“Things Change and it’s OK”- Advice from a Nursing Alum

Clockwise from left: NU Commencement in 2009; Machu Picchu - 2008; NU Alumni event at the Red Sox/Giants game in San Francisco 2013; After completing the San Francisco Half Marathon in 2013

Clockwise from left: NU Commencement in 2009; Machu Picchu – 2008; NU Alumni event at the Red Sox/Giants game in San Francisco 2013; After completing the San Francisco Half Marathon in 2013

This guest post was written by Michaela Coté, a 2009 nursing alum and now a Registered Nurse on a Med/Surg floor at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, CA.

I graduated with my degree in Nursing on May 1, 2009. This year, May 1st fell on a Thursday, a #throwbackthursday or #tbt to the Instagram world. As I scrolled through my Instagram app during lunch, #tbt after #tbt popped up of old friends back at their Northeastern graduations. At first I couldn’t believe it. 5 years?! Then I looked around my work break room and down at my faded scrubs I bought on my first coop. Yup, 5 years.

So, here I am. I’ve been out of college as long as I was in college. Time flies, and boy do I need new scrubs. Alas, here’s what I have to share.

Things change and it’s OK. I am a Nurse. When I started college, I was told I could do whatever I want, wherever I want, and just maybe my student loans would get paid. When I graduated, every hospital was on a hiring freeze, meaning I couldn’t even pay my student loans. I got lucky (thanks to a NU connection!), and landed a job that would have originally been my last choice. I now love my job so much so that I have yet to get a new one. Now, the healthcare system has taken a turn and my job is once again on the line. One of the reasons I went into healthcare was because there would ‘always be jobs’. But, things change and I can’t do a thing about it except make the most of it. The first job you land might not be the one you want, but how do you really know? We are young and we have time. Things will work out, they just do.

Save. From our co-op experience of having steady full time jobs, we should be good with money at this point. Whether that’s true or not is another story. Personally, while my paychecks may have helped to pay some bills (kind of…), they also made it very possible for me to go in and out of Lord & Taylor sales (which are are AMAZING if you’re not aware). In any case, it’s time to get serious about money with your first official job. Set up your retirement plan and do it before your first paycheck. That way, you’ll never know
how much cash you could be making, and your retirement fund will be off to a great start. It’s like you’re putting money away for the Lord & Taylor sales of year 2055, right?!

Loans are memories. You have no choice but to pay back your loans, so try to put a positive spin on them. Each month when you sit down to make your monthly payment, think about what an amazing time you had at Northeastern. Think about the hours you spent in the caf freshman year. Think of the numbers of pitchers you drank at Connor’s (that co-op paychecks also funded), and the amount of ‘last calls’ you thought were necessary at Our House. Think of the lifelong friendships you made and the laughs you’ve
shared. Think of the ridiculous amount of free t-shirts you have, the sporting events, the fact that you shopped at Wollaston’s despite the crazy mark ups, the Marino center, T rides, the Pru, being a part of a Red Sox World Series, your co-op experiences. Whatever it is, you loved Northeastern, you had a great education and experience, and you are lucky to get a monthly reminder of that. My brother went to a state school and has no loans. Sucker. He gets no reminders of how great college was.

Travel & find a ‘hobby’. You are young and most likely have only yourself to look after. You now accrue vacation time at your new fancy job, and you make real money (hopefully). You no longer have to study. Your free time is your free time. Go see the world! You have the resources and the time, so get out there and make the most of it before you’re tied down. On that same note, you have FREE TIME. Find something new to do. Take up one of those ‘hobbies’ job interviewers always think you have. Read a book that isn’t a
textbook. Start playing a new sport. Take up a new activity. Make a personal non work and school related goal for yourself. Don’t you dare let this time and freedom waste away.

Congratulations on your graduation. Go show the world what an amazing person Northeastern helped make you. Use your Northeastern connections and brag about your coops. You will do great.

Michaela Coté is a Registered Nurse on a Med/Surg floor at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, CA. Many thanks to her co-op advisor, Jacki Diani, for putting her in touch with a past NU professor who at the time worked at the medical center and introduced her to a hiring manager for an interview. Feel free to contact her at Michaela.cote@gmail.com

“Can you think like a (insert job title here)?”

