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

linkedin

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.

 

What I Learned From Applying to Fellowships

fellowships pic

Class of 2015. I have been looking forward to those words every day since freshman year. This is going to be my year. Well, mine and the other 1.8 million students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in the US this year. Throughout my college career I thought we were all on the same road with only two exits, a job or grad school, until someone told me about graduate fellowships.

Many fellowship programs exist to fund studies, research and teaching abroad, while others offer ways to embark on long-term journalism projects or short-term positions at successful organizations after graduation. Falling somewhere in between a first job and a graduate education, fellowships are a great option for recent graduates to develop crucial career experience without going down the traditional career path.

I’ve spent my summer applying to several graduate fellowships and now consider myself something of an expert in the field of Getting Your Act Together. Here’s what I learned:

There are lots of post-graduation options. Apart from the default options of getting a job or enrolling in graduate school immediately after undergrad, fellowships exist across all disciplines that allow you to continue studying, travel abroad, conduct independent research and teach with other passionate individuals.

Northeastern has a department dedicated to helping you find the right fit. The Northeastern University Office of Fellowships is here to not only inform you of all the opportunities, but also to help you formulate a clear proposal that articulates your ambitions, talents and projects.  Northeastern’s Department of Career Development also has a resource page on fellowships that you can review.

Organize your Northeastern experience and develop an entirely new elevator pitch. Speaking of articulating your ambitions, talents and projects, it’s helpful to sit down and condense your Northeastern experience into a coherent elevator pitch. Five years at Northeastern looks quite different than five years anywhere else. Streamlining classes, dialogues, co-op’s and personal experiences into a story that aligns with a proposed program is a challenge, but it can be done.

Get over your fear of networking. The idea of asking people I didn’t know to offer me advice and suggestions on post-graduation opportunities and potential careers always scared me. But it turns out what everyone had been telling me was true―people love talking about how they got where they are, and are willing to help out a sincere student. They were once in your shoes, after all.

Start early, but take your time. The number of options available to college graduates is overwhelming. Odds are you won’t find the perfect situation the first time you sit down and start looking. So start early and map out some options of where you could see yourself in 5, 10 and 20 years. Keep an ongoing list of postgraduate possibilities, never deleting any of your ideas. Having too many options may be just as panic inducing as not having any options, but keeping a list and taking your time will give you somewhere to start.

So as you begin to wrap up your studies and see the “real world” looming up ahead, remember that you aren’t trapped on one exit ramp. There is a world of options after graduation, and exploring them just takes a little extra planning.

Madeline Heising is a senior Communication Studies major with a passion for food and food policy. She enjoys cooking and writing for her recipe blog, The Collegiate Vegan, while drinking copious amounts of coffee. Connect with her on Twitter @MadelineHeising.

Image Source: Cafe Workspace with Diary, picjumbo

Down at the Crossroads

lifes-crossroads

“Lifes Crossroads” by John Matlock

What do you do when you’re ¾ of the way through college and suddenly you’re not sure the major you’ve chosen is the path you want to follow?  Starting over and tacking on more years and thousands more dollars of debt is a very costly approach and still provides no guarantee.  Ducking into grad school until the picture becomes clear is even more costly.  How about another option?

Stephen Uram ’14 found one way.

As a mechanical engineering major, he was well into his degree track when he realized engineering wasn’t for him.  “I wanted to be an engineer when I took my first physics class and loved it.  I had a great teacher and learned a lot about process, prompting me to join the rocketry club and spend parts of a couple summers attending science seminars at Purdue and UC Berkeley. When I got accepted to Northeastern I was excited to become a mechanical engineer.”

The dream played out nicely for a couple years, as he loved his college courses and really enjoyed his first co-op.  After returning to classes and then heading out for second co-op, however, he started to realize maybe this path wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  “I was doing more design engineering and really wasn’t seeing the why’s of the projects or using what I learned in classes on the job.  When I went back to class I realized I liked the project management side more than the engineering and got worried that I was in the wrong major.”

Fortunately, he kept a level head and researched career options that would allow him to parlay the engineering skills he had developed into a more project management-focused role. After doing some research and speaking with family, friends and career advisors he learned about Leadership Development Programs.  LDP’s allow new employees to enter a company and follow several tracks to learn about multiple areas of the organization to develop a well-rounded skill set and experience a more holistic career.  Programs last between 18-24 months and are broken into several 6-8 month blocks.

