Tips To My Sophomore Self

TIPS TO MY SOPHOMORE SELF

Career Story & Advice from a Northeastern alum, Taylor ‘16

Hi there! My name is Taylor and I graduated from Northeastern in May 2016 with a B.S. in Business Administration with concentrations in Finance and Marketing, and a minor in International Affairs. I had the opportunity to complete three different co-ops while at Northeastern to gain real-world experience. My third and final co-op was a Buying Co-op at TJX, where I accepted a full time position post-graduation. During my co-op I was exposed to the world of Merchandising at a Fortune 100 Retail Company where I found a passion for the Buying career path.

Currently, I am now a Senior Allocation Analyst in HomeGoods within the Kid’s department. The Kid’s department is a really fun and dynamic area of our business. We sell everything from Toys and Books, to Bottles and Bibs, to Furniture and Bedding! As an Allocation Analyst, I allocate merchandise for my department to our 600+ stores based on a variety of factors, including trend, performance, geography, demographics, and more.

When I started at TJX, I was placed in the Merchandising Development Program (MDP), which is the development program and career path for those, like myself, who would ultimately would like to become a Buyer for the organization, sourcing merchandise for our stores from around the world. My TJX co-op experience played a huge role in shaping my career goals, and it introduced me to the merchandising function for the first time ever.

 

Looking back to sophomore year at Northeastern University, here are a few tips that I would give my sophomore self:

  1. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Put yourself out of your comfort zone. Before my TJX co-op, I thought I wanted to be in the finance industry. However, after my first co-op at a financial services firm, I wasn’t 100% sold. After discussing different options with my co-op advisor, she suggested the TJX Merchandising Development Program. I wasn’t sure at first – merchandising and finance are 2 very different functions. But one of the greatest advantages of the co-op program is being able to try a variety of different career paths. Fast forward 6 months – I loved my buying experience and I decided to add a marketing concentration to compliment that!

  1. Build and maintain your professional network.

The opportunity that we have as co-ops to build a network before graduation is something very special. By building professional relationships during your co-op rotations, you set yourself up for long-term success and career opportunities. At TJX, relationships are key. When I started in my full-time role, I made sure to grab coffee and catch up with some members of my previous co-op team. While we don’t work together day-to-day anymore, they have been able to give me some great personal and professional development advice, and I know I can always go to them with any questions I may have in pursuing my career goal of becoming a Buyer!

  1. Ask for feedback.

Whether you are accepting your first-ever co-op or you are a seasoned executive, there are many opportunities for professional growth and development. One of the easiest ways to progress is to simply ask for feedback! Managers will see this as you taking initiative in your own development. As a part of the Merchandising Development Program at TJX, you have the opportunity to progress through a series of more challenging roles, and are given the tools and knowledge to set you up for success. By asking for feedback, you demonstrate your willingness to learn, excel, and develop in each role you are given.

By getting out of my comfort zone, I was able to find an industry and company that I am truly passionate about! I now have a strong professional network which I can use to ask questions, solicit feedback, and grow and develop through the Merchandising career path at TJX!

ABOUT TJX OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS

Each year TJX hosts 100+ Northeastern students on co-op across many areas of our business including Merchandising, Finance, Information Technology, Marketing, Logistics, Human Resources, and more!

Learn more about our upcoming recruitment events on campus from the career service center or your co-op advisor!

ABOUT TJX

The TJX Companies, Inc. is the leading off-price retailer of apparel and home fashions in the U.S. and worldwide, ranking No. 87 in the 2017 Fortune 500 listings, with over $33 billion in revenues in 2016, more than 3,800 stores in 9 countries, 3 e-commerce sites, and approximately 235,000 Associates. We operate T.J. Maxx and Marshalls (combined, Marmaxx), HomeGoods and Sierra Trading Post, as well as tjmaxx.com and sierratradingpost.com, in the United States; Winners, HomeSense, and Marshalls (combined, TJX Canada) in Canada; and T.K. Maxx in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Poland, Austria, the Netherlands, and Australia, as well as HomeSense and tkmaxx.com in the U.K. (combined, TJX International).

 

 

Young Professional Cooking Tips

Coming back to school and need a bite to eat? Here are some cooking tips to help you get through your semester!

For those of us who don’t have culinary training, or Giada de Laurentiis’ manicurist, do we have hope of making ourselves healthy, tasty meals, in a timely eat-before-9pm way, using tools and ingredients we’ve actually heard of? Yes. Just takes a little planning and a few solid recipes!

