Treat Yo’ Self (Right): Self Care Tips for Working Professionals

self care

This guest post was written by Northeastern University alum, Mary Taylor, a College Transitions Advisor at Tufts University. It was originally published on July 21st, 2014.

You’ve just graduated and landed your dream job! You are determined to make a great impression on your boss and colleagues and work your way up within the organization.  You show up to work early, stay late, eat lunch at your desk, and you NEVER call in sick.  You volunteer to work on extra projects and assignments.  You develop a great reputation in the office, but after several months you realize that you have no life outside of work.  You don’t know what your friends are up to.  You’re only home when you are sleeping.  Sound familiar?  If you don’t make some changes, you’ll burn out before you score that raise or promotion – forget about ever sitting in a corner office.  The truth is, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we will actually become less effective in all other areas of our lives, including our jobs.

Self-care can be difficult to prioritize, especially if you work in one of the helping professions.  Society may view it as indulgent or selfish, but self-care is different than self-pampering.  It means choosing and prioritizing positive behaviors or habits in order to create balance in our lives.  It is important establish these habits as early as possible.  If you are still in school, or on Co-op, this applies to you as well!  So how can you work towards implementing self-care into your life?

-Start with balance at work.  If you never say no, you will find yourself in a position where you don’t have the opportunity to say no – your boss and colleagues will just assume that you will take care of things or that you will be available to work late or on the weekend.  Put a lunch break or a coffee break on your calendar each day if possible.

- Be kind to yourself. If you make a mistake, it’s ok to acknowledge it and learn from it, but then move on.  Don’t say something or think something to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone you love.

- Prioritize positive behaviors. This will mean different things for different people.  Drink enough water.  Actually step outside into the sunshine at lunch time – even if it’s only for 10 minutes.  Take a bubble bath.  Exercise.  Practice Yoga or Meditation.  Eat fruits and vegetables.  Call a good friend to catch up.  Get enough sleep.  Take a sick day if you are sick.  Go on vacation.   Pick something that is relaxing or feels good to you and do it on a regular basis.

- Be honest with yourself about your abilities and limits.  Consider both your physical and mental health.  Maybe you honestly love your job and really don’t mind working late.  That is great – prioritize yourself on the weekends.  Maybe your boss has offered you another opportunity to work on an extra project – consider saying “thanks but no thanks” once in a while if you know it will cause you stress.  As long as you are honest with him or her, this will not likely have a negative impact on your career.

Of course there will be times in our lives that will be hectic and things will happen that are beyond our control.  Maybe you’re at a conference or in a training and can’t get that lunchtime walk in.  Maybe you oversleep ( probably because your body needs it!) and miss your morning run.  It’s ok.  You will get back on track the next day.  Practicing regular self-care will have a positive impact on your personal and professional life.  Taking that 5 or 10 minute break will actually boost your productivity.  And you won’t have to give up your dream of that corner office!

Mary Lent Taylor received her M.S. in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University in 2011.  She currently works as a College Transition Advisor at Tufts University.  She loves to travel, and her favorite self-care behavior is attending a Sunday evening Restorative Yoga class.  She can be reached at mary.taylor@tufts.edu

Tips For Working From Home Like A Champion

working from home

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a junior international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works. It was originally published on October 8th, 2014.

Score!

You get to work from home today.

Your home is your safe space where you are free to wander into the kitchen whenever you want, lounge in front of the television, and walk around all day in your pajamas. But unfortunately, working from home doesn’t cut down on your to-do list. Working from home can introduce into your life a difficult balancing act, so it’s important to actively monitor your productivity to get the most out of your workday.

