Friday, February 27, 2015

Networking + Personality | Part 2 - The Extrovert Advantage

Hello again!

Last week, I wrote a post about how introverts can use their unique traits to excel in networking. It would be unfair of me to leave it at that, though. After all, networking falls at least a little more comfortably into the realm of extroversion. This article will offer some tips.

As a disclaimer: I'm just about as introverted as you can get, so I can't speak from personal experience here. To make up for that, I asked a few of my extroverted friends to tell me about their feelings on networking. The following is informed by their opinions (thanks friends!). I also referred to articles like this one, which is worth checking out.

Of course, keep in mind that no two extroverts are the same - just as no two people are the same. These tips may not apply to everyone, but hopefully they can shed some light.

Applicable to networking, and life.
You're a natural at meeting new people. Since your energy comes from socializing, you can use your people skills to draw others in and start making connections. Friendliness can go a very long way when it comes to networking. You have an advantage in comparison to introverts, who might have more trouble "turning it on" when they need to. Being approachable makes meeting new people that much easier. As an extrovert, use this to your benefit - attend networking events whenever you can and connect away!

You have more energy for socializing. Since extroverts derive their energy from people and experiences, they are generally able to spend more time socializing than introverts. An extrovert might find that networking is actually kind of fun once you meet someone interesting. Just let your natural energy guide you. If you're talking to someone and there isn't a "spark", don't feel bad about politely excusing yourself to focus energy on someone else. If you're strongly extroverted, you'll probably have a lot more time to mingle than the introverts anyway, who might opt to leave events early.

You're great at conversation. If you find yourself at an event where there are a lot of potential connections to be made, being able to start a good conversation is key. Nothing is worse than trying to talk to someone you're interested in and watching the conversation die, trailing off awkwardly. While most introverts have trouble with small talk, extroverts are usually more comfortable coming up with things to talk about on the fly.

Remember to pull your talking ring!

Despite the advantages extroverts might have, it's important to remember that:

Being an extrovert doesn't mean networking is easy. According to my extrovert (and ambivert) friends, normal socializing and networking are two very different things. When I asked if they enjoyed networking, the general consensus was that it wasn't fun. With the constant pressure of trying to further your career development, some extroverts feel like networking is disingenuous and awkward.

I think that feeling stems from the misconception that networking is all about putting up a front. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Networking, at its core, is just about getting to know new people - something I'm sure extroverts usually enjoy. It doesn't have to be about walking up to someone and giving your 30 second spiel (though it is sometimes). It can also be more simple and totally natural. Think about it this way: if you go to a professor's office hours and talk about potential internships - that's networking!

One warning for extroverts.  Sometimes, extroverts speak without thinking first, and that's where introverts and extroverts differ.  Be careful in those instances where you find yourself really excited and needing to get your "air time".   In situations where it matters, like networking, you may want to train yourself to think about what you want to say before you say it.

At the end of the day, networking is about broadening your horizons. Whether you're the life of the party or a wallflower, networking doesn't have to be scary or overwhelming. It's not as high pressure as you might think.

Remember: the Career Center is always available to help you! Just give them a call at 617-627-3299 or come in for drop-in hours!

Signing off,

Kelly F. Vieira
Class of 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Find Your Rudder: The Sophomore Slump

By now, we’ve all sunk into our routines for the semester (at least as much as we can in between blizzards), but it’s a particularly vulnerable time for sophomores to sink even further—into malaise or disillusionment. Being a sophomore is like being the forgotten middle child of a college family. No longer coddled by the administration, and entrenched in the fast-paced freshman year “college experience” lifestyle, but not old enough to live in an off-campus apartment or enjoy other seniority privileges, it can be hard for second-year students to maintain their enthusiasm. At Tufts, sophomore year is an especially stressful time – faced with declaring a major, attempting to delineate a career path, applying to study abroad programs, and trying to figure out living arrangements for the next year, it’s easy to get bogged down in the decisions and lose sight of the end goal. I’ve definitely felt the pressure, and I’m willing to bet that I’m not alone on this.

Similar to my reflection on the quarter-life crisis a few weeks ago, here are some of my own thoughts on the sophomore slump, some ways to fight the slump, and the Career Center resources at your disposal.

What is the sophomore slump, exactly? It’s a common phrase that most of us have heard before, and it can be applied to everything from college sophomores to the music and entertainment industries (usually in reference to an unpopular second album or TV season). For our purposes, the sophomore slump refers to the dissatisfaction one feels in their second year with the direction that their college career is heading. Sophomores become less academically engaged, and begin to revert to more passive study habits such as memorization rather than analytical reasoning (these patterns have been studied, and many other patterns have been noted as well -- from increases in time spent socializing to changes in conversation subjects with friends from academic work to personal matters). It’s an unfortunate but pervasive phenomenon; people generally crave stability, but there’s a point where stability feels like drifting in stagnant water.

