A New Year’s Reflection

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spatterd/

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spatterd/

This article was written by Megan Fernandes, a 4th year international affairs student at NU as a guest blogger for The Works.

With the New Year upon us, it’s natural to find yourself reflecting back on the year’s events and some of the life lessons you’ve learned. They say that understanding your history helps you plan for your future, and I think the start of the New Year is a good time to revisit and learn from the personal journey you’ve been on over the year—what have you gained this past year? What contributions have you made? What were your successes and your failures? New Year’s isn’t simply about new beginnings; it’s also about looking back in order to better determine what new beginnings lie ahead. In personal and professional terms, it’s also important to reflect on how past work experiences shape who you are today and who you want to be in 2014.

Co-op is an opportunity to gain experience and learn about the workforce. I’ve been very deliberate in my attempt to find and gather “takeaways” from each co-op to help me make better work-related decisions in the future. For example, after several rounds of interviews, I’ve noticed that one of the qualities most appreciated by employers when they first meet you is genuine thoughtfulness. This doesn’t simply mean preparing thoughtful questions for an interview, but being able to explain why and how a particular company/position fits into your overall career goals. Employers appreciate when you go into an interview knowing what skills and industry knowledge you want to gain from working at that particular organization and in turn, how the job will make you a more qualified future candidate. A compelling way to articulate this isn’t by rattling off the benefits and superior qualities a particular company or position has, but by providing the interviewer with solid examples of how you’ve leveraged past experiences to get closer to your ultimate career goals. Being insightful and thoughtful about these aspects of your past experiences is a meaningful way to create a story about yourself for interviewers.

Additionally, relaying to employers that you understand how your previous experiences have built upon each other allows them to trust you more easily. While not all work experiences seem to relate to each other (like going from a weightlifting nonprofit working with gang youth in Boston to an agriculture start up in Cameroon in my case), making simple and meaningful connections between experiences is always possible. These connections can exist on many levels. For example, I worked with very flexible bosses who didn’t have the time to micro manage me in both positions. That similarity taught me to take initiative when I saw problems or inefficiencies in different types of situations. Another example is that due to organizational, physical, and cultural differences, I developed stronger interpersonal skills with people from various cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and I learned how to be more thorough and concise in my communication as face time with my supervisors at each co-op was rare. A large takeaway from both work experiences was a more solid understanding of what I like and need in a work environment in order to be successful; such as a lively office culture and structured time commitments. You can always find connections, and while it may be difficult at first, this is precisely the first step in cultivating the sort of thoughtfulness that really resonates with people, especially employers. Eventually I’ve also found that I’ve been able to make decisions about my work experiences with a greater level of deliberateness and confidence because I’ve taken the time to draw these parallels and connections from past experiences.

So take this New Years to do a little brainwork in tying all of your past work experiences together into a thoughtful and compelling personal story. Remember, telling this story will help you to make those connections between experiences, show people your ability to process and grow from each experience, and give people insight into you as a person.  And this does not work well as a one-time process right before an interview; it should be a constant undertaking that helps make those yearly new beginnings and resolutions all the more meaningful each time. So give yourself a new beginning career-wise this coming year, one that starts with a more thoughtful version of yourself.

Megan Fernandes is an international affairs student in her fourth year at Northeastern with academic interests revolving around global poverty alleviation. Megan is originally from Houston, but went to high school in Bangkok, Thailand before moving to Boston. She loves learning about other cultures and would be happy to show new people around Boston! 

Reasons to come hang out with me at Senior Career Conference

SCC_logoThis guest post was written by our new student blogger, Emily Brown, a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program.

