A Beginner’s Guide to Submitting to Literary Magazines

writingWhether you are an English major trying to expand your portfolio or a closet writer with a desire to be heard, navigating the world of literary magazines and journals can be daunting. Here’s a timeline and tips to submitting and getting published!

1. Write and write some more!

Start journaling or keeping track of pieces you’ve written for school or just for fun. The more work you have the better chance of submitting something somewhere that will be appreciated or is in demand.

2. Workshop and edit

Have people whose opinion you value and trust to read your work. Go to writing centers and attend workshops where professionals in the industry can lend you advice on how to revise a piece. Make sure you are confident and proud about what you are submitting!

3. Research and sift

Now that you have a substantial piece, go on online databases to look up magazines and journals that fit your interests and qualifications. A medical piece would not belong in a nature journal and a novice writer would probably not be submitting to Glimmer Train (which has an acceptance rate lower than Harvard admissions). Sites like NewPages and Poets & Writers have reliable search engines that can help you narrow down your options.

4. Follow in the paths of similar writers

Did someone in your class or writing group get published? Ask them about it and it’s likely that being of similar ability/interest, you would be a good fit for that place too! Networking as a writer is so important to get behind-the-scenes tips on what publications are looking for and there’s nothing more valuable than a fellow writer that has been there too.

5. Follow in the path of better writers

Who are the writers you admire and whose work inspires you to put your voice on paper? Take a look at where their first publications were and work up to that quality. Choosing lit mags is very much like choosing colleges – you have to have several safety ones, some matches, and one or two reaches. Having a goal like getting published in The Huffington Post or The New Yorker directs your practice as a writer and motivates you to be better every day.

6. Adhere to guidelines and instructions

Many magazines and journals have very specific guidelines on what they are looking for in submissions. That may be in formatting, fees, word count, genre, and anything else you can think of. Since writing is subjective, one person may love your style and the next not care for it. Nevertheless, keep submitting! Keep in mind Pablo Picasso’s wise words, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

7. Always write for one person- you

Don’t ever get caught up in the woes of the slush pile. A rejection doesn’t define you as a writer and you have nothing to prove to anyone. Always remember why you picked up the craft- for your love of storytelling or way with words. Writing in and of itself is a solitary act so join a group, share your work online and in print, and put the self in self-expression.

Angelica is a fourth-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 and enjoys writing creative non-fiction. 

Photo source: Flickr Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahreido/

 

Tips to Survive Your First Semester of College (Well)

Steps to survive source: blog.chegg.com

10 steps to survive your first semester at NU, we know you’re as smart as this kid… 
source: blog.chegg.com

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

1. Don’t learn to pass, learn to understand

Never forget: you came to college to go to school and learn; not just to socialize. That being said, your courses don’t need to be painful.  Take advantage of the opportunity to tailor your courses to what you’re interested in and explore.  If you do that, passing will naturally follow. If you learn simply to pass, you won’t be making the most of what Northeastern has to offer academically (you probably won’t do well either). So, enjoy your courses and aim to understand as much as you can.

2. Start networking early

Networking doesn’t start during your first co-op; it starts as early as your first day of your first course, when you introduce yourself to your professor and other students. Everyone you meet along the way is a potential networking opportunity, but always remember to be yourself.  Talking to someone purely for the connection and for personal gain will come off rude; instead focus on asking for insight, advice and information—it makes the conversation much more enjoyable for the both of you. The connections you create will be extremely helpful once you start looking for jobs. My advice: prioritize maintaining these relationships.

3. Wake up for class

Basically, if you don’t go to class, it’ll be much harder to understand what is being taught and come time for finals, your life will be nothing short of miserable and exhausting.  Set multiple alarms, tell your roommate to throw pillows at you until you wake up, and don’t forget your shoes when you run out of your dorm.

4. Don’t wait until the last minute to do laundry. Buying new underwear and socks every month really adds up

The laundry room is located in your residence hall for a reason, and the convenience factor isn’t to be taken for granted! Freshman year is probably the most convenient laundry will be for a long, long time, so make the most of it. Don’t mistake detergent for fabric softener, and remember that not everything washes best on the same setting!

5. Join a student group

Getting involved early on campus will help you make friends and give you something productive other than classes to commit to. Northeastern has all kinds of student groups, from Greek life to academic groups to community service groups, and there is something for everyone. Not only will it be a great way to meet people who care about the same things you care about, but sticking with an organization over the years and even growing into a leadership position will also look great on your resume.

