Revising resumes to capture summer internships

March 27, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Advising interns | 2 Comments
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

The unemployment rate is down to 8.3%, and the number of available internships is soaring. Internships.com now has 63,235 internships in over 18,000 companies in nearly 8,000 U.S. cities. But many students are complaining that they are facing an “internless” summer even though they’ve applied for lots of internships. One student recently told this writer that he had applied for 40+ internships and didn’t even have one interview to show for his efforts. As it turned out, the problem was not only the huge volume of resumes competing for the same internships, but also the poor quality of his resume. However, as a career services professional you don’t have time to rewrite all your students’ resumes. You can refer them to Internships.com for resume samples and tips, and you might pass along the following suggestions:

  • Be aware of resume screening:  Your resume is probably being initially scanned by a computer that is searching for matching words between the internship posting and an applicant’s resume. Try sending out fewer resumes, but customizing each resume for the internship posting by integrating key words. For example, if the posting description says it wants “motivated, high-performance interns who have excellent communication skills and are familiar with social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter,” then you’ll add those same words into your resume. The Summary of Qualifications is the perfect location for the terms, “motivated, high-performance, excellent communication skills.”  Think about adding a Skills section to incorporate “LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter” or any other required skills.
  • Add achievement sub-sections:  Check the section in the internship posting that describes the duties of the intern. Then, break your activities down into those achievement areas. For example, if the posting says the assignments include, “research, customer service, and business development,” you can review your job from last summer or during the school year and then divide those activities into 3 sub-sections titled, “Research achievements, Customer service achievements, and Business Development achievements.”  By using this format, you demonstrate that you’ve read the internship posting, have taken the time to create a relevant document rather than a mass mailing, and are sincerely interested in the internship.
  • Use distinguishing factors:   Try to introduce some accomplishment or unusual activity to create a “Wow” factor that makes your resume stand out from the pile.  Do you speak several languages? Studied or traveled abroad? Started any new groups on campus? Volunteered to help disadvantaged populations in the community? Launched an entrepreneurial activity, such as starting your own lawn service or babysitting business? Won any awards? Perform on any sports teams, run marathons, or play the violin or any musical instrument? Raise funds for nonprofit causes? Play in a band or write music? The same type of distinguishing factors that helped get you accepted into your school can help you get the internship you want—only now you have more of them.
  • Keep it short:  The current trend is a 1-page resume because each internship opening usually has lots of resumes, so you want to keep your resume short but strong. The most important item is your name in bold-face and all caps. Your contact information can go in one line. Your Summary of Qualifications should only be a few lines, emphasizing your achievements and soft skills. Start every bullet out with a dynamic verb, such as lead, manage, drive, increase, initiate, innovate, create, analyze, achieve, etc. Try to use primarily nouns and verbs in your writing, deleting all articles, such as “the, a, an.” Keep the format simple without borders or colors since such elements clutter up the resume and take up valuable space that you need to describe your activities. Remember that many resumes are read online, so colors often fade into unreadable copy. Feel comfortable giving little space or even deleting older items that go back to high school unless they’re Wow factors.

Alerting your interns to avoid office romances

March 22, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Advising interns | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

A memoir was released recently, detailing the romance in 1962 between President John F. Kennedy and his intern Mimi Beardsley (now Alford). According to an interview in a recent article in the NYT, she said her 18-month affair and her discretion was the era, the times. Then, Monica Lewinsky had a highly publicized affair with President Bill Clinton during her White House internship. The times may have changed, but the temptations are still there. As a career services professional, you might want to caution your students about restraining their libidos during their internships.

