Know Your “I” and Why — Self-Knowledge Drives Your Choices
Designing your career requires ongoing self-assessment and reflection to make fitting decisions. Especially when external circumstances are fluid, you need a strong inner compass. Take time to clarify your interests, strengths, and goals as this will help you communicate your purpose and value clearly to others. This can help you identify your many competencies along with skills you may need to develop further (https://careers.northeastern.edu/career-design-framework/).
Career fulfillment lies at the intersection of your VIPS (Values, Interests, Personality, and Skills. Your VIPS are the foundation of self-knowledge and drive good decisions. Having clarity in these four areas helps you to make career-related decisions that are right for you. Your career decisions affect your lifestyle, health, and overall sense of satisfaction and happiness. Whether you are figuring out a major or career path, deciding on your co-op or first professional opportunity, or advancing your career, it is important to make informed choices based on who you are, what you value, and what you have to offer the world.
Career Design offers several coaching labs and self-assessments that will help you further clarify your “I” and your “Why” so that you can navigate your career journey with confidence and clarity. A great first step is to attend the Designing Your Career coaching lab or take our Canvas course module explaining the Career Design framework and showing you how you can apply it to your own career journey.
Having self-awareness will help you in every part of the process and aspect of the framework with more clarity. You will:
- Explore options and engage in experiences more intentionally
- Tell your story with more confidence
- Network with more focus
Reflect and recalibrate with more self-knowledge that will help you evaluate options and make the right decisions for you at any moment of your career journey.
A self-assessment is a type of survey that helps you gain a deeper understanding of your values, interests, personality, and skills so you can make informed career-related decisions.
The first question to ask yourself is, in which of these four areas do you need more clarity? Let’s look at each one:
- Values: What are some of the most critical factors in your work and your life? What will make you want to get up in the morning and go to work? These are the ideas and beliefs that matter the most to you! Your values underlie all your important decisions. Your work-related values can include things like autonomy, prestige, security, interpersonal relationships, helping others, flexible work schedule, outdoor work, leisure time, and high salary. If you take your values into account when choosing a career, you have a better chance of designing a fulfilling career for yourself.
- Interests: Interests are tied very closely to impact. What kind of impact do you want to have on the world? What are the issues and ideas that engage you? What would you do if money were no object? Research shows that interests are the best predictor of job satisfaction. Working within your area of interest is what will engage and energize you. Some examples of interests could include social justice, the environment, education, technology, health care and medicine, or children’s issues.
- Personality Type: Your personality type is made up of your social traits, motivational drives, needs, and attitudes. Honoring your personality in your career is important and may result in higher work satisfaction by guiding your choices related to work environments and careers.
- Strengths/Skills: Strengths refer to an individual’s natural talent, learned ability, or capacity to acquire a skill. You have many strengths, and it is essential to keep in mind that having a strength doesn’t necessarily mean you will enjoy using it. Or you may enjoy using a skill but prefer not to use it for work. What strengths do you have AND enjoy using? When you have clarity about what matters to you (your values), what energizes and engages you (your interests), what makes you tick (your personality), and what you are good at and love to do (your strengths and skills), you will be better able to find opportunities that align with your “I” and your “Why”. To find clarity in any of these areas, we recommend that you take a self-assessment.
Start your career journey by attending the Finding Your Fit coaching lab. Participating in this lab will provide you with insights into how you can start to think about designing a fulfilling professional future that is right for you and identifying where you might need more clarity. After attending the Finding Your Fit coaching lab, you will need to speak to a Career Coach in the Career Studio. Our team of coaches is skilled in asking the right questions and providing the resources you need so you can take the next step in your career journey. Through conversations with a Career Coach, you will identify the area(s) where you need clarity (Values, Interests, Personality, and Skills). Once you have a starting point, a Career Coach will help you create an action plan to move forward by attending additional self-assessment coaching labs and will provide you with a code and instructions to take a self-assessment. Self-Assessment coaching labs include Clifton Strengths, Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory, and Strengths Profile. Remember, career exploration is an ongoing journey, and the Career Studio is available for check-in opportunities as you go through the process.
Career Design offers the following self-assessments:
- CliftonStrengths®: Based on nearly 40 years of research by the Gallup Organization, the CliftonStrengths® Assessment offers a rich and detailed understanding of one’s strengths, which are the proven levers for employee engagement, productivity, and personal well-being. The CliftonStrengths® assessment identifies an individuals’ top 5 Signature Themes from Gallup’s developed list of 34 most common talents. The odds that someone shares the same Signature Themes—or “top five”—are 1 in 33 million. CliftonStrengths® has been used and studied across the world in a wide range of organizations and with people from various backgrounds.
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (TypeFocus): The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a self-report inventory designed to identify your personality preferences. Understanding your personality and your similarities or differences to others can help you seek out work environments and identify majors or careers that best fit you. This assessment can also help you increase your personal and professional effectiveness, especially in working with others.
