SIGP Views from the Cube: Teaching English w/ Come on Out – Japan


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David interned in Tokyo, Japan, teaching English to students at Toshin High School.

David is a rising Junior (’18) in Weinberg majoring in psychology and minoring in Asian Languages with a concentration in Japanese. As part of the Summer Internship Grant Program, David interned in Tokyo, Japan as an English teacher and mentor at Toshin High School, a preparatory school network for university entrance examinations in Japan. In the future, David hopes to be a physician assistant, but is also very interested in education.

This summer I interned in Tokyo, Japan at Toshin High School for six weeks. Using a one-week long curriculum developed by the Toshin company, I taught English and mentored different students every week. A large focal point of the program was having the students develop an idea of what their missions in life were by exposing them to a large range of studies that we, the interns, engaged in. While one week may seem too short of a time to make a difference, by the end of the week I witnessed students give incredibly impressive presentations on their life missions. Through an examination of global and local issues, students not only developed critical thinking skills, but also grew in self-confidence and motivation. They didn’t just discuss problems, they also presented their own ideas on how to solve them and explained how others could contribute.

Luckily enough for me, this internship was delivered straight to my email inbox by the Japanese listserv. While I interned for Toshin, the name of the internship program was “Come On Out – Japan.” To apply, I submitted a 3-page written application and then had two interviews through Skype over the course of two months. I received notification of my acceptance in early February and decided then to apply for SIGP.

As cheesy as it sounds, I take a lot of pride in knowing that I was able to change many of my students’ opinions on English, and learning in general. Reading a lot of their initial thoughts, I know that many of them felt scared and intimidated by an environment in which they could only speak English. The Japanese education system is worlds apart from the American one. Many of my students were content to stay silent during activities because they felt that what they had to say was either wrong or that they wouldn’t be able to properly convey their ideas in English. Trying to shift them away away from that perspective was a huge goal for me and I was very happy to achieve it. My students learned to take ownership of their education, to speak up when they were confused, and to ask questions when they felt curious. English is a difficult language to learn, but the most difficult hurdle to get over is one’s own inhibitions. Once they achieved this, they could tackle any problem that came at them.

While I certainly enjoyed teaching my students, what I enjoyed the most was my independence in a foreign country. Everyone should take a chance to leave their comfort bubble at least once. Going to a country that you’ve never been in before, alone, and trying to navigate life there has been such a frustrating but rewarding experience. My internship gave me a lot of freedom outside of work and I took advantage of every free moment to broaden my horizons. And because of that, I was able to foster many lifelong friendships and unforgettable memories.

SIGP Views from the Cube: Summer Teaching Fellow w/ Breakthrough Collaborative


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Simran Chadha is a third-year student majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders in the School of Communication at Northwestern University. She is a member of the class of 2017 and plans to matriculate to the Feinberg School of Medicine after graduation as part of the Honors Program in Medical Education. This summer, Simran interned as a Summer Teaching Fellow for Breakthrough Collaborative, Greater Boston.

After finishing a challenging year of organic chemistry as part of my pre-medical coursework, I was more than surprised to find out I would spend the duration of my summer teaching even more chemistry to middle schoolers. For me, education, teaching, and chemistry were never in the “ten year plan”. However, with the help of SIGP, I was able to explore education as a newfound passion in the form of working as a Summer Teaching Fellow for Breakthrough Collaborative in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Breakthrough Collaborative is an educational non-profit organization that provides a supportive and rigorous summer program for underserved students across the country. Breakthrough has a two-pronged mission, one, to excite and engage students otherwise unsupported by American education systems, and two, to give college students interested in education a real and challenging exposure to teaching as an occupation. Practically, this fellowship manifested itself in the form of long 7 AM – 6 PM work days, followed by late nights of lesson planning to teach two classes, of seven students each, the scientific method, atoms, elements, and acids and bases, among countless additional topics.

