My #1 Trick for an Awesome Cover Letter

image source: sciencepreps.iupui.edu

image source: sciencepreps.iupui.edu

This guest post was written by recent communications graduate and former Career Development Intern and co-op, Amy Annette Henion

Last April, I sat on a hiring committee. Yes, I tend to talk about this a lot. (C’mon – as a student, is it not super cool to hire a great career counselor to help out your peers?)

While poring over the applicants’ cover letters, we noticed an important detail that made some candidates really shine. What did they do that the other candidates didn’t?

They talked about why they were passionate about our organization.
While writing a cover letter, you MUST follow this rule. Hiring committees and interviewers are looking to see if you care about their mission. Talking about your passion helps you stand out from the crowd. While applying for jobs, the last thing you want is a generic cover letter that sounds as though it could apply to any job at any other company.

So what makes you really want to apply to work for a certain company? Is it their dedication to helping serve underprivileged populations? Do they consistently strive for excellence with their product? Do they have a vibrant start-up culture that you think you can help build and grow? Say so! Sharing your passions paints a more colorful portrait of you as a living, breathing human being with hopes and dreams for the future. And who wouldn’t want to hire that kind of person?

Amy Annette Henion is a 2014 communications graduate with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lived in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

Work. Location. Culture.

 

image generated by Wordle.com

image generated by Wordle.com

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

Work. Location. Culture. Last year, a professor told me that these are the three distinct elements I need to consider when looking for a job. A few years ago, I might have written this off fairly quickly, but after having a few varied work experiences under my belt, I realized they are all equally important to my happiness and success. Between my first and current co-op, I’ve learned what I need in a workplace to thrive professionally as well as what I need in regards to location and relationships to be happy. Like many other NU students- I have definitely learned what I don’t like in work, even before I figured out what I do.

Work. As college students, we’ve all been encouraged to pursue areas of study that we are passionate about in the hopes of finding a career where we feel we are making a difference. However, I’ve learned over time that feeling too committed to any particular job, industry or institution early on can be very limiting. I had my entire college career planned out by the fall of sophomore year, but so many different opportunities and challenges were presented along the way that threw my plans to the wind and changed what I had previously thought was a priority. Neither the work nor the industry I was in were much of a consideration in choosing my past two co-ops (sustainable agriculture in Cameroon and asset management in Boston), but that doesn’t mean I’ve learned any less about the kind of work I want to do eventually. Being able to stay flexible and transfer over as many professional and social skills between jobs, no matter how different they are, will help keep you positive and confident wherever you go.

Location. Because we attend such a diverse school that offers so many opportunities to leave campus, NU students, more than anyone, understand the importance of location. Cities around the world are becoming more international and physically going and living somewhere else isn’t as difficult as it once was. The big challenge is being OK with being uncomfortable and really giving each new place a real chance; keeping in mind that you may decide, despite your utmost respect for their culture and way of life, that it’s just not for you. Cameroon taught me that, specifically by showing me how different cultural values, social and economic factors can directly dictate the population’s lifestyle. Doing two co-ops in Boston has also taught me that I like living in cities and getting to know a city helps me feel at home.

Culture. Nowadays, people are thinking more broadly about what it means to employ people who are good “fits”. Thinking about if you can sit next to someone 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is more of a consideration in hiring than ever before. It works the other way around as well. I have worked for a company whose mission and work I was highly inspired by, but the internal culture was unexciting and stifling. I have also worked for a company in an industry I am not stimulated by and whose work I often find routine, but its internal culture is more open, laid-back, and appreciative than anywhere else I’ve experienced. This combination has allowed me to see that I need a relaxed culture and the encouragement to form personal and professional relationships to maintain my personal happiness and motivation at work.

As much as it goes against my initial view when I started school, simply working on something you love isn’t enough. I always thought that if you found what it is that you wanted to do, you’d be golden, but I’ve realized that loving what is physically around you, both the location and the people, makes your work even more meaningful and makes you even better at what you do.

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! 

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. 

Balancing the Ice and Academics

NU Women's Ice Hockey huddle

NU Women’s Ice Hockey huddle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heather handling the puck

Heather handling the puck

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Professional Skills You Can Gain By Blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh… that’s nice.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here and tweet her @lindseygsampson.

