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

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

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.

Completing Your Senior Checklist

CHECKLISTYou’re a senior? When did that happen?! Time sure does fly. It’s scary to think this year is going to be over before you know it.  Take advantage of the time you have left! Spend time with your friends, create a bucket list, do all the fun things this great city has to offer…but prepare for what comes next!  Here are some tips to keep in mind as you get ready for the professional life that lies ahead:

6) Start with research, and then create a job search strategy for yourself:

Research the industry and company you want to be in and target your search around these companies. Consider what you like about the company, but also contemplate average salaries, cost of living, and other costs you might be incurring.  Utilize NUcareers, online job boards, company websites, and your network!

5) Prepare early:

Update your resume, reach out to references, and practice on Big Interview.

4) Network:

Utilize LinkedIn, Husky Nation, and go on informational interviews. Set yourself up so that you have people willing to advocate for you come application time.

3) Stay organized:

I am a big fan of spreadsheets…but do what works best for you…that might be a journal, a color-coded calendar, or maybe Google Docs.  Keep track of important dates like when an employer is going to be on campus, when an application is due, when you need to follow up, and who in your network might be a good point of contact.

2) Take advantage of all the student discounts while you still can:

Professional organizations offer some great student discounts.  It is very affordable for students to join as a member, and attend conferences.  It’s the last chance you’ll get for these great prices…but what’s even better are the networking opportunities that will come out of this.  Be a part of the conversations on ‘hot topics’ your industry is talking about.

…also make sure you get your fair share of discounts for restaurants, retail, technology, and entertainment.

1) Visit Career Development!

We have a network of employers that are eager to recruit seniors like YOU! Take advantage of information sessions, panel discussions, and interviews that happen right here on campus. Go to events, workshops and walk-in appointments. Attend the Senior Career Conference on 1/22 and the Career Fair on 2/4 – both great opportunities to learn and network with employers. Still unsure about what to do? Schedule a 1-on-1 advising session with a career advisor! We are here to help!

Emily Norris is a Career Advisor at Northeastern Career Development. She loves working with students and guiding them to make informed career decisions that will lead to personal happiness.  She enjoys hiking and a good workout, but also loves cooking and baking for friends and family to ensure a healthy balance! Tweet her @CareerCoachNU

How Do I Answer That Interview Question?

giphy (2)

What would you do if you were on a flight for a business trip and there was a crying baby seated right behind you?

Believe it or not, this question has actually been asked in interviews. So have even more off-the-wall questions like “if you were a kitchen utensil, what would you be?” or “if you could have a superpower which would you choose?”  According to the website Glassdoor (via Career Development web page), other recent interview questions include “A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?” and “What song best describes your work ethic?”

For those of us with a snarky sense of humor, many possible replies will probably spring to mind; obviously, these are not the answers you want to offer.  It is important to be prepared to hear quirky interview questions so you can avoid replying “Take This Job and Shove It,” for example, when naming a song about your work ethic.

Why do employers ask this type of question? Reasons include testing your ability to think on your feet; gauging your reaction to the unexpected; getting a glimpse of your personality in a possibly unguarded moment; and finding out if you have a sense of humor.

How should you answer quirky interview questions? Almost any response will be okay; showing grace under pressure is the first step.  The next step is to reply in a way that actually answers the question without being offensive in any way. If your reply demonstrates a relevant positive personality trait, that’s even better. The kind of personality trait you want to showcase will depend on the kind of job and the kind of employer interviewing you.

So, back to our crying baby.  The way you answer will ideally depend on what you want to communicate about yourself, based on the potential job.  A sympathetic answer could be “I would assure the parents that I realize they are doing their best to soothe their baby and that it must be awfully stressful for them.”  An answer showing efficiency could be “I would put in the earplugs I always pack with me for situations like this. That way I could continue working on my assignment.” Or “I would put on my headphones to listen to some favorite music to be in a good frame of mind when I landed,” to demonstrate you know how to manage stress.   With just a little thought and some presence of mind, crazy interview questions won’t drive you crazy.

Author Susan Loffredo began counseling NU students well before the iPhone was invented and owns socks that are older than the class of 2015. Email her at

Are Leadership Development Programs Right for Me?

Unsure about what specifically to do after graduation? Are you interested in many different areas of a business or company, but unsure about what area you specifically fit in? Leadership Development and Rotational programs provide mentor-ship, training across different functional business areas, and experiences that can help you determine where your best fit is in terms of interests and skills.

Career Development is hosting a Leadership Development Panel on September 30, 2015 in 10 Knowles from 12-1pm (there will be pizza!) featuring representatives from State Street, GE, TJX, and Johnson & Johnson to talk specifically about their LDP programs. To register, click here.  This event is the day before the Career Fair so that you can gather more information about a company/program before seeing them again at the fair.

