Going Online with Confidence: How to Ace Your Skype Interviews

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While it would be wildly convenient if co-ops and careers fell from the sky into our laps, that’s simply not how the world works. In order to be hired in any position, it’s generally a given that you’ll face a much-dreaded hurdle: the interview. Mastering the interview (and, for me personally, learning to rein in my awkward nature) is a lifelong endeavor that generally improves over time. However, while applying for co-ops abroad during the past two months, I had to grapple with a new beast: the Skype interview. While the thought of doing a Skype interview used to make me wish I didn’t have a webcam, after partaking in several of them, I have a better feel for how they’re best handled. If you have a Skype interview coming up and find yourself nervous to stop hiding behind your “do not disturb” status, consider the following tips.

Find a good interview spot

Before worrying about the interview itself, decide where you’re best suited to take your call. A good environment for a conversation builds the foundation for a seamless exchange. A quiet space with a neutral background and good lighting are ideal. Perhaps most importantly, flawless Wi-Fi is key. After having the call drop a few times during my first interview, which I took in my flat, I did the rest of them from my office after hours because the internet connection is much more reliable there. Nothing kills the flow of a good conversation like being cut off in the middle of it!

Take account of your account

Before sharing your contact details with a potential employer, evaluate how you present yourself on Skype. Is your screen name appropriate? Is the song lyric you last posted as your status unprofessional? Do you have a profile picture? If yes, does it reflect the initial image you want an employer to have, of you? If you don’t currently have a profile picture, consider adding one before your interview; employers generally appreciate being able to see who they’ll be speaking with beforehand, and it adds a personal touch to your profile.

Additionally, make sure you share Skype contact details with the employer before the interview. For good measure, change the generic “I’d like to add you as a contact” message to something more personal regarding looking forward to the interview, for example. Along with being an additional pleasantry, doing this allows you to confirm the identity of the person you add. If you get a confused response from someone you’ve accidentally added thinking they were your potential employer, you’ll find out right away rather than minutes before the interview. Another essential thing to remember is setting your status to “online.” I perpetually set my status as “away,” regardless of whether or not I’m in front of my computer, so I made a note for myself to remember to sign on before all my interviews.

Businesswoman with Laptop

 

Dress for success…at least from the waist up
Skype interviews are unique in that they allow you to present yourself to an employer from the waist up, providing the opportunity to tweak your bottom-half wardrobe strategy for the interview. While some people feel more confident dressed in head-to-toe business attire, I always feel a bit out of my element in such clothes because I wear them so rarely. So, being able to swap my dress pants in for sweatpants during an interview without fear of being penalized helped me relax. Plus, being able to say you landed a position while wearing your comfiest clothes brings a satisfaction worth experiencing.

Use the split-screen advantage

Another advantage unique to Skype interviews is being able to keep notes directly in front of you during the conversation. While you can obviously still use notes written on paper, I found it helpful to keep my résumé and interview notes in a Word document on one side of my computer screen while keeping the Skype window on the other side. Being the kind of person who holds notecards during presentations but never ends up looking down at them, I always feel more comfortable having a reference handy, regardless of how much I use it. If you use this strategy, take care to focus on the interviewer and not stare at your notes the whole time, though!

Regardless of whether you interview in person, over the phone, or through Skype, entering it prepared and confident always lead to the best results; for my fellow Skype interviewees, these tips are a plus. Good luck, fellow co-ops! May the Wi-Fi be ever in your favor.

Nicolette Pire is a junior Combined Linguistics and English major. She is currently pursuing her second co-op as a research assistant in the psycholinguistics group at the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany. An aspiring polyglot, she’s using her first international experience to immerse herself in as many cultures as possible while sharing her international faux pas along the way. Feel free to reach out to her at pire.n@husky.neu.edu.

 

Northeastern’s Special Sauce in Southeast Asia!

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The Global Employer Relations Team (which is a unit within the Co-op and Career Development department) recently trekked to Thailand and Vietnam to meet with prospective employers to recruit and create job opportunities for all students so they are able to participate in Global Co-op experiences. The trip was a great success!  The employers our team visited were well aware and familiar with Northeastern, which shows that we truly are a global institution! Job opportunities were developed and more are being nurtured.  Building these opportunities for Northeastern students take a lot of time to cultivate, sometimes it can be up to two years before an employer is fully engaged and ready to come on board as a co-op employer.

 

So, now that you have a little insider information to how much effort and time goes into developing co-op relationships, I would like to share my exciting travels to Southeast Asia and what I experienced!  Here are a few highlights!

 

Thailand
Wow!  What an amazing city.  This is a robust location with great visibility for Northeastern and new co-op opportunities (you can check out jobs in NUcareers.)  Pictured above is my visit to a start-up company in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we have a co-op student from D’Amore-McKim starting his job in January 2017.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
I met with the President of Cotecco Construction, who happens to be an NU parent too! Cotecco is the largest construction company in the region. With a growing economy and ambitious workforce, Vietnam is a very desirable destination and has been for a couple years now.  Northeastern is well represented at Cotecco and here we are with the NU parent, NU alumnus, and current D’Amore-McKim co-op student.

