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.

Next Stop: The Real World

Despite the fact that I’m in my fifth year at Northeastern and graduating this upcoming May, the thought of a real-world job offer seemed so far in my distant future. Yet when I was approached recently about full time positions after graduation, it seemed as though the real world came and hit me like a ton of bricks. Cue the panic.

Wake Up, Neo

While I did allow myself a few moments of total “What is happening?”s and “What am I going to do with my life?”s, I decided to buck up and prepare.

Prepping for your job search doesn’t have to be miserable. Here’s how:

  • Stay organized. If you’re anything like me, you find making charts in Excel to be extremely therapeutic. While I realize most of you probably aren’t like me, just make sure to stay organized. Keep note of what company you’re applying to, the title of the job you are applying for, any information they provide you, who your contact at that company is, and a record of your correspondence. It sounds overwhelming, but it will be absolutely worth it in the end.
  • Nurture your network. You’ve done amazing co-ops and internships, but don’t let all the valuable connections you made during those experience lay dormant on LinkedIn. A friendly email never hurt anyone, and it helps to show that you’re interested and proactive.
  • Be a little bit selfish. Job searching can be overwhelming and some people (read: loving family and friends) love asking about your search and telling you what they think is best. While they may have valuable advice, really think about what you think is best for you. Has it been your life dream to move to Seattle post-grad, but your friends want you in Boston? Evaluate your goals versus the goals that others set for you. It’ll hugely impact your happiness in the long run.
  • Most importantly, get excited. Don’t let stress shadow the excitement of these next few months. You’re going to be so prepared to take on the world, so get excited.

While the real world comes and often catches you off guard, it doesn’t have to a horrible and scary place. Have any tips to add? Leave them in the comments below.

Happy job hunting!

Jessica Mertens is a senior studying Communication Studies, Business Administration, and International Affairs. With experience in PR, internal communications, and CSR from Metis Communications and Staples, Jessica is now in an eternal state of wanderlust at Travel + Leisure. Offline, you can catch Jessica exploring NYC, binge-watching Scandal, and planning her next world travels. Connect with Jessica on Twitter @jessica_mertens and LinkedIn.

10 Tips for New Interns

 My name is Dodie Fontaine, and I have recently been afforded the opportunity to Intern for the Career Development Center at Northeastern University. Similar to many college students actually leaving the classroom setting, entering the work force can be a daunting experience. Not to worry, I have 10 tips for you!

giphy (3)

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

There really is no such thing as a stupid question,.. OOkay, maybe there are silly questions but when it comes to an internship and a task that you are unsure of make sure to ask, re-clarify, and ask again. It is better to be safe than sorry!

2. Always ask if there is anything else you can do.

Whenever you finish an assignment or project make sure to ask your supervisor if there is anything else you can help them with. This shows initiative, and that you are willing to go above and beyond your call of duty.

3. Make sure to dress appropriately.

Some offices are more casual than others so it is important to ask your supervisor what the office protocol is when it comes to dress code.

4. Introduce yourself

Although working in a new environment can be intimidating make sure you introduce yourself to everyone in the office.

giphy (4)


5. Learn everyone’s names.

Whether you work in an office with 5 colleagues or an office with 50, you should make it your mission to learn everybody’s name.

6. Be on time, or even early.

Whatever you do, don’t be late! Being prompt is so important and shows that you are reliable. I suggest being 15 minutes early so you can get settled before your day begins.

7. Network, network, and network some more!

Networking is key to landing a job these days so you might as well start with the connections you have made in the office.

8. Be proactive.

Take initiative and get something done without asking, whether it be a project or your own research.

9. Make the most of every minute of the experience.

Even if you’re not getting paid or getting paid very little be sure to make use of the time that you have at the internship. With every opportunity comes experience!

10. Write thank you notes.

Last but not least, make sure to write thank you notes to your supervisor and colleagues – basically anyone that has helped you throughout your time there. Trust me, this goes a long way!


Dodie Fontaine is an Intern at the Career Development Center. She is working towards her Master of Education in Counseling at Providence College. You can find her exploring Boston on the weekend and getting way too many parking tickets in Southie. Tweet her @CareerCoachNU!

Mentorship? Go Organic!

board-784349_1280 (1)

Every so often, we come across articles preaching out “the power of mentorship”. We read about how one mentor can open your mind and help your career flourish. These articles instill such a desire within us to find that one person who can change our lives and our professional careers for the better. The desire to find this person can grow so strong that we begin to focus less on the quality of the mentorship and more on the search itself.

Mentors (like most things nowadays) should form organically. Often times, you won’t realize the caliber of mentor you have in front of you until you step back and really study your relationship with them. This was the case for me when I first met mine.

