Why Networking Is A Lot Like Dating: The Initial Approach Part II

Last week we touched upon the social/in person approach to networking, or what I referred to as “happenstance”, where you meet somebody by chance or ideally, purposely put yourself in situations where you could potentially meet somebody that shares similar interests (networking event, student group, you get it).

Well, congratulations! You have now graduated to “the blind approach” and “online dating/networking,” so let’s get this party started.someecards-online-datingLet’s start with the networking equivalent to online dating: LinkedIn.  So you’re on OKCupid, or Match.com and you’re browsing profiles, looking for people with similar interests that catch your eye (Tinder is too shallow for this, sorry).  Let’s just point out the obvious: you’re not looking for your life partner. Yes, that person may very well be your soul mate, but for now you’re just looking for a nice date and some good food.  You find a suitable match; you send them a message and wait. LinkedIn acts very similarly, but instead of looking for potential future exes, you’re looking for people who either work in a place you’re interested in working, or in a position that you’re interested in learning more about.

Let me reiterate, you’re not looking for somebody to give you a job, but just trying to connect, learn about, and ask for advice from somebody in the industry.  Just like on the first date you wouldn’t ask somebody to be your bf/gf, you wouldn’t ask for a job during an informational interview– which is what these are called btw (if you don’t know what that is, I suggest you click the link above).  Networking– like dating– can be a slow process, you have to invest the time and energy to learn more about that person and company.  Then with luck and timing, it generally blossoms into something better.

Let’s say you are interested in working for Google.  Assuming your LI profile is sparkling the internship movie wilson vaughn and up-to-date, you decide to do an advanced people search and type “Northeastern” into the school and “Google” into the company section. Your search reveals that you actually have 3 first degree connections, and 15 second degree connections! (Who knew Aunt Sally had a friend that works at Google?) So you browse their profiles to determine which person’s profile appeals to you and who you think would be best to talk to in order to learn more about Google.  Pretty standard and the process is not too dissimilar from perusing OKCupid profiles.

The Career Development website actually has a guide and language you can use to help you draft a message to a person you may not know that well (or at all). Also, check the calendar for “LinkedIn 2: Advanced Networking” workshops, which run every other week to give you a more in depth look into how to navigate LinkedIn to connect with people.

So you send your message, and you wait.  Good for you!  You’ve “blindly approached” somebody online!  And similar to online dating, feel free to follow up after a couple weeks if somebody doesn’t respond. Maybe they didn’t get your message.  Just don’t be a stalker and follow up 3 hours later. Desperation is never attractive.

PS: if you are doing this at a networking event or family party, the same rules apply!  Don’t forget to ask for a business card and tell them you’ll follow up and keep them posted, that way they expect to hear from you.

Have you ever blindly approached somebody for an informational interview? If so, what advice do you have for others? If not, what are your reservations?

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

 

Why Networking Is A Lot Like Dating: The Initial Approach Part I

So let’s start with the initial approach.  Realistically, there are three ways to meet potential dating victims.  Two of which are very targeted and deliberate. The other one is more luck and timing.

  1. The first way (and the bravest if you ask me) is blindly approaching the person.
    source: tumblr, New Girl, Fox

    source: tumblr, New Girl, Fox

    This tends to happen at more casual outings and events etc. (this is actually way less scary at a networking event).

  2. The second way is online dating, aka OK Cupid, Match or some other constituent (LinkedIn and in some cases Twitter, is the online equivalent in the professional realm.)
  3. The final way tends to be more happenstance.  You meet somebody through a student organization or through a class project and hit it off.  Worst case, you’re at the same event and you’re both waiting in line for the bathroom (an unfortunate place to be in).

We’re going to focus on happenstance today and touch upon the braver approaches later. Let’s ease into this networking thing.

