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.

10 Things not to do at the Northeastern Career Fair on October 3 (in no particular order)

  • Go up to an employer and ask them what they do – The list of companies

    Don’t be this guy – image from encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com

    participating in the career fair can be found on our website http://www.northeastern.edu/careers/jobs-internships/career-fairs/. You should research companies in advance so you can be prepared when you approach them. You’re more likely to impress employers that way.

  • Walk around holding your girlfriend/boyfriend’s hand – A career fair is a professional event, and is not the place for PDAs (public displays of affection). Do you want the employer to perceive you as an immature college student, or a young professional?
  • Travel with a pack of friends – You may all be looking for a job, but you each need to do your own job search.  Be independent. You don’t want to appear as if you can’t do things on your own.
  • Randomly grab goodies and giveaways from the employer tables – Yes, employers bring the stuff for a reason, but it’s rather tacky to walk up to an employer just for the sake of taking their food/toys, especially if you’re disrupting a conversation in progress.
  • Talk on your cellphone while waiting in employer’s line – Cabot Cage is already crowded and noisy enough. Loud conversations while in line could disrupt the employer’s conversations, and may be interpreted that you’re not really focused on being there.  Reviewing your resume or notes while in line can help give the impression that you’re prepared and thorough.

    What not to wear to the career fair – image from i01.i.aliimg.com

  • Dress like you’re going to a club, or alternatively, the gym (don’t let the fact it’s in a gym fool you) – It’s possible to be under-dressed or inappropriately dressed for a career fair, but it’s hard to be over-dressed. Stick with a suit and you can’t go wrong.
  • Wear clothes that don’t fit well – This includes clothing that is too big as well as too tight. You don’t want to look sloppy and/or unprofessional.  Make sure you try clothes on in advance to make sure they fit.
  • Ask an employer to “wow” you or convince you that you should want to work for them – While it’s important to determine if a particular company is a good fit for you (not just the other way around), this tactic can put the recruiter on the spot, and can make them feel defensive.  If you move forward with the application process at any particular company, you can use your own research and interview to help you determine if that is, in fact, a company you’d like to work at.
  • Get upset if the employer won’t take your resume – Due to a variety of regulations, some employers will talk to you, but won’t actually take your resume. Some employers will still make notes for themselves about candidates who impressed them, or provide you with more detailed information, so don’t let your frustration keep you from convincingly explaining your qualifications.
  • Expect to leave the career fair with a job – No one leaves a career fair with a job, though some people may leave with interviews. The career fair is an opportunity to make face time with employer contacts, and making a good impression can often carry over into your application process with that company, even if it’s at a later date.

Tina Mello is Associate Director of University Career Services, and has worked at Northeastern for over 10 years. Nicknamed the “information guru” by other members of the staff, she loves to research and read about various job/career/education topics. For more career advice, follow her on twitter @CareerCoachTina.

PwC’s Top 5 Tips to Career Fair Success

Killing it at the Career Fair!

Killing it at the Career Fair!
souce: northeastern.edu

This guest post was written by Gillian Orsburn, a Campus Recruiter for PwC and frequent Career Fair attendee.

As a Northeastern student, words like “career,” “co-op,” and “networking” likely make their way into your daily conversations.  While planning the next phase of your professional life can be exciting, sometimes the sheer quantity of events and opportunities can seem overwhelming.  With Northeastern’s Career Fair coming up on Thursday, October 3rd here are some tips to help narrow down the options and stand out amongst the competition:

