Making Positive Impressions

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This guest post was written by Katie McCune, a Career Development Assistant at Northeastern University Career Development. She’s also a Career Assistant at MIT.

Not too long ago, I was getting ready for my next big adventure: moving cross-country from my home-state of Colorado to New England. We all experience starting something completely new at different phases of our life whether it’s first coming to college, going on a new co-op, getting our first job, or even moving cross-country. With each new change, there are also opportunities to meet new people. There are a lot of great ways you can make good personal and professional impressions, but here’s what meeting a lot of new people has reminded me:

A smile goes a long way.

source: www.quickmeme.com

source: www.quickmeme.com

My “big move” was for school, so like many of you when I first arrived, I was meeting peers, professors, and administrative staff as well people through clubs and sports teams. The people who I initially developed connections with were the ones that smiled. Yep, simple as that, they smiled.  Research has consistently shown that body language is a major factor in how we interpret somebody’s words. With one nearly effortless action, you can demonstrate to your new co-op boss (or anyone else) that you are friendly, confident, and invested in them.

Always follow through.

Think about a time when you were just getting to know somebody, set up plans with them and then they flaked out. How did this affect your opinion of them? I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you didn’t end up becoming besties–It feels crappy when somebody misses a meeting with you or doesn’t get in touch when they say they will. Why? Because it can signal that we’re not a priority in those people’s lives.

Before you agree to something, whether it’s sending an email, showing up for a 9am meeting, or taking on a big project, be sure that you can actually do it. By doing what you say you’re going to do, you will demonstrate that you are reliable, organized, and respectful—all qualities that are helpful in any professional or personal setting.

Be a good listener.

A lot of times when we think about meeting new people, we focus on what we are going to say. For example, if you’ve practiced for an interview, I bet you went over your answers, but did you think about how you were going to show the employer that you were listening? While presentation skills are important, listening skills can be just as important, if not more. By asking good questions, remembering what people say, and actively listening, you can make the other person feel valued and demonstrate that you’re present and ready to learn.

source: http://wallippo.com

source: http://wallippo.com

All interactions reinforce or undermine the first impression.

You’ve probably heard that first impressions matter—and they totally do! But it’s important to remember that the first time you meet somebody isn’t the only time you’re making an impression with them. If you forgot to smile this time, do it next time. If you followed through this time, that doesn’t mean that it’s not important to do the same next time.

It can be intimidating to make new connections especially in a professional setting, but remember that it’s just like all of your other interactions. Be the person that you would want to meet, and you’ll be golden! Share with us, what are other things people have done to make positive impressions on you?

Katie is a Career Development Assistant at NU with a background in sociology. A teacher at heart, she loves leading workshops–in addition to the career workshops, she’d gladly teach you how to hula-hoop, how to organize your house/office/desk, or how millennials can make great employees. Email her at k.mccune@neu.edu.

10 Things I DO and DON’T like to see on Resumes

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This post was written by Emily Brown, a regular contributor to The Works and a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program at Northeastern University. She is also a Career Development Intern.

source: http://careerservices.umhb.edu/resume-tips

source: http://careerservices.umhb.edu/resume-tips

  1. DO make your name the biggest thing on the page. Hiring managers shouldn’t have to search for it among your contact info.
  2. DON’T label your phone number and email. The reader will understand that the 10 digit number under your name is probably your phone number and that sk8rgrrrrl@4lyfe.com is your email address (just kidding. DO make sure your email address is professional!)
  3. DO include your GPA if it’s 3.0 or higher. Round it to TWO decimal places.
  4. DON’T write “References available upon request” on your resume. Employers will assume that you will provide references when they ask. You can use that extra space to include something awesome about yourself like the fact that you speak three languages.
  5. DO include academic projects. As college students, it’s not always possible to have as much professional experience as you might like in your target industry. Academic projects are a good way to show a potential employer that you have applied skills learned in the classroom in a practical way. Bonus points if those particular skills are in the job description.
  6. DON’T use a template. Microsoft Word has resume templates available and, though tempting, you should avoid them. Hiring managers read hundreds of resumes and will very quickly recognize one of these templates. They might assume that very little effort went into the resume even if that is not the case. Take the time to customize your format a bit and make sure it’s easy to read. Aim for a balance of text and white space.
  7. DO include results when possible. Quantifying what you accomplished helps create a fuller picture for the reader. For example, if you “researched and proposed more efficient operating procedures,” include that those proposals were accepted by your company and that the procedures are still in use.
  8. DON’T begin your bullet points with adverbs. I’m sure that you “Successfully collaborated with team members,” but it will serve you better to begin with strong verbs and show your success. For example, “Collaborated with team of 5 to plan and execute fundraising event resulting in proceeds of $2,500” (see how I snuck results in there?). Similarly, vary the verbs you use to keep the reader engaged and to showcase your various skills.
  9. DO limit yourself to one page. Recruiters read resumes very quickly and you can’t guarantee that they’ll make it to the second page. It’s ok if you don’t include every job you’ve ever had. Focus on the ones most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  10. DON’T rely only on spell check. Spell check will sometimes miss errors because they are in fact words, but not the word you’re intending to use (form, from; through, thorough; the list goes on). Take the time to ask another real live human to proofread for you.