“When I got back to campus for my last semester I looked at which companies were coming to the Career Fair and looked for ones that offered a leadership program, preferably in a growing industry. I didn’t need a foosball table.  I wanted to be part of an industry that is growing and with a company I can grow with”  For Steve, this turned out to be Optum, a technology company under the United Health Group umbrella.

With healthcare costs on the forefront of the nation’s priorities, technology has become a major driver in mitigating costs and improving a damaged system. As a result, the demand for sharp college grads is very high and technology companies are progressively dotting the healthcare landscape. Through Optum’s Technology Development Program fresh grads are able to delve into several areas of the organization to develop skills and grow their professional network.  “I’m exposed to senior leadership quite often and my Navigation Coach has me organizing informational interviews with different people so I know what other parts of the company do and how it all fits together.“

“I was also able to use skills from my engineering background and apply them to the job.  Having worked on teams for class projects it allowed me to leverage resources each member of the group brings to a project and get the most out of everyone. I’ve also been able to use the problem solving skills from classes and co-op, along with time management skills, to balance projects and complete projects on time.”

Whether it be healthcare, finance, communication or human services, leadership development programs are available across all industries and can help kick start your career! If you would like to learn more about Steve’s experience and about other leadership development opportunities come to the Cultivating Leadership:  Leadership Development Panel and Networking Night, on Tuesday 10/07.

Don’t feel lost at the crossroads – come to the NU Visitor’s Center and get back on track!

Derek Cameron is a member of the Employer Relations team in Career Development and occasionally blogs on the in-ter-nets.

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

non profit post word cloud

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.   

Blending Art and Business: A New Dual Major Opportunity

image source: www.fastweb.com

image source: www.fastweb.com

This guest post was written by Sam Carkin, a sophomore studying Marketing and Interactive Media.

I was going to be an architect major. I had visited architecture firms all over the area, toured fourteen campuses for the major, and was dead set on pursuing this profession. Then, like most 18-year-olds, I changed my mind less than a month before applications were due. I felt my creativity was going to be limited to just structures, so I looked for other ways I could channel this desire for a creative profession and came across marketing.

Marketing allowed me to be creative in problem solving, content-creation, strategy, and many other areas, and I realized I had found my future. However, there was one school that stood out as being able to provide me with a cutting-edge education in this industry, and that school was Northeastern, thanks to its dual major of Business Administration-Marketing and Interactive Media that was still in development at the time. Well this dual major is now official, and the number of students enrolled in it is growing every semester. It brings together the art school and business school to create future professionals that can “speak both languages” and become highly effective in the worlds of marketing and advertising.

Since class sign-ups are just around the corner, I highly recommend that interested students check out the list of required courses for the dual major. I also encourage making an appointment with someone in the advising office of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business so they can further assist in planning course schedules going forward. I am excited to see this awesome program continue to grow in the years to come!

Sam Carkin is currently in his sophomore year at Northeastern University. He is a dual major of Business Administration-Marketing and Interactive Media and will be going on his first co-op in July. Feel free to contact him at carkin.s@husky.neu.edu with any questions related to the blog post or his experiences.

How to Find a Job Teaching English Abroad

Travelling the world as an English teacher can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. It’s a great way to see the world and immerse yourself in another culture – by working in a new country you get to participate in the life there in a way that tourists and travelers never can.

Teach English in Barcelona

source: Prithika Nair / TEFL Iberia

If you’re ready to jet off and begin your new life as an English teacher I’ve outlined a few tips to help you get started.  

1. Do a course in the city you’d like to work in

Do you want to start your teaching adventure in China? Research courses there. Does Barcelona sound like a dream destination? Complete your TEFL training there. By doing a course in your chosen city your chances of finding employment are greatly increased as you’ll make a lot more immediate contacts. You’ll also get help with the foreign administration system to help you get set up with a social security number, bank account, mobile phone, etc.

2.  Choose a course which maximizes practical application and teaching practice

The best way to impress a potential employer is to talk about all the great classroom experiences you’ve had – the big groups, small groups, beginners, advanced etc. Do a course which offers at least 8 hours of teaching practice with real learners. You should reinforce that experience with some private students, which are very easy to find and great for practicing your new skill. Your local TEFL provider should show you how to find private students in your region.