  1. Set up your space: Establish a specific space for work (Hint: Laying in bed with your laptop on your stomach is not it) and try to limit yourself to only working that space. Eliminate clutter, turn off the television, and move your grocery list into the other room. This will improve your focus and allow you to feel some sense of a productive workspace.
  2. Start the day strong: It’s definitely okay to go for a run in the morning or go to the gym. But when “work from home,” sounds a whole lot like “10am brunch,” it might be getting out of hand. If your morning is pretty empty in terms of productivity, that motivational rut tends to carry over into the afternoon, eliminating the possibility of a productive workday. So wake up at your normal time (or earlier), get dressed, and cross some items off of your to-do list in the morning when your brain is fired up and ready to go.
  3. Don’t wander: When I’m at home, I wander. I will mosey from the living room to the kitchen, forget why I came, then next thing I know I’m sitting in front of the TV with two hours of House Hunters under my belt with no recollection of how I got there. When you are working from home, imagine you are actually at work. When you want to go up to see if the contents of the fridge have changed, stop and ask yourself, would I get up from my desk at work to check the fridge? If the answer is no, stop. No need to wander.
  4. Check in often: Staying in touch with the rest of the office will keep you accountable for your tasks throughout the day. Err on the side of checking in too often, rather than falling off of the radar. Staying in contact with the rest of your department will force yourself to stay on-task and develop your communication skills.
  5. Know thyself: Know what you need when it comes to working from home. Everyone works differently. Maybe you work the best in a busy environment like a coffee shop. If so, head to a coffee shop or other public spot with wi-fi one or two afternoons a week. Being around people without talking to people can be an effective motivator. Maybe you need the complete silence of a home office instead.

Working from home can provide freedom and flexibility that working from the office cannot. For some, working from home makes it possible to juggle a career with other priorities. If you allow yourself, you can easily build a comfortable, productive routine while working from home.

Lindsey Sampson is a junior International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here and tweet her @lindseygsampson.

Don’t Fall Asleep At Your Desk! How To Keep Your Energy Up At The Office

keep your energy up

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works. It was originally published on April 30th, 2014.

Pulling five eight-hour work days in a row every week is a far cry from the typical college student’s schedule. You have to wake up early, get yourself together just enough to pull of the “I’m employed” look, and run out the door to get to work on time. You spend a long day at your desk or in front of your computer, and come home exhausted. You shlump your way through dinner, watch an episode of TV before falling asleep like you just got back from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. However, it is possible to keep yourself feeling energetic during the week, even with a full-time schedule.

Hustle in the morning. Maybe you have a goal or two. Maybe you want to step it up at work and get a raise, or put more work into your side hustle, or maybe you’re just looking to recover from the twelve coffee cakes you ate on Easter. Whatever your goals may be, it’s hard to have the energy to get things done after a long day of work. If you start your day strong, that energy will translate into higher productivity for the rest of your day. If possible, work out in the morning. Even though you have to get up earlier, the energy you get from a morning workout far exceeds the energy you get from the extra hour of sleep.

Shop right. I’m sure you have never heard that eating right is important to your energy level. What an original piece of advice. Eating right is one of the most important parts of a high energy level, but it’s important to know how to shop right first — otherwise eating right is nearly impossible. When you walk into the supermarket, keep most (or all) of your shopping in the outer ring. That’s where the fresh stuff is. If your cart is full of mostly fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grain, you’re going to be fine. Keep snacks like apples, bananas, and yogurt in the fridge at work so your stomach isn’t eating itself all the way home on the T.

Keep yourself busy. After work, grab coffee with a friend. Take a yoga class. Check out what’s happening in your city for free on a Tuesday evening. While down time is crucial for a balanced (and sane) life, too much can cause sluggishness and unnecessary boredom, depleting your energy level in a big way. If you keep yourself busy, you will appreciate and take advantage of moments of relaxation much more. As an added bonus, a busy and active day leads to better sleep at night, which means more energy in the morning. So treat your body to a busy schedule because you deserve it.

If you hustle in one aspect of your life, that mentality tends to spread to other aspects of your life. If you keep your energy high during the day and keep your mind focused on your goals, those New Year’s Resolutions you haven’t thought about since January 2nd will seem like a piece of cake.

