Blood Pressure Cuffs and Paintbrushes: Insight Gained from Pediatrics

BCH logo

This post was written by Angelica Recierdo, a third-year nursing student with a minor in English. She has worked/studied at many of the major Boston hospitals and is also a columnist for the Huntington News.

Heartbreaking and funny – two words that could be used in a film review for a romantic comedy, or rather in my case, working in pediatrics.

To me, working with the older adult patient population for my first co-op as a nursing student was the boot camp of medicine. You’re caring for people at the end of their lives that may be bitter, confused, careless, or a little bit of each. It can be draining and surely leaves a novice jaded or with the toughest skin by the end of it.

So when I accepted an offer to work at Boston Children’s Hospital it was a new and exciting venture, a breath of fresh air. I went from working 40 hour weeks consisting of rotating day, evening, and night shifts on a huge 30+ bed inpatient cardiology unit to a comfy and fun 10-bed outpatient infusion clinic. The biggest struggles my new patients faced were missing a day of school, which stuffed animal to play with, and whether their parent was present to hold their hand when the IV catheter got inserted.

The Center for Ambulatory Treatment/Clinical Research is the official name for this infusion clinic serving patients of all ages, backgrounds, and medical histories. A lot of our patients are immunocompromised meaning that they are so severely prone to infection that they need to be infused regularly with intravenous immunoglobulin (otherwise known as antibodies to help support their immune system.) These are the kids that more often times have Purell on their hands rather than Crayola marker.

Another portion of patients have some form of Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis. I’ll never forget one ten-year-old boy who so openly shared with me that he could not be a firefighter when he grows up because how could he save people if he always had to go to the bathroom? (Kids really say the darndest things).

We also see a lot of Cystic Fibrosis and Cerebral Palsy patients as well. Their bodies protected in high-powered wheelchairs, eyes glossed to one side, with either the most contracted or most flaccid limbs you’ve ever felt. I try to joke with them and have learned that any kind of response like the fluttering of the eyes or a tighter hand grip means they’re listening. Children are always listening and it’s important to always give them something novel to think about.

I find myself laughing in a new way at work. It’s not forced or awkward the way social situations tend to be when interacting with other adults. It’s a genuine chuckle, throwing my head back or slapping my thigh. I find my voice rising to the next octave, trying to gain a toddler’s trust with one hand wielding a blood pressure cuff and the other a paintbrush. So many wonderfully amusing things happen at a children’s hospital.

For example, to electronically document vital signs on a computer application, there is an option that prompts the clinician to choose what position the child is in during the vital signs measurement. The three options are sitting, standing, and supine. But it warms my heart that my biggest worry is figuring out how to chart such movements as dancing, kneeling, crawling, or squirming.

I have learned that it’s important to always remember the time when a decorative Band-Aid covered up pain, when animal crackers and apple juice nourished us, and when a coloring book was sufficient distraction. Working with sick children has taught me ways to cope with profound stress and how to truly make the best of given situations. It’s not normal for a five year old to know where her “good” veins are, but that kind of acceptance and courage is of a caliber that is seen much later in life, or in some, never at all.

Angelica is a third-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 (http://huntnewsnu.com/?s=angelica+recierdo)  and enjoys writing creative non-fiction. 

Advice for Graduating Selfie Monsters

Clockwise from left: Graduation day in front of The Garden May 2009, Bek 2013, Birthday outing 2014

Clockwise from left: Graduation day in front of The Garden May 2009, Bek 2013, Birthday outing 2014

This post was written by NU alumna Rebekah Gallacher. Bek majored in English and Communications and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2009.

I’ve always resented the notion that “the real world” doesn’t happen until after you graduate college. I find that this sentiment is typically coupled with the idea that our generation—Generation Y—doesn’t understand what the real world is. I don’t know about you, but five years at Northeastern, three co-ops (plus two freelancing gigs), zero summers, a weekend job slinging drinks to BC kids, a double overloaded final semester, and astounding student loans felt pretty real to me. Tack on graduating into The Great Recession—one of the worst job economies in recent history—and I thought I had this “real world” thing down.

