5 Common Misconceptions About the Nonprofit Sector

nonprofit word in letterpress typeAlthough nonprofits play a large role in each of our daily lives, there are common misconceptions about what nonprofits are, and what they do.

1. Nonprofits don’t make money.

This myth stems from a sheer lack of understanding of the term 501(c)(3)- the tax-exempt identification necessary to become a nonprofit organization. Being a 501(c)(3) does not ban an organization from making money, it simply means that all profits go toward their mission and purpose. A nonprofit actually cannot live or function without profit- because they would be unable to run the programs and activities which create impact. And although some nonprofits struggle for funding (including many of the social change organizations I have worked for,) there are countless nonprofits who have no money problems whatsoever. Think of the NFL, the New York Stock Exchange, or Northeastern. All are nonprofit organizations, and all are making quite a bit of money.

2. Nonprofit careers are for those who couldn’t make it elsewhere.

I hear this one all the time- that certain degrees are cut out for nonprofit careers, and certain degrees aren’t. Nonprofit professionals chose careers in the sector because they were passionate and driven about their causes, not because they weren’t smart enough to pursue other career paths. In fact, many nonprofit organizations now prefer to hire MBA’s as opposed to MPA’s- showing the increased demand for business knowledge across the entire nonprofit world.

3. Nonprofits all do the same thing.

Even I have been guilty of imagining a “nonprofit world” in my mind, consisting only of social change and educational organizations. However this is far from the real world of nonprofits. To name a few organizations who are making leaps and bounds in unexpected places: St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the American Red Cross, TED, the Smithsonian Institute, and NPR.

4. Nonprofit work environments are casual and laid-back.

Just as any other sector, every office has its own distinct environment. Smaller organizations tend to be more casual, while large universities and hospitals expect more professional attire. Speaking from personal experience, I have worked for organizations where I could wear my Birkenstocks to work everyday, and others where my Birkenstocks would be considered absolutely ridiculous and rude. This goes for office culture as well- the entire spectrum from extremely casual to extremely rigid exists in the nonprofit world.

5. Working in a nonprofit means hands-on, direct service.

The most common comment to when I describe my career aspirations is, “You must help so many people.” Every individual who chooses to pursue a nonprofit career wants to create an impact, and see that impact- including myself. However, we often don’t get to see that impact on a daily basis- or directly “help” people. While there are professionals who constantly work in the field and in programs, this is definitely not always the case. Many nonprofit jobs require working in an office, with administration, finance, or human resources material. And although change is always occurring, we don’t always get to see it happen live.

Daniella is a sophomore at Northeastern with a combined major in Human Services and International Affairs, and a minor in Spanish. She is currently on her first co-op working for a youth development nonprofit organization in Cape Town, South Africa. Daniella is passionate about social change, travel, and good food- and can’t wait to see what Africa has to offer her both professionally and personally.

Email her at emami.d@husky.neu.edu. Look for Daniella’s posts every other Tuesday.

LinkedIn is More Than a Recruiting Tool

LinkedIn is typically stereotyped as a recruiting platform for where you should upload your resume when you’re on the job hunt.  Sure, this may be the case at one point but over the years LinkedIn has grown to be way more than that. Your LinkedIn profile is a major component to your personal brand and you should give it the same tender love and care that you do for your Facebook page, maybe even a little more. I say this because typically the first thing that comes up when I google someone’s name is a link to their LinkedIn profile page. This isn’t by coincidence either, it’s a partly due to Google’s search algorithm that pushes SEO and Social content to the top of the search results page.


So now what? You might be wondering what the purpose is for LinkedIn other than getting noticed by recruiters. Well, LinkedIn has grown into a special community for professionals and industry leaders to play and connect online. Taking full advantage of LinkedIn’s features will really help establish yourself as an expert, build your network, and impress your future employer.

Here are 5 ways to build your brand by using LinkedIn. 

