5 Ways to Make the Most of Working Remotely

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laptop computer deskIt seems as though nowadays, you can work from just about anywhere- a traditional office, your home, a coffee shop, you name it. And to be honest, I personally love working away from the workplace. It has been proven that working remotely minimizes distractions, increases productivity, gives employees much needed flexibility, and increases creativity. Who wouldn’t want to work away from the office then?

Although working remotely is more convenient, and often more efficient, distractions can be abundant. Keep these tips in mind before you start out for a new work location:

1. Have an agenda.
Working away from the office provides greater independence, however it can also lead to wasting time when there is absolutely no structure. I recommend writing down your tasks before heading out, in order of urgency. If there are projects that need to be completed, start there. You’re your own boss away from the office.

2. Figure out what kind of background noise works best for you.
Always listening to music, and always finding yourself distracted? Try going to a cafe or outdoor space, where you can have some white noise. If the white noise of public spaces feels strange to you, find a work playlist or Pandora station that can keep you focused. Working remotely gives you the opportunity to find what works best for you, not for your entire office.

3. Keep normal hours.
Although it’s tempting to work at random times, keeping a general 8-4 or 9-5 schedule helps to maintain a bit of structure to a seemingly structureless workday. If a “typical” workday schedule is what you are trying to avoid try setting time limits such as, “I will work from noon until 3, then allow myself to take a break.” When working remotely, time can either be your biggest friend or your biggest enemy. Aim to befriend it.

4. Stay in touch with your work- and ask questions.
This seems somewhat obvious, however it is surprising how being away from an office can lead to directionless working. Being aware of what your boss or supervisor’s expectations are can go a long way- especially when they are not easily accessible during the day. Try to get what is expected of you in writing the day before, so that you know exactly what your responsibilities are for the following day.

5. Change up your space often.
You found a coffee shop that you love, or a public library you adore. But going there every single day can cause this beloved place to become a new type of home- thus causing the same exact rut that you were attempting to avoid. Switching up your environment can spark new creativity, and stops the “same old, same old” feeling of the workplace.

Daniella is a sophomore at Northeastern with a combined major in Human Services and International Affairs, and a minor in Spanish. She is currently on her first co-op working for a youth development nonprofit organization in Cape Town, South Africa. Daniella is passionate about social change, travel, and good food- and can’t wait to see what Africa has to offer her both professionally and personally.

Email her at emami.d@husky.neu.edu. Look for Daniella’s posts every other Tuesday.

Preparing for International Co-op

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white workspace macbookPreparation is key.

I leave for Ecuador in exactly five days and I just bought my plane tickets! I know exactly what you’re thinking, for someone writing about job preparation, she really doesn’t seem very prepared for the next four months.

Let me backtrack a bit and describe my situation. I will be on co-op with the U.S. Department of State for the next four months at the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador. I’ll be doing political work in the Embassy, which will include researching political issues in Ecuador and writing reports on how those issues affect the United States. I am beyond excited to start, but for a while I didn’t think I would get to do the work at all. I’ll talk about my experience applying for international co-op and preparation for the adventure with three simple tips.

1. Have an idea of what you are interested in doing and start researching early.

Before I left my last co-op in Washington, D.C. I had already begun brainstorming what I was interested in doing for my second co-op. This proved to be essential because I was able to get a head start on my application and was not rushed when the due date rolled around. Many international co-ops have earlier application deadlines than domestic co-ops, which is why making sure your resume is always up to date is very important. I knew I wanted to work in government in some way for all my co-ops, but I was also very keen on traveling. When someone mentioned the State Department overseas Embassy internships, I knew I had to apply. My application deadline was extremely early – July 1st for a job that wouldn’t start until at least January of the following year. While this early of a deadline is unusual, other international co-ops can have early dates because of visa issues. Making sure that you do your research early so that you are aware of any special deadlines is crucial if you are considering an international co-op.

2. Keep an eye on your inbox and make sure you respond to emails from your employer right away.

This is key for any job, but especially if you need special paperwork for your international co-op. In my case, I had to complete extremely in-depth paperwork so that I could obtain a security clearance as well as get fingerprinted by the police. Both of these things were very time sensitive in my case and responding early to those requests is what allowed me to get my clearance in time to start my co-op as planned.

