jobs

8 Effective Strategies To Snag A Rewarding Internship

 iStockphoto.com/ monkeybusinessimages

iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

 

Getting an internship can be challenging. And if you want to increase your appeal to a potential employer, it's absolutely essential. In the business world, internships are considered applied, real-world experience, and recent graduates with internships under their belt usually get stronger consideration.

Here are 8 effective strategies you can use today to snag a rewarding internship, and take a step forward in your career!

  1. SHARPEN YOUR RESUME. An employer looking to hire an intern will understand that you don't have professional experience in your field. But that doesn't mean you don't have relevant experience. Here are some items to incorporate into your resume which will make your resume "pop":
    • Courses you've taken which are relevant to the internship. List any course which directly bolsters your qualification for a particular internship role.
    • Technical skills. If you're a programmer, and you know C++ and Java, include them. An accounting major likely has had exposure to cost accounting, accruals, and bookkeeping. Graphic design students should know Photoshop.
    • Class projects. These show a potential employer you have an understanding of and exposure to the work you'd be doing. And if you served as the project's lead, make sure to indicate this.
    • Grade Point Average. The higher, the better. If your overall GPA is lower than the GPA within your major, include your major GPA as well.
    • Relevant leadership experience. Were you elected to Student Government? Did you serve as a Resident Assistant? Perhaps you captain the Chess Club. Or maybe you founded a campus community service organization.
       
  2. APPLY EARLY. Companies often receive thousands of applications for a single internship position. And, they'll try to fill the internship months in advance – if the internship starts in June, the employer may want to fill the role by February. If you wait until May to apply for a June internship, you may be too late.
     
  3. BE FLEXIBLE. In the U.S., Summer internships are by far the most popular, but many companies offer internships during the Fall and Spring semesters; consider applying forout-of-season internships, or a part-time internships for while you're attending class. Take a long view in terms of the work you'll be doing during the internship – perhaps the projects aren't that interesting, but sometimes gaining the real-world experience with a brand-name company will do more to position you for career success than a role which seems more exciting but doesn't provide you with any real value.
     
  4. HIT THE ON-CAMPUS CAREER FAIRS. While these take place really early in the semester (usually the beginning of the semester – See #3, above), employers often use the on-campus fairs to gather resumes for internships. You've got a great chance of meeting hiring managers at the booth – and they'll pull you aside for a deeper conversation if they like how you present yourself and the skills you offer. You can find more tips for optimizing your time at a career fair here.
     
  5. UPDATE YOUR LINKEDIN. Recruiters comb LinkedIn to identify internship candidates. Ensure that you have the phrase, "Seeking Internship Opportunities" in your headline and summary. And take the time to build out the profile so that it contains all your skills, projects, and experiences, as these contain valuable keywords.
     
  6. GET TO KNOW THE CAREER PLACEMENT OFFICE. The school's Placement Office spends its time cultivating relationships with employers. By building a collaborative relationship with the folks in the Placement Office, they can directly refer you to opportunities with companies. Remember to register your resume in their database, and to regularly check the employer job postings so that you can apply for positions directly.
     
  7. NETWORK. AGGRESSIVELY. When applying for internships with AAA companies, you're competing with students from the best schools with the best GPAs – snagging an internship can often boil down to a positive recommendation from an employee at the company. Work hard to let the world know that you're available, interested, and highly qualified. Network with your parents, relatives, friends, and anyone else who may be able to open doors for you. And talk with your professors, as they often have contacts at employers, to whom they may refer their best (or best-liked) students. Be sure to approach everyone with the utmost respect and humility – remember, if they submit your resume to a potential employer, they're doing you a favor, and they're staking their reputation on you.
     
  8. BE PROFESSIONAL. Don't give an employer any reason to doubt that you'll treat the internship as anything less than well-polished – an unprofessional presentation will kill your chances, regardless of your qualifications. Remember to:
    • Record a professional outgoing message on your voicemail.
    • Use a nice, non-offensive email address. Sorry, but partyanimal997@gmail.com will kill your candidacy.
    • Return calls or emails from employers (or anyone else). Promptly.
    • Dress professionally for any interview.
    • Use your manners. Say "please," "thank you," and all the other polite sayings your parents taught you.
    • Send "Thank You" notes to anyone you speak to or meet with. Email is fine, but follow up immediately after conversations. And don't omit anyone.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

6 Common Interview Mistakes - And How To Avoid Them

 "So, there I was at Hot Topic checking out the Nickelback t-shirts..." ((iStockphoto.com/ImageegamI)

"So, there I was at Hot Topic checking out the Nickelback t-shirts..." ((iStockphoto.com/ImageegamI)

An interview is all about giving a potential employer the opportunity to evaluate you.

And judge you they do! You're going to be held to a very high standard of performance by your interviewers. Here are some common interview mistakes - and how to avoid them.

1. Showing Up Late. If you arrive after your appointed time, it's pretty likely that you won't get the job - even if the interviewers still agree to meet with you. If you're late, the interview team will elevate their expectations of you that much higher. They will expect you to "wow" them; anything less will be failure because you'll already have a major demerit in your column to overcome.

Solution: Leave early for the interview, allowing plenty of time for traffic snarl-ups, road closures, or other delays. Don't believe Waze, even if it tells you you're going to get there in plenty of time – the unexpected happens; it's better to allow extra time to sit in your car listening to Nickelback on the radio before heading up to the interview rather than cutting it close.

 

2. Dressing Inappropriately For The Interview. In doing your research about the company culture, you find out that everybody there wears jeans to work every day. You show up to the interview in your dungarees and a polo shirt. When you arrive in the lobby, you spot some other job seekers wearing their finest suits. Whoops.

