Actually Talk to Your Relatives- And Other Things You Should Do On Break To Help Your Career

sit on the throne of liesWith finals quickly approaching and the semester wrapping up, everyone is looking forward to the relaxation of winter break and more immediately, the mini Thanksgiving break. But before you melt into a puddle on your family’s couch watching three weeks of Netflix, winter break is a good time to catch up on some career-boosting stuff that gets pushed to the wayside during the craziness of the school year.

Before you click the “X” box, don’t worry, nothing I’m listing below will take too much effort, but can still make an impact on your career.

1. Actually talk to your family members. Yes, Aunt Sally can be super annoying, but wait, doesn’t she work in finance or something? Before she has too much champagne, try to get some information out her. Us career counselors would call that, an informal informational interview. If you’re interested in the corporate world, she may have people she can connect you with but just never knew you were interested. If she’s a yapper, think of an escape plan ahead of time so you’re not cornered for two hours listening to her after dinner’s over.

2. Set up an informational interview. I know, you hate networking. But it is a rare occasion that you have as much free time and flexibility, so why not take advantage of it? You can tap your immediate network (friends, family, parents of friends) or use LinkedIn to find somebody working at a company of interest and send them a LinkedIn message/email to see if they wouldn’t mind meeting you for coffee or setting up a 15 minute phone call. You could get some valuable information from a pro that’s already in the field. Good questions to ask would include:

  • “Could you walk me through how you got to where you are?”
  • “What are the qualifications/skills your company looks for when hiring co-ops/new grads?”
  • “Could you provide me with some suggestions of how I could stand out as a candidate?”
  • Check out our informational interview guide for more questions.

Don’t forget to send a thank you note!

3. Volunteer or Job Shadow. If you have community service roots, this may be second nature, but volunteering is a great resume booster, even if it’s just for a day or two over break. If you’re going home for break, find out if there are any community organizations or shelters looking for short-term volunteers. Idealist is also a great what to find volunteer opportunities. Employers are looking for well-rounded candidates and volunteering can help you out in that department.

If you had a great conversation during an informational interview, ask them if you could job shadow over break. This will give you an inside look into what the day-to-day life of that professional is really like.

4. Speaking of resumes, update it! Did you just finish co-op? Add your experience to your resume before you return to class, get expectantly busy and then forget all the great things you did. If you’re getting ready to go on co-op, use this opportunity to update your LinkedIn profile. It is likely your new co-workers will be investigating who you are, so not a bad idea to put out the best version of yourself online. We have a LinkedIn guide to help you build your profile if you need a little guidance.

5. Start your job search. If you’re graduating in May, it is NOT too early to start job searching. We have a job search guide to help you get started, but a few things you could do over the break include familiarizing yourself with the basic job search boards (HuskyCareerLink, indeed.com, simplyhired.com), update your resume, LinkedIn, portfolio and/or other social media and develop a target list of organizations you’re interested in working for. Excel is great for developing the target list. You can track job titles, when you applied and anyone you know/have contacted at every organization on your list.

6. Apply to jobs. To answer the question I know you’re asking yourself, no, it’s not too early to apply to jobs, even if you’re not graduating until May (if you graduated in December, there is no time like the present!). Newsflash: the average fulltime job search takes anywhere between three and nine months. The good old days of the co-op schedule are gone and you are now at the mercy of the employers’ schedules and they are very unpredictable (check out Avoiding the Pitfalls of Online Job Applications too).

If you see a job you love, apply now, even if you’re graduating in May. The employer has your resume and can see when you’re graduating; if they’re still interested then they’ll call you. If you’re really concerned whether or not you should apply, don’t be afraid to call the company’s HR department and ask. You don’t have to give a name, they’ll never know.

So after you catch up on House of Cards and have watched enough SVU that “call a bus” is part of your everyday speech, try and take advantage of your time off. You’ll thank yourself come April.

