By Julia Ivy

Accomplished Professionals, By Julia Ivy, Edge-crafters, Millennials, Veterans

BE-EDGE FUNDAMENTALS: Built-in Employability, Boutique Employability, or Both?

By Julia Ivy

In my earlier post on three starting points for personal strategy coaching,  I shared stories of John (a veteran, 47), Tyler (recently graduated Millennial, 22), Dana (approaching graduation Millennial, 21), and David (multidimensional professional, 36) to illustrate that personal strategy coaching must start with the classification of the client’s “what’s next?” dilemma.

The coaching for individuals, whose “what’s next?” question relates to the challenge of mobility, would target the formulation of the personal strategy of built-in employability. A most vivid example of these people is experienced professionals (e.g., veterans) that face a new chapter in their lives but feel loyal to what they did before.


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By Julia Ivy, Edge-crafters

The Impact of Boutique Employability on the New Reality of Employability

By Julia Ivy



Just a month ago, I started the article for graduates regarding a historically low unemployment rate. At that time, it was easy to find a job even though some jobs could be boring and one-dimensional. For those, who wanted more than just a job, I suggested the option of pursuing a personal strategy of BE for “crafting your edge for today’s job market.” The “BE” stands for boutique employability – the type of employability that would let these people craft their own edge and shape the space in the market that would fit their unique and multidimensional combination of skills, passions, and experiences. It would lead them to connect with a dream employer and show their multidimensional value for the company of their choice.


The rules of employment and employability have changed.

Almost overnight, we shifted from a healthy economy with a growing stock market and a low unemployment rate to the opposite side of the spectrum. Based on the New York Times, the Labor Department report from April 2nd showed about five million people filed for jobless benefits, part of the growing economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. It happened on top of our concern about our own safety and the well-being of the people we care about.

In the market, where more people are looking for a job than jobs looking for people, job candidates will fall into two categories – to be “one of many” or “one of one” from the perspective of the employer that goes through the list of applicants.


  • The “one of many” category represents good people, whose resume will blend with many other resumes of good people, all of whom have similarly fine education and similarly relevant experience. This lack of a differentiator would especially hit 2020 graduates who have less experience than others.
  • The “one of one,” and “EXACTLY whom my company needs” represent candidates that employers will perceive as tailored specifically for their company. These candidates will be pre-tested as a fit for the company based on their personal focus and scope of expertise, social connection with the company’s culture and people, and professional value of working on challenges that the company faces in such disturbing times.


This article aims to elaborate on how to become a “one of one” and perceive a personal strategy of “BE” – boutique employability. There are three conditions for being qualified for pursuing the “BE” personal strategy.


  1. First, you love solving challenges and making a difference in the areas that you care about. You feel good when you can solve a real-life problem and make a difference.
  2. Second, you accept the mindset that you are multidimensional. To prove that this is true, make a list of your profession-related skills and training/certification and profession-unrelated skills and experiences. Example: your work in the past, your hobbies, your unused professional education, or your experience of operating in challenging settings like remote areas of Alaska or the informal economy of Mexico). The list must have at least 10 items, but feel free to target more. The list can combine all that make your multidimensional profile.
  3. Third, you accept the mindset that it would be YOU who is in charge of your own employability (vs giving the right to define your employability to recruiters or employers).


If you accept all of them with all your heart, then follow three steps: PASSION-OPTIONS-ACTION. The only possible obstacle for becoming “BE” qualified could be in your own mindset of “What is special about me? No, I cannot do it.” Otherwise, the “BE” personal strategy is open for everybody. Let us work on a message that you can post on your social media page, or share in interviews or networking events.


Step 1: Expressing YOUR PASSION for working on a challenge that you truly care about

Start with defining a scope of companies that YOU care about, and explain why you care about them. Choose one for this exercise to practice the technique, and then you can do it again and again for other companies.


Define one of the challenges that you think these companies are facing now. Finally, look at the list of your multidimensional qualities and expertise (above) and choose two-three of your qualifications that could help the company that you care about deal with the challenge you assume it has. These three credentials elucidate your multidimensional core as most relevant for the company of your choice.


