I Wish The Day Had 25 Hours

Do you ever feel so busy that you actually wish the day was longer so you could do it all and still get some sleep? Agreed. I look at my planner and Google calendar and come near a panic attack sometimes, but staying organized is essential to make the day not have to be longer in order for you to cross off all the items on that to-do list. First step: make a to-do list. Write it in your planner, on a post-it, on your wall, wherever. But write it down. It will help you realize all the little things you have to do and it allows you to pick a starting point. Maybe you want to do a few smaller tasks just to diminish the list a bit or start tackling a larger project to get some headwind on it. Whatever it might be that you choose to start, having it written down on paper or electronically lets you visualize all of the little (and big) tasks you might have that day.

Next, figure out what actually has to get done today. Many times, a few of the jobs can wait a day or three. And it is totally okay if they do. For me, these usually include: cleaning/laundry, printing out documents, and other smaller jobs. It helps prioritize what is important.

Finally, just do it! Sit down and get a head start on your day. If you know what is truly important and what has to get done, you can do it. You have the tools to make that priority list and all it takes is 5 minutes to do so. I guarantee it is 5 minutes you will want to spend time on.

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

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

Rethinking “Back to Square One”

Elf, Will Ferrel

To some, December  also means watching Elf on repeat!

Well, it’s here. It’s December which means its only another two more weeks until final exams and then BAM…Christmas and New Years.

There have been some conflicting reports on the job market as of late. As a graduating senior this May – I’ve been on the hunt for any signs of opportunity and I’m at a loss.

Only a few weeks ago, Lindsay Gellman of the Wall Street Journal authored an article titled, Class of 2016 Graduates May Step Into Millennial’s’ Best Job Market Yet. The genesis of this reporting may have spawned from a survey’s results conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (known as NACE) where 201 employers stated that they were planning on hiring 11% more graduates this coming year than they had done so previously.

Earlier this year Lydia Dishman of Fast Company profiled the graduating class of 2015 forecasting that they’d hit some turbulence in finding secure career opportunities. Dishman cites that individuals, “between the ages of 17-24 have historically been hit with high unemployment”. Comparing the class to recent graduates pre-2008 economic crisis, Dishman highlights that current data shows that 10.5% of graduates are neither enrolled in graduate programs or employed, whereas in 2007, this figure was 8.4%.

What could this possibly mean!?

Behind all these inflated, conflated, deflated, and any other word containing the suffix –flated numbers lies, well, the applicant.

Truth be told, I’m not necessarily looking for a job when I graduate in May. I’ve still got another year (go Huskies!) to compete my MPH with the program here. I’ll most likely be able to sustain a part-time job, do a little bit of research, and complete my full-time studies post May 2016 with no problems whatsoever. So why go through all of the fuss of studying the job market etc. etc.??

Upon my return to the United States a renewed sense of responsibility and opportunity dawned upon me, as it does to many students as they begin their fall studies. This energy and this desire to not only perform at a high academic standard, but to contribute new ways of thinking, how to analyze problems, and offer novel solutions is something that, well…is something that we should consider to develop and maintain (especially over the course of the semester…yes even during midterms and finals).

Maintaining and developing the constant flow of information and the transmission of data through language, art, and science doesn’t have to be such an intimidating endeavor either. It’s easy to get caught up in the personal dilemmas, the trials and tribulations of coursework, and all of the other things you’ve probably got on your plate. More often than not, what’s sacrificed is our curiosity, our creativity, and our drive when we’re faced with the challenges associated with the thick of the semester.

We’ve all heard it – “Well, it looks like we’re back to square one”.starting line

When faced with a failure, and faced with a new beginning as a result of this ‘failure’, we tend to frame ourselves and our metaphysical position in space in perhaps the most negative and backwards vantage point possible.

I’d like to offer a redesign of this phrase – back to square one.

We instead are always at square one.

Imagine the things we could do or the things we could achieve if we approached everyday like it was the beginning of a new semester? Imagine the things we could achieve if we realized that we are in a constant state of learning, and if we fed this intellectual hunger? It’s pretty wild.

So, I guess going back to the whole job thing. Don’t sweat it. With each trial and error is an opportunity to begin again with a nuanced approach, with a redesigned strategy, with a new line of thinking. Be an applicant that’s the truest form of a lifelong learner, find the opportunities, stay informed, approach the process like it’s the first day of school. Stay at square one.

This post was written by Student Contributor, Jonathan Sirisuth. Follow him on instagram.

Healthy Eating and Nutrition at the Office

Do you find yourself craving unhealthy foods mid-morning or mid-afternoon during your work day? Do you need to eat something every few hours in order to keep your energy level and motivation up? Well then I have healthy tips for you to use when this happens!

