Posted tagged ‘summer internship’

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.

Q. What should I wear and what should I bring with me on the first day of my internship?

May 7, 2010

A. Great question for the Intern Coach, your school Career Center staff, and the Internship Manager at your internship! How to dress for your internship varies, depending on the corporate culture in your workplace. You can always ask your contact at the organization or the Internship Manager for tips about dress code and materials you should bring with you. For more suggestions can take the Intern Certification Program at internships.com. Here are some general tips:

  1. Performance should represent 95% of business success, but the reality is that the split is 33% performance, 33% image, and 33% positive publicity (what people know about you). How you look is important since people draw immediate conclusions about you on first sight.
  2. Dress a bit more formally for the first day until you get a sense of the culture and style. A good rule of thumb is to avoid extremes in terms of clothing, jewelry, or scents at the start of your internship. Here are some general guidelines that may be helpful depending on your industry:
  3. Women should make sure that skirts aren’t too short, slacks aren’t too tight, and necklines aren’t too low. A stylish white shirt is always a safe choice. Wear the best shoes that you can afford and don’t wear excessively high heels.
  4. Men should wear a clean, ironed shirt, preferably white, with a conservative tie. If you wear a sport coat, go for a solid navy or one with a subtle pattern. Keep your dress shoes in great condition. Your socks should match pants and shoes. Leave your baseball cap and sneakers at home along with your pinky rings, necklaces, or bracelets.
  5. For the first day, you might want to take a backpack/computer case with you to carry items. If you’ve completed the Intern Certification Program, you’ll want to take your Internship Roadmap with you. Set up a time to sit down with your Internship Manager and discuss company expectations and goals and performance assessment, using the Internship Roadmap or similar outline as a guide.
  6. Another item in your backpack could be a journal to keep track of all your activities, so you can assess your own performance. A pad of paper and pen might be handy–to take instant notes as you meet new people. Jot down their names, so you can address them correctly the next day. Your new co-workers will be impressed by your efforts. You might want to tuck a snack bar or drink into your case for an energy boost on your busy first day.

Q. I’m stressed out about starting my first internship. How do I transition from student to professional intern?

May 4, 2010

A.  It’s natural to feel stress at times of change, even positive change, which includes starting an internship. You’re entering a new world, and you want to make a good impression. The Career Center at your school may have helpful information online or in printed guides to help you prepare for your internship. Check the Career Center calendar for any pre-internship training classes. You can take the Intern Certification Program on internships.com to sharpen your professional skills and boost your confidence. Or if you’re already “iCertified,” you should review the material again. Here are some tips to help you transition from student to professional intern:

  1. Start with the “outer you.” If you look good, you feel better about yourself. And your ability to manage new tasks improves.  Is it time for a new look? Study business publications (like Inc. or the Wall Street Journal) or industry specific publications related to your internship field, or go to the website of the company where you’re doing your internship to see if you can determine the preferred style and dress code.  
  2. Consider the “inner you.” Does your stomach flip-flop when you picture yourself walking into your internship on the first day? Try taking deep breaths to settle your nerves ahead of time. Build a positive attitude by reassuring yourself that you wouldn’t have been chosen if the company didn’t believe in you. Does your heart race when you think about meeting lots of new people?  Maintain a calm exterior by extending a firm handshake and by smiling at your new co-workers. Remind yourself that these people expect to like you. You bring added value to the company.
  3. Establish your new routine. It can help if a week before your internship starts, you maintain the same daily schedule that you’ll have during your internship. As a student, you may have stayed up late and slept in if you didn’t have any morning classes. As a professional intern, you’ll probably go to bed early in order to get up early and get to your internship on time (or even early). Try to get eight hours of sleep to ensure that your energy level is high. If you had an exercise routine as a student, integrate that routine into your new schedule even if it’s going to the gym at night instead. Physical activity relieves stress.
  4. Choose a friend that you trust and can confide in when you’re feeling stressed at your internship. You’ll probably need a good listener during the first week until you develop a comfort level at your internship. A friend who is interning at another company or who has completed an internship would understand your feelings, offer support, and honor your confidence. Don’t let stress build up either before or during your internship. You may find that reducing caffeine in your diet could also reduce stress. Experiment on what works best for you.

Q. I can’t do a summer internship because I have family obligations. What should I do?

April 30, 2010

A. I admire your priorities. Don’t worry, there are lots of internships offered on a part-time basis throughout the year.  