Me waking up for my 8:30 classes.
Clearly, we would all love to avoid the sophomore slump – but how? A plethora of advice can be found from creditable and questionable sources, but the common theme in all of these nuggets of wisdom is to avoid feelings of boredom or disengagement. Whether it’s joining a new club, strengthening relationships with professors, or making new friends, all suggestions point to proactive change as the cure to the sophomore slump.

A dangerous side effect of the sophomore slump is the development of uncertainty or apathy about your future or career path. When sophomores begin to lose focus on academic activities, a loss in commitment to career development is likely to follow. In fact, one of the most common times for students to drop out of college, a decision that will certainly have repercussions on career planning, is shortly after sophomore year. Luckily, research points to many possible solutions to losing interest in career development, all of which connect with the aforementioned theme of proactive engagement. Sophomores are always encouraged to partake in internships. In addition to gaining valuable skills for a career that you're interested in, an internship is a very reflective experience through which you can learn about yourself, your skills and talents, and the traits in a job or work environment that you find desirable. From personal experience, I can attest to this advice; my internship with the Career Center has made me realize how much I truly enjoy writing, and perhaps I can find a way to work writing into my future career. Another common suggestion is to crystallize relationships with faculty members in your major's department. These relationships will not only come in handy if you ever need a letter of reference, but can potentially be another source of advice for course selection and their field of expertise. Whatever you choose to do with your free time, whether it's seeking an internship, engaging with professors, joining a new on-campus activity, or volunteering somewhere, there are always opportunities to explore, reflect, and avoid going adrift.

A big part of these ideas to avoid the sophomore slump involve
a skill everyone needs: networking.
If you’re looking for another way to avoid the slump, there’s always (you know I’m going to say it) the Career Center! Their website updates constantly with events both on and off campus that you can take advantage of to get a jumpstart on your career planning. There are always events that explore specific career fields, like the recent panels on careers in media and careers that apply French language skills. Specifically for sophomores, the Sophomore Career Seminar is a really informative event that gets you in the right mindset to begin thinking long-term. It happens in the fall, you so may have missed it this year, but if you’re a freshman, keep this in mind for next year (or register here for the upcoming First Year Career Seminar!). Additionally, the Career Center’s class checklists can help you to assess what you’ve done and what you should do by the end of your sophomore year and beyond. It’s not an exact science, but these checklists will certainly put you on the right track. Don’t miss out on these resources available to you in your college years (and beyond).

Like the quarter-life crisis, there’s no surefire way to avoid the sophomore slump. Life has highs and lows, and about 600,000 of them happen when you’re young. As students, we need to not only roll with the punches but take advantage of the opportunity we have to look around at what our options in life are. This is a great privilege afforded to us, and it would be wasteful to squander it. So pull yourself out of that slump, and leap into the big and beautiful rise.

Until next time,
Sean Boyden
Class of 2017

Friday, February 20, 2015

Networking + Personality | Part 1 - The Introvert Advantage

Fun fact: I'm highly fascinated by personality traits and psychology. Putting people into personality-based categories is really satisfying for some reason. I often spend my free time taking quizzes to find out What Type of Fruit I am (cherry!) or some other unscientific, but amusing alignment. For example, I'm a proud Ravenclaw, INFJ, Virgo, and Introvert.

You can tell a lot about a person from their Hogwarts House.
Knowing that I'm a cherry isn't the most useful self description, but personality really does have an effect on career development. Knowing who you are on a psychological level can actually guide you towards the right career path. Believe me when I say that it's better to work with your personality than against it (especially true for American introverts, who are often led to believe that their personality is a weakness).

This two-part post is going to cover how different personality types might approach networking. If you want something more general, check out fellow blogger Nicole's two previous posts on finding a career that fits your personality.

Since my own expertise lies in being an introvert, Part 1 will focus on the relationship between Introversion and networking. For all you lively extroverts out there, hold tight for Part 2 next week, which will focus on the Extrovert Advantage.

Before we begin, it's important to actually explain the difference between introverts and extroverts. There are a lot of different explanations, but I think this one is best: If you're an extrovert, you gain energy by being around people and experiencing the outside world (objects, places, etc.). If you're an introvert, you get your energy from the inner world of thoughts, ideas, and imagination, rather than interactions with people.

On the left, an extrovert, on the right, an introvert.
A simple test is how you feel after going to a party. If you're an introvert like me, you probably get sick of parties an hour in and want nothing more than to go home and watch Netflix by yourself. If you're an extrovert, you might hate when parties end, and you'd be the type to go to after-parties for extra socializing. Some people are a bit of both (there's a term for that, too - ambivert), but most have a preference.