Clockwise from the left: Graduation day celebrating with Chara, Road Trip with Club Ice Hockey at UVM, and me now

Clockwise from the left: Graduation day celebrating with Chara, Road Trip with Club Ice Hockey at UVM, and me now

This guest post for the 5 Alums, 5 Years Later series was written by Jeff Donaldson. Jeff graduated Cum Laude in 2009 with a BS in Electrical Engineering and is a Lead Electrical Engineer at CDM Smith.

In a world where we have everything at our finger tips, we often take for granted that accomplishments take time. Many of you reading this want to get right out into the “real-world” and make a difference in your field. I want to let you know that “YOU ARE READY”! Co-op definitely prepared all of us for what it is like to hold a job, get to work on time, and begin to feel what responsibility really is. But let’s take a step back and think about what the classroom environment prepared us for.   After all, that was a huge part of the $200k+ we paid, right?

I’m going to cut to the chase here (mostly because I am an engineer and writing isn’t a strong suit for many of us).  Looking back over the last five years, I can honestly say that about 90% of what I do at my job I did not learn in the classroom. Although I cannot speak for every major and degree, I am confident that many of you will agree with me.

Now before you go ask President Aoun for a refund, ask yourself if you feel confident in your ability to learn. Of course you do; you just graduated college. The ability to be a lifelong learner is something that will impact your professional success for the rest of your life, and that you did learn in the classroom.

You spent the better part of the last 5 years sitting in the lecture halls, doing homework, and studying for hours on end in Snell Library (read: procrastinating on Twitter and Facebook). You have recently passed your last finals (assuming graduate school isn’t in your future life) and received the Bachelor of Blank in Blank you’ve worked so hard for. Officially, you are extremely knowledgeable of said subject matter.

So, next question: Can you think like a/an (insert new job title here)?  Many of you will probably say, “Hmmm, I don’t really know what that means. What does it mean to think like a/an (insert new job title here)?”

The day has come to officially apply all of that college knowledge to a full-time professional position. My advice is: be confident in your ability, even if you don’t know something at your new job. Know that you possess the tools to give the assigned tasks a try (trust me, your boss will take notice and reward you for it). All of your course work has trained you to respond, read, prepare, and talk like a professional. This is so important to realize NOW as you graduate and take the first steps in your career.

That said, please be careful not to be over confident.  Understand you have the tools to be successful, but that success takes time. Learning how to apply what you’ve learned and to continue to be a lifelong learner goes a long way. Coupled with patience and hard work, you’re sure to be a success.

So, good luck, congratulations, and may you all have great success in the next chapter of your lives.

YOU ARE READY!

Jeff Donaldson graduated Cum Laude in 2009 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He is currently a Lead Electrical Engineer at CDM Smith, a Consulting and Design Engineering firm in Cambridge and a Registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He also founded the Northeastern Men’s Ice Hockey Club Team in 2005. Please feel free to contact him at donaldson.jeff@gmail.com.

Advice for Graduating Selfie Monsters

Clockwise from left: Graduation day in front of The Garden May 2009, Bek 2013, Birthday outing 2014

Clockwise from left: Graduation day in front of The Garden May 2009, Bek 2013, Birthday outing 2014

This post was written by NU alumna Rebekah Gallacher. Bek majored in English and Communications and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2009.

I’ve always resented the notion that “the real world” doesn’t happen until after you graduate college. I find that this sentiment is typically coupled with the idea that our generation—Generation Y—doesn’t understand what the real world is. I don’t know about you, but five years at Northeastern, three co-ops (plus two freelancing gigs), zero summers, a weekend job slinging drinks to BC kids, a double overloaded final semester, and astounding student loans felt pretty real to me. Tack on graduating into The Great Recession—one of the worst job economies in recent history—and I thought I had this “real world” thing down.

Five years later though, I can admit through the clarity provided by hindsight that life is in fact realer. These last five years have been the most influential, the most tumultuous, the most real for me so far. Those of you entering “the real world” this spring will get plenty of advice. More than you’ll know what to do with most likely. So I’m going to tackle only one thing: that despite all of the effort we’ve expelled so far, we are actually a bunch of lazy, entitled, tech-obsessed selfie monsters.