The initial approach, regardless of the circumstance, is generally awkward, but often times we walk away thinking (I hope), “that wasn’t too bad” or at least, “it could have been worse.”  And the person you were talking to on most occasions is generally nice and receptive.  It’s easier to meet somebody when you share a common interest.  “I met someone I would later date because we were in a play together,” says Amy Henion, a recent Communications grad, “we both obviously were theater geeks, and hit it off right away.”  Networking generally works the same way.

"On Wednesdays we wear pink!" source: perezhilton.com

“On Wednesdays we wear pink!” Mean Girls
 source: perezhilton.com

The easiest way to meet somebody is to go to events and join professional and student organizations related to your major and interests, thus, deliberately putting yourself in situations where it’s natural to meet somebody who is doing something you’re interested in.  Plus, you have that common thread now, so there is something to talk about aside from the weather, the Sox’s latest loss, or one of the Kardashians.

Example: if you’re a Physical Therapist or in any healthcare field for that matter, consider volunteering at the Red Cross, or for a big event like the Boston Marathon.  You’ll meet people with some pull and it looks good on a resume (just saying).

You can also tap the network you already have.  Lots of people get together through friends and networking is similar.  Ask former co-op supervisors, faculty, friends and even family if they know anyone working at “X” company.  Those are easy matches and generally lead to solid conversations.  Just make sure you follow through so you don’t make your friend look like a fool, or ruin a potential match made in heaven.

Do you have a successful “happenstance” networking story?  What are tips you would give and questions you asked?

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

 

Why Networking Is A Lot Like Dating

Generally, when I mention the word “networking” to students, a look of sheer panic fills their eyes.  It’s as if I asked them to recite the Declaration of Independence or some obscure Shakespeare passage.  As a Career Counselor, I am a huge advocate of networking, but as a Millennial myself, I understand the uncomfortable feeling of actually talking to a stranger in person, or even worse, over the phone (and I’m generally using a land line, yes, they still exist).

You don't have a target card?! source: reddit.com

You don’t have a target card?!
source: reddit.com

Over the course of my various career coaching/counseling appointments with students, I found myself trying to convince them that networking really wasn’t that bad and then, all of a sudden, it hit me (I knew that look of pure panic looked vaguely familiar). Networking was a lot like dating.  You know that moment when you think that guy or girl is kind of cute?  Maybe you’re in class or out with friends, and you’re just not sure exactly how to approach the situation.  “Should I say something, or no?  What would I even say?  Maybe they won’t like me.  Why did I wear this stupid shirt?”  I noticed a lot of my clients were having the same if not similar reactions/questions when I was encouraging them to network.  “What am I supposed to even say?  Why would they want to even talk to me?  I feel annoying.  Can I wear this shirt?”

My epiphany inspired me to write this series.  To give you a little preview, the next few posts are as follows and will appear weekly:

  1. The Initial Approach (parts I and II)
  2. The First Date
  3. The Courtship
  4. Let’s go steady

Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll hit two birds with one stone here.

What are some aspects about networking that freak you out?  What are some tips, for those of you who feel comfortable networking, you would give to green networkers?

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

Networking Never Stops. Ever.

source: gregbekkers.wordpress.com memegenerator.net

source: gregbekkers.wordpress.com
memegenerator.net

This guest post was written by Sheila Taylor, a Northeastern University Career Development intern.

net·work·ing noun

:  the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically :  the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business

Most of us associate networking with finding a job. While you’re actively seeking employment, you’re busy forging relationships with people who may help you land that dream job. Networking is about meeting and talking with people. By creating a relationship during the conversation, you will be able to ask, “Who do you think I should talk to next?”

What if I were to tell you that networking shouldn’t end when you find a job? Would you groan in dismay, or would you jump up and say, “Yeah!” to continue building relationships?

For many people, networking is work. It’s a fine art form that you develop over time. Everyone must refine their skills to reflect their style. For some people, they can walk into a crowded room and instantly connect with strangers. For others, it takes practice to find the right conversation starter and to have the confidence to introduce themselves to an industry leader.

