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).

 

 

Career Changer? Jump Into the Deep-End of the Pool!

I am a “career builder”, or “career changer”, if you prefer.  Over the last eight months I have had the privilege of being a career development intern here at Northeastern University.  It is my first practical experience in higher education student affairs after a long career in design and design education.  For those individuals who find themselves with a change of purpose well into their professional lives, I offer the following reflections.

  1. Be clear and concise about your goals. Articulating who you are and what you want takes thoughtfulness and practice.  Keep working to focus your message:  write it, speak it aloud, change it, and write it again.  Practice, practice, practice.
  2. Reach out and ask for help. Networking and informational interviews will enable you to connect with other professionals in order to gain insights into the new role you have chosen.  Ask lots of questions and demonstrate your enthusiasm in the process of learning about your new endeavor.
  3. Periodically take time to acknowledge yourself and your accomplishments. The process of career change can be daunting, confusing, possibly overwhelming at times.  Employ your favorite strategies for coping (walk on the beach, eat chocolate, call a friend) to give yourself recognition, stay positive, and acknowledge your progress thus far.
  4. Go ahead and jump into the deep end of the pool. The workplace is all about performance, so take opportunities to play large.   Join professional organizations, attend conferences, participate and contribute at every opportunity.  Target the firms you would most like to work for, develop your contacts there, and then hold your nose, and go ahead and jump.
  5. Consider an internship! An internship is an excellent way to test the field and demonstrate your commitment to your new pursuit.  Chances are, you’ll be really glad you did.

Bucket List for the Summer

The life of a student revolves around semesters of deadlines, classes, credits and prepping for exams. Almost as fast as it began it ends and spring finally arrives! Temperatures begin to rise with flowers appearing. That’s right, summer is here! There is no better time for students to just take some time off to sit back and ponder: goals vs classes, dreams vs ground-realities and plans vs the deviation from plans.

The summer break is vastly underrated because many consider it to be yet another long undeserved vacation showered upon students. More often than not, people don’t realize that students tend to get dragged into a monotonous chain of events that tends to dry out their sense of creativity, instincts and spark! The summer recess is a pertinent opportunity for them to explore areas that are of their interest which may or may not align with their curricular requirements. These areas of interest can not only be tapped but also nurtured to realize and accomplish long-term personal and career objectives.

In order to make the most of the summer, here are some of the areas that students can work on to understand, learn and enhance their personalities.

1. Travel to unravel: take that much needed vacation that you’ve been wanting to go to since the start of the semester. From beaches and boats to mountains and bike trails, whatever it is that gives you the freedom to experience the sights and sounds of a new destination, go for it! There is no better way of not just learning about new cultures but also about yourself, than to travel. From going solo to joining a tour, the experiences of meeting new people and making new friends has a profound impact on perceiving the environment around you. This can guide you to take informed decisions and insightful evaluations about the courses you want take or even the profession you want to choose going forward.
2. Create or clean up your social media presence: the gamut of social media platforms around us makes it mandatory for one and all to create a sense of a ‘larger than life’ perception of who we are. This is great, but only to a certain extent! Many-a-time, we end up posting, tagging, liking, commenting, sharing and tweeting about issues that may have polarizing opinions. Such factors though seem minor, tend to snowball into major roadblocks in the larger scheme of things. From applying to colleges to applying to jobs, your social media presence is scanned and combed out by admissions officials and HR managers. Your personality is evaluated on the basis of your virtual footprints. So, use the summer as a golden opportunity to either create your LinkedIn profile and increase your professional network or clean up by clearing out those random posts on social media. Remember, if there is even a second guess or thought about it. Take it down!
3. Strum that guitar: nothing soothes the mind and body like music. There’s a little bit of a musician in all of us. So why not give yourself the opportunity to explore your musical side. By nurturing a hobby like music, students expand their skill set beyond the usual suspects of being proficient at software tools or sports. Music adds a multi-dimensional facet to the student’s personality. Also, music has a universal appeal, so you could be foreign to a place but your music won’t!
4. Work on back-end tasks: this is a rather vast and vague area of things. It’s basically clearing out everything that you’ve had on your to-do list for the longest of time. Items on this list were sent here because of your procrastination and your sheer commitment to other more important tasks. But, this your time to clean up everything that you’ve been sweeping off under the carpet. From cleaning your room to researching about that college you’ve been aspiring to go to. It could even be taking that gym class you’ve been postponing or helping your folks by contributing to home-related work. Your future self will thank you!
5. Get a job: intern, volunteer or even join the family business. There is no better way to spend the summer than by taking up a job. It may be a small part-time job or even a credit based 40 hours a week co-op at a big multi-national. The learning and experience that students gather in the industry environment is unequaled. This contributes significantly when you’re building your resume. When you have work experience to go along with your high school degree, you stand a greater chance of getting into that college or organization of your choice. This gives students an exposure of the industry environment and gives them an opportunity to connect classroom knowledge with real work experiences.

There’s so much that students can do in such a short yet significant span of time. Summer brings with it a break from the routine and gives students the independence to work on those things that will give them satisfaction, both academically and personally. So which of these are you planning on doing this summer? It’s not too late to start now!