Harassment in the Workplace

By: Lauren Creamer

“The change I want to see is a start-up environment where everyone, regardless of gender and background, feels welcome and safe; where sexual harassment or discrimination will not impede great talent from producing great impact.” – Christine Tsai (2017 Silicon Valley Business Journal article)

“Be an upstander, not a bystander. If you see harassment happening, speak up. Being harassed is terrible; having bystanders pretend they don’t notice is infinitely worse.” – Celeste Ng (2017 Teen Vogue article)

Decorative Image

What is harassment and why should you care?

Workplace harassment has existed for as long as the workplace – but it has recently garnered a swarm of media attention (rightfully so). I’m writing today to share some background about what constitutes harassment, how employees (co-op students included) are protected under the law, what support Wentworth can offer you should you experience or witness harassment in the workplace.

Harassment occurs when someone is treated differently, or some engages in offensive behavior based on their membership of a protected class. I.e. making a joke about race, or an inappropriate comment about how someone is dressed based on their gender. Harassment differs from discrimination in that discrimination involves making decisions (hiring, firing, promotion, assignments) based on one’s belonging to a protected class.

Harassment can happen anywhere – and you could be the target or the perpetrator. If don’t know what harassment looks like, how would you know? This post will hopefully illuminate the issues and give you the tools necessary to prevent and address harassment while on the job.

 

You keep using the term “protected class” … what does that mean?

Protected classes are the groups protected from the employment discrimination by law. These groups include men and women on the basis of sex; any group which shares a common race, religion, color, or national origin; people over 40; and people with physical or mental handicaps. Every U.S. citizen is a member of some protected class, and is entitled to the benefits of EEO law. However, the EEO laws were passed to correct a history of unfavorable treatment of women and minority group members.

Massachusetts has widened the scope of protected class to include employers are prohibited from discriminating against prospective employees based on ancestry, gender identity, criminal record, retaliation, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, active military personnel, and genetics.

 

What is non-retaliation and how are you protected?

Before we define the types of harassment, you need to know that you are protected from it in multiple ways.

You are protected from retaliation (a.k.a. “getting even”). It is illegal to punish or take action against a person who has brought forward a concern of harassment or discrimination. Examples of retaliation include taking away responsibilities, transferring to new location or shifts, not hiring/promoting.

You are also protected by Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence/intimate partner violence, and other gender-based and sexual misconduct. Co-op is considered an educational experience, and so you are protected by Title IX.

And, as an employee (which you will be considered when you are on co-op) Title VII protects you from discrimination against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Finally, The Americans with Disabilities Act (more commonly known as the ADA) protects individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

Basically – these laws protect you from discrimination and harassment in the workplace and at school on the basis of any of those protected classes listed at the beginning of this presentation.

 

Two Types of Harassment

“Quid Pro Quo” is the most commonly recognized form of sexual harassment, more simply stated as “this for that”. For example, your supervisor says to you “meet me for drinks later…..you are looking for a regular job here after graduation, aren’t you?” thus implying that you need to get a drink with them because that is the only way you could advance at that company. (You may see this in movies quite a bit… re: Legally Blonde).

The second type of recognized harassment is the “Hostile Work Environment” – unwelcome conduct based on protected characteristics (gender, race, national origin, gender identity, etc.) that interferes with an individual’s ability to perform their job. Persistent jokes or comments about women’s inability to be an engineer is an example of this type of harassment.

It is also important to note that harassment MUST BE PERVASIVE. If it happens once, it’s still a problem that needs to be addressed, but it is not defined as a pattern of harassment. Pervasive – repetitive, pattern, constant.

 

Where does harassment happen?

In the office (or at a work off-site), online (email, social media, texts), during social events or after work hours. Are you interacting with people from work? Yes? It’s still considered workplace harassment, no matter where you are. Even if the experience is unpaid (ex: a volunteer on-site or an unpaid intern) – you/they are still legally considered an employee (at least, this is what our HR department would argue).

ANYONE can perpetrate harassment. Supervisors, co-op workers, contractors, CEOs, visitors, other co-op students or interns.

 

What can you do if you experience or witness harassment?