  1. Explore opportunities if you have a part-time job during the school year. Ask your employer about internship opportunities at work. You may be able to move to a different department or assume more responsibilities that advance your skills. You may also be surprised to find that you can receive internship credit for your current job.  
  2. Check into campus internships. Many departments, such as Human Resources, Communications, Alumni Affairs, and Admissions, use interns throughout the year. Your own major department may employ interns to assist professors or work on special projects, which would advance your own knowledge and increase networking opportunities.
  3.  Sign up for a full-time, month-long internship—called  the January term—during  the winter break if your school offers such a program. Since many schools close for nearly a month at the holidays, it’s become an opportune time to arrange internships for students who can’t do summer, fall, or spring internships.
  4. Keep in mind that it’s not too early to apply for a fall internship. Most companies appreciate a 3-month or longer lead. Be the first to apply and get your internship lined up. Companies that offer a variety of internship opportunities—fall, spring, or summer—tend to be flexible in hours and schedules.

P.S. Here are a few part-time fall and spring internships that might work for you:

Going to school in San Francisco? Try the deYoung Art Center.

Chicago? Get in touch with CBS 2.

In Washington, DC? Apply to the US Dept. of Justice—Community Relations Service.

Want a January term internship? Go to the International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership in New York City.

Any readers have experience in non-summer internships? We love comments!

Q. Is it too late for me to get a summer internship?

April 23, 2010

A. Absolutely not! The official first day of summer isn’t until June 21, so don’t panic. There are still lots of opportunities for you to invest in your future through an internship. In fact, you may even have more choices now than back in the early spring. Also, your summer plans have probably taken shape, giving you an accurate view of how much time you can dedicate to an internship. Here’s how to find the right one:

  1. Check the new listings on internships.com. Thousands of internships have been added over the spring, and hundreds are added every week. There are two ways you can sort through these postings—by company or by interest area.
  2. First, consider which companies appeal to you the most when you review the new listings. The internship may not be your first choice in terms of responsibilities, but at least you get inside a desirable company and can network for future opportunities. Second, explore the postings by interest area related to your major, for example, Accounting or Biology. The size or type of company may be secondary to your interest in getting an internship in your chosen field.
  3. Stop by the Career Center at your school and ask about new openings for summer internships. Schools frequently get last-minute requests, especially from local companies that prefer to work through your Career Center. If you live near the school or are staying on campus to take summer classes, you may be able to fit an internship into your schedule. An internship near your school can also be helpful because you may be able to turn that summer internship into a year-round opportunity.
  4. Create your own internship using the resources that you’ve learned from the tools on internships.com. Research the city or town where you’ll be living this summer and make a list of the companies in which you’d like to have an internship. Many small and mid-size companies don’t have formal internship programs but would value your skills and welcome you as an intern. Find out the name of the Human Resources director and send a cover letter and resume, or stop by to make an appointment. Local companies like to work with local residents.
  5. Talk to your friends and classmates about their summer internships. You may find that a few of them are unable to fulfill their internship obligations because of unexpected changes in summer plans. Perhaps you could take on the internship instead, so the company wouldn’t be left without an intern at the last moment. Or if one of your friends can’t dedicate 40 hours a week to an internship, you might suggest that you do internship-sharing—two interns handling one position. You may even end up with more than one option for a summer internship!

Q. How do I decide what kind of internship I want?

April 6, 2010

A. First, complete the Internship Predictor,™ a professional tool designed to assess what kind of internship is best for you. This easy-to-use assessment asks you to respond quickly, ranking word choices and phrases that describe you. If you’re still unsure of what internship path to follow, you might want to supplement the Internship Predictor results with an informal and thoughtful self-examination of your interests. Since no one knows you as well as you know yourself, take some time to examine your personal choices. Ask yourself the following questions to help sort out what kind of internship you would most enjoy:

  1. What TV shows do I enjoy the most?  Do you watch legal shows, such as “Judge Judy” or “Law and Order”? You could try a legal internship. Have you already marked your calendar to watch the new “Miami Medical” show? Then perhaps you would enjoy an internship in a healthcare or hospital setting.  A cooking channel fan? Why not try a restaurant or food-related internship? Like the Discovery Channel? Be a nature or science intern.
  2. What are my favorite movies? If you liked “Avatar,” why not go for an internship in the entertainment field? If you liked the “Ghost Writer,” try an internship in a political setting. The Blind Side? Consider a sports, social service or nonprofit internship.
  3. What books do I read?  If you read The Big Short, check out banking or Wall Street internships. Stones into Schools or Three Cups of Tea? A nonprofit or educational organization may interest you. If you liked the nonfiction book Rework, you may want a small business over a large corporation. Prefer reading books set in New York City? Then, scope out New York City internships.
  4. What types of groups do I belong to? If you belong to lots of team-oriented groups, you may like an internship in which you’re a member of a large team. Do you belong to multiple groups and sign up for committees? You’re probably an excellent multitasker and would be successful at an internship with many different duties. For example, in a small company that takes only one intern, you may assist the president, the bookkeeper, and the customer service manager.  
  5. Do I have specific political views?  Do you have strong political views?  If so, you might want to evaluate what type of company would work best for you. Some companies may be the wrong fit and you might not like the corporate culture. Look for an internship site that’s compatible with your views. To find out more about a particular company, monitor the news or Google the company.
  6. What internships do my friends think would be good for me? Friends often see attributes or talents that we can’t see in ourselves. Ask a few good friends to list your skills and offer suggestions on what kind of internship experience they think would work for you. For more insight, ask them to explain their answers.

