Why Should I Do an Internship?

Source: http://byuinternships.org

Source: http://byuinternships.org

This guest post was written by Tricia Dowd, a Career Development Assistant at NU Career Development, and a recent graduate from Northeastern’s Higher Education Administration program where she earned her Master’s degree this past September.

As Northeastern students, the value of experiential learning and work experience before graduation is probably already something you’re well aware of. Most of you will probably go on at least one co-op during your time here. So why do an internship?

Actually, one of the best reasons to do an internship is co-op. As co-ops are becoming more popular, they are also becoming more competitive. This is especially true for students who are applying for their first co-op. Having an internship experience already on your resume not only makes you more competitive, it also makes you more prepared. You will already have work experience in your field, and you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when the first day of co-op rolls around.

Using an internship experience to get ahead for co-op is great if you already know what you want to do, but it is also great if you don’t know what you want to do! Instead of waiting to pick a major (or decide to stay in one) to get work experience through co-op, getting work experience through an internship is an easy way to try out a major or a career without committing to a program or a company for a full six months. Not sure you want to be a Policy Analyst? Try a summer internship to explore the field before committing yourself to it for six months and potentially using one of your co-ops for something you aren’t sure you want to do. We recommend finding an internship the summer after your first year, but it’s never too late to get more work experience or explore a different field.

Internships are also a great way for students who are unable to go on co-op to get work experience. The primary differences between an internship and a co-op are that internships are (usually) unpaid and (usually) shorter in length and more flexible. Therefore, if you’re not able to take a semester off from your major, an internship is a way to get work experience around your schedule, or for a shorter time during the summer when you don’t have other commitments. As someone who regularly meets with students in the middle of a job search, I can honestly tell you that work experience is one of the most important things you could leave college with. I have yet to meet a student who told me that she or he regretted going on an internship!

Finally, internships can also be a way for you to get your foot in the door at a company that does not currently offer a co-op position. Instead of waiting until after graduation to try to break into one of these companies, why not apply for an internship now? Give your dream company a chance to see how hard of a worker you can be! The connections and institutional knowledge you’ll get out of the experience will be a huge asset to a future application at that company.

So how exactly do you find an internship? Check out my previous post for a summary of the top three methods, attend some of our workshops on the topic, or hop right on HuskyCareerLink.

Tricia Dowd is a Career Development Assistant at NEU Career Development, and graduated from Northeastern with a Master’s in Higher Education Administration in September. She is interested in helping students gain practical experiences to complement what they’re learning in the classroom. You can reach her at p.dowd@neu.edu

5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Mike Adamson

Class of 2010

It’s hard to imagine I stepped onto Northeastern’s campus almost 10 years ago to begin my freshman year. And now I’m 5 years removed from a place where I learned a lot inside and outside of the classroom, it all moves very fast. Since leaving Northeastern I’ve worked for two different companies, lived back home and in the city, been able to travel, and have kept myself relatively busy and active. I currently work as a Campus Recruiter where I’m able to travel back to college campuses and brand and recruit for a company I enjoy working for and am interested in. I’ve met a lot of students in this role and as oblivious as I was about post-collegiate life, it’s somewhat relieving to know that a lot of other students were, and still are, in the same boat. It is a big adjustment, but it’s an exciting and completely different experience that needs to be approached with an open mind.

After I graduated, I rejoined a previous co-op employer of mine. It was a great decision and because of my previous experience with them I was thrown a lot of responsibility right away. I was also living with friends that I grew up with from home in the Boston area. None of us went to college together but we stayed in touch, it was an easy fit and a great living situation. Both my work life and my social life were comfortable right after graduation, now that I think about that, it made the transition into the “real world” all the smoother. I didn’t realize it at the time, but maintaining those relationships with previous co-workers and friends got my post collegiate life kicked off in the right direction. Over the course of the last 5 years maintaining those contacts and relationships has been more challenging given the hectic work-life balancing act. But whether it is for my professional or personal life it has always proved to be worth the effort.