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: knowyourmeme.com

5 Reasons You Should Work at a Start-up – And Tips For Doing So

green lighbulbThis post was originally published on The Works November 21, 2013. Zachary graduated in January 2014 and is still working full time at CustomMade.

This guest post was written by Zachary Williamson. Zack is a 5th year Comm-Media Studies Major. He recently accepted an offer from CustomMade as a Creative Associate for the Marketing Team. Zack also freelance as a photographer for the Northeastern Athletics Department.

While many people go on co-op looking to work for a large, well know brand, I encourage people to consider smaller, less established, start-ups. These kinds of companies tend to be a good fit for self-motivated people, or someone who wants to work in a fast paced environment.

For my second co-op, I was fortunate enough to be hired at CustomMade.com, a start-up that had already secured some venture capital funding, and had been a member of the marketing team during a time of incredible growth. Every co-op is a different experience, but if you want to try something less traditional, a start-up is the way to go.

1. Work at a start-up for at least one co-op.

Working to build a company is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have early in your career. Working at a smaller company means that you are making a far greater impact because you make up a significant portion of the staff. It also means that you have to be flexible, oftentimes wearing many “hats” or serving multiple roles, depending on the needs of the company. That said, you will most likely have a lot of skills to leverage and market when looking for your next co-op, considering you were both the HR and IT assistant.

2. Be ready to make mistakes, and own them when you do.

Part of working at a start-up is building something new. Depending on the field, it’s possible that a company is the first to ever attempt something at a particular scale or in that way. Being cutting edge means you’ll inevitably make mistakes, both personally and as a business; and you’ll most likely make a lot of them. Learn from and take ownership of your mistakes to avoid them in the future. But don’t let fear of making mistakes prevent you from… (see #3).

3. Take risks and force yourself to learn new skills.

One of the co-founders of CustomMade told me they would rather a project fail, than not push it far enough or try at all. Trying out new projects makes you more versatile–and versatility is one of the best skills you can bring to a start-up. Specialization is important, but don’t allow yourself to settle into a comfort zone. All co-ops should be about seeking new opportunities, but small companies in particular have more work than they have employees. Stepping up to a task, and then figuring out how to complete it, will make you that much greater of an asset to the company as a co-op, and a more appealing full time hire in the future.

4. Start-ups move quickly– very quickly.

Most start-ups have limited funds to operate, so they need to be incredibly agile and quick to try new ideas. While it’s all well and good to work out how to complete a task, many are time sensitive. Start-ups have to be quick to adjust and find a viable solution if something isn’t working. Things have to change quickly in order to conserve funds, and sometimes projects have to be abandoned in order for this to happen. This leads into my next point, that…

5. Start-ups don’t have room for egos.

Since speed is critical for a start-ups’ survival, they need to build teams of people who can quickly switch gears and go with the new flow of the company. A negative attitude won’t get you far, every challenge must be approached not with a “this won’t work attitude”, but rather a “how can I make this work, or work better” mindset.

Start-ups require a lot of work, but they can also be incredibly fun and rewarding. They force you to make incredible career developments because you have opportunities to do everything and anything. A lot of start-up culture revolves around the concept of work really hard, play really hard. If you like a new challenge every day and never want a dull moment, consider working at a start-up. It was the best decision I’ve made to kick start my career.

Zack has spent the last four years as a coxswain on NU’s Men’s Rowing Team, and is rounding out his final semester at NU as Comm-Media Studies Major, with minors in Cinema Studies & Production. He has co-oped at the New England Conservatory as a Video Production Co-op and at CustomMade as a Marketing Co-op for 16 months (he never really left). He recently accepted an offer from CustomMade as a Creative Associate for the Marketing Team. Zack also freelance as a photographer for the Northeastern Athletics Department. You can find him on the sidelines of a home game or on twitter @ZackWVisuals. (PS CustomMade is always looking for awesome people to join our team in Cambridge, MA, so feel free to reach out if you’re interested!)