  1. Do the research. You don’t just wake up one day and say, “I think I’d like to work at so and so” and land the internship. You need to make sure you devote the appropriate time and effort to getting to know the companies you are interested in and understanding your options.  Talk to your friends, family, career advisors, upper-classmen and faculty to learn more about the industries and firms you’d be best suited for.  Doing research will not only help you leave a good impression but also help you pursue a good fit.
  1. Find a friend to be your mirror. Ask an honest friend, one who is genuinely interested in your success, to evaluate the first impression you give. At a career fair you should always dress in a professional business suit; have the friend look at the suit front and back, up and down – looking for lint, a tag sticking out, too many buttons unbuttoned, etc – to ensure you are dressed appropriately.  Ask the friend to shake your hand (should be a firm, quick handshake), listen as you say your name (make sure there’s nothing in your teeth and you have fresh breath!), and assess your pitch (should be rehearsed but also specific to how your experiences align with the company needs).
  1. Speaking of your pitch, you will need to know your personal brand. Someone who knows and maximizes their strengths. Someone who contributes a unique and valuable ingredient to their team. When you’re developing yourself at school and seeking to make your next professional move, you must be fully aware of your own unique qualities and demonstrate them consistently in everything you do.  Even though your top strengths are only a few of many facets of your personal brand, they are absolutely vital to reaching your goals. When working on a class project, looking for an internship or pursuing a first job out of school, you need to actively integrate your greatest strengths.
  1. Be prepared to hand over your resume.  All that free stuff given out at company tables can be great…until you no longer have hands for handshakes or the ability to easily find or grasp your resume.  Given the amount of students at each career fair, every second is valuable to a recruiter.  Make sure you have your hands ready and your resume is easily accessible.  Try speaking to all your target companies first, then go around at the end for the free stuff.
  1. Ask good questions and make yourself memorable, but be aware of the line of students behind you.  Make sure you show off your main skills and experience and ask your burning questions, but remember there are students behind you who want to do the same.  Take a few short minutes with the recruiting team, then ask for a business card to follow up later in the week with any additional information or questions.

For more tips on starting on your personal brand journey as you get ready to launch your career, participate in PwC’s personal brand experience by visiting our website at www.pwc.com/us/personalbrand 

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PwC (www.pwc.com) provides industry-focused assurance, tax, and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders. More than 169,000 people in 158 countries across our network share their thinking, experience, and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice.

Top Tips for Career Fair Prep

Career Fair

Welcome to the jungle. I’ll be your guide.

The Career Fair is coming up the pike, and fast: October 3rd, to be exact. This past Monday, Career Services held a workshop for students eager to hear recruiter secrets for making the most of a career fair. The university welcomed a panel of three recruiters – Scott Keeler of Liberty Mutual, Brendan Murphy of Constant Contact, and Chris McMahon of Vistaprint – to share their success tips for students.

Didn’t make it to the workshop? Not to worry! Here are the biggest takeaways from the event.

What should students do to prepare?

  • Scott: Know your strengths, and know your resume inside and out! Anything on your resume is fair game for a recruiter to ask you to explain in more detail.
  • Brendan: If you’re interested in different kinds of positions, carry a couple versions of your resume. Having a tailored “software company” resume and an “insurance company” resume, for instance, will help showcase your skills no matter which recruiters you meet.

What can students do that impresses you the most?

  • Chris: It’s great when students have researched the company. The more prepared you are, the more time you have to sell yourself, since the recruiter won’t have to explain what the company does.
  • Brendan: Tell us about your passions. We like to see students who are enthusiastic about the things they do, especially if those passions can help our company grow.

What are some pet peeves that students should avoid?

  • Brendan: It’s annoying when students drop off their resume at the table without saying anything, and then leave immediately. We want to have a conversation and learn more about you!
  • Scott: A lot of employers bring free things to give away. Don’t cut the line and start rifling through the free stuff that the employers will have on the table!

What are the WORST questions a student could ask an employer?

  • Chris: “So who are you?”
  • Scott: “I’ve applied to 35 positions at your company. Why haven’t you hired me yet?”
  • And a bonus from Tina: “Wow me.”

How should students follow up with employers after the career fair?

  • Scott: Write a thank you note to the recruiters you met! Be sure to reference the specifics of your conversation in the note, or else the recruiter might not remember you!
  • Chris: Don’t send a generic thank you note that could apply to any organization! Cater it to that specific recruiter from that company.
  • Brendan: If an employer gives you their business card, this is an open invitation to contact him or her. And be sure to do so!

Here’s one final tip from all three of our recruiter panelists: Be yourself! At the end of the day, recruiters are just fellow humans who aren’t scary at all. Explore new companies, expand your network, and have fun! The more fun you have, the more you’ll get out of the Career Fair!

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 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.

Your Best Friend Lynda You Haven’t Met Yet

lynda

Spoiler alert: she’s awesome.

There’s someone named Lynda I think you should meet.

I ran into her by accident. While checking out the shiny new version of Blackboard that just rolled out for fall, I noticed a button for “Lynda.com” in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Curious, I clicked on it. A landing page pops up describing Lynda Online Training. A wee text box talks about what this mysterious person has to offer for students:

  • Take tutorials to supplement classwork
  • Learn techniques for your own interests
  • Build tech skills for your resume

…I’m listening.