My Senior Year Superlative of “Biggest Eater” perfectly portrays my eating habits. Even though I just had my 5th year high school reunion the Superlative has stuck with me and been my biggest enemy. In High School I was extremely busy and active with sports (Cross Country, Basketball, and Lacrosse). Now that I am in Graduate School I find myself really busy with school, work, and my internship, leaving little time for working out.

Dodie keeping the "Biggest Eater" title alive at the office with a healthy lunch!

Dodie keeping the “Biggest Eater” title alive at the office with a healthy lunch!

In order to stay healthy without being as active I have taken the alternative root of attempting to eat healthier (attempting being the key word here). If you’re anything like me then let me give you a few tips to eating right during the work week! (Yes I am human and treat myself on the weekends- you should too- in moderation at least!)

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast (preferably with protein). Protein is great for the morning- eggs, banana, yogurt, wheat toast & PB are all simple options to get you ready for the days work.
  1. Eat healthy snacks throughout the day. I always meal prep and make sure to pack healthy snacks such as fruit salad, smoothie, almonds or granola bars that I can eat mid-morning and mid-afternoon when I get a craving to eat something bad. Try to make sure you eat only when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored!
  1. Eat a health lunch. I eat a delicious salad every day for lunch. This may seem like a lot of work but I just prepare five salads every Sunday that way I can grab them and go in the morning. Make sure that your lunch is hearty and filling enough!
  1. Hydrate, hydrate, and then hydrate some more. I always have a water bottle in arms reach away from me. There is nothing better than filling up on water and staying hydrated!
  1. Fill up on drinks like tea and seltzer. Tea and seltzer are a great way to fill you up when you run out of health snacks and develop a craving.

Dress For Success In the Workplace

dress-for-successAs superficial as it sounds, what you wear matters. How a person dresses is both a physical expression of respect and a nonverbal communication. While the old saying goes “you can’t judge a book by its cover”, everything you do makes a statement about who you are. It also has an immense impact of how people perceive you the first few seconds they meet you and can have lasting effects on your career. Obviously, where you intern/co-op matters, as the workplace and field have their own unique cultures, from conservative suits and ties on Capitol Hill to swag free t-shirts in Silicon Valley. The bottom line for dressing well, therefore, is to align with the brand you want to communicate. So how do you look the part?

Here are a few ways you can use a guideline as you navigate your job:

1. Do Your Research:

In advance of a job interview or going to your job on the first day, do your homework and observe how employees there dress. Most fashion stores have clothing line that gears towards young professionals, such as Ann Taylor, Loft, Zara, The Limited. For high end shops, you can go for more established brands such as Brooks Brothers, Tommy Hilfiger, PINK, Ermenegildo Zegna (men only), etc.

2. Tailor It When Possible:

Though some college students might be living on a budget, do remember that tailoring your clothes goes a long way to making a difference. If the clothing is too tight or too loose, it gives off the vibe that you are sloppy and not cleaned up. When you are investing on good presentable clothes, you want to make your investment count. And unless you have a sewing machine at home, you should always go the extra step to go to a tailor to make it fit your body type. It will also give you an extra boost of confidence as well. You won’t regret it!

3. Pair Everything With a Blazer:

Say you are going to a networking event or a cocktail event after work that requires you to dress up, but you are not sure how dressy the event is or you don’t have time to go back home to change – what should you do? Pair everything with a blazer, because it allows you the flexibility to dress up and down. Now the big question is what color, according to hiring managers, blue is the safest choice because it sends the message that you are credible and trustworthy, and inspires confidence. Avoid brown because it signals old-fashioned, and black which conveys leadership and over-confidence. You don’t want to come up too strong and overpowering especially if you a just a low-level assistant. Save it for the future.

4. Other Do’s and Don’ts for Women and Men:

It’s a fact that women can lose respect in the work place if they wear too revealing clothes. A good rule of thumb is, the younger you are, the more conservatively you should dress. As you move up in your career, consider changing your wardrobe style and making a bit of statement, but for now, no short skirts and revealing tight tops. Also, refrain from wearing too much makeup but do put on deodorant. For men, generally there is much less to worry about. However, you should wear your hair in a clean and neat style; while hair gel is not necessary and depends on your personal style, sometimes it does do the trick to tidy your look. Another thing that employers notice are shoes. Make sure they match the color of the suit you are wearing, and that they are polished and clean. Try not to show too much socks when you sit and wear pants that suit your height. Lastly, for both genders, if you have any visible tattoos and body piercings, you should always err on the cautious side to conceal them.

10 Tips for New Interns

 My name is Dodie Fontaine, and I have recently been afforded the opportunity to Intern for the Career Development Center at Northeastern University. Similar to many college students actually leaving the classroom setting, entering the work force can be a daunting experience. Not to worry, I have 10 tips for you!