Below are some tips that will make networking less of a chore for introverts:

Know your limit. If you start losing steam after an hour at a social event, don't force yourself to stay the whole time. Even if you don't get to talk to everyone, making one or two really meaningful connections can make your attendance worthwhile. If you're on the higher end of introversion, like I am, it's also helpful to limit the number of events. I had a week last semester where I went to three networking events in a row, and I felt totally drained afterwards. Quality over quantity.

Utilize the internet. Introverts should capitalize on their natural comfort with written communication. Thanks to the internet, there are a million ways to find people and network without having to meet face-to-face. Sites like LinkedIn are a goldmine of people you can email and set up informational interviews with. You shouldn't totally avoid meeting people in person, but email is a way to break the ice that's often more comfortable for introverts.

Use your listening skills. Introverts may not be the life of the party, but they are known to be great listeners. Letting someone else talk is a really important skill when it comes to networking - it's a two-way exchange after all. Your thoughtfulness might actually make you stand out from the crowd, even if you're not the loudest one in the room.

A problem many introverts don't have.

In general, American work culture isn't the most friendly towards introverts. The attitude is slowly changing (largely thanks to scholarship on introversion like Susan Cain's best-selling book Quiet), but it's still said that introverts must force themselves to take on extroverted traits in order to be successful. I'd argue that this line of thinking does a disservice to introverts.

A few steps out of your comfort zone are necessary, but you don't have to fundamentally change who you are in order to succeed. This is even true with networking, which is considered the introvert's worst nightmare. Trust me, even the most shy of introverts can find ways to connect with people that don't involve schmoozing at cocktail hour. Bonus: click here for an audio clip of Career Consultant Dan Shepard talking about networking for introverts.

If you're willing to accept your personality and make it work to your advantage, you'll be well on your way to being a networking champ. Minimal small-talk required!

Signing off,

Kelly F. Vieira
Class of 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Notes from the SciTech Fair

Before we jump into our topic for today’s post, let’s take a brief moment to say congratulations to everyone who completed their internship applications due on or around February 15th!

This mid-month deadline is common for summer internships, and before you get ready for the next round of due dates (usually March 1st), take a second to pat yourself on the back for taking conscientious steps towards your career goals! (For everyone who hasn’t submitted an internship application yet, either because they haven’t had any encroaching deadlines or they haven’t started applying, good luck and keep going! Also, for everyone who has finished all their applications and maybe even heard back about an internship, give yourself an even bigger pat on the back.) Remember to celebrate the little victories as much as the big ones!

Now that congratulations and best wishes have been dealt, we can discuss the SciTech Fair. For those who came, you may have seen me at the welcome booth swiping students’ ID cards from 1 to 2. Before working for such an arduous hour, however, I had the opportunity to briefly walk around the fair, chat with employers, and make some observations about the day. Some of these observations, which involved a harmless dose of eavesdropping, offer some key insights into what employers are looking for at a career fair, particularly one aimed at STEM students. Here are some of the more interesting observations I made:

Dress to impress – because you always leave an impression. It was hard to find people at the fair who weren’t dressed in business attire, let alone business casual (I counted maybe ten people in jeans). Even if the employers are dressed casual, and the environment of the job you’re applying for is casual, it’s important to look the part – that is, the part of a motivated, ambitious, and interested job applicant. If nothing else, dressing up shows employers how seriously you take this opportunity to speak with them and how important you find the job/internship to which you are applying. Therefore, this is one of those cases where you should go with the flow and dress as nicely as your peers. Keep on being classy, Tufts.

Be assertive, but not arrogant. While I was walking around Gantcher, I caught a few sentences here and there from conversations between students and recruiters as well as recruiters and their colleagues. As I walked by a pair of employers, I heard one of them turn to the other and offhandedly mention that the last student he’d spoken with had “come on too strong.” As the heading of this section suggests, it’s important to be confident and poised when talking with a recruiter, but there’s a line to be towed between confidence and arrogance. You want to treat employers (and people in general – sorry for sounding like an after-school special, but it’s worth noting) with enough deference to indicate that you are an ideal person to work with. Try practicing your self-pitch to a friend and ask them to critique your presentation before you try it out on a recruiter.

Don’t show up late... just don’t do it. The SciTech Fair ended at 2, so I worked at the front table during the last hour of the event. For the most part, the traffic began to slow down around 1:30, but I swiped in a student at 1:50. Ten minutes to walk around the fair, find the employers he wanted to talk to, and explain to them why he was a great candidate for the job (despite already being out of breath at the welcome booth). I think we can all agree that this student did not find a job that day. Not being late is part of a bigger concept that this blog has touched upon many times: preparation is the key to success. The most organized students I saw at the fair came with portfolios of resumes and a detailed list of each company they were looking to speak with. Model yourself after these students. Remember, be a Leslie Knope, not a Jerry Gergich.

What you should aspire to.

What you should avoid.
A lot of these points (and more) are addressed in a great article from Vocation Village entitled "What Recruiters Wish You Knew About Career Fairs", a piece written by a recruiter-turned-career-counselor who has some great and perhaps unexpected insights about the do's and don't's for students at a career fair.

