Archive for April 2010

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. What are some tips for prep and performing well in a group interview?

April 27, 2010

A.  Group interviews can be challenging. You want everyone to think you’re great, yet each person at the interview has different standards and opinions. Here are several techniques to make you everyone’s #1 choice for the internship: 

  1. Do your homework. Find out the names and titles of those individuals who will be at the group interview. Review the company material to learn any interesting facts about them or their departments. Use social media or Google to get more information.
  2. Gather a few friends around your kitchen table and ask them to question you about why you want the internship? What are your skills? How do you see your career forming? And, where do you want to be in five years? And so on…Invite them to throw difficult questions at you, so you can practice appropriate responses.
  3. Dress carefully for the interview, choosing neutral colors and classic styles. Keep your jewelry to a minimum and avoid scents. Be conservative in your hairstyle. Practice your body language—sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor.
  4. You may want to arrive carrying a folder with company materials and a pen to take notes as a sign of your serious intent. Also, holding a pen gives you something to do. And a mint before your interview ensures that you have good breath. Do arrive early and don’t complain about getting lost or transportation difficulties. Interns should help solve problems, not bring them to work.
  5. Walk in the door with a brisk step and smile at the group. Exude positive energy. Appear confident and don’t admit to being nervous. Show respect by waiting to be directed to your seat. Even if people are introduced to you by first and last names, such as Joe Smith, address each person by his (Mr. Smith) or her last name unless directed otherwise.
  6. Look at the interviewer and also make eye contact with other members of the group when you’re answering questions. Be sure to give equal attention to each person since every individual’s evaluation is important. Don’t show favoritism.
  7. Articulate your answers clearly. Short sentences are easier to manage than long ones and easier for the group members to absorb, too. At the end of an answer, you may ask if you’ve answered the question to his/her satisfaction to demonstrate your willingness to please. If you don’t know the answer to a question, simply say you don’t know but will find out and then follow through.
  8. You will probably be asked if you have any questions, and the right answer is yes (to show your high level of interest). You can ask a simple question, such as: How long has the internship program been in existence or what is the next step?
  9. Thank the group members collectively at the beginning and end of the interview session for the opportunity to apply for the internship. Write a thank you note to each member of the group, restating your interest. The office secretary can give you the proper spelling of their names and titles.

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 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 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 does the green evolution in business affect internships?

April 22, 2010

A.   The great green wave is still cresting. Unconvinced? Check out the thousands of activities to mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day today, April 22nd. Still unsure? Flip through college catalogs and view the new eco-offerings in environmental studies. Need more proof? Talk to a car dealer about the new Chevrolet Volt, an electric car. Energy and sustainability issues abound in the business world. offers lots of choices to experience the green future. Here’s a sample: 

  1. Greenavise, Silver Spring, MD:  A consulting business helping business and property owners operate in a sustainable manner wants 2 unpaid, full-time interns (college credit available). Duties include: research energy efficient products and develop sales and partnership leads, work on blog, twitter accounts and a newsletter.
  2. Tri-State Biodiesel, LLC:  Offers 2 part-time, unpaid (college credit available) internships to talk with local restaurants about their oil usage/disposal and other environmental issues. You’ll maintain restaurant database, call on customers, participate in promotions, perform office work, and do research.
  3. Center for a New American Dream, Virtual location:  Interns work with individuals, communities, and institutions to establish sustainable practices that will ensure a healthy planet for future generations. Must ascribe to “More Fun, Less Stuff” philosophy. Unpaid internship with college credit.
  4. Sustainable Living Systems, Missoula, MT:  Enjoy a full-time, paid internship with a non-profit organization that was formed to demonstrate and teach a way of living where respect and care of Mother Earth and care of people are the focus.
  5. Gorman Heritage Farm, Fairborn, OH:  Interested in sustainable agriculture? Sign up for an unpaid internship exploring and learning the history, methods and values of a working family farm in a natural setting. Must be able to work in all weather conditions and be interested in sustainable agriculture.
  6. The Green Mountain Club, Manchester, NH:  Seeks several interns for positions in Outdoor Leadership, Environmental Education, Backcountry Caretaking, and Trail Construction. Unpaid, but college credit available.
  7. Wagbo Peace Center, Lansing, MI:  Offers paid internships in sustainable agriculture. Farming experience is helpful but not required. Should have good communications skills, physical strength, and ability to work at production level.