The following tips may help them avoid being a Mimi or Monica:

  • Office romances:  A no-no—unless you want to endanger that employee’s career future and you’re not concerned about your own with this company. Many companies restrict office romances—some won’t hire husband and wife teams—because they feel such a relationship distracts a productive employee from concentrating on his/her job. Students should be especially careful to reject overtures from married staff or the intern supervisor. Encourage your student interns to let you know if any untoward moves are made towards them, so hopefully you can intervene.
  • Appropriate dress:  First impressions are lasting, so urge your students to arrive at work in business attire. Short skirts or plunging necklines can be misread as invitations for sexual encounters. Dress conservatively at work, wearing dark skirts or trousers, white shirts, and a minimum of body jewelry. Neutral colors are always safe. You might have some funky outfits that you wear when you socialize with friends, but they might not be right for work functions. Interns often find inexpensive work outfits at local consignment or second-hand shops. Avoid tight clothing and perfume or cologne. Make-up should be minimal, and hairstyles simple.
  • Appropriate behavior:  Remain neutral. Don’t show any romantic inclination in the office or play favorites with your co-workers, especially with the opposite gender.  Refrain from sending emails to the object of your affection or from calling him/her on your cell phone. Your co-workers will catch on even if you think you’re being discreet. Avoid secret meetings outside the office. Someone will inevitably see you and report back to the office, and the gossip will start. Also, you’ll get a reputation for being sly or underhanded, which won’t help your internship to be a success.
  • Post-internship dating:  Be patient. Wait until after you’ve completed your internship to develop a relationship with one of your former co-workers. Keep in mind that if you intend to turn your internship into a permanent job, you might have to find a romantic interest elsewhere or choose a different company. Students might save themselves some heartbreak if they find out more about a potential dating partner before embarking on a romantic adventure. It’s more difficult to find out about a co-worker’s background than a fellow student’s.

Keeping up with internship news

March 20, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Current events | 2 Comments
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Internship news appears daily in media outlets nationwide, such as the recent op-ed piece in The New York Times by Charles Murray, author of the newly published book, “Coming Apart.” He asserts that “we should get rid of unpaid internships. The children of the new upper class hardly ever get real jobs during summer vacation. Instead, they get internships at places like the Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Institute (where I work) or a senator’s office. It amounts to career assistance for rich, smart children. Those from the middle and working class, struggling to pay for college, can’t afford to work for free.”

Though less controversial, other current internship news topics include the following excerpts:

  • Sacramento Bee:   Employers expect to ramp up hiring college interns this summer as companies continue to climb out of the recession. Firms plan to increase their hiring for summer internships by 8.5 percent over last year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, or NACE, reported. Local college career center officials were upbeat, saying they are seeing an uptick in intern recruiting activity. “We certainly are seeing many employers who are excited about the hiring of summer interns,” said Janice Morand, project manager at the Internship and Career Center at UC Davis, where the heaviest recruiting is in computer science, engineering and information technology. Eva Gabbe, a California State University, Sacramento, employment relations and recruitment manager, said she’s also seeing an upswing in internship recruiting at her campus. Interns are paid less than their full-time counterparts and also give wary firms some wiggle room in a difficult economy, Gabbe said. Nearly all of the organizations polled plan to pay their interns, NACE officials said. The average pay for bachelor’s degree-level interns, at $16.21 an hour, is slightly less than last year’s $16.68, according to NACE.
  • White Lake Beacon:  Many companies have found that hiring and utilizing interns can be a cost-effective way to help grow their business and cultivate a knowledge-based workforce. With workforce development on the forefront of the business community’s mind, hiring interns can be one step towards bridging this gap. To help determine whether a business could benefit from interns, or to make the most out of an existing intern program, two different programs are being provided in the Muskegon Lakeshore area. The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce will be hosting an Intern Business Briefing highlighting best practices for hiring and using interns. Later that day, the Employers Association of West Michigan will hold a Lunch N Learn to look at the technical side of the intern process, diving into critical components of a successful internship program.
  • USA TODAY: As summer intern season draws near, many employers are doing away with unpaid internships or converting them to paid programs amid lawsuits that claim interns should have been compensated for their work, labor lawyers say. “They’re saying, ‘We’re not going to run the risk,’ ” says Al Robinson, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and former acting administrator of the Labor Department’s wage and hour unit. Unpaid internships are legal only if they meet stringent Labor criteria. For example, programs must provide training and benefit interns, not employers. Some firms are modifying programs by rotating interns among several departments, says lawyer Brian Dixon of Littler Mendelson. During and after the recession, unpaid internships spread as employers faced tight budgets, says Ross Perlin, author of 2011’s Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy. And laid-off workers were eager to fill gaps on their résumés. There are about 1.5 million internships in the U.S. each year, nearly half unpaid, Perlin says. In 2010, Labor outlined criteria they must meet. That led many employers to re-evaluate their internships.
  • Business Wire:  SummerQAmp, a nationwide initiative to train a new workforce in high-tech skills and help create tech jobs for American youth, has launched. SummerQAmp’s mission is to help keep the U.S. at the forefront of innovation by creating tech jobs in America. Specifically, it will promote awareness for Quality Assurance (QA) as a career opportunity by inviting leading U.S. software companies to offer QA internships this summer to those without formal technical training. SummerQAmp’s goal is to help create at least 1,000 QA internships this summer alone. “SummerJobs+ and SummerQAmp educate and train young people who might not ordinarily consider a career in technology,” said Jon Bon Jovi, who is known for his efforts to help empower at-risk youth. “On behalf of the White House Council for Community Solutions, I support SummerJobs+ and their mission to empower youth who are presently disconnected from education, jobs, and career opportunities. The kind of on-the-job training that SummerQAmp aims to provide can create pathways to career opportunities in technology and a brighter future.”

