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Making the most

An examination of industry growth sectors, student surveys and a budding Alumni Community, led me to begin my fall trip in Thailand.  I kicked off the week co-presenting to a full house of alumni/ae, prospective students, co-ops and parents, overlooking the hustle and bustle of Bangkok city.

Asia: A Retrospective by Alane De Luca, Director Global Employer Relations (Halong Bay, Vietnam)

The room was abuzz recalling the past decade trajectory that Northeastern has enjoyed, as it has positioned itself as a global leader in experiential learning, attributable to our visionary leader, President Joseph Aoun.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations, in Bangkok, Thailand

What followed were many meetings with new employer partners, as showcased here where I met with the Taskworld management team, in what resulted in two new co-op opportunities – one in marketing and one computer science. Invited to Taskworld by the serial entrepreneur (as he commonly referred), Fred Mouawad, Chairman and CEO of Synergia One Group of Companies, was an honor to say the very least!

People along the way 

At the conclusion of a full day of meetings in Northern Thailand, I came upon some new friends at a local Buddhist temple just outside the city of Chiang Mai.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I love this photo because it is one moment frozen in time that brought together two distinctly different worlds – in one lens.  The vibrant contrasting colors uniformly focused in orange, green, and blue metaphorically reveal balance and warmth – a perfect stage on which to build new partnerships in Thailand!


Full circle

When I learned was that a partnership I developed one year ago, placed third in “Northeastern’s Coolest Co-op” contest, I was needless to say ecstatic and proud.  I hope you will take a minute to watch this brief Coolest Co-op award winning video, that was developed by our first-ever co-op student at East Bali Cashews.

Twist my arm 

When I made my first trip to Bali in 2016, I visited two new companies – one a cashew producer (winning video) and the other a world-class green-energy solutions company, as seen in the photo here with requisite office setting, complete with pool and ocean view.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Bali, Indonesia

Both partnerships resulted in students co-op’ing there last year, and expanded offerings to Northeastern students for 2017 and beyond.  There is a reason Bali is called a travelers paradise, couple that with gaining critical global experience and students would be hard-pressed to turn down these once-in-a-lifetime tropical island paradise..I mean.. professional opportunities!


Giving back

I had the honor of meeting with the president of the largest construction company in Ho Chi Minh City, who also happens to be the parent of one Northeastern alumnus and one current Husky (photo below).  It is through this loyalty to Northeastern and belief in experiential education that can make my job that more enjoyable.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Positioned well, Vietnam’s economy is an emerging market standout – second to India. The recent leadership transition in Vietnam has set the tone for economic growth and reform, positioning Northeastern nicely for future co-op and full-time opportunities here.


The Garden City

If you are not already convinced that Asia should be next on your travel bucket list, then let me tell you about Singapore.  I think of this beautiful garden city akin to a ‘soft landing’ for westerners.  My visits to several multinational companies included Novartis, NBC Universal and Young and Rubicam/Wunderman, to name a few, were very well received.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations at F+G in Singapore

The concept of co-op and six month work rotations was set in motion prior to my meetings, and the goal was to firm up our agreements and move forward with a mutually-beneficial partnership.  Pictured with me here is our esteemed alumna, Jacquelyn Koh and the management team of Faithful + Gould, a world-leading integrated project and program management consultancy firm.  F+G has offered six NU co-ops for the fall 2017 cycle.

University partners

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Singapore

Our university exchange agreement with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has also proved to be a fantastic mutually rewarding collaboration.  NTU hires between five and ten research co-ops each year.  Photographed with me here is a co-op student along with NTU’s accomplished engineering faculty.  Singapore can pass for a surrogate-city to Boston, for those students keen on the local market with added benefit of a global experience. High performing sectors include aerospace, clean energy, healthcare, financial services and biotechnology.  I would encourage any student to step out of their comfort zone and co-op in Singapore!


The boardroom

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Mumbai, India

My most recent trip took me to India.  Our largest student population on the homecampus is made up of Indian students.  As part of our over-arching strategy to penetrate this market for both co-op and full-time opportunities, I took the opportunity to meet with local institutions to better understand the recruiting landscape.  While there, I visited three universities, IIT-New Delhi, IIT-Bombay and IIM-Bangalore, and met with various deans, directors and professors.  Photographed with me here at the Indian Institute of Management- Bangalore are the Director of International Affairs, Dean of Programs, and Dean & Professor of IIM.  This was a profitable meeting to learning more about IIM’s entrepreneurial center and discuss possible collaborations.  A visit to IIT-Bombay resulted in a new partnership centered around their new Research Park, which houses companies on their campus and provide co-op opportunities.  I should note that our first student to co-op at IIT-Bombay started in January 2017.