Five years later though, I can admit through the clarity provided by hindsight that life is in fact realer. These last five years have been the most influential, the most tumultuous, the most real for me so far. Those of you entering “the real world” this spring will get plenty of advice. More than you’ll know what to do with most likely. So I’m going to tackle only one thing: that despite all of the effort we’ve expelled so far, we are actually a bunch of lazy, entitled, tech-obsessed selfie monsters.

You heard me. Needy. Coddled. Selfie monsters.

Now, I personally will stay confounded by this impression for as long as it persists. I don’t know a single one of these Gen Ys. (Who are these people!?) But this perception is pervasive, and try as we might, we’re not going to be able to get away from it. Not yet, anyway. So your challenge, and my best advice for your next five years, is to face it head on.

It is absolutely central to your success to understand and acknowledge the assumptions about Gen Ys. Once you do, you’ll be able to interact more effectively with your colleagues from other generations, including your boss. (Spoiler Alert: that’s kind of…well, everything.) The self-aware Gen Y is the smartest Gen Y and the Gen Y that will get ahead. A little self-awareness goes a long way.

And don’t stop there, you overachieving go-getter! Take some time to understand where other generations are coming from, what they value, why they might think you’re a whiny baby with wildly unrealistic expectations. (Their words, not mine!) The Gen Y that’s well versed in generational differences is the Gen Y that will be actively sought out for their opinions and expertise.

All of this being said, don’t be afraid to use your unique point-of-view to your advantage. Be confident that your age, your experiences (“real world” or not) are both personal and organizational strengths. We’re soon to be the largest cohort in the workforce and we have an opportunity to shape the world of work. We will undoubtedly influence expectations, flexibility, technology, compensation, the social consciousness of our organizations—just to name a few. As well we should; much of this needs changing and I know we’re up to the challenge.

Let’s take back the conversation around our generation and redefine our organizational value. Because the Generation Y I know is hard-working, collaborative, innovative, and ambitious.

Congratulations to the Class of 2014. I look forward to everything you’ll accomplish. Including making me feel old and technologically out of date.

Let’s do this thing!

Rebekah Gallacher is an Associate Editor of Web Content at Harvard Business Publishing. She received her dual BA in English/Communication Media Studues in 2009 and managed to turn it into a real job! Feel free to contact her at rebekahgallacher@gmail.com or tweet her at @RCGallacher.

 

How to Keep Your Energy Level Up On Co-op

Can't. Move. Another. Inch.  Image Source: lovemeow.com

Can’t. Move. Another. Inch.
Image Source: lovemeow.com

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

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 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.

“Show Your Face” and Other Lessons from Psych Alum Samantha

Sam Collage for blog

This post was written by 2009 psychology alum, Samantha Bracy. She is currently a special education teach in Newton, MA. 

It wasn’t until my good friend Kelly so kindly asked me to write for this blog that I even became consciously aware of how long I’ve been out of college.  As we approach the anniversary of our graduation, of course all the good memories flood my mind – celebrating graduation with my friends, living in an apartment on Symphony Rd., late nights at Punter’s.  Five whole years ago we were walking up and down Huntington Ave. in the freezing depths of winter (OK, let’s be real – anything below 40 degrees and class wasn’t happening); picking up overpriced groceries at “The Wo” (Wollaston’s for all of you who don’t speak solely in abbreviations); and last but not least, navigating what in the world we were going to do after graduation (OK, I suppose that might be the most important one).

I always considered myself one of those rare, lucky students who always knew what I’d do with my professional life.  My mother tells me that ever since I was a little girl, she knew I’d be a teacher (read: I was really bossy as a child) and as I made my way through NU, I knew it too.  I studied psychology and elementary education, coming out of college with a plethora of co-op and fieldwork experiences to add to my resume.  I felt fortunate to have spent time working in Boston Public Schools, at various community centers across the city, and at a private special education school.  My experience was – in every sense of the word – “well-rounded” and I had NU to thank for that edge.  What I didn’t realize at the time was the importance of networking.  I know, I know…such a buzzword these days.  But when people tell you “it’s all who you know”, they’re being completely honest with you.

