You Worked There How Long?

This guest post was written by Tina Mello, a co-op faculty member in the College of Science and former Northeastern University Career Development Associate Director.

I worked for Northeastern’s Career Development office for over 11 years, before starting a new position this past February, working with biology students in the co-op program at Northeastern. In this day and age, it’s rare for someone to stay in one job for as long as I did. Taking a new job can be exciting and scary and energizing and nerve-wracking all at the same time, but especially for someone who’s been in the same job for as long as I had. Staying at the same University and already knowing some of my new colleagues made the transition easier, but it’s still an adjustment.

Things that you sometimes take for granted when starting a new job:

  • The people. Without question, Career Development is filled with AMAZING people who make wonderful colleagues – collaborative, creative, and dedicated to Northeastern students (there’s a reason The Princeton Review regularly ranks Career Development #1 or #2 nationally). I worked with some of the same people for 11 years – they weren’t just coworkers, they were friends. We had lunch together regularly, knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and knew the names of spouses/significant others/children.
    My husband's bird Kiwi- glamour shot!

    My husband’s bird Kiwi- glamour shot!

    Which isn’t to say we didn’t butt heads or sometimes drive each other crazy – that’s bound to happen when you see someone day in and day out. My new colleagues are great, but we’re still a relatively unknown quantity to each other. I’m still learning people’s quirks and personalities, and sometimes I have to explain my sense of humor or perspective. Though it does also mean I have a new audience for stories about my husband’s Amazon parrot Kiwi and how crazy she can be…

  • Space and location. I was settled into and comfortable with my own office. I knew where everything was, whether it was the bathroom or employer gifts or paper to refill the printer. It’s been 5 months since I moved into my new office, and I still don’t remember where I put everything. And have you ever been to Mugar? Some days I walked in circles trying to find my office. It took me months to figure out which building entrance was closest, and then they shut down that entrance due to construction. Ugh. It’s not a big deal per se, but these kinds of things can be disorienting and slow you down.
  • Knowing how to do your job. I was a core member of an experienced group of staff in Career Development, and was sought out for my knowledge in particular areas, such as the social media for the office. I knew my job well, and I had a rhythm going. Now I’m the one asking all the questions and wondering how I can make a direct and immediate contribution to the group. My skills with resumes, cover letters and interviewing are easily transferable to my new position, but I’m also learning how some of these things vary in the context of co-op, and more details about policies and procedures. I’ve collaborated with alumni and employers when doing programs for Career Development, but I’m new to job development and relationship management, and rely on my colleagues for strategic advice. It’s not unusual to take 6 months to a year to completely settle into a job, especially with something as cyclical and time sensitive as co-op – I haven’t seen the cycle through from start to finish yet.

Adapting to a new job has its growing pains, but it’s also exciting. Learning new things is a challenge, but it’s also energizing, and is what motivated me to change jobs.

For additional tips on adjusting to a new job, read this post from my favorite blogger, Alison Green, writer of AskaManager.org.

Tina Mello is now a Co-op Coordinator for the Biology program at Northeastern, having left Career Development in January. She’s currently busy deciphering phrases like “in vivo” and “assays,” and trying not to get lost in Mugar.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Office Kitchen Etiquette

This guest post was written by Katie Merrill, an NU and BC alum and Academic Advisor for the Honors Program at NU.

image source: izismile.com

image source: izismile.com

I am inspired to write this post based on situations I have personally experienced through the past few years.  The sins I will address occur much more frequently, I believe, than the comedic stolen sandwich violation often depicted on TV (remember the Friend’s episode when Ross is ordered to get help with anger management because of his stolen sandwich?). The office kitchen is a privilege that can be immensely important for people looking to save money on buying lunch every day. Don’t abuse it, and definitely don’t commit one of these deadly kitchen sins:

 

 

1. Bring in all the yogurts. All of them.

The office fridge is the lost land of unwanted yogurts. Every Monday people want to make up for the nutritional wrong doings of their weekend, and they bring in 12 yogurts to guide them on the path of dietary righteousness. Yogurt is obviously a healthier breakfast than the bacon, egg, and cheese they want from Dunkin’ Donuts. What happens to these poor yogurt friends however? They get lost in the abyss of the fridge, never to be consumed. By Wednesday people are back to eating their Dunkin’ delicacies, done dieting for the week, vowing next week will be better and searching the grocery flyers to see where has Chobani on sale. I once threw out a yogurt that was 11 months old. I kid you not.

