Posted tagged ‘internship tips’

3 steps to: Jumpstart your internship search

September 23, 2010

It’s September (almost October…) and hopefully you’ve gotten adjusted to the new school year, new dorm, new roommate, and new classes. The one other thing this year you’re going to need to figure out is the new internship search schedule. In past years, you could have safely started looking in January, maybe February, and probably even March and been fairly confident you’d find a good internship. These days, employers and students are starting earlier. Like now.

To make this manageable and ensure that it doesn’t cut into your school, sports, social, or nap time, here are three easy ways to start your internship search now and make sure you’re not falling behind on the new hiring schedule.

  1. Register with your career service office

This is one of the best things you can do for your search. While the process differs from campus to campus, most of the time you can sign up for daily or weekly emails with relevant internship and job opportunities, targeted intern and career fairs, and events and workshops on campus. You’ll also have the chance to talk with someone who knows how to help you find what you’re looking for. This is the easiest thing you can do right now and one of the most effective!

  1. Take the Internship Predictor (http://www.internships.com/predictor/)

Not sure what type of internship you’re interested in? Maybe you have an idea but need some more guidance on the specifics such as type of manager, office culture, size of company, etc.? The Internship Predictor is a quick (10 minutes!) way to assess your interests, aptitudes, and ideals in order to hone in on what you’re looking for in your next internship opportunity. Plus, you can take this and then use it to guide your conversation about what you’re looking for with your career advisor (see above) or professors (see below).

  1. Introduce yourself to your professors

You already know that relationships are integral to the internship and job search. Your professors are ideal people to connect with as they not only know you and your work, but also people working in different fields, industries, companies, and organizations. But don’t wait to approach your professors until the end of the term! You need to cultivate these relationships over the next few months. A few easy ways to do this:

    • Introduce yourself after class one day
    • Drop by for office hours to ask questions about an assignment or reading
    • Actively participate in class whenever you can

By the time you ask your professor for people you can talk with about internship opportunities, she’ll not only know you but will want to connect you with people she knows.

Q. How do I improve my professional relationship with my boss?

June 14, 2010

A. Congratulations for asking such an important question, which shows that you’re already on the road to internship success. If you feel that your boss doesn’t give you enough time or that your relationship is floundering, please don’t take it personally. Your boss may be overwhelmed with work and under lots of pressure to produce from his/her boss. Here are a few tips to improve your professional relationship with your boss:

  1. Make sure that you perform your assignments quickly and accurately. Then, ask your boss what you can do to help him/her. Working together on a project is a good way to improve your professional relationship.
  2. Demonstrate that you’re a professional by getting to work early, staying late, and working weekends if the boss needs extra help. The best way to establish a professional relationship is to be a professional yourself.
  3. Earn the respect of your boss by dressing professionally, limiting casual conversation in the office, and presenting new ideas on how you can improve your assignments.
  4. Ask your boss if you can attend some meetings with him/her either at the company or at a professional organization. Show your sincere interest in the relevant field and your enthusiasm at learning more, ensuring that your boss will react in a positive manner.
  5. Thank your boss for all the help that you receive at your internship and compliment him/her on being such a great role model for you. By the time your internship is over, your boss will consider you a professional partner.

Q. I’m having trouble meeting people. How do I start networking?

June 4, 2010

A. Starting an internship at a company where you don’t know anyone can be tough. You’re used to a routine at school, and having friends and classmates around to study and socialize with. Don’t worry! You’ll fall into a routine at your internship just like you do at school each semester, and here are some networking tips—soon you’ll be meeting a ton of new people and maybe even making some new friends.

