Getting Their Ear: Understanding Connectors’ Interests

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Tad Info Interview picSo, you’ve decided to link up with a connector for an informational interview. Great, but do you feel you are asking for a favor—i.e. for advice and guidance—without offering anything in return? This misconception undermines informational interviews in a couple of serious ways. First, asking for a favor can be intimidating; and second, it will limit your notion of what the informational interview is.

Focus on interests – yours and theirs

View the informational interview as a negotiation. Ask: “How do I get what I need from this interview in a way that meets the connector’s interests as well?”

Certain interests are common to nearly all connectors. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what you’re in a position to offer them, such as:

  • Recognition: being valued for their expertise
  • Reputation: being viewed as a facilitator or mentor
  • Convenience: having their schedule accommodated (and therefore respected)
  • Insight: understanding you and your perspectives on the field; and how their advice helps to advance an up-and-comer
  • Utility: meeting a potential collaborator/employee who may fill their staffing needs in the future
  • Affiliation: enjoying the opportunity to have an engaging interaction with an interesting (and perhaps like-minded) individual
  • Status: distinguishing them as someone of prominence and importance in the field
  • Appreciation: acknowledging the sharing of their time, attention, and wisdom

Interests are specific to the person. What do you know about what these people are like or would like? For instance, some connectors don’t often interact with colleagues in their field, or adjacent fields, and they may genuinely welcome the opportunity to learn from you or to hear updates about other people in their field who you’ve already contacted. Take one of Carly’s experiences, for instance:

When I was working in the conflict resolution field and considering switching careers into mental health, a lot of the psychotherapists I met for informational interviews genuinely welcomed the chance to learn from me about dispute resolution and mediation. These topics pertain to psychotherapy, but the professional paths of mediators and therapists don’t often cross. I was really happy to find myself adding something of value to those conversations.

This is important sign

Guidelines for requesting an informational interview

Here are some useful guidelines for requesting an informational interview, followed by a sample email. We generally make these requests over email, so we’re focusing on written requests; however, most of these guidelines apply similarly to a phone or in-person request.

Tone and content 

  • Do not write in a way that assumes they will say yes. You’re asking, so your phrasing should make clear that the meeting is conditional on their response: “If yes, would you have any availability the week of the 8th?”
  • Your tone should demonstrate that you’re flexible and willing to make this as convenient as possible for them.
  • Show gratitude and let them know you’d value their input: “I’d value the chance to ask you a few questions about your professional background and the field.”
  • If they don’t know you, include a brief, engaging description of who you are and why you’re interested in meeting them. Don’t give your life story; give three or four sentences, max. In particular, mention topics or experiences that you value in common.
  • Use your knowledge of a given connector or your general understanding of the field or the industry landscape to speak to other interests. If you know that they’re concerned with leaving a positive legacy, let them know that their advice will help you positively influence the future of the field.

Logistics

  • Think about their schedule depending on their job, their field, family situation, etc. Be sensitive to when they’re likely to be free.
  • Make sure you nail down the specifics before the meeting: time (accounting for time-zone differences); location; whether or not meals are involved; phone vs. in-person; if by phone, who is initiating the call, and at what number.
  • Once you have a meeting scheduled, it’s good practice to send a confirmation email a day or two before the appointed date. This is a helpful reminder that busy connectors will appreciate. It shows them that you’re responsible and lowers the likelihood that you’ll be stood up without notice.

Sample email

Dear Betty,

I hope that you’ve been enjoying a wonderful spring thus far.

I am recently out of college and trying to work my way into the negotiation and conflict resolution worlds. I have been meeting with as many interesting and accomplished people as I can to hear their stories and gain their counsel. Both John Doe and Jane Smith mentioned that you would be a great person to speak with. They both spoke of your ingenuity in entering this world and, more broadly, in navigating the challenges and stresses of career-building for someone in their mid-twenties.

