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By Tommy Switzgable

After years of consulting for some of the biggest business firms in Massachusetts, Ye Tian, DMSB’12, decided it was time to stray from the conventional path and forge his own way through the ever-changing world of business. However, Tian wasn’t interested in the prototypical entrepreneur’s narrative of finding an established market to break into—he wanted to create his own market and revolutionize it.

Tian moved to Boston from the Shanghai area to attend Northeastern and study finance at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Coming from a family that launched their own law firm in China, it was only natural for him to use his business degree in the entrepreneurial space. As a result, he started Crafts Zone in 2022, which is the first brick-and-mortar, multi-project DIY studio in the United States, offering crafts like painting, creating candles, and designing clothes.

Situated in the heart of Brookline’s tight-knit Coolidge Corner neighborhood, the Crafts Zone storefront has created an immense amount of buzz during its incipient stage, gaining the attention of many local media outlets like The Boston Globe. Since then, Crafts Zone has “received a lot of support from different local communities and our customers. They [have] helped me with marketing exposure, operating improvement, and recruiting,” says Tian

While the rapid growth of Crafts Zone has quickly made Tian a heavyweight in the Boston-area art market, he is quick to mention his roots at Northeastern and the foundation the university helped him lay in his quest to carve out a new market. “Northeastern provided me a great opportunity to learn whatever I like during my campus life,” he says. “Co-op programs helped me understand the working environment in different industries and networking support helped me a lot when I started my own business.”

Even with the quick rise of his entrepreneurial endeavor and the support of the Northeastern network, Tian has only begun to plant the seeds of this continuously growing operation. “I wish Crafts Zone can be the first national franchise brand for the dating experience in the [United States] over the next five to 10 years,” he ambitiously says. To achieve this goal, he relies on the generosity and support of Northeastern’s large alumni network. “The alumni network helped me a lot in the initial marketing promotion,” he says. “They helped me spread the word of my business…and provided a lot of event opportunities to help me promote my business. Northeastern has a lot of resources that can support your dream.”

Learn more about Tian and Crafts Zone on Instagram @craftszone_boston or reach out to Tian via his website or email ye@crafts.zone. Northeastern students receive a 10% discount to Crafts Zone with their Husky Card. If you would like to deepen your support,  donations can be made to the Northeastern Chinese Student Association.




Northeastern has a lot of resources that can support your dream.”



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By Tommy Switzgable

“It has captivated me for a long time how contributing to the evolution of the future of work changes people’s lives positively,” says Alp Uguray, CSS’16. “I have always enjoyed exploring technology, whether building an app, learning a new programming language, or designing a product. This led me to launching my website and diving into the field of automation and artificial intelligence.”

It’s no secret that Uguray has had a plethora of professional accomplishments since graduating from Northeastern in December of 2016. After graduation, he moved to San Francisco to work for a robo-advisor application, making an impact on the industry by digitizing mundane tasks so workers can focus on important responsibilities. As a result, he earned a position as a consultant for Symphony Ventures, a budding firm that focused on intelligent process automation. The company was eventually purchased by Sitel Group, the world’s largest Contact Center automation firm. This prompted Uguray to work with a number of AI startups and pave the way to his current role as a consultant for Ashling Partners, the largest intelligent automation boutique consultancy in North America.

Since then, Uguray has made a personal pivot to share his extensive knowledge of the field with the world. From headlining speaking engagements and conferences across the globe to launching his own podcast in May of 2022, Uguray looks to educate the public on the benefits of this blossoming industry. His goal, he says, is to “cover the stories of the founders, entrepreneurs, technologists, creators, and the community who participate in [automation] to educate and transfer expert knowledge to everyone for them to be successful.”

Before his success, however, he credits Northeastern and the co-op program with providing him the tools to help build his future. Uguray is candid about his first co-op experience at a government institution, stating that he “learned more about what [he] hated.” Despite this, it introduced him to the “mundane” tasks that he would go on to revolutionize through his work in his second co-op, where he “got exposure to what [he loves] more…technology and the adoption of automation and AI at a large scale…working at a startup and on innovative technologies to change how people do their work.”

Uguray also places an emphasis on building a network, not only nationally, but globally as well. Using Northeastern’s strong alumni network, he learned to lay the framework of connections immediately. “Early in my career, I learned that building and being part of a community allows one to expand their network with like-minded people, and knowledge, and create potential unknown opportunities in life that one can only figure out their causality when looking back.”