Entrepreneurship at its best

Alane De Luca with esteemed Young Global Leader, Aashray Thatai in New Delhi, India

Wrapping up my visit in India, led me to one of our Young Global Leaders and newly-minted entrepreneurs (photographed below).  Having the distinct honor to meet with our alumni/ae and help them develop ways they can give back to NU, through co-op, is extremely rewarding.  As Young Global Leaders, these  passionately committed Northeastern alumni/ae strive to be a catalyst in furthering Northeastern’s global footprint.  This fortuitous meeting in New Delhi resulted in new co-op positions being developed at PostFold, a start-up that embraces the motto that every idea starts with a problem.

We are all very proud to see another Northeastern alum reach for the stars and achieve success in their career passion.  PostFold was featured in Business Insider IndiaVogue India and Economic Times India.



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

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.  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.

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


Networking in Action with Own The Boardroom

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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?


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!).


PR Executives…. Superheros Without A Cape

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The Agency Life

In the summer of 2013, I embarked upon a path that eventually led me to Northeastern University. I had just graduated with an M.B.A. in Marketing from Mumbai University and I was eager to commence my professional career. Having found my greatest ally in words and everything related to content, I joined Edelman a PR agency located in India, Mumbai as an Account Executive. Thus began my journey into the uncharted territory of a PR agency.

As the world’s largest PR agency, Edelman, offered me probably the steepest learning curve. I was reporting to not one but four supervisors heading different practice areas in the agency. The term ‘matrix structure’ which was until now just a textbook phenomenon had turned into a rather scary reality. In my year long stint with Edelman, my experiences ranged from rewarding to reprimanding. It was here that I witnessed first-hand the cut-throat competition, unrealistic client expectations, deadlines, journalist tantrums, and team conflicts. However, by the time I moved on to my next stint, I knew for sure that the day of a PR executive was no less than that of any super hero who was worthy of being the face of any ensemble cast. From saving distressed clients from the blushes to finding new allies in colleagues and fellow media persons, we did it all in a day’s time and were ready to take on new challenges the next day.

Super powers: disciplined, systematized and innovative

I joined Adfactors PR, India’s largest communications and PR consultancy after my year-long association with Edelman. It was here that I really understood the role and influence that a PR person can exude over clients and media alike.

Most working days of a PR executive starts with something known as a ‘to-do list’. This is generally e-mailed to you by the supervisor and you’re expected to tick-off all the enlisted tasks. But it only gets more intriguing from here on out because by the end of the day you’ve done something entirely different from what had been planned for you in the morning. No two days are similar in this industry and the term, ‘dynamic environment’ is only an understatement to describe the situation.

In order to keep on top of these ever-changing assignments, it is imperative for PR professional to be disciplined. Many-a-time, one is advised to develop the skill of multi-tasking, which is true but only to a certain extent. I say this with such conviction simply because without discipline in multi-tasking, you’re only going to wreck the multiple tasks at hand. One such instance that comes to mind is when a PR executive has more than one deliverable with the same deadline. Now, he can either focus on each task separately and deliver them on time or fall short of keeping all the commitments.

Another key aspect that I learned at Adfactors PR was that bringing structure to my work even basic mannerisms of reaching the office on time, decluttering the work area, and taking refreshment breaks at regular intervals, play a vital role in smoothly tackling even the most challenging work situations. When the work is organized it fosters in gaining composure in the midst of chaotic work schedules. Systematized work leads to innovation and creativity. Most PR professionals get to hear the phrase ‘think out-of-the-box’ from clients and supervisors. I believe that you can come up with creative campaign ideas and coherent communication strategies when they’re able to convincingly cope up with an array of tasks.

Reaping benefits and rewards

Although there are numerous challenges for a PR executive, so are the rewards. The euphoria of observing the success of a campaign or the elation of monitoring the growth of a brand can be best described only by being part of such PR teams. It is no less than breathing new life into something that was until now just a name or a symbol. But by implementing strategies and putting your super powers to optimum use, these names and symbols swiftly metamorphose into gigantic brands, envied and aspired by markets across geographies. Having garnered three years of PR agency experience in India, I came to Northeastern University last fall to learn, share and hone on my communication abilities with the brightest minds in the industry.

As I interact with my professors and peers in class, I recognize how PR is so much more than just gaining media footprints for client organizations. In fact, the function of communications departments within organizations only helps in strengthening relationships with an array of stakeholders. In conclusion, if it is in an agency or in an in-house communications department the PR executive needs to practice his super powers judiciously because as we all know by now, ‘with great power, comes great responsibility.

About our blogger: Sanjeet Chowdhury is a graduate student at Northeastern University pursuing a MS in Project Management. He has been a PR professional in Mumbai, India and was working with Edelman and Adfactors PR. With a strong background in content writing, media management and communications strategy development, he has been an integral part of communications teams for start-ups and conglomerates. Sanjeet is accomplished in martial arts and holds a Black belt in Karate. In his leisure time, Sanjeet enjoys swimming, tennis, writing, and traveling. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram (@sanjeet2198).