In other cases, you might have to deal with background checks, visa issues, and international housing; all of which take time to figure out. Don’t wait until the last minute or your plans for international co-op could be ruined.

3. Be patient.

This is perhaps the best piece of advice I received and that I could give to someone. Even though I accepted my co-op back in July, it was not official until I was granted my full security clearance the second week of January. This whole process has taken six months to get set up and so much of that time was filled with uncertainty. I won’t lie – I had many freak-outs over the past semester when I thought my clearance wouldn’t come through in time or when I was sure something was going to go wrong along the way to prevent me from ending up in Ecuador next week. Patience is key, especially when you are traveling and working internationally.

Rose Leopold is a third-year political science major currently on international co-op with the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador. Prior to this experience, Rose spent her first co-op in the office of Senator Elizabeth Warren in Washington, D.C. Follow Rose’s adventures through her blog justsittingontopoftheworld.wordpress.com and on Instagram @roselandis.

Taking Advantage of Serendipity

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Bangkok’s Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha

The universe has a funny way of unraveling itself.

On the eve of my first organic chemistry exam this past September, I found myself in a familiar place: trapped in Snell Library scouring the Internet, desperate for stimulation. I was left numb from the repetitive and mechanic task of drawing benzene rings and their reactions. There were only so many that I could handle. I needed some down time.

Facebook was an obvious first choice. So, I wandered my News Feed, clicking on BuzzFeed links, reading endless lists of things I probably didn’t need to know, even for conversation’s sake. I flirted with the front page of Reddit, and then moved on to other news outlets, NPR, The New York Times, and Al Jeezera to name a few. This was the usual direction my Internet habits followed to kill some time; and almost as if by automatic action, I always was led back to Facebook. And on this particular night, I am certainly glad I was.

A friend of mine posted a status on her wall; she was in search of a travel companion on her way to an international co-op in China. I curiously, and somewhat jokingly commented “Knowing Chinese necessary?” to which I received a prompt reply, and a private inbox message to accompany it.

In the coming weeks, we exchanged information, key details, and a formulated a basic plan for the spring semester. I danced around the idea for quite sometime, unsure and uncertain about what types of experiences lay before us. Reluctant, but fueled by the prospect of travel and discovery, I began to research ways in which I could make this journey a reality. And, like any good explorer, I started off by first by consulting my mother.

Even through the phone, I was able to discern my mother’s hesitation in giving her consent to me as I pursued this co-op experience. Armed with information, statistics, and narratives from students, interns, and some expatriate friends, I was able to make a compelling case for what these next six months could mean for the future.

“It just makes sense,” I told her.

With the door now open to fully pursue working in China – I gathered everything I needed to make for a seamless process in orchestrating a self-developed co-op. In between classes, I even tried to learn Mandarin (I will emphasize – tried). In looking forward though, doubts began to creep into my head.

I went back to the drawing board.

Hungry for any sign of opportunity, I realized that Thailand was Lady Luck. Again, I assembled what I needed to ensure some solidarity while I would be abroad. I didn’t have any job prospects and was operating with very limited funding. What I did have though, was an incredibly vast support network in Thailand – family, friends, teammates, and strangers I hadn’t even met yet. I was motivated by an even stronger sense of curiosity – I would be able uncover my family’s heritage, learn forgotten cultures, and traditions all to bring back and share a story not only grounded in experience, but in self-discovery and growth. This was all I needed. I then initiated the search.

It was then when I truly appreciated what my friend had done in putting together the co-op that she had laid before us in China. It was a lot of work. The holes and hoops that she had to jump through were countless, never-ending. E-mails were sent to researchers a world away, applications were sent to organizations that probably never read them, or discarded them upon receipt. It felt like a hopeless endeavor. By November, I had contacted over sixty institutions, ranging from laboratories, English language schools, universities, and non-profits.

After the bouts of insomnia, spending hours writing cover letters, refining my CV, and preparing for interviews, three researchers finally gave me the green light.

That’s where this co-op begins – a Facebook post read during a long night of studying, a couple of messages, a phone call, and a little bit of self-reflection. Chance, luck, some preparation, and dedication to an idea all seemed to come together in symphony. A year ago, let alone six months ago, this opportunity was a pipe dream. Take advantage of serendipity – who knows where you could end up.