Learn more about Uguray through his podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can reach out to Uguray via LinkedIn.

“The success comes from the execution and resilience.”

Alp uguray, css’16



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By Thomas Switzgable

In high school, McAllister Collins, CPS’22 of Chicago, watched his favorite movie for the first time, Forrest Gump. This iconic film follows the titular character as he navigates through life in the Deep South, unknowingly being the catalyst for some of the most important moments in American history during the 20th century. Since that moment, Collins used the film as a basis for his life’s philosophy. “I always desired to pursue opportunities that interest me, do them to the best of my ability, then move once I felt that I had maximized the vertical progress within that particular entity.”

However, in the midst of working a “very demanding and extremely stressful” sports management career, Collins decided to enlist in the United States Army after noticing he was neglecting his passion for international travel. As a result, Collins enlisted in the United States Army where he achieved the rank of Field Artillery Officer, where his duties included destroying or suppressing enemies by cannon, rocket, and missile fire, and helping integrate all lethal and nonlethal fire support assets into combined arms operations.

Unfortunately, injuries in his military career proved to be a deterrent in more ways than one, forcing him to medically retire in 2018 after eight years in the service. With active duty suddenly in his rearview mirror, Collins decided to enroll in Northeastern University’s doctor of education program, placing a concentration on organizational leadership studies. “I became obsessed with looking into [different] occurrences and was able to link such cultural misinterpretations to school discipline disparities, suspension, expulsion, and high school dropout rates, and the school-to-prison pipeline. The research I conducted was sobering to say the very least, but is one of the very best academic endeavors that I have ever completed.”

Taking advantage of Northeastern’s hybrid education and global presence, Collins learned about the benefits of this program through representatives from our Charlotte campus, splitting time between there, online, and Boston. The residencies in Boston proved to be impactful to his studies, stating that “[they] afforded us the opportunity to speak with program faculty and discuss our research interests in an attempt to vet those who would potentially become our future dissertation chairs.”

After completing his dissertation, Collins placed his energy towards helping those who have served through the Veteran’s Restorative Justice Project—a vessel that helps veterans that have been involved with the criminal justice system reintegrate back into society. Combining the community-transforming skillsets he developed at Northeastern with the new ones he will learn as he pursues his MBA at the University of Chicago, Collins is ready to leave a positive influence on veterans and the world alike. “My involvement is making an impact by spreading the word of the work that the VRJP is doing and showing veterans that although all of our service obligations may be complete, we still look out for one another just as we would have on the battlefield.”

Learn more about Northeastern University’s doctor of education program here.

McAllister Collins

“My education at Northeastern, specifically my qualitative doctoral research, taught me that everyone has a story and deserves to be heard.”

McAllister Collins, CPS’22


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By Tommy Switzgable

“It’s the difference between who do you want to carry you over the finish line—someone who has never worked hard for something or someone who will give you everything they’ve got to get the mission done,” replies Melanie Spears, CPS’19, when asked about the value of a good work ethic. It’s no secret that hard work is a cornerstone of her personality, as proven repeatedly through her experiences in the military and Northeastern University.

After making the decision to drop out of college in 2011, Spears enlisted in the United States Army, achieving the rank of specialist. Her duties included ensuring that her unit was mission ready, and food, water, and ammunition made it to outposts while working as security for NATO forces. She remembers her time in the service fondly, especially given that it scratched her itch for travel, stating that it taught her “every country, city…place I visited, people were proud of where they came from, just like I am.”

However, Spears is unfortunately no stranger to adversity, from navigating the difficulty of living as a sexual assault survivor to beating a colon cancer diagnosis rooted in exposure to toxins while serving. Despite this, Spears chose to use her experiences as a catalyst for inspiration. “Being a survivor of sexual assault, peace is a higher measure to reach than justice. Getting and beating colon cancer…I’ve met people who truly taught me what vulnerability is.”

With a new perspective on the world, Spears used Northeastern’s Yellow Ribbon program to achieve her master’s degree in homeland security. “I knew it was important to me to serve my country in a different capacity,” she says. While attending, she utilized Northeastern’s Dolce Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Service members to grow her network and create personal connections through a series of events, which helped her become a Wounded Warrior Fellow and obtain her current role as a partner business development manager at Cisco Systems.