  • Know the basics: The first place to start is learning basics. And by that I mean, literally the basics of how to cook things. Scramble eggs, cooking pasta correctly, how to sauté, how to store food properly, which tools you need (yes good pots, pans, and utensils are important and another good place to start with the basics. You don’t need an immersion blender right away, promise). Once you learn the fundamentals, you can build on them.  I got a free promotional copy of Jessica Seinfeld’s “Can’t Cook Book” and laughed at first. That seems too simple. And it was great! Even though I’ve been cooking for about 10 years now, I learned lots of great basics. That cookbook is a great place to start for the truly new chef.
  • Know what to have on hand: Certain ingredients should be kept on hand at all times. Salt, pepper, spices for seasoning, pasta, frozen veggies, marinades, frozen meats (ya Omaha Steaks), rice, bread crumbs, flour, sugar, nuts…all things that last for a while and can help you make a meal in a pinch. Things like those on hand can help you whip up chicken parm, stir fry, and marinated steak tips all with ingredients you have on hand. There are endless lists from a google search that can help you review what items to keep on hand.
  • Eat colorfully: If you are going to stay healthy, you need fruits and veggies. When I make a meal, I do a color check to make sure I have more than just brown all over my plate. It’s an easy way to make sure your meals are balanced.
  • Plan your grocery trips: I don’t rush my grocery planning or trips. This is a huge and underestimated key in healthy, easy cooking success. Unfortunately, to really plan and prepare, you have to sit down and spend some time thinking about what your week looks like (if you have plans every night, maybe just a quick trip for breakfast foods), and what you will need for food, and what you will need for those meals. Sit down with your laptop or cookbooks and write out your list while watching a favorite TV show – seems less like a chore that way. I keep my list (paper! I know! In a world of technology my list is on paper) on my refrigerator and add to it as I run low on items so I can restock next trip. I plan out my trips for two big trips a month, with two quick trips in-between to restock fresh items like fruit, meats, and milk. Find what works for you.
  • Prep as soon as you get home from the grocery store: When I go to the grocery store, I leave enough time in my schedule for that day to prep, chop, and wash all that I bought. It makes your weeknight meals and snacking faster and healthier when everything is prepared and ready to go.
  • Make enough to reuse: Make more than what you need in one seating and reheat for other meals. If you get bored with a meal after eating it for one night, find a twist on it to multipurpose. If you make meatballs and spaghetti Sunday. Meatball subs on Monday. Don’t put marinara on all the spaghetti noodles, and make Pad Thai on Tuesday.
  • Freeze! And Thaw!: As you learn to make all these tasty meals on your own personal culinary journey – make extras (like above) and freeze them. Instant microwave meals or thaw the day before.
  • Just TOO exhausted? There will be a day you are just too tired for any amount of cooking. This is when you dig out those frozen meals you’ve made. And don’t underestimate a yummy smoothie or shake (just watch the ingredients so they aren’t a calorie bomb). I keep a few microwave meals on hand in my fridge – while they heat I’ll make a salad or sauté veggies to beef up the health factor (and keep me fuller, some of those meals are tiny!) Make a crudités plate – hummus and pita bread, veggies, cheese. Here’s probably the simplest recipe I’ve ever found:

Cut each pita in half and then into 8 wedges. Arrange the pita wedges on a large baking sheet. Pour olive oil over the pitas. Toss and spread out the wedges evenly. Sprinkle with salt, and pepper. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color. – Giada

  • Slow Cooker. Nothing more on this one. Just, get a slow cooker. Find recipes. Happy winter meals.
  • Campbell’s & Pillsbury: These websites have simple recipes that incorporate a few of my favorites, soup and crescent rolls. Cheese, marinara, and a slide of pepperoni in a crescent roll wrap? Instant pizza bite to pair with veggies or a salad. My point here: there is NO shortage of recipe sites or cookbooks; you have to find which ones work for you. (Recommendation: crescent taco bake. Add: serve with Tostito chips)

So these are some tips I’ve picked up over time to help me prepare healthy meals when I get home from work that don’t take forever. What tips have you found that are helpful to quick weeknight meals?

BEHIND THE BULLET POINTS: The Hidden Career Advantages of Global Co-op

We’ve all come to love that Northeastern is synonymous with all things global and experiential!  Dialogues of Civilization, Study Abroad, the hallmark Global Co-op program, a large international student body, and many other avenues to name a few, are ways in which our students gain critical exposure to an array of foreign cultures.