I would be truly grateful if you had time in the coming week to meet me for a brief conversation. I can make time during any of the days except Thursday and will happily come to you.

Thank you for your time and best wishes,

Justin

Tad Mayer is an adjunct professor at D’Amore-McKim teaching Negotiating in Business. This blog article is an edited excerpt from End the Job Hunt, a book due out in 2015. Mr. Mayer is co-author with Justin Wright (who also teaches the class) and Carly Inkpen.

Photo source: Flickr Creative Commons, Coffee time

4 Things I Didn’t Learn in College (but wish I had)

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ego-deflatedThis guest post was written by NU Alum Kelly (Sullivan) Good she currently works as geologist at Environmental Resources Management in Chicago. 

When I graduated from college, I was convinced I knew everything. I mean, it was right there on paper: good grades, multiple awards; let’s face it, I was a great student. And I was pretty sure I was going to ace the Real World too (cue the “wah wah” as we picture my metaphorical ego being deflated). It turns out, there were several ways in which I was very much under prepared.

Don’t get me wrong, Northeastern prepared me very well. I learned a ton about my chosen field thanks to fabulous professors, I learned time management, I learned how to craft a great resume and cover letter, I learned how to write about a variety of subjects, and most importantly I learned how to learn. I certainly would not be where I am today without a Northeastern degree under my belt.

Even so there were some subtle tips I just didn’t pick up in college. But never fear, it’s not too late to start integrating them into your life right now!

1. You can’t just look good on paper and expect others to notice you.

It took me a long time to find a job, despite having a solid resume.  Grades matter, yes, but so do a host of other factors and often it boils down to who you know. You hear it all the time: network. So start early, Huskies. Establish solid, lasting relationships with mentors at your co-op. Perfect and re-perfect your cover letter. You can never spend too much time job searching.

2. There are no grades at work

Well, duh. But this one took me by surprise. In college, there is a fairly standard metric to measure yourself on, at work there isn’t. It’s hard to know how you are well you are doing, unless of course you really mess up. At my job my supervisor gives me a task, I complete it and move to the next one. I spent the first three months convinced I was doing everything wrong because I wasn’t constantly being graded. It turns out, all I had to do was ask. This will likely vary by industry and by supervisor, but once I sought feedback from colleagues I became much more confident. Practice this at school by asking your professors and classmates to look over assignments before handing them in. Don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with your professor to talk about ways you can improve, this is totally normal in the Real World.

3. You’re no longer just working for yourself

At NEU, I would pick and choose assignments to devote a lot of time to depending on how they affected my grade. I also developed the poor habit of doing all of a group project because I couldn’t trust anyone else to do it right. I did everything for myself because my grades didn’t affect anyone else but me. Not so much in the Real World. Every task you’re given has a purpose. Your company is depending on you to complete it well. Additionally, most of what you do is part of a larger project. You must learn to be courteous of others’ time, and learn that you cannot possibly take care of everything. Begin now by completing all of your assignments to the best of your abilities and by taking advantage of the shared responsibility that comes with group projects.

4. You can’t always research your way to the right answer

This was the most difficult for me to get used to. Before starting my job, I spent three straight years as graduate student researching my thesis. I was very good at reading scientific articles and even spent whole days and weeks looking for small pieces of information that would push my research to the next level. Ain’t nobody got time for that in the Real World, my friends. If you don’t immediately know the answer to a problem, start asking around. You will save a ton of time using the combined knowledge of your colleagues instead of trying to Google something that’s super industry-specific. This one is a little harder to work on while in college. Obviously, you can’t just ask your professor for the answer, and too much collaboration with your classmates can be considered cheating. So I recommend you continue to research and study the way that works best for you, but try not to forget all that information you learned. It might come in handy some day, and you may be the one your colleagues come to for answers.

In all, it’s not too bad out here in the Real World, but I do know I would have been much better off had I known these things before graduating!