You heard me. Needy. Coddled. Selfie monsters.

Now, I personally will stay confounded by this impression for as long as it persists. I don’t know a single one of these Gen Ys. (Who are these people!?) But this perception is pervasive, and try as we might, we’re not going to be able to get away from it. Not yet, anyway. So your challenge, and my best advice for your next five years, is to face it head on.

It is absolutely central to your success to understand and acknowledge the assumptions about Gen Ys. Once you do, you’ll be able to interact more effectively with your colleagues from other generations, including your boss. (Spoiler Alert: that’s kind of…well, everything.) The self-aware Gen Y is the smartest Gen Y and the Gen Y that will get ahead. A little self-awareness goes a long way.

And don’t stop there, you overachieving go-getter! Take some time to understand where other generations are coming from, what they value, why they might think you’re a whiny baby with wildly unrealistic expectations. (Their words, not mine!) The Gen Y that’s well versed in generational differences is the Gen Y that will be actively sought out for their opinions and expertise.

All of this being said, don’t be afraid to use your unique point-of-view to your advantage. Be confident that your age, your experiences (“real world” or not) are both personal and organizational strengths. We’re soon to be the largest cohort in the workforce and we have an opportunity to shape the world of work. We will undoubtedly influence expectations, flexibility, technology, compensation, the social consciousness of our organizations—just to name a few. As well we should; much of this needs changing and I know we’re up to the challenge.

Let’s take back the conversation around our generation and redefine our organizational value. Because the Generation Y I know is hard-working, collaborative, innovative, and ambitious.

Congratulations to the Class of 2014. I look forward to everything you’ll accomplish. Including making me feel old and technologically out of date.

Let’s do this thing!

Rebekah Gallacher is an Associate Editor of Web Content at Harvard Business Publishing. She received her dual BA in English/Communication Media Studues in 2009 and managed to turn it into a real job! Feel free to contact her at rebekahgallacher@gmail.com or tweet her at @RCGallacher.

 

“Show Your Face” and Other Lessons from Psych Alum Samantha

Sam Collage for blog

This post was written by 2009 psychology alum, Samantha Bracy. She is currently a special education teach in Newton, MA. 

It wasn’t until my good friend Kelly so kindly asked me to write for this blog that I even became consciously aware of how long I’ve been out of college.  As we approach the anniversary of our graduation, of course all the good memories flood my mind – celebrating graduation with my friends, living in an apartment on Symphony Rd., late nights at Punter’s.  Five whole years ago we were walking up and down Huntington Ave. in the freezing depths of winter (OK, let’s be real – anything below 40 degrees and class wasn’t happening); picking up overpriced groceries at “The Wo” (Wollaston’s for all of you who don’t speak solely in abbreviations); and last but not least, navigating what in the world we were going to do after graduation (OK, I suppose that might be the most important one).

I always considered myself one of those rare, lucky students who always knew what I’d do with my professional life.  My mother tells me that ever since I was a little girl, she knew I’d be a teacher (read: I was really bossy as a child) and as I made my way through NU, I knew it too.  I studied psychology and elementary education, coming out of college with a plethora of co-op and fieldwork experiences to add to my resume.  I felt fortunate to have spent time working in Boston Public Schools, at various community centers across the city, and at a private special education school.  My experience was – in every sense of the word – “well-rounded” and I had NU to thank for that edge.  What I didn’t realize at the time was the importance of networking.  I know, I know…such a buzzword these days.  But when people tell you “it’s all who you know”, they’re being completely honest with you.

Make a good impression at your co-op.  Do not show up looking like you were out all night (hungover or otherwise).  These people may be your future, long-term employers (I have friends who are currently employed at one of their co-op’s, years later).  This organization may be a jumping off point for your career.  And you probably want to be able to ask your supervisor for a recommendation one day.  I know you all took Intro to College or got a lecture from your co-op advisor about being professional, but let’s be real – when it’s Marathon Monday and you called out of co-op because you were the only one who didn’t have it off, do not post selfies on one of the various social media platforms.  Lesson learned.  Make a positive, lasting impression and you will always have that organization supporting you, be it by way of an actual job or kind words for a different employer.

