Waiting Room Do’s and Don’t’s

So imagine this: you are at a job interview, about 5-10 minutes early and are now in the interview waiting room, waiting for your interviewer to come down to meet you. This time waiting can actually affect your interview, so what you do (and don’t do) might have an impact on how your professionalism appears to the interviewer.

interviewing, waiting room, interview waiting room

Do: Look over your resume. I remember being told in my co-op class to bring multiple copies of my resume in a fancy portfolio to interviews to provide interviewers with. Since your resume is most likely the only piece of paper they’ll have of yours, you better know what your own resume says! Hopefully you’ve reviewed it before, but a quick read over in the waiting area shows whoever might be watching you that you are committed to this interview.

Do: Have good posture. This carries over into the interview as well, but sitting up straight is important. The way you are sitting may be the first time your interviewer sees you and this also may impact how your reflection of professionalism. It’s not too long of a time frame, so straighten that back a bit!

Don’t: Play on your phone. I feel as if this varies. I’m the kind of person who says its a no, but we’re all entitled to our own opinion. Being on your phone can show that you are preoccupied with something else, such as emails, text messages, your social media, or myabe the latest level of Candy Crush. Tuck that phone away (on silent!) in your bag or pocket when you walk into the waiting area. You’ll look ten times more professional and can use the time to focus on the interview, not on other aspects of your life. (I promise they’ll still be there when you’re finished with interviewing.)

Photo courtesy of ASDA. 

Job Shadow With Husky Treks This Spring Break

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Apply for Husky Treks and you’ll be as happy as this Corgi in a flower pasture!

When it comes to exploring your career path, there is an abundance of resources that you can turn to for job outlook, average salary, or information on skills and responsibilities used and demonstrated in that job.  Even with that information easily accessible, it can still be difficult to identify whether that career is right for you.  Job shadowing can be beneficial during this time of exploration.  Spending a “day in the life” of a professional in the field you are interested in is an awesome way to help clarify this for you. A job shadow takes things to the next level in experiencing a work environment, company culture, the day-to-day responsibilities, as well as the knowledge and skills used at work.  This experience can help you in deciding a major, or committing to an industry or company to work for; it assists you in determining whether it is the right career path for you, and can give you the confidence you need to make a decision.  This is a chance to witness the everyday routine of a job, and goes beyond the glitz and glamour that is seen from the outside.

A great time to shadow is during school breaks.  Northeastern offers a job shadowing program with local Boston companies called Husky Treks, more information is on our website for how to get involved.  Some companies even have formal job shadow programs that you can get involved with. You can even connect with professionals through your friends and family, Northeastern alumni, professors, classmates and LinkedIn.

Before shadowing a professional, look them up on LinkedIn and visit the company website first.  When you know this information, you will be able to ask specific questions about their role and the company that you can’t learn from the internet.  Some things to take note of during your visit: are people dressed casually, or professionally? How do people interact with each other? Is there too much interaction? Not enough? Are there a lot of extra “perks” around the office? How long is the average workday? Is it a high-stress environment, fast paced, slow or relaxed? Bring a note pad around with you to write down what you observe so you can reflect on it after your day is over.  Think about your shadowing experience and how it aligns with your own personality and interests.

Some things to keep in mind when you are shadowing: be polite, courteous and flexible with the person you are shadowing and work around their schedule. Dress like you would for a job interview. Also, be sure to follow up with a nice thank you note.  You can even offer to buy the person some coffee, or lunch to show them your appreciation for being there.

Dress to impress!

Dress to impress!

While job shadowing is a great way to learn about possible career paths, it is also great networking and to begin to build relationships for your future.  Additionally, experiencing the work environment first hand can help you in an interview, or to write a targeted cover letter for future internships or jobs.

Emily Norris is a Career Advisor at Northeastern Career Development. She loves working with students and guiding them to make informed career decisions that will lead to personal happiness.  She enjoys hiking and a good workout, but also loves cooking and baking for friends and family to ensure a healthy balance! Tweet her @CareerCoachNU

The Senior Career Conference Is Here!

 

Senior Career Conference

If you didn’t know already, tomorrow is the annual Senior Career Conference, hosted by the Career Development Office. This is a great chance for anyone graduating who maybe is looking for a quick way to supercharge your job search. I’m talking to you seniors! Of course if you are a rising junior or recent graduate, we certainly won’t turn you away. Let me give you the quick rundown of why you should stop by tomorrow and join us!