Kelly (Sullivan) Good graduated from Northeastern’s College of Arts and Sciences in May 2010 with a degree in Environmental Science. She received her Master’s in Geology from the University of Utah in 2013 and currently works as geologist at Environmental Resources Management in Chicago. She can be reached at kellygood88@gmail.com

Photo: sourced from EWW­Magazine

Say “Yes” And Make This Your Best Semester Ever

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say yes quote tina feyWith a new semester comes a whole new crop of classes, new students, new professors, and incredible new opportunities to grow as a student and a future professional. As a student, we are faced with options and decisions to go further every day. Maybe your professor has an idea for a research project and he’s looking for a research assistant. Maybe your favorite student group is running a conference and needs someone to manage logistics and operations. Maybe an internship position opened up that can fill your day off. Every day it seems these opportunities for growth and expansion present themselves on campus, inside and outside of the classroom.

The summer after my sophomore year, I met a consultant at a conference who ended up being my future boss. While I was on co-op, he offered me a position running communication and client relationships at a five-person publishing software company. It sounded like an awesome opportunity, but the idea of trading two easy breezy months at the beach for a full-time internship after six months of co-op was daunting. I ended up taking the job, hustling and couch surfing my way through an incredible two month learning experience. Looking back, I could not imagine a more meaningful way to spend the second half of my summer, but it took a leap of faith and more than a little uncertainty.

The difference between an average semester and an incredible semester is your ability to say “yes” to opportunities that compel you. If it seems to big for you or you feel under-qualified, try it anyway. You will surprise yourself. The worst thing that can happen is a healthy dose of rejection. College is about making the moves that feel right to better yourself emotionally and personally. It’s about find your comfort zone walls and pushing on them.

So how can you find opportunities? Run for a leadership position. Start a side hustle. Sit on a board. Apply for an internship. Try anything that moves you in the right direction.

The poet e e cummings once wrote, “I imagine that yes is the only living thing.” A simple “yes” can push you to brand new ground in your life — ground you have yet to explore. Yes will bring you new friendships with people who will encourage, influence, and inspire you. Yes will bring you to new experiences to expand your boundaries. Yes will shape your future.

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.

Photo source: BeautyBets.com

A Beginner’s Guide to Submitting to Literary Magazines

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writingWhether you are an English major trying to expand your portfolio or a closet writer with a desire to be heard, navigating the world of literary magazines and journals can be daunting. Here’s a timeline and tips to submitting and getting published!

1. Write and write some more!

Start journaling or keeping track of pieces you’ve written for school or just for fun. The more work you have the better chance of submitting something somewhere that will be appreciated or is in demand.

2. Workshop and edit

Have people whose opinion you value and trust to read your work. Go to writing centers and attend workshops where professionals in the industry can lend you advice on how to revise a piece. Make sure you are confident and proud about what you are submitting!

3. Research and sift

Now that you have a substantial piece, go on online databases to look up magazines and journals that fit your interests and qualifications. A medical piece would not belong in a nature journal and a novice writer would probably not be submitting to Glimmer Train (which has an acceptance rate lower than Harvard admissions). Sites like NewPages and Poets & Writers have reliable search engines that can help you narrow down your options.

4. Follow in the paths of similar writers

Did someone in your class or writing group get published? Ask them about it and it’s likely that being of similar ability/interest, you would be a good fit for that place too! Networking as a writer is so important to get behind-the-scenes tips on what publications are looking for and there’s nothing more valuable than a fellow writer that has been there too.

5. Follow in the path of better writers

Who are the writers you admire and whose work inspires you to put your voice on paper? Take a look at where their first publications were and work up to that quality. Choosing lit mags is very much like choosing colleges – you have to have several safety ones, some matches, and one or two reaches. Having a goal like getting published in The Huffington Post or The New Yorker directs your practice as a writer and motivates you to be better every day.

