Posted tagged ‘networking’

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: 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

How to network with alumni

September 21, 2010

You’re good at networking with other students, friends, and professors. Now extend your networking skills to reaching out to your school’s alumni to develop more internship opportunities. Here are our top 4 tips for building your network with alumni:

  1. Visit the career center on campus and talk to a counselor about networking with alumni. The center may already have established relationships with alumni who are facilitating internships. If so, study the list and identify appropriate internship sites and alumni relevant to you. Look for sites that offer internships related to your major and study the alumni profiles for common bonds. For example, the alum night have had the same major as you or come from the same state or hometown. Now you have a basis for dialogue when you contact these alumni.
  2. Go to the alumni office on campus and ask for an alumni directory. The alumni office is a very busy place, and people may not have time to discuss the alumni with you or there may be confidentiality issues here, too. But once you have an updated directory, you can research the alumni and companies through Google or the company Web sites for more information on internships or career opportunities in the various companies.
  3. Visit your own department, inquiring about a list of alumni. You might even offer to help update the list, which means you could contact the alumni on department business, giving you an excellent reason to network. Most departments and schools perform phone marathons every fall, using students to contact alumni for donations to the university. Departments are always searching for students to make the calls. The alumni often like to hear what’s new in the department and may respond positively to your interest in his/her career.
  4. You can also pursue networking opportunities through alumni newsletters and alumni events on campus. Collect as many copies of present and past alumni newsletters from the alumni office and your own department to map out your networking strategy.  If alumni have received awards, you could write to each person, offering congratulations and asking for an informational interview. Or you could ask if you could interview them for the school newspaper or for a class project or assignment.  Note on your calendar any alumni events, such as homecoming, and volunteer to help with campus tours or receptions for alumni, where you can network first-hand and develop valuable contacts.

How to network in your department and with the right professors

September 17, 2010

Networking includes a much broader range than Facebook, Twitter, or other social media. It starts in your school with your faculty and staff, especially in your major and minor departments. Here are our 5 top tips for establishing a network that will strengthen both your academic and career goals:

  1. Join departmental organizations, clubs, or groups associated with your department, especially if your major professor is the faculty sponsor. For example, if you’re an English major and your department publishes a literary journal, sign up for the staff. Some departments sponsor field trips or even study abroad programs, which could be great networking opportunities for you.
  2. Show your support to the faculty by offering to do research for a faculty member. Many professors need student researchers for their work and will give you credit in the final project. If a department professor has a newly published book, be sure to buy the book and ask for his/her autograph. Offer to help teaching assistants, too, because they have input into the department and may be your future professors. And they probably have more time to help you with a challenging assignment than a professor does.
  3. Build good relationships with department secretaries and student aides. Consider being a student aide yourself. And always take time to chat with the secretaries and to recognize their hard work. They are your first point of contact when you want to make an appointment, learn about new internships, find out first when grant or scholarship applications are due, or simply hear about department politics.
  4. Establish yourself as a scholar and outstanding asset to the department by achieving a high GPA and being inducted into honorary societies. Departments often compete for top students, and your department will respect you for enhancing its reputation. Attend any study groups and participate in them. Ask intelligent questions and introduce new information that you’ve gleaned from outside sources and go to academic conferences.

Volunteer in your department to help with special events, tutor other students, or work on committees. Many departments host guest speakers or conferences and need student support, giving you more opportunities to network outside of your university. When major or minor professors deliver lectures outside of the department, plan to attend and then let them know that their presentation was most interesting. If a professor helps you with an assignment or helps you find an internship or job, send a thank-you note.

Q. My internship is almost over. How do I bring up future possibilities?

June 28, 2010

A. First, you may want to spend some time deciding what future possibilities interest you. Second, devise a plan and timeline to present your future possibilities to the appropriate parties. Third, consider what your alternative options may be in case your future possibilities don’t come to pass. 

  1. Future possibilities:  Would you want to continue your internship as an online internship? If so, do you have a specific project or plan in mind that you would want to work on for the company? If your internship is unpaid, would you want to transform it into a paid part-time job? Or if you’re graduating, do you want to apply for a full-time job with your internship company? Or would you like to change your internship into a co-op in which you’re working and gaining credit at the same time? Or would you like a reference to work in a related company or a subsidiary? Would being a paid consultant for the company be in your future? You may want to rank these future possibilities in order of preference and proceed to the next step.
  2. Plan and timeline:  At this point, you may decide to set up an appointment either in person or online with your Career Center counselor and run your ideas past him/her.  The counselor may have a longer history of collaborating with the company than you do and be able to advise you on creating a successful plan. Next in your timeline make an appointment with your internship supervisor at his/her convenience, preferably about one week before your internship ends. Before the meeting, write up an agenda and list your preferences for future possibilities along with the subsequent value that you would bring to the company. Explain each possibility to the internship supervisor and produce a calendar with your proposed dates for your future involvement. At the end of the meeting, thank your supervisor for the consideration and express your hope for a continued relationship with the company.
  3. Alternative options:  The internship supervisor will probably not give you an immediate answer to your future plans with the company but will have to discuss your suggestions with colleagues and maybe even Human Resources. Send your supervisor a thank you note and be patient. However, if you find out that none of your future possibilities is acceptable, research your alternative options. For example, apply those same future possibilities to another company and ask your Career Center to direct you to the appropriate organization. Or develop a list of other goals, such as joining a pre-professional society on campus or applying to be a teaching assistant for your major professor. You could also volunteer to work with a group related to your future career. Whatever you do, maintain a positive attitude and turn your energy into action in another area.