So why should you consider a Leadership Development or Rotational Program? Here are the top 5 reasons:

  • Access to top executives and leaders: Rotational programs often have projects or assignments that require buy-in from and require you to work with top executives and leaders, allowing you to meet and brush shoulders with the current leaders of the company.
  • Rotations through different functional areas: In a leadership or rotational program, early-career individuals work alongside industry experts on in-depth projects in various functional areas of the company. This allows you to identify an area of the company that is the best match for your skills and caters to your interests.
  • Mentors: As potentially high-performing employees of the company, you are assigned mentors at the manager level or above to help you reflect on your experiences, hone your skills, and help with your career development.
  • Job placement: The end-goal of these rotational programs is job placement in an area that fits with your skills and interests. You will know what you like/dislike about a certain area since the rotational aspect of the program will allow you to “sample” what it’s like to work in different areas.
  • One day you want to be a boss: Many companies rely heavily on their Leadership Development and Rotational programs to identify and groom future leaders of the company, so the training and mentorship you receive will allow you to not only identify your interest area, but also understand other parts of the business, which is crucial in a company leader.

Leadership Development and Rotational Program deadlines tend to be around October/November of your senior year, so if you’re interested in these, make sure you apply soon!

Ashley LoBue is an Assistant Director at Northeastern Career Development.  A Boston College graduate, Ashley has over 4 years of experience working in higher education and is a proponent for international and experiential education.  Ashley also enjoys binge-watching HGTV and aspires to be like the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan, as a possible secondary career. Tweet her @CareerCoachNU

Image sourced from

My Marine Corps Adventure at Quantico

thumbs up

I’ll admit it – I was skeptical going into my week in Quantico, VA for a Marine Corps Educators’ Workshop. I wondered how intense the week of orientation would be and I wondered just how many job options there really were in the Marine Corps.

After my week in Quantico, I thought I’d share a few things I learned and some of the coolest things I’ve done.

-There are 40 MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) job fields available within the Marine Corps including logistics, engineering, public affairs, financial management, and communications.

-Joining the Marine Corps doesn’t automatically put you on the front lines – there are different ways to serve in the Marines – as an Enlisted Marine or as a Marine officer, leading your enlisted peers.

-The average age of a Marine is 23 and most enlist for a standard time of 4 years

-Tuition assistance is available for graduate study and/or professional programs

-There is an opportunity to be stationed in over 100 different countries

-Core values and skill sets (which many employers seek) include commitment; leadership; critical thinking skills; and decision-making

-You could start applying to the Marine Corps already – The Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) is a 10 week paid training session for rising seniors which lets you focus on studies senior year and then post-graduation, you become a Second Lieutenant


Coolest things I experienced with the Marine Corps:

-Completed a simulated ‘mission’ into the woods of Quantico holding a fake (but heavy) weapon, wearing a Kevlar helmet

-Rode in an Osprey helicopter with the back ramp open while practicing evasive maneuvers

-Won a fight with padded Pugil sticks (essentially, big Q-tips used in combat) – see below photo

-Did the Leadership Reaction Course (think American Ninja Warrior obstacles) and climb up a tree and across a branch 8 feet high

-Was awestruck by the precision and skill of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performing in front of the 32-foot tall Marine Corps War Memorial statue

Want to learn more about the Marine Corps? Stop by the Snell Library Courtyard between 11am-3pm to take the Marine Corps Collegiate Challenge!


Melissa Croteau is an Assistant Director of Employer Relations at Northeastern University. When she isn’t training with the Marine Corps or flying in an Osprey Helicopter, you can find her singing her heart out with the Boston Pops and the Metropolitan Chorale! Tweet at her about the Marine Corps @CareerCoachNU


How Do I Answer This Interview Question: How many Rubik’s Cubes fit inside an airplane?


Umm wait what? I thought this was a job interview, not a test of my knowledge about the iconic puzzle cube invented in 1974. What in the world does this interview question have to do with measuring my ability to do the job in question? More than likely, the interviewer doesn’t even know the right amount of cubes that fit inside the plane, and probably doesn’t care to know. In reality the final answer isn’t so important; rather the interviewer is more concerned with how you got to that answer! This kind of question may be asked to gauge your problem solving ability and how well you deal with vague situations.

There are a lot of unknowns in this question, and that is the point. If you are presented with a situational question like this, clarify! Ask questions about the problem to help you better understand the answer you are about to give. Thinking “out loud” (sorry introverts!) in this setting will allow the interviewer a peek inside your thought process so they can follow along as you solve the problem. Remember, the math, and final answers may not always add up for this type of question and that’s ok!


You: Before I give an answer I feel is correct, I’d like to ask a few clarifying questions. What model airplane is this?

Interviewer: It is a Boeing 747.

You: Great, and could you tell me more about this 747? Is it fully loaded with passengers and luggage? How many seats does it have? Is it totally gutted and we are just filling the empty shell?

Interviewer: This 747 is totally empty. There is no luggage, passengers or seats in the plane. For this problem we are curious about how many cubes can fit in the hollow shell of the 747.