Then, bring these together and draft a passionate message that connects the company, your care about the company, the challenge you are interested in solving, and your core. This is a fill-in template for the first part of your post:


I am _____________ a graduate from________, I am passionate about ___________ (the company) because of _____________ (why you care) . I believe my background in _________  and ________(your core) could let me contribute to search for solutions for _____________ (the challenge).


Step 2: Employing your MULTIDIMENSIONAL CORE

Employ your multidimensional qualifications to assume a couple of options, each of which could potentially be a solution for the challenge. Do not hesitate to go beyond the “normal practice”; inform these options with your unique blend of experiences. For example: if you are from a post-Soviet area, you experienced dealing with a broken supply chain. If you are good at video gaming, you know how to make virtual interactions engaging. If your previous job was at a high school, you know how to keep customers involved. If you have an education in finance, you know how to reconfigure a cost structure and manage expenses. Each experience would inform options you consider possible solutions.


Bring your thoughts together in a message that raises interest. Avoid recommending anything to the company as ready solutions, but rather open your thought process and share how passionate you are to help.


I think, the options of __________________ and _________________ ___________ are worth to consider as potential pathways towards (think about the desirable outcome). Each of these options certainly need further investigation on whether and how they can work for ________________ (the company).


Step 3: Prove that You Are Into Actions

Finish your post by sharing your urge for action to solve the challenge for the company you care about. Tag the company you have mentioned in your post. Companies need “out of the box” ideas that are relevant to THEIR challenges and need people that care and are capable.


If you can post the message on your social media platform, you can ask others to join you in your passion and volunteering effort. If you communicate the message in interviews or networking opportunities, share how far you feel motivated with this challenge, and would love to volunteer to work on it as long as you know that it would make a difference.



These are the fundamentals of your “BE” personal strategy of boutique employability. It lets YOU define a scope of companies and challenges that are of interest and differentiate yourself from others. Keep doing it, but be sincere in your choice of the company you care about and your drive to solve the puzzle. Remember, you do NOT offer yourself as an employee or ask for payment yet. You care about the company. You love solving challenges. You have special expertise to solve this one. You want to make a difference.


Only when you receive interest from a company, keep crafting your edge. You have already mastered the first and most difficult step of Elucidating your Multidimensional CORE and linking it with YOUR CASE. The next step is to Develop Trust.


The money will follow.

Accomplished Professionals, By Julia Ivy, Edge-crafters, Educators, Employers, Millennials, Universities, Veterans

The Role of Social Capital in a Community: 5 Things to Prioritize

December 2021


Considering the analogy of social capital at an individual level; you are always advised that your social circle has a significant influence in your future success in business or career development. On a large scale, the idea transcends to the societal parameters (the network of people and their relationship) that dictate the logistics for community development.

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By Julia Ivy, Edge-crafters, Educators, Universities

What is the Impact of Capstone Courses on Students’ Employability?

By Swapnil Lokhande.
Faculty Mentor: Julia Ivy
May 14, 2020


The research involves the analysis of the impact of the Capstone program on the employability of the students or job seekers. The fundamental analysis in this research involves the identification of the keywords used by the people (authors) while discussing the benefits of capstone courses in the academic curriculum. The specified goal is to categorize the findings through the BE-EDGE concept and see how far the capstone project helps students in developing their personal, social, and professional capital.




Article selection and filtering


For the analysis of the keywords, the main source of data is the publicly available articles related to the capstone. The analysis involves a dataset comprising the articles related to the benefits of the capstone. The articles chosen for this analysis are selected based on the following Google-searched articles and other recommended articles: “What is the capstone?,’ ‘Benefits of capstone projects,’ ‘Importance of capstone project,’ and ‘Why capstone projects are important.


Only those articles are selected which are generic to capstone project benefits. This is done to avoid any biases for a particular program or degree, and the findings must represent a generic result for the capstone project and not focus on a specific capstone project required in a particular degree or university program.


It was observed that the first 5 pages of the Google search gave relevant articles and after that, the articles were more specific to a particular type of program or course. Thus, only the articles present on the first 5 pages of Google search were selected.