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.

Introvert? How To Survive in an Extroverted Office (And Vice Versa)

introvert

This guest post was written by Jabril Robinson, a Career Development intern and graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program here at NU. It was originally published on The Works blog on August 21st, 2014.

Personality is defined as “the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s unique character” (Psychology Today). Understanding one’s personality type is crucial, not only in adapting to a workplace environment, but also selecting a workplace to be a member of in the first place. One of the most common examples of personalities comes down to extroversion and introversion. Although these may be widely used terms, I’ve noticed in my experience that relatively few people actually understand what encompasses an introvert or an extrovert, and what essentially makes them different. If you are one of those individuals who find the subject to be perplexing (or just have a general interest), please read on!

Q: What is the difference between an Introvert and an Extrovert?

A: Introvert: Not surprisingly, introverts are re-energized by having “alone time”. Even when working with small groups of people, they can be quickly overwhelmed by unfamiliar situations or surroundings. Depending on the situation, a large crowd of people can be an instant red flag to an introvert. When it comes to work, introverts prefer to concentrate on one task at a time, and observe a situation (or group of people) in advance, before jumping in.

Careers that promote the strengths of introverts include scientists, writers, and artists. Famous examples of introverts include actress Julia Roberts, actor Clint Eastwood, host David Letterman, and author J.K Rowling.

A: Extrovert: Often referred to as “social butterflies”, extroverts make a living through social stimulation. They focus on elements of the external environment (in contrast to an introvert’s inner mental realm), such as the people on activities around them. Extroverts thrive in active, fast-paced jobs, such as sales, teaching, and politics, where skills such as adaptability, problem-solving, and quick decision-making are critical. Extroverts learn firsthand by doing, and prefer to talk through ideas and solutions. Multitasking is an extrovert’s bread and butter.

Famous examples of extroverts include Oprah Winfrey, President Barack Obama, actor Tom Hanks, and former NBA player Michael Jordan.

Q: Are there misconceptions regarding Introverts or Extroverts?

A: Indeed! For instance, shyness is a trait commonly used to describe introverts. Firstly, both introverts and extroverts can be shy. Shyness is essentially a feeling of uneasiness of anxiety experienced in social situations. Here’s the key difference between shyness and introversion: while introverts prefer less social stimulation, shy people often desire social interaction, yet avoid it for fear of being rejected or criticized. Boom! Introverts rejoice!

A misconception involving extroversion is that all extroverts are loud, annoying, and talk too much. While this may be true for some individuals, not all extroverts are such. Extroverts simply prefer to think out loud, whereas an introvert may do more internal thinking before speaking–just a style difference.

There are several other misunderstandings when defining introversion and extroversion, which brings me to my next point….

To be a successful employee, it is crucial to understand not only yourself, but also the personalities of those around you in the workplace. Issues can arise when introverts and extroverts interact. Introverts may see extroverts as bossy, while an extrovert may see an introvert as shy or withdrawn. Whether an introvert or extrovert, here’s some advice that may help you understand what is going on across the fence:

What extroverts should know about their introverted colleagues:

1) If we need alone time, it is not because we don’t like you, rather because we need it–don’t take that as a personal insult.

2) If you want to hear our opinion, please be patient. We aren’t in a rush to speak up–we know we will have our turn eventually.

3) We are not lonely people, but we are choosy about who we associate ourselves with. If you try to turn us into extroverts, you will not be one of those people!

What introverts should know about their extroverted colleagues:

1) If we try to get you to loosen up, we aren’t doing so to annoy you. Honestly, we mean well.

2) If you are struggling with small talk, we can help with that–it is a useful skill, whether you like it or not.

3) We are not all the same–just like introverts. There are extroverts who have a quiet side too–you just have to keep an open mind.

Not sure where you fit on the extroversion/introversion spectrum? Set up an hour-long appointment with a counselor in the Office of Career Development! Utilizing personality assessments, we can help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and what career paths may best serve your abilities.

