After that excruciating search, you’ve finally secured the internship of your dreams. But an internship isn’t the end – you really want that job offer after graduation! How do you impress your employers over the next three months to convince them to offer that coveted full-time position? This past summer, I had an internship with consumer product giant Procter & Gamble making laundry detergents (Tide, Gain, etc.). The following are some tips about internships that I learned over the summer.
1. Understand why you’re there
Yes, your impressive resume and impeccable interview skills may have put you above other candidates, but interns do not provide much benefit for the company. The company is spending incredible resources to train and pay you for only a summer of work. It isn’t about your past accomplishments in school, but about analyzing your future potential. The internship is really an in-depth interview for a full-time position.
2. Ask, Ask, Ask
This is probably the biggest piece of advice I could give to anyone. As much as you’ve learned in school, there is so much you do not know and the company realizes that. There’s no way that you could learn the intricacies of the entire manufacturing process of solid, liquid, or pod laundry detergents, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help the company in only 3 months. There were often operators that had been working on the same equipment for 25+ years so I could save hours of information digging by asking a simple question. Being able to admit you do not know everything is an impressive credential as it helps avoid mistakes, show interest, and make you a much more efficient employee.
3. Provide a new perspective
As a new employee, you come in with a new perspective on the entire process. If you come across some inefficiency in which you don’t understand their current system, ask why the company does it that way. For example, during my internship I noticed that there were three consecutive daily meetings – department up to site-wide – requiring the same data to be entered. Since data entry took about half of each meeting, I suggested that they could link together the data so it would update automatically for them. Not realizing how much time was wasted, they were surprised by the shortness of the meetings after I completed the project. Obviously, don’t go around questioning everything that happens in the company, but see if there are any inefficiencies that might not be as obvious to the company as they seem to you.
4. Do things after work
You may think your internship is only between 9 and 5, but it is much more than that. Whether there are company-sponsored events or not, many employees will hang out after work, which is an ideal time to network! Trust me, hanging out with other interns and employees will not only have a great impact on your job outlook, but will also result in a great summer. Being in Louisiana, our intern group scheduled trips to New Orleans, Houston, and San Antonio and employees would often join us. We also had company sponsored events like a bowling tournament as well as random hangouts in poker nights, local baseball games, and hiking adventures. It ended up being a great summer and helped me gain connections throughout the plant.
5. Make your “claim to fame”
In every job you have, it is important to try to have something that you are known for. Whether it is being an expert at a specific process or being the go-to person for any question related to a specific software, having a “claim to fame” is important. It helps people get to know you throughout the company and makes the company need you as an employee. In my internship, I became the department expert on a computer program that tracked manufacturing downtime as well as saving the company $1.1 million.
6. Evaluate the company
As much as the internship is about you getting a chance to show the company what you provide, you also need to make sure the company is right for you. The best way to do this is to ask the employees. Ask about their jobs, progression, benefits, travel, and anything else that you value in a future career. If the company is not what you are looking for, use the experience to find a position aligned with your interests. If the company is exactly what you expected, hopefully these tips have put you in a prime location for that offer letter!
Although smartphones are incredibly common among students and young professionals, many have never tried to use their phones to improve their productivity. More and more developers are focusing on “lifehack” type software that allows you to optimize the way that you spend your time. The apps featured in this article are perfect for college students who need to stay organized and still find time for themselves.
Note: All features discussed regarding the following apps are available in the free versions.
Wunderlist - www.wunderlist.com - Price: Free – $5/month for Extra Features
Created in 2010, this application gave the age old to-do list a face lift and collaborative features. The company offers both mobile and desktop apps, which allows Wunderlist to sync all of your to-dos in one place. With the ability to create sub-lists, add recurring weekly tasks, and plan due dates, it is a great way to manage your syllabus and remind yourself of when you need things done.