Finding an Internship Without Prior Experience

source: collegefashion.net

source: collegefashion.net

This guest post was written by Sam Carkin, a sophomore studying Marketing and Interactive Media.

The “real world” can be intimidating; especially when you’re just starting out. Sure, that first job as a house painter or bus boy is great for earning some money and learning to work with others, but I am assuming if you came to Northeastern you are looking to do something within your major. Northeastern is special in the sense that co-op allows you to work within your major prior to graduation, but what if you want some experience for your résumé before applying to that first co-op job? A summer internship right after your freshman year is an awesome way to go, and something I had the opportunity to do last summer with integrated marketing firm GY&K. Below, is some strategies I used for landing that internship where I gained experience in the marketing and advertising field before my first co-op (which will begin in July).

1. Network, network, network:  I visited a family friend who worked at a huge marketing agency called Arnold Worldwide. He had been in the industry a while and agreed to introduce me to an employee at GY&K, the person who ultimately offered me the internship. Ask your parents, ask your friends, find SOMEONE that works in your industry of choice and ask them if they know anyone that you might be able to talk to or work for.

2. Informational Interviews are kEY: OK, so I had been introduced to this person from GY&K, but what now? An informational interview is a perfect way to demonstrate professionalism and interest, while also learning a great deal from someone who knows the industry well. If it goes well, you have a better chance of possibly working for the person you speak with.

3. Have confidence: Going in to speak with an industry professional can be extremely intimidating; however, setting up informational interviews shows that you are genuinely interested in what that person does and see them as a successful individual in their field. They will be just as excited to tell you what they know as you are to learn, and it should be treated as a casual conversation during which you can make a great first impression.

4. Do not be afraid to ask: If your interview went well, at the end feel free to ask if that professional’s company has any opportunities for you to gain experience, or if they know of any other companies that might have these opportunities. It will allow you to possibly find that internship position, or continue to grow your network.

Sam Carkin is currently in his sophomore year at Northeastern University. He is a dual major of Business Administration-Marketing and Interactive Media and will be going on his first co-op in July. Feel free to contact him at carkin.s@husky.neu.edu with any questions related to the blog post or his experiences.

Personal Website: What It Is And Why You Need One

source: memegenerator.net

source: memegenerator.net

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

Once upon just a few years ago, recruiters and employers relied on resumes, cover letters, and interviews alone to judge potential hires. Now, Internet presence is a huge part of the hiring process. According to Workfolio, 56% of hiring managers are most impressed by a candidate’s website, but only 7% of candidates have personal websites. In other words, it’s probably time for you to get on board (if you aren’t already).

So, what is a personal website?

The concept is pretty self-explanatory, but there are some gray areas in terms of what goes into a personal website. The best personal websites include the following:

About Me – Just a quick introduction to you. Keep it simple – your work should do most of the talking.

My Portfolio/Resume – Some skills or industries lend themselves well to a personal portfolio. If your skills lie in design, writing, or anything that can be showcased on your website, this is the place to show them off. If your portfolio is limited, feel free to include your resume so recruiters can see the other amazing skills you already have.

Blog – Only if you’re into it. A blog can be an incredible professional tool for establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry. A blog can also show potential employers or clients your dedication, attention to detail, and crazy writing skills. If you aren’t excited about writing a blog, though, you don’t have to! Your personal website is all about you and your professional brand.

Hire Me – Adding a “Hire Me” page greatly increases your chances of finding job opportunities because your resume and skills are visible to the world, even when you aren’t actively interviewing. If you’re looking to transition from the office to freelance work or just get extra experience on the side, this is a perfect addition to your personal website.

Why do you need one?

Showcase yourself and your work. If someone shows up to an interview with a seven-page resume, that person is probably awful. But during the hiring process, that’s exactly what an online portfolio is – it allows you a place to showcase all of the work you can’t fit on your resume. If you’re a writer, you now have somewhere to store your best pieces so an employer can easily sift through them and appreciate your awesome self. A professional website also gives employers a hint of your personality, which is usually lost on a resume.

Establish your online presence. Making yourself known online is an amazing asset to job searchers. It increases your visibility and makes you stand out strong in an interviewer’s mind. With a personal website, you are able to put your best and truest self out into the world for employers and clients to see. And that’s pretty amazing.

