Notes from the Field: 5 Tips for Conducting Site Visits

November 2, 2010 at 7:45 am | Posted in Educator Updates Newsletter, Notes from the Field | Leave a comment
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Maintaining a strong internship program involves several components including employer partnerships, committed interns, and meticulous organization. Having great employers often creates great quality internships. One of the best ways we maintain and strengthen employer relationships is by conducting site visits. These visits demonstrate that your career service office values and invests in the employers, as well as ensures that certain criteria are met. Here are five things to consider when conducting site visits:

1.       Timing and scheduling
Depending on the distance from the campus, site visits can be time intensive. Consider down times in your academic calendar to conduct these visits. Also consider scheduling multiple site visits with employers in close proximity. This is often my strategy as I conduct site visits in the summer and cluster my visits within a certain geographic area on each day.

2.       Selecting sites to visit
Visiting all sites within one academic year may be an unattainable goal, but consider sites with areas of student-interest as well as those with potential for improvement. Review past interns’ evaluations for red flags where interns have voiced specific concerns. For example, my colleague visited a site where a past intern had expressed discontent with her experience. She brought up that conversation tactfully and allowed an opportunity to discuss how interns can take initiative and get outside their comfort zones. This feedback was invaluable in communicating to future interns how to troubleshoot and tackle common challenges.

3.       Thinking creatively about site visits
My visits are often individual meetings with site supervisors. However one particular site visit occurred because I needed to take some marketing photos, so I visited on a day a particular company was holding a special event. I took advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the site through the event and met the site supervisor afterwards, which led to a lively discussion about internships.

4.       Reminding sites of important program dates
Being there in person reinforces the importance of deadlines such as a mid-semester meetings between supervisors and interns. Discussion about participation in future program cycles and updating position descriptions is also relevant. On my visits, I bring a one-page handout with important program dates to leave with them.

5.       Being a valuable resource
I am always surprised when site supervisors with years of experience in their field will ask for advice about internships. Sites often look to the internship coordinator as an expert and resource in understanding how to best work with interns. I have been asked about how to better recruit interns, how to communicate appropriate workplace behavior, and other best practices. In my experience, good site supervisors will want to work with you in order to maintain the quality of the internship experience for both the interns and the employer.

Final tip: I have four things I always bring when I go on the road:

  • Camera for taking photos of events and sites
  • One-page handout with important school program dates to leave with them
  • A list of site-specific concerns, questions, and stories from campus students and colleagues
  • Resources for employers from our career office on internships and intern programs

 Sarah Yoo is the Internship Coordinator at Pomona College, a selective liberal arts college located in the greater Los Angeles area. She obtained her graduate degree at California State University, Long Beach in Counseling with an emphasis on Student Development in Higher Education and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego in Sociology. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, spending time with friends and family, and cooking.

Business Cards thrive in a digital age

October 28, 2010 at 7:51 am | Posted in Educator Updates Newsletter, Views on the News | Leave a comment
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In a time when everything is digital why are business cards still thriving? Perhaps it is because of their versatility:  they are commonly used for professional reasons, and are fast becoming popular in social settings as well.

Companies like Staples and Office Depot report a surge in demand for business cards over the past 3 years. This is despite the fact that there are apps such as “Bump” for the iPhone that are designed to exchange contact info by touching phones together. Many of these new app companies are finding they are trying to solve a problem that nobody wants solved.

While digital means are speedy and convenient, business cards allow you to showcase your personality in the design and delivery of your card. When people exchange business cards they transfer more than just contact data. They transfer impressions and stories that leave a lasting impact.

In these tough times leaving a lasting impression is both vital and effective in networking your way to your dream internship…your dream job…your dream career. When you can hand over a card and your new acquaintance knows who you are and how to contact you, digital convenience flies out the window. And let’s face it…who doesn’t love seeing their name in print!

Feedback from the Frontlines

October 28, 2010 at 7:35 am | Posted in Educator Updates Newsletter, Feedback from the Frontlines | Leave a comment
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In response to last month’s article about the growing trend of people using internships to make a career change, Jean A. Spahr from the College of DuPage weighs in on why she isn’t seeing this taking off.

“Employers I’ve spoken with aren’t interested in experienced or unemployed folks doing internships. I agree with them because, even if the internships are non-credit bearing, they are work-integrated learning experiences that are appropriately connected to an academic program of study. I’ve heard the term “returnship” connected to experienced and unemployed people trying to build skills on the job in order to return to the workforce. The experienced and unemployed can re-career at non-profits legally, however it’s simply volunteer work…while for-profits can’t utilize volunteers. How is a “returnship” viewed under the FLSA if it’s an unpaid experience?”