You: Perfect, can you tell me more about the cube? Is it a standard sized cube? Could you give me the specific dimensions of the cubes that we will be filling the plane with?

Interviewer: Sure, the Rubik’s Cubes are 3x3x3 inches.

You: Fantastic! So to summarize, we are assuming that this 747 is empty, with no people luggage or furnishings inside, and the volume of each cube is 27. With this knowledge, I my best estimate would be roughly 150,000 Rubik’s Cubes inside the 747.

And there you have it! Just remember that these types of questions are less concerned with the actual answer, but more about how you arrive at the answer. Happy interviewing!

Mike Ariale is the Assistant Director of Career Development & Social Media at Northeastern University. He specializes in disability employment issues, and works with many other diversity initiatives on campus. When not at work, you can find doing heavy bag work at the boxing gym, hanging out at the latest SoFar concert, or enjoying Boston’s foodie scene! Tweet him @CareerCoachNU

That end of the interview dreaded question…. Do you have any questions for us??

Interview Questions

It would be easy to take this question literally, and think to yourself, I just want to get out of this interview, so you say “no, I don’t have any questions for you.”

Bad idea! You want to leave the employer with the impression you are the one for the job and that requires you to ask more questions!

Why does the interviewer ask this question?  To find out if you can step back from the long hours of interviewing and ask some broad processing questions. In a nutshell, the interviewer wants to know how you think.

This is a great opportunity for you to not only show them that you are a big picture thinker but you’ll also find out if your need to tell them anything more about yourself!

So, what are some good questions you can ask?

  1. Tell me more about the culture of the office or company? Or how would you describe the culture of the office or company? (You want to make sure this is the right fit for you too.)
  1. What are the opportunities for professional development? How do you develop your employees to take on more responsibilities?? (You are exploring advancement opportunities.)
  1. I read that your company is moving in X direction, or just made X acquisition; can you tell me more about that and how it might impact the company both short and long-term? (You’re showing them that you have done your research on the company.)
  1. What do you see as the greatest challenges for your company over the next 5 years? (Again, you want to learn more about the company.)
  1. Are there any special projects coming up that you’d want me to work on if I got the job? (You’re showing your interest in the job.)

And finally….

  1. Is there anything you need to know about me that will help you to make a decision?
  1. What happens next in this process? (You want to know the timing of their decision.)

Sharri Harmel works in career development at Northeastern University, acting as the liaison to the College of Engineering. She loves international travel, creative thinkers and good books, all with equal passion. Tweet at her about the article @careercoachNU!

Work Smarter: Office Productivity Tips For Co-ops

so productive

We all have those days when sending an email feels like dragging yourself through a mile of hot desert sand. It’s easy to hit a wall around 2 or 3pm, when your brain packs up her bags and takes the first train home regardless of how much you still have to do. Increasing your productivity has a huge effect on confidence and workplace satisfaction (you know how good it feels to cross an item off of your to-do list. It’s awesome). Here are a few tips to enhance your productivity this week:

Beat the crowd. By being the first one in the office, you can catch up on emails from the day before, schedule meetings, and get things done before other people arrive. This prevents you from feeling stressed-out or behind on your work throughout the day. This habit also illustrates your dedication as an employee, setting you up well for a raise or a promotion down the line.

Avoid the social media stare. I often fall into the trap of the social media stare – keeping one or two browser tabs for work, one for Twitter, one for Facebook, one for the blog. The social media stare is a source of constant interruption when you stop working for every Twitter interaction or Facebook notification. Close those windows to take advantage of your most productive hours.

Clump meetings together. It’s impossible to get things done when you have a meeting from 10-11am, a lunch meeting from noon-1pm, and a meeting at 2pm. When scheduling meetings, try to create clusters of meetings so you have a few hours at a time to get into a work groove. If possible, encourage your office or just your department to adopt one meeting-less day each week. This will allow for greater focus and more productivity.

Use two monitors. Just do it. Once you start using two monitors, you will be amazed that you ever got work done before. One screen is extremely limiting, especially when it comes to research, writing, and creating presentations. If you have the resources, adding a second monitor will greatly increase your productivity and ability to multi-task.

Take advantage of technology. You are always connected, so you should probably make the most of the innovative apps and tools that are available to you. Have to focus for a bit, but distracted by background sounds? Check out Simply Noise (, a white noise generator that allows you to block out sounds around you so you can focus and be more productive. For an easy-to-use note-taking app, try Evernote. Perfect for list-makers, Evernote allows you to keep track of everything on your phone, tablet, and computer.

No matter what, you will hit difficult days when your efficiency seems to plummet and it feels like you can’t get anything done. Focus on these tips or make your own to improve the quality of your work without spending extra hours at the office.

Lindsey Sampson is a junior 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. Find her Tweeting at @lindseygsampsonand blogging about travel & career at

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