P.S. This post was inspired by the book, The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things In Motion, by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison.

John Sirisuth picJohn is a 4th year health sciences student at The Bouvé College of Health Sciences. With a nose for exploration and travel, John will be writing from Southeast Asia about his experiences on co-op in Surin and Bangkok, Thailand. There, he’ll be volunteering in community clinics, in addition to conducting public health research at Chulalongkorn University. Follow his adventures on Instagram: johnsirisuth.

 

Career Confidential: Consulting

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consulting1-1024x515So what is consulting exactly?  Tom Peacock, an IT and business transformation consultant at Accenture and 2010 Mechanical Engineering graduate, describes it as coming into a company to help improve a process and/or to solve a specific problem.  Those problems provide a level of thrill and excitement, as you take a complex issue and break it into its simplest components to make a persuasive argument and get your client to trust your analysis and see the merits of your proposed solutions.  As Tom explains, “the biggest thing is really seeing and feeling your client’s satisfaction.”

Tackling these challenging corporate issues takes excellent analytical and problem solving skills, resourcefulness and flexibility, which Tom credits Northeastern and its co-op program for helping him even further hone.   What’s also helped drive his success, is a passion and dedication to his work and showing a whole lot of initiative! In fact, during his undergraduate years, Tom twice took it upon himself to improve companies’ IT processes.  First, Tom returned to a deli, Oliva’s Market, where he had worked in high school to automate their order system.  During his time working at the deli, he had observed the business’s shelves full of binders detailing their more than 200 catering orders per week.  This paper system required someone to tally orders on a daily basis.  Recognizing room for improvement, Tom built an application for them using salesforce.com that automated this process, allowing them to see their orders real-time and to forecast their inventory and resource needs.  Tom still remembers the thrill when he rolled out the application and the amount of time he saved the team at Oliva’s.  Next, and while on this third co-op at Wellington Management in their financial planning group, Tom took it upon himself to completely automate a multi-step process that generated information on budgets and expenses, reducing the monthly time for this task from 16 hours down to 4.

Notwithstanding this natural drive to improve processes, Tom didn’t start out knowing that he wanted to do consulting, but he took the opportunity that Northeastern’s co-op program afforded him to explore options and opportunities.  He completed his first two co-ops at engineering companies, where he further refined the strong problem solving skills that he was developing in his classes.  After his second co-op, he realized he was increasingly interested in using his engineering background to tackle a more traditional business role, prompting him to take some evening MBA business courses and pursue a third co-op in finance at Wellington Management.  His time at Wellington really solidified his desire to transition away from engineering and into a business position, ideally in consulting, where he could become an expert and a trusted advisor in fixing business and/or technical processes.  And so began the job application process.

Tom recounts that he applied to dozens of companies, and although he had a few interviews, it wasn’t until he reaped the rewards of some diligent networking with an individual from Bluewolf at a Northeastern hockey game that he secured an offer. Tom credits the work he did at Wellington Management, particularly when it came to improving business processes with technology as aligning well with the work that Bluewolf did, given its focus on salesforce.com.

Tom worked at Bluewolf for nearly three years, during which time he led multiple global programs using salesforce.com to improve the overall efficiency of sales, marketing and customer service processes. Throughout his tenure at Bluewolf, he interacted with over 14 different clients across numerous industries, wearing multiple hats, including that of project manager, process and enablement lead, solution architect, and application lead. Tom says that Northeastern transformed the way he thought about problems and made assumptions which propelled his success on the job. More specifically, the software experience he gained through his C++ and Matlab courses helped him to understand code and to credibly interact with developers.  In looking to give back to Northeastern, and further underscoring his drive, Tom helped to start a co-op program at Bluewolf, which ultimately hired (and continues to hire!) 5-7 new co-op students every 6 months, many of whom have gone on to receive full-time offers.

After a successful run at Bluewolf, Tom was offered, and ultimately accepted, a position at Accenture as a Consultant, where he works in the salesforce.com practice helping companies transform their sales, marketing, and customer service organizations. His focus remains on understanding the business problems that companies face and helping them to understand what changes are needed from a people, process, and technology perspective. In this role, Tom is able to continue his focus on providing IT solutions for his clients, while also working more closely on developing overall strategies to help his clients improve their business processes.