Make a good impression at your co-op.  Do not show up looking like you were out all night (hungover or otherwise).  These people may be your future, long-term employers (I have friends who are currently employed at one of their co-op’s, years later).  This organization may be a jumping off point for your career.  And you probably want to be able to ask your supervisor for a recommendation one day.  I know you all took Intro to College or got a lecture from your co-op advisor about being professional, but let’s be real – when it’s Marathon Monday and you called out of co-op because you were the only one who didn’t have it off, do not post selfies on one of the various social media platforms.  Lesson learned.  Make a positive, lasting impression and you will always have that organization supporting you, be it by way of an actual job or kind words for a different employer.

If your employer asks you to stay on after your co-op, you do it.  Even if they say it’s unpaid, even if it’s full-time, even if you have to take the T at 5:30 am.  I completed my student teaching at an amazing Boston Public School, a school that I still dream of working at.  After my semester ended, I was asked to stay on as an unpaid aide and I turned it down because I needed to work full-time and actually earn money.  A girl who was in the same boat as me took an unpaid aide job and now has her own classroom at said school.  I doubt if I went back there today anyone would even remember me.  If you have a way to take an internship, an experience, a co-op, anything and make it into something more, an opportunity for you to shine and for people to truly remember you, do it.

Show your face.  In college, my friends and I (count us: 1, 2, 3, 4) kept to ourselves.  We certainly weren’t homebodies by any means – we went out, had fun, lived it up Husky style.  But we weren’t really involved in any groups, clubs, networking events, or anything of that nature.  We didn’t go to sporting events or formals.  We didn’t really branch out beyond each other and some satellite friends we hung out with on occasion.  Now, with things like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, it’s so easy to reconnect with people you went to school with.  People who may have plush corner offices that can hook you up with an interview at that firm you’ve been eyeing (see where I’m going with this?).  But guess what?  If you don’t actually talk to anyone, you don’t really have a lot of people to network with years later.  So even if you aren’t a social butterfly, it wouldn’t kill you to attend a few events, make some new friends, or even sit with a stranger in Snell.  You never know who your new friends will turn out to be down the road so don’t be afraid to branch out.

Samantha Bracy is a special education teacher in the Newton Public Schools.  She received her BS and MEd from Northeastern.  She is the proud mother of a little girl with another baby on the way and enjoys trying to maintain her sanity as she balances life and work.  Feel free to contact her at samantha416@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Reply All? Please Don’t. And Other Email Etiquette Tips

image source: http://elitedaily.com/money/email-etiquette-for-gen-y/

Image Source: http://elitedaily.com/money/email-etiquette-for-gen-y/

This post was written by Emily Brown, a regular contributor to The Works and a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program at Northeastern University. She is also a Career Development Intern

Email is often the principal form of communication in business settings.  As you begin co-op or your first post-grad job, keep in mind that how you present yourself via email can contribute to your overall reputation among coworkers. Keeping in mind some simple email etiquette can help ensure you build a positive reputation at the workplace both in person and online.

  • Use an appropriate level of formality – be more formal with higher level professionals, but also mirror others’ email style and address them with the same level (or higher) of formality with which they address you
  • Provide a clear subject line
  • Respond within 24-48 hours
  • Double check that the email is going to the correct person – Autofill isn’t always as helpful as it’s meant to be
  • Acknowledge receipt of emails even if it does not require a response – especially if someone is providing you with information you need
  • Be concise – emails should be short and to the point
  • Number your questions – if you’re asking multiple questions, the person on the receiving end is more likely to read and respond to them all if they’re clearly broken out
  • Include a signature – no one should have to search for your contact information
  • Don’t overuse the high priority function
  • Use “reply all” sparingly and only cc those who need the information
  • If you forward someone an email, include a brief personalized note explaining why
  • Remember, no email is private – once you hit send, you have no control over with whom the email is shared. This is particularly important if you are working for any type of government agency in Massachusetts, in which case email is considered public record.
Image Source: http://www.someecards.com/christmas-cards/email-coworkers-office-holiday-party-work-funny-ecard