I spent my summer honing my skills in working with and teaching younger students with a team of approximately thirty other college-aged teachers. Beyond this, I was exposed to the crucial intersection of social justice and education in my classroom, daily. The Breakthrough student body is comprised of students of color, students receiving free and reduced lunch, single parent households, and potential first generation college students. My students’ backgrounds played a considerable and undeniable role in their performance in classroom settings. Working near a major city, in a summer filled with politics flying surrounding police brutality, I learned how to make Breakthrough a space where students could engage with the world around them in an academic way. We planned events outside of the classroom that allowed students to explore concepts of gender, race, and identity, and engaged students in topics relevant to them and their history. While I worked to make my chemistry class as applicable to the real world with experiments, I also created spaces for dialogue about ongoing world issues and helped students express themselves in constructive ways. I watched as students wrote persuasive essays about Black Lives Matter and performed poems about larger systems of oppression. Breakthrough fostered a safe community where students studied relevant topics and were enthusiastically supported by a teaching staff that genuinely cared. My late nights of work were filled with not only lesson planning, but also text messages and phone calls from students struggling with homework, who I then supported and advised even after work hours. Breakthrough was more than summer school – it was a community.

Leaving this experience, I have discovered new directions I want to take my future career. While I still hope to become a physician, I am sure I want to work with younger children, and explore the intersection of social justice with medicine. Further, my relationships with students this summer have inspired me to pursue mentorship opportunities with younger students in my local community. Overall, SIGP afforded me an unforgettable summer of learning, caring, and teaching.

SIGP Views from the Cube: Spark!Lab at the National Museum of American History


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img_3009Abigail Kutlas (SESP ’18) is a Learning Sciences major at Northwestern. She enjoys studying education, especially teaching best practices, and plans to pursue a career that aligns with those interests. Abigail is a 2016 Summer Internship Grant recipient.

This summer, I was an intern in Spark!Lab, which is part of the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. Spark!Lab is a hands-on invention space geared toward six- to 12-year-olds and their families. There are activity tables throughout the space that present problems centered on a theme (right now, it’s “Planet”) and give them materials to create an invention that might solve the problem (like something to take plastic out of the ocean). My two fellow interns and I were asked to complete individual projects related to family engagement, and we also spent about half of the time working directly with the visitors in Spark!Lab. Being out in the space allowed us to try out engagement techniques, test the different activities and get feedback on how accessible or intuitive they were.

When I was hunting for summer internships, I knew I wanted a unique experience that would be difficult to replicate through my extracurricular or volunteer work. I Googled “Smithsonian internships” on a whim and did some research before deciding to apply for education-focused internships at four museums. The National Museum of American History had internship positions in almost every department and the website was a little confusing, so I ended up calling the intern manager and talking to him about my options and application materials.

I am really proud of the way my family engagement project turned out. I worked with the Smithsonian’s Office of Accessibility to create sensory kits for Spark!Lab. The kits include resources like visual schedules, sensory tip sheets and fidgets, and they’re designed to help our visitors with sensory processing disorders and intellectual disabilities feel more comfortable in the space. My mentors were really excited about the idea of making Spark!Lab more welcoming to all families, and they are now looking for ways to take my project further and make our space more accessible to visitors with physical disabilities. The woman I worked with in the Office of Accessibility said Spark!Lab is the first space in any of the 19 Smithsonian units to have permanent accessibility resources available, and I am really proud for having had a hand in starting that.

I’m thankful that I got my first taste of the museum world at one of the most respected museums on the planet. A career in museum education can take many forms, and my mentors in Spark!Lab were so supportive as I explored those options through informal interviews with them and other Smithsonian employees. Although I’m not sure I’ll pursue a career in the museum field, this internship taught me to look at education through so many different lenses – lenses I can carry into any future job I have shaping tomorrow’s leaders and innovators!

SIGP Views from the Cube: Prague Shakespeare Company


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The Prague Shakespeare Company’s theatre, where Alex spent most of his days this summer.

