“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.


View from the helicopter

Susan Loffredo began counseling NU students well before the iPhone was invented and owns socks that are older than the class of 2013.

Loffredo, Susan photo

Susan’s incredibly well-cared for family

Are you a helicopter parent?  Or does one of your parents fit the description? Well, I myself have been known to hover, and so I understand how tempting it can be for parents to swoop in to fix things and how easy it can be for students who have a combination guardian angel/personal assistant standing by. That kind of TLC even sounds tempting to me, but then again, I already know how to do everything for myself.

And there’s the problem.  I have two daughters:  a new college freshman and a young professional who lives in another city.  If anyone said that I was not, shall we say, involved in their lives, my husband and the girls would be rolling on the floor laughing.  But I have come to appreciate when to hold ‘em and when to leave it to the professionals.

Image from cdn.theatlanticwire.com

As a career counselor, I have helped hundreds of young students make and carry out their decisions about majors, careers and jobs.  Often, students who are having trouble choosing a major tell me their parents have no suggestions, other than to do what makes them happy, and while they appreciate the support, they would have liked some advice. Other times, parents offer advice that is out of date or ill advised.  For example, one student’s parent suggested using a fictional job offer for leverage in a salary negotiation.  The takeaway?  Parents know what their children are good at and where they might excel; sharing that can be helpful.  Advising on matters that are not their expertise, not so much.

As a career expert, I was not concerned when my older daughter entered college thinking she would be pre-med, shifted to PR and finally decided on law. My only coaching was to encourage her to work with her career advisor on finding internships to help her decide.  Likewise, I refrained from counseling my younger daughter into a choice of major, except to tell her what I think she’s good at before she met with her academic advisor.

We career, co-op, and academic advisors want to see our students succeed and we know how to help them.  Parents who encourage their children to take full advantage of these professionals and then get out of the way are doing the best they can for their child.  It’s not easy, but if I can do it, just about anyone can.





Meet the List-Lover, Lindsey

Lindsey Catskills

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works.

I love to plan, and my planning addiction manifests itself in lists. I live off of lists – lists of places I want to visit before I’m thirty, lists of foods I should try, lists of networking contacts, and lists of companies where I would be honored to work. I am going into my middler year (aka. I have some time before these plans become reality), but maybe it’s the thrill of the chase.

My compulsive list-making keeps me in perpetual state of being both nervous and excited. I’m nervous/excited. Nervecited? (I’m also into combining words. Once, in a blaze of glory, I combined the words “sweet potato” and “tater tot” to create the word equivalent of Optimus Prime, “sweet potatertot.” That kept me going for days.)

Here are a few quick facts about me:

  • Northeastern University middler studying International Affairs, Social Entrepreneurship, and Writing
  • Completed co-op in Spring 2013 at Institute for Healthcare Improvement
  • Contributing writer for Levo League, Your Coffee Break, & The Knurd

This fall, I’m packing my bags and heading to Edinburgh, Scotland for a semester abroad. You can follow my travels (if you’re into that sort of thing) at www.moreawesomer.wordpress.com.

I love being part of the vibrant Northeastern community, and I look forward to tapping in to this community to help students make the most of what Northeastern has to offer. Career development is something I am incredibly excited about — Northeastern is full of amazing talent, and giving students the resources to showcase that talent can lead to some life-changing career opportunities.

Every email sparks a connection, so shoot one my way at lindseygsampson@gmail.com. Feel free to send me questions, comments, spam, coupons to Boloco, or just a “Hello.” I’m big on that.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler 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.

Amy’s Not-So-Formal Introduction


Here’s a poorly cropped photo of my head. Consider it a gift.

Hello, Northeastern! My name is Amy. I am honored, humbled, and ridiculously excited to be one of the very first NU Career Services student bloggers! I’ll be writing about the inside scoop on how students can use the (free!) Career Services resources (right on campus!) to prepare for post-grad success.

So what have I learned about career development? Well, I’m nearing my ninth month working with Career Services. I finished a six-month co-op as Employer Relations Coordinator in June 2013, and now I’m working as a marketing intern. In my time here so far, I’ve met dozens of employers, learned the ins and outs of working with career advisors, staffed career fairs, and even sat on a hiring committee…you know, the works. Even without all that fun stuff, I’ve learned so much about career building just by breathing the same air as my advising and employer relations colleagues that I say hi to every day.

I’m here to dish out all the tricks I’ve discovered (lucky you)! Stay tuned for more posts from me every other Wednesday!

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She practically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

“What’s Career Services? Is that like co-op?”

Wait, what's career services?  source: verydemotivational.com

“Wait, what’s career services?  Is that like co-op?”
 source: verydemotivational.com

If you’re on this page and wondering where you are and how you got here, welcome to The Works, also known as the Northeastern University Career Services blog.  As a Career Advisor and the main contributor to this blog I hope to provide some insight and humor into material that can be perceived by students as dry, intimidating, boring, or all of the above. As a double Husky (yes, I’ve gone here twice), I understand what a Middler is and have had to explain co-op in great detail to distant relatives numerous times, so yes, I think I get it.

To answer the question: no we are not co-op, but work directly with co-op to help connect students with employers and grow professionally.  Ranked #2 by Princeton Review for University Career Services nationwide, we can help you build your career success, but not without a little work of course. Career Services serves all students (frosh through Ph.D candidates and alums) to help them determine majors, define skills, write those daunting cover letters, resumes and personal statements and explore career/major options (among many other things). Anything career related, we cover that.

"Help! I need a job!"

“Help! I need a job!”      source: Tumblr

We host events and workshops that serve students across all disciplines.  A few of these include Career Fair, nuCAUSE, Career Conversations, Small Group Job Search, LinkedIn for Networking, and Matching Skills to Majors.  We have walk-in hours (M-F 1:30-3:30) where you can drop in and meet with a counselor for 15 minutes and sometimes an employer (check out our Employer in Residence program).  We also see students one-on-one for hour long consultations if you’re looking for a more personal touch.  To learn more, feel free to check out our main page www.northeastern.edu/careerservices, to see our calendar and peruse other resources.

Check out The Works every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday for info on upcoming events, overall career advice, student perspectives and success stories, employer insight and, all things career related.  I look forward to comments and suggestions on different topics and posts. I do reserve the right to monitor this so don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your Nana to see.

Kelly Scott is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University and social media enthusiast.  A proud Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.