Brand for Hire: Crafting Your Professional Persona Online, Or, Have You Googled Yourself Lately?

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Make sure you like what you find! source: www.dailydawdle.com

Make sure you like what you find!
source: www.dailydawdle.com / 30 Rock, NBC Universal

Let’s start with a simple task: Google yourself.  Do you like what you find?  What appears on the first page?  Will it help you professionally?

Many of us are already using social media technologies like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to communicate and keep in touch.  We must be cognizant of the fact that these online activities link back to our ‘real’ lives and professional reputations.  There are too many cases of celebrities on Twitter gone wrong for us to ignore the impact of our digital footprints. As I go on the job market, I am increasingly aware of the professional image that I present online and the role I have in managing that image.

My approach to professional social media practices is informed by teaching college students at Northeastern over the last few years.  Each semester, I had my students in Advanced Writing in the Disciplines create professional personas online by using social media tools like LinkedIn and Twitter. The class used these tools to build professional profiles, engage in conversations with peers and experts, and to reflect on the pervasive role of social media in our professional and personal lives.  At the end of the semester, we conducted a social media audit, evaluating one another’s profiles to assess and revise the kind of presence we had online.

Manage the Message

The class yielded many conversations about the advantages and limitations of branding yourself online.  Many students were uncomfortable with the term “brand” and the corporate associations it conjures. We preferred thinking about these activities as crafting a professional persona. We treated our online activities as one of the many public performances that constitute our workplace selves. Employers are searching applicants’ names to make hiring decisions. Some hiring managers believe that having no online presence can be as harmful to your career as having a negative one.  I asked students, what kind of professional would you like to be? We used this guiding question to help shape our social media strategies.

Share as a Professional

Platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn can be powerful tools to connect you with colleagues across the world.  Twitter helps me keep updated on recent news and trends in my field, build a professional network, and contribute to the relevant conversations of our day.  Getting set up with Twitter is relatively simple, though new users can find the sheer mass of information initially overwhelming. Ryan Cordell, Assistant Professor in the English Department at Northeastern, advises to treat Twitter like a river, dip into the stream for a moment, enjoy the water and then step back out.

LinkedIn operates much like Facebook, but should be devoted to strictly professional content.  Think of LinkedIn as a more dynamic version of your resume.  You can add samples of your work, receive and give endorsements from employers, join networking groups like alumni associations, and share updates. Another option About.me is a short version of LinkedIn; think of it as a digital business card.

Know Your Audience

I treat my social media identities as concentric circles with closest friends and family at the center, extending outward to colleagues, acquaintances and unknown followers.  Or, we could think of these groups as networked nodes, comprised of categorically distinct, yet interconnected clusters.  Whatever your organizational metaphor, find a way of separating out your audiences and tailor content and privacy settings accordingly.

Showcase Your Work

Personal websites can be an essential home base for your professional brand, as Lindsey Sampson recently discussed on The Works. Like LinkedIn, my website operates as a multimedia resume with examples of recent projects and research activities. Unlike LinkedIn, I have complete autonomy of what appears on the site.  A personal website is a space where you can control your self-presentation, highlighting your accomplishments and goals for your audience.

Find Your Limit

In the age of Instagram documentation, we know it can be easy to overshare. We begin to feel as if every thought should be tweeted, ever inspiration captured, and every relationship tagged and accounted for.  But, what are the limits? Digital identities need to be carefully monitored and maintained to prevent outdated content, mixed messages, or even imposters.  Online branding can also be time consuming. Social media managers like HootSuite, which allow me to schedule posts on multiple social media accounts ahead of time, help me to “unplug” on weekends.

Define Yourself

Professional branding will take on different resonance depending on your field, but, for many, social media can be an important tool for professional definition and promotion. People will inevitably form impressions of your professional persona from your daily activities in the workplace.  Taking conscious control of that image by crafting a clear and consistent professional persona online will only further your career by helping you to identify strengths, build a career portfolio, connect with peers, and better target long term goals.

Next month I’ll discuss networking strategies and the role of mentors during the job search. Join me the first Thursday of the month here on The Works as I countdown to graduation.

Lana Cook - HeadshotLana Cook is a Ph.D. 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 “Viral Culture” graduate fellow at the Northeastern Humanities Center.  She received her bachelors of arts at University of New Hampshire.  You can follow her on Twitter @lanacook or Linkedin. You can view her portfolio at LanaCook.net.

3 LinkedIn Tips for Job Hunters

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source: socialmediaforstudents.com

source: www.socialmediaforstudents.com

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

Everyone knows LinkedIn is a great tool. LinkedIn makes it easier for potential employers to find you, boosts your online presence, and allows you to take full advantage of the strength of your professional network. Here are a few tricks and tips to maximize LinkedIn for your job search.

LinkedIn Stalking: It’s a thing. Actually, it’s a great thing. Looking at other professionals’ profiles on LinkedIn is an excellent resource for students and job searchers. Start by finding your career crush. Digital marketing manager at your dream firm? Good for you. Check out her experience section: Where did she start? What skills does she have? Where did she intern during her undergrad years? Looking at other peoples’ timelines can give you an idea of what entry-level jobs look like in your industry, which can help you visualize your own career goals.

