How “Master of None” Can Help You Master Your Personal Brand


Like most millennials addicted to Netflix and worshipers of the binge-watching religion, I spent my weekend breezing through Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix original series, “Master of None”. On the show, Aziz plays Dev, a struggling actor living in New York City. Dev delivers some thought-provoking lessons about life and careers (of course wrapped in a laugh-inducing package), which are easily translated into establishing a personal brand.

Creating your personal brand is an important step in your career, so jumpstart your journey to mastering your personal brand through these simple tips:

Be honest with yourself. When contemplating his future and whether or not kids are a part of it, Dev dives deeply and honestly into his mind to examine his thoughts and priorities. By honestly identifying both your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll able to not only find ways to strengthen your brand, but also identify ways to grow even more.

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Stay true to what you believe in. As an Indian American actor, Dev is often asked to play roles which require the use of a fake Indian accent. Even though it costs him roles, Dev decides this is something he’s not comfortable with. You know yourself better than anyone else. When you stay true to yourself and don’t try to be anyone else, you will organically reinforce your brand.

Keep learning. In one episode, Dev begins to realize he doesn’t know much about his parents’ childhoods or histories, so he decides to start learning their stories. Having a curiosity that allows you to keep learning – whether in an academic, professional, or personal setting – will help you gain a better understanding of what you’re capable of and can offer the world.

Always put your best foot forward. Upon receiving a last minute movie audition, Dev finds himself in a crowded coffee shop trying to audition via Skype. While it makes for a very funny scene, it is not a great example of how to present yourself. Especially with social media becoming a major part of a professional lives, make sure that the person you are online reflects how dazzling you are in person.

How have you mastered your personal brand? Do you have any tips you’d add to the list? Tell us in the comments or via Twitter!

Jessica Mertens is a senior studying Communication Studies, Business Administration, and International Affairs. With experience in PR, internal communications, and CSR from Metis Communications and Staples, Jessica is now in an eternal state of wanderlust at Travel + Leisure. Offline, you can catch Jessica exploring NYC, binge-watching Scandal, and planning her next world travels. Connect with Jessica on Twitter @jessica_mertens and LinkedIn.

Rock that Interview.

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You’re on the job hunt and have sent out resumes upon resumes upon resumes and you finally get that phone call offering you an interview with a potential employer. First, congrats! Getting an interview is the next step and that deserves appreciation. Second, here comes the time to shine, to rock that interview.

Interviews aren’t exactly about showing that you’re perfect; they’re about sharing with another person what you’ve done, what you want to do, and how you can fit into their workplace culture.

Think of some answers beforehand. We all know the typical interview question: Tell me about yourself, tell me about a time you faced a challenge and how you overcame it, describe a past project to me, etc. I could go on. Chances are you’ll get asked these at the majority of your interviews so it’s good to have some answers thought out beforehand. Don’t stage what you are going to say, just have a general idea. You’ll relax and allow yourself to focus on simply answering the question instead of scrambling to find an answer.

Dress to impress. It’s time to pull out a nice outfit. Dress up slightly more than you would for a typical work day. It shows the interviewer(s) that you care about the interview and respect their company. Go for something more business professional than business casual. A little tip: try to make sure you wear something you’ve worn before, at least once. The last thing you want is to find out a new shirt is itchy or just plain uncomfortable when you’re waiting for the interview to begin.

Be personable. You are a human. Your interviewer is a human. Therefore, be a person. You don’t have to build yourself up and only talk about your successes. Companies want to see that you have faced challenges in the workplace and want to know how you troubleshot them. Be yourself. Don’t try to change the way you speak, just answer their questions, ask questions, and let your natural light shine through.

Hopefully these tips help you out with any upcoming interviews! Personally, I think the last one is the most important because it’ll show the company who you are because they want to make sure you will be a great fit for their workplace culture. There’s a wealth more of tips on this blog and online, so be sure to check those out if you need more. And remember, you got this.

Advice to my 25-year-old self.

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First, manage your career because no one else will.