After many years in the work force, three careers and an international move, I want to remind you not to abandon that network you diligently built while job hunting! Did you meet some fascinating, fun people along the way? Would you like to have a reason to stay connected? It’s important to continue to cultivate those relationships for business. You never know when you may need them!

Here are some strategies for continuing to network after you have found employment:

First of all, thank the people in your network that led you to where you are now, especially the people that helped you during your active job search. Then, let them know where you are working and how they can reach you. Send them your v-card. Update your LinkedIn profile. Who knows, maybe you can return the favor and give them some valuable information some day.

Are there some interesting people that you connected with? Were they easy to talk to? Did they seem open to answering your questions? Consider building a base of mentors. Some of the people you met through your information interviews or while attending professional association meetings may be willing to fill this role. Why seek out mentors? Early on in your career there may be projects that your supervisor assigns to you that could seem daunting but you don’t want to disappoint them or appear unfit to take on the challenge. Here is where a mentor comes in: they may give you some advice on where to start or how to face the challenge. They may be able to help you brainstorm or problem-solve to come up with a solution to a problem.

I sought out mentors when I landed my second job. Some elements of my job were very new to me – such as conducting interviews with national media outlets. I was alone. None of my work colleagues had experience in this role – they were all happy to push me in front of the microphone! I turned to a few people that I had met at a professional workshop. I called them and asked them for advice. They became my informal “committee of advisors” cheering me on from the sidelines and supporting me during a stressful time.

You may find mentors or advisors in the most unlikely places. I recall participating in a committee for a corporate-wide project. Whenever I presented material to the committee there was one colleague that always challenged my work. At first I was offended and then I realized they took interest in my work and they wanted me to succeed. After the project ended, I sought out this person from time-to-time because I knew they would give me a different perspective.  I have also met people through groups on LinkedIn. I have participated in group discussions and have found that a particular person provides good advice or resources. I will connect with that person and turn it into an opportunity to meet and strengthen the connection.

Networking can also help you grow as a person. Maybe you’ve been in your job for a couple of years and you want to expand your skills – use your network to research how to try out these skills in other ways: through volunteering or getting active in a professional association.

Finally, networking is a little bit like being a gardener. You have to continue to nourish and feed your contacts to keep your network alive. Share information with colleagues. Show interest in what your contacts are doing. Find out about industry trends. Grow your network. Who knows when it may be time for you to look for another job? If your network is active, you can hit the ground running and cut down on the time spent searching for your next opportunity. Better yet, your network may seek you out for a job that is never advertised.

Sheila Taylor worked in the Career Development office as an intern and recently left to move back to Canada. She has worked in both the United States and Canada in Public Relations before transitioning to become a Career Counselor. 

The Informational Interview: The Secret Weapon of Job Searching

This guest post was written by Katie McCune, a Career Development Assistant at Northeastern University Career Development. She’s also a Career Assistant at MIT.

Ever heard of an informational interview? If you’re anything like me when I was an undergraduate, this concept is drawing up a big, huge question mark in your thought-bubble. If you don’t want to be in the successful job-search club, then this is your queue to go back to wondering why you didn’t come up with these college hacks (because let’s be real, they are pretty awesome). If, however, you would like to join the pay-check earning, “look at me, I got a job” club, read on.

Yes!!!! source: memegenerator.net

Yes!!!!
source: memegenerator.net

So, what the heck is an informational interview?

An informational interview is an interview in reverse. Instead of an employer interviewing you, you meet with somebody in an industry you’re interested in learning more about and interview them. And…you got it…the whole point is to gather information. Think of all you could learn if you had 30 minutes with the CEO of your favorite company, or anyone in your favorite company for that matter! Sometimes all you have to do is ask for their time.

But what should I ask in an informational interview?

