Corporate vs. Startup Life: Which Is For You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 us.123rf.com

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 theviewspaper.net

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.

Twitter

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.  http://www.fastcoexist.com/node/1682236”

try something like

“S’Well produces a “sleek and clean” reusable water bottle to curb plastic consumption.http://www.fastcoexist.com/node/1682236 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.

LinkedIn

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.

Source: socialappshq.com

Source: socialappshq.com

Facebook

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)

source: cartoonstock.com

source: cartoonstock.com

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

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

How To Make It Great For You:

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

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

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

Make It Great For Everyone Else:

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Businessweek.com 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.   

REFERENCE

The Staff of the Corporate Executive Board. March 27, 2009. The Increasing Call for Work-Life Balance. www.businessweek.com. September 9, 2013. http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/mar2009/ca20090327_734197.htm.

10 Things I Learned from Sitting on a Hiring Committee

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photo courtesy of Flickr user bearstache.

Back in April, I was part of a hiring committee, and it was our job to hire a new career counselor. Here’s what I learned from my first time on the other side of the table.

  1. A messy resume is a dealbreaker. If you can, send it as a PDF to avoid wonky reformatting.
  2. Don’t say in 40 words what you can say in 10.
  3. Unorganized writing suggests an unorganized candidate.
  4. An interviewee who can tell a story will stand head and shoulders above the rest.
  5. If we can’t clearly tell from your resume where you got your experience, we will investigate. If we still can’t figure it out, we will think you’re hiding something.
  6. For the ladies – if you absolutely must personalize your interview outfit, pick fun and tasteful shoes. Shoes won’t distract during the interview the way bold jewelry might.
  7. Take a breath and relax!
  8. If we learn in the interview that you probably won’t be happy in the position – in terms of culture, fit, and work-life balance – we will do you a favor and let another employer hire you for a job you’d like better.
  9. Be on time!
  10. Always send a thank-you note! Don’t get caught up in the paper vs. email debate. It’s more important that you pick one and do it.

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

How To Rock The Career Fair

Source:  blog.vodafone.com.au

Source: blog.vodafone.com.au

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

Career fairs are all about being remembered. You bring a unique set of skills and knowledge to a company and you deserve to be remembered. A little bit of preparation can go a long way in sticking out among a sea of candidates.

Create An Elevator Pitch: Maybe you’re sick of people telling you to make an elevator pitch (or maybe you’re sick of other, more detestable things like slow walkers and paying back student loans). An elevator pitch is crucial at career fairs, where time is limited and attention spans are short. An elevator pitch allows you to communicate your best self in the shortest amount of time (about the amount of time you spend in an elevator awkwardly clearing your throat and avoiding eye contact with strangers, hence the name). Make sure to include the following:

1. Your name

2. What you are studying/where your skills lie

3. What your background is in, especially if it’s different from your major

4. What you are interested in

5. A tidbit about the company. This shows that you know the company and you did your research. Employers don’t want to waste their time, and this lets them know that you came prepared because that’s just how great you are.

Resumes: Speaking of coming prepared, let’s talk resumes. Don’t bring one. Don’t bring five. Bring at least fifteen, depending on the size of the fair and the number of companies you are interested in (you should look at the list of participating companies beforehand).

talk about unique Source: badgercareerbuzz.blogspot.com

talk about unique
Source: badgercareerbuzz.blogspot.com

Make Yourself Memorable: Once you have an employer’s attention, make your conversation memorable, but don’t draw it out. A short but interesting conversation is more likely to stick out in an employer’s head than a long but fruitless conversation. You don’t have to mention every interesting thing you’ve ever done, but mention at least one thing they can remember about you — where your last co-op was, an interesting class you took last semester. Maybe start with “last summer I completed an internship in customer relations and communications and I taught myself basic HTML.” This can be part of your elevator pitch. You are different and super interesting, so give employers a glimpse into how awesome you are.

Get A Business Card: It’s like getting a rose on The Bachelor – it’s the whole point. Getting a business card from a potential employer is your ticket forward in the hiring process for this company. Be sure to send a quick email after the fair (preferably that same evening or the morning after) to follow up and restate your enthusiasm for the company. Avoid sending a vague, fill-in-the-blank email – zero people will remember who you are if they get an email saying, “I loved meeting you last night.” Employers will only remember you if you make them remember you. Mention something you talked about during the fair (this will be helpful if you followed Tip #3 – just saying).

Provide Value: Another quick tip about follow-up emails. It’s important to provide value so employers don’t feel they’re doing you such a favor. Send along an article you read this morning: “It was great talking to you yesterday about how your new company blog. I read this article today about the growing importance of content marketing in your industry and thought you might find it interesting.”

Remember: Employers aren’t at career fairs to judge you. They are there to recognize talent and attract great candidates. So don’t worry if your first conversation isn’t perfect – start by talking to your “B list” to get warmed up then by the end of the night you will be talking to your dream company like a pro.

 

Getting the Inside Scoop: Career Fair Success

Brenda Marte is a dual major in Marketing and Finance in the D’Amore-McKim school of business, and plans to pursue a Master’s in Computer Science. She studied abroad in Spain, which has motivated her to pursue her next co-op abroad as well, specifically in Latin America.

Co-op allows undergrads the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a company, and learn what a future position within that firm holds.  I am currently a middler at Northeastern University and doing a co-op within campus recruitment in University Relations at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Working in campus recruitment and engaging with campus recruiters gives me great insight into what campus recruiters and employers like Liberty Mutual expect from students.