6. Check your bank account regularly

It’s very easy to forget to check how much money you have, and you never want to find out that your bank account is empty when you’re just about to pay for something. Those situations are never fun and require a lot of unnecessary explaining. Your parents will probably also not approve of your overdraft fees! Get into the habit of managing your money early on, it will make life much easier as you get busier each year.

7. Figure out early on where the dining halls are and when they close each night

You will quickly learn that needing food at random times of the day (and night) becomes a norm of college life, and the buffet style dining halls will be a saving grace especially around finals time. Prepare yourself early by figuring out the lay of the land, and don’t forget your Husky card!

8. Create a weekly schedule for getting all your classwork done

Everyone will tell you that time management is key to success in college, and they are absolutely right. If you structure your time outside of class well, not only will you get your work done, but you’ll also allow yourself more time to relax and enjoy the social parts of college and Boston. Make a weekly schedule and then find a place where you work well. If you need it to be quiet, go to the fourth floor of the library, if you need to people watch, go to the Pavement coffee house on Gainsborough, and if you need to work outside, go to the Centennial Common. Whatever you choose, make sure you are as efficient as possible with your time!

9. Take the time to explore myNEU and all the NU resources available to you

Northeastern has numerous academic resources to help their students, from dedicated professors with office hours, to an extensive online library database, and each student even has access to four different advisors (academic, career, co-op, and financial). Be aware of these assets and seek help. The myNEU portal is also a major tool in navigating your way through college. Some of the big-ticket items include your degree audit (where you can look up all the courses you need to take to graduate and explore different double major and minor options), your student bills, and your appointment calendar. There are also several resources that aim to help students with concerns that are not academic, including RA’s in every dorm for housing issues, and a health center on campus for medical issues. In any situation, always remember to use these resources proactively.

10. Make good friends, make good memories, and pay everything forward

Finally, these college years will be life changing and a time to make some incredible friendships and memories. Figure out what makes you happy, and push yourself to try new things. Reach out to people and make them laugh. And lastly, help others whenever and wherever you can, it will always come back around.

Megan Fernandes is an international affairs student in her senior 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! 

Originally published 9/5/2013 on The Works.

How to Navigate Career Centers, LinkedIn and Recruiters

find job buttonYou’re preparing for your senior year of college and thinking about what’s next. What to do? How to start? It can begin to feel overwhelming quickly, but job searching doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Start thinking like a hiring manager, and save yourself a lot of time and energy. Here are a couple tips to jumpstart your search.

  1. Complete your professional resume and have it reviewed by minimum of 3 people including family, friends and Career Development personnel.
  2. Cross-check your paper resume and make certain it mirrors your LinkedIn profile. Yes, you should have a photo on your profile which can help to accelerate the pre-screening process. Don’t many of us view the hotel before we make a reservation or look-up the vacation rental photos before we confirm a week? Your photo should be a professional image that a Hiring Manager can view before they engage in communication.
  3. Google stalk yourself and clean up your collegial online history (i.e. Sorority Party)
  4. Register with a minimum of three staffing agencies. They are a great resource and can help you find a job. – Just do your research!

Work on that resume early. Career Development is a free resource and we strongly urge students to take advantage of this unfamiliar department and make it as familiar as the local pizza joint. This department is the first honest set of eyes that will critique your resume and help you begin your “job searching journey”. This department will provide you with opportunities to meet Hiring Managers who man the tables at career fairs which become future contacts that you can network with or may become clients. Additionally, by attending Alumni events you will be obtaining another group of future contacts to add to your “rolodex” which today is called LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a free networking tool. Every time you meet an alum or a Hiring Manager, immediately connect with them because they will be able to help you navigate complex industry roads, salary negotiations and offer tips on who to contact to learn more about open jobs. There’s a lot of free advice out there. Do not get frustrated, it’s FREE.

Additionally, we highly recommend “google-stalking” your own name and cleaning up your public profile (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, etc.) before you apply to any professional job. Try Googling yourself in a browser you don’t use (so that it doesn’t automatically sign you into your accounts) and see what pops up. What you see is what a recruiter will see; make sure it reflects what you want. It is perfectly fine to have “fun” photos of you “in the cloud” (i.e. family party), but an image or comment that may be judged or viewed as unprofessional, we recommend deleting.

