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.

“There Are No Dumb Questions Here”

How many times have you sat in an interview and swallowed a question out of fear it may be the dreaded “stupid question”?   Wouldn’t it be nice to run a few of those by an employer knowing there’s nothing at stake?  Just once?  Well, you may be in luck!

step brothersCopyright: 2008 Columbia Pictures

Career Development has been offering the Employer in Residence program for several years, providing students the opportunity to meet with professionals in an informal setting. They are encouraged to share their apprehensions about interviewing, the job search process and posing those tricky questions they aren’t sure are appropriate to ask during a formal interview.   “It’s like a webinar in that students get information without getting tested on it afterwards,” shares Ezra Schattner ’93, New York Life agent and current Employer in Residence.  “It’s fun for me when students come in and have some good questions like, ‘I don’t know what to say when an employer asks me about a weakness.” (Tip: Repackage the question so references an area for development that complements a strength)

“When I’m interviewing a new candidate, I’m hiring for technical skills, but I”m also hiring someone who can be a fit within the culture of the group and company.  I want a student to ask themselves if they’re going to be in a position they’ll appreciate and grow in it.”

Thuy Le, recruiter for City Year, loves when students ask the “Day in the Life”  question, what motivates her every day and what challenges exist in her role or at her organization.  “I remember attending networking opportunities during my undergraduate years and feeling nervous about it.  ‘Networking’ is often associated with being aggressive and being out of people’s comfort zone.  I learned to understand that it’s simply having conversations and obtaining as much information as you can, and that employers want students to talk to them and ask questions. I always try to paint a realistic picture of what their experience will be like in City Year, because like all employers, we want to find the right people who will be the best fit.  I would also encourage students to relax and be themselves – we want to know the real you!”

Both Thuy and Ezra will be taking part in the Employer in Residence portion of the Senior Career Conference as well as also hosting hours throughout the semester.  If you’re looking for another voice to assuage your concerns and dispel some of the mysteries about the working world, head over to Stearns on Thursday, 1/23 or check out the programming calendar for upcoming dates.  Match Education, Peace Corps, Raytheon and Shawmut Design and Construction will also be on campus throughout the semester so be sure to come on by!

Derek Cameron is a member of the Career Development Employer Relations team and always looking for new ways to bring the employer’s voice to campus.

You have a missed call, and it wasn’t your mother

Your mom called. How do you know?  You see the missed call on your cell phone, so youmom missed call call her back. You know it’s her, so you don’t have to bother listening to the message, if she even bothered to leave one.

Now, imagine that a number you can’t identify called and left you a voicemail message.  You skip the voice mail and call back, explaining that someone from that number called you.  Turns out that it’s a company where you applied for an internship, co-op or full-time job.  Great!

Only, there’s a problem. Turns out all the company numbers go through a main switchboard, and you’ve just called the receptionist. He or she has no idea who called you, or any reasonable way to find out because so many different people work there.

Now what?

I hope you saved that voice mail message.

Calling back friends and family without listening to their messages is common, and for many people, the norm (though personally, if you don’t leave me a voice mail, then it can’t be that important and I’ll call you back at my leisure).  Doing so with a potential employer, however, can backfire. Here’s what employers may think (assuming you ever make it to the correct person):

  • You’re lazy. I left you a message and you couldn’t be bothered to listen to it.
  • You don’t follow instructions. I told you what to do in the message.
  • You expect other people to do your work for you. You had the info at your fingertips but you asked somebody else to go find it for you.
  • All of the above.
picture source: Lifehacker.com

picture source: Lifehacker.com

Do any of those qualities sound like what an employer wants in a potential employee? (If you said yes, I’m going to be the one calling your mother.)

Listen to the message. Follow the instructions. Make the best possible impression you can.

Tina Mello is Associate Director of NU Career Development, 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.