When choosing a job, be confident enough to ask yourself “Does this add to my career capital?” Is this something I really love to do? Will this job be a great next step?” I pursued a career path that was in an industry I loved (financial investments) but I was in a job that I hated (stockbroker).  My advice to you if you find yourself in this situation  is before leaving the industry, it is important to explore other career paths within the industry. Financial planner? Financial analyst? Fund Manager? Do some brainstorming and informational interviewing within the industry you love to find out what else is possible. The best ways to get your creative juices flowing is coffee shop with some great creative books or magazines or online blogs. Think Fast Company (

Second, seek out a mentor. Everyone needs a mentor. You might have different mentors at different stages in your career, but they are important. Remember that mentors are rarely colleagues and not easy to find.

Third, It matters who you spend your free time with.

Who you choose as your friends and partner will matter.  As the years march on, who you hang out with, who you choose as your partner, really does matter. Watch Meg Jay’s Ted talk on Your Defining Decade.

Find friends who support, advise and push each other as you make your way deep into your career and life. It will be fun to manage your career if the people you are spending your free time with are doing the same.

Push yourself to be uncomfortable. Have a career bucket list. Allow yourself the time and space to continually ask yourself “What do I want? What do I love? What are my gifts? Where are my growth edges? That requires a depth of self-knowledge and connection that can only positively affect your life choices. For example, if you want to work internationally, put yourself out there. Tell your company. Be strategic. Learn languages.  Be culturally flexible. At the beginning of my career, my generation stayed put in the cities they grew up in.  What differentiated me was that I moved to various large cities in the United States. San Francisco.  Los Angeles.  Atlanta. Minneapolis. Finally Boston. My willingness to be uncomfortable, displayed a flexibility and adaptability that helped me to manage my career and offer a perspective that employers appreciated. Check out Sohan Gokarn talk about how to stand out.

And Last, dance and dance every day. Sounds absurd but dancing helps you to connect with your true self. It is there that you will find all your answers.

In conclusion, enjoy this video.

What do you think of this advice? Leave your own thoughts in the comments below!

Sharri Harmel works in career development at Northeastern University.. She loves international travel, creative thinkers and good books, all with equal passion. Tweet at her about the article @careercoachNU!

Next Stop: The Real World

Despite the fact that I’m in my fifth year at Northeastern and graduating this upcoming May, the thought of a real-world job offer seemed so far in my distant future. Yet when I was approached recently about full time positions after graduation, it seemed as though the real world came and hit me like a ton of bricks. Cue the panic.

Wake Up, Neo

While I did allow myself a few moments of total “What is happening?”s and “What am I going to do with my life?”s, I decided to buck up and prepare.

Prepping for your job search doesn’t have to be miserable. Here’s how:

  • Stay organized. If you’re anything like me, you find making charts in Excel to be extremely therapeutic. While I realize most of you probably aren’t like me, just make sure to stay organized. Keep note of what company you’re applying to, the title of the job you are applying for, any information they provide you, who your contact at that company is, and a record of your correspondence. It sounds overwhelming, but it will be absolutely worth it in the end.
  • Nurture your network. You’ve done amazing co-ops and internships, but don’t let all the valuable connections you made during those experience lay dormant on LinkedIn. A friendly email never hurt anyone, and it helps to show that you’re interested and proactive.
  • Be a little bit selfish. Job searching can be overwhelming and some people (read: loving family and friends) love asking about your search and telling you what they think is best. While they may have valuable advice, really think about what you think is best for you. Has it been your life dream to move to Seattle post-grad, but your friends want you in Boston? Evaluate your goals versus the goals that others set for you. It’ll hugely impact your happiness in the long run.
  • Most importantly, get excited. Don’t let stress shadow the excitement of these next few months. You’re going to be so prepared to take on the world, so get excited.

While the real world comes and often catches you off guard, it doesn’t have to a horrible and scary place. Have any tips to add? Leave them in the comments below.

Happy job hunting!