There are many misconceptions about the recruiting industry also known as “headhunters”. The staffing industry is not a regulated business, so anyone can say they are a recruiter or a staffing firm which means it’s crucial as a job seeker you do your research on the agencies and make sure they’re legitimate. Take control of your job search and keep track of which agencies and which jobs you have applied to.

We’re confident if you take advantage of Career Development, get on LinkedIn, register with three agencies, and find 3 professional and expert recruiters your job search will be that much easier.

There’s a lot of different advice out there and when it’s free you absolutely should embrace it!

Image Source: www.resumeactivator.com

Deirdre Parlon is the founder and CEO of Black Oak Staffing Solutions. At B.O.S.S., Deirdre has 18 years of experience working in the staffing industry. She began her staffing career in 1996, immediately after graduating from NU. Her long career has honed the natural intuition she has for placing the right candidates in the right positions, and gives her clients and candidates the security of knowing that they are in the hands of an expert who has their best interests in mind.  Deirdre resides in Boston with her family. When she is not working or volunteering, she can usually be found golfing or spending her time with her husband, children and her large family of brothers and sisters.

5 Apps For A More Productive, More Awesome Semester

appsThe new semester is coming up fast, and its time to prepare. So while you’re being forced to download an app you neither want nor need (looking at you, Facebook messenger), take a minute to download some free apps to make your life easier and more efficient this semester.

RefMe: Here’s the situation – you have a paper due in an hour and you can’t remember the difference between MLA and APA citations. We get it. RefMe can help. Simply scan the barcode of the book you just referenced and you instantly have every form of citation you could possibly need. Chicago style? Easy. APA footnotes? No problem.

Evernote: This is one of the most useful apps you will ever download for a new school year. Make a list of employers you want to meet during that networking event and check them off as you go. Write a grocery list during class that you can access on your phone in the middle of the supermarket so you don’t forget pasta sauce again. Type notes on your computer and record the class lecture at the same time, and it will immediately be available on your tablet, your phone, and your computer so you can review that case study on your walk home.

White Noise: Getting out of the house every now and again to study in a new environment is refreshing, but not if the person a table away is talking on his phone like he’s never heard of an inside voice. WhiteNoise is an easy-to-use white noise generator that helps you block out distractions so you can study in peace.

Duolingo: You’re studying abroad in Spain next semester, so it’s high time you refreshed your Spanish language skills. Duolingo teaches you grammar & vocabulary with quick activities you can do a few minutes a day on the T. You’ll have your Spanish down in no time!

StudyBlue: StudyBlue means you can study whatever you want, wherever you are, with portable flashcards. Create a set of flashcards on your computer or your phone through StudyBlue, and you can access them at any time on your phone or tablet.

Want to make this the best semester ever? Add a couple of new apps to your phone or tablet. You’ll be smarter, more efficient, and better looking (probably).

Lindsey Sampson is a junior 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.

What day is it? I haven’t slept in 4… Tips for Surviving Graduate School

carletonnow carleton ca comic re Grad School

I had this delusion when I entered graduate school that it would be similar to college. Mid-morning naps, late nights filled with cheap beer and equally bad pizza, all-night cram sessions in the library with friends… oh boy was I mistaken. Although some similarities did exist (I’m referring to cram sessions and cheap beer here), graduate school required a lot more self-discipline, drive and focus than I remember ever having as an undergraduate student. Compiled below are pieces of advice from myself as well as other former and current graduate students in my social network.

  1. Don’t procrastinate/Get your stuff done. This one came up multiple times and I can certainly attest to it. If you’re a procrastinator, for the sake of your sanity, you may want to rid yourself of that quality for the next two years (or however long you plan to be in graduate school).  Many classes base your final grade on just a few large projects/papers and that whole “extra credit if you go to the school play thing” does not exist. Schedule in the time to do your assignments, get into a routine and buddy up with a peer- it keeps you accountable. Sadly, there is no hand holding in graduate school.
  2. Be responsible and realistic. Yes, I know this is very vague, but this applies to many things that have to do with grad school and life in general. For example, be responsible and realistic about your financial situation. Create a budget (trust me this is not my strong point), it would really stink to just run out of cash when you need to buy that book or make a payment on your credit card. Understand your loan situation and don’t be afraid/intimidated to ask questions, it will save you a headache and lots of money in the long run. On a related note, take charge of your schedule and credits- don’t rely on just your advisor. If you’re interested in going abroad (as I did) or taking a class at a another university make sure you have your paperwork in order and that you’ve cleared this with the appropriate offices. This is your education, take control of it!
  3. Stay positive. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and down on yourself. At one point I was working up to 60 hours a week, attending classes four nights a week and still had homework and a fiance to tend to (he did not see me much).  If you asked me now how I did that, I honestly have no idea. Blind ambition would be my best guess. I was, however, determined to maintain control of my schedule so I could at least attempt to budget my energy and time well. In the end, my saving grace was my peers and the certainty that this would all be over  in “insert-number-of-days-here.”
  4. Take time for yourself. This was definitely the most popular tip I got from my network. Grad school is HARD, especially if you’re working full time, completing practicum hours, serving on professional boards (something else I would highly recommend but I’ll save that for another post- along with the importance of developing and maintaining a network) interning and teaching. If you don’t take time out to just chill, your head is most likely going to explode, or you’ll have random crying outbursts triggered by spilled coffee—yes this happened to me. Even if I was exhausted after class on Thursday, I tried to muster up the last bit of energy I had at least every two weeks and go out for a drink with my classmates. It was fun to commiserate with each other and I developed lifelong lasting relationships with many of them.