Work-life balance is important, but what work-life balance means to me might not mean the same to you. I work in a role where there are very busy, hectic times of the year but I enjoy the planning, travel, execution, and impact of my work. This is the same for most jobs, there will always be ebbs and flows to your workload, so be flexible with your idea of work-life balance. The times where I have been the busiest have also been the most fun. So while I may be working longer I don’t feel as if I’m making an exception. The days never feel as long or draining as they may appear because I’m engaged and enjoy the people I work with. On the opposite end of the spectrum there are times where things are slow, and I need to create work, which is great, or I’m able to catch up on responsibilities in my personal life. You won’t know what your ideal work-life balance is until you start working, and not every company and job will offer what you’re looking for. So be flexible and allow time for adjustments.

The last 5 years have also flown by because I’ve been willing to try new things. Whether it’s traveling, joining a club/team, changing up my routine, taking on a new project, or just taking myself out of my comfort zone it’s all kept my life interesting. This is probably very similar to a college experience where you are dumped into this new place with unfamiliar faces and environments you need to learn and navigate . It’s a different type of learning in post-collegiate life but being willing to say yes and continue exploring and learning has created a very fulfilling experience for me so far. I do find there are times where I’m spread a little thin or the day-to-day feels stagnant, but being cognizant of the fact that it’s my decision to change my routine, and being willing to do so, has made the last 5 years a great experience.

Mike Adamson is a Campus Recruiter with Vistaprint(Cimpress) and is a 2010 graduate of Northeastern. He majored in Psychology with a Business Admin. minor and played on the club lacrosse team. Feel free to contact Mike at Adamson.m.r@gmail.com.

How to Overcome International Co-op Culture Shock

Finding my way around the chaos of downtown Kampala.

Finding my way around the chaos of downtown Kampala.

Focus on the bright spots. In any place you go, you might initially find that you hate a lot about the place you’re in. The food is weird! There are crazy drivers! Step back and reframe. Although there might be some not-so-great things, there must be something good, however big or small, about your new environment. E.g., I really don’t like the mushy eggplant and flavorless maize mash that I often have to eat, but I can’t wait to have cabbage again! No one speaks English or understands what I’m saying, but what an opportunity for complete language immersion!

Connect with the community. It’s easy to go to a country and stay in a comfort bubble, but it’s not the best way to engage yourself in the local culture. Connecting with the community can be as simple as learning how to cook a local dish, attending a neighborhood church, or bargaining for fruit at the market. Learn how things are done locally, and try to assimilate. Remember that you are a guest in the country, so although you may look and think differently, you should be making the effort to learn the culture and adapt to your surroundings rather than having others adapt to your foreignness.

Continue hobbies from home. Something that can help with homesickness is to find an activity that you can take with you anywhere. While everything around you is changing, you are the same person wherever you go. Think portable. Cameras, sketchbooks, e-readers, journals. Personally, I like to read and run, and I can do both pretty much anywhere with just my kindle and running shoes. I even had the opportunity to participate in a triathlon while I was here, which was an incredible experience!

Embrace the unfamiliar. Of course things are different, but it just means there’s more to learn. Take the opportunity to learn a new language, make new friends, and discover cultural attitudes. You’re surrounded by a whole new world for a few months, so take your time to discover and appreciate as much as you can. Get excited about the fact that you might get lost in a crazy new city. Don’t be afraid to try strange foreign food that doesn’t sound very appealing. Stimulate your sense of adventure.

Create experiences with new friends. Travel around your new country! Go to a concert! Climb a mountain! Most things are more fun in a group – it can relieve stress, create bonding moments, and allow you to reflect upon your journey along the way. So be open to doing some crazy things when you’re with friends that you normally wouldn’t do by yourself. If you happen to be in Uganda, go white-water rafting on the Nile, climb Sipi Falls, and run the MTN marathon!

