You’re more likely to impress employers that way.

  • Walk around holding your girlfriend/boyfriend’s hand – A career fair is a professional event, and is not the place for PDAs (public displays of affection). Do you want the employer to perceive you as an immature college student, or a young professional?
  • Travel with a pack of friends – You may all be looking for a job, but you each need to do your own job search.  Be independent. You don’t want to appear as if you can’t do things on your own.
  • Randomly grab goodies and giveaways from the employer tables – Yes, employers bring the stuff for a reason, but it’s rather tacky to walk up to an employer just for the sake of taking their food/toys, especially if you’re disrupting a conversation in progress.
  • Talk on your cellphone while waiting in employer’s line – Cabot Cage is already crowded and noisy enough. Loud conversations while in line could disrupt the employer’s conversations, and may be interpreted that you’re not really focused on being there.  Reviewing your resume or notes while in line can help give the impression that you’re prepared and thorough.

    What not to wear to the career fair – image from i01.i.aliimg.com

  • Dress like you’re going to a club, or alternatively, the gym (don’t let the fact it’s in a gym fool you) – It’s possible to be under-dressed or inappropriately dressed for a career fair, but it’s hard to be over-dressed. Stick with a suit and you can’t go wrong.
  • Wear clothes that don’t fit well – This includes clothing that is too big as well as too tight. You don’t want to look sloppy and/or unprofessional.  Make sure you try clothes on in advance to make sure they fit.
  • Ask an employer to “wow” you or convince you that you should want to work for them – While it’s important to determine if a particular company is a good fit for you (not just the other way around), this tactic can put the recruiter on the spot, and can make them feel defensive.  If you move forward with the application process at any particular company, you can use your own research and interview to help you determine if that is, in fact, a company you’d like to work at.
  • Get upset if the employer won’t take your resume – Due to a variety of regulations, some employers will talk to you, but won’t actually take your resume. Some employers will still make notes for themselves about candidates who impressed them, or provide you with more detailed information, so don’t let your frustration keep you from convincingly explaining your qualifications.
  • Expect to leave the career fair with a job – No one leaves a career fair with a job, though some people may leave with interviews. The career fair is an opportunity to make face time with employer contacts, and making a good impression can often carry over into your application process with that company, even if it’s at a later date.

Tina Mello is Associate Director of University Career Services, and has worked at Northeastern for over 10 years. Nicknamed the “information guru” by other members of the staff, she loves to research and read about various job/career/education topics. For more career advice, follow her on twitter @CareerCoachTina.