Working From Home? Tips For Staying on Track

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Score!

You get to work from home today.

Your home is your safe space where you are free to wander into the kitchen whenever you want, lounge in front of the television, and walk around all day in your pajamas. But unfortunately, working from home doesn’t cut down on your to-do list. Working from home can introduce into your life a difficult balancing act, so it’s important to actively monitor your productivity to get the most out of your workday.

  1. Set up your space: Establish a specific space for work (Hint: Laying in bed with your laptop on your stomach is not it) and try to limit yourself to only working that space. Eliminate clutter, turn off the television, and move your grocery list into the other room. This will improve your focus and allow you to feel some sense of a productive workspace.
  2. Start the day strong: It’s definitely okay to go for a run in the morning or go to the gym. But when “work from home,” sounds a whole lot like “10am brunch,” it might be getting out of hand. If your morning is pretty empty in terms of productivity, that motivational rut tends to carry over into the afternoon, eliminating the possibility of a productive workday. So wake up at your normal time (or earlier), get dressed, and cross some items off of your to-do list in the morning when your brain is fired up and ready to go.
  3. Don’t wander: When I’m at home, I wander. I will mosey from the living room to the kitchen, forget why I came, then next thing I know I’m sitting in front of the TV with two hours of House Hunters under my belt with no recollection of how I got there. When you are working from home, imagine you are actually at work. When you want to go up to see if the contents of the fridge have changed, stop and ask yourself, would I get up from my desk at work to check the fridge? If the answer is no, stop. No need to wander.
  4. Check in often: Staying in touch with the rest of the office will keep you accountable for your tasks throughout the day. Err on the side of checking in too often, rather than falling off of the radar. Staying in contact with the rest of your department will force yourself to stay on-task and develop your communication skills.
  5. Know thyself: Know what you need when it comes to working from home. Everyone works differently. Maybe you work the best in a busy environment like a coffee shop. If so, head to a coffee shop or other public spot with wi-fi one or two afternoons a week. Being around people without talking to people can be an effective motivator. Maybe you need the complete silence of a home office instead.

Working from home can provide freedom and flexibility that working from the office cannot. For some, working from home makes it possible to juggle a career with other priorities. If you allow yourself, you can easily build a comfortable, productive routine while working from home.

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.

 

Down at the Crossroads

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“Lifes Crossroads” by John Matlock

What do you do when you’re ¾ of the way through college and suddenly you’re not sure the major you’ve chosen is the path you want to follow?  Starting over and tacking on more years and thousands more dollars of debt is a very costly approach and still provides no guarantee.  Ducking into grad school until the picture becomes clear is even more costly.  How about another option?

Stephen Uram ’14 found one way.

As a mechanical engineering major, he was well into his degree track when he realized engineering wasn’t for him.  “I wanted to be an engineer when I took my first physics class and loved it.  I had a great teacher and learned a lot about process, prompting me to join the rocketry club and spend parts of a couple summers attending science seminars at Purdue and UC Berkeley. When I got accepted to Northeastern I was excited to become a mechanical engineer.”

The dream played out nicely for a couple years, as he loved his college courses and really enjoyed his first co-op.  After returning to classes and then heading out for second co-op, however, he started to realize maybe this path wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  “I was doing more design engineering and really wasn’t seeing the why’s of the projects or using what I learned in classes on the job.  When I went back to class I realized I liked the project management side more than the engineering and got worried that I was in the wrong major.”

Fortunately, he kept a level head and researched career options that would allow him to parlay the engineering skills he had developed into a more project management-focused role. After doing some research and speaking with family, friends and career advisors he learned about Leadership Development Programs.  LDP’s allow new employees to enter a company and follow several tracks to learn about multiple areas of the organization to develop a well-rounded skill set and experience a more holistic career.  Programs last between 18-24 months and are broken into several 6-8 month blocks.

“When I got back to campus for my last semester I looked at which companies were coming to the Career Fair and looked for ones that offered a leadership program, preferably in a growing industry. I didn’t need a foosball table.  I wanted to be part of an industry that is growing and with a company I can grow with”  For Steve, this turned out to be Optum, a technology company under the United Health Group umbrella.

