How to research LGBTQIA friendly employers


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Christina serves students in McCormick, Medill, SESP & The Graduate School

By Christina Siders, NCA senior assistant director, serving students in McCormick, Medill, SESP & The Graduate School.

Even though many employers promote diverse recruiting strategies and LGBTQIA friendly hiring policies, it’s important to do your due diligence when assessing what company is the best fit for you. There are several considerations to make if you’re seeking a particular work environment, and researching the organization and its policies is essential.  When researching, look for the following:

  • Is there a written non-discrimination policy? And if so, does it specifically cover sexual orientation and gender expression?
  • Do they offer domestic partner benefits?
  • Is there an LGBTQIA resource group within the organization, and is it active?
  • Is the company ranked on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index?
  • Does the organization sponsor diversity trainings that include gender expression and sexual orientation?

If you’re looking in an unfamiliar geographical area, find out if the organization is located in a city or county that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Network with groups in the area to gain better awareness of both opportunities and of the resources available.

While the answers to these questions will help you better assess the work culture at each organization, it’s important to remember that attitudes can vary greatly from policy. Try to have as many candid conversations as possible when determining cultural fit.  For example, if the company has an LGBTQIA employee group, contact them and talk to current staff about the organizational climate.  What is it really like to work there?

NU alumni can also be a wonderful resource.  Contact the Northwestern University Gay and Lesbian Alumni (NUGALA) Association to connect with LGBTQIA professionals in every industry.  Our Northwestern and LinkedIn can be invaluable when setting up networking meetings.  Look for individuals at companies of interest who are involved in relevant groups in their area or company.  Finally, don’t miss out on upcoming programming:

  • Know Your Rights: Thursday, October 6, 6-8 p.m., Multicultural Center (1936 Sheridan Road). Lambda Legal, a nonprofit devoted to the rights of LGBTQIA individuals, will facilitate a presentation regarding your rights and dialogue about the job application and hiring process. This will be an informal event and dinner will be served.
  • Alumni Employer-in-Residence: Friday, October 7, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Gender and Sexuality Resource Center – Norris, 3rd Floor.  Meet with ’09 alumnus and NUGALA President Marc Staros and his colleague at Slalom Consulting who can answer your questions regarding LGBTQIA  interviewing, hiring, or anything else that is on your  mind!

Views from the Cube: West Monroe Partners


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Kammer is a member of the WCAS Class of 2017, majoring in History with a minor in the Kapnick Business Institutions Program and a certificate in the Undergraduate Leadership Program. This summer, he interned with the Campus Recruiting team at West Monroe Partners, a Chicago-based consulting company, while enrolled in Chicago Field Studies.

Where did you intern this summer? Describe your internship role.

This summer, I interned with the Campus Recruiting team at the Chicago-based firm West Monroe Partners. This division of Talent Acquisition focuses on filling West Monroe’s entry-level positions, which students would recognize as the team that hosts information sessions, first round interviews, and social events designed to introduce students to a given firm. My primary role is to assist with the planning and execution of events on campus during the recruiting season, as well as with some additional tasks over the summer. I started with WMP in January, working part time in both winter and spring quarters, before going full time in June.

How did you learn about your internship? What was your internship search and application process like?

I originally found the internship through a posting on CareerCat, and after submitting an application on-line, went through a phone screen with the department manager before going into the office for a series of interviews.

What were your main internship responsibilities – from daily tasks to bigger projects?

Aside from assisting with events, my daily responsibilities were quite varied. They ranged from posting jobs for undergraduate and MBA students at universities across the country, to ensuring background checks for new hires were completed on time. Two of my bigger projects for the summer were writing the annual report for our division, which will be used internally to highlight the work the Campus Recruiting team does, as well as developing a method to streamline the division’s monthly budget and hiring status reporting to the director of Talent Acquisition and to firm leadership.

 What did you enjoy most about your internship?