Since I’ve been able to get an inside scoop from the recruiters’ perspective, I want to share some do’s and don’ts for attending the Northeastern Career Fair October 3, 2013. Here are few tips and suggestions to keep in mind when meeting a potential employer:

1. Preparing to Prepare

Recruiters arrive at career fairs expecting students to be interested in learning more about their firm and be prepared with questions to learn more about the company and/or the candidate selection process.

High school hasn't prepared you for career climb

Prior to arriving at the fair, aim to “wow” a targeted set of employers, rather than going in blind with 50 (or 200, which is usually the case at Northeastern fairs) tables of recruiters to shake hands with.  Arrive having researched the firm, programs you wish to participate in, and their career and internship opportunities. This shows your intent to make a good and long-lasting impression within a sea of students. Having a game plan before attending the fair, can be the difference between getting in the “do contact” and the “don’t contact” pile of resumes.

2. First Impression Jitters

I can relate to the nerves you feel when first meeting a recruiters. So, to assure that you are relaxed when networking at a career fair, make sure that you are:

  • The Whole Package: Do dress comfortably and professionally, and be ready to impress; don’t let your attire negatively distract from your experience and accomplishments – but add your personality in your ensemble.
  • Organized: Make sure you do have a resume ready for distribution when asked, don’t fumble through a folder of disorganized materials.
  • Cohesive Throughout: Do create mental bullet points of potential talking points, from what the recruiter is describing to you. Don’t appear that your only mission is to have them take your resume and pick up some promotional giveaways. Instead, demonstrate interest and curiosity.

3. A Conversation About Conversation

At my co-op, I’ve had the privilege to work with campus recruiters that are extremely accommodating and easy to talk to. I feel comfortable speaking about my future career aspirations. At career fairs, many recruiters will try to make the exchange conversational. Don’t forget the career fair is not a social event. What you say and how you portray yourself reflects on the recruiters’ determination of whether you will fit within their organization.

Keeping the conversation short and to the point is always a plus because you aren’t the only student recruiters have to speak with.  A short outline can help you stay on topic and assures that you do not extend your 30-second pitch into a 30-minute life story. Prepare a concise story that shows what kind of student and potential employee you can be for the firm.

Make sure to end your conversation with a proper and professional goodbye. It often becomes very hectic at career fairs, and recruiters may become sidetracked by distractions. Wait patiently and acknowledge how busy they are. End with a thankful handshake and the possibility to speak to them one on one in the future. Doing so will leave a good last impression.

career fair cartoon

Employers attend career fairs with the intention of branding their company and meeting potential candidates to fill their jobs. They want to hear the story beyond your resume. Networking with employers increases your chance to work with the firm as a co-op or full time employee. The opportunities these recruiters bring on campus are endless – as students it’s our job to attend and discover what those opportunities are. Career fairs can be overwhelming, but with preparation, you may walk away with a new professional connection, knowledge of career opportunities, and even the potential to interview for a job.   Armed with these insider tips from campus recruiters, you will no doubt be on your way to career fair success.

The Career Fair – It’s Not Just for Seniors

Linda Yu is a senior majoring in International Business and minoring in International Affairs with a concentration in Finance. She has completed two co-ops within a financial management firm in Boston, MA and London, UK. She has studied abroad in Spain, Ireland, and England. Follow/tweet her at @lindayu925.

I have always been the type of person that gets nervous when meeting new people. It can be quite ironic how I am enrolled in business school because I’m a big introvert, the exact opposite of what business schools encourage you to be. So when I heard about the Fall Career Fair, the bigger of the two general career fairs that Northeastern Career Services hosts, I immediately disregarded the opportunity. At the time, I was a sophomore and on the search for my first co-op. The Career Fair didn’t matter to me because I already had everything figured out. I had extensively researched the companies I wanted to work for and networking didn’t seem necessary. I was planning on nailing the interviews and getting the job.

I asked myself: “Why not? What can I possibly lose?” There was always the chance of humiliating myself but I knew I had to let go of that someday. So I put on my best suit, a pair of shiny pumps, took out my portfolio into which I inserted 20 copies of my resume, and headed off to Cabot Cage.

Image from www.campusrec.neu.edu

Upon arrival, Career Services provided me with a detailed list of employers and their exact locations (I encourage you to research the companies in advance, you can find

the company list here).

Yes, it was crowded but not unmanageable. Students and alumni were constantly leaving and arriving. There was a room where students could get organized. I followed the map and went straight to the companies I wanted to work for. The extensive research I conducted proved to be both useful and useless at the same time. Employers were impressed with how much I knew about their company. However, I realized that I didn’t know enough about the company until I spoke to someone that actually worked there. The information I received from employers made me realize that from my original target list, I truly only wanted to work for less than half of the companies. This saved me time and spared my co-op coordinator many headaches.

I explored the fair further and talked to companies that I was interested in but didn’t know too much about. Whether there were internships, full time positions, rotational programs, or co-op positions, the companies there had so much to offer! It was interesting to me how companies in the same industry often had different selling points and I was able to gain exposure to various industries. Initially, the Career Fair made me queasy but it turned out to be fun and informative.

A week after the fair, my co-op advisor called me and told me that a top 20 company within the Fortune 500 wanted to interview me after they met me at the career fair. I was so surprised that they remembered me from the hundreds of students they had met that day. I went to the interview and a day later found out that I got the job! I was gloating while my friends were still searching for their co-ops. I guess they really should have gone to the Career Fair!

Image from Northeastern.edu

After completing 2 co-ops within a financial management company in Boston and in London, I now know that my reasons for fearing the career fair never really end. You are always expected to market yourself, to network with other people and companies, and to constantly learn. Some people will love the process and others will hate it. Some people will be better at this than others. For me, I guess the question to always ask yourself is “Why not? What can I possibly lose?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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