Self Care Tips for the Working Professional

Me in front of Windsor Castle in England, August 2012 Go on vacation- it is part of self-care (plus, you deserve it you hard working millennial you)

Me in front of Windsor Castle in England, August 2012
Go on vacation- it is part of self-care (plus, you know you deserve it!)

This guest post was written by Northeastern University alum, Mary Taylor, a College Transitions Advisor at Tufts University. 

You’ve just graduated and landed your dream job! You are determined to make a great impression on your boss and colleagues and work your way up within the organization.  You show up to work early, stay late, eat lunch at your desk, and you NEVER call in sick.  You volunteer to work on extra projects and assignments.  You develop a great reputation in the office, but after several months you realize that you have no life outside of work.  You don’t know what your friends are up to.  You’re only home when you are sleeping.  Sound familiar?  If you don’t make some changes, you’ll burn out before you score that raise or promotion – forget about ever sitting in a corner office.  The truth is, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we will actually become less effective in all other areas of our lives, including our jobs.

Self-care can be difficult to prioritize, especially if you work in one of the helping professions.  Society may view it as indulgent or selfish, but self-care is different than self-pampering.  It means choosing and prioritizing positive behaviors or habits in order to create balance in our lives.  It is important establish these habits as early as possible.  If you are still in school, or on Co-op, this applies to you as well!  So how can you work towards implementing self-care into your life?

-Start with balance at work.  If you never say no, you will find yourself in a position where you don’t have the opportunity to say no – your boss and colleagues will just assume that you will take care of things or that you will be available to work late or on the weekend.  Put a lunch break or a coffee break on your calendar each day if possible.

- Be kind to yourself. If you make a mistake, it’s ok to acknowledge it and learn from it, but then move on.  Don’t say something or think something to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone you love.

- Prioritize positive behaviors. This will mean different things for different people.  Drink enough water.  Actually step outside into the sunshine at lunch time – even if it’s only for 10 minutes.  Take a bubble bath.  Exercise.  Practice Yoga or Meditation.  Eat fruits and vegetables.  Call a good friend to catch up.  Get enough sleep.  Take a sick day if you are sick.  Go on vacation.   Pick something that is relaxing or feels good to you and do it on a regular basis.

- Be honest with yourself about your abilities and limits.  Consider both your physical and mental health.  Maybe you honestly love your job and really don’t mind working late.  That is great – prioritize yourself on the weekends.  Maybe your boss has offered you another opportunity to work on an extra project – consider saying “thanks but no thanks” once in a while if you know it will cause you stress.  As long as you are honest with him or her, this will not likely have a negative impact on your career.

Of course there will be times in our lives that will be hectic and things will happen that are beyond our control.  Maybe you’re at a conference or in a training and can’t get that lunchtime walk in.  Maybe you oversleep ( probably because your body needs it!) and miss your morning run.  It’s ok.  You will get back on track the next day.  Practicing regular self-care will have a positive impact on your personal and professional life.  Taking that 5 or 10 minute break will actually boost your productivity.  And you won’t have to give up your dream of that corner office!

Mary Lent Taylor received her M.S. in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University in 2011.  She currently works as a College Transition Advisor at Tufts University.  She loves to travel, and her favorite self-care behavior is attending a Sunday evening Restorative Yoga class.  She can be reached at mary.taylor@tufts.edu

5 reasons you should work at a start-up — and tips for doing so

This guest post for The Works was written by Zachary Williamson. Zack is a 5th year Comm-Media Studies Major and has co-oped at the New England Conservatory as a Video Production Co-op and  at CustomMade as a Marketing Co-op. He recently accepted an offer from CustomMade as a Creative Associate for the Marketing Team. Zack also freelance as a photographer for the Northeastern Athletics Department.

While many people go on co-op looking to work for a large, well know brand, I encourage people to consider smaller, less established, start-ups. These kinds of companies tend to be a good fit for self-motivated people, or someone who wants to work in a fast paced environment.