grad school someecardIn the end, looking back, graduate school wasn’t too bad and- dare I say- it was even nice to be a student for a short time once again. Although I won’t lie, every time I stumble upon my final portfolio—I wince a little.

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 Body Language

Image Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/

Image Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/

This guest post was written by Mike Ahern, a Northeastern University Career Development intern and graduate student studying higher education at Salem State University. 

Body language; it’s important. Stepping into the hiring manager’s office, shaking his/hers hand and sitting down you have an invaluable opportunity to impact your chances of landing the job. Whether those chances increase or decrease is entirely up to you and how you present yourself. Below you’ll find a few simple but effective ways to leave a lasting impact and project your brand as a potential employee. Let’s talk body language strategies.

Smiling: Too often candidates will miss this incredibly easy way to leave a lasting impact on the hiring manager. Due to the gravity of what getting a job “means” sometimes candidates will approach the interview in a very serious manner, which is understandable. But consider this; would you want to hire a candidate who’s stuck in Blue Steel mode during the interview? (…yes that was a Zoolander reference, you’re welcome…) Smiling can convey a variety of messages in our society not the least of which can be confidence, calm and last but not least a friendly demeanor.  Studies have even shown that smiling can greatly affect your self-perception, with more smiling leading to a happier psyche.  Also keep in mind it’s impossible to smile 24/7. Ever have to stand for a photo and keep smiling through multiple takes? Not the most comfortable feeling in the world, it’s ok to stop smiling or display a neutral facial expression. Just don’t frown your way through the conversation.

Posture:  Job interview or not, you should sit up straight. For a variety of reasons correcting bad posture will work wonders for your overall health. As far as body language is concerned, slouching or other displays of poor posture can negatively impact a hiring manager’s impression of you. More often than not leaning back or slouching down can portray boredom or disinterest. Conversely leaning too far in can crowd the interviewer and possible invade their personal space. Try to settle for a happy medium with a straight back and attentive expression. Sit up in the seat and position your feet evenly apart in a comfortable manner. Also pay attention to your arm position. Don’t cross your arms as it can imply that you are uneasy or closed off. Understanding the impact of posture on body language can go a long way to projecting your brand as an invested potential employee

Eye Contact: In Western culture eye contact is an important part of any conversation. It can portray respect, attentiveness and understanding. Equally important, it shows the hiring manager you can focus on the task at hand. Making eye contact and following the conversation is vital. If you are distracted and taking time to consider the generic artwork on the walls, chances are good you’ve missed an opportunity to connect with the interviewer or even worse, missed a question. Similar to the concept of neutral posture, there is a fine line between too much eye contact and not enough. Intently staring at the interviewer without breaking eye contact can be seen as aggressive or, quite frankly, awkward. On the other hand shifting your eyes back and forth between the interviewer and the floor isn’t a good look (pun intended). Consider following along with conversation, frequently making eye contact with the interviewer while briefly breaking eye contact to consider a point or take time to think of an answer.

Ultimately there are hundreds of body language strategies to subtly impact your chances of landing the job. These are three simple yet often overlooked aspects of body language that can portray an invested potential employee. Another thing to consider is that if you are an NU student or alumni (which you probably are if you’re on this blog) log into Husky Career Link on our website www.northeastern.edu/careers. Navigate to “Interview Stream” at the bottom of the home page. Here is a tool provided at no cost to current and former Northeastern University students where you can literally film yourself during an interview then reel back the tape and take in how you present through body language. After all, keep in mind that only you can prevent frowning, poor posture and a lack of eye contact when interviewing for a position.