Emily Brown is a Career Development intern and a graduate student in Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. She is a lifelong Bostonian interested in the integration of social media into the professional realm.  Contact her at e.brown@neu.edu.

Finding an Internship Without Prior Experience

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source: collegefashion.net

source: collegefashion.net

This guest post was written by Sam Carkin, a sophomore studying Marketing and Interactive Media.

The “real world” can be intimidating; especially when you’re just starting out. Sure, that first job as a house painter or bus boy is great for earning some money and learning to work with others, but I am assuming if you came to Northeastern you are looking to do something within your major. Northeastern is special in the sense that co-op allows you to work within your major prior to graduation, but what if you want some experience for your résumé before applying to that first co-op job? A summer internship right after your freshman year is an awesome way to go, and something I had the opportunity to do last summer with integrated marketing firm GY&K. Below, is some strategies I used for landing that internship where I gained experience in the marketing and advertising field before my first co-op (which will begin in July).

1. Network, network, network:  I visited a family friend who worked at a huge marketing agency called Arnold Worldwide. He had been in the industry a while and agreed to introduce me to an employee at GY&K, the person who ultimately offered me the internship. Ask your parents, ask your friends, find SOMEONE that works in your industry of choice and ask them if they know anyone that you might be able to talk to or work for.

2. Informational Interviews are kEY: OK, so I had been introduced to this person from GY&K, but what now? An informational interview is a perfect way to demonstrate professionalism and interest, while also learning a great deal from someone who knows the industry well. If it goes well, you have a better chance of possibly working for the person you speak with.

3. Have confidence: Going in to speak with an industry professional can be extremely intimidating; however, setting up informational interviews shows that you are genuinely interested in what that person does and see them as a successful individual in their field. They will be just as excited to tell you what they know as you are to learn, and it should be treated as a casual conversation during which you can make a great first impression.

4. Do not be afraid to ask: If your interview went well, at the end feel free to ask if that professional’s company has any opportunities for you to gain experience, or if they know of any other companies that might have these opportunities. It will allow you to possibly find that internship position, or continue to grow your network.

Sam Carkin is currently in his sophomore year at Northeastern University. He is a dual major of Business Administration-Marketing and Interactive Media and will be going on his first co-op in July. Feel free to contact him at carkin.s@husky.neu.edu with any questions related to the blog post or his experiences.

Don’t Limit Yourself and Remember Alumni are Your Friends.

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Northeastern alums at GE pose during a networking event

Northeastern alums at GE pose during a networking event

This guest post was written by NU alum, Elizabeth Rallo. She graduated from DMBS in 1993 and is now working for General Electric as the Project Manager for the Newtown Recovery Team.

General Electric (GE) is a household name with locations across the globe, but they only hire engineers, right? Wrong. The company is comprised of several businesses that cut across a number of industries and to keep these businesses running, there are positions in finance, supply chain management, sales, IT, etc. that all need to be filled. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

I’m not an engineer. I graduated from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business (DMSB‘93) and the thing that I want students to know is that just because a company is in a particular sector, perhaps one outside of what you’re studying, it doesn’t mean that the organization should be knocked off your target list.  Think about it – all companies need finance, marketing, IT and communications departments (for example) to function successfully, right?  So don’t limit yourself!

Don’t take for granted the alumni network and how they can help you, not only in your job search, but even for simple informational interviews so that you can learn more about a particular field.  In fact, there are over 600+ Northeastern alumni at GE and, as alums, the best thing that we can offer you is our endorsement of the company as a great place to work.  Did you know the current CFO of GE is a Northeastern Alum! Jeff Bornstein has been a strong advocate for Northeastern and he is active in NU recruiting activities. Take advantage of Linkedin, you can do a quick search and see all the GE employees who are Northeastern Alumni. Reach out to us! Start the conversation-we want you here!