Jabril Robinson is a Career Development Intern at Northeastern University. He has a growing interest in personality assessment, such as Strengthsquest, True Colors, and several others. Currently enrolled in Northeastern University’s College Student Development & Counseling Program, Jabril seeks a Master’s degree within student affairs. Send him an email at j.robinson@neu.edu!

Welcome To The December Co-Op Crash Course

crash course

In case you still haven’t turned the page on your calendar yet, December is here in a big confusing 50-degree way. November has passed – you can’t even look at mashed potatoes any more and you’re shamelessly blasting those Sam Smith Christmas covers like they’re going out of style (which, they will be on December 26th).

Here at Career Development, we’re excited to fill your Christmas break with awesome career tips and tricks –

Welcome to the December Co-Op Crash Course!

For the next couple of weeks we will be sharing and over-sharing about the do’s and don’ts of office culture, email etiquette, and more.

Basically, by the end of this, you’re going to be the best co-op ever.

Welcome.

Join us tomorrow for our first post of the series!

How to Work or Learn Remotely

laptop_park-18973In 2014, there is no longer a traditional classroom or workplace. One can write, design, interview, build, create, connect, trade, etc. from the comfort of their own home or in a coffee shop or hotel lobby behind a familiar laptop screen. University degrees can be earned without ever physically meeting a professor. While this may all seem daunting or exciting, structure is still necessary to be productive in a flexible environment and schedule.

1. Have the connection basics toolkit

This includes having at least two email addresses – one for school and one for work that you check regularly. Since no face-to-face contact is being made, email is the number one mode of communication and should be checked and updated multiple times a day. Install an email application on your phone so that emails can be sent and received when you’re on the go. A working cell phone number and Skype username are also two important tools to have to speak directly and conference call with multiple people if necessary.

2. Set up a designated space

Have a clutter-free area where you regularly return to study or work. This space can also be outside of your home if you can guarantee you can access that space regularly like in a library. If at home, utilize memo boards and post-it’s to create an organized and inspirational environment.

3. Follow a schedule and stick to it

The freedom that working or studying from home provides can be deceiving. With deadlines and online exams or assignments and no professor or supervisor to remind you in person, you could lose track of time. Designate a work day or time frame. For example, if assignments are usually due Sunday, promise yourself to work and submit by Friday. The balance of work and personal life is delicate in these situations as well.

4. Don’t forget to check in!

You can still participate in a community presence online! Take advantage of discussion boards when you have a question in class and post questions and interact with fellow classmates. Ask for help from co-workers or team up using many of the new applications out there that facilitate virtual transactions of work and knowledge like GoToMeeting. There are features like recording and the use of a planning board to give participants a truly interactive experience.

5. Take advantage of Lynda and Skillshare

Lynda is online software training available for free for all Northeastern students via MyNEU. Want to learn how to use InDesign but don’t want to take a formal class? Lynda is the way to go.

Skillshare is an online community where experts teach project-based classes in subjects as varied as marketing to guitar. Boost your resume with skills in design or pick up a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Anyone can access the site for free and members can pay a small additional fee for unlimited and bonus access. Complement your current work or class with a new skill.

Angelica is a fourth-​​year nursing student with a minor in English hailing from New Jersey. She has studied or worked in all the major Boston hospitals. Angelica is also a columnist for The Hunt­ington News and enjoys writing creative non-​​fiction.

Image source: Virgin Entrepreneur; Nearly half of UK office workers can now work remotely

Company Holiday Parties: A Survival Guide

allow-apologize-advance-going-christmas-ecard-someecardsThis guest post was written by graduate candidate and full time professional, Kristina Swope.

It’s that time of the year where everyone’s full of joy, love, and gratitude. It’s a time to reflect on the last 12 months, be thankful, and let others know that they are appreciated. Considering you spend 40+ hours per week with the same people, why not share that appreciation with your coworkers at a holiday party?