So in light of his success what advice would Tom leave current students with to get their start in consulting?  “Number one is networking.”  As Tom explains, “don’t be afraid to leverage who you know and along those lines, don’t be afraid to reach out” and importantly too, “stay in contact with those you’ve built connections with, including former co-op employers.”  In addition to networking, and once you have an interview lined up, “bring your ‘A’ game.”  For example, when Tom found out about his interview at Bluewolf, he bought the CEO’s book and read it over the weekend. “You have to make sure they know you want the job by effectively preparing.”

Clearly Tom has had a lot of success in the more than four years since he graduated and in the spirit of giving back to his alma mater and helping those who want to navigate success in the world of consulting Tom generously welcomes those who want to reach out for an informational interview!

Tom PeacockTom Peacock is a consultant at Accenture with a passion driving transformational business programs through simplified processes, behavioral change, and technology solutions. His experience and expertise revolves around sales, customer service, and marketing within the electronics and high tech industry. He enjoys using his extended knowledge of salesforce.com to create innovative solutions to improve the overall experience for internal and external customers.

Image Source: Eduworks, Consulting with Eduworks’ Technology

Make the Most of Your Last Semester

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I don’t know where the term “funemployed” came from, but it’s not a thing. Graduating, then realizing a month later that you can’t pay rent because, “having free time” translates loosely into, “I don’t have a job and I’m super unemployed” is not cute. Here are a few ways to make the most of your last semester of college:

  1. Make a target list: At the beginning of your last semester, make a master list of all of the companies you are interested in working for. Don’t get bogged down in curating the perfect list – just make a list of all of the companies that you heard good things about, that create products you like, or that have the company culture you’re looking for. This list might start off larger than you feel comfortable with – that’s okay. Just keep brainstorming.
  2. Narrow it down: Make a list of your top 5 to 10 companies. These are the targets for the next couple of months. Check their website for any openings. Make a note of these openings on your list.
  3. Start LinkedIn stalking: It’s time to start the networking leg work. Look for people in your network who work at your target companies. If you have a contact who already works at one of the companies you love, take them out for coffee. Don’t ask for a job – that’s tacky. Have a meaningful conversation, and send a quick follow-up thank you. If you talk to your contacts early and express interest in the company they work for, you will probably be at the front of their minds if a position opens up in the next couple of months.
  4. Talk to everyone: Talk to your professors. They can’t help you if they don’t know your goals. So go chat after class – go to office hours and talk about the industry and about their career trajectory. You will learn about your industry and make meaningful connections.
  5. Go to career fairs and conferences: If your university hosts a career fair or career events, GO. Just go. Do it. Talk to every company that interests you, get used to talking about yourself and your goals, and learn everything you can before you leave. All experience is good experience when it comes to getting a job.

Northeastern is hosting their annual Senior Career Conference on Friday, January 23rd from 12-5PM in the Curry Student Center. Don’t miss out!

On average, it takes a college grad at least 3 months to land a job. Don’t wait until May to have a post-grad unemployment freakout. Start early and get as much experience as you can before graduation.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

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lawyerWhat do you want to be when you grow up? It is a question all of us have had to answer and many still struggle with long after they walk across that stage, degree in hand. If you had asked me that question 10 years ago, I would have told you a lawyer; 5 years ago, I wanted to work in PR. What am I doing now? I’m a career counselor and digital marketing professional. What happened? Well, a lot actually.

Our career choices are impacted by a number of things: family, friends, what we see on TV, our values, and that’s just the short list. Sometimes we make a career or major decision because we think it’s what we want to do without really doing the necessary research of what that career/job actually is.

Let’s take my “I want to be a lawyer” example. Seems like a good idea. I had a solid GPA, I am interested in law, politics and civic engagement, I’m a great public speaker and wanted to choose a somewhat lucrative profession. To top it off, I really enjoy watching legal dramas (I’m still sad USA’s Fairly Legal is no longer on- look it up) and could see myself as the ambitious, crime fighting, do-gooder characters. Fast forward to freshman year of college: after doing some research and talking to professors I found out law is really hard. Understatement of the year, I know, but as I continued to explore the option, it seemed less and less like a good fit for me, and there are a few reasons for that.