Image Source: http://www.someecards.com/christmas-cards/email-coworkers-office-holiday-party-work-funny-ecard

While these are generally good rules of thumb, it is also important to be aware of the company culture. Some companies rely more heavily on email for in-office communication than others. If you see coworkers approaching one another with questions, you should probably do the same. To avoid guessing, ask your supervisor about communication preferences when you start the job. And even an in email culture, it’s probably best to use the phone for last minute schedule changes or cancellations.

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.

Balancing the Ice and Academics

NU Women's Ice Hockey huddle

NU Women’s Ice Hockey huddle

This guest post was written by Heather Mottau, a freshman hockey player on the Women’s Ice Hockey Team at Northeastern University. 

Have you ever gone to bed with four different alarms set on four different devices?  I have.  Days we have practice at six in the morning here at Northeastern, I have alarms set on my watch, iPad, iPhone, and my iHome.

Waking up for hockey practice is not easy.  Every part of your body tells you no.  Sometimes I swear I can hear my teddy bear whispering, “Stay here with me” as the alarm goes off at 6AM.  The only thing that gets me out of that bed of mine is will.  Hockey has taught me not only the power of will but a multitude of other life lessons including, discipline, determination, dedication, commitment, tenacity, responsibility, reliability, devotion and so many others that I plan to keep with me for the rest of my life.

I’ll never forget the day I was taught the importance of punctuality.  I was sitting in the locker room getting ready for practice when I noticed that one of my teammates was not there.  A few other teammates tried calling her but there was no answer; we all continued to get dressed as usual.  Being a freshman, my mind was racing as I laced up my skates.  What would happen to this girl for missing practice?  What would be her excuse?  Would her excuse even matter to the coaches?

About 15 minutes into practice, my she arrived, opened the gate and hopped onto the ice with a look of total panic on her face.  She was the first person of the year to be late to a practice.

The coaches did not say a word to her for being late, which I found so odd.  Practice simply continued as usual until the end when our team came together in a group huddle.  Coach told the latecomer she was going to skate for being late.  He did not ask her why she was late. It did not matter. After practice, one of my teammates informed me that she took a nap and forget to set her alarm. She made an honest mistake but she also made a commitment to our team. Now do you understand why I set 4 alarms anytime I sleep?  In the future, when my teammates and I graduate college, we will have a  strong understanding of what making a commitment really means in whatever occupation we pursue.

Heather handling the puck

Heather handling the puck

Every student athlete at the collegiate level has acquired the skill of time management.  If not, there would be no possible way they would be able to continue being a student athlete. Northeastern’s course load is intellectually challenging with a rigorous schedule along with experiential learning outside the classroom. Student athletes must learn how to manage their time well and balance their sport with their academics.

One must not forget the extra pressures added to a student athletes life.  An athlete represents their school.  They are a symbol of their school and must carry themselves respectably in all areas of their life. It is a privilege to play for your school, and players must understand that this privilege can be taken away very easily.  There are always people waiting for you to fail, and people that would kill to be in your spot at the Division One level.

Being a student athlete, in my opinion, is a job. Just like any job it consists of learning how to handle different kinds of pressure: pressure within their sport, expectations and pressure put on them by coaches, as well as academic pressures. It is a necessity to balance practice time with studying time, plan ahead and know when they will be missing classes because of games.

When that fourth alarm goes off in the morning I know the only thing that gets me out of bed is my will and love of the game.  I made a commitment to my team.  I admit some days are hard.  I’ll be sore and tired but I know I have to push through.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Northeastern Women’s ice hockey team and for the opportunity to represent my school.  What I’ve learned thus far from this experience could never fit in a single blog post.

A student athlete boils down to two simple concepts: you have to do well in school and well in your sport, but it all starts with the will to do so.

