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

What Running Taught Me About My Career and Success

Image via Huffington Post

Image via Huffington Post

As I entered my twenties, two big things happened: I went on my first co-op and I started running. These pivotal moments shaped not only my career, but also how I perceive my successes and shortcomings. Luckily for me, my co-ops and my running have always seemed to be in tune together. They’ve gotten more challenging, more exciting, and more frustrating all totally in sync with one another over the last few years.

Going from my first 5k to half-marathons and now training for the big 26.2, running has given me lessons on how to achieve on the road and in the office.

Schedules Are Necessary

Raise your hand if you have ever, and I mean ever, said, “I just don’t have time for… X,Y, or Z.” I definitely have. But when you’re training for a race, you have to schedule your day out a week or more in advance. Life and work can’t go on hold just for you to get in that 5 mile run, so you have to plan. Writing things down in a planner works or put it all together in your Google Calendar.

By making time and making schedules, you can cut down on the time spent distracted or stuck in one project. Planned days and weeks will help you be mindful of importance and force you to prioritize your projects.

On top of day-to-day prioritization, schedules can let you keep the long-term goal in mind rather than keeping your head down stuck in the daily grind. The goals that may seem distant become far more motivating when there is a plan, schedule, and strategy on how to get there.

Not Everything Will Go According to Plan

As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, this was the hardest lesson for me to grasp. I would go out for a long run, not hit my goal paces, and come back grumpy or frustrated (but usually both). Talking amongst running friends, I discovered I wasn’t alone in these feelings. It wasn’t long before I drew the connection between how I felt after a bad run and how I felt after a bad day at work. The frustration wasn’t always because of what happened, but because it wasn’t in the plan.

Learn to let go of the things that go awry and run with the new direction. While you may see the whole picture as “bad”, take a few minutes to think about something good that is coming from it. Sure, it’s never fun to be in a less than ideal situation, but by breaking it down into a few good takeaways can help you to learn, appreciate, and go forward with the new direction.

Rest Days Should Be Restful

Whether it’s your legs or your mind, you have to let them rest. Your weekends and nights are yours! Or if it’s Monday night and The Bachelorette is on, turn your thoughts away from work worries and try to predict who’s getting the final rose. I’m a worrier, I don’t like taking time off from anything. But despite that, I learned that if I don’t take a day off from running, my workouts would suffer. Similarly, if I’m working or worrying even after I’ve left the office, my work the following days becomes sub-par.

Let your mind take a break from work and you’ll be able to return the next day fresh and able to attack problems with a sharper mind and new perspective. Sometimes we get too close to the work and too close to the problems. Taking time away can help you stand back and see it all from a new light. Rest days from the work world can not only feel refreshing for you, they can also help to bring about new ideas and energy each week.

Celebrate Success

The end goal is always the most exciting, but never forget the little successes along the way. Have a killer 2 mile run? Ride out that happiness! Learn something new that will make your workday easier? Have a little solo dance party! If you neglect the celebrations you owe yourself along the way to the big ultimate goal, you’ll lose your fire and joy in the project. But if you can take moments to appreciate the work you do, or the work others around you do, you can have a lot more fun in the process.

Tatum Hartwig is a senior Communication Studies major with minors in Business Administration and Media & Screen Studies. Tatum brings experience and knowledge in the world of marketing and public relations from her two co-ops at Wayfair and New Balance. Her passion revolves around growing businesses via social media, brand development, and innovation. You can connect with Tatum on Twitter @tatumrosy and LinkedIn.

How Do I Answer This: Tell me about a time you failed.

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Ahh, the good old’ behavioral interview question, the key to mastering interview prep is understanding why they’re asking you that particular question. What is the employer trying to get at exactly? If you keep that in mind, you can usually come up with a much better, more impressive answer. In this case, the employer doesn’t really care that you failed (everyone screws up sometimes), but rather how do you handle things when they don’t work out. They’re also confirming self-awareness, the ability to be humble and a little bit of your problem solving abilities here.

Like all behavioral interview questions, employ the STAR method to keep your answers concise. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Also, don’t spent too much time on the failure as much as you do on the reflection of why you think you failed and what learned/would do different next time. That’s really the important stuff the employer wants to know. Finally, try and pick an example that is professionally related, whether that is an example from co-op or an internship or even your part-time job. It tends to resonate more with the employer than a classroom example.

Example: A recent example is at my last co-op I was tasked with increasing out social media engagement by 7% across multiple platforms. To do this I brainstormed and implemented some really creative, out-of-the-box social media campaigns. To my disappointment, only one of the three really caught on and as a result I was three points shy of my 7% goal. My tendency is to dive right into projects, but what I learned from that experience is I should have spent a little bit more time researching our customer base and audience. I think a few relatively minor tweaks to the less successful campaigns would have really made a difference. I was sure to communicate this to my successor and had good, constructive conversation with my supervisor about this at my review. Looking back, it was a great learning experience for me as a young professional.

Kelly is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach. She is also the “blog master” for The Works. A self-proclaimed social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she likes experimenting with new technology to help clients define their personal online brand. Kelly graduated from Northeastern University (Go Huskies!) with a BA in communication studies and a MS in college student development and counseling. Tweet her @kellydscott4.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Summer


With summer classes mid-way through and spring co-ops left with about a month, college students’ minds are inevitably shifted to a long-overdue summer vacation. After a semester long of hard work, we all deserve a nice break, where we enjoy the warmth of sunshine and good company with friends — after all, post-graduation this will all be a luxury for young working professionals. But while it is important to have fun and wind down, college students should also be taking advantage of a summer when they have fewer obligations with schoolwork to make the most out of it.