Q. What are some tips on preparing for a phone interview for an internship?

April 20, 2010

A.  Phone interviews are commonly used to sort out applicants for an internship. If distance is a factor, a phone interview may result in an internship offer without a personal interview. Here are some tips to make sure you get the offer you want:

  1. Research the company and compile as much material as possible about the organization and its people. Read about the company’s career offerings on its website and take note of the desired qualifications and skills. Write down any company slogans or specific phrases used to describe the company.
  2. Compile a list of potential questions that you might be asked, such as: Why do you want this internship? What special skills would you bring to the company? Describe yourself. Why should we select you over another applicant? What are your career goals?
  3. Select a friend to role play as the potential internship director and ask you these questions. Give your friend a timer to measure how long you take to answer each question. Record the practice interview and critique your performance, ensuring that you’re not talking too fast or using poor grammar.
  4. Take several deep breaths before you begin the actual phone interview to steady your nerves. Keep a glass of water nearby in case you start to cough or your mouth becomes too dry.
  5. Make sure you’re in a quiet environment and won’t have any interruptions. When the interview is set up, ask how long it will take, so you’ll know how much time to set aside. Have your list of company slogans ready to use when appropriate. Double check the name of the person who will be the interviewer.
  6. Express your appreciation of the opportunity to interview both at the beginning and the end of the phone call. Speak slowly and distinctly when answering each question. You may even want to say, “That’s a good question,” before you begin your response. You’ll gain time to gather your thoughts and also compliment the interviewer.
  7. Request clarification when necessary by saying, “Would you please repeat that?” or “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that.” Use specific examples when answering questions. If asked about your computer skills, name each program you can use. Don’t simply say, “Yes” or “No” to questions but add specific details to each answer.
  8. Be proud of yourself and never put yourself down. Rather than say, “I don’t know how to do that,” you could say, “I’ve never done that, but I’m willing to learn.” Mention the company’s own slogans or statistics when speaking to show you’ve researched the company thoroughly.
  9. At the end of the interview, say that you’d very much like the opportunity to intern at the company. If you know anyone at the company, you might want to mention him/her at this point as someone who seems very happy at the company.

Q. I have very little work experience, so what can I put on my resume?

April 15, 2010

A. Many college students lack work experience other than retail, fast food or cutting lawns. But don’t worry, you have accomplishments in other areas that will impress resume readers. You may be a volunteer for community activities, which is a good reflection on your character. Or, you may be skilled in computer programs or have developed expertise in a sport or an art. These activities do not have to be current. You may want to add the dates for accuracy. Use the following list of examples to generate new additions for your own resume:

  1. Tutoring/Coaching: Tutored disadvantaged children in an inner-city program. Coached softball at the YMCA. Taught swimming at local pool.
  2. Fundraising: Helped raise money for Cancer Care Clinic. Organized a toy drive for Toys for Tots. Lead a drive to raise money for Haiti after earthquake.
  3. Music: Played first violin in high school band. Wrote original music and produced own CD. Organized band and played gigs. Performed as a DJ.
  4. Volunteering: Worked at local hospital delivering flowers to patients. Helped Habitat for Humanity build a home for local family. Went to New Orleans to help clean up after Katrina.
  5. Sports: Ran 10K marathon. Hiked the Appalachian Trail. Won tennis championship. Played on local basketball team.
  6. Entrepreneur: Started lawn service business to help pay for college. Launched babysitting service, matching sitters and families. Set up new website for a small business.
  7. Travel: Backpacked through Scotland and Ireland. Worked in Japan at a monastery for one summer. Biked all around Thailand.
    Computer Skills: Proficient in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.
  8. Awards: Took first place in a chess tournament. Earned Eagle Scout badge. Had poem published in literary magazine.

Q. How can I improve my chances of getting a response when I send my resume to a company?

April 12, 2010

A.  How frustrating to send your resume for an internship and never receive any response—not even an acknowledgement that it was received? Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Too many Human Resources (HR) departments have been downsized recently, and the remaining employees are burdened with more work than they can manage. They often receive hundreds of resumes for one internship position, which means the numbers are too overwhelming to send rejection notices. Here’s how to stimulate a response:

  1. Send your resume to the head of the department that is looking for an intern, as well as to the HR person. It’s always easier for a resume to travel down the employment chain rather than up. If you’ve read about some company executive who has received an honor or achieved a specific success, you could send your resume and a cover letter noting that person’s accomplishment and your desire to have an internship in such a fine organization.
  2. Write a cover letter with your resume, stating that you will be calling that person to find out the next step in the internship process rather than waiting for a phone call. Being proactive shows respect for a busy person and demonstrates your enthusiasm for the internship. Then proceed to make your call a few days after you send your resume.
  3. Ensure that your resume contains key words that relate to the internship description. If the prospective company scans resumes for key words, you want to be sure that your resume has them all. Study the wording in the requirements and internship description listed in the posting and use as many of them as possible in your resume and cover letter.
  4. Follow-up. Make a phone call or send an email to the HR department and the department head, asking if your resume was received. Always restate your interest in the internship. You may want to ask a professor or career center to follow-up for you, too.
  5. Apply for multiple internships rather than only one, giving yourself options in case the internship you really want doesn’t materialize. If a company doesn’t bother to respond at all, it may not be the best environment for you to do an internship.

P.S.  If you’ve had success getting a response regarding your resume, please share your secrets. Thanks!