I most enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere West Monroe presents to all who join it. Regardless of your position, background, or age, the entire office goes out of their way to make everyone feel welcome; a clear reflection of their people-first mentality. The best recommendation I could give for making the most out of an internship is to take advantage of the opportunities and potential connections that become available. I truly enjoyed being able to meet people from a wide variety of backgrounds who have a tremendous range of interests and skill sets at West Monroe. Every intern should go above and beyond to meet and work with as many people as possible while they have that chance. It doesn’t take much to reach out and start a conversation, and you never know what could result from it!

Employer Spotlight: Q&A w/Kevin Barry (WCAS ’00, Kellogg ’06), Director of Financial Operations – Annie’s / General Mills


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**General Mills will be on campus next week to discuss opportunities with their Finance Leadership Development program for internships! Meet the team at the Fall Internship & Job Fair or at an information session on September 27th. Find event details + submit your application in CareerCat!**

Tell us about your role at General Mills and what drew you to the company.

I’m the Finance Director on Annie’s at General Mills. I lead our finance team that works with our marketing, sales, and supply chain teams to grow our business and bring fantastic Annie’s products to more people.

I joined General Mills when I was in business school at Kellogg. What drew me to the company initially were great people I met through the interview process, and then a fantastic summer internship experience convinced me this was where I wanted to continue my career.

What is your work and education background?

I graduated from NU with a BA in Economics. My first job was with Jones Lang LaSalle in Chicago, where I worked on real estate development projects. After JLL, I came back to Evanston to get my MBA at Kellogg. In business school I did a summer internship at General Mills, and joined full time in 2006. I’ve had finance roles working in operations, marketing, and sales in Minneapolis, and also spent 3 years in Miami working in our Latin American business. After that I worked on our Annie’s acquisition, and I have since worked on the business integration, and for the past year as the Finance Director.

What makes a candidate stand out to General Mills and what is the recruiting process like?

We are looking for leaders who can drive results and make an impact. Candidates should have strong analytical skills, work well as part of a team, communicate effectively, demonstrate curiosity and a passion for learning, and be able to influence others. You’ll also need a passion for corporate finance, CPG, and food!

Our recruiting process starts on campus. You can connect with our team at campus events and the career fair. Then you’ll apply on campus website, and we will have on-campus interviews this fall.

What does an entry level role or internship look like?

The General Mills Finance Leadership Development Program (FLDP) is a great way to start your career. As part of the FLDP, you will have 3 roles in your first 3 years at General Mills, building broad experience in technical foundations, functional depth, and business basics. FLDP analysts receive training to help you get off to a fast start and quickly make an impact.

The FLDP allows candidates to demonstrate leadership, hone critical thinking skills, develop business context, and learn the General Mills and Finance culture.

Describe a typical workday.

Depending on your role, you could be working with a marketing team to decide how to launch a new product, or with a sales team on how to enter into a negotiation with a customer, or working on how to get our plants to run more efficiently. In any role, your day will entail working collaboratively with other members of General Mills to improve our business and achieve outstanding results. Core to the role is the ability to make sense of data and tell a story with stakeholders that helps influence effective business decisions

What do you enjoy most about working with General Mills?

Undoubtedly it is the people. I have had fantastic mentors, leaders, and friends at General Mills who have invested in my development by teaching and challenging me throughout. I learn from the people around me every day.

What professional advice do you have for students interested in this industry?

Love the products, and you’ll love your work. One of the best things about my job is telling people I work on Annie’s and to hear them rave about our Mac and Cheese!

What does your work space look like? 


What’s the best career or life advice you’ve received?

If you’re not uncomfortable you’re probably not learning. I’ve always gained the most working for and with people who challenged me. They made me better, and made the work more interesting.

Are there any current opportunities at General Mills for students or graduating seniors? 

Yes! General Mills is looking for awesome people to join our Finance Leadership Development program for internships next summer. We’ll be on-campus for the Internship & Job Fair Tuesday, September 27th from 12:00pm – 4:00pm in Norris. We’ll also be hosting a info session that same day from 5:00pm – 6:00pm in Norris, Wildcat Room B. Make sure to come by to talk to us in person, and check out our career listing at in CareerCat!