Are you seeing a similar trend on your campus? What does this mean for alumni re-entering the work force or making career changes? Throw your feedback into the mix at educatorcare@internships.com.

N + 1 or N – 1 …where do you fit in?

October 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Educator Updates Newsletter, Practice What We Preach | Leave a comment
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N + 1 represents the idea that we always have the ability to add one more thing to our list. N – 1, then is that we can always take one thing off our lists.

You know what N + 1 looks like, right? You start the day with a to-do list and even when you’re really productive, your list always ends up longer at the end of the day. The way our lives work, N + 1 is usually the default:  there’s always one more thing to do.

But what if you switch things around:  each morning, take one thing off of your to-do list. What would happen if you eliminated one thing on your list? What if eliminating one task allowed you to perform above and beyond on everything else?

As career center folks – and parents and spouses and best friends and pet owners and… — you always have an infinite list of things to do. Look at your list for today:  pick one thing to cross off. Really. Try it. It may not be much…but you may notice a shift as you move from the default N + 1 to a more deliberate N – 1.

Email us at educatorcare@internships.com and let us know what you deleted from your to-do list.

Practice What We Preach

September 21, 2010 at 10:29 am | Posted in Educator Updates Newsletter, Practice What We Preach | Leave a comment
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We’re almost a month into the new school semester—are you back to your usual routine yet?  How about the part of the routine where you eat lunch at your desk or skip it all together?  Yeah…us, too.  Taking 30 minutes to an hour to decompress and relax is important: leading experts say that 10 minutes of actual relaxation equals 1 extra hour of sleep.  While that extra hour of sleep may be a bit tougher to get, 10 minutes seems doable. Initially, set goals: two times a week, block out time on your calendar to go for a walk, grab lunch with colleagues, or just find a quiet place to enjoy your PB&J. Gradually build up so that—as often as you can—you’re taking at least 30 minutes a day to decompress, relax, and recharge.  So as lunch time approaches today, take some of the excellent advice that you’re always giving to your students:  set aside time to relax and recharge because it will make you more productive, healthier, and happier. You know you’re right.

Freshmen looking for career advice now

September 21, 2010 at 10:23 am | Posted in Educator Updates Newsletter, Views on the News | Leave a comment
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As college freshmen nationwide are exploring their campuses — finding dining halls, laundry rooms, bookstores and gyms — officials at many schools say the newbies are increasingly finding their way to career centers. Once considered the place for panicked seniors to look for jobs ahead of graduation, college career offices are reporting dramatic hikes in use by first-year students looking for the earliest possible jump on the employment market.

Career centers are starting to hold events specifically for first year students with creative attendance incentives such as food and raffles that are designed to get freshmen in the habit of using their career center as a resource. Businesses are also interested in establishing relationships with freshmen to help identify top job and internship candidates as early as possible. Reaching out to freshmen builds a company’s name recognition and familiarizes them with the variety of jobs available. Along with career centers’ and business’ increased focus on freshmen, freshmen are becoming more actively engaged in the process, perhaps concerned by the 9.6% unemployment rate and stories of recent graduates.

Firms Assess Young Interns’ Potential

September 21, 2010 at 10:17 am | Posted in Educator Updates Newsletter, Views on the News | Leave a comment
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As companies are starting to rely more heavily on their interns to make full-time hires, some are targeting and tracking students as early as freshman year. These days, undergraduates are exposed to corporate presentations and meet-and-greets within weeks of arriving on campus.

The shift to intern-to-hire recruiting hasn’t been lost on would-be college students, particularly as the recession has lingered. Career Center Offices have seen a recent rise in prospective students and their parents inquiring about which firms recruit and hire interns. Katie Kennealy, associate director of the career center at Illinois, says she has seen a 15% increase in such inquiries in the past year.”Most freshman don’t know where anything is on campus, says David McMahon, associate director of experiential education at Texas A&M, “but they’ve figured out they need a good résumé, and they need to get to a career fair” early on.

According to Monica Wilson, acting co-director of career services at Dartmouth College. “Internship recruiting will largely replace entry-level recruiting in the next few years.” Are you seeing a significant increase in students inquiring about internship opportunities on your campus? Email us at educatorcare@internships.com and put your feedback in the mix.