My name is Emily and I’m excited to join The Works blogging team this semester! I’m a graduate student here at Northeastern and an intern in the career development office. Prior to coming to NU, I completed my undergraduate degree in psychology at College of the Holy Cross and went on to work for two years at a construction management firm. Although I did have prior working experience, I certainly could have been more prepared for some aspects of the professional environment awaiting me in that first post-grad job (refilling copy paper wasn’t in my job description!).

source: someecards.com

source: someecards.com

The Senior Career Conference on January 23rd will offer you the opportunity to be more prepared than I was to start that first full-time job and will provide tips and tricks for getting through the job search process to that first day of “real life.” In choose-your-own-adventure style, there will be three workshops each hour of the conference so you can decide which ones (or just one – you don’t have to commit to staying for the whole conference) will best fit your needs. The conference is also a great opportunity to network with employers and alumni in both mix and mingle sessions and panels. As an introvert who has shunned the idea of networking until recently, I highly recommend remaining open to the idea (the LinkedIn for Networking workshop provides a great explanation of the benefits of networking and some strategies to make it less intimidating) and taking advantage of meeting these professionals who WANT to meet you. They wouldn’t be coming if they didn’t.

So mark your calendar for January 23rd and join us at the Senior Career Conference to start building your network and gaining tools to succeed professionally. I hope to see you there!

Emily Brown is a Career Counseling Intern in Career Development and is currently a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program at Northeastern. She hopes to continue working in the career counseling field once she graduates in May 2014.

Why would complete strangers be willing to talk to me?

Whether you’re job searching or generally trying to learn more about different careers, I usually suggest talking to individuals who already work in your fields of interest (aka networking). It’s a great way to learn more about typical career paths, get insight on which skills and qualifications are the most important, and figure out if a particular career path or industry is a good fit for you.  The process should include talking to people you already know, but should also include introducing yourself to and developing relationships with new people.  Once the look of horror on their face goes away, the most common question that students/alumni ask me is “Why would complete strangers be willing to talk to me?”

Image from www.cod.edu

Here are some reasons why professionals in your fields of interest would be willing to talk to you:

  • Networking is a pay-it-forward situation. Chances are, anyone that you contact for advice has had someone help him or him in a related fashion, and this is their chance to return the favor to the larger professional community.
  • When people like what they do, they often like discussing it with people who share their interest. And not just the same old people they talk to every day at work. It can be interesting to get a different perspective on things.
  • Networking is a lifelong career process, and it’s just as important for an experienced professional to continue building their professional community as it is for a college student or recent grad. One day, you may be able to give them some useful information on a particular company or contact. Maybe their son or daughter is considering Northeastern, and you can give your opinion on what it’s like to be a student here. It also gives that professional a chance to promote their organization and create a pipeline of talent for future positions.
  • People are genuinely helpful. If you are polite and genuinely interested in hearing what the person has to say (and not aggressively trying to push someone into hiring you), people are more often willing to help than you might expect.  You just have to ask. Career Services hosts workshops, panels and networking events all the time, and I am often amazed at how many people are willing to help out and talk to students/alumni about their experiences. And I don’t only mean Northeastern alumni and employer partners.  Professionals who are completely unrelated to Northeastern, that I have no personal connection with and sometimes have never even heard of before, have agreed to come to events, just because I asked.
  • Some people just like to talk about themselves!

As wonderful as the internet is, and as much career and job information you can find online, there are some things that you can only learn by speaking to someone who actually does the job.  Be thoughtful and deliberate when identifying people you’d like to talk to, clear and polite when you contact them, and appreciative of any and all advice they give you, and hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised by people’s responsiveness. You have much to gain and little to lose by asking.

Tina Mello is Associate Director of Northeastern Career Development, and has worked at Northeastern for 11 years. Nicknamed the “information guru” by other members of the staff, she loves to research and read about various job/career/education topics. For more career advice, follow her on twitter @CareerCoachTina.

Tips for communicating with your boss

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.