Image Source: AlltopStartups.com, Do You Have a Start-up Idea? 29 Questions to Determine its Viability

Turning Your Co-op Into Your First Job

TurningYourCo-op1Roughly 51% of Northeastern graduates secure jobs with a former co-op employer! Wouldn’t it be cool to land a job with a former co-op employer where you’ve already developed great relationships, know their business/products/services/clients, and have proven yourself to be a top performer?

On October 15 we hosted a terrific panel on “Turning Your Co-op Into Your First Job.”  We were lucky enough to get four panelists all of whom successfully turned a former co-op into their first job.  Our panelists gave a ton of helpful tips, which would be way too long for this blog, but we’ve condensed it down into four main topics we covered that you’ll want to take note of!

Being Strategic and Thinking of Your Co-op as a Building Block:

Many of our panelists were especially strategic about their co-op choices, starting at their first if not their second co-op, in terms of recognizing company names and the types of skills and experiences that would make them more marketable down the line and that they wanted to get on their resume as a building block.  Some also looked at which companies were most likely to hire co-op students for full-time work in making their selections.

Being Successful on Co-op to Get Noticed:

This was something that, not surprisingly, all of our panelists knew how to effectively navigate!  The main points that came out here were:  (i) getting to know people in the company by attending events so that enough people knew who you are, and in that same regard, working with a variety of people in your group so you have plenty of people to vouch for you; (ii) showing initiative and a willingness to do any assignment and to do so with enthusiasm; and, (iii) making sure to ask for feedback and to really work with that constructive feedback to improve your performance as you go along on the co-op.

Advocating for Yourself:

Our panelists also made sure to advocate for themselves when it came time to discuss a full-time position.  Because they made an effort to get to know people in their department and to solicit feedback along the way, they all knew that things were going well at the co-op and that their employer was pleased with their work by the time they approached the conversation, typically about mid-way through.  Some practiced the conversation in advance with a friend or a relative, but importantly, made sure to have this conversation so that their employer knew they were interested in a full-time role.  In fact, as they pointed out, sometimes employers start to view you as an employee (which is pretty flattering) and may lose track of the fact that you haven’t yet graduated, or may not remember exactly when you graduate or even realize that you’re interested in a full-time position with them.  The point being, you need to make sure you’re effectively advocating for yourself and letting people know what you’re hoping for, and not waiting to be approached.

Developing a Strong Network:

And finally, our panelists touted the importance of networking while on co-op, but also after you leave a co-op.  Having these relationships and staying in touch with people you used to work with, through periodic, friendly emails, is an important way to make sure that you have a network to tap into when it comes time to look for a full-time position, especially since it may be the first or second co-op employer that you want to try to go back to.

Amy Stutius is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University.  She practiced as an attorney before transitioning to higher education.  Email her at a.stutius@neu.edu.

The Little Things: How To Get The Details In Order Before You Apply

DeathtoStock_Creative Community7

The little things can make a big difference. Details can put you over the edge and move you from a “maybe” to a “yes” in the job application pool. Don’t let these things fall through the cracks when application time comes around.

Update your email signature. This is where you show how awesome and put-together you are. This should include your most important current positions and projects. Try something like:

Lindsey Sampson
Northeastern University | International Affairs & Social Entrepreneurship
IDEA: Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator | Event Manager
Career Services | Social Media Intern
LinkedInTwitter

Be sure to include pertinent links, including your personal website, LinkedIn, or Twitter accounts.

Boost your LinkedIn. Make sure you have all of your current leadership positions. Don’t forget to update your headline and ask for a recommendation or two.

No voicemail message? Fix that. Ringback tones are not a thing anymore. Be sure to record a calm, clear outgoing message. Keep it simple:

You have reached (name). I can’t answer the phone right now, but please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Short, sweet, and professional.

Check in with your references. If you asked a previous employee to be your reference three months ago, chances are good that they have moved on to other things and forgotten. Call or send a quick email to give them a heads up that you’re applying for jobs and they might be receiving a couple of call soon.

