5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Charles Leach

Class of 2010_Charles Leach

I am one of those people whose life is dictated by a well-organized calendar, complete with color codes and a series of notifications – if only I was the one maintaining the calendar.  I was the last class to graduate from the College of Criminal Justice August 2010. Shortly thereafter, I commissioned as a Marine Corps Officer, got engaged, and went off on a 4 year life changing adventure in the Marine Corps.  My intention was to depart the military, utilizing my co-op connections and proud service and apply for a position in a federal agency.  But my calendar notifications said otherwise.  With a child on the way, I was done moving around, working weekends, being away all week, or far away for 8 months at a time. I decided to depart the Marine Corps, move back home (North Shore area) and began a soul searching endeavor for a job – no, a profession, in which I could obtain the same emotional gratification that comes with service to one’s country.  As a lifelong people-person, I discovered I have a passion for sales, and have found a profession I love at a leading cybersecurity company. I also have decided to stay in the USMC Reserve to balance out the moral scale. If you have graduation in your sights, keep this in mind:

Have a plan and tenaciously pursue it – then change the plan when necessary. You can’t fake passion. You can get by having a work ethic, trying really hard, showing up early, staying late because it’s the right thing to do, but if you aren’t passionate about what you find yourself doing, move on.  It’s like a bad relationship. If you’re at the suitor stage, and you’re not going to marry this person, why waste each other’s time?

Short-term, mid-term, and long term goals are no joke, write them down – a recent manager of mine would refer to these as dreams and not goals.  Dream and keep dreaming because success stories are built upon people’s crazy ideas.

Be mindful of how you appear on social media and the interwebs – the old adage don’t put it online if you wouldn’t want it on the front page of the Boston Globe holds true.

Spend money and live life like your grandparents (if they were thrifty) – if you pack a lunch and make your own coffee in the morning and then go out on the weekend and blow a hundred bucks on 8 dollar beers, well that just doesn’t make sense – stop doing that.

I will close with a valuable lesson that has continually been reinforced for me recently.  You know better what’s for you than anyone else.  The idea of needing an adult’s opinion; well that’s you now.  No one really knows the magic formula and if they say they do, they are just pretending to know all the answers. Just google it and come up with your own way. If you don’t like what you are doing in life, just change it.

And remember, if you don’t like the job you’ll get soon, you can always go back to Northeastern for a Masters!


Charles Leach currently works at Bit9 + Carbon Black in Waltham, MA and lives with his family in the North Shore. He is open to and would welcome any networking conversation or casual chat.  Feel free to reach out to him via Linkedin or leach.charles@gmail.com.

5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Mike Adamson

Class of 2010

It’s hard to imagine I stepped onto Northeastern’s campus almost 10 years ago to begin my freshman year. And now I’m 5 years removed from a place where I learned a lot inside and outside of the classroom, it all moves very fast. Since leaving Northeastern I’ve worked for two different companies, lived back home and in the city, been able to travel, and have kept myself relatively busy and active. I currently work as a Campus Recruiter where I’m able to travel back to college campuses and brand and recruit for a company I enjoy working for and am interested in. I’ve met a lot of students in this role and as oblivious as I was about post-collegiate life, it’s somewhat relieving to know that a lot of other students were, and still are, in the same boat. It is a big adjustment, but it’s an exciting and completely different experience that needs to be approached with an open mind.

After I graduated, I rejoined a previous co-op employer of mine. It was a great decision and because of my previous experience with them I was thrown a lot of responsibility right away. I was also living with friends that I grew up with from home in the Boston area. None of us went to college together but we stayed in touch, it was an easy fit and a great living situation. Both my work life and my social life were comfortable right after graduation, now that I think about that, it made the transition into the “real world” all the smoother. I didn’t realize it at the time, but maintaining those relationships with previous co-workers and friends got my post collegiate life kicked off in the right direction. Over the course of the last 5 years maintaining those contacts and relationships has been more challenging given the hectic work-life balancing act. But whether it is for my professional or personal life it has always proved to be worth the effort.