Developing good communication with your supervisor can help you get the most out of your work experience and help ensure that you continue to be challenged. Here are some suggestions to cultivate a productive relationship with your supervisor:

  • Ask questions. This is probably the most important lesson I learned in my first job out of college. All of a sudden, I couldn’t fake my way through like I sometimes could on high school or college assignments. Having a general idea of what I was supposed to be working on simply was not enough. I can’t tell you how many sentences I started with “This is probably a stupid question, but…” (spoiler: there are no stupid questions!) because I was uncomfortable with the volume of things I didn’t know that I felt I should know. I asked questions despite my discomfort and found that the answers were often things my supervisor didn’t explain because he took the information for granted. I was surprised how many times his answer to my “stupid question” began with “That’s a good question. I should have explained it to you earlier…” So ask away!

    Image from womenworld.org

  • Express interest in projects that you want to work on. Admittedly, I spent a lot of time filing and making copies in my first weeks at that job. I learned that vaguely asking, “Is there anything I could be working on right now?” does not always produce the desired result (exception: when the desired result is a jammed photocopier and paper cuts). It’s OK to ask about getting involved on a project that interests you. In general, extra help is always welcome and it shows that you are interested in more advanced work. Even if it isn’t feasible for you to get involved on that particular project, your supervisor is now aware of your interest and will appreciate that you took initiative, and will hopefully remember that for similar work in the future.
  • Take constructive feedback in stride. You’re bound to make mistakes in a new job – it’s unavoidable. What will set you apart is how you handle a mistake that your supervisor questions you about. If you’re defensive or emotional, then the conversation will be unpleasant and your supervisor might think twice about assigning you challenging work in the future simply to avoid a similar conversation. If you handle the critique gracefully and ask clarifying questions about what you could do differently next time, your supervisor might be more willing to provide more advanced work and to help you grow professionally.
  • Take communication cues from your supervisor. Building a good professional relationship with a supervisor takes time and it should be noted that it is not solely  up to your supervisor. Yes, he might be the one in charge, but you also need to maintain open lines of communication. That being said, it is important to take cues from your supervisor on his or her preferred communication habits. Is he receptive to unplanned drop-bys? Does she seem to rely more heavily on email? Noticing these preferences and remembering that everyone works differently can go a long way towards achieving productive communication.

4 Tips for being successful at co-op and as a student

This was written by Samantha Saggese, a 3rd year NU Chemistry major who is currently studying abroad as a guest post for The Works.

Starting your first co-op can be an unnerving experience. While you may have already spent a few summers here and there working full time, this is likely to be the first time you’re entering an entirely professional environment for six months straight. I like to think everybody makes mistakes on their first co-op, and probably their second and third co-op’s as well. Here are a few tips that’ll hopefully make your co-op experience memorable in a good way:

1. Dress to impress. I worked in a research lab in a hospital, so I actually dressed rather

source: browneyesandgreenbees.wordpress.com

source: browneyesandgreenbees.wordpress.com

casually in comparison to my friends working in financial firms or other office jobs. However, we had two rules that needed to be followed at work: no open-toed shoes and no denim jeans. I started noticing more and more that the older full-time employees sometimes got away with wearing jeans and the supervisor wouldn’t say anything, so I gave it a shot myself one time. Just play by the rules, because having that awkward conversation with your supervisor about why you messed up on the most basic of rules is, well, awkward.

2. Make an effort to make connections. You’re not going to be the only person on your team. Working with you will be people with so much life experience, and in turn, so many connections to other jobs and important people in your field. I want to go into the medical field, so of course I tried my best to chat up the physicians and nurses on my floor. They’ve already been through it, and literally are fountains of knowledge. Don’t sit quietly in the corner, take advantage!

3. Be nice to your co-workers. This could mean fellow co-op’s, or in some cases, full-time employees. Your personality will shine through in a positive light if you’re kind to your co-workers, willing to learn, and eager to help. It’s really a give and take—for me, I had rotating shifts at the hospital, and if I didn’t sometimes agree to switch shifts in my co-workers’ favor, there would be no reason for them to be there for me when I had a scheduling issue and needed to switch myself.