6. Adhere to guidelines and instructions

Many magazines and journals have very specific guidelines on what they are looking for in submissions. That may be in formatting, fees, word count, genre, and anything else you can think of. Since writing is subjective, one person may love your style and the next not care for it. Nevertheless, keep submitting! Keep in mind Pablo Picasso’s wise words, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

7. Always write for one person- you

Don’t ever get caught up in the woes of the slush pile. A rejection doesn’t define you as a writer and you have nothing to prove to anyone. Always remember why you picked up the craft- for your love of storytelling or way with words. Writing in and of itself is a solitary act so join a group, share your work online and in print, and put the self in self-expression.

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: Flickr Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahreido/

 

Northeastern Aime Cameo Macarons!

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Clockwise: Owner Kinesha in front of the Cameo Macaron truck, chocolate macarons, macaron medley, NU love at the order window

Clockwise from top left: Owner Kinesha in front of the Cameo Macaron truck, chocolate macarons, macaron medley, NU love at the order window

“Macaroon is the Italian cookie with the shredded coconut… you can say French Macaroon and get away with it or you can say Macaron [mah-kah-rōn].” And so begins my interview with Northeastern University alumna and food truck founder, Kinesha Goldson. Disenchanted with corporate life as a buyer and craving the macarons she’d grown to love while studying abroad in Paris, Goldson founded food truck Cameo Macaron in the summer of 2013.

“I just wanted everyone to have the French experience I had in Paris”. Respecting the risk, but inspired by her Parisian visit and her love for baking, she developed a checklist of things she would need to start a food truck and decided to go for it. She credits Northeastern –particularly its overall flexibility along with her co-ops for inspiring her personal and professional confidence and her ability to take risks, “Just knowing and having that experience, sometimes you try things, you don’t like it, you learn from it and you move on.” Goldson, having gone through this, was originally a Criminal Justice major and switched to Communications after her first co-op when she realized it wasn’t a good fit.

“I’m using the heck out of my communications degree” she exclaims! With an Instagram following of over 1,500, Goldson had her social media sites up and running before even buying the truck, garnering her sufficient buzz citywide before their first bite. Now, more than a year later Goldson has regulars flocking to her truck daily and is catering everything from bridal showers to baptisms.

Naturally business-minded, she details how the best ideas are based on convenience. “If somebody is going through their everyday life and they’re saying to themselves, ‘I hate this, it would be so much better if [fill in the blank]’ than you have a good idea.” To that end, her advice to future entrepreneurs: keep an idea journal and only share your ideas with people you truly trust. She also cautions new entrepreneurs to pursue the least costly idea first and then use the money made to invest in their next idea. If feasible, pay for as much as possible in cash so you can break even more quickly. Goldson’s family, friends and personal savings allowed her to fund Cameo Macaron and she acknowledges how lucky she is for not owing anyone anything.

Not surprisingly, owning a business comes with its challenges, as Goldson explains that it’s hard to find good and reliable help and she does everything from driving the truck to ordering inventory to managing the socials. “It’s so rewarding though when people walk up and are so excited. There’s so much risk involved and what keeps it going is that people get it and support you; knowing that your idea is relatable is a great feeling.”

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding”. Further touting her experience at Northeastern, Goldson explains, “It helps being around like-minded people who have that Northeastern entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude, it’s really inspiring.” Check out Cameo Macaron’s schedule and hop over for a macaron or five. I would highly recommend the pistachio and rose petal (yes, rose petal) – you’ll be just slightly more Parisian after you do.

Follow Cameo Macaron on Twitter and Instagram to get the latest updates and locations.

Living Proof…that finding a co-op is not impossible

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frustrated student head down

This guest post was written by Samantha Palmer, a 3rd biology student who just completed her first co-op at the cosmetic company, Living Proof, Inc.