I was about one month in to my second co-op when another teammate started. Even on her first day, her confidence and bright personality lit up every room. We bonded over being the newbies on the team and shared very similar senses of humor. As my co-op progressed, our conversations would get deeper and our friendship grew stronger. When I was back in classes and my homework was to interview a mentor in my chosen field, my mind immediately turned to my colleague. I realized that not only was she the first person I immediately turned to for career advice, but also the person I aspired to be more like.

By allowing relationships to grow naturally and fostering them over time, strong and meaningful mentorships will begin to form. There’s no need to force it! Be patient, keep an open mind, and let a mentorship form organically. Trust me, a true and valuable mentorship is 100% worth the wait.

Jessica Mertens is a senior studying Communication Studies, Business Administration, and International Affairs. With experience in PR, internal communications, and CSR from Metis Communications and Staples, Jessica is now in an eternal state of wanderlust at Travel + Leisure. Offline, you can catch Jessica exploring NYC, binge-watching Scandal, and planning her next world travels. Connect with Jessica on Twitter @jessica_mertens and LinkedIn.

Corporate vs. Startup Life: Which Is For You?

What's best for you? Source:

What’s best for you?

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



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.

Which box do I check?

Sarah Pugh grew up in northern Massachusetts, not far from Boston. She is in her third year at Northeastern as a political science major. She ultimately hopes to attend law school and work in the federal judiciary. 

There was this little box on your college applications that said something along the lines of “What program are you applying to?” or “What will be your major?” Some people (the lucky ones) know the answer to this question and have known for quite some time exactly what they want to do. I (and many others) am still trying to figure it all out. And here I am in my third (middler? junior?) year.

When I was filling out my application, I saved that ominous question for last. There was absolutely no way that I was applying as an undeclared student. Because then everyone would know that I didn’t know what I was doing and everyone else has it all figured out, right? After ruling that out, there were only a hundred other choices. Much better.

Image from

It came down to political science or biology — two majors on very opposite ends of the spectrum. I had always enjoyed learning about the government, and watching the debates during elections season was fun too. To be honest, I didn’t know what political science even was. I couldn’t fathom what made it a science. Also, what kind of job would I have with a degree in political science? You can’t just graduate college and become a successful politician. Ultimately I checked the box for biology. After all, I liked AP biology in high school and I did well in it — what could possibly be different?

I went to orientation, met other biology students, and registered for classes. I was excited about my decision. My first semester was filled with microbiology, chemistry, calculus, and economic justice (an elective for the honors department).

After what was only two week’s worth of classes, I hated chemistry, calculus, and worst of all, biology. I loved my economic justice class. It was engaging, the readings were interesting, and I just liked it. I can remember being on the phone with my boyfriend complaining about school and he asked, “If you could be studying something other than biology and you had to choose now, what would it be?” And it was then that I decided to change my major to political science. I loved learning about the government systems and how it affected our everyday lives, and I could figure out what to do with it career-wise later.

Later that week I was in my advisor’s office signing the paperwork and talking to the department head about why I wanted the change. I felt so grateful to be at a school that encouraged its students to explore their interests and that they made changing programs of study so simple. I attended the major fairs that are typically held for the undeclared students to talk with other students. There were these pamphlets that they passed out called “What To Do With a Degree in Poli Sci” — just the question I needed answers to. Today I know that there are plenty of options.

Image from

Technically I am a political science student with a concentration in comparative politics and a minor in international affairs — talk about a mouth full. Furthermore, I’m looking into adding a minor in history. I recently completed my first co-op job at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts as a legal intern. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and have nothing but wonderful things to say about my experiences, though not enough time to share them. In short, I am now looking at law schools for when I graduate from NU.

As cliché as it may sound, the biggest and most important piece of advice to someone that may find themselves in a similar situation to my own is study what you love; the rest will fall into place.

Social Media Tips For Job Searchers

Cant. Stop. Pinning.

Cant. Stop. Won’t. Stop. Pinning.

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.

Co-op application time is upon us – it’s time to get nervous, people. This time of the semester is also a great time to work on your professional appearance. Make new business cards. Update your LinkedIn like it’s no big thing. Social media is a powerful tool for the modern professional. It is connecting people around the world like never before, and rocking it on social media can be a huge asset to your career.


Start strong. You know how embarrassed you get when you look back at your old e-mail addresses and usernames? guitarchix, beachbabe88, the list goes on and on. So spare fellow Tweeters the embarrassment and keep it simple on Twitter. The ideal Twitter handle? Your name. Just your name.

Tweet at everyone. Retweets are important for getting your name out there as an authority on a particular subject. So don’t just Tweet links — they look spammy and won’t create much noise. Pull out a short quote from the article to increase RTs, and be sure to Tweet at the article or publication. For examples, instead of:

“Cool article.”

try something like

“S’Well produces a “sleek and clean” reusable water bottle to curb plastic consumption. via @FastCoExist @swellbottle.”