Maintain communication lines. When you’re going international, as much as you embrace your new life, you shouldn’t forget your old one. Co-ops are only six months long, and you don’t want to return realizing that you lost contact with all your friends from school and have to redo your freshman year socializing. Most places you go should have some Internet connection, whether it is luxurious WiFi or portable modem, so there isn’t much of an excuse to not contact friends and family. There are a number of smartphone apps that allow you to text or call internationally without crazy fees, including WeChat, WhatsApp, GroupMe, and Google Hangouts, just to name a few.

Record your experiences. Keep a blog, take a photo a day, or start a collection. An international co-op should be something you remember for the rest of your life, so make sure you have something to remember and show from your time abroad. For the past few weeks, I’ve been sending my father a photo a day of whatever I happen to experience over the day. By the end of the six months, I’m sure it will make an interesting slideshow: a mishmash of scenery, food, city, work, and people, that I can keep to reminisce about my amazing experience.

Mika White is a second year biochemistry major at Northeastern expecting to graduate in 2018. This semester she’s on her first co-op in Uganda interning at a rural hospital in the town of Entebbe. Mika loves to travel, read, and run. Feel free to reach out to her at white.mik@husky.neu.edu and check out her personal blog for more a more detailed account of her experiences. 

Want to make a good first impression online?

orange napkin

Clean up your Facebook account and update your Facebook privacy settings. 

Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014 was the keynote speaker at my sorority’s 20 year conference. I had the great opportunity to hear her story this past weekend and something that really resonated with me during her speech was a story about this boy in middle school that made a comment about her mustache. She said, “ he can go on to be CEO of Apple or someone really important but I will always remember him as the guy that made me feel bad about my mustache”.  Wrapping up her story, she emphasized the importance of the kind of impression you leave on people.

Since we live in a world powered by social media, your Facebook page can often times be a first impression of you to your employer or colleagues. You’ll be surprise how many managers will try to see if you have any mutual friends and will even ask their friends about you or what you post on your profile.

In a previous blog posts from this series,  I focus a lot on how you can use social media to accelerate your personal brand.  In this particular post, I want to focus on how not paying attention to your privacy settings on your Facebook page can set your brand back a bit.

To clarify, this isn’t privacy settings when you accept a friend request from someone. These are the settings you should be familiar with when someone lands on the public portion of your page. . .

  1. Take advantage of the “View as” capability. This allows you to view your page as if you were someone else. ( add screenshots)
  2. Your Coverphoto is ALWAYS shared with the public. There is currently no option to change that setting although one is rumored to be in the works. With that being said, I highly recommend to opt for a safe conservative cover photo so that people don’t get the wrong idea about you. Safe photos would be a city or popular landscape.
  3. Your first profile picture is also always SHARED with public unless you choose the option to “only share with me”. Because of this, I recommend to choose a profile picture that best represents you and what you want you to be known for. Opt out on those partying pics that you thinks make you look cool right now. Be sure to go into your “profile pictures” album and change those settings to “share only with friends”.
  4. Edit your “who can look me up setting” which is under privacy and settings and change the “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?”. Click no. This will help minimize any Facebook activity that will show up after someone searches you on Google or any other search engine site.
  5. Clean up your posts and tagged pictures every few years!  What you posted when you first opened your account at 18 is going to be there when you’re job hunting at 21-22. Naturally, your 18 self isn’t representative of your 22 year old self.  As we’ve seen with celebrities and high profile cases, what someone has posted in the past can have repercussions that impact their employment and reputation.

Haylee is an Alumna from the College of Arts, Media and Design and a member of the Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority Inc, Northeastern Xi Chapter. She is currently a Marketing and Communications Manager at Ca Technologies, a social media personal branding coach, and a yogi residing in Medford, MA. Contact her at hayleethikeo@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @hayleethikeo.