- SkillScan: The SkillScan is a card sort which is also available as an online assessment that helps you to identify your transferable skills- important information for exploring majors, identifying appropriate career options, building your resume and cover letter, and preparing for interviews. The tool provides you with a vocabulary for describing your skills and can be helpful in many aspects of your career development- whether you are using it to identify a major, internship, co-op, first position after graduation or if you are in a career transition, focused on career advancement or marketing your skills for a job search.
- Strong Interest Inventory: The Strong Interest Inventory provides you with a greater understanding of your interests and skills and connects them to specific career options consistent with your interests and preferred work environments. The Strong identifies potential careers of interest by analyzing how your answers match professionals in career fields who have also taken this assessment and have reported career satisfaction. It can help you narrow your search, see interest patterns, and provide ideas for careers to explore.
- Strengths Profile: This assessment allows you to discover your strengths, learned behaviors, and weaknesses and apply them to your work and life decisions. You can see all 60 Strengths including which strengths you enjoy and would like to use more and which strengths you might want to use less. This assessment can be utilized related to majors, internships, co-ops, or careers, and it’s also ideal for career pivoters and career advancers.
- Values: A values inventory is an exercise that helps you identify and prioritize the values that are most important to you at any point in your career. For example, having an opportunity to grow might be at the top of the list for a new graduate. For a job seeker with a family, having flexibility might be the most important factor. A values inventory helps you identify what factors in a job or role you cannot compromise—your deal breakers.
After debriefing the first self-assessment with a Career Coach, you may discover a need for additional exploration. Should that be the case, a Career Coach will provide instructions on how to take an additional self-assessment.
The reason to take a self-assessment is to find clarity in one of the areas that will help you find a fulfilling career. Career Design has a limited number of each of the assessments that we offer. While this is a service that is offered to all learners and recent alumni, it is a service that we provide with an initial analysis of which assessment will be the best one for a specific purpose. Together with a Career Coach, you will determine the best self-assessment as the first step in finding clarity.
There is no extra fee to take the self-assessment through the Career Design office. If, after an initial meeting with a Career Coach, it is determined that a self-assessment will be a helpful tool, your Career Coach will provide instructions on how to complete the assigned self-assessment.
Lifelong access to Career Design is a benefit that all NU learners have. Self-knowledge and awareness are critical insights that allow us to manage change, allow you to pivot more easily, and recognize your next opportunity. Because career design is a lifelong journey, you will be utilizing the framework throughout your working life. You may find that after Reflecting and Recalibrating, you will come back to the Knowing Your “I” and “Why” with new insights that may change your direction. If you graduated within the last seven years, we encourage you to sign into our Career Studio to speak with a Career Coach about taking an assessment.
Alumni that have graduated more than 7 years prior and wish to take a self-assessment will need to contact the Office of Alumni Relations.
Explore and Experience — Testing Yields New Insights
Because we learn from experience, you can’t just think your way to a fulfilling career: you need to test things out. Be curious and open-minded as you explore a variety of academic, experiential, and career options. NUworks posts co-op, internship, and job listings.
Career Design has a wealth of services and resources to help you explore the next chapter of your career journey. Because we learn from experience, you can’t just think your way to a fulfilling career: you need to test things out. Be curious and open-minded as you explore a variety of academic, experiential, and career options. NUworks posts co-op, internship, and job listings.
Exploring labor market trends will help you identify locations, fields, roles and the impact of technology related to the careers you are considering. (Tip: this research will also help you to be competitive in your interviews). Remember that 40,000 careers are created every five years, so it’s always an interplay between being knowledgeable about trends and going beyond current trends to evaluate your values, interests, personality, and skills/strengths. The skills that you develop at Northeastern are flexible, transferable, and will apply to a variety of different fields as you design each chapter of your career journey. As your life changes and your priorities change, you’ll be able to make informed choices.
- Career Design resources including the Career Exploration page with links to various sites for career and industry information, our Career Guides.
- Vocational Biographies: NEUniv and password: RAZDE
- Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook
Also, attend related Career Design Coaching labs: Leading Your Job Search, Finding Internships, International Student Job and Internship Search, Negotiating Job Offers and Salaries, Preparing for Law and Graduate School (go to NUworks to register for these and all of our coaching labs). After you have done some preliminary research, you can sign in to the Career Studio, to speak with a Career Coach.
Conduct Informational Interviews with alumni and other professionals in your field(s) of interest. Informational interviews are conversations with professionals and upper-class students in the majors or careers you’re considering. The purpose of an informational interview is not to ask about a specific job but to gain advice, insight, and suggestions about the majors/careers/industries you are exploring.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Leverage LinkedIn: attend our coaching lab Networking Through LinkedIn (and see our guide) and join groups related to majors and careers of interest. Join the Northeastern University Employer Engagement and Career Design LinkedIn group and Northeastern University International Students and Alumni Networking Group (if relevant) and follow companies that interest you. For additional information see the Career Design networking
- Search for NU alums on NUsource, and the Northeastern University LinkedIn page.
