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.


“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.




Alum Advice: Create Your Own Opportunity

Image source: http://www.jeetbanerjee.com/50-great-quotes-about-entrepreneurship/

Image source: http://www.jeetbanerjee.com/50-great-quotes-about-entrepreneurship/

This guest post was written by Joe Ciccolo, a 2004 Criminal Justice graduate and an accomplished expert in building enterprise risk management functions.  He now serves as a financial regulatory consultant for various Rotary International service projects. 

There’s no question that the current employment landscape is extremely challenging for today’s job seekers. While employers have trimmed spending to the bone and large-scale layoffs have subsided, hiring remains anemic. Organizations positioned for growth are very deliberate and highly selective when it comes to interviewing and retaining candidates for employment.

This so-called “employer’s market” continues to disproportionately affect college graduates, as employers remain committed to measuring qualification in terms of years of experience. Not surprisingly, the popular refrain I hear from so many recent graduates is ‘how can I get a job that requires experience, if I can’t get any experience?’ It’s a question that I asked myself many a time while submitting 100s of applications in the months following my graduation from Northeastern in 2004. How I wish I knew then what I know!

The answer to this question is simple…create your own job. After all, experience is not the product of formal employment, but rather the demonstration of one’s ability to identify and solve problems, and effectively manage projects.

To accomplish this, I advise those I mentor to seek out and approach an organization that has a particular need that would benefit from their unique skill set. For example, the marketing graduate might begin by exploring the collateral of various non-profit and civic groups within her community. After identifying a potential need, say for example brochures for an upcoming charity golf tournament, she could then approach the group and offer to provide her expertise in exchange for formal recognition. Such an endeavor would not only provide much needed project management experience and items for her professional portfolio, but would also put her in a position to meet business owners and other influential parties. Similarly, a computer science student might offer to create a website and social media presence for a local organization in exchange for his credentials appearing at the bottom of the homepage or recognition at an upcoming fundraising dinner.

The opportunities are limitless, and applicable to all graduates irrespective of major. All it takes is individual motivation and to the willingness to put yourself out there. Non-profit and civic organizations are always looking for motivated individuals to share their vocational talents. In so doing, individuals will have the opportunity to display in demand project management and problem solving skills, while giving something back to their community.

Continued best wishes to members of the Class of 2013 and those following in their footsteps. Go Huskies!

About the author:

Joe Ciccolo graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice in 2004. He’s an accomplished expert in building enterprise risk management functions, including the fraud prevention department of a publicly traded financial services firm and most recently the anti-money laundering department of a large online bank. Mr. Ciccolo is a Certified Fraud Examiner and Anti-Money Laundering Certified Associate. He serves as a financial regulatory consultant for various Rotary International service projects. 

Mr. Ciccolo can be reached via email at joeciccolo@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @AML_Report  

Note: Views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Ciccolo and do not necessarily represent those of his employer.