Q. I didn’t find a summer internship. Is it too early to look for a fall one?

June 25, 2010

A. Absolutely not, especially if you want to get a really good one. There are lots of resources on internships.com to help you get started. If you don’t know exactly what kind of internship you want, the Internship Predictor can help you out. Or the Company Directory can help you identify companies and people that you want to reach. For good measure, you could complete the Intern Certification Program. And check out the Intern Tool Kit for other resources. Here are a few more tips:

  1. Lay out your fall schedule. Decide how many hours you want to put into a fall internship and where you want to do your internship. You may be limited by class hours and location. If you have transportation issues, you could consider taking an internship on campus in a department that is relevant to your career interests.
  2. Review your resume and cover letter, making sure that you have updated your resume with any summer accomplishments, including jobs, volunteer work, sport achievements, travel, or new skills, such as foreign languages. Internships.com will help you decide if a video resume is appropriate for you. Write a basic cover letter that you can customize for every application.
  3. Visit your Career Center for advice. These professionals work with companies and help you get interviews with the proper personnel. Companies usually offer internship opportunities year-round to a school. Discuss the many new options that are available to you, thanks to technology. The online internship often works well for a fall internship because you can work at your own convenience.
  4. Network. Talk to other students, friends, and family members about your plans for a fall internship and ask them for suggestions. The best way to evaluate an internship is to talk to a student who has just completed it.
  5. Tracey’s Angle. Check out the newest Eye of the Intern blog by internships.com intern, Tracey. She has some great tips for finding a fall internship.

Q. What’s appropriate behavior at work socials?

June 7, 2010

A. You want to have fun and meet new people at a work socials. But remember, it’s still work even though the atmosphere might be relaxed and informal. It can be an opportunity for improving your image and your career future, or it can be a disaster that sidelines your internship. Here are a few tips for capitalizing on a super opportunity:

  1. Dress appropriately. You might have some funky outfits that you wear when you socialize with your friends, but they may not be right for a work function. Be careful about plunging necklines or short skirts as well as tacky t-shirt slogans. If in doubt, dress conservatively.
  2. If you aren’t 21, don’t drink alcohol. If you are old enough to legally drink alcohol, limit your intake. Or, better yet, don’t drink any alcohol just to be sure that you don’t slip up and say what you really think about one of your co-workers or the food in the company cafeteria.
  3. Monitor your food intake. Don’t park yourself beside the buffet table and eat up all the best food. And don’t stuff any goodies in your pocket or purse to take home for a snack. No doggie bags, please.
  4. Be proactive. Introduce yourself to people and start conversations. You may want to talk about the event, summer vacations, the weather, or other topics rather than work. But don’t participate in any gossip. And do mingle with lots of different people rather than chat with only one person.
  5. Act friendly but not familiar. Keep a comfortable amount of personal space between you and the person with whom you’re talking. Touching is not appropriate, even if it’s a work social. And no flirting.
  6. Watch the clock. It’s fine to be one of the first people at the social event; it shows that you’re looking forward to engaging with employees. And don’t be the first one to leave because it looks like you’re not having a good time. But be sure not to be the last one to leave either because the people who are closing up are clock-watching.

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. When is it appropriate to start networking outside my department?

May 28, 2010

A. The short answer is when your intern supervisor or department head says so. The long answer gives you more leeway to build your network on your own timetable and in your own style. Here are some points to ponder:

  1. After your first week has successfully passed, ask your intern supervisor about the best way to meet people in other departments. Explain that you’d like to have a better understanding of how the business works as a whole. In response the intern supervisor may escort you around to the other departments, introducing you to various members, who might offer to discuss their work with you.
  2. When you’re sure that your department head likes your work, follow up by asking him/her if it’s permissible to visit other departments to learn what they do, especially departments that interface with yours. Then, the department head may take you to other departments and ask them to spend some time with you, so you can learn more about the operation.
  3. If your department holds daily or weekly meetings, ask if you can attend. Or if your department head and intern supervisor belong to professional meetings that welcome students, ask if you can go to a meeting with them. Be prepared to pay for lunch though most department heads or intern supervisors will pick up the tab. Professional meetings are great places to network for future internships.
  4. Another way to stimulate networking outside of your department is to develop a school assignment that requires you to interview employees in different departments. If you’re earning academic credit, you may indeed have to produce a paper researching some aspect of the company. If you’re not getting credit, you may still have an upcoming course that would benefit from a report based on the company. Professionals are usually glad to help students because they remember their own student days and class assignments.
  5. Other places to network informally outside of your department are at coffee breaks, in the cafeteria or fitness center, and at social events. Thanks to most companies issuing ID badges with employee names and departments, you can quickly scan ID badges and learn enough to start up a conversation. Some interns make it a practice to sit at different lunch tables every day in order to meet more co-workers. Be sure to attend any social events at your internship, getting to know as many people as possible. And, you can also volunteer for one of the non-profit causes sponsored by your company. You may find yourself dishing out food in a soup kitchen beside the company president. Now that’s networking!

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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