Jessica Mertens is a senior studying Communication Studies, Business Administration, and International Affairs. With experience in PR, internal communications, and CSR from Metis Communications and Staples, Jessica is now in an eternal state of wanderlust at Travel + Leisure. Offline, you can catch Jessica exploring NYC, binge-watching Scandal, and planning her next world travels. Connect with Jessica on Twitter @jessica_mertens and LinkedIn.

Interview Freak Out: How Do I Answer That?!

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Our worst fear, when walking in the door for an interview, is that we’re going to get stumped. This HR recruiter is going to ask us something that stops us in our tracks. We imagine ourselves sitting there with a blank stare, dumbfounded expression, and sweat starting to form on our brow. So what can we do?  Consider using these 4 strategies.

  1. Buy some time. Restate the question to the interviewer. It will look like you are just getting clarification. It might look something like this:

“So, you are wondering about a time when I had a disagreement with my boss about an issue at work? Let me think about that for a second.” 

By restating the question it’s giving that question time to settle into your brain and buying you valuable seconds to see if you can come up with an example. It’s far better than saying, “ummmmmmmm”.

  1. Swap the scenario. If you can’t think of a time when you had a disagreement with your boss, then swap out the scenario. Maybe you can come up with a slightly different example.

“While I’m not able to think, right now, of a time when I had a disagreement with my boss, I can think of a time when I had a challenge with a classmate during a semester long academic project. Could I share this example with you?”

  1. Answer directly. Now if you are still drawing a blank, here’s one other approach. Consider stating that you can’t come up with an example, but mention in general how you handle conflict and ask if that helps.

“While I’m having trouble coming up with a specific example, I can share that in general when I have a conflict with someone I typically pause first to think through the situation, step into the other person’s shoes to try and see where they are coming from, then think up questions that I can ask that would allow us to explore the situation in more depth as a means to working through it.”

4. Postpone

“This is an excellent question, and I can imagine it’s important to know how an individual employee will deal with conflict.  I’m having a hard time thinking up an example in this moment; however, I wanted to see if we might be able to circle back to this question at the end of the interview?”

In the end, one of the most important things you can do is to stay calm and be real.

Sabrina Woods is an Associate Director at Northeastern Career Development and also has a private practice as a Holistic Career / Life Coach & Linkedin Trainer.  She has been in this field for 15 years and is a Husky (BA in Business) plus has a Masters in Holistic Counseling from Salve Regina University in sunny Newport, RI.  When not working at NU, teaching Linkedin or coaching private clients, Sabrina loves to hike, bike and kayak.  For more about Sabrina, go to


Mentorship? Go Organic!

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Every so often, we come across articles preaching out “the power of mentorship”. We read about how one mentor can open your mind and help your career flourish. These articles instill such a desire within us to find that one person who can change our lives and our professional careers for the better. The desire to find this person can grow so strong that we begin to focus less on the quality of the mentorship and more on the search itself.

Mentors (like most things nowadays) should form organically. Often times, you won’t realize the caliber of mentor you have in front of you until you step back and really study your relationship with them. This was the case for me when I first met mine.

I was about one month in to my second co-op when another teammate started. Even on her first day, her confidence and bright personality lit up every room. We bonded over being the newbies on the team and shared very similar senses of humor. As my co-op progressed, our conversations would get deeper and our friendship grew stronger. When I was back in classes and my homework was to interview a mentor in my chosen field, my mind immediately turned to my colleague. I realized that not only was she the first person I immediately turned to for career advice, but also the person I aspired to be more like.

By allowing relationships to grow naturally and fostering them over time, strong and meaningful mentorships will begin to form. There’s no need to force it! Be patient, keep an open mind, and let a mentorship form organically. Trust me, a true and valuable mentorship is 100% worth the wait.

Jessica Mertens is a senior studying Communication Studies, Business Administration, and International Affairs. With experience in PR, internal communications, and CSR from Metis Communications and Staples, Jessica is now in an eternal state of wanderlust at Travel + Leisure. Offline, you can catch Jessica exploring NYC, binge-watching Scandal, and planning her next world travels. Connect with Jessica on Twitter @jessica_mertens and LinkedIn.