Overall, the day was a huge success, and the Career Center excellently pulled off two career fairs targeted at widely different types of students in one day. If you’re a freshman, sophomore, or junior, be sure to check out the SciTech Fair or the Spring Job & Internship Fair next year to take advantage of such a great opportunity!

Until next time,
Sean Boyden

Class of 2017

Monday, February 16, 2015

Get out of the Snow Day(s) Slump!

I never thought I would say this, but I'm done with snow days. That's right, I'm done. I'm over it. I remember the pre-Boston part of my life, when my Mom warned me about the notorious New England snow. I knew that Boston would have a little more snow than home, but I never imagined it would be this bad! As a New Yorker, I never thought snow was much of a problem, until now. With these unscheduled mini-vacations all of my work has come to a standstill. It's so hard to be productive when you don't know if there will be school tomorrow.


This post will be for all those, like me, who have yet to return to Tufts normalcy. Covering the fundamental steps for getting back on track can help restart your school productivity and get your brain back in gear. With the unprecedented number of snow days this semester, several professors will be trying to find alternative ways to compress more topics and work into fewer school days. This definitely could be a stressor in the upcoming weeks, especially with the looming shadow of midterm exams. Yeah, I said it. Midterms are coming. So, here are a few simple ways to spark your work productivity after days of procrastination and to ensure you are mentally and physically ready for the approaching storm.

Time Management
Starting with time management is a good thing, as most stress is caused by not managing your time well and resulting in the build up of stress. Reducing the stress caused by juggling courses, activities, and your job and internship search is the first step of recovery from Snowpocalyse 2015. Using a planner or an application such as iCalendar, can help set you on the right track. According to this Forbes article practicing time management is not only effective for work productivity but it's also better for your health. Scheduling your life weeks ahead of time and putting it to paper, or online, will not only result in better productivity, but will make it more likely you will complete your tasks. Procrastinators: I'm talking to you. If you need a first step towards digging out from the pile of work that has accumulated like the snow here in Boston, start by mapping out how much time and when you will dedicate to each project.

"Organize your daily and weekly work goals!"

Academic Resources
There are a variety of resources available at Tufts for students who are feeling stressed because they have a lot of work to do. Take advantage of Tufts Counseling and Mental Health Services.  They have a variety of tools to help you de-stress. They even have a Relaxation Room with a biofeedback chair and massage chair so you can truly relax. Look for departments to host massage sessions, particularly around exam time!

Places of Productivity
Are you tired of Club Tisch? Here is a list of places to catch up on all that work. Try to study in different locations from time to time. According to US News studying in different areas helps with memory retention.

"Find a place where you're productive!"
  • Ginn Library- NOTE: You may have to dress up to fit in with the stylish Fletcher graduate students
  • Eaton Computer Lab- Open late night, great for writing papers
  • Mayer Campus Center- Food, lighting, great ambiance. 5 stars.
  • Tisch Library- Classic Tufts study spot
  • Starbucks (Davis Square)- Off campus, free wifi, and trendy
  • Tamper (Boston Ave.)- Great tables, modern feel
  • Danish Pastry House (Boston Ave.)- Pastries for days!

Recalling Kelly's post on Self-Care, be sure that you're getting enough sleep, eating well, and getting some time outdoors (unless it's subzero). Cabin fever is real, so get some sun and try moving around more. Head to Tisch Athletic Complex, where it's totally acceptable to read while on the elliptical or bike!

I hope this post will help inspire you to get back on track after these crazy snow days. I remember saying that "Winter is Coming," but I really didn't think it would be this bad. Good luck to everyone taking on this snow and this weird semester, and remember to "Treat Yo Self!"

Carpe Diem,

Nicole Brooks
Class of 2016

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bridging the Gap Year - Finding Opportunities

Happy Friday, readers!

If you remember one of the first posts I made on this blog, you might recall that I had a bit of a crisis last semester. You see, I couldn't quite decide what I'd be doing after graduation. I found myself at a metaphorical crossroad. My first option was to go straight on to law school - a goal I've had for over ten years now. The second option, and the one that gave me the most turmoil, was to take a gap year in order to gain experience.

Why was it such a difficult decision? To condense my earlier post: I had a ton of preconceived notions that made me afraid of taking a gap year. It was thanks to the guidance of mentors and peers that I was able to reconcile my fears. Eventually, I  realized that taking a gap year was actually the best choice I could possibly make. A wise decision, but not an easy one.

How I felt the second I realized that I had to find a job now.
Since then, I've been arduously working to create a solid game plan. I was in a bit of a panic at first, not gonna lie. Until last October, I was positive that my post-grad plans were straightforward. I would apply to law school that fall, hopefully be accepted somewhere in the spring, and start the following September. Compared to my peers who weren't going to grad school, I felt like I had it all together. No stressful job search for me! See you all in 3 years, suckers!