- Attend Employer Engagement and Career Design Career Fairs, industry panels, and information sessions to identify and make connections with additional professionals. (Check the events calendar to find out more about upcoming opportunities).
Follow companies on social media and explore professional organizations (there are student membership rates).
There are several ways to gain relevant experience. You don’t have to get paid for the experience to be relevant or marketable. Here are some ways you can explore a major or career:
- Request to shadow someone in the career that you’re interested in or speak with students who are farther along in the major you want to learn about.
- Participate in a HuskyTrek to learn more about organizations and the work that they do.
- Take classes in the major if you have open electives and talk to faculty about the major in which you are interested.
- Become involved in Lead360 and other student leadership/community service
- Volunteer at organizations in the career fields you’re interested in.
- Participate in competitions related to your fields of interest.
- Apply for part-time jobs in areas of interest. NU Student Temps is one resource.
- Do an XN or another academic project.
- Do internships; search NUworks. (Check with OGS to verify eligibility if you are an international student.)
- Apply to Research Experiences for Undergraduates.
- Your co-op is an opportunity to test out a career while exploring your major.
- Participate in a Dialogue of Civilization/study abroad or other global experience to learn more about the issues and trends in a major.
- Be creative! Self-develop your own opportunities through passion projects. For example, do you see a problem you want to develop an app to address?
It’s always important to learn about the corporate culture of any organization that interests you. It’s demotivating to work in an environment that doesn’t allow you to be your authentic self.
The Career Design webpage in the Special Populations section contains extensive resources and advice to help you begin your company/organization research, including questions to ask employers. Some of these resources are highlighted here.
The following sections of employer websites will help you glean the information you’re looking for: About Us, History and Mission/Values. This is the type of information you can look for:
- Commitment to diversity and inclusion and non-discrimination policies
- Involvement with publications and events surrounding issues of diversity and inclusion
- Rankings or awards by Forbes, Diversity Inc. and/or other websites
- Employee Resource Groups for multicultural populations
- Representation of diversity in senior management and C-suite leadership
In addition, read the employer’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement, hiring policies, or check any job posting to assess language—do these policies protect against discrimination because of sexual orientation, gender identity, characteristics, or expression?
It can be beneficial to learn from other people’s experiences. Network with diverse professionals and alumni who share your identities and ask about their experiences with their employers. The Employer Engagement and Career Design Office at Northeastern University works with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to support students as they pursue internship and co-op, and post-graduation positions.
There are a many resources for students with disabilities that are accessible through the Students with Disabilities page of the Career Design website under National Resources. These include:
- DisabilityIn: A non- profit organization that works with businesses to achieve disability inclusion and equity. This organization’s resources include a Disability Index report.
- Bender Consulting Services, Inc. holds an annual virtual career fair for people with disabilities.
The job or internship search is a process that requires you to research and network to learn about and identify potential employers and opportunities. As you network and develop professional relationships, you will begin to learn about opportunities that are not posted on company websites or job boards. Incorporate company web pages and social media in your search as well as job boards, particularly NUworks, since employers who post there are interested in recruiting NU students/alums.
To start, go to the Career Design webpage. The following links contain additional resources: Learn About Internships, Job Search Process, and Job Search Resources. Refer to Career Design’s Career Guides for major/field-specific suggestions.
- Participate in Career Design events including, virtual career fairs and employer and alumni panels related to your field.
- Drop into the Career Studio to talk about creating a self-directed job search strategy.
NUworks is an excellent resource for identifying full-time jobs and internships, but it doesn’t list campus positions. Go to the Office of Student Employment and NU Student Temps.
If you are a PhD applying for a teaching or research position in a college/university, it is very likely that you will be asked to submit a research statement, a teaching statement, and a diversity statement along with your academic CV and academic cover letter. Career Design partners with the PhD Network, CATLR, and the Writing Center each year to put on a comprehensive set of programs related specifically to academic job applications. Events will be cross-listed on each department’s online calendar. You may also review these documents at the PhD Resource Circle or Career Studio (Check Doctoral Resources for Resource Circle and Career Studio Hours), or you can make an appointment with the PhD Career Coach.
The Career Design coaching lab Preparing for Law and Graduate School is a great place to start (go to NUworks to register for this and all of our coaching labs). You can then drop into the Career Studio for the weekly Pre-law and Graduate School advising hours. Extensive supplemental material can be found on the Career Design Graduate and Law School page on our website.
There are many different types of fellowships. Some fellowships fund graduate school. Others offer the ability to study languages abroad or focus on making a difference in a specific discipline or industry. Fellowships underwrite your experience financially. Some are full-year commitments and others are just for a summer. Fellowships often open doors academically, personally, and professionally and are considered prestigious. The Offices of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships and Career Design can help you research fellowship opportunities and prepare you for the application process.