There are no right or wrong questions to ask, so ask whatever would be helpful for you. Want to know how to break into the field? Ask it! Want to know how important creativity is at the organization, or what the day-to-day work looks like, or the work/life balance, or…? Ask away!  You can ask about the person’s own background, the company that person works for, or the field in general. There’s only one rule: don’t ask for a job. I repeat, DO. NOT. ASK. FOR. A. JOB! It’s sort of like dating. How awkward would it be if on your first date your lucky companion asked you if you would marry them? Whoa, slow down buddy, we just met. Same deal with an informational interview. Don’t ask for a job on your first meeting, it’s not going to work.

If I can’t ask for a job, then how does an informational interview help me get one?

You’ve probably heard that networking is the number one way that people find jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 70% of people found their job through networking. Informational interviews are just like going to a networking event in that they are an opportunity for you to make a first professional impression and help you get the inside scoop on what could make you a successful candidate (but one-on-one meetings are a lot less intimidating for my fellow shy networkers out there). That way, when you apply for a job at the company where you did an informational interview, they don’t just know you as a one-page resume, but they know your face, they know more about your story, and (hopefully) you made a great impression on them so you’re already ahead of other candidates. Better yet, they may even tell you about jobs in the “hidden job market,” or the ones that are never posted.

Case in point, I was looking to get into career counseling, but I didn’t have any experience in the field. I did an informational interview with a career counselor and asked her if there was anybody else she recommended I talk to. I followed her recommendation and did an informational interview with her contact. In this second interview the very last question I asked was, “Do you know of any opportunities for me to test the waters before I make a long-term commitment to this field?” Yep, in fact she did. Northeastern’s Career Development was looking for interns, so I applied to the position that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. And voila, now I’m writing this blog, and the woman that I did an informational interview is my supervisor. See, I haven’t been lying to you, this really works!

The Secret Weapon of Job Searching!

Here in Career Development we have gotten a lot of great feedback from students and alumni alike that these interviews have helped develop themselves as professionals and learn about new opportunities. They’re the secret weapon of job searching because often times, people don’t think to do them as part of their search, but they can be oh-so-powerful. But I hate keeping secrets, so check out Career Development’s resources on how to conduct informational interviews, and help me spread the word by sharing your success stories with us, your friends, and anybody else who is looking for a job! Happy interviewing.

Katie is a Career Development Assistant at NU with a background in sociology. A teacher at heart, she loves leading workshops–in addition to the career workshops, she’d gladly teach you how to hula-hoop, how to organize your house/office/desk, or how millennials can make great employees. Email her at k.mccune@neu.edu.

Love is in the Air! And so is the question: “Do you have a job yet?”

dating granny

This guest post was written by Heather Carpenter, a Faculty Co-op Coordinator in the College of Engineering.

It was only a few years ago that I myself was on the dating scene. Often the case one of my friends would say, “Do you know [insert name here]. You would love him! Want me to set you up?” Before I would commit I knew I had to Google the guy. What was he all about? Who did we know in common? Why was he single? And most importantly, did he have a job?

Dating is very similar to finding a job or co-op. There have been great books written about the subject (Courting Your Career by Shawn Graham) but people often don’t see the parallel. I hope the following tips will help with your career dating life.