  1. Start with the basics:  Make sure you have a good profile picture that represents you professionally. Edit your headline, work summary, work experiences, and add a memorable background picture or cover image. Don’t just copy and paste your resume on your LinkedIn profile. Use this space to show your creativity while maintaining your professionalism. Make your headline sound attractive, unique, and thoughtful. You want to call out your value proposition and what you have to offer in your work summary. For your work summary, I recommend summarizing your experience in bullets or in one paragraph. Don’t leave it blank. A blank work summary can come off as lazy.
  2. Share content:  It’s not enough to just update your profile, you need to share meaningful and thoughtful content that pertains to your audience.  Are you going to be a marketer, finance wiz or health professional? It might be wise to start reading industry related sites or blogs and share them on your profile. By continuously sharing meaningful content, you are showing your network and potential employers that you’re educating yourself on industry trends and topics.
  3. Don’t just be a microphone, engage with your connections: While it is important to share great content, definitely don’t limit yourself to that one action. With so many automated sharing content tools, it’s easy to tell who has gotten lazy. Laziness weakens your credibility. You want to engage in conversations with your connections by either commenting or liking their posts.
  4. Join A Group: Are you an aspiring journalist? There’s a LinkedIn Group for that. A business and finance professional? There’s a group for that! LinkedIn Groups are a special place that caters to a niche audience where you can ask questions and engage with people in the field. Joining a group can also lead to great connections. For instance, a great group for Womens Professional is Connect: Professional Women’s Network, Powered by Citi.
  5. Get with the Pulse: Pulse is LinkedIn’s blogging platform and anyone is allowed to post on there. I recommend writing about the industry to help add credibility to your personal brand. This will help you build a following and strengthen your networks.  Also if a potential employer is asking you for a writing sample, you can easily just link them to your Pulse articles.

Start Early and Set Yourself Apart: An Interview With an NU Alum

Jay Lu received his BSBA in Accounting and Marketing in May 2014 and MS in Accounting this past August, 2014. During his time at NU, he held numerous positions both on and off campus and internationally. Jay successfully completed three separate co-ops at large multinational companies with experience in audit and assurance, tax and operations. Jay recently completed the CPA exam and his currently working in audit and assurance at a CPA firm. In his spare time, he enjoys volunteering, reading and sports. To learn more about his professional background- check out his LinkedIn profile.

When did you first come to the Career Development office?

It was for the Career Fair, freshmen year.

Why go to a career fair? Most freshmen would wait until later for this.

I had no risk.  I didn’t feel pressured.  I didn’t need anything out of it.  I wanted the practice of the experience. It’s kind of like a festival, with everyone dressed up.  It can be a fun event when there isn’t pressure.  I didn’t have a suit back then.  But I went in and just talked with a couple of recruiters.  At this point I didn’t have a resume.  But later on I learned how to create a resume, and how to make a good impression.

What else did you do early on?

Early on I went for an appointment about career direction.  I wasn’t sure how to explore my options.  Through my career counselor I learned about informational interviews.  In fact I even did one for an RA position.  Ended up getting the job because I was more prepared and had someone recommending me from the info interview.  I also got into LinkedIn early on.

From these early experiences, what do you recommend that students do in their 1st or 2nd year?

Don’t think that just because it’s your first year that you have all the time in the world.  You’ll be graduating in a flash.  When you start early, you’ll be ahead for when you need it. When there is less pressure, when you don’t need a job yet, get advice then.

How can students have an impact on potential employers?

A lot of employers want to know if you want them.  It’s not just about your skills.  To stand out, make a good impression early on with them. Be genuinely interested in the field, which should be a natural feeling if you chose a major you are passionate about. Have people warm up to you, and your personal brand early on, even if you might not be fully certain what that is yet.  The idea here is to build your network before you need it.  Things get a lot more competitive, when you are a senior.  Everyone is going after these connections.  By starting early you can set yourself apart. They will be impressed that you are being so proactive.  Another point is that there is more leeway if you mess up, employers will more likely overlook this when you are younger.

How can students make more employer connections?

Go to career services and alumni events.  Do these while you are still on campus.  Once you graduate, it’s harder to fit these in.  Also, the further along you get in college, there are more expectations put on you (from recruiters, parents, peers), compared with when you are in your 1st or 2nd year.

What can you gain from this early networking?