For my second co-op, I was fortunate enough to be hired at CustomMade.com, a start-up that had already secured some venture capital funding, and had been a member of the marketing team during a time of incredible growth. Every co-op is a different experience, but if you want to try something less traditional, a start-up is the way to go.

1. Work at a start-up for at least one co-op.

Working to build a company is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have early in your career. Working at a smaller company means that you are making a far greater impact because you make up a significant portion of the staff. It also means that you have to be flexible, oftentimes wearing many “hats” or serving multiple roles, depending on the needs of the company. That said, you will most likely have a lot of skills to leverage and market when looking for your next co-op, considering you were both the HR and IT assistant.

2. Be ready to make mistakes, and own them when you do.

Part of working at a start-up is building something new. Depending on the field, it’s possible that a company is the first to ever attempt something at a particular scale or in that way. Being cutting edge means you’ll inevitably make mistakes, both personally and as a business; and you’ll most likely make a lot of them. Learn from and take ownership of your mistakes to avoid them in the future. But don’t let fear of making mistakes prevent you from… (see #3).

3. Take risks and force yourself to learn new skills.

One of the co-founders of CustomMade told me they would rather a project fail, than not push it far enough or try at all. Trying out new projects makes you more versatile–and versatility is one of the best skills you can bring to a start-up. Specialization is important, but don’t allow yourself to settle into a comfort zone. All co-ops should be about seeking new opportunities, but small companies in particular have more work than they have employees. Stepping up to a task, and then figuring out how to complete it, will make you that much greater of an asset to the company as a co-op, and a more appealing full time hire in the future.

4. Start-ups move quickly– very quickly.

Most start-ups have limited funds to operate, so they need to be incredibly agile and quick to try new ideas. While it’s all well and good to work out how to complete a task, many are time sensitive. Start-ups have to be quick to adjust and find a viable solution if something isn’t working. Things have to change quickly in order to conserve funds, and sometimes projects have to be abandoned in order for this to happen. This leads into my next point, that…

5. Start-ups don’t have room for egos.

Since speed is critical for a start-ups’ survival, they need to build teams of people who can quickly switch gears and go with the new flow of the company. A negative attitude won’t get you far, every challenge must be approached not with a “this won’t work attitude”, but rather a “how can I make this work, or work better” mindset.

Start-ups require a lot of work, but they can also be incredibly fun and rewarding. They force you to make incredible career developments because you have opportunities to do everything and anything. A lot of start-up culture revolves around the concept of work really hard, play really hard. If you like a new challenge every day and never want a dull moment, consider working at a start-up. It was the best decision I’ve made to kick start my career.

Zack has spent the last four years as a coxswain on NU’s Men’s Rowing Team, and is rounding out his final semester at NU as Comm-Media Studies Major, with minors in Cinema Studies & Production. He has co-oped at the New England Conservatory as a Video Production Co-op and at CustomMade as a Marketing Co-op for 16 months (he never really left). He recently accepted an offer from CustomMade as a Creative Associate for the Marketing Team. Zack also freelance as a photographer for the Northeastern Athletics Department. You can find him on the sidelines of a home game or on twitter @ZackWVisuals. (PS CustomMade is always looking for awesome people to join our team in Cambridge, MA, so feel free to reach out if you’re interested!)

Corporate vs. Startup Life: Which Is For You?

What's best for you? Source: www.primemagazine.com

What’s best for you?
Source: www.primemagazine.com

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works. Follow her blog here and/or tweet her @lindseygsampson.

When looking for your first job, it’s important to take into consideration the environment in which you thrive as an employee. Are you a creature of habit who craves structure? Do you prefer a relaxed, highly collaborative work environment.

The Corporate Life: The environment of established companies will vary from place to place. At an established company, systems and standard work already exist and your role in the company is usually clearly defined. If you have concrete career goals in a specific industry or at a specific company, the corporate life might be for you. Large, established companies are amazing assets for those with specific career goals because there is a clear hierarchy and distinct career paths. Generally, these companies also offer better packages in terms of salary and insurance. Here’s where you will find your job security.