One, law is extremely detail oriented, research heavy and entails a lot of independent work. Immediately I am turned off. Two, apparently I’d be working a million hours. One of my strongest values is work/life balance, so this was pretty much the deal breaker for me. Finally, law school is very expensive and at the time, the job market looked pretty bleak for new lawyers. As much as I thought I could kill it as a lawyer, I questioned how happy I would really be going to work everyday. So, what’s my point?

Beginning Thursday, Career Development will be launching a new series entitled Career Confidentials: What It’s Like To Be a “Enter Job Title Here” which will be real people talking about their jobs honestly and candidly. Get an inside look into what it is really like to be in a certain industry and profession and use the info to help you think about if it is a right fit for you. Our first post on Thursday is a doozy: What It’s Like To Be a Consultant- one of the most popular and sought after positions for new grads. Stay tuned!

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

Image Source: The Daily Chelle; Day 21: It’s Only Funny If It’s You

How Can I Find a Mentor?

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HNCK1708-1300x866-1024x682This post was written by Christine Hathaway, Senior Assistant Director of Marketing for Northeastern University Cooperative Education and Career Development. It was originally posted on Internmatch.com and was re-posted with permission from the author.

Whatever your career goals may be, it’s nice to have someone in your corner, rooting for you. The majority of us can truly benefit from and find value in having a mentor to encourage, support and promote us, but this is often easier said than done.

First, you may be asking, “what is a mentor?”  Secondly, “how do I find one?”

As defined in the dictionary, a good mentor is a person who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling good behavior.  An effective mentor is someone who is dependable, engaging and understands the needs of the mentee.

Overall, a good mentor will:

  • Access your strengths and weaknesses
  • Help you understand the structure/culture of the organization
  • Introduce new perspectives and help correct any wrong thinking you may have
  • Boost your ability to make decisions (and ask questions)
  • Introduce you to resources and useful references
  • Be an active listener and help keep you focused and on topic

Now that you understand what a mentor is; the bigger question is how do you go aboutfinding one?  Sometimes mentors find you (it happens naturally), but more often than not, YOU need to find someone you respect, even admire and would like to emulate at some point in your career.

Throughout my professional career, I’ve been privileged to have effective career mentors; people who were instrumental in my professional growth.  The first mentor was my boss, many years ago when I worked as her executive assistant. She taught me all about the publishing world, the editorial lingo, how to ask questions and most importantly, to develop my skills, professionally and personally.  I had a lot of respect for her and I found myself wanting to mimic her professional behavior (and her wardrobe, she was a classy dresser!).  That said, I took every opportunity possible to sit down with her over a cup of iced coffee and pick her brain about her career and how she got to where she was.  We did this often, and eventually I got promoted to the marketing department!  She congratulated me and commented, “I’m proud, it’s a compliment to me that you are being promoted, it means I did my job.”  She is still my mentor. Even though we don’t sit and have our iced coffees any more, I still call upon her and she still offers words of wisdom.

It’s not always easy to find a mentor. Here are some tips I learned along the way:

  • Ask yourself what qualities you want in a mentor.  Is it someone who can help promote you or an expert in your field that can help with a business project?
  • Does your HR department have a mentoring program?  Make an appointment and find out more.
  • Check out LinkedIn!  Do an Advanced People Search and look for people that you went to college with or have worked with at previous jobs, even professors from school.
  • Steer away from a formal request! Don’t ask “will you be my mentor.” This is usually not very inviting, if anything it’s a bit off-putting. Instead start by simply asking someone for advice or invite them out for a cup of coffee.  Find out more about their career path.  And, MAKE IT FUN.  Get to know each other. Don’t make it sound like work…smile, and exude excitement.
  • Prepare and practice your speech.  Looking for a mentor means marketing yourself and being self-confident. Learn to promote yourself, talk about some of your accomplishments and seek advice on how you can be better at your job or how you can land that promotion at work. Here is a cool article in Forbes, I read a few years ago, check it out, Trust Yourself and Believe in Yourself!

Now that you have some tips and my own personal mentoring story; start thinking about who you would like to get to know.  Keep trying, don’t give up! Looking for a mentor often happens organically, it’s a relationship that develops over time.  You’ll find that there are mentoring opportunities everywhere!

Good luck!