So much for that.

Now that I'm taking time off, I need to find fulfilling one-year employment opportunities. One of the most important things about taking a gap year is that you come away with useful knowledge. Since I do still want to go to law school, I'm looking for opportunities that might grant me some insight that will be helpful in the classroom. Having that experience will also make me a better candidate for getting into law school in the first place.

I fantasize about having this conversation one day. [Source]

The question remains: how exactly do you find these opportunities? I've drawn up a list of great online resources for your viewing pleasure:

Spotlight on Careers - Spotlight on Careers is a wonderful job search resource in general, but there's also a section dedicated specifically to the gap year experience. Spotlight offers tips on how to find opportunities

Careers A-Z - If you know what field(s) you're interested in, I highly suggest taking a look at Careers A-Z. It's essentially a directory that the Career Center put together to make your life easier. When you click on a field (for example, arts) you'll be taken to a list of resources that's been tailored specifically for that field. Definitely a time-saver!

Backdoor Jobs Funky name aside, this website is actually a useful resource for anyone who wants to do something more unconventional with their gap year. If you're the outdoorsy type, Backdoor Jobs offers unique opportunities in places like national parks and farms. This site is great if you want to spend your gap year getting your hands dirty.

Fellowships - Most of these deadlines have passed, so this link might be best for juniors thinking ahead. A fellowship is similar to an internship, but it often includes a stipend via grant. Fellowships are an excellent way to get some first-hand experience in a field you're interested in. Some fellowships even include support for housing.

TIP [Tufts Internship Profiles] In a similar vein, you can look for (hopefully paid) internships that will advance your career development. TIP is a list of internship profiles from Tufts students who have successfully taken part in summer internships. This is a great way get ideas and to see where Tufts students interned.

Career Advisory Network [CAN] - Finally, if you're looking to conduct informational interviews with people in your desired field, Tufts CAN is the place you want to look. This is a network of Tufts alums who willingly volunteered to give advice to fellow Jumbos. So you don't have to awkwardly wonder if they'll even want to talk to you - they wouldn't be in the network if they didn't want to help! So search up some alums and email away.

Hopefully I've given you all a toolbox that will serve you well as you figure out what you'll be doing with your life for the next year. I'll be holding out hope that we will all successfully survive the gap.

Signing off,

Kelly F. Vieira
Class of 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Quarter-Life Crisis

In case you haven’t been able to tell from my many obscure references, I love TV. Specifically, I love sitcoms that feature a ridiculous, exuberant ensemble cast and their misadventures through life. Friends, 30 Rock, The Office, The Big Bang Theory – you get the idea. One of my favorite shows that’s still actually on TV (*cries over the fact that there has yet to be a Friends reunion*) is Parks and Rec, and while I was catching up on the current season over the weekend, I watched as April Ludgate, the sardonic, deadpan intern-turned-government-bureaucrat, struggled with the realization that she wasn’t satisfied with her job or where her life was headed. April was experiencing the beginnings of a quarter-life crisis, an ever-growing phenomenon being observed in twenty-somethings during or after their college years.

Most of you have probably heard of the mid-life crisis, where the sudden confrontation with mortality and reflection on the “first half” of life prompts 40 and 50-year olds to change careers or buy a sports car or start painting pictures of seashells. But the quarter-life crisis is less studied and less well-known, despite the fact that the only major difference between the two crises is that one precedes the other by a few decades. Young adults in the throes of a quarter-life crisis become unsure of what direction their lives should take as they transition from a teenager to a full-fledged adult. Our millennial generation has become infamous for these attitudes – we’re also referred to as the Peter Pan generation because of our hesitancy to grow up and enter the real world. (For more signs you’re having a crisis, turn to BuzzFeed’s “10 Signs You're Having Your Quarter-Life Crisis” article – because you know, of course they have that.)

If you ask me, the uncertainty felt in the quarter-life crisis is far from an unknown phenomenon. I still question my life on a daily basis. I declared two incredibly interdisciplinary majors mostly because I couldn’t make up my mind. I once held up the line in Carm for five minutes because I couldn’t decide between peas and carrots, and I eventually just took both. There’s no doubt that college is a time to question yourself, and eventually, to come to a conclusion about a career and a life and be confident that you made the right choice. So how do we deal with the fact that there is now a socially-accepted quasi-diagnosis for our indecisiveness?