With healthcare costs on the forefront of the nation’s priorities, technology has become a major driver in mitigating costs and improving a damaged system. As a result, the demand for sharp college grads is very high and technology companies are progressively dotting the healthcare landscape. Through Optum’s Technology Development Program fresh grads are able to delve into several areas of the organization to develop skills and grow their professional network.  “I’m exposed to senior leadership quite often and my Navigation Coach has me organizing informational interviews with different people so I know what other parts of the company do and how it all fits together.“

“I was also able to use skills from my engineering background and apply them to the job.  Having worked on teams for class projects it allowed me to leverage resources each member of the group brings to a project and get the most out of everyone. I’ve also been able to use the problem solving skills from classes and co-op, along with time management skills, to balance projects and complete projects on time.”

Whether it be healthcare, finance, communication or human services, leadership development programs are available across all industries and can help kick start your career! If you would like to learn more about Steve’s experience and about other leadership development opportunities come to the Cultivating Leadership:  Leadership Development Panel and Networking Night, on Tuesday 10/07.

Don’t feel lost at the crossroads – come to the NU Visitor’s Center and get back on track!

Derek Cameron is a member of the Employer Relations team in Career Development and occasionally blogs on the in-ter-nets.

What does it mean to work for a non-profit?

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This guest post was written by NU Pre-Law and Graduate School Advisor, Anne Grieves.

It may mean that you won’t be making as much money as your friend at Fidelity.  It may mean that you come home from work emotionally drained.  It may also mean that you come home knowing you had a positive impact on something or someone. Wherever you end up 5, 10, 15 years from now, having had even one experience working at a non-profit will give you what you won’t be able to buy with any amount of money.

In my 20s I worked for two educational travel companies; one was a for-profit and one was a not-for-profit.  Each one offered amazing opportunities, but looking back, it was at the not-for-profit that I developed a stronger sense of self, gained professional self-confidence and knew that what I brought and gave was important and valued.

Working at the for-profit was FUN.  The management team had frequent celebrations (with champagne), gave out bonuses, hosted annual team building ropes course retreats and much more.  Anything to incentivize the staff.  However, each month, those that didn’t perform as expected, were cut.  There were quotas to meet and if they weren’t… tough luck.  People came and went so frequently that developing relationships was very challenging.

Of course not all for-profits are like this.  But, if the bottom line is making money, sometimes it comes at the expense of other things.

Five years later I worked at a similar company, but the fact that it was a not-for-profit (slightly different from non-profit), allowed me to grow in ways I would not have been able to at the previous company.  I had opportunities to be creative, was able to get involved with many projects and connected with every single person in the organization.  Everyone was open and willing to mentor.  People were busy but were not driven by the bottom line.

The president of the company who turned 50 while I was there, started as an intern while he was in college.  I was surprised to learn that many employees had been there for over 10, 15 and even 20 years.  This was in 2000 and many of them are still there today!  We did not have expensive celebrations (rather potluck parties).  We did not have fancy office supplies.  We had a sense of community.  We had the daily awareness that we were creating something of value for society and we cared to do our best without monetary incentives.

Sure- even there some people had to be let go.  But, only as a last resort and much coaching.  Here, creativity was valued and ideas were encouraged.  People recognized each other’s talents and leveraged them for constant growth of the individual and the company.

In my late 20s, working at this company I grew in many ways and made connections hands on world picthat have stayed with me to this day.  I now have a career in higher education because that is where my passion and interests join together.  But, having had a taste of working at a not-for-profit triggered that excitement of knowing I could leave work at the end of the day with an incredible sense of fulfillment.

So, if you are a student with a passion, a desire to lead, a yearning to bring about change and have a natural tendency to truly care, you should consider working for a non-profit or social impact organization.

Please join us on October 9th, 5:30-7 at the Non-Profit and Government Networking Forum in Raytheon Amphitheater, to learn more about the world of non-profits.  This is an opportunity to meet with 14 organizations that are making an impact on education, the environment, the arts, health care, and social enterprise.  You will get to know people within the nonprofit community in Boston who are always happy to help young people interested in using their careers for good.  Also check out the nuCAUSE Careers calendar of events for the fall semester for other opportunities to explore non-profit careers.

Anne Grieves is the Pre-Law and Graduate School Career Advisor at Northeastern University Career Development. A proud ENFP, Anne enjoys helping students explore their career options through various assessment tools and workshops and is a freelance Zumba instructor. To make an appointment with Anne, call 617-373-2430.   