On-Campus Recruiting FAQS


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Geni leads employer development strategy and oversees the Employer and Strategic Outreach Team

By Geni Harclerode, Director of Employer Recruitment and Engagement

Late September marks the beginning of classes—and fall recruiting season. For those of you actively in the internship or job search, it’s likely you’ll be networking with employers, attending information sessions, and applying for positions in CareerCat over the next couple of months.

If you’re new to on-campus recruiting (also known as OCR), or need a refresher from years’ past, below are four of the most common questions we receive from students during this time. It is our hope that this information will help you better navigate the recruiting process, and we encourage you to reach out to a member of our team with any questions you may have along the way. And if you don’t find your dream employer or position this quarter, there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with employers throughout the year. Remember, different industries have different hiring cycles, and employers in a variety of industries post opportunities to CareerCat year-round.

  1. What if my GPA doesn’t meet the requirements?

Like many aspects of a candidate screening process, GPA is used differently by different employers, and for different purposes. Some key reasons for a GPA cut-off include:

-Standardizing their system. Employers are reviewing applicants across many academic profiles and, quite often, across institutions nationwide. This creates an easy comparison point among varied applicants.

-Narrowing the pool. In cases where employers are shifting through large volumes of resumes, a GPA cut-off creates a mechanism to manage that initial volume.

-Evaluating skills. Employers may believe GPA is a good marker for measuring desirable skills like project completion, goal setting, intellectual curiosity, and time management. They want to see you maintain a rigorous courseload successfully while also engaging in outside the classroom activities.

So what happens if you don’t meet that metric?

Clarify if this point is flexible: Understand that because employers use this measurement in different ways, some are more open to making exceptions than others.

Face time is key: Whenever possible, it is great if you can find an opportunity to speak to an employer directly, giving you the chance to also articulate your interest in the role, and some of your key selling points as a candidate.

Be specific and knowledgeable about your interest. Match the organization’s stated needs for the role with your background and skills. Can you articulate why and how this role is a compelling fit?

Address, respond, move-on: Employers appreciate an ability to grow from past mistakes. Perhaps your lower GPA comes from a difficult first year transition, a rocky personal period, or a change in academic path. You can address these points directly, without superfluous personal details, and confidently owning your professional story. Show that this has contributed to your personal growth without dwelling too long on it.

Bottom line: Reach out to the employer directly (in person is ideal), ask about whether they are open to considering candidates outside of the GPA range. Address the issue head on while also noting your specific interest in the role, your strengths, and your appreciation of their consideration.

If the employer has communicated they would like you to be added to their candidate pool, please share that with the NCA Employer Relations team and we will be glad to honor that accommodation.

  1. What if I have to arrive late to an information session, or can’t come at all? Can I have the recruiter’s contact information?

“Recruiting season”, or the period that runs from the end of September through Thanksgiving, can be a hectic time for students and a condensed period of heightened employer activity on campus. It is very likely that firms vying for the same students will also have recruiting activities that overlap. In this busy time, it can be difficult to manage competing events.

Attending information sessions allows you to: learn more about a company, network with contacts and alums, and get an understanding of their hiring profile. Even if you cannot attend the duration of the session, being there for a portion of time has value. If possible, address your late arrival or early departure with a recruiter prior to the start of the event, or immediately after. A brief apology that also reiterates interest in the company is ideal. Employers are keenly aware that students have a full plate this time of year.

Employers set their own preferred communication channels within CareerCat. They may range from internal career websites, to shared university recruiting contacts, to personal email addresses. Because of this variance, and the volume of employers we serve, we defer to employer preference and do not release additional employer contacts outside of what is posted in CareerCat. While engaging with an employer at an info session or career fair, students should be proactive in requesting preferred contact information for follow up. LinkedIn and OurNorthwestern are also great tools for connecting with alums at companies of interest.

If you need to miss an event in observance of a religious holiday, please notify the NCA Employer Relations team and every effort will be made to communicate that to the host employer and make appropriate accommodations.