Internships Aren’t Just for the Young

September 16, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Posted in Educator Updates Newsletter, Views on the News | 1 Comment
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Internships are no longer being used simply as an experience-builder for college students. This article in Money Talks News references a new survey of 2500 employers showing 23 percent of them are seeing more applications from “experienced workers” (those with 10-plus years experience) and “mature workers” (those over 50 years old) that have been laid off, or are seeking mid-life career changes applying for internships and entry-level positions.

The difficult job market has reshaped internships into a way for experienced workers to explore new opportunities. With doubt about an economic recovery employers are apprehensive to add to their payrolls and are planning to hire more interns than in previous years. Internships can serve as job interviews and often lead to full time positions. Of the companies surveyed 52 percent of them said they are more likely to hire interns as full-time employees.

As the age group applying for internships skews older, we are hearing more comments back from campus career advisors that an increasing number of alumni are seeking internships to help them transition to new careers. Anne Orange at the University of South Carolina noted “Alumni who are out of work or even students about to graduate who think they will have a hard time finding full-time employment come to the Career Center to ask if they can obtain an internship post-graduation.”

Are you seeing similar trends in your career center? Let us know what’s going on at your campus: send an email to educatorcare@internships.com.

Notes from the Field: Pomona College’s Internship Orientation

September 15, 2010 at 10:02 am | Posted in Educator Updates Newsletter, Notes from the Field, Notes from the Field, Pomona College's Internship Orientation | Leave a comment
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One of the exciting aspects about the start of fall semester is the launch of our internship program. About 80 students per semester commit to a semester-long internship in the industry and employer of their choice across the Greater Los Angeles area. The program kicks-offs with a ‘New Hire Orientation’ required for all students in the program to attend prior to beginning their internships. The one-hour long workshop offers helpful tips on how students can make the most of their internship.

The workshop covers general housekeeping items such as:

  • reporting their internship hours
  • transportation resources
  • important program dates

As necessary as these logistic components are, we place emphasis on helping interns maximize their experience in a professional workplace setting. Specifically:

  • how to prepare for and anticipate the first day
  • the first few weeks
  • some overall tips

In detail, I discuss what interns can do to prepare and anticipate their first day such as planning for their commute, proper attire, and bringing a notebook and pen.  In the first few weeks, I emphasize the importance of gaining familiarity of the internship site by meeting the staff, attending orientation, and receiving direction on projects and assignments. Some overall tips include how interns can show initiative and enthusiasm, two of the most desired qualities by internship supervisors. I had led a game of Family Feud with our interns to have them guess various ways that interns can show initiative and this made them proactive in the learning process. Other tips shared are how to effectively network by using conducting informational interviews and displaying strong communication skills. In the presentation, I make sure to acknowledge that interns may have varying levels of experience in the workplace but that it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of these tips.

Two changes that I’m planning for this year are around more actively engaging students in the class and tapping into the expertise of past interns. 

In previous semesters, the workshops were more of a lecture-style format and I realized that interns need to be engaged rather than talked to. For this reason, I will incorporate some role playing in the workshop, an idea that came from a book, Learning From Experience: A Resource Book By and For Co-Op/Internship Professionals (http://www.mosaiceyepublishing.com/lfe.htm) by Scott Weighart. One exercise that I am planning is around how to help interns recognize where and how to take initiative. For this, they will get into pairs and role play various scenarios where they need to take initiative. The goal is for interns to practice their ability to communicate, problem-solve, and think on their feet using real situations.

As another way to both engage students and convey information to them in different ways, I also plan to bring in past interns to discuss common pitfalls and struggles as well as to share their experiences. I find that students respond well to what their peers have to share, as it is more relatable.

If you are considering offering this type of course, my advice is to make sure this workshop is engaging, interactive, and meaningful. The content also needs to be relevant to the unique needs and experiences of your students. I hope these tips are helpful for your career center in orienting students to the workplace.

Have you offered a similar program at your school?  If so, what have you learned?  What are you planning for this year?  Send your stories, plans, and take-aways to mbusse@internships.com.

By Sarah Yoo

Sarah Yoo is the Internship Coordinator at Pomona College, a selective liberal arts college located in the greater Los Angeles area. She obtained her graduate degree at California State University, Long Beach in Counseling with an emphasis in Student Development in Higher Education and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego in Sociology. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, spending time with friends and family, and cooking.

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