The Four People You Meet in Foreign Countries

International Travel

Throughout my time in Uganda and in other travels, I’ve come across many foreigners that I’ve been able to fit into one or two of five categories in my head. This is by no means a complete or all-encompassing list, but a very generalized set of characters that I frequently meet abroad.

The hopeful. This person is the one that is most likely to stay long-term. They enjoy their lifestyle, and they find meaning in their work that gives them a reason to hang around and stay motivated. They are hopeful for the future of the country and believe they are making a difference. This person is great to know, as they are most familiar with the local culture and can give you insight and advice for your time in the country.

The cynic. Hearing this person speak makes you wonder why they are still here. They hate the food, the people, the work. They usually don’t last long, and if they are put here on an assignment, they will complain the entire time until they leave. The cynic isn’t the most fun person to be around, but it can sometimes be amusing to see a person struggle in challenging situations (see Paris Hilton working on a ranch in The Simple Life). Even the optimist has bad days, and the cynic is a nice companion on those days when you need someone to whine with.

The partier. Plenty of fresh-out-of-college, low budget young adults go to developing countries in search for the wild experience of a lifetime in a secluded part of the world. They are usually non-communicative or un-contactable, causing their parents relentless worry and fear for the worst. They’re fun nightlife people, and have plenty of great stories to tell about crazy situations they’ve encountered.

The wanderer. This may be the lone traveler, or the backpacking couple that is making its way across a country or continent. They take comfort in not having a tight schedule or work obligations, and are taking advantage of a period in life where they can take an extended period of time to see the world and experience a part of the world that they know nothing about. You’ll probably meet this person only once, but with some communication and planning you might be able to see them again on a random trip in another country.

When you travel, you meet a lot of interesting people. It’s important to be open-minded and, contrary to the traditional advice, willing to talk to strangers. You never know what you could learn by simply starting a conversation on a bus or in a restaurant. As my time in Uganda is coming to an end, I can say that one of the best things about being here has been meeting the range of characters, both local people and foreigners. I’ve met a Russian wedding dress designer, a kindergarten teacher, several Peace Corps volunteers, a lone traveler making her way down the east coast of Africa, a Spanish salsa instructor, a missionary working in the nomadic Karamoja, a Canadian couple running a primary school, and a Ugandan man trying to establish a turkey farm.

Mika White is a second year biochemistry major at Northeastern expecting to graduate in 2018. This semester she is on her first co-op in Uganda interning at a rural hospital in the town of Iganga and establishing a malnutrition treatment program in Namutumba District. She loves to travel, read, and run. Feel free to reach out to her at white.mik@husky.neu.edu and LinkedIn, and read her personal blog at mikawhite25.wordpress.com.

Working with Staffing Firms: A Guide for Grads

This post was authored by Logan Spillane, Recruiter, LABUR Consultingpexels-photo-29594 The staffing industry can get a bad rap among job seekers-from making false promises, to not communicating with candidates. While certain criticisms may hold true with some firms, it is not by any means an indictment of the entire industry as a whole. In fact, a good agency can help job seekers discover a great job and open new doors on their way to the career they have always wanted.

In order to navigate a saturated and sometimes overwhelming field of companies, it is helpful to have some tips to make the process easier.

  • Should you pay a fee?

Never. There is no guarantee that paying an agency a fee will get you a job.

  • How do I know when I have a good recruiter?

I believe there are a couple of different signs of a good recruiter. First and foremost, a good recruiter will keep your interests and goals in mind, and won’t just send you the next job they have. Rather, they will send you positions that align with what you are looking to do, and help your career. Second, a good recruiter will be transparent, honest and give you the information that you, as a candidate deserve to know. One of the biggest reasons people give me for not wanting to work with an agency is the fact that they have had an experience where a firm has been dishonest and misled them. A good recruiter won’t feed you misinformation on things like the pay rate, contract status, actual job responsibilities, etc., and will give you the true facts on each opportunity.

  • How should I vet recruiters to find the right one?

My biggest piece of advice on vetting recruiters to find the right one is to talk to and meet with many of them, and see who can provide you with the best service not just in terms of a job, but also in personalizing your experience, getting to know you as a person, and being upfront and honest. It will take some time, but it will allow you to find the right recruiter and will help ensure that you do not end up getting burned. See what each company has to offer, ask a lot of questions (ex. on the agency, the areas they focus on, the jobs they see, the process, etc.) and pick the one or two recruiters that will focus on you not only as a candidate, but as a person because at the end of the day it’s your career. LinkedIn recommendations, GlassDoor, and other career websites can also serve as a valuable tool in finding a good recruiter. Finally, asking friends and family about firms they would recommend can be a valuable asset in finding a good recruiter.

  • How do I identify recruiters?

Northeastern’s career website has a good list to go off to start with. Additionally, running a Google search on staffing firms in your area can also be another route. However, I would recommend taking 10 minutes to read through each company’s website to see what they are all about and how they can best serve you and your career.  Also, be sure to check out his/her LinkedIn profile—look for recommendations, and also for anyone you know who knows that recruiter and consider reaching out to obtain any feedback you can…or maybe even a soft reach out from your common contact to the recruiter of interest. The recruiter can then also have that informal recommendation from someone they know about you!

  • Will I receive help preparing for the interview? Help with Salary Negotiation?

A good agency will always help prep candidates for every interview they go on-whether they are just out of school or an experienced professional. In many cases, they may also help prep you for the salary negotiation. For someone just out of school, it is especially helpful to have someone providing them with tips and assistance on their way to nailing the interview and getting the job!

LABUR Consulting is a staff augmentation firm based in Boston that specializes in the tech and finance industries. You can learn more about us at http://labur.com/

 

E-Calendar or Paper Planner: A Comparison

We all have our favorite way to planning our hectic lives, whether it be on a paper planner or an online calendar. Or if you’re me, it’s both! I use Google Calendar (as well as just about every other function Google offers) for my online calendar and a Passion Planner for planning on paper. They offer different options and I’m going to outline some differences between the two.

Society is moving greatly to a fully electronic record nowadays. Its scary, but it sort of works, which is wonderful. I find my online calendar very useful as I can always access it, don’t have to worry about carrying it around, and can easily repeat events instead of writing them in every week. However, probably my favorite aspect of an electronic calendar is the ability to block off times. For instance, if I’m working from 7am-3pm, I can’t really plan anything during then, so having this type of layout allows me to see my available and busy times. As someone who tends to be on the busier side, seeing my free time is a breath of fresh air that I didn’t exactly find in a paper planner.

Paper planners come in all different shapes, sizes, and forms. The one I use has space to make to-do lists, note-taking space, goals for the week, and so much more. It’s meant to plan your life in a more goal-orientated manner, which works really well when I have plenty of projects to do. However, it’s not the best layout for planning all of my time.

That’s why I use both. I have one to plan my time and one to plan my projects and outline my weekly tasks. Having them separate allows me to make sure it all matches up and gives me options depending on the task at hand. For work tasks and projects, I tend to use paper planners, as I usually have projects and tasks to do. For scheduled shifts and class times, an online calendar is my best friend.

So, use one, use two, use none, it’s your choice! I do recommend using at least one as planning your day-to-day activities is crucial to staying on top of your tasks.

Images from: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.calendar and http://www.passionplanner.com/buy/passion-planner-undated-compact-sunday.