One of the best features for students in this app is the ability to share lists between users. This is perfect for group projects as it provides a way to check on what others members have done, while simultaneously broadcasting your contributions. The app is not limited to project based sub-lists, either; many student groups could benefit from a central way to track the due dates for their responsibilities.
Evernote - www.evernote.com - Price: Free – $45/year for Extra Features
This application offers an amazing way to do everything from taking notes to saving photos and audio, while still syncing it between your mobile and desktop. Evernote provides a canvas to create notebooks, notes, and folders of files within the application. The company stresses that their are few limitations with what you can use Evernote for, as it is versatile and largely up to the user; however, one popular use is as a way to take your class notes.
Any student that types his or her notes should experiment with Evernote; it is a great way to outline information and combine all of your coursework in one place. The mobile application makes it easy to snap a photo of handouts (after class of course) and add them to the digital notebook in the cloud. With the ability to share notes with friends and coworkers, some people and businesses even use it as an alternative to Google Documents.
Quizlet - www.quizlet.com - Price: Free – $15/year for Extra Features
Flash cards are one of the best ways to study for a test quickly, but having the bundles of cards in your backpack is inconvenient. Quizlet eliminated this problem by creating a website and dedicated app that allow you to create, share, and study flashcard decks that you, or other students, have created. The website gives the option to provide the title of your course so that other students may find and use deck to study.
The website provides a few different options for studying, such as flashcards, mock tests, or fill in the blanks, which all lend themselves helpful when reviewing material. The mobile application provides a great way to view and study your flash cards on-the-go and without the hassle of carrying them around.
Lift - www.lift.do - Price: Free
Lift is an app that is gaining popularity quickly because of its unique goal: to help users improve themselves. At its core, Lift is a great way to create or join habits and track how well you are doing in sticking to them. It requires you to check off which you completed each day and tracks your streak as you move through 21-day habit building cycles. By visualizing broken streaks and giving you positive motivation with good ones, the app helps users with goals like going to the gym, reading, or eating healthy each day.
If you opt to, you can even add notes and share your streaks with friends or even strangers who are a part of the same goal as you. Some users add stories from their own successes when they check off a daily habit to share what benefits that have seen since starting in order to motivate others.
Networking is probably one of the hardest and most confusing practices. Get comfy being uncomfy.
Think back to your awkward luau day, when everyone must have said their name, where they are from, and what major they are. I bet you don’t remember half of the people that you said that to that day.
Why? You didn’t form a connection. Networking is all about creating professional relationships.
Networking provides the opportunity to ask for invaluable advice you would have never known. Any professional you talk to was once your age and they have experience which could mean awesome advice for you.
Everyone has a story, and most people like to tell theirs. Whether it’s about career progression, or something that happened last week, you never know when you’re going to find something in common with someone else. They may have gone through the same 3 major-changing crises that you went through, or you may be from the same area; regardless it’s an easy way to connect. Some advice may even be hidden in there! (Remember the first time an upperclassman told you how to order one of Kathy’s omelets at the Pit? Case and Point. )
Ask for a Business card!
Don’t be afraid to ask for a business card. You could follow up about opportunities or whenever you feel is applicable.
Have fun and be yourself!
You step into the room, you’re sweating through your suit, or your heels are too tight, now you have to worry about being serious and talk to people. Sounds like fun huh?
It’s okay to laugh. It’s okay to smile. It’s okay to not wear all black. Keep in mind that many companies recruit from on campus networking sessions. They’re looking for people who are technically competent for the job, and someone they would enjoy working with. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. If anything you will make it a memorable experience for whomever you were talking to, which your resume to the top of the stack.
Take Advantage of the Alumni Network!
The Villanova Alumni are unbelievable in my experience; helping however they can. Many companies bring alumni when visiting campus, so hop on Go Nova Jobs and scout out some companies that you may be interested in. When they come to campus you will probably have the chance to speak with an alum.
Take Advantage of the Career Center!