Reminding your students to follow up after a career fair

March 15, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in career center | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

After a successful career fair, students are often in a state of euphoria because they met representatives from companies that they consider future employers or internship sites. The companies have their resumes, and the students have their business cards or contact information.  Now all they have to do is wait for the email or phone call, offering them an interview, an internship, or even a job–or so they think.  As a career services professional, it’s your job to introduce them to the real world of follow up. Your office may be able to provide college note cards for students to use to write thank you notes.

To emphasize that the career fair is only the first step in an ongoing campaign to launch a career, you might suggest the following activities that will help them realize their future goals:

  • Correspondence:  Write a brief letter or note and send it to each person with whom you spoke. Consider sending your “Thank you for your time” note via snail mail since emails may get lost in junk mail or in the deluge of emails in a busy person’s inbox. Start off by thanking him/her for the information about the company, and then ask if you may come in for an informational interview to learn more about the industry. At this point, you aren’t asking for an internship or a job; you simply want to develop a professional relationship with the company of your choice. Future correspondence could include holiday cards, congratulatory notes on new product releases or company accomplishments, or news of your own awards or new additions to your resume.
  • Class assignment:  Demonstrate your active interest in the company by selecting a subject/product, history, or significant event as a topic for a class paper or project. The company may even provide a topic that interests them, such as how to expand its  market on college campuses.  Most companies feel an obligation to help students in educational pursuits, which means they’ll be willing to provide information for the project or to agree to talk to students on the proposed project.  Whether it’s a team effort or an individual one, you might ask a company representative to attend the final report presentation.  At the very least you could send the report to the company, ensuring that the recipient remembers who you are when you do call for an internship or job.
  • Networking:  When you’ve found a company where you want to work, start researching and building a network. Sign up for LinkedIn and create a profile that highlights the skills required by your target company. Also, post a question asking if anyone on LinkedIn knows an employee in your target company. Visit the campus career center to find out what the staff can tell you about the company. Check at the alumni office to find out if any alumni are employed at that company and could introduce you to the appropriate personnel or give you a recommendation. Ask your professors if they know anyone at the company. Many professors do consulting for outside firms and may be able to help you with contacts. Find out if the company sponsors any volunteer or community events in which you could offer your services as a way to network with employees.  Effective networking may take months to do, but it does pay off, literally.