Post-Work Habits

Photo: Boston skyline and the Charles River

It’s 5pm, you’re off from work, and headed home. But what to do? The possibilities are endless, but it doesn’t mean we should go home, hop on the couch and watch Netflix for hours on end. We should use our evenings to try new things, be productive, and most importantly, unwind after a long day at work.

Cook something new at least once a week. I often find myself cooking the same thing on a weekly basis, but sometimes I’m really craving adventure! Try to cook a new meal, something you’ve either never cooked before or tasted before, at least once a week. It’ll spice up your day post-work and let you be creative in the kitchen. Try allrecipes for ideas!

Hit the gym. Work it out, after work. Let off some steam after a hard day in the gym or simply celebrate a great day at work with some extra endorphin release. Working out makes you feel better and might just be enough to give you that motivation to have a great evening. Bonus: if it’s nice outside, workout in nature! You get some extra sunlight (hello vitamin D!) and some fresh air at the same time.

Explore your city. We live in Boston, so there’s always something going on in some part of the city. Take some time to walk around, look up, and explore what your stomping ground has to offer. Also, chances are that there is at least one free event happening somewhere at night, so that’s a great way to spend your evening to unwind after work.

Your day after work doesn’t have to be dull, make it exciting!

Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

That end of the interview dreaded question…. Do you have any questions for us??

Interview Questions

It would be easy to take this question literally, and think to yourself, I just want to get out of this interview, so you say “no, I don’t have any questions for you.”

Bad idea! You want to leave the employer with the impression you are the one for the job and that requires you to ask more questions!

Why does the interviewer ask this question?  To find out if you can step back from the long hours of interviewing and ask some broad processing questions. In a nutshell, the interviewer wants to know how you think.

This is a great opportunity for you to not only show them that you are a big picture thinker but you’ll also find out if your need to tell them anything more about yourself!

So, what are some good questions you can ask?

  1. Tell me more about the culture of the office or company? Or how would you describe the culture of the office or company? (You want to make sure this is the right fit for you too.)
  1. What are the opportunities for professional development? How do you develop your employees to take on more responsibilities?? (You are exploring advancement opportunities.)
  1. I read that your company is moving in X direction, or just made X acquisition; can you tell me more about that and how it might impact the company both short and long-term? (You’re showing them that you have done your research on the company.)
  1. What do you see as the greatest challenges for your company over the next 5 years? (Again, you want to learn more about the company.)
  1. Are there any special projects coming up that you’d want me to work on if I got the job? (You’re showing your interest in the job.)

And finally….

  1. Is there anything you need to know about me that will help you to make a decision?
  1. What happens next in this process? (You want to know the timing of their decision.)

Sharri Harmel works in career development at Northeastern University, acting as the liaison to the College of Engineering. She loves international travel, creative thinkers and good books, all with equal passion. Tweet at her about the article @careercoachNU!

Networking Essentials: What You Need to Know About Student Business Cards

The Works- Student Business Cards pic

With July fast approaching, students are either finishing up or starting their co-ops and summer internships. However, one thing that never changes is the ample opportunity to network in events and coffee sessions- it is practically year-round. Well, we all know the usual ‘prepare your resume’ rhetoric, and we have tons of advice and articles on how to craft the perfect one. But other than that, is that enough to let you stand out among a horde of applicants, in say, a career-fair or a pile of applications? How do you fare against the Ivy-Leaguer next to you, or the genius student in other universities who got 4.0? Sure, it’s not about grades or the school you go to necessarily that gets you the job, you might say, it’s about how memorable you are, and how much of a connection you made with the recruiter or interviewer.

For striking a connection, sometimes it is by chance that you have something in common with that person, for instance background or interests. For the former though, it is something you can act on. Having a unique business card to present to recruiters/ interviewers, or just someone you are grabbing coffee with, can make a lasting impression. Plus, in a world of adults, swapping business cards is commonplace, and you don’t want to be ‘that’ networker who looks like they are still not ready for the workforce. With that said, what should you include in your business cards?