Leadership Development Programs: Your Questions Answered

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Leadership development programs are being established around the country as companies invest in the new generation of leadership. These programs are diverse – they offer specific workshops, classes, site visits, and sometimes even a Masters degree. As varied as these programs can be, each one focuses on the personal and professional development of each employee.

Why do Leadership Development Programs exist?

Employers recognize the importance of developing their employees. According to Carolyn Barton of TJX, their number one goal is talent development: “Our agenda now is to recruit talent, develop it, and identify the best track for our entry-level employees.” TJX has been a supporter of early talent development – their merchandising development program has been in place for over 20 years.

Leadership Development Programs often expose students to multiple departments and areas of the company. The Optum LDP includes two rotations on a specific track. General Electric has several different leadership programs in almost every function of the company, including engineering, manufacturing, IT, HR, and finance. The LDP at General Electric is built around a rotation program – depending on the program, an employee can complete 3-4 rotations in two years. According to Erica Wotzak of GE, LDPs are crucial for building well-rounded leadership: “We find a lot of value in allowing people to see different parts of the company. It positions the employee and the employer to place them in a role where are interested and where they excel.”

Why is this better than an entry-level position? 

“So many people switch positions throughout their career,” said Stephen Uram of Optum. “[In an LDP], you have the opportunity to understand where you fit best and where your strengths lie.” The LDP at Optum invests in new employees through mentorship, knowledge sharing, and exposure to senior leadership.

As a participant in a Leadership Development Program, employees can see every side of the company. According to Katie Maillet from Constant Contact, “students in our programs want to explore the company before they decide what they like. They finish the year with a good understanding of the organization as a whole and how they contribute to it.” Because of the exposure to multiple sides of the company, participation in a LDP will better position you for leadership positions.

Another benefit of a LDP is the network you can establish. “It’s a balance,” says Stephen Uram. “You have the camaraderie of a group of peers in your age group as well as access to senior leadership.” In a Leadership Development Program, you are placed into a community of peers, which allows you to grow your network and exchange knowledge. For example, “With the [TJX] Merchandising Program, you join a large organization with lots of people who are in the same stage of life. It’s about connecting and finding your community a little more easily within an organization.”

How do I make myself a more attractive candidate for a LDP?

To start, try to meet with an alum who has completed the program. According to Carolyn Barton, “this shows, from a recruiter standpoint, a bit more drive and ambition.” Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or send a LinkedIn request to hear firsthand about their experience in the program.

If you find a LDP early you like early in your college career, apply for an internship or co-op at that company. At GE, “students with meaningful job and internship experience on and off-campus are strong candidates for our programs.”

Finally, Katie Maillet says, “make yourself a well-rounded human being.” Pursue your interests outside of the classroom – teach, contribute to Hackathons, lead a club. These extra things make you stand out to recruiters, so make them known on your resume. According to Stephen Uram, the most important part is having a diverse set of experiences you can draw upon during the application process, and understanding how to adapt and market your skills to new situations and new industries.

How do I learn more about LDPs?

To learn more about the Leadership Development Programs at TJX, GE, Sun Life Financial, Optum, and Constant Contact, come to Cultuvating Leadership: Leadership Development Program Panel and Networking Night tomorrow, October 7th in the Visitor’s Center from 6-8PM.

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.

How to Find the Right Provider for Your International Experience

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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

Liberty Mutual Talks: Standing Out at a Career Fair

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Spring 2014 Career FairThis guest post was written by Lee Ann Chan, an Undergraduate Campus Recruiter for Liberty Mutual Insurance.

With so many employers at a Career Fair, it is extremely important to plan your strategy and make sure you leave a great impression.  How can you accomplish that and stand out from other candidates?  Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Do your research. Choose your top 5-10 companies that you would like to speak with and understand what their mission is and what they are looking for.  Additional information to research would include: products/services, competition, history/vision, size, office locations, industry trends, job opportunities.  You can find most of the information on the company’s website, Career Services, newspaper articles, Monster, GlassDoor, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Review your resume. Make sure your resume is updated, and if you know of a specific job that you wish to apply to, adapt your resume to that position, if possible.  Use keywords mentioned in job descriptions to tailor your resume.  Bring at least ten copies of your resume because you never know how many people you would be speaking with.
  • Prepare your elevator pitch. You have limited time to talk to employers so make the most of it and include the following in your pitch: full name, year, major; example of a skill or accomplishment you have related to the position you are seeking; reason(s) why you are interested in the company/position/industry and what you would like to learn; and questions you may have about the company or job that could not be answered in your research.
  • Be respectful. If there is a line behind you while you are speaking to an employer, make sure to keep the conversation to five minutes or less.  This will also give the employer sufficient time to meet with other candidates, and you can follow up afterwards with a thank you note, reiterating the conversation you had with the employer so that s/he remembers you from the Career Fair.