It sounds innocent enough. You say, “it’ll be fun”, “I won’t drink that much”, or “I’ll be careful.” It always sounds like a great plan, yet before you know it, you wake up the next day and realize you sang Lady Gaga karaoke with your divisional leader in front of the whole company. You’ll hide under the covers in shame, convinced you can never emerge from the depths of cotton. You don’t realize there are more details coming Monday that will further shame you. For example, hearing that you stood in front of the artificial smoke machine screaming “HOOOOOOO!” a la Michael Jackson. It might sound amusing, but that’s only because it happened to me instead of you.

While it was fun, in hindsight, I wish I had just been a normal person at that party. Instead, I started off my career with embarrassing party behavior that will haunt me forever. Reason being, it completely changed the dynamic in the office afterwards with coworkers now seeing me as the fun, silly, goofy one instead of as a committed member of the team.

To prevent this from happening to you, here are a few a suggestions for surviving a company holiday party:

  1. Don’t “go hard”. If you’re old enough to have a big kid job, you’re old enough to drink responsibly and be aware of how much you can consume without making a complete fool of yourself. Excess consumption is just not worth the risk of saying something you won’t remember or being unsafe; stay within your limits.
  2. Don’t completely let loose verbally. Your coworkers don’t need to hear you swear 1,700 times or hear about super personal events just because you aren’t in the office. Remember that, despite the casual environment, you’re still with coworkers and need to keep that line of respect if you want the dynamic to be normal on Monday.
  3. Don’t sing or dance “seriously”. Just don’t. Unless you are the second coming of Adele or you are an adorably awkward dancer like Taylor Swift, just avoid it entirely. Chances are you think you’re doing way better than you actually are, and you don’t want to ruin a song for yourself by linking it to your corporate humiliation.

  4. Do thank your CEO before either of you leave. Company parties are not required. It’s extremely generous for CEOs to throw a party with free food and beverages for his/her employees, and it’s incredibly important that they are thanked by everyone for it. Just as we appreciate positive reinforcement, they should also hear how much their efforts are appreciated.
  5. Do get to know new coworkers. Whether they’re new to the company or just new to you, this is a perfect opportunity to get to know one another in a less buttoned-up environment. Mingling outside of your comfort zone makes the party more fun and overall more interesting – and who knows, you might even make a new friend!
  6. Do keep the buddy system. It’s a common assumption that because it’s a company party versus going out with friends that you can abandon the famous buddy system rule – this is not true! In fact, without friends you intentionally came with, it’s even more important that you’re looking out for one another. Always let a coworker you’re friends with know when you’re leaving the party and when you’ve gotten home safely, and ask the same of them.

Kristina is a full-time Market Research Project Manager in Philadelphia and a full-time student at NU pursuing a Master of Science in Organization and Corporate Communication, with a concentration in Leadership. Check out her LinkedIn profile here.  

On-Boarding Documents, Or How To Make A Great Last Impression

DeathtoStock_Creative Community1

People generally understand the importance of a great first impression – you want to kick your first day off with a smile and a firm handshake and a solid, confident grasp of office small talk. But we don’t often talk about creating an awesome last impression. What do you do during your last week to make your employers remember you?

Hint: Make their job easier by creating on-boarding documents for your replacement.

Here are a few tips for making your on-boarding documents awesome:

