Starting a new role? Stand out with these four tips!

Starting a new co-op or full-time job can be a challenge.  As the new kid on the block, you not only have to learn how to do the job, but also how to fit in with the company and make a strong impression. However, in most organizations, just being good at your job is not enough to get you noticed.  If you want to turn your coop into a full time offer or get on your boss’s radar for a promotion, it is important to find effective ways to increase your visibility.  You want your colleagues and manager to see you as a leader who adds value to the team and the company.  As a manager, I have hired several interns into permanent positions.  What differentiated them from the competition to win a coveted spot on our team?

Here are four ways you can make yourself stand out:

1. Go beyond your job description

View your job description as the minimum expectation and don’t ever be heard saying, “That’s not my job!”  Spend your first few weeks observing others, asking questions and figuring out ways you can add value to your team.  If you see something that needs to be done-take the initiative, bring it to your boss’ attention and offer your help.  If you find a way to do something more efficiently, suggest it with a concrete plan.  Step out of your comfort zone to learn a new skill or take on a project that no one else wants to do.  Possess a Yes-I-can attitude. If you show a willingness to learn or try something that would be beneficial to the company-you will definitely be positioning yourself for success.

2. Manage your time well

If you want to stand out, it is critical that you be regarded as someone who gets things done and done well.  Missing deadlines, or handing in a less-than-stellar project because you didn’t give yourself enough time to do it right is unacceptable.  The ability to multi-task, i.e. managing competing projects simultaneously, is expected of most employees, and is critical for anyone who aspires to a leadership role. It is important to prioritize your time when it comes to completing projects in order to get them done on time.  If you are unsure of which tasks to complete first, have a conversation with your supervisor to clarify expectations, and avoid potential problems in the future.

3. Speak up in meetings

The way you present yourself in meetings can have a big impact on your career. If you don’t let yourself be heard and never offer an opinion or comment, you may be giving off the impression that you are not invested.  Even if you are more introverted and prefer to think things through before you speak, find ways to participate.  When you do speak up, say your points succinctly and clearly.  A great way to figure out how to become an effective speaker is by watching those who do it well.  Meetings are where a lot of business gets done, and contributing your ideas publicly allows your boss and your peers to see you as a leader.

4. Ask for feedback and use it to improve

Getting feedback and constructive criticism from your peers and supervisor is one of the best ways to gauge your performance.  If your manager offers unsolicited feedback about a perceived problem or mistake, don’t be defensive.  Instead, take ownership and accountability and devise a strategy to address the problem.  If your manager doesn’t volunteer performance feedback –ask for it-appropriately.  You could request a regular one-to-one meeting to discuss problems, status updates and check-in about how you are doing.  When you are seeking feedback, don’t ask, “How am I doing?”  It’s too general and might not elicit specific, concrete suggestions.  Instead, ask about the one-thing.  For example, “What is one thing I could do to improve the way I…?  If someone takes the time and effort to give you feedback make sure you demonstrate how you are using it to improve your performance.

Diane Ciarletta is the Director of the Career Development Team.  She has been a Career Counselor for over 25 years and has hired and supervised many interns and professional staff.

The End of the Beginning: First Co-op Reflections

On June 30th, I said a sad goodbye to my first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Cardiology Clinic. I will miss the amazing team there, not to mention the kids who truly made it all worthwhile. I have taken away so much from this co-op, but here are the main things that I have learned that are truly applicable to any co-op in any field.

1.       I have developed my communication skills. The clinic is truly a team environment that depends on information sharing and full communication when something goes wrong. Many patients see multiple providers in one day, and many see other departments within the hospital as well. In my role, I have to be able to effectively communicate any concerns or questions as soon as possible, since I am usually the first person to see the patient. Over these six months I have grown comfortable speaking with all providers up to and including physicians about patients and their needs. The importance of this was proven to me when I noticed a baby was losing oxygen in his blood to 60% and below in my care. If I hadn’t said anything to the nurse, that patient could have been in a dangerous situation. But because I escalated my concern, the baby got better care and was eventually admitted. At the beginning of co-op, I would have been nervous to approach the nurse, especially in our busier times. But now I am confident enough to approach the team about various issues. In the workplace, if you see something, say something: it will benefit the team and show your knowledge.

2.       My time management has also improved. I know which providers take longer in appointments and who likes to have their patients ready quickly. As a result, I am able to quickly make decisions about who to put in rooms vs. who to leave in the waiting area, or which patient I should get vital signs on first. I know this skill is even more valuable on an inpatient unit, so I am glad to have gained it early on. Understanding the “flow” of tasks given to you and successfully completing them on time is crucial. It also means you might have extra time to understand what you are doing as opposed to rushing through tasks so quickly that you don’t gain any knowledge.

3.       I have learned so much about the decision making skills a nurse needs. They need to be able to synthesize information from so many different sources and present their findings to other providers in an accessible way. Since I have not been on clinical yet, I have less experience with gathering information pertinent to nursing, like a patient history. I know that much of this knowledge will come from clinical and my classwork, but some will also come from observing the nurses on the job. I feel more empowered to ask them questions about how they arrived at a certain conclusion now that I am farther along in my nursing education.

4.       I have also gained knowledge about the importance of nursing research. At BCH almost all of the nurses are involved in research projects run by either the hospital or individual clinicians. I find this work fascinating and I am hoping to get involved myself when I become a nurse. To improve my skills in this area I will be looking for more opportunities through Bouve to get involved in projects.

I will truly miss this co-op and I can’t believe it went by so fast! Your first co-op is so important to your overall learning experience: make sure to listen, take it all in, and make a name for yourself! It’s never too early to make a great impression.

Julia Thompson is a third year Nursing major in the Bouve College of Health Sciences. She works as a nursing assistant at South Shore Hospital and just completed her first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is the secretary of the Northeastern University Student Nurses’ Association and is also involved with Bouve Fellows. Feel free to contact her at thompson.jul@husky.neu.edu with any questions. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.

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!