Tip: If you live by the mantra “work to live” and crave work-life balance, a fairly established company will probably suit you better than a startup, where hours can be more sporadic and emails from your boss on a Saturday night are normal.

The Startup Life: It is not for the feint of heart. At a startup, you are likely to be given an incredible amount of responsibility and your skills will grow quickly. Networking events will

Source: http://venturevillage.eu/infographic-pros-cons-startup

Source: http://venturevillage.eu/infographic-pros-cons-startup

become a second home and your network of entrepreneurs in the city will grow immensely. In a fast-growing startup, hours might vary greatly from day to day. Evening events are frequent, so don’t be surprised if your fellow employees don’t run out the door as soon as 5pm rolls around.

What’s a co-working space? This is a large office where startups can rent desk space. This allows for a community of startups who can learn from each other and gain access to resources and mentorship more easily. Co-working spaces will frequently set up socials and events so companies can meet each other and share ideas.

Tip: If you’re brand new to a city, working at a startup is definitely a good resource for meeting people and getting your foot in the door. Frequent networking events and evening office gatherings will spice up your evenings.

Startups and large companies vary greatly, but both are valuable career moves. Before you start applying for jobs, take a look at your own values and decide which career environment is best for you.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here and/or tweet her @lindseygsampson.

The DOs and DON’Ts of working in the professional world

This post was written by 2012 alum Michele Richinick who is now a digital reporter for MSNBC.com in New York City as a guest post for The Works.

Let’s face it: there are certain actions and behaviors you should and should not exhibit in the workplace. But some people just don’t know right from wrong.

1-first-job davidrjolly

Source: davidrjolly.wordpress.com

I completed three co-ops at Northeastern and have been working in New York City for the duration of my post-grad life since Commencement in May 2012. But I have been learning about the professional world since December 2008 when I began my first co-op.

I polled a few friends (most are fellow Huskies) and coworkers, and this is a compilation of our advice. I’m not saying we experienced all of the following events, but we definitely witnessed them in our respective workplaces throughout the country:

 

The Don’ts:

1. Don’t “Reply All” to an email chain. Understand the differences—and repercussions—between “Reply” and “Reply All” to avoid humiliation.

Did you really want your thoughts on the meeting going to everyone? Source: online.wsj.com

Did you really want your thoughts on the meeting going to everyone?
Source: online.wsj.com

2. Don’t have a personal conversation at your desk. Find a conference room to discuss your after-work issues that you must have with your best friend, sister, significant other, or landlord (or anyone who isn’t related to work, actually).

3. Don’t bring your personal emotions into the office. Your desk neighbor doesn’t want to hear your sob story from the weekend, so leave that at the door.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, despite how silly you think they seem. This way, you will avoid erroneously completing an entire project only to realize you did it all wrong.

5. Don’t gossip about fellow coworkers…or your boss. You’re not hurting anyone but yourself when you do. Better yet, don’t be so intolerable that people gossip about you.

6. Do not insert emoticons or multiple exclamation points (if any) into work emails. Despite how relaxed your superiors might act, always be professional.

7. Do not wear weekend attire to the office. Save the crop tops, flip-flops, and see-through shirts for the weekend. No one will take you seriously if you don’t.

8. Don’t apply for a job you don’t want. It will be a waste of time for both parties if you meet the employer for an interview and initially know you will decline the position.

9. Don’t talk back to your boss, even if there isn’t much of an age difference between you two. Hopefully you will have the chance to climb the career ladder someday. You will want people to respect you then, right?

10. Don’t forget that at work socials, you’re still at work. Be careful not to overdo it if alcohol is being served, everyone will know why you “called in sick” the next day.

11. Don’t be nervous, but also don’t overstep your boundaries. You should express your opinions, but keep them G-rated.

12. Don’t forget an umbrella. Sitting in wet clothes all day is not fun. Keeping a pair of shoes under your desk also proves helpful.