4. Get to know your supervisor. This is the person who will be evaluating you at the end of all of this, and why pass up the opportunity to get a killer recommendation from someone with weight in your field? You want them to be able to talk specifically about you, to know how hard of a worker you are, and to not give you some boring and generic recommendation at the end of your six months. Take a few minutes out of your day to talk to them and always be on your toes, even when you think they aren’t looking.

The great thing about co-op is that all of the tips and skills you pick up there are completely applicable once you get back into class. You should always try to get to know professors who teach the subject you’re most passionate about and make meaningful connections with your peers. And while you don’t necessarily need to dress to impress when you’re going to class, putting your best foot forward is always a must.

Samantha is a third year Chemistry major with a minor in Biology. She did her first co-op at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a Clinical Sleep Research Assistant in Spring 2013. Samantha is a Resident Assistant on campus, a member of NUSAACS and the Honors Program, and has studied abroad in Rome and London. Check out her travel blog at www.sightseeingsam.blogspot.com and/or feel free to contact her at saggese.s@husky.neu.edu.

Management Tips from “Restaurant Impossible”

Don't mess with the restaurant wizard, and also the inspiration for this blog post. source: foodnetwork.com

Don’t mess with the restaurant wizard, and also the inspiration for this blog post.
source: foodnetwork.com

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works. Follow her blog here and/or tweet her @lindseygsampson

Robert Irvine is a terrifying mix of Dr. Phil and that screaming guy from Hell’s Kitchen. He breaks you down and builds you back up again, all in the span of one 30-minute episode because he’s that kind of guy. While you endure the emotional roller coaster that is an episode of Restaurant: Impossible, there are also management lessons to be learned.

Set the example. If you don’t care about the success of your project, it’s hard to make anyone else care. You set the example for your staff (or co-workers). Show up, do great

source: www.careysmith.com

source: www.careysmith.com

work, and step in where you are needed. The boss isn’t above washing dishes or sweeping the floor after a busy night. Leadership isn’t all about delegating – sometimes you have to get your hands dirty.

Keep it simple. Don’t try to do too many things. It’s better to do a few things well than several things poorly. It’s a big red flag when a restaurant’s menu is ten pages long. Usually, Robert will cut it down to only a few menu items to ensure the highest quality. In the office, it’s more effective to focus on one or two tasks at a time than try to keep fifteen projects in the air.

Instill a sense of ownership. Kitchens and projects fail when the team has no sense of dedication or ownership. When the boss empowers his or her staff by assigning jobs and following up with individual staff members on their productivity (and giving proper recognition for goals reached), the staff gains more confidence, which leads to greater productivity.

Recognize talent. I’m a sucker for inspirational television. America’s Got Talent? Tear-jerker, no questions asked. When that uber-capable busboy on Restaurant: Impossible was promoted to shift manager? Nearly killed me. Look for the talent in your group, and foster it by recognizing and rewarding it. Allow people to step up and prove themselves in leadership roles.

Do not ignore problem workers. There’s always one kid spitting in the onion rings. Every episode, there’s an employee making waves and causing trouble. It’s never a secret, everyone knows who it is, and that worker usually turns it around during the course of the episode (or, sometimes, they’re fired). If you recognize one of these problem workers in your group, it’s your job as the boss to look into the problem and fix it.

You don’t have to be a screaming Robert Irvine to be a good manager. Understanding your team and learning to motivate them is crucial in developing an effective, productive team.

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/or tweet her @lindseygsampson.

 

I Graduated. Now What?

image source: www.thecollegecrush.com

image source: www.thecollegecrush.com

In a recent blog featured in the Washington Post, author Dylan Matthews writes of successful do-gooders at high paying Wall Street jobs who have opted to cash in for good instead of pursuing careers for good through what he calls “earning-to-give”. Matthews highlights MIT grad Jason Trigg who spends his days writing code at a hedge fund on Wall Street; Trigg believes that he can make more of an impact on the world by donating his hard earned income to organizations that are making a real difference. “A lot of people, they want to [help] and end up in the Peace Corps and in the developing world without running water… [but] I can donate some of my time in the office and make more of a difference,” says Trigg. Arguably, Trigg may be able to give away more money in a year than most people give in their entire lives.

