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.