When you chat with recruiters, they might open you up to other career paths that you didn’t know about or hadn’t thought of.  The more exposure and more conversations, the better.  You can never know what you’re going to do, exactly, but you can learn more early on to help.  It’s great if you can find out sooner what you might value in a career, while you can still make changes to your academic or co-op path.  You might save yourself time and heartache.  The more people you talk to, the more confident you’ll be with your choices.  You want to find those people that are in your potential career path, since they’ve already been there and you can learn from them.  Would you want to be in their shoes? Talking to them gives you a chance to find out.

During your senior year, how did you approach your job search?

I didn’t have too much trouble.  I had already been to 3 or 4 career fairs, and I already had quite a few connections from co-ops and various other events. If you have done everything early on, at this point it should be a relaxing year. At my last career fair, I received an interview call in less than an hour after the fair ended.

How do you maintain your network?

Always follow up after any professional encounter. Send a thank-you note after meeting someone at a campus event or any professional encounter.  For example, after attending the Global Careers Forum I sent an email to one of the guest speakers saying thank you.  I didn’t ask for anything in that moment. It might come later. Northeastern makes sending thank-you letters after co-op interviews almost religious, I try to use this same mindset. I always like to think of the story of one interviewee’s thank-you letter being a PowerPoint that showed how he would tackle a current problem facing the company. Now that’s hitting the ground running!

Is there anything you wished you’d known sooner?

Don’t take your professors for granted.  They can be some of the best resources.  They are there for you, and they want to help you.  I made a habit of seeing my professors every semester, even just to chat with them (while you are in the course and sometimes even after).  One professor sent me details about an internship that had been sent in by an alum.  I was given the details about this opportunity because the professor knew me well, and he had confidence in me. In addition, if I had more time, I would’ve joined more organizations that were related to my major.

Anyone you stay in touch with?

One of my accounting professors I went to see a lot.  He had great industry advice about how to get started, he recommended good organizations, and even suggested events to attend.  I sent follow up messages to thank him and to let him know I attended the events he had mentioned, I also shared some information that I thought would be useful for his current students.  It’s important to let people know that you followed their advice, and if you have something you can share, then include it.

What’s your finally advice to students, especially when it comes to networking?

Start early and don’t stop.

Why Your Online Personal Brand Matters

promote yourselfDuring my senior year at Northeastern, I interviewed for a Digital Marketing Specialist role at Staples Inc. For that interview, I brought a portfolio that contained screenshots of presentations and reports that I’ve done during my previous co-ops. In addition, I had also included a screenshot of my personal website and social activity on Twitter to prove my enthusiasm for the industry.The hiring manager said that my personal website and social media activities differentiated me from the competition and I was offered the position.

In a world where the job market is so saturated with college graduates, your online personal brand can really set yourself a part from the pack.

Since moving on from my role at Staples Inc, I am now responsible for educating a team of 30 people about why it’s important to establish a positive image online and how to use social media to talk to customers.The same best practices that I bestow on my team can also be leveraged by soon-to-be college graduates looking to get their resume in front of a busy employer.

Follow me on this Online Personal Branding Series where I share tips and tricks on how to build your personal brand and get noticed by employers online.

Here are 5 ways to prepare yourself for the journey – 

1) Change your mind set – It all starts when we stop thinking about social media as a tool for personal bragging, complaining, and whining. Once we see the power of these channels and how it impacts our professional image, we’re then able to break bad habits such as tweeting about a negative experience, posting inappropriate pictures on Facebook, and neglecting your LinkedIn account.

2) Clean up your profiles – In a future a post, I’ll go in depth about the different ways you can use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to build your brand. For now, I would make sure all my privacy settings are set and that my future employer isn’t going to see my bikini photos from my vacation at the Bahamas. I would also go back and review any negative or insensitive tweets and clean those up as well.

3) Google yourself – It is a misconception to think that social media etiquette and branding matters to only people in business, marketing, or advertising. Your online brand matters the moment you hand someone a networking card and that person goes home to Google you. A Google search results page pulls information from social networks to help narrow down the results. The links to your social networks will most likely show up at the top.  Try it yourself! Make sure it’s something you’re proud of.