To be honest, I really don’t know. My past blog posts may make me sound like a career planning expert, but I’m far from anywhere close to knowing my real path in life. I’m not about to pretend I’m some wise-beyond-my-years college student who’s seen and done it all (unless “it all” means every episode of Parks and Rec, in which case I have, in fact, seen it all). So, fulfilling my membership in the millennial generation, I did what any reasonable person living in 2015 would do: I Googled “how to survive a quarter-life crisis”. Naturally, I found article after article telling me to “relax” and “do what makes you happy”. As much as I appreciated the good vibes, I’ve said before how empty and abstract these tips can be. I did, however, find one HuffPost article that provided some small and feasible lifestyle changes that can make the quarter-life crisis bearable. One of these tips that truly resonated with me was the suggestion to limit the use of social media—and with it, the tendency to compare yourself to other people. Behaviors like this can distract from your own goals and accomplishments.

I also came across the work of Erik Erikson, a 20th century psychologist who studied the process of human psychological development. Erikson acknowledged the quarter-life crisis before it was even named; one of his eight stages of development occurred around the transition into adulthood. The quarter-life crisis has been noted in the media as well; the movie “The Graduate” is known for its accurate depiction of the confusion and anxiety felt by recent college grads (and for being the origin of the “Mrs. Robinson” persona). Clearly, the quarter-life crisis is not unusual; in fact, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest the opposite.

When it comes to career development, it seems that a little anxiety and self-doubt is more than commonplace. When I confessed to my pre-major advisor that I’d been having doubts about whether or not my planned career was right for me, she explained to me that this questioning is welcome. According to her, focusing on one singular career and never exploring any alternatives is like marrying a person just because you’ve dated them for so long. Perhaps the quarter-life crisis should be renamed to make it sound less like a psychotic break and more like a well-grounded period of investigation and self-assessment.

I hope that, after reading this, you’ve realized that you’re not alone in your quarter-life crisis. April Ludgate went through it, Dustin Hoffman went through it, I’m still going through it. I also hope you now understand that as much as you’d like to fast-forward to the part of life where you’re employed and emotionally stable, this crisis is really a good thing. It’s something we all need to go through to make sure that we’re happy later in life, and isn’t that the long-term point of career development and the Career Center?

If you’re still feeling conflicted or unsettled, here are a few pictures of puppies and kittens to make you feel better. Sometimes when life feels overwhelming I Google phrases like “puppies being cute”, and I’m never disappointed.

Until next time,
Sean Boyden

Class of 2017

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Going to the Spring Career Fair? There's an App for That

Congratulations everyone, Snowpocalypse 2015 continues and you have fared well! We all deserve a huge pat on the back. If you're like me, then I'm sure the past few snow days have been spent finding your new Netflix show, discovering new hit music, or catching up on Scandal. Whether you would like to admit it or not, these snow days have allowed for a chance to breathe. And, having caught my breath,I have good news for my fellow millennials, who are tech connected and pressed for time. The Tufts Career Center is using an app to help students navigate the Spring Career Fairs!  (That's right, there are two career fairs!)

Real time updates ensure you know exactly who is at the fair!

The app is called Tufts Career Fair Plus and is available in the iTunes/App Store as well as Google/Android Store. We don't discriminate based on tech preference! (Did you catch the reference? If you're planning to go the fair, you have no choice but to download it! Remember, the worst thing you can do at the Career Fair is to show up unprepared.

Event Details
The application provides key information about the upcoming 2015 Spring Job and Internship Fair as well as the 2015 Sci-Tech Fair - location and times of the fairs, and real time updates by the Career Center if any changes should occur, such as a last minute cancellation or change in a company's table location. 

You can search the list of companies attending and check out a summary of the company, the positions they're looking to fill, geographic location, majors preferred, and much more.  You can link directly to the company website - highly important in order to conduct necessary company research in order to assess whether or not you want to check them out at the fair.  And, you can save those companies to your "favorites", so you can come back to their profile when you're at the event.  Before the fair I make sure to review the list of companies. There are approximately 100 companies expected at each fair tomorrow! 

Career Fair Map
My favorite app feature is the career fair map! When I attend a career fair I usually feel slightly nervous about approaching a table, particularly if I've walked by it more than once. Even though I've done my homework before the fair, I can find myself waltzing around, not really knowing which company I should go to next. Basically, I look like a kid lost in a supermarket.( I wonder if recruiters have counted how many times I passed their table, and then comment when I finally approach.) This app ensures that you know exactly where each table is located in Gantcher, so no more aimless wandering. 

Career Fair Advice
I have given some career fair preparation advice in a previous post. However, with this app you don't even need my advice! The app's Career Fair 101 provides simple tips to make the most of the event. If you need last minute advice or a refresher on fair etiquette, you should check out this page! Fair 101 provides tips for how to research the companies at the fair, so you can refresh on their mission statement, what they do, and what's interesting about them. This app can help you come up with an intro about yourself or "elevator pitch." Essentially, this app is perfect for students who get overwhelmed by career fair preparation. Have no fear, this is what the app is for!

Enjoy the Fairs, my friends.  There are plenty of tips care of the new app, and so many opportunities, that's it's hard to make a case for not going.