In the job application game, making a solid first impression is crucial. An early red flag can get you crossed off the list before you even interview. Keep yourself in the game by making sure you have the details taken care of.

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.

 

In, out and back again – 12 LinkedIn Updates You Need to Know

LinkedIn-Logo-2CThis post was written by Sabrina Woods. Sabrina is an Associate Director at Northeastern University’s Career Development office and also owns her own private practice. This post originally appeared on LinkedIn, October 16, 2014. 

Keeping up with LinkedIn can be a challenge. Something new gets added, something else gets taken away. In, then out, then sometimes back again. Here are 12 of LinkedIn’s latest updates:

profile rank 4 at NU

Who’s Viewed Me?

Now LinkedIn is showing you more details about who has viewed your profile and what actions you took that helped this number to increase. Martin Beck talks about this new feature in his post, “LinkedIn Now Shows How You Sparked That Engagement.” Review more details on LinkedIn’s own blog. I have to admit that I kind of got a kick out of seeing one of my own stats.

Some Take Aways (as in things LinkedIn has taken away)

As we all know, whether we like it or not, LinkedIn occasionally takes away some of the things we like. So, the latest is that you can no longer get introduced to 3rd degree connections. Who knows, one day it might be back. However, in the meantime, Donna Serdula gives us some great work-arounds in her article.

It’s Back! You can see “Recent Activity” Again

This feature, of being able to see what your connections are posting, liking and commenting on, used to show up right on a person’s profile. Then it went away. But, now it has returned. And I’m very happy about this. To find it, go to a 1st level connection’s profile and hover over the drop down menu next to the “Send a message” box at the top. The first option now says, “View recent activity.” More from LinkedIn’s blog here.

Tap the Visual Trend: Add a Header

You can now add a visual header to your profile. When this first rolled out it was only for premium accounts. However, I just found out from a colleague (thanks Mike Ariale), that this is now available on the free LinkedIn account. Want to learn more? Viveka von Rosen shares details here.

“Groups” is Out

When sending LinkedIn invites, you can no longer select “groups” as the way you know invitationsomeone. Darn. But, don’t worry, in most cases (unless someone has changed their own settings), you can still select another category. To work around this issue, I have started selecting the “friend” category. Even if that isn’t quite the best fit, not to worry as the person getting the invitation doesn’t see what category you have selected.

LinkedIn’s “New Tools for Students” are actually perfect for grown-ups

I’ve been playing around with the University Finder, and I discovered I could use it for other purposes beyond it’s main point. For example, I’m teaching a LinkedIn workshop next week to grad students who are studying nutrition. They aren’t interested in finding a university, but they can use this tool to see what individuals are doing (what companies they work for) that studied Food, Nutrition & Wellness. You can run this same type of search via the Find Alumni tool, but it is limited to just looking at data from one university at a time. To read more about it, click here.

Know Your Numbers & Monitor Your Metrics

This post, “9 LinkedIn Metrics to Keep Your Eye On” by Viveka von Rosen helps you to really look at, track and think about how you can enhance your online presence.

Customize those Invites, Now on Your Mobile App

If you’re like me in that you prefer to send customized invites, then using the mobile app has been a tad frustrating. You’d meet someone cool at a conference, want to connect right then from your phone, but couldn’t until now, customize that message. So glad they changed this!

Certify those Certifications

Have you taken a course from Coursera or Lynda? Now there are 7 different online education companies that have partnered with LinkedIn to certify that course you took. I’m currently taking an EdX course (the Science of Happiness, in case you were curious), and they are included too! Details can be found in this post from The Next Web.

You Own It, Thank Goodness

The core message from LinkedIn’s latest “Terms of Service” is that YOU own your content. Yes, this is very good news indeed. If you ever worried about your blog post ending up being sold off somewhere, now you can rest assured that won’t be the case. Get the details in their blog.

Data Overload, I Mean Download

You can now request an archive of your data and download a file with pretty much your entire existence of interactions on LinkedIn. It’s not the prettiest document to look at, but it is very cool that you can actually get a copy of a tremendous about of info. What’s included? It ranges from content you’ve posted, shared, liked, or commented on; your search history; ads you’ve clicked on, and much more.