1. Basic Information

It’s no-brainer, include your name, school, and graduation year. Since you are still a student (and that should be your title), be sure to include your email address, but feel free to put down your professional sounding non-academic email as well. Whether or not you want to include your phone number is up to you, but my advice is leave it for the resume since the people who have them tend to be more serious about giving you an interview.

2. Online Presence Links on Social Media Platforms

If you have a personal website, LinkedIn, make sure to put the links there as well, as it gives potential employers a different dimension of you than just on a black-and-white piece of paper. Depending on your major, it might be relevant to include your twitter handle, online portfolio, or even tumblr. But caution against putting too much info that would overwhelm them. Be mindful that your card should evoke simplicity and professionalism. If there are things you want to add but can’t fit them on the card, put that on your website or elsewhere, they will dig more into it when they are interested.

3. Design and Format 

There should be a balance between getting creative and conservative. You want to stand out but more importantly make people take you seriously. There is no standard type of business cards as it really depends on your major and what kind of image you want to evoke. Many business cards companies let you personalize or even design your own brand, such as Moo, or Minted, and Tiny Prints. It only takes a few minutes to customize it, then you can start ordering it in small batches at a cost-friendly price starting from $20.

Lastly, handing out business cards to the right people and when to do so require etiquette and skills. Normally, at a networking event, you should hand it out with both hands to the other person at the end of the conversation, if you see the value in following up with them. Whereas, for an interview, it should be given at the beginning with the card facing them, and if he/she hands one to you as well.

Now, you are ready to go, make a lasting impression and forge useful connections!

Scarlett Ho is a third year International Affairs and Political Science major with a minor in Law and Public Policy. During fall 2014, she studied abroad in Belgium where she interned at the European Parliament. The summer prior to that, she interned for Senator Warren on Capitol Hill, and previously Congressman Lynch in Massachusetts. She can be reached at

3 Summer Activities When You’re Not Looking For a Job (Yet)


The summer, especially the summer after graduation, can be a stressful time of networking and job hunting. But what if you’re not quite in the thick of it? What if you’re not quite looking for a job yet?

Maybe you already have an internship lined up for the summer, but you want to gear up for your next one. Maybe you’re graduating in December or May and you want a head start on your job search. While it’s probably too early to send applications or resumes, it’s never too early to set a strong foundation for your future job hunt.

  1. Go to meetups in your field. If you haven’t been to a meetup yet, it’s basically a group of people who live in the same area who meet up to talk about something they love. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s probably a professional association or at least a meet up group for that thing. After my sophomore year of college, I started going to meet ups for people interested in social enterprise and I met some incredible people. One of those connections led me to an awesome summer job. The best time to meet people and network is when you’re not looking for anything. No pressure, no time crunch, just time to meet people with similar interests and build an organic network.
  1. Read. Very few activities in this world will make you a more engaging person than reading. If making a summer reading list sounds daunting, just stop by a bookstore, find a section you like, and find one book. Just one. GoodReads is a great place to find recommendations based on books you have already read and loved. Filling your mind with new knowledge is a great way to spend a summer and get you prepared for interview season.
  1. Have coffee. Reach out to all kinds of people this summer. For most of us, asking someone we don’t know to get coffee is outside of our comfort zone. But the people you meet and the lengths you will go to exchange ideas and get to know someone will go so far during your future job search. If you have your eye on a specific company, find a few people on LinkedIn who work there and offer to buy them coffee. The summer is fairly relaxed in the workplace, so people have more time in their schedules to grab a quick cup. Because you’re not in the middle of a full-on job hunt, there won’t be any expectations or assumptions. No pressure, just coffee. Talk about their job and their interests and what they think your field is going to look like in the next few years. Whatever you want to talk about, the summer is a perfect time to make new connections. This summer, get coffee with someone new in your field twice a month. You will be amazed at the people you will meet and how it will affect your future.

The summer is a perfect time to set awesome goals – try something new. Go to a new class, learn a new skill, or just unwind from a busy few months. Take advantage of this rare downtime and you will be more than prepared to tackle the job hunt.

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. Find her Tweeting at @lindseygsampsonand blogging about travel & career at