Archive for July, 2012

Internship Halftime Show

Posted on July 25, 2012. Filed under: Career, College, Internship | Tags: , , , |

With summer internships at the halfway mark this is a great time to take stock and evaluate how things are going.  This can be a turning point in your internship experience where the potential for learning and connecting is at its peak, but things can also fall apart permanently if not addressed.

Here are some areas to focus on as you approach the last half of your internship experience.

Document Challenges and Rewards:  Keeping a journal of critical incidents at your internship will help you to understand what you have learned about your field and yourself.  What new skills have you learned that can now be added to your resume?  What areas need improvement?  Are there pieces that still need to be filled in? If you don’t document your experiences as they happen, it will be difficult to recreate for future use.

Time for an Evaluation:  Ask for a mid-point evaluation of your performance and be prepared to listen to and act on constructive feedback.  Did you make a mistake?  That’s okay – you are an intern and perfection should not be expected by you or your supervisor.  How you handle the situation is what is important.  Mistakes are an opportunity to demonstrate your personal values and professional work ethic. On the other hand, if you’ve exceeded expectations, ask for more substantive work.

Develop your Work Style: Did you adapt well to your new environment?  Does the culture of the organization fit you?  If not, is this the right career field for you? It’s just as valuable to know what doesn’t work for you, as it is to confirm what does! Under what kind of management style do you perform best? The more you know your own performance and capabilities the better positioned you are to “sell” that to a potential employer.

Work Your Network: This is the time to kick your networking skills into high gear! Are you attending the right events?  Are you talking to everyone you meet? You should have your “elevator speech” perfected by now! Keep adding to that collection of business cards and follow up.

Find a Mentor:  Now that you have had time to get to know people at work you should be looking out for a mentor. Connect with people throughout organization and conduct informational interviews.  Is there someone you have a good rapport with?  Did that person seem responsive your to questions?  Remember, a mentor does not have to be someone in your exact field, but a seasoned professional who is willing to provide advice and feedback on your career.

Don’t wait any longer to address these areas and get the most out of your experience.  It’s not too late to turn a so-so internship into a life-changing one.  It’s your show!

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Writing Samples – What should I use?

Posted on July 18, 2012. Filed under: Career, College, Internship | Tags: , , , , |

Not all internship sites will ask for writing samples, but when they do take it seriously!  Writing is an important part of most all internship positions.  From professional email correspondence to executive summaries of important documents, you will likely be asked to write something as part of your internship.

Cover letters are writing samples, too.  Potential employers use these to evaluate your writing skills, your style and tone, and your ability to communicate effectively.

When selecting a writing sample be sure to follow any instructions provided as part of the application.  If you do not, they will learn something about you as an employee – you don’t follow directions.

If they do not specify a topic for the sample, select a topic that is somewhat related to the internship itself.

Here are some writing sample ideas:

  • Class paper or project that is not marked up by the instructor.  These can be in the form of a literature review or a critique of another work.
  • Research paper that is on, or not too far off, topic. If you are providing an excerpt from a longer work, be sure to include a summary of the paper at the top of the first page.
  • An article that was previously published.  This could be from a club newsletter or a former employer’s website.  Be sure to provide the context.
  • If appropriate, you can provide an opinion piece or blog that is on topic.  However, be careful when providing your opinion, and only do so if that type of writing is required of the position.
  • Write an original essay using the position posting as a guide as to topic and writing style.
  • If citing other sources, always include a reference list.

Tip: Always have your paper proofread by a professor or a friend before submitting.

So, be prepared to do a lot of writing at your internship.  Quality interns learn to take constructive criticism and become better writers in the process.  You may even have an opportunity for your work to be published, which is a great addition to your professional portfolio!

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Business Casual – What does it mean?

Posted on July 17, 2012. Filed under: Career, Confidence, Internship, Jobs, Professionalism | Tags: , , , |

business-casual%20WomenIn Dr. Joel Clark’s book, Intern to Success, he advises that, “Punctuality and appearance are crucial to making good first impressions.”  We all know that those first 10 seconds make a lasting impression – good or bad.  What you may not realize is that you will have plenty of opportunity to impress people outside of the office setting  before you even arrive at your internship.

Networking possibilities present themselves at your program orientation sessions, intern workshops, class seminars and welcome receptions, and even at your parent’s house! You are being evaluated at these events.  It may not be an official or formal interview, but connected people are gathering crucial information about who you are, initially based on your appearance. The impression you leave has the potential to impact your career options.

“Business Casual” is a good starting point for interns.  Unfortunately, there are many opinions regarding what fits into this category.  To prepare you for your internship experience, I recommend that you follow these basic guidelines.

Business Casual for MEN:

  • Business or Sports jacket is suggested
  • Styled, solid-colored pants
  • Long-sleeved, solid or striped shirt
  • Tie is not necessary, but suggested
  • Dark socks
  • Matching belt and shoes

Business Casual for WOMEN:

  • Business skirt or pants
  • Conservative blouse or sweater
  • Blazer or cardigan is suggested
  • Closed-toed heels
  • Neutral hosiery
  • Understated accessories

Business Casual is NOT:

  • Jeans, cargo pants, shorts, or low rise pants exposing bare skin
  • Tight or short skirts
  • T-shirts, sweatshirts, revealing or low cut tops
  • Tennis shoes, flip-flops or shower shoes
  • Baseball caps worn indoors
  • Anything too trendy or flashy
  • Large pieces of jewelry
  • Facial piercings
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Application and Interview Follow Up

Posted on July 12, 2012. Filed under: Career, Confidence, Internship, Jobs | Tags: , , , |

MP900443229One of my favorite places for internship tips is the YouTern website.  They recently posted a blog by Angela Petrie addressing interview follow ups (YouTern Blog on Interview Follow Up).  She brings up some very important and valid points for job/internship applicants regarding communication after an interview.

Angela suggests that applicants wait at least two days before contacting the organization after an interview, and avoid using words that may reveal desperation or anger on your part in any communication with them.  Both excellent points!

I would like to add that sending a nice thank you note within 24 hours of the interview is also a great way to stand out.  Email is a fine choice for this since it will reach the recipient sooner than snail mail.  You can find thank you letter samples by doing a Google search of “Interview thank you letter.”

Before the Interview

But let’s back up just a bit…how about corresponding with organizations prior to an interview?

Here is what I recommend:

  • Always follow up within a week to confirm that materials were received and to check on the status of your application – Are they missing anything? Is the fax or email attachment clear?
  • Try to determine their selection timeline and a contact person – When might you expect a call? Who should you direct inquiries to?
  • The Two-Week Rule – It is okay to call back to determine your status if it has been at least two weeks between contacts.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to let them know you are still interested. The worst thing you can do is apply (or interview) and then just disappear. Be proactive!

TIP: Find the balance between being a stalker and a stranger.

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