 

Take #theLinkedInChallengelinkedin challenge

This one is simple – introduce 2 connections that can benefit each other. I love this concept and post from Brynne Tillman. Check it out and start making those introductions; join in for the LinkedIn Challenge. Okay, this one wasn’t a “LinkedIn Update,” but it’s a fabulous idea I couldn’t resist promoting.

 Additional Timely Advice

Sabrina Woods is an Associate Director at Northeastern University Career Development.  Sabrina also works as a LinkedIn Trainer and has taught workshops in the US, UK and Middle East.  When not hanging out on LinkedIn, or meeting with Northeastern students, Sabrina enjoys discovering new coffee shops, adventuring outside and baking brownies.  If you’d like to connect, feel free to send her an invitation via LinkedIn

How to Diversify a Resume

resume picMany job positions nowadays are multidisciplinary – calling for skills and traits from multiple backgrounds. If you are pursuing a seemingly narrow field like nursing or engineering, there are ways to make your resume stand out and grow to include other fields you may not have had any other way of tapping into.

1. Include varied volunteer experiences

Don’t think that short volunteer trips or one-time volunteer experiences don’t count! Spending your spring break in Nicaragua shows that service is important to you and you include it in your life whenever you can. If mentoring and teaching are skills you want to enhance talk about that time you helped at-risk teens with after-school tutoring. A volunteer position is just as valuable as a paid job and develops just as many skills. Treat them equally!

2. Don’t leave out any language skills

Even being conversational in a different language is an important addition to a resume. In healthcare, speaking different languages means interacting with more diverse patients. In the business world, a second language proficiency could mean an opportunity to work in a different branch abroad. Even if you’re just learning a language, mention that to showcase how well-rounded of an individual you are in your spare time. In an increasingly global shared economy, culture is a strength to employers.

3. Articulate your social media expertise

Are you active on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube? Write your own blog? Share that! More creative positions will embrace a strong online presence with the knowledge that you would be able to apply your know-how to their own brand. Translate your online self as a desirable and marketable professional.

4. Certifications show mastery in a specific skill

Do you have cool certifications in things like bartending, scuba diving or Photoshop? Include them in your resume! These are the cherries on top to show off the many colorful facets to your life. Who knows, that bartending license could do well in the restaurant and hospitality business, scuba diving could earn you an adventure of a lifetime working for an environmental non-profit, and Photoshop could get you that gig at the magazine of your dreams. A love of learning new skills and topics, can only do a candidate good.

5. Weave in your hobbies

Take advantage of the “interests” section in your resume. If you’re a yoga enthusiast or write poetry, don’t be afraid to share that. This is the space to connect with the interviewer and leave them with a positive last thought about you. When it comes down to it, we’re all humans with our own special interests and that’s what will make you memorable when compared with someone with the exact GPA and coursework and similar internships as you.

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. 

Image Source: For College Students: Writing Your First Resume via LinkedIn

How To Stand Out In A Good Way

man-climbing-stairs

This post was written by Diane Ciarletta, Director of Northeastern University Career Development.

Starting a new co-op or full-time job can be a challenge.  As the new kid on the block, you not only have to learn how to do the job, but also how to fit in with the company and make a strong impression. However, in most organizations, just being good at your job is not enough to get you noticed.  If you want to turn your coop into a full time offer or get on your boss’s radar for a promotion, it is important to find effective ways to increase your visibility.  You want your colleagues and manager to see you as a leader who adds value to the team and the company.  As a manager, I have hired several interns into permanent positions.  What differentiated them from the competition to win a coveted spot on our team?