With such a buzz going around about finding a candidate that is ‘the right fit’ for a company, we’d like to think it’s a bit of reassurance for you that if other Northeastern alums are enjoying working at GE, then maybe it could be the right fit for you too.

GE-logoBecause GE is such a massive company however, campus recruiting requires some serious coordination.  We believe strongly in GE as an innovative and exciting company to work for and in Northeastern students as some of the top talent out there.  Our recruiting team is passionate about both NU and GE, and we volunteer our time to bring the brightest and the best to join us at GE.

Andrea Cox and I, along with our colleague and fellow Northeastern alum, Pete McCabe, E’88, Vice President of Global Services,  work along with 30 NU alums who volunteer their time and talents to meet with students, conduct on-campus interviews, and build an overall awareness of GE at Northeastern.  So be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the full-time, internship and co-op jobs we recruit for at Northeastern and the next time we’re on-campus holding office hours, be sure to reserve a spot to come down and say hello!

Author Elizabeth Rallo, DMSB'93 Newtown Recovery Team, Project Manager

Elizabeth Rallo, 
Newtown Recovery Team, Project Manager

Elizabeth Rallo graduated from Northeastern in 1993 as an International Business and Finance major. Her previous CO-OP’s were at IBM, IBM Credit and also Bear Stearns. She decided on GE Capital due to the fact that the company struck her as innovative and would support her personal creativity.  She has been at GE 20 years and GE has afforded her the opportunity to succeed both personally and professionally.  Currently, Elizabeth is on temporary assignment supporting the Recovery of Newtown Ct., following the horrific tragedy that occurred in December of 2012. She would need to write a whole other blog to tell you about this experience!

She encourages you to “get creative” at GE. Check them out at www.ge.com and see for yourself!

Personal Website: What It Is And Why You Need One

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source: memegenerator.net

source: memegenerator.net

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works.

Once upon just a few years ago, recruiters and employers relied on resumes, cover letters, and interviews alone to judge potential hires. Now, Internet presence is a huge part of the hiring process. According to Workfolio, 56% of hiring managers are most impressed by a candidate’s website, but only 7% of candidates have personal websites. In other words, it’s probably time for you to get on board (if you aren’t already).

So, what is a personal website?

The concept is pretty self-explanatory, but there are some gray areas in terms of what goes into a personal website. The best personal websites include the following:

About Me – Just a quick introduction to you. Keep it simple – your work should do most of the talking.

My Portfolio/Resume – Some skills or industries lend themselves well to a personal portfolio. If your skills lie in design, writing, or anything that can be showcased on your website, this is the place to show them off. If your portfolio is limited, feel free to include your resume so recruiters can see the other amazing skills you already have.

Blog – Only if you’re into it. A blog can be an incredible professional tool for establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry. A blog can also show potential employers or clients your dedication, attention to detail, and crazy writing skills. If you aren’t excited about writing a blog, though, you don’t have to! Your personal website is all about you and your professional brand.

Hire Me – Adding a “Hire Me” page greatly increases your chances of finding job opportunities because your resume and skills are visible to the world, even when you aren’t actively interviewing. If you’re looking to transition from the office to freelance work or just get extra experience on the side, this is a perfect addition to your personal website.

Why do you need one?

Showcase yourself and your work. If someone shows up to an interview with a seven-page resume, that person is probably awful. But during the hiring process, that’s exactly what an online portfolio is – it allows you a place to showcase all of the work you can’t fit on your resume. If you’re a writer, you now have somewhere to store your best pieces so an employer can easily sift through them and appreciate your awesome self. A professional website also gives employers a hint of your personality, which is usually lost on a resume.

Establish your online presence. Making yourself known online is an amazing asset to job searchers. It increases your visibility and makes you stand out strong in an interviewer’s mind. With a personal website, you are able to put your best and truest self out into the world for employers and clients to see. And that’s pretty amazing.

Show your skills. During interviews, showing is always better than telling. Strong computer skills are a huge asset in today’s job market, so show your potential employer your skills first-hand. Setting up a personal website illustrates you ability to learn and utilize important new professional skills. And that’s a pretty big deal.