Here are a few possibilities you can try to keep yourself busy this summer:

  1. Find a Summer Internship/Job

It’s a no-brainer that summer internships ensure career success after graduation. After all, isn’t what Northeastern’s co-op program is for, to make sure that Huskies graduate with ample work experience to get ahead in the game? Regardless of your co-op experience, an extra summer will give your future employers an impression that you are driven, ambitious and willing to learn. Plus, who wouldn’t want extra cash even if it is part-time? Or even if it is just a summer job, be it in a coffee shop, restaurant or a country club, the skills and experience that you will learn to be crucial to building your character and financial success.

  1. Travel

When scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed or Instagram pictures, it is not unusual to see pictures of friends traveling for fun, studying abroad, and doing a dialogue. After all, “life is a book and those who don’t travel, read only one page.” Moreover, travel is crucial for us to understand and make sense of the world around us. The experience, history, culture and the people we encounter will help us discover ourselves and appreciate people different from us. If you are really serious about it, many travel agencies and companies with great deals, such as EF College Break, TravelZoo, and Expedia might be good sources to check out. Moreover, with the vast amount of Northeastern alumni and friends across the globe, it is easy to get connected or even crash at their places so you can save money here and there.

  1. Learn a new skill

Have you ever get passed over for a co-op because you didn’t know Adobe Photoshop or excel? While soft skills such as communication and writing are important in the workplace, hard skills are equally important in helping your application stand out. Consider spending this summer taking classes on acquiring or polishing a new skill (or even mastering a foreign language). From publishing, coding, building a website, to learning Adobe Photoshop, endless online courses and tutorials are at your fingertips. All you need is just a willingness to learn!

And of course, don’t forget to relax and wind down, because you deserve it! Just remember: Work Hard, Play Hard.

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

Get That Daily Dose of Vitamin D


It’s summer. Not officially, but I beg to differ since it’s so hot out lately! The worst part: you’re stuck at work or in class. Personally, I’ll stare at the window, hoping I can get outside, even if it’s only for a few minutes of fresh air.

It’s beyond important to treat our bodies well and getting the right dose of vitamin D is just a part of it. Vitamin D is crucial in proper bone health, and other body functions, as it helps absorb calcium, phosphate, and other minerals and vitamins. Staying out in the sun for a certain time every day sounds so easy, but add a hectic day of class, work, or a combination? Not so much. But here’s a few ways on how to make being outside easier, despite a busy schedule:

Workout. Go before work, go during lunch, go after work, just go. It’s finally nice out so exercising outside is a great way to get a workout done and get some of that essential vitamin D. If it’s really hot, do yourself a favor and try to go early in the morning. You’ll catch a great sunrise and beat the heat. If you plan on being outside for a while, put on sunscreen!

Eat lunch outside. Our days are often so hectic that we just eat lunch at our desk, in class, or somewhere else inside. Find a table or bench outside to eat your lunch at. Bring friends, bring a book, or even bring some work if you have to, but worry not, you’ll still be getting some fresh air and some sun.

Walk to or from work. It might mean you have to leave your apartment a bit earlier, but you’ll start your day with some sun. If you’re not a morning person, walk home from work. It’ll be a nice end to your busy day of being cooped up at the office.

There’s so many ways to get a bit more sun every day. No need to stay locked up in the classroom or at work all day long; take a break to catch some sun. You need it every day, so work to ensure you can get some rays of sunlight each and every day.

Colette Biro is a 3rd year Biology and Mathematics major with a minor in Chemistry. She is currently on her first co-op in a biology lab at Northeastern working on transgenerational immunity in social insects. Colette is passionate about running, November Project and being a Husky Ambassador. Feel free to reach out to her at

Work Smarter: Office Productivity Tips For Co-ops

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We all have those days when sending an email feels like dragging yourself through a mile of hot desert sand. It’s easy to hit a wall around 2 or 3pm, when your brain packs up her bags and takes the first train home regardless of how much you still have to do. Increasing your productivity has a huge effect on confidence and workplace satisfaction (you know how good it feels to cross an item off of your to-do list. It’s awesome). Here are a few tips to enhance your productivity this week:

Beat the crowd. By being the first one in the office, you can catch up on emails from the day before, schedule meetings, and get things done before other people arrive. This prevents you from feeling stressed-out or behind on your work throughout the day. This habit also illustrates your dedication as an employee, setting you up well for a raise or a promotion down the line.

Avoid the social media stare. I often fall into the trap of the social media stare – keeping one or two browser tabs for work, one for Twitter, one for Facebook, one for the blog. The social media stare is a source of constant interruption when you stop working for every Twitter interaction or Facebook notification. Close those windows to take advantage of your most productive hours.

Clump meetings together. It’s impossible to get things done when you have a meeting from 10-11am, a lunch meeting from noon-1pm, and a meeting at 2pm. When scheduling meetings, try to create clusters of meetings so you have a few hours at a time to get into a work groove. If possible, encourage your office or just your department to adopt one meeting-less day each week. This will allow for greater focus and more productivity.

Use two monitors. Just do it. Once you start using two monitors, you will be amazed that you ever got work done before. One screen is extremely limiting, especially when it comes to research, writing, and creating presentations. If you have the resources, adding a second monitor will greatly increase your productivity and ability to multi-task.

Take advantage of technology. You are always connected, so you should probably make the most of the innovative apps and tools that are available to you. Have to focus for a bit, but distracted by background sounds? Check out Simply Noise (, a white noise generator that allows you to block out sounds around you so you can focus and be more productive. For an easy-to-use note-taking app, try Evernote. Perfect for list-makers, Evernote allows you to keep track of everything on your phone, tablet, and computer.

No matter what, you will hit difficult days when your efficiency seems to plummet and it feels like you can’t get anything done. Focus on these tips or make your own to improve the quality of your work without spending extra hours at the office.

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