That’s right, the CEO of S’Well Bottle just followed you. Why? Because you’re awesome.

Don’t be a stranger. Follow and interact with mentors, colleagues, and other professionals in your space. It’s okay to establish professional crushes. You know, people who have the job you have always dreamed of? Ask them a question or Tweet an interesting article at them.

Tweet when the world is active and paying attention. 4pm is the most retweeted time of day, so if you only Tweet once, this should be the time.


Congratulate. Don’t ignore the LinkedIn updates that notify you when your contact has a new job. A job transition like this is the perfect opportunity to catch up with a contact. A quick LinkedIn message keeps you at the top of your contact’s mind. You don’t have to stay up to date on the intricate details of their life, but a quick congratulatory message can be a powerful tool in strengthening your network.




Just keep it classy. Facebook is one of the largest social media outlets, and future employers will definitely check you out before hiring. While some people use Facebook strategically to build their businesses and professional brands, many use Facebook solely for personal use. Whatever you use Facebook for, avoid albums full of blurry drunk pictures and passive-aggressive status updates. We’re no longer twelve and that is not cute.

You don’t have to be a social media whiz and you don’t have to have hours every day to rock it on social media. Put your best and truest self out into the world of social media and you will attract people with similar interests and values. So get out there!

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.

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



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.

What is “work-life balance”?

Top Option 2 work life

This guest post was written by Kristina Swope, a full-time Market Research Project Manager in Philadelphia and NU student pursuing a Master of Science in Organization and Corporate Communication.

In April 2013, I officially became a part-time Graduate student in addition to a full-time employee. I was so excited about starting my Masters that I didn’t even realize how difficult it would be to have a life outside of those two aspects.  I work in the Market Research industry, where just like any job where you have clients, the hours can be rather unpredictable.  I quickly found myself having to schedule in my grown-up activities in advance, such as getting groceries, doing laundry, and even buying cat food.  I’ve committed myself to being a great employee, and a great student – but it’s really hard to do them both at the same time.  As I sit and reflect on how I haven’t done my best figuring out the delicate balance between the two jobs, I find myself wondering – what does “work-life balance” really mean?

It’s a phrase thrown around constantly in the workplace, usually in a defensive nature; and yet, from what I’ve seen, few definitions of this phrase are the same.  In my experience, half of work-life balance is defending the fact that you actually need it, and the other half is completely ignoring it by working 12-hour days.  The balance between work and other activities (especially in my case, school) is important to identify, and create a plan for, right from the start.  It’s not only important to an individual’s well-being, but it’s proven vital for success. posted an interesting article back in 2009 on the growing requisite for work-life balance, and found through studies that “work-life balance now ranks as one of the most important workplace attributes – second only to compensation…and employees who feel they have a better work-life balance tend to work 21% harder than those that don’t.” (CEB, 2009). A workplace environment that creates a supportive culture for employees and focuses on work-life balance will likely be more successful overall based on the findings by Businessweek. Isn’t greater production quality and quantity what matters most for profit strategy anyway? We get so caught up in the day-to-day grind, focusing on the end goal that we forget to take care of the people who have to get us there. Contrary to popular belief, forging ahead with non-stop working hours will have very little benefit for the individual, and further yet, the company. Overworking will certainly act as a barrier, causing physical and emotional exhaustion, completely burning yourself out. By the time you get home from a 13-hour day and realize you have three discussion posts to do, you’ll be kicking yourself for not sticking to your plan of leaving at 5:30pm a few nights this week.

It’s easy to talk about work-life balance and how important it is – but without actions, it’s a useless concept.  Work-life balance is tough, as it often is mirrored down the totem pole; if your boss works 5:30pm, travels home, and gets back online at 7:30pm until midnight, you are going to feel really guilty about wanting to leave even remotely on time; especially if it’s for an outside activity such as school.

Bottom optionAt the end of the day, it’s important to take a deep breath, look at your workloads for the week (both school and employment), and dice out which days you’re going to work on what. Managing your time in advance for the week helps to ensure that everything in your life receives equal attention, and most importantly, that you don’t work late after night. Be sure to include some days in that schedule that you only do your favorite activity, and do nothing even closely related to work or school. After all, we are all human, and we all need a break.

Kristina is a full-time Market Research Project Manager living and working in Philadelphia and a full-time student at NU pursuing a Master of Science in Organization and Corporate Communication, with a concentration in Leadership. Check out her LinkedIn profile here.   


The Staff of the Corporate Executive Board. March 27, 2009. The Increasing Call for Work-Life Balance. September 9, 2013.