The Career Center and Go Nova Jobs are great resources to find companies coming to campus, interview advice, and networking tips. The more networking sessions you attend, you will feel more comfortable talking to people and making connections on the fly.
You are your best advocate, and no one knows YOUR story, better than YOU! Have a 30 second elevator pitch about WHO you are. This will give the person you’re talking to a little bit of insight as to who you are and why you’re interested in talking to them. The more unique this is, the better. You want to stand out in the pack, and with a ton of other “xyz majors” just like you, it’s important to highlight why you’re different and why you’re motivated. Keep it short and relevant!
Awkward Luau etiquette should always be avoided.
You’ll be networking like a ninja before you know it and on your way to an internship or full time offer!
What do you want to be when you grow up? Ask any 10 year old that question, and they’ll give you an answer immediately. A fireman, a teacher, a princess. Ask me the same question, and I’ll smile and tell you I have no idea. But I’m a senior in college, I’m looking for jobs, I’m interviewing and deciding my future plans; shouldn’t I have this all figured out by now? The answer is no. For some reason, we’re made to believe that we’re supposed to know exactly what we want to do when we’re 18. A recent article from boston.com summarized an ACT study that said most high school seniors are not ready to pick their majors. So how do you decide what you want to do for the rest of your life?
When I first came to Villanova, I wanted to be a teacher. Now, I’m a senior Computer Engineer. I’ve switched majors three times, and I would probably switch again if there was still time. I went from undecided to Math to Computer Science, and finally settled with Computer Engineering. I love each of those subjects, but in every one I was bored. I wanted something more. Computer Engineering satisfied me for a few years, but the boredom set in with that too.
It was last March. I had a big project due at midnight, and I had been working on it for ten hours. I still hadn’t finished, it was 11pm, and I was borderline having a mental breakdown. The next day I talked to a few of my classmates about it. “Yeah, that was hard,” they said, “It took me three hours.” Three hours?? I had spent 11 and had handed in something incomplete. That’s when it hit me: I did not want to be programming for a living. It was too hard and too overwhelming for me. But what else could I do with my degree?
I decided on becoming a Technical Analyst – a “translator” between the business side of a company and the technical side. I wouldn’t have to program, but I would still be able to incorporate my engineering knowledge. I got an internship at a financial company as a Technical Analyst, and for a month I was excited and happy. I thought I had found the perfect job. Then one day, after all of the excitement of starting my internship had worn off, I was walking home and I suddenly realized that this was not what I wanted to do. I was bored again. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt useless and unneeded. If I had that job full time, I probably would’ve gone insane. Strike two for Katrina. Or should we say strike five? I was bored with math, I was bored with computer science, I was bored and overwhelmed with programming, and now I was bored with being a Technical Analyst. What options did I have left?
Luckily, we have an amazing Career Center at Villanova. I scheduled a meeting with a Career Counselor the first week back at school, and I took the Strong Interest Inventory – usually taken by freshman and sophomores to help them figure out their major. The results came back, and – surprise, surprise – all the jobs related to Computer Engineering were at the bottom of my list. What was in the top ten? High school teacher, middle school teacher, elementary school teacher, special education teacher… A teacher?! But I had said no to education my freshman year, when I decided instead to become a math major! I figured I should probably reconsider the idea.
The Career Counselor I went over my results with helped me a lot. He gave me some great advice – do research, consider any job that looks even mildly interesting to me, and apply, apply, apply. Apply to anything I thought I might like. Going through the application and interview process would help me narrow down my options. I would only be passionate about some, and I’d be able to eliminate all the others.
Thanks to the Career Center and its many resources, I’ve finally figured out a career plan: work for a few years, then go back to graduate school and get a Psychology degree. With my track record though, this plan will probably change. But I’m not worried, because I know I will eventually find the job I love. It’s better to be constantly searching than settling for something that I know isn’t the best.