2. Cook scallops in the toaster oven.

Or raw steak tips. Or raw chicken. Really anything that ever lived and breathed that has not already been cooked in your home. I had someone in my office decide he was gong to eat healthier for the week by cooking fresh meals for himself at lunch; a great idea…for someone who works from home. This guy was trying to bake bone-in chicken in our communal toaster oven on his 30-minute lunch break. Wonderful to think of, knowing my English muffin was going to be toasted in the same appliance. I have never seen an office more passive-aggressively angry than the day he cooked scallops.

3. Save your soy sauce, mustard, and ketchup packets.

I know you want to use them again, and I know you think saving them, you will feel so good about being able to come to the rescue when someone in the office cries out that their tuna sandwich is dry and they just NEED some mustard to get by. But I am telling you now- you are NEVER going to use them.  Instead, they will accumulate in drawers, on counter tops, in the butter tray in the fridge, and in your desk. Let them go. Along with the Sweet n’ Low and free napkins from the takeout you got last week. Let them all go. You will thank me in the end.

4. Use it as a space to dump Halloween candy.

Or Christmas candy. Or Easter, Hanukah, Passover, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, your Birthday, etc. candy. After big holidays or events, the office kitchen becomes a dumping ground for all the things people don’t want in their own houses. I can remember dreading the week after Halloween at one office I worked at. The amount of candy that would arrive at work and be heaped into a pile in the kitchen could stock a movie theater. Ultimately, it just became a place for people to eat each other’s sweets. The same people who would come in with all their children’s picked over treats would be eating from the pile contributed by their colleague. Just say no. We don’t want your second-hand confections any more than you do.

5. Use any body and everybody’s salad dressing.

If it’s not yours, please ask. Do you remember going to the store and buying that? Then it’s probably not yours and you should ask. Nothing is as irritating as bringing out your salad at lunch only to reach for your dressing and realize that it is empty and your delicious lunch is now going to be just a pile of lettuce.

6. Think it’s okay for your dishes to sit in the sink overnight.

The sink has an expiration date and your mother/spouse/roommate is not coming by anytime soon to clean out your leftover pasta salad from your Rubbermaid container, so please do it yourself. You should do it right after eating, but on particularly busy days please do it before you leave that night.

7. Leaving Leftovers.

Did you know that 99% of food does not get better with age? Your mom’s lasagna will not be better if you leave it over the weekend. In fact, it will probably make you sick if you try to eat it, and then you will have to take a sick day, and then the office will get backed up with work…just don’t do it. The mold I have seen, the smells I have smelled, I’ve dealt with horrors no man, woman, or child should have to see.

The office kitchen is a shared space for grown-ups- act like one and your office mates will be eternally grateful. Bon Appetit!

Katie is an Academic Advisor for the Honors Program at Northeastern University. She studied art history as an undergraduate in Boston, and received her Masters degree in College Student Development and Counseling from the Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. She likes to run and cook in her free time. 

Why Networking Is A Lot Like Dating

Generally, when I mention the word “networking” to students, a look of sheer panic fills their eyes.  It’s as if I asked them to recite the Declaration of Independence or some obscure Shakespeare passage.  As a Career Counselor, I am a huge advocate of networking, but as a Millennial myself, I understand the uncomfortable feeling of actually talking to a stranger in person, or even worse, over the phone (and I’m generally using a land line, yes, they still exist).

You don't have a target card?! source: reddit.com

You don’t have a target card?!
source: reddit.com

Over the course of my various career coaching/counseling appointments with students, I found myself trying to convince them that networking really wasn’t that bad and then, all of a sudden, it hit me (I knew that look of pure panic looked vaguely familiar). Networking was a lot like dating.  You know that moment when you think that guy or girl is kind of cute?  Maybe you’re in class or out with friends, and you’re just not sure exactly how to approach the situation.  “Should I say something, or no?  What would I even say?  Maybe they won’t like me.  Why did I wear this stupid shirt?”  I noticed a lot of my clients were having the same if not similar reactions/questions when I was encouraging them to network.  “What am I supposed to even say?  Why would they want to even talk to me?  I feel annoying.  Can I wear this shirt?”

My epiphany inspired me to write this series.  To give you a little preview, the next few posts are as follows and will appear weekly:

  1. The Initial Approach (parts I and II)
  2. The First Date
  3. The Courtship
  4. Let’s go steady

Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll hit two birds with one stone here.

What are some aspects about networking that freak you out?  What are some tips, for those of you who feel comfortable networking, you would give to green networkers?

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

Keep Calm and Don’t Punch Anyone

stressed out guyThis guest post was written by graduate candidate and full time professional, Kristina Swope.