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1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

There really is no such thing as a stupid question,.. OOkay, maybe there are silly questions but when it comes to an internship and a task that you are unsure of make sure to ask, re-clarify, and ask again. It is better to be safe than sorry!

2. Always ask if there is anything else you can do.

Whenever you finish an assignment or project make sure to ask your supervisor if there is anything else you can help them with. This shows initiative, and that you are willing to go above and beyond your call of duty.

3. Make sure to dress appropriately.

Some offices are more casual than others so it is important to ask your supervisor what the office protocol is when it comes to dress code.

4. Introduce yourself

Although working in a new environment can be intimidating make sure you introduce yourself to everyone in the office.

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5. Learn everyone’s names.

Whether you work in an office with 5 colleagues or an office with 50, you should make it your mission to learn everybody’s name.

6. Be on time, or even early.

Whatever you do, don’t be late! Being prompt is so important and shows that you are reliable. I suggest being 15 minutes early so you can get settled before your day begins.

7. Network, network, and network some more!

Networking is key to landing a job these days so you might as well start with the connections you have made in the office.

8. Be proactive.

Take initiative and get something done without asking, whether it be a project or your own research.

9. Make the most of every minute of the experience.

Even if you’re not getting paid or getting paid very little be sure to make use of the time that you have at the internship. With every opportunity comes experience!

10. Write thank you notes.

Last but not least, make sure to write thank you notes to your supervisor and colleagues – basically anyone that has helped you throughout your time there. Trust me, this goes a long way!

 

Dodie Fontaine is an Intern at the Career Development Center. She is working towards her Master of Education in Counseling at Providence College. You can find her exploring Boston on the weekend and getting way too many parking tickets in Southie. Tweet her @CareerCoachNU!

Interview Freak Out: How Do I Answer That?!

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Our worst fear, when walking in the door for an interview, is that we’re going to get stumped. This HR recruiter is going to ask us something that stops us in our tracks. We imagine ourselves sitting there with a blank stare, dumbfounded expression, and sweat starting to form on our brow. So what can we do?  Consider using these 4 strategies.

  1. Buy some time. Restate the question to the interviewer. It will look like you are just getting clarification. It might look something like this:

“So, you are wondering about a time when I had a disagreement with my boss about an issue at work? Let me think about that for a second.” 

By restating the question it’s giving that question time to settle into your brain and buying you valuable seconds to see if you can come up with an example. It’s far better than saying, “ummmmmmmm”.

  1. Swap the scenario. If you can’t think of a time when you had a disagreement with your boss, then swap out the scenario. Maybe you can come up with a slightly different example.

“While I’m not able to think, right now, of a time when I had a disagreement with my boss, I can think of a time when I had a challenge with a classmate during a semester long academic project. Could I share this example with you?”

  1. Answer directly. Now if you are still drawing a blank, here’s one other approach. Consider stating that you can’t come up with an example, but mention in general how you handle conflict and ask if that helps.

“While I’m having trouble coming up with a specific example, I can share that in general when I have a conflict with someone I typically pause first to think through the situation, step into the other person’s shoes to try and see where they are coming from, then think up questions that I can ask that would allow us to explore the situation in more depth as a means to working through it.”

4. Postpone

“This is an excellent question, and I can imagine it’s important to know how an individual employee will deal with conflict.  I’m having a hard time thinking up an example in this moment; however, I wanted to see if we might be able to circle back to this question at the end of the interview?”

In the end, one of the most important things you can do is to stay calm and be real.

Sabrina Woods is an Associate Director at Northeastern Career Development and also has a private practice as a Holistic Career / Life Coach & Linkedin Trainer.  She has been in this field for 15 years and is a Husky (BA in Business) plus has a Masters in Holistic Counseling from Salve Regina University in sunny Newport, RI.  When not working at NU, teaching Linkedin or coaching private clients, Sabrina loves to hike, bike and kayak.  For more about Sabrina, go to www.sabrina-woods.com.

 

How Do I Answer This Interview Question: What Kind of Animal Would You Be?

You’ve prepared for your interview, practiced questions about your experience and skills, and are ready for the question about why you want to work at the company.  You feel ready and the interview is going really well. Mid-way through the interview you get hit with the interview question: “If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?”  What? Why are they asking that and what the heck do you say?  While you wish you could just say, I’ll skip that one, you know you need to come up with an answer. 

Panda

So here’s the 411 on why they ask this question and how you should respond. “Out of the box” questions, like this one above, are asked because interviewers can learn about your personality and see how you respond when a question is not one you would have been expected to have practiced.

It also allows a prospective employer to gain insight into whether your personality is a fit for the job, the team culture, and organizational culture.

