On the Rise

June 12, 2013

Recent graduate Pratima Tothempudi steps up the professional recruitment ladder

Pratima Tothempudi MS '12, Corporate and Organizational Communication. Photo by Rick Friedman.

Since earning her undergraduate degree in 2000 in her native India, Pratima Tothempudi has been steadily advancing her career in the field of professional recruiting. Following graduation, she worked for four years as a recruiter in India’s telecommunications and information technology industry.

Tothempudi came to the United States in 2009 with her husband who had accepted a job in Boston. Here, she maintained her focus on her career goals, immediately seeking out a master’s degree program that would enable her to enhance her human resources knowledge and skills.

“You have to brand and sell yourself, work hard, and have a goal. It’s important to target the companies where you want to work.”

“Being a recruiter, you need to understand and communicate effectively with your internal employees and external applicants,” she says. “I also wanted the flexibility to participate in internships and a co-op program. The CPS master’s program had the mix I wanted.”She evaluated a number of area graduate programs and discovered the Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS).

Tothempudi was attracted to several features of the program, including the flexibility in course schedules, which meant she could work and take classes. She also viewed the co-op and internship programs as valuable opportunities to gain experience while in school.

“Apart from what I learned in school, my two co-ops helped me to understand and gain practical experience in the real world of working,” she says. “This enabled me to gain many industry insights, contacts, and colleagues in the field of human resources. It also helped me to determine my interests, as well as my skills and experience as a recruiter.”

Earlier this year, Tothempudi received two awards at the first-ever CPS Cooperative Education Awards Ceremony. She was recognized for her outstanding contributions, professionalism, commitment, and leadership during her two co-ops at Cubist Pharmaceuticals of Lexington, Massachusetts, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. At both organizations, she worked as a human resources recruiter, screening and recruiting prospective employees in addition to developing and implementing recruiting strategies.

In the Co-Op Award nomination submission for Tothempudi, Tia Purcell, director of staffing at Dana-Farber, spoke to her skills and abilities: “Pratima was an exceptional co-op student who always took the initiative with projects and had an impeccable work ethic. She took full ownership of assignments, and was self-directed and quite resourceful.”

Of her two Co-Op Awards, Tothempudi says, “It was a thrilling feeling. It’s like someone telling you what you are doing is right and to keep doing it.”

She found her first co-op at Cubist on her own and offers this advice to other students seeking co-op opportunities: “You have to brand and sell yourself, work hard, and have a goal.It’s important to target the companies where you want to work.”

Tothempudi earned a Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication from the College of Professional Studies in April 2012. In May, she accepted a position as a technical recruiter for Ascend Learning, an education technology company serving healthcare and other industries in Burlington, Massachusetts.

As a technical recruiter, she is responsible for sourcing, screening, and interviewing job candidates to test their knowledge and determine if they are a good fit for the job and the company. According to Tothempudi, what differentiates a technical recruiter from a standard recruiter is the ability to understand the technical details of a project that are required in a candidate.

“Communication is one of the most important skills for being an effective recruiter,” she explains. “Since my master’s degree is in organizational communications with a specialization in human resources, this helped me to understand the art of effective and clear communication.”

So where does Tothempudi see herself in five years? “I would like to use the skills I learned in my master’s program to the fullest,” she says, “and become a vice president in strategic recruitment for a good firm.”


Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to providing career-focused educational programs that are designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Offered in a variety of innovative formats, CPS courses are taught by accomplished scholars and practitioners who have real-world experience. The result is an educational experience founded on proven scholarship, strengthened with practical application, and sustained by academic excellence.

Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a comprehensive, global research university. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 165 graduate programs, ranging from professional master’s degrees to interdisciplinary PhD programs. Northeastern’s research enterprise is aligned with three national imperatives: health, security and sustainability. Northeastern students participate in co-op and other forms of experiential learning in 90 countries on all seven continents.