  • Networking lunch! That’s right, lunch AND the chance to mingle with dozens of employers. We’ll take care of lunch; all you need to do is bring your networking game face. If you’re feeling a little nervous about what to say, check out our Career Development Connect Four game at registration. We’ve prepared some prompts and topics for you to discuss with employers. If you complete the handout, it can help you ease into networking and be entered to win a door prize. Lunch is from 11:30am-12:30am, so come on by!

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  • In Depth Conversations. Something really unique about this event is the ability to dive deep into topics with employers. I absolutely love this about the Senior Career Conference. Between the Meet-up sessions, networking lunch and our Employer in Residence sessions, the afternoon is chock full of opportunity to pick an employer’s brain about a number of different questions.
  • Developing Connections. Yes, there will also be employers at this event, but you’ll be sitting next to your classmates and friends during this conference as well. You never know where someone else may end up post-graduation, and considering that over 70% of all jobs are found through networking, it’s in your best interest to broaden your own personal network. So don’t count out your fellow huskies!

We are excited to put together a wonderful and dynamic program for all of you. We hope to see you there. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below, email me at m.ariale@neu.edu or tweet us @CareerCoachNU. It’s not too late to register either!

See you at there,

-Mike

Preparing to Live Abroad

Abroad, map, co-op, global northeastern, uganda

Being abroad in an unfamiliar place can be scary at first. What are you going to eat? Will you be able to communicate with the local people? Will you be forced to do things you don’t want to do? Before you leave for your adventure, take some time to better understand what you’re getting yourself into. Once there, know that there is a culture shock curve to overcome and give yourself time to adapt to your new environment. The following are some key points to address when preparing for an international co-op.

Language. Are you familiar with the local tongue? Can you get by with English? Make sure to use several references to answer these questions or ask a person who has traveled to the country before. As a personal example, before I left to travel abroad to Uganda, I found on Wikipedia that the most spoken language in Uganda is Swahili. Over the winter break, I listened to an audiobook to learn common words and phrases I might use and recited random sentences to my family members. Upon my arrival, I found that practically no one spoke Swahili, but rather, Luganda and other region-based dialects in addition to English. I survived using English, but I now advise others not to make the same mistake I did.

Food. Do you have any allergies? Can you eat spicy food? Are you vegetarian? I was fortunate in the fact that Ugandan food is the complete opposite of flavorful, giving me few flavors that were unpalatable to my taste buds. But make sure you think in the long term and pack a few comfort foods in your suitcase. One thing I regretted almost every day was not bringing a tub of peanut butter.

Clothing. Not every country is as liberal with appearance as the US is. Should you wear makeup? Can you wear shorts and skirts that end above the knee? Make sure you look up the local practices before packing a suitcase full of things you can’t wear or use. While you want to maintain your usual level of comfort and appearance, remember that you are a guest in a foreign country and should respect the local practices. Women, if you know crop tops are inappropriate, don’t wear them. Men, consider leaving the speedos at home. You do not want to invite unwanted attention if you can help it.

Expectations. Communicate with your local coordinator or supervisor to go over what will be expected of you. Know what makes a successful intern or volunteer. Also be familiar with your personal and ethical limits and stay true to them once there. Keep constant communication with your supervisor, know the limits of your assignment, and find areas in which you can grow.

Emergency situations. Is there a hospital nearby that is covered by your travel insurance? What happens if there is a terrorist attack? What if you get robbed? You don’t have to go as far as writing a will, but consider all emergency situations in case anything major happens. Make sure you are prepared enough to legitimately tell your grandparents that you’ll be okay. Get the necessary vaccines, prescription medication, and emergency contacts to ensure that you are as prepared as you can be before you leave the country.

Mika White is a  biochemistry major at Northeastern expecting to graduate in 2018. This past semester she was on her first co-op in Uganda interning at a rural hospital in the town of Iganga and establishing a malnutrition treatment program in Namutumba District. She loves to travel, read, and run. Feel free to reach out to her at white.mik@husky.neu.eduand LinkedIn, and read her personal blog at mikawhite25.wordpress.com.

6 Resolutions for Your Career in 2016

 

New Year, New Career Goals.

New Year, New Career Goals.

It’s that time of year – everything is wrapping up in 2015 and we’re all thinking about what 2016 will bring for us, personally and professionally. These 6 New Year’s Resolutions will bring you just a little bit closer to your goals:

  1. Dress for the job you want

Yes, a business casual dress code is amazing. However, if you’ve found yourself wearing your “nice” jeans more than half of the days in a week lately (guilty!), it’s time for a change. Use this New Year to put more thought into your professional appearance.