4) Determine your brand – What is it that you want to be known for online? Are you an aspiring journalist, blogger, writer? Are you a marketer who likes to practice Yoga on weekends? Are you a scientist who is passionate about sustainability? You want your brand to be something that represents who you are but at the same time you’re proud to show employers.

5) Focus – Between exams and extracurricular activities, college students are busy. If this is overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, I recommend starting with LinkedIn. Go sign up if you don’t have an account, add a picture, update your summary, and start connecting with your peers. LinkedIn is a great space to get noticed by recruiters but if you take advantage of participating in community groups and consistently be active on LinkedIn, you might get noticed sooner.

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.

5 Ways to Make the Most of Working Remotely

laptop computer deskIt seems as though nowadays, you can work from just about anywhere- a traditional office, your home, a coffee shop, you name it. And to be honest, I personally love working away from the workplace. It has been proven that working remotely minimizes distractions, increases productivity, gives employees much needed flexibility, and increases creativity. Who wouldn’t want to work away from the office then?

Although working remotely is more convenient, and often more efficient, distractions can be abundant. Keep these tips in mind before you start out for a new work location:

1. Have an agenda.
Working away from the office provides greater independence, however it can also lead to wasting time when there is absolutely no structure. I recommend writing down your tasks before heading out, in order of urgency. If there are projects that need to be completed, start there. You’re your own boss away from the office.

2. Figure out what kind of background noise works best for you.
Always listening to music, and always finding yourself distracted? Try going to a cafe or outdoor space, where you can have some white noise. If the white noise of public spaces feels strange to you, find a work playlist or Pandora station that can keep you focused. Working remotely gives you the opportunity to find what works best for you, not for your entire office.

3. Keep normal hours.
Although it’s tempting to work at random times, keeping a general 8-4 or 9-5 schedule helps to maintain a bit of structure to a seemingly structureless workday. If a “typical” workday schedule is what you are trying to avoid try setting time limits such as, “I will work from noon until 3, then allow myself to take a break.” When working remotely, time can either be your biggest friend or your biggest enemy. Aim to befriend it.

4. Stay in touch with your work- and ask questions.
This seems somewhat obvious, however it is surprising how being away from an office can lead to directionless working. Being aware of what your boss or supervisor’s expectations are can go a long way- especially when they are not easily accessible during the day. Try to get what is expected of you in writing the day before, so that you know exactly what your responsibilities are for the following day.

5. Change up your space often.
You found a coffee shop that you love, or a public library you adore. But going there every single day can cause this beloved place to become a new type of home- thus causing the same exact rut that you were attempting to avoid. Switching up your environment can spark new creativity, and stops the “same old, same old” feeling of the workplace.

Daniella is a sophomore at Northeastern with a combined major in Human Services and International Affairs, and a minor in Spanish. She is currently on her first co-op working for a youth development nonprofit organization in Cape Town, South Africa. Daniella is passionate about social change, travel, and good food- and can’t wait to see what Africa has to offer her both professionally and personally.

Email her at emami.d@husky.neu.edu. Look for Daniella’s posts every other Tuesday.

Career Confidential: Consulting

consulting1-1024x515So what is consulting exactly?  Tom Peacock, an IT and business transformation consultant at Accenture and 2010 Mechanical Engineering graduate, describes it as coming into a company to help improve a process and/or to solve a specific problem.  Those problems provide a level of thrill and excitement, as you take a complex issue and break it into its simplest components to make a persuasive argument and get your client to trust your analysis and see the merits of your proposed solutions.  As Tom explains, “the biggest thing is really seeing and feeling your client’s satisfaction.”

