Work. Location. Culture.


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

Work. Loca­tion. Cul­ture. Last year, a pro­fessor told me that these are the three dis­tinct ele­ments I need to con­sider when looking for a job. A few years ago, I might have written this off fairly quickly, but after having a few varied work expe­ri­ences under my belt, I real­ized they are all equally impor­tant to my hap­pi­ness and suc­cess. Between my first and cur­rent co-​​op, I’ve learned what I need in a work­place to thrive pro­fes­sion­ally as well as what I need in regards to loca­tion and rela­tion­ships to be happy. Like many other NU stu­dents– I have def­i­nitely learned what I don’t like in work, even before I fig­ured out what I do.

Work. As col­lege stu­dents, we’ve all been encour­aged to pursue areas of study that we are pas­sionate about in the hopes of finding a career where we feel we are making a dif­fer­ence. How­ever, I’ve learned over time that feeling too com­mitted to any par­tic­ular job, industry or insti­tu­tion early on can be very lim­iting. I had my entire col­lege career planned out by the fall of sopho­more year, but so many dif­ferent oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges were pre­sented along the way that threw my plans to the wind and changed what I had pre­vi­ously thought was a pri­ority. Nei­ther the work nor the industry I was in were much of a con­sid­er­a­tion in choosing my past two co-​​ops (sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture in Cameroon and asset man­age­ment in Boston), but that doesn’t mean I’ve learned any less about the kind of work I want to do even­tu­ally. Being able to stay flex­ible and transfer over as many pro­fes­sional and social skills between jobs, no matter how dif­ferent they are, will help keep you pos­i­tive and con­fi­dent wher­ever you go.

Loca­tion. Because we attend such a diverse school that offers so many oppor­tu­ni­ties to leave campus, NU stu­dents, more than anyone, under­stand the impor­tance of loca­tion. Cities around the world are becoming more inter­na­tional and phys­i­cally going and living some­where else isn’t as dif­fi­cult as it once was. The big chal­lenge is being OK with being uncom­fort­able and really giving each new place a real chance; keeping in mind that you may decide, despite your utmost respect for their cul­ture and way of life, that it’s just not for you. Cameroon taught me that, specif­i­cally by showing me how dif­ferent cul­tural values, social and eco­nomic fac­tors can directly dic­tate the population’s lifestyle. Doing two co-​​ops in Boston has also taught me that I like living in cities and get­ting to know a city helps me feel at home.

Cul­ture. Nowa­days, people are thinking more broadly about what it means to employ people who are good “fits”. Thinking about if you can sit next to someone 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is more of a con­sid­er­a­tion in hiring than ever before. It works the other way around as well. I have worked for a com­pany whose mis­sion and work I was highly inspired by, but the internal cul­ture was unex­citing and sti­fling. I have also worked for a com­pany in an industry I am not stim­u­lated by and whose work I often find rou­tine, but its internal cul­ture is more open, laid-​​back, and appre­cia­tive than any­where else I’ve expe­ri­enced. This com­bi­na­tion has allowed me to see that I need a relaxed cul­ture and the encour­age­ment to form per­sonal and pro­fes­sional rela­tion­ships to main­tain my per­sonal hap­pi­ness and moti­va­tion at work.

As much as it goes against my ini­tial view when I started school, simply working on some­thing you love isn’t enough. I always thought that if you found what it is that you wanted to do, you’d be golden, but I’ve real­ized that loving what is phys­i­cally around you, both the loca­tion and the people, makes your work even more mean­ingful and makes you even better at what you do.

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!