  • When in doubt – call your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor! We can help you formulate a plan.
  • Speak directly to your manager/supervisor to share the concern.
  • What if it involves your supervisor?
    • Reach out to Human Resources, the division head of your organization, or your boss’s boss.
  • Center for Wellness is a confidential resource – you can receive support from one of the counselors on staff to help you work through the experience.
  • Speak directly to the person whose conduct was inappropriate/offensive. You have the power to address that person directly! (And again, your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor can help you craft that response).
  • Review your organization’s policies for complains/concerns. There may be a clearly defined process for addressing harassment documented on the company’s external or internal website.
  • Engage Wentworth’s Title IX Coordinator, Linda Shinomoto. She is the resident expert on Title XI and gender-based harassment.

When you work with us we will ask you how you want to address the issue, if at all. Your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor will help you reach your ideal resolution. There is no statute of limitations on harassment. Two weeks, two months, two years – you can still report it.

 

Harassment can happen anywhere.

Harassment is unfortunately not uncommon. It can happen to any gender, any ethnicity. You will likely experience, observe, and possibly even perpetrate it at some point during your career. But now you know how people who experience harassment are protected and supported, both on a legal level and at Wentworth. You have support and you are not alone.

 

You are not the cause.

If you do experience harassment, it is so important for you to know that you are not the case of someone else’s inappropriate behavior. Nothing you did caused it, and you don’t deserve to be treated this way by anyone.

 

A Guide to Personal Branding

By: Hadley Hopkins

Hi there! I’m Hadley Hopkins the marketing intern here at CO-OPS + CAREER. As an advertising student, I am very concerned with branding. Not only of the brands I work for but also my own personal brand. Below I am going to walk you through the steps of how to brand yourself by using my own professional life as a model, so you can learn a little about me and a lot about creating your own personal brand.

You may be thinking, ‘what is a personal brand and why do I need one?’ A personal brand is a combination of your skills and experiences that make you who you are. So technically, you already have one, but by shaping it into a clear message you will be more confident in your strengths and potential employers will easily be able to see who you are and what you stand for.

Find Your Strengths

The first step to creating your brand is to evaluate your strengths. I did this by making a list of my best qualities including character traits as well as industry related skills. I tried to think of traits that are unique to me and would make me stand out:

  • Teamwork
  • Flexible
  • Multi-tasking
  • Teachable
  • Strategic thinker
  • Logo design
  • Making GIFs
  • Branding

Once you have you have your list of attributes it is important to think of evidence to support these claims. Recall situations or experiences that prove these traits are a strength, for example:

Multi-tasking/flexible – At my past internship, I was working on a design project that was interrupted because my supervisor realized a flyer needed to go out to print by the end of the day to be done in time for the event. So, I began working on that project but then had to stop in the middle to go take pictures of an event that was taking place. Although I took on many projects at once I was able to prioritize to give each one the attention it needed to finish everything in a timely manner.

Logo design – I have created various logo designs for different companies, clubs and organizations

Share Your Story

Another aspect of your brand that you will want to focus on is your story. How did you get to where you are? What makes you passionate about your field?  This allows people to know you on an emotional level and not just as a list of your accomplishments and skills. For me, I like to tell the story of how I decided to study advertising:

Advertising and graphic design have been a passion of mine since I created, branded and marketed my own energy drink “Spazz” for my 7th grade technology class.  I found the balance of creativity and logistic to be the perfect mix for my analytical yet artsy mind.

Show Off Your Quirks

An additional way to make your brand seem more personal is by showing off your quirks. These habits make you who you are and can add some “spice” to your brand. For me, the fact that I am a southerner now living in Boston makes for interesting tidbits, as well as my passion for different cultures:

I may be from Georgia, but I have definitely adopted the New England lifestyle. You can catch me sporting my Red Sox hat, and ‘Bean Boots with a Dunkin’ in hand but I will never give up saying y’all. I love all things food, travel and art.

Find Your “Take-away”

Once you have figured out the main aspects of your brand you will be able to create a key take-away that embodies everything you want to express to potential employers:

“I am an analytical, yet creative thinker who is flexible and has a passion for creating meaningful work that helps enhance a brand.”

Although you will probably never be asked in an interview what your mission statement is, this key takeaway can give you direction for materials that future employers will see such as your resume, cover letter, portfolio and LinkedIn profile.  When creating these materials, it is important to ask yourself: ‘does this align with my brand and is my mission statement well represented?’