Mike Ahern is a Career Development Intern at Northeastern University in Career Development. Currently he is pursuing a graduate degree in Higher Education in Student Affairs at Salem State University. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn at  https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeahern1 or on Twitter @MIkeAAhern 

Call Me Maybe: 5 Phone Interview Strategies

Honey Boo Boo hates phone interviews image source: http://giphy.com/gifs/TFMoOxjnAAMbm

Honey Boo Boo hates phone interviews
image source: http://giphy.com/gifs/TFMoOxjnAAMbm

This guest post was written by Career Development intern and aspiring Career Counselor, Mike Ahern.

Phone interviews are becoming increasingly popular as hiring managers look for new ways to separate desirable candidates from the rest of the pack. Throughout multiple job searches as an undergraduate and graduate student I’ve relied on a few intentional strategies to carry my candidacy through to the second round. Here are 5 strategies to make sure you have a successful phone interview.

1. “Dress for the job you WANT …”

Just because the interviewer can’t see you, doesn’t mean you should take the call in your pajamas. Studies have shown that the type of clothing you wear can greatly impact how you perceive yourself in any given work space or environment. Putting on your business clothes will put you into a professional mindset and better prepare you for the interview. Wearing workplace attire can even correct posture, in turn altering how you sound over the phone. So take the extra time to pick out a professional outfit and dress for the job you want.

(Note: this doesn’t mean you should show up on your first day dressed as an astronaut…)

2. “Before anything else preparation is the key to success”

For any type of interview, whether over the phone, on Skype, or in person, you should be spending a significant amount of time preparing. A large part of efficiently preparing for a successful interview will be anticipating thetypes of questions you will be asked. Be prepared to answer a variety of questions and have answers with specific examples. Take notes on ruled paper or better yet, a personal favorite, utilize note cards. There’s no rule stating that you can’t have your note cards spread out around the desk while you are on the phone. Just be sure not to sound like a robot if you have to read off of them.

3. “Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing”

The phone interview can be a great opportunity to show your level of enthusiasm and knowledge about the position or the industry it is in. Be sure to take the initiative to research the company. How many employees does it have? How has it been performing? Are there any new programs or products the company/business/organization is releasing? Showing that you understand the trends and status of the company will show the hiring manager your level of understanding about the business and that can help push your application into the second round pile.

4. “The only stupid question is the question that is never asked.”

At the end of practically every interview the employer will ask if there are any questions you want to ask. Think of this as one more opportunity to leave a lasting impact. Ask about that new project you researched. Ask what skills the ideal candidate would have (I’ll personally use this one then try to tie my experiences to what the employer is looking for) Simply replying “No I don’t have any questions” doesn’t show a lot of enthusiasm and leads to a missed opportunity to wrap up the conversation in a meaningful way.

5. “Practice… We’re not talking about a game… we’re talking about Practice…”

You can increase your chances of having a great phone interview before you even pick up the phone; through practice. This can be one of the most over looked strategies for prepping for any kind of interview. Taking the time to sit with a friend and parse out possible questions you might encounter will get you in the right mindset. If you can’t find a willing participant to interview you, try utilizing a smartphone to record your answers to preselected questions. Play back the tape and notice how you respond. Do you say “um” a lot? Did a few of the questions make you pause and think? Consider practice as an invaluable strategy to increase your chances of sounding professional on the phone.

Overall these five strategies will help set you up for a successful phone interview. As always keep in mind that as a current undergraduate, graduate or alumnus you have innumerable resources at your fingertips, courtesy of the Northeastern University Career Development office.

Mike Ahern is a Career Development Intern at Northeastern University in Career Development. Currently he is pursuing a graduate degree in Higher Education in Student Affairs at Salem State University. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn or on Twitter @MIkeAAhern 

 

 

 

 

Why Networking Is A Lot Like Dating: The Initial Approach Part I

So let’s start with the initial approach.  Realistically, there are three ways to meet potential dating victims.  Two of which are very targeted and deliberate. The other one is more luck and timing.

  1. The first way (and the bravest if you ask me) is blindly approaching the person.
    source: tumblr, New Girl, Fox

    source: tumblr, New Girl, Fox

    This tends to happen at more casual outings and events etc. (this is actually way less scary at a networking event).