In my job at the Social Enterprise Institute at Northeastern University, I come across many recent grads who believe that there are only two such paths for doing good. The Bill Gates’ of the world are hard hitting tech billionaires turned philanthropists, while the John Hatches of the world are idealist Peace Corps volunteers who start their own charitable organizations. What Matthews and Triggs fail to highlight are the numerous other paths to doing good for the world – paths that don’t involve sacrifice, or pay cuts, or digging wells for poor people in Africa.

A few years ago, one of my students, Shari, graduated from Northeastern and got a high paying job at a top four accounting firm. Last year, Shari came into my office unexpectedly and updated me about her life — she moved to New York City, lives in a fabulous apartment, makes more money than she can ever spend, has no student loan debt, and has achieved the quintessential American dream in every sense. She recently completed her CPA, and has ample opportunity to grow at her firm, but she asked me, is this enough? Because being a middle manager at a great accounting firm, volunteering on the weekends, and donating money to her favorite organization wasn’t fulfilling a deeper sense of urgency. Shari was tired of doing taxes for rich people, and wanted to use her business skills and knowledge to make a real difference.

A year later, she sent me an email, subject line: Remember our Conversation in November? “The conversation I am referring to is the one where I hate my job and its killing me working there. So that’s still happening but the feeling has become more suffocating,” she wrote.

I believe the path of social entrepreneurship leads to meaningful, well-paying careers for young people who understand enterprise as the solution to the world’s most pressing social problems. They are leaving behind the concept of traditional charities and non-governmental organizations and pursuing jobs at the intersection of business and development. This past May, the SEI graduated its largest class of seniors. Since we began in 2008, our students have gone on to pursue wonderful careers in finance, accounting, investment banking, or even entrepreneurship. However, as more students graduate, I’m surprised by the number of alumni like Shari who send desperate emails one-to-two years into their careers, seeking advice and encouragement to leave their desk jobs for something else.

Then I think of our alumni who are pursuing careers in the private sector, the public sector, through fellowships and other non-traditional paths – and I am compelled to respond.

For instance, Myles worked two years at a mobile healthcare start up before he left his job, the apartment he owns, and his friends/family to live in Kenya for six months to consult for a mobile tech social enterprise through Village Capital and Frontier Markets Program. Tim could have taken a finance job anywhere, but he also chose to work at Root Capital where he analyzes the company’s lending portfolio (mostly fair-trade coffee) from the mountains of Peru.

Or take Cynthia, who also left her job at a top accountancy firm to work at New Profit Inc., a venture philanthropy fund that specializes in high impact organizations and social enterprises. Meanwhile Nele is in Kenya working at the Paradigm Project, a for-profit B-Corp that sells solar cookers to lessen the environmental impact on our world. Lucas was recently awarded a Fulbright Fellowship where he will be researching the impact of fracking on the environment in Germany. From Atlanta to Seattle, we have a number of Teach for America Corps members working in the country’s toughest schools – in fact, Serrano turned down a lucrative offer at a management consulting firm to join TFA instead.

In an otherwise tough job market and economy, our alumni inspire me. So while writing at my desk, I send Shari an encouraging email with lists upon lists of fellowship opportunities, domestic jobs, and international postings, none of which involve well intentioned voluntourists or digging wells in rural Africa. I am hopeful for her, and the many other graduates who know that earning-to-give is one path of many to meaningful, fulfilling careers that make the world a truly better place.