If you are studying abroad and still interested in companies coming to campus, be sure your application materials clearly state you are not currently on campus. Many employers are able to accommodate virtual interviews as an alternative. In these cases, NCA staff can work directly with you and the employer to assist with the set up.

  1. How do I sign up for an interview? What does it mean if my status is “pending”?

If you have been invited to an interview, your application status will change from “requested” to “invited”. In the “Interviews” tab of CareerCat, this position will appear in the “Requested Interviews” section. Once you schedule the interview, the position will appear in the “Scheduled Interviews” section.

CareerCat will never show a “Not Invited” application status, so if the alternate deadline has passed and your status did not change, then you were not invited. It is in a student’s best interest to make check-ins with CareerCat a regular and habitual part of your week during recruiting season when positions are changing and updating daily. Remember, sign-ups for interviews are on a first come, first serve basis for invited students. The system allows students to access interviews for invited students beginning at 12:01am on the day interview sign-ups start.

  1. I got a second round interview (yay!) but it overlaps with another interview I have scheduled at NCA (oh no!). Help!

First, congrats on the interview. If you have to miss a first round interview at NCA:

  1. Remove yourself from the schedule whenever possible and as soon as possible. Most schedules within CareerCat remain accessible to edits directly from students until two business days before the interview. If you can still modify the schedule yourself, please do so as soon as you know you will not be able to attend the interview.
  2. If you cannot access the schedule on your own, notify NCA immediately. Per our recruiting policies you will need to write a note to the employer apologizing for the missed interview if you are canceling within 2 business days.
  3. If you are still interested in the position, reach out directly to the employer. NCA staff can help you draft an appropriate email. You will want to let the employer know why you have to miss the interview, reiterate your strong interest in the position, and inquire whether alternate accommodations can be made.

If you have additional questions, or would like guidance as you prepare for on-campus recruiting, I encourage you to make an appointment with your career adviser. We wish you the very best in your career pursuits, and we look forward to seeing you this year!


Career Advising Series: A guide to finance & consulting internship recruitment


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067.jpgBy members of the NCA finance & consulting industry team, including: Career advisers Maggie Smith and Jose Santos (serving students in WCAS),  Rachel Garson Taylor (serving Kellogg CPU students), and employer recruiting strategists Liz Abello and Tory Key

As we approach fall quarter, you might be preparing for internship recruitment in
consulting and finance. Both industries have accelerated their recruiting timelines and will do most of their internship recruitment this fall. If you are not interested in either industry, you will have an opportunity for your own internship search later on in the year.

If you are interested in both finance and consulting, you might be wondering:

Can I go through recruitment for both Finance and Consulting internships, simultaneously?

The short answer: Yes. You can apply for internships of interest in both industries.

A better question might be: Should I go through recruitment for both Finance and Consulting internships, simultaneously?

In choosing to go through recruitment for both finance and consulting, you may want to consider the following:

  • Both industries are competitive; employers are seeking candidates who are fully committed to the industry.
  • You will need to be able to clearly articulate “why finance” or “why consulting” to an employer, a networking contact, or an interviewer. Your personal narrative will need to reflect confidence, preparation, relevant experience, and fit for each industry.
  • The recruiting processes for each industry require significant time and effort. Consider the following elements:
    • Tailored resumes
    • A professional introduction specific to each industry
    • Industry research
    • Attendance at different information sessions and employer events
    • Specific networking contacts based on the industry
    • Industry- specific interview preparation

Success in either industry will require a tailored strategy. Think about your fall quarter and whether you have the capacity to develop and execute two, unique recruiting strategies.

Then, ask yourself:

Am I really interested in both industries?

You might hear a lot of students discuss the finance and consulting industries together, but in reality, the day to day work and overall objectives of each industry differ quite a bit.

If you haven’t already done so, you should research each industry and begin to do informational interviews to learn which industry might be a better fit for your individual interests, values, skills, and career objectives.

You can begin your research on NCA’s website:

What are the similarities and differences between the two recruiting processes?