Look for Haylee’s posts every other Tuesday

Image source: SocialAppsHQ, Importance of first Facebook impression

5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Christina Prignano

Class of 2010

When I graduated from Northeastern in 2010, I had to take time off from two jobs so that I could actually attend my graduation ceremony. That time in my life was, in a word, overscheduled. One of the things I’m grateful for in hindsight was that I didn’t have time to really think about (and become terrified of) the fact that I was jumping into the real world. There are plenty of things that I wish I had known back then, so I was thrilled to take part in this series and offer whatever help I can.

Making an effort to seek out advice from people you admire is a great place to start after graduation, so in that spirit, the first idea I’ll offer up comes from a former colleague. Your social media presence is your resume. This was a favorite piece of advice from a stellar former social media editor at the Globe, and it’s a good one (not in every field, but in quite a lot of them). You’ve all heard the warnings about posting your party selfies and making inappropriate jokes online. But turn the warning on its head and it’s also true: You can show potential employers what you can do before you’ve even applied for a position.

This wasn’t possible ten years ago in the same way it is now, so take advantage of it. Post frequently about what you’re working on. Reach out and talk to people in your field. You have the ability to make an impression without having to go to those awkward networking events (although they help, too).

Writing in college is much different from writing at work. One of my favorite parts of graduating was saying goodbye to those 10+ page research papers. However, at many workplaces, documents are measured in words, not pages, and suddenly all of that effort you used to put into squeezing extra words into your sentences is working against you. Being able to get the most bang out of your paragraph is a great skill to have as you search for jobs. My advice for honing this skill is to continually rewrite your cover letters and other professional documents until you can get your point across in as few words as possible.

Not really sure where to start? It’s okay to have no idea what you want to do in life. Does it help to have a polished answer ready when your interviewer asks the dreaded “five year plan” question? Absolutely! But in my experience, not having a predetermined goal can also mean being open to unexpected opportunities and being eager to learn new skills.

I couldn’t even pick a major in college–I graduated with two. And so I found myself during college and immediately after graduation trying on a lot of hats. One of those hats, a part-time gig helping my former co-op launch a new website, turned into a full-time job that allowed me to try on even more hats. I jumped at whatever project came my way at that job, and eventually became the web editor of the organization’s publication, CommonWealth magazine. That role eventually led me to a job that I love today: a homepage producer for bostonglobe.com. My point is that if you find yourself looking for direction, it helps to jump at as many opportunities as you possibly can. Many absolutely won’t pan out, but some will.

Post-grad life can be stressful and challenging and not at all what you expected, but it’s really just the best. Congratulations on getting there, and don’t forget to enjoy it.

Christina Prignano is a homepage producer at bostonglobe.com and is a 2010 graduate of Northeastern. She majored in political science and journalism and sometimes wishes she still lived near Penguin Pizza. She can be reached on Twitter at @cprignano.

 

Beating the First Day Jitters: 5 Simple Steps to Overcoming Anxiety

anxiety ecardIn my experience, starting a new job is rarely anything short of nerve wracking and overwhelming. Getting acclimated to a new environment is difficult and it’s hard to prepare yourself for such a transition, since it’s nearly impossible to know what to expect from your new job. Personally, leading up to my most recent first day of work, I was a mess. My confidence level waned as my uncertainty increased, and I was preoccupied with the thought that my arrival at the office would be a disaster. Somehow, I managed to pull myself together just in time, using these five tips, and rocked my first day on the job. Here’s how you can too:

  1.    Plan Ahead

Since much of your first day is likely to be a mystery until you get to the office, make a plan for the parts of the day that are in your hands. Set an alarm so that you have enough time to really wake up before you head out. Designate the amount of time you need to get ready, and decide exactly when you want to leave. Make sure that you give yourself ample time for your commute so that you’re not rushing to make it on time. Laying out plans ahead of time will give you the sense that more of your day is in your control.