How do I start?

Getting started won’t take long, and once you’re set up, your site will only require occasional updates (when you do something awesome that you need to add, of course!). WordPress is one of the most popular personal website platforms because it is customizable, easy to use, and free. Other platforms include Tumblr, Blogger, and Posterous.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler 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.

 

“You have the right to be there…”

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source: women2.com

source: women2.com

This guest post was written by Christina Kach, an NU alum who holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management at NU.

In the summer of 1998, I heard a story that has stayed with me since. A professor at a local college talked of her experiences of being the only female student in some of her college engineering classes. Six years later, entering my freshman year of college, I was pleased find I wasn’t the only woman in my engineering classes; and far from it.

My point is to illustrate how far women have come in joining and advancing in typically male dominant fields. Even with all this progress, it can be tricky at times to feel comfortable and strong in that type of environment. You’ll notice my tips below are not exactly “specific”, as in – don’t’ fiddle with your hair during a meeting (Seek out books like “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” and “Girl on Top” for those great tips). Rather the approach I took was to pass along tips to help boost your confidence as you look to make strides in your field.

Inspiring young girls to become engineers! source: goldieblox.com

Inspiring young girls to become engineers!
source: goldieblox.com

  • Be proud of yourself – First and foremost, what you are doing is awesome. As you journey through college and the working world, there may be jokes, light hearted teasing, internet memes, (the list goes on), that highlight the uneven male/female ratio in male dominated fields. Even through all the jokes and realities, remember: you have the right to be there and enjoy it. No one said it was going to be easy, but as we have all learned in our lives, hard work pays off and is worthwhile.
  • Be mindful of advice – I admit this one sounds silly, as I am dispensing advice, but hear me out.  In our world, there is endless information on any number of topics; no doubt large amounts focus on this exact topic. While I encourage you to seek out that advice (always continue to nurture your mind by reading, learning, and exploring – never know what you may find), take it with a grain of salt. I say this because you shouldn’t just accept advice if it won’t work for you. To illustrate my point, a few pieces of career advice I’ve seen on this topic includes: “act like one of the boys” or don’t bake for coworkers – you’ll be seen as a mother figure. I’ve seen woman follow those hints with success. I on the other hand, like to cook and share it with my friends, and I’m not going to start swearing just to fit in. If it doesn’t work for you, seek out advice that will.
  • Find a mentor – I can’t just say be careful of the advice you take without following up with a hint on how to find tailored advice that will work. Find a mentor, better yet a few mentors, with more experience and knowledge to help you learn and develop. Regardless of your role and your industry, this piece is important and absolutely necessary. Mentor relationships can tailor advice and help to your specific situations. In finding a mentor, seek out professionals that have time, are willing to help you, and are a fit for you.
  • Pay it forward – As you’ve started to establish yourself and learn from your mentors, consider reaching out to the next generation of young woman to share this knowledge. You were there once, wasn’t the help you were offered a huge benefit? Seek out volunteer opportunities; find groups (such as STEM -Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that encourage the next generation of woman and get involved. This isn’t just an opportunity to help out and grow your own network; but as a reminder of that younger enthusiasm we often loose in heavy college workloads and tough work environments.
  • Embrace your skills – It is easy to stunt your ability to thrive in a male dominated field by hiding your femininity or downplaying your skills. I suggest this change in mindset – embrace the unique talents you hold as a female. We may be different than our male colleagues, and that is great; we bring new perspectives and skills to our businesses and teams. Business innovation and grow would be sorely impeded if we were all alike.

The most important lesson to take away from this article is to focus your energies on personal career goals and growth, rather than on an unbalanced quantity of females in your industry. That may not be easy to digest when you see the data on female leaders and see how few there really are in certain fields and in higher company rankings. The path to continued advances and developments of more woman actively pursuing male dominated fields with wonderful successes will only continue as we keep achieving and setting an example for the next generation.

Christina Kach is a Senior Business Analyst on the Continuous Improvement team for a financial services company in Boston, MA.  Prior to this role, she spent five years at a Government Defense Company focusing on Lean and process improvement in a manufacturing environment, while also completing an Operations Leadership Development Program. Christina holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering from Northeastern University and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management, also from Northeastern.

Christina invites you to connect with her via Twitter (@ChristinaKach), email (Cfkach@gmail.com) or at her blog for young professionals www.catchcareers.com

Life of a Honors Student

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source: ontariojobspot.net

source: ontariojobspot.net

This guest post was written by Katie Braggins, a third year international affairs major.