  • Commitment: Both are seeking highly qualified, experienced candidates who are committed to the industry and have demonstrated their interest over time.
  • Skills: Both require quantitative and analytic skills.
  • GPA: Both have a minimum GPA requirement and are looking for candidates with an excellent academic record.
  • Resume: Both require a tailored resume that focuses on quantifiable details and outcomes/results.
  • Timeline: Both recruit at the same time; deadlines and interviews will overlap.
  • Employer Events: Candidates are expected to connect with employers through information sessions, career fairs, coffee chats, and networking events to demonstrate their interest in the industry and in a specific employer.
  • Information Sessions: Both host information sessions on campus during fall quarter to connect with interested students. Many of these events will overlap between the two industries (i.e. a consulting firm and investment bank will have an information session scheduled at the same time), so you would have to choose which sessions to attend.
  • Networking: Employers are seeking candidates who have developed relationships with recruiters, alumni, and other professionals as they prepare for recruitment. Networking helps you stand out and is crucial to a successful recruitment process. You should be developing contacts and networking within each industry, if you intend to apply for both.
  • Behavioral Interviews: The interview processes each include a behavioral interview component; employers want to get a sense of your previous experience and fit within the industry.  Like information sessions, first round interviews might overlap between the two industries.


  • The Case Interview: Unique to consulting, the case interview is a substantial portion of a consulting interview and requires significant preparation and practice. If you intend to go through recruitment for consulting, you should be studying mental math, reviewing frameworks, completing practice cases, and working with peers and/or alumni mentors to practice case interviewing.
  • The Technical Interview: Employers within finance will incorporate technical questions into the interview process to assess your industry knowledge and ability to perform the basic functions of a summer analyst. Technical interview questions might include valuation, DCF, and basic accounting.
  • Focus on the Internship: Finance tends to focus recruiting efforts on summer analyst positions and do very little recruiting for full-time positions. If you are interested in working in finance after graduation, an internship is critical to securing a full-time role. Consulting firms hire for both internships and full-time roles on campus.
  • GPA & Academic Experience: Employers in finance tend to require a higher GPA than employers in consulting. Further, consulting employers might be more open to students from all majors, while employers in finance are looking for students with a highly quantitative and specific technical background.


Ultimately, the decision to go through recruitment for one or both industries is up to you.

You should first consider whether you’re equally interested in both finance and consulting. Then consider the amount of time you’re looking to spend on recruiting, and if you have the capacity to really dedicate the amount of time required for each industry.

NCA is here to help with your process. For help deciding which industry might be the best fit for you, schedule an appointment with your career counselor. For assistance developing and executing your strategy and navigating the recruitment process, schedule an appointment with your career adviser.

Starting a Master’s Program and Job Searching for International Students


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By Brett Boettcher, NCA associate director of professional program strategy & management, serving students in the School of Professional Studies and master’s students in The Graduate School.

Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA) would like to welcome you to the first of five international master’s student blogs that will share tips and strategies to manage job searching in the U.S. Our hope is that tBretthese blogs will inspire thoughtful reflection on your job options and search. Each blog will be posted at key points during Fall Quarter featuring significant milestones for your search.  

For many of you, your new Master’s program will represent a new direction in your career path and will mean that you will be seeking a new job at its completion. Today’s blog will identify key strategies and information to assist you in starting your program and beginning your job search in an effective way.

Your best strategy for starting your program and your job search is to clearly understand your options and to develop an industry-specific plan and timeline. By doing so, you will find more job search success than without. A great place to start examining your options and setting your job search plan is the career services office that aligns with your programs, including McCormick’s Office of Career Development, Medill Career Services, School of Communication’s EPICS, or Northwestern Career Advancement. Visit each office’s website to determine services for your program.

By scheduling an appointment with the appropriate career services adviser/coach, you will better understand recruiting for international students and make the most of the job search in your industry of choice. In your meetings, you will learn:

  • Important facts about recruiting for the industry you are planning to pursue and when it makes sense to start the job search.
  • Should you exercise your CPT option and pursue an internship? Internships are great experience and skill-builders, but may not work for everyone.