Heather Mottau is a freshman who is #26 on the Women’s Ice Hockey team here at Northeastern. She attended boarding school at the ripe age 14 in the cold state of Minnesota to pursue her hockey dreams (and as a result picked up a slight Midwestern accent after living there for four years). She loves hockey, writing, and sitting in Starbucks pondering life.  

Landed a job, now what? Advice from the Pros

image source: http://www.rottenecards.com/card/224333/first-day-on-new-jobwhos-go

image source: http://www.rottenecards.com/card/224333/first-day-on-new-jobwhos-go

This post was written by Emily Brown, a regular contributor to The Works and a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program at Northeastern University. She is also a Career Development Intern.

Starting a new job or co-op can be nerve-wracking.  It takes time to get a feel for the company culture and to figure out daily operations. As much as you want to find your place in a new company, you also want to make a good impression with new coworkers. I adapted some advice from LinkedIn’s “Best Advice” series and reached out to professionals for their tips on what will make someone a desired employee. While some might seem obvious, they are a good reminder that everything we do at work contributes to the reputation we build.

  • Everything you do and say reflects on the company.
  • Being positive, upbeat and responsive at all times reflects well on both the employee and the employer.
  • In a competitive work environment, going the extra mile, making the extra effort means all the difference in winning new work or retaining old clients.
  • Don’t rely so much on e-mail for communication especially if it is sensitive material.
  • Don’t text or e-mail in meetings – put your phone on silent mode and put it away.
  • Be prompt – show up on time (to work and to meetings).
  • Always make deadlines.
  • Don’t underestimate how important good writing skills are – it is a lost art!
  • Always proofread what you produce and/or ask a colleague with good grammar skills to look at it (especially if it is going to be widely circulated).
  • Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know – but also say you will find the answer.
  • Always follow through- even if it’s just to say you don’t have the answer yet.
  • Use proper grammar and speak correctly and clearly on the phone.
  • When adjourning from meetings, make sure you have a clear idea about what action items you are responsible for and what the deadlines associated with those items are.
  • Whatever you do, do it the best you can, even if it’s getting coffee.
  • Always bring a notepad when you meet with someone.
  • Make sure you communicate effectively about projects that are your responsibility. Be honest about what you have time to do.
  • Don’t leave the printer/copier jammed!
  • You can never redo a first impression.  First impressions include any time you work with someone for the first time even if you’ve been at that company for a while.
  • Listen twice as much as you speak.

After just a few weeks on the job, you’ll likely have your own tips to add to this list! When you become the pro, remember how it felt to be new and keep in mind that sharing little tips (especially on how to unjam that finicky copy machine) with new hires will be appreciated.

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.

4 Professional Skills You Can Gain By Blogging

Check out my own blog if you're into that kind of thing, http://moreawesomerblog.com/.

Check out my own blog if you’re into that kind of thing, http://moreawesomerblog.com/.

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

When you tell someone you have a blog, the conversation can go down a lot of different paths:

“Oh, so you spill your guts on the Internet and I should run far away from you?” Nope.

“Oh, so you get a bunch of free stuff?” Not really. I mean, sometimes. But usually not.

“Oh… that’s nice.”

Opinions on blogging run the gamut, but over the past few years, blogging has established itself as an effective tool for engaging in public conversations. People in every industry use it to communicate ideas, and young professionals can establish valuable career skills by taking on some WordPress time.

Establishing (And Keeping) A Strong Network: As a blogger, some of your greatest collaborators are other bloggers. Having these connections can be mutually beneficial for support, advice, and everyday inspiration. Keeping up with a network can be a challenge, so this skill will serve you well in the professional world.

Hint: Keep a contacts spreadsheet of other professionals in your space. Make sure you have their name, email address, blog URL, twitter handle, (and a few notes about them if you tend to forget things) so you can send out some support or an article they might find interesting.

Supporting Peers: In the professional world, you rarely go it alone. There are always people along the way to support you, and you can foster those relationships by supporting. The blogging world is no different, and bloggers are involved in that on a micro level by sharing content from other bloggers. It benefits your readers by providing them with interesting content, and it allows you to provide some love to other bloggers.