Career Fairs sweep campuses

March 13, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in career center | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Like your colleagues at campuses around the country you probably have been busy getting your students ready for Career Fairs at your school. You’ve reviewed student resumes, researched the attending companies, signed up students, and held preparation sessions. Career Fairs offer excellent opportunities for both internships and jobs.

Here’s how some of your colleagues at other colleges are handling this busy event:

  • Gustavus Adolphus College:  Over 130 Gustavus students will gather at the Minneapolis Convention Center, where they will interface with potential employers at the annual Minnesota’s Private Colleges Job and Internship Fair. Gustavus students who registered for the fair assembled for an orientation event designed to improve their interview skills ahead of meeting with representatives from hiring companies. For over 30 years, Minnesota’s Private Colleges Job and Internship Fair has been connecting graduating seniors with entry-level employment opportunities, in addition to matching many juniors and sophomores with valuable summer internships.  Registrants have been receiving a myriad of advice from the Center for Servant Leadership (CSL) via email. Preparations for the fair included a meeting, where 22 Gustavus alumni were on hand to give advice and provide the opportunity for students to participate in a series of mock interviews.
  • North Illinois University (NIU):  More than 148 employers are scheduled to see student faces at the Internship and Full-time Job fairs at NIU. Regardless of class or major, students are welcome to attend the Internship Fair while seniors and alumni are invited to attend NIU’s Full-Time Job Fair. Admission is free for NIU students, $5 for NIU alumni and $10 for non-NIU candidates. “Students who use the NIU job and internship search system, Huskies Get Hired – utilizing Victor eRecruiting – are finding success in identifying and applying for internships and full-time jobs,” said Brandon Lagana, director of marketing and information at Career Services. “They are hearing from employers about interviews.” Students can enhance their Spring 2012 career fair experience by following up with a visit to Career Services.  Other upcoming spring career fairs include: Mid-America Educators’ Job Fair for teacher certification students and Retail Leadership Expo.
  • Utah State University (USU) More than 40 businesses from Utah and across the U.S. participated in the recent annual Summer Jobs Fair at USU, offering a variety of job openings for students who are looking for work this summer.  The fair gave students a chance to find jobs and internships in many fields such as retail, satellite television sales, summer camps, hotels and resorts, campus employment and LDS employment. “I like how most of the jobs offer internships,” said USU student Eric Kunzler. “I’m a business administration major, and a lot of jobs like Camp Hunt and Bear World offer internships, so that’s interesting for me.” “We are offering summer internships,” said Frank Asbell, the representative from Bear World at the fair. “We have people doing things like diet and food prep, health and safety checks, exhibit maintenance, guiding the tours, animal education.” Representatives from the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation and the Jackson Trading Company also attended.
  • University of Maryland:   More than 300 employers will be available during the upcoming three-day Spring Career & Internship Fair, including 212 employers recruiting for non-technical positions and 202 employers looking to fill technical positions. More than 100 employers are looking to hire for both types of positions. William Jones Jr., the Associate Director for External Relations at the University Career Center & The President’s Promise, wrote an excellent editorial for the campus newspaper that you might want to share with your own students. 
    • Here are excerpts from his insider suggestions:  
      • Collect as many business cards as you can and make a good first impression, so when it is time to apply for a position you can stand out by referencing that connection in your cover letter.
      • Do not ask the employer “what kind of positions do you have” or “what is your organization all about?” Research the organizations that are expected to attend the fair beforehand.
      • Yes, the recruiter may ask you to apply online. When you do apply online, use the knowledge you gained from speaking with the recruiter at the fair to highlight what’s really important from the organization’s point of view. And reference that conversation in your written materials.
      • Try to get on their interview schedule. Many employers are at the fair to encourage top candidates to get on their interview schedule as part of our On-Campus Interviewing Program.
      • Use the fair to put a face to your application. With the current economy, if your application materials are generic, the employer will move on to the next candidate. Put yourself in the position of the recruiters and ask yourself what would make you stand out in their mind.

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