The Do’s:

1. Do arrive early. You will be remembered for answering your phone at 8:01 a.m. in a world where tardiness is common…especially in cities.

2. Do network with people outside of your cubicle. A perk of having a job at a company you appreciate is meeting other people with similar interests who share advice from their past experiences.

3. Do be willing to engage a coworker who asks for your help. Use the opportunity to stand out and share the knowledge you learned as a Husky. Don’t be annoyed by their questions.

4. Do bring in goodies. Who doesn’t love to eat? If you have free time one night, bake cookies or brownies and bring them to work. Everyone will love you.

5. Do create a proper personal email address. Depending on your profession, you will most likely have to correspond with your coworkers after work and on weekends. Replace foxychick123 with a professional username, such as your first initial and last name.

6. Do jump at the chance to complete a new task. Your coworkers likely gave it to you because they have confidence in your abilities, not because they have time to dish out so-called busy work.

7. Do be flexible. Sometimes a project calls for earlier or later hours; be OK with adjusting your schedule accordingly.

8. Do work on holidays. This might not be an issue for every profession. But if it is, you will be rewarded in the long-run for missing the family barbecue on Memorial Day. Did you really want to see Uncle Henry anyway?

9. Do keep an eye on your personal budget. Just because you have an income now

Gotta love some 2 Chainz Source: Elitedaily.com

Gotta love some 2 Chainz
Source: Elitedaily.com

doesn’t mean you should make it rain all in one place. Invest in your future.

10. Do make sure your ear buds are plugged in securely to your computer. Your coworkers don’t want to hear lyrics streaming from your 2 Chainz Pandora station.

11. Do be open-minded. In your work and in your communications.

And finally…
12. Do always wear a smile. Having a positive attitude about being at work will affect your job performance…significantly.

Michele Richinick graduated from Northeastern’s College of Arts, Media and Design in May 2012 with a journalism degree. She now works as a digital reporter for MSNBC.com in New York City. Check out her MSNBC.com author page http://tv.msnbc.com/author/michelecrichinick/  and Tweet her at @mrich1201. 

How To Make Your Commute Awesome For You (And Those Around You)

source: cartoonstock.com

source: cartoonstock.com

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works. Follow her blog here. 

Often, the train is full of people you wish weren’t on the train with you. People who listen to music too loud, eat smelly food, or take up 150% more space than they need. Don’t be one of those people. Make your commute the happy and productive bookends to your workday.

How To Make It Great For You:

Get up-to-date. The Skimm is a newsletter delivered to your inbox every morning at the crack of dawn, updating you on all the important goings-on in the world. Want to know what’s happening in Egypt before you even get into the office? Here’s your chance — now you can be.

Do your social media thang. Follow some business leaders, bloggers you admire, or new sources. Now your Twitter feed has become a business tool, keeping you one step ahead of the upcoming industry trends. Share a story or two on your own Twitter feed before you get to the office to avoid the social media timesuck during the workday.

Unwind. Do whatever relaxes you and wakes you up. Do you knit? Speed-knit yourself a sweater vest because you can. Another tip: Podcasts. They aren’t just for your mom, sweet cheeks. Podcasts are a great way to relax and (sometimes) learn something. Want to relax and laugh your way to work? Try the Joy the Baker podcast – it’s killer. Want to hear a good story? Download an episode or two of This American Life. Brightening up your morning can boost your brainpower and productivity before you get to your desk.

Make It Great For Everyone Else:

Turn it down. If your music is loud, chances are good that everyone around you can hear it. Do they want to hear it? Probably not. Be conscious of how loud your tunes are, especially in the morning.

Be aware of your bag. It’s not cool when someone’s briefcase, filled with bricks or large metalworking tools, smacks you in the face (not that I’m still upset or anything, Suit-Wearing Stranger). Know where you bag is swinging at all times, and try to keep it restrained.

Eating breakfast during your commute is fine, but try not to whip out last night’s Chinese food leftovers. It might smell great to you, but it’s probably not ideal for the person sitting next to you on the train. If you have smelly food, wait until you get into the office.