How to Stay Organized and Maintain the Internship-Class Balance

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This guest post was written by Scarlett Ho, a third year International Affairs and Political Science major with a minor in Law and Public Policy.

At a time when the job market is tight, having multiple internships on your resume during your college life can give you a tremendous advantage post-graduation. If you are feeling ambitious, try challenging yourself in 2015 to take up a full course load and a part-time internship. Many people might feel intimidated by the seemingly overwhelming schedule, but don’t be! With good planning and motivation, anything can be achieved. During the fall of 2014, I took classes abroad in Belgium while interning at the European Parliament simultaneously. I can personally attest to how doable it is if you put your mind to it. The following tips should guide you along the way as you plan ahead for a new year:

Time Management:

It might be a cliché, but time management is essential if you want to ensure success. Before the start of a semester, always plan ahead with a daily and weekly schedule to divide your time between classes and the internship. I recommend dedicating big chunks of time for each to allow your mind to focus. When registering for classes, try  concentrating them in a few days, allowing 2-3 full-time days for your internship. If this is not possible, try classes in the morning and work in the afternoon, or vice versa. That way, your mind and you will not be wandering around every few hours or so.

Thinking the Big Picture: Prioritizing and Be Realistic

While it is important to do well in an internship, be realistic about your time and know what your ultimate goal is in college- to get good grades. The workload of your internship may vary, but at the end of the day you have to remember what is more important. A word of caution for those who are considering taking up an internship, is that you have to ask yourself if extra workload will not sacrifice your grades. Internships, particularly unpaid ones, are likely to be very flexible and accommodating to interns’ class schedules, so definitely take advantage of that and choose the right balance between classes and work. Many employers are also very generous and they allow interns to do homework or study if the office is not busy, scoop out what the office culture/schedule is like in interviews to get a sense of the intensity and how that fits into your studies.

A Good Work-Life Balance: Down Time

Health and fitness is key if you want to stay on top of your schedule. But relaxation is equally important to recharge your energy, and keep you in a positive mood. Classes and internships can be tough and demanding in their own ways, so be sure to give yourself a little treat, such as catching up with old friends, doing a sport you enjoy, reading a book to distress. Surround yourself with motivated and like-minded people who will always encourage you to keep on going. (Check out this link for more tips on self-care.)

Reflection

At the end of the day, an internship is a complement to your studies, which is a manifestation of what you study in classes and it should align with your academic/professional interest. When picking an internship, think of the classes you are taking that semester and do something related to that. That way, you can apply what you learn in classes in real life. The fact that the two reinforces each other as they are closely related will allow you to benefit from the best of both worlds.

Scarlett Ho is a third year International Affairs and Political Science major with a minor in Law and Public Policy. During fall 2014, she studied abroad in Belgium where she interned at the European Parliament. The summer prior to that, she interned for Senator Warren on Capitol Hill, and previously Congressman Lynch in Massachusetts. She can be reached at ho.sc@husky.neu.edu for any questions ranging from resume writing, job searching to her experiences.

Photo source: Jeff Sheldon, Unsplash.com

Keep Calm and Move to Africa

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In 48 hours, I’ll board a plane destined for Cape Town, South Africa to begin my first co-op. My bags are packed, my passport is ready, and my movie playlist is prepared- yet I feel strangely apprehensive. I’ve worked abroad before, however, I’m now under more pressure, and more stress. Any Northeastern student can recognize this bizarre feeling of elation, curiosity, and uneasiness. This is co-op. And to add, this is Africa.

Looking back on all of the moments I’ve left my comfort zone, I think to myself, how did I do that? Mustering up the courage to move is difficult, emotionally exhausting, and just scary. Add in a full time job and the stress doubles. To ease my pre-travel butterflies, I’ve given myself four reminders- four sentences that will ground, gratify, and calm my million-miles-a-minute mind. Four ways to give myself a break during the circus which is international co-op.

I will mess up both professionally, and personally.
But that only means that I’m trying. Expectations often create unattainable standards that we don’t realize we have set for ourselves- until we don’t reach them. I want to keep myself motivated, happy and healthy at work. I want to challenge myself, I want to take on new tasks, and I want to interact with exciting youth and inspiring coworkers. Holding myself to perfection is both limiting, and destined for disappointment.