Here are four ways you can make yourself stand out:

1. Go beyond your job description

View your job description as the minimum expectation and don’t ever be heard saying, “That’s not my job!”  Spend your first few weeks observing others, asking questions and figuring out ways you can add value to your team.  If you see something that needs to be done-take the initiative, bring it to your boss’ attention and offer your help.  If you find a way to do something more efficiently, suggest it with a concrete plan.  Step out of your comfort zone to learn a new skill or take on a project that no one else wants to do.  Possess a Yes-I-can attitude. If you show a willingness to learn or try something that would be beneficial to the company-you will definitely be positioning yourself for success.

2. Manage your time well

If you want to stand out, it is critical that you be regarded as someone who gets things done and done well.  Missing deadlines, or handing in a less-than-stellar project because you didn’t give yourself enough time to do it right is unacceptable.  The ability to multi-task, i.e. managing competing projects simultaneously, is expected of most employees, and is critical for anyone who aspires to a leadership role. It is important to prioritize your time when it comes to completing projects in order to get them done on time.  If you are unsure of which tasks to complete first, have a conversation with your supervisor to clarify expectations, and avoid potential problems in the future.

3. Speak up in meetings

The way you present yourself in meetings can have a big impact on your career. If you don’t let yourself be heard and never offer an opinion or comment, you may be giving off the impression that you are not invested.  Even if you are more introverted and prefer to think things through before you speak, find ways to participate.  When you do speak up, say your points succinctly and clearly.  A great way to figure out how to become an effective speaker is by watching those who do it well.  Meetings are where a lot of business gets done, and contributing your ideas publicly allows your boss and your peers to see you as a leader.

4. Ask for feedback and use it to improve

Getting feedback and constructive criticism from your peers and supervisor is one of the best ways to gauge your performance.  If your manager offers unsolicited feedback about a perceived problem or mistake, don’t be defensive.  Instead, take ownership and accountability and devise a strategy to address the problem.  If your manager doesn’t volunteer performance feedback –ask for it-appropriately.  You could request a regular one-to-one meeting to discuss problems, status updates and check-in about how you are doing.  When you are seeking feedback, don’t ask, “How am I doing?”  It’s too general and might not elicit specific, concrete suggestions.  Instead, ask about the one-thing.  For example, “What is one thing I could do to improve the way I…?  If someone takes the time and effort to give you feedback make sure you demonstrate how you are using it to improve your performance.

Diane Ciarletta is the Director of the Career Development Team.  She has been a Career Counselor for over 25 years and has hired and supervised many interns and professional staff.

Photo Source: Man Climbing Stairs

Career Tips for Students with Disabilities

self advocate quoteBelieve it or not, qualified workers with disabilities are some of the most sought after new hires in today’s corporate America.  Naturally, employers are looking to colleges and universities as a main talent pipeline for people with disabilities. Here are a few tips to help navigate the world of disability as you begin your own career search!

Become a self-advocate:

If you are a student with a disability, likely you’ve had help planning your accommodations or IEP as you went through school. In the professional world, no one will initiate these conversations for you. YOU will need to get the ball rolling. By knowing what tools you need to succeed in the workplace, you can begin to advocate on your own behalf for success! So step back and take a look at what your need to succeed, and to who you should speak with about this in a professional setting. What accommodations will you need, if any to get the job done?

When talking about disability in the workplace, focus on abilities, accomplishments, and achievements. Living with a disability can in fact be good for business! Alan Muir, executive Director of Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities, points out that people with disabilities are fantastic problem solvers.  Muir says “Problem-solving, thinking outside the box—or whatever you may want to call the skill—is something people with disabilities have in abundance”. This unique perspective is invaluable for companies competing for the next big innovation in their respective industries

Be informed about your rights and responsibilities under federal, state and local legislation:

No one likes to read through a massive legal document chock full of legal jargon that will make your brain melt, I’ll give you that. Never fear, because there are resources that make all the dry dense stuff a little easier to read for us non legal folk. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN)  is a great website that gives the TL:DR on the reams of paper it takes to print legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other resources about determining reasonable workplace accommodations.

Still not sure what this all means for you? JAN has free consultants that can help you answer any questions about disability and employment!