Being an honors student will enhance any students’ Northeastern experience through cultural events and a plethora of free food.  However for me specifically, it helped me along my academic path to help narrow my focus within my major. The Honors Program offers a diverse range of classes by some of the best professors on campus. First Year Honors Inquiry courses are offered for freshmen, which can fulfill NU core requirements while exploring topics in depth outside of one’s concentration. In my first semester at Northeastern, I had the opportunity to take a class on the conflict in Northern Ireland with Professor Michael Patrick MacDonald, which first introduced me to analyzing the asymmetric relationship between state and non-state actors in conflict.  Spring of my freshman year, I expanded my knowledge of terrorism and violence in “Seeking Peace in Times of Terror.” These classes I took my freshman year helped me to hone in on violence and conflict as an area of study within my major, international affairs.

These classes led me to my first co-op at the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security. As a research associate, I was able to learn about emergency preparedness for natural and man-made disasters through analyzing governmental reports and evacuation plans. This past fall I had the opportunity to take a class on the espionage and covert operations during the Cold War with Professor Jeffery Burds. The interdisciplinary seminar was very interactive, which allowed students to explore topics within the larger theme based on their interest area. I was able to read a book and article to present on the emerging threat of cybersecurity, a topic that is increasingly relevant in today’s national security landscape.

I am currently on co-op for the second time at two NGOs in Buenos Aires addressing the effects of the Dirty War in Argentina. My work at one NGO, Cecreda, is to analyze the economic and developmental progress of the Argentina since the conflict in order to produce reports to be distributed. I will be writing briefs and analyzing the trials for the governmental actors responsible for carrying out and perpetuating the state violence for the other NGO, CODESEDH. I hope to apply for honors scholarships to conduct my own research on these topics in the future. The honors program has had a great affect on my academic career at Northeastern, and will continue to do so in the future.

Katie Braggins is a third year International Affairs major.  She is a guest blogger currently on co-op in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  She can be reached at braggins.k@husky.neu.edu.

5 things to consider when choosing a graduate program

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This guest post was written by our new student blogger, Emily Brown, a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program.

We’ve established that going to grad school isn’t always a good idea and that it is a huge commitment of time, money, and energy. Once you’ve made the decision that grad school is right for you, you’re still faced with the daunting task of choosing a program. There are a few key things to keep in mind when working through the process:

  •  Location. An easy way to narrow your choices at the beginning is by location. Are there places that you are simply unwilling to live while pursuing your degree? Do you plan on continuing a job in your current location? I knew I wanted to keep my full-time job as long as possible, so I only researched graduate programs in the Boston area. Conveniently, Boston still has a lot of options, but narrowing my search that way made it feel more manageable.

    Image from fastweb.com


  • Reputation. Just like when applying to undergrad, it’s easy to get caught up in schools’ reputations. Meeting your own academic goals and needs should be your top priority so remember that just because it’s an Ivy League doesn’t mean it will be a good fit for you. Graduate programs can vary greatly within the same school so it’s important to research programs and faculty members specifically to determine a good match.
  • Requirements. There are admissions requirements, and then there are program requirements once you get in. Before applying, you’ll have to compare the program requirements with your own credentials. Is there a minimum GPA requirement or certain prerequisite classes? Do you have to submit GRE scores? Make sure you meet these requirements and include all required documents before hitting send. Additionally, most graduate programs will require some sort of experiential learning outside of the classroom. It might be research, an internship, or other practical experience. Think about what will be most beneficial to you and how you can balance your coursework with an unpaid interning or researching.
  • Passion v. Realism. As a career services groupie, I am all about following your passion when it comes to education and career. However, when making an investment in that passion, it’s important to consider what kind of opportunities will be available to you once you complete the degree. Talk to alumni of the programs you’re considering and ask about their experiences in the program and how it prepared them for their current job. Do their jobs appeal to you? You can find alumni to speak to by asking the admissions office or searching on LinkedIn (it’s not creepy, I promise).
  • Cost. Once you’ve hit send on the applications and the acceptances start rolling in, you’ll have more decisions to make. Of course the financial aid a school offers will be a factor in your decision, but it’s smart to also consider the cost of living where the schools are located. Maybe that school in New York City offered you more financial aid, but are you going to spend those savings on one trip to the nearest Whole Foods? You have to be realistic about the cost of school as well as living expenses and make decisions that make sense for you financially.