Solution: Always, always, always wear a suit to the interview. Don't assume that because it's a casual work environment that the interviewers will judge you any less harshly for your unprofessional attire. If you get there and the interviewer tells you take off your jacket and tie, then of course, feel free to shed them. But unless the person setting up your interview specifically tells you not to wear a suit to the interview, dress to impress.

 

3. Failing to Acknowledge All The Interviewers. You'll likely meet several people during the interview. Directing your attention toward one interviewer and ignoring another could inadvertently send the message that you're playing favorites, and might tick off an interviewer who feels neglected.

Solution: Treat everybody who interviews you (or greets you, for that matter) with the utmost attention and respect. If it's a panel interview (they're all around the table evaluating you), make sure you make eye contact with and speak to everybody. And when you're sending out "thank you" notes afterward, make sure everybody gets one. Even the receptionist.

 

4. Answering Interview Questions Poorly. Perhaps you don't understand the context of the question, and you give a wrong answer. Or you fail to give enough detail in your response. Or you just don't know what to say, so you wing it. The interviewer is, suffice to say, unimpressed.

Solution: Be prepared, bring a page of notes of topics to discuss. If you don't understand the question, ask for clarification. If you're caught off guard, ask the interviewer for a moment (literally, a few seconds) to gather your thoughts - they'll usually comply and think no less of you. Most importantly, know how to tell a story; interviewers ask behavioral interview questions (which usually start with, "Tell me about a time...") about your past experiences to see how you'll handle similar situations in the future. Be prepared to walk the interviewer through your story using the STAR Interview Model (it's an acronym): Explain the SITUATION you encountered, then the TASK you had to address, the ACTIONS undertook to deal with the situation, and the RESULT of your actions. It's best to give stories that have a happy ending, and if it's not a happy ending, add a LEARNING from the negative situation. And do your research on the company, this is when it'll come in handy.

 

5. Talking Too Much. You answer the interview question. Then you keep yapping. The interviewer's eyes glaze over. Then he looks at the clock. And then his watch. Trust me, he's grasping for something to say that will end the conversation.

Solution: Be aware of the length of your answers - if you're spending more than a few minutes answering a complex question, check your interviewer's body language to see if he is actively engaged in the information you're presenting, or looks like he's trying to politely hide his frustration or boredom. As a rule of thumb, if you'representing a detailed story such as in a behavioral question, 3 to 5 minutes should be plenty for you to get the story out and leave time for followup questions.

 

6. Not Asking Questions. This is a deal killer. Not asking questions during or at the end of an interview tells the interviewer you either don't care, or weren't paying attention. I've seen candidates ace an interview, only to lose the interviewers' interest when they say they've got no questions ready.

Solution: Make sure to get a few questions in. They don't even need to be brilliant. Try, "What does success in this role look like?" or "What are the biggest challenges the company faces in the next year?" Leverage your research on the company to ask a pithy question about their business.

 

This article appeared on Find My Profession - https://www.findmyprofession.com/career-advice/6-common-interview-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

 

 

Fill that Hole in your Resume!

Fill that hole in your resume!

Candidates often find themselves between jobs. Layoffs, family leave, or whatever the reason. Thus, it’s not unusual for job seekers to have what’s known as a "hole" on their resume, or a “gap” in employment.

In employers’ terms, that time is unaccounted. Without proper context, an employer might imagine that you’re spending your time on the couch eating bonbons and watching Roseanne reruns.

The point here is not to advise you how to hide such gaps on your resume. Rather, how do you really use that time effectively so that you don't have a hole?

Okay, let’s paint a picture.

You and your employer have parted ways, leaving you unemployed.

Yes, it sucks. You’ve indulged in the obligatory week of self-pity and doubt.

Now, shake it off! We’re going to make some lemonade out of these lemons.

You now have an abundance of a resource which was in seriously short supply. I refer to time.

Here are some suggestions on ways you can close that pending gap on your resume, by keeping busy with meaningful activities. Fill the hole!

  • Assuming you know what type of position you would like pursue, devote a standing portion of every day to your job hunt. Block the time on your calendar when you will check job listings, apply to jobs, send out resumes, visit an outplacement center (assuming your prior employer gave you that benefit). Routine will reinforce in your mind that searching for a job is a job in itself. Consider dressing in business attire to put yourself in the mindset.
  • Find temporary, part-time work to keep busy. A few years ago, I left a recruitment position without another job in hand (the position and I were a poor fit for each other). Through my network, I came across a part-time opportunity with a staffing firm. We were able to come to an arrangement where I was able to work a flexible schedule. They allowed me to interview for full-time jobs on an as-needed basis, and at the same time, I kept my skills sharp. Plus, after taking the ego hit of being unemployed, I was able to rebuild my confidence and demonstrate to potential employers that my skills and I were still in demand.
  • Volunteer. Do you have a favorite cause? Skills you can share? Consider volunteering with a charitable cause close to your heart. In the nonprofit world, dollars are tight – and giving freely of your time a few hours a week can ease a substantial burden. A benefit in addition to adding some karma to your account, is that you can pick and choose the work you wish to contribute. Are you an accountant, and your church could use some help installing QuickBooks? Or does the local food pantry need help boxing meals? Or can you provide extra assistance in some other area of your expertise?

Obviously, if the hole in your résumé is in your past, try to think back of how you spent that time. If you used it working in an unrelated field or volunteering, account for that time on your résumé as such.

Oh - in case you were wondering, full-time parenting counts as work. Take your credit where it's due.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.