If you have an offer and a deadline to answer, sign into the Career Studio and ask for a staff person to help you with a job offer.
If you haven’t gotten to that point, take a deep breath. This doesn’t have to be daunting, but it requires thorough preparation, knowing your worth, and being comfortable talking about it. The Career Design coaching lab Negotiating Job Offers and Salaries provides you with the tools to understand the salary negotiation process and valuable resources for researching salary statistics. The lab takes you through the steps of evaluating an offer, ways to deflect salary questions too early in the process, how to articulate your value, and build your confidence in your negotiation strategy (go to NUworks to register for this and all of our coaching labs).
The Salary and Job Offer Negotiation page of the Career Design website puts these resources at your fingertips. Sign-in to the Career Studio and speak with a staff person to review any questions you have regarding salary and job offer negotiation. You can also take advantage of Career Design’s Canvas Module on this topic.
There are five Career Design coaching labs to help you get started: Leading Your Job Search, Finding Internships, International Student Job and Internship Search Strategies, Navigating Cross-Cultural Differences in the U.S. Job Search, and the Home Country Job Search for International Students. Many of these coaching las are also available in our Canvas Modules for your review. Also, be sure to review our international student journey maps to learn more about how to be proactive, utilize Localized, a resource especially for those seeking roles, thought leaders, and mentors within the Middle East and North Africa, and GoinGlobal which provides job search resources for many countries and cities globally and can be accessed through NUworks . Be sure to also see International Student resources page of our website.
The short answer is yes, absolutely participate in our career fairs!
- Why should I attend hiring events?
- Career fairs are a wonderful opportunity to explore your interests, learn more about different organizations and employers, and become more skilled at job market research and networking!
- How should I prepare for hiring events like Talent Connect and career fairs?
- Career Design is available to support you through the process of meeting with employers.
- Let Employer Engagement and Career Design help you! Attend the NU Talent Connect Success Tips plus other preparation workshops for events like Career Fairs to hear from career professionals about what you can do to make the most of the event. Visit the Career Studio, to have your resume critiqued and develop your professional introduction. and develop your professional introduction.
- To prepare, attend Career Design’s recurring weekly coaching labs on resumes, LinkedIn branding, networking, interviewing, and other relevant topics. Check out the schedule and descriptions.
- The Career Studio will also be available for same-day drop-ins during career fairs.
- Career Fair FAQ’s, Myth, Success Tips, and other resources can be found here.
- What should I know about a career fair if I’m an international student?
- Know your visa status beforehand and which jobs you will and will not be eligible for with a US company.
- Identify which participating employers will consider hiring international students.
- Do not visit companies that say they hire US Citizens or Permanent Residents only.
- When speaking with employers, be sure to focus on your skills, experiences, and interest in the company—not your visa status.
- It may also help to research which companies have branch offices in your home country.
- Please visit our Virtual Career Fairs and Hiring Event Tips & FAQ’s for more information.
- Career Design also offers a coaching lab on US cultural differences available on Canvas to help increase your confidence as you communicate with employers.
- Review great resources on our International Student webpage.
How do I prepare for a virtual career fair?
- Be prepared, be yourself, and have polished electronic documents free of any spelling or grammatical errors ready to be shared.
- Identify Companies of Interest. Understand who will be there. What companies will be attending? What industries are being represented? What size are the companies in attendance?
- Ask yourself what you are looking for. What are your career interests and goals? Which of the companies might offer employment related to your major or career interests? Do you have internships or other experiences that might make you attractive to a particular company? What are your strengths? Find the strengths in all your experiences.
- Consider other factors, e.g., geography—are there companies with branches in preferred locations? Would you prefer a startup or an established organization? Are they known for a particular work culture that would appeal to you?
- Craft your Professional Introduction for use when meeting employers. Always know who you are talking to and who they represent (division or job function) to discuss your background’s most relevant aspects. Tailor your story for each company representative so that you can better address their needs. For example, if it is a startup and you have an entrepreneurial mindset, then emphasize that aspect. If the position requires a finance background, emphasize related coursework and experience.
- Take advantage of Career Design coaching labs and Canvas modules to generate effective profiles and resumes and learn effective networking and interviewing techniques.
- Become more skilled at job market research and networking.
- It’s just as important to prepare and make a great first impression with employers virtually as it is in person.
- Be sure your technology works.
- Ensure that you have a quiet place to be during the time you schedule to attend the fair.
- Please visit our Virtual Career Fairs and Hiring Event Tips & FAQ’s for more information.
- Also, see the Career Design webpage for information on Career Fair preparation and any career fairs we are offering.
Tell Your Story — A Unique Profile Helps You Stand Out
In a saturated information landscape and competitive job market, how will you stand out? By being your unique self! Developing and promoting your personal and professional brand is an ongoing process. It starts with Knowing Your ‘I’ and Why so you can tell an authentic, clear, and distinctive story.