3. Start your job hunt early

Start your job hunt while you are still completing your teacher training course. I recommend:

  • Getting your CV ready while completing your course and have your course tutors go over it with you.
  • Compiling a list of schools you can send it out to. A good quality teacher training institute will have its own list or network of schools which they provide to their trainees.
  • Have a friend take a good photograph of you. In some countries schools want to see a picture of the person they are hiring, particularly if they are hiring remotely.
  • Email your CV out and then follow up with a phone call a few days later.

When writing your CV for a teaching position, even if you have no previous experience as a teacher, remember to highlight any relevant work experience. This could include any staff training you have undertaken, management and organizational experience and even hobbies, private tuition or volunteer work.

4.   Be prepared for different interview scenarios

English teacher job interviews can vary depending on the level of professionalism of the hiring school. Scenarios range from a brief meeting and ‘when can you start?’ to a grammar test and demo lesson. Schools generally look for someone who is friendly, confident and can express themselves clearly. They want to know that you are capable of delivering a quality class and that the students are going to like you. You should therefore be prepared to answer questions about teaching specific grammar points, classroom management, what-would-you-do-in-this-scenario type questions and a demo lesson.

5.  Get recommended

Teacher trainers will often recommend the best students for teaching positions they hear about during the duration of the course. Performing well on your training assignments ensures you are one of the candidates they consider when they hear about any offers. Be the person they think of first!

 

RichardRichard Davie has taught English in Barcelona for over 6 years and trained and recruited many new English teachers. For more information about training to be a TEFL teacher or finding a job abroad visit www.tefl-iberia.com or get in touch with Richard at richard@tefl-iberia.com.

What about the Peace Corps or International Development Jobs?

"The Peace Corps works in countries from Asia to Central America, and from Europe to Africa. In each of these countries, Volunteers work with governments, schools, and entrepreneurs to address changing and complex needs in education, health and HIV/AIDS, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment." Image: www.peacecorps.gov

“The Peace Corps works in countries from Asia to Central America, and from Europe to Africa. In each of these countries, Volunteers work with governments, schools, and entrepreneurs to address changing and complex needs in education, health and HIV/AIDS, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment.”
Image/Info from: www.peacecorps.gov

This guest post was written by Katrina Deutsch, a Peace Corps recruiter for the Metro-Boston area and a frequent Employer in Residence at Northeastern University. 

When I started my job search my senior year of college, I knew I wanted to work internationally after graduation. Quick searches through my university’s job board left me discouraged, as I was under qualified for most of the jobs I was interested in. I started looking into international volunteer organizations, specifically in health and teaching, as those were the areas in which my past travels fell. I was again discouraged, mostly because so many international volunteer organizations required a fee to participate, and money was something I didn’t have.

But there was always one organization I kept coming back to – the Peace Corps. I knew what it was; as I had met Peace Corps Volunteers traveling in Swaziland my first summer abroad. I also knew my mother would object. After more research, I decided to apply to the Peace Corps and thought it would be best to not tell my parents about my application. After all, I wasn’t sure I would receive an invitation, so why get them worried for no reason?

PEACE CORPS FAST FACTS:

  • Established on March 1, 1961 by John F. Kennedy
  • Currently serve in 65 countries; have served in 139 countries
  • 7,209 volunteers and trainees currently in service
  • Work in the areas of education, health, environment, community economic development, youth in development and agriculture
  • Annual budget of $356.25 million

The Peace Corps appealed to me. First, I did not have to pay. The Peace Corps is a U.S. Government Agency, and funding comes from the government. In fact, the Peace Corps was going to pay me at the local level to volunteer! Second, it was a 27 month commitment, and I was hoping to work abroad for at least one year, which is something most other organizations did not provide. Third, I felt that the experience I would gain through my Peace Corps service would give me the skills I needed to qualify for the jobs I wanted.

First Group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers, Aug 30, 1961. The first group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers, Ghana I, arrives in Accra to serve as teachers. Image/info from http://www.peacecorps.gov/about/history/

“First Group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers, Aug 30, 1961. The first group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers, Ghana I, arrives in Accra to serve as teachers.”
Image/info from: http://www.peacecorps.gov/about/history/

TIPS FOR THE PEACE CORPS APPLICATION:

  • Speak to a Peace Corps Recruiter about your skills and qualifications
  • Prepare all necessary documents, including transcripts, financial obligation information, and reference contact information
  • Complete the application within 30 days from starting
  • Be prepared to answer questions about your medical history
  • Tell your parents you are applying to the Peace Corps when you start – the more information and time they have to learn about the Peace Corps,  the easier it will be for you and your parents!

