Friday, March 3, 2017

Accepting an Offer (or, How Three Years of Working at the Career Center Paid Off)

Sorry for dropping off the radar for a few weeks everyone - between the snow day and the holiday weekend, scheduling has gotten a little funky lately. While I was MIA, I made some pretty big headway on my post-graduation plans - you are reading the blog of a newly-employed Jumbo!

I will officially start working full-time at Massachusetts General Hospital in June. I'm so excited and happy, but more than anything relieved - finally, the anxiety nightmares about living in my childhood home at age 22 will come to an end!

There were a lot of factors that went into my decision to accept this job. I spent about a week with the offer on the table, weighing all the pros and the cons, thinking about the repercussions of either action. In the end, though, I knew as soon as I replied with a "yes" that it was the right call for me.

For all my fellow seniors out there who are grappling with job offers and other big life decisions, I'll give you a peek into my mind this week to see how I handled the decision - what I considered, why I considered it, and ultimately why I made the decision I did. (A quick disclaimer: all of these decisions were made just for me, with my specific background/circumstances in mind. Not everyone will come to the same conclusion, and that's more than okay!)

Location, location, location.

One thing I've constantly asked myself over the past few months, when thinking about what I want to do next, is where I want to do it. Having grown up in Massachusetts and gone to college right outside Boston, I wasn't sure if staying in the area would be a good or bad thing. I know my way around, and I have all my friends and family here, but would staying in Beantown feel like too "safe" of a move? Why shouldn't I take the first opportunity I have to go somewhere new, like California or New York City or somewhere outside the US? In the end, I realized that I was looking to leave Boston for the wrong reasons. I wanted a travel adventure - not a relocation for a job. When it comes to medical research, Boston is a premiere city in the field; it's one of the reasons I chose to come to Tufts. Leaving such a gold mine behind - especially one where I'm already comfortable - would be a hard sell.
The Schuyler sisters may have been singing about NYC, but the greatest city in the world is actually Boston. (Don't worry, you're all still my heroines.)

Build that network.

There's a lot more to a job than the starting salary or the location. Particularly for a first-time job, one of the best possible perks is the opportunity for networking. I was fortunate enough to find a job that involves meeting and working with a lot of different professionals, and I see that as a huge benefit. I also knew that I wanted to work somewhere with lots of other young people, in a collaborative and social environment. While perhaps a less formal medium of networking, this consideration crossed my mind as well - and ended up being one of the many "pros" of the offer.

"How's the money?"

In the past two weeks, I have learned that this is every person's first question when you tell them you have new job offer. And there's a reason - money is, after all, what makes the world go 'round, and it's no secret that new college grads are facing immense student loan debt nowadays. Having done some research prior to my job search, I knew going in that the work I wanted to do would not provide the funding for me to live a glamorous lifestyle. And while the starting salary for a lot of new graduates may be low, the biggest thing that everyone has told me is that it's manageable. While there's no doubt that I'll have to make sacrifices in the next few years, I know that the benefits of this job (see above) can make up for it.
The Joker, while misunderstood, is actually the source of all my career advice.

In a matter of months, I'll go from barely-functioning college student to totally-dysfunctional young professional. And while it certainly wasn't an easy decision, I am so glad that I took the time to think about my offer and really consider it in full. If you're ever looking for a friendly face to talk about a job offer (and maybe even offer a few words of wisdom), the Career Center's door is always open! Speaking from experience, they are some of the best people to talk to when it comes to these decisions (huge shoutout to all my bosses for the incredible support they gave me throughout the process!). Alright, now time to celebrate with some midterm-cramming.

Until next time,
Sean Boyden
Class of 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Real Deal: Why I Attended the Career Fair as a Senior, and Why You (Really) Should Too

For those of you who have faithfully followed my meteoric rise to blog fame from my humble beginnings as a sophomore, you may recall one of the first posts I ever wrote: it dealt with my first Career Fair, which I attended in the fall of my freshman year. Reading through that post, I can sense the anxiety and general confusion that pretty much characterized my first few years at Tufts when it came to career planning and general thoughts about the future. A lot has changed since then, and while my future is still not entirely defined, I like to think that I've gained a little bit more expertise when it comes to Career Fairs - especially when it comes to unfolding those plastic tablecloths (working for the Career Center will give you all kinds of weird skills).