Hint: Every day or every other day, share content written by other professionals in your industry on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Marketing: Even if you have the best stories in the world, or the most creative DIY projects known to man, it’s not going to make an impact if no one can see it. Learning to market effectively and appropriately is crucial for bloggers. Bloggers can use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+ like champs without breaking a sweat, a useful skill for establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

Hint: Hootsuite – it’s a big deal. Using the free version, you can post to all of your social media channels at once, schedule future posts, and save yourself lots of time.

Listening & Reacting: Being hooked up to the Internet makes you realize that people stop caring about things quickly. Really quickly. No one wants to talk about Pharrell’s hat at the Grammy’s anymore (even though we should never stop talking about that). As a blogger it’s important to listen to the Internet – what’s trending on Twitter, what people are sharing on Facebook. Being receptive to new trends is a great skill for the workplace, ensuring that your ideas are always timely and innovative.

Hint: Set up a Google Alert for your niche. If you are a travel blogger focused on luxury trips with a low price tag, set up a Google Alert for “cheap travel” or “traveling on a budget.”  If you are a marketing professional focused on fashion brands, set up a Google Alert for “social media fashion brands.” At the end of every week (or every day, depending on your preference), Google will send you an up-to-date list of what influencers in your niche are talking about. This keeps your content relevant and helps you avoid stale topics.

Blogging allows you to create a network of people who can challenge you creatively and intellectually by sharing ideas online. This exchange can keep you sharp and in-tune with current events, and can boost your skills in the workplace.

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.

How To Find a Co-op While You’re Abroad

LindseyEdinburgh

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

Northeastern students are everywhere. Because of the number of international opportunities available, it’s not uncommon for a student to apply for co-op 3,000 miles away from Boston. I applied for my second co-op from my living room in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I studied abroad in the fall. While applying for co-op abroad presents its own unique set of challenges, you should not feel overwhelmed – it is possible to find a co-op you love while studying abroad as long as you are well-prepared.

Find a quiet place with reliable wi-fi. Generally speaking, study abroad housing is not known for its reliable wi-fi. Find another place on campus that is quiet and has excellent wi-fi. Sometimes the library has small rooms available to reserve, or you can ask a professor to use his or her office. While co-op interviewers are understanding of external circumstances, a Skype call inhibited by a slow internet connection is not the best way to make a good impression.

Be on call. You’re studying abroad, so evenings and weekends will probably be spent on grand adventures around your host country. However, because you are so far away, you need to be vigilant about checking your email every time you have wi-fi, especially during co-op crunch time. If you’re on the road, stop somewhere with reliable wi-fi at least once a day. Pro tip: Starbucks always has good wi-fi. Always. Make sure you are available during working hours stateside and make a good first impression by responding to emails quickly.

Be proactive. When a potential employer offers you an interview, make sure they have all of the materials they need to assess you as a candidate. Because you won’t be in the same room with them, geared up with extra copies of your resume and references, be sure to have them virtually on-hand; either keep important co-op application documents on your desktop or send them to your interviewers beforehand.

Remember, at the end of the day, that you are qualified. Co-op employers are interested in you as a candidate — what you are doing and where you are going. One interviewer gave me suggestions for restaurants in Edinburgh. Some employers are wary about hiring a co-op student they have not met in-person, but attentiveness and preparedness can ease their mind and earn you one amazing co-op.

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.

Brand for Hire: Crafting Your Professional Persona Online, Or, Have You Googled Yourself Lately?

Make sure you like what you find! source: www.dailydawdle.com

Make sure you like what you find!
source: www.dailydawdle.com / 30 Rock, NBC Universal

Let’s start with a simple task: Google yourself.  Do you like what you find?  What appears on the first page?  Will it help you professionally?

Many of us are already using social media technologies like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to communicate and keep in touch.  We must be cognizant of the fact that these online activities link back to our ‘real’ lives and professional reputations.  There are too many cases of celebrities on Twitter gone wrong for us to ignore the impact of our digital footprints. As I go on the job market, I am increasingly aware of the professional image that I present online and the role I have in managing that image.

