Archive for August 2010

Top Tips To Help You Manage Your Schedule When Classes Start

August 30, 2010

Most internships have set hours noted in the internship descriptions. However, more and more internships have flexible hours to accommodate students. Here are some tips on getting help from your internship supervisor to develop your internship schedule.

  1. Explain your class schedule, work hours, and any commitments, such as team practice because you’re on a sports scholarship.  Your concern over these other obligations demonstrates to your supervisor that you’ll have the same dedication to duty at your internship.
  2. Come prepared with a proposed new schedule, providing your supervisor with a good starting point rather than expecting him/her to develop your schedule for you.
  3. When you create your customized schedule, consult the company calendar, too, to incorporate holidays. At most internships, the number of hours completed is more important than when they’re completed because the total number is often connected to how many academic credits you’ll receive.
  4. Consider alternate schedule options. Rather than coming every day, you could suggest staying for more hours per day and coming fewer days. You might ask if your internship could be extended, so you’re doing fewer hours a day over a longer period of time. Or you could investigate putting some internship hours into the weekend.
  5. Also consider blending on-site work with remote or virtual internship work, which could work well with your busy life. Ask your supervisor if you could do some assignments, such as research or report writing, at your computer in your dorm room, keeping track of your hours. If the supervisor is not as flexible as you would like and you value your internship, you might have to compromise by rescheduling a class or cutting back on your work hours. It’s a balancing act but well worth the effort.

Too busy for an internship? Find one on campus

August 27, 2010

Your junior and senior years are very busy ones. You’re spending a lot of time studying for your major courses, and you probably have a leadership role in organizations. You realize that you should fit in an internship, but how and where? Around the campus is the answer.

The campus community, understanding that you have many priorities, is a flexible environment for an internship. The career center is the place to start looking for an internship that fits your schedule rather than an internship where you have to fit into company hours. Take a list of your available hours, the kinds of internships that interest you, and an updated resume. Discuss with a counselor what is the best “fit” for you, and then go to on-campus interviews.

If you already know what departments and offices of the campus appeal to you, you could approach them yourself, even if they don’t offer internships or have an opening. Before you make an appointment with the appropriate person in the desired area, develop an internship proposal with your available hours, suggested duties, and various talents, such as computer skills. You might volunteer to do an experimental internship for them, facilitating future internships that could be helpful to the department or office as well as other students.

Consider doing an internship on campus over the weekend, which may be less busy for you than doing the week. Internships in these areas may revolve around sports or special events sponsored by different offices. For example, the admissions office often brings in prospective students, the alumni office hosts alumni, or an academic department holds a campus conference.

One other choice for a campus internship is to go virtual.  Many departments or professors work on research projects and would value your input as a researcher, which you can do on your computer at your convenience. Other departments could use your help with online projects or Web sites, ensuring you can do a remote internship—no matter how busy you are.

How To Best Use Your Career Center Resources As The School Year Kicks Off

August 27, 2010

During your junior and senior years, take time to check in at the career center as if it were your favorite class, social club, or home away from home. The staff has probably already met you during your freshman or sophomore years, and you may have already experienced several internships. Here are other key tips to most wisely use the career center to help you plan for internships.

  1. Get to know everyone’s name, the center hours, policies, and procedures. You want them to remember you as well, so when a good internship comes up in your field, you’re the first student they call.
  2. Stop in and visit the particular counselor(s) you know when the semester starts to say hello, ask about his/her summer vacation, and inquire about any new internship postings. Make your visits short to ensure that you’ll always be welcome.
  3. Thank the career counselor who helped you get any summer internships. And be sure to give an honest appraisal of your experience to help the career center evaluate each internship.
  4. You could also write a formal letter of appreciation to the head of the career center, praising the counselor or staffer who helped you. Such a letter to a person’s boss always means even more than a thank-you letter to the person.
  5. Attend as many career center functions as possible, such as workshops or speaker series. The staff will remember that you took the time to come to its special events when it’s time to assign internships.
  6. You could also volunteer to help out at these special events or to talk to freshman or sophomore students about your internship experiences. Many career centers are matching upperclassmen with younger students as internship mentors. If you’ve discovered any potential new internships through friends or family, do let the career center know about these possibilities because career centers always need more internships.

Guest Post by Dr. Woody: Why You Need a “You Plan”

August 25, 2010

This post kicks off a series of guest posts by acclaimed executive coach and organizational psychologist, Dr. Michael Woodward (aka “Dr. Woody.)

Why You Need a “You Plan” –  Taking Charge of Your Life in the New Economy

Good news seems hard to come by these days. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows national unemployment at 9.5%, which is unchanged from this time a year ago. When it comes to new entrants into the workforce (those 20-24 years old), the unemployment rate is over 17%, a frightening thought for those of you fast approaching the world of work. The reality is that the future of employment in this country is uncertain. For you, as a college student and aspiring professional, your challenge will be to create certainty out of an uncertain future. Welcome to the New Economy.

The only way to create a sense of certainty when faced with an uncertain future is to devise a plan. The New Economy is no longer about chasing opportunities, it’s about creating opportunities. Whether it’s pursuing an internship, summer job, or volunteer position, creating your own opportunities will require taking charge and creating a personalized “you” plan!

Creating a YOU Plan

Creating a “You” plan starts with taking stock of who you are and the assets you have at your disposal. Developing your plan starts with asking yourself five fundamental questions:

  • What are my Values?
  • What are my Intrinsics?
  • What are my Passions?
  • What is my Essence or personal brand?
  • What is my Roadmap for making it happen?