Well, easier said than done. On days like today, where the humidity is 450% and I’m drowning in schoolwork and job responsibilities, it’s incredibly difficult not to take down innocent bystanders. When the biggest urge you have is to karate chop a coworker in the side just because they exist, it’s time to stop, take a deep breathe, and think about what can be done.

We hear about work-life balance all the time. As a society, we talk about it constantly. It’s in articles, blogs, and often discussed in the workplace. The bottom line is the employee is responsible for their work-life balance. In theory, it’s a great concept – when you can swing it.

But what about days like today? What about sitting at your desk at 9pm, when the florescent auto-lighting in the office has turned off on you and five people are shouting at you via email? You feel run-down, like nothing can be done fast enough or well enough for anyone’s liking. By the time you get home, the most energy you can muster results in laying on your living room floor watching the ceiling fan spin around.

I’m guilty of all the above. On more occasions than I’d like to admit, I’ve been one step away from ripping my hair out, just because it would be less painful than the stampede of people. Instead, I’ve started using a less painful technique that has helped organize the millions of little tasks that have to be taken care of.

stressed out girlFirst, breathe. Close your eyes, stop yourself from reacting, and don’t allow your emotions to take you on a rollercoaster. No one actually likes to go upside-down anyway, it just happens and then afterwards we’re glad we survived.

Shut it down.  Even if you have a ton more to today, the best thing you can do for yourself is to shut down. Close the laptop, turn off the cell phone, and do something you truly enjoy. Whether that’s catching up on a show in a blanket cocoon because you never have the time, or it’s going out to dinner with a friend, it’s just what your soul needs.

Make lists. Once you’re ready to reboot, the best way to move forward is to organize yourself. If you’re juggling multiple responsibilities, it may help to make separate lists. Personally, I make one list of tasks for school, one for work, and one for personal. Looking at what needs to be accomplished on paper helps you get a better sense of timing and allows you to prioritize tasks across categories.

Finally, take action where you can. Look at your respective lists and see what can be done today. If you have three small personal tasks, why not stay up an extra hour or two and finish them up? You’ll be lying in bed thinking about everything you have to do anyway, so you might as well be productive. Not to mention, the feeling of crossing something off your list is surprisingly rewarding and one by one those tasks come off the list. Even though more will be added, it will prevent anything important from falling through the cracks. It won’t happen all in one day, but you’ll wield the lists slowly but surely.

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

Happy at Work

background image source: theguardian.com

background image source: theguardian.com

Clap along if you feel that happiness is the truth

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you.

- Pharrell Williams, “Happy”

Thanks, Pharrell.  As a Grammy-winning, big hat-wearing, record-producing singer songwriter, you probably do know “what happiness is to you,” and we’re happy for you.  But happiness at work is more elusive for the rest of us.  Whether you’re in your dream job or just working for the paycheck until you can snag something better, there are factors other than the specific content of your work (I’m talking to you, first co-op) that can make happiness your truth.

The happiest employees are those who have certain core needs met: physical comfort, including regular breaks; appreciation for their contributions; flexibility in how to approach their work; and an environment that allows them to focus on their tasks. It’s a great idea to try to find out how a company rates in these areas before accepting a job, but it’s not always easy.  And what do you do if you’re already in a job that doesn’t put a smile on your face?

Bottom line, your happiness at work is largely up to you.  I say largely, because obviously the conditions of your workplace and the people around you have an enormous influence. But you can choose to be an equally enormous influence on your own experience; you can choose to see your situation at work as one that you can change if you don’t like it.

The first step is to define for yourself what makes you happy or unhappy at work, then appropriately share this with others. Happiness at work does not require a perfect situation; I doubt that exists.  It does require minimizing or changing the bad and amplifying the good.

Are you frustrated with a lack of communication?  Ask for more feedback and stay on top of the company’s social media. Do you think you’re stuck in your position?  Seek out opportunities to learn new skills and volunteer for projects and committees.  Feeling overwhelmed? Commit to only the amount you can reasonably do, asking your boss to help you prioritize if need be.

Give your happiness project time and change will happen.  But if it doesn’t, resolve to move on, then turn to your network (and a career counselor) to support and strategize your next move with you.  Clap along!

Author Susan Loffredo began counseling NU students well before the iPhone was invented and owns socks that are older than the class of 2013. Email her at s.loffredo@neu.edu.