  2. The second way is online dating, aka OK Cupid, Match or some other constituent (LinkedIn and in some cases Twitter, is the online equivalent in the professional realm.)
  3. The final way tends to be more happenstance.  You meet somebody through a student organization or through a class project and hit it off.  Worst case, you’re at the same event and you’re both waiting in line for the bathroom (an unfortunate place to be in).

We’re going to focus on happenstance today and touch upon the braver approaches later. Let’s ease into this networking thing.

The initial approach, regardless of the circumstance, is generally awkward, but often times we walk away thinking (I hope), “that wasn’t too bad” or at least, “it could have been worse.”  And the person you were talking to on most occasions is generally nice and receptive.  It’s easier to meet somebody when you share a common interest.  “I met someone I would later date because we were in a play together,” says Amy Henion, a recent Communications grad, “we both obviously were theater geeks, and hit it off right away.”  Networking generally works the same way.

"On Wednesdays we wear pink!" source: perezhilton.com

“On Wednesdays we wear pink!” Mean Girls
 source: perezhilton.com

The easiest way to meet somebody is to go to events and join professional and student organizations related to your major and interests, thus, deliberately putting yourself in situations where it’s natural to meet somebody who is doing something you’re interested in.  Plus, you have that common thread now, so there is something to talk about aside from the weather, the Sox’s latest loss, or one of the Kardashians.

Example: if you’re a Physical Therapist or in any healthcare field for that matter, consider volunteering at the Red Cross, or for a big event like the Boston Marathon.  You’ll meet people with some pull and it looks good on a resume (just saying).

You can also tap the network you already have.  Lots of people get together through friends and networking is similar.  Ask former co-op supervisors, faculty, friends and even family if they know anyone working at “X” company.  Those are easy matches and generally lead to solid conversations.  Just make sure you follow through so you don’t make your friend look like a fool, or ruin a potential match made in heaven.

Do you have a successful “happenstance” networking story?  What are tips you would give and questions you asked?

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.   

Got an Offer? Ask These Questions

Getting a job offer is and should be a time of celebration.  You have successfully navigated the interview process and an employer has determined that you, out of all the other candidates, are the person that they want for the job.  The offer represents a salary, benefits, and, for all of you graduating students, an end to the fear of being unemployed after investing time in your education.  However, don’t let the happiness of making it through this milestone cloud your judgment into accepting the offer automatically—if you do so you jeopardize your chance of negotiating, or making a carefully thought-out decision about your career.  After expressing your interest in the position and enthusiasm about the offer be sure to ask these questions:

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1.)    When do you need my answer by?  Generally, the employer allows at least 24 hours and at most two weeks for a candidate to consider an offer.  By knowing how long you have to make the decision, you can notify any other employers that you’ve been interviewing with that you have been made an offer.  This way you can ask the employer if it is possible for them to get back to you within the set time frame, especially if one of those other employers is your top choice.  It also gives you parameters in which to think critically about how the job fits in with your career goals—could this job give you the skills that you want to gain and open up new possibilities for you career?

2.)    Can I receive the offer in writing and the benefits package? Knowing how long you have to respond to a job offer will enable you to carefully view the benefits/salary package in a timely manner and understand if it works for you or not. Keep in mind that salary is not the only factor that affects the overall offer. Benefits such as dental/medical coverage, vacation/sick time, tuition remission, and employer contribution to a retirement plan, among others, all add up.  If you aren’t satisfied with the overall package, now is the time to think through your negotiating strategy for your next communication with the hiring manager.

3.)    Who can I talk to if I have questions about the benefits package?  Sometimes the person offering you the position is not equipped to talk through the nitty-gritty of the benefits package.  He or she may then direct you to someone in the HR department that has a better understanding of the benefits available to recent hires.  Getting your questions answered about these benefits can ensure that you understand how all the pieces, such as salary/benefits, fit together with your offer.

Keep in mind that asking questions does not indicate that you are not excited about the offer.  It shows the employer that you truly care about your career by taking the time to do your research and understand how the position, salary and benefits fit in with your goals.  On the flip side, if you already know what salary a hiring manager is going to offer you and the benefits that go along with it, there is no need to hesitate when receiving the offer, if you’ve already thought critically about what accepting the position would mean for you.  Feel free to accept on the spot-congratulations, you’ve earned it!

Ashley LoBue is an Assistant Director at Northeastern Career Development.  A Boston College graduate, Ashley has over 3 years of experience working in higher education and is a proponent for international and experiential education