Tackling these challenging corporate issues takes excellent analytical and problem solving skills, resourcefulness and flexibility, which Tom credits Northeastern and its co-op program for helping him even further hone.   What’s also helped drive his success, is a passion and dedication to his work and showing a whole lot of initiative! In fact, during his undergraduate years, Tom twice took it upon himself to improve companies’ IT processes.  First, Tom returned to a deli, Oliva’s Market, where he had worked in high school to automate their order system.  During his time working at the deli, he had observed the business’s shelves full of binders detailing their more than 200 catering orders per week.  This paper system required someone to tally orders on a daily basis.  Recognizing room for improvement, Tom built an application for them using salesforce.com that automated this process, allowing them to see their orders real-time and to forecast their inventory and resource needs.  Tom still remembers the thrill when he rolled out the application and the amount of time he saved the team at Oliva’s.  Next, and while on this third co-op at Wellington Management in their financial planning group, Tom took it upon himself to completely automate a multi-step process that generated information on budgets and expenses, reducing the monthly time for this task from 16 hours down to 4.

Notwithstanding this natural drive to improve processes, Tom didn’t start out knowing that he wanted to do consulting, but he took the opportunity that Northeastern’s co-op program afforded him to explore options and opportunities.  He completed his first two co-ops at engineering companies, where he further refined the strong problem solving skills that he was developing in his classes.  After his second co-op, he realized he was increasingly interested in using his engineering background to tackle a more traditional business role, prompting him to take some evening MBA business courses and pursue a third co-op in finance at Wellington Management.  His time at Wellington really solidified his desire to transition away from engineering and into a business position, ideally in consulting, where he could become an expert and a trusted advisor in fixing business and/or technical processes.  And so began the job application process.

Tom recounts that he applied to dozens of companies, and although he had a few interviews, it wasn’t until he reaped the rewards of some diligent networking with an individual from Bluewolf at a Northeastern hockey game that he secured an offer. Tom credits the work he did at Wellington Management, particularly when it came to improving business processes with technology as aligning well with the work that Bluewolf did, given its focus on salesforce.com.

Tom worked at Bluewolf for nearly three years, during which time he led multiple global programs using salesforce.com to improve the overall efficiency of sales, marketing and customer service processes. Throughout his tenure at Bluewolf, he interacted with over 14 different clients across numerous industries, wearing multiple hats, including that of project manager, process and enablement lead, solution architect, and application lead. Tom says that Northeastern transformed the way he thought about problems and made assumptions which propelled his success on the job. More specifically, the software experience he gained through his C++ and Matlab courses helped him to understand code and to credibly interact with developers.  In looking to give back to Northeastern, and further underscoring his drive, Tom helped to start a co-op program at Bluewolf, which ultimately hired (and continues to hire!) 5-7 new co-op students every 6 months, many of whom have gone on to receive full-time offers.

After a successful run at Bluewolf, Tom was offered, and ultimately accepted, a position at Accenture as a Consultant, where he works in the salesforce.com practice helping companies transform their sales, marketing, and customer service organizations. His focus remains on understanding the business problems that companies face and helping them to understand what changes are needed from a people, process, and technology perspective. In this role, Tom is able to continue his focus on providing IT solutions for his clients, while also working more closely on developing overall strategies to help his clients improve their business processes.

So in light of his success what advice would Tom leave current students with to get their start in consulting?  “Number one is networking.”  As Tom explains, “don’t be afraid to leverage who you know and along those lines, don’t be afraid to reach out” and importantly too, “stay in contact with those you’ve built connections with, including former co-op employers.”  In addition to networking, and once you have an interview lined up, “bring your ‘A’ game.”  For example, when Tom found out about his interview at Bluewolf, he bought the CEO’s book and read it over the weekend. “You have to make sure they know you want the job by effectively preparing.”

Clearly Tom has had a lot of success in the more than four years since he graduated and in the spirit of giving back to his alma mater and helping those who want to navigate success in the world of consulting Tom generously welcomes those who want to reach out for an informational interview!

Tom PeacockTom Peacock is a consultant at Accenture with a passion driving transformational business programs through simplified processes, behavioral change, and technology solutions. His experience and expertise revolves around sales, customer service, and marketing within the electronics and high tech industry. He enjoys using his extended knowledge of salesforce.com to create innovative solutions to improve the overall experience for internal and external customers.

Image Source: Eduworks, Consulting with Eduworks’ Technology

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

lawyerWhat do you want to be when you grow up? It is a question all of us have had to answer and many still struggle with long after they walk across that stage, degree in hand. If you had asked me that question 10 years ago, I would have told you a lawyer; 5 years ago, I wanted to work in PR. What am I doing now? I’m a career counselor and digital marketing professional. What happened? Well, a lot actually.