This week, having just attended the 2017 Spring Career Fair last Friday, I thought I'd pay homage to that post I wrote back in 2014, not only in the title of this post but in a similar Q&A format as well. While my old post featured more "nuts and bolts" questions for a Career Fair rookie, I think I'll dedicate this one to future seniors who attend the Career Fair, with the hopes of gaining some networking connections or even a full-time job. Here's a true-to-life account of my last Tufts Career Fair.
Older me (right) looking at younger me (left). (All this reminiscing has got me nostalgic, which is probably why I've been watching so much season 1 Glee lately.)
Who should I talk to?

Short answer: as many people as you can. Longer, more realistic answer: do your research beforehand to figure this out. Look on Jumbo Jobs or download the "Tufts Career Fair Plus" smartphone app to get a list of companies in attendance - you can even search by position type, field of industry, or desired majors. Narrow down a list of companies you're interested in, and try to hit as many of their tables as you can. A frequent comment I get when talking to students in the Career Center is that "there's no one at the Career Fair who I'd be interested in working for." Don't be took quick to assume this, however. Last week at the Fair, I started a conversation with a representative from Harvard Medical School, and when I told her I was interested in clinical research positions, her first response was "Oh, I don't know if we have any of those." At first I was disappointed, but immediately after that she offered to take a copy of resume and pass it on to other recruiters in clinical research departments. You never know how a conversation will go until you actually have it.

What should I say?

At every Career Fair before this most recent one, I had a pretty similar elevator pitch. It went something like, "Hi, I'm Sean, I'm a freshman/sophomore/junior majoring Biopsychology and Community Health, I'm interested in exploring research in a public health or biomedical setting, are there any internships available that I should look into?" Now that my internship search days are behind me, I've had to modify this script a little bit. Years of working Career Fairs, and speaking unofficially with lots of employers, has taught me a lot about the ideal Career Fair student. In general, I've come to find that recruiters are looking for articulate, personable people with a pretty clear idea of what they want to do both short-term and long-term. This can be a daunting thought for some seniors (myself included), but there are ways to express your goals while also conveying your uncertainty. Last week, I found myself saying something like this: "Hi, I'm Sean, I'm a senior majoring in Biopsychology and Community Health. I'm interested in going to graduate school someday, but I really want to gain experience in clinical research before pursuing a higher degree. Do you know of any openings that could be of interest to me?" I like to think this is a little more polished, but remains true to my interests and plans for the future.
Channel your inner Rachel when it comes to Career Fair preparation.

But really, will I actually get a job out of this?

In true SWUG fashion, I find myself embracing cynicism more and more every day. So I totally get this question. But, then I remind myself that I'd never actually applied to one of those internship postings I got in an email blast before I got my internship at Brigham and Women's. Working in the Career Center, I hear from both students and employers about lots of internships and jobs that came from a visit to the Career Fair! So, I need to remember not to discount the Career Fair before I've really given it a chance. The only way you'll get a job out of the Career Fair is if you go and give it your all. (*leads team in morale-boosting locker room chant*)

So, it's with a single tear rolling down my cheek and a craving for coffee and sandwiches from Dave's Fresh Pasta that I bid farewell to the Tufts Career Fairs. Realistically, I will probably be back, because the Career Center is never ever ever getting rid of me (pardon the musical reference, but I saw Waitress on Broadway last weekend and couldn't not incorporate it into a post). To the future seniors reading this, I hope you attend the Career Fair this fall and/or next spring, and make the most out of one of the Career Center's biggest and best resources for Tufts students every semester. And if nothing else, you'll get tons of free water bottles and key chains.

Seriously, go see Waitress. It'll change you.

Until next time,
Sean Boyden
Class of 2017

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

This Is It (Like, Really)

Senior spring motto.

With my last spring semester underway, it's time to admit that my time at Tufts is coming to a close. And as I look around me, it seems like everyone in my position is facing the same question that Hamilton faced at the end of Act I: what comes next?

Some of my fellow seniors are lucky - they've been accepted to grad school early, they got a job during the fall recruitment season, or they're participating in year-long fellowships like Teach for America. But, the overwhelming majority of us (or at least the ones that I know) are still searching, applying, or waiting - of course, while trying to enjoy our last few months of college.

A big part of the application process - both for graduate programs and for full-time jobs - is interviewing. This is a topic particularly close to my heart, as I'm currently in the throes of my own job search and I've been scheduling interviews for weeks now (before you think, "wow, he's interviewing that much? He must be right on track," just remember that I still haven't found a job yet). Luckily, I always know where to turn for career-related advice - Oprah. Just kidding. (Not really.) The Career Center has tons of information on their website, and they even provide mock interviews for you to practice with someone who can give you immediate feedback. Here are some words of wisdom from the Career Center when it comes to interviews:
Same, April. But it's the only way we'll get a job. (If you're wondering, I watched a lot of Parks and Rec over break.)