By using the comprehensive leadership skills developed through her degree program and leveraging the resources provided to her through Northeastern’s veteran network, Spears has made it her personal mission to become an ambassador for spreading awareness of the variety of issues that many veterans face. “Veteran advocacy gives a voice, an image, to who protects and serves the country and the freedoms we have today. It makes it so the younger generation can see that sacrifices come at a price, and what it takes to ensure that those we love…is protecting us from the evils, and if we advocate, we can better protect them when they choose to hang up the boots.”

You can learn more about Northeastern’s master’s in homeland security program here. If you wish to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project, you can do so here.

“Be bold, take risks. The Northeastern community will be there to pick you up if you fail at something.”

Melanie Spears, CPS’19


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By Tommy Switzgable

“Perspective is something that I have gained at both NEU and the USAF,” says Brad States, DMSB’23, of Charleston, South Carolina. States, a part-time master of business administration and master of science in finance student, credits both the Air Force and Northeastern for introducing him to the string that intertwines our world. “Following my studies, I now see the global connections [that exist] through business and finance.”  

Prior to enrolling in two of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business’s most popular graduate programs, States worked as a job coach for special education students. Soon after, he decided to look to the sky and expand his horizons—and he did just that by enlisting in flight school and joining the Air Force, where he achieved the rank of captain and the status of a C-17A evaluator pilot.  

However, during his service in the Air Force, States pivoted yet again, developing a newfound interest in business and finance through various conversations with his fellow Airmen. “Spending time with people that have an interest in business and finance leads to long, interesting discussions during long flights or during deployments,” he says.  

This encouraged him to pursue a graduate degree in finance. States decided that Northeastern’s fully remote graduate programming was the perfect fit for his unconventional lifestyle of trying to balance schooling with a full-time military career. “As a part-time MBA student, I am pulled in many different directions due to the requirements professionally, personally, and in my education,” he says. To States, time management is the cornerstone to striking this balance—with Northeastern’s remote accessibility and asynchronous learning being the catalyst for success. 

With his graduation imminent, States reflects on his time at Northeastern and the impact it had on both his education and worldview. Not only was he able to pursue a world-class business education while continuing to serve his country, but he was also able to continue to learn about the world’s interconnectivity using a new lens—through a group of friends at Northeastern, no less, that would never have been in the same room. “[In my military service] I see the similarities and differences that all different people have. [Northeastern] has given me the same. Being able to interact with professionals from many different industries has given me perspective about how people live, work, and view the world.”  

You can learn more about Northeastern University’s part-time MBA program here, and follow the D’Amore-McKim School of Business on social media @NU_Business 

Northeastern has given me a more formal education regarding business and finance…it has opened my aperture to different possible career paths following my time in the Air Force.”  

Brad States, DMSB’23



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By Tommy Switzgable

“To me, the fundamental ingredient associated with public service begins with a commitment to creating and sustaining lasting influences so that others who follow benefit from what you contributed to along the way,” says Jim McDonough, CPS’22. “The tools associated with creating that lasting influence are rooted in the development and execution of sound policy that makes a soldier a soldier.” 

McDonough, of Round Lake, New York, served 26 years in the United States Army, working his way through the officer ranks and ultimately achieving the rank of colonel. Beginning his military career in Europe, McDonough eventually found his way back to the United States, where he performed two tours of duty for the Pentagon, including a speechwriting position for the Secretary of the Army. He then deployed to the Middle East out of Fort Bliss, Texas to support Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom before returning home to retire from the Simon Center for Professional Military Ethics at West Point.  

After retiring from the military, McDonough became the CEO of The Headstrong Project, which he describes as a national-facing mental health treatment practice of choice for military connected families. Through his work with The Headstrong Project, McDonough wanted to further his passion for helping veterans, which led him to Northeastern’s doctor of law and public policy degree program.  

Focusing on strategic thinking and research, McDonough noticed there were similar values shared between his time in the service and those taught to him in his degree program—stating that, “…the common thread between my service in the United States Army and my doctoral studies here at Northeastern involves a powerful sense of humility it takes to serve and learn well from others.”  

With a deeper understanding of legal analysis and public policy, McDonough loves to share how his newfound doctorate has catapulted his passion for helping others, especially those who have also served their country. Even with over two decades of world travel and military experience, he credits Northeastern for being a unique vessel that has shaped his perception of public policy through the lens of “contemporary issues that continue to challenge the progress of our society.” Looking back, he says, “my studies have invigorated my appreciation of the role that good people can play in developing good public policy and never giving up on serving the needs of others.”  