  1. Change your attitude. After being on the dating scene for a while it can start to feel discouraging when dates do not work out, and the same is true for the job search. You may wonder why people aren’t calling you for an interview or why you never get the offer. If this is happening to you, you should definitely ask for some advice. Have someone review your resume and practice an interview with you. If you go into the search with a bad attitude you will get bad results, so re-engage, get re-energized, and re-align your tactics.
  2. Know who you’re going to meet. Anyone who has been on a blind date knows the importance of internet stalking. The same is true for prospective employers, except you’re allowed to say you researched the company without coming off as a creep. Once you find a good company figure out who you know there that might be a good person to meet, and who might be able to introduce you. LinkedIn is a great tool to use to do this, and so is the Career Development Office. Find out when employers will be on-campus and take advantage of this face-to-face time!
  3. Help them get to know you. Chances are they are going to check you out at some point too. Give them something that displays all your accomplishments and hides your faults. Build a great LinkedIn profile and protect or clean up the rest of your online image. Your skills are the most important thing to display, so upload samples of your work or create a professional (and well proofread) portfolio that demonstrates your abilities to do the job.
  4. Ask questions. The best way to have a successful date is to show the person you’re interested in them. This works great with companies too, so be prepared with what you want to know – and asking how much they pay or if they are going to hire you does not cut it! Show you are engaged in their work, and that you have done your research.
  5. Find out about a second date. Career fairs are a great place to meet employers for the first time but are best used as networking tools, not necessarily to find a job that day. Ask for an opportunity to sit down with a recruiter or to meet a manager for an informational interview. This is your chance to really learn about the company in a 20 minute meeting, and potentially also get your foot in the door. This technique can be used to access people within your network as well.
  6. Be ready to give your number. You never know who you are going to meet where, so get a business card to be ready. It should have your name, major, Linkedin profile url, email and phone number on it. It doesn’t need to be pretentious, just professional.
  7. Tell them you had a great time. After you have the business card or the contact information or that first interview – DO SOMETHING! Write a nice thank you email that tells the employer how excited you are about the company, ask for the informational interview, or follow-up in any manner they may have requested of you when you met in person. Don’t drop the ball here or you may never have a chance for a second impression.
photo source: Photograph: ITV / Rex Features

photo source: Photograph: ITV / Rex Features

Dating and finding a job can both be stressful – but imagine the relief when you say yes to that offer and are in a committed relationship for the next couple years. Doing all of the work up front will ensure you find the right match for you so you don’t have to be back on the dating scene anytime soon.

Heather Carpenter is a Faculty Co-op Coordinator in the College of Engineering. In her previous lives she has worked in career services, non-profit, mental health, and criminal justice. She strongly believes in the value of experiential education and is pursuing her EdD to investigate the topic further! Connect with a witty message on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/hmcarpenter.

A Shy Kid’s Guide to Networking

image source: http://www.spectra-events.com/2011/02/networking-tips-for-introverts/

image source: http://www.spectra-events.com/2011/02/networking-tips-for-introverts/

 

This guest post was written by Lana Cook, a PhD candidate in the English department at Northeastern University

I have always been on the shy side, an introvert in today’s parlance.  I grew up with my nose in a book.  Though I played with the neighborhood kids and joined team sports, I savored those solitary afternoons reading Anne of Green Gables for the twelfth time.  No small wonder that I went into an English Ph.D. program. So when this bookish introvert hears that ‘networking is the key to success,’ my first reaction is to cringe.  Palms begin to sweat, nightmarish visions of spilling my drink on a distinguished guest, fears of interrupting a conversation or appearing stupid cloud my mind with self-doubt.   But, then I remember what networking is at its basis:  the exchange of ideas with like-minded people.

Keeping that premise in mind, my confidence has grown as I now see the tangible benefits of meeting new people to circulate ideas, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities.  The risks are minimal, but the rewards can be potentially life changing.  Here are my tips for networking, even as an introvert:

Go To Events

This should be no-brainer, but it took me a while before I felt comfortable attending events alone. Be on the lookout for conferences, symposiums, workshops, speakers and panels to attend. Leave an impression by making an effort to speak to a few people. Sometimes I will make goals to meet a set number of people.  At first it may be forced, but eventually striking up conversations with strangers becomes natural.  People are attending these events for often the same reasons: to connect with others, build communities, and exchange ideas.

Stay For the Reception

Post-event receptions are a great time to network.  People are more relaxed and willing to meet new people over a few nibbles and beverages.  Don’t feel like you have to stay until the bitter end, and be careful not to overindulge on alcoholic drinks. You want to make an impression while you are there, but keep that impression positive and professional.

Be Yourself

This advice is a bit cliché, but is often repeated because it’s true.  Though sometimes we have to channel our inner confidence by ‘faking it until you make it,’ make sure that performance still rings true to who you are.  Posturing as someone you are not will not only feel disingenuous to others, but can also lead you astray of your own values.