I signed in with my myNEU credentials, and was whisked away to Lynda.com. Picture tens of thousands of video tutorials and self-teaching tools, with topics ranging from business to design to 3D animation. The lessons include downloadable exercise files so you can learn on your own. And it’s all completely free for NU students, professors, and staff. That’s Lynda.com.

LyndaBlackboard

Here’s how to find Lynda.com through Blackboard.

Mind. Blown.

This means that if you’re like me, and you’ve been meaning to learn how to use InDesign/DSLR cameras/CAD/online SEO/whatever else for the longest time, now you can. To think it was right under your nose, just waiting to be discovered! Like pirate treasure! Or something.

Employers love to see candidates who are tech savvy. Two applicants may be equally qualified on paper, but if one has a resume plush with video editing, graphic design, and web skills, guess who will stand out? Lynda.com is the perfect tool to get a leg up on the competition. Try out a new skill, or hone the skills you already have. At the very least, you’ll know the difference between Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro, and you won’t sound dumb in an interview when you mix them up. So get to it, and start learning!

Oh Lynda, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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.

Tips to Survive Your First Semester of College (Well)

Steps to survive source: blog.chegg.com

10 steps to survive your first semester at NU, we know you’re as smart as this kid… 
source: blog.chegg.com

This article was written by Megan Fernandes, a 4th year international affairs student at NU as a guest blogger for The Works.

1. Don’t learn to pass, learn to understand

Never forget: you came to college to go to school and learn; not just to socialize. That being said, your courses don’t need to be painful.  Take advantage of the opportunity to tailor your courses to what you’re interested in and explore.  If you do that, passing will naturally follow. If you learn simply to pass, you won’t be making the most of what Northeastern has to offer academically (you probably won’t do well either). So, enjoy your courses and aim to understand as much as you can.

2. Start networking early

Networking doesn’t start during your first co-op; it starts as early as your first day of your first course, when you introduce yourself to your professor and other students. Everyone you meet along the way is a potential networking opportunity, but always remember to be yourself.  Talking to someone purely for the connection and for personal gain will come off rude; instead focus on asking for insight, advice and information—it makes the conversation much more enjoyable for the both of you. The connections you create will be extremely helpful once you start looking for jobs. My advice: prioritize maintaining these relationships.

3. Wake up for class

Basically, if you don’t go to class, it’ll be much harder to understand what is being taught and come time for finals, your life will be nothing short of miserable and exhausting.  Set multiple alarms, tell your roommate to throw pillows at you until you wake up, and don’t forget your shoes when you run out of your dorm.

4. Don’t wait until the last minute to do laundry. Buying new underwear and socks every month really adds up

The laundry room is located in your residence hall for a reason, and the convenience factor isn’t to be taken for granted! Freshman year is probably the most convenient laundry will be for a long, long time, so make the most of it. Don’t mistake detergent for fabric softener, and remember that not everything washes best on the same setting!

5. Join a student group

Getting involved early on campus will help you make friends and give you something productive other than classes to commit to. Northeastern has all kinds of student groups, from Greek life to academic groups to community service groups, and there is something for everyone. Not only will it be a great way to meet people who care about the same things you care about, but sticking with an organization over the years and even growing into a leadership position will also look great on your resume.

6. Check your bank account regularly

It’s very easy to forget to check how much money you have, and you never want to find out that your bank account is empty when you’re just about to pay for something. Those situations are never fun and require a lot of unnecessary explaining. Your parents will probably also not approve of your overdraft fees! Get into the habit of managing your money early on, it will make life much easier as you get busier each year.

7. Figure out early on where the dining halls are and when they close each night

You will quickly learn that needing food at random times of the day (and night) becomes a norm of college life, and the buffet style dining halls will be a saving grace especially around finals time. Prepare yourself early by figuring out the lay of the land, and don’t forget your Husky card!

8. Create a weekly schedule for getting all your classwork done

Everyone will tell you that time management is key to success in college, and they are absolutely right. If you structure your time outside of class well, not only will you get your work done, but you’ll also allow yourself more time to relax and enjoy the social parts of college and Boston. Make a weekly schedule and then find a place where you work well. If you need it to be quiet, go to the fourth floor of the library, if you need to people watch, go to the Pavement coffee house on Gainsborough, and if you need to work outside, go to the Centennial Common. Whatever you choose, make sure you are as efficient as possible with your time!

