Archive for February 2010

Tip 2: Be prepared, not fake–authenticity is everything

February 26, 2010

The best way to be authentic in your interview is to pursue an internship in an industry and/or profession that truly interests you!  

It is really hard to fudge PASSION. People can detect real excitement for their work over those faking it. Employers want interns who are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty because they love the opportunity to be involved in a role/function that is helping to expand their scope of knowledge, skills, and abilities. For these guys, there is no such thing as grunt work. Getting coffee for the boss is the opportunity to get a glimpse of his/her world every morning and pick up on snip-its of conversation that impact a leader’s life.  Boring or mundane tasks quickly transition into opportunities to get face time with people in positions that you otherwise couldn’t easily meet or interact with, if not interning there.    

It is very true that when you are doing what you love – it really doesn’t feel like work. That’s not to say that all of us don’t do tasks that are less enjoyable than others.  I know I certainly do, but it is completely worth it because I recognize it as the minor cost I pay in order to do what I love the rest of the time. It is not only important to choose a summer internship that “fits” you because you will interview better, it is important because it will be a more exciting summer.  

When you are in the wrong place, it is like being right-handed but having to perform your daily functions as a left-hander. That would be completely exhausting! If you are reading this and thinking, “Well that’s just great IF you know your interests, but I don’t,” that’s okay because we created the Internship Predictor to help get you started down the path of career exploration. Try it out and let us know what you think.

Stay tuned for additional tips coming soon!

Tip 1: Prepare for your internship interview

February 25, 2010

1.       Prepare the longest and hardest for the first 2 minutes of your interview.

 Most people know within minutes whether they want to form a relationship with someone. There is a great book called “Blink” that shows us how we make huge judgments and decisions in the “blink of an eye.” The same holds true in internship selection. The decision to hire is frequently a snap decision made within the first few minutes of a meeting. Since first impressions are so important, dedicate your prep time to answering questions likely to come in the very beginning of the interview. These can be things like: Tell me about yourself?  Walk me through your resume. Why are you interested in this company and internship? 

Your goal should be to have prepared your answers to these questions so when they come up, you don’t have to spend your energy trying to think about what to say. Instead, you can use your energy to express confidence and enthusiasm as you deliver your answer.  Think about Tiger Woods’ performance last week as he attempted to express his sorrow for his transgressions. There is no doubt that he prepared and memorized what he was going to say, and rehearsed it numerous times before going on stage to share his apology to the world. As a result of his preparation, practice and rehearsal, he concentrated on feeling and looking like he was sorry when on camera. 

Now for many it worked–they thought he was heartfelt and sincere.  Personally, I felt it was overkill and he came off looking wooden and unnatural. So while it is really important to plan more for the opening of the interview by preparing answers for the initial questions in advance, don’t overdo it like Tiger did.  When you have your content prepared in advance, use that preparation to feel confident and ensure your delivery is natural and conversational.

Which brings us to tip #2: Be prepared not fake. Authenticity is everything.

Stay tuned for more interview tips…

Believe you are the right one for the internship

February 22, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I watched the Super Bowl and now I’m enjoying the 2010 Winter Olympics. I love watching sporting events in general, but in particular, I love it when athletes or teams, who are not favored, come from behind and win. I think part of the reason they overcome unfavorable odds is because they have such a strong belief that they are going to win. They don’t see themselves as the underdog or less powerful contender. The athletes in these sports win because they think like winners. Take for example the outcome of this year’s Super Bowl. It was surprising to all of us when the favored Indianapolis Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints. Whether it was surprising to the Saints or the people of New Orleans, who knows? But chances are, they went in to the game sure they would come out on top.

Before the Super Bowl, the sporting world favored the Colts. Considering what life has been like in New Orleans the past few years—the team and city continuing to face incredible challenges since Hurricane Katrina, it would have been easy to adopt a “give up” attitude. The Saints, instead, clearly brought out great resolve to come back better than ever. 

As you prepare for interviews to secure a summer internship, go in believing you are the best candidate for the role. Put any and all fears, doubts, and concerns out of your mind. Become perfectly clear within yourself that you should get this offer. Half the battle is looking past your obstacles and embracing an amazing opportunity.  

Interviewing for internships can be tough because you are frequently put in a position to convince someone you are well-suited to a profession and/or industry you are not that familiar with, hence the purpose of the internship. This can be tricky for even the most confident of people. My hope is that you’ll give yourself permission to be confident that you will be the winner. You deserve no less.

Internships: helping you to define your career

February 15, 2010

The other night I watched More than a Game, a documentary about LeBron James and his legendary St. Vincent-St. Mary high school team. The documentary depicts the team’s growth in knowledge, experience and teamwork, both on and off the court. And as I watched the movie, it occurred to me that LeBron’s high school basketball experience was really the internship for his professional career.

This is what an internship is meant to achieve–growth in knowledge, experience and collaboration.

Watching the documentary, it was clear from early on that a professional basketball player, without a doubt, was what LeBron was destined to become. Unfortunately, unlike LeBron, many of us don’t have that singular talent, passion and calling at such a young age. I’m a college career counselor working with students as they start thinking about the imminent job search, and the most frequent refrain I hear is: “I don’t know what I want to be. How do I choose?” This is actually a great question, though, and one that all of you should ask yourself.