Alex Jackson (SoC ’19) is a Sophomore Theatre Major in the Musical Theatre Certificate program, seeking Dance and Chinese minors. With SIGP’s help, he interned this summer at the Prague Shakespeare Company as a part of their Summer Shakespeare Intensive, moving toward his goal of becoming a professional actor, either in the US or abroad.

I took my summer internship abroad this summer by living in Prague, the beautiful and storied capital of the Czech Republic, and studying Shakespeare with the Prague Shakespeare Company. I spent my days taking masterclasses with theatre artists from Prague Shakespeare and from around the Czech Republic, while I spent my evenings rehearsing for the Prague Shakespeare Company’s professional production of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost, in which I performed at the end of July.


The group studying with Alex in Prague.

I came across the program in January through beloved Northwestern professor Linda Gates, resident performance voice guru at NU. She was to teach voice and speech at the Prague Shakespeare Company in the summer, and recommended that I apply for their pre-professional experience. In order to secure a position, I completed an application and resume, wrote a personal statement, and attended an audition where Guy Roberts, Artistic Director and Founder of the Prague Shakespeare Company, assessed my skills at performing Shakespeare before arriving at an admissions decision. After having my audition accepted, there were travel, housing, and other details to arrange with Prague Shakespeare, then I was on my way.


Alex (SoC ’19) by the Vltava River in Prague.

This experience was a first for me in many different ways. Before Prague, I had never been abroad and had never been a part of a professional theatre company. I learned how to manage myself as an artist in a professional setting, all the while immersing myself in a brand new culture. My internship also gave me insight into the inner workings of a professional theatre company, invaluable information for any aspiring actor. Additionally, I got to witness the theatre scene in the Czech Republic and have discussions with other American or British actors about what “The Business” is like in Prague and how to thrive in it as an expat. Without my summer in Prague, I would never have known that acting abroad professionally was within my grasp. In the end, this experience and knowledge was the most impactful takeaway from my time across the Atlantic. My universe of possibility as a creative professional was expanded in ways I never thought possible – emboldening me to make my dream of acting professionally a reality.


The view of the city from Prague Castle Gardens.

5 Ways to Manage Stress During Your Job or Internship Search


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matt-formicaBy Matt Formica, Assistant Director, Student Career Advising, serving students in Medill and Weinberg

Finding a job or internship is hard work and can cause a significant amount of stress in a student’s life. The job or internship search is a process that can be marked by uncertainty and frustration, but it also represents a great opportunity to translate your academics and extracurriculars into a meaningful professional experience. While finding a job or internship invariably has its ups and downs, here are five strategies to help you manage stress and maintain your wellbeing throughout this process.

1. Focus on what you can control

There are many factors that fall outside of your control as you search for a job or internship, such as specific application deadlines and GPA cutoffs or the strength of the job market. What you can control are factors like your knowledge of a company or industry, strength of your application materials, level of preparation for an interview, and overall attitude about your search. Be proactive about your career development and take advantage of opportunities to learn more about career fields you’re interested in. Stay positive and view this process as a learning opportunity that will make you a more resourceful and resilient person for the long term.

2. Use your resources

As a Northwestern student, you have access to a variety of campus resources that can support you and help you manage stress. For example, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers one-on-one appointments as well as group workshops on topics like stress management, relaxation, and mindfulness. Similarly, the Stress Management Clinic offers workshops as well as relaxation videos and techniques. Of course, NCA is always here to support your job or internship search.

3. Keep things in perspective

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average worker holds approximately 12 jobs by the time he or she is 50. Consequently, your first job or internship is not the end all be all. Chances are you’ll get an opportunity to contribute to several organizations throughout your career, so don’t worry if you start somewhere other than your “dream company.” Consider factors such as training, growth opportunities, and company values more than prestige. Gain experience, develop skills, build your network, and pursue your interests as you launch your career.