9. Take the time to explore myNEU and all the NU resources available to you

Northeastern has numerous academic resources to help their students, from dedicated professors with office hours, to an extensive online library database, and each student even has access to four different advisors (academic, career, co-op, and financial). Be aware of these assets and seek help. The myNEU portal is also a major tool in navigating your way through college. Some of the big-ticket items include your degree audit (where you can look up all the courses you need to take to graduate and explore different double major and minor options), your student bills, and your appointment calendar. There are also several resources that aim to help students with concerns that are not academic, including RA’s in every dorm for housing issues, and a health center on campus for medical issues. In any situation, always remember to use these resources proactively.

10. Make good friends, make good memories, and pay everything forward

Finally, these college years will be life changing and a time to make some incredible friendships and memories. Figure out what makes you happy, and push yourself to try new things. Reach out to people and make them laugh. And lastly, help others whenever and wherever you can, it will always come back around.

Megan Fernandes is an international affairs student in her fourth year at Northeastern with academic interests revolving around global poverty alleviation. Megan is originally from Houston, but went to high school in Bangkok, Thailand before moving to Boston. She loves learning about other cultures and would be happy to show new people around Boston! 

3 Tips From an Northeastern Alum to Kick Off the Year Right

Boo-ya Source: NEU memes twitter; twitter.com

“what up–“
Source: NEU memes twitter; twitter.com

It is unofficially the end of beach days and warm nights and if you’re one of the 250,000 college students that reside in this city, you’re most likely unpacking your hand-me-down appliances and claiming your room/bed while you attempt to take a breather and read this post. As you mentally prepare yourself to make 2013-2014 your “best year yet,” take some advice from a NU alum and now NU career counselor (yes, I’m talking about me), and kick the year off right by following these very simple, somewhat obvious, success pointers. We can ease into the new year together.

1. First impressions count– so be on time.  Freshman year of college I had a class in Hurtig Hall.  I was overly confident and gave myself 10 minutes to walk there from 319 Huntington Ave.  Turns out, what I thought was Hurtig, was actually Hayden Hall– meaning I had to basically sprint from one side of campus to the other. I arrived 10 minutes late, sweaty and out of breath. As you can imagine, I did not make the best first impression and my professor made a point to say something to me at the end of class. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior and whether you’ve had this professor before or not, be respectful of other people’s time and be on time, even if that means dragging yourself out of bed 10 minutes sooner than you wanted to.

2. Don’t dress like a slob, even if you’re “just going to class.” There have been multiple studies done linking feeling good about how you’re dressed to success at work and in the classroom (Psychology Today even has a resident “Psychologist of Dress” on their site). Not to mention that approximately 90% off all communication is non-verbal, appearance being just one aspect of that.  Joyce Kinsey Gorman writes in this Forbes article, “Clothes make a strong visual statement about how you see yourself. Comfort may aid productivity but, in this era of “Me, Inc.” and “the Brand Called You,” are flip-flops, sweats, jeans, and flashy or revealing clothing part of how you want to be judged?” To answer that question, “no, not really.” Although I’m happy to rock yoga pants and flip flops while running to CVS on a Sunday, I notice how much better I feel and how much more work I get done when I like my outfit. Keep this in mind when going to class.

3. Ask if you need help and help if you are asked. Everyone needs help with something at one time or another, whether it be moving that piece of IKEA furniture you found on the side of the road into your bedroom (Merry Allston Christmas), or

Happy September 1st move in! #AllstonChristmas Source: Kickstarter.com;  Jared Vincenti

Happy September 1st move in! #AllstonChristmas
Source: Kickstarter.com; Jared Vincenti

your organic chemistry homework; as a community it is important to help one another. Northeastern has plenty of resources to help you with anything you may need and as a part of this community and as an active citizen you should be giving back and sharing your knowledge with others through student organizations, volunteering, etc. Not only will extracurriculars make you feel good about yourself, they look great on a resume and help you develop skills and qualifications outside of co-op. Also, as a true believer in karma– you get what you give, so give back!

Kelly Scott is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University and social media enthusiast.  A proud Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.