Once you’ve made it past step one, deciding to go to grad school, make sure you do your due diligence researching programs to find the one that is the best fit for you and will propel you toward your career goals. Location, reputation, curriculum requirements, cost and career opportunities are all key factors to consider and will help narrow your choices and ultimately select the right graduate program for you.

Emily Brown is a Career Development intern and a graduate student in Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. She is a lifelong Bostonian interested in the integration of social media into the professional realm.  Contact her at e.brown@neu.edu.

Tackling the Dreaded “Personal Statement”

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anne post pic

This post was written by Anne Grieves, the Pre-Law and Graduate School Advisor at Northeastern University Career Development.

Personal Statements.  Two words you might be dreading if you are thinking about enrolling in graduate school.  As the Pre-Law / Graduate School Advisor, I have not yet met a student who was eager to write one (but maybe after reading this blog, some of you out there will be).  Why do we dread them?  Two of the biggest reasons are that 1.  it’s hard to write about yourself and 2. you may not know where to start.  So, if this is something that is looming in your future, let’s reframe it and break it up into steps.  A personal statement is an opportunity for you to share something personal and meaningful with the admissions committees.  It should make the reader want to meet you.  Some people may encourage you to read some sample statements before attacking your own.  I would not.  You will, in some way, be influenced either by the content or the formant such that yours won’t be completely yours.

First: What to Write (what makes you YOU):  If you are stuck because you don’t know what to write about, don’t worry. There are a number of topics to consider but each of them needs to create a positive impression of you.   For example, are there any hobbies that represent who you are? Is there something about your personality that you admire? Do you have an opinion about something (make sure it’s a “safe” topic – no politics, religion etc.)?  Is there a person in your life that may have influenced you in some way.  Any topic could be made into a GREAT statement but any topic can also be a bad one.  Make sure that the statement is not simply an essay or a story that’s  engaging and interesting to read but does not go into depth about you.  By letting yourself write freely, you are unlocking and unraveling your stories.

Second : How to Start (start typing, get scribbling):  Don’t think that you are writing a statement, just let the sentences flow.  In your words you will find the meat of your statement and after that you can add the necessary reflection and context.  It will come together.  I promise.  The more freely you can write, the more reflection you will show.  That’s what the admissions counselors want to see; introspection.  So what should you start with? A memory, a person, something about where you grew up, an experience (study abroad, an incident etc.), what you love(d) to do in your spare time.  Take that first thought and see where it takes you.

Third: The Next Step (revise, review, reread):  A personal statement can take up to 7 drafts.  So, pick out the relevant pieces of your story (still, at this point, don’t worry about the length) and make it flow.  Your “hook” may come when you get to the end.  Sometimes the beginning is the last piece to write.

Fourth: Condense  (balancing the statement with the resume): How much of your statement is a recounting of your resume versus your reflection about the experience(s).  How can you take a snapshot of a piece of your past that brought you to this point and made you who you are?  Be careful to not describe an experience with details pertaining to what you did (like you would in a resume).  Instead, focus on what you learned, how you have changed, what you gained etc.

Fifth: What Not To Do (6 of these):

  1. Don’t use quotes.  They have seen them ALL!.
  2. Don’t talk about your lofty goals – you may want to become a judge or a doctor that makes an incredible discovery someday but your next immediate step is getting admitted to the graduate school.
  3. Don’t write about something that puts you into a negative context – if something has happened, show how you overcame that experience.
  4. Don’t be a victim.  Many people have had awful experiences in their lives.  These are the tricky statements.  While you want to share a bit about the experience and how that has become part of who you are today, you want to make sure that your strength and determination are evident throughout and that you came out stronger, wiser, more confident from this experience.
  5. Don’t use humor (unless you can do it well).
  6. Don’t write to impress – be sincere, be yourself.

Sixth: Finishing Touches  (proofread and proofread again):  Find readers to JUST check for grammar.  Find reader you don’t know very well to see what sense they have of you after reading it (and will they want to meet you?).  Find readers that know you.  Do YOU come through in your statement?

Some schools may want you to talk about why you want to go to this particular school.  If they do, yes – answer that question.  If they don’t, your intent and motivation should be implied.

Similar to how I wrote this piece, I just wrote and it came together. Good luck!