Carpe Diem,
Nicole Brooks
Class of 2016

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How to: Excel in Excel

If you've ever met me, you probably know that I'm not exactly numerically inclined. I nearly cried tears of joy when I finally fulfilled the math requirement. Language is just more comforting than numbers to me, as you might image.

For that reason, Microsoft Excel was always one of those programs that sat untouched, among the likes of Solitaire and Notepad. I had no use for it. I assumed that Excel was for people who derived joy from inputting numbers into a grid. That isn't to say that it was totally foreign to me. I definitely knew how to use the program, thanks to a high school computer class, but I didn't think it was actually useful for someone like me.

That is, until the Career Center enlightened me to the non-mathematical ways Microsoft Excel makes life easier. Beyond its number-crunching capabilities, Excel is an excellent tool for making organized lists and keeping track of multiple interacting factors. In terms of the job search, Excel is a life-saver.

And if you live in a 2002-era music video, you can even text in Excel!
The process of finding a job can be extremely overwhelming. You need to keep track of  different moving parts, like company research, applications, and interviews. While it's easy to believe that you can keep it all organized in your head, that isn't always true. For me, keeping things in my head only leads to confusion and stress. I start thinking about too much at once and it gets easy to lose track. Lists are my way of combating that. You'd be amazed how much writing things down can help clear a cluttered mind.

As I recently learned in my cognitive science class, your memory isn't infinite. By writing things down, you lighten the load for your brain. With Excel, you can mark each part of your job search process so your mental power is used more effectively. If you don't have to concentrate on remembering the exact date you sent in applications, you can spend more energy prepping for interviews.

Here are some visual examples of excel sheets that organize the job search:

Click to zoom.

In the first example, Excel is used to keep track of different companies and the application process. The second example involves networking. You can create a spreadsheet which tracks all of the different people you connect with. It's easy to forget when exactly you met someone or what you spoke about, so this is an amazing reference to have. Whenever you decide to reach out to them, you can mention something from your first conversation.

Believe me when I say that these spreadsheets can make you feel like you actually have your life together. You can be as specific or as general as you want to be with the details, so do what's best for you. After all, this is for your eyes only (unless you want to come to the Career Center and get advice from one of the counselors, of course).

Happy Excelling!

Signing off,

Kelly F. Vieira
Class of 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Post-Snowpocalyptic Updates and Preparations

Actual picture of me walking to class this week.
If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’ve survived the “SciFi original movie”-level of snow that’s been dumped on the northeastern corner of the country, and have either emerged from your igloos or managed to build one in an area with a good wifi connection – either way, a real accomplishment. With all the recent cancellations, it may seem like the Career Center – or even the entire campus –  hasn’t been up to much lately. As you may know if you check the Career Center’s website or read the Career E-news, this is NEVER the case. The Career Center always has opportunities abounding for students, even freshmen and sophomores who aren’t decided on a career path yet. Here are just a few of the Career Center’s upcoming events, and why you should make it a priority to go to each of them:

Resume Critique Day: Mon., 2/9, 4-7 p.m.
With the upcoming SciTech Fair and Spring Job and Internship Fair, there is no better time to get your resume critiqued than now! For those of you who have never been, it’s a simple, incredibly fast process (appointments usually last around 10 minutes) with a qualified career counselor who will teach you how to make your resume describe the best possible version of yourself. For all the skeptics (looking at you, inquisitively-minded science majors) who are pondering if 10 minutes’ worth of changes will really make a difference in your resume, check out this Forbes article that lists some of the most common reasons resumes get rejected. You more than likely have one of them on your resume, especially if you’re a college student new to the world of job searches. You can also always have your resume critiqued during the Career Center’s drop-in hours (check out the website for daily times).

Tufts SciTech Fair: Wed., 2/11, 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. in Gantcher Center
The Tufts Science and Technology Fair is a career fair specifically oriented to students pursuing careers in the STEM fields. For engineers and other science majors, this is an incredibly lucrative opportunity to explore different job/career prospects, especially if you felt that the Career Fair last fall didn’t have enough opportunities for STEM careers. Over 100 companies are attending, and you can search them by alphabetical order, job type, or, most conveniently in my opinion, by major.

Tufts Spring Internship and Job Fair: Wed., 2/11, 5-7 p.m. in Gantcher Center
If you haven’t found a job or summer internship yet, or didn’t make it to last semester’s Career Fair, here’s your chance! Like the SciTech Fair, the Spring Job and Internship Fair will boast over 100 companies with job openings, only more spread across such diverse fields as business development, writing, IT/web design, and government jobs (including both the CIA and FBI – very cool). This could be the break you’ve been waiting all year for!