Your career services office can assist you to avoid common master’s student pitfalls. Far too often new master’s students start their job search in a non-organized manner. Some start prematurely and others delay the start of their job search due to lack of career direction or a desire to focus only on classes. Either strategy can bring negative results including poor impressions on employers or missed opportunities.

Finally, it is important to fully understand student visas and how they impact the internship and job search. Northwestern’s International Office is a critical partner in understanding U.S. visas and your options as well as assisting with visa processing for CPT and OPT. NCA encourages students to reach out and establish a relationship with an adviser at the International Office.

SIGP 2016: NCA awards record number of grants to support unpaid summer internships


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One of four groups of 2016 SIGP recipients

The numbers are in: More than 350 students are receiving grants of at least $3,000 to participate in unpaid internships this summer as part of Northwestern Career Advancement’s (NCA) annual Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP). These students are part of the 10th SIGP class, which awarded the highest number of recipients from the largest pool of applicants, surpassing last year’s record of 255 grants. The program has come a long way since its inaugural year in 2007, when fewer than 100 students applied to receive one of 10 available grants.

SIGP’s primary purpose is to provide funding to Northwestern undergraduate students who are completing internships in fields that do not typically offer paid experiences. The grant covers students’ living and travel expenses throughout the duration of their internships.

NCA executive director Mark Presnell said that it was difficult to predict how much SIGP would grow this year, but that its increase in applicant numbers shows the demand that exists for this type of funding. Seven hundred students applied for a grant this spring, nearly double the number from 2015. Applications include three essay questions that are evaluated on several points, including demonstrated need and consideration of internship learning objectives.

“I think it’s clear from a student perspective that SIGP allows students to pursue a wide range of interesting internships without concern for personal funding,” Presnell said.

This financial support allows SIGP recipients to pursue opportunities that otherwise might not be possible. In 2015, eighty-six percent of SIGP recipients surveyed said that they would have had to turn down their summer experience or supplement it with a second job had it not been for SIGP funding.

For Corinne Wessels, a rising junior in the School of Education and Social Policy, SIGP has allowed her to pursue her dream internship at Lurie Children’s Hospital in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Inpatient Program.

“To me, receiving a SIGP grant was so much more than money,” Wessels said. “Without a SIGP grant, my amazing experience at Lurie Children’s Hospital would not have been possible. The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Inpatient Program deeply relates to my aspirations of a career in psychological services and mental health. Thanks to a SIGP grant, I am able to gain a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as an undergraduate student at Northwestern University and gain valuable experience, in an environment that resonates with the future atmosphere of my career.”

SIGP funding comes from a variety of sources, such as Northwestern alumni, staff, central administration and friends of the University. Major contributors include the Alumnae of Northwestern University, Council of One Hundred and Buffett Institute for Global Studies.

This summer, SIGP students are interning at organizations such as the United States Department of Commerce, American Documentary Inc., and CNN Buenos Aires. Students will travel to internship sites all over the world, from Chicago and Washington, D.C., to Argentina and Hong Kong.

Magdalena Flores, a rising sophomore in the School of Communication, will pursue an internship at the Latino Policy Forum in Chicago, where she will build on her communications skills.

“Receiving a SIGP grant means that I am able to gain the real-world experience that will help me in my future career path after Northwestern,” Flores said. “As a communications intern for the Latino Policy Forum in Chicago, I am able to apply theories learned in academic courses to my daily media and public relations tasks.”

Frank Laucerica, a rising senior in Bienen, will participate in his second SIGP internship at the Miami Summer Music Festival. He values the learning opportunities that are paramount to the internship experience.

“Internships help us maximize the time we invest in the pursuit of mastery,” Laucerica said.

To round out their internship experiences, SIGP recipients are also engaging in career development activities throughout the summer, such as participating in discussions on LinkedIn, conducting informational interviews, and networking.