Finals were approaching and anxiety of acquiring my first co-op job was growing. It was mid-December, and I was distracted by the consuming thought of not receiving a co-op offer. Checking my emails became an obsession and every email I received unrelated to co-op was a bothersome. Even more upsetting was that no one had told me getting a co-op could be this difficult, it seemed as if they were just handed to you. Sure, I had a few interviews, all of which I thought went rather well. It’s just that I applied to SO many jobs that I thought at least one would work out. I had good grades, and I aced my co-op class…why on earth had I still not received an offer? While many students had already accepted jobs, I did have a few friends in the same position as me. We were all a bit confused and frustrated, forced to register for classes the following semester.

As a Biology major I applied to many positions, mostly in research labs. Clinical opportunities were usually limited to health science majors. I would have loved a clinical experience, something I should have pushed for earlier in the co-op process. However, I did come to terms with myself that a lab experience would be beneficial for my studies, that is if I could get one.

I kept my thoughts positive while also accepting the possibility of being in classes next semester. Then one evening, I was having dinner with a few friends, one of which mentioned she was finishing up her chemical engineering co-op at a cosmetic company. It sounded cool and aligned with my interests. The idea of working with a science that is relevant to my feminine life was intriguing. She continued to tell me that she had sought out the position herself, and that they would definitely need someone to takeover for her. I was a little nervous since I was not a chemical engineering major, but why not try something new?

I ended up going in for an interview, learning about the position, and meeting the four members of the product development team. By the time I finished my last final, I had accepted the job offer and would officially begin working at Living Proof, Inc. for my first co-op. Looking back, it was as if all those other jobs didn’t work out for this very purpose. My experience at Living Proof was everything I could have asked for and more. I consider myself lucky to have had such an amazing opportunity.

Although I am not studying to be a chemical engineer, I gained great laboratory insight. As a science based hair product company, my main task consisted of batching. I followed recipes to produce shampoos, conditioners, styling products, hairsprays, etc. Overtime I became familiar with raw materials and how they contributed to each product. Sometimes I even got to take home a small sample of whatever I made that day. Batching was always satisfying because after a long day of measuring, mixing, heating, and cooling, you were left with a beautiful end product. Another fun task was tress work. This consisted of testing our hair products on hair strands to see how they performed, especially in relation to competitor products. Of course I also had to perform more tedious work. The stability of new possible formulas needed to be checked constantly. The color, odor, and consistency were measured to see how stable the product is over time. Keeping the lab clean is also important and a lot of my time was spent sanitizing equipment and organizing. My favorite part of my lab experience was helping with the actual formula for a new product. I got to test different raw materials and see how each performed in the salon. This was definitely frustrating, but now I can look forward to seeing a product on store shelves that I had a part in.

In addition to the lab experience, Living Proof has an awesome office environment. Due to the small size of the company, I sat among colleagues from various departments. I made friends in finance, marketing, and HR. We had an office kitchen where people could gather, and on Fridays the entire company came together for a group lunch. I got to see how the company ran as a whole, and it allowed me to make lifelong connections. Living Proof proved to be a place that had some of the smartest scientists, an amazing culture, and an exceptional learning environment. I looked forward to co-op every morning; my next one has a lot to live up to. What was my favorite part? I could say it was preparing for Jennifer Aniston’s visit, or the frequent product launch parties, or even the quiet, relaxing, lab atmosphere. However, every part of Living Proof seemed to make my experience worthwhile.

Make the job you want quoteThrough my first co-op process, I learned that acquiring a job or an internship is not just handed to you. You have to work hard for it. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and use whatever connections you have. Once you get where you want to be, it’s important to continue to make connections, even if you’re not looking for your next co-op or internship for another year or so.

Samantha is a 3rd year student at Northeastern, originally from NY. She’s seeking a bachelors degree in biology, with minors in psychology and business and plans to pursue a career within the medical field. 

Tips to Survive Your First Semester of College (Well)

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Steps to survive source: blog.chegg.com

10 steps to survive your first semester at NU, we know you’re as smart as this kid… 
source: blog.chegg.com

This article was written by Megan Fernandes, a senior international affairs student at NU as a guest blogger for The Works. 