Another way to strengthen your brand is through the look of your materials. It’s important that your resume, cover letter, portfolio, and LinkedIn profile are cohesive. I suggest sticking with the same font across all materials and make sure you use the same header for both your resume and cover letter. This will help future employers recognize you better across all platforms.

Here is an example of my LinkedIn profile:

Example of LinkedIn Profile

And an example of my resume that I feel represent my brand:

Example Resume

Creating a personal brand takes time and effort but is totally worth it!  With these steps I hope you can create a brand that is uniquely your own and will help you stand out to employers.

As always, we encourage you to stop by CO-OPS + CAREERS to discuss your questions with a Co-op + Career Advisor. You can make an appointment or swing by fall drop-in hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:30 – 4:00 PM. Our office is located at 101 Wentworth Hall.

Feel free to contact us via email at coopsandcareers@wit.edu, or call us at 617-989-4101. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

Top Ten Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

By: Lauren Creamer

The fall term is fast approaching and with it comes deadlines for graduate school applications. One piece of the application you want to leave plenty of time for is the personal statement. It requires a style of writing that most engineering and technology students aren’t used to using (because it isn’t a prerequisite of your academic programs). All the personal statements I have read required multiple drafts and tons of edits! Those things take time.

Consider the following tips when beginning the writing process:

  1. Read the prompt. Are you answering a specific set of questions? Are you simply explaining why you want to enroll in a specific program? You should include only what is relevant and required for the prompt.
  2. Tell a story/consider the narrative. Your statement should flow well, be authentic, and engage the reader. This style of writing is different than the direct nature of a cover letter, yet not too casual as to seem like you are writing a blog post. It generally begins with an anecdote about why/how you got into your chosen field, and moves into a summary of your experience to date, and then concludes with future goals. (This is generally speaking – again, follow the prompt!).
  3. Consider the weight of the statement – how does it rank against other admissions criteria? This one takes a bit of research (which I suggest you do). Is it weighed more or less heavily than your GPA or standardized test scores or an interview? Ask, because it may impact how much time you spend on this portion. See here for general advice from graduate admissions representatives.
  4. Write, revise. Write, revise. Write, revise. “The writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads,” Dr. Seuss. (Yes, I just quoted Dr. Seuss).
  5. Get a faculty member to review your statement. Your professors already went to graduate school. They have written and probably read plenty of these before. Ask them for their two cents.
  6. Bring it into CO-OPS + CAREERS to have your advisor review your statement. It is our literal job to review your written documents. We get paid to do it. (Plus, a lot of us genuinely enjoy editing… myself included).
  7. If you struggle with spelling, grammar, sentence structure – go to the Center for Academic Excellence. A writing tutor will work with you to identify specific areas in which you can improve your writing capabilities. And/or take gander at some of the recommended writing tutorials.
  8. Consider format. A cramped, single-page document with small font is difficult to read. Seriously! Space it out a bit, use size 12 font. Make it easier on the older eyes (generally, your application will be read by someone who is several decades older than you and possibly wearing readers. This is not a joke).
  9. Things to avoid? Clichés, a negative tone, damaging information. You want the reader leaving with positive feelings about you – not critiques on your writing style and negativity.
  10. Finish strong – why is this school/program/lab your top choice? The reader should finish knowing that you would be a strong choice for the program.

I know this is already in the tips above, but it bears repeating: bring your personal statement in to have it reviewed by your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor before you submit!

Additional Resources:

https://www.cmu.edu/gcc/handouts-and-resources/grad-app-sop

https://www.prepscholar.com/gre/blog/graduate-school-personal-statement-examples/

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/02/

https://ctl.yale.edu/sites/default/files/basic-page-supplementary-materials-files/writing_personal_statements_for_graduate_school.pdf

Navigating Job Offers

By: Becky Smith

You get an offer from a company and you are glad…except you wish you had more time to decide!

Good news: It is normal – even common — to ask for time to think things over! It is just a matter of maintaining trust and using savvy communication skills.

It is strongly advised that you reply to an offer of employment within 24 hours.

  • Be positive to maintain the confidence that the hiring manager has in you: Act excited. Thank the hiring manager or recruiter for offering the job to you.