  1.    Do Your Research

To prepare for an interview, it’s important to familiarize yourself with a company and what they do. Why not do the same for your first day? Even if you conducted previous research, look up your organization, your superiors and co-workers, and your own job description to refresh yourself before you arrive. Aside from looking at information concerning the company and the role that you will be playing in the workplace, make sure that you double check where your office is, the best way to get there, and roughly how long it will take you to get there. It can only help you!

  1.    Pump Yourself Up

Remember, starting a new job can be daunting, but it is also an amazing opportunity for growth and improvement. You will get so much out of this experience, and even if it ends up straying from your expectations, the skills that you will develop and refine will be an incredibly valuable asset to you in the future. Get excited to learn and get your hands dirty with something new!

  1.    Then Calm Yourself Down

Whether you’re excited to the point of shaking or you’re just plain nervous, chances are that you’ll need to take a step back and center yourself. Take some deep breaths, listen to music, stretch, take a hot shower, or sit down with a nice cup of coffee or tea before you head over. Your body and your brain will thank you for taking care of them later.

  1.    Fake It ‘Til You Make It

If all else fails and you’re still feeling the nerves, feign confidence. Even if you’re not completely convinced, walk into your office and give your co-workers the first impression that you are ready to take on the world. Being at ease in a new environment takes time, but acting comfortable will help you settle into your niche much faster than allowing yourself to be nervous would.

Joining a new office is a very intimidating experience, but don’t worry, if I can survive it, you can too. Now, follow these steps, get out there, and show them who’s boss!

Rosie Kay is a sophomore at Northeastern majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Business Administration. She is currently on her first co-op at the Governor’s Press Office at the Massachusetts State House. This past summer, she completed a dialogue in London where she explored two of her interests: English history culture and documentary filmmaking. Email her at kay.r@husky.neu.edu with questions or comments.

Digital Portfolios Aren’t Just For Artists

Technically speaking, I’m an arts student. Technically. I’m a Communication Studies student in the College of Arts, Media & Design. Most of my time at my co-ops and internships has been dedicated to writing press releases, marketing materials, and a hodge podge of other things that fall somewhere in between. I don’t paint or make movies, and while I do take a mean Instagram picture, why would I ever need a digital portfolio?

Digital portfolios are great for displaying any and all work that you’ve done. Showcase reports you’ve written, case studies you’ve conducted, or include a few press releases you’ve authored. The misconception is that these online spaces for showcasing work can only be used by the visual grabbing works of photographers and graphic designers. Yet, I can tell you that if you have a PDF of a document you created highlighting a skill or a workplace accomplishment, then you have a use for a digital portfolio.

Need another reason? This world is going digital — there’s no doubt about it. You won’t always have the opportunity to get into the same room as a potential employer and you might not always be able to cart your portfolio in with you. Having one URL to direct people to your work is vital. Most everyone uses LlinkedIn, so I even have a link to my digital portfolio right there under my picture.

So what sites should you use? I recommend (and use) Carbonmade. Their quirky and colorful homepage may throw you off, but it is user friendly, intuitive, and quick to create. Plus, the outcome is stunning. Another great option is Behance, an offshoot of the Adobe brand.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 6.12.22 AM

My personal digital portfolio on Carbonmade.

Tatum Hartwig is a 4th year Communication Studies major with minors in Business Administration and Media & Screen Studies. Tatum brings experience and knowledge in the world of marketing and public relations from her two co-ops at Wayfair and New Balance. Her passion revolves around growing businesses via social media, brand development, and innovation. You can connect with Tatum on Twitter @tatumrosy and LinkedIn.