1. Don’t learn to pass, learn to understand

Never forget: you came to college to go to school and learn; not just to socialize. That being said, your courses don’t need to be painful.  Take advantage of the opportunity to tailor your courses to what you’re interested in and explore.  If you do that, passing will naturally follow. If you learn simply to pass, you won’t be making the most of what Northeastern has to offer academically (you probably won’t do well either). So, enjoy your courses and aim to understand as much as you can.

2. Start networking early

Networking doesn’t start during your first co-op; it starts as early as your first day of your first course, when you introduce yourself to your professor and other students. Everyone you meet along the way is a potential networking opportunity, but always remember to be yourself.  Talking to someone purely for the connection and for personal gain will come off rude; instead focus on asking for insight, advice and information—it makes the conversation much more enjoyable for the both of you. The connections you create will be extremely helpful once you start looking for jobs. My advice: prioritize maintaining these relationships.

3. Wake up for class

Basically, if you don’t go to class, it’ll be much harder to understand what is being taught and come time for finals, your life will be nothing short of miserable and exhausting.  Set multiple alarms, tell your roommate to throw pillows at you until you wake up, and don’t forget your shoes when you run out of your dorm.

4. Don’t wait until the last minute to do laundry. Buying new underwear and socks every month really adds up

The laundry room is located in your residence hall for a reason, and the convenience factor isn’t to be taken for granted! Freshman year is probably the most convenient laundry will be for a long, long time, so make the most of it. Don’t mistake detergent for fabric softener, and remember that not everything washes best on the same setting!

5. Join a student group

Getting involved early on campus will help you make friends and give you something productive other than classes to commit to. Northeastern has all kinds of student groups, from Greek life to academic groups to community service groups, and there is something for everyone. Not only will it be a great way to meet people who care about the same things you care about, but sticking with an organization over the years and even growing into a leadership position will also look great on your resume.

6. Check your bank account regularly

It’s very easy to forget to check how much money you have, and you never want to find out that your bank account is empty when you’re just about to pay for something. Those situations are never fun and require a lot of unnecessary explaining. Your parents will probably also not approve of your overdraft fees! Get into the habit of managing your money early on, it will make life much easier as you get busier each year.

7. Figure out early on where the dining halls are and when they close each night

You will quickly learn that needing food at random times of the day (and night) becomes a norm of college life, and the buffet style dining halls will be a saving grace especially around finals time. Prepare yourself early by figuring out the lay of the land, and don’t forget your Husky card!

8. Create a weekly schedule for getting all your classwork done

Everyone will tell you that time management is key to success in college, and they are absolutely right. If you structure your time outside of class well, not only will you get your work done, but you’ll also allow yourself more time to relax and enjoy the social parts of college and Boston. Make a weekly schedule and then find a place where you work well. If you need it to be quiet, go to the fourth floor of the library, if you need to people watch, go to the Pavement coffee house on Gainsborough, and if you need to work outside, go to the Centennial Common. Whatever you choose, make sure you are as efficient as possible with your time!

9. Take the time to explore myNEU and all the NU resources available to you

Northeastern has numerous academic resources to help their students, from dedicated professors with office hours, to an extensive online library database, and each student even has access to four different advisors (academic, career, co-op, and financial). Be aware of these assets and seek help. The myNEU portal is also a major tool in navigating your way through college. Some of the big-ticket items include your degree audit (where you can look up all the courses you need to take to graduate and explore different double major and minor options), your student bills, and your appointment calendar. There are also several resources that aim to help students with concerns that are not academic, including RA’s in every dorm for housing issues, and a health center on campus for medical issues. In any situation, always remember to use these resources proactively.