Ask if you can have some time to think about it.

  • You don’t have to say why; just say you need some time to consider all of the factors. In fact, the reasons why can sometimes make employers feel uncomfortable – it can come across wrong, and/or they are not prepared to be involved in your personal life.

Be sure to clearly communicate when you will get back to the employer with an answer, and keep your word no matter what.

  • You may ask for up to a week to think about the offer.
  • The company may need an answer sooner. Settle on a mutually convenient date.

This kind of negotiation is fair, given that they don’t want to lose other candidates while they are waiting to hear from you.

During the time you have negotiated, you may speak with your Co-op + Career Advisor, your faculty, your family, and other prospective employers. You may take some time to reflect on what you want and need (i.e., salary, start date, schedule).It is best to take your time to prepare if you are going to negotiate any of the terms of employment.

Be Aware of Common Misunderstandings:

Interviewing for a job does not mean committing to the job. Interviewing is exploration to determine whether you are a fit for the job…and whether the job and company are a fit for you.

If a co-op employer offers you an opportunity to return for a second co-op or a full-time job, you are not obligated to return. Be appreciative and respectfully consider the opportunity, but if it is not right for you, politely decline. Things are not going to turn out well for anyone if you accept a job that you know is wrong – including headaches for professionals with whom you’ve built relationships!

You do not need to accept the first job you are offered. You do need to reply to all offers within 24 hours.

For more information on how to navigate a situation in which you get an offer for one job but you’re really waiting to hear from another company, read our handout about Deliberating Job Offers.

As always we encourage you to stop by CO-OPS + CAREERS to discuss your co-op and job offer questions with any Co-op + Career Advisor. You can make an appointment or swing by summer drop-in hours, held every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 2:00 – 4:00 PM. Stop by 101 Wentworth Hall, or contact us via email at coopsandcareers@wit.edu, or by calling 617-989-4101. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

Student Co-op Spotlight: An Unconventional Search

Video Transcript:

Meet James Coyne: Computer Science Class of 2020

I’m James, I’m a Sophomore, I just got a co-op at a company called Black Math.

How did you hear about BlackMath?

So, I actually found them through WITworks, and then I checked out their website.

What was your application process like?

I wrote a cover letter. I made it really nice and made all my information available. Linked my resume, my personal website, portfolio, all that stuff. Sent that in, didn’t hear anything back, for a week or so.  I also checked out their Instagram and I followed them. A few days later some dude follows me, I’m like alright cool this happens all the time, it’s just someone. But then I checked their profile and saw that they worked at BlackMath. So then, I’m like “Ahha” who could this be? So I messaged them and said “Hey I’m really trying to work there, it looks like a cool company – how do you like it?” The next day, I got a response back and the person said “I really like it here, it’s a really great space and a really great company. I’m a little biased though because I’m actually the co-founder.” I got on a phone call with him about two hours after the fact, I wasn’t planning any of this, and I wasn’t super prepared. He was a huge fan of all the work that I had done on my Instagram and the other stuff I’ve been doing. I basically got the job then and there.  After that, he checked with the other co-founder and decided they wanted to bring me into the space so that I could check everything out and meet everyone and the other co-founder could get familiar with me as well.

I went in there on a Tuesday, checked it out, saw their office, met some people, shook some hands. Everyone really liked me, the other co-founder thought I was really cool, got hired on the spot, that was really neat.

We’re excited for you, James! What are you most looking forward to?

A company like this has really been what I’ve been looking for since the very get go. As a sophomore, obviously I’m probably a little less desirable than a Junior or Senior who has more experience. I knew I needed to be more competitive and send in more applications, etc. just be better to prove myself. I’ve been applying since October to some places! I’m really exited to work for a company that does creative media like Black Math does. Has kind of the startup, low key, relaxed culture, like Black Math does. A lot of people that I feel are like mined individuals to me. They do a lot of really cool work and I’m really just doing the work I’ve dreamed about doing. I never thought I would be able to actually find a company that fits all my needs like this so well. Its incredible!

Thank you for sharing your co-op story with us, James! We can’t wait to hear all about your experience when you get back to campus in the fall.