Alane De Luca, Peace Corps Volunteer, photographed with two Senegalese friends

To be a university student in America offers a certain right of passage – to ‘find’ oneself – to be able to explore courses of interest, entertain various career options, and take advantage of the many co-curricular options often promoted on campuses across the country.  Now is the time to seize this luxury opportunity – to indulge oneself – to imagine the possible and realize the impossible!  The convergence of this moment offers students multiple of directions from which to chose their path – my advice – be open to the new and different.  I did just that when I joined the Peace Corps, and it was one of the most transformational experiences of my life.

Much discussion about the benefits of Global Co-op revolves around the unique work experiences students can expect and the interesting companies and organizations co-ops are offered.  What many students miss at first glance, is that a Global Co-op also offers invaluable learning opportunities and cultural exposure way beyond the 9 to 5.  It’s the day-to-day living in a foreign culture that cannot be assigned a price tag – the complete immersion into how business is conducted in another country, soaking up the language, and easily overlooked nuances of communication among people. These are the exact bullet points that are difficult to add to your CV, but that are so critical to self-realization. They might be hard to articulate, but so powerful once experienced.

Alane De Luca, Global Employer Relations, here with newly married couple in Indonesia

Here, for example, after a day of meetings, I was spontaneously invited to attend a weekend wedding (not your usual turn of events given that I did not know the family), and what an incredible chance to seize a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would be forever imprinted in my mind.  How incredible it would be for a student to have a similar experience – no, this activity is not necessarily resume-worthy, but as a Global Co-op and to absorb and reflect upon these types of cross-cultural interactions, is what will give you the ‘career advantage’ over your competition and indelible passion for diversity in years to come.

I am often struck by the smells of foreign lands.  Burning wood in Bali, simmering curry and saffron in India, barbecue steak in Argentina.  Who would think that something so powerful as the sense of smell would be part of a career blog?

Alane De Luca, Global Employer Relations, here talking to children in central India

 Exactly.  No one.  To my point, when a Global Co-op ventures to their work site across the globe, part of the journey is to relish in the new and different.  Global Co-ops are laser-focused on developing new skills and adapting to their new employer as they should (mapping out resume-worthy bullet points the key goal), however, it would be short-sighted to overlook the permeable grittiness of day-to-day life in a new environment.  Something as innocuous as smell can lend to deeper learning – an up-close-and-personal diary of sorts about society the economic advantages and challenges, the geo-political climate, and the societal norms, to name a few.  When I was in India, for example, I was metaphorically slapped in the face with economical inequities – one that brought me right back to my Peace Corps days.  Knowing now what I didn’t know then made me realize that I could not have put a price on how an experience from 25 years ago would prepare me for feeling so at home in a place surrounded by such rich and contrasting realities.

Sometimes the simplest things are the most profound.  Travel is an education – unbound by walls with endless horizons to take in.  My hope is that this blog will inspire one student (if not hundreds or even thousands) to take a chance on a Global Co-op.  A Global Co-op experience will put you on the front lines of the impossible, where strength is challenged and growth is inevitable.  Impressive CV’s are a common commodity in today’s economy – what will make you different?  How will you stand out?  What will be your story – one that can be told as if you are painting a picture – what impression will you leave your next employer, and employer after that, and so on and so on…?

Alane De Luca, Global Employer Relations, watches as boy and his mother buy ice cream on a busy street in Hong Kong

In closing, I will leave you with this – I was struck by seeing this simple ice cream truck on the side of a busy road in Hong Kong.  The little boy and his mother were rushing and hailing their hands to make the truck stop for them (just like we would do here).  What struck me is that I would not necessarily notice this seemingly traditional pastime of buying ice cream from an ice cream truck in my own neighborhood – but, given I was in a new culture with senses heightened, to me, observing a mother and child buying something as simple as ice cream seemed so poignant in a foreign land.  Definitely not a bullet point for the resume, but oh how cool it was to witness on that hot summer day….

Alane De Luca oversees the Global Employer Relations team and global lead-generation initiatives within Career Development and Cooperative Education.  She comes to Northeastern with 25+ years of experience working in the international education arena.  Alane’s passion for global experiential learning began when she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa, where she worked alongside NGO’s and native Senegalese in rural parts of northern Senegal.  Upon returning to the states, she assumed a position funded by the United States Agency for International Development focusing on initiatives set forth by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and administered at Northeastern.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations, Northeastern University

She also has experience directing global and experiential learning programs within academia at Merrimack College, Salem State University, Suffolk University Law School, and Saint Anselm College.  She is a dual citizen of Italy, holds an M.Ed. from Northeastern University and a B.A. from The College of the Holy Cross. www.linkedin.com/in/alanedeluca

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien