How To Find A Co-Op: My Journey As An International Student

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My name is Maria from Venezuela and I am doing a Master in Project Management through the College of Professional Studies. I am writing today because I want to help the international community at Northeastern fight the odds that all foreign students face in the United States.

I have heard many times that finding a good paid coop for an international is very difficult. Well, I disagree with that statement. I will give you a few tips that will help you to find a Coop/Internship.

Set your goal ahead of time. If you put your mind and energy in finding a coop you will get it.

Start four months before the date you want to begin. The earlier, the better.

Write a resume with the USA standards. I highly recommend you to go the Career Development Office. They will also help you with cover letters.

Create a good LinkedIn profile. Here is a link to mine.

Make business cards. This is a technique that can help differentiate yourself from others candidates. You can use Vistaprint to make them.

Start the job search: MyNEU COOL, NU Career Development website, companies’ websites, networking, career fairs, etc. You should try all of them. The university has partnerships with many companies that you can apply to. You can also speak to your friends, classmates and professors and let them know you are looking for a co-op. You will be surprised.

Apply, apply, apply and apply. Many students think that applying to just 10 companies is enough. There is no enough. You end your co-op search when you find the correct one.

You need to work harder. Remember that domestic students have two advantages: English as their first language and infinite job permission. So, it is time to show how good you are.

You will need to find your co-op with time. After you get your co-op, you will need your co-op advisor’s permission and then the ISSI permission to issue a new I-20.

Many students ask themselves what the difference between a coop and internship is. An internship is part-time job (paid or unpaid). On the other hand, a co-op is full time and, in most cases, is paid.

All these tips may look very similar to others you can find online, but they really worked for me. If you focus in what you really want there will be no obstacles you cannot overcome. Lastly, you will really need a positive attitude because you will receive rejections from many companies until you finally get your co-op.

Maria Martin is a Venezuelan Master’s Degree student. She is currently doing a full time paid coop at NSTAR in the Marketing and Sales Department. You can contact her at mariajesusmartin13@gmail.com

On-Boarding Documents, Or How To Make A Great Last Impression

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People generally understand the importance of a great first impression – you want to kick your first day off with a smile and a firm handshake and a solid, confident grasp of office small talk. But we don’t often talk about creating an awesome last impression. What do you do during your last week to make your employers remember you?

Hint: Make their job easier by creating on-boarding documents for your replacement.

Here are a few tips for making your on-boarding documents awesome:

  1. Walk through your day. This is best done a couple of weeks before the end of your internship. Walk through your day and make a note of everything you do – what does your schedule look like? Who do you talk to? What projects do you prioritize? Break down your day into any and all tasks the new person might not know how to do and add them to a running list.
  1. Take your time. Mark off a day on your calendar for making on-boarding docs. This will allow you to sit down, put on some pump-up jams, and do a killer job. This is a working document, so send the file to your replacement so they can edit it and send it to their replacement. You’re leaving your legacy right now.
  1. Be specific. Assume nothing. What emails do you send in a day? When I worked in events, I wrote an on-boarding doc with a whole section for how to keep in contact with caterers. I took screenshots of spreadsheets I kept, email templates, suggestions for how much to order from where, and the name and number of any contacts I had established. This ensures that anything and everything is accounted for.
  1. Include anything they might find useful. This might include: common abbreviations no one explains to you, office acronyms, or an “email decoder” (this is important especially for tech co-ops or companies where jargon runs rampant).
  1. Include a contact sheet. Basically, a whole sheet should be dedicated to who does what around the office. Question about this? Ask Tom. Question about this? Ask Victoria. Question about this? Ask Kate. This proves incredibly helpful and will prepare the upcoming co-op for success from day one.
  1. Be appropriate. Duh? Your employer can (and probably will) read this. Be classy.

On-boarding docs are a good way to refresh your memory and reflect on your responsibilities throughout the past six months. They also show your employer that, yes, you were working for six months. In fact, you were doing an excellent job for six months. And you’re going to make sure your replacement also does an excellent job because you’re just that kind of person.

And that last impression goes far.

Lindsey Sampson is a junior 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 on Twitter @lindseygsampson.

It’s Co-Op Application Time – Here’s What Your LinkedIn Profile Needs

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It’s that time of year, everyone. Resumes are out in the world and the competition is heating up – during co-op application season, you should make every effort to edit your social media profiles and make your LinkedIn a little more awesome. Let’s get going:

  1. Make your profile headline stand out. This is the first thing an employer will see after your name — make it good. Instead of “Northeastern University Student,” try something like “Student and Personal Trainer Looking For Opportunities In Consumer Brand PR” or “Northeastern Student Interested In Engineering Project Management.” Make sure that the companies you apply to understand your interests and your skills up front.
  1. Beef up your previous jobs. Ask for recommendations from previous employers. This tells a future employer that yes, you really did work there, and yes, you did a fantastic job. The best time to ask for recommendations is at the very end or right after you finish your internship, but no time is a bad time to get a recommendation. So send a nice, brief email to your last co-op or job supervisor: let them know you are applying for co-op and are working on your LinkedIn profile. If you want, you can give them an idea of the positions you are applying to so they can personalize your recommendation. Most of all, don’t be shy. You want future employers to know you’re an incredible candidate, and your previous bosses are the best people to speak to that.
  1. Deal with the numbers. If you worked in the events department, how many events did you coordinate? If you worked at a marketing firm, how many different clients did you work with? How many hours a week are you dedicating to your part-time job currently? Numbers stand out, especially in a text-heavy LinkedIn profile. Even if you don’t know an exact number, try to estimate. This tells a reader the extent of your workload and responsibility.
  1. Connect. Especially at a university like Northeastern, chances are good that most of your friends, classmates, and colleagues are on LinkedIn. Find these people and connect with them. This will expand your network significantly, increasing the chance that you have a connection in common with an employer. It also shows that you put effort into your profile – 10 connections means you probably couldn’t care less.

Your resume might be awesome, but it probably doesn’t quite do you justice. One page is great for brevity’s sake, but it’s not great for going in-depth into your experience and skill set. LinkedIn is the place to show off your skills and stand out in the co-op applicant pool.

Lindsey Sampson is a junior 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.

 

Working From Home? Tips For Staying on Track

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Score!

You get to work from home today.

Your home is your safe space where you are free to wander into the kitchen whenever you want, lounge in front of the television, and walk around all day in your pajamas. But unfortunately, working from home doesn’t cut down on your to-do list. Working from home can introduce into your life a difficult balancing act, so it’s important to actively monitor your productivity to get the most out of your workday.

  1. Set up your space: Establish a specific space for work (Hint: Laying in bed with your laptop on your stomach is not it) and try to limit yourself to only working that space. Eliminate clutter, turn off the television, and move your grocery list into the other room. This will improve your focus and allow you to feel some sense of a productive workspace.
  2. Start the day strong: It’s definitely okay to go for a run in the morning or go to the gym. But when “work from home,” sounds a whole lot like “10am brunch,” it might be getting out of hand. If your morning is pretty empty in terms of productivity, that motivational rut tends to carry over into the afternoon, eliminating the possibility of a productive workday. So wake up at your normal time (or earlier), get dressed, and cross some items off of your to-do list in the morning when your brain is fired up and ready to go.
  3. Don’t wander: When I’m at home, I wander. I will mosey from the living room to the kitchen, forget why I came, then next thing I know I’m sitting in front of the TV with two hours of House Hunters under my belt with no recollection of how I got there. When you are working from home, imagine you are actually at work. When you want to go up to see if the contents of the fridge have changed, stop and ask yourself, would I get up from my desk at work to check the fridge? If the answer is no, stop. No need to wander.
  4. Check in often: Staying in touch with the rest of the office will keep you accountable for your tasks throughout the day. Err on the side of checking in too often, rather than falling off of the radar. Staying in contact with the rest of your department will force yourself to stay on-task and develop your communication skills.
  5. Know thyself: Know what you need when it comes to working from home. Everyone works differently. Maybe you work the best in a busy environment like a coffee shop. If so, head to a coffee shop or other public spot with wi-fi one or two afternoons a week. Being around people without talking to people can be an effective motivator. Maybe you need the complete silence of a home office instead.

Working from home can provide freedom and flexibility that working from the office cannot. For some, working from home makes it possible to juggle a career with other priorities. If you allow yourself, you can easily build a comfortable, productive routine while working from home.

Lindsey Sampson is a junior 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.

 

What does it mean to work for a non-profit?

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This guest post was written by NU Pre-Law and Graduate School Advisor, Anne Grieves.

It may mean that you won’t be making as much money as your friend at Fidelity.  It may mean that you come home from work emotionally drained.  It may also mean that you come home knowing you had a positive impact on something or someone. Wherever you end up 5, 10, 15 years from now, having had even one experience working at a non-profit will give you what you won’t be able to buy with any amount of money.