Meet Maria Rodriguez, runner up for this semester’s “Share your Co-op Contest”

Maria Rodriguez is a current Wentworth student majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Biology. Here’s what Maria shared with us about her co-op experience at CELLINK in Cambridge:

My co-op with CELLINK was incredible! As an applications engineer, I learned so much about 3D bioprinting and tissue engineering. I collaborated with top researchers in the field to make sure our technology met their needs, and I learned so much from their research. One of my favorite parts was introducing scientists to the world of bioprinting, for which I helped organize the event pictured. The CEO of the company featured this picture on his LinkedIn account!

Where was your co-op? What was it like to work there?

I was an application engineer at CELLINK. CELLINK is a startup with a very vibrant and fast-paced atmosphere. My co-op position was very challenging, but at the same time, very fun. It involved supporting customers and finding new applications for our innovative technology (about which I knew very little about until I started working there) while collaborating with the team to improve the technology, and networking with scientists to introduce them to our products.  I spent many days out of the office in research labs and conferences, where I got to listen to the end-users feedback and meet many important people in the bioprinting and tissue engineering fields.  My supervisors had a contagious positive vibe. Also, they were very open to my ideas and always treated me like a valuable employee.

While on co-op, what project(s) were you a part of or working on, that inspired you?

My co-op experience inspired me to choose my Senior Design project. I pitched an idea to CELLINK based on a need of their current customers, and now my project is being sponsored by them! I still cannot reveal what it will be, but it is very promising since one of the applications is to help prove pharmaceutical drugs safety more efficiently, so they can get to the market faster after they have been discovered.

Based on your co-op experience, what industry/position do you see yourself in the future?

Based on this co-op experience, which introduced me to the field of 3D bioprinting, I will probably continue my studies after I graduate in order to specialize more in this field. Then, I’d love to work for a company like CELLINK, which is heavily based on research but still a part of industry and not academia.

What is a major takeaway from your co-op experience?

A major takeaway is that motivation and persistence can be key when it comes to getting a job you really want. I did not have much experience related to the technology, but my interviewers saw my passion and were excited to have me on their team.

What made you enter the contest and why did you choose the photo entered?

I wanted to share my experience. I chose this photo because it was featured by the company’s CEO.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Maria! Be on the lookout for our next “Share Your Co-op Contest” in the coming semesters.

The Pay Gap is Real – And What You Should Do About It

By: Lauren E. Creamer, Senior CO-OP + CAREER Advisor

By now you’ve heard about the “Gender Pay Gap” – it’s been all over the news these last few months. I don’t see it going away anytime soon, either. But just to catch everyone up, let’s define the gap. According to the American Association for University Women (AAUW), “the gender pay gap is the difference between what men and women are typically paid”. Research shows that this difference exists across all demographics, workplaces, and education levels.

Pay Gap Statistics

In 2016 women in the United States were paid 80% of what men made. In Massachusetts, we were right on par with the national average clocking in at 80-84%. If you break it down for Boston, specifically, women were making 87.1% of men’s earnings, and women made 94.1% in Somerville/Cambridge.

You might be thinking… the numbers aren’t so bad here! But look at it like this: The National Women’s Law Center estimated that a single woman in Massachusetts, in a 40-year career, would lose $416,720 when compared to a white man. That is too much money to leave on the table.

The Breakdown

If you take into account racial/ethnic groups, the numbers are even more alarming. Black women made 63 cents on the dollar, and Latina women made a staggering 54 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. Asian women made slightly more than the national average at 87%, but the gap is still there.

If you look at the data from the National Women’s Law Center again, native American women in Massachusetts would lose just shy of $1,000,000, black women over $1,000,000, and Latina women would lose more than 1.3 million. Women of color are also less likely to have access to things like paid sick and family leave and flexible work schedules, all of which compound the systemic economic hurdles they face.

