Northeastern University’s biannual career fair is the Department of Career Development’s biggest event of the academic year.
The fall fair, to be held Thursday in the Cabot Center from noon to 4 p.m., will convene more than 2,300 students and 260 employers, including Goldman Sachs, iRobot, and TripAdvisor.
The young job seekers will be dressed to impress, networking, handing out resumés, and exchanging business cards with employers in the hopes of learning more about co-op opportunities, internships, and full-time jobs.
As one student who attended last spring’s fair put it, “Attending the career fair is so much easier than sending cold emails. You’re immediately able to get your foot in the door without knowing anyone.”
And yet the event is only one of the many ways in which the career development department works to meet the professional needs of students and alumni alike. “If it’s important from a career management perspective,” said Maria Stein, the associate vice president of cooperative education and career development, “then we’re offering it.”
The king of career services
The career development office is regularly touted as a national leader in career services. Its team of career counselors works with tens of thousands of students each year, helping them with everything from choosing a major to negotiating a salary.
The office, which is open from Monday through Friday, welcomes walk-in critiques of resumés, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. For more in-depth questions and conversations, it offers hourlong appointments in person, by phone, or by Skype.
Starting Friday, Oct. 2, the department will begin offering 30-minute appointments for currently enrolled students with time-sensitive needs. One example: You have an upcoming job interview and need some pointers. Another example: You received a job offer, but need help evaluating whether it’s right for you.
Dubbed “Career Express,” the new service will be available on Tuesdays and Fridays. “We’re always looking for ways to serve more students,” Stein said, explaining the philosophy behind the program. “We want to make sure they’re prepared to engage with employers.”
For those looking for positions right now, there’s NUcareers, a new portal for students and alumni who want to apply for jobs and access a range of new and enhanced career management services.
“This is a very robust system that will allow students and alumni to think more strategically about how they access and utilize their career information,” Stein said in March, when the new system was unveiled.
According to an internal survey of students who have visited the career development office, 96 percent make progress toward their career goals after one meeting with a career counselor. And 100 percent would return to the office for another advising meeting.
Trent Duffy, CIS/DMSB’20, is a prime example.
He has twice visited the career development office, utilizing the walk-in hours to receive feedback on his resumé and his LinkedIn profile. He’s also received advice for how to approach Thursday’s career fair, where he’s looking forward to learning more about the co-op positions available at Bose, BlackBerry, and HubSpot.
“First talk to the companies you don’t care as much about,” Duffy, a first-year student studying business and computer science, said of the advice he received. “This will build up your confidence for when you go and talk with the companies that are more important to you.”
In addition to walk-in critiques and career counseling appointments, the career development office hosts dozens of workshops each semester. Topics range from resumé writing and interviewing to advanced networking and mind mapping.
Some of the workshops cater to particular groups. For example, the office recently created a new series called sheLEADs to help women succeed in the workplace, and designed specific workshops to help them achieve their professional goals.
The next workshop in this series—“Achieving Success as a Woman in Tech”— will be held on Thursday, Oct. 8. Dubbed “NegoSHEate,” the Nov. 3 workshop will center on tips to help women negotiate their salary.
Of the office’s workshops, Stein said: “They’re engaging and their efficient, especially when a lot of students are interested in the same topic.”
The career development office has built a strong relationship with more than 3,000 employers.
Some, like State Street, TJX, and Verizon, participate in the office’s employer-in-residence program. The program gives employers access to a large student population and allows them to spend up to one day each week for the entire academic year answering student’s questions about their organization and doling out helpful career-related tips.
“We try to give students the opportunity to meet with employers in a non-interview setting,” Stein said. “It’s a good way to help them navigate their career and collect information from multiple perspectives.”