Career Advising Series: Professional communication & ethics in the workplace


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By Laura Myers, associate director of student career advising, serving students in the School of Communication and Bienen School of Music.

**Hear more on summer internships from Laura and career adviser Mearah Quinn-Brauner in the second episode of our new NCA Career Chats Podcast, including advice on professional dress, maintaining contact with co-workers and how to leave your internship on a high note.

LauraPresenting yourself professionally is a “must” when starting your internship, and I don’t mean just in your attire. So much goes into professionalism, and in most instances your communication and ethics are going to be two of the most noticed behaviors by your supervisor, staff, and even other interns.

Here are some things to think about as you begin your internship:

Verbal & Non-verbal Communication

  • Avoid gossiping in the workplace even if others are. We all need to “vent” sometimes but be very careful as people often hear a lot more than you think. My best advice is to do your venting away from the office and in private. If you’re out in public just be aware that it’s a small world and you never know who is listening.
  • Be aware of non-verbals. When a colleague says something that is upsetting to you, you may not verbally respond but your body language and facial expressions can give away your true feelings even more than your words can sometimes. Do your best to control your emotions and reactions.
  • Master the art of listening. People often keep talking when they should be listening, or if they do get a chance to listen their thoughts are elsewhere. Learn to really listen and your contributions will be much greater.
  • Communicate your thoughts and/or ideas in meetings and conversations but always think before you speak. Don’t talk just for the sake of talking.
  • Consider asking your supervisor and/or other staff how they want you to communicate with them (i.e. email, IM, text, phone, in person), as everyone has a different preference.
  • Don’t be afraid of face-to-face communication or calling someone on the phone. Take the effort and walk over to someone’s office or desk- BUT do not linger outside their door or wait outside their office if they are busy or speaking with someone else.
  • Pay attention to the office culture and how staff communicate with each other. You might hear someone say something like, “this is the way we do things around here,” and the only way to learn how to do those things is to watch and listen.

Be Honest & Ethical

  • If you need a day off ask for it off as a vacation day instead of calling in sick, otherwise it could hurt you (i.e. You call in sick so that you can go to a Cubs game, and then later that night your supervisor is watching the replay of the game on the news and sees you sitting in the stands).
  • Don’t blame others for your mistakes. Take responsibility for mistakes you might make- No one is perfect.
  • Don’t use your employer resources (computer, fax, printer, copier, telephone, etc.) for personal use.
  • Don’t take home office supplies or hoard offices supplies at your desk.
  • If you find yourself bored or finishing assignments quickly don’t just surf the internet. Tell your supervisor and ask for additional projects/assignments.
  • Know all company policies and guidelines and adhere to them, especially policies on online use- Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
  • Don’t disclose any of your employer’s confidential or proprietary information.

Email Etiquette

  • Always use proper grammar and check your spelling especially if you’re sending emails from your phone.
  • Do not type emails like you would a text message or IM.
  • Don’t be too informal, especially when you’re new. I’m still shocked when I get an email from a student saying just, “Hey.” A salutation such as, “Hi Laura,” should be just fine.
  • Don’t “reply all” on an email unless it is really warranted; if you want to say something back to the individual who sent the email reply to only them.
  • Always write a proper subject line, which is one that shows content and purpose (i.e. instead of just saying “Question” as a subject line use, “Question about the networking event tonight”).
  • Keep in mind that tone is very hard to translate through email, and often causes miscommunication.
  • Always remember that emails are never private, and can be found even after deleting them!

These are just some tips to keep in mind in regards to communication and ethics in the workplace but this list could go on and on. If ever in doubt about something, ask your supervisor or a colleague. And always try to make decisions based on integrity.

Career Advising Series: In-Person Networking Made Easier


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By Larry Jackson, NCA Assistant Director of Student Career Advising, serving students in McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science and the science fields in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.


Larry is an assistant director of student career advising for WCAS students (in the sciences) and McCormick students.