We have many resources you can use to develop a successful resume. Start with our online resources including, our Resume Guide, Resume Examples (left menu), VMock (login with your Northeastern email), Jobscan, and Resume/Cover Letter Canvas module. There, you’ll learn the importance of tailoring your resume for each application, and you can revise or begin constructing your draft. If you’re working on a Resume for Graduate School Applications, you might find the examples on our website helpful. You can also join us live (virtually) for our Revising your Resume coaching lab, where you’ll refine your resume writing skills and think together about any questions you might have. If you still have questions after using our online resources and attending a coaching lab, visit the Career Studio to meet one-on-one with a Career Coach.
If you are a PhD, you can work on revising your resume at our workshops, the PhD Career Resource Circle or PhD Career Studio hours (Check Doctoral Resources for Resource Circle and Career Studio Hours), or you can make an appointment with the PhD Career Coach. PhDs may also find our asynchronous career development module, PhD Career Portfolio: Industry, helpful and informative.
If you need help with English language communication related to your job documents, you may visit the Northeastern Writing Center or the International Tutoring Center.
Yes and no. In international contexts, it is common to hear the terms CV (curriculum vitae) and resume used interchangeably to refer to the document Americans would call a resume. Many job application websites will contain a section that suggests you upload a CV/Resume. In those cases, they are typically looking for a short (1-2 page) resume. Each country has different expectations for what is required in a resume, so if you are applying for a global opportunity, it is essential to do your research and learn about expectations in that country. See GoinGlobal (available through NUworks) for country-specific guidelines and examples. In the United States, the CV is a document used primarily to apply for academic teaching or research positions (PhDs), grants or fellowships, or additional academic training. If you find yourself confused about which to use, visit the Career Studio to meet one-on-one with a Career Coach and find the right solution for you.
A CV is appropriate for PhDs who are applying for teaching or research roles in colleges/universities. Some high-level research positions in labs will also require a CV. Career Design has several helpful resources for developing your CV. You may also need a CV for Graduate School applications, but many graduate programs prefer a resume. Read the application instructions carefully to understand what is required. If you find yourself confused about which document is appropriate for you, visit the Career Studio to meet one-on-one with a Career Coach.
If you are a PhD, you can revise your CV at our workshops, the PhD Career Resource Circle or PhD Career Studio hours (Check Doctoral Resources for Resource Circle and Career Studio Hours), or you can make an appointment with the PhD Career Coach. PhDs working to convert their CV to an industry-style resume may also find our asynchronous career development module, PhD Career Portfolio: Industry, helpful and informative.
While a resume summarizes your experience, a cover letter persuasively relates that experience to a specific job application. Just like your resume, your cover letter must be tailored to the job description! Although a cover letter is not always required, when it is, it allows you to explain why you’re interested in that specific company, making you a more attractive candidate to that employer. We have many resources you can use to develop a great cover letter. Start with our online resources including, our Cover Letter Guide, Cover Letter Check List, and Cover Letter Samples (left menu). You can also learn more with our Resume/Cover Letter Canvas module. Then, join us live (virtually) for our Crafting Your Cover Letter coaching lab, where you’ll refine your skills and think through examples together as a group. If you still have questions after using our online resources and attending a coaching lab, visit the Career Studio to meet one-on-one with a Career Coach.
If you are a PhD, you can work on revising your industry cover letters the PhD Career Resource Circle or PhD Career Studio hours (Check Doctoral Resources for Resource Circle and Career Studio Hours), or you can make an appointment with the PhD Career Coach. PhDs may also utilize the services above to discuss academic cover letters—a different document known by the same name used to apply for teaching or research positions at colleges/universities. PhDs working to craft industry cover letters may also find our asynchronous career development module, PhD Career Portfolio: Industry, helpful and informative.
It is very important that your LinkedIn and public social media personas are consistent with the way you present yourself in your job documents (resume and cover letter). Our resources can help you learn to make informed decisions about how to cultivate, protect, and promote your professional identity, refine your profiles, and create a professional brand that represents you as a unique individual. Start with our online resources including our LinkedIn Guide and LinkedIn Summary and Samples. Then, join us live (virtually) for our Promoting Your Brand on LinkedIn coaching lab where you’ll refine your skills and think through examples together as a group. If you still have questions after using our online resources and attending a coaching lab, visit the Career Studio to meet one-on-one with a Career Coach.
If you are a PhD, you can learn to manage your online identity at our workshops, the PhD Career Resource Circle or PhD Career Studio hours (Check Doctoral Resources for Resource Circle and Career Studio Hours), or you can make an appointment with the PhD Career Coach. PhDs interested in networking and their online identity may also find our asynchronous career development module, Networking and Online Identity for PhDs, helpful and informative.
