Archive for October 2010

Saving the world one Big Mac at a time

October 31, 2010

Tired of hearing stories about interns who just fetch coffee and photocopy?  Check out this story of an intern at McDonalds who figured out that by installing occupancy sensor for lighting in non-dining and non-kitchen areas in 775 company-owned restaurants in the U.S. they could cut approximately 2,993,000 kWh of electricity usage and avoid 1,799 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.  That sure beats picking up dry cleaning and making sure the office kitchen supplies are stocked!

Facebook: not just for fun anymore?

October 31, 2010

We all know that Facebook is great for friend feeds and keeping up with the latest cute kitten viral video.  But Mashable had a recent article about how to use Facebook to find great professional opportunities.  From simple tips about making sure you read your news feed to “liking” or “friending” companies you want to work for, to more complicated ones suggesting you get active in a relevant professional group or starting a dialogue in one of those groups, to fun ones such as competing in contests…there are plenty of ways to tap into the vast network of opportunities Facebook has to offer.

For more details, check out this article in Mashable to start using Facebook for fun and your professional future!

You’ve got an internship: now what?

October 31, 2010

Are you in the midst of a fall internship?  If you are, here are some tips for how to make the most of your experience.  If you’re not, keep these in mind for when you begin your next internship opportunity!

Catalog it

Keep a record of what you’ve done in your internship while you’re in your internship.  Make sure your resume reflects the results you’ve achieved and the skills you’ve gained:  the more concrete the better.

Do it better the first time

For every task you’re asked to do, exceed expectations.  If you are not only finishing your work on time, but doing a little bit extra, your managers will notice and be impressed.  As you are measured against your peers, your work will stand out.

Be proactive

Volunteer for projects whenever they arise.  This will not only help you gain new skills but will allow you to become the ‘go-to’ person in the office—that person they don’t know how they did without.  This bodes well for future opportunities with the company.

Think ahead

What do you want to do after this internship?  Do you want to work for this same company?  Okay, in what role or capacity?  Want a similar role but in a different company or industry?  How do you gain the skills you’ll need for that transition in the internship you have now?  In order to get the most out of your internship, you’ll need to think ahead.

Got biz cards?

October 31, 2010

Do you have business cards?  You absolutely, positively should.  Even in a time when everything is digital, business cards are still thriving. Business cards allow you to showcase your personality in the design and delivery of your card, and allow you to leave new contacts with a physical reminder of who you are and a few, pithy bits of information about what you do.  When you exchange business cards you transfer more than just contact data. You transfer impressions and stories that leave a lasting impact.

Surprisingly, companies like Staples and Office Depot have reported a surge in demand for business cards over the past 3 years. This is in spite of the apps and online tools that promise to “replace the business card”.

With the fierce competition for professional opportunities these days, you want to leave a lasting impression.  You also want to leave a physical reminder of who you are and what you’re looking for.  Whether you’re going to an internship fair, networking event, or are just out and about.  You never know when you might meet that contact who is going to be instrumental to helping you find your dream internship.

Social media search strategy

October 31, 2010

There are three main ways of finding out about internship and career opportunities:  online postings, word-of-mouth leads, and social media feeds.  Since Internships.com is the largest online internship database and prep site, you’ve got that covered.  Word of mouth is all about networking:  check out the regular columns on networking in this newsletter for tips and ideas.  But what about social media?

For many companies, social media is often a first stop when recruiting.  Why?  Think about it:  if opportunities are first posted on company employees’ facebook pages and Twitter feeds, candidates who hear about the opportunities will be somehow connected to the employees.  It’s basically another way to find candidates who have a word of mouth connection or care about the work of the company.  It can also weed out people who are just looking for any internship or job.

So how do you do use social media effectively?  Connect with companies you’re interested in on Twitter and Facebook.  For example, maybe you’re interested in marketing internships in sustainable food companies.  Let’s say you’ve narrowed it down to Zingerman’s mail order foods, SweetRiot chocolates, and Stumptown Coffee.  Connect with their Facebook and Twitter feeds ASAP.  Not only will you be the first to know when they post or tweet new opportunities, but you’ll also get to know the work they do better through their posts.  Obviously, you’ll need to make sure your Facebook profile and Twitter feeds are professional, but that should be true for any internship or job search!

So as you’re looking for your next internship opportunity, be sure to include social media as a key component of your strategy!