International Relations Co-op in the Middle East

teaching in middle east

Ryan teaching in the Middle East

For students who are thinking about doing an international co-op or who have a strong interest in Middle Eastern studies, this week we will be highlighting the challenges and experiences of working abroad from the perspective of a co-op student. Ryan Chaffin is a third year student majoring in International Affairs and Political Science currently working at the Hashemite Fund for Development of the Jordan Badia, which is an organization that aims at objective of developing the Jordan Badia, or, the arid areas encompassing much of Jordan’s land. Here is what he has to say about his co-op in the interview:

1. Can you tell us what a typical workday looks like?

There are two types of work day. On one hand, I will be in the office, formatting and writing business proposals, meeting local dignitaries from around the Badia, and colluding with your boss and coworkers on long-term projects and meetings. On the other, I will be doing fieldwork, which includes visiting parts of the “Badia” or desert regions that stand at a remove from Amman, the capital city. However, at the beginning of the co-op, I will mostly be teaching English in a remote town or village, with three- or four-day stints back at your apartment in between.

2. What is the biggest difference between working abroad and working in the United States?

In the United States there is a standard of work that permeates so much of our economy that it feels “objective”. Abroad, this isn’t always the case. Job descriptions are more mutable, and the goal is more subjective. Your expectations for this job may not hold up through the first few days of work or weeks. The needs of the job are also more “comprehensive”. If there’s something you’re asked to do, it’s because being an English speaker makes you the only person able to do it.

Also, it is only natural that you will feel a little homesick because you are abroad. However, if you have a good living space and make friends quickly, this will pass quickly.

3. Describe some of the challenges you encountered at work, and how you overcame them?

Feeling directionless; I asked repeatedly to be involved in projects until I was given more responsibility, and made sure to work quickly to submit any assignments given to build reliability.

Feeling lost and confused; I identified the people who spoke English better than I spoke Arabic and used them to understand my work environment in the first few days.

Lastly, just getting used to the workday takes some time as well. How I overcome that was bringing a laptop and training myself on grant writing until I finally run out of free time after a few weeks.

4. What kind of skills did you learn from this co-op?

So far, my writing skills have been strengthened through formatting international business and grant proposals. My Arabic language skills have also seen improvement through my translation of Arabic textbooks into English, which I hope to publish through the Ministry of Education someday. Lastly, I have learned how to conduct business meetings from being an assistant to my manager, which is particularly useful in improving my Arabic immensely.

5. Has this co-op helped confirm your career goal?

Yes and no. It’s made me very knowledgeable about Levantine business culture and that’s an asset in Middle East career paths. I’m also still willing to work at a government agency or NGO that promises advancement and a chance to impose real reform, although this experience has made me consider the private sector more seriously. What it’s changed is the perception that I need to do all the listening in my co-ops. At the United Nations or the State Department, talented policy architects have built an institution which I would need decades of training with which to contribute meaningfully. But here at the Fund, it’s very self-developed. I could sit at my desk and do nothing all day without reprisal; I could also design my own day around self-developed projects which aid the Fund, and increasingly I’ve done just that. My co-op has increased my confidence that my education at Northeastern is preparing me for the world in ways I didn’t expect.

6. What is some advice you would like to give students who are thinking about a co-op in the Middle East?  

Don’t expect a European co-op. This is a region with more grit and more dust in the cracks. You will be one of, at most, two or three people in the office who speak English fluently, and that means anything English-language eventually goes through you. Since most of the business proposals have been for USAID or other English aid agencies, you’ll be asked—expected—to understand the ins-and-outs of editing, formatting and submitting grant proposals for several hundred thousand dollars at a time. Since I Googled my way through the first month, you can too. But be firm about your needs, or they will not be addressed. Things get lost in translation.

There is also some concrete advice I’d like to give to anyone seriously considering or committed to this particular co-op. Use Expatriates.com for housing; look for other expats under “Rooms Available” so you have a support network. Don’t pay more than 300JOD/month unless you’re homeless otherwise. Until you find a supermarket nearby, the Taj Mall has a Safeway and numerous kiosks for a Jordan phone.