If you’ve been invited for an interview, congratulations! It’s important to be prepared, so be sure to review your interview etiquette and research the company and the individual(s) with whom you are scheduled to meet (if you know who they are). Our resources will help you learn how to introduce yourself, understand different types of interviews (telephone, virtual, behavioral, technical, case, and more), anticipate and practice answers to different types of interview questions, and prepare your own questions to ask during your interview. Remember, an interview is not only beneficial for the employer; it is your opportunity to determine if the company is a good fit for you. The best place to start is always our online interviewing resources including Big Interview. Through these resources, you’ll learn how to craft a professional introduction, storytelling techniques, and more!
A professional introduction is your first opportunity to make a good impression. The skill is transferable; you can use it to introduce yourself at a career fair or to networking contacts. Don’t forget to check out Your Professional Introduction Guide to help you craft your own introduction. Once you’ve learned as much as you can from our online resources, join our Interviewing with Confidence coaching lab to refine your skills and strategize. If you’d like more practice after using our online resources and attending a coaching lab, visit the Career Studio to meet one-on-one with a Career Coach for a mock interview.
Most jobs will require you to submit a resume and a cover letter, but others will need additional submissions to demonstrate your skills and abilities. The types of submissions that may be needed depend on the kind of job and field. If you are applying to a position in journalism or marketing, you may be asked for writing samples. These samples should come from your most recent work, courses, articles or publications. If you are applying for a position as a Mechanical Engineer, an Architect, or Designer, they might ask to see your portfolio—a visual collection of your previous work. One popular way of creating a virtual portfolio is to use a personal website to display images of models, artwork, or other projects. Another is posting examples of your work on LinkedIn. Software Developers often use GitHub to demonstrate their skills. Do your research and seek out networking contacts including experienced professionals to learn the most appropriate platforms for your field.
If you are applying for graduate programs or law school or prestigious fellowships, you’ll very likely be asked for a brief personal statement and/or to answer questions pertaining to your interest in the program to which you’re applying. These are great opportunities to showcase your writing ability by telling your story clearly and concisely in a way that relates to your goals and your vision for the future. Join our Preparing for Law/Graduate School coaching lab to learn more about the documents that will be required and how to develop a draft that does a good job representing you. Undergraduate students may also be interested in visiting Northeastern Undergraduate Research & Fellowships for guidance and resources.
If you are a PhD applying for a teaching or research position in a college/university it is very likely that you will be asked to submit a research statement, a teaching statement, and a diversity statement along with your academic CV and academic cover letter. Career Design partners with the PhD Network, CATLR, and the Writing Center each year to put on a comprehensive set of programs related specifically to academic job applications. Events will be cross listed on each department’s online calendar. You may also review these documents at the the PhD Career Resource Circle or PhD Career Studio hours (Check Doctoral Resources for Resource Circle and Career Studio Hours), or you can make an appointment with the PhD Career Coach.
Your job documents are one of the first opportunities for a potential employer to get to know you and learn what is important to you. In many instances, learners showcase different values or elements of their identity in sections that address activities, honors/awards, leadership, and volunteer work. Take a look at our resume examples to see how learners have incorporated their identity into their job documents. Another opportunity to showcase your identity is within your professional brand. Visit our Promoting Your Brand on LinkedIn coaching lab to learn strategies and best practices. You can also review this information through our Canvas Module on this topic. Don’t forget, your identity can play a role in networking too! Connect with like-minded individuals for informational interviews and forge connections with companies that share your values. You can learn more about networking at our website or in our Networking Through LinkedIn coaching lab. Take the time to think about how you can showcase the best version of yourself and help employers get to know the real you behind your documents. These details are also available in a Canvas Module.
Navigate Networks — Relationships Bring Both Jobs and Joy
Hiring doesn’t happen through listings alone but through relationships. Each of us is connected to a variety of familial, professional, and social communities, including Northeastern University’s vast global network. Since you can’t easily see other people’s networks, it is essential to Tell Your Story regularly and let the power of networks connect you to fitting opportunities. LinkedIn, NUsource, and NUworks are all useful networking tools.
Hiring doesn’t happen through listings alone but through relationships. Each of us is connected to a variety of familial, professional, and social communities, including Northeastern University’s vast global network. Since you can’t easily see other people’s networks, it is essential to Tell Your Story regularly and let the power of networks connect you to fitting opportunities. Over 70% of jobs are found through networking and 94% of recruiters use social media in their recruitment efforts with LinkedIn as their #1 choice! LinkedIn, NUsource, and NUworks are all useful networking tools. Reach out to family, classmates, their parents, previous co-op, internship, and other prior employers, to be introduced to others in your major/degree, industry, or career(s) of interest!
There are several ways to meet people in your industry through LinkedIn, which has over 500 million members. Sixty-one million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers, and 40 million are in decision-making positions.
Be sure to join LinkedIn Groups. There are 350 Northeastern University affiliated LinkedIn groups, including groups for Employer Engagement and Career Design, International Students and Alumni, and others. In addition to joining relevant Northeastern University LinkedIn groups, we recommend joining groups related to your career interests, internship or job search groups, geographic locations, professional association groups, as well as groups for any organizations you’ve worked with or any other schools you’ve attended.