Get Your “About You” Down

Though you should act naturally, it is also a good idea to have a basic script to share when people ask you about yourself.  Many recommend having an elevator speech, a quick five minute summary about yourself and your work. For myself, that’s a few sentences describing my educational background, current research project and career goals. This summary should not be robotic; think about it as a customizable personal statement that reflects your individual personality and makes you stand out from the sea of people in the room.  When speaking to people outside your field, avoid using disciplinary jargon and try to appeal to overlapping interests and shared goals.

image source: http://www.blogging4jobs.com/work/work-place-drama-gossip-problems/

image source: blogging4jobs.com

Watch the Gossip

It is easy to get caught up in office gossip, and some experts say that a little gossip can help us strengthen networks. But, when meeting new people, avoid talking negatively about others, your department or company.  It is a small world and word can travel quickly through our interconnected communities.  Negativity will reflect back on you. You want to be remembered for your positive energy, intelligence and ideas, not as the person who spreads malice or rumors.

Follow Up On New Contacts

After meeting new people, follow up by adding them on LinkedIn accompanied by a short personalized message.  If you meet them again in person, do not be discouraged if they do not remember your name or even face.  Reintroduce yourself and graciously refresh their memory about your last meeting. For example, if you met them at a conference recently, ask them what they thought about the keynote speaker or how their research is progressing.

Keep an Open Mind

I have learned that networking is a lifelong process with its own ebbs and flows of activity.  An open mind allows you to take in the flow of that experience rather than predetermining events and closing yourself off to others.  So, take a deep breath, put on a smile, and get your fabulous professional self out there.

Join me the first Thursday of the month here on The Works as I countdown to graduation.  My final post will reflect on my graduate school experience and the value of finishing up one chapter of your life before beginning another.

Lana Cook is a PhD candidate in the English department at Northeastern University. Her dissertation traces the development of the psychedelic aesthetic in mid-twentieth century American literature and film. Lana is a 2013-2014 graduate fellow at the Humanities Center.  She received her bachelors of arts at University of New Hampshire.  You can follow her on Twitter @lanacook or Linkedin. You can view her portfolio at LanaCook.net.

4 Professional Skills You Can Gain By Blogging

Check out my own blog if you're into that kind of thing, http://moreawesomerblog.com/.

Check out my own blog if you’re into that kind of thing, http://moreawesomerblog.com/.

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

When you tell someone you have a blog, the conversation can go down a lot of different paths:

“Oh, so you spill your guts on the Internet and I should run far away from you?” Nope.

“Oh, so you get a bunch of free stuff?” Not really. I mean, sometimes. But usually not.

“Oh… that’s nice.”

Opinions on blogging run the gamut, but over the past few years, blogging has established itself as an effective tool for engaging in public conversations. People in every industry use it to communicate ideas, and young professionals can establish valuable career skills by taking on some WordPress time.

Establishing (And Keeping) A Strong Network: As a blogger, some of your greatest collaborators are other bloggers. Having these connections can be mutually beneficial for support, advice, and everyday inspiration. Keeping up with a network can be a challenge, so this skill will serve you well in the professional world.

Hint: Keep a contacts spreadsheet of other professionals in your space. Make sure you have their name, email address, blog URL, twitter handle, (and a few notes about them if you tend to forget things) so you can send out some support or an article they might find interesting.

Supporting Peers: In the professional world, you rarely go it alone. There are always people along the way to support you, and you can foster those relationships by supporting. The blogging world is no different, and bloggers are involved in that on a micro level by sharing content from other bloggers. It benefits your readers by providing them with interesting content, and it allows you to provide some love to other bloggers.