Always be prepared. Like any good Boy or Girl Scout would do, it's always important to know your stuff before an interview. Fortunately, since the overwhelming majority of an interview involves you relating your past experiences, the most important thing for you to know is yourself. Be sure to brush up on your resume and past experiences, and reflect on the ones that have been the most meaningful and applicable. Have a few examples in mind for common questions like "Tell me about a time you had a lot of things to do and managed to do them all," or "Tell me about a challenge you overcame." In addition to this self-reflection, it's always a good idea to do some research into the employer with whom you're interviewing. Know what sorts of projects are going on, what type of work they do, and be aware of the company's broader goals or mission statement. Look on LinkedIn to see if any Tufts alums work there. The more you know about an organization, the better prepared you'll be to demonstrate how you'd be a good fit within it.

Beat back the nerves. An interview is the first chance you get to make an impression on someone who could be your future colleague - it's crucial to make a good first impression. One of the easiest ways to mess this up is by getting too nervous and coming off as flustered or unprepared in the interview. Of course, everyone has different reactions to interview stress, and thus there are many different ways to conquer these feelings. The time-honored tradition to guarantee stress reduction is to practice - out loud, in front of someone (or in the mirror), until you have a really good idea of what you're going to say. A word of caution from a past personal tragedy of mine - be sure not to memorize an exact script. You want to know what you're going to say, but also be prepared for unexpected questions or different ways to word your responses. If you over-rehearse, your answers to questions may become stilted and repetitive. There's a good amount of wiggle room between underprepared and overprepared - find your sweet spot!
Breathe through the pain.

ALWAYS follow-up. Remember to ask for your interviewer's contact info if you don't already have it, and send them a thank-you within 24 hours of your interview. This will show the interviewer that you're serious about the position, and at the very least will improve the chances of them remembering you when it comes to hiring decisions. Most interviews will conclude with a few words about the next steps in the organization's recruitment process, and you should leave with a good idea of when you'll next hear from them with a decision. (Be sure to ask if they don't say so!) It's important to wait until this time to follow up on the status of your application; this way, you'll avoid looking overbearing and can reiterate your enthusiasm for the position.

As you can see, a lot more than choosing an outfit goes into interview prep. Like any part of the job search, you'll get out of it what you put in - so be sure to prepare thoroughly for this important step in the process! So press your suit, practice your self-pitch, and get ready to get hired.

Until next time,
Sean Boyden
Class of 2017

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tips for One Last Winter Break

As the fall semester comes to an end, I'm reminded once again of just how much of a senior I am. I'm not just talking about my lack of motivation or crippling need for sleep (for once). I'm also referring to the latest in a string of "lasts" that began recently and will continue until graduation: last fall gala, last college football game, and now last winter break. The idea of one final month-long break before I say goodbye to the sweetness that is the college calendar is enough to send me off a cliff of emotion. But, I'm instead going to remain calm and try to make the most of break, with a specific focus on preparation for life after Tufts, a reality that is approaching far too quickly for my liking. Outlined below is my plan for winter break, senior year edition:

First and foremost, get all of the sleep. ALL OF IT. This semester has been ridiculously busy for me - between two jobs, an internship, a full course load, and trying to juggle homework, clubs, friends and relationships, and my own personal happiness, I've been just a liiiiiittle bit completely overwhelmed. At some point, I just put my head down and barreled through the weeks, like a Greek soldier who fearlessly charges into the enemy's phalanx. Now that I've emerged from the fray, bruised and in extreme pain but somehow still alive, I am going to celebrate my survival by slipping into the state that most closely resembles death: sleep. (I should probably be concerned by how great that sounds right about now, but instead I think I'll just make another cup of coffee.)

Liz Lemon continues to inspire me.
Apps on apps on apps. After I wake from my week-long slumber, my top priority will be to fill out some job applications. I've tried to deny it until now, but there's no running from the fact that I'll be graduating in just about 5 months, and I should probably find something to do after they kick me off of this campus. What exactly will I do? Well, I could tell you, but I think instead I'll give the answer that I gave all of my relatives over Thanksgiving: "it's a surprise!" (Stay tuned for an actual answer to what I'm planning to do after graduation!) Jumbo Jobs is a great place to start.