Bio-pic_scarletthScarlett Ho is a third year International Affairs and Political Science major with a minor in Law and Public Policy. During fall 2014, she studied abroad in Belgium where she interned at the European Parliament. The summer prior to that, she interned for Senator Warren on Capitol Hill, and previously Congressman Lynch in Massachusetts. She can be reached at ho.sc@husky.neu.edu for any questions ranging from resume writing, job searching to her experiences.

 

The Biggest Lie Young Professionals Believe About Career Plans

This post originally appeared on the author’s personal blog, CatchCareers.com on change plans comicFebruary 9, 2015.

The biggest lie young professionals believe about career plans is: that you have to have one. The second biggest lie is that the plan is set in stone and can’t be changed. Whoa, hold on; don’t X me out just yet. While having a general life plan is great, making a plan so solid and rigid that you do nothing else only diminishes the great world around you and wonderful experiences to be found if you let yourself have the freedom to explore. Here me out…

I started writing this blog at 25 and while still aimed at young professionals, I have found that the issues I face and the concerns I have in my career have changed over these 3 years.  You are no longer fresh and brand-new to the working world, but not yet settled into exactly what your path will be. There are still many unanswered questions to your career path (please your ENTIRE life) and it can suddenly feel like you have to have it all figured out. This phenomena of “having it all figured out” (and it is all perfect) is further pressurized by social media and the onslaught of perfect photos and posts from friends, kinda friends, people you went to school with, and people you met once. THEY have it all figured out; great jobs, a significant other, a puppy, a baby on the way, a brand new home. There is nothing wrong with having or wanting those things. I want them. Most people want them. The problem is our need to put them on a timeline of life milestones we must achieve by a certain age. We become dissatisfied with our great lives when we focus on the things we haven’t achieved yet.  And why, oh why, do we create these life plans and beat ourselves up when things don’t go according to plan? Isn’t the reason why life is so exciting is because we can just live it and enjoy it and see where it takes us? Why do we bind ourselves to this plan?

One of the hardest things in life is letting go.  From that tattered old sweater you love, to a favorite menu item being discontinued, it is hard to accept that something that was once important to us is now gone. Beyond physical objects, there is also the letting go of emotions and plans, that is equally, if not more so, difficult. It can be heartbreaking to try to accept that something you craved or wanted will no longer come to fruition.  Further it can be difficult to accept for ourselves that something we once wanted, we no longer want. Maybe this is why it is so hard to step back from the plans we made and say “this is no longer what I want, and that is OK.”

What do I mean by all this rambling? Well, 5 years ago at the age of 23 I was: scared of dogs, was SO done with school (who needs graduate school?), thought my life’s career would be in manufacturing, and thought I’d be all Carrie Bradshaw like in my singleness.  Here’s a little update from 28 year old Christina: while I don’t want my own dog, I do love them now. I’m in graduate school and I love it (great decision to go back). I started dating, and it was wonderful. And I’m happily employed as a consultant in the finance industry, read: not manufacturing or even close to it.  While I do have some new life goals at 28, it very well may be that 33 year old Christina has changed them. AND THAT IS OK. Life plans are NEVER FINAL and NEVER DONE.

Embracing the unknown scares us. Even acknowledging it really; we like to pretend it isn’t there. Plan the best you can with the knowledge you have now, and be open to letting new ideas, experiences, and plans into your world. It is ok if last year you hated sushi, and this year you like it. That doesn’t make you weak or indecisive. People change, grow, find new interests, and grow tired of old plans and activities. Isn’t that why life is exciting? Remember the saying “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” If we get so hung up on trying to live according to this plan we’ve laid out for ourselves, we miss out on the opportunities and experiences we didn’t see coming which can be just as, if not better than, what we planned initially. We may lose the chance at an even better life by trying to stick with our predetermined script.

Take Away: If you change plans or change course in your life, that doesn’t mean you are weak. It doesn’t mean you gave up. It doesn’t mean you are no longer destined for greatness. It doesn’t mean you failed or copped out. It simply means you grew and changed in your life and you need to refit your plans to best fit you in today’s moment.