Join a community:

With 11% of enrolled college students and one in five Americans reporting that they have some kind of disability, I can guarantee you are not alone and that others are facing similar experiences.  This identity can be used to unite, support, and educate those around you! Not sure where to start? Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities is a national organization that connects students and employers together through its FULL ACCESS: Student Summit, which takes place regionally twice a year.

Looking to connect professionally? Many employers now have Employee Resource Groups for people with disabilities that serve as a space for employees with shared identities or interests to create professional development opportunities, provide peer support, and act as a voice to promote social change in the workplace. Finding out if groups and diversity initiatives like this exist at employers that you are interested in working for is a great way to see what value a company places on disability inclusive diversity.

Bottom line:  At first glance talking about a disability in the work place can be complex, intimidating and overwhelming, no doubt about it. At Career Development, we have staff that can help you make sense of how to address your disability as you begin your job search. So come on by, make an appointment with one of Career Advisors today! We are here to help you get hired for your skills and abilities, not just your disability.

Mike Ariale specializes in disability employment, self- advocacy, disclosure and accommodation strategies for the workplace. You can schedule an appointment with him through MyNEU or by calling the front desk at 617-373-2430.

Image Source: Post-it Quote- Pinterest

 

From Applying to Acing The Capitol Hill Internship

scarlett ho in front of capitol

Posing in front of the Capitol

This guest post was written by Scarlett Ho, a third year student majoring in International Affairs and Political Science, with a minor in Law and Public Policy.

For any Political Science major, working in the nation’s capital is an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Getting an internship on the Hill while still in college is not only useful in helping you decide if public policy is your niche, but also helps you get a foot in the door in other federal-related jobs in the field. This past summer, I had the fortunate opportunity to intern for a member of Congress in Washington D.C., and here are a few tips I would like to share to help anyone who is thinking about interning on the Hill.

1) The Application Process and the Interview

Most congressional internships require a standard resume and cover letter, followed by an interview. Sounds like a pretty easy process, but how do you stand out among hundreds of applicants?

  • Email etiquette: Most people think that all you need to do when you email your application package is just to attach the files. But from my personal experience, crafting a short and sweet paragraph in the email containing your brief bio and objective will make your application more personable. Remember, small things matter, so make sure your resume and cover letter are free from typos and grammatical mistakes. One way to ensure that is to ask your professional network, professors and friends to proofread them.
  • Interview: So you have received an invitation for an interview, how should you prepare? Research the office, know your objectives and why you want to intern there. What are your passions, and how is this internship going to contribute to your goal? Since most interview questions always revisit your past internships, be sure to be able to explain every detail you have put down on paper. Rehearse, do mock interviews, and feel confident. Remember, the secret to interviewing is: it’s not “what” you say, it’s “how” you say it.

2) Working on the Hill

Everyone has to start somewhere, and you should come to any job with the mindset that you are starting from the bottom. With that, it means mundane and trivial administrative tasks, such as answering and transferring phone calls, photocopying/scanning, and running errands. But on top of that, you should seize this wonderful opportunity to benefit the most out of it too:

  • Attend briefings/committee hearings: Fortunately for a Hill internship, because you’ll be at the center of politics, interns get the chance to go to different hearings and briefings and take notes. It is a great opportunity to learn more about the issue; and any memos that come out of it will be a great writing sample for the future.
  • Ask questions: Remember: no one knows the answer to everything. If you have questions or doubts, ask your fellow interns or supervisors- they will likely be able to answer them for you. Asking questions demonstrates that you’re proactive and thoughtful- something every employer would value. Additionally, ask for more tasks or offer to assist others in their work when you have completed yours. Your willingness to help others proves that you’re collaborative and are inclined to take initiative.
  • Networking: It’s all about connections, that is the truth. Be active in seeking out intern networking events, or receptions near the D.C. area to talk to people from different fields and offices. Seek out interesting people from LinkedIn, through friends and ask for informational interviews either in person or over the phone. Be flexible and respect people’s time because they are busy but are generally willing to help.