So what do you do if you don’t know what to do? Relax! Don’t panic. You can go to the Career Center, talk to a Career Counselor, and maybe take the Strong Interest Inventory. Keep an open mind. It’s ok if your major changes, and it’s ok if you end up with a major you don’t love. It took me a while to realize that, but thanks to the Career Center, I am confident that one day, sooner rather than later, I will be where I want to be.
It’s that time of year again. Am I referring to the holiday season?! No. Even better: job and internship recruiting season is in full swing. Cheers to the nights of pulling your hair out because your resume indentations are not aligned, writing and rewriting cover letters, and anxiously waiting by your phone for your dream employer to give you a call with good news. We have all been there, or will be in the next few years.
However, while finding a job that actually makes you want to get out of bed in the morning is stressful enough, the interview process adds extra pressure on all of us. While my parents always promoted having a strong handshake and asking relevant and engaging questions at the end of each interview, I knew I needed a bit more guidance if I was going to walk away from an interview not only with a smile on my face, but an offer in my hand. After four years of preparing, networking, interviewing, and interning, I have picked up a few tips I want to pass forward. They may seem basic, but boy do they help.
- Set up a mock interview in the career center
- Own your resume – You are the only expert on yourself
- Be real, be creative, be interesting
- Always attend the pre-interview networking event
One of the best things I have done to set myself up for success in the business world is completing a mock interview in the career center. Let’s be real for a second: it is hard pointing out our own flaws. I know I am not good at it, and I would bet most people feel the same way. Not only did I have the opportunity to conduct a mock interview that was recorded on camera, but then I analyzed my responses and mannerisms with a professional staff member. I received constructive feedback that I began applying right away. Comments ranged from ways to better answer common interview questions, to the fact I speak at a rate of 1,000 words per minute and nod my head way too aggressively when attempting to look like I am listening. The following week I walked into my interview and applied what I had learned and badda-bing, badda-boom, I received an internship offer! #success
The second two bullet points go hand in hand. Your resume should be a complete and accurate representation of yourself, condensed down to a single piece of paper. Be proud of that paper, and be an advocate for yourself. As impressive as the words are, you as a person are far more impressive, but you need to prove it! Going into an interview, you are a salesman, and the product you are trying to make the employer interested in is YOU! Don’t say things you think the interviewer wants to hear, talk from your past experiences and be genuine. Personally, I have a list of 5-7 stories that I can use to answer any situational question that is thrown at me. Preparation really is key.
Finally, if the employer you are interviewing with is hosting a pre-interview networking event, make sure you attend. While they are not mandatory, you often have a chance to network with many people from the firm, and can ask them questions in a more informal setting. Face time does not go unnoticed. More than once, I even met who was interviewing me the next day, and that made the interview more conversational, and much less stressful. My rule of thumb? Don’t leave the reception until you feel confident that you will be remembered the following day by the recruiter, and the employees you networked with. Being proactive with networking is beyond important. I will leave you with one more thought. I now live by the EY motto that “your network is your net worth”. Put yourself out there, make connections, and by the time your interview comes around, you won’t have a single butterfly in your stomach.
The summer internship process is a rite of passage for business students around the world. Young professionals invade the workplaces of bankers, consultants, and the like for a few months in order to see whether or not they’re fit for the industry. On top of exploring the job, interns are focused on getting a job offer at the end of the summer. With all of that, the summer might feel like one long test, but there are a few tips that will help any intern earn an invitation back.
1. Say “Yes” to Coffee
During the summer, your coworkers and boss will more than likely ask you if you want to go on a quick coffee run with them. The answer should always be yes. If you don’t drink coffee, have a water or juice, but take the walk with them.
The personal interactions you have with people are just as important as the work that you do. A huge aspect of the decision process for managers is whether or not they can see themselves working with you in the future. Finding out that you have a favorite sports team in common or similar hobbies will certainly help you make a good impression and come across as a likable person.