Also, identify alumni of interest on LinkedIn. Northeastern has over 260,000 alumni on LinkedIn! You can use it to search for alumni by their graduation year, job title, company, major, location, and more.
Want to learn more about how to leverage LinkedIn? Get started with these great resources on our website: Networking and LinkedIn and LinkedIn Guide and then check out our Networking Through LinkedIn and Promoting Your Brand on LinkedIn coaching labs!
Yes! There is an Alumni Directory you can access through NUsource. Click “Join NOW”, complete your profile using your Northeastern ID and information from LinkedIn if you choose. Click on Directory and select alum and click “Let’s Connect”. The alumni directory allows you to filter by major, industry experience, location, and company, Honors Program membership, as well as volunteer or professional associations.
Participate in discussions. In addition to the Alumni Directory, NUsource offers online discussions where you can post or ask a question, offer your help and view posted positions.
You can use NUsource to join groups and make connections. Join relevant affinity groups. Affinity groups on NUsource include Asian American, Black, Latinx, LGBTQA+, N.U.in, University Honors Program, Veterans & Services Members, Career Relaunchers, Young Global Leaders, Northeastern Black Lawyers Alumni Network, Hillel, and others. Join relevant industry groups on NUsource which range from Chemical Engineers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Data Analytics, Job Postings, Marketing/Communications, Music Industry, Non-Profit, Entrepreneurs, Women in Law and Black Lawyers Alumni Network, Women in STEM and others.
Check out the Connecting with Someone on NUsource video to help you learn how to effectively use NUsource for networking. A projects section with 2-6-week unpaid projects of 40-80 hours each will be coming soon! Remember, if you are an international student, contact OGS to determine if this is allowed for your visa status.
In addition, the Alumni Office hosts over 300 events each year. Northeastern has a robust network of over 275,000 alumni/ae across more than 180 countries. Check out their events and become active with NU Alumni chapters of interest.
Professional Associations are groups of individuals organized by career or industry. Membership in a professional association can have many benefits. There are often student or recent graduate membership rates that can be as low as $20. It’s a great way to learn about current industry and job trends. Many professional associations offer job and internship postings, and some offer a list-serve or group chat where you can learn about positions before they are posted!
Associations may also have a LinkedIn group to ask questions, participate in discussions, and view positions of interest. Some professional organizations also offer mentoring, podcasts, webinars, and events. Professional organizations may offer skills-based certifications and even scholarships for those studying to enter a related field. Most professional associations offer conferences (virtually or in-person) with multiple speakers on industry and career topics.
As a student, you should check with your department to learn if there is money available to subsidize the cost to attend professional development events. Conferences, whether they are virtual or in person, are great opportunities to meet other people in interesting careers and industries and often have local, national, and global chapters. Some even offer student scholarships to attend. Many professional organizations seek volunteers for different roles to help organize and deliver their conferences. One strategy to meet others at a conference is to volunteer to staff check-in and registration (now virtual). This way, everyone will remember you, and you will meet many people you can connect with at conference sessions.
There are many campus chapters of professional organizations, and this is a great place to start. Search Google for professional organizations of interest to you! LinkedIn also has many groups for professional organizations and provides their direct website information. There are also affinity groups within professional organizations and whole professional organizations that are identity-based, for example, the Asian Hustle Network for entrepreneurs. JobStars provides a listing of professional organizations as well as tips on how to build your network. You can also identify associations within the U.S. through the Directory of Associations or through GoinGlobal on NUworks.
An informational interview is typically is a 20-30-minute meeting where you interview an individual to learn more about your industries and careers of interest. It can help you clarify your career goals and learn from the career journeys of others. Your goal is to connect to people on the inside of target organizations. For example, if you’re interested in social impact careers, you would want to talk with individuals working in that area. See our Develop a Network and Informational Interviewing webpages and visit our Exploring Social Impact Careers coaching lab for more information on tips and topics of conversation.
In addition to joining LinkedIn groups and utilizing NUsource, participate in the Home Country Job Search for International Students coaching lab, Global Careers coaching lab. GoinGlobal, which can be accessed through NUworks, is also a great resource to find networking groups. Connect with mentors at leading companies through Localized. On LinkedIn alone, there are over 300 groups for overseas networking ranging from the China, Jobs, Employment & Career (over 232,000 members), China Expats & Returnees (over 133,000 members), Chinese Overseas Talent Pool (over 48,000 members) to India Jobs Network-Careers, Recruitment, Talent Acquisition, and HR (over 160,000 members), Hong Kong Connection (70,000 members), and Devex-International development (over 108,000 members). Search with different key words to identify the groups you want to join.
There are meaningful connections between your identity and how you would like to design your career. Here are potential questions and tips that will help you to think about being your authentic self when networking:
- What is the relationship between your identity, values and career goals and how can you incorporate this in Telling Your Unique Story and Navigating Your Networks?
