5 Ways to Manage Job Search Stress

This post was written by Sabrina Woods.

You’ve been working towards this moment for a long time.

There were days you thought it would never come.  Now it’s almost here.  Graduation Day!

The mere idea of graduation brings up a wild combination of emotions. You are thrilled with the idea of no more papers, exams, or leading a 7-person group project. Your joy, however, might get interrupted as you think about exactly what type of job you want after graduation and the process of getting it.

For the tactical part of your job search you’ve got fantastic resources at hand ranging from the Northeaster Career Center to your own network that has come from co-op and classes.job search stress

Now let’s talk about how you can master or tame your job search stress levels as you juggle capstone projects with job interview prep. Here are 5 tips:

  1. Give yourself some breathing room

This phrase usually means to give yourself space in between activities, but at this time of year that might be impossible. So instead, give yourself a moment to actually breathe. Right now try taking 3 deep breaths, AND after you inhale, hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds, before then exhaling slowly. The extra pause seems to deepen the effect and make you feel calmer. If you want to take it a bit further, consider downloading a meditation app or read How Meditation Changes the Brain and Body from the New York Times.

  1. Crank up the cardio

When we are feeling under stress, a good cardio workout can make a world of difference.  Check out the Mayo Clinic’s article, Get Moving to Manage Stress. You’ll learn how hitting the gym releases endorphins which are your brain’s feel good neurotransmitters. Exercise can also be “meditation in motion” pulling your thoughts away from your stressors and to what is happening in the here and now whether that be at the tennis court, pool or weight room.

  1. Small but committed

Set up and commit yourself to small goals either each day or each week. Think of your job search as a project for class. Break it into manageable pieces and celebrate small wins, such as that first customized cover letter for the consulting job. Get some additional inspiration about setting job search goals here.

  1. Check your “worry” level

Worry or anxiety at a low level can be good. It helps propel you into action. It can act as a motivator or catalyst. Worry at a heightened level, however, robs you of your energy. For more on how to tame those anxieties when they are getting the best of you, check out Face Your Fear, Free Your Energy.

  1. Positive affirmations

It might sound like a silly recommendation, but some people have really benefited (myself included) from developing these positive, future oriented statements. The idea here is to say things in a positive way, as if they have already happened. An example of a positive affirmation is “I have landed a job with a great team,” or it could be oriented towards some part of the job search process, “During interviews I am calm and deliver exceptional answers while building strong rapport”. From Psychology Today, you can also review, “5 Steps to Make Affirmations Work for You.”

While it’s true that the job search can be stressful, anytime we are facing the unknown this can be the case.  However, you’ve got a team of career counselors at Northeastern that are here to help. And it doesn’t take much to add in an extra workout, break the search into smaller bits and take a few deep breaths.

Want to learn more? Join us for this workshop:

Holistic Approaches to Your Job or Co-op Search

Thurs., March 17, 12:00-1:00pm, 12 Stearns

Details and Registration: here  Questions, contact Sabrina Woods, s.woods@neu.edu

Sabrina Woods is an Associate Director at Northeastern Career Development and also has a private practice as a Holistic Career / Life Coach & Linkedin Trainer.  She has been in this field for 15 years and is a Husky (BA in Business) plus has a Masters in Holistic Counseling from Salve Regina University in sunny Newport, RI.  When not working at NU, teaching Linkedin or talking about mindfulness practices, Sabrina loves to hike, bike and kayak.  For more about Sabrina, go to www.sabrina-woods.com.

Prioritizing Your Life

Ever feel like you have a to-do list that is 50 pages long and only 24 hours in a day? Chances are you aren’t alone in this dilemma. Whether it is exams or projects in university or feeling the pressure in the workplace, it’s so important to know what is top priority, especially when all of it seems important.

Write it all down. Take a blank sheet of paper and write down everything you have to do that day. It might take some time to do, but seeing it all in one place helps. You’ll be able to rank things in order so it’ll be easier to tackle that long list.

Numbers. Give everything a number. And yes, I do mean everything. It’ll be hard to decide for some, but assigning priority helps you realize what really is important that day. It’ll give you the space to focus on one task at a time. Play the number game with your to-do list. I guarantee not everything is top priority. This forces you to stop and examine what you’re doing; you’ll be better for it.

Break a big project down. Seeing an impending exam or due date is stressful. Instead of having one huge due date that’ll weigh you down, break it up into smaller pieces. For instance, if something is due in five days, do a quarter of it for the next four days and you’ll still have a day to spare for revisions or finishing up that last part.

Separate work from personal. Keep those lists separate. There is absolutely no need to have on your to-do list while at work to go grocery shopping or clean the kitchen at home. It’s not relevant and it messes with the mind! Split them. Not only will it be a shorter list on both ends, you’ll be able to focus on what really matters in that moment.

Cross it off. When you finish a task, cross it off! No need to have it on that list anymore.

Carry these tips into your life to help manage that planner of yours. It doesn’t have to be difficult – you can make it easier on your brain and more manageable on your workload.

Photo from http://michaelhyatt.com

Colette Biro is a 3rd year Biology and Mathematics major with a minor in Chemistry. She has worked in academic research at Northeastern and currently works in healthcare at Massachusetts General Hospital. Colette is passionate about running, November Project and being a Husky Ambassador. Feel free to reach out to her at biro.c@husky.neu.edu.

Post-Co-op Reintegration

Library SchoolLike many of you, I am back in classes this semester after completing a spring co-op. Here is a list of the good and the bad revolving around returning to classes after experiencing work in the real world.

  1. A new light is shed on your studies. Whether you realized how little or how much class material you used during your co-op, this will affect your study habits and your outlook on your undergraduate degree. You might realize that you’re studying and working towards a degree for a purpose, or that it is actually completely misaligned in your field of work. You might decide to change your major, like I did, or take more interesting classes that focus on things you experienced during co-op.
  2. New-found motivation. It’s hard be motivated to do well in classes after coming back from co-op. You just spent six months working as an actual adult (!) and didn’t have to worry about midterms, homework assignments, or group presentations. Personally, I’m having a tough time memorizing terminology on bone formation and muscle contraction after spending a semester catching babies in delivery rooms and planning malnutrition programs for impoverished villages. It feels somewhat backwards, but also made me realize that I should have learned about human anatomy and international health care systems in class before doing the hands-on work in a practical learning environment.
  3. More direction. Did you enjoy your co-op? Is it something you’d like to do in the future? Or did you completely hate everything about it? No matter how your experience was, you’ll know what to look for in your next co-op or your first job. With co-op under your belt, you have the right to be more selective in the future instead of shrugging and thinking, “sure, why not?” to any job offer that comes your way.
  4. Networking. Unless you spent a solitary six months working by yourself with no communication with the outside, you interacted with different people every day. New connections, both professional and personal, arise from co-ops. Stay in touch with these contacts, because you never know when something might come along – a collaboration on a paper, a part-time work opportunity, or a conference that you could attend. You also want to be able to approach your supervisor for a recommendation for future job opportunities or ask him/her to connect you with others in the field that you could benefit from meeting.

You already have half a year of professional work experience and that is definitely something to be proud of. Enjoy college life while you can, and keep these things in mind if you ever feel frustrated about going back to classes after co-op.