You Worked There How Long?

This guest post was written by Tina Mello, a co-​​op fac­ulty member in the Col­lege of Sci­ence and former North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Career Devel­op­ment Asso­ciate Director.

I worked for Northeastern’s Career Devel­op­ment office for over 11 years, before starting a new posi­tion this past Feb­ruary, working with biology stu­dents in the co-​​op pro­gram at North­eastern. In this day and age, it’s rare for someone to stay in one job for as long as I did. Taking a new job can be exciting and scary and ener­gizing and nerve-​​wracking all at the same time, but espe­cially for someone who’s been in the same job for as long as I had. Staying at the same Uni­ver­sity and already knowing some of my new col­leagues made the tran­si­tion easier, but it’s still an adjustment.


My husband’s bird Kiwi– the sub­ject of many office stories…

Things that you some­times take for granted when starting a new job:

  • The people. Without question, Career Development is filled with AMAZING people who make wonderful colleagues – collaborative, creative, and dedicated to Northeastern students (there’s a reason The Princeton Review regularly ranks Career Development #1 or #2 nationally). I worked with some of the same people for 11years - they weren't just coworkers, they were friends. We had lunch together regularly, knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and knew the names of spouses/significant others/children. Which isn’t to say we didn’t butt heads or sometimes drive each other crazy – that’s bound to happen when you see someone day in and day out. My new colleagues are great, but we’re still a relatively unknown quantity to each other. I’m still learning people’s quirks and personalities, and sometimes I have to explain my sense of humor or perspective. Though it does also mean I have a new audience for stories about my husband’s Amazon parrot Kiwi and how crazy she can be…
  • Space and location. I was settled into and comfortable with my own office. I knew where everything was, whether it was the bathroom or employer gifts or paper to refill the printer. It’s been 5 months since I moved into my new office, and I still don’t remember where I put everything. And have you ever been to Mugar? Some days I walked in circles trying to find my office. It took me months to figure out which building entrance was closest, and then they shut down that entrance due to construction. Ugh. It’s not a big deal per se, but these kinds of things can be disorienting and slow you down.
  • Knowing how to do your job. I was a core member of an experienced group of staff in Career Development, and was sought out for my knowledge in particular areas, such as the social media for the office. I knew my job well, and I had a rhythm going. Now I’m the one asking all the questions and wondering how I can make a direct and immediate contribution to the group. My skills with resumes, cover letters and interviewing are easily transferable to my new position, but I’m also learning how some of these things vary in the context of co-op, and more details about policies and procedures. I’ve collaborated with alumni and employers when doing programs for Career Development, but I’m new to job development and relationship management, and rely on my colleagues for strategic advice. It’s not unusual to take 6 months to a year to completely settle into a job, especially with something as cyclical and time sensitive as co-op – I haven’t seen the cycle through from start to finish yet.

Adapting to a new job has its growing pains, but it’s also exciting. Learning new things is a chal­lenge, but it’s also ener­gizing, and is what moti­vated me to change jobs.

For addi­tional tips on adjusting to a new job, read this post from my favorite blogger, Alison Green, writer of Aska​Man​ager​.org.

Tina Mello is now a Co-​​op Coor­di­nator for the Biology pro­gram at North­eastern, having left Career Devel­op­ment in Jan­uary. She’s cur­rently busy deci­phering phrases like “in vivo” and “assays,” and trying not to get lost in Mugar.

Photo: Hey Paul Stu­dios, Home Sweet Cubicle Hand Embroi­dery Hoop Art on Orange Plaid” Feb­ruary 24, 2013 via Flickr, Cre­ative Com­mons Attribution