Show your skills. During interviews, showing is always better than telling. Strong computer skills are a huge asset in today’s job market, so show your potential employer your skills first-hand. Setting up a personal website illustrates you ability to learn and utilize important new professional skills. And that’s a pretty big deal.

How do I start?

Getting started won’t take long, and once you’re set up, your site will only require occasional updates (when you do something awesome that you need to add, of course!). WordPress is one of the most popular personal website platforms because it is customizable, easy to use, and free. Other platforms include Tumblr, Blogger, and Posterous.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here and tweet her @lindseygsampson.

 

Life of a Honors Student

source: ontariojobspot.net

source: ontariojobspot.net

This guest post was written by Katie Braggins, a third year international affairs major.

Being an honors student will enhance any students’ Northeastern experience through cultural events and a plethora of free food.  However for me specifically, it helped me along my academic path to help narrow my focus within my major. The Honors Program offers a diverse range of classes by some of the best professors on campus. First Year Honors Inquiry courses are offered for freshmen, which can fulfill NU core requirements while exploring topics in depth outside of one’s concentration. In my first semester at Northeastern, I had the opportunity to take a class on the conflict in Northern Ireland with Professor Michael Patrick MacDonald, which first introduced me to analyzing the asymmetric relationship between state and non-state actors in conflict.  Spring of my freshman year, I expanded my knowledge of terrorism and violence in “Seeking Peace in Times of Terror.” These classes I took my freshman year helped me to hone in on violence and conflict as an area of study within my major, international affairs.

These classes led me to my first co-op at the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security. As a research associate, I was able to learn about emergency preparedness for natural and man-made disasters through analyzing governmental reports and evacuation plans. This past fall I had the opportunity to take a class on the espionage and covert operations during the Cold War with Professor Jeffery Burds. The interdisciplinary seminar was very interactive, which allowed students to explore topics within the larger theme based on their interest area. I was able to read a book and article to present on the emerging threat of cybersecurity, a topic that is increasingly relevant in today’s national security landscape.

I am currently on co-op for the second time at two NGOs in Buenos Aires addressing the effects of the Dirty War in Argentina. My work at one NGO, Cecreda, is to analyze the economic and developmental progress of the Argentina since the conflict in order to produce reports to be distributed. I will be writing briefs and analyzing the trials for the governmental actors responsible for carrying out and perpetuating the state violence for the other NGO, CODESEDH. I hope to apply for honors scholarships to conduct my own research on these topics in the future. The honors program has had a great affect on my academic career at Northeastern, and will continue to do so in the future.

Katie Braggins is a third year International Affairs major.  She is a guest blogger currently on co-op in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  She can be reached at braggins.k@husky.neu.edu.

Career Fair Tips from Angela (the bio major)

Career FairThis post was written by Angela Vallillo, senior biology major on the pre-medical track.

Hi all! My name is Angela and I am a senior graduating this year with a degree in biology! I’m graduating early, which is scary and exciting at the same time. It leads me to the issue of finding a job and figuring out what to do with my life in a pretty short amount of time. That being said, a great resource for everyone looking for a job or seeing what’s out there is the Spring Career Fair held by career services on Thursday, February 6th in Cabot Cage from 12PM-4PM. There will be over 150 employers looking for people like you and LinkedIn photo ops!

I hold a work-study job at Career Development (formally Career Services) and have helped organize and run the past two career fairs. That being said, I have a few tips for students planning on attending:

  1. The most important piece of information that I can give you is to research the company before the fair! I repeat: Do your research! Some companies are offering positions for people like you and you might not even know it. A company, such as Liberty Mutual has a stigma of being only for finance and insurance majors, however there are positions open that allow one to market for the company or to manage (I will mention this more later). Also, it essential that your resume stands out to employers. What will make you stand out to the employer representatives is that you know what position you are interested in and can tell them why you’re interested in the position. They receive so many resumes from your peers, that making yourself stand out is essential!
  2. If you’ve been to the career fair before, its no secret that the jobs that many of the employers are looking offering are for engineers, computer scientists, and businessmen/businesswomen. You may be saying to yourself that you don’t fit that criteria, myself included. However, there are a lot of employers that list that they are looking for all majors. As I mentioned before, some companies have a reputation for offering one type of job, however they are looking for other majors for their company. This brings me to my third piece of advice…
  3. What you choose to do for after graduation does not dictate what you will do for the rest of your career! This is a big piece of advice that sometimes I don’t even think about. I eventually want to attend medical school and if I do a job in a different industry that interests me, that will only strengthen my resume more to make me a well rounded individual.

