Advice to my 25-year-old self.

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First, manage your career because no one else will.

When choosing a job, be confident enough to ask yourself “Does this add to my career capital?” Is this something I really love to do? Will this job be a great next step?” I pursued a career path that was in an industry I loved (financial investments) but I was in a job that I hated (stockbroker).  My advice to you if you find yourself in this situation  is before leaving the industry, it is important to explore other career paths within the industry. Financial planner? Financial analyst? Fund Manager? Do some brainstorming and informational interviewing within the industry you love to find out what else is possible. The best ways to get your creative juices flowing is coffee shop with some great creative books or magazines or online blogs. Think Fast Company (www.fastcompany.com).

Second, seek out a mentor. Everyone needs a mentor. You might have different mentors at different stages in your career, but they are important. Remember that mentors are rarely colleagues and not easy to find.

Third, It matters who you spend your free time with.

Who you choose as your friends and partner will matter.  As the years march on, who you hang out with, who you choose as your partner, really does matter. Watch Meg Jay’s Ted talk on Your Defining Decade.

Find friends who support, advise and push each other as you make your way deep into your career and life. It will be fun to manage your career if the people you are spending your free time with are doing the same.

Push yourself to be uncomfortable. Have a career bucket list. Allow yourself the time and space to continually ask yourself “What do I want? What do I love? What are my gifts? Where are my growth edges? That requires a depth of self-knowledge and connection that can only positively affect your life choices. For example, if you want to work internationally, put yourself out there. Tell your company. Be strategic. Learn languages.  Be culturally flexible. At the beginning of my career, my generation stayed put in the cities they grew up in.  What differentiated me was that I moved to various large cities in the United States. San Francisco.  Los Angeles.  Atlanta. Minneapolis. Finally Boston. My willingness to be uncomfortable, displayed a flexibility and adaptability that helped me to manage my career and offer a perspective that employers appreciated. Check out Sohan Gokarn talk about how to stand out.

And Last, dance and dance every day. Sounds absurd but dancing helps you to connect with your true self. It is there that you will find all your answers.

In conclusion, enjoy this video.

What do you think of this advice? Leave your own thoughts in the comments below!

Sharri Harmel works in career development at Northeastern University.. She loves international travel, creative thinkers and good books, all with equal passion. Tweet at her about the article @careercoachNU!

5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Mary Ann Georgantopoulos

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It wasn’t until I was asked to write this post that I really reflected on my time since graduating Northeastern in 2010. I can’t help but smile when thinking back to life on Huntington Avenue – long nights at The Huntington News newsroom, early mornings at my Boston Globe co-op, and countless trivia nights at The Squealing Pig. As you prepare to leave Northeastern, hold on and cherish the amazing memories you’ve made because time flies after college and looking back, I realize a lot can happen in five years.

I set out to write this post hoping to avoid all possible clichés such as “the world is your oyster” and referring to post-college life as “the real world,” but they’re expressions for a reason so I’ll use them – I can picture my journalism professors cringing at this.

Go the extra mile. The world is your oyster but you have to work hard to reach your goals. Your first job might not be your dream job – mine certainly wasn’t – but don’t let that deter you. It took me four and a half years after Northeastern and a Masters degree to get to BuzzFeed, a job I wake up every morning happy to go to. So be patient and know results and accomplishments take time.

Comparison is the death of joy: Most of my friends from Northeastern – and even now, five years later – are fellow journalists. It’s so wonderful to have friends that share the same profession but for the sake if your own sanity, don’t compare yourself to others. Your friends might get jobs, promotions and raises before you do and that’s okay. Don’t compare any life goals or achievements to others – we’re all on separate paths.

This is not goodbye: I have very fond memories from Northeastern. I made so many wonderful friends, worked for the Huntington News and learned from the best in the business. Keep in touch with your classmates, professors, mentors, co-op supervisors and anyone that helped shape your education and your career. Many of you will leave Boston and won’t be able to swing by campus to say ‘hi’ to your favorite professor. The journalism department was quite small and I luckily was able to get to know my professors. Two years after graduating Northeastern, I felt comfortable enough to ask some of them for recommendation letters for graduate school. I am so thankful they wrote them. To this day, I still keep in touch with professors and it makes me feel closer connected to NU.

Let your hair down: The next few years are integral in shaping who you are as a person – you will grow so much in a short period of time, but don’t forget to have fun in the process. Northeastern teaches hard work and professionalism, but at the end of the day you’re in your early 20s, so enjoy it and don’t take yourself too seriously. Yes, set up at retirement fund, but you should also take that trip to Europe with your friends.

The “real” world can be intimidating and uncertain, but trust me it’s also a lot of fun. Class of 2015: Congratulations. I’m sure you will all do great things.

Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a news reporter at BuzzFeed. She majored in journalism and was on staff at The Huntington News. You can reach her at maryann.g@buzzfeed.com and on Twitter @marygeorgant.

Want to make a good first impression online?

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Clean up your Facebook account and update your Facebook privacy settings. 

Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014 was the keynote speaker at my sorority’s 20 year conference. I had the great opportunity to hear her story this past weekend and something that really resonated with me during her speech was a story about this boy in middle school that made a comment about her mustache. She said, “ he can go on to be CEO of Apple or someone really important but I will always remember him as the guy that made me feel bad about my mustache”.  Wrapping up her story, she emphasized the importance of the kind of impression you leave on people.

Since we live in a world powered by social media, your Facebook page can often times be a first impression of you to your employer or colleagues. You’ll be surprise how many managers will try to see if you have any mutual friends and will even ask their friends about you or what you post on your profile.

In a previous blog posts from this series,  I focus a lot on how you can use social media to accelerate your personal brand.  In this particular post, I want to focus on how not paying attention to your privacy settings on your Facebook page can set your brand back a bit.

To clarify, this isn’t privacy settings when you accept a friend request from someone. These are the settings you should be familiar with when someone lands on the public portion of your page. . .

  1. Take advantage of the “View as” capability. This allows you to view your page as if you were someone else. ( add screenshots)
  2. Your Coverphoto is ALWAYS shared with the public. There is currently no option to change that setting although one is rumored to be in the works. With that being said, I highly recommend to opt for a safe conservative cover photo so that people don’t get the wrong idea about you. Safe photos would be a city or popular landscape.
  3. Your first profile picture is also always SHARED with public unless you choose the option to “only share with me”. Because of this, I recommend to choose a profile picture that best represents you and what you want you to be known for. Opt out on those partying pics that you thinks make you look cool right now. Be sure to go into your “profile pictures” album and change those settings to “share only with friends”.
  4. Edit your “who can look me up setting” which is under privacy and settings and change the “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?”. Click no. This will help minimize any Facebook activity that will show up after someone searches you on Google or any other search engine site.
  5. Clean up your posts and tagged pictures every few years!  What you posted when you first opened your account at 18 is going to be there when you’re job hunting at 21-22. Naturally, your 18 self isn’t representative of your 22 year old self.  As we’ve seen with celebrities and high profile cases, what someone has posted in the past can have repercussions that impact their employment and reputation.

Haylee is an Alumna from the College of Arts, Media and Design and a member of the Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority Inc, Northeastern Xi Chapter. She is currently a Marketing and Communications Manager at Ca Technologies, a social media personal branding coach, and a yogi residing in Medford, MA. Contact her at hayleethikeo@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @hayleethikeo.

Look for Haylee’s posts every other Tuesday

Image source: SocialAppsHQ, Importance of first Facebook impression