  1. Get enough sleep

This is definitely a personal favorite (and total downfall). You need to be catching your 7+ hours a night not just to be a functional human, but so your body and mind can repair itself over night and keep you healthy to enjoy all the success you are building.

  1. Find a mentor

This person could be someone you look up to personally, professionally, or spiritually. It’s important to have a go-to person a little older than you to chat about life and it’s challenges. Bonus: they’ve been through all the minor life and career crises you’re dealing with now.

  1. Figure out a new way to unwind

Does anyone else think that Netflix and takeout are the best way to release the stress of the day? While it’s amazing to put on sweatpants and binge watch Law and Order, try a few new and constructive ways to release stress. It could be a fun kickboxing or yoga class, picking up a new hobby and learning to paint, or just sitting quietly by the Charles. Whatever it is, dedicate some time to something that makes you feel refreshed and ready to work the next day.

  1. Read

You don’t have to join a book club to cross this off your list. Pick a few books that look interesting to you, give yourself a timeline for each one, and get reading!

  1. Do something that scares you

This can be big or small – apply for a new job, pick up that minor you’ve been thinking about, or maybe even just bring your coffee from home once a week to save a few bucks. Whatever it is, big or small, keep challenging yourself to stretch your comfort zone bit by bit so you can be comfortable with making positive changes.

This post was written by student blogger Kathryn Averwater

How to Ask for References

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Now that you’ve finished up those last days of coop, or are preparing to enter the job market, gathering positive references is essential.

Who to ask? When considering who might recommend you, it is important to not only consider the strength or comfort of your relationship with your boss/coworker/instructor but also who they are to you. In other words, don’t just choose the coworker you love to chat with or the professor you totally bonded with. A positive recommendation from your co-op supervisor is more meaningful to a potential employer than a handful of recommendations from your coworkers; a rave review of your hard work from a professor in a hard course trumps an instructor who hands out easy A’s. Obviously, choose references with whom you have a positive relationship and you are confident they will speak well of you.

Asking your references. After you’ve settled on your potential references, make a game plan for how you will ask. If it is a professor, stop by during office hours or send a quick email asking to meet. If it is your coop boss or a contact from a previous job, an email or a voicemail is fine. Be straightforward about your intentions in your message. Something simple like: “I was hoping you would write a recommendation for me for ____ school or be a reference in my job search. I would love to buy you a cup of coffee and talk about my goals.”

Once you have made initial contact with your potential references, be kind and gracious in waiting for their responses. If they agree to recommend you and are lagging in submitting the recommendations or returning the calls of your future employer, refrain from nagging. Gently remind them of the due dates and simultaneously thank them for their generosity.

Circle back. When you’ve nailed the interviews and landed the job or grad school spot, remember to thank your references and keep them up to date on what you are doing. Remember, if they agreed to recommend you, then they have a stake in your goals and care about your success. Do what you can to maintain connection.

Tis the Season to Job Hunt

Job hunting is super stressful, at least for me. I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment. I feel that it’s so hard to find the right places to apply to and I don’t want to waste time interviewing for something I’m not actually interested in. Here’s how I’m working on it and hopefully some ways we can all benefit from:

Read, more reading, and a bit more. When looking at a job description, it can be very vague or super descriptive, and maybe something in between. It’s hard to find out exactly what you’ll be doing from just looking at a description. It helps to research the position on the internet – you’ll probably get some testimonials online as well as learn more about the role in that specific company.

Company matters. Potentially just as, if not more, important than the job itself is the company culture. You have to want to work somewhere in order to want to do your job. That “About us” tab on an employer’s website has a vast amount of information about what the company stands for, leadership, missions, achievements, even how they got started. It’s a good place to get a feel for the potential employer before you interview – and it shows that you did your research beforehand.

Questions. Ask questions in the interview about the company, your specific role, your interviewers’ roles, etc. It’ll teach you more about what you can do, where you’ll be, and what others do in the company, which may shed some light on whether or not this is somewhere you can see yourself working.

So get out there and hunt away! Use the time in the application process to really learn a lot about the company and position so that you can find the right place for you.

What We Can Learn from Supergirl

supergirl-cast-kara-143921If you watch much TV, you’ve probably heard that the comic book hero Supergirl now has a television series.  For those who are unfamiliar with the show, here are a few lines from Wikipedia:

“Twenty-four-year-old Kara Zor-El (Supergirl), who was taken in by the Danvers family when she was 13 after being sent away from Krypton, must learn to embrace her powers after previously hiding them.”