4. Find an outlet

Everyone has a different way of relieving stress. What works for you? Exercising, reading, talking with a friend, or listening to music are all good options. Everybody encounters stress at some point; the important thing is that you find a healthy outlet for it.

5. Plan ahead

Dedicating a little time every day to work on something career-related is a more effective strategy than cramming. Don’t try to write your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile the same day. Similarly, take the time to develop a strategic job or internship plan with the help of your career adviser, rather than mass applying.

Regardless of whether you have no idea what you want to do after Northwestern or you have a very specific career objective, NCA can help you with all aspects of your job or internship search. You can schedule an appointment through CareerCat. And please remember to take care of yourselves!

SIGP Views from the Cube: Colombian e-learning company Koideas


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Becca (front, center) and her Koideas colleagues.

I spent my past summer down in South America, interning for a Colombian company, Koideas, that specializes in knowledge management through the creation of virtual content. As the Community Manager, I managed our digital presence, focusing mainly on the social media channels. I had previously studied in Peru, which sparked my interest in gaining professional experience abroad. I did in-depth research on various international internship programs before deciding on my program, The Intern Group. I went through several interviews before I was accepted into the program and then placed with Koideas.

I began my internship with thorough research about our own social media channels, the norms within the industry, and the digital presence of other e-learning companies. Then, I created a detailed plan of content and strategy for our social media channels. During the last part of my internship, I executed that plan, creating and scheduling posts, while also running analytics on our progress. Moreover, I attended various international conferences regarding e-learning and entrepreneurship.

The independence that my supervisors provided along with the high expectations that they held for me allowed for an environment full of opportunities. I learned something new every day, whether it was new Spanish vocabulary, how to design an e-learning course, or discovering advanced features of social media platforms. One of the most important takeaways from my internship was my own growth and self-discovery. During my two months, I was forced to step outside of my comfort zone to meet new people, improve my language skills, and explore an unfamiliar country. However, this initial discomfort eventually allowed me to discover a very clear path, both personally and for my career. I confirmed my passion to work in South America and also in a career that not only matches my skill set, but pushes me to grow and learn everyday. However, perhaps the most important aspect of my internship was the different relationships that I formed. The people that I was so nervous to meet on the first day became some of my best friends. More than just networking and professional connections, I know that I can always rely on the passionate, hard-working, and welcoming people from the company that I am blessed to call my second home, Koideas.

Becca Smith is a rising senior, double majoring in Communication Studies and Spanish within the School of Communication. She will graduate in 2017 and will pursue a career in international public relations. As a 2016 SIGP grant recipient, this past summer she interned with Koideas, an e-learning company in Medellín, Colombia.

International master’s student blog series: Visa processes


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By Debbie Kaltman, Coordinator of International Student Experience at The International Office

Welcome to Northwestern Career Advancement’s (NCA) international master’s student blog series.  This series is designed to provide international master’s students with career information and strategies.  Find our previous posts here. We will add more posts during Fall Quarter 2016. This blog series is a collaboration between NCA and The International Office.

As an international master’s student, it is important to consider the visa processes as you conduct your job search.  It’s an extra “layer” you will need to consider.

Here are some important visa processes and types:

CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is work authorization for any job (or internship, practicum, co-op, etc) that is off-campus and during your academic program.  CPT is required for any off-campus work.  You are not eligible for CPT until you have been at Northwestern for three consecutive quarters.  If you are a new student in Fall 2016, this means you are not eligible until Summer 2017. To apply for CPT, you must have a job offer.

OPT (Optional Practical Training) is work authorization for any job after your academic program (on-campus or off-campus).  OPT is required for any work in the US after graduation.  You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.  OPT takes 2-3 months to be approved, so we recommend you apply at the beginning of your final quarter.  To help you apply for OPT, the IO holds OPT workshops, and the next one will be October 17.  Please see our events calendar for future dates.  We will also hold special OPT workshops for McCormick MS students during Winter Quarter.

