View from the helicopter

Susan Loffredo began counseling NU students well before the iPhone was invented and owns socks that are older than the class of 2013.

Loffredo, Susan photo

Susan’s incredibly well-cared for family

Are you a helicopter parent?  Or does one of your parents fit the description? Well, I myself have been known to hover, and so I understand how tempting it can be for parents to swoop in to fix things and how easy it can be for students who have a combination guardian angel/personal assistant standing by. That kind of TLC even sounds tempting to me, but then again, I already know how to do everything for myself.

And there’s the problem.  I have two daughters:  a new college freshman and a young professional who lives in another city.  If anyone said that I was not, shall we say, involved in their lives, my husband and the girls would be rolling on the floor laughing.  But I have come to appreciate when to hold ‘em and when to leave it to the professionals.

Image from cdn.theatlanticwire.com

As a career counselor, I have helped hundreds of young students make and carry out their decisions about majors, careers and jobs.  Often, students who are having trouble choosing a major tell me their parents have no suggestions, other than to do what makes them happy, and while they appreciate the support, they would have liked some advice. Other times, parents offer advice that is out of date or ill advised.  For example, one student’s parent suggested using a fictional job offer for leverage in a salary negotiation.  The takeaway?  Parents know what their children are good at and where they might excel; sharing that can be helpful.  Advising on matters that are not their expertise, not so much.

As a career expert, I was not concerned when my older daughter entered college thinking she would be pre-med, shifted to PR and finally decided on law. My only coaching was to encourage her to work with her career advisor on finding internships to help her decide.  Likewise, I refrained from counseling my younger daughter into a choice of major, except to tell her what I think she’s good at before she met with her academic advisor.

We career, co-op, and academic advisors want to see our students succeed and we know how to help them.  Parents who encourage their children to take full advantage of these professionals and then get out of the way are doing the best they can for their child.  It’s not easy, but if I can do it, just about anyone can.

 

 

 

 

10 Things I Learned from Sitting on a Hiring Committee

7565629154_849345a3e7

photo courtesy of Flickr user bearstache.

Back in April, I was part of a hiring committee, and it was our job to hire a new career counselor. Here’s what I learned from my first time on the other side of the table.

  1. A messy resume is a dealbreaker. If you can, send it as a PDF to avoid wonky reformatting.
  2. Don’t say in 40 words what you can say in 10.
  3. Unorganized writing suggests an unorganized candidate.
  4. An interviewee who can tell a story will stand head and shoulders above the rest.
  5. If we can’t clearly tell from your resume where you got your experience, we will investigate. If we still can’t figure it out, we will think you’re hiding something.
  6. For the ladies – if you absolutely must personalize your interview outfit, pick fun and tasteful shoes. Shoes won’t distract during the interview the way bold jewelry might.
  7. Take a breath and relax!
  8. If we learn in the interview that you probably won’t be happy in the position – in terms of culture, fit, and work-life balance – we will do you a favor and let another employer hire you for a job you’d like better.
  9. Be on time!
  10. Always send a thank-you note! Don’t get caught up in the paper vs. email debate. It’s more important that you pick one and do it.

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

Top Tips for Career Fair Prep

Career Fair

Welcome to the jungle. I’ll be your guide.

The Career Fair is coming up the pike, and fast: October 3rd, to be exact. This past Monday, Career Services held a workshop for students eager to hear recruiter secrets for making the most of a career fair. The university welcomed a panel of three recruiters – Scott Keeler of Liberty Mutual, Brendan Murphy of Constant Contact, and Chris McMahon of Vistaprint – to share their success tips for students.

Didn’t make it to the workshop? Not to worry! Here are the biggest takeaways from the event.

What should students do to prepare?

  • Scott: Know your strengths, and know your resume inside and out! Anything on your resume is fair game for a recruiter to ask you to explain in more detail.
  • Brendan: If you’re interested in different kinds of positions, carry a couple versions of your resume. Having a tailored “software company” resume and an “insurance company” resume, for instance, will help showcase your skills no matter which recruiters you meet.

What can students do that impresses you the most?

  • Chris: It’s great when students have researched the company. The more prepared you are, the more time you have to sell yourself, since the recruiter won’t have to explain what the company does.
  • Brendan: Tell us about your passions. We like to see students who are enthusiastic about the things they do, especially if those passions can help our company grow.

What are some pet peeves that students should avoid?

  • Brendan: It’s annoying when students drop off their resume at the table without saying anything, and then leave immediately. We want to have a conversation and learn more about you!
  • Scott: A lot of employers bring free things to give away. Don’t cut the line and start rifling through the free stuff that the employers will have on the table!

What are the WORST questions a student could ask an employer?

  • Chris: “So who are you?”
  • Scott: “I’ve applied to 35 positions at your company. Why haven’t you hired me yet?”
  • And a bonus from Tina: “Wow me.”

How should students follow up with employers after the career fair?

  • Scott: Write a thank you note to the recruiters you met! Be sure to reference the specifics of your conversation in the note, or else the recruiter might not remember you!
  • Chris: Don’t send a generic thank you note that could apply to any organization! Cater it to that specific recruiter from that company.
  • Brendan: If an employer gives you their business card, this is an open invitation to contact him or her. And be sure to do so!

Here’s one final tip from all three of our recruiter panelists: Be yourself! At the end of the day, recruiters are just fellow humans who aren’t scary at all. Explore new companies, expand your network, and have fun! The more fun you have, the more you’ll get out of the Career Fair!

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

Tips to Survive Your First Semester of College (Well)

Steps to survive source: blog.chegg.com

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

This article was written by Megan Fernandes, a 4th year international affairs student at NU as a guest blogger for The Works.

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

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

2. Start networking early

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

3. Wake up for class

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

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

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

5. Join a student group

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

6. Check your bank account regularly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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