Further Reading: http://www.careerealism.com/professional-development-plan/

Christina Kach is an Associate Consultant on the Continuous Improvement team for a financial services company in Boston, MA. Prior to this role, she spent five years at a Government Defense Company focusing on Lean and process improvement in a manufacturing environment, while also completing an Operations Leadership Development Program. Christina holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering from Northeastern University and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management, also from Northeastern.

Christina invites you to connect with her via Twitter (@ChristinaKach), email (Cfkach@gmail.com) or at her blog for young professionals www.catchcareers.com

Image source: MealsandMiles.com; 5 Confessions

How to Excel in Your Co-Op

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As most people jet off for spring break or head home, co-op students remain at their jobs. Whether or not you are enjoying your work, it’s a reality check that half of 6 months is gone- time really flies! So how can you make good use of the remaining time to excel and succeed at your co-op? Seize the opportunity to push yourself and make a lasting impression, from getting a callback to using this experience as a leg up, you will never know how this job will evolve in the future. Here a few tips based on my personal observation on how to do well:

1. Ask Questions

There are no stupid questions, so ask away if you need clarification on your assignments. Employers actually appreciate it, because first, it means you are thinking and proactive, as opposed to just performing the task passively. Second, it leads to fewer mistakes and unnecessary confusion that eventually lead to greater efficiency and productivity. Moreover, questions don’t have to be related to the tasks in hand. After assignments are completed, you can also ask how the project you were working on is being utilized in the company. What is good about asking these types of questions is that it allows you to understand more clearly your role and the impact you are making in the overall functioning of the company. Plus, this knowledge can also enhance the bullet points on your resume!

2. Make Friends with Co-workers

Do not underestimate the power of allies and friends in your office. This is very important, because having a good relationship with them will help you down the line, be it learning their ways of succeeding or observing office etiquette, culture, etc. Moreover, who knows, one day if you were sick, they will be the one feeling you on the details of a meeting or helping you out in something. It’s all about connections and networking after all. Even after you leave your job, they might be able to recommend you or say a few good words to enhance your career.

3. Dress the Part

Just as Oscar Wilde has once said, you can never be overdressed or over-educated. While there is some truth in this, my advice will be to dress the part, and to dress smart. Observe how your boss/supervisor dresses and follow suit. Each office is different, and the dress code differs by industry, so be sure you don’t stand out in a bad way. If you are not a morning person (like me), consider preparing the clothes you want to wear the night before, so you don’t have to spend time ironing it or deciding in the morning- when you are not fully awake, and it also saves time too.

 4. Ask for Feedback/ Evaluation

This is related to asking questions. Be sure to ask for feedback from time to time, and after an assignment is completed to reflect on your performance. Since it is mid co-op season, now is a good time to do that. Not only will it be useful for you to gauge yourself, but knowing how you do will also help you improve and add value to the remainder of your co-op.

5. Make a List of your Tasks

It is always wise to keep track of your tasks and assignments. When your co-op is completed and you are looking for a recommendation letter from your supervisor, this will be helpful in aiding them write it. Moreover, as you are compiling the list of things you have done during your co-op, you may find some areas, say social media, that you have not fulfilled according to your learning objectives. With the remaining time, if possible, you can ask for new ways to get involved.

Good luck everyone!

Scarlett Ho is a third year International Affairs and Political Science major with a minor in Law and Public Policy. During fall 2014, she studied abroad in Belgium where she interned at the European Parliament. The summer prior to that, she interned for Senator Warren on Capitol Hill, and previously Congressman Lynch in Massachusetts. She can be reached at ho.sc@husky.neu.edu for any questions ranging from resume writing, job searching to her experiences. You can also email her for article ideas, suggestions, and comments. 

Photo source: Young Upstarts