If your employer asks you to stay on after your co-op, you do it.  Even if they say it’s unpaid, even if it’s full-time, even if you have to take the T at 5:30 am.  I completed my student teaching at an amazing Boston Public School, a school that I still dream of working at.  After my semester ended, I was asked to stay on as an unpaid aide and I turned it down because I needed to work full-time and actually earn money.  A girl who was in the same boat as me took an unpaid aide job and now has her own classroom at said school.  I doubt if I went back there today anyone would even remember me.  If you have a way to take an internship, an experience, a co-op, anything and make it into something more, an opportunity for you to shine and for people to truly remember you, do it.

Show your face.  In college, my friends and I (count us: 1, 2, 3, 4) kept to ourselves.  We certainly weren’t homebodies by any means – we went out, had fun, lived it up Husky style.  But we weren’t really involved in any groups, clubs, networking events, or anything of that nature.  We didn’t go to sporting events or formals.  We didn’t really branch out beyond each other and some satellite friends we hung out with on occasion.  Now, with things like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, it’s so easy to reconnect with people you went to school with.  People who may have plush corner offices that can hook you up with an interview at that firm you’ve been eyeing (see where I’m going with this?).  But guess what?  If you don’t actually talk to anyone, you don’t really have a lot of people to network with years later.  So even if you aren’t a social butterfly, it wouldn’t kill you to attend a few events, make some new friends, or even sit with a stranger in Snell.  You never know who your new friends will turn out to be down the road so don’t be afraid to branch out.

Samantha Bracy is a special education teacher in the Newton Public Schools.  She received her BS and MEd from Northeastern.  She is the proud mother of a little girl with another baby on the way and enjoys trying to maintain her sanity as she balances life and work.  Feel free to contact her at samantha416@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Shawn’s Home Run: Blending Computer Science and His Love for the Sox

clockwise: NU Commencement 2008, me holding the 2013 World Series Trophy, me in the Duckboat on parade day

clockwise: NU Commencement 2008, me holding the 2013 World Series Trophy, me in the Duckboat on parade day

This guest post was written by 2008 alum (I know, 6 years later not 5, but his advice is too good!), Shawn O’Rourke, for the 5 Alums, 5 Years Later series. Shawn graduated with a BS in computer science and is now the Coordinator of Baseball Systems Development for the Boston Red Sox. 

November 2nd, 2013:  Thousands gather in celebration around the city of Boston. On Boylston Street specifically, where just six and a half months earlier, one of the most tragic events of the city’s history took place. The Championship Trophy stood proudly on the Boston Marathon Finish line, draped with the numbers “617” and words “Boston Strong” around it.  I will always remember exactly where I was at that moment: riding in a Duckboat, hand over my heart, singing “God Bless America” in unison with the thousands in attendance.  Remembering the victims and their families and the courageous efforts by the first responders, I couldn’t help but get emotional.  It was one of those moments when you realize how truly fortunate you are. A moment that makes you recognize that you are part of something bigger than yourself. Part of the healing process. One of Boston’s Strong.  My name is Shawn O’Rourke.  I’m a 2008 graduate of Northeastern University and Coordinator of Baseball Systems Development for the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

You may be wondering how a NU Alum with a Computer Science degree finds himself riding in a World Series parade with the likes of David “Big Papi” Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. The answer is simple – networking, patience, passion and hard work. As an undergrad in 2007 I was fortunate enough to be in a class where the then Red Sox Director of IT (also a Northeastern Alum) happened to be a guest speaker. After class, I introduced myself, handed him my resume, and a few weeks later had myself a co-op in the IT department. Throughout my six months running around Fenway Park fixing computers, printers, phones, and a/v equipment I was able to meet people from all different company departments.  These connections would ultimately help me land my dream job after graduation. But it did not happen right away.

I remember driving back home to my parents house the day after my graduation ceremony in May 2008.  College was officially over.  No more classes, no more homework, no more finals.  It felt great, however, I also didn’t have a job and didn’t have any money (aside from graduation gifts).  It was a very scary feeling.  So what do you do as a broke graduate with no job?  You join your friends on a month-long backpacking trip around Western Europe, obviously!  Turned out to be the first great decision of my post-college life.  Remember – you have six months before you have to begin to start paying off those college loans and the rest of your life to work on building your career.  So first piece of advice is, if you have the time and the money to travel – DO IT NOW! Just remember Liam Neeson won’t be there to save you (sorry bad Taken reference).