Data Extraction Method


In order to analyze the articles and get insights from the content, articles need to be extracted which are present in the HTML format, stored in a simple text format (CSV or JSON), and use the text for further processing and analysis. Thus, our first approach in this project is to build an application that can be used to extract the desired content from different websites and store the content in the required format. To accomplish this, different web scrapers are deployed to gather the data.


Web scraper for articles – Purpose and Technique


  • Designed a simple web scraper using python programming that can be used to pull the content from an article.
  • In this application, the user needs to pass the URL of an article that is freely available (Example: articles from The Conversation or The New York Times, etc.)
  • The application uses requests and the BeautifulSoup package of python, which are used to extract the HTML code from the given article and process it to pull the required content.




  • Unable to extract the content from the articles which requires a mandatory login on to the portal.
  • For example, articles available on the Northeastern Library portal can only be accessed after login into the student’s account through myneu. The Chronicle of Higher Education also requires a login for accessing the articles.




The main goal of this research is to identify keywords that are frequently used and are highly relevant to the topics – benefits of the capstone program. To identify such keywords, a Machine Learning algorithm for Natural Language processing is used which is TF-IDF (Term Frequency and Inverse Document Frequency). This algorithm is generally used when processing human-readable language and is used to convert words into a numerical format where each word is represented in the form of a matrix.


How to calculate TF-IDF score


TF-IDF for a word in a document is calculated by multiplying two different metrics:


  • The term frequency (TF) of a word in a document is a raw count of instances a word appears in a document.
  • The inverse document frequency (IDF) of the word across a set of documents. This can be calculated by taking the total number of documents, dividing it by the number of documents that contain a word, and calculating the logarithm. The IDF is calculated to identify how common or rare a word is in the entire document set. The closer it is to 0, the more common a word is, and the closer it is to 1 shows how rare it is.
  • Multiplying these two numbers results in the TF-IDF score of a word in a document. The higher the score, the more relevant that word is in that particular document.



The dashboard below illustrates the findings. The frequency of occurrence of words having a high TF-IDF score is used to compare the words present in different categories.


The result consists of the bi-grams and tri-grams associated with the articles – benefits of and importance of the capstone for students’ employability. The keywords are ordered in the descending order of their rank and frequency. Here, rank is the TF-IDF score which shows the importance of the word or relevance of the word in the given article.


For example, the keyword “sponsor organization” will have a higher score for the articles related to the benefits of the capstone since it is assumed that a capstone project involves a sponsor organization with which students work to accomplish the desired goal of the project as well as the organization.


Then, we targeted to find out, what exactly students associate with having the highest impact on their employability. We applied Dr. Ivy’s BE-EDGE concept for data categorization to test personal, social, and professional capital as a measure of the capstone’s impact on graduates’ employability.


 Personal capital

EDGE Required Words Other meaning Words related to the analysis
Identity Self-esteem, individuality knowledge and skills, academic work, field of study, intellectual property
Focus Center of interest or activity Develop expertise specific to problem
Strategy Plan of action Deep understanding, geared towards working
Choice Making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities or well chosen/good fit  
vision The ability to think or plan about the future Learn leadership relevant courses
goals Aim or desired result Academic work
ownership Right of possessing something Receive academic credit
Empowerment Power given to someone to do something or becoming stronger and more confident knowledge and skills gained, serve as culminating academic



Social capital

EDGE Required Words Other meaning Words related to the analysis
trust Quality of being true, reliability, reliable, shared understanding  
Empathy Ability to understand the feeling and share the feelings of others Receive strong support
Relationships The state of being connected Faculty advisor supervises teams
rapport Understand each other feelings and share ideas  


Professional capital

EDGE Required Words Other meaning Words related to the analysis
Justification Action of showing something reasonable Literature review, conduct research, facing host/sponsor organization, develop a research plan
proof Evidence to help establish a fact Oral presentation, practical experience, provide opportunity, view exciting opportunity
Design thinking (preferably used by designers and design teams) cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts are developed by designers Critical thinking skills, real-world problems, solve problems, apply skills, apply knowledge, develop expertise specific to the problem, develop and use public speaking, address strategic challenges, receive an objective study of a critical issue





First, the study let us reveal that the dimensions of personal, social, and professional capital provide us with adequate measures for the capstone’s impact.  They refer to the benefits that students associate with investments in their edge for the market.