Many students sit back and take a hit or miss approach to defining their career. This can be a costly process as you jump from one area of possible interest to another (switching majors and jobs along the way!). A better approach is to define areas of possible long-term career interest and pursue internships and job opportunities that match your preferences–likely spelling success for your career pursuits.

A great way to start the process is to take the Internship Predictor on internships.com. The results should provide you with a starting point for exploring your options. And don’t forget–enjoy the journey. It’s a luxury to have the time and opportunity to make good decisions about your chosen career.

When you have a moment, let me know how your search is progressing!

How to find a summer internship: three MUSTs

February 14, 2010

Three must BEs for securing a summer internship:

  1. Be humble
  2. Be confident
  3. Be thankful

Be humble.  This economy has many employers concentrating on keeping business alive–not always the best time to develop new internship programs. But companies are still doing it—offering their time and experience to help prepare the future workforce.  In brighter times, internships were typically considered a form of corporate community service—taking the time to prepare America’s young adults for a multitude of careers. Then, a hiring manager might have expected an interviewing intern to ask the question, “What will this internship do for me?”  But these are different times and being humble will serve you well.  By Humble, I mean your focus should be on ‘what you can do for them, NOT what they can do for you.’

Be confident. Being confident means believing you are worth a company’s time. Confidence is different than being self-absorbed (a trait common among insecure people). It’s a quiet glow of strength and self-awareness that comes from owning the courage to seek out and acquire the professional skills, industry exposure, and coveted connections that make internships so valuable in the first place.

Be thankful.  Some students get internships through their parents, friends, or relatives. Others find them through their school career centers.  Regardless of how you get an internship, gratitude is essential. The number of interns that take the time to write thank yous after an interview hovers at about 5%. This low percentage means the thank you note is a huge opportunity to stand out. Everyone appreciates a person who truly appreciates an opportunity extended to them. Thank you should be the first thing you say when you BEGIN an interview and it should be the first thing you say when you end an interview. You cannot express your gratitude enough when it comes to letting employers know how appreciative you are to be considered for an internship. Let the manager know you are worth it and that you appreciate their time.  

Got feedback? Bring it here – I’d love to hear it.

Internship opportunities — a chance to explore

February 12, 2010

How many of you watched the Super Bowl last weekend? I’m guessing more than a few of you tuned in, if only to see the commercials!

It was definitely an exciting game, showcasing two of the best teams in the NFL. At the party I attended, however, the football didn’t draw the biggest reaction. Rather, it came during the Casual Friday commercial.

The commercial starts with this regular guy, dressed in a golf shirt and khakis—looking pretty good for a casual Friday at work. Then the camera pans out, and the audience gets an eyeful of skin (or in some cases, hair in unfortunate places) and very, very bad underwear. Clearly, golf shirt guy, was the only employee who had a clue about how to dress on casual Friday. My fellow party goers groaned each time the poor guy with the golf shirt and khakis came in “contact” with his scantily clad co-workers.

This commercial underscores the need to be selective in your career choice. As a student you have a fabulous opportunity to research and experiment with the best possible career fit by trying different internships, with the obvious goal that the job you ultimately land will involve wearing more than just bad underwear each Friday. Don’t let these internship opportunities pass you by or you could end up like golf shirt guy–in a company, job and environment you hate.

Before you pursue an internship, determine the companies, industries or functions that hold the most interest for you. If you are unsure of where to start, check out the internships.com Internship Predictor, and further determine preferences that will help to guide your internship search for the perfect fit.

During your college years it’s possible to have multiple internship opportunities to try out a variety of companies and settings to find the right place for you. Take advantage and save yourself the painful experience of golf shirt guy and his hairy, mostly naked co-workers.

Getting an internship: the changing role of the intern

February 2, 2010

In the past year, the role of the intern has shifted dramatically. The employer mindset has gone from viewing the internship as a form of corporate community service to a method for accessing free labor. In a thriving economy, employers want to invest in the future workforce by providing opportunities for young emerging professionals to learn about their industry and professions. However, when times get tough, employers want to simply stay alive long enough to get through the recession.

As an intern, you need to adjust to this new mindset and approach the internship differently than in the past. Instead of approaching your next internship as an opportunity to learn about a profession or industry, you’ll want to pursue an internship with the goal of contributing your skills in a way that generates value and substance for the employer. As a result of your contribution, you will no doubt learn about the profession and industry but the goal should be contributing not learning. Employers in this tough economy are trying to make their dollars go farther and their people produce more. Internships help them accomplish both. Promoting yourself as the intern who can help them do more for less is a great way to get noticed.

So what does this mean for you? Well for starters, when asked in an interview, “Why do you want this internship?” focus on what you can do for the employer. Do not talk about how this is a great opportunity for you to learn about the industry and profession. While that might also be true, it is not the most important reason to highlight in the interview. What’s important to the employer is your ability to take initiative and produce quality work as a member of their team.


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