My approach to professional social media practices is informed by teaching college students at Northeastern over the last few years.  Each semester, I had my students in Advanced Writing in the Disciplines create professional personas online by using social media tools like LinkedIn and Twitter. The class used these tools to build professional profiles, engage in conversations with peers and experts, and to reflect on the pervasive role of social media in our professional and personal lives.  At the end of the semester, we conducted a social media audit, evaluating one another’s profiles to assess and revise the kind of presence we had online.

Manage the Message

The class yielded many conversations about the advantages and limitations of branding yourself online.  Many students were uncomfortable with the term “brand” and the corporate associations it conjures. We preferred thinking about these activities as crafting a professional persona. We treated our online activities as one of the many public performances that constitute our workplace selves. Employers are searching applicants’ names to make hiring decisions. Some hiring managers believe that having no online presence can be as harmful to your career as having a negative one.  I asked students, what kind of professional would you like to be? We used this guiding question to help shape our social media strategies.

Share as a Professional

Platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn can be powerful tools to connect you with colleagues across the world.  Twitter helps me keep updated on recent news and trends in my field, build a professional network, and contribute to the relevant conversations of our day.  Getting set up with Twitter is relatively simple, though new users can find the sheer mass of information initially overwhelming. Ryan Cordell, Assistant Professor in the English Department at Northeastern, advises to treat Twitter like a river, dip into the stream for a moment, enjoy the water and then step back out.

LinkedIn operates much like Facebook, but should be devoted to strictly professional content.  Think of LinkedIn as a more dynamic version of your resume.  You can add samples of your work, receive and give endorsements from employers, join networking groups like alumni associations, and share updates. Another option About.me is a short version of LinkedIn; think of it as a digital business card.

Know Your Audience

I treat my social media identities as concentric circles with closest friends and family at the center, extending outward to colleagues, acquaintances and unknown followers.  Or, we could think of these groups as networked nodes, comprised of categorically distinct, yet interconnected clusters.  Whatever your organizational metaphor, find a way of separating out your audiences and tailor content and privacy settings accordingly.

Showcase Your Work

Personal websites can be an essential home base for your professional brand, as Lindsey Sampson recently discussed on The Works. Like LinkedIn, my website operates as a multimedia resume with examples of recent projects and research activities. Unlike LinkedIn, I have complete autonomy of what appears on the site.  A personal website is a space where you can control your self-presentation, highlighting your accomplishments and goals for your audience.

Find Your Limit

In the age of Instagram documentation, we know it can be easy to overshare. We begin to feel as if every thought should be tweeted, ever inspiration captured, and every relationship tagged and accounted for.  But, what are the limits? Digital identities need to be carefully monitored and maintained to prevent outdated content, mixed messages, or even imposters.  Online branding can also be time consuming. Social media managers like HootSuite, which allow me to schedule posts on multiple social media accounts ahead of time, help me to “unplug” on weekends.

Define Yourself

Professional branding will take on different resonance depending on your field, but, for many, social media can be an important tool for professional definition and promotion. People will inevitably form impressions of your professional persona from your daily activities in the workplace.  Taking conscious control of that image by crafting a clear and consistent professional persona online will only further your career by helping you to identify strengths, build a career portfolio, connect with peers, and better target long term goals.

Next month I’ll discuss networking strategies and the role of mentors during the job search. Join me the first Thursday of the month here on The Works as I countdown to graduation.

Lana Cook - HeadshotLana Cook is a Ph.D. candidate in the English department  at Northeastern University. Her dissertation traces the development of the psychedelic aesthetic in mid-twentieth century American literature and film. Lana is a 2013-2014 “Viral Culture” graduate fellow at the Northeastern Humanities Center.  She received her bachelors of arts at University of New Hampshire.  You can follow her on Twitter @lanacook or Linkedin. You can view her portfolio at LanaCook.net.