Get all dressed up and talk about myself. The annual CIC Career Fairs - held in Boston, NYC, and DC - are coming up! These great events have a Career Fair in the morning and pre-scheduled interviews in the afternoon. The DC and NYC events will also lead into a Tufts Alumni networking event, featuring Jumbos who relocated to each city. I'll be at the Boston and NYC Fairs, and I'll hopefully see a few fellow Jumbos at these events. Interview pre-select deadline has passed, but you can still register for the morning career fairs where you may even land an afternoon interview! Be sure to check out these events if you're an underclassman interested in working in Boston, NYC, or DC!

Finals week spirit animal.

Need even more ways to fill up your winter break? Check out the Career Center's winter guides for all class years (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) for inspiration. The Career Center will also be open over break! Drop-ins are on hold, but you can make an in-person, phone, or Skype appointment 9-5 on weekdays.

Now is the time to not only take a break from school, but to focus on your long-term plans while you're not bogged down with homework. Get lots of rest, and I'll see you next year for one final semester of blogging! (*sheds first of many tears*)

Until next time,
Sean Boyden
Class of 2017

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Just Keep Swimming: Advice on Staying Motivated in the Homestretch

We are officially in my least favorite part of the school year: the weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break. With a taste of vacation fresh in our memories, the thought of returning to schoolwork before we have four weeks of uninterrupted couch-sitting is a real dream-killer. As the title of this post suggests, my SWUG-ness has reached an all-time high, and I'm finding it more difficult than ever to stay on top of my game as the semester grinds to a halt. But, since I'm the one with the blog password, I have to keep my motivation levels at least above minimal, for everyone reading this as well as for myself. From a now-seasoned college student, here are a few of my tips for staying strong in the weeks ahead:

Keep focused. I know how hard it is to stay motivated in the last weeks of the semester. Being in my seventh round, sometimes I feel more ready than anyone to just give up and let finals happen. But the one thing that keeps me going through times like these is the thought that when it's all over, I'll be able to go home and do what I want to do for four whole weeks - no homework, no papers, no responsibilities. But this is a reward, and it must be earned. So just get through it - we're all right there with you.

Prioritize your well-being and happiness. Short, cold days + finals-week homework + finding time for clubs, jobs, and friends = stress. There's no doubt that lots of Tufts students will be reaching for their squishy balls in the weeks ahead as work and stress pile on. But we all know that this is ridiculously unhealthy, and that nothing should come before our personal happiness, right? Right?? Whenever someone asks me how I de-stress, I always tell them that I take lots and lots of breaks. Not only do they recharge your brain for its next cram session, breaks also keep you from getting overwhelmed and exhausted, things we definitely want to avoid right now (and hopefully always). Whether it's a 4-minute dance party in your room (I'm a big proponent of these, personally - I have a playlist on my phone called Dance It Out) or a mindfulness workshop for the Senior Launch Lunch Series, be sure to take a break before winter break!

Start planning your winter break. At this point in the semester, winter break is a lot like the North Pole for me: rumored to exist, most likely very cold, but I would go there even if it meant eating nothing but whale blubber the entire time. While my break will definitely contain copious amounts of Netflix and curling up with my dog on the couch, I'm also going to try to get a few productive days in. At least two of those days will be at the upcoming CIC Career Fairs, which are happening in New York City, DC, and Boston - if you're going to the NYC or Boston fairs, you can catch me sweating in a business suit.

Or check out the Career Center's "Winter Guides", custom tips and advice for first-years, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and grad students! This advice doesn't only apply to career planning - map out a weekend trip with your best friend from home, or plan to reconnect with someone you lost touch with while you'll be in town. Planning a fun outing makes for a great study break!

Alright kids, it's time to get off the Internet and get to work, for you and me both. The next few weeks will be tough, but you've overcome academic challenges before and come out on the other side with at least one college acceptance letter, so I have faith in you. If you see me around campus, be sure to (a) look beyond my sweatpants and generally unkempt appearance and focus on my sparkling personality, and (b) remember this post, and that we're all going through it together, but it'll be over soon. Take care of yourselves and each other, and I'll see you on the other side.

Until next time,
Sean Boyden
Class of 2017

Friday, November 18, 2016

4 Ways to Boost Your Career Search Over Thanksgiving Break!

It can be hard to find time for career exploration over the short Thanksgiving Break, so here are four quick and easy ways to stay on top of it in between Thanksgiving festivities!