Maximizing your commute can start your day on a high note with some early morning productivity. Bring a notebook with you on your commute if there is work you can do without a computer. Taking advantage of your “down time” in the morning can ease the stress of the rest of the day.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here.

How to Be a Real Person and Other Things I Learned On Co-Op

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works.

Co-op is a unique opportunity that allows you to explore potential career paths, network with professionals at every level, and grow in ways you didn’t think possible. But, real talk time: sometimes learning and expanding your boundaries is hard. Here are a few of the lessons I learned from my first co-op.

1. How to be a real person: For the first month of co-op, I woke up with just enough time to get dressed, scraped myself off of my desk at 5pm and sludged home on the T. Eight

40 hours is harder than I thought.... Source: Frabz.com

40 hours is harder than I thought….
Source: Frabz.com

hours of solid productivity five days a week was exhausting – I never made plans on weekdays except to cook pasta, watch reruns of So You Think You Can Dance, and run into bed. The 40-hour workweek takes some getting used to, but by the end of my first co-op cycle, I was going for morning runs and making dinner plans on Tuesdays like I was somebody. Experience with a real work schedule is such a valuable learning opportunity.

Co-Op Tip: Don’t rush into making tons of plans your first week – you don’t want to get burned out. Take time to figure yourself out and establish a schedule.

2. How to make yourself valuable: It’s hard to make a real, lasting impact when you work two days a week and people keep calling you “intern.” Spending six months at one company during co-op allows you to fully immerse yourself in a department or a group. You find your place and start to learn more about your strengths based on your contributions. I didn’t know creativity and design were strengths I had until I worked on a project creating posters for one of our large events. It takes some time to establish yourself as a valuable member of a team, and working so closely with my department for six months allowed me that experience.

Co-Op Tip: Speak up! Making your voice heard will allow you to make a deeper impression on your employers. Respond to group emails , get involved in meetings, take on leadership roles – don’t just float around in the back unnoticed.

3. Uncommon common knowledge in the workplace: My first week of co-op, I drafted an email proposal to a caterer and re-read it fifty times to make sure it was professional. Invaluable office skills, like being able to write a professional email, fielding phone calls from difficult customers, and learning the ins and outs of client relations, are skills that can only be acquired on the job. Having these skills early sets you apart from other applicants when the time comes to apply for jobs.

Co-Op Tip: You will learn a ton your first week on co-op, so take notes on everything. This will allow you to more fully absorb facts and processes. If you’re feeling wild, combine your notes into a training binder or portfolio for the next co-op because you’re just that kind of thoughtful.

4. Handling different management styles: In the real world, having three six-month jobs in for years is flaky. In college, it’s co-op. Over the course of your four or five years at Northeastern, co-op will likely expose you to several different leadership and management styles, allowing you to be a better leader. Becoming a leader is less like growing a tree and more like building a bird’s nest – constructing a leadership style means collecting diverse lessons and habits from those around you.

Co-Op Tip: Pick up habits from your employers as you go – if something was helpful for you, chances are good that it will be helpful for someone else down the road. If you notice something meaningful about your boss’ communication style or organizational methods, try it out for yourself.

5. How to establish a network: I still get emails and updates from co-workers at my previous co-op. Co-op gives you several opportunities to establish strong relationships with professionals in your field. Don’t end co-op without establishing at least one or two strong professional connections. Just being able to hear about experiences firsthand from other professionals will help you gain valuable insight into your own career.

Co-Op Tip: Take the time to grab lunch or coffee with your managers and co-workers. Ask them questions you have about education, career paths, work, life – anything you want to know. They usually want to help, so let them! If you communicate your career goals, they will be better positioned to help you reach those goals.

Most importantly, take full advantage of co-op. Take the time to learn everything you can while on co-op. Talk to everyone, explore new things, and take on projects outside of your comfort zone. Co-op is an amazing opportunity, so it’s time to grab that bull by the metaphorical horns and get to work.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here.