Unfortunately for my parents, I received an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps as a Secondary Education English Teacher in Nicaragua. I accepted my invitation and departed for service the summer after graduating.

The Peace Corps developed my skills and abilities far more than I had anticipated.  I gained valuable language skills and nearly three years of international development experience (I extended my service beyond the two year commitment).  I also discovered a passion that tied all of my initial career goals together: international education development and policy.

After Peace Corps, I attended graduate school to receive my master’s degree in international education policy. I hadn’t planned to attend graduate school so soon after college.  However, I knew that my experience and a graduate degree would make me competitive for many of the jobs I was interested in.

TIPS FOR APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL:

  • Consider the Peace Corps Masters International or Peace Corps Fellows program, combining graduate school and Peace Corps
  • Make sure you’re passionate about what you plan on studying – don’t go to graduate school just to go to graduate school
  • Reach out to alumni from schools to hear their experiences
  • Consider all variables, not just the name or reputation of the school: Do they offer financial aid? Is it located in an area that has good job or internship opportunities? When was the program established?

As I dove back into full job search mode, I now had real experience and knowledge of international job search resources.  My graduate school internship at an international education non-profit turned into a full-time job, and I worked there for two years before returning to work with Peace Corps as a recruiter.

I don’t know what my next job will be or where it will take me.  However, I do know that I have the skills, experience, and passion – and the resources – to continue my work in international development.

RESOURCES FOR THE INTERNATIONAL JOB SEARCH:

Katrina Deutsch is currently the Peace Corps Recruiter for the Metro Boston Area. For more information on the Peace Corps, application process, and when Katrina will be at Northeastern, you can reach her at kdeutsch@peacecorps.gov. Learn more about Katrina’s Peace Corps experience here

3 LinkedIn Tips for Job Hunters

source: socialmediaforstudents.com

source: www.socialmediaforstudents.com

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

Everyone knows LinkedIn is a great tool. LinkedIn makes it easier for potential employers to find you, boosts your online presence, and allows you to take full advantage of the strength of your professional network. Here are a few tricks and tips to maximize LinkedIn for your job search.

LinkedIn Stalking: It’s a thing. Actually, it’s a great thing. Looking at other professionals’ profiles on LinkedIn is an excellent resource for students and job searchers. Start by finding your career crush. Digital marketing manager at your dream firm? Good for you. Check out her experience section: Where did she start? What skills does she have? Where did she intern during her undergrad years? Looking at other peoples’ timelines can give you an idea of what entry-level jobs look like in your industry, which can help you visualize your own career goals.

Freelancers: Okay, this is also kind of about LinkedIn stalking. No big deal. If you are interested in becoming a freelancer, check out the experience section of other freelancers’ profiles. Chances are good that there will be a list of publications for which this person has written. This will give you some good ideas of who to contact within your industry space for writing opportunities.

Companies: Looking at companies on LinkedIn is an especially great tool for students and recent graduates. While you are still in school, make a list of companies that interest you. Your list may only include five or six for now, but this list should be dynamic. Add to it as you go. Having a list of potential future employers will help you avoid sitting in front of a blank Google page a month before you graduate, trying to figure out what to do with your life. If you start early and add to the list whenever you stumble upon an interesting company, you could rack up 50-100 companies to contact before you graduate.

Here’s where LinkedIn comes in.

Company pages on LinkedIn provide recommendations for similar companies in the area. Looking for an education technology startup in Seattle? Find one, check it out on LinkedIn, and aha! Now you have discovered five more. Good for you. Searching through LinkedIn company recommendations can greatly expand your list of dream companies.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for the modern professional. Take advantage of all of its features and make your life – and your job search – a whole lot less painful.

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 and tweet her @lindseygsampson.

Finding an Internship Without Prior Experience

source: collegefashion.net

source: collegefashion.net

This guest post was written by Sam Carkin, a sophomore studying Marketing and Interactive Media.

The “real world” can be intimidating; especially when you’re just starting out. Sure, that first job as a house painter or bus boy is great for earning some money and learning to work with others, but I am assuming if you came to Northeastern you are looking to do something within your major. Northeastern is special in the sense that co-op allows you to work within your major prior to graduation, but what if you want some experience for your résumé before applying to that first co-op job? A summer internship right after your freshman year is an awesome way to go, and something I had the opportunity to do last summer with integrated marketing firm GY&K. Below, is some strategies I used for landing that internship where I gained experience in the marketing and advertising field before my first co-op (which will begin in July).