Second, we found that the majority of the words associated with the capstone’s benefits belong to personal and professional capital, however, only two words belong to social capital, and even the frequency of the words is very low. The findings let us assume that the team nature of capstone courses helps students to elucidate their professional CORE (personal capital) and justify that they are ready to Generate VALUE (professional capital) for the company-client.


Interestingly, however, we found a minor effect of capstone courses on students’ Developed TRUST (social capital).  This lets us assume that the group nature of capstone projects has a mediating role in setting the capstone as a major stepping stone project for the graduating students. While the group capstone projects still helped graduates to clarify the direction for their professional journey and to prove their professional readiness, they did not improve around personal contacts within the industry, which limited its impact on students’ employability.


Note: The analysis is done on a sample of data and the results may vary if more articles are collected for analysis. Further research and analysis can be performed using other Machine Learning algorithms for Natural Language Processing to find more accurate results between the words and collaborate and classify words based on their relationship with other words. This can be done to further expand this research in the future.


About the author: 

Swapnil Lokhande, Data Science and Advanced analytics practitioner and researcher.

A graduate student from Northeastern University, Boston, accomplished by Masters in Analytics. Looking for opportunities to apply my skills in analytics and computer science in delivering business solutions and simultaneously apply my knowledge in research projects. Swapnil has an extensive educational background and multi-dimensional industrial experience which makes him a passionate learner and a problem solver. In the last 5 years of his career, he has learned and developed expertise in delivering data-driven solutions to analyze business trends through statistical and predictive models and effectively communicate the findings and statistical results to technical and non-technical teams using interactive dashboards.

Outside of work, I am passionate about mentoring and teaching emerging engineering students. I have also worked as an Assistant Professor in a public university in India and always try to connect with my students to help them learn programming languages using real-world problems, mentor them in their academic projects, and help them make informed decisions in their career path.

Swapnil Lokhande’s LinkedIn Profile


Julia Ivy, PhD Psych, PhD Mgmt, is a Strategy and International Business Executive Professor and faculty director at Northeastern University.

Her area of expertise is in bridging strategy and psychology in the concept of personal strategy, and synchronize the personal strategy of job candidates with a competitive strategy of potential employers. In addition to her academic work, she acts as an executive coach for those facing the “What’s next?” challenge.

Her new book is Crafting Your Edge for Today’s Job Market: Using the BE-EDGE Method for Consulting Cases and Capstone Projects (Emerald Publishing, Oct. 7, 2019).

Learn more at

By Julia Ivy, Edge-crafters, Educators, Universities

What is the Impact of Capstone Courses on Students’ Employability?

by Swapnil Lokhande

Supervised by Dr. Julia Ivy

May 14, 2020


The research involves the analysis of the impact of the Capstone program on the employability of the students or job seekers. The fundamental analysis in this research involves the identification of the keywords used by the people (authors) while discussing the benefits of capstone in the academic curriculum. The goal is to identify the keywords and analyze them based on the BE-EDGE methodology and see how far the capstone project helps students in developing their Personal, Social and Professional Capital.

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By Julia Ivy

The Map of This Blog

By Julia Ivy

November 26, 2019


When I started to write my blog, I followed a desire to share my thoughts behind BE-EDGE and how it can be applied for individuals, universities, coaches, and businesses. Besides, my friends kept pushing me to do so. But then, I challenged myself whether the use and logic of my posts are clear, so you as a reader can easily find helpful information.

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Accomplished Professionals, By Julia Ivy, Edge-crafters, Millennials, Veterans

Understanding Your Personal Strategy of Boutique Employability

By Julia Ivy

November 25, 2019


This post talks about understanding the strategy behind the personal strategy, and not just any personal strategy but Personal Strategy for Boutique Employability. First of all, the term Personal Strategy is overused, while not really defined.  While it obviously includes the “strategy” in its definition, it’s frequently used by psychologies to emphasize their message that a person should define and own their own path in life.

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