Our career choices are impacted by a number of things: family, friends, what we see on TV, our values, and that’s just the short list. Sometimes we make a career or major decision because we think it’s what we want to do without really doing the necessary research of what that career/job actually is.

Let’s take my “I want to be a lawyer” example. Seems like a good idea. I had a solid GPA, I am interested in law, politics and civic engagement, I’m a great public speaker and wanted to choose a somewhat lucrative profession. To top it off, I really enjoy watching legal dramas (I’m still sad USA’s Fairly Legal is no longer on- look it up) and could see myself as the ambitious, crime fighting, do-gooder characters. Fast forward to freshman year of college: after doing some research and talking to professors I found out law is really hard. Understatement of the year, I know, but as I continued to explore the option, it seemed less and less like a good fit for me, and there are a few reasons for that.

One, law is extremely detail oriented, research heavy and entails a lot of independent work. Immediately I am turned off. Two, apparently I’d be working a million hours. One of my strongest values is work/life balance, so this was pretty much the deal breaker for me. Finally, law school is very expensive and at the time, the job market looked pretty bleak for new lawyers. As much as I thought I could kill it as a lawyer, I questioned how happy I would really be going to work everyday. So, what’s my point?

Beginning Thursday, Career Development will be launching a new series entitled Career Confidentials: What It’s Like To Be a “Enter Job Title Here” which will be real people talking about their jobs honestly and candidly. Get an inside look into what it is really like to be in a certain industry and profession and use the info to help you think about if it is a right fit for you. Our first post on Thursday is a doozy: What It’s Like To Be a Consultant- one of the most popular and sought after positions for new grads. Stay tuned!

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.

Image Source: The Daily Chelle; Day 21: It’s Only Funny If It’s You

How Can I Find a Mentor?

HNCK1708-1300x866-1024x682This post was written by Christine Hathaway, Senior Assistant Director of Marketing for Northeastern University Cooperative Education and Career Development. It was originally posted on Internmatch.com and was re-posted with permission from the author.

Whatever your career goals may be, it’s nice to have someone in your corner, rooting for you. The majority of us can truly benefit from and find value in having a mentor to encourage, support and promote us, but this is often easier said than done.

First, you may be asking, “what is a mentor?”  Secondly, “how do I find one?”

As defined in the dictionary, a good mentor is a person who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling good behavior.  An effective mentor is someone who is dependable, engaging and understands the needs of the mentee.

Overall, a good mentor will:

  • Access your strengths and weaknesses
  • Help you understand the structure/culture of the organization
  • Introduce new perspectives and help correct any wrong thinking you may have
  • Boost your ability to make decisions (and ask questions)
  • Introduce you to resources and useful references
  • Be an active listener and help keep you focused and on topic

Now that you understand what a mentor is; the bigger question is how do you go aboutfinding one?  Sometimes mentors find you (it happens naturally), but more often than not, YOU need to find someone you respect, even admire and would like to emulate at some point in your career.

Throughout my professional career, I’ve been privileged to have effective career mentors; people who were instrumental in my professional growth.  The first mentor was my boss, many years ago when I worked as her executive assistant. She taught me all about the publishing world, the editorial lingo, how to ask questions and most importantly, to develop my skills, professionally and personally.  I had a lot of respect for her and I found myself wanting to mimic her professional behavior (and her wardrobe, she was a classy dresser!).  That said, I took every opportunity possible to sit down with her over a cup of iced coffee and pick her brain about her career and how she got to where she was.  We did this often, and eventually I got promoted to the marketing department!  She congratulated me and commented, “I’m proud, it’s a compliment to me that you are being promoted, it means I did my job.”  She is still my mentor. Even though we don’t sit and have our iced coffees any more, I still call upon her and she still offers words of wisdom.