Remember, this is your time to shine so focus on your strengths and be enthusiastic about approaching the employers.  Best of luck!

Lee Ann Chan is an Undergraduate Campus Recruiter at Liberty Mutual Insurance recruiting for Corporate Programs.  She previously served as a Campus Recruiter with the government and is currently the Co-Director of Collegiate Relations with the National Association of Asian American Professionals.  Her hobbies include career coaching, baking, hiking, and singing.

Turning Passion into Progress: Advice from WOMEN who INSPIRE

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This guest post was written by Katie McCune, an Assistant Co-op Coordinator with the College of Computer and Information Science.

Have you ever been to a panel talk where you were really excited about the topic, but in the end, it was just meh, and you left feeling unenthused? Well, this definitely wasn’t one of those. Recently, I attended “How Innovation and Technology are Business Game Changers,” a panel that was part of Northeastern’s WOMEN who INSPIRE Speaker Series. The idea of the series is to empower the next generation of women leaders, but as evidenced by the large number of male attendees, this panel called to a broad audience. Panelists included Naomi Fried (Chief Innovation Officer of Boston Children’s Hospital), Flora Sah (SVP, COO, Enterprise Risk Management of State Street Corporation), and Deborah Theobald (Co-Founder & CEO of Vecna Technologies). I left feeling genuinely inspired and ready to take action on the lessons learned. So, if you need your own dose of motivation from some impressive people, here ya go:

From left to right, panelists Fried, Sah, and Theoblad. Photo courtesy of WOMEN who INSPIRE

From left to right, panelists Fried, Sah, and Theoblad. Photo courtesy of WOMEN who INSPIRE

Make your own opportunities

The panel kicked off by talking about how each of the women found their jobs. The answers went something like this:

Naomi – “The job I wanted didn’t exist, so I created it”

Flora – “The job I wanted didn’t exist, so I created it”

Deborah – “The company I wanted to work for didn’t exist, so I created it”

See the trend? Good things come to those who seek them out. That’s not to say you need to go create your own job or company, or that it’s easy to create opportunities, but don’t let preconceived boundaries limit you. Maybe, you want to try a completely unique idea for your final project, because it’s more in-line with your passions. Or maybe you want to ask the CEO of your dream company to sit down and have coffee with you. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to make your own opportunities, which leads us to…

Image Source: http://jonmichail.org/

Image Source: http://jonmichail.org/

Be Confident

Seriously! We’ve all heard mantras like “fake it ‘till you make it” or “attitude is 3/4th of the battle” but these three women are living, breathing proof that confidence really matters. They all shared examples of when their confidence made a difference (can we talk about how much confidence it takes to start a company?) but you could just feel their confidence being in the room. Regardless of what academic level you’re at, by definition as a student, you aren’t an expert in your field. That can be a bit unnerving, but confidence can take you a long ways. As Deborah pointed out, to be successful in any sense of the word, you have to be confident that your passions are worthwhile, even if nobody else sees it right away.

Take Risks

Not only did these women share the fact that they are all confident and made opportunities for themselves, but they are also united in their strong belief that you MUST take risks in order to succeed. Taking risks can be scary. You might fail. Scratch that, you will fail. But as Naomi reminded us, you will learn much more from your failures than your successes, and so even though it’s counterintuitive, failure is a major part of success. So to be successful, you must be able to take some risks.

Michael Jordan quote

Whether success for you means starting your own company, getting a better grade, or speaking up in class, remember these women’s words to help make your dreams a reality.

Katie is currently a Co-op Coordinator for graduate students in the College of Computer and Information science, but got her start as an intern with NU’s Career Development. She’s a Colorado lady at heart and loves anything involving the mountains (especially when her pup can tag along).