10. Make good friends, make good memories, and pay everything forward

Finally, these college years will be life changing and a time to make some incredible friendships and memories. Figure out what makes you happy, and push yourself to try new things. Reach out to people and make them laugh. And lastly, help others whenever and wherever you can, it will always come back around.

Megan Fernandes is an international affairs student in her senior year at Northeastern with academic interests revolving around global poverty alleviation. Megan is originally from Houston, but went to high school in Bangkok, Thailand before moving to Boston. She loves learning about other cultures and would be happy to show new people around Boston! 

Originally published 9/5/2013 on The Works.

How to Navigate Career Centers, LinkedIn and Recruiters

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find job buttonYou’re preparing for your senior year of college and thinking about what’s next. What to do? How to start? It can begin to feel overwhelming quickly, but job searching doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Start thinking like a hiring manager, and save yourself a lot of time and energy. Here are a couple tips to jumpstart your search.

  1. Complete your professional resume and have it reviewed by minimum of 3 people including family, friends and Career Development personnel.
  2. Cross-check your paper resume and make certain it mirrors your LinkedIn profile. Yes, you should have a photo on your profile which can help to accelerate the pre-screening process. Don’t many of us view the hotel before we make a reservation or look-up the vacation rental photos before we confirm a week? Your photo should be a professional image that a Hiring Manager can view before they engage in communication.
  3. Google stalk yourself and clean up your collegial online history (i.e. Sorority Party)
  4. Register with a minimum of three staffing agencies. They are a great resource and can help you find a job. – Just do your research!

Work on that resume early. Career Development is a free resource and we strongly urge students to take advantage of this unfamiliar department and make it as familiar as the local pizza joint. This department is the first honest set of eyes that will critique your resume and help you begin your “job searching journey”. This department will provide you with opportunities to meet Hiring Managers who man the tables at career fairs which become future contacts that you can network with or may become clients. Additionally, by attending Alumni events you will be obtaining another group of future contacts to add to your “rolodex” which today is called LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a free networking tool. Every time you meet an alum or a Hiring Manager, immediately connect with them because they will be able to help you navigate complex industry roads, salary negotiations and offer tips on who to contact to learn more about open jobs. There’s a lot of free advice out there. Do not get frustrated, it’s FREE.

Additionally, we highly recommend “google-stalking” your own name and cleaning up your public profile (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, etc.) before you apply to any professional job. Try Googling yourself in a browser you don’t use (so that it doesn’t automatically sign you into your accounts) and see what pops up. What you see is what a recruiter will see; make sure it reflects what you want. It is perfectly fine to have “fun” photos of you “in the cloud” (i.e. family party), but an image or comment that may be judged or viewed as unprofessional, we recommend deleting.

There are many misconceptions about the recruiting industry also known as “headhunters”. The staffing industry is not a regulated business, so anyone can say they are a recruiter or a staffing firm which means it’s crucial as a job seeker you do your research on the agencies and make sure they’re legitimate. Take control of your job search and keep track of which agencies and which jobs you have applied to.

We’re confident if you take advantage of Career Development, get on LinkedIn, register with three agencies, and find 3 professional and expert recruiters your job search will be that much easier.

There’s a lot of different advice out there and when it’s free you absolutely should embrace it!

Image Source: www.resumeactivator.com

Deirdre Parlon is the founder and CEO of Black Oak Staffing Solutions. At B.O.S.S., Deirdre has 18 years of experience working in the staffing industry. She began her staffing career in 1996, immediately after graduating from NU. Her long career has honed the natural intuition she has for placing the right candidates in the right positions, and gives her clients and candidates the security of knowing that they are in the hands of an expert who has their best interests in mind.  Deirdre resides in Boston with her family. When she is not working or volunteering, she can usually be found golfing or spending her time with her husband, children and her large family of brothers and sisters.

5 Apps For A More Productive, More Awesome Semester

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appsThe new semester is coming up fast, and its time to prepare. So while you’re being forced to download an app you neither want nor need (looking at you, Facebook messenger), take a minute to download some free apps to make your life easier and more efficient this semester.