Unfortunately folks, there’s no one size fits all here. Pick an animal that represents real qualities in your personality, and qualities which would also be a fit for the job and company culture. Be honest, strategic, and connect your answer why it’s a fit for the position and company. If you’re asked this question, understand that if the company wants a shark, they may not appreciate a candidate who indicates they’d be a dolphin so you’ll have to help them to understand why being a dolphin is a fit for the organizational culture and job.

Typically, candidates try to avoid animals that are perceived negatively, for example, snakes or sloths (lazy). Remember to share why you are selecting that animal. No one word answers—this is your opportunity to show the company that you will fit with their team and culture, and are a good fit for the job.  

If you’re an international student, be sure to ask a American friend or a career advisor about your answer since some animals may not be as common here as in your home country or may have different meanings in different cultures.

Example:

 If I were an animal I’d probably be a dolphin because they are very intelligent and yet don’t appear to take themselves too seriously. They enjoy being part of a group and look out for each other and also enjoy having fun. In some of my info interviews with employees here people mentioned that people here are really smart but also like to have fun. I also noticed that was a similar theme on your company’s twitter handle-people are doing amazing work but also volunteering for community projects together. Working hard, working smart, and having fun seem to be important values and that really resonates for me. I would look forward to building my career at ___company if I was selected as this is a first choice company for me.

Who knew this question could reveal so much but it does! So learn about the culture of the company by following them on Twitter. Talk with other Northeastern alumni employed there and check out the organization on glassdoor.com. Then put on your strategic and creative interviewing hat and pick the animal that best represents you related to that company’s culture and job and job and ace your interview!

And remember, you’re looking for an offer but you’re also looking for a good fit. If you get the offer, awesome! If you don’t, remember it’s hard to be successful and ultimately promoted if you’re working at a company whose culture does not mix well with your personality. Focus on those companies that really do resonate with who you are and maximize your strengths and you’ll be their ‘best hire’ yet!

Written by Ellen Zold Goldman. Ellen is our Senior Associate Director in Career Development. She’s a sheepdog who is loyal, even keeled, a worker dog, super friendly, very adaptable, and always enjoys finding something wonderful in everyone. She loves the work culture and her peeps at Career Development where we all enjoy being helpful to each other, work independently and yet very much rely on each other as a team.  Tweet her @CareerCoachNU

How do I Answer This Interview Question: If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

Interviewing can be nerve racking, a bit stressful, but super exciting at the same time, right?  We do our best to prepare, practice  and rehearse what to say and be well equipped to answer the typical interview questions, such as, “where do you see yourself in 5 years”, or “why do you want to work for us?” But, what tends to catch us off-guard, are those questions we don’t expect, the ones that are unrelated to the position.

But, there is a way to prepare for those bizarre interview questions! Really, you can actually have fun with them!

I will share a question that I was asked when I was interviewing for a marketing role at a large, well-known company.  My interview was with a hiring manager and a senior sales associate, and they asked, “if we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us”?  I felt like I was staring at them for an hour before I answered, but in reality I sat back and pondered for a minute on how best to answer. My first comment was, that I really like cooking and friends have told me that I am a good cook and an even better host!  From there, it was easy, I made sure to be considerate, I asked if they had allergies, any dietary restrictions, and if they enjoyed sweets! I proceeded to put together a well-thought out menu, right down to the dishes and centerpiece!  I also added, that our dinner gathering was more about the company than the food (they seemed to like that.)  By the way, the company was Disney Publishing, and yes, I got the job!

The reason these bizarre or unrelated questions are asked is often designed to assess your ability to think on your feet and get a sense of your personality.  People who interview you want to hear your thought process and how you handle challenging situations.

Think First, Then Answer

So, take your time when answering a random interview question. Your interviewer (or interviewers, in my case) has designed the question to be intentionally testing and won’t necessarily expect you to have an immediate answer at your fingertips.

Think about what the company does and what role you’re applying for and what the responsibilities are. If there is an opportunity to show off organizational skills, technical ability or math skills in answering the question, this is more than likely what the question is designed to do.

In most cases, these bizarre questions are an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity and about how you could approach the problem/challenge. Remember, there may be a number of possible answers and not necessarily a right or wrong answer. Check out this post about Rubik’s Cubes and 747’s for a similar approach to answering these types of questions.

Your willingness to embrace an unusual question and your efforts to provide a logical answer will be looked upon favorably by an employer, whatever answer you eventually arrive at!

This post was written by Christine Hathaway. Christine is an Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for Co-op and Career Development here at Northeastern. She is our in house marketing guru and is passionate about planning events, working with others to create powerful marketing materials and presentations and enjoys an occasional kick-boxing class or two! Tweet her about this post @CareerCoachNU.