In addition to checking out these events, be sure to take advantage of all of the resources at your disposal. Here are just a few examples of the resources available:
  • Research jobs/companies on JumboJobs or from the lists of attending companies on each fair’s web pages. You want to be sure that you are thoroughly informed for whichever fair you attend.
  • INTRODUCING . . . the super-new-ultra-fancy-high-tech Tufts Career Fair App! The Career Center released an app for any smart phone that will provide all the information you need on the upcoming career fairs. Instead of printing out paper booklets (what are we, Neanderthals?), the Career Center has gone digital, making it incredibly convenient to learn about the fairs before or during them. 
This picture of pasta comes up when you Google image search "JumboJobs". C+ work, Google. 
Finally, let's review some key tips and tricks for making the most of the upcoming Career Center events. If you're a faithful reader of this blog, some of these points may seem like review, in which case you should reevaluate how well you're doing them and consider what you could do better this time around.
If you had only an
elevator ride to convince
someone to hire you, what
would you say?
Practice, practice practice. It may not be as fancy as Carnegie Hall, but be sure to have a clear idea of how you will present yourself before you get to Gantcher. These spring fairs are the perfect time to update your self-pitch as well as your resume. For further reading, this Forbes article is a great guide for building (or remodeling) your elevator pitch!
 Come with a plan. Make a list of all the companies/booths you'd like to stop at, and order the list for maximum organization. I've found that when I have a solid game plan in place before I go to an event like a job fair, it can help with calming the nerves and getting flustered or overwhelmed.
Make eye contact, smile, and be confident! These don't warrant an explanation; they're just good last-minute tips to tell yourself before you take the big leap.

You may notice a common theme throughout the list above. This blog has had many posts highlighting the importance of preparation in all aspects of career development (and in life in general). Nevertheless, here it comes again: preparation is the key to success. Be sure to take advantage of any or all of the resources listed above, as well as the dedicated and capable Career Center staff!

Until next time,
Sean Boyden
Class of 2017

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Numbers Don't Lie: Personal Finance

Once we enter the "real world" life will change dramatically. Many of us will face student loans, a job search, apartment hunting, and planning for a way to get around. As Ferris Bueller said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." 

It's common for college students to overlook the importance of personal finance. Did you know that some employers require background and credit checks to assess a candidate's financial practices? In this post I will explain some personal finance terms, which can help college students be more fiscally responsible.

What is Credit?
We've all seen the catchy commercials for What exactly is a credit score? I asked the experts, aka Google, for their insights. According to Personal Finance at Duke, your credit score is a number invented by bankers in order to rank your financial history. The number designates your reliability in paying back loans, calculates your potential interest rates for loans, and assesses your ability to apply for loans. Your credit score is effected by several factors including your credit card, student loans, and your spending habits. This video created by Daily Finance explains this further, while also stressing the importance of building "good" credit.

"Make your own budget!"

Importance of a Budget
As a college student I agree that creating and adhering to a budget is probably last on your list of things to do. Between classes, homework, career development, and extra curricular activities it can be tough to find extra time in the day. But the advantages of simple budgeting practices can go a long way in generating good habits for the future. A great exercise is to guess where your money goes in a given month, then to actually track your payments and see where your money really goes. A great website to help you do this is It categorizes your purchases and shows you, in percentages, where you're spending your money, while monitoring your debit and credit card accounts. Not only does reviewing your budget increase awareness of your spending habits, it also makes you more likely to change and plan ahead!

Save! Save! Save!
What are we saving for? We're broke college students, right? But let's analyze that - how broke are we really? Some of us have part-time or work-study jobs, while others get some spending money from our parents, right? But where does all that money it all go? If you're like me, it goes straight to your iTunes account, but I digress. Practicing saving is something you will do your entire life, so why not start now and get a leg up on the competition. Open up a savings account or set up an automatic deposit from a portion of your paycheck to go to savings!  According to Forbes, developing good habits during college can help you better navigate the real world. So start saving now!

"Save up now for the future!"

Having debt is no good, right? But it's inevitable for a majority of students. College is expensive!  Understanding and planning ahead for how you are going to pay student loans after you graduate is proactive.  Millennial Personal Finance highlights several ways to organize your finances and suggests how to make extra money through "side hustles." For example one writer advertised simple crafts on Etsy, resold used video games, and wrote her own blog. I'm not suggesting you start your own business, but finding a "side hustle" that works for you could help ease financial pressure and provide some extra cash.

Simple Steps
Here are some simple steps toward organizing your personal finances:

  • Open a savings account
  • Understand the interest rate on your credit card
  • Build "good" credit by paying bills on time!
  • Find the bargains!
  • Create a budget (Use apps like, YNAB, or Budget Simple)
  • Find a side hustle or part-time job
  • Practice saving!
"Follow these simple personal finance steps!"

Go forth, my young grasshoppers, on the road to personal finance responsibility! Making sure your personal finances are in order before applying to jobs is a good first step toward adulthood. Strive for a credit score as pristine as your resume! 

I hope you enjoyed the Juno double snow days. Back to work!

Carpe Diem,
Nicole Brooks
Class of 2016