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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“If I can do it what is stopping you”?
I felt an unexpected cold strike my entire body when it was time to depart from my beloved country of the Dominican Republic, an island so tiny, but immense in my heart and memories. Maybe it was my defensive mentality as a 14 year-old that made me believe the lie that I was going on a nice vacation looking forward to coming back home someday soon.
However, destiny made me realize that the meaning of home would change in a matter of seconds when that airplane reached its destination that many called “the land of freedom”. When we landed my mind was full of pessimist ideas that would not let me see the positive view of coming to this country. For starters, it made me feel like a traitor leaving my family behind after all these years that they have been taking care of me. Further, that everything that was said sounded simply too good to be true. Arriving into the promise land where all your dreams could become a reality without knowing the truth of how much suffering goes into accomplishing them. Furthermore, I still have tremendous weight on my shoulders. It started at a very young age because I was trying to make my family proud but also to fulfill my own internal drive. That drive and hunger to surpass any goal that people expected from me to make my family proud.
Now looking back at my progression in since arriving in this country I feel so proud to represent the positive impact immigrants can bring when they come to this country with good intentions. Many other people might bend but you cannot break. You have to fight for what you believe in to accomplish your dreams and to reach your full potential.
If a pretty regular guy like me made it, what’s holding you back? Go fight for your dreams don’t let anyone stop you from it. Have courage to reach for the moon so you end up among the stars. Put all your focus on achieving that goal, degree, or anything extraordinary in your life because if I could do it, you can do it too! Have courage and just believe in yourself.
Guest Blogger: Enmanuel Moya, Torch Scholar Student.
So you’re a Northeastern student, full of vim and vigor and enthusiasm for the future. You’ve got classes and co-ops under your belt, and you feel prepared for the working world. But if you’re like most students, you haven’t discovered one of the most potent secrets of career success. What is this magical secret, you wonder? It’s a little something called “informational interviewing.”
What is Informational Interviewing?
It’s only the most useful career-building tool you’ll encounter. The basic gist is that you will reach out to professionals in the industry and set up interviews with them. Instead of the interviews you’re used to, YOU will be the one asking the questions! It’s the best way to network and gain insider industry knowledge at the same time! And your mom thought you were useless at multitasking! Oh how wrong she was.
The Power of Asking
There are two secrets why informational interviews work:
- People love to talk about themselves.
- People love to help college students.
At first, I was skeptical. Who would take time out from their busy schedule to shoot the breeze with a bumbling college student who barely knows what to do with her life after graduation? I reached out to professionals at ten different companies, expecting to bug them a week later in an attempt to set up two or three meetings if I was lucky. Au contraire! To my surprise, almost everyone replied immediately! And they wanted to help me! And all I had to do was ask. Many have referred to this as the Ben Franklin effect (see here).
You’ve probably heard this statistic before: 80% of job openings are unlisted, and are filled through word of mouth. With those kinds of odds, how can you afford not to network? Informational interviewing is a great way to start!