1. Network, network, network:  I visited a family friend who worked at a huge marketing agency called Arnold Worldwide. He had been in the industry a while and agreed to introduce me to an employee at GY&K, the person who ultimately offered me the internship. Ask your parents, ask your friends, find SOMEONE that works in your industry of choice and ask them if they know anyone that you might be able to talk to or work for.

2. Informational Interviews are kEY: OK, so I had been introduced to this person from GY&K, but what now? An informational interview is a perfect way to demonstrate professionalism and interest, while also learning a great deal from someone who knows the industry well. If it goes well, you have a better chance of possibly working for the person you speak with.

3. Have confidence: Going in to speak with an industry professional can be extremely intimidating; however, setting up informational interviews shows that you are genuinely interested in what that person does and see them as a successful individual in their field. They will be just as excited to tell you what they know as you are to learn, and it should be treated as a casual conversation during which you can make a great first impression.

4. Do not be afraid to ask: If your interview went well, at the end feel free to ask if that professional’s company has any opportunities for you to gain experience, or if they know of any other companies that might have these opportunities. It will allow you to possibly find that internship position, or continue to grow your network.

Sam Carkin is currently in his sophomore year at Northeastern University. He is a dual major of Business Administration-Marketing and Interactive Media and will be going on his first co-op in July. Feel free to contact him at carkin.s@husky.neu.edu with any questions related to the blog post or his experiences.

5 things to consider when choosing a graduate program

This guest post was written by our new student blogger, Emily Brown, a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program.

We’ve established that going to grad school isn’t always a good idea and that it is a huge commitment of time, money, and energy. Once you’ve made the decision that grad school is right for you, you’re still faced with the daunting task of choosing a program. There are a few key things to keep in mind when working through the process:

  •  Location. An easy way to narrow your choices at the beginning is by location. Are there places that you are simply unwilling to live while pursuing your degree? Do you plan on continuing a job in your current location? I knew I wanted to keep my full-time job as long as possible, so I only researched graduate programs in the Boston area. Conveniently, Boston still has a lot of options, but narrowing my search that way made it feel more manageable.

    Image from fastweb.com


  • Reputation. Just like when applying to undergrad, it’s easy to get caught up in schools’ reputations. Meeting your own academic goals and needs should be your top priority so remember that just because it’s an Ivy League doesn’t mean it will be a good fit for you. Graduate programs can vary greatly within the same school so it’s important to research programs and faculty members specifically to determine a good match.
  • Requirements. There are admissions requirements, and then there are program requirements once you get in. Before applying, you’ll have to compare the program requirements with your own credentials. Is there a minimum GPA requirement or certain prerequisite classes? Do you have to submit GRE scores? Make sure you meet these requirements and include all required documents before hitting send. Additionally, most graduate programs will require some sort of experiential learning outside of the classroom. It might be research, an internship, or other practical experience. Think about what will be most beneficial to you and how you can balance your coursework with an unpaid interning or researching.
  • Passion v. Realism. As a career services groupie, I am all about following your passion when it comes to education and career. However, when making an investment in that passion, it’s important to consider what kind of opportunities will be available to you once you complete the degree. Talk to alumni of the programs you’re considering and ask about their experiences in the program and how it prepared them for their current job. Do their jobs appeal to you? You can find alumni to speak to by asking the admissions office or searching on LinkedIn (it’s not creepy, I promise).
  • Cost. Once you’ve hit send on the applications and the acceptances start rolling in, you’ll have more decisions to make. Of course the financial aid a school offers will be a factor in your decision, but it’s smart to also consider the cost of living where the schools are located. Maybe that school in New York City offered you more financial aid, but are you going to spend those savings on one trip to the nearest Whole Foods? You have to be realistic about the cost of school as well as living expenses and make decisions that make sense for you financially.

Once you’ve made it past step one, deciding to go to grad school, make sure you do your due diligence researching programs to find the one that is the best fit for you and will propel you toward your career goals. Location, reputation, curriculum requirements, cost and career opportunities are all key factors to consider and will help narrow your choices and ultimately select the right graduate program for you.

Emily Brown is a Career Development intern and a graduate student in Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. She is a lifelong Bostonian interested in the integration of social media into the professional realm.  Contact her at e.brown@neu.edu.