  1. Walk through your day. This is best done a couple of weeks before the end of your internship. Walk through your day and make a note of everything you do – what does your schedule look like? Who do you talk to? What projects do you prioritize? Break down your day into any and all tasks the new person might not know how to do and add them to a running list.
  1. Take your time. Mark off a day on your calendar for making on-boarding docs. This will allow you to sit down, put on some pump-up jams, and do a killer job. This is a working document, so send the file to your replacement so they can edit it and send it to their replacement. You’re leaving your legacy right now.
  1. Be specific. Assume nothing. What emails do you send in a day? When I worked in events, I wrote an on-boarding doc with a whole section for how to keep in contact with caterers. I took screenshots of spreadsheets I kept, email templates, suggestions for how much to order from where, and the name and number of any contacts I had established. This ensures that anything and everything is accounted for.
  1. Include anything they might find useful. This might include: common abbreviations no one explains to you, office acronyms, or an “email decoder” (this is important especially for tech co-ops or companies where jargon runs rampant).
  1. Include a contact sheet. Basically, a whole sheet should be dedicated to who does what around the office. Question about this? Ask Tom. Question about this? Ask Victoria. Question about this? Ask Kate. This proves incredibly helpful and will prepare the upcoming co-op for success from day one.
  1. Be appropriate. Duh? Your employer can (and probably will) read this. Be classy.

On-boarding docs are a good way to refresh your memory and reflect on your responsibilities throughout the past six months. They also show your employer that, yes, you were working for six months. In fact, you were doing an excellent job for six months. And you’re going to make sure your replacement also does an excellent job because you’re just that kind of person.

And that last impression goes far.

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 on Twitter @lindseygsampson.

Honoring All Who Serve- Careers In The Military

veterans day 2013

Northeastern honors its veterans in the 2013 Veterans Day Ceremony.

The face of the military is the warrior on the front lines. A man or woman in uniform patrols under the hot desert sun, protected by a helmet, ballistic eyewear, and body armor, and armed with high-tech weaponry.

Warriors on the front-lines are known as Infantry. Infantry undergo rigorous training in close combat, and dedicate themselves to overcoming all obstacles in order to complete the mission.

However, only a fraction of service members serve as infantry. In order to understand the unique skills which a veteran can bring to the workforce, it is important to understand the different ways in which soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen have served. Below is just a sample of the career fields available in the military, not specific to any branch.

Artillery are responsible for anything from mortars positioned directly over the battlefield, to long-range missiles on off-shore battleships.

Aviation assets in the military include helicopters, fighter jets, and increasingly drones. Aviation’s roles include engaging targets, gathering intelligence, transporting supplies, and evacuating wounded personnel.

Band members entertain civilians and service members at home and abroad. Each service has their own band, which attract talented singers and musicians.

Chaplains hold different religious beliefs, but share a common dedication to assisting soldiers with their spiritual needs, by providing confidential counseling services.

Engineers use materials on hand to build whatever structures are needed. Engineering projects include roads, bridges, wells, and village schools.

Finance is crucial in the billion-dollar defense industry. Financial managers track millions of dollars in assets, while delivering pay to soldiers in the remotest parts of the world.

Health professionals such as doctors, nurses, dentists, and technicians provide care to soldiers on the battlefield, in aircraft and ambulances, and in military hospitals around the world. The Army also has a veterinarians, who take care of animals in all services.

Information Technology is a key part of the modern battlefield. Technicians maintain and operate electronics ranging from radios, to computers, to nuclear missile guidance systems.

Intelligence experts include imagery analysts, cryptologists, linguists, and security experts that turn data into actionable information, and protect sensitive information.

Logistics and Transportation manage and move crucial supplies such as food, water, and medicine to wherever they are needed, overcoming great obstacles along the way.

Public Affairs is the link between the military and civilian populations. Some members of Public Affairs work behind the scenes on news productions while others interact directly with local populations.

Security Forces are usually called Military Police. MPs provide security for military bases, ships, and occupied areas, conduct criminal investigations, and perform other tasks to maintain law and order.

Special Operations Forces include Navy SEALs, Air Force Pararescue, Army “Green Berets”, and Marine RECON.  Special Operations missions differ, but members in Special Forces share a tireless dedication to the mission resulting from intense, specialized training.

Much more. The military trains service members for a wide variety of jobs. It is common for service members to receive training in multiple career fields.