Work-life balance is important, but what work-life balance means to me might not mean the same to you. I work in a role where there are very busy, hectic times of the year but I enjoy the planning, travel, execution, and impact of my work. This is the same for most jobs, there will always be ebbs and flows to your workload, so be flexible with your idea of work-life balance. The times where I have been the busiest have also been the most fun. So while I may be working longer I don’t feel as if I’m making an exception. The days never feel as long or draining as they may appear because I’m engaged and enjoy the people I work with. On the opposite end of the spectrum there are times where things are slow, and I need to create work, which is great, or I’m able to catch up on responsibilities in my personal life. You won’t know what your ideal work-life balance is until you start working, and not every company and job will offer what you’re looking for. So be flexible and allow time for adjustments.

The last 5 years have also flown by because I’ve been willing to try new things. Whether it’s traveling, joining a club/team, changing up my routine, taking on a new project, or just taking myself out of my comfort zone it’s all kept my life interesting. This is probably very similar to a college experience where you are dumped into this new place with unfamiliar faces and environments you need to learn and navigate . It’s a different type of learning in post-collegiate life but being willing to say yes and continue exploring and learning has created a very fulfilling experience for me so far. I do find there are times where I’m spread a little thin or the day-to-day feels stagnant, but being cognizant of the fact that it’s my decision to change my routine, and being willing to do so, has made the last 5 years a great experience.

Mike Adamson is a Campus Recruiter with Vistaprint(Cimpress) and is a 2010 graduate of Northeastern. He majored in Psychology with a Business Admin. minor and played on the club lacrosse team. Feel free to contact Mike at Adamson.m.r@gmail.com.

5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Christina Prignano

Class of 2010

When I graduated from Northeastern in 2010, I had to take time off from two jobs so that I could actually attend my graduation ceremony. That time in my life was, in a word, overscheduled. One of the things I’m grateful for in hindsight was that I didn’t have time to really think about (and become terrified of) the fact that I was jumping into the real world. There are plenty of things that I wish I had known back then, so I was thrilled to take part in this series and offer whatever help I can.

Making an effort to seek out advice from people you admire is a great place to start after graduation, so in that spirit, the first idea I’ll offer up comes from a former colleague. Your social media presence is your resume. This was a favorite piece of advice from a stellar former social media editor at the Globe, and it’s a good one (not in every field, but in quite a lot of them). You’ve all heard the warnings about posting your party selfies and making inappropriate jokes online. But turn the warning on its head and it’s also true: You can show potential employers what you can do before you’ve even applied for a position.

This wasn’t possible ten years ago in the same way it is now, so take advantage of it. Post frequently about what you’re working on. Reach out and talk to people in your field. You have the ability to make an impression without having to go to those awkward networking events (although they help, too).

Writing in college is much different from writing at work. One of my favorite parts of graduating was saying goodbye to those 10+ page research papers. However, at many workplaces, documents are measured in words, not pages, and suddenly all of that effort you used to put into squeezing extra words into your sentences is working against you. Being able to get the most bang out of your paragraph is a great skill to have as you search for jobs. My advice for honing this skill is to continually rewrite your cover letters and other professional documents until you can get your point across in as few words as possible.

Not really sure where to start? It’s okay to have no idea what you want to do in life. Does it help to have a polished answer ready when your interviewer asks the dreaded “five year plan” question? Absolutely! But in my experience, not having a predetermined goal can also mean being open to unexpected opportunities and being eager to learn new skills.

I couldn’t even pick a major in college–I graduated with two. And so I found myself during college and immediately after graduation trying on a lot of hats. One of those hats, a part-time gig helping my former co-op launch a new website, turned into a full-time job that allowed me to try on even more hats. I jumped at whatever project came my way at that job, and eventually became the web editor of the organization’s publication, CommonWealth magazine. That role eventually led me to a job that I love today: a homepage producer for bostonglobe.com. My point is that if you find yourself looking for direction, it helps to jump at as many opportunities as you possibly can. Many absolutely won’t pan out, but some will.

Post-grad life can be stressful and challenging and not at all what you expected, but it’s really just the best. Congratulations on getting there, and don’t forget to enjoy it.

Christina Prignano is a homepage producer at bostonglobe.com and is a 2010 graduate of Northeastern. She majored in political science and journalism and sometimes wishes she still lived near Penguin Pizza. She can be reached on Twitter at @cprignano.