Learn more about McDonough and The Headstrong Project on Instagram @getheadstrong. You can reach out to Jim and The Headstrong Project team via their website.

Jim McDonough

Your Northeastern experience should be viewed as just the first step in making a commitment to ongoing learning, the place where you learned how to learn best.”  

Jim McDonough, CPS’22


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Bringing peace to others one box at a time

By Tommy Switzgable

“When I was initially diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, I realized people in my life didn’t know what to say or do for me,” says Mallory Gothelf, COS’17. “But they tried, and it was often the moments and gestures that were seemingly insignificant that made a huge difference…[they] raised my spirits and reminded me that I mattered. I took inspiration from those gestures and coupled that with self-care products that empower people in their healing journey.”

Gothelf, of Malden, Massachusetts, decided upon graduating from Northeastern to combine her newfound interest in entrepreneurship with her passion for mental health. As a result, Gothelf formed Find Your/self Boxes in April of 2020, a care package company with a focus on research-based self-care products for family and friends to provide a physical vessel of support to those who may be struggling.

Since the inception of this groundbreaking business, both Gothelf and Find Your/self Boxes have quickly found themselves on the front lines of the battle for mental health awareness—generating appearances on podcasts, in comprehensive articles, and even in an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America. “When the segment ended, I had so many emails in my inbox from people sharing their stories with me,” Gothelf recalls. “That was the moment that meant the most to me.”

Even with the newfound attention, Gothelf credits her early days at Northeastern as the tinder that sparked her entrepreneurial fire. “My entire education [at Northeastern] gave me the space to explore my interests and create a course load that had flexibility to learn in new ways,” she says. “I was allowed to live more authentically, and it gave me the confidence to use my experiences to reach back and help others, something I now use in my business every day. I’m really grateful for my education at Northeastern.”

Gothelf and her business have proven to be a bright light in a field that has been deprived of lumosity for quite some time—not only changing the landscape of mental health awareness, but additionally using it to help those who are struggling so they might construct the best possible version of themselves. She hopes her boxes are not only able to heal, but also to give each recipient the ability to “pause every now and then knowing [they] have the space to be [themselves], and if [they’re] unsure of who that person is, have an absolute blast discovering it.”

Learn more about Gothelf and Find Your/self Boxes on Instagram @findyourselfboxes. You can reach out to Gothelf via her website or by email at findyourselfboxes@gmail.com.

October 25th, 2022


I left Northeastern a different person, a better person, a person able to think critically and challenge the status quo.

– Mallory Gothelf, COS’17


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Employers are expanding their talent and hiring pools by recruiting remote workers, while many employees are taking the opportunities to move to new locations for lifestyle, cost of living, and family considerations.

By Michele Rapp

The rise of remote work creates new challenges for employers regarding their approaches on how to set salaries for employees in locations with different costs of living, while remaining competitive in attracting top talent. Candidates need to understand these methods so they can negotiate the best offers.

Different approaches

There are three common ways that companies set pay ranges according to Brie Reynolds, AS’04, a FlexJobs employee for 12 years.

Ultimately, employers in competitive industries, who want to attract top tier talent, need to offer salaries that are as good or better than both local companies and other remote organizations.

Research salary ranges

So how should remote candidates approach salary negotiations? By using salary research sites such as PayScale and Salary.com, research the salary ranges for each job title using:

  1. The company’s main office or branch locations (this advice is based on US employers, so be aware that global companies may have additional considerations for fairness and how they determine pay).
  2. Your home location (note that for employees in competitive fields, national markets will probably move closer to higher paying cities, as long as demand for employees continues to exceed supply).
  3. No location, so that you get a national average.

Now you have three approximate salary ranges for each potential remote job, so you will be prepared regardless of which method a particular employer uses. When evaluating an offer take into account the total benefits and compensation package along with opportunities for advancement. Lastly, make sure to assess your value in the current market as employers are likely to pay more for special skills, accomplishments and experience.

Michele Rapp, Associate Director of Alumni Career Strategy creates diverse professional development programs and networking events for alumni. She oversees the NUsource networking platform and guides alumni from diverse sectors and career stages to:

June 6, 2022



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Have you felt a loss of motivation and mojo in your job search recently? We have some tips!