Esther Chou cur­rently works at the Social Enter­prise Insti­tute as the Assis­tant Direc­tor of Pro­grams. She grad­u­ated from North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity with a BA in Inter­na­tional Affairs & Eco­nom­ics and is currently pursuing an MsC in Management.  She also worked for a refugee relief orga­ni­za­tion as the Project Man­ager for their micro-finance ser­vices, help­ing to cre­ate income oppor­tu­ni­ties for rural farm­ers and micro-entre­pre­neurs. She has spent three years work­ing in the inter­na­tional devel­op­ment field in cen­tral and south­ern Africa. You can find the extended version of this post http://www.northeastern.edu/sei/2013/09/i-graduated-now-what/

 

 

 

Two Ways To Get Off To A Fast Start At Work

Set the standard! Source: tofurious.com

Set the standard!
Source: tofurious.com

The guest post for The Works was written by 2012 NU communication studies alum, Chris Garland. Since then, he’s worked as a Corporate Trainer for both Sysco Foods and Halliburton Energy Services, where he flies around the country supporting thousands of employees. His work mostly deals in Corporate Training and Change Management.  

Barely a month after graduation, I flew to the middle of nowhere Alabama – by Alabama standards – to support a local Sysco Foods’ office in implementing a new sales platform.  Did I feel ready to support and advise them?  The answer didn’t really matter.  What mattered was that I learned how to make myself a valuable resource for them.  I learned how to get off to a great start.   If I didn’t, I was nothing more than an Independent Contractor, who could easily be fired at a moment’s notice without even the requirement of a reason.

Now that I’m on my third project as a Corporate Trainer, I’ve learned just how important it is to get off to a great start at work.  The two ways I shared  can be easily adopted and used in your own careers, co-ops, and anything else you may pursue in your professional life.

#1: Set A Benchmark

We’ve all had assignments that restrict us to completing them in specific ways, i.e. 10 pages, APA format, 5 sources, 7-minute speech with a PowerPoint, rubbing your stomach and head with different hands while standing on one leg, etc.  How often have we been asked to complete an assignment with no standard way of doing it?

When you start a new job, chances are you will be asked to do tasks that have no benchmark.  Each predecessor before you probably whipped together their own version of completing whatever assigned work task, and while each version may have been completely satisfactory work, they weren’t done to the point that a standard was a set. Be the one to set that standard.

My first job after graduation I was contracted to work on a Corporate Training team with Bluewolf for Sysco Foods.  Bluewolf was finishing up a Salesforce.com implementation and my Project Manager asked me to work on a tip sheet for their new custom developed mobile version of the application.  This app would not be taught in a class like the web version, but it would be used by thousands of sales employees throughout the United States.  A simple tip sheet would have been enough to do the job, but instead, I made a full-blown user guide.  I made sure to receive feedback from employees that would use the guide as well as the developer that created the app to ensure it was not just an abundance of information thrown on a page, but something that was user friendly.  I can honestly say I put 100% into that assignment.

A couple of weeks later, I was contacted by a Bluewolf employee asking me for the non-PDF version of the guide for Bluewolf to use for two reasons.  The first one was no surprise as they wanted to use the guide as a template for future use.  The second reason was for something I did not expect.  They wanted to use the guide as an example of work that can be provided during sales meetings with new clients.

#2: Become A Subject Matter Expert

Think about some of the smartest, most insightful teachers you have ever had throughout your college career.  They challenge their classes to ask question after question and to critically think about the topic at hand.  Occasionally, the discussion reaches the inevitable point where the teacher just does not know the answer.

When you start a new job, you are bound to ask questions – I honestly don’t think there is such a thing as too many questions or stupid questions – and if you ask enough, you may eventually venture into subjects no one has the answers to.  Become the Subject Matter Expert.