Embrace my difference and run with it.
There is something both absolutely terrifying and absolutely beautiful about being a foreigner. What I’ve come to realize is that my difference is my greatest asset, and while it’s sometimes simpler to run away from it, the most rewarding route is to run towards it. My American perspective brings new ideas and new ways of doing things to my workplace. Why not capitalize?

Work is just going to be work until I make it something more.
Who says you can’t benefit personally from your job? I’ve realized that loving a job not only makes the work day go faster, but makes the work mean something. I want to savor every meaningful experience I have- whether it’s learning from my phenomenal coworkers, facilitating a successful workshop, or finally figuring out what a new South African word means. Every single moment should be more than “just work.”

I’ll get it- eventually.
I’m new, and eventually, I’ll understand. It may take some time, and it may happen after some embarrassing moments and misunderstandings. The beauty of working abroad comes from learning, growing, and exploring- not from being an expert from the start.

Daniella is a sophomore at Northeastern with a combined major in Human Services and International Affairs, and a minor in Spanish. She is currently on her first co-op working for a youth development nonprofit organization in Cape Town, South Africa. Daniella is passionate about social change, travel, and good food- and can’t wait to see what Africa has to offer her both professionally and personally. Email her at emami.d@husky.neu.edu

Mastering Moving to a New City

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This guest post was written by recent NU alum and frequent contributor, Kristina Swope.

Congratulations! You got a real job in a brand new city. Now what?

Moving to a new city is both the most riveting and terrifying experience I’ve ever had. I had just turned 22 and was fresh out of college in rural Pennsylvania. I was living at home, getting comfortable, and then it happened – I got a job in Center City Philadelphia.

First, I was ecstatic, because let’s be honest, I had a BA in Sociology and had no idea what to do with it. Then when the initial excitement wore off and I was alone with my thoughts, I started to have serious anxiety about the timing. I only had two weeks to move out of my college apartment, find a new apartment in an area I’d been to twice, move in and get settled enough to avoid being an emotional disaster my first day of work. I was overwhelmed and kept coming back to the same thought; am I doing this? Can I do this? Can I really move to Philly when I’ve never been in a building higher than 4 stories? Cue freak out and bring over the tub of ice cream.

Rather than sweets, what I really needed was perspective. This was an exciting life change and an amazing opportunity. I needed to stop being afraid of the next chapter, and the only way to do that was to prepare and embrace it.

In order to embrace the change, you need to prepare – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

  1. Research areas to live. You want to live somewhere safe but you don’t want to be isolated. Google has plenty of information on towns that include events and demographics that are key in the young professional search. It takes time to delve into stats but it’s definitely worth it. Also, Career Development has a great resource called USA Career Guides that provides with a wealth of information on every major city in the US. From cost of living to industry and employment trends it’s a great way to get acquainted with your new city before actually getting there. Access this resource through HuskyCareerLink.
  2. Choose an apartment that has public transportation within walking distance. I can’t stress this one enough. One of the scariest aspects of moving to a new city is having no idea where you’re going. Relying on public transportation relieves you of that stress and allows you to focus on the more important items, like settling in to your new job and apartment.
  3. Speaking of apartments – rent, don’t buy. Your first apartment will likely be strategically planned, based on convenience. Once you know the surrounding areas, you’ll find an area you like better. Renting gives you the freedom to move and create a home somewhere that you truly love.
  4. Check your networks. The age of social media is a beautiful thing. Facebook and LinkedIn were vital in my search for friends because of the search location functions. I found a number of people I knew that were living in the area and proceeded to cling to them like white on rice. A city is way less scary when you have familiar faces around.
  5. Locate stores for your key needs. Find your closest grocery store, bank, pharmacy, mall, Target, gym, etc. within a day or two of moving. The sooner you find them, the sooner you can get back into your routine and feel more comfortable in your new space.
  6. Plan to go out of your way to make friends. If I could do my first year out of school over again, I would try harder to meet others. Push yourself to go out more, do more with your hobbies, and join local groups. It’s easy to meet people when you’re engaging in activities you enjoy, and friends are worth turning off Netflix for!

Kristina is a full-time Market Research Project Manager in Philadelphia and a graduate of NU with a Master of Science in Organization and Corporate Communication, and a Leadership concentration. Check out her LinkedIn profile here.