Veterans’ work differ drastically in function and scope. However, some skills are common to all veterans. First, service members accomplish missions under extreme pressure, leading to proficiency at project management field, and process improvement. Second, they have experience working with a variety of people, sometimes across cultures, making them ideal members of global teams. Finally, each veteran enters the workforce with thousands of dollars’ worth of technical training, provided courtesy of the government. Those who serve part-time in the National Guard or Reserve receive opportunities to continue developing their skills.

Veterans have proven success on the job in the world’s largest military. Thus the biggest challenge for veterans leaving the service is not usually obtaining new skills, but relating their existing skills to the civilian world. A military skills translator, such as the one available on vaforvets.va.gov, can help veterans translate military experience into key words on a civilian resume. However, it is more important for Americans to understand the different challenges veterans overcome, and experience they bring to the workforce.

Thank a veteran for their service today, whether it be in the jungles of Vietnam, on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, flying above the sands of Kuwait, or at home with the National Guard or Reserve. Regardless of when and where veterans have served, each veteran has signed a blank check to their country payable to any amount up to, and including, their life.

Career information from goarmy.com, airforce.com, navy.com

The article was written by an Army ROTC cadet at Northeastern. Northeastern’s Army ROTC program produces officers for every branch of the Army, from Infantry to Nursing. Visit rotc.neu.edu for more info.

Image Source: Northeastern News

Turning Your Co-op Into Your First Job

TurningYourCo-op1Roughly 51% of Northeastern graduates secure jobs with a former co-op employer! Wouldn’t it be cool to land a job with a former co-op employer where you’ve already developed great relationships, know their business/products/services/clients, and have proven yourself to be a top performer?

On October 15 we hosted a terrific panel on “Turning Your Co-op Into Your First Job.”  We were lucky enough to get four panelists all of whom successfully turned a former co-op into their first job.  Our panelists gave a ton of helpful tips, which would be way too long for this blog, but we’ve condensed it down into four main topics we covered that you’ll want to take note of!

Being Strategic and Thinking of Your Co-op as a Building Block:

Many of our panelists were especially strategic about their co-op choices, starting at their first if not their second co-op, in terms of recognizing company names and the types of skills and experiences that would make them more marketable down the line and that they wanted to get on their resume as a building block.  Some also looked at which companies were most likely to hire co-op students for full-time work in making their selections.

Being Successful on Co-op to Get Noticed:

This was something that, not surprisingly, all of our panelists knew how to effectively navigate!  The main points that came out here were:  (i) getting to know people in the company by attending events so that enough people knew who you are, and in that same regard, working with a variety of people in your group so you have plenty of people to vouch for you; (ii) showing initiative and a willingness to do any assignment and to do so with enthusiasm; and, (iii) making sure to ask for feedback and to really work with that constructive feedback to improve your performance as you go along on the co-op.

Advocating for Yourself:

Our panelists also made sure to advocate for themselves when it came time to discuss a full-time position.  Because they made an effort to get to know people in their department and to solicit feedback along the way, they all knew that things were going well at the co-op and that their employer was pleased with their work by the time they approached the conversation, typically about mid-way through.  Some practiced the conversation in advance with a friend or a relative, but importantly, made sure to have this conversation so that their employer knew they were interested in a full-time role.  In fact, as they pointed out, sometimes employers start to view you as an employee (which is pretty flattering) and may lose track of the fact that you haven’t yet graduated, or may not remember exactly when you graduate or even realize that you’re interested in a full-time position with them.  The point being, you need to make sure you’re effectively advocating for yourself and letting people know what you’re hoping for, and not waiting to be approached.

Developing a Strong Network:

And finally, our panelists touted the importance of networking while on co-op, but also after you leave a co-op.  Having these relationships and staying in touch with people you used to work with, through periodic, friendly emails, is an important way to make sure that you have a network to tap into when it comes time to look for a full-time position, especially since it may be the first or second co-op employer that you want to try to go back to.

Amy Stutius is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University.  She practiced as an attorney before transitioning to higher education.  Email her at a.stutius@neu.edu.