Don’t let your online identity spoil your chances of getting an internship

October 15, 2010

The New York Times (Sunday, Oct. 10) had a very timely article, warning job seekers to protect their online identities. To paraphrase this informative piece, you may have a great resume, outstanding references, and a successful interview, and still not get the offer, whether it’s for a job or an internship.  Why?  Well, remember that companies often view internships as tests for potential new employees, so establishing yourself as a reputable person who will add value to the company is important.  To supplement Dr. Woody’s recent post about online identities, here are our top 5 tips advised in the NYT article to help you protect yourself as you apply for internships:

  1. Assume that you may be looked up on a search engine, so review the results of a quick search of your own name. If you find anything negative, do some damage control by entering a few positive items about yourself in hopes that the new entries will appear above the negative ones.
  2. Review your Facebook page. A potential internship supervisor could become a friend of one of your friends and gain access to your page. According to the article, you don’t want anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. Be careful about photos, too.  Drinking beer at a bachelor party may have been fun, but it could give some companies the wrong impression.
  3. Understand that having absolutely no mention of yourself on online tends to be viewed with suspicion. If that’s the case, then create a professional identity on the Internet for yourself, utilizing Google profiles, LinkedIn and ZoomInfo to establish a positive presence for yourself.
  4. Check your credit report for mistakes and develop a plausible explanation if your credit score is poor, which might be the case for many college students. And for government or security positions, you need to have a perfectly clean record in terms of character and behavior. If you’ve had any criminal charges, even if they occurred years ago and have been resolved or proven false, check the internet to make sure you have a clean slate.
  5. Consider your internship target companies. If you’re looking for a highly competitive, paid internship that could lead to a permanent position with a Fortune 500 company, then you might want to double and even triple check any online data about yourself, including political interests, buying habits, and hobbies. The petition you signed online or political blog on which you commented during an election might alienate a company that supported an opposing candidate.

Guest Post: Internships and Your Social Media Presence

October 8, 2010

Dr WoodySince the time social media began pervading American culture, there has been a growing debate among human resources and recruitment professionals about the role of social media in the recruitment and hiring process. This debate has mainly focused on the use of social media in eliciting information about candidates, so as to reveal potential character flaws or cultural misalignments that would otherwise be missed in an interview. Although this is an important debate to be aware of, for you as an internship candidate, you should consider taking the opposite tack. Given the current economic challenges we are facing, differentiation is key to beating out other highly qualified candidates. One way to differentiate is to leverage your social media savvy and reach as an asset in the interview process.

Your on-line presence is a representation of you. Essentially, it’s your brand. Before interviewing for an internship position, be sure to assess how your social media presence supports the mission of the hiring company as well as how it speaks to their audience.

Support the Mission: Before you consider bringing your social media presence to the table, you have to examine how your social media content and on-line brand align with the mission of the hiring company. The ability to articulate the synergies between your social media presence and the focus of the company demonstrates your willingness to add value. Companies today are looking for every advantage they can find, so show them you have one worth taking a look at.

Speak to their Audience: When examining your social media reach, it’s important that you identify the nature of your audience and where the potential overlaps are with the company’s customer base. You have to ask yourself: Is this an audience that the company values. It’s also helpful to quantify your reach. Smart business folks like numbers. At the end of the day, that’s how they make their decisions. Be ready to paint them a picture of your demographic and give them numbers

My point is simple, when looking for ways to differentiate in the crowded field of internship candidates, keep your social media presence in mind. Some of the hottest internship and career opportunities out there right now are in social media, so be mindful of your social media presence and be sure to leverage your on-line brand.

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a coach and author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy. Dr. Woody is president of the consulting firm HCI, sits on the Academic Advisory Board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership, and holds a PhD in organizational psychology.

How To Start Searching For Your Spring or Summer Internships

October 7, 2010

You can count on lots of help in searching for your next internship. But the impetus has to come from you. Getting a good internship is a competitive process, so it’s never too early to start networking.

Here are our top 5 tips for how to search for your spring or summer internships:

  1. Attend career fairs. Your campus probably sponsors numerous career fairs year-long. So get your resume updated and dust off your business casual clothes. Sign up early and research the companies in which you are interested. Approach your top choices first and have a 30-second introduction ready as to what you bring to the table. Do take notes, write thank-you letters, and follow-up for internships.
  2. Visit the career center.  Be a frequent visitor to the career center, asking for help in updating your resume. Attend the many workshops and read the center’s updates and newsletters. Make sure that you know the counselors by name and that they all know what internships interest you. If you have your sights set on a specific company, ask the career center to contact the company to explore internship opportunities. You could also volunteer to help out with special events at the center.
  3. Talk to other students. Develop contacts with former and current interns, learning about their internships and what they liked and disliked about the companies. Don’t hesitate to ask a current intern to recommend you as his/her successor. And be sure to find out as much as possible about the internship supervisor, so you’ll know what to talk about during an interview. Explore the possibility of virtual internships by talking with other students who may have experience in this growing field.
  4. Search internships.com. As the world’s largest internship site, internships.com has something for everyone. You can zone in on any internship by specifying location, company, paid or unpaid, credit, time period, and responsibilities. The site also offers special programs that predict what internships are best for you and how to improve your ability to perform. You can read intern blogs and access coaching services.
  5. Create your own internship. If you still can’t find the internship of your dreams, create one. Research the company and internship that you want and then approach the company with a proposal, listing your abilities and explaining the value that you bring to the company. You can also ask for an informational interview as a means to get your foot in the door. Another approach is to offer to do a virtual internship, working on a special project for the company.