The process of networking in-person can be an anxiety provoking task. Thoughts may arise on what to say, where to start and how to maintain contact. There are several ways to simplify the face-to-face networking process to make it easier for you. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Identify your goal for networking. What is it you are hoping to gain from the networking interaction? Insight into a certain company? More information on a particular career path? Increased knowledge about a certain industry? It is important to consider your goal for the interaction as it will allow you to create questions that align with the information you are seeking.
  • Prospect contacts within your field of interest. Several opportunities exist on campus where you can connect with working professionals (e.g. employer information sessions, company meet and greets, and career fairs to name a few). However, there are many career paths that also have networking groups and professional associations where professionals engage with one another to discuss growing trends and initiatives within their field. Joining these groups and associations could be advantageous as you will be able to expand your network, and increase your knowledge base on your chosen field. An NCA Career Adviser can provide more information on networking groups and associations that align with certain career paths.
  • Create and share your professional introduction. A strong introduction about your professional interests, experiences and goals sets a positive tone for every networking interaction. Share your name and briefly highlight activities you have been engaged in that have developed your career interests and skills sets. Such activities could include coursework, student group involvement, work experiences, or independent projects to name a few. By discussing your activities, your networking contact will have a greater understanding about the depth of involvement in a chosen career field and can provide next steps on how to achieve your career goals.
  • Have 2-3 questions prepared to ask potential contacts. Having a preliminary list of questions prepared can help break the ice during networking interactions. Open ended questions are preferred as they help facilitate a dialogue between you and the contact. Questions like “What made you decide on this career,” or “what have you enjoyed most about your job” are some examples of how you can jumpstart a conversation.
  • Be “present” during the networking interaction. Asking questions and providing responses are only two ways to show that you are engaged in the conversation with your networking contact. Demonstrate non-verbal behaviors such as taking notes, smiling, and maintaining consistent eye contact as this will show the other person that you are enjoying the interaction.
  • Follow up after your discussion. It is incredibly important to maintain dialogue with your contact after you have both had the opportunity to share your experiences. Ask your contact for a business card and send a follow up email within 24 hours. Share with the contact what you enjoyed most about your conversation, and ask when might be a good time for another discussion. The more proactive you are in maintaining the connection, the more likely your contact will respond and express interest in meeting again.

These six steps can help you get your networking off to a smooth start. To learn more about the networking process, schedule an appointment through CareerCat with your NCA career adviser. We are happy to help!

Career Advising Series: Master’s students: What are your plans for after Northwestern?


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By Brett Boettcher, NCA associate director of professional program strategy & management, serving students in the School of Professional Studies and master’s students in The Graduate School.

BrettBeginning and completing a master’s degree at Northwestern can be an exciting, yet extremely challenging endeavor. You’ll spend many hours learning highly focused, specific information and special skills that will make you ready for the working world.

The question is then, when and how do you find the time to reflect upon and take action toward your first steps beyond Northwestern?

The answer to that question is not always an easy one. There are many variables that can make committing time to your career next steps challenging, including managing a busy class schedule and program. Another variable could be that your master’s program is relatively short in duration. Shorter master’s programs can put you in the situation of job searching closer to the start of your program. You might even have family commitments that require your attention.

The intention of this blog is to assist you in taking the first steps toward beginning career reflection and taking action steps toward whatever direction you intend to pursue after Northwestern.

Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA) is a great place to start. We are here to support and coach you through this, sometimes, overwhelming process.

NCA will guide you in crafting a timeline and plan customized to you and your situation. Within this plan we can assist you in translating your degree experience for employers. If you are seeking an internship or a job, we can help you to understand how your industry of choice can impact your timeline. We can work on skill development like writing your resume & cover letter, LinkedIn presence, networking, interviewing, and even negotiating job offers. You may visit our website to learn more about NCA’s services to graduate students.

There is no special secret to beginning your career planning and action steps, you just have to begin. NCA’s skilled counselors and advisers are available to assist you with your career needs. We’ve got you covered.

To schedule an appointment with an adviser or counselor, just log-on to CareerCat and follow the “request a counseling appointment” link. You’ll need your NetID and password if you’ve never logged-on to CareerCat previously.