I hope that you find my advice helpful! I also hope to see you at the career fair. Remember to wear your nice suits and ties!

Angela Vallillo is senior biology major on the pre-medical track. Follow her NU admissions blog to read more from Angela.

How I Became a Part-Time Soldier

Part-time Solder, full-time student Source: northeastern.edu

Part-time Solder, full-time student.
Source: northeastern.edu

The following article was written by a Northeastern student and Army ROTC cadet.

When I first entered college, I did not intend to become a cadet, an officer in training. I come from a family with no military background and did not have close friends in the military. During my first semester of college, my focus was adjusting to the new environment, so I did not take much time to explore opportunities.

Then, towards the end of my first semester, I realized that I was in the wrong major. This led me to talk to a variety of professors, advisors, students, and Career Development staff to get more career information. One student I ended up talking to was a classmate who is in ROTC. She told me to give it a try.

After a summer of introspection, and again meeting with more advisors, I started the semester not only in a new major, but also in a new program: Army ROTC.

Liberty Battalion Army ROTC, the program I now belong to, is hosted at Northeastern University. It takes students from 14 different area colleges including Boston College, the Colleges of the Fenway, Suffolk College, Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, and more.

Before starting ROTC, I met with the Liberty Battalion’s senior recruiter to get my questions answered. Although his title is recruiter, he does not earn commission for bringing in students, and his job is really to increase awareness of the program. My first question was whether doing ROTC meant I had to join the Army. To my surprise, he told me that when students first start, they can leave freely if they find out ROTC isn’t right for them. Only after accepting a scholarship or entering their third year do cadets have to commit to service in the Army.

After establishing that I did not have to join the Army right away, I asked about the time commitment involved. The ROTC staff told me that ROTC places academics first, so cadets can be excused from activities if needed. Otherwise, cadets attend three morning workout sessions, a two-hour lab, and a class worth 1 to 3 credits each week. They are not required to attend activities during co-op semesters.

I was also curious whether ROTC would impose restrictions on where I could study or co-op, since I am interested in co-oping abroad. I found out that they allow study and co-op abroad. Moreover, ROTC can make it easier to go abroad by offering Department of Defense-sponsored cultural exchange programs at no cost to students.

Finally, I learned that ROTC offers scholarships covering up to 4 years’ full-tuition, for cadets of all majors. After graduation, cadets can enter into a variety of fields such as aviation, civil affairs, engineering, finance, law, and healthcare. Cadets also have a choice in joining the Active Duty Army, Army National Guard, or Army Reserve. About 60% of cadets in Liberty Battalion choose to go active-duty, which requires serving in the Army full-time for four to seven years. Active-duty soldiers get many benefits such as a guaranteed job after graduation, free housing, top-notch health insurance, and opportunities for free travel to locations worldwide such as Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Hawaii.

Cadets who join the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, which are collectively known as the reserve components of the Army, also receive benefits such as discounted healthcare and insurance. However, the primary benefit for most is the ability to hold a civilian job while drilling one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, close to home.

So I decided to join ROTC, and my experience has been nothing but extraordinary. Since joining, I drastically improved my physical fitness, leadership capabilities, and confidence in myself. I also established close bonds with a variety of college students with whom I train, take classes, and attend lab. Finally, I developed leadership, organizational, and interpersonal skills which employers value. Because of my terrific experience with ROTC, I ultimately committed to joining the Army National Guard in order to serve my community as a part-time soldier, while still being a full-time student.

So if you are even remotely interested in what ROTC has to offer, find out more. Talk to the students in uniform you may find around campus, or in Rebecca’s Café. Ask one of your friends or classmates about ROTC. Come to one of Northeastern ROTC’s open physical training sessions, or open labs. Drop into the ROTC office on Huntington Ave. Or do some exploring online at rotc.neu.edu and armyrotc.com .

ROTC is the only program that lets you experience the military without prior commitment. So take advantage of this opportunity to improve yourself and your career. See if you too want to become a part-time soldier.