RefMe: Here’s the situation – you have a paper due in an hour and you can’t remember the difference between MLA and APA citations. We get it. RefMe can help. Simply scan the barcode of the book you just referenced and you instantly have every form of citation you could possibly need. Chicago style? Easy. APA footnotes? No problem.

Evernote: This is one of the most useful apps you will ever download for a new school year. Make a list of employers you want to meet during that networking event and check them off as you go. Write a grocery list during class that you can access on your phone in the middle of the supermarket so you don’t forget pasta sauce again. Type notes on your computer and record the class lecture at the same time, and it will immediately be available on your tablet, your phone, and your computer so you can review that case study on your walk home.

White Noise: Getting out of the house every now and again to study in a new environment is refreshing, but not if the person a table away is talking on his phone like he’s never heard of an inside voice. WhiteNoise is an easy-to-use white noise generator that helps you block out distractions so you can study in peace.

Duolingo: You’re studying abroad in Spain next semester, so it’s high time you refreshed your Spanish language skills. Duolingo teaches you grammar & vocabulary with quick activities you can do a few minutes a day on the T. You’ll have your Spanish down in no time!

StudyBlue: StudyBlue means you can study whatever you want, wherever you are, with portable flashcards. Create a set of flashcards on your computer or your phone through StudyBlue, and you can access them at any time on your phone or tablet.

Want to make this the best semester ever? Add a couple of new apps to your phone or tablet. You’ll be smarter, more efficient, and better looking (probably).

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.

Help, My First Job Is a Disaster!

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True or false: The major you choose in college will dictate what you do for your entire career.  Did you choose true?  Well consider this: a certain actor, prankster and ex-husband of an older woman majored in Biochemical Engineering in college. Would you have ever predicted Ashton Kutcher’s career from that major?

Don’t misunderstand: I am not saying that what you learn in college isn’t useful. It just may not be useful in the way you anticipated. Sure, in many cases the content of your major provides theories, facts and techniques that can be directly applied in the workplace. Often, that content is supplemented and enhanced on the job as a new employee is taught an employer’s way of doing things.  In many other cases, the content of what you learn is not as important as the skills you develop in the classroom and the lab, like critical thinking, logical writing, oral presentation or working on a team.

The same principle applies to your first job.  Obviously, it’s insanely great to be hired by your dream company for the perfect position right off the bat. But it is not a career-ending catastrophe when your first post-graduation gig is far from the ideal you envisioned.

Maybe another quiz will help make my point.  Consider the following list of jobs: Lion tamer, paralegal, congressional page, accountant, special needs teacher, mortuary cosmetologist, hair salon receptionist, high school drama teacher, party clown.

Who do you think held which job before the start of their “real” career? Christopher Walken, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Gates, Ray Romano, Sheryl Crow, Whoopi Goldberg, Beyonce, Jon Hamm, Hugh Jackman.

(Answer: jobs are listed in the same order as the people who held them.)

It’s not too hard to imagine the transferable skills these rich and famous folks may have developed at their early jobs. Courage, patience, and humility come to mind; public speaking, relationship building, and detail orientation do as well.  After walking into a cage with a lion, or being responsible for applying makeup for a deceased person, a job interview might not seem that intimidating.

The reality for most new grads is that student loans are due, rent has to be paid and food put on the table. And even if you’re happy moving back to live with your family for a while, it’s a good idea not to leave a sizeable gap on your resume between your graduation date and your first job.  So don’t hold out indefinitely for the perfect job, and don’t stress if you need to take one that is second best.  Instead, challenge yourself to learn all you can while you’re there, even if your work wardrobe includes a red nose and floppy shoes.

Author Susan Loffredo began counseling NU students well before the iPhone was invented and owns socks that are older than the class of 2013. Email her at s.loffredo@neu.edu.