                         Source                                             Source

1.      Explore the Career Options for your Major   

What Can I Do With This Major? is a great database to learn about the typical career areas and the types of employers that hire people with each major, as well as strategies to make you a more marketable candidate. Whether you’re exploring multiple majors or just jobs specific to your field this database can really help boost the process!

2.      Update Your Jumbo Jobs Profile

Search hundreds of opportunities with Jumbo Jobs, our recruiting platform to connect students and employers for jobs, internships and career events. Set up search agents using custom criteria, perfect your resume with the Career Center’s guide, and then upload your resume for employers to view.

3.      Spotlight On Careers

Spotlight on Careers is a career development website for liberal arts college students. Use its flexible search functions to sample employers in different industries, gather information on select jobs and get career-specific interview tips and resume advice (log in with username: spotlightpass and password: liberalarts2017).

4.      Check out the TIP (Tufts Internship Profiles) Book!

The TIP book is a collection of summer internship summaries and advice provided by Tufts students for Tufts students. After reviewing the internship profiles, students can contact fellow students through the Tufts directory for more information. This is a great inside peek at many internships done by Tufts students, and a valuable resource for you in your internship search.

And as always, visit the Tufts Career Center website for lots of great career resources, advice, and events! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving break! 

Hewot Getachew
Tufts University
Sociology, Communications and Media, 2017

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ready for Takeoff: Notes from the First Senior Launch Lunch Series

Friday, 11/4 was the first installment of the Career Center's Senior Launch Lunch Series, a year-long series of workshops exclusively for Tufts seniors. Traditionally, Senior Launch has been a day-long event, but this year we decided to change things up to make it easier for seniors to attend. The first seminar was on negotiation in the workplace, and how it can be used to secure a fair starting salary/benefits package and more. Facilitated by Farzana Mohamed, a renowned negotiation expert and co-author of the book "How to Negotiate Your First Job", this was an event jam-packed with incredibly helpful and informative advice. In case you missed it, here are my key takeaways from the workshop:

Can I negotiate? The answer is usually yes. An overwhelming majority of young professionals, women, and people seeking their first job do not negotiate their salary or benefits. If asked why, people will often say that they didn't think they could or they feared it would be construed as aggressive or overzealous. The reality is that many employers expect some amount of negotiation from all newly-hired employees - and as such, they frequently low-ball new hires so that they can negotiate up to an amount they were willing to pay all along. It's important to do your research beforehand - whether it's through online databases like Glassdoor, or through personal networking - and be informed about the appropriate salary for a position you've been hired for. Then, be brave, put your game face on, and ask for what you deserve.

Trade on differences. One of the most interesting points that Farzana brought up was trading on differences - a synergistic move in which both parties are able to converge on a mutually beneficial solution. Since that phrase sounds very jargon-heavy and overly-professional for my normally cool and casual self, I'll explain what I mean using an example Farzana gave. She was negotiating for a job that would involve travelling to India several times a year. The pay was slightly lower than Farzana wanted, but she thought of a solution that both she and her recruiter could agree on: in exchange for a slightly lower pay, Farzana proposed that every time she traveled to India, she could take a few days off in London to visit her family. As Farzana explained, she received invaluable time with her family while her employer didn't have to scramble for more money. Synergy. Boom.

Negotiation is more than getting your ideal salary. I used to think of negotiation as something that only high-powered financial executives use to get a multi-million dollar salary; one of the biggest lessons I learned from this workshop, though, is that negotiation is so much more than that. When you are at the point of negotiation, the employer has already hired you and you have accepted their offer - in other words, you've both made it clear that you are invested in one another. Negotiation is your first chance to begin building a long-lasting relationship with your employer. Instead of thinking of it as two competing interests on opposite sides of the table, consider negotiation to be a cooperative process for two parties with common interests. When you go in for a negotiation meeting, take the time to ask the other person about their professional path, and why they enjoy their work for your employer. You might learn about something the employer wants that you can provide (e.g., a person with graphic design skills), and you can make yourself even more valuable to them. By forming relationships early, you will get the most out of your position and your employer.

There's no doubt that negotiation is is an unavoidable part of the professional world. Still, it's often a point of confusion or anxiety, especially for first-time job seekers. Hopefully after reading this post, negotiation has become a little less scary (and maybe even a little more exciting - more money, more benefits, meaningful relationships! All exciting things!). When the time comes for you to enter the workforce, make sure that you are prepared to have the negotiation conversation.

Until next time,
Sean Boyden
Class of 2017