“Things Change and it’s OK”- Advice from a Nursing Alum

Clockwise from left: NU Commencement in 2009; Machu Picchu - 2008; NU Alumni event at the Red Sox/Giants game in San Francisco 2013; After completing the San Francisco Half Marathon in 2013

Clockwise from left: NU Commencement in 2009; Machu Picchu – 2008; NU Alumni event at the Red Sox/Giants game in San Francisco 2013; After completing the San Francisco Half Marathon in 2013

This guest post was written by Michaela Coté, a 2009 nursing alum and now a Registered Nurse on a Med/Surg floor at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, CA.

I graduated with my degree in Nursing on May 1, 2009. This year, May 1st fell on a Thursday, a #throwbackthursday or #tbt to the Instagram world. As I scrolled through my Instagram app during lunch, #tbt after #tbt popped up of old friends back at their Northeastern graduations. At first I couldn’t believe it. 5 years?! Then I looked around my work break room and down at my faded scrubs I bought on my first coop. Yup, 5 years.

So, here I am. I’ve been out of college as long as I was in college. Time flies, and boy do I need new scrubs. Alas, here’s what I have to share.

Things change and it’s OK. I am a Nurse. When I started college, I was told I could do whatever I want, wherever I want, and just maybe my student loans would get paid. When I graduated, every hospital was on a hiring freeze, meaning I couldn’t even pay my student loans. I got lucky (thanks to a NU connection!), and landed a job that would have originally been my last choice. I now love my job so much so that I have yet to get a new one. Now, the healthcare system has taken a turn and my job is once again on the line. One of the reasons I went into healthcare was because there would ‘always be jobs’. But, things change and I can’t do a thing about it except make the most of it. The first job you land might not be the one you want, but how do you really know? We are young and we have time. Things will work out, they just do.

Save. From our co-op experience of having steady full time jobs, we should be good with money at this point. Whether that’s true or not is another story. Personally, while my paychecks may have helped to pay some bills (kind of…), they also made it very possible for me to go in and out of Lord & Taylor sales (which are are AMAZING if you’re not aware). In any case, it’s time to get serious about money with your first official job. Set up your retirement plan and do it before your first paycheck. That way, you’ll never know
how much cash you could be making, and your retirement fund will be off to a great start. It’s like you’re putting money away for the Lord & Taylor sales of year 2055, right?!

Loans are memories. You have no choice but to pay back your loans, so try to put a positive spin on them. Each month when you sit down to make your monthly payment, think about what an amazing time you had at Northeastern. Think about the hours you spent in the caf freshman year. Think of the numbers of pitchers you drank at Connor’s (that co-op paychecks also funded), and the amount of ‘last calls’ you thought were necessary at Our House. Think of the lifelong friendships you made and the laughs you’ve
shared. Think of the ridiculous amount of free t-shirts you have, the sporting events, the fact that you shopped at Wollaston’s despite the crazy mark ups, the Marino center, T rides, the Pru, being a part of a Red Sox World Series, your co-op experiences. Whatever it is, you loved Northeastern, you had a great education and experience, and you are lucky to get a monthly reminder of that. My brother went to a state school and has no loans. Sucker. He gets no reminders of how great college was.

Travel & find a ‘hobby’. You are young and most likely have only yourself to look after. You now accrue vacation time at your new fancy job, and you make real money (hopefully). You no longer have to study. Your free time is your free time. Go see the world! You have the resources and the time, so get out there and make the most of it before you’re tied down. On that same note, you have FREE TIME. Find something new to do. Take up one of those ‘hobbies’ job interviewers always think you have. Read a book that isn’t a
textbook. Start playing a new sport. Take up a new activity. Make a personal non work and school related goal for yourself. Don’t you dare let this time and freedom waste away.

Congratulations on your graduation. Go show the world what an amazing person Northeastern helped make you. Use your Northeastern connections and brag about your coops. You will do great.

Michaela Coté is a Registered Nurse on a Med/Surg floor at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, CA. Many thanks to her co-op advisor, Jacki Diani, for putting her in touch with a past NU professor who at the time worked at the medical center and introduced her to a hiring manager for an interview. Feel free to contact her at Michaela.cote@gmail.com

When You’re Too Good For Them

Source: blog.careerworx.co.uk

Source: blog.careerworx.co.uk

This post was written by Associate Director of Northeastern Career Development, Susan Loffredo.

Have you ever dated someone who used “You’re too good for me” as a reason for breaking up with you? Did you believe it? I didn’t think so.  So when an employer passes on hiring you for the same reason, you shouldn’t believe it either. Or should you?

In most cases, you probably should.  Just because you’ve moved way beyond the job you’re currently applying for, doesn’t mean you would be better at it than someone who has only those exact qualifications. In fact, you probably wouldn’t be as good, because those old skills are probably rusty.