Anne Grieves is the Pre-Law and Graduate School Advisor at Northeastern University Career Development. She’s happy to meet with potential future graduate and law students on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Call the front desk of make an appointment with Anne through MyNEU. 

An Act of Translation: Turning an Academic CV into an Industry Resume

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source: mediacommons.futureofthebook.org

source: mediacommons.futureofthebook.org

This guest post was written by Lana Cook, a PhD candidate in the English department at Northeastern University who finishing up her last semester and beginning to navigate the Alt-Ac track.

Translation (n.): The conversion of something from one form or medium into another.

Mixed feelings abound when entering any job market, but transitioning to a different career path or field can be downright intimidating.  Embarking on my own career search, I kept asking myself, can a PhD trained in the academic track of teaching and research move to a career in administration and nonprofit management?  Did I need to go back to school for a business degree?  I researched MBA programs for a quick minute before I realized that 1) I had plenty of education, and 2) I already had all the necessary skills and abilities.  I just had a problem of phrasing. I was too bound to my discipline’s jargon.  I needed to become a translator.

Any skilled translator would tell you that you need to immerse yourself in the foreign language to gain fluency.  In my alt-ac career search that meant researching arts organizations, nonprofits, foundations and research centers, taking special note of how they describe their missions and activities.  I followed community leaders on Twitter and subscribed to industry news.  I carefully read job postings and highlighted repeated key terms. I learned that in administrative-speak “development” meant fundraising, “outreach” meant marketing, “coordinator” meant collaboration. I began to see my graduate work through the perspective of project management. The dissertation, conferences, teaching, and tutoring taught me to how to prioritize multiple high stakes projects and negotiate diverse stakeholders. Graduate school required me to develop organizational systems that efficiently managed logistics and achieved identifiable outcomes.  Revising an academic curriculum vitae (CV) into a resume involved using a new industry language, reframing my experience in terms that would resonate with my audience of potential employers.

Step one was translating my experiences into industry jargon. The next step was revamping my bloated multipage CV that listed all my conferences, publications, courses taken and taught, into a compact, easy to digest, professional resume.  I recommend the following steps for transforming a CV into a resume:

  • Identify your transferrable skills.  Interpersonal communication, organization, following instructions and anticipating needs: these are transferrable skills that are applicable in every career. There are several resources where you can mine language for identifying your personal aptitudes and describing them in professional terms.
  • Condense your history. While an academic CV can be several pages long, resumes are typically one page (two if you have extensive experience).  For graduate students fresh on the job market, keep your resume to one page, focusing on experiences and skills that are most relevant to the desired position.
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter specifically to the position and organization.  Create a long master resume that lists all your experiences, education, every seminar, class, conference, and project you worked on (start this while you are in school so you can keep track of your accomplishments).  Use the master copy to take sections from when tailoring a resume to a specific position.   While cover letter templates can help save time, they can quickly become formulaic. One size does not fit all in today’s job market. Pay attention and respond to the minute details of the job post, echoing the language the employers use and aligning your experience with their needs.
  • Add new skills to your resume.  Many of the positions I was interested in asked for proficiency with administrative software.   Northeastern provides several free options for technology crash courses.  Information Technology Services (ITS) offers one-day courses in the Snell Library classrooms for hands-on help or you can follow online tutorials through Lynda.  I recently took refresher courses in Excel database management and Photoshop, as well as a 4-hour introductory course to HTML.
  • Use your network to workshop your resume.  Identify a professional working in your desired career and ask for an informational interview.  Use the meeting to gain industry knowledge and learn about the career paths people have taken to get there.  Follow up by asking if they could give you some advice on your resume. Visit Career Development and work with a career advisor to refine your job materials.

Translating my resume has given me a confidence boost. I now look at job postings and see open possibilities where before I saw closed doors.  Resources for alternative academics (Alt-Ac) are growing as more PhDs turn to options beyond teaching.  GradHacker dedicated last week’s posts to Alt-Ac, including how to get started on the job search. Follow the hashtag #altac on Twitter to learn more.  Join me on the first Thursday of every month here on the Works as I countdown to graduation.

Lana Cook is a PhD candidate in the English department at Northeastern University. Her dissertation traces the development of the psychedelic aesthetic in mid-twentieth century American literature and film. Lana is a 2013-2014 graduate fellow at the Humanities Center.  She received her bachelors of arts at the University of New Hampshire.  You can follow her on Twitter @lanacook or Linkedin.