P.S. Now that you have the Internship Predictor results and a clear personal profile, compare the two sets of information. Make a list of the compatible traits. You may find some overlap, indicating a strong internship direction. Do any areas contradict each other? Which is the real you? Consider taking the Internship Predictor assessment a second time and see if the results have been influenced by your personal profile. Now you’re ready to move forward in to a kind of internship in which you would experience both success and enjoyment.

Q. I can’t do a summer internship because I have family obligations. What other options do I have for doing an internship?

March 20, 2010

A. I admire your priorities. Don’t worry, there are lots of internships offered on a part-time basis throughout the year.  

  • Explore opportunities if you have a part-time job during the school year. Ask your employer about internship opportunities at work. You may be able to move to a different department or assume more responsibilities that will advance your skills. You may also be surprised to find that you can receive internship credit for your current job.  
  • Check into campus internships. Many departments, such as Human Resources, Communications, Alumni Affairs, and Admissions, use interns throughout the year. Your department may employ interns to assist professors or to work on special projects, which would advance your own knowledge in your major and increase networking opportunities.
  • Sign up for a full-time, month-long internship—called  the January term—during  the winter break if your school offers such a program. Since many schools close for nearly a month at the holidays, it’s become an opportune time to arrange internships for students who can’t do summer, fall, or spring internships.
  • Keep in mind that it’s not too early to apply for a fall internship. Most companies appreciate a 3-month or longer lead. Be the first to apply and get your internship lined up. Companies that offer a variety of internship opportunities tend to be flexible in hours and schedules.

 P.S. Here are a few part-time fall and spring internships that might work for you:

Going to school in San Francisco? Try the deYoung Art Center.

In the Northeast? Contact Northeast Utilities.

Chicago? Get in touch with CBS 2.

In Washington, DC? Apply to the US Dept. of Justice—Community Relations Service.

Want a January term internship? Go to the International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership in New York City.

Any readers have experience in non-summer internships? We love comments!

Q. What’s the outlook for business internships this summer?

March 12, 2010

A. Good news! The New York Times, in the recent article, “Job Market Stabilizes for Business Students,” reports that business students and career advisors expect an increase in internship opportunities this summer. According to the article, banks are climbing out of the recession and more business students are finding banking internships. 

And more good news—you can find lots of business internships right on internships.com. Check out Kinderhook Industries, which is searching for financial analyst interns. Located in New York City, Kinderhook is a private equity firm that manages $800 million of committed capital. The firm targets orphaned non-core subsidiaries of corporate parents, existing small capitalization public companies lacking institutional support and management-led recapitalizations of entrepreneur-owned companies. Why not target Kinderhook for your internship experience?  Be part of the Kinderhook team that matches unique investment opportunities with high quality management in its “Search for Value.”  Help Kinderhook in its search by being a valuable intern.

To find out more, click here.

P.S. Have you had a business internship or do you know anyone who has? Write a review and let other students know what to expect. Or offer advice on how to prepare for a business internship interview. Thanks!

Tip #5: Don’t get screened out by answering the weakness question poorly

March 9, 2010

Woody Allen said, “If you are not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you are not doing anything very innovative.”  Edison discovered 1,800 ways NOT to build a light bulb before finding the right way. He learned how to build a light bulb from his mistakes. Remember, Columbus started out looking for India! Mistakes are not something you should avoid discussing, but maintain your focus on how you have learned and grown from the experiences. 

A lot of people are afraid to tell an interviewer a weakness so they say they don’t have any. Unfortunately believing you have no weaknesses is a HUGE weakness – probably much bigger than any weakness you actually have. On top of that, it is a big fat lie. However, I’m not suggesting that you divulge more than is necessary or appropriate. The quote, “We confess to little faults only to persuade others that we have no great ones,” is the perfect way to approach answering weakness questions. Essentially, you want to point to a weakness that is pretty easy to overcome and focus your answer around what you are doing to eliminate it.  

Discussing challenges and obstacles you have faced during your life are elements of an interview that cannot and should not be avoided when brought up by interviewers. The important thing to remember is that your focus should not be on the biggest challenge of your life or even on the weakness itself, but on what you learned from it and how it made you a stronger professional. For more tips and strategies on how to prepare for your summer internship interviews, see our Student Tool Kit.

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!


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