By Michele Rapp

Job searches require persistence and resilience as they can be a mix of success, and uncertainty. The process is similar to training for a 5k race or gardening as it takes sustained commitment and effort, or the patient work of planting seedlings and waiting for them to bear fruit.

Change it up
Start by trying some new approaches. Get out of the house to do your work and try a co-working space, library or your favorite coffee shop instead. Get energized by starting the day with exercise, a class at the gym, a networking call or a lunch meeting. Spend less time online and more time interacting with people, especially to get feedback and fresh ideas.

Set goals and create structure

Experiment with setting weekly or monthly goals and find a method that works for you. Set weekly goals for networking, research and job applications combined with tracking your progress. Try to build in some rewards to look forward to. Having a system that works for you is the best form of motivation!

If you’re working fulltime, you can set goals and/or identify weekly times for your search. Emphasize quality activities over quantity: one informational interview with an innovative company can be more valuable than sending out lots of online applications.

Keep growing your list of target employers while prioritizing your time and efforts; spending about 80% of your time on networking is recommended.

Refresh and recharge

Practice self-care. Whether that means exercise or taking time in nature, find your version of self-care and utilize it. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to take a break from your job search.

Learn and lead

Find classes to learn new skills and grow your network. Look into adult education programs, community colleges, professional association workshops, an online learning, such as LinkedIn Learning. Engage in volunteer or leadership activities to further skills, build relationships and see the positive impact of your efforts. Investigate these opportunities through community organizations, professional groups, Idealist and VolunteerMatch. Developing a side hustle can also boost your energy, skills and income.

Michele Rapp, Associate Director of Alumni Career Strategy creates diverse professional development programs and networking events for alumni. She oversees the NUsource networking platform and guides alumni from diverse sectors and career stages to:

  • Clarify their direction
  • Develop an effective job search
  • Network
  • Advance their careers

June 6, 2022

Get support

Don’t go at it alone! Seek feedback, encouragement, accountability and fresh ideas from others, whether it’s a career coach, mentor, or job seeker’s group. Many professional associations offer opportunities to be matched with a mentor. And you can connect with fellow alumni on NUsource and LinkedIn for career insights, advice and more.



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A day in the life of a media entrepreneur

By Ilana Gensler, MA’19

As the clock strikes 5:30 am, Adebukola Ajao’s, MPS’20 alarm clock sounds initiating a stretch session and shower. By 6:45, she’s buckled up and on the road to her day job as a high school educator. Between the hours of 7:30 to 3:30 pm, Ajao helps students with their socio-emotional needs and postgrad life preparation. Curling up for a nap, Ajao recharges her battery at work before driving to Curry Student Center. During a light dinner she puts finishing touches on her assignments and studies until class from 6:30 to 9:30. Sprinkled throughout the day in intervals, Ajao works on BDY CONSULT – her boutique consultancy.

For those who are looking to build the digital arm in their business or marketing career, Ajao has three pieces of advice.

Never give up
“How are you going to make money?” is the concern that Ajao was met with upon sharing she’s pursuing a master’s degree in digital media studies. In 2018 Ajao was selected as one of six recipients of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Graduate Fellowship, a scholarship program offered by the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute. “There aren’t a lot of colleges that have an institute for people of color,” says Ajao. Having lived in the Mandela Homes across from Northeastern—where she wanted to go for undergrad—it’s full circle that the school was where Ajao took her business to the next level.

What you want to be and who you are doesn’t exist yet
Ajao says there would have been no way to express as a teenager that she would become a digital marketer when she grows up, and she’s here to disrupt the notion that you have to know exactly what you want to do. “Having a computer in the early 2000s was a major luxury,” says Ajao, “and you never know what new technology will come up in the future that you’ll be an expert in.” If you have a vision, you have to do things that people don’t completely understand, according to Ajao.

May 3, 2022

There aren’t a lot of colleges that have an institute for people of color.

Adebukola Ajao, CPS’12

Actively seek your purpose
By Ajao’s senior year of college she knew she was going to serve small businesses of color, after observing the knowledge gap that entrepreneurs who only attended high school—like her mother—face. With a goal of doubling the amount of small businesses that are online by 2022, Ajao used her studies in the socialization of black culture to encourage people in her community to use digital marketing as a resource. Through the opportunities made available in Ajao’s newsletter, ten small business owner subscribers received over 100K in funding. “I’m really tethered to my purpose,” says Ajao, “it could permeate education, fashion…any industry; think big and disseminate out.”