Freelancers: Okay, this is also kind of about LinkedIn stalking. No big deal. If you are interested in becoming a freelancer, check out the experience section of other freelancers’ profiles. Chances are good that there will be a list of publications for which this person has written. This will give you some good ideas of who to contact within your industry space for writing opportunities.

Companies: Looking at companies on LinkedIn is an especially great tool for students and recent graduates. While you are still in school, make a list of companies that interest you. Your list may only include five or six for now, but this list should be dynamic. Add to it as you go. Having a list of potential future employers will help you avoid sitting in front of a blank Google page a month before you graduate, trying to figure out what to do with your life. If you start early and add to the list whenever you stumble upon an interesting company, you could rack up 50-100 companies to contact before you graduate.

Here’s where LinkedIn comes in.

Company pages on LinkedIn provide recommendations for similar companies in the area. Looking for an education technology startup in Seattle? Find one, check it out on LinkedIn, and aha! Now you have discovered five more. Good for you. Searching through LinkedIn company recommendations can greatly expand your list of dream companies.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for the modern professional. Take advantage of all of its features and make your life – and your job search – a whole lot less painful.

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.

Tips for the International Job Search from the International Guru

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photo from http://www.visassimply.com/work-abroad

photo from http://www.visassimply.com/work-abroad

This guest post was written by Ellen Zold Goldman, Associate Director of Career Development and lover of all things international.

It’s officially International Month on the blog and a great time to think about escaping our snowy winter weather. If you have the travel bug, maybe working overseas is in your future. Check out these tips for creating your own work abroad experience in this first blog post focused on international topics.

Tips for the International Job Search

  • Learn about cultures you’re interested in. Don’t spend lots of time finding a job in a place you can’t warm up to…Develop friendships with international students. Make sure you like the sound of the language and the food.  A great resource is Transitions Abroad’s Living Abroad section.
  • Join Global Jobs Network, Expat & Global Worker, and other groups on LinkedIn. Join groups related both to your career interests and countries you’re interested in working. Follow the weekly digest and reach out to folks whose discussions interest to you.
  • Check out overseas Fellowships: That’s money you don’t have to pay back which underwrites your experience.
  • Use Going Global, by logging into Husky Career Link for great resources.
  • Network, Network, Network! With your co-op employers, your international student friend’s uncle, hair dresser, professors, Study Abroad adviser… with ANYONE who will listen to you. While you’re on co-op,  see if they have a location in a city you’re interested in. Remember speaking the language enables you to function professionally.
  • Join list-servs like Dev-X. List-servs are usually related to professional associations. It’s where they get the word out about jobs.
  • Considering Teaching Abroad? Check out the JET (Japan) program, CIEE, Search Associates, and Dave’s ESL Café, but buyer beware. Do your research to find a credible program.
  • The Peace Corps, may be a great option for you. We have the most amazing Peace Corps Employer-in-Residence. Make an appointment with her and stay tuned for her blog.
  • Connect with panelists at our events. Career Development has a program called Build an International Career on March 27th and Global Careers Forum in the fall. Network with the folks on the panel.
  • Consider going from local to international—work here first and get selected for an international assignment or transferred overseas.  Case in point: My friend worked in Kenya with International Rescue Committee after working for them in Boston. Another friend’s starting the finance department at his company’s new international location. Also check out Foreign Firms Operating in the U.S. through the library or amazon.com.
  • Go on an International Co-op, study abroad, or a dialogue. While you’re there do information interviews. I’ve done a lot of info interviews and usually folks love to share their advice. Remember- the ASK is NOT for a job, just for advice. Do your research ahead of time and know what you want to ask.
  • Many companies have joint ventures with local companies overseas. Some Consulates/Embassies have the list in their business section.
  • Go overseas to your target country for a vacation or visit and check out some of the “Meet Ups” (always go to public places—now I feel like I’m channeling my Mom). Connect with others while you’re there and network. Check out American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries through www.uniworldbp.com or through the library.  If you have a work permit, or EEU citizenship, you can always sign up to temp…but know it’s really hard. It’s a job to get a job, and even more so in another country—especially if you’re not a native speaker. Our international students here at Northeastern understand that very well as they’re going through it themselves in the US.
  • Check out the Advanced People Search on LinkedIn.com. You can type in Northeastern University for the school, click on your target country, and find alum overseas, or do info interviews with NU alum who have worked in your target country but who are in the Boston area.
  • Here are some additional sites. Just remember that while being on line can feel efficient, it’s rarely effective without networking. There are meta sites- like Monster with their world-wide gateway and local sites that specialize in specific countries. Remember to use your Northeastern Network, Husky Nation, and Husky Career Link. Check out: Riley Guide, Overseas Digest, 4 International Careers & Jobs, and InternationalJobs.com. There are also professionally-focused sites that offer jobs internationally, themed by type of position; for example: Econ-Jobs.com, and others.

Want to learn more?  Make an appointment with Career Development! Be sure to check out our International Job Guide. Also check out this article How to FInd Your First Paid Job Overseas.

Ellen Zold Goldman is Associate Director at Career Development. She’s worked on a short-term gig at a non-profit in Greece, has coordinated an international co-op exchange program in Australia, directed study abroad at another university, loves international students, and as you can probably tell, she has a passion for anything international.

 

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.