3) Ways to Take your Hill Internship To The Next Level

  • Keep a journal: It is important to keep track of your daily or weekly tasks, because at the end of your internship, you need to have talking points that summed up your responsibilities on your resume. Even if you don’t keep a journal (which is mostly for writing about your feelings and what you have learned), have a small notebook that jots down your tasks to make it easier to keep track in the future.
  • Recommendations: I was advised by a Capitol Hill staff to ask for the letter the last week of your internship, so that you will have the letter in hand on your last few days. By creating a time constraint for the recommender, they will most likely craft a more thoughtful response because you can read it when you are still there. After your internship is over, connect with the staff on LinkedIn and ask to be recommended.
  • Thank you note: A small thank you note for each staff in the office goes a long way. A nice hand-written note makes a lasting impression and you never know who will help you down the road. Therefore, this is a critical step that should not be skipped.

Interested in working in government? Career Development is hosting a Non Profit and Government Careers Forum at 5:30PM, tonight in Raytheon. Also, Thursday, October 16th at 5PM in 12 Stearns: Demystifying the Federal Job Application.

Bio pic_scarletthScarlett Ho is a third year student majoring in International Affairs and Political Science, with a minor in Law and Public Policy. She is a former Capitol Hill intern and will be interning at the European Parliament this fall with NU’s study abroad program. As a trilingual, she is interested in foreign affairs and diplomacy, and is an avid globetrotter. Connect with Scarlett on LinkedIn and follow her on                                                                                            Twitter.

 

Good luck everyone!

How to Find the Right Provider for Your International Experience

tr-travel-smart-ff-miles-608If during a person’s academic/professional career there is the time and opportunity to go abroad, one must certainly take it and run. As a student, any kind of international experience – whether it be volunteer service, study abroad, or an internship can enhance a resume and help one stand out among a sea of job applicants. To help set up your experience are things called “providers” – organizations that you pay to organize whatever trip you want to go on. Here’s some tips on navigating through the world of travel providers.

1. Narrow down place/time

Are you available for just a week during spring break? Or are you looking to give a year of your life to a cause? Before diving into the search, know the duration that you are able to participate. Do you want to be somewhere warm and tropical? Or in a metropolitan hub? You may not have the exact city and country pinpointed but at least have a continent or region in mind. Also, be realistic about your language capabilities and how that will apply in your destination of choice.

2. Know how you want to contribute

Do you want to make coffee in Costa Rica? Or test for tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa? Be specific in the exact field you want to work in and know that the kind of work opportunities available may not be from the comfort of an office.

3. Know your budget range

Consider food, housing, and program fee. Then add on fees for travelling and sight-seeing. Some programs are all-inclusive, some are free in exchange for service, some offer ways to fund your trip. Know exactly what you’re getting out of it and plan ahead before signing on the dotted line.

4. Do a general Internet search, then through a travel search engine

See what you can find on your own through Google and then try a trusted search engine like goabroad.com or goinglobal.com (get access through HuskyCareerLink!). Everything you need to know about “voluntourism” is right at your fingertips, you just have to collect and sift through.

5. Consider providers already partnered with your school/organization

There’s a reason why schools partner up with organizations to send students abroad – good experiences came out of it and trusted connections were formed. Consider options that have already been proven to satisfy.

6. Beware of flashy websites and pictures

Be careful of programs that boast more pictures than words and that seem to promise eternal happiness during this one trip. Know how to look beyond the glitz and attraction of travel and look at what they’re offering with a clear and logical head. Your experience will be much better off for it. A provider must customize your experience, not provide a one-size-fits-all to every traveler.

7. Ensure on-site safety and resources

Are there program staff who you will have access too when you arrive? What are the emergency phone numbers you can contact? The provider you choose should be especially thorough with this; you should always feel safe and taken care of. They should be good with the logistics so that you can enjoy yourself, learn a new culture, and grow professionally!

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: GeoVisions blog