It’s not always easy to find a mentor. Here are some tips I learned along the way:

  • Ask yourself what qualities you want in a mentor.  Is it someone who can help promote you or an expert in your field that can help with a business project?
  • Does your HR department have a mentoring program?  Make an appointment and find out more.
  • Check out LinkedIn!  Do an Advanced People Search and look for people that you went to college with or have worked with at previous jobs, even professors from school.
  • Steer away from a formal request! Don’t ask “will you be my mentor.” This is usually not very inviting, if anything it’s a bit off-putting. Instead start by simply asking someone for advice or invite them out for a cup of coffee.  Find out more about their career path.  And, MAKE IT FUN.  Get to know each other. Don’t make it sound like work…smile, and exude excitement.
  • Prepare and practice your speech.  Looking for a mentor means marketing yourself and being self-confident. Learn to promote yourself, talk about some of your accomplishments and seek advice on how you can be better at your job or how you can land that promotion at work. Here is a cool article in Forbes, I read a few years ago, check it out, Trust Yourself and Believe in Yourself!

Now that you have some tips and my own personal mentoring story; start thinking about who you would like to get to know.  Keep trying, don’t give up! Looking for a mentor often happens organically, it’s a relationship that develops over time.  You’ll find that there are mentoring opportunities everywhere!

Good luck!

Mastering Moving to a New City

woman looking out window

This guest post was written by recent NU alum and frequent contributor, Kristina Swope.

Congratulations! You got a real job in a brand new city. Now what?

Moving to a new city is both the most riveting and terrifying experience I’ve ever had. I had just turned 22 and was fresh out of college in rural Pennsylvania. I was living at home, getting comfortable, and then it happened – I got a job in Center City Philadelphia.

First, I was ecstatic, because let’s be honest, I had a BA in Sociology and had no idea what to do with it. Then when the initial excitement wore off and I was alone with my thoughts, I started to have serious anxiety about the timing. I only had two weeks to move out of my college apartment, find a new apartment in an area I’d been to twice, move in and get settled enough to avoid being an emotional disaster my first day of work. I was overwhelmed and kept coming back to the same thought; am I doing this? Can I do this? Can I really move to Philly when I’ve never been in a building higher than 4 stories? Cue freak out and bring over the tub of ice cream.

Rather than sweets, what I really needed was perspective. This was an exciting life change and an amazing opportunity. I needed to stop being afraid of the next chapter, and the only way to do that was to prepare and embrace it.

In order to embrace the change, you need to prepare – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

  1. Research areas to live. You want to live somewhere safe but you don’t want to be isolated. Google has plenty of information on towns that include events and demographics that are key in the young professional search. It takes time to delve into stats but it’s definitely worth it. Also, Career Development has a great resource called USA Career Guides that provides with a wealth of information on every major city in the US. From cost of living to industry and employment trends it’s a great way to get acquainted with your new city before actually getting there. Access this resource through HuskyCareerLink.
  2. Choose an apartment that has public transportation within walking distance. I can’t stress this one enough. One of the scariest aspects of moving to a new city is having no idea where you’re going. Relying on public transportation relieves you of that stress and allows you to focus on the more important items, like settling in to your new job and apartment.
  3. Speaking of apartments – rent, don’t buy. Your first apartment will likely be strategically planned, based on convenience. Once you know the surrounding areas, you’ll find an area you like better. Renting gives you the freedom to move and create a home somewhere that you truly love.
  4. Check your networks. The age of social media is a beautiful thing. Facebook and LinkedIn were vital in my search for friends because of the search location functions. I found a number of people I knew that were living in the area and proceeded to cling to them like white on rice. A city is way less scary when you have familiar faces around.
  5. Locate stores for your key needs. Find your closest grocery store, bank, pharmacy, mall, Target, gym, etc. within a day or two of moving. The sooner you find them, the sooner you can get back into your routine and feel more comfortable in your new space.
  6. Plan to go out of your way to make friends. If I could do my first year out of school over again, I would try harder to meet others. Push yourself to go out more, do more with your hobbies, and join local groups. It’s easy to meet people when you’re engaging in activities you enjoy, and friends are worth turning off Netflix for!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Are there misconceptions regarding Introverts or Extroverts?

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

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

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

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

What extroverts should know about their introverted colleagues:

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

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

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

What introverts should know about their extroverted colleagues:

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

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

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

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

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