Understanding who you are starts with building self-awareness. The first three questions are about looking inward and getting a sense of who you are and what you bring to the table. Before you can make a serious push to create that next opportunity, you need to have a firm handle on your Values, Intrinsics, and Passions or what I like to refer to as your VIPs.

By answering the three VIP questions you have really answered the question of what is your essence. Your essence is what you are about as an individual. Knowing yourself is important, but like any great product or brand, if nobody knows about it, nobody cares. Turning your essence into a brand that can be effectively marketed for potential internship or employment opportunities is a critical step in the planning process.

After establishing your essence/brand, the final step is to determine your direction and create a roadmap for getting there. The idea is to decide on some potential career directions you’d like to explore. Whether it’s an internship, summer job, or volunteer position, you are going to have to be thoughtful in your approach. The next step is to draw out a roadmap for exploring these interests. As you create a roadmap consider the potential contacts and relationships you have that can help you make inroads with target organizations.

Remember, creating a “you” plan isn’t easy and it shouldn’t be. However, it is a critical first step in building a foundation. Each week in my Wednesday blog post I will discuss these five questions in more depth, beginning with Values in my next blog post.

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified professional coach who holds a PhD in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is founder of the consulting firm HCI and author of the new book The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy.

Professors can help you find internship opportunities

August 23, 2010

You may be in your freshman or sophomore year, but you already have a few favorite professors whom you admire. And you may also have a few classes that inspire you to find out more about a particular area of study. Create a list of your favorite professors and classes and make a game plan to talk to the teachers and teaching assistants, too, about potential internships. Professors have lots of contacts outside of the university with colleagues, professional associations, publishers, and specialists in related fields. Teaching assistants usually have had internships and also have professional connections.

First, set up an appointment with each person, requesting advice. Arrive with a list of questions and take notes. If the professor or teaching assistant mentions names of contacts, be sure to ask if you can use the professor or teaching assistant as a reference in making the contact. During your appointment, refrain from talking too much or staying too long. You’ll be more welcome the next time. Before you leave, give the person a copy of your resume and ask if he/she would give you some feedback on it. You may want to make a follow-up appointment to continue the discussion. And write or email a thank-you message immediately to show your appreciation. If the professor or teaching assistant has been extremely helpful, you could consider taking him/her to a casual lunch or giving an inexpensive gift.

Another approach to enlisting a professor’s help is to volunteer to assist him/her on a project. Most professors are engaged in projects based on grants and need help to finish the projects on time. You might be able to perform research or compile reports, facilitating the process and earning the professor’s goodwill in helping you find an internship. Such volunteer efforts might also be good additions to your resume when you’re going for an internship.

How to keep your portfolio current

August 20, 2010

Some of your best opportunities pop up unexpectedly. You might meet a family friend at a dinner or chat with a fellow traveler, leading to requests to see your portfolio. And when you go to an interview, always take a current portfolio with you. A word of caution:  Think twice before leaving your portfolio with anyone because it might get mislaid.

The design and layout of your portfolio are important. Like your resume, it should be arranged with the most recent work first and the oldest material later on. Enclosures could include samples of projects, reference letters, final evaluations, CDs/DVDs with your work or company materials that illustrate what the company does if it’s an unknown firm.

Portfolios differ according to your field. If your work has been highly technical, you might want to add captions to explain what you’ve accomplished. Some portfolios include photos to showcase work, especially in art fields. If you’ve received any awards and they’ll fit into your portfolio, do enclose them. Use a professional type face, such as Times New Roman, if you add any explanatory material and choose plain white paper as your stationery.

If you have a large portfolio, you might consider adding a Table of Contents in the front or separating it into appropriate sections. Do be careful not to put irrelevant items in your portfolio because it will clutter your portfolio and slow down the reader. And make sure that all items are in good, clean condition.

A portfolio should not look like a scrapbook. Keep it simple for a professional presentation. You have a wide range of choices for packaging, ranging from folders with the name of your school to leather zip folders with your name on the cover. But what’s inside is more important than the outside appearance. You might want to review your portfolio every few months to make sure it’s current and also ask friends for their opinion on the presentation.

How to be a professional and a student at the same time

August 19, 2010

You know how to be a student, but you can easily transition into a professional by using your time wisely. First, explore the pre-professional societies on campus to decide what ones are best for you.  Most welcome freshmen and sophomores, who will later lead the organization as upperclassmen.  These are good groups to join because they have links to off-campus professional organizations, where you can network with leaders in the field.

Your campus will host many interesting speakers over the next four years. Even if you think that you’re too busy to attend, try to make the time. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn about the professional world even if it’s not your own area of interest. Since many such events have a reception afterwards, you may be able to meet the speakers and get business cards for future reference.

The career center will host many workshops, which will help you learn proper professional behaviors, including dress codes, so make sure you go to as many as possible. And attend the job fairs on campus, even if you’re a freshman or sophomore, so you can become familiar with various companies and absorb the professional environment.

Some schools have mentor programs, where you’re matched with a professional, who will guide and advise during your academic career. Other schools have mentor programs that pair freshmen or sophomores with upperclassmen to help navigate campus life and beyond.

You can always squeeze in some reading after you finish your class assignments.  Select a few publications, such as the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, and read the hard copy or online.  Spend 30 minutes a week in the library, browsing through professional publications or journals and absorbing the news of the business world. Soon, you’ll be successfully combining your student and pre-professional roles.