Internship

8 Ways To Maximize The ROI On Your Internship

iStockphoto.com |  monkeybusinessimages

iStockphoto.com | monkeybusinessimages

 

Congratulations – you got the internship!

After a painful and highly competitive application and interview process, you were selected over dozens of other highly qualified students to spend the summer working at one of the coolest companies around.

As an intern, you'll gain valuable, real-world experience with an established company, new skills, a professional network, experience to add to your resume, and depending upon your college and the employer some combination of academic credit and a paycheck.

During the internship your employer will closely monitor and evaluate you, and the quality of your work is only one factor they'll consider as they decide whether to invite you back for a full-time role upon graduation. They'll also look at your work ethic, technical aptitude, interpersonal skills, behavior, learning agility, and growth potential to determine if you're a fit for their full-time workforce.

Regardless of whether your career interests lie with the company at which you're interning or at another company, you'll need to be smart in approaching your internship. The ultimate goal is to embark upon a rewarding career upon graduation. Here 8 ways you maximize the ROI – return on investment – on your internship.

  1. Set your own goals. Even before accepting an internship, you should very clearly understand what you plan to get out of your summer. What specific technical skills or professional experiences do you hope to gain? An internship that doesn't add to your professional toolbox may not get you any closer to your desired career path.
     
  2. Align expectations with your manager. Have a two-way discussion to agree upon what he/she expects out of you. Set goals. Work together to define what success in the internship would look like so that you can prioritize accordingly. If you see gaps in the experiences they plan to offer you versus what you were told during the interview, or if you would like to work on specific projects or technologies, respectfully make your manager aware of this and ask if it's possible to redefine the scope of the internship (it may or may not be).
     
  3. Be flexible. There's a lot of boring work out there which needs to get done, and interns usually get stuck doing it. Managers usually know how lame it is. Smile, and take it on willingly. Ask for more. You may learn valuable skills, and demonstrating a positive attitude toward tedious tasks reflects well upon your work ethic. Perhaps you'll identify a process to streamline this grunt work and can share your findings so that you'll make your manager's life easier after you leave.
     
  4. Ask for stretch assignments. Managers often give employees what they think they can handle. If you believe you have the capability to take on more complex tasks – and the bandwidth to do so without allowing your core duties to suffer – tell your manager. You might end up with elevated responsibility or a challenging assignment. There's a risk of failure here, but if you succeed in your new assignment you have the potential to truly shine.
     
  5. Track your progress. Document your progress against your goals in a quantifiable and measurable way. If you find you're falling behind, it may be time to look at how you're approaching your work and perhaps discuss the situation with your manager. Save your data for the performance appraisal at the end of the internship..
     
  6. Network aggressively. One of the most counterproductive things you can do is bury yourself in your cubicle without getting to know people in the organization. Introduce yourself to department employees and other interns. Build your brand by actively participating in corporate activities. After the internship is over, the company will usually rank all of the interns in order to prioritize to whom they'd like to make full-time, post-graduation employment offers. If nobody knows you, they can't advocate for you, regardless of the quality of your work. Also, take a long-term perspective to networking – few people stay with a single employer for the duration of their career, and the connections you make now may be useful in finding employment after graduation and beyond.
     
  7. Invest in your performance appraisal. At the end of the internship you'll sit down with your manager to go over your work – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Share your accomplishments, highlight your teamwork, and provide documentation. Ask for performance feedback – in addition to what they perceive as your successes, your manager will share information he or she believes  will help you address developmental areas. Demonstrate maturity – listen actively, don't be defensive, and ask for suggestions. The information they share will usually be the aggregate of multiple individuals across the department who provided input and it will reflect the general perception of your performance. Thank your manager for the feedback, synthesize what's been shared with you, and use the data to improve your performance in the future.
     
  8. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile with your new experiences. An internship is real experience, and your work will help sell you. Highlight your accomplishments!

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.

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.

Get an Internship – At Any Age!

Internships are a great way to gain real-world experience in the workplace.

For those who don't know what an internship is, It's a short-term job (usually about 10 to 12 weeks in duration) where you get the opportunity to roll up your sleeves and learn some real-world skills at an employer. And the company gets the chance to try out some new talent without the long-term commitment.

An intern may or may not be paid for their time at a company, but real payoff for the intern is obtaining academic credit and some hands-on work experience they might not get in a seasonal job flipping burgers (which I did several summers - I probably should have done more internships).

There's written that says you need to be a wet-behind-the-ears college kid to get an internship, although it helps. In fact, this year Robert DeNiro starred this year in a movie as a 70-something intern in the fashion industry.

If you're serious about pursuing an internship, you'll need the following:

  • Availability when the internship is offered. It's usually a full-time or part-time gig taking place during standard business hours.
  • A healthy sense of modesty. The office intern holds a prestige level somewhere below a recent graduate hire. Often below the janitor or receptionist, too. You need to be willing to do whatever is asked of you, no matter how mundane the task. Without being insulted.
  • Eagerness to learn. Most of the time an internship will offer meaningful work that enables you to build real-world experience. Be open to new assignments. Ask for new ones when you've completed the first round. The goal is to learn not just technical skills, but how the office environment functions, and excellent work habits.
  • Willingness to work for peanuts. The pay you would receive during an internship will often stink - or be nonexistent. Remember, the work experience is the true compensation, as it will help build skills and potentially prepare you for that full-time job after graduation.
  • Academic credit. Most companies offering internships are willing to do so if you can get some sort of credit for your work, or if it at least contributes toward your learnings.
  • A clear sense of what type of internship you seek. Don't pursue marketing internships if you're an accounting major - unless you plan to change career paths. Seek an internship that will give you the experience and skills you desire.

Okay, you're good with everything an internship entails. How do you snag an internship, even if you have more than a few gray hairs?

  • Enroll in an academic program related to your area of interest. It doesn't necessarily need to be a full degree-bearing program. Sometimes participation in a certification program may be sufficient for an employer to take the plunge.
  • Set aside the time you need to do the internship. You need to be available when the internship is offered.
  • Visit company websites and apply. Often, major corporations will post internship positions on their corporate sites. Or, they will post them with college career centers. Start submitting your resume!
  • Find corporate recruiters on LinkedIn and send them your resume. A well-worked cover letter stating your reasons for applying may put you into consideration.
  • Learn the lingo. This goes equally for college students and older folks. You need to understandthe terminology used in their workplace. You want to speak their language when the recruiter calls you to learn more about your interest.
  • Demonstrate the value you can add.  Do you have particular skill sets which the employer may find valuable during your internship? Make sure to sell the heck out of 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. 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.