Everyone is eligible for 12 months of Post-Completion OPT.  If your degree is in a STEM field, you may also be eligible for the OPT STEM extension.  The OPT STEM extension is now 24 months.  Including Post-Completion OPT, this means you may be eligible for up to 3 years of work authorization in the US without an H-1B or other visa!  We highly recommend you use your STEM extension, as it will allow you maximize your work authorization time in the US.

If you are a J-1 student, you are eligible for Academic Training during and/or after your academic program.  Please contact your IO advisor to apply for Academic Training.

Another visa type you may hear about is the H-1B.  This is an employment visa and must be sponsored by a specific employer.  The process is different for every company.  You can search for previous H-1B sponsoring employers in the Going Global database (accessible through NCA’s CareerCat system).  There are two types of H-1B visas: cap-subject and cap-exempt.  Cap-subject employers can only apply for a limited number of H-1B visas in April of each year, and these visas can only begin on October 1.  Cap-exempt employers may apply at any time.

Many U.S. employers (big and small) are unfamiliar with OPT/STEM OPT.  They may not want to hire an international student because they fear they are employing someone illegally.  You may need to educate an employer about the OPT rules.  This means it is very important that you first educate yourself!  Review the information online, come to an OPT workshop, and ask questions!

Remember: IO is the best place to go for information about visas and your F-1/J-1 status.  There is a LOT of bad information on the internet, so please don’t Google your situation (or use Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, or any other search engine…) If you have questions, please contact your IO advisor or come to the IO during walk-in hours.  The IO and NCA are here to help you during your job search process!

International master’s student blog series: NCA services & resources


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BrettBy 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.

Welcome to Northwestern Career Advancement’s (NCA) international master’s student blog series.  This series is designed to provide international master’s students with career information and strategies.  Find our previous post here. We will add more posts during Fall Quarter 2016.  This blog series is a collaboration between NCA and The International Office.

Today’s blog will orient and, in some cases, introduce international master’s students to NCA and its services and resources. We hope through this orientation that you will be informed on what is available to you and will be motivated to start or continue planning for your future beyond Northwestern. You will be introduced to NCA’s advising and counseling services, CareerCat, opportunities to engage employers, and career resources.

Career Advising
NCA provides comprehensive career services to graduate students including career support and coaching appointments customized to the needs of each student. International master’s students can schedule a one-on-one appointment with an NCA Career Adviser for assistance with:

  1. Job or Internship strategy and planning
  2. Resume and cover letter reviews
  3. Interviewing practice and strategy
  4. Networking support
  5. Advice on negotiating

Career Counseling
In addition to the services provided by NCA’s career advisers, career counseling is also offered to support master’s students. Career Counselors assist students to:

  • Explore options
  • Make successful career decisions that fit your unique personality and professional goals
  • Examine graduate (PhD) or professional (JD) school options

How to Schedule an Appointment with an NCA Adviser or Counselor

  • All adviser/counselor appointments are scheduled in CareerCat; look for the “Schedule an Appointment” shortcut box on the right-hand side
  • CareerCat will automatically select your Career Adviser/Counselor, but here is the NCA staff list

Employer Engagement
NCA also provides opportunities to engage employers, including:

  • CareerCat, which is a database with jobs and internships exclusive to all levels of Northwestern students. This resource provides opportunities in a range of industries and experience levels.
  • Career-themed programs and events, including our Career Fairs
  • Information and networking sessions with employers
  • On-campus interviewing opportunities

Career Resources
International Master’s students should also leverage career resources offered by NCA. Visit with an NCA Career Adviser or Counselor to discuss each resource’s value to your search. These resources include:

  • GoinGlobal (H1B employer list)
  • The Vault & Wetfeet (information on industries & employers)
  • CQ Interactive (consulting case interview preparation)

NCA partners with other career services offices at Northwestern to provide comprehensive support to international master’s students. Be sure to visit careers services offices that align with your school or program, including McCormick’s Engineering Career Development office, Medill Career Services, and School of Communication’s EPICS.

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!