Factors that Contribute to the Gap

In April of 2016, the Democratic staff of the congressional Joint Economic Committee published a report highlighting the gender pay gap and the ramifications it has on the American economy. They outlined eight separate factors that play into the gap:

  • Women are more likely than men to interrupt their careers to care for children
  • Working mothers often pay a “mommy penalty” (when compared to women who don’t have children)
  • Women are more likely than men to be primary caregivers of other family members (aside from children)
  • Women who are forced to work part-time earn less (to balance family demands)
  • Women often work in occupations that pay less
  • Women are underrepresented in positions of leadership
  • Some women still do not receive equal pay for equal work (when all other factors are considered)

The final factor is perhaps the most troubling:

“After taking into account differences in observable factors such as education, field of study, occupation and experience, multiple studies have estimated that there is an unaccounted for gap between women’s and men’s average earnings of 5 to 9 percent. In other words, as much as 40 percent of the overall gender pay gap cannot be explained by factors that would affect earnings and may be due to discrimination”.

So, what can we do? What can you do?

On a legislative level, you can reach out to your elected officials and demand their support for pay equity. On an individual level, you can arm yourself with a negotiation education. You must remember: it is in your power to tip the scales. Always, always negotiate.

Steps to Negotiate

Salary.com found that 84% of employers expect prospective employees to negotiate salary during the interview stage. Yet only 30% of women bother to negotiate at all, while 46% of men negotiate, according to Forbes. There are many reasons why people choose not to negotiate: fear of conflict, feeling “under-qualified”, simply not realizing there is extra money available, and feeling gratitude for “just getting in the door”, to name a few.

In 2015 the AAUW joined forces with the City of Boston to train and empower 85,000 women by 2021 to close the gender pay gap. Dozens of free salary negotiation workshops are available every year across the city. The core tenants of their program are: knowing your value, benchmarking salary and benefits, knowing your strategy, and PRACTICING! The unknown has the potential to be scary – but with practice, the unknown becomes familiar and easier to navigate. Just like you would do a mock interview to prepare for a real interview, practicing the negotiation conversation can be a phenomenal tactic for success.

And, when in doubt, visit your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor for guidance and coaching. We are always happy to help!

Want to learn more about pay equity and the gender pay gap? Check out these great resources:

AAUW: https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

Institute for Women’s Policy Research: https://iwpr.org/issue/employment-education-economic-change/pay-equity-discrimination/

Pew Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/racial-gender-wage-gaps-persist-in-u-s-despite-some-progress/

Joint Economic Committee: https://www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/0779dc2f-4a4e-4386-b847-9ae919735acc/gender-pay-inequality—-us-congress-joint-economic-committee.pdf

Sources:

https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

https://www.aauw.org/resource/gender-pay-gap-by-state-and-congressional-district/

https://www.aauw.org/aauw_check/pdf_download/show_pdf.php?file=Gender_Pay_Gap_Massachusetts

https://nwlc.org/resources/the-lifetime-wage-gap-state-by-state/

https://iwpr.org/issue/employment-education-economic-change/pay-equity-discrimination/

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/racial-gender-wage-gaps-persist-in-u-s-despite-some-progress/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/no-the-gender-pay-gap-isnt-a-myth-and-heres-why_us_5703cb8de4b0a06d5806e03f

https://www.salary.com/salary-negotiation-separating-fact-from-fiction/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/07/13/why-dont-more-women-negotiate/#2479baa5e769

“This American Workplace: Slang for International Students”

By: Ria Kalinowski

Let’s “Get the Ball Rolling” (i.e., Start Something)

Americans use a lot of slang. Slang is the use of phrases or terms, typically in an informal setting, that have come to stand for something else. It is most common to hear slang used in informal conversations as opposed to during more formal language such as presentations or interviews. You will almost never see slang in formal writing. If someone uses a slang phrase or term in conversation which you do not understand, you can often use the context to figure it out. In some cases, the slang phrase that is used may be loosely related to the slang meaning. The phrase, “don’t bite off more than you can chew”, means not to take on a task that is too large.

“Keep Your Eye on the Ball” (i.e., Remain Alert)

There are many American slang phrases and terms that are related to sports. If someone says to you, “don’t drop the ball”, they mean they don’t want you to make an error or miss an opportunity. This saying is derived from sports like baseball or American football where a player may be penalized for dropping the ball during the game. For example, if someone assigns you a project at work, they may say, “don’t drop the ball” and mean that they don’t want you to mess up the project.

Another sports-related slang phrase is, “behind the eight-ball”. This saying is from the game of pool and refers to someone being in a bad or difficult position. If a colleague gives a presentation at work and it doesn’t go well because they weren’t prepared or if someone misses a project deadline because they started working on the project too late, someone might say that they were, “behind the eight-ball”.