Two days after returning from my trip, I received a phone call from a connection with the Red Sox with an offer to work as a consultant doing software development.  It wasn’t a full-time position, and it wasn’t exactly my dream job, but I took a leap of faith knowing that, over time, I could network my way to where I wanted to be.  Remember – just because you don’t get your dream job right away does not mean you won’t ever get there.  Patience is truly a virtue.  At the company Christmas party in 2008 I had a conversation with the Director of Baseball Information Services in Baseball Operations – the department that I desperately wanted to work in.  Two months later, I was hired full-time by baseball operations to work exclusively on baseball systems – my dream job! I’ve been there ever since.  My patience, networking, and hard-work had paid off!

Now, maybe you don’t quite know what your dream job is right now – totally fine.  My advice for those who are unsure is to start by finding a place to work that does something you are passionate about – even if your degree or major doesn’t directly apply to it.  My degree was in Computer Science – but my lifelong passion was baseball.  I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that have degrees in subjects that have almost no relevance to what their jobs are today.  The truth, at least in my experience, is if a company can tell that you are a hard-worker who is passionate about what the company does, they can and will teach you the necessary skills as long as you’re willing to learn.

So congratulations, my fellow huskies, on completing this chapter of your lives.  As you prepare to start your next one, just remember that above all else, it is yours to write.

Shawn O’Rourke is the Coordinator of Baseball Systems Development for the Boston Red Sox and proud NU Alum.  Feel free to contact him at sorourke@redsox.com or tweet him at @Shawn_ORourke

New Series: 5 Alums, 5 Years Later

It’s insane to think that this time, five years ago, I was preparing for graduation from Northeastern University. A communications major with a duel concentration in public communication and organizational communication (back when it was still the College of Arts and Sciences), I was ready to tackle the uncertain world in front of me. Unfortunately for the class of 2009, as well as for those after, the economy had just taken a major turn for the worse, and the “Great Recession” was officially in full gear.

Clockwise: 2009 Commencement, Conference/visit to NU Seattle 2014, Red Sox playoff series game with my FIRST co-op supervisor 2014 (the perks of keeping in touch)

Clockwise: Northeastern University Commencement 2009, Conference/visit to NU Seattle 2014, Red Sox playoff series game with my FIRST co-op supervisor 2014 (the perks of keeping in touch)

If somebody were to tell me in 2009 that in 2014 I would be Assistant Director of NU Career Development and Social Media, I would have sarcastically chuckled and then reminded said person that “I was done with this place and didn’t plan on coming back any time soon”. Well, I certainly ate my words. I was officially re-enrolled as a student, yet again (yay double husky), within two years of earning my bachelors degree to work towards a master of science (which I swore I would NEVER do throughout college) in college student development and counseling. To top it all off, I now work here full time, serving students similar to myself, five years ago. My my, how the tables have turned.

A lot can happen in five years’ time, and there are lots of things I wish I had worried more about (cough-loans-cough) and others I wish I hadn’t harped on so much (I could have gone without that cut-off Abercrombie jean skirt). In the coming series, “5 Alums, 5 Years Later”, over the next five Mondays, you’ll meet five 2009 alums, all of which completed co-ops and who are working in very different industries. Hopefully their stories and words of wisdom inspire you to celebrate (even more so) what you are close to accomplishing, and embrace the sometimes, unpredictable world.

Some advice I can share, is to be flexible and open to new experiences (cliche, I know), take calculated risks, and know that it’s OK to change your mind about what you want to do. That said, be ready to do the work to make things happen. Unfortunately, there is no NEUCool for real life (so annoying right?) so work hard to establish and keep relationships with colleagues throughout your career and don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help- it pays off in the long run (trust me on this one).

Also, know that Career Development is available for you to use for the rest of your life- no joke. So if five years down the road (or one year, whatever) you’re interested in transitioning to something else, Northeastern is here to support you. Hopefully these fellow huskies inspire you to hit the ground running come May 2nd. Congrats!

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at NU Career Development. A proud Gen Y and husky alum, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and social media. She also oversees The Works.