I recently started a second project with Halliburton – yes, that Dick Cheney company – and from day one I was asking multiple trainers question after question to learn how the new application I would soon be training worked.  Eventually I found an area of the application that no trainers had learned how to use yet.  I made it my goal to figure out this functionality of the application, which led to me meeting with one of the developers to discuss all of the intricacies from a software standpoint and a training perspective.  Before long, I became the local Subject Matter Expert for all of the other trainers to learn about this topic.  So while I only recently joined my team, I was already able to become a valuable resource for both my colleagues as well as my project managers.

Setting a Benchmark and Becoming a Subject Matter Expert are both ways to get off to a great start in a new position.  However, when I started brainstorming and listing every single way to get off to a great start I could think of, they all had one simple thing in common.  They are all about taking the initiative.

Chris Garland graduated from Northeastern back in Spring 2012 with a Communications degree.   Since then, he’s worked as a Corporate Trainer for both Sysco Foods and Halliburton Energy Services, where he flies around the country every week to support thousands of employees in places that have ranged from Denver and Los Angeles to Des Moines, Iowa – where “I had such a great BBQ sandwich that I almost finished eating it without even realizing I didn’t put on any of the provided BBQ sauce on.” His work mostly deals in Corporate Training, Change Management, and finding cool new places in cities he’s never been to.  Reach out to him via email at garland9.c@gmail.com.

On quitting.

Emily Brown is a Career Services 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.

Quitting. We’ve all done it. Whether it was that youth soccer team or student government, we’ve all made that decision not to continue with a certain activity or group. It was easy enough right? Just don’t sign up the next go around. But what about quitting your first job? You can’t just opt out on January first. Thanks, but no thanks, I won’t be returning this year. There has to be careful planning – where will I work instead? Can I schedule interviews during my lunch break? When do I tell my boss? HOW do I tell my boss? What do I do and say on my last day? Just like the first day on a new job, leaving a job can be anxiety-ridden. If an interview is like a first date, leaving a job is the break-up – “it’s not you, it’s me… we just want different things… it’s a great place to work, just not great for me anymore.” Like break-ups in one’s personal life, quitting a job is unavoidable in one’s professional life. So how do you ensure that you keep it professional and “stay friends” (aka leave on good terms)?

image from scottmccown.files.wordpress.com

  1. Timing – Two weeks’ notice. It’s the right thing to do. If the company policy requests more than two weeks notice, then adhere to that.
  2. Transition – Someone else is going to have to do your job when you’re gone right? Whether it’s a new employee or a coworker, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to take on your tasks. This might mean training the new employee, scheduling meetings to discuss projects with coworkers, making LISTS. Everyone loves a list.
  3. Last day – Don’t just beeline out the door at 5:00. Say goodbye to your boss and coworkers and thank them for the experience. You could send a group email to coworkers with your personal contact information if you want to stay in touch.
  4. Trash talk – Just don’t do it. The world is small and negative comments could easily get back to former boss or coworkers. If your new employer hears your negativity, he or she might think you’re immature or ungrateful.

So, no, quitting a job is not as simple as quitting girl scouts, but if done in a professional manner, it is not a negative experience. Keep in mind that everyone likely has to do it at some point in their career, so your boss will understand what you are experiencing and hopefully be supportive of your decision.

Emily Brown is a Career Services 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.

The DOs and DON’Ts of working in the professional world

This post was written by 2012 alum Michele Richinick who is now a digital reporter for MSNBC.com in New York City as a guest post for The Works.

Let’s face it: there are certain actions and behaviors you should and should not exhibit in the workplace. But some people just don’t know right from wrong.

1-first-job davidrjolly

Source: davidrjolly.wordpress.com

I completed three co-ops at Northeastern and have been working in New York City for the duration of my post-grad life since Commencement in May 2012. But I have been learning about the professional world since December 2008 when I began my first co-op.

I polled a few friends (most are fellow Huskies) and coworkers, and this is a compilation of our advice. I’m not saying we experienced all of the following events, but we definitely witnessed them in our respective workplaces throughout the country:

 

The Don’ts:

1. Don’t “Reply All” to an email chain. Understand the differences—and repercussions—between “Reply” and “Reply All” to avoid humiliation.