Asking for help to solve internship problems

October 1, 2010

Every intern runs into problems at his/her internship. After all, it’s a new experience, but you can easily learn how to resolve issues that are causing you frustration or anxiety. Although you have many resources, you’ll want to select the appropriate one, depending on the nature of the problem.

Here are our top 5 tips for getting help with specific problems:

  1. Assignments:  If you’re having trouble with your assignments, turn first to your internship supervisor for directions. You could ask for a different assignment, additional instructions on performing the project, or for an extended deadline. And if you’re working on a team, do ask your coworkers for help. Offer to put in extra time if necessary. If the internship supervisor doesn’t help you solve your assignment problem, call your school career center for further advice.
  2. Company or internship supervisor difficulties:  Sometimes you might encounter personality clashes with your internship supervisor or you might decide that you don’t like the company and its policies. You really can’t talk about these problems at work, so turn to your home campus for counseling. Contact your career center, counseling center or professors for help in how to manage your relationship with your internship supervisor. Sometimes, former interns can be valuable sources for helpful tips, too. Quitting is usually not a viable answer because it could damage your reputation.
  3. Coworker issues:  If you’re running into problems with your coworkers, go and talk to your internship supervisor. He/she might be able to shift you to another department or team, so you could continue your internship without undue stress. Or you might learn why your coworker is difficult, resulting in your ability to accept the situation. Whatever you do, don’t gossip with other coworkers about your issues because you can’t depend on confidentiality among your coworkers—even if they might share your sentiments.
  4. Technical challenges:  It’s common to run into technology problems since every company has different systems and equipment. Fortunately, each company usually has a tech service onsite to help out employees. Don’t hesitate to ask for help on Day #1 when you see problems. People normally like to help others. If you’re living on campus, you could visit your school’s tech center for more instruction.
  5. Personal problems:  Your boyfriend/girlfriend may have broken up with you, a family member might be ill, or you might have financial problems. But whatever your personal problems, please don’t bring them to work. Instead, simply say everything is fine when asked by a co-worker. Meanwhile, go for some counseling on campus or to a private therapist and talk to trusted friends about your problems. Join a support group outside of work and learn how to manage your problems in the proper environment.

Guest Post: Making The Most of Your Referrals

October 1, 2010

You have probably heard it before, but I’ll say it again, it’s all about who you know. Anytime you have an opportunity to connect with a referral, be sure to make the most of it. Referrals can be a powerful tool when seeking to gain access to internship opportunities. Always check your network to see who can refer you with an inside player. Once connected with an inside player, it’s up to you to make the most of it. The following are some tips to consider when linking up with a referral.

Do Your Homework!!!

From the perspective of a referral, there is nothing more frustrating than talking to a student who hasn’t done their homework. By homework, I mean preparing for the call. You should never pick-up the phone without having a good sense of who you are calling and what you are looking to get from the conversation. Remember, when you are reaching out to someone to ask for help, it’s up to you to do the work. The contact doesn’t owe you anything, so don’t go into the call expecting them to be ready with a set of solutions or list of contacts they are going to blindly link you to. It’s up to you to earn it. Your job is to ask questions and explain what it is you are looking for from the conversation. If you want their help, you are going to have to make the case that you are worth helping out. Nobody wants to refer a student who will give them a bad name.

Know Your Takeaways

Any good salesperson always knows what they want out of a sales call. In other words, they have a list of what they want to get from the prospect. For you, it’s about knowing the takeaways you want from the conversation. It’s important to have a sense of what you hope to get from the contact, so as to keep your conversation focused.

Offer To Help

Always be willing to offer yourself up for any help they may need. Although you may not feel you have a lot to offer, you never really know. It’s important to demonstrate your willingness to give back. Chances are, they aren’t going to take you up on the offer, but it shows good will on your behalf.

Follow-up

After any call or meeting, always follow-up the next day with an e-mail to thank the contact for their time and help. Be sure to provide them with any information they requested (resume, bio…) and remind them of any key action points from the conversation. Don’t be shy about following up a week later if you haven’t heard anything back. I can tell you from my own experience, I get a lot of e-mails and sometimes I either miss e-mails or just forget to respond.

Referrals are a powerful tool that can give you an edge against other candidates. Be sure to use them wisely!

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a coach and author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy. Dr. Woody is president of the consulting firm HCI, sits on the Academic Advisory Board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership, and holds a PhD in organizational psychology.Dr Woody


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