2. Be Known for Something
One of the best pieces of advice I received during my internship was from a director in my group. He explained that one of the keys to being successful in the workplace is making sure you’re known for something. Obviously, you want to be known for something helpful, not the fact that you play solitaire at your desk.
Try to find a task that you’re better at than others and do it whenever it is necessary. If you make great PowerPoints, try to help people out with their decks. Your employees and fellow interns will look to you when they are working on it for help and it will make you an invaluable resource to them.
3. Help People Learn
Nearly every company stresses their culture of fostering growth in others; you feel it more than anything when you’re an intern, but many times there is still a silent rivalry between you and your peers. This is to be expected, but it shouldn’t be something that comes in the way of work.
Be sure to help your fellow interns with the skills that you know well; they’ll do the same when you need help. Other employees will see you helping each other and take note. Everyone is from a different background and has different strengths and weaknesses, so sharing information will help both parties develop.
4. Be Prepared
Leaving reading until the last minute may work for you in school, but it won’t work in business. When you’re given information on a company that you will be working on, be sure to read it as soon as possible. If you don’t, you’ll be going in unprepared.
Even as an intern, you’ll find yourself listening in on various phone calls and meetings. Understanding what they’re talking about will help you to be attentive and understand what is going on. More than likely, they will call on you to present the status of what you’re working on, so you should be familiar with where you and your team are on a project.
5. “Talk the talk, walk the walk.”
Another excellent piece of advice for the business world, let alone internships, was given to me by Professor James Mullen, a well-respected veteran in the sales industry. He told our classes more than once that, “When you go into the field, be sure you can talk the talk and walk the walk.”
You’ve heard this phrase before, but it really matters in the office. An intern should present himself as though he is a full time employee both times. Keeping up to date with general industry and business news is essential and will help you to converse with your coworkers. Be sure to look the part as well and always act professionally.
Have you ever Googled yourself?
Your employer has.
Last year, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a company called BrandYourself.com. They are an online reputation management firm; essentially they manage what shows up when someone Google’s, for example, “John Hartunian.” I thought they sounded interesting, so I did a search on my name.
What I found wasn’t pretty. My Facebook and Twitter pages were the first things that showed up, and while they weren’t total career-killers, they weren’t exactly the things I wanted representing myself to potential employers.
So I started looking into BrandYourself, and the numbers were pretty scary. In the United States, 75% of human resource departments are required to do an online search of job applicants. And of that group, 70% say they solidify their decisions not to hire if an applicant has poor results.
In other words, employers are searching your name online, and they’re judging you based on what they see.
I followed BrandYourself on twitter and caught a message they sent about interns. I tweeted back a link to my resume and told them I was interested. I was invited to New York for an interview and I’ve now been working with them for 9 months.
But it wasn’t until I learned about how they got started that I really grasped the significance of online reputations. One of their founders, a guy named Pete Kistler, was applying for internships his junior year at Syracuse University. His interviews went well and he was a qualified guy with a superb resume, so when he struck out at several different firms, he did some digging.
Sure enough, a Google search revealed that he shared his first page of results with other “Pete Kistlers,” one of which was a lifelong criminal. A Google search of his name made employers think he was a convict!
It’s not all about the negatives, however. I’ve also seen firsthand how strong results can give you a professional boost.
After I woke up to my online identity, I built a website, started writing a blog, and studied search engine optimization (SEO). Before long, I had filled the first page under “John Hartunian,” with professional, presentable links.
And it paid off.
A few weeks ago I had an interview with Johnson and Johnson, and one of the interviewers had a printout of my website right there in front of him. They asked me what inspired me to make the site, so I got to tell them all about BrandYourself… and I got the job!
The biggest point I can stress is marketing yourself in today’s professional environment consists of more than a smile and a firm handshake. Run a Google search on your name, see what turns up… Because what you find might make or break you when it comes time for the job hunt.
- John Hartunian