In my 20s I worked for two educational travel companies; one was a for-profit and one was a not-for-profit.  Each one offered amazing opportunities, but looking back, it was at the not-for-profit that I developed a stronger sense of self, gained professional self-confidence and knew that what I brought and gave was important and valued.

Working at the for-profit was FUN.  The management team had frequent celebrations (with champagne), gave out bonuses, hosted annual team building ropes course retreats and much more.  Anything to incentivize the staff.  However, each month, those that didn’t perform as expected, were cut.  There were quotas to meet and if they weren’t… tough luck.  People came and went so frequently that developing relationships was very challenging.

Of course not all for-profits are like this.  But, if the bottom line is making money, sometimes it comes at the expense of other things.

Five years later I worked at a similar company, but the fact that it was a not-for-profit (slightly different from non-profit), allowed me to grow in ways I would not have been able to at the previous company.  I had opportunities to be creative, was able to get involved with many projects and connected with every single person in the organization.  Everyone was open and willing to mentor.  People were busy but were not driven by the bottom line.

The president of the company who turned 50 while I was there, started as an intern while he was in college.  I was surprised to learn that many employees had been there for over 10, 15 and even 20 years.  This was in 2000 and many of them are still there today!  We did not have expensive celebrations (rather potluck parties).  We did not have fancy office supplies.  We had a sense of community.  We had the daily awareness that we were creating something of value for society and we cared to do our best without monetary incentives.

Sure- even there some people had to be let go.  But, only as a last resort and much coaching.  Here, creativity was valued and ideas were encouraged.  People recognized each other’s talents and leveraged them for constant growth of the individual and the company.

In my late 20s, working at this company I grew in many ways and made connections hands on world picthat have stayed with me to this day.  I now have a career in higher education because that is where my passion and interests join together.  But, having had a taste of working at a not-for-profit triggered that excitement of knowing I could leave work at the end of the day with an incredible sense of fulfillment.

So, if you are a student with a passion, a desire to lead, a yearning to bring about change and have a natural tendency to truly care, you should consider working for a non-profit or social impact organization.

Please join us on October 9th, 5:30-7 at the Non-Profit and Government Networking Forum in Raytheon Amphitheater, to learn more about the world of non-profits.  This is an opportunity to meet with 14 organizations that are making an impact on education, the environment, the arts, health care, and social enterprise.  You will get to know people within the nonprofit community in Boston who are always happy to help young people interested in using their careers for good.  Also check out the nuCAUSE Careers calendar of events for the fall semester for other opportunities to explore non-profit careers.

Anne Grieves is the Pre-Law and Graduate School Career Advisor at Northeastern University Career Development. A proud ENFP, Anne enjoys helping students explore their career options through various assessment tools and workshops and is a freelance Zumba instructor. To make an appointment with Anne, call 617-373-2430.   

Leadership Development Programs: Your Questions Answered

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Leadership development programs are being established around the country as companies invest in the new generation of leadership. These programs are diverse – they offer specific workshops, classes, site visits, and sometimes even a Masters degree. As varied as these programs can be, each one focuses on the personal and professional development of each employee.

Why do Leadership Development Programs exist?

Employers recognize the importance of developing their employees. According to Carolyn Barton of TJX, their number one goal is talent development: “Our agenda now is to recruit talent, develop it, and identify the best track for our entry-level employees.” TJX has been a supporter of early talent development – their merchandising development program has been in place for over 20 years.

Leadership Development Programs often expose students to multiple departments and areas of the company. The Optum LDP includes two rotations on a specific track. General Electric has several different leadership programs in almost every function of the company, including engineering, manufacturing, IT, HR, and finance. The LDP at General Electric is built around a rotation program – depending on the program, an employee can complete 3-4 rotations in two years. According to Erica Wotzak of GE, LDPs are crucial for building well-rounded leadership: “We find a lot of value in allowing people to see different parts of the company. It positions the employee and the employer to place them in a role where are interested and where they excel.”

Why is this better than an entry-level position? 

“So many people switch positions throughout their career,” said Stephen Uram of Optum. “[In an LDP], you have the opportunity to understand where you fit best and where your strengths lie.” The LDP at Optum invests in new employees through mentorship, knowledge sharing, and exposure to senior leadership.

As a participant in a Leadership Development Program, employees can see every side of the company. According to Katie Maillet from Constant Contact, “students in our programs want to explore the company before they decide what they like. They finish the year with a good understanding of the organization as a whole and how they contribute to it.” Because of the exposure to multiple sides of the company, participation in a LDP will better position you for leadership positions.