I am assuming here that you applied for a lower level job not because it’s the job of your dreams but because you need a job, any job. Hiring managers understand this, and are leery of candidates who seem like they are only interested in a quick paycheck and will decamp as soon as a better offer comes along.

Employers are also concerned that candidates with an overabundance of experience will be bored and unmotivated because the job isn’t challenging, and will ultimately become unhappy with the lower salary and status. And think about this: if your qualifications are equal to or greater than those of your prospective manager, you may be perceived as someone who is gunning for that manager’s job.  While there are managers secure enough to hire someone who could challenge their authority and expertise, not many do.

Your best chance of getting hired is by going after jobs that fit your qualifications to perfection. But if the rent is due and you have to broaden your search, selectively applying to positions that require less experience may be a reasonable option, especially if you are able to commit to staying at least a year.

In addition, choose jobs that offer you a chance to learn something, maybe a new field or a different set of skills. Explain in your cover letter that this is one reason this job appeals to you.  Be clear that you realize the salary may be less than someone with your experience might expect, but that it’s okay.   Maybe a less challenging job will allow you to have more time outside of work to devote to family, additional training or an important hobby. Make this point in your cover letter as well if it fits.

The job market seems to be improving, but there are still so many job seekers on the market that employers, like Goldilocks, can usually choose the one who is just right.  But if you can show the employer valid reasons for your interest and the worth of your skills, that just right one could be you.

Author Susan Loffredo began counseling NU students well before the iPhone was invented and owns socks that are older than the class of 2013. Email her at s.loffredo@neu.edu.

“Can you think like a (insert job title here)?”

Clockwise from the left: Graduation day celebrating with Chara, Road Trip with Club Ice Hockey at UVM, and me now

Clockwise from the left: Graduation day celebrating with Chara, Road Trip with Club Ice Hockey at UVM, and me now

This guest post for the 5 Alums, 5 Years Later series was written by Jeff Donaldson. Jeff graduated Cum Laude in 2009 with a BS in Electrical Engineering and is a Lead Electrical Engineer at CDM Smith.

In a world where we have everything at our finger tips, we often take for granted that accomplishments take time. Many of you reading this want to get right out into the “real-world” and make a difference in your field. I want to let you know that “YOU ARE READY”! Co-op definitely prepared all of us for what it is like to hold a job, get to work on time, and begin to feel what responsibility really is. But let’s take a step back and think about what the classroom environment prepared us for.   After all, that was a huge part of the $200k+ we paid, right?

I’m going to cut to the chase here (mostly because I am an engineer and writing isn’t a strong suit for many of us).  Looking back over the last five years, I can honestly say that about 90% of what I do at my job I did not learn in the classroom. Although I cannot speak for every major and degree, I am confident that many of you will agree with me.

Now before you go ask President Aoun for a refund, ask yourself if you feel confident in your ability to learn. Of course you do; you just graduated college. The ability to be a lifelong learner is something that will impact your professional success for the rest of your life, and that you did learn in the classroom.

You spent the better part of the last 5 years sitting in the lecture halls, doing homework, and studying for hours on end in Snell Library (read: procrastinating on Twitter and Facebook). You have recently passed your last finals (assuming graduate school isn’t in your future life) and received the Bachelor of Blank in Blank you’ve worked so hard for. Officially, you are extremely knowledgeable of said subject matter.

So, next question: Can you think like a/an (insert new job title here)?  Many of you will probably say, “Hmmm, I don’t really know what that means. What does it mean to think like a/an (insert new job title here)?”

The day has come to officially apply all of that college knowledge to a full-time professional position. My advice is: be confident in your ability, even if you don’t know something at your new job. Know that you possess the tools to give the assigned tasks a try (trust me, your boss will take notice and reward you for it). All of your course work has trained you to respond, read, prepare, and talk like a professional. This is so important to realize NOW as you graduate and take the first steps in your career.

That said, please be careful not to be over confident.  Understand you have the tools to be successful, but that success takes time. Learning how to apply what you’ve learned and to continue to be a lifelong learner goes a long way. Coupled with patience and hard work, you’re sure to be a success.

So, good luck, congratulations, and may you all have great success in the next chapter of your lives.

YOU ARE READY!

Jeff Donaldson graduated Cum Laude in 2009 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He is currently a Lead Electrical Engineer at CDM Smith, a Consulting and Design Engineering firm in Cambridge and a Registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He also founded the Northeastern Men’s Ice Hockey Club Team in 2005. Please feel free to contact him at donaldson.jeff@gmail.com.

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.