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

The Power of Mentorship

The summer before college, I was nervous about starting nursing school. I had never truly experienced patient care before and had lingering doubts about my abilities. Sure, I wanted to be a nurse, but who knew what would happen when I had to take care of a sick patient for the first time? What if I couldn’t handle it?

Enter Eva Gomez, a nurse and clinical educator at Boston Children’s Hospital. She ran an internship program designed to expose high school students to nursing careers, and she shaped my nursing career from the moment I met her. Smart, confident, but not afraid to discuss her own mistakes, Eva made all of us instantly comfortable. She challenged us to think of nursing as a calling, not just a career. Eva never made us feel like students; she treated us like future nurses. The infusion of confidence I gained as a direct result of her intervention fueled me through my freshman year and showed me that even if I had doubts about my abilities, there was at least one nurse who believed I could do it. After the program ended, Eva and I kept in touch, as she has done for all the graduates of the program. I have frequently asked for her advice, and she remains a huge influence in my life.

My mentorship experience began my freshman year of high school through a program called Project Reach, which is designed to help at risk elementary school students academically and socially by pairing them with a high school tutor. I worked with three children over four years, providing both homework help and emotional support. In all cases, when the students felt comfortable sharing their feelings with me, their academic achievement increased. Additionally, their outlook on school changed from pessimistic to optimistic. I will never forget the pride each child had when they showed me their first perfect score on a spelling or math test, a feat they never believed was possible until they had someone who believed in them. Even here at NEU, my involvement as a mentor in Bouve Fellows has shown me just how valuable having someone show you the way is, especially in your first year at school.

Finding a mentor at work is crucial to your success, and not just in that they may help you “get ahead.” Mentors are a wealth of information about your chosen career and the complications you may run into as time goes on. A true mentor will want to help you succeed both professionally and personally. Eva and the countless others who have been mentor figures to me over the years have shaped my development every step of the way, allowing me to pay it forward and become a mentor figure myself.

I see mentorship as the best possible way to improve relationships within a group and encourage each member to work towards his or her goals. It perpetuates a cycle of service, building the confidence of the mentees while allowing mentors to have a positive impact on the community that gave them the opportunity to succeed. It also strengthens the bonds between the younger and older individuals, building a strong cohort that helps each one professionally as well as personally. I have had several mentors within nursing, and each has given me valuable information that I will carry with me throughout my nursing career. I have witnessed the positive effect mentorship has, particularly in the nursing major here at NEU. Nurses who graduated years or even decades ago look back on programs like Bouve Fellows fondly and are more willing to help younger nurses transition. The interconnected nature of the major coupled with program like Bouve Fellows creates a strong network of empowered nurses, not only benefiting Bouve College but also the healthcare community as a whole.

Julia Thompson is a second year Nursing major in the Bouve College of Health Sciences. She works as a nursing assistant at South Shore Hospital and is currently on 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.

Networking in Action with Own The Boardroom

Your network is the greatest resource you have.

Think about the last decision you made – did you use the opinions, reviews, or recommendations of others to make that decision? That’s the power of a network. Your network is an extension of you; they’ll vouch for you, they’ll refer you, they’ll help you.

Your network is the most efficient path to your goals. No one reaches success on their own.

Despite all the benefits of networking, most people seem to hate it. If you search the term in Google, you’ll find articles upon articles with titles like “networking for people who hate networking”.

Networking feels uncomfortable and scary; let’s change how we perceive it.  By the end of this you’ll feel confident and comfortable with networking. Are you ready?

No time to read? Click here to listen to the podcast version, or watch the presentation:

What exactly is networking?

As Devora Zack defines it in her book, Networking for People Who Hate Networking; “Building and maintaining connections with others for shared positive outcomes”.  No wonder you hate the idea of networking. Does that sound fun to you?

In plain speak, networking is meeting people and staying in touch.

You already have a network. Your friends, family, professors, coaches, anyone that you have a relationship with – that’s your network.

Photos via Northeastern University Networking in Action event

Photos via Northeastern University Networking in Action Event

Why bother networking?

It may sound basic but it’s true: Opportunities are all about who you know. Think about it:

Whether you’re buying something off Amazon, deciding whether to swipe left or right in a dating app, whether you’re trying a new restaurant – it’s all thanks to a mutual connection or recommendation.

That doesn’t change with business decisions. No matter how close to the top you are in a hierarchy, you’re always going to consider recommendations from people you trust.

According to an ABC News report from 2012, 80% of people find a new job through networking. It’s possible that number has increased to 85%, as identified by Lou Adler’s 2016 report.

Clearly, it’s going to be more efficient to network your way into a job than continue sending your resume into the black hole of online job applications.

How do I network?

We know networking is meeting people and staying in touch.  That can literally happen everywhere! For the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on strategy during networking events.

When you’re at a networking event, everyone is there to meet other people. Yes, networking events feel formal and business-y; keep in mind that everyone is there expecting to talk to strangers and you’ll feel more comfortable introducing yourself.

Christopher Barrat’s TEDx talk, Successful Networking – The Ultimate Guide, explains four steps to building a successful business relationship

You have to move through these phases in order – no skipping ahead! When building your network, you focus on the first two; Know, Like.

You’re not pitching yourself. You’re not handing out resumes. You’re getting to know people as people, and the most effective way to do that is to barely talk at all. Listen to others, ask relevant follow up questions, give them your full attention.

Barrat sums it up as “Be interested. Not interesting”.

How do I know who to talk to?

Barrat’s TEDx talk also addresses tips on how to decide which conversation to join. Essentially, look for groups where there’s an open space for you to stand. Barrat refers to these as “open two’s” and “open threes”.

In the networking image below I identify open and closed groups. Look at the closed two – they’re facing each other directly, off to the side, they’re chatting. Compare that to the open two on the far right – they’re clearly engaged with each other but their body language is turned slightly outward which makes an opening for you to walk into.

But how do I do it?

Strategy is nice but you have to do it. Hopefully you feel a little better about the concept of networking at this point, but if you don’t – don’t worry. Networking is something that gets easier the more you do it.

So let’s talk tactics that will help you take those first steps:

It all starts with you walking up to a stranger, and introducing yourself. It sounds uncomfortable, but remember that everyone at networking events is expecting to meet strangers, so it’s socially acceptable in this context. I personally find that exiting conversations without feeling rude is the most difficult part.  In the full presentation, we discuss tried-and-true phrases (three each!) to use for entering a conversation and exiting a conversation. Scroll down to access the presentation for free and receive these concrete tips.

Remember, networking is meeting people and staying in touch. At a networking event you’re focusing on the first part – meeting people – and the goal is to give others the opportunity to know and like you. Likewise, you want to know and like them.

How do you feel now? Are you ready to network?

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This post is a summary of Own The Boardroom’s presentation that kicked-off Northeastern University’s Networking in Action. The event was organized by Michelle Dubow a Career Advisor at Northeastern University. This post was written by Erica Zahka CEO/Founder of Own The Boardroom.

Want to experience the full talk?  Access it here for free.

In this presentation you’ll learn:

  • How to think about networking so it’s not scary
  • The basics of networking; what it is, where it happens, do’s and don’t’s
  • Strategy for assessing which group(s) to approach first
  • Tried-and-true statements for introducing yourself and exiting conversations

OTB offers everything you need to make a powerful first impression: subscribe to learn how to present your best-self in any business situation and keep an eye on our suit options to rent business professional attire when you need it (women’s attire coming soon!).