Top Ten Reasons to Consider a Co-op in Southeast Asia:

  1. Incredible co-op and home country opportunities AND no language requirements (English speaking country)
  2. Many employers provide a small stipend and offer free lunch (with a chef on staff too)
  3. The dollar goes a long way – which is great for living expenses and traveling opportunities
  4. Robust Northeastern Alumni Communities in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi
  5. Multinationals are there (leverage your US co-op with offices here such as  Reebok Vietnam or Wunderman Thailand to name a few examples)
  6. Amazing cultural experience
  7. Build your resume and boost your LinkedIn profile
  8. Pad Thai and Spring Rolls (and special sauce)
  9. Innovative spirit
  10. The People! The People!

Final Thoughts
It is our brilliant student population (you!) and diversity across our institution that is the main driver of why prospective employers quickly become engaged in the co-op program.  The co-op program is our special sauce, allowing employers to attract top talent early in the recruiting pipeline process.  For this reason, we have selected ten partners to participate in the February 2017 Career Fair, as part of a new Global Corner.  So mark your calendar for February 2, 12Pm to 4PM!  Be sure to introduce yourself to these employers and add Southeast Asia to your co-op bucket list!

Alane De Luca oversees the Global Employer Relations team and global lead-generation initiatives within Career Development and Cooperative Education.  She comes to Northeastern with 25+ years of experience working in the international education arena.  Alane’s passion for global experiential learning began when she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa, where she worked alongside NGO’s and native Senegalese in rural parts of northern Senegal.  Upon returning to the states, she assumed a position funded by the United States Agency for International Development focusing on initiatives set forth by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and administered at Northeastern.  She also has experience directing global and experiential learning programs within academia at Merrimack College, Salem State University, Suffolk University Law School, and Saint Anselm College.  She is a dual citizen of Italy, holds an M.Ed. from Northeastern University and a B.A. from The College of the Holy Cross.

 

Innovation is Often Found in the “In-Between”

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heeling-flowers-2In a society where new ideas, new businesses, and new projects appear every day, it’s hard to be unique. It’s hard to create something that is innovative, has value, and will last longer than the current news cycle. It’s even harder still to create something that meets those criteria AND will make you money. I can’t speak much to the money piece yet, as getting a stipend from the government to go to school puts earning additional income in a gray area. But I can share a few of the projects I’ve started and how I was able to find that innovative space and create something that will last.

The first project I started is called Heeling Flowers. The goal of Heeling Flowers is to repurpose flowers from weddings and other events that normally get thrown away and deliver bouquets made from those flowers to patients at UNC Hospitals. (If you’re thinking to yourself, “weird, she spelled healing wrong twice in a row,” it wasn’t a mistake. The name is a nod to both the healing power of unexpected flowers during a stressful time, and UNC’s mascot the Tarheels.) I love this project because it fills two gaps without a whole lot of effort or cost. First, weddings and big events are amazing but they are also a TON of work and once the bridal party or planning committee has made it through the big event, they have to deal with everything that is left over. We solve that problem by coming to pick up the flowers at the end of the wedding or event. People are so grateful that we take extra work off their hands and prevent perfectly good flowers from being wasted. In addition, being in the hospital is a stressful time no matter the reason. We deliver the flowers to Volunteer Services, which already has a system in place to get flowers to the patients who need them most. I realize that flowers won’t solve any of the problems that patients have, but if the small kindness of anonymous flowers brightens their day even a little bit, then we have accomplished our goal.

soncThe second project is a Facebook community I recently created called Scientists of North Carolina. This project was inspired by Humans of New York, which has consistently shown the power of stories to connect people from all walks of life. The goal of Scientists of North Carolina is to humanize scientists to wider communities. When people think of a scientist, the vast majority of them think of Albert Einstein and many can’t name a single living scientist, much less a female one. I want to change the perception of who a scientist is by sharing the diversity that exists in science but is unknown to most. I hope to accomplish this by sharing stories from women, minorities, and others who have chosen science as their profession but don’t fit the scientist stereotype. My hope is that this project will encourage students who maybe hadn’t considered a career in science, and will convey to adults that they have more in common with the scientists in their community than they think.

hydrangeasI share these two projects to show you that, while vastly different, they were created the same way. Both take systems that already exist (Volunteer Services flower delivery, and sharing photos/stories in a Facebook community) and apply them to new situations. Often great ideas are ones that take preexisting systems and figure out how to improve them or use them in a new way. In addition, using something that already exists is great because it means someone else worked out a lot of the kinks for you. That way you can focus on the logistics of the innovative portion of the project instead of starting from the bottom.

This is not to say that projects created entirely from scratch are any less valuable, or have any less chance of success. I mainly aim to share that from my experience the easiest way to create something new and lasting is to put existing ideas together that haven’t been combined before. I encourage you to start thinking about your own life. Are there areas that seem completely unrelated but could be combined to create something new? Are there needs to be filled where you can create something original to fill them? Companies are always looking for people who can accomplish their goals in more efficient, innovative ways and I think finding those gaps and filling them gets easier with practice. The more you can demonstrate that skill with tangible creations, the more marketable you will be for whatever career you choose. So, what are you waiting for?

Katie Stember is a Northeastern Alumni (Class of ’13) who was very involved with Husky Ambassadors as a student. She is currently a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill studying an autoimmune disease called ANCA Vasculitis. She’s a proud cat mom and in her free time does volunteer photography for a local animal shelter. Feel free to contact her at katie.stember@gmail.com.