Another benefit of a LDP is the network you can establish. “It’s a balance,” says Stephen Uram. “You have the camaraderie of a group of peers in your age group as well as access to senior leadership.” In a Leadership Development Program, you are placed into a community of peers, which allows you to grow your network and exchange knowledge. For example, “With the [TJX] Merchandising Program, you join a large organization with lots of people who are in the same stage of life. It’s about connecting and finding your community a little more easily within an organization.”

How do I make myself a more attractive candidate for a LDP?

To start, try to meet with an alum who has completed the program. According to Carolyn Barton, “this shows, from a recruiter standpoint, a bit more drive and ambition.” Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or send a LinkedIn request to hear firsthand about their experience in the program.

If you find a LDP early you like early in your college career, apply for an internship or co-op at that company. At GE, “students with meaningful job and internship experience on and off-campus are strong candidates for our programs.”

Finally, Katie Maillet says, “make yourself a well-rounded human being.” Pursue your interests outside of the classroom – teach, contribute to Hackathons, lead a club. These extra things make you stand out to recruiters, so make them known on your resume. According to Stephen Uram, the most important part is having a diverse set of experiences you can draw upon during the application process, and understanding how to adapt and market your skills to new situations and new industries.

How do I learn more about LDPs?

To learn more about the Leadership Development Programs at TJX, GE, Sun Life Financial, Optum, and Constant Contact, come to Cultuvating Leadership: Leadership Development Program Panel and Networking Night tomorrow, October 7th in the Visitor’s Center from 6-8PM.

Lindsey Sampson is a junior 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.

5 Pinterest Boards To Boost Your Career

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Can mining social media be beneficial to your career? You heard it here first! Social media outlets like Pinterest can provide career guidance and inspiration for the visual learner.

Brooke McKee’s Resume Design Board: If you’re starting from scratch or just want to give your current design a quick renovation, start with this board for inspiration.

Follow Brooke McKee’s board Resume Design on Pinterest.

The Prepary’s Common Interview Questions Decoded Board: Step into the interviewer’s shoes with a few of these common interview questions and how to approach them. Co-op application season just became a breeze!

Follow Prepary’s board Common Interview Questions Decoded on Pinterest.

UNL Career Service’s Men’s Professional Attire Board: This board will teach you everything you need to know, from how to fold a pocket square to how to roll a suit.

Follow UNL Career Service’s board Men’s Professional Attire on Pinterest.

Professionelle’s What We Wear Board: Looking for inspiration for your fall work wardrobe? This board is the perfect resource for identifying key workplace looks that never go out of style.

Follow Professionelle’s board What We Wear on Pinterest.

Long Beach Public Library’s Best of Business/Career Board: Build your fall reading list with some of the best books for your career including Outliers, The Power of Habit, and the $100 Startup.

Follow Long Beach Public Library’s board Best of Business/Career on Pinterest.

From creating your fall reading list to building your fall co-op wardrobe, Pinterest can be a stellar resource for young professionals and workplace veterans alike.

Lindsey Sampson is a junior 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.

Northeastern Career Services Ranked #1 by Princeton Review

No one hearted his co-op more than Spencer Small (left), who was hired by Amazon after an eight-month co-op stint there.

No one hearted his co-op more than Spencer Small (left), who was hired by Amazon after an eight-month co-op stint there.

All we can say is: Thank you, Huskies! The annual Princeton Review Col­lege Rank­ings came out Monday and ranked Northeastern Career Development #1 in the country for “Best Careers Services.” For seven con­sec­u­tive years we’ve been ranked in the top four in the U.S., including four years at No. 1! What makes this such an honor is that it is the students that determine the ranking.

While many grad­u­ates begin their pro­fes­sional careers after grad­u­a­tion, most Huskies start their first co-​​op sopho­more year and can have three pro­fes­sional expe­ri­ences under their belt by grad­u­a­tion. That said, it’s no sur­prise that 90 per­cent of them are working full time or in grad school within nine months after grad­u­a­tion. And 51 per­cent of our grad­u­ates receive a job offer from a pre­vious co-​​op employer.

To under­score a little fur­ther how valu­able the co-​​op expe­ri­ence is, 87 per­cent of those working full time after grad­u­a­tion are doing some­thing closely related to what they studied.

North­eastern is all about inte­grating class­room learning and real-​​world expe­ri­ence. And we pride our­selves on giving our stu­dents the help and resources they need to build suc­cessful careers and become global cit­i­zens. And it’s also nice to be recognized.