5 Things to Know As an International Student Attending the Career Fair (And Maybe As a Domestic Student Too)

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The Fall Northeastern Career Fair on October 2 is a new experience for many international students (and for domestic students as well).  For some people, the concept of “new” is exciting. For others, “new” is intimidating and can feel uncomfortable.  It’s important to note that being uncomfortable is okay– it’s an indication that you are probably encountering a situation that will contribute to your personal growth. A great way to eliminate some pre-career fair jitters is to prepare as much as possible.  Here are the five things that you should know as an international student attending the Career Fair:

Northeastern Career Fair

Northeastern Career Fair

1.) General Logistics—The Career Fair this year will have over 250 employers with companies like Microsoft , Mathworks, and Akamai Technologies in attendance and will take place from 12-4PM in the Cabot Cage and Solomon Court. Furthermore, there were over 2500 students in attendance last year, and we’re expecting the same attendance for this year.  This means that the career fair will be CROWDED! And lines, especially for very popular companies like Microsoft, will be many people long.  What does this mean for you? Come to the career fair sooner rather than later and come prepared with a list of companies that you want to speak with.  If you don’t, you may be shut out from speaking with an employer or you may feel too overwhelmed to speak to anyone.

2.) Do Your Research on Companies Open to Hiring International Students-The list of organizations attending the career fair is here. Also make sure to download the 2014 Career Fair brochure–there will be no hard copies of the brochure at the fair.  The brochure includes a map of the employer table numbers and where they’re located, and also includes a list of employers who have indicated that they are open to hiring international students.  Be sure to become familiar with that list!  Also do some general research on the company.  The company website, Hoovers, Glassdoor, and Linkedin are all great resources to use when researching.

3.) Prepare Your Pitch— When I was an undergraduate student, I did not go to any of the career fairs my university held (ironic, right?). This was because I was uncomfortable with what to say to an employer and I didn’t know what to do when I got there.  Make sure you practice your pitch, or your thirty second commercial about yourself.  This “pitch” would be an appropriate answer to the nebulous “Tell me about yourself” question, or can give the employer a general understanding of your background and what caused you to be interested in their company.  Appropriate information for the pitch would be your name, major, skills, background, and interest in either the company/position.  To make a great impression, be sure to let them know that you’ve done research on their company by asking intelligent questions. The key here is to be able to ask them other questions besides “What does your company do?”.  That’s not going to impress anyone!  And don’t forget to practice, practice, practice!

4.) Dress Appropriately- Many people feel unsure about what to wear for the fair. A black, grey, brown (neutral) suit and tie is appropriate for males and a skirt suit or pants suit with sensible heels is appropriate for females.  Be sure to not wear too much cologne or perfume, or to wear any flashy jewelry or makeup.  You want them to be listening to what you SAY, not what you look or smell like.

5.) Conduct Yourself Professionally at the Career Fair—This means respecting employers and their time by keeping discussions brief and not keeping them after 4PM. No one leaves the Career Fair with a job, so your main goal is to make an impression and receive a business card to follow-up with them later.  Also, do not bring food/drinks into the Career Fair–they are not permitted and it makes it difficult to shake hands with employers.  Lastly, don’t go “shopping” at the fair.  I know many employers come with cool little gadgets, but don’t make those freebies your main focus for attending the career fair!

Remember, the more prepared you are for the fair, the better you equip yourself to navigate it successfully.  Also, don’t forget to check out our Career Fair Success Tips Panel on September 30th. Representatives from Gorton’s, Liberty Mutual, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Constant Contact will tell you exactly what they like to see from students at Career Fairs.  Remember, no matter what happens, the career fair is a great experience that can prepare you for the job search process and networking after graduation. Enjoy it!

Ashley LoBue is an Assistant Director at Northeastern Career Development.  A Boston College graduate, Ashley has over 4 years of experience working in higher education and is a proponent for international and experiential education.  Ashley also enjoys binge-watching HGTV and aspires to be like the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan, as a possible secondary career. 

5 Pinterest Boards To Boost Your Career

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Can mining social media be beneficial to your career? You heard it here first! Social media outlets like Pinterest can provide career guidance and inspiration for the visual learner.

Brooke McKee’s Resume Design Board: If you’re starting from scratch or just want to give your current design a quick renovation, start with this board for inspiration.

Follow Brooke McKee’s board Resume Design on Pinterest.

The Prepary’s Common Interview Questions Decoded Board: Step into the interviewer’s shoes with a few of these common interview questions and how to approach them. Co-op application season just became a breeze!

Follow Prepary’s board Common Interview Questions Decoded on Pinterest.