Hint: Every day or every other day, share content written by other professionals in your industry on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Marketing: Even if you have the best stories in the world, or the most creative DIY projects known to man, it’s not going to make an impact if no one can see it. Learning to market effectively and appropriately is crucial for bloggers. Bloggers can use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+ like champs without breaking a sweat, a useful skill for establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

Hint: Hootsuite – it’s a big deal. Using the free version, you can post to all of your social media channels at once, schedule future posts, and save yourself lots of time.

Listening & Reacting: Being hooked up to the Internet makes you realize that people stop caring about things quickly. Really quickly. No one wants to talk about Pharrell’s hat at the Grammy’s anymore (even though we should never stop talking about that). As a blogger it’s important to listen to the Internet – what’s trending on Twitter, what people are sharing on Facebook. Being receptive to new trends is a great skill for the workplace, ensuring that your ideas are always timely and innovative.

Hint: Set up a Google Alert for your niche. If you are a travel blogger focused on luxury trips with a low price tag, set up a Google Alert for “cheap travel” or “traveling on a budget.”  If you are a marketing professional focused on fashion brands, set up a Google Alert for “social media fashion brands.” At the end of every week (or every day, depending on your preference), Google will send you an up-to-date list of what influencers in your niche are talking about. This keeps your content relevant and helps you avoid stale topics.

Blogging allows you to create a network of people who can challenge you creatively and intellectually by sharing ideas online. This exchange can keep you sharp and in-tune with current events, and can boost your skills in the workplace.

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 tweet her @lindseygsampson.

How One International Student Successfully Landed a Job in the US

Northeastern is special because it has a large number of international students that enrich the culture of and provide a global perspective to our campus.  However, international students sometimes express anxiety about the US job search process. “If I want to stay in the US post-graduation, what should I do to prepare and be successful in the US job search?”, is a question I consistently hear from international students.  I had the opportunity to sit down with a Northeastern alum, Henry Nsang, who hails from Cameroon, Africa, to provide insight and advice on how to successfully land a US position as an international student.  He received his BS in civil engineering and MS in Environmental engineering in 2010 and 2013, respectively, and gained employment from Boston-based construction management and consulting firm, Janey.

source: www.cbsnews.com

source: www.cbsnews.com

What do you do in your current position?

I am a project engineer at Janey, which means that I basically do a little bit of everything.  Primarily, I am in charge of cost analysis and project control.  I guess the best word to use that sums up everything I do is construction management.

How did you get that position?

Networking. I cannot emphasize networking more—make sure you leverage your network and be truthful about your international student status.  This will save the company and you a lot of time if you are just upfront about it. For my current position, Richard Harris, an assistant dean in the College of Engineering who I was able to forge a relationship with, knows my current boss. I checked out the company and was interested in it, so I applied and Mr. Harris was able to put in a good word for me.  I had three interviews with the company, and I was very open about my long-term and short-term goals.  I know that I want to gain a couple years of work experience here and then go back to Cameroon, and I think they appreciated that I was up front about that.  My co-op experience was extremely helpful in my interview since I was able to talk about my work experience and how that directly applied to the position.  I could also show that I was adaptable, since I had a background participating in clubs that focused on different things, and I could show that I could manage competing priorities appropriately.   So, I would say that gaining experience, co-ops or internships, and being parts of groups and activities are extremely important for the job search process—the more people that can vouch for you and your work, the better.

When did you bring up your international student status?

I was very straightforward and brought it up in the first interview. Integrity is something that anyone would value.  Also, the delivery of your international status to the employer is important. Don’t express it as a burden.  If you present a problem, also address a solution to the problem.  For example, I get about two years of OPT as someone who studied a discipline in a STEM field, so I let my current company know that I do not need sponsorship for at least two years during the interview.  At the end of those two years, they would be able to determine if they liked my work enough to sponsor me for an H1B.

How many jobs did you apply to?