Here is a list of additional sports slang: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sports_idioms.

It’s Not Always “A Piece of Cake” (i.e., Easy)

Not all American slang phrases or terms are related to sports. If someone tells you to “hold your horses”, it means they want you to wait or calm down. This phrase comes from a time when horses were a major form of transportation and it literally meant to pull up on a horse you were riding or driving from a wagon to make the horse stop.

A “couch potato” is someone who sits on the couch all day watching television. It can be used to refer to people who are lazy.

Here is a list of additional slang: http://www.fluentu.com/english/blog/essential-english-idioms/?lang=en

Let’s “Cut to the Chase” (i.e., Get to the Point)

So, if you are in a situation where people around you are using slang, “don’t have a cow” (i.e., be worried). Use the situational or conversational context to figure out what they are saying. Or, you could ask! Most Americans will be happy to explain what they mean.

Event Recap: How to Work a Room

By: Abbey Pober & Kristen Eckman

Last night we hosted 38 students and 10 employer and alumni representatives from 6 companies at our first How to Work a Room event. Jean Papalia, Principle of A+ Etiquette and Director of Tufts Career Center, began the night with an interactive presentation on professionalism and networking “do’s and don’ts”.  Students, alumni, employers, and staff were prompted during the engaging presentation to implement the new strategies together before networking began.

In the second hour, attendees practiced their new skills while learning from each other in a realistic setting. The goal of the night was to increase competencies and confidence in networking situations including how to work a room, how to enter conversations, and how to gracefully exit conversations.

Students, if you made a meaningful connection with any of the employers who attended, here are some tips for what to do next:

  • Sending a thank you email to the employers with whom you spoke. Find our guide to thank you notes here. Find all of our resources here.
  • Stay connected with social media: find the company or even the person you spoke with on LinkedIn or Twitter. Follow their feeds to stay up to date on new openings and other news!

Thank you to the Massachusetts Building Congress 20|30 Club and Alumni Relations for partnering with us to make this event a success. We look forward to future events connecting Wentworth students with alumni and employers.

The spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair is our upcoming event, being held on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 from 3:00pm – 6:00pm. A list of employers attending can be found on The Fairs App, check back often for updates to employer information and new employer registrations.

Meetings: They Can Make or Break You

By: Robbin Beauchamp

As a student, you have probably attended many meetings, especially if you have participated in group projects.  When you are working at a co-op, there is a likely chance that you will participate in many meetings with staff, customers or both.  Knowing how to have a positive impact in a meeting will help your career as a student as well as a post-graduation professional.

GOALS – Meetings are supposed to accomplish a few things, specifically:

Share ideas, facts, figures, drawings

Brainstorm ways to solve a problem

Assign and/or complete tasks as part of a project or plan

Create a strategy and timeline for a project

Introduce new staff

Teach new skills or provide information to meeting participants

EXPECTATIONS – Meetings should have an agenda and be led by one or two people.  As a participant, you have specific duties that are usually never communicated explicitly.  They are:

Be punctual

Be prepared to participate.  Read the agenda before the meeting, if it has been made available.  Read any materials that will be discussed in the meeting

Turn off your cell phone and leave it face down on the table

 

W.A.I.T.  Ask yourself “Why Am I Talking”?  – There is usually a lot of discussion during a meeting and you may want to have your voice heard.  So WAIT!

Are you making meaningful contributions to the conversation?

Are you speaking to complain?  To brag?  If the answer is “yes” to either, then don’t speak at all.

Are you moving the conversation forward?

Is your comment applicable to most people at the meeting?

Think about what you are going to say before you say it.  What is your personal agenda?  Why are you sharing your thoughts?

Refrain from speaking if you are regurgitating something that was already said.  If you can provide further information to show the merit of a discussion point, do so.

Be clear.  Be concise.  Be strategic.  Don’t speak just for the sake of speaking.

Don’t mumble, speak clearly so everyone can hear you.

MOVING FORWARD – Determine if there are deliverables that you are responsible to produce before the next meeting.  If there are, be sure to share them with the participants before you next meet.

Following these suggestions will help you to become a valuable member of any team and will reduce the amount of time you and your peers spend at meetings.