Supergirl’s defining characteristic is her power. So the iconic image of Supergirl shows her in a power pose, the same pose often struck by her cousin Superman as well as by Wonder Woman.  It’s no random coincidence that these superheroes stand up tall, arms akimbo, taking up space and asserting their right to do so. Not only does this posture make you look powerful, it alters your body chemistry to make you feel powerful too.

Wait, what? Yes, the way you sit or stand influences your hormonal balance, specifically the levels of cortisol and testosterone. Cortisol is a hormone released when you feel stressed and which increases your feelings of anxiety. Testosterone is a hormone that promotes feelings of confidence and tolerance for risk, and is present in both men and women.  So a person who has low cortisol and high testosterone circulating in his or her blood is biologically predisposed to feel more assertive, better able to handle pressure and less stressed.

This link between body posture and confidence was discovered by Amy Cuddy, a Harvard University researcher.  She and her colleagues took saliva samples from volunteers before and after they had held either a high power pose or a low power pose for two minutes.  Like the Supergirl stance, high power poses are open, relaxed, and involve expanding arms and legs to fully occupy the space around you.  Low power poses are closed and guarded, and involve shrinking into the smallest amount of space possible.

The results of this study were striking.  High power poses increased testosterone by 20% and decreased cortisol by 25%.  Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk to hear the details of this work.

What this means for you is that standing like Supergirl for two minutes before an interview or a presentation can significantly improve your performance.  This takes a little planning to find a restroom or other quiet place to hold your pose; two minutes and you’re good to go.  Try it, this really works. Just be sure to avoid the kryptonite.

 

Image credit to newsrama.com

Planning in the Present

Ever think of what’s going to happen next? Whether it be that graduation is upon you in a few months or you’ve finished up an employment position and are unsure of where to go next, the future can be a terrifying place. But we have the present to make plans, to determine what is we want to do, and what direction we’re interested in moving in.

Decide if you enjoyed what you’ve done. If so, keep at it! Find a job, degree program, or simply keep at it. If you love what you’re doing, it won’t be too hard to find something you want to do. But if you aren’t in love with your job, your studying, or an aspect of your life, it can seem impossible to make that change. But you can.

Research, research, research. We live in a world dominated by the internet, meaning we actually have access to tons of information at the touch of our fingertips. Take some time to explore the options out there for you. It might be continuing education, a start-up you’re interested in, or a new job posting that caught your eye. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there about fields we may have never known existed, so take advantage of the internet and do some research.

Don’t put your eggs in one basket. As great as it is to be confident in one’s future, putting all of your eggs in one basket can (not in all cases) backfire. It’s natural to have some variety, which can help ground our future. A back-up plan makes us able to chase our dreams without worry. Put the effort in to apply to more than one program, job, location. It’ll not only give you extra experience interviewing, but you might actually find an opportunity you would not have considered otherwise.

The future is a scary and unknown place, but with a little of planning in the present, it doesn’t have to be.

Interviewing With Confidence

Interview-tips-10Mark Twain once said, “To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” Here’s how I would apply this to job seeking: Be ignorant of the paralyzing fear and contrived impossibilities that will prevent you from achieving your goals, and run toward your dreams with total confidence that you will succeed.

These are words to live by when it comes to interviewing. Your interviewer has a limited amount of time to get a feel for whether you have the skills and drive to succeed in their organization. So, your job is to confidently prove to them you do. Confidence by its very nature implies competence, and that’s the message you want to send the interviewer.

Here are several ways you can demonstrate confidence during an interview:

  1. Come prepared to share a few insights about the company that align with your career objectives and ideals. Preparation will instill a sense of confidence in you that is authentic!
  2. Dress the part. Your interviewer should be able to look at you and think, this person not only looks capable, he or she looks like they already fit in our organization.
  3. Shake hands with poise and sincerity. While you may feel like a bag of nerves on the inside, your interviewer doesn’t have to know it. A firm handshake will convey confidence.
  4. Maintain good eye contact with your interviewer, especially when answering questions. This displays confidence in what you are saying.
  5. Keep your body language in check. Don’t fidget, slouch, lean back or stiffen up. A relaxed, upright posture portrays confidence.
  6. Speak with enthusiasm and interest. If you tend to quiver or go monotone when you are nervous, this is an area you will need to practice. How you say what you say is important!

Confidence will take you a long way in your career—but it must start with the interview!

Ashleane is a third year Communications major from Miami, FL. She enjoys ballet dancing , exploring the sights and sounds of Boston, and literature. Check her out onTumblr!