Archive for October, 2011

Relationships with Recommenders

Posted on October 28, 2011. Filed under: Career | Tags: , |

One of our interns had some very good questions regarding recommendation letters to internship sites.  In fact, so good that I am going share my response on my blog!

Question One:  Is it okay to have the recommendation letters sent to me? I ask because some of my internships require me to upload all of my files (recommendation letters included) to my online profile.

Yes, it is fine to have letters sent to you.  However, this is entirely dependent on what the internship site requires, and you should be passing along this information to your recommenders.  So, if they require that you electronically upload the letters, obviously they need to get the letters to you.  Bottom line – however the site wants them submitted is the way you should do it.  If they don’t specify, go with whatever is easiest for your recommender.

RECOMMENDATION LETTER TIP #1:  Be sure that all of your letters are signed by the recommender, especially if they have been sent to you electronically.  

Question Two:  Is it in my best interest to have recommendation letters sent to my prospective internships without already having seen them? 

Of course it is always nice to know what a recommender has to say about you in a letter, but it is not necessary that you receive a copy.  I think it’s a matter of personal preference on the part of the person writing the letter whether or not they share it with you.  Some professors are used to the “old school” way of doing this which meant sending letters directly to the sites, or sealing the envelope and signing the seal to guarantee that no one could alter the letter. Personally, I would not ask for a copy unless I needed to submit it myself.

RECOMMENDATION LETTER TIP #2:  If you are at all unsure about what a recommender will say about you, then you probably shouldn’t ask them to write a letter.

I would like to compliment this intern for getting started early, especially with recommendation letters.  You will find that this is the one part of the application process that you have little control over, so it can potentially cause you to miss application deadlines and derail your whole search.

RECOMMENDATION LETTER TIP #3:  Start early and let your recommenders know what your expectations are. If you plan to apply to 10 internships, let them know that so they can save the letter for the next time. Give them clear instructions as to what the letter should discuss, to whom it should be addressed and when and how you need to receive it.

So, the next time you are in class daydreaming about the great internship that you’re going to have next summer, wake up and spend a few minutes after class getting to know you professor.  Ask his/her opinion on your career ideas.  You just might be surprised where it might lead…

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You and Your Shadow

Posted on October 21, 2011. Filed under: Career | Tags: , |

This week I received a phone call from my beautiful niece,  who is a senior in high school.  It’s  always a pleasure to talk to her; she’s as smart as she is sweet! She was  calling to get the status on a job shadowing opportunity that I have been  trying arrange for her.

Last year I learned that she was contemplating a career as a  pharmacist, but had never really had any exposure to the field. So I did what  any loving (buttinski) aunt would do, and made it my mission to organize a job  shadow opportunity for her.  Since I have a good friend who is a pharmacist, this seemed to be the obvious next step.

Job shadowing can take many forms, from a one-time peek at a  day in the life, to an organized learning opportunity.  If the shadow is arranged through school or a  youth organization, there may be some suggested activities for the time spent together, or associated reflective exercises for the teen to complete.  Even an informal job shadow still provides the youth with an opportunity to get a “feel” for the field.

By the time they are juniors in high school, students are expected to know what they want to study in college, which has a direct  connection to their future career options.  These days it’s hard to find the time or the money for career preparation courses or career advisors in high school.  More often than not it is left up to the parents (and aunts) to connect these teens to the resources they need.  This means that 16-year-olds are making  decisions about the rest of their life.  As long as options have been explored and decisions are informed ones, this is a positive step in their transition into  the real world.

So, who is going to step into your shadow?

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Confidence Machine

Posted on October 13, 2011. Filed under: Career, College, Confidence, Internship, Jobs, Life, Personal Growth, Professionalism, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Internships are the perfect vehicle to build confidence.  They are like machines that process confused, sometimes scared, college students and turn out polished young professionals a few months later.  The transformation is physically evident to parents who often don’t even recognize their own child at the end of the progression.  They somehow seem taller, and well…more grown up!

Confidence is the key to it all.  In a survey, 46% of employers revealed that internship experiences and interview skills are what matter most to them. These two characteristics go hand in hand because confidence is needed for either one to help you land the job. Did you think it was your GPA (3%)?  Your new interview suit (2%)?  No, it’s your ability to communicate your experiences and new skills with confidence.

If you have not engaged in an internship experience before college graduation, run don’t walk to sign up for a program, preferably one that takes you outside of the campus bubble. Most university internship programs provide intentional learning experiences that include reflective assignments designed to connect your academics to the professional world.  This is your opportunity to test drive your chosen field, either confirming your choice or realizing that it wasn’t what you expected.  Either way, that knowledge is valuable.

Teddy Roosevelt once said that each time we face a fear we gain strength, courage, and confidence.   As part of an internship experience you will learn about yourself and what you are capable of as you push through the fear and doubt and arrive with confidence at your next destination.

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A Wonderful Place

Posted on October 7, 2011. Filed under: Life | Tags: , , , , , |

Adolescence is often thought of as a painfully turbulent transformation in one’s life. Maybe it’s the eternal optimist in me, but from my perspective it is a magical time filled with opportunities, challenges and life lessons.  It’s the metaphorical butterfly emerging from a cocoon; the entire world opens up to a view of all that is possible!

Unselfishly (or so I thought) I have always been happy to offer up survival tips and cautionary tales to the young people in my life as a way to help them navigate tough transitions.  Ah, but I had ulterior motives.  By choosing to make advising adolescents and young adults my life’s work I have found a way to vicariously relive my younger days while absorbing a steady dose of ageless energy. Yes, I’ve found my own personal fountain of youth. My fountain doesn’t do much for wrinkles, but it works wonders for my outlook on life!

The intention of my blog is to provide practical information, as well as personal insight, to those approaching career and life transitions.  Based on my career, which has seen several incarnations of its own, as well as my education, the message I wish to bring to youth, as well as to my peers, is that where there is transformation, there is opportunity for learning.

Take the opportunity to live, to learn, and to come to the next experience with a greater understanding of yourself and the world.  If you are lucky (yes, luck plays a role) one day you will arrive at a wonderful place.  It’s the place you were headed to all along, but were not prepared for without the knowledge acquired during transformational times.

So, if you are transitioning from campus life to the professional world or from secretary to social activist, I invite you to make Tales of Transformation a part of your journey.  In the meantime, I will be in a wonderful place drinking from the fountain and watching the butterflies emerge.


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