Did you really want your thoughts on the meeting going to everyone? Source: online.wsj.com

Did you really want your thoughts on the meeting going to everyone?
Source: online.wsj.com

2. Don’t have a personal conversation at your desk. Find a conference room to discuss your after-work issues that you must have with your best friend, sister, significant other, or landlord (or anyone who isn’t related to work, actually).

3. Don’t bring your personal emotions into the office. Your desk neighbor doesn’t want to hear your sob story from the weekend, so leave that at the door.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, despite how silly you think they seem. This way, you will avoid erroneously completing an entire project only to realize you did it all wrong.

5. Don’t gossip about fellow coworkers…or your boss. You’re not hurting anyone but yourself when you do. Better yet, don’t be so intolerable that people gossip about you.

6. Do not insert emoticons or multiple exclamation points (if any) into work emails. Despite how relaxed your superiors might act, always be professional.

7. Do not wear weekend attire to the office. Save the crop tops, flip-flops, and see-through shirts for the weekend. No one will take you seriously if you don’t.

8. Don’t apply for a job you don’t want. It will be a waste of time for both parties if you meet the employer for an interview and initially know you will decline the position.

9. Don’t talk back to your boss, even if there isn’t much of an age difference between you two. Hopefully you will have the chance to climb the career ladder someday. You will want people to respect you then, right?

10. Don’t forget that at work socials, you’re still at work. Be careful not to overdo it if alcohol is being served, everyone will know why you “called in sick” the next day.

11. Don’t be nervous, but also don’t overstep your boundaries. You should express your opinions, but keep them G-rated.

12. Don’t forget an umbrella. Sitting in wet clothes all day is not fun. Keeping a pair of shoes under your desk also proves helpful.

The Do’s:

1. Do arrive early. You will be remembered for answering your phone at 8:01 a.m. in a world where tardiness is common…especially in cities.

2. Do network with people outside of your cubicle. A perk of having a job at a company you appreciate is meeting other people with similar interests who share advice from their past experiences.

3. Do be willing to engage a coworker who asks for your help. Use the opportunity to stand out and share the knowledge you learned as a Husky. Don’t be annoyed by their questions.

4. Do bring in goodies. Who doesn’t love to eat? If you have free time one night, bake cookies or brownies and bring them to work. Everyone will love you.

5. Do create a proper personal email address. Depending on your profession, you will most likely have to correspond with your coworkers after work and on weekends. Replace foxychick123 with a professional username, such as your first initial and last name.

6. Do jump at the chance to complete a new task. Your coworkers likely gave it to you because they have confidence in your abilities, not because they have time to dish out so-called busy work.

7. Do be flexible. Sometimes a project calls for earlier or later hours; be OK with adjusting your schedule accordingly.

8. Do work on holidays. This might not be an issue for every profession. But if it is, you will be rewarded in the long-run for missing the family barbecue on Memorial Day. Did you really want to see Uncle Henry anyway?

9. Do keep an eye on your personal budget. Just because you have an income now

Gotta love some 2 Chainz Source: Elitedaily.com

Gotta love some 2 Chainz
Source: Elitedaily.com

doesn’t mean you should make it rain all in one place. Invest in your future.

10. Do make sure your ear buds are plugged in securely to your computer. Your coworkers don’t want to hear lyrics streaming from your 2 Chainz Pandora station.

11. Do be open-minded. In your work and in your communications.

And finally…
12. Do always wear a smile. Having a positive attitude about being at work will affect your job performance…significantly.

Michele Richinick graduated from Northeastern’s College of Arts, Media and Design in May 2012 with a journalism degree. She now works as a digital reporter for MSNBC.com in New York City. Check out her MSNBC.com author page http://tv.msnbc.com/author/michelecrichinick/  and Tweet her at @mrich1201.