UNL Career Service’s Men’s Professional Attire Board: This board will teach you everything you need to know, from how to fold a pocket square to how to roll a suit.

Follow UNL Career Service’s board Men’s Professional Attire on Pinterest.

Professionelle’s What We Wear Board: Looking for inspiration for your fall work wardrobe? This board is the perfect resource for identifying key workplace looks that never go out of style.

Follow Professionelle’s board What We Wear on Pinterest.

Long Beach Public Library’s Best of Business/Career Board: Build your fall reading list with some of the best books for your career including Outliers, The Power of Habit, and the $100 Startup.

Follow Long Beach Public Library’s board Best of Business/Career on Pinterest.

From creating your fall reading list to building your fall co-op wardrobe, Pinterest can be a stellar resource for young professionals and workplace veterans alike.

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.

Thinking Ahead: An Approach to Getting Your Dream Internship

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internship post-it pic

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.

Securing your dream internship- that is the highlight of your college career- can be daunting. It takes years of planning and preparation as well as numerous rejections. Regardless of what stage of the search process you are at, a couple words of advice to heed throughout your search are to be aggressive and to think strategically. With that in mind, below are my tips for being an efficient internship seeker.

1. Plan early

It is never a bad thing to plan early. If you know what your ultimate end goal is, or even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after graduation, you should at least have a rough idea of the parameters of the areas you want to explore. Thus, it is crucial you create a bold action plan to make the most out of your time here.

As an International Affairs and Political Science major, I might not know precisely what I want to do after I graduate (e.g. lobbyists, diplomat, Hill staffers, think tank analysts, etc.), but I know that these are roughly the options I have, and the goal of an internship is to try out all these areas during my undergraduate years to test the waters and explore my passion. You should have a list of organizations and companies that you are interested in organize it well and create a timeline.  Try jotting down your dream organizations just off the top of your head and see how many you can come up with, then do some internet research to find more organizations that may have internship opportunities and add them to your list. Set deadlines for yourself and hold yourself accountable for meeting them.

2. Create a Comprehensive Internship Database

Although Northeastern has a sophisticated myNEU Cool database that offers numerous co-op jobs, if you are bit more ambitious and are interested in more internship opportunities, sometimes you have to look outward and create your own personalized database. The reason you should do that is being 1. some jobs are not listed on the system/you are not authorized to view them because of certain settings; 2. the school has not yet developed a relationship with the organization (but you should not limit your options because of that). Take note of outside internship search engines like InternMatch.com, HuskyCareerLink and broader search engines like SimplyHired and Indeed to aid your search and build up your database. Also, check out the Internship Guide on the Career Development website for more ideas.

3. Stay Organized

Once you find a list of internships and organizations you are interested in, how do you organize them in an effective and easy-to-read manner that would serve as a roadmap for applying? For me, I create a Google Doc spreadsheet because it is easily accessible everywhere, and I can share the file to multiple accounts. Moreover, I can also make changes easily and invite people to contribute to my list.

Within the document, I categorize the different job natures and put as much information as possible. Using my career interest as an example, in the excel document, I created tabs for government jobs, campaigns, NGOs, think tanks, etc and provided other details such as time of internship, application period, deadline, compensation, location, materials needed (such as recommendation letters, transcript). I would also put a column where I gauge my chances (just like college applications) – safety, match, or dream; and note what year of students the organizations are looking for. And so, even if you were a sophomore, you would be aware of the dream internship that only takes rising seniors, and you can strategize accordingly.

4. Connect with People and Ask Questions

I’ve found that from the objective internship description that organizations usually offer on their websites, it is hard to get a sense of what the job entails and envisage whether or not it aligns with your interests. To save time from applying and interviewing for a job that you might not like, the best way is to ask former interns and alumni who worked there before. Through searching on LinkedIn or Facebook (if you are friends with them), you can target those people and send them a message to meet up for coffee or for general questions. In my experience, it is likely that people would offer help or a piece of advice. The informational interview will help you understand the following things: tips on application process, a day-to-day work schedule, and whether he/she can introduce you to people you should know. Be sure to write a thank you message to the person as a professional gesture afterwards.

Creating an internship database in the form of a timeline goes a long way in helping you navigate the tedious internship seeking process. Be sure to connect with alumni and existing connections on the way to find out about more opportunities and whether or not the job would be a good fit for you! Good luck.

Scarlett 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.

Photo source: Culpwrit via HeatherRHuhman.com