  1. Act friendly. Put a smile on your face and say hello to other employees in your department and building. If someone doesn’t respond in an enthusiastic manner, don’t take it personally. You never know what might be going on—lots of things can cause a bad mood and it probably has nothing to do with you. Actually, your pleasant greeting might cheer him/her up.
  2. Ask questions. The best way to start a conversation is to ask the other person about himself/herself. Good questions include:  “How long have you worked here?” “Any suggestions for a good place to grab lunch?” “Did you catch last night’s game?” Weather questions are always appropriate. And it’s fine to ask about family pictures that are on a co-worker’s desk.
  3. Develop conversations. Now that you’ve established yourself as a friendly, outgoing person who is interested in your co-workers, you’re ready to take the next step—keeping a two-way conversation going. Try joining different groups for lunch but always ask first before simply sitting down. Introduce national news topics or local subjects and ask for other opinions. Then, give your viewpoint. However, don’t get into an argument if your views differ. Keep it light and people will find that you’re stimulating company, engage in conversation easily, and are enjoyable to be around.
  4. Network with new friends. By now, you’ve found a few people—in your department, at the company fitness center, or in the cafeteria—whose company you enjoy. Continue to develop those friendships and professional relationships because each new friend could lead to another acquaintance, and then another. Before you know it, you’ve built a good network.
  5. Set networking goals. You started off at your internship in an environment with total strangers. Draw up a list of people you know now and list their departments. Try to add to that list every day. Of course, your first responsibility is to your internship assignment and team members, so make sure your performance exceeds expectations. Your teammates may turn out to be your new best friends.

Q. I’m serving a lot of coffee at my internship, but I’m ready for more responsibility. How do I tell them?

May 25, 2010

A. That’s a tricky question and the answer depends on many variables. Before you say no to coffee running, let’s examine the various scenarios: 

  1. Reread the description of your internship, checking carefully to see if running errands, such as getting coffee, is included. If not, you have the grounds (sorry about the pun) to ask your intern supervisor if that’s one of your legitimate duties. He or she may be unaware that you’re getting coffee and can arrange to have you reassigned to more responsible duties. At the very least, your intern supervisor can advise you on the office dynamics, which could mean that you’ll continue to get coffee.
  2. Use coffee as a networking tool if you’re being asked to get coffee or tea. It’s a good opportunity to get to know your co-workers and build professional relationships that will translate into help when you’re working on more important duties or need assistance with office technology. Someone has to get the coffee and if you’re the most junior person in the office, you’ll probably be given the task. So you might as well smile and be pleasant and get to know who likes cream and sugar. You might find it an opportune moment to start a conversation with a staffer since many people like to chat over their coffee. You could find yourself asked to participate in a meaningful project as a result.
  3. Consider the differences if your internship is paid or unpaid. If it’s paid, you probably don’t have a very strong case for refusing to get coffee unless your work description says so. Even full-time employees get coffee. Rather than finding the duty demeaning or discriminatory, consider it your rite of initiation into the office community. It can also be a test to see how you fit in to the team environment. All businesses and jobs have menial aspects that affect everyone. The famous chef, Thomas Keller of The French Laundry and Per Se, has been known to clean dishes when the dish room is backed up. 
  4. Research alternatives to getting coffee. Find out if there’s a coffee self-service company or a coffee delivery option in the neighborhood. Look for a new high tech coffee machine that would be enjoyable to use, ensuring that co-workers would want to go get their own coffee. An improved coffee delivery system might improve office morale and be a status symbol for the administration. Present your report to your intern supervisor, who will decide how to process it. If you still end up getting coffee, make it fun for everyone. You could give an impromptu weather, sports or news report, or quote for the day along with the coffee. Your co-workers will like you and may choose you to work on their team someday.

News Flash! How to land the internship you want

March 30, 2010

Forbes Magazine just published a great article, “How to Land the Internship You Want,” on how to improve your chances of success in getting the right internship.

Key points include: 

  • Start by making a list of companies that are interesting to you and find a contact at each. Survey your friends, professors, and neighbors for a contact and an introduction.
  • Ask an in-house employee to recommend you for the internship.
  • Send your resume to a department manager as well as the human resources department. Make sure to customize your resume and cover letter for each internship.
  • Research the company and the relevant department before the interview, which could be by phone. Learn everything you can about the company and internship.  Participate in a mock phone interview in preparation.
  • Sound enthusiastic during the actual phone interview. Ask questions about the internship and inquire about the next step in the process to show your interest.

To make a list of companies of interest to you use the Company Directory on internships.com. Available to Premium Members, this exclusive database of key contacts and company facts will assist you with your internship search and interview preparation. You’ll find data on 5 million companies, including company size, names, titles, and more. Sign up today!


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