I probably sent out 300 applications. I know that is a large number, but I made sure that I was qualified for all the jobs I sent out.  I was also looking in areas outside of Boston, which added to my number of applications. I went on about twelve interviews from 7 different companies. I made sure that my LinkedIn profile was spiffed up.  I also worked with a recruiter from Aerotek who took my resume, interviewed me, and then started to send my resume out.  I found that I got interviews from larger companies who knew about sponsoring. The smaller companies may not be aware that you don’t have to sponsor international students from the beginning.  Some people are more informed than others about H1B and OPT.

What advice do you have for international students looking to get a job in the US?

Know exactly what you want and prepare yourself to the best of your ability.  Make sure that you have applied for OPT and paid the application fee.  You don’t want to get a job offer and then realize that you can’t actually work.  Exploit every option you have—LinkedIn was a big tool for me and really supplemented my resume.  If you fill it out right and appropriately, you could get job interviews from recruiters through LinkedIn. Also, don’t let a “no” stop you.  Sometimes you get rejections, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. A rejection is just a means to an end and part of the entire process.   Make sure that you continue to send out applications, and that you match their skill set and what they’re looking for.

Ashley LoBue is a Career Advisor at Northeastern Career Development.  A Boston College graduate, Ashley has over 3 years of experience working in higher education and is a proponent for international and experiential education.

Making Positive Impressions

This guest post was written by Katie McCune, a Career Development Assistant at Northeastern University Career Development. She’s also a Career Assistant at MIT.

Not too long ago, I was getting ready for my next big adventure: moving cross-country from my home-state of Colorado to New England. We all experience starting something completely new at different phases of our life whether it’s first coming to college, going on a new co-op, getting our first job, or even moving cross-country. With each new change, there are also opportunities to meet new people. There are a lot of great ways you can make good personal and professional impressions, but here’s what meeting a lot of new people has reminded me:

A smile goes a long way.

source: www.quickmeme.com

source: www.quickmeme.com

My “big move” was for school, so like many of you when I first arrived, I was meeting peers, professors, and administrative staff as well people through clubs and sports teams. The people who I initially developed connections with were the ones that smiled. Yep, simple as that, they smiled.  Research has consistently shown that body language is a major factor in how we interpret somebody’s words. With one nearly effortless action, you can demonstrate to your new co-op boss (or anyone else) that you are friendly, confident, and invested in them.

Always follow through.

Think about a time when you were just getting to know somebody, set up plans with them and then they flaked out. How did this affect your opinion of them? I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you didn’t end up becoming besties–It feels crappy when somebody misses a meeting with you or doesn’t get in touch when they say they will. Why? Because it can signal that we’re not a priority in those people’s lives.

Before you agree to something, whether it’s sending an email, showing up for a 9am meeting, or taking on a big project, be sure that you can actually do it. By doing what you say you’re going to do, you will demonstrate that you are reliable, organized, and respectful—all qualities that are helpful in any professional or personal setting.

Be a good listener.

A lot of times when we think about meeting new people, we focus on what we are going to say. For example, if you’ve practiced for an interview, I bet you went over your answers, but did you think about how you were going to show the employer that you were listening? While presentation skills are important, listening skills can be just as important, if not more. By asking good questions, remembering what people say, and actively listening, you can make the other person feel valued and demonstrate that you’re present and ready to learn.

source: http://wallippo.com

source: http://wallippo.com

All interactions reinforce or undermine the first impression.

You’ve probably heard that first impressions matter—and they totally do! But it’s important to remember that the first time you meet somebody isn’t the only time you’re making an impression with them. If you forgot to smile this time, do it next time. If you followed through this time, that doesn’t mean that it’s not important to do the same next time.

It can be intimidating to make new connections especially in a professional setting, but remember that it’s just like all of your other interactions. Be the person that you would want to meet, and you’ll be golden! Share with us, what are other things people have done to make positive impressions on you?

Katie is a Career Development Assistant at NU with a background in sociology. A teacher at heart, she loves leading workshops–in addition to the career workshops, she’d gladly teach you how to hula-hoop, how to organize your house/office/desk, or how millennials can make great employees. Email her at k.mccune@neu.edu.