- Are there affinity-based networking groups on LinkedIn such as Black Enterprises Networked, Latinx Startup Alliance, OutBüro, Diversity and Disability @Work, LGBT Professionals, Northeastern University International Students and Alumni Networking Group, or others that you would like to utilize in your job or internship search?
- Are there identity-based student organizations and professional groups that you would like to include on your resume, in your job search, and/or mention in your interviews? Log onto NUworks to access GoinGlobal for other professional organizations.
- What are the values of your target companies/organizations? Do they include a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion? Use the resources on our website in this and other sections in addition to your networking to identify, eliminate, or confirm which companies you would like to be on your target list.
- What identity-based Career Design events and coaching labs, including those listed here, would be helpful to you in learning more about creating your own networks and communities?
Utilize the Career Studio at Career Design to brainstorm with a Career Coach and talk about what’s right for you.
Reflect and Recalibrate — Integrative Learning Powers Your Next Move
Career design is fueled by integrative reflection, which helps you decide what to do next. After you’ve tested an option (e.g. a course, an internship or co-op, a job, travel), assess how the experience went. Did it put you on a fitting path you want to continue, or do you need to course-correct? Taking stock is what enables you to redesign your career and life as needed.
That’s ok! It’s common to pivot from your original plans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people change jobs on average 12-14 times before the age of 38! This is the time to take a step back, evaluate your experience, and reflect on what has changed for you. What did you discover about yourself through your experiences?
Depending on how your goal has changed, consider attending the Finding your Fit and Self-Assessment coaching labs to generate new ideas to explore and experience. You may also want to check in with your networks to receive advice and ideas from mentors and other professionals. Lastly, speak with a Career Coach in the Career Studio to clarify next steps and create new goals.
More than 75% of students change their major at least once. Your major does not necessarily determine your career as many graduates pursue industries that intersect with their passions and skills. Browse our career guides, Vocational Biographies: NEUniv and password: RAZDE, research potential majors, and check out the Explore Careers page of the Career Design website for additional resources to help you learn more. For additional exploration, conduct informational interviews with other students in the major in which you’re interested. Keep in mind that you can also audit classes and connect with program directors and department faculty by contacting their respective departments and attending office hours. Faculty are an excellent source of industry knowledge who could potentially connect you to contacts in their fields.
Have a conversation with both a Career Coach and your Academic Advisor to explore your options. You can attend the Finding Your Fit and Designing Your Career coaching labs, which are also available in Canvas, and meet with a Career Coach in the Career Studio.
Feeling stuck can happen for a variety of reasons: you have too many options and don’t know which to choose; you are uncertain about what would be the best fitting major, career, or job; you feel anxious and unsure about leaving your job even though you have outgrown your role. Whatever the reason, this is an opportunity to strengthen your resiliency and find new ways to move forward.
- Take a step back and revisit the Know Your “I” and Why part of the framework. Consider self-assessment to discover more about your values, interests, personality, and skills/strengths (VIPS). Understanding your VIPS will help you to make decisions that align with your evolving goals.
- Continue to Explore and Experience by volunteering, participating in co-op (if applicable), shadowing an employer, or conducting informational interviews. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
- Continue to network with family, friends, classmates, professors, alumni, former colleagues, and managers to learn about additional options. For more ideas, check out the Informational Interviewing and Networking pages on the Career Design website. Identify alumni and reach out using NUSource and the Northeastern University LinkedIn page.
- Meet with a Career Coach in the Career Studio to evaluate your experiences and how they have shaped your vision of your professional future.
You are careering for life! Your path may take many turns. Learn how to be in the driver’s seat by being proactive, intentional, and agile. Learn more about the steps you can take at Northeastern and beyond to advance your career. Here are some strategies and tips:
- Graduate school might be the next step in advancing your career. Making a decision about whether to go to law or graduate school requires the same kind of process that applies to other career decisions. As a potential graduate student, you need to understand your interests and aptitudes; gather information about schools and programs and be clear about your goals and the best way to achieve them. Consider participating in the Prepare for Graduate and Law School Coaching lab as well as speaking to the Pre-Law / Graduate School Adviser. Extensive supplemental material can be found on the Career Design Graduate and Law School page on our website.
- Use your networks to keep learning. NU is a member of many networks and fosters many networks in our university community. There are over 250,000 NU alumni throughout the world, and the University maintains strong connections to over 3,000 employers. Join NUSource and attend our coaching lab Networking Through LinkedIn to learn more.
- Always reflect and invest in your skills and abilities. Reflection is what integrative learning means: putting your experiences together for insight and action. There are various coaching labs to explore: Leveraging the Power of Transferable Skills, Upskilling and Working Remotely, Succeeding in the Workplace, and Staying Positive During Your Job Search